Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thoughts on Homosexuality

Just as a caveat to this post. My understanding of homosexuality has come a long way since I wrote this post. I have appreciated these conversations about it and feel that this statement from the LDS church, explains my belief best: 


The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.
I feel that that was the heart of what I was trying to say in the post, but that I didn't say it very well at all. I have considered taking this post down or re-writing it but I appreciate having a record of how my thoughts and perspectives have grown. Life is a constant learning process. 

Gender is the center of our identity as people and as a society. It is natural that something so important should be the center of so much controversy and confusion, important things usually are. In the last few months I've really struggled to figure out how I feel about homosexuality. The hardest part for me is the claim that many gays and lesbians make that they were born the way they are. They claim that some people are born with heterosexual attraction and others homosexual attraction. If this is true, if God really did create people this way, then it would be a crime to treat people differently based on their sexual orientation. It would be something they couldn't control, just like a person can't control the color of their skin. But if they weren't born that way, if God didn't intend for some of His children to be homosexual and others to be heterosexual, then it means homosexuality is a choice-- something that one can control.

In the last few months I've really searched the scriptures and studied the words of the prophets to try to understand the essential truths behind gender. I know that I don't have a complete understanding of it all, but I do feel like I've received some insights that I'd like to share. Please realize that these are my personal beliefs and I ask that you respect them, even if they differ from your own. Even so, I am very interested in hearing your thoughts and would love to hear your opinions on the subject-- even if it they are completely opposite of mine. I think that it is important for people with opposite opinions to discuss and come to understand and respect each other's viewpoints. Also, I am not taking a stand on Proposition 8 or other gay marriage amendments, that isn't my intent. If you'd like to discuss about that, Naomi wrote a wonderful post that I recommend. So with that said, these are my thoughts.

The foundation of my belief is Jesus Christ, the scriptures, revelation from modern prophets, and personal revelation. The following are statements I believe to be true and guide my spiritual and moral decisions.

Truth #1: "Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal and eternal identity and purpose." (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, 1995)

Truth #2: God is omnipotent and perfect; He does not make mistakes (Alma 7:20).

IF #1 and #2 are true, THEN.... homosexuality is a choice. BECAUSE: Maleness and femaleness are eternal characteristics of a person's spirit, and can not and will not change. God has commanded that "...a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Gen. 2:24) It was in God's plan from the beginning that males and females cleave (or covenant) one to another. Therefore, for someone to claim they were born as a homosexual, or born with homosexual attraction, would mean that God messed up and put a male spirit in a female body or a female spirit in a male body. God does not make mistakes.

Closer look at Truth #1, Gender is an eternal characteristic:

In the first chapter of Genesis we read "... God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. " (Gen. 1:27) I think it is significant that one of the very first truths that God teaches his children deals with gender, and states that from the very beginning He created male and female. Before I studied this subject closely I always thought this scripture referred to God creating physical bodies. Yet as I searched closer I realized that God is not talking about creating bodies, but about creating spirits. This creation of male and female happened on the fifth day of creation, but God doesn't create man's physical body until the seventh day (Gen. 2:2, 6-7). It isn't until the second chapter of Genesis that God , "... formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

This creation of male and female spirits before the creation of male and female bodies follows the pattern of creation. God has revealed that He creates all things spiritually before he creates them physically (Moses 3:5; D&C 29:31-34). Also, we know from the scriptures that men (male and female) were intelligences before the world was (Abraham 3:22) and that intelligence can not be created or destroyed and is free to act for itself (D&C 93: 29-34). Each intelligence or person, has an eternal identity and purpose that can not be changed or created, and gender is an important part of that identity. We are free to choose for ourselves and God can not force us to do anything.

We also learn in Genesis that after creating Adam and Eve God married them and then commanded that, "...a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." (Gen. 2:24) Here we see that it was in God's plan from the very start that males and females cleave (or covenant) one to another (here is an interesting insight into the word cleave in Hebrew). This was God's commandment concerning marriage at the beginning and it is still his commandment today. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8).

A closer look at Truth #2, God does not make mistakes:

We read in Heb. 13:8 that "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." This is one of the foundational beliefs of Christianity (and most other major religions), that God does not change and is omnipotent and perfect. The scriptures bear testimony after testimony that God is constant and true ( James 1:13; 2 Sam. 22: 31, Mal. 3:6; Acts 15:18; 1 Chr. 28:9; 2 Ne. 9:20; Mormon 9:10). If God was changeable, faith would be impossible. It is the knowledge that God is perfect, true, and just that makes Him God and allows us to anchor our souls to Him with faith and trust.

Alma 7:20 says, " ... he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong; therefore, his course is one eternal round. "

God is incapable of making mistakes. He is in perfect control of the universe, and knows each of his children on a personal level. He knows their struggles and knows their needs. He does not leave them alone.

Conclusion

After searching the scripture and praying I've personally come to the conclusion that God did not intend for some of his children to be homosexual and others to be heterosexual. Each spirit has an eternal gender identity, that God did not create and which God can not destroy. I believe that homosexuality is a choice, and because it is a choice it is something that someone can control.

God does not have the power to force anything to do anything. He control the elements only because they obey His word, he controls matter only because it obeys his voice. People have their free agency and are able to choose in all things, to obey the voice of the Lord or to disobey. Yet, just like there are physical laws that govern the elements ( gravity, aerodynamics, etc) there are spiritual laws that govern human choices. A person may choose to drive their car off the cliff, but it doesn't mean that the law of gravity "turns off". The person and the car are still bound by it and will suffer the consequences of disobeying gravity. The same is true for moral decisions. A person may choose to act upon homosexual urges but that doesn't mean that God's law on marriage is going to "turn off". There are consequences to every choice.

Yet, I do believe that homosexual urges are VERY real and that MANY people on this earth struggle with them. In fact, I'd venture to say that EVERY person at sometime in their life has felt homosexual urges to a different degree. Having homosexual urges is not a sin, but choosing to act upon them or forcing others to participate in them is. Like I said at the beginning of this post, gender is at the essential of our eternal identities and so it is natural that humans struggle with it. And because it is so important it make sense that Satan tries VERY hard to confuse us about it. If he can confuse us about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman, then he wins.

I believe that God loves each of his children and gives them understanding when they ask for it. People desperately need answers about the true nature of gender, and I believe that such answers come only through personal study and prayer. God hears prayers and He answers them when asked with a sincere heart. If you want truth, you must put in the effort to find it and open your heart to the giver of all truth, Jesus Christ.

8 comments:

  1. "just like a black person can't control the color of their skin"... sorry, but I just have to ask.. being that people like to use this all the time as if blackness is a flaw,error or curse... Can white people control the color of their skin? I am what you would call a black woman and I wouldn't want to control or alter the color of my skin. I find my color beautiful, perfect and a gift from Yahweh. I find no need to control it as it is lovely just as it was given to me.. Thankfully, it's actually darker than it was when I was a little yellow looking baby- lol.. I have no need to tan it, peel it or alter it in any way.

    I really don't dig how being 'BLACK' is always used in parallel to homosexuality as something you can't control as if our skin complexions were something that needed to be controlled or changed. The problem is that a white European dominated culture has needed to market it as such in order to give the illusion that it is superior and justify its mistreatment of darker skinned people through the centuries. So I would really appreciate it if when people started to refer to one not being able to control or change one's skin color or features.. that they would refer to THEIR OWN FEATURES instead of a "black person's"...."just like a WHITE person can't control the color of their skin".. If you had read that on my blog, that would have jumped out at you wouldn't it have? I hope you understand. I don't think you meant harm by it, but I do hope that now you see another perspective on it. Peace.

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  2. Thank you for the above comment, whoever you are. I really appreciated the insight. It wasn't my intention to make a racist comment at all and I apologize for it. I took "black" out so now is just says "a person can't control the color of their skin." Thanks for the well deserved rebuke, I'll be MUCH more aware of what I type and say in the future.

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  3. Thank you for your thoughts on this controversial subject. I have given this a lot of thought myself and have come to the conclusion that homosexuality is not determined in our genetic code. Not only that, but that human sexuality is a very fluid and changable thing and choice is a large factor in its fluidity. I would like to go a little further and say that I also do not believe that gay marriage is good for our society. I know that this position is not acceptable to many people. I firmly believe that the more individuals search for personal gratification (which often results in divorce, lying, cheating, theft, and other moral decay) the more in danger our society becomes of losing the central stabalizing force of our society - the family - and the trust that binds us together in a common cause and purpose of general well-being.

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  4. Hmm. I have to disagree on some points. I will to point out that living a homosexual lifestyle is a choice, but same gender attraction is not always something people have a say about. I myself am very attracted to women, but I am more attracted to men. I wondered if this was learned over time, but there is a kid down the street that I have known since he was 11 and it has been very clear as long as I've known him, that he is not and won't likely be sexually attracted to girls. And his mom says he's always been that way.

    I agree that God does not make mistakes. For example, when a child is born with a handicap, it is not a mistake. When a child is born prone to seizures or mental health issues like anxiety, depression, or much worse, is this a mistake? No. It is a trial. It is something we have to learn to deal with in this life. And it often brings needed growth to not just the person but their family members. I don't know if you have read Elder Oak's interview in the lds.org newsroom, but he addresses just this issue. Basically he says same gender attraction, like a mental or physical handicap is a condition of this life. And if you ask me, the worst of all trials, since you are still capable of love in every other sense.

    It's a very complex issue and there is still so much we don't understand.

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  5. Mother Earth,

    I've been pondering on what you wrote because I think that you have a really valid point that for some people homosexual urges are something they can't help on control, like a physical disability. I think that is very true but I also think that REAL cases of homosexuality are really rare. I think that in most cases people choose their gender attraction.

    I think almost every single person at one point in their life are tempted with homosexual urges at varying degrees of strength and we each make conscious decisions whether to succumb to them or not. I think that is the majority, but you are right in saying that there are some people who REALLY struggle with it and it is a severe trial in their life.

    I don't really understand it all either, but I trust God knows what he is doing. But I think that we all need to be reminded of the eternal nature of gender in this day in age when there are so many confusing voices. Thanks so much for your thought provoking comment!

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  6. I agree with Mother Earth that homosexual attraction isn't always a free will choice. A couple of examples I thought of...

    1) I've read about studies indicating that exposure to certain types of environmental estrogens through personal care products and perfumes, etc. in the womb can contribute to more "feminine" behavior in males. So, it's possible that a mother's choices could bring about her own son's future possible homosexual leanings. In this case, I would say God allows a mother's agency to bring about a "thorn in the flesh" for her child because He will not remove her agency.

    2) My father is a therapist (and survivor of sexual abuse) who has worked his entire life with sexual abuse survivors. He has told me throughout my life that a child's early exposure to sex through abuse (by adults of the same or opposite gender) can contribute to a person's later homosexual attractions. So in this case it would be the free will choice of the abuser who brought about this trial.

    So both of these cases are examples that show how God is not "responsible" for these urges, but He does allow their creation because He respects our agency.

    Great discussion!

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  7. The post by "Naomi" that you mentioned does not exist. The entire BLOG does not exist. Maybe it's an error in the URL?

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  8. I know this blog is really old, but I feel I have something interesting to add to the course of thought here. I went to a high school where there several homosexual students, many of whom were friends of mine, and I had a difficult time deciding how to think of it. It wasn't hard to "hate the sin but love the sinner"...but I just didn't know. I believe that for many of them, it's a choice...perhaps not a concious "I'm going to be a gay" choice so much as enough outside influences found root and told hold and grew.
    I recently read an article about a study that really shocked me yet seemed to make a reasonable argument for people who feel they were born that way. The study was done on herons (or some other sea-faring bird). There were 4 control groups. Group A was fed mercury-free fish. Group B had small amounts of mercury injected into their fish. C had more, and D had the most. The brids were studied over their lives, and something unexpected was found. The scientists were not looking for anything of the sort, but discovered that Group D had 50% of the birds demonstrate homosexual behavior - making a 2-male nest, mating, then separating and finding a new "mate". Group C had less than 50%, but it happened there. Group B had an even smaller percentage than C had. Group A had no homosexual behaviors in any of the birds. Males and females made nests, mated, and stayed around each other for a long time afterward. As I read this, I couldn't help but wonder if mercury in humans just might have part in what we see going on today. Children are given vaccines starting at birth, which have mercury in them. Many children just LOVE tuna fish (which tend to have higher mercury levels than most other fish we consume). There are so many other sources of mercury that children are exposed to, even though it's an known toxin. I wonder if too much mercury can alter the attractions of humans, too....from an age where they are so young that they are certain they were born that way?

    Just a thought to consider. I won't say I KNOW this to be the truth, but it certainly made sense to me. That doesn't make the behavior any less sinful, but may explain the attraction that people swear they were born with.

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