Sunday, May 20, 2012

Love Vs. Lust

Subtitle: Kimball's Pet Peeves

After reading a quote that apparently came from a 1965 speech delivered at BYU by Spencer W. Kimball, I decided to listen to the address on the BYU Speeches site to find out if that quote was really in it (it wasn't...but I admit that it could have been edited out [it was about homosexuality]).  I did hear some other interesting teachings though.

The main point of the talk was on the difference between love and lust.  As you may know from previous posts, one of the most problematic things about the Law of Chastity to me is how it sets up a dichotomy between sex and anything good, holy, wholesome, etc., which just can't be beneficial in the long run.  Kimball says, "The beautiful holy word of love they have defiled until it is degenerated and has become a bedfellow with lust, its antithesis."  So, lust is the antithesis of love? (By the way, this talk is also the source of a lust vs. love quote I heard all the time in Young Women's: "At the hour of indulgence, pure love is pushed out one door while lust sneaks in the other.")

But...what about lust within marriage?  Can't someone lust after his or her spouse?  Is that OK?  I can see where lust without any love could be condemnable, but what about lust with love?  He sets this up as being impossible.  If he means that lust is purely sexual self-interest (only the desire for gratification, unmotivated by affection for the other person), then I guess that makes sense.  But without more clearly defining it, it seems as though lust just means sexual desire.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines lust as "usually intense or unbridled sexual desire" or "an intense longing," neither of which seem condemnable as long as they're used within marriage.  He treats any sex outside of marriage as being impossible to represent love, but I just can't agree.  Especially when you apply the principle that people ignorant of commandments they break are not condemned.  It's such an unfair blanket statement to say that if you're not married, your sex can't possibly be an expression of love.

Another of Kimball's pet peeves—so to speak ;)— is petting.  He calls the practice a "terrible vicious habit of youth" and a "deep sin."  For the millionth time I ask, What about if it's within marriage?  Isn't it OK then?  You can't just brand petting itself evil and vicious and not expect people to get complexes that will affect them even after they get married.

Another problematic principle in this talk is the idea that chastity is the most valuable thing one can possess, yet it can be taken by force.  Kimball quotes the scripture from the Book of Mormon (Moroni 9:9-10):

"For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue—and after they had done this thing, they did murder them in a most cruel manner...."
 How is that just?  How can a part of a person that is "most dear and precious above all things" be taken without approval?  I think the mistake is that chastity is being equated to virginity.  And again, what about within marriage?  Doesn't each spouse take the other one's chastity?  But within marriage, it (i.e. not being chaste) is beautiful and holy.  These definitions just don't match up.  Yes, the LoC includes being faithful to a spouse after marriage, which is how someone can break the law while still being married; however, it does not take into account that even within marriage, you're still apparently losing that "most dear and precious" part of you. 

It is also unjust that such an integral part of you, even if taken by force, can never be regained:

"The eighth of the Ten Commandments says thou shall not steal yet the immoral act is robbery in its worst expressions.  It’s taking with or without permission the most priceless, the most unrecoverable, the most unreturnable possession of an individual —chastity and virtue.  In one dark unglorious hour lives can be taken or shattered.  But in a long lifetime total restoration is impossible.  Health lost may possibly be regained.  Wealth lost may be accumulated again, freedom lost might be fought for and regained, but virtue stolen is gone.  Is not this one of the prime reasons why this forbidden thing is so heinous like murder for neither can everbe wholly compensated nor wholly returned or undone.  Thou shall not kill came from Mount Sinai and in the same breath, Thou shall not commit adultery—or fornication, we could add for they are the same.  Same act.  One can take a life easily but return it—never."
Live can be taken or shattered?  OK, let's totally ignore and neglect the Atonement.  That sounds good.  It's just like the object lesson that girls used to get: A hammer struck a nail into a piece of wood, but even when the nail was pulled out, the hole still remained.  (Disgusting.)  Also, I suggest that fornication and adultery are not the same thing.  Again, I turn to the Merriam-Webster dictionary: Fornication is "consensual sexual intercourse between two persons not married to each other" while adultery is "voluntary sexual intercourse between a married man and someone other than his wife or between a married woman and someone other than her husband."  There is a difference!  He seems to try to make them the same thing as a way of increasing the apparent rascality of premarital sex—premarital sex is apparently forbidden by the Ten Commandments, the 10 Big No-Nos.  But it's not.  By calling fornication and adultery the same act, you're basically decreasing the severity of adultery.  Adultery involves violating sacred marriage vows, which seems worse than having premarital sex.

One distinction Kimball makes between love and lust is this: "Proper sex functions bring posterity.  Illicit relations are always intended to avoid posterity."  So...what about "proper sex function" that also is intended to avoid posterity?  What about birth control?  A married couple won't even necessarily conceive every time they have sex.  Again, a false dichotomy is presented: Sex that produces children is good, sex that is not supposed to produce children is bad.  

There is so much more about this talk that I find wrong and damaging, but I will cease my criticism for now.


  1. Very well reasoned, my friend.
    The best part is that I somewhat doubt Mr. Kimball's experience with premarital sex is first-hand...
    I'm aware of a lot of people who would be quick to contradict the honored prophet based on their own first-hand experience of love expressed in sex outside of wedlock.

    What's that you say? He was the prophet?
    We'll resolve this like we do all inconsistencies, and say he was just "speaking as a man."

  2. You two are lost! You are sinful and self-abusers! You need to go through shock therapy and tie your hands to the headrest at night so you don't play with yourselves. Is touching yourself and having sex worth an eternity in hell!? Yes, i mean no!! You shouldn't do such things except when you want kids and have wet dreams. Sheesh.