A growing number of Americans seem to be accepting, even embracing, the idea of same-sex relationships (i.e., homosexuality) even while there still remain Americans who view those relationships as dysfunctional. Professional medical associations have, one by one over the years, basically “declassified” homosexuality as a mental disorder and now consider such behavior as generally “natural, normal, and healthy.”
Admittedly, and unashamedly, I fall into the old-school camp. I view homosexuality as a disorder – psychologically, emotionally and culturally. Now, after reading this, I’m inclined to add that it’s also an intellectual disorder.
Jennifer Dobner is a veteran Associated Press reporter. I’m quite sure she hasn’t made up any of the quotes used in her story, so there’s no reason for me to doubt the actual words of the people she interviewed. Her story centers on how “gay Mormons” continue to cope (or not) with their faith. I recommend her story if only for one reason: as an intellectual exercise. Try to count how many falsehoods, misunderstandings, half-truths and misrepresentations are manifest in the story. Again, I’m not questioning Dobner’s professionalism; I am questioning how politically correct our world has become in its understanding of “gay” anything.
One of the more peculiar politically correct threads that seems to run through all of these arguments these days is mentioned in the story as it relates to Mormons.
There are many people who read into recent LDS Church statements that there is a separation between “being gay” and homosexuality – that someone can think he is “gay” without ever being involved in homosexual behavior and thus demand (now under force of law) that this self-identity be taken seriously by others; in other words, that someone can reasonably identify his personhood, and hence conduct his life, in terms that preclude human behavior.
I simply don’t believe that concept or accept its construction.
Within any Christian theology of which I’m aware, a person isn’t a thief unless she actually steals something. A person isn’t actually a murderer unless he takes an innocent life. And so on. I believe that a person isn’t actually a homosexual unless she has same-sex sexual relations. [pullquote]I believe that a person isn’t actually a homosexual unless she has same-sex sexual relations.[/pullquote]
The AP reporter writes in her story, “While the church has historically frowned upon homosexuality, since the 1990s, leaders have softened their stance to differentiate between feelings and actions. Leaders now say the origins of homosexuality aren’t fully understood and disciplinary action or excommunication is typically limited to those found to actually be engaging in homosexual activity.”
I’ve been a Latter-day Saint since 1978 (33 years of my 53 years) and I’ve never thought otherwise. Actual human behavior determines any disciplinary Church action, period. I’ve never heard of anyone being excommunicated for just thinking something. I know LDS Church members have been excommunicated for both thinking “contrary” ideas, especially ideas that reflect critically on church authorities, and publicly sharing those thoughts as a manner of advocacy (like a few, more strident, advocates of the Equal Rights Amendment years ago), but not simply for having a thought.
For me, there’s really nothing “new” about my church’s position on what or how people think about themselves. A person can think whatever he wants to think, period, and the rest of us are to be patient with that. When the time comes that personal thoughts turn into outward actions, then is when the discernment of others is needed and justified.
There’s something else this story reminded me of. It’s difficult to be critical of deeply held personal feelings. That’s what makes this issue so tough to discuss publicly, let alone aggressively debate. But that’s part of the point. “Gay” activists have put the rest of us in the unenviable position of arguing an opposite point of view while we try to skillfully and exhaustively traverse deeply emotional terrain. Because those activists rarely permit us to do so without claiming offense, real human emotions get mixed in with politics and policies. We wind up labeled as “mean-spirited.” Unfortunate, but unavoidable.
After 25 years of studying this policy issue, I suppose I grow callous toward the claimed offenses. It’s frankly tiring to defend sound public policy and still remain sensitive to (overly sensitive) human emotions. Perhaps the best I can do these days is to simply point out the falsehoods, misunderstandings and misrepresentations among the professionals when I see them.
Read this story. Maybe you’ll see them too.