Category Archives: News and Current Events

Homosexuality: The One Sin that’s Different?

Thanks to the Club Unicorn post that’s been making waves on Facebook, I’ve been involved in several (hopefully) positive conversations about the nature of homosexuality and the predicament Mormon LGBT folks find themselves in.  Whatever you think of that post (I have mixed feelings), I think it’s a net-positive that it’s sparked so much discussion among LDS people.

So here’s another conversation to add to the pile…

If homosexuality is sin, why is it sin — and how?

The argument typically goes like this: sexuality is given to humanity for expression in marriage between a man and a woman.  Homosexuality falls outside these boundaries, therefore it is sin. It is like alcoholism or a propensity toward violence because it is a natural urge of which God has forbidden expression.  Like other impulses of the “natural man,” we might feel drawn to certain behaviors, but that doesn’t make acting on the impulse justifiable or correct.

This is an argument I myself espoused for many years.  But then I took a closer look and realized that I had failed to take note of some critical differences.

First, consider the nature of sexuality itself.  I think we can all agree that sexuality is not inherently evil; at worst we might say it is morally neutral, a power humanity has been given to exercise for good or ill.  At best (and I think a strong argument can be made for this), it’s inherently good.

Contrast this with urges toward addiction or violence, or other urges symptomatic of the “natural man,” such as avarice, hatred, or judgment.  These natural inclinations necessarily lead to destructive ends.  There is no situation where addiction is healthy.  There is no situation where violence is the best answer.  There is no situation where hatred can be used positively.  There is no situation where it’s correct to envy or condemn.  That’s not the case for sex.  Sexual urges are something fundamentally different from these other urges (which I like to call “diabolical” vices).

Please note that, in and of itself, this doesn’t make homosexuality right — it just makes questions of sexuality DIFFERENT from cases of addiction or violence.  We can all think of circumstances where sexuality is used in destructive ways.  But a closer examination reveals that this tends to happen when sexuality is tied up in one of the diabolical vices: sexual coercion is violence; sexual addiction is, well, addiction; lust is the de-humanizing of someone made in the image of God and reducing them into an object for personal gratification; infidelity is dishonesty and betrayal.  The list goes on.

Which of the diabolical vices is homosexuality attached to?  Dead serious question.  Because I can’t find one.

Not only that, Jesus said, “By your fruits ye shall know them.”  When I examine committed, mature homosexual relationships, I see the same kind of fruit emerging as in committed, mature heterosexual relationships.  I see people who are willing to sacrifice, work together, and grow together to become something greater as a couple than they could be alone.  I see stability and peace.  I see the transformation that comes from sharing a life with others.

I can’t think of any other sin that allows people to thrive like this.  And I’m not just talking about succeeding in a material way.  I mean gay people thrive in a holistic, mature, spiritual way when they are free to love and form life partnerships analogous to heterosexual marriages.  Can you think of another “sin” that produces such good fruit?  Because I’ve wracked my brain over this and I’m coming up blank.

Please note that I’m not arguing that sexual sin doesn’t exist, nor am I arguing that homosexuals can’t commit it.  We’re all capable of lust, sexual aggression, and infidelity.  But what is it that makes homosexuality sinful by definition?

Because, as far as I can tell, we’re either supposed to believe that homosexuality is its own mysterious category of evil that, against all accepted understanding of evil, somehow helps people become better, but is still wrong…

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time to reconsider some of our conclusions.

More Thoughts on Occupy Wall Street

Today I spent some time learning more about the Occupy Wall Street movement.

I thought I knew what they were about because of a handful of radical statements I’d heard from them: “down with corporations,” “share the wealth,” “capitalism doesn’t work.”   I’m ashamed to say that even before I knew that much about it, I judged the entire movement as a bunch of greedy whiners who were blind to their own privilege and ignorant of how the real world functions.  However, when I read a couple of blog posts from people whose perspectives I respect speaking favorably of the movement, I knew it was time to dig deeper.

Here’s what I discovered…

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I Am the 1%

I don’t usually talk politics here, but I’m pretty concerned about this whole “I am the 99%/Occupy Wall Street” movement.  I wanted to share some thoughts about it…

First, I want to make it clear that I do believe Wall Street screwed up.  Of course, they had plenty of help from Washington AND, quite frankly, from us.  When the bubble was riding high, no one was asking questions.  We should have.  We needed to.  The bankers and big corporate executives behaved unethically, yes, and there’s no excuse for it — but it’s not like we didn’t enable it.

Second, I am frustrated with the unwillingness of the protesters and their supporters to see that they are also contributors to the oppression and victimization of vulnerable populations.  By virtue of the fact that we live in America, we are privileged — more privileged than the vast majority of people the world over.  Are we giving our own excess to the poor?  Have we downgraded our lifestyles, moved into smaller homes, cut back on restaurants, sold our cars and plasma TVs and Xboxes, in order to voluntarily redistribute the wealth and abundance that we have?  Then who are we to demand that others do the same?

Third, I see a disturbing entitlement-driven, victim mentality underscoring the entire movement.  While Wall Street execs did do wrong, and some of that was beyond our corporate control, much of it was well within our individual control.  I am a “victim” of the recession: before the bubble burst, my husband and I bought a fourplex, only to see its value diminish almost immediately afterward.  Looking back, we probably shouldn’t have qualified for the loan that our mortgage broker pitched us hard.  We were fortunate enough to sell the fourplex this year and avoid foreclosure, but we sold it at a loss, and not before we were out about $20,000 on it.  We don’t have $20,000.  It was a huge financial hit.

And yet…I recognize that the signs were there.  We could have, should have, seen that it wasn’t the time to buy real estate…that the loan was more expensive than we could legitimately afford…that we should have passed on the opportunity.  But we were driven by greed and want.  I am frustrated that we didn’t get better advice from our mortgage broker, sorry that the underwriters approved us when perhaps they shouldn’t have, but we take 100% of the responsibility for the mistake — because it was ultimately our mistake.

To the “99%”: I’m sorry that you’re working extra to make ends meet.  Maybe it’s time to radically restructure your budget?  I’m sorry you can’t find employment that fulfills you.  Maybe it’s time to take a less agreeable job until something more suitable comes around?  I’m sorry you have too much student loan debt.  Maybe you should have worked full-time and gone to school part-time, instead of the other way around, to reduce your debt burden?  I’m sorry your house was foreclosed on.  Maybe you shouldn’t have bought something you couldn’t afford?  I say this without malice because I have been impacted negatively in almost all of the areas I mention above — but I recognize that most of the harm would have been avoided if I hadn’t wanted what I wanted when I wanted it.  It’s not “their” fault.  It’s mine.

Finally, even if you are in a situation where you have truly been oppressed — where hardship has fallen as a direct result of the evil actions of others and through no fault of your own — Jesus has some hard but powerful things to say about what to do about it.  If an oppressor asks you for your coat, give him your cloak also.  If an oppressor asks you to walk a mile, walk with him two.  If an oppressor smites you on the cheek, turn to him the other cheek also.  This isn’t about taking it lying down; it’s about showing your oppressor your humanity and dignity.  Right now, I see little dignity in this movement.  Instead, I see anger, class warfare, envy, and pride.  Sure, it’s a natural response to affliction, but I believe there is a better way.

Why I Love the “I’m a Mormon” Media Initiative

The “I’m a Mormon” / media initiative that was launched last year is making its way to my neck of the woods (inland Northwest).  Starting the first week in October, there will be TV spots, radio ads, billboards and bus signs with cool, trendy people proudly proclaiming their Mormonness.  In preparation for the media blitz, our ward received in-depth training from Salt Lake this past Sunday, so that we can be ready for the increased questions and attention that will inevitably come our way.

I am completely enthusiastic about this initiative — have been from the start.   I’m not sure how well it’s working in terms of creating convert baptisms (that’s probably not trackable, since it’s a branding campaign as opposed to a response-driven campaign)…but that’s not what excites me most about it anyway.  While I certainly hope it improves our public image, what I really love about the “I’m a Mormon” initiative is the message it sends to Mormons about who gets to be “in!”

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Mo or No?: Ryan Ramirez

All season long, I’ve assumed that Ryan Ramirez on So You Think You Can Dance is Mormon.  Then I realized I hadn’t really analyzed my reasons for my assumption. So I thought I’d post about it and then throw it out there — Ryan: Mo or No?  What say you?

Evidences in favor…

  • She just kind of seems like one.
  • Her mom is always wearing Mormony outfits.
  • She admitted last week on the show that she’s never been in love.  Not that Mormons don’t fall in love, but who is a devout young Mormon woman going to fall in love with when she’s spent the past 3-5 years in LA’s professional dance scene?
  • Sometimes she has kind of a vague smile on her face.  I’ve noticed that we Mormons smile vaguely from time to time when we’re uncomfortable but aren’t quite sure how to handle a given situation in a nice way.
  • She’s a big-time overachiever: she graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA.  Mormons are known for over-achieving.
  • She didn’t get her driver’s license until she was 18 or 19.  This isn’t necessarily a real reason, but I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 18, and I’m a Mormon, so she must be too, right?  😉

My Mo Rating: 72%.

How about you?  Enter your percentage in the comments below.  In the meantime, I will search around the internet for the answer!

UPDATE: I believe I have uncovered the answer, thanks to a fairly diligent bit of Facebook stalking.  Check here when you’re ready.

ABOUT MO OR NO?: I play Mo or No? all the time with my husband and a couple of friends.  Whenever we pass a candidate in the street or at the store, we give each other a percentage based on a cursory glance–and then search for additional evidences (such as capped sleeves, long shorts, CTR rings, extra undershirts, etc.) to verify our hunch.  Online, the game works the same.   Enjoy!

Why The Book of Mormon Musical Was Made Now

(NOTE: the song above doesn’t have any bad language, but it is irreverent and makes fun of Mormon beliefs.  It has a couple of cringe-worthy moments for me, but I don’t find it too egregious — even found myself laughing in a place or two.  However, I don’t want to offend anyone, so if you’re worried about it, I recommend that you skip it.)  🙂

There’s been a ton of buzz about The Book of Mormon Musical lately, due to the fact that it took home about a bajillion Tony Awards this past Sunday.   I haven’t seen the production, of course, because I live very far away from Broadway — and because I’m not sure my little heart could take it* — but I think there are some very specific reasons why something like this could be made about Mormons at this particular moment.  I’d like to explore them here…

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Thoughts on Compassion and Change

(Image source here.)

I interrupt your regularly-scheduled gratitude blogging for a post I’ve wanted to write for some time now but haven’t gotten around to.  Yesterday, though, I read something that brought it to the forefront of my mind — and I figured now was as good a time to address it as any.

First, a bit of background on what inspired this post now.  The church recently updated its handbook of instructions — the official guidebook that outlines all its procedures and policies — and among the more interesting changes were revisions to the way it speaks about homosexuality.  No longer are homosexual thoughts and feelings considered “sinful” (homosexual behavior still is),  and advice to send gay people to reparative therapy is gone.  They’ve also removed language that refers to homosexuality as a “distortion of loving relationships.”  In other words, this reflects and solidifies the shift we’ve seen in the church over the past 5-10 years — acknowledgment that homosexuality isn’t necessarily chosen or changeable and that gay people aren’t inherently vile in the eyes of God.

I am glad for the official change.  As a people, I believe that if we can truly internalize this message, it will lead to greater love and acceptance of our LGBT brothers and sisters.  And that will reduce the suffering they experience as they grow up Mormon and gay, torn between two worlds that, at the moment anyway, are pretty much irreconcilable.

But my post today isn’t about homosexuality.

It’s about the nature of change and the value of accepting people exactly the way they are.

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Women and Happiness — Part 1

I’m reading a book right now that came highly recommended from a counselor friend I admire, called Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul.

I’ll admit: I was (and, to a certain extent, still am) totally skeptical.

It’s a popular Christian book, and as such, I was afraid it would be full of platitudes and patronizing pep talks; or worse, rigid proscriptions of what a woman “should” be: domestic, demure, passive, well-dressed — none of which I am, of course, and which have always contributed to my feeling particularly inadequate as a woman.  (The book is not off the hook yet, by the way, because I’m only a chapter and a half in…but so far it’s managed to generally avoid those traps — though it has used some borderline cheesy language that had me rolling my eyes in a place or two.)

Still, last night, feeling a tiny bit discouraged, I picked it up and came across this passage:

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On Elder Oaks’s Recent Gay Marriage Talk


I just finished reading Elder Oaks’s talk on religious freedom and the gay marriage issue.

A few thoughts…

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On the Health Care Crisis

doctorI interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a post on the health care crisis.

Also, I have to apologize for being AWOL lately.  I’ve had a lot of potential posts running through my mind–the majority of which I’ve decided are thoughts best kept to myself.  😉  So it’s been hard to find something to write about.

However, this morning a good friend and former professor had this message posted as his Facebook status update:

No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.

I went ahead and re-posted it, because it’s hard to disagree with the sentiment, but made the following disclaimer immediately afterwards:

I agree, but I believe the solution for 95% of the population is for each person to carry their own private, high-deductible health insurance plan.

I’d like to expand on this, because it’s critical.

Is there a health care crisis in America?  Yes.  Are insurance companies often unscrupulous and difficult to work with? Yes.  Do we need to do something to fix it?  Absolutely.

But a federal mandate to buy a product that is the cause of much of the cost inflation and corruption in the healthcare industry is not a viable solution.  It won’t work.

While I agree that access to quality health care is a fundamental human right, the American people have fundamentally misunderstood what insurance is and what it’s supposed to do.  We have conflated the health care with health insurance.

Friends, insurance is NOT health care.

After doing considerable research on the topic, here is a common-sense proposal that I believe will solve a good portion of the health care problems facing America.

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