4.20.2009

Fulfillment

Last night, after watching the movie Man on Wire (which I highly recommend, by the way), I had an interesting thought as I was trying to go to sleep. It is this:

Would Heavenly Father's Gospel really be one in which members cannot have the opportunity to fulfill their basic, unchosen, inborn needs?

Looking at the Church in general, it is set up to fulfill a host of members' needs. Obviously it aims at fulfilling spiritual needs. It provides the framework to fulfill familial, sexual, emotional, and social needs (at least for straight members). The Welfare System is designed to help take care of temporal needs. So there seems to be an inconsistency when it comes to the package of needs that accompany a homosexual orientation. It's not that the Church doesn't address these needs, it's that it specifically forbids them from being met!

Some might protest with opposing examples; let me try to address them:

-Alcoholism (along with other problems like it) is not an example of one of these needs because the alcoholic must first choose to taste alcohol before the effects are "activated" to their full strength. Meanwhile, no one chooses to experience his or her basic social, sexual, and emotional needs.

-Because there are simply more worthy young women than young men in the Church, there are bound to be some straight members whom the Church expects to remain celibate because, through no fault of their own, they are unmarried. (This could also include members with special needs or other handicaps.) However, these groups do at least have the hope of marriage since it is not as if the Church expressly bans their marriages, as it does those of gay and lesbian members.

-Some live in poverty with obstacles resulting from the circumstances of birth; their needs are clearly not met. Yet even for the most destitute, there is always hope for a change of situation, and the Church certainly doesn't prohibit the opportunity for basic needs of food and shelter to be met (instead often providing the means whereby those needs can be met).

Any thoughts? Am I missing a significant exception or piece of information?

2 comments:

Alan said...

I think your logic is compelling.

Where I think you'll run into trouble are the premises that (1) all "needs" should be satisfied, and (2) since gay guys "need" intimacy that includes sex, therefore it should be allowed. I'm not giving my opinion on these, just saying they seem to be your premises.

To the first: Anti-gay Mormons will counter by saying that people can feel a "need" to steal, or to lie, or to abuse others physically and sexually. These "needs" can be psychologically overwhelming for some who have them to a pathological degree. Such Mormons are likely to see homosexuality the same way and thus to be completely unmoved by the logic you have stated.

To the second: This one's harder to argue with. There is nothing intrinsically pernicious about the basic human need to be loved and to love, and to feel an intimate connection with another. Quite the opposite. That makes this the more compelling argument when dealing with homophobic Mormons.

Here's how I like to present the dilemma to them: Think of your wife on the day before you proposed. Think of every loving, intimate, warm, uplifting, romantic feeling you felt with or because of or for her. Think of how she inspires you, makes you want to be better for her. Think of how your heart skips a beat when she walks into a room. Think of your dreams of a happy future with her and how devastated you would be without her.

Now, imagine that your church told you that the price of your salvation was not only that you couldn't marry her, but that you mustn't marry ANYONE, and that if you did so, your reward would be that in the next life, you would be transformed into a homosexual and live that way forever. How motivated would you be to comply? That's what gay Mormons currently hear from the Church. Why is their need for an intimate relationship any less valid than yours? Even the Church now concedes that their homosexuality is a "core characteristic" that may be unchangeable. Yet it insists that they deny themselves that intimacy which most Church members taken for granted anyway. Can you see, I'd say, why so many of them leave the Church?

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Thank you, Alan, for presenting these holes in the argument. This really helps me. I've been thinking for the last couple of days about how to counter the weaknesses pointed out. Here goes!

1) "Anti-gay Mormons will counter by saying that people can feel a 'need' to steal, or to lie, or to abuse others physically and sexually. These 'needs' can be psychologically overwhelming for some who have them to a pathological degree. Such Mormons are likely to see homosexuality the same way and thus to be completely unmoved by the logic you have stated."
To this, I would say that the "needs" they are describing are not basic needs but rather impulses resulting from a psychological disorder, such as kleptomania. For instance, maybe the compulsive abuser was abused in his/her own childhood and suffers from a psychological condition stemming from that trauma. For these ailments, one can choose a variety of therapy options and eventually live without the effects.
This is in contrast to homosexuality, which the both the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations have removed from their lists of mental disorders. No disease, no cure.

2) "Since gay guys 'need' intimacy that includes sex, therefore it should be allowed." Clearly, opponents would say that something should not be allowed just because it is "needed."
Against this, I would first concede that they do have a point--something need not necessarily be allowed simply because it is a need. Next, though, I would explain that the Church **does** value and strive to fulfill the intimacy (including social, sexual, familial, emotional)needs of straight members...so why are those same needs less important, valuable, or righteous when felt by gay members? Why should the Church handle them differently when homosexuality scientific findings show that homosexuality is not chosen or inferior to heterosexuality (except in the reproductive aspect). [At this point, I would use the excellent demonstration you wrote about in the last two paragraphs of your comment.]

Do you think these adequately patch up the argument? I'm not sure myself.

Thanks!