Thursday, May 18, 2006

Subtly arrogant

Another subtle form of justification is to accept a lower standard for ourselves than the one revealed in scripture and through modern prophets. Alan Medinger counsels us to be on guard against "the attitude that says, 'God, I am doing the best I can do; this is just the way I am.' Rather than working towards the gospel standard, we adopt a tolerant, indulgent attitude that declares, 'If I only go off on a sexual binge once a year, I'm better off than I used to be. Besides, God understands my weakness.' I have known people who for years have justified their ongoing sin as being reasonable, given their emotional and psychological makeup." It is subtly arrogant to assume that our understanding of ourselves exceeds what God has revealed in scripture and through his prophets.
Jason Parks,
in Resolving Homosexual Problems: A Guide For LDS Men



I've been perplexed myself as I read various accounts of how people are dealing with their struggles when they say something to the effect that they've done the best they can and that's good enough (and so now I'm going to move on and be gay and God must be okay with that). I mean, that's a legitimate worldview and everything, but I don't see it as compatible with LDS doctrine.

But on the other hand, there's some hand waving in the doctrine when you talk about the atonement covering our imperfections "after all we can do". "Can" meaning what? Can we be perfect? Theoretically there's nothing keeping me from living a sinless life. If it means after a legitimate and persistent effort, that's another story. So, do we have to be free from big sins like immorality but not worry about other sins?

Maybe it's a matter of our attitudes. If a person is failing on a regular basis to abstain from his sexual weaknesses, but humbly strives to do better, he's in a different situation than one who excuses himself altogether for one reason or another. I dunno...

13 comments:

David said...

I appreciated the views that you shared in this mans last quote, but after hearing this quote I feel that his views are fundamentally flawed.

There will likely never be a revelation on homosexuality that will become a section in the Doctrine and Covenants to answer all our questions. I likewise don't see a section about overcoming alcoholism or other mortal conditions.

It's not that I think there will be a revelation on homosexuality, but his comparison of being gay and being an alcoholic. This is a common comparison in the Mormon church. We're taught not to compare crosses, but what a weak comparison this really is. I mean, how many alcoholics are there that thought to themselves at the age of 6, "Man, I think I could really go for a vodka tonic with a splash of cranberry."

Oh, and how do we know that homosexuality is only a mortal condition? What if your gayness never goes away? A lot of people will really be pissed off in the afterlife if that's the case.

Chris (hurricane) said...

Jason Parks wrote: Rather than working towards the gospel standard, we adopt a tolerant, indulgent attitude that declares, 'If I only go off on a sexual binge once a year, I'm better off than I used to be. Besides, God understands my weakness.'

This is nothing more than charicature. And people who disapprove of homosexuality on religious grounds trot it out ALL the time.

I've been perplexed myself as I read various accounts of how people are dealing with their struggles when they say something to the effect that they've done the best they can and that's good enough (and so now I'm going to move on and be gay and God must be okay with that). I mean, that's a legitimate worldview and everything, but I don't see it as compatible with LDS doctrine.

It's not compatible with LDS doctrine. And that's why a lot of gay men and women leave the church. Its doctrines are incompatible with their realities.

Chris (hurricane) said...

Theoretically there's nothing keeping me from living a sinless life.

Except your humanity.

-L- said...

Its doctrines are incompatible with their realities.

Yes, of course. I'm commenting on those folks who haven't left the church. Or don't think that it is incompatible. Or claim they still know the church is true but that God can't possibly expect them to [insert objectionable expectation here]. This is what I'm talking about.

-L- said...

David, I've got to both agree and disagree with you here. The comparison is a poor one in general, but as mortal conditions it is perhaps more tolerable. Both conditions result from a combination of nature and nurture--genetic predisposition as well as developmental influences. Both conditions include a proclivity for actions that violate commandments. Neither condition removes choice and accountability.

I find it interesting that three people have commented as if to minimize the impact of alcoholism in comparison with homosexuality. I think this does a disservice to those who struggle with alcoholism--a very real and compex problem in and of itself.

Anyway, good discussion. I have no doubt you would find many of Jason Parks' views to be misinformed or inaccurate, but you might find some to be very informative and interesting. That's the tack I'm taking as I read the book, and I think it's a mistake to categorically dismiss someone's ideas as fundamentally flawed with very little data.

Chris (hurricane) said...
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Chris (hurricane) said...
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Chris (hurricane) said...

L: I find it interesting that three people have commented as if to minimize the impact of alcoholism in comparison with homosexuality. I think this does a disservice to those who struggle with alcoholism--a very real and compex problem in and of itself.

Speaking only for myself, I was not in any way attempting to minimize the impact of alcoholism. It is a very real and complex problem. Homosexuality, on the other hand, is real and complex (just like heterosexuality), but it need not be a problem.

(Sorry for the deletions. I messed up the first time I tried to post a response.)

-L- said...

Well, if that statement from Parks was what tipped you off that his book titled Resolving Homosexual Problems: A Guide For LDS Men takes the position that homosexuality is a problem, I can see how you would disagree. :)

David said...

Alcoholism and Homosexuality are far too different to be compared in my mind. I'd hope that before anyone linked the two as comparable experiences they seriously think about what causes both situation. How does science view them. How do mental health professionals view them. How do medical professionals view the two and the impact they have on your body. How do various religions view them. Consider every aspect of both side by side and they become starkly different. This does not minimize anything but to compare them is a weak attempt to understand either.

Both conditions include a proclivity for actions that violate commandments. Neither condition removes choice and accountability.

Apples and oranges are both sweet and they are both pieces of fruit, but to say they are the same is a very simplistic thought process that may serve some arguments but holds up weakly when you actually experience either first-hand.

Chris (hurricane) said...

L, I was responding to YOUR words, not his. But you're reading his book and largely agree, so perhaps no distinction is needed.

-L- said...

...that may serve some arguments...

That's really the point. Does it serve the PRESENT argument. He didn't say "homosexuality and alcoholism are PRACTICALLY THE EXACT SAME THING". He said they are both mortal conditions, and from an LDS perspective, they are.

Jason Park said...

And that's why a lot of gay men and women leave the church. Its doctrines are incompatible with their realities.

Maybe the doctrine is true and real and it's their perception of reality that's flawed.