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.
WARNING: This post contains a frank discussion of human sexuality. If that makes you uncomfortable, I encourage you skip it.
Been reading and thinking lately about the Creation.
The other week, my sister called and asked me, “Why did you have a daughter?” And this launched a long discussion about the impulse to create. I asked, “Why does a painter paint, or a writer write, or a builder build?”
We decided there’s something about the creating, the painting, the writing, the building, that is inherently valuable. It’s about expressing life and expressing self. And as God’s creations, we are expressions of Him — which is really a beautiful concept when you think about it.
Anyway, I jotted down some thoughts on the subject yesterday and thought I’d share them here. They’re fairly disorganized, just a few scattered paragraphs, but I figured they might be worth exploring…
WARNING: Brief sexual content. Rated PG-13.
I’m extremely disturbed by a thread over at fMh. A single 30-year-old woman named “Am” wrote in, agonizing over the fact that she recently experienced an inadvertent orgasm while exercising. Dear fMh, do I need to see the bishop for this? she asks.
I’m sorry. But what the hell?
First of all, if it were me, I’d be like, “Yessssss! Freebie!” 😉
But beyond my initial tongue-in-cheek reaction, I’ve got to say…my heart broke for her.
The idea that a grown woman should wonder if she has to drag herself to the bishop’s office to confess something so personal (not to mention trivial!) in order to gain a sense of “absolution” is nothing short of tragic. I’m actually sitting here with tears in my eyes because I think it reflects so poorly on our faith community that she feels the need to ask this question at all!
In a later comment, “Am” explains why the question is so important to her: