Saturday, October 9, 2010

Isaiah 25:4, 8

It's hard for me to read scriptures because the negative, chiding parts always jump out at me.  It's nice to find scriptures that are reassuring of God's love for you instead of ones that say you must change or face dire consequences.

For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.

"If I won't be gay in the next life, maybe I'll just kill myself."

Let me summarize what the problems with President Packer's remarks were.
  1. The logic that God wouldn't pre-set someone a certain way and not allow them to change it is faulty.  Every day children are born with mental and physical handicaps which they can't overcome.  You can't pray away Down Syndrome or AIDS.  I don't at all mean to cast being gay in a negative light by comparing it with disorders.  Also, and maybe I'm wrong about this, but I don't think God sends down temptations and challenges like Jove sends down lightening bolts.  He doesn't hurl one at a baby in the womb and say, "You shall be born with a missing toe!  Muahahaha!"  There are so many steps that are included in forming a child.
  2. "Remember, He is our father."  So if God doesn't "pre-set" people that way, then that means it must be purely a temptation from Satan.  That really isn't a cheery thought, and that's not reassuring.  "It's not God's doing!  It's just Satan!  So you can overcome the temptation!"  Except when you can't and you can't change the way you feel.
  3. Gay people already have a hard life cut out for them by being different from the accepted norm.  Add to that the pressure of being a teenager, and perhaps being misunderstood and not accepted by parents and friends ("You don't have to live with this problem!  You can change!  All the problems associated with it will go away."), and you can see why so many gay teens are depressed and suicidal.  Saying that homosexuality does not exist in the next life gives gay teens quite the reason to commit suicide.  If they try and try and can't change and "fail," then maybe death seems like a better option, especially if it is supposed to bring relief from same-sex attraction.  "If I won't be gay in the next life, maybe I'll just kill myself."
  4. What you call "impure" and "unnatural," they call love.  Please show some tact and compassion.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Overhaul on sex ed, please

The way morality and chastity is taught in the church is damaging and out of whack.  I think this mainly comes from leaders not putting themselves in the shoes of their audience members and trying to treat a symptom, not a disease (that's only a metaphor, and I don't mean that sex is in any way like a disease).  Instead of lecturing kids how going too far brings guilt and remorse and that you won't be pure, leaders need to think about the reasons kids choose to have sex.  They need to recognize that that desire isn't bad, and not all kids are just bundles of hormones who decide to have sex just because everyone else is doing it.  They try to claim that "those feelings" are "normal" and "natural," but in the same breath say that they need to be squashed.

Regardless of whether some church leaders' stances on homosexuality is even correct, it needs to be taught and discussed a different way.  If you are gay, it is not helpful to hear that your desires are perverted and that you need to change again and again.  In a church where marriage and family is so often stressed, kids who are gay who do want these same things but just aren't attracted to the opposite sex will feel like there is no path for them.  Sure, they want to get married, but it's impossible because they won't marry someone of the opposite gender; so they're trapped.

Elder Boyd K. Packer made some disastrous assertions during a General Conference talk, which are no doubt results of his age and sexual orientation.

Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and the unnatural.  Not so.  Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?  Remember, He is our father.  Paul promised, 'God will not suffer you to be tempted above what ye are able.  But will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it.'  You can if you will break the habits and conquer the addiction and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the church.

I am trying to prove that this statement is wrong even under the paradigm that homosexuality is immoral.  Bear that in mind.

By saying that someone is not "preset" and that God would not do that, what exactly is he saying is the alternative?  That it's your fault?  You're giving into the temptation to think that way?  He tries to be comforting by saying that God wouldn't do that, but the implication that you weren't born that way and that you can totally stop it is even worse.  I believe everyone has a predisposition toward things which are considered "immoral" that have to do with his/her personality and struggles.  To some, doing drugs is a huge temptation; to others, it's not but being dishonest is.  It's ridiculous to tell those people that God didn't make them predisposed to want to do drugs and that it's their fault for being tempted.

I don't know if God "tempts" us like some people say anyway.  That scripture from Corinthians that Elder Packer quoted  makes it sound like God sends us temptations, which doesn't seem right.  Plus, it's an overgeneralization that you will always be overcome temptation.  Mainly because people label too many things as "temptation," like being depressed.  I don't think we can always overcome our circumstances—what about all those pioneers that died en route to Utah??  They would have made it if they had had more faith?

Elder Packer makes being predisposed to liking the same gender sound like a stupid excuse.  God wouldn't do that?  So what's the alternative?  Now telling someone that being gay is an "addiction" and that their feelings are completely "impure and unnatural"—that's something Heavenly Father would never do.  Remember, He is our father.