Friday, May 05, 2006

Religious crimes against nature

It seems ironic to me that homosexuality has been described as a "crime against nature" by religious folks who also believe that "the natural man is an enemy to God". I recognize the intended meanings and the consistency therein, but the word choice is interesting.

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19)

It seems more apt to me to describe homosexuality as TOO natural! The challenge I face on a day-to-day basis is how to keep up this ongoing crime against nature I am committing by trying to be like Jesus.

I'm a believer in the notion that we are accountable for our thoughts our words and our deeds. But I qualify that with the caveat that God understands the exceptions. I think it's usually a mistake for a mortal like me to try to pinpoint them. One exception that has been clarified by the brethren is same-sex attraction. The mental pathways used here are not chosen, and I believe I am not culpable for them. But that's not to say that I get a free pass to fantasize on every fine piece of... you see my point. Our deeds, similarly, are not chosen for those of us with some specific medical conditions I can think of, but that by no means gives a free pass for reprehensible behavior with the justification that my hormones made me do it. Again, God is the judge. And accountability stands.

So, who is this natural man anyway, and why are we up against him? Pleasure pathways in the brain connect the autonomic part of the body with the conscious. You get thirsty and then water tastes fantastic. Your body is pulling the behavior strings. You exercise and you get that endorphin rush. You eat and your hunger is quelled. And you have sex, and your body tells you that pushing that button is a very good thing although it leaves off the footnote that the reason is that it brings about continuation of the species. Hell, it can even hurt and your body just says, don't worry about it, just keep going. These physiological adaptations let the creature thrive.

These natural signals are entirely selfish in their aims. That's what they are for. And selfishness is not shameful in all cases--it's only natural.

Yet, our cognitive ability tells us there are higher causes, unselfish and worthy ways to spend our efforts. Some hedonists, on the other hand, want those pleasure centers stimulated at all costs. Have a smoke and you falsely stimulate the brain's pleasure centers. Take a hit of meth and you no longer feel hungry. Or tired. Screw with your body's signals and you sabotage yourself.

The little devil on your shoulder telling you to go for the druggy high is the natural man. And the little angel telling you to go out and play checkers with the boring old dude down the street is the saint. Looking at porn on the computer is the natural. Kneeling in family prayer is the saint. But it's not an entirely academic discussion taking place on your shoulder. Prior behaviors give the devil some extra buttons to push and extra tricks to try in his favor. He has a direct line to those pleasure centers. But then, the angel has some tricks too--but they don't come standard. They take enabling prayer, study, and discipline.

Note that there are plenty of appropriate ways to keep those pleasure centers hopping. But stimulating them in the manner that God has outlined shows a willingness to "submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him".

May we all be outlaws against nature. May we be our best selves.


Beck said...

"Submitting to all things the Lord sees fit to afflict upon him" is what I've been doing my whole life. This submission is my life! I am beginning to feel very tired of the submitting and afflicting part.

Obviously it would be easiest to just quit, to give up the fight, to stop submitting... Maybe for a time it would even be best and bring some sense of "peace". But with opportunities springing up before me left and right to indulge in less submissive behavior... what an affliction He's chosen for those like me!

Chris (hurricane) said...

Why would God "inflict" things on his children?

This is a part of Mormonism I have never been comfortable with.

-L- said...

Hurc, I don't mean to be insensitive, but this is the type of thing that makes me wonder if you ever understood the Mormon church at all. Honestly, no offense intended with that.

God is love and His purpose is to help us achieve full and lasting happiness, not to "inflict" anything on us gratuitously. However, the fall of Adam created an imperfect world in which to have the mortal experience. In that sense, his inaction to relieve our suffering is inflicting things. I suppose his commandments to abstain from certain things we desire is also an example. Much like I inflict brushing teeth and getting vaccinations on my son.

If I have misunderstood your point, I apologize. This is how I understand God inflicting things upon us, and I offer it as instructional in case it is helpful to anyone.

Chris (hurricane) said...

Who knows, L? Maybe you're right and I never got it. I tire of defending myself on this point, so maybe I'll just concede it. It is true that I'm not a DNA Mormon, so maybe there are parts of the church that you understand more instinctively than I. And even at my most active and committed, I was always somewhat ambivalent about certain central doctrines and teachings. Ask anyone who knows me.

In any event, I don't buy it anymore...

-L- said...

I honestly don't mean to make you defensive. I feel the same way about being tired, but in my case it's tired of clarifying the church's position when it is misrepresented. I don't mean to say that you deliberately misrepresent the church, but I can see how portraying it in a favorable light would not be your instinct considering your current feelings.

Chris (hurricane) said...

Yeah, I really don't want to go around and around on this.

You do a masterful job of presenting the church's positions as I think they are genuinely intended to be presented and understood. I just think you overlook the practical consequences sometimes.

I don't know... perhaps there's not much I can contribute to those who are committed to the church.