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I'm pondering the
Golden Rule--"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"--and
whether the LDS Church bigwig Boyd K. Packer and others have considered
this rule as it applies to their opposition to homosexuality. I suspect
they have regarded it highly.---
If you're just tuning in, the LDS/LGBT dispute was reignited last week after church bigwig Boyd K. Packer--the #2 guy in line for the title of "prophet"--called homosexuality "impure and unnatural" and stated as fact that homosexuals can overcome their sexual orientation. At today's demonstration, in which Utah's gay community groups joined the Human Rights Campaign in delivering 150,000 signatures from people nationwide who are also critical of Packer's comments, Planned Parenthood Action Council executive Director Melissa Bird cited the Golden Rule, "To do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
But I imagine that if Packer ever has or does "struggle with same-sex attraction," he would most certainly want therapy to try to make him a hetero. Packer,
the LDS Church leaders generally and its most ardent supporters are following
the Golden Rule in a way, and yet you've still got
activists who blame the church for contributing to the suicides of queer
youth. So what's up?
Here is basically the LDS Church's position regarding the outcry, including a demonstration at Temple Square that attracted 4,500 people, as laid out by spokesman Michael Otterson today:
We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty, or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation, or for any other reason. Such actions simply have no place in our society. ... As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness.
But are those positions on their face unkind? Otterseon begs the question--which has been common lately--by
simply stating without argument that those core principles themselves
are not cruel, belittling and mocking. It takes no misquoting or
selective interpretation to ask simply: are your core principles themselves cruel,
belittling, mocking, or hateful of queer people?
Going further, using therapy to help the homosexuals repress those urges--as the LDS Church advocates--is that compassion, cruelty, something in between? The
American Psychological Association and others have denounced the use of
therapy tools to help homosexuals repress their natural sexual
attractions, and urges caution in using such methods even with patients
who seek it. Like Eric
from Texas, who sought treatment for his homosexuality only to mature
and later believe that his real problems were linked to his childhood
sexual abuse not homosexuality, patients sometimes lack adequate
awareness of their situation to determine what treatment would best help
I think most
people believe as I do that the Church really believes it can change
people's homosexuality and wants to love a new hetero butterfly that
emerges from the queer cocoon. But just about every queer
individual--LDS or otherwise--has for an extended period of their life
tried to repress their homosexuality and most concluded that the
endeavor was hopeless, painful, stressful and, for some, incredibly
damaging. Thus, they worry about young gay kids who lose the queer
lottery and are born into homophobic families, especially those families
whose homophobia is reinforced and encouraged by their beloved church.
And so, just how harmful is urging a homosexual to repress his or her sexual orientation? Even if you put aside gay suicides, we know that for some individuals it is very damaging. Well, Packer, Otterson, et al, this is where I invite you revisit the Golden Rule. How would you feel if someone said, "Look, I love you but your religion is impure and unnatural. Maybe you should go to therapy and they can fix you. Oh, and don't forget, I denounce any efforts to belittle or mock you."
Many Mormons I know and love feel their faith is inseparable from their identity, a choice so central to their being that it doesn't feel like a choice and thus criticizing their faith can not be divorced from criticizing the individual.
That being the case, I would think that Mormons would feel very
threatened and offended by the suggestion that their faith should be
corrected with therapy, and would feel probably damaged if, as youths, a prominent
leader in their community suggested that therapy to wash away their
Mormon faith was the only godly course of action. It's not so different for gay people, many of whom feel that attempts to erase their sexual orientation would erase a very important part of themselves. What was Otterson saying about belittling?
So, to Packer, Otterson, and those who support the anti-homosexual regime, be careful with the brief elegance of the Golden Rule. Its proper application is far more complex than its wee size might suggest. You might want therapy for your same-sex attraction, but if you continue to present gay Mormons with the dilemma of choosing their faith or their sexuality, you'll probably never escape the protests at Temple Square--and you'll lose a lot of your Saints, too.