Thursday, June 14, 2012

In Which Many Mormon Problems Fit Into One Blog Post

I read a book years ago called "It's You And Me, Lord!" written by a black Mormon in the 60s. The guy who wrote it was named Al, and I have since met and liked Al a great deal. It was about living as a believing, black Mormon in the days when black Mormons were not allowed to hold the Priesthood.

Al found that Mormonism resonated so much with his inner sense of truth that he did not need to hold the priesthood. In that way, he follows the generations of women who have not held the priesthood either. However, Al thus consigned himself to a life (well, the ban would be lifted ten years down the line, but he didn't know that) of attending a church surrounded by other men who could perform all the duties of their religion, which he could not, simply because of the color of his skin.

So each time Al went to church and heard about someone's Temple trip (he couldn't go) and each time he watched the men administer the Sacrament (he could not), he had to remember that his reasons for being there were so important that he could stand to be a second-class citizen, at lest in appearances.

Do you think he always felt that way in church, or he was tempted to stop going? He remained faithful up to the lifting of the priesthood ban and into the present day. But I'm sure there were a few doubts that crept in, and he remarkably resisted them.

I, and just about everyone else I know, wouldn't be able to do it.

Now we have this long viral blog post by Josh Weed about his very good life in a mixed-orientation marriage based on the principles of Mormonism.

Josh and Lolly have gone out of their way to point out that this is their way, and their way alone, and that others' journeys will be different. They haven't preached or projected. Josh is sharing the story because of his work as a therapist. And so I can't quite fault them for anything other than unintentional damage.

The many, many gay Mormons out there who read this--or similar stories--and say 
"oh, so it can work. I just need to try harder."

Because for all that Josh and Lolly talk about the way they've made their sex life work, they don't (and presumably won't) explain the big problem everyone else sees. Yes, sex is a loving, binding act between two adults. But it is just as naughty as it is sacred, and that's why we like it. 

I love the spiritual bonding that comes through sex. I love the deep connection my wife and I have and the way it reflects in our physical intimacy with each other.

But I am hard-wired to have a vigorous session with a tall, leggy redhead. And I love the fact that we can just plain old lust after each other.

Now, can have a spiritual bonding experience and build a life with the same tall leggy redhead with whom I want to get freaky, y'all. (She was blonde when we got married, but we evolved.) The two are not at cross-purposes.

Granted, it's more complicated than that. That same wiring is involved when people cheat on their spouses or become obsessed with pornography. The same wiring is involved with any multiple-partner situation. 

But the point is, in the realm of "what do you want sexually?" my wife fulfills my primary proramming. She is a woman, a beautiful, vivacious woman.

But for Josh's wiring...

Imagine one of those days when you are really craving a gooey chocolate brownie. You would probably (if you're like me) make up a batch, let the kids lick the beaters, have a couple of slices and maybe even some ice cream on top, then suffer a crisis of conscience and hit the exercise bike for twenty minutes before bed.

But imagine you're not like me. You're on a diet, and you're really watching everything. So you don't make brownies. In fact, you've purged the house of anything that could be used to make brownies. You eat your carrot sticks and your nuts and when you really want something sweet, you nibble on a dried fig.

The brownie love persists. You cannot stop. You keep thinking of that damn brownie. Evolution has hardwired you to eat this delicious, carb-and-fat-and-chocolate treat so you can burn it off running from angry mammoths and evolution does not give one teensy crap that there are no mammoths to run from!

So finally you and your significant other go out, and you go to the place that serves a really great brownie sundae, and you share one, and it is delicious. It is worth every mammoth-running bite.

And you go back to your diet having done only minimal damage.


Or you go the rest of your life with no brownie.


No gooey, soft cloud of rich chocolate.

It can be done, right? Sure. Given the choice, what would you say is the healthiest choice physically and spiritually?

Probably not to make the batch, eat half of it and vainly strive on the exercise bike. But not to deny yourself your desire for the rest of your life, either.

Remember, evolution wants you to eat the fatty, gooey, artery-clogging things. Evolution does not care about the lack of mammoth.

Evolution also made you with a brain that is susceptible to various in-utero chemical factors that hardwire you to either want men or women. Evolution has programmed you to engage in reproductive action, but for some reason, evolution occasionally makes the oddball who wants to engage in such action with someone who will not reproduce.

Josh admits here that his primary programming, his basic lust, is for men.

Josh may just be, possibly, maybe maybe maybe, the person who can resist forever.

But almost everyone in his situation who reads the blog will not be. Many people will read his blog post and not realize that Josh and Lolly are the exception to a rule. And many of them will even read his blog post and note that the guy is happy. He has a loving wife and kids. Even if they divorce a few years down the road, that level of love and affection will be higher than it would be if he followed the only other apparent Mormon option, which is permanent singlehood and celibacy.

A lot of LDS gay kids might read this and think, quite rightly, that their lives will be more full and have a greater share of happiness if they do get married, even if the marriage is doomed.

Or we could just drop the whole "gay is evil" thing, in the same way that we dropped years of racist policy and doctrine and would now be quite embarrassed to speak about what Al went through in his early days in the church.

Point is... you've read enough long blog posts. Me out.