Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Right and wrong

So, I’ve been fixin’ to write about the morality of gayness for a while. Seems a bit daunting though. First you have to clarify what’s moral from what’s legal, then what’s moral in terms of a humanist (secular) view vs. what’s moral from a religious view. Ultimately it’s all about what’s right and what’s wrong. And then you have to specify—right and wrong for what purpose?

Although I’ve been mulling this for a while, there are others who seem to be plenty done mulling. For example, DW said with finality during a recent discussion: “like every other person on the planet who regards homosexual behavior as by definition morally inferior to heterosexuality… Their position is not debatable. They. Are. Just. Wrong.” Arguing the point seemed to be just asking for more punctuation. It frustrates me to no end that many gay advocates are incapable -- psychologically incapable, I believe -- of entertaining the slightest notion that religious people are precisely as entitled to a moral viewpoint as themselves.

So, I’m going to today examine the morality of gayness from a Mormon point of view. After all, that’s easiest. It’s my own.

For Mormons, God is the source of right and wrong—the ultimate last word on what is moral. And he says gay sex ain’t right. From a Mormon’s point of view, mind you. This, to a non-Mormon, may appear to be completely arbitrary. And it is, in fact, actively criticized as completely arbitrary by some opponents of the view rather than them making any attempt to understand.

God’s laws are not arbitrary. Right and wrong are right and wrong because they either do or do not lead us to the end which He intends. Even if that end point is a complete mystery to us, the reasoning behind it is sound and the law is not arbitrary. But in the case of gayness, the reasoning is central to the doctrine of the church—anything but mysterious.

Our ultimate destiny is to become like God. Being divine in character, in manner, in exactness, in our physical nature, in our familial role. The familial role, in particular, is as a husband and father.

See? Not arbitrary.

Anything less than becoming like God, no matter how good, is actually evil. It is wrong because it thwarts God’s plan. It thwarts our divine destiny. Good is the enemy of better and better is the enemy of best. Gay sex, to the best of my understanding, is wrong not because it’s bad but because it’s not good enough.

I realize this leaves us gay Mormons in a place we loathe—unfulfilled in some fundamental ways in this life. But life isn’t played out between the bookends of birth and death, it extends beyond in both directions.

I’m a med student. My life practically defines “delayed gratification”. And I just signed on for one of the longest residencies there is. But, I’m a BIG believer that a million bucks tomorrow is of more value than an ice cream cone today. It takes faith. And a lot of learning and growing to stay on the narrow path. But I know it will be worth it. I can’t not say I know it.

21 comments:

David said...

For Mormons, God is the source of right and wrong—the ultimate last word on what is moral. And he says gay sex ain’t right.

Are you referencing the Bible when you quote God saying that gay sexy isn't right?

Chris (hurricane) said...

And he says gay sex ain’t right.

More accurately, men who claim to speak for God say it ain't right.

-L- said...

oooOOOooo. I feel so baited. ;)

First, God said "ain't". Second, I'm a little reluctant to voice my disdain for arguments that Mormons somehow can believe that God has not taken an absolutely unequivocal stance on this subject, but, well, I said it anyway. It's in the scriptures as interpreted authoritatively by living prophets.

Dave Walter said...

It frustrates me to no end that many gay advocates are incapable -- psychologically incapable, I believe -- of entertaining the slightest notion that religious people are precisely as entitled to a moral viewpoint as themselves.

Hey, I like that sentence structure.

As I've stated before, homosexuality is a naturally occurring sexual orientation; it is not a moral issue.

The holding of homosexuals to different standards of behavior than heterosexuals are held to is also not a moral issue; it is purely a measure of antigay societal bias.

Homosexual behavior becomes a moral issue only to the exact same extent heterosexual behavior becomes a moral issue. For example, extramarital sex, group sex, and sex with minors are all morally debatable regardless of the sexual orientation of the participants.

I've got my humanistic arguments; you've got your religious ones. There is no small gulf separating our viewpoints.

Chris (hurricane) said...

It's in the scriptures as interpreted authoritatively by living prophets.

Right. Men who claim to speak for God say it ain't right.

-L- said...

Hey, I like that sentence structure.

Hee hee. I felt so clever. The sentence structure is what particularly makes it so true, so true. I was hoping the plagiarism would not be missed.

As I've stated before, homosexuality is a naturally occurring sexual orientation; it is not a moral issue.

Yes, you've stated your position that it is "not immoral" enough times that one must be illiterate if one doesn't know it. And yet, for everyone else in the world (nearly) it is very much a moral issue.

Hence the discussion.

If you're going to understand someone else's point of view (something you're reluctant to do in this case, I know) you have to recognize that people start with different assumptions. One such assumption is that the way you use the term "homosexuality" is a blatant equivocation to a Mormon. You do not distinguish between the innate aspect and the behavior that stems from it. Which is fine in your own worldview if your worldview doesn't put a premium on accountability (and perhaps denies its existence). But not for a Mormon. And if you want to practice the tolerance you preach and seek to understand another point of view, you're going to need to rip yourself away from repeating your dogma over and over and actually consider things from a different place.

I've got my humanistic arguments; you've got your religious ones.

Yeah, I think I mentioned something to that effect in the introductory paragraph. You're spoiling my next post, DW. ;-)

You seem to have missed the point that my religious moral position--the one under current discussion--is not arbitrary and has its root not only in "God says so" but also in a consequentialist (and therefore secularly cognizant) point of view. For example, the biological fact that the evolutionary purpose of sexuality is first and foremost the propagation of the species and that the innate role as husband and father is as much a part of a person's identity (nay, more) as sexual orientation. Debatable to be sure, but valid enough to warrant discussion rather than dogmatic outright rejection.

It’s not my goal that we agree on what is the right approach or what is the right conclusion. My goal is for Mormons to have more respect for gays and more immediately with the current post for gays to have more respect for Mormons. Both groups have been vilified as immoral because of bigotry—unfortunately often by one another.

howller said...

God’s laws are not arbitrary. Right and wrong are right and wrong because they either do or do not lead us to the end which He intends.

It is this black and white mindset that cause people to feel unwelcome in the Mormon church. And it is this kind of thinking that leads some people into suicide. Life is not black and white, neither is God's creation. For this reason, I think the crux of your arguement is faulty.

Nevertheless, your post inspired me to post aditional thoughts here.

-L- said...

Crux? Unwelcome? What the hell are you talking about? I'm not sure how to respond. Is it the clarity and purposefulness that you say people find unwelcoming? Or just that God's laws don't accommodate their wickedness? Suicidal people need help gaining some personal insight, not to be fed what they want to hear religiously. I'm having trouble gathering your meaning.

Howller, I've seen you comment on other blogs and I'm delighted you've come to mine. Always feel welcome. :)

howller said...

Is it the clarity and purposefulness that you say people find unwelcoming? Or just that God's laws don't accommodate their wickedness?

My partner said something interesting the other day. He was remarking that he missed some aspects of activity in the church, and said, "If only they had a different attitude about single people." I thought he was going to say "gay" people. The truth is, even if he pretended to be straight and resumed church activity, simply being single would make him feel too "other."

In a black and white worldview of mormon doctrine, not only is there no place for the homosexual, there is no place for single people or infertile couples. Yes, it is nice to hope that God will put everything right in some other lifetime, but in the black and white mormonism of here and now these people remain shamed.

Anything less than becoming like God, no matter how good, is actually evil

If you take this line of thinking seriously, then forget about sex, you've got bigger problems to deal with. Just having a homosexual orientation means that you are evil. In fact, since none of us are like God, we are all evil. Evil, evil, evil! Shame, shame, shame on us.

All I am saying is that simply because we are not perfect heterosexuals does not make us evil. And by extention of that same logic, sex that is not completely ideal should not be considered inherently evil.

(Thanks for commenting at my blog.)

-L- said...

Counter example

Dave Walter said...

If you're going to understand someone else's point of view (something you're reluctant to do in this case, I know) you have to recognize that people start with different assumptions.

I perfectly understand the official Mormon point of view. But I believe the assumptions are so flawed as to not be worth discussing.

I regard the LDS stance on homosexuality and homosexual behavior as equally ridiculous as would be LDS doctrine stating that yellow crayons are not inherently evil, but that coloring with yellow crayons is.

Even if the whole world argued that coloring with yellow crayons is immoral, I would still reject the argument as absurd on its face, and refuse to entertain debate on it.

I'd be happy, though, to debate moral questions about the kinds of pictures one colors with yellow crayons.

For example, the biological fact that the evolutionary purpose of sexuality is first and foremost the propagation of the species and that the innate role as husband and father is as much a part of a person's identity (nay, more) as sexual orientation.

Generally, people who use that and other non-religious arguments completely undermine their positions by applying them only to gays. Why, for example, aren't they equally opposed to heterosexual couples who are unable to breed?

Gay Mormon said...

Oh L must be in heaven with this discussion. :) Very entertaining.

I really love DW. He has an amazing ability of expressing himself in writing.

As for my input ... who knows.

I must say you're a brave man, L. I find it more difficult to justify/validate the church's positions using logic (even though many of the church's doctrines make complete sense to me).

For me, when it comes down to it, the only thing I can argue is feelings. Heck, that's why I haven't abandoned the church -- because I feel.

Some would argue that emotion is the weakest argument. I think it's the most powerful. Emotions rule most people's actions/beliefs -- even when they claim to be using logic. In any case, I don't think that it's necessarily bad that we rely on our emotions. We have them for a reason, right?

My two cents for the day.

Keep up the philosophical crap ... I'm loving it. :)

-L- said...

yellow crayons are not inherently evil, but that coloring with yellow crayons is

It's not JUST coloring with yellow crayons, it's where. I like yellow, sure. But not on the walls of my house. Maybe not on the Declaration of Independence. Maybe not on my son's eyeball. (You've gotta press HARD to get yellow color on an eyeball.)

Oh, but, nevermind. Since you won't even entertain the possibility of debate (which I think is pretentious), I'll just sneak up behind you with this crayon...

-L- said...

Emotions rule most people's actions/beliefs -- even when they claim to be using logic.

Ain't that the truth.

GM, you know I love your comments. It's like a celebrity cameo on my blog! ;-) The philosophical crap will always be here for you.

Dave Walter said...

It's not JUST coloring with yellow crayons, it's where.

Yes -- where, how, with whom, how often, and so on are debatable from a morality perspective. But coloring per se is not. Just as coloring with a green crayon is not, per se, debatable from a morality perspective.

----------

Today's color key:
Green = Heterosexual
Yellow = Homosexual

-L- said...

Red = aroused by a muskrat named Pookie

I suppose the person holding this crayon ought to color as well. It would be "absurd" to even consider otherwise.

David said...

Anyway, back to what I was saying....

It's in the scriptures as interpreted authoritatively by living prophets.

There is a lot of bullshit in the Bible, living anyone (including prophets) can interpret it however they like and can construe it to whatever point of view they are trying to support.

-L- said...

Yeah, that's pretty much why Mormons believe a living prophet is so important. You've got to have direct revelation from God to complement scripture that can be interpeted incorrectly. I think what I've said, "God says it ain't right" accurately reflects the Mormon view, whether folks want to agree with that view or not.

David said...

Glad we agree on the Bible part.

I've pointed out before that President Hinckley, in an appearance on Larry King Live stated with regard to homosexuality that he "didn't understand it" but that they (meaning gays) "had a problem."

I think that must be very disheartening for gays in the church.

-L- said...

David. I've got a problem. It's that I'm gay. It's not a disease, it's nothing to be ashamed of, but it's a problem for me because I want to fulfill the destiny God has for me and this makes it harder. No harder, perhaps, than someone struggling from plenty of other "problems"--challenges that don't put them in poor standing before God or Pres. Hinckley but are problems none the less.

So, rather than disheartened, I'm glad he is aware of my problem.

Anonymous said...

Huh. Well, I can't say I agree, but kudos to you for working out your opinions.

I happen to be a female teenage straight Mormon - proud of it, too. I love being straight. And Mormon. Regardless, you have an interesting point. Again, I can't say I agree with the logic, but it makes for a nice read when researching an English paper, oui? Well, not that a blog of a random guy would count in MLA, but 'choo know.