The Forbidden Book - Part 2

Here, I finish up my clarification of some controversial writings put out by Spencer W. Kimball while he was an apostle in the LDS Church.  Moving forward in some of his most "provoking" remarks, we see that he emphasizes the seriousness of homosexuality as a lifestyle, then states that justifying oneself in its "perversion" is almost as serious in terms of sinfulness.  To start with what might be irritating to some, I looked up the word "perversion" online with Merriam-Webster.  Its definition states that a perversion is sexual behavior that people think is not normal or natural.  Though the LDS Church understandably has a somewhat shady history in their approach, verbal or otherwise, to homosexuality, I cannot help but notice that do so many other sects of Christianity.  Indeed, I would argue that the whole of Christianity has typically shown some degree of prejudice or bias against homosexuality overall.  From a neutral, objective viewpoint, I see it, as a practice, violating the most fundamental beliefs of Christianity.  Now, so do the attitudes of fear, hatred, prejudice, and so forth of people who claim to be Christian.  My point?  Calling homosexuality a "perversion" is not a slur against those who identify as homosexual under some label or another.  Rather, it is an affirmation of belief in a Christian sect, from a leader who happens to also be LDS.  Also, within the context of this remark is that he was emphasizing the detrimental effects of self-justification, which is not only true for homosexuality, but also for every other behavior Christianity deems as sin.  With that aside, then, let's move forward into the real meat of this quote.

President Kimball states firstly that many have been misinformed that they are powerless in this matter.  For some, they believe President Kimball is stating that sexuality is a choice.  However, if one interprets this as him stating that any LGBT Mormon can choose to live a life centered on the teachings of Jesus Christ, then that makes much more sense.  Any attraction or temptation does not hold such power that it overrides human choice.  Now, freedom can be limited, which is the power to carry out a choice one has made inside the mind, a choice that hasn't yet been executed.  But, an infinite God whose power extends beyond the limitations of mortality can give sufficient strength for a mortal to live virtuously under any circumstances.  Regardless of what the oppositional experience might be, we can honestly ask ourselves, "is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen. 18:14)  There is no situation in life in which any individual is completely powerless.  If a human being is sentient and intelligent enough to choose to act on feelings of homosexuality, the opposite must also be true - even if it is like walking upstream versus floating downstream.  Both are still possible, though one requires greater fortitude and perseverance.

Next, we read the troubling statement that LGBT individuals are misinformed that they "are not responsible for this tendency".  This one is tricky, and I do not blame anyone for misinterpreting it.  At first glance, this might imply what the first one could - that people choose their attractions, or that they haven't worked hard enough to be heterosexual.  It places the burden of these attractions' creation in the hands of the individual who is currently experiencing them.  Again, though, we must look at the meaning of a key phrase in this quote, so as to reveal context and true intent from the author.  The phrase "not responsible for" indicates that there is a person to assume responsibility for something else, whether within (as in emotion) or externally.  Let's take a commonplace example. Perhaps you had chores to complete or maybe you assign chores to your children.  Sometimes, when someone requests another to do a chore for them, the other replies, "No.  That is not my responsibility."  This reply exemplifies the true meaning of the statement, "not responsible for", because one person is telling another, "I am not responsible for your chores you have to do."  Thus, President Kimball is telling us that it is false to assume that we have no responsibility, or, accountability, in relation to what we do with our sexual orientation.  This centers again on the truth that we always have a choice in how we act in any circumstance, whether it's about sexuality or not.

Continuing forward, he declares that people are misinformed who say "God made me this way."  Of all the arguments that one could take one, this one probably is among the most sensitive.  However, I must say that I agree with President Kimball when he says it is a lie and blasphemy to say such.  We are created in the image of God, a heterosexual being who married a woman.  That is why LDS people believe in a Heavenly Mother.  I see this as the strongest reason for discarding the falsehood of being "born that way".  Also, with something that is so directly tied into our eternal destiny as children of God, I do not believe God would give one of His children such an unfair disadvantage upon entering this life.  Some of God's children inherit physical disabilities, others, mental illnesses.  Yet, to allow a child to be attracted to the same gender from birth seems to strike an improper chord with me.  Now, this second part beyond being created in God's image is just my opinions and speculations.  At the deepest of all my reasons for disbelieving in the "born that way" argument is the feelings of the Spirit I get when I consider that being "born that way" might be a reality.  It does not feel right.  I have always said, though, all this solemn philosophizing aside, that it does not matter if we are born this way, it matters what we do with it once we know it's an experience we have.  I can preoccupy my mind with more petty matters of being born gay, or I can center my mind on Christ and how I can be more like Him.  Personally, I view the latter as being more productive in terms of my salvation and exaltation.

Finally, we read one statement which seems to jab at every little to big sore our LGBT experience creates.  In seeming ignorance and mockery, he writes, "...let this individual repent of his perversion, force himself to return to normal pursuits and interests and actions and friendships with the opposite sex, and this normal pattern can become natural again."  I would ask us to approach this in context, while also looking at the proper meanings of words.  Just before this, President Kimball writes about mutual masturbation and lavishing time, affection, and gifts on someone of the same sex.  In other words, this is same-sex attraction in a deviant sense - one not really created from initial attraction, but more from excessive energy combined with an inappropriate sexual practice.  I've written before about different components of attraction (see my post, "In Love, Loving, and Chemical Romance") and how they can be confused with one another.  An infatuation, combined with lust (i.e., chemical romance), can imitate tendencies of homosexuality.  It would make sense, at least to me, that if someone devoted both sexual and emotional energy into a new relationship -speaking generally, not romantically - with someone of the same sex, it could create an attraction similar to, but not the same as, same-sex attraction.  It's more the undecided human heart and the proverbial tumbling-dryer of the mind fabricating something that strongly resembles homosexuality.  I believe President Kimball is speaking of the sort of attractions created by experimentation and emotional preoccupation with the same sex, not the ones people experience naturally as part of the course of life.  Thus, he urges that this individual repent of their sexual sin, push himself to pursue the opposite sex again, and watch the normal pattern of things return.  I have seen this more than once with men who, out of curiosity and not initial attraction, got caught up in gay pornography.  Once they rid themselves of their addiction, their attractions to men completely vanished.  A few I mentioned have gone on to marry and raise families.  So, this does happen.  It's not a quote about repenting of feeling attraction for the same sex, forcing oneself to pursue the opposite sex, and then changing orientation by making that "normal" for them.  Difficult to see, perhaps, but liberating once realized.

With this particular chapter in "The Miracle of Forgiveness", LGBT Mormons can choose to be offended, hurt, and angry, or they can delve deeper for understanding and find peace in President Kimball's words.  What a difference interpreting things correctly can make!  We go from seeing a chapter of so-called bigotry, hate, misunderstanding, ignorance, and so on, to a chapter all about seeking Christ, repenting, staying close to our Heavenly Father, and the importance of properly using agency.  For LGBT Mormons like me who want to live the gospel, we always, always, always emphasize the importance of agency and accountability in our journeys together.  The mission of North Star talks about believing that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can make it possible for us to joyfully and meaningfully live the gospel.  What does that tell you?  For those of us who understand the reality of His sacrifice and His grace, we know it IS possible to live the gospel while being LGBT.  It's more difficult than words can express at times, though, and honestly I believe that is what President Kimball is understanding and communicating between the lines.  Why else would he clarify truths regarding agency, accountability, our identity as sons and daughters of God, and all the rest of it?  I see an apostle of Christ trying to show us the most important truths we need to lead that joyful, meaningful life that North Star talks about.  It might take a bit of work to see beyond the rough edges of his words, but I am glad I had this opportunity to show everyone what he truly meant.  Remember, doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.  This apostle knew what he was talking about.  Love you guys!!! :) :) :)

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