Saturday, June 02, 2007

Recap

After a zillion comments, I was left agreeing with Mohomie's comment in which he said essentially, "Umm... what's going on?"

So, part of my own confusion stems from my scatter-brained original post. I mentioned the youth pamphlet, but in my mind (and post) I extend the need for order and clear expectations to a larger group than that.

On the other hand, I've since looked through the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, and I think it already does outline some pretty clear expectations. And adults' standards of behavior aren't really different, per se, just the circumstances. And I certainly don't want to be perceived as criticizing the brethren or official church publications in talking about this stuff, because I most certainly don't think that would be appropriate.

Here's the section in the pamphlet about sexual purity:

“The sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”).

Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife. God has commanded that sexual intimacy be reserved for marriage.

When you obey God’s commandment to be sexually pure, you prepare yourself to make and keep sacred covenants in the temple. You prepare yourself to build a strong marriage and to bring children into the world as part of a loving family. You protect yourself from the emotional damage that always comes from sharing physical intimacies with someone outside of marriage.

Do not have any sexual relations before marriage, and be completely faithful to your spouse after marriage. Satan may tempt you to rationalize that sexual intimacy before marriage is acceptable when two people are in love. That is not true. In God’s sight, sexual sins are extremely serious because they defile the power God has given us to create life. The prophet Alma taught that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder or denying the Holy Ghost (see Alma 39:5).

Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that with you. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body.

In cultures where dating or courting is acceptable, always treat your date with respect, never as an object to be used for your lustful desires. Stay in areas of safety where you can easily control your physical feelings. Do not participate in talk or activities that arouse sexual feelings.

Homosexual activity is a serious sin. If you find yourself struggling with same-gender attraction, seek counsel from your parents and bishop. They will help you.

Victims of rape, incest, or other sexual abuse are not guilty of sin. If you have been a victim of any of these crimes, know that you are innocent and that God loves you. Seek your bishop’s counsel immediately so he can help guide you through the process of emotional healing.

If you are tempted to commit sexual transgressions, seek help from your parents, your bishop, and friends you can trust. Pray to the Lord, who will help you resist temptation and overcome inappropriate thoughts and feelings.

If you have committed sexual transgressions, begin the process of repentance now so you can find inner peace and have the full companionship of the Spirit. Seek the Lord’s forgiveness. Talk with your bishop. He will help you obtain the forgiveness available to those who truly repent.

There's nothing there that's not applicable, in my mind. And if I were to tailor it specifically to a gay youth, I would only adjust a few minor things. Maybe it would say something like this:

“The sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”).

Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife. God has commanded that sexual intimacy be reserved for marriage [with someone of the opposite gender].

When you obey God’s commandment to be sexually pure, you prepare yourself to make and keep sacred covenants in the temple [still true for gays...even if the marriage covenants may be delayed until after this life]. You prepare yourself to build a strong marriage and to bring children into the world as part of a loving family. You protect yourself from the emotional damage that always comes from sharing physical intimacies with someone outside of marriage.

Do not have any sexual relations before marriage, and be completely faithful to your spouse after marriage. Satan may tempt you to rationalize that [gay] sexual intimacy is acceptable when two people are in love. That is not true. In God’s sight, sexual sins are extremely serious because they defile the power God has given us to create life. The prophet Alma taught that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder or denying the Holy Ghost (see Alma 39:5).

Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. [Do not rationalize that such emotions can have no expression otherwise.] Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that with you. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body.

In cultures where dating or courting is acceptable, always treat your date with respect, never as an object to be used for your lustful desires. [Do not rule out dating merely because you are not sexually attracted to a person. This might be a good area for further discussion and information.] Stay in areas of safety where you can easily control your physical feelings. Do not participate in talk or activities that arouse sexual feelings.

Homosexual activity is a serious sin. If you find yourself struggling with same-gender attraction, [you should start a blog and notify the guy at ardentmormon.blogspot.com. Also...] seek counsel from your parents and bishop. They will help you.

Victims of rape, incest, or other sexual abuse are not guilty of sin. If you have been a victim of any of these crimes, know that you are innocent and that God loves you. Seek your bishop’s counsel immediately so he can help guide you through the process of emotional healing.

[Those who experience unchosen feelings and sexual attractions are also not guilty of sin. However, such feelings may challenge you throughout your life. Finding a way to properly deal with various challenges is an important part of every person's mortal life.]

If you are tempted to commit sexual transgressions, seek help from your parents, your bishop, and friends you can trust. Pray to the Lord, who will help you resist temptation and overcome inappropriate thoughts and feelings.

If you have committed sexual transgressions, begin the process of repentance now so you can find inner peace and have the full companionship of the Spirit. Seek the Lord’s forgiveness. Talk with your bishop. He will help you obtain the forgiveness available to those who truly repent.


So, what do you think?

19 comments:

Kengo Biddles said...

1) You've been blog-spammed.
2) I like it.
3) "exderience" is one heck of a typo. Either that or you're dyslexic and didn't notice. I'm a bit of both, personally.

-L- said...

You like the spam? I should have left it then, I guess. :-)

Thanks for the proof reading. I miss my Firefox inline spell checker when I happen to be using a computer that doesn't have it. Go everyone-who-isn't-Microsoft!!!

iwonder said...

I agree. We HATES microsoft

And, no. microsoft does not get any capitalisation from me. So there!

Stephen said...

Forgive me, but it seems to be a bit... well, I really hope that you don't mistake my intentions here but it comes across as slightly... Well, it seems really very "lay down the law" to me, and it still pushes that "go get married" message.

I guess I'd just thought that we were going with more of a message of hope than an outpouring of the law.

playasinmar said...

Needs a few more "get-marrieds" and a "tell-your-bishop" (for flavor).

Mr. Fob said...

Frankly, I'm shocked and appalled that the part about getting a blog and notifying you isn't already in the pamphlet.

And I apologize for contributing to the confused nature of the last comment thread. Sort of. Actually, no I don't, because I know that if it were me I'd be happy to get the comments, regardless of whether they were discussing the topic I'd intended them to discuss, and I'm content to project my own thoughts and feelings onto you.

calvin said...

To be honest, I've read enough of the "message of hope" approaches in talks/books/articles, and I was hoping that through this FTSOGY idea we'd be able to clarify specific boundaries that often don't get clarified. In other words, I kind of like the "lay down the law" feel.

That said, there are definitely things that I feel should be added about issues we deal with. For example, I'm against homosexual dating and I assume/gather that the Church is too. BYU's Honor Code does an okay job in addressing "homosexual behavior" like holding hands or kissing, but I'd love official clarification. Otherwise I find it too easy to rationalize. I also find it frustrating to uphold and advocate a standard that other Mohos don't think exists.

Perhaps those are the kinds of areas in which we won't easily come to agreement, though. I wish some invisible force inside the Church could magically produce this thing.

Mr. Fob said...

One of the difficulties of producing a Churchwide standard on such things is that it's a worldwide Church. Holding hands and kissing may be a sign of a romantic relationship in American culture, but there are a lot of cultures around the world where it is perfectly acceptable for nonromantic/nonsexual male friends to express such affection--even kissing on the lips. Not to mention the fact that even within American culture a lot of nonromantic/nonsexual female friends do the same. Would the proposed pamphlet then have to get so specific as to say "No kissing except in the following countries:" or "No kissing that involves the tongue"?

I suspect the only invisible force that produces this standard is going to be your own conscience, and I have to say I'm with FRM in hoping it stays that way. I don't think a published standard would actually change much in the way most Mohos actually behave--for the most part it would just give the ones who already follow it a reason to feel superior to the ones who don't. The ones who don't will find ways to justify their behavior, whether it's that they don't believe the pamphlet is inspired or they believe it's impossible or they simply feel their conscience tells them otherwise. I would propose that the best standard for determining moral behavior in any case is asking yourself "Does this behavior demonstrate my love for God? For my fellow man?"

And now I will step down from my self-righteous soapbox. Until I get back on it.

playasinmar said...

this post reminded me:

A sadder life it is for some to love the one you love the most.

-L- said...

I appreciate the challenge of trying to make a catch-all guide that applies to worldwide group of youth. That said, I imagine there's a perceived benefit in giving some guidance, even if it's imperfect, that will apply to many/most youth. Are there versions for other cultures? I have no idea. Regardless, I think it would be appropriate for individuals to apply exceptions when appropriate and consistent with the overall aim--using their own conscience, as Mr. Fob suggests. That's probably what I did as a gay youth, albeit subconsciously.

Stephen, is the part that bothers you the part that the brethren wrote, or the part that I wrote? Because I'm not really up for changing or diluting what the brethren have to say on the topic, only clarifying how it may apply differently. The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage is an unavoidable (and gloriously good) part of the eternal fate of those who are fully faithful to the gospel. That's not to say that marriage will be possible for everyone in this life, but the possibility for this life and the promise for the next (if worthy) still has to influence the way youth behave and view their actions in regard to sexual purity.

Plus, you definitely don't have to pull any punches with me. You, being nice, can say what you want and I'll not be offended.

santorio said...

the, uh, "new and everylasting covenant of marriage..." is that the one with polygamy, or are you talking about the new and improved everlasting covenant of marriage which does not include polygamy?

we see through a glass darkly, and would best be cautious about predicting the future. some things are best unsaid and unwritten

Stephen said...

-L-

Forgive me; I don't pull any punches for your sake. To say that I live in constant terror of the opinions of various bloggers would be a gross overstatement, however to say that I am completely unaffected by their opinions would be outright deception. Especially the opinions of those I've actually met.

While I do not with to criticize the brethren, I would like to propose that just because a message or idea is inspired does not mean that the wording in the final delivery must also be. I hold that the pamphlet, as it stands, contains ideas that are inspired of God. I do not hold that all of the phrasing within is divinely inspired. In fact, I hold quite the opposite to be true.

I also hold that as young gay man who often contemplates whether he actually wishes to remain in the church, that being told to date somebody I'm not sexually attracted to (not really attracted to at all actually... it's not just that girls don't turn me on...) is definitely neither testimony reinforcing nor evil repelling.

Other than the part where it says to go out and date members of the opposite sex anyway (A position to which I do not lend my support(A statement by which I mean no offense)) and the part where it says that they need to make a blog and tell you (A position I whole heartedly am in support of), almost nothing new is said.

I'm also going to point out that my knowledge of the premortal existence is insufficient for me to say whether my feelings, both of homosexual attraction and of lack of heterosexual attraction, are chosen or not. While, admittedly, the majority of your readers, including yourself, have made covenants beyond what I have and have attained knowledge beyond what I have, I am skeptical that such an understanding of what was before our veil has been gained by any mortal.

I suppose that's about as long as comment should ever be allowed to get.

-L- said...

Santorio, I often speak unspeakables. I'm just not usually afraid to talk about stuff, even when it might show my ignorance and I end up wrong. And I might have misunderstood the N&EC of marriage, but I don't think so. It's a deeper conversation than is really relevant for the present post, but the point is: marriage is required for exaltation.

Stephen, I think some of my feelings are chosen and some aren't. And I think the ones that are chosen and are not good need to be repented of, and the ones that aren't, don't. Figuring out which is which can be tricky sometimes, but that shouldn't stop me from acknowledging that the unchosen ones aren't anything to feel sorry for.

And it never said to go out and date members of the opposite sex anyway, it said not to rule out dating someone just because you're not sexually attracted to them. You think you need to be sexually attracted to everyone you date?

You mentioned having objections to some of the phrasing of the original. Like?

Switch said...

Hmm.. Can't say I really support the cause, but in spirit of community support, I'll add..

I don't think these changes alone merit a new publication of any type.

.. and there's not really any new information there.

You may be better off giving some personal experiences into the mix.

"Hi, my name is -L-. I was able to find a woman with enough love and conviction to stick with me knowing our relationship would have a unique set of challenges."

or

"Hi, my name is Brady. I'm finding happiness by living gospel principles and remaining chaste by {example} and {example}."

I remember those gay mormon days.. and the last thing I needed handed to me was yet another strict book of rules. I think you might have better success getting something new published if it made gay youth feel like someone actually understood them and the issues they face.

One big problem with the LDS faith and gay kids - there's a massive disconnect. Gay issues still feel "administrated", not understoood. You still feel isolated. You're not even allowed to say "I'm gay". You have to "suffer from" same-sex attraction or whatever. It's confusing.

I think if you want to make a publication that makes a difference, you need to write something that says in simple language, "we understand, you're not alone, you're valuable."

The problem is that LDS gay kids want to commit suicide. It's not that they don't understand your rules.

Thoughts? I'm not really in on all your comments in detail, so maybe you covered that already.

-L- said...

Well, switch, you should write something along those lines. Go for it.

I do think there has been a supportive message from the brethren that gay kids are loved and appreciated. And I think that if there's a group of people who understand what a gay youth goes through in the church, this is it.

I like your take. And, as for me, I'm not looking to publish anything. I'm just in it for the exercise in thinking.

playasinmar said...

"The problem is that LDS gay kids want to commit suicide. It's not that they don't understand your rules."

Wow. I've never heard it put so succinctly. Well done, Switch.

Original Mohomie said...

Some of the comments you added were perhaps a bit redundant. And others a bit superfluous. And others I liked alright.

I think too many gays are looking for someone to a) tighten the leash either to remove the need for self-governance or to justify rebellion, both of which are ways of shrugging personal responsibility, or b) tell them they're SO unique that they get to make up their own set of guiding principles.

In regards to some sentiments here (admittedly possibly only my perceptions), being told I'm so unique that I am an exception to something as basic as the For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet just doesn't seem like a "message of hope". It actually seems a bit condescending.

On the other hand, even though I don't feel it strongly now, there was a time when I was bitterly angry with how law-oriented the church membership seems to be and how much that often stifles the life of the gospel. And I agree that the last thing I want is to be reminded, in yet another way, that maybe I should give girls a chance.

But isn't it interesting how our paradigms and experience shape what we see/read/hear? There was no insistence in L's additions to date the opposite sex. Just a reminder (and a MUCH needed one for ALL boys, in my opinion) that sexual attraction is not a PRErequisite to a deeply rewarding and successful relationship. Guys tend to work backwards, in my opinion.

MoHoHawaii said...

If you find yourself struggling with same-gender attraction, [you should start a blog and notify the guy at ardentmormon.blogspot.com.]

LOL.

That's about the best advice I've heard.

Seriously. The biggest problem young gay people in the Church face is isolation.

Dave said...

“The sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife” -so this doesn't really apply to gay people since there's no procreation involved. Yay!