Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Objectivity

Since starting my recent tour of the blogosphere, I've been impressed with the difficulty of remaining objective on some given topic. That is, I see how plenty of people aren't able to accomplish it, and I wonder whether it can be done at all.

For example. I'm gay and Mormon. If I really want to be gay deep down and not Mormon, it seems I could come up with plenty of reasons to dislike the church. After all, they have a record of polygamy, perceived intolerance, militant government opposition, doctrines that have supposedly been factually discredited, etc. Having all that in front of me makes it a lot easier to convince myself that leaving the church is not a sacrifice but a blessing. The gay part becomes a separate issue--suddenly not as controversial. Suddenly I can give my whole-hearted support to a particular political camp instead of seeing merits on both sides of the argument as I did before.

On the other hand, if I really want to be a faithful Mormon and seek to fight against my gay self, it's so easy to be an apologetic. Every criticism, every nuanced flaw in the church can be shored up against, rationalized away. The bad things about the church cited by others are all the results of misunderstandings, misinterpretation, opinion being perceived as authoritative when it was not. It's a defensive mechanism to sweep away the genuine problems and dismiss the controversial issues as irrelevant in the name of faith.

So how does one avoid these traps?

I can't say I have the answers, but I figure knowing about the problem ought to be a good start.

Comments appreciated!

5 comments:

Dave Walter said...

I don't think those traps can easily be avoided, because everyone views everything through different filters.

One of the reasons I'm a strong proponent of therapy is that a psychologist or psychiatrist knows how to help a person see with the filters removed.

Elbow said...

First off: Thanks for your comments on my blog. I have just finished reading everything you have written thus far, and it sounds like you are doing really well considering the angst that is obviously part of our situation.

I think you have important things to say because you seem open minded while being full of integrity for what you really believe in.

I found myself really inspired by what this last post said. I love the Church, I know that there are true and beautiful things about the doctrine that will always be true to me. I like that you are resolved to make this Mormon side of you just as important and as you feel it should be.
I admire you for your comments and I welcome any advice, stories and/or feelings that you might want to share with me. I think you have important things to say.
Thanks again.

Chris (hurricane) said...

One of the blessings of being gay and Mormon is that it requires some deep soul searching. Mormonism is not merely a religion--it is a way of life and an all ecompassing belief system that posits a distinct and well defined way to God that is universally applicable. Mormonism does not believe there are many paths to God, so it is particularly challenging when elemental truths about ourselves make it extraordinarily difficult to remain on the one path defined as "true."

What to do? Critical self examination is the key, I believe. Challenging our own beliefs and assumptions is the only way to reconcile two things that seem irreconcilable. This is a process that is painful and frightening and one which, as we move through it, may take us away from the things that we want to cling to.

Foxx said...

I, for one, do not necessarily strive for complete objectivity in my blog. I view it as an exercise in opinion, which is something I have supressed most of my life. I find more things to think about when people comment and say, "Hey, that's not the way I see it - I see it like this:" than I do when they comment with "Nice objective approach."

One way to remain objective in this particular (and seemingly polar) conflict is to study all angles that you can think of. The study of those angles will open up your vision to new possibilities, and your life objectivity can increase.

Once you've done that, however, it comes down to what you want - what your soul needs. As you have effectively pointed out, it is easier to take a stance and then make everything else fall in line with your position than it is to take each thing on its own and judge it from its own merit.

If being honest about your sexuality is important to you, you will find ways to do that. If it is important for you to carry a temple recommend, you can find ways to do it. It may seem contrary to my blog entries, but I do not believe that gay and Mormon are mutually exclusive, if you are resilient.

Anonymous said...

When people haveissues that are as weighty as these, It seems to me that the concern about doing 'the right thing' seems to take center stage. They spend more time building up false and unfair expectations with this appraoch and spending less time working out their issues in more constructive ways. I think it's at the very marrow of any struggle that one learns from ones lessons. Sometimes it's not as important to remain objective as it is to cultivate needed reference points. I think it's important to remember that Christ is the center of our faith. He is the one who heals. He does it so personally. The church as an orginization in general isn't set up to answer every condition or infirmity but does give us an open framework to work form. I think by realizing the limitations of men is good start to avoiding any trap. Being patient with how God answers your personal prayers can be challenging. I don't understand how the debate of choosing one or the other comes in to play. How you are either a gay man or a mormon man. Certainly we must face exactly who we are but there is a difference between honesty and a focus so finite that it breeds devisivness within the self. Even if you left the Church and found a kind of new found freedom it would not answer the confusion that has always been inside you. There is light and dark in all things. I don't see being Gay and Mormon as a contrast. Not if you believe God really cares for you. Why do you fight against your gay self? What is it really asking for? Certainly there is something greater this trial is trying to teach you other than how to rid yourself of all the quandries it puts you in. I think if we can learn to see beyond the obvious states of this affliction and see more deeply into what we can learn from these very trying We will begin to see a greater picture that can bring needed context and understanding to the condition of life. If you believe that we are Sons of God. Then it is possible to believe that there is a greater diminsion to our potential.