Gays!

March 12, 2004 | 51 comments
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This is just a test to determine whether any post about gays can generate 50 comments.

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51 Responses to Gays!

  1. Kaimi on March 12, 2004 at 8:39 pm

    Your post clearly shows that conservatives are all wrong on this issue. :)

  2. Gordon Smith on March 12, 2004 at 8:47 pm

    Thanks to Kaimi for getting us started. C’mon folks, only 48 to go!

  3. Kaimi on March 12, 2004 at 8:51 pm

    Actually, Russell’s original gay marriage post — which is very good, by the way — has exactly zero comments.

    Of course, it was posted three days after the blog began, so we didn’t have a lot of readers. (Actually, it may have gotten a comment or two that got left behind when we moved to MT).

  4. Steve Evans on March 12, 2004 at 8:53 pm

    This post is a shout-out to all my homies at Evergreen.

  5. Gordon Smith on March 12, 2004 at 8:54 pm

    Kaimi, You are a machine with these comments. At this rate, we’ll hit 50 by the time the BYU game starts!

  6. Kaimi on March 12, 2004 at 8:57 pm

    Yep, there are five comments over at the blogspot site. See http://timesandseasons.blogspot.com/2003_11_01_timesandseasons_archive.html#106970676795011153 . See also http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000073.html .

    Okay, enough comments from me. Where are Brent and Lyle?

  7. Aaron Brown on March 12, 2004 at 8:58 pm

    :>

    Aaron B

  8. Steve Evans on March 12, 2004 at 9:00 pm

    The best part is seeing Gays! Gays! Gays! in the Recent Entries column.

  9. Aaron Brown on March 12, 2004 at 9:07 pm

    Sorry to ruin the fun and frivolity, but here’s a serious question for Steve:

    In a prior thread, I made some disparaging remarks about “reparative therapy.” Given your recent shout-out to “Evergreen,” I wonder if you’d care to comment on that organization’s agenda, and your own views on the subject.

    Just curious…

    Aaron B

  10. Lyle on March 12, 2004 at 9:12 pm

    Kaimi…i’m here, but only to comment on what Aaron mentioned and the Evergreen mention.

    I’m interested also to here why Aaron has such a negative/it doesn’t work view re: therapy.

  11. Gordon Smith on March 12, 2004 at 9:20 pm

    Some interesting results from my research. We have had 30 posts mentioning the word “gay.” Here were the most popular:

    Mormons, Polygamy and Gay Marriage = 179 comments
    Mitt Romney on Marriage = 168 comments
    Perception of Gays = 63 comments
    The Conservative Case for Group and Sibling Marriage = 61 comments
    Being “born that way” is meaningless = 59 comments
    What Disturbs Me About Dale-Era Boy Scouts of America = 47 comments (so close!)
    The Importance of Gay Marriage to Conservatives = 33 comments (slacker!)

    And our most recent …
    The Filmody of the Latter-Gays = 50+ and still going

    Of course, not all of the posts generated a big response. “Turning BYU into Bob Jones” was a very interesting post, but garnered only 11 comments, for example. Same with “The Unspoken Parts of the Bible,” which generated only 12 comments. Still, all of this activity on the subject of homosexuality causes me to ask: what’s the deal? Is this just because gay marriage is such a big part of the current news, or do you folks always obsess about gays?

  12. Aaron Brown on March 12, 2004 at 9:25 pm

    It’s cause we’re all gay, Gordon.

    Aaron B.

    P.S. Lyle, I’ll respond to you shortly. I wanted to hear Steve chime in first.

  13. Steve Evans on March 12, 2004 at 9:28 pm

    Aaron,

    First, glad you caught the reference. It takes a certain kind of member to do it.

    As to Evergreen: hey, it worked for me!

    No, I’m joking, _really_. I think the current view is that reparative psychology is a myth. Personally, I don’t believe in the power of Evergreen or any similar organization to ‘cure’ homosexuality.

    That’s not because I feel that homosexuality is genetic or unavoidable, but rather b/c I believe that psychology in general is limited in its capacity to form the human psyche, especially on a level as profound as human sexuality.

    Now, as to their agenda: well, I am certainly not in favor of people practicing homosexuality, so I applaud their efforts to help members overcome homosexual urges. I’m wary about some of their techniques, which from what I’ve read border on abusive, but I can’t fault their motivations. At least, not on this blog.

  14. lyle on March 12, 2004 at 9:43 pm

    All:

    Steve said: “I think the current view is that reparative psychology is a myth. Personally, I don’t believe in the power of Evergreen or any similar organization to ‘cure’ homosexuality.”

    my querry then (perhaps Aaron is going to get to this): why does the LDS Church sponsor/support such therapy then? Hate to say philosophies of men vs. the resotred gospel + the atonement; but…naw, I enjoy saying it.

  15. Gordon Smith on March 12, 2004 at 9:46 pm

    Aaron, A long time ago, when I was a student, I walked out of a play that portrayed gay sex on stage. Several other BYU students had recommended the play (we were in Washington D.C. for the summer), and when I told them that I thought it was disgusting, one of them accused me of being a closet gay. That was silly, and I hope you didn’t take my question in the same light.

    My reason for asking is that I am genuinely curious why this particular issue is such a hot button for many Mormons (and others). In one of my earliest posts on T&S, I suggested that the serious nature of homosexuality in the hierarchy of sins might explain all the attention. But, alas, we were too young to generate much discussion on the topic. See http://www.timesandseasons.org/archives/000076.html

  16. Gordon Smith on March 12, 2004 at 9:50 pm

    By the way, for those interested, here’s Evergreen’s site: http://www.evergreen-intl.org/

  17. Steve Evans on March 12, 2004 at 9:57 pm

    lyle,

    it’s got nothing to do with a conflict between men’s view/ the Lord’s view. It’s about whether their clinical methods are effective. Statistically, they’re not.

    Can the Atonement work on people struggling with homosexuality? Of course; no one’s debating that. But Evergreen and their ilk aren’t dispensing little doses of Atonement; they are mormon psychologists testing their methods, that’s it. Their methods include the repentance process, but they are a far cry from just going to the bishop.

    Why does the church sponsor Evergreen? It doesn’t. Evergreen’s website mentions none. It is a group of LDS practitioners that work along LDS principles, but that’s it. Any affiliation is unofficial.

    But why does the church send people Evergreen’s way? Because it wants to do whatever it can to help people overcome homosexual urges. That’s why. It’s not b/c the church has endorsed their methods, but rather that the church is desperate to combat this problem any way it can in accordance with LDS teachings.

    So there is your Evergreen FAQ. For more information, please visit http://www.evergreen-intl.org/

  18. lyle on March 12, 2004 at 10:04 pm

    Steve,

    thanks for the input. However, I’m prone to believe they aren’t officially affiliated because they want to be open to all faiths…rather than because they aren’t effective. If they aren’t affective, then…it would be rather difficult for the Church to condemn the behavior…right? The church condemns the behavior…right? Maybe its tautological, but…

    since i wear crushed velvet clothes, floral print jeans, am fairly sensitive…i guess there simply is no hope for me; and that i will eventually cave into my inner desires and become a gay apostate anti-LDS activist…right?

  19. lyle on March 12, 2004 at 10:05 pm

    P.s. maybe i’m just desperate…but last time I checked, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t desperate about anything…just rolling forward and downward, like a big stone cut by the Lord’s hands, crushing those that stand in the Lord’s way.

  20. Steve Evans on March 12, 2004 at 10:14 pm

    Lyle,

    You’re incorrect in your assumption as to why the LDS Church and Evergreen aren’t officially affiliated. They’re not affiliated, quite simply, b/c they are a separate organization run by separate people with separate agendas. The absence of affiliation has nothing to do with their effectiveness, nor did I make any such implication.

    Yes, the church does condemn homosexual behavior, but no, Evergreen is not statistically very effective.

    Don’t be so dramatic, esp. before you get a little more informed. Ask your bishop or any stake president about homosexuality and how optimistic they are, and they’ll tell you: once someone starts to exhibit homosexual tendencies, it’s a tough struggle that often results in leaving the church. Hence the desperation. The desperation has nothing to do with any lack of confidence in the power of the Atonement. It’s from seeing case after case of faithful, humble people that are simply unable to “get over it”.

    As for the gospel not being desperate about anything, you’re mistaken. God was so desperate about the state of the sinner that he sacrificed his son. Don’t be so haughty about the ability of the church organization to quickly solve all problems. Church leaders, while certain in their faith and confident in Christ’s power to save, nevertheless recognize that homosexuality and other sexual sins aren’t “cured” as easily as you imply.

  21. Kaimi on March 12, 2004 at 10:15 pm

    Lyle,

    Don’t be so pessimistic. It sounds like you, like Howard Dean, may simply be a metro-sexual. :)

  22. lyle on March 12, 2004 at 10:26 pm

    Thanks Kaimi, I appreciate the support. However, I am somewhat disheartened by even the vague possibility of “being” gay; and thus the effort I have made to be informed about the social science studies, on both sides, etc. If Steve is right…well…ce est la vie. God is just and somehow it must all work out in the end; but my belief in Agency & the Atonement preclude the possibility that any type of behavior that is sinful would be inherent/ingrained to the point of not being succeptible to the influence of the spirit to the same degree as any other type of sin: whether smoking, porn, cursing or buying a candy bar on Sunday.

  23. Aaron Brown on March 12, 2004 at 10:45 pm

    Gordon,

    I was totally kidding! I should have included a smily face – :) – after my comment.

    (One of the most difficult things about posting on blogs, for me, is remembering that you all don’t know me personally and so can’t discern the sarcastic tone that goes with some of my comments.)

    Aaron B

  24. Logan on March 12, 2004 at 10:49 pm

    Kaimi, what do you have against metrosexuals? I hope nothing, since I have to admit that my inner metrosexual has lately been yearning to get out of the closet (whoops — there it goes!)

  25. Aaron Brown on March 12, 2004 at 11:01 pm

    Steve said:
    “First, glad you caught the reference. It takes a certain kind of member to do it.”

    Oh really? What exactly are you implying Steve? … :)

    Lyle,

    To answer your question, I am not militantly or dogmatically opposed to the possibility that reparative therapy could work. I simply believe that those who claim that it does work should have the burden of proving their point. In the “Latter Days” thread, Adam responded to my description of reparative therapy as a “canard” as follows:

    “I doubt that the case against overcoming orientation is so open and shut as to make it a canard. All wounds will eventually be healed. Why not some of them in this life?”

    Adam might be correct. But what I object to are those who argue that since it is within God’s “power” to “repair” homosexuals, or because they claim that God “should” or “would be inclined to” cure homosexuality, it necessarily follows that God “does” cure homosexuality. These are arguments that are often made in discussions of reparative therapy. They are non-sequiturs. The question of whether reparative therapy of homosexuals works or not is an empirical one. Show me a “cured” homosexual who has “reversed” his orientation and I’ll be impressed. Otherwise, no one has any business making this claim. (I am NOT saying that Adam was making this claim).

    What would constitute a meeting of the “burden” I’ve described? What would “impress” me? I want to meet a person who:

    (a) was and always had been primarily and overwhelming attracted to members of the same sex (and NOT to those of the opposite sex); and
    (b) is now primarily and overwhelming attracted to members of the opposite sex (and NOT those of the same sex). I don’t care what the “process” was that helped them “make the switch.” I just care about the end result.

    What would NOT impress me are the following:

    (a) Meeting a person who made the transition from a homosexually promiscuous lifestyle to one of abstinence or heterosexual monogamy. I’ve met people like this already. Big deal. While their transitions were perhaps noble and excruciatingly difficult, they do not necessarily meet criteria (b).
    (b) Meeting a “bisexual” who used to play for one team and then decided (for whatever reason) to play for the other. These folks, by definition, meet neither criteria (a) nor (b).
    Show me the money. If “reparative therapy” really works, I should be able to meet someone who fits the criteria I’ve described. I understand that none of the Christian therapists who make claims in this area are willing to address the distinctions as I’ve drawn them. This makes me very, very suspicious of their claims.

    I realize that I may be arguing with a phantom here. I’ve read or skimmed all the posts on T&S regarding “gays” (no small feat), and I haven’t once seen anyone bring up “reparative therapy” before. This is very interesting to me, since in many mainstream “Christian” discussions of homosexuality, the question occupies center stage. Is the T&S community just too sophisticated to entertain claims in this area? Perhaps so. A good sign, in my view.

    Finally, is this issue even interesting or relevant to other “gay debates” at all? I think so. If homosexuals could be cured of their “orientation,” then much of the gay rights rhetoric would lose (some) force. Andrew Sullivan’s arguments could be more easily met with rejoinders like “Well, just go to your therapist, go through the treatment, and then you can have a fulfilling opposite-sex marriage like the rest of us.” Even if you believe, as Matt Evans has so often argued, that any alleged genetic basis or fixity of the homosexual condition is technically irrelevant to the moral issues, I think you’d have to agree that the existence of indisputably successful reparative therapy techniques would change the character of the “gay” debates considerably.

    Aaron B

  26. Brent on March 12, 2004 at 11:51 pm

    Aaron, I don’t know if the term “reparative therapy” has been used, but I have commented on Dr. Spitzer’s most recent study which does claim that “motivated” homosexuals can be “cured”. Perhaps I am not as sophisticated as others here. Thus, I do believe that there is some evidence of the effectiveness of reorientation or reparative therapy as well as the partial elimination or significant reduction of homosexual tendencies in others.

    See http://www.narth.com/docs/evidencefound.html

    I don’t know that any of us, can fathom what it means to have homosexual tendencies (or at least I assume that most of us can’t). Therefore, having an opinion one way or another is somewhat problematic, but only somewhat. I think we all have other tendencies, whether sexual or otherwise, not in keeping with God’s commands and order of things. If Christ really is who we believe Him to be, and if His teachings are true, then I see no reason why all of us are incapable of overcoming whatever tendencies we have. Unfortunately for those with deviant sexual tendencies, of whatever form, in this day and age, they have temptation thrown in their face every day by television, internet, radio, magazines, etc. I can’t imagine what it would be like for a faithful latter-day saint to struggle with same-sex attraction in this day and age where so much of the world and society is pounding a false message that one is “born that way” that he or she cannot and should not be cured, that he or she is “denying who he or she really is” (as if our true nature is based on mortal sexual tendencies). I wonder if the current state of affairs doesn’t render reparative therapy ineffective. I also wonder to what extent persons rely on the Atonement in seeking a cure. Who knows, for some, that particular temptation may simply be a “thorn in their side”, to paraphrase Paul, that some such persons will have to bear in this life. I am disturbed however, by the tremendous amount of research that shows rather high numbers of homosexuals were abused or had other psychological factors that contributed to their “condition.” I also know of many anecdotal claims along this line, which calls into question the “born that way, never can be cured” line of reasoning. My wife served in a RS presidency with a woman whose brother died of AIDS several years ago. He and an unusually large number of men who had been scouts together turned out to “be” homosexual. Of course, it was later discovered that each one of these young men had been abused by their scoutmaster.

    I think we need to look to the principles of the gospel and see if we can’t promote righteous principles. We should promote the ultimate reparative therapy for every sinful tendency on this earth–that of accepting and following Christ.

  27. Renee on March 13, 2004 at 12:05 am

    Interesting. Given all the LDS links on the right of various points on the spectrum, where’s the links to affirmation.org and the utterly bizarre gaylds.com?

  28. Renee on March 13, 2004 at 12:22 am

    Oh, and somehow I caught the last 10 minutes of Fox’s new “reality show” Playing it Straight. The first guy she sent home was… straight! I tell ya, those guys had my gaydar all messed up – and I’ve had 3 gay roommates!

  29. Aaron Brown on March 13, 2004 at 6:07 am

    Brent,

    What do we mean when we say “homosexual orientation” or “homosexual tendencies”? This is the crucial question. What I mean by these terms is something like “tendency to become sexually aroused primarily or exclusively by people of the same sex.” Notice that my definition does not necessarily incorporate any particular form of sexual behavior. This is not to deny that sexual behavior is often a pretty good proxy for “sexual orientation” as I am using the term. But behavior and “orientation” are conceptually distinct. Thus, a man may be homosexually oriented, but may choose to remain celibate or practice heterosexuality (for whatever reason – religious conviction, social pressure, etc.). Further, a man may be heterosexually oriented, but engage in homosexual acts (think of men in prison, some male prostitutes, etc.). And I don’t think my definition is unusual. I think this is a fairly common and widely shared understanding of the meaning of the term(s).

    I mention all this because as I read your post, it isn’t completely clear to me what you mean precisely by “homosexual tendencies” or “deviant sexual tendencies.” And it isn’t clear that you are using the terms consistently throughout (though I may be misreading you). Assuming your use of “tendencies” refers to homosexual behaviors, I find much of what you say unobjectionable. But assuming you have in mind a definition like my own, I think at least some of your discussion is unpersuasive.

    Given my definitions, as I look at the Spitzer study, as reported by Waller and Nicolosi, I’m rather underwhelmed. First off, let me say that I do this with some trepidation, as I am not a scientist, nor would I claim expertise in evaluating this sorts of claims. But my initial reactions are these: As reported, Spitzer’s methodology is problematic. The article lists nine “areas” of study, the majority of which (though admittedly not all) are not meaningful measures of “orientation” as I’m narrowly using the term; rather, they refer to behavioral patterns that the subjects no doubt changed with great effort. But so what? I have no doubt that any number of dissatisfied gays could make great strides towards reducing their “frequency of gay sexual activity,” their “frequency of exposure to homosexually-oriented pornographic materials,” and their “sexual self-identification.” Given all the other information provided in the article regarding the subjects’ religious convictions, desire for marriage, determination to leave the gay lifestyle, etc., this all seems very plausible indeed. But it tells me nothing about their sexual arousal patterns, which is the real issue (although admittedly, some of the other criteria listed would be informative in this regard). To incorporate these various behavioral changes into a 100 point scale and then say a mere 10 point shift in the aggregate score is a meaningful measure of “orientation” is a dubious proposition, given what “orientation” is typically understood to mean.

    Let me turn briefly (too late) to your specific comments…. I agree that there is something problematic about being too opinionated on a subject that most of us don’t experience first hand. For that reason (and others), I remain open to the possibility that I may be mistaken in any number of ways. I agree that a constant bombardment of worldly influences may make it harder for modern homosexuals to resist temptation (though I doubt this impacts the effectiveness of reparative therapy, per se). I agree that modern notions of “sexual identity” are problematic. And despite what I understand (perhaps incorrectly?) to be the paucity of empirical evidence backing up your intuition that sexual molestation is often a causal factor behind homosexuality, I’m inclined to agree with your intuition nonetheless, as an inordinate number (though not all) of homosexuals I have known have just such a sexual history.

    Less persuasive, in my view, is your implied claim that if homosexuals aren’t “born that way,” then they can “be cured.” I don’t think this follows. The causality of homosexuality and its potential curability are really separate issues. I won’t say much more on this now, except that Steve has sort of hit on some of my thoughts above. And incidently, I think it’s a mistake, both tactically and conceptually, for conservative LDS members to get preoccupied with the “born that way” question. As Matt Evans has eloquently and repeatedly argued elsewhere, the question is arguably irrelevant to the moral issues that concern LDS people. Put differently, I think the Elder Oaks approach makes much more sense than the Elder Faust approach….

    Finally, you say:
    “If Christ really is who we believe Him to be, and if His teachings are true, then I see no reason why all of us are incapable of overcoming whatever tendencies we have.”

    But then you say:
    “Who knows, for some, that particular temptation may simply be a “thorn in their side”, to paraphrase Paul, that some such persons will have to bear in this life.”

    As long as the latter statement might be true, I see no reason to accept the conclusion of the former. (Once again, I’m reading “tendencies” in the former statement to mean “inclination” or “orientation”). If you’re resigned to the possibility that homosexual tendencies may be a life-long thorn for some, why draw robust theological conclusions about the possibility of orientation change or cure?

    Yikes, I’m longwinded! Someone should tell me to shut up.

    Aaron B

  30. lyle on March 13, 2004 at 9:44 am

    More, more more! :)

  31. Kaimi on March 13, 2004 at 10:07 am

    Thoughts:

    1. This is an issue where many commenters bring their own ideas to the table, and want to vent those ideas. You’ll notice that this topic has generated some discussion about subtopics that are barely related to your post. That’s how all of the homosexuality and abortion posts have gone.

    2. Logan, I have nothing against metrosexuals. Some of my friends are metrosexuals. When I told Mardell that you were contemplating being mor metrosexual, she started laughing. You don’t fit either or our descriptions as a metrosexual. Let me know when you go to the spa for a pedicure, and get some frosted highlights in your hair, and then we can discuss your metrosexual transformation.

    3. Good question, Renee. At one point, I considered adding Affirmation to the list. Ultimately, I decided that they were too doctrinally suspect, and that I couldn’t comfortably add them. I don’t know if my co-bloggers disagree with me; if there is strong sentiment to add, I’ll add them to the list. (Then again, I’m one of the more liberal of the group, so I don’t know how likely it is that I’ll be overruled on deciding not to sidebar a gay LDS site).

  32. Kristine on March 13, 2004 at 10:09 am

    Spitzer himself has protested the uses to which his study is being put, and the gross oversimplifications of his work being used by conservative political groups. FAIR has a good article: http://www.fair.org/extra/0109/gay-change.html

  33. lyle on March 13, 2004 at 10:25 am

    Thanks Kristine!

    Note, the one study that “pans” reparative therapy and used random sampling had a success rate of 3%; while the “self-selecting”/”study of success” report, while perhaps inherently suspect; does provide evidence that “support” for individuals “motivated” to change increases their chances.

    Sum: even if the absolute #s of individuals who have so far had success with changing their sexual orientation is small: (1) support from others & individual motivation can increase their odds; (2) ‘real’ change is possible, if infrequent to date; and (3) the worth of the souls of even those 3% is great in the eyes of God and proof of the reality of the atonement to remove the “homosexual thorn” in some of our sisters&brothers’ side.

  34. lyle on March 13, 2004 at 10:27 am

    Gordon: we are 67% of the way to your goal, if counting absolute # of posts. However, if we do a word count, on average, vis-a-vis other 50+ post threads…you have succeeded! ;) wls

  35. Gordon Smith on March 13, 2004 at 11:20 am

    Lyle, Thanks for your support! ;-)

    Kaimi is right, of course. The most popular posts typically have lots of comments that are only tangentially related to the original post. The freedom to explore different directions is part of what makes this place fun. So, keep commenting!

  36. Gary Cooper on March 13, 2004 at 5:16 pm

    Wow,

    This subject is certainly a humdinger. I’ve noticed that so many of the posts at T&S from its inception cover some aspect of homosexuality. I believe the reason for this is quite simple: Homosexuality really bothers thinking members of the church, because it represents something that lurks in the backs of all of our minds. What is that? It is the fear, conscious or unconscious, maybe a little of both, that there really might be some problems out there that the Gospel can’t deal with. This fear is irrantional, of course, and most of those who contribute here would instantly object and say, “No, I KNOW the Gospel will solve all issues eventually, in the eternities,…” Yet, let’s all admit it, haven’t we all, at some time or another had doubts enter our minds on some issue, where the answers aren’t easy, and we find ourselves wondering, even if only for a moment, “where is God’s Justice?!”

    Justice, and Mercy, in fact are the big issues at stake here. Those inclined to believe that homosexuality cannot be “cured” in mortality are clearly bothered, aren’t you, by the seeming barrier to the Atonement at least in mortality, that your own study of this issue points to. Likewise, those here inclined to believe that homossexuality, surely MUST be curable somehow in this life are likewise bothered by an issue that seems to fly in the face of what your own understanding of the Gospel tells you.

    I think I am safe in saying that every single person involved in the discussions here has enough charity and love in them that they would, if they could, wave a magic wand and make every member or prospective member of the church who struggles with homosexuality suddenly overcome thise illness and become “normal”. But, it just doesn’t work this way. Granted, we all suffer here in this discussion because we lack the input of any members who have actually overcome homosexuality, if such exist, but I don’t think well EVER see any such person jump in, even anonymously, and openly say, “I was a homosexual, and now I’m not, and here’s how it happened,” for the good and simple reason that in the Church we frown on people publicly talking about serious personal sins, even when they have repented. (We are NOT disciples of the “I was a teeenage Jezebel, pot-smoking, beer-drinking, communist, bi-sexual nudist hippy, but Jesus has set me free!!!” school of evangelical protestantism.)

    So, we’re all forced to grapple with an issue that simply resists all of our attempts to “solve” it with the Gospel. We all know it one day, in the eternities at least, will be solved, but none of us can understand why Our particular sins and struggles seem to be solvable, but those of homosexuals aren’t. I’m not going to pretend to have any answers either, but what I’ll share below is the result of my own study of the subject, and my own attempts to help members who have struggled with homosexuality. I confess much of what I’ll share below is anecdotal, and much of it is not new. A lot will seem controversial, and I will make no attempt to defend these points, because of their anecdotal and speculative nature. But, perhaps they will contribute something to the discussion. Here goes:

    1. Homosexuality, defined as one’s having dominant sexual attraction to the same sex, instead of the opposite sex, can be separated from actual homosexual acts.

    2. Homosexual acts, both with other people or alone (such as partaking of pornography or actively entertaining homosexual fantasies) are sins, and must be avoided. If one has committed these acts, one must repent.

    3. Homosexuality itself, though, is not per se a sin. It is a MENTAL ILLNESS. It is not an act of choice when a man or woman finds themselves constantly attacted sexually to the same sex, predominately or exclusively, without actively seeking such attraction. While the evidence for a genetic “cause” for homosexuality is, at best, scanty, I beleive the evidence that there may be genetic PREDISPOSTIONS to sexual dysfunction in general is much stonger. In any case, the homosexual dysfunction seems to be related somehow to unfulfilled needs in childhood between the individual and their parent of the same sex. (I do not mean that the parent did anything wrong; just that somehow certain needs for a close affectionate relationship with the parent were not met.) This does not mean that such a person automatically becomes a homosexual; it is just one of several factors that in my own experience I have seen always be present with homosexuals. In addition, in EVERY instance of the homosexuals I have known (for our purposes, I use the word to mean both men and women who suffer from same sex attraction), another factor has been a premature sexual experience in childhood or adolescence. For most, this took the form of being sexually molested by an older child or (most of the time) an adult. For a few, it was exposure to pornography. So two factors (and possibly a third) have almost always been present, with almost no exceptions (an the exceptions might not have been exceptions, if the persons were lying to me, which is understandable): 1. Unfulfilled emotional needs in childhood with the parent of the same sex, and 2. premature exposure to aberrant sexuality, either in the form of molestation and/or pornography. The third factor MAY be a genetic predisposition towards sexual dysfunction in general.

    4. My personal belief is that homosexuality, like a number of other mental illnesses, cannot be completely “cured” with the current state of psychiatric knowledge, and given the hostility to even consider homosexuality an illness, I am not optimistic for the future. I think at best, it is appears possible for a man or woman to be able to avoid sinful activity (including actively entertaining homosexual fantasies) for long periods of time, with “relapses” taking the form of falling back in to entertaining fantasies and masturbation. As such I’ve seen members be able to sustain a lifelong committment to temple marriage and parenthood, but my goodness how I admire such members and their spouses, because of the tremendous mental/emotional/spirtual stress they are constaly under.

    5. The closest analogy I could make would be to alcoholism and pedohilia, but such analogies would be limited. Like the alcoholic, the homosexual appears to ALWAYS have the predispostion towards the problem, but it can be kept in check as long as they stay away from overt acts. But, unlike the pedophile, a homosexual can go for years or even a liftime without actually engaging in immorality with another person (there has been no single case of a pedophile EVER being “cured”, and once the pedophile has committed molestation once, they are ALWAYS a threat to do it again, which I have been informed by several psychologists that work with corrections and law enforcement. Homosexuals are not this uncontrollable, though some pedophiles happen to be homosexuals.)

    6. There seems to be an explosion in the increase of homosexual behavior, and I do not believe it is because of increased press attention. Rather, it is the direct result of the Sexual Revolution’s dismantling of heavy criminal penalites for child molesters and pornographers, leading to increasing victimization of children and adolecents, creating a vicious circle of abuse.

    7. Homosexuals need special love and charity, because of the tremendous self-hate, obsessive/compulsive behavior (often leading to alcoholism, drug abuse, and promiscuity), and drepession they deal with.

    I will be the first to say that one of the biggest struggles I have ever had with my testimony has been over the issue of God’s Justice, particularly on this issue. I’ve nevewr questioned God’s existence, but rather His character. I don’t know why God doesn’t make it as easy for homosexuals to repent and live normal lives as he seems to for you and I. But, though I don’t have an answer, I have the promise through the Holy Ghost that God IS just, that no one is “written off”, and ALL somehow will have an opportunity for exaltation.

    Finally, given what I said above about child molestation, every psychologist I have ever know personally who has worked with this issue believes in either the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole for convicted child molesters, the fomenters of an unseen “holocaust” of unspeakable misery and horror. I agree.

  37. brayden on March 13, 2004 at 9:49 pm

    I’m not sure where the Lord said that homosexuality is a mental illness. I’ve never heard an apostle say this in a conference talk. The only people in the Church I’ve heard classify homosexuality as a mental illness are lay members, and the comment is usually made outside of sacrament meeting. Why are we so inclined to label homosexuality as a kind of sickness when the Church has never taken this position?

  38. Kaimi on March 13, 2004 at 10:02 pm

    Gary,

    I disagree strongly about the death penalty for anything other than murder.

    The reason is simple — the “bad man theory of law,” or, how will the law actually make people behave? If the penalty for a non-murder crime is death (typical examples suggested are rapists and child molesters), then that criminal has no incentive, having committed the crime, not to kill his victim.

    If child molestation is a capital offense, the result will be a lot of dead victims, killed by their molesters. And that’s not something I want to be responsible for.

    P.S. What percent of child molesting is intra-family? Isn’t it incredibly high? Do you want to be the one telling the little girl that her report is why her Dad is being executed? You can guarantee that family members won’t be cooperating with those investigations. And they’ll all ostracize the little girl.

  39. Robert on March 14, 2004 at 12:08 am

    There is quite a bit of discussion on gays and gay Mormons on this blog site. In respect to Gary’s comments, I thought I could provide my own anecdotal information on being gay. Consider me, if you will, an expert at least as to my own expression of homosexuality. ;-)

    People who identify as “gay” or “lesbian” do not necessarily express their orientations in the same way. Kinsey best described sexual orientation as on a scale with a significant number of people who were in some gradation of “basically straight” to “basically gay.” Although there are many people I know who identify as gay, some have been in heterosexual relationships, including some who have had extensive, extremely pleasurable sexual experiences with the opposite sex. I cannot really relate my own orientation to these people. Although I recall a time in early childhood where I would have crushes upon boys and girls, by the time that I was 12 years old, the crushes were all homosexual. At that time, my homosexuality would be expressed in masturbation. I would not need pornography to “turn me on,” I was attracted primarily to athletic boys/men around my age. That attraction has not really changed in my life.

    When I was in my 20s and away in college I had my first homosexual experience with another man who was my same age. Up until that time, I had no prior sexual experience with another person. Although I believe women are very beautiful, and I have close relationships with women, I cannot imagine having sex with a woman, and the thought to do so, to be honest, is kind of repulsive.

    Contrary to the persons Gary has encountered, I did not have any unfulfilled needs from my father. In fact, I have much better relationship with him than I do with my estranged mother. My partner, on the other hand, has the opposite type of relationship. He is very close to his mother, but not his father. Still, other gay persons I know have equally great relationships with both parents.

    I also was not exposed to pornography or any form of molestation as a child.

    Do I hate myself? No, but in the past I have been very uncomfortable at times being out at work and with other people. I am out at work now, and my boss and the entire office is wonderful; I feel very comfortable, and I do not feel that I have to waste energy trying to stay closeted.

    Am I obsessive compulsive? I have never been diagnosed as such, but sometimes I do get into ritualistic behavior.

    I have used alcohol and drugs in my past, but very casually if it was offered at a party or in an office function. I do not by intoxicants on my own, and generally stay away from them.

    Obviously, I do not believe that I am suffering from any illness (and no, contrary to what may evangelical Christians believe, there is no demon possessing me at this time). If I am suffering from an illness of some sort, I do not feel that it has left me in any pain or disfunction in my life.

  40. Logan on March 14, 2004 at 12:02 pm

    Kaimi, what if I told you I just bought a complete line of high end skin care products?

    Gary, I’m also uncomfortable with the idea of homosexuality being a mental illness. To be diagnosed with a mental illness, doesn’t there have to be some degree of disruption of daily functioning in your life involved? It seems like many (probably nearly all) homosexual people manage to function just fine.

  41. Brent on March 14, 2004 at 9:28 pm

    I seem to be the controversial one around here, but let me just ask–if heterosexuality is the norm, and homosexuals are incapable of functioning sexually with the opposite sex, isn’t that a form of deviancy or mental or other illness? Isn’t an illness a departure from the norm, a state contrary to good health?

  42. Bob Caswell on March 15, 2004 at 12:00 am

    Brent,

    What does “the norm” mean, anyway? If everything that wasn’t “the norm” was somehow “bad”, I (and a lot of other people commenting on this blog) would have some serious issues.

    For the record, I’m happily married and definitely not gay. But I think there’s more to this than just some illness.

    I’m just saying making the argument that anything outside of “the norm” is somehow unhealthy doesn’t sit well with me.

  43. Gary Cooper on March 15, 2004 at 4:31 am

    Brayden,

    I have not seen any church statement defining homosexuality as an illness either, but this fact does not in and of itself mean that my statement is incorrect. I’ll stand by it until the church says otherwise, because it is the most logical explanation for me based on the facts I have seen and my own personal experiences trying to help, and conversations with, homosexuals. Certainly one can still find members of the mental health community who will still define the condition as an illness, despite the (very politicized) decision in the 70’s to delete it as a condition by the American Psychiatric Association. My point is that I do not believe homosexuals actively choose to have the orientation that they have, nor do I believe they are simply born with it, but rather that it is rooted deep within psyche of the sufferer, related somehow to experiences and/or conditions during childhood and adolescence, with a possible genetic element.

    One problem may be a misunderstanding of mental illness. One can have a mental illness, such as bi-polar depression, and seemingly function normally to an outside observer (one holds down a job, seems normal in conversation, etc.), yet also be engaged in self-destructive behavior and/or suffer emotionally in ways that are not readily apparent. Most of the homosexuals I have known (but not all) have functioned seemingly well to casual observation. They functioned normally on the job, in conversation, and (in the case of those who were members)seemed normal at church. What was not readily apparent was the struggle to avoid going to locations where illict sex could easily be obtained with complete strangers, addictions to alcohol and narcotics, recurrent suicidal thoughts, obsessive/compulsive behavior, etc. Again, as Brent pointed out above, heterosexuality is the biological (and from an LDS view, spiritual) norm; by definition, what is outside that biological norm is viewed as a dysfunction. Let me state here, what to me is as clear as day as a Latter-day Saint: It is possible, if we believe those church leaders, such as Brigham Young, who believed that there is an endless line of Gods preceding our own Heavenly Father, and that He was once a mortal man himself (and I do believe this), that there are exalted beings who once were, in mortality, guilty of sins yet repented and eventually rose to godhood. This is the hope of all of us. This being said, I firmly believe that is possible for a person who suffers from homosexuality to work out their salvation and be healed through the Atonement and eventually receive exaltation. Such a person, like all of us, will find most of the actual changes this requires take place in the hereafter, with the most important change, a humble and contrite, penitent heart, being required in mortality. But there can be no question that, once exalted, the person suffering from homosexuality in mortality will NOT be a homosexual when they are exalted; they will be normal man or woman, fully cleansed by the Atonement, and sealed for eternity to a loving and loved spouse of the opposite sex. To believe otherwise, that somehow exaltation is impossible for homosexuals, no matter how hard they try in this life, or that they will be exalted as homosexuals and will be single or sealed to the same sex, is, frankly heretical.

    Kaimi, I understand how you feel with regard to the death penalty for child molesters. My reason for supporting it, or at the least life imprisonment without parole, has nothing to do with deterrance (which is, I believe, a crock in most ways that death penalty advocates state it), but has everything to do with the protection of society so that certain heinous offences are never committed again, particularly when their is a high probablity of the criminal committing the very same offence again, despite all efforts at rehabilitation and/or fear of punishment. Typically, when a molester is caught, it is not his first offence. In fact, molesters often have molested dozens, and in many cases hundreds of children in their lifetimes, but will face punishment for only a few of those crimes. In addition, molesters almost invariably become “model prisoners” while incarcerated, precisely so that they can pass a parole board and get access to victims again (in this respect, eveyone I have spoken with in corrections and law enforcement, including members of the mental health community, agree that convicted molesters are the most adept at abusing the current system of parole/rehabilitation in almost every state). My point is that certain crimes, such as 1st degree murder and child molestation, are so irreparable in their consequences, so heinous in the nature of the offence, so callous in their disregard for even the most fundamental norms of civilzed behavior, and so likely to be repeated again, that death or permanent incarceration are the only remedies that can be relied on to insure the offence does not happen again by the same criminal. Also, in a spiritual sense, such offences, in mercy to the criminal, may be the only way to bring cloture in mortality and the beyond for the tortured soul who has committed such a crime (though I admit this is more a hunch than anything else).

  44. Melissa on March 15, 2004 at 10:49 am

    Yesterday in Ward Conference two members of the Stake Presidency spoke to us about issues that would be of interest to this crowd. Dispensing with the “the Stake President sends his love” introduction the first speaker stood up and told us that he had prepared two talks and had decided to give the one he was nervous about(interesting choice). Since he saw me scribbling notes onto my legal pad in the front row, and didn’t say this was confidential I will share what he said in my first (and probably only) post on this issue. Though difficult, I will carefully refrain from my own editorializing.

    The Proclamation of the Family says that “marriage between a man and a woman . . . and “children are entitled to be . . . ” (quoting more or less the rest of it.)

    That vision is absolutely true. These assertions are revelations. They are consistent with my my own experience and my observations. We are told to be in the world, but not of the world. We should participate in the debate that is underway, and do so in a way that the Lord would have have us do.

    I would like to share an experience that shows the intersections between law and religion. When the Boston Temple was underway President Mitt Romney, who had just been released as Stake President got a call from a powerful PR person in Boston with whom he was well-acquainted through business. He asked if he could meet with President Romney. President Romney agreed and asked me to go with him. This PR expert told President Romney to define the battle over the Temple in his terms. and suggested the following strategy: that the battle should be defined as “Belmont against Bigotry,” painting those who were fighting against the spire as religious bigots. But, President Romey and I felt uncomfortable with this and so we rejected the strategy. It just wasn’t true. Some few who oppossed the Temple were bigots, but not most. Most who opposed the Temple had othere reasons. To characterize the debate that way would have been dishonest.

    Likewise, to characterize the gay marriage debate as those for civil rights on one side and those against civil rights on the other is to simplify and falsify the issue. Refuse this characterization of the debate. The Church has always strongly supported civil rights.

    During this same time I was called to testify for 4 hours at a legal deposition regarding the Temple Spire. They placed a Book of Mormon in front of me and asked if I believed it. They continued with the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants and the PofGP. I answered as you’d expect me to answer. Then they asked me if I believed that the fulness of the Gospel was contained in these books. The lawyers had done their homework. Again, I answered yes. Then they asked me if these scriptures anywhere required the Boston Temple to have a spire of such and such a height. I turned to D&C 107 and D&C 84 pointing out that the Temple was not a Temple until dedicated by a Prophet of God and that the Prophet, President Hinckley would not dedicate the Temple until it had the spire, etc. (his point was that he had bested them in their supposed logic)

    Logic plays a very important role in our lives, in making decisions and in the law. But, logic is a tool and not an end in and of iself. How logic is used, the results of logic depends on the craftsman.

    Our own experience, our own testimonies, our own families are relevatn in this discussion. Don’t be afraid to speak out based on those things. Do not be concerned in logic points somewhere else on this issue. Revelation will bear out the truth.

    Lastly, respond with respect to those with differing opinions. As we engage in this discussion do not respond in anger, but always respond with love. In his October 1999 General Conference address President Hinckley said, “it is out duty to …..(you can look it up—it is the quote about the “moral fabric of our society” in which he specifically mentions the definition of marriage).

    Blessing will come as defend what the Lord Almighty has defined as marriage.

    So, without offering my own evaluation or analysis, what do you think of his talk? (i.e. his arguments?)

  45. Melissa on March 15, 2004 at 11:08 am

    Forgot to mention that the other talk was on “The Passion” and why he wasn’t going to watch it. He said, “there is no man that can teach me what I need to know about Christ. I can ony learn those things that I need to know about Christ from my own experience with Him. What Christ is and does for me cannot be described or contained in a movie.”

    He went on to deliver a powerful and weeping sermon about his own experiences with and understanding of the passion of Christ.

  46. brayden on March 15, 2004 at 11:20 am

    There are many people who break norms who aren’t mentally ill. I doubt you want to cast Joseph Smith in that light.

  47. Kristine on March 15, 2004 at 11:23 am

    Melissa, I think it’s abundantly clear from discussions here and elsewhere that logic is, in fact, a tool marshalled after the fact to defend people’s strongly emotional and/or religious convictions about families. I haven’t met anyone who I really believe sat down and came to a position on gay marriage using a strictly logical methodology. Being conscious of this fact and straightforward about the basis of one’s own reasoning is probably helpful in defending one’s position.

  48. Bob Caswell on March 15, 2004 at 12:00 pm

    “”there is no man that can teach me what I need to know about Christ.”

    Yeah, especially not Matthew, Luke, or John… we should never rely on what other people have to say about Christ. :-)

    “What Christ is and does for me cannot be described or contained in a movie.”

    But, out of tradition, I’d have to say that a book is just fine…

  49. Bob Caswell on March 15, 2004 at 12:02 pm

    Brayden, good point with Joseph Smith… Let’s not even start with how much Christ was against “the norm”…

  50. Gordon Smith on March 15, 2004 at 12:05 pm

    For those who are still watching, this comment makes 50!

  51. lyle on March 15, 2004 at 12:26 pm

    Yeah! We all helped Gordon to succeed! Yeah!

    will i be this happy when i hit 50 years of age? hm…
    when i get more than 50 hits/day at my mormons4bush site?
    hm…