FAIR Examination 1a: Why would a gay man with AIDS join the Church?

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Steven Wilson is a member of the Church living in the San Francisco Bay area. Twenty years ago, he was introduced to the Church by a recently returned missionary he met in a gay bar. The two eventually moved in together and during the next seven years, Steven developed addictions, contracted AIDS and became severely depressed. As Steven’s condition worsened and he began to feel that he was going to die, he turned to an in-depth investigation of the Church.

This is his story about how he joined the Church, and eventually became an ordinance worker at the Oakland Temple. He is now happy and no longer experiences temptations with same gender attraction. He was baptized by the same returned missionary that first introduced him to the Church and with whom he has lived for the past 20 years. During the past 13 years of active Church membership, the two men have maintained a close bond of love, friendship and brotherhood within the gospel. He attributes his success in overcoming same gender attraction and his addictions to the Church’s 12 Step Addiction Recovery Program and to the atonement of Jesus Christ. He shares his thoughts on gay marriage, President Packer’s October, 2010 Conference talk, and his strong testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This is the first part of a two part interview.

68 thoughts on “FAIR Examination 1a: Why would a gay man with AIDS join the Church?

  1. Pingback: 1 December 2011 | MormonVoices

  2. Phillip Smith

    This account should give hope to the many wonderful individuals with homoerotic feelings who are seeking to avoid the sexual behavior that all too often follows such feelings. Again we need to love all regardless of sexual orientation but help them, as we help ourselves, to avoid sexual relations outside the bounds that God has set.

    Phillip Smith

  3. Joshua Johanson

    I think sometimes members are afraid of sharing the gospel with friends and coworkers who are in same-sex relationships. This is an excellent example of how gospel can and does bring peace and happiness for these people. We should never be afraid of bringing peace and happiness into the lives of our brothers and sisters.

  4. Batman

    So, not mention of the aids though. I take it that can’t be cured? Cheers religion. Keep up the lies.

  5. Stuart

    I’m happy that he overcame is addictions, and didn’t die from AIDS. There are a few obvious questions, though. One, why did he meet a returned missionary in a gay bar? Two, the story implies he was “cured.” Which is, of course, ridiculous.

  6. April

    Question 1: What was a returned missionary doing at a gay bar? Question 2: Do they still live together? And if so, is anyone really buying their story that they don’t have sex anymore?
    I do not find this story inspiring at all.

  7. Kaileo

    Wow. Why would you join a church that fights against who you are? I really feel sorry for this guy. Poor soul.

  8. Aaron

    It would be wonderful if this question were never asked, that any human being would want to join the church and feel encouraged to do so — and welcomed with open arms when and if he or she did actually did become a member. The real question is why would this individual or any similar individual want to join a church that does not really want them, would not make them feel welcome, would speak openly against them, would fight to make their lives miserable and unhappy?

  9. Valerick

    How sad. How terribly terribly sad. One day we won’t force people to hide like this anymore. It’s too bad these two men have had to hide their relationship to gain acceptance in their community. How sad that that acceptance is even desired, since that community can barely tolerate them in the first place.

    Bummer.

  10. Ty Mansfield

    This was a great interview. Thanks to both Steven and FAIR. Steven talks about his relationship with former-gay-partner-now-best-friend-and-brother, Kenneth. Kenneth shares this story from his perspective in an essay included in ‘Voices of Hope: Latter-day Saint Perspectives on Same-Gender Attraction–An Anthology of Gospel Teachings and Personal Essays’ (http://deseretbook.com/Voices-Hope-Ty-Mansfield/i/5062130), titled “‘Thy Will Be Done': Living with HIV/AIDS in Faith and Brotherhood,” recently published by Deseret Book. The submitted manuscript also had an essay included from Steven’s perspective (soon to be published online separately on North Star’s website (http://northstarlds.org) but had to be cut due to length constraints.

  11. Mormon Teen

    We recently had a lesson on the power of priesthood blessings and I’m certain that a priesthood blessing could not only remove his SSA but cure him of AIDS.

    Priesthood blessings are free and should be considered first to heal any faithful Latter Day Saint.

    MT

  12. Nick Literski

    I listened to both halves of the interview, and I found it very concerning. Despite the fact that LDS leaders (Gordon B. Hinckley, for example) have bluntly stated in recent years that they don’t know what causes homosexual attraction, this interview claims to have all the answers—that it’s an “addiction” caused by an absent father and domineering mother (an old Freudian myth, disproven by millions of heterosexuals raised in the same conditions after the Industrial Revolution).

    I found it peculiar that Mr. Wilson actually seems to attribute the availability of HIV suppressive medications to a priesthood blessing he received from an LDS stake president. Mr. Wilson even claims that these medications were entirely unexpected by the medical community, until they suddenly sprang out of nowhere 15 weeks after his blessing. While Mr. Wilson may not have kept abreast of medical developments during that time, it’s nearly impossible to believe that medical professionals were surprised. As with any other new drug, the release of these medications followed a multi-year process of studies and FDA reviews. They didn’t suddenly arise as the “miracle result” of a priesthood blessing.

    I’ll admit I share the curiosity others have expressed here, in that Mr. Wilson has continued to live with his partner (now his “roommate” and “brother in the gospel”) for 20 years (13 years in the LDS church), without intervention by local LDS leaders. It’s difficult for me to imagine local LDS leaders allowing a heterosexual couple to live together in alleged celibacy for 13 years. In fact, I’ve seen local LDS leaders deny baptism until such a situation was resolved by marriage or relocation. It’s beyond difficult for me to imagine them being more tolerant of such conditions for a former homosexual couple. There must be quite a story there!

    I found myself dismayed to hear the discussion of Mr. Wilson’s medical marijuana use. I know HIV positive men who suffer from neuropathy, as Mr. Wilson does. I’m No pharmecuetical treatment provides anything more than moderate relief for their intense pain and suffering. Some of these men, with the advice and encouragement of their physicians, do use a small amount of marijuana daily. It provides nearly complete relief, allowing them to walk and function normally. In this interview, the interviewer sounded like he was trying to be “non-judgmental” about Mr. Wilson’s use, but his tone sounded like he found it highly questionable at best. Given the level of pain that Mr. Wilson most likely suffers from his neuropathy, I find it disturbing that he would choose to discontinue a medically-approved treatment, at least in part because he’s being unrighteously judged by his fellow church members for it.

    Finally, it sounds like such a “twist of the knife,” that Mr. Wilson’s “roommate” was actually called by the stake president as “stake coordinator” to promote the Proposition 8 political effort. Personally, I can’t imagine the nearly-sadistic insensitivity of a stake president who would expect a gay (albeit now allegedly celibate) man to actually lead such an effort.

  13. Joseph Scoma

    Steven and Kenneth are a very sweet (yet deluded) couple. They are very much in love but have so much self-hate (fostered by their faith) that they won’t allow themselves to be happy outside the Church.

  14. SteveDensleyJr Post author

    There have been a number of comments and questions that raise the same issues. I’ll try to address them all in one post. Before doing so, I’d like to note that some of the comments violate the commenting guidelines in that they make personal attacks and make attacks on the Church. I have allowed them to be posted (although I deleted one with a vulgar reference) since they raise some common arguments about the Church and homosexuals that I’d like to address. However, if these types of attacks against the Church, its leaders, or against faithful members of the Church that have experienced same gender attraction continue, they will not be posted.

    First, what was a returned missionary (Kenneth) doing in a gay bar? Apparently he was seeking out a homosexual relationship. However, I don’t know Kenneth’s side of the story so I can’t say for sure. As Ty Mansfield has pointed out, Kenneth’s story appears in “Voices of Hope: Latter-day Saint Perspectives on Same-Gender Attraction–An Anthology of Gospel Teachings and Personal Essays” (http://deseretbook.com/Voices-Hope-Ty-Mansfield/i/5062130). And yes, they still live together, but remain celibate.

    Was his AIDS cured? No. Steven no longer experiences AIDS dementia, but still experiences other effects of AIDS. Steven is under no illusion that a commitment to the gospel will remove all trials and hardships from this life.

    Some of the commenters seem to have not actually listened to the interview. As the title of this podcast rhetorically asks, they too wonder “why would a gay man with AIDS join the Church?” They cannot imagine that a person with same gender attraction could find happiness in the Church and they are dismissive and even abusive of those who claim to have done so. They claim to be accepting of individual choice, but require that only particular individual choices are acceptable.

    A prevailing ethic in modern society dictates that we should all just do whatever we want. A gay man should “be true to himself” and pursue homosexual relationships. However, Steven tried that and it lead to addiction, AIDS and depression. He was contemplating suicide BEFORE he joined the Church and it was the gospel that gave him hope, peace and joy. As he explains, the happiness that he now experiences comes from being true to his eternal self and his true identity as a son of God.

    While it is true that there are some members of the Church that are not supportive of people with same gender attraction, as Steven’s experience demonstrates, there are many others that are. Clearly, we have much to learn and we will hopefully continue to grow in love and unity as members of the Church as we grow in our ability to bear one another’s burdens. But I don’t think it is fair to say that Steven is not accepted by the Church in general given the fact that he has been called as a temple worker, a secretary in his elders quorum and has been made to feel that he is an important and loved member of his ward.

    Certainly, it cannot be said that all those with same gender attraction have had the same experience with the Church as Steven has had. However, given all of the misinformation that exists, we are often led to believe that people like Steven do not exist. I feel blessed to have been able to get to know Steven and hear his story. He is an inspiration to me, and I hope that his story will be an inspiration to others as well.

  15. Fred Barrett

    To bad that when someone finds happiness that most of those who have posted a comment have to do to them what they claim heterosexuals are doing to them. I would think all would be thankful for anyone who could in their personal opinion improve their lives. Sex can be in truth an addiction whether one is a homosexual or a heterosexual a condition that is developed in the early years of ones life most likely when a person is abused by one older and in some cases by an adult. For either it is sometimes a life long endeavor to overcome that addiction while some overcome it at an early age by totally rejecting personal relationships. More power to them if they have found peace in their lives who are we to judge them?

  16. Nick Literski

    Steve, you make some excellent points, but I have to differ with you on one aspect. You wrote: A prevailing ethic in modern society dictates that we should all just do whatever we want. A gay man should “be true to himself” and pursue homosexual relationships. However, Steven tried that and it lead to addiction, AIDS and depression. He was contemplating suicide BEFORE he joined the Church…

    Steve, the way you worded this suggests that you believe gay relationships lead to (drug) addiction, AIDS, depression, and suicidal ideation. I’ve been in a same-sex relationship for several years, and none of those alleged “results” are part of my life. My own experience was almost entirely the opposite, in that trying to live in a heterosexual relationship, and hiding my sexual orientation, led to depression and (mild) suicidal ideation.

    One does not become addicted to illegal drugs because they are gay, or because they “seek out gay relationships.” The majority of drug addicts are heterosexual, and the majority of gay men don’t use illegal drugs. Likewise, one does not contract HIV/AIDS because they are gay, or because they “seek out gay relationships.” The majority of gay men are HIV negative, and the majority of HIV positive people are heterosexual. I could go on the same way about depression and suicidal ideation, but you get the idea.

    I hope this was merely a mistake of wording on your part, and that you don’t actually believe these tragic experiences are the “results” of being gay, or being in a gay relationship.

  17. Nathan000000

    What a great story! It’s a powerful reminder that all of us have strong inclinations that, if followed, would prevent us from having the fullest, truest possible relationship with Heavenly Father. It makes me grateful for the people in my life who loved me enough to help me live the commandments and be my best self, rather than just letting me take the path of least resistance.

    Regarding the question of why the returned missionary was in a gay bar, it seems reasonable to assume that it’s because at the time in his life, he was struggling to reconcile his spiritual convictions with his physical attractions. He was conflicted and was experimenting. He later changed his way of life and got active in the Church again, as the interview says.

  18. SteveDensleyJr Post author

    Nick,

    I suppose I cannot say with certainly what caused Steven’s drug addition, AIDS or depression. From my conversation with Steven, he at least seems to believe that he would not have contracted AIDS, become addicted to drugs, or have been contemplating suicide had it not been for his pursuit of homosexual activity. In any event, my point was that the typical argument we hear, is that people in the Church who experience same sex attraction become miserable and depressed and that the only way off of their road to suicide is to leave the Church and engage in a homosexual relationship. Steven’s story runs directly contrary to that narrative. While I can’t conclusively state what caused Steven’s misery, he seems to believe that if he would have followed the teachings of the gospel from the beginning, that he would have avoided much of his unhappiness. Disagree with that if you will. I can’t.

    While I don’t doubt that homosexual activity does not invariably lead to drug use, depression and contracting HIV, “Studies have shown that, when compared with the general population, gay and bisexual men, lesbian, and transgender individuals are more likely to: Use alcohol and drugs, Have higher rates of substance abuse, Are less likely to abstain from alcohol and drug use, Are more likely to continue heavy drinking into later life.” http://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/substance-abuse.htm. Gay men also exhibit “higher rates of suicide, depression, bulimia, [and] antisocial personality disorder.” http://www.narth.com/docs/whitehead.html. Finally, about 75% of those in the U.S. with AIDS are men and 90% of all male AIDS cases in the U.S. resulted from homosexual contact and/or drug use. http://www.avert.org/usa-statistics.htm

    When I observe the social ills and misery in society, I cannot help but conclude that society would be better off if people followed the tenets of the gospel. That is not to say that people who follow the teachings of the Church will not encounter trials, pain and tribulation, but that without the gospel, their situations would be more hopeless and they would often bring increased hardship and pain upon themselves.

  19. Nathan000000

    Nick, I didn’t read Steven’s comment that way at all. It seemed to me that he was responding to the common charge that what causes depression in these cases is the expectations set by the religious community. By pointing out that Steven was depressed before he joined the religious community, he was eliminating that explanation, not necessarily proposing his an alternate.

  20. Joshua Johanson

    It seems odd to say in order to be true to yourself you need to fit in this little box. I think it took great courage for Steven to share his story. His story is unique and it is his story. To say he isn’t being true to himself because he had different experience than you did seems a bit off to me. To say he is hiding because he is sharing his story also seem counter-intuitive.

  21. Nick Literski

    Steve, I can’t pretend to “diagnose” these issues with respect to Mr. Wilson in particular–I won’t even try. My only intent was to caution against making a general statement of causation. NARTH, along with certain other groups and individuals whose primary source of income derives from “curing” homosexuality, explicitly claims such a causal relationship. Other mental health professionals have argued and presented studies suggesting that depression, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation often are the result of rejection by family members and community. For that matter, some evidence suggests that so-called “reparative therapy” or “conversion therapy,” intended to make gay men heterosexual, also causes an increase in depression and suicidal ideation. These are complex matters, of course, involving MANY factors, including heredity, socioeconomic factors, etc.

    With regard to HIV and AIDS, we’re seeing a substantial increase among specifically young African American men who have sex with men, largely because there’s a much stronger social stigma in that community, so these men don’t tend to seek regular testing. Not knowing they are HIV positive, they don’t obtain medical treatment, including virus-suppressing medications, and they are much more likely to infect others (HIV suppressive medication decreases the chance of transmitting the virus to another person by about 96%, according to the most recent studies).

    In any case, I’m happy for Mr. Wilson if he has found peace and joy in his life. I’m sure you probably feel the same way with regard to others, even if their particular path to that destination is different than the one Mr. Wilson chose.

  22. Joshua Johanson

    Nick, I don’t think you understand how statistics work. Misinformation can be dangerous because men who have sex with men may not know they are at a higher risk than those who don’t. That can lead to higher infection rate and even death, so it is important you don’t convey erroneous information.

    You said “Likewise, one does not contract HIV/AIDS because they are gay, or because they ‘seek out gay relationships’. The majority of gay men are HIV negative, and the majority of HIV positive people are heterosexual.” You seem to think the second statement refutes the first.

    Let’s look at the statistics and see how gay sex in men can lead to becoming HIV positive even though most HIV positive people don’t have gay sex.

    According to the Center for Disease Control, men who have sex with men account for 49% of all people living with HIV. Hence your statement that most people with HIV are in fact heterosexual.

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/fastfacts-msm-final508comp.pdf

    They also estimate only 4% of men have sex with other men. If you calculate this, the fact that 4% of the population accounts for 49% of cases means that men who have sex are about 23 times likely to get it than those who don’t, even though most people with HIV do not have gay sex.

    Beyond that, they have done statistics on the method. Gay sex accounts 74% of transmission of HIV for men. Saying seeking out gay relationships doesn’t give anyone HIV is simply wrong. It gave Steven HIV and 74% of new cases in men.

    http://www.avert.org/usa-transmission-gender.htm

    While black men who have sex with men are more prone to HIV than other races, white men who have sex with men and still much more likely to get HIV than white men who don’t.

    While testing, suppressing so as not to transmit to others, and so forth might help, nothing beats celibacy. Every site that is serious about helping reduce new HIV infections will talk about that.

  23. Phil

    Just from noticing much of what has been posted here, it would behoove everybody to actually listen to the podcast before just dismissing everything or some things said in the summary. As an SSA individual, honest feedback that also has well-informed content is what is helpful to me, not outright bashing.

    Also, thanks Joshua for clearing up those statistics for me.

  24. Nick Literski

    Joshua, I agree that misinformation about the transmission of HIV is dangerous. This is why your conclusion that gay sex “gives people HIV” requires a response.

    I’m familiar with the CDC statistics you quote. Within the United States, HIV is indeed much more common in men who have sex with men (MSM) than in other men. It’s irresponsible, however, to use this statistic to “prove” that gay sex “gives people HIV.” 14% of new HIV infections among U.S. men are from heterosexual contact. A shocking 85% of new HIV infections among U.S. women are from heterosexual contact. If I were to use your analysis, I would have to conclude that “seeking out heterosexual relationships gives people HIV,” especially for women. In making such a statement, I’d be wrong.

    Laying aside non-sexual transmission, what “gives someone HIV” is having unprotected sexual intercourse with a person who is HIV positive. That’s where your argument for celibacy comes in, Joshua, because celibacy certainly prevents sexual transmission of HIV (duh). By simply claiming that gay sex “gives people HIV,” you misinform and endanger heterosexuals of both genders.

  25. Joshua Johanson

    Nick,

    I didn’t mean to imply that male gay sex always gives men HIV or that is the only way to get HIV. It is a method for getting HIV, just like having heterosexual sex is a method. It is just more risky than straight sex and is by far the most common method of getting HIV in the United States. This is despite the fact that only a very small percentage of the population participates in male gay sex. There are several reasons why male gay sex has higher transmission rates than straight sex, which is obviously higher than celibacy.

    Having protected sex is safer than having unprotected sex, but it is still not as effective as following the law of chastity. Condoms break, expire, are defective, are misused, or sometimes just plain don’t work. People do get HIV from protected sex. Celibacy is the most effective method.

    People do get HIV from pursuing homosexual relationships, and they get it at a much higher rate than those pursuing heterosexual relationships. Other high risk activities include pursuing prostitution, sharing needles, or pursuing sexual relationships with a high risk group.

  26. Realist

    Classically conditioning someone to feel bad every time they feel attracted to someone of the same sex is not curing them, it’s brainwashing.

    Jesus never said anything about homosexual people, stop making such a big deal out of it.

    Anyone from the New testament who said anything is not Jesus, and if you quote the old testament then I have one word. “Shellfish”

  27. Phil

    Realist, whatever the case is, an attraction to the same sex is not a sin. It is what is done with at attraction that can be seen as sinful; in this case, it is homosexual activity. The condemnation is not in the person themself, but their actions. And please have a little more respect for the religious beliefs of those on this forum.

  28. Phil

    Sorry, typo: *with that attraction.

    If you wish to have a little more information as to where I’m coming from, I’m a gay Mormon but am choosing a different path like Steven did, as well as some of the others here, and it has made all the difference.

  29. Nathan000000

    Realist: “Classically conditioning someone to feel bad every time they feel attracted to someone of the same sex is not curing them, it’s brainwashing.”

    This comment betrays a lack of familiarity with reparative therapy approaches. The purpose of reparative therapy is not to make someone feel bad for having SSA thoughts. It is a response to the fact that the individual already feels bad for having SSA thoughts. In fact, many reparative approaches specifically try to diminish the negative emotional reaction individuals have when they have an immoral thought. For more details, I highly recommend the following talk by Dr. Jeff Robinson, a therapist who specializes in working with men with SSA:

    http://theguardrail.com/understanding

    As for the comments about some topics not being specifically mentioned by Jesus in the Bible, that point isn’t as relevant for members of a Church based on continuing revelation.

  30. Alan

    I take it these two men will perhaps cohabitate for the rest of their lives? It’s a little odd how folks here concentrate on how they aren’t having sex or calling themselves “gay,” focusing away from the obvious: that they’re cohabitating for the rest of their lives as a couple.

    In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter whether people call themselves “gay” or not, or even if they have “gay sex” or not. The threat to LDS culture is not the “sin,” since people “sin” all the time — the Church capitalizes on sin. The threat is love, which will eventually force the Church to recognize that loving relationships and families take more than just one form. It can postpone validating these families, but it only makes itself look bad in the long run. It’s actually somewhat surprising that FAIR would consider these two men to be living “within the gospel.”

  31. Stuart

    Phil,

    Just because someone mildly critiques the LDS Church does not imply that they are being overtly disrespectful toward your beliefs. It seems telling that you hide behind a wall of “respect” whenever real and harmful things are pointed out about your beliefs. That’s not disrespectful anymore than you saying an atheist would go to hell.

  32. Phil

    Alan, they’re cohabitating as best friends and brothers, not a couple. That used to be the case, but not so anymore, having listened to the podcast and having read Kenneth’s story as well.

    Stuart, perhaps you’re right about me being so defensive. However, having lived in that personal hell for some time before converting has changed my outlook and I still don’t really think what Realist was saying was either germane or correct. Just my opinion.

  33. Alan

    Phil, whether they’re “best friends,” “brothers,” “a couple,” etc, is not really the point. They love each other and there’s no indication they plan to separate and marry women. Seems the faithful are willing to give these guys a free pass on having an emotionally-satisfying long-term committed relationship with each other — as long as they affirm that they aren’t having sex, that they’re not “gay,” and they agree that their union is inferior to a heterosexual marriage.

  34. Nathan000000

    Alan, I’m honestly having a hard time understanding what point you’re trying to make. Are you saying that because these two men have formed a stable, long-term household, it’s evidence that such a household needs to be called a marriage? Are you saying that the Church, if it were consistent, should not approve their current living arrangement? (Those two options are not mutually exclusive.) I need clarification, because I was left confused by your comment.

  35. Phil

    Alan, they do love each other, but as is said in the entire podcast and Kenneth’s story in “Voices of Hope,” that love has now turned into a brotherly or best friend type of love. Between two men that is what they have deemed to be a healthy relationship, and I do agree. There is a difference between a sexual type of love and what Kenneth and Steven are pursuing. I have other male friends whom I share that same sort of love for, and while we don’t cohabitate our relationship is similar. Have I been forbidden from even being near them? No. In addition, Steven did mention possibly marrying a woman. It may have been in the second segment, but he did say that.

  36. Joshua

    Alan, I think you are trying to stretch this into something it isn’t. Regardless of the words you use, they are just really good friends. A lot of friendships are “emotionally-satisfying long-term committed relationship”. Stories of Jonathon and David, Naomi and Ruth, Alma and the sons of Mosiah, are all examples of committed, emotionally satisfying relationships. Of course those don’t compare with a romantic relationship. They are supposed to be different.

    The church does not have a problem with asexual love. We are commanded to love. Repeat it all you want. The law of chastity has helped me and many others on here to find peace. It isn’t to leave our lives devoid of love. I feel, as has Steven, that it has filled our lives with love. I know many have had different experiences, but that is the experience we have had with the law of chastity.

    And just to clarify another thing that really bothers me. Same-sex couples (and by “couples” I mean those in a romantic relationship, not just two friends) already had the opportunity to have a legal recognition in California through civil unions. The Church was very clear they DID NOT OPPOSE those rights. Simply repeating over and over again that Prop 8 took away the ability of same-sex couples to have their unions legally recognized does not change the fact that Prop 8 passed and same-sex couples still have the right to have their relationships legally recognized. It may not be called a marriage, but you can’t say they aren’t legally recognized and you can’t say the Church opposed legally recognizing them.

  37. chanson

    It’s difficult for me to imagine local LDS leaders allowing a heterosexual couple to live together in alleged celibacy for 13 years. In fact, I’ve seen local LDS leaders deny baptism until such a situation was resolved by marriage or relocation.

    This is an interesting point. If a man and woman had originally moved in together as lovers, but insist that now they simply love each other as brother-and-sister-type best friends, and want to continue cohabiting (without marriage), would the LDS leaders allow them to remain members in good standing in this arrangement? Should they?

  38. Alan

    Nathan, history is packed full of heterosexual men living together as friends. But clearly, the Church’s “Proclamation on the Family” does not consider two men living together to be an optimal household, regardless of their sexual orientations.

    My personal feeling is that two men living together can be an optimal household, just as plenty of other households are different than the norm and are loving and good and should not be judged as “lesser than.”

    I guess I just find it odd and indeed inconsistent how the Church has a kind of arbitrary scale in terms of how it views non-optimal households. These two guys are being upheld by FAIR as “living within the Gospel,” even though they’re unmarried and childless. On the other hand, a same-sex parented married couple with kids…is such a family even allowed to participate in Mormon services?

    I think it would be great if the Church could see two people of the same gender having a spiritual connection similar to husband/wife, because I think the reality is that same-gender couples do feel this kind of connection, which is why they marry.

    I don’t want to get into a debate about what an “appropriate” love and/or friendship is between two people of the same gender, because I’m pretty much of the opinion that it’s up to those two people to decide what their love and/or friendship means. In terms of Steve/Ken, they can define their relationship however they want. I’m not, as Joshua suggests, insisting that they’re “gay.”

    Joshua, the only reason the Church didn’t oppose civil unions in California is because the only other option there was gay marriage. Until there are civil unions for gays in Utah (and the rights that might entail), I’m not sure that it makes any sense whatsoever to say the Church is not opposed to legally recognizing same-sex couples. You just have to read Utah’s State Constitution that nothing resembling marriage is allowed in Utah, not civil unions, not anything, to get a sense of what the Church would like the world to be like.

  39. Joshua

    “Is such a family even allowed to participate in Mormon Services?”

    Yes. Everyone is allowed to participate in Mormon services. They may not be allowed to take the sacrament, but they can participate in other ways. It against Mormonism to kick anyone out of our services.

    No one is in the optimal situation. This is an imperfect world and we all have something about us that is suboptimal. If someone feels they have to be optimal in order to live the gospel, then we need to do a better job of welcoming them. Whether the non-optimal situation comes from sin or from circumstances beyond their control, we still need to make them feel welcome. However, as several people here have expressed, we have appreciated help and encouragement in living the gospel, and I think we can do that while being welcoming. I actually know a man who is in a same-sex relationship, open about it, and goes to church every week. He says he feels welcome, and says he understands why he cannot partake of the sacrament.

    The Church does believe a marriage between a man and a woman is the ultimate goal, but does not teach you have to achieve that in this life in order to live the gospel. I understand there is a difference of opinion on this point, and no one is saying there isn’t.

    Don’t confuse Utah politics with the Church’s position. The church has supported giving special protection based on sexual orientation for employment and housing rights, even though many people in Utah are opposed to any special protection based on sexual orientation. Elder Holland has said it should be a model for the rest of Utah. That was several years ago and Utah still hasn’t followed suit. Utah does not just blindly follow the Mormon Church.

    And there is a difference between not opposing civil unions and supporting them. With a few very visible exceptions, the church stays out of politics and rarely opposes any political measure. Defining marriage is an exception to that rule. Granting legal recognition to same-sex couples is not.

  40. Alan

    Joshua, I think you forget that the Church supported the nondiscrimination ordinances in Salt Lake City only because it was exempt from them. Elder Holland thought it was a good model in the sense that it gives the Church the freedom to be exempt and continue to make its own rules. You might think about this more clearly. Nondiscrimination in housing would mean that BYU’s honor code would be classified as unlawful, since it would be unlawful for the school to kick someone out if they’re having sex with someone of the same gender. But since the Church owns BYU, it’s exempt from the law. I know you’re trying to meet me halfway with glass half-ful logic, but it doesn’t stack up.

    Anyway, I don’t want to be the one admonished for going off-topic. =p

  41. Joshua

    I am sure the reasons for supporting the ordinances are complex, and we will never really know all of the reasons. I have my theories, as you do yours. The Church did make a statement as to why they supported the ordinances, and they called it a common-sense right and a matter of human dignity as well as protecting religious freedoms, so I personally think that they were interested in protecting people like me and you from discrimination. They are very well aware many members of the church have same-sex attraction. You can read the statement here:

    http://newsroom.lds.org/article/statement-given-to-salt-lake-city-council-on-nondiscrimination-ordinances

    I did want to clarify that the ordinances were about sexual orientation, not about lifestyle choices. There are many students at BYU who are open about their sexual orientation, and the honor code specifically protects the right to manifest same-gender attractions. Just because a BYU student has a homosexual orientation, does not mean they are going to have gay sex and get kicked out. I know many people outside the church confuse sexual orientation with sexual actions, but for people in the church, there is a strong distinction.

  42. Nick Literski

    Joshua, that’s not correct. The Supreme Court has already said that you can’t legislatively distinguish between “being gay” and “having gay sex” in discrimination law. As they put it, having intercourse with a person of your same sex is part and parcel of being gay.

    The idea that the ordinance would only protect celibate gays and lesbians (or gays and lesbians who had sex with opposite-sex persons?) is both ridiculous and unlawful.

  43. Joshua Johanson

    I think I didn’t make myself clear. What I meant to say was the statement put out by the Church was about protecting all people with same-sex attractions (I never said only the celibate or heterosexually married ones). I was not trying to make a statement about the legal side of things. I am sorry if it came across that way.

    The idea that having intercourse with a person of your same sex is an unchosen characteristic of a person is obviously something the Church disagrees with. I imagine this will continue to be a contention between the Church and the law.

  44. Nick Literski

    A church is certainly quite welcome to parse out ecclesiastical privileges on any basis it wishes, Joshua. I’m not arguing that the LDS church, or any other church, needs to change its doctrine. Rather, I’m pointing out that under civil law, the Supreme Court has rejected the argument of “Oh, we’re not discriminating against gay people–we’re just targeting gay sex.” Under the civil law, that makes no more sense than saying “Oh, we don’t mind heterosexuals–we just want to discourage them from having sex with each other.”

  45. Joshua Johanson

    What I am trying to say is the statement put out by the church was about protecting people with same-sex attractions. There was no mention of gay sex, either positively or negatively. They didn’t exclude people who had gay sex or specifically include people who had gay sex. They just didn’t talk about gay sex in that statement.

  46. Alan

    Joshua, what would you do if one day you got fired from a Mormon institution, and you’re pretty sure it was because you’re gay?

    Would you like to have legal recourse in the matter? Or are you okay with trying to resolve the situation through the Church’s ecclesiastical system? There is still a great deal of homophobia in the civil law system, but I’d expect a lot more in Mormon circles. I’m confident that eventually the courts will decide that even Mormons have a right to not be discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation, and if that means that, consequently, Mormons can’t fire and kick to the curb other Mormons who are in same-sex relationships, well, tough luck.

  47. Mr. Willie Johnson

    Wow, two men who met in a gay bar have lived together for the last 20 years in heterosexual bliss. I wonder who usually gets home first when these two guys are out on dates with their girlfriends. How cool that two men can meet at a gay bar, move in together for 20 years and yet live exemplary heterosexual lives where each of them is clearly involved with women and, therefore, showing the world that gay men can indeed pray away the gay. By the way, please follow up this story with interviews of the women these guys are dating or otherwise involved with. I’m sure those women would gladly speak about how great it is to be dating either of these clearly heterosexual men. Yesssireee Bob!

  48. fiona64

    Steve Densley wrote: Gay men also exhibit “higher rates of suicide, depression, bulimia, [and] antisocial personality disorder.” http://www.narth.com/docs/whitehead.html.

    Sir, I’m very disappointed to see you quote a discredited organization … and specifically one which was told to stop misrepresenting the research cited here. Intellectually dishonest, sir.

  49. Joshua Johanson

    Mr. Willie,

    I don’t Steven is saying he is heterosexual.

    Alan,

    I don’t think anyone should be “kicked to the curb”, but if someone cannot perform their job, then I don’t think the employer should be obligated to keep them on the payroll.

    A truck driver needs to know how to drive a truck. If he gets his license taken away because he doesn’t know how to never drive drunk, then I think the employer is justified in letting him go.

    Likewise, an instructor at an Institute of religion or at the MTC needs to know how to follow the Mormon faith. If they don’t know how, they can’t do their job. How is an instructor at the MTC going to teach missionaries how to help people like Steven repent and be baptized if the instructor himself is having gay sex? It just doesn’t work.

    If an instructor at the MTC has sex with his girlfriend, the Church can fire him for “being straight”. Why then should they not be able to fire an instructor at the MTC for having sex with HER girlfriend?

    Religious exemption make sense because their job entails a certain amount of religious observance. I don’t care if the person bagging my groceries or making my computer chip or whatever is having gay sex. But I do care if I sign up for an institute class, and I find out that my institute teacher is out having gay sex while trying to teach the importance of overcoming the natural man. I wouldn’t want to kick the institute teacher to the curb, but I wouldn’t want to take an institute class from her either.

    I think the church is very well aware that the legal system may interpret having a homosexual orientation as born to have gay sex. I don’t think they agree with it, but they are aware. It was smart of them to seek a religious exemption so that they can hire religious instructors who are capable of doing their job. That is an important part of religious freedom.

  50. Alan

    I was specifically referring to a situation where someone is following the faith (they’re celibate or in a mixed-orientation marriage, such as yourself), but a higher up doesn’t think it’s “appropriate” for that someone who is “gay” to be in a given position — so they use their influence to get them released. But as usual, you sidestepped what I was saying and made it about the “evils of gay sex.”

    The legal system doesn’t interpret having a homosexual orientation as “born to have gay sex.” It’s more about the fact that anti-sodomy laws are illegal because citizens have a right to privacy in the bedroom (as per Lawrence vs Texas in 2003, such that targeting gay sex is not legally acceptable). The fact the Church asked for exemption in the SLC ordinances tells me that the Church doesn’t agree with a right to privacy in the bedroom. The Church got out of its marrieds’ bedrooms in the 1990s. I think it’s time they got out of queer bedrooms, too.

  51. Nick Literski

    Joshua, I can’t help but chuckle at how you keep rephrasing and/or attempting to shed doubt on the Supreme Court’s statements on this matter.

    Back in 2003, Justice O’Conner wrote a concurring opinion in LAWRENCE v. TEXAS. That case stemmed from a Texas law making sodomy between persons of the same sex (but not opposite sex couples) illegal. While this was a criminal case, the logic has guided subsequent civil decisions by the Supreme Court. You will note, from Justice O’Conner’s statement, that the State of Texas attempted to make the same distinction you are claiming. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=CASE&court=US&vol=539&page=558
    In agreeing that gay persons had a Constitutional right to engage in private consensual sexual behavior with persons of the same sex, Justice O’Conner explained:

    “Texas argues, however, that the sodomy law does not discriminate against homosexual persons. Instead, the State maintains that the law discriminates only against homosexual conduct. While it is true that the law applies only to conduct, the conduct targeted by this law is conduct that is closely correlated with being homosexual. Under such circumstances, Texas’ sodomy law is targeted at more than conduct. It is instead directed toward gay persons as a class. ‘After all, there can hardly be more palpable discrimination against a class than making the conduct that defines the class criminal.’ Id., at 641 (Scalia, J., dissenting) (internal quotation marks omitted). When a State makes homosexual conduct criminal, and not ‘deviate sexual intercourse’ committed by persons of different sexes, ‘that declaration in and of itself is an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres.’ Ante, at 14.”

    In 2010, writing for the majority in CHRISTIAN LEGAL SOCIETY CHAPTER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, HASTINGS COLLEGE
    OF THE LAW, AKA HASTINGS CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP v. MARTINEZ.
    http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1371.pdf , Justice Ginsberg also responded to the sort of argument you’re making:

    “Our decisions have declined to distinguish between status and conduct in this context. See Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U. S. 558, 575 (2003) (“When homosexual conduct is made criminal by the law of the State, that declaration in and of itself is an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination.” (emphasis added)); id., at 583 (O’Connor,J., concurring in judgment) (“While it is true that the law applies only to conduct, the conduct targeted by this law isconduct that is closely correlated with being homosexual. Under such circumstances, [the] law is targeted at more than conduct. It is instead directed toward gay persons as a class.”); cf. Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic, 506 U. S. 263, 270 (1993) (“A tax on wearing yarmulkes is a tax on Jews.”). See also Brief for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., et al. as Amici Curiae 7–20.”

    I assume that you understand the basic concept that the Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States, and that other courts must follow their precedent. Now that you’ve been shown their rulings on the matter, kindly stop pretending that this legal principle is mere theory.

  52. Joshua Johanson

    Alan,

    I do not want to be fired from a Mormon institution because of my same-sex attractions. I realize that can happen because we are all humans. However, I do not trust the legal system to “protect” me because I don’t trust the legal system. So no, I don’t want legal recourse in this matter given the current state of our legal system. The negative ramifications of such a law is more than just “tough luck”.

    “But as usual, you sidestepped what I was saying and made it about the “evils of gay sex.””

    To me, it is more of a matter of the ability to do their job. Let’s try a different example. In general, I don’t think someone should be fired for being Mormon. However, even in that I think there should be a religious exception. If someone is, let’s say a Baptist minister, then I do think they should be fired for converting to Mormonism. It isn’t that I am talking about the “evils of Mormonism”. It is just that I don’t think a Mormon could do a good job explaining to the congregation why Jesus and God are really physically one, or that they are saved once they accept Christ as their personal Savior. Being Mormon conflicts with being a Baptist minister, and they have every right to fire us. It is the inability of a Mormon religious instructor to teach people how to live the law of chastity when they don’t know how to keep it themselves that prohibits them from being an effective Mormon religious instructor. It doesn’t mean they aren’t a good person, it just means they don’t know how to do that particular job.

    Can you answer a few questions for me?

    You said it is “tough luck” that the Mormon church can’t fire someone for gay sex if the religious exemption weren’t there.

    Do you think that the Mormon Church should have the right to fire an unmarried Mormon religious teacher for having straight sex?

    Do you think that the Mormon Church should have the right to fire a Mormon religious teacher for having gay sex?

    If not, is it because you think having them break the law of chastity has no effect on their ability to teach students how to live the law of chastity, or is it because you don’t think that should be a part of the job requirements in the first place?

    “The Church got out of its marrieds’ bedrooms in the 1990s. I think it’s time they got out of queer bedrooms, too.”

    Well, I only have one bedroom. I am not a Mormon for them to tell me that I am perfect the way I am and that I don’t need to change. I am Mormon in part because they teach me what I need to do in order to qualify myself for the Holy Ghost and live with God again. The Mormon church teaches we are all sinners and repentance is a requirement for all of us. To say gay people can’t participate in that repentance would be to discriminate against gay people.

    I feel closer to the spirit when I am sexual with my wife than when I am sexual with a man. That is the way it works with me. I am thankful for the teachings of the church. Steven says he is grateful for the law of chastity. Many people with SSA are grateful for the law of chastity.

    If you take away the law of chastity from the Church, you take away a very dear and precious part of the church. That would not be fair to Steven and many other people in same-sex relationships like he was in who will yet find comfort in the law of chastity as he has.

    The law of chastity is there precisely to help people in same-sex relationships.

  53. SteveDensleyJr Post author

    Fiona64,

    Your comment smacks of ad hominem and probably violates FAIR’s comment policy in making a personal attack against me in accusing me of intellectual dishonesty. Nevertheless, I’ll respond.

    I’ve never heard that NARTH has been discredited. You seem to assume that the best data I could find that supported the assertion that gay men exhibit higher rates of depression is an organization that, in your view, has been discredited, and that I went out of my way to use its data. In fact, I just did a quick Google search and posted the most pertinent article I could find as fast as I could. It is not really hard to find information supporting my assertion. After reading your comment, I tried to look for another source that you might accept and found the New York Department of Health’s website: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/facts/helpful_resources/lgbt/gay_men_health_concerns.htm

    It indicates that not only that “Depression and anxiety appear to affect gay men at a higher rate than the general population.” But also, men who have gay sex stand an increased risk of HIV infection, substance abuse, hepatitis infection, prostate, testicular, anal and colon cancer, higher rates of alcohol dependence, much higher rates of tobacco use, and are “much more likely to experience an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia.”

  54. Alan

    Joshua, like I said, it’s clear the Church doesn’t agree with the principle of freedom of privacy in the bedroom. That is why it feels it has a right to fire people on the basis of the intimate relationships they form, regardless of gender. For the Church, God is everywhere, including in the bedroom — including non-Mormon bedrooms. As you put it, there’s also this notion that everyone is a sinner, and even non-Mormon gay people should be “allowed to participate in repentance.”

    Basically the Church is demonstrating its lack of a capacity to co-exist within a pluralist society on this issue. It finds itself at odds with its surroundings. “Religious exemptions” are a last ditch effort to try to affect the whole, but the way I see it “religious exemptions” represent a piece of the Church that is already broken when set alongside the rest of society, a brokenness that amounts to more than just its stance on “gay sex.”

    In the end, it’s going to be up to the Church to decide whether their way of funneling people into a particular family form with particular gendered dynamics is worth the dissonance the Church as a whole will experience as time goes on. I know it feels like society is invading Mormonism (it felt that way in the 1970s on the issue black ordination), but it’s really just a matter of cultural dissonance on the question of gender. Boyd Packer warned in the 1990s about “feminists, gays and intellectuals,” and well, that “threat” hasn’t disappeared in the slightest.

    Each new generation of Mormons is born into the dissonance, and they do something with it to try to alleviate it. For example, I see BYU students now having discussions about how a child raised by a gay couple is not necessarily in a bad position, as these students are convinced by sociological research that gay parents can be good parents. At some point, it may be the case that the “sin” truly becomes understood as us “all being sinners,” as you say, rather than it being treated as a special case that would prevent someone from taking sacrament or whatever. The presence of more same-sex couples at Mormon services would raise tough questions regarding the theological relationship between women and men, once enough conversations were had. This might sound nonsensical and harmful to you, but obviously queer families are not going to start attending Mormon services if there’s an atmosphere of people thinking their families are sinful or lesser than; so, I wouldn’t waste my breath creating a illusion that the Church is welcoming for these families. The Church has every right not to make them feel welcome, but again, it is finding itself at odds with the rest of society.

  55. Joshua Johanson

    Alan,

    I think your version of a pluralistic society is not pluralistic at all. In a pluralistic society you will have different views from different people. There will people who are having gay sex who want to continue having gay sex and there will be those who want help getting out of that lifestyle. A pluralistic society will have options for both. The Church teaches we are free to choose. Your solution will prohibit the Church from helping people make lifestyle choices. Your scenario only allows for gay people who want to have gay sex. It ignores the needs of gay people who do not want to have gay sex. The Church grants agency while you take it away. That is not pluralistic at all.

    This podcast is a perfect example of why the Church needs to continue to exist and help people like Steven find peace.

    Nick,

    It isn’t that I don’t understand the Supreme Court decision. It is that I disagree with it.

    If it is “conduct that defines the class”, as O’Conner asserts, then being gay is a choice, and I choose not to be gay, and being gay should not have any additional privileges than any other lifestyle choices.

  56. Nick Literski

    Joshua,
    Your disagreement with the Supreme Court of the United States is every bit as consequential as the actions of a toddler who puts his hands over his ears and screams, not wanting to hear his parents’ instructions. I’m not calling you a toddler by any means, but rather pointing out that your “disagreement” doesn’t change established civil law under the United States Constitution. The Framers empowered the Supreme Court to act as the highest judicial body in the nation. The Framers did not empower any church, nor even Joshua Johanson, to create binding interpretations of civil law.

    Furthermore, your attempted analysis of Justice O’Conner’s words is unsupported and illogical. In particular, your partisan claim that gays and lesbians are seeking “additional privileges” not granted to other citizens is an outright falsehood. Perhaps you’ve seen cynical religious types claim that gays and lesbians have “the same rights as heterosexuals–to marry someone of the OPPOSITE sex.” Such rhetoric attempts to characterize marriage equality as a “special right” for gays and lesbians (only) to marry someone of the same sex. In reality, however, that’s not the case at all. Where civil marriage equality is the law of the land, a heterosexual person has the legal right to marry a person of the same sex–just like religious types note that a gay person has the legal right to marry a person of the opposite sex. Marriage equality is just that—the EQUAL right of all citizens to marry the consenting adult of their choice, regardless of that person’s biological sex.

  57. Joshua Johanson

    Nick,

    I think you are reading a lot into my “additional privileges” statement that just isn’t there. I also don’t think by saying I disagree with the Supreme Court that I am saying I have the authority to create binding interpretations of civil law.

  58. Nathan000000

    I must admit I’m inclined to agree with Joshua about the Supreme Court decision, and for the same reasons. Saying that the decision is binding does not address whether it is wise, just, moral, or desirable.

    Nick, I’m interested in the way you framed marriage equality. If I understand you correctly, you acknowledge that in the absence of same-sex marriage, both heterosexuals and homosexuals have equal rights, and in the presence of same-sex marriage, both heterosexuals and homosexuals also have equal rights. Both legal situations consist of both orientations having the same options and rights. Legalizing same-sex marriage does not give homosexuals a right that previously only heterosexuals had; it gives both groups the same additional option or right, which neither held previously. Am I understanding you correctly?

    I ask because I completely agree with that way of framing it. I wish more advocates of same-sex marriage would understand that and stop using the argument that they want the same rights that heterosexuals have. That argument makes no sense, and I wish more people realized that.

  59. Nick Literski

    Nathan, I really appreciate your comment, in part because it points out how the way in which we communicate something makes a big difference in whether others are able to hear and understand.

    What you’ve summarized is essentially correct, except that I would add one factor. Having the legally-recognized right to do something you find abhorrent doesn’t mean much to you. While it’s true that a gay or lesbian person has the legally-recognized right in every state to marry a person of the opposite sex, it’s a useless right for them. Perhaps that’s why many supporters of marriage equality see the issue as “heterosexuals have the right to marry the person they love, and homosexuals don’t have that right.”

    Imagine that you lived in a fundamentalist Islamic state, where the LDS church was not legally recognized, and membership therein was prohibited by law. A devout Muslim might say that you have the “same legally-recognized right” that every other citizen does–the right to be a Muslim. The right to be a Muslim, however, isn’t going to hold much value for an LDS person. An LDS person wants the legal right to worship whoever, whatever, and however they are guided by their own conscience. To an LDS person in such a circumstance, Muslims would have the right to freedom of worship, while that right was denied to LDS persons.

    I think it’s more clear to describe marriage equality as the right to marry the consenting adult of your choice, regardless of their biological sex. In states like Massachussetts, where marriage equality is the law of the land, every citizen has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex, even if they’d never want to do so, and every citizen has the right to marry a person of the same sex, even if they’d never want to do so. Some will choose to exercise the right to marry a person of the opposite sex, and not exercise the right to marry a person of the same sex. Likewise, some will choose to exercise the right to marry a person of the same sex, and not exercise the right to marry a person of the opposite sex. In the end, nobody ends up with a “special” right that’s denied to others, and everyone is treated equally under the civil law.

  60. Alan

    Nathan, an individual person does not apply for a marriage license. The civil rights of marriage are afforded to couples. In most US states, same-sex couples are not afforded the same marriage rights as opposite-sex couples. So, I fail to see how it is an “additional” right. It’s more like an already existent right has not been afforded when it should be. Or, alternatively, the government should not afford “rights” to any couples.

    Joshua, when you say you disagree with the Supreme Court decision, are saying that you think it is appropriate to jail people for sodomy? Because that’s what “conduct defines the class” is referring to in reference to gay sex, gay orientation and criminality. I’m going to have to agree with Nick that your bemoaning of the current situation is not helpful to your cause, mostly because I think you’re just lashing out at what doesn’t feel good to you rather than having a solid grasp of how these things have come to pass. With Lawrence vs Texas and the right to privacy (as opposed to being jailed for sodomy), I actually would not exactly consider that to be an inherently “gay agenda”-based decision. Rather, what it does is prevent society from being allowed to invade all people’s private spaces, thereby making gay sex more permissible in private. Religious communities are unhappy with the decision, because they still want to be able to punish those who have gay sex, oust them from their communities, for example, the way they think God will (or something). I’ve read Mormons (like Orson Scott Card) take the position that sodomy should remain criminal just to remind everyone how evil gay sex is.

    Perhaps you’d like the Church to move its HQ to a country that is less gay-friendly so that the Church can continue to insist that homosexual relations are an abomination and where the public reacts to this affirmatively? You could move there yourself so that you wouldn’t have to deal with people asking for a right to be treated equally and fairly. You wouldn’t have to deal with the “threat” this request for fairness and equality poses to your Church and your own self-identity.

    Meanwhile, I like to being allowed to hold my partner’s hand in public. It’s hard for me to sympathize with you asking for “additional” considerations for those who don’t want to have gay sex given the history of violence in this country toward those who are same-sex attracted or have dared to be intimate with the same-sex. I’d appreciate if you’d think about this violence every time you have something disparaging to say about the “gay agenda.” Ask yourself whether you’re contributing to that violence with your insistence the “law of chastity is here precisely to help people in same-sex relationships.” Actually, the law of chastity forbids same-sex relationships. It considers them dead on arrival. There’s a big difference.

  61. Phil

    Wow. This thread has gone nuts and way off topic. It seems we have many philosophical thinkers on here and that has made it…interesting. To address the author of Ockham’s Razor (Alan) on here: the Church, in my experience, has been far more lenient than you might think on this issue. And yes, while this may sound incredibly extremist to you, the freedom of religion needs to stay so that people within religious groups who make such covenants NOT to do things like that are handled as we see fit. And again, from experience, they are done with good intentions (yes, really) as well as with compassion and caring. The film Latter Days is not representative of reality at all in this case. I don’t think you were perhaps referencing it in any way, just throwing it out there as an example.

    Also, maybe I seem awfully thin-skinned, but writing “the way they think God will (or something)” is disrespectful to us who believe in the Church and His teachings. I don’t like to usually make legal arguments in the is case, which is why I stick to normative (a moral analysis, if you will), and believe that marriage is a commitment and a privilege and that there are certain things that would qualify a couple for one. I know I will probably get savaged for this comment too, in particular for not being very specific, but I stand by it.

    Finally, here’s something that would help the gay community get more respect from someone like myself, who is gay but has chosen a different path and is following it. You want our respect? Then earn it. While I will concede the fact that yes, there has been violence in the past against gays (and that there still is some today), the gay community needs to buck up as well. I saw a lot of hate from the anti-Prop 8 crowd and I lost a lot of respect for them for the way they treated their opponents. You have the right to angry and frustrated, but that does not excuse running over people on the corner of Powell and Market, harassing a woman with a cross, or certain campaigns with names that I cannot say on this forum.

    People like Joshua Johanson and myself have been to some pretty awful places in our lives that we don’t wish to go back to. Maybe some of the things we say don’t make a lot or any sense at all to you. However, there is one thing that I do think we all should remember:

    “The heart has its reasons that reason cannot know.” -Blaise Pascal

    Now, can we please get back to the topic of this particular podcast?

  62. SteveDensleyJr Post author

    Phil is right that this discussion has strayed from a focus on the podcast itself. I have been very lenient in enforcing FAIR’s commenting policy, but I am afraid that at this point I need to tighten up on enforcement and prevent the posting of non-germane comments.

  63. Davester

    Many of the earlier questions that were posted about Steven and Kenneth are answered in the podcast. It seems some people did not listen before making queries.

    At the end of the first podcast the issue of exaltation came up. On that matter I prefer to think of things in the way we think about women who never marry because they were never asked or never found the right man (e.g., Sherry Dew). And what about men who marry women who were previously sealed but lost their husbands through death? Will such a man be denied exaltation simply because he married a woman who was previously sealed to another man? I don’t believe so. In the same way, a gay man who never married in this life because he was never attracted to the opposite sex will not likely be denied exaltation in the eternities. I believe he will have the opportunity to be sealed to a woman in the afterlife.

    A very interesting podcast. Thanks, FAIR.

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