Stephen Measure
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Dear College Students
August 27, 2016

Dear college students, as you sit in class, and your professor starts preaching about privilege, or microaggressions, or heteronormativity, or safe spaces, or gender identity, or sexual identity, or intersectionality, or colonialism (in the 21st century!), or social justice, or the exaggerated and misleading gender wage gap, or claims that "racist" is a synonym for "white" or "sexist" is a synonym for "male", or uses the word “cisgender” in a serious manner or the phrase "trigger warning" without an accompanying punch line, or suggests it's reasonable to memorize personal gender pronouns for everyone you meet, or blames everything on "rape culture" and blames "rape culture" on you, or speaks against religion even though they themselves (just like everyone else) hold religious beliefs, or expects people who don't believe in magic to believe a biological male is a woman, or prioritizes feelings over freedom of speech, or speaks against discrimination while simultaneously discriminating against viewpoints they disagree with, or claims every weather occurrence (in any direction) is evidence of global warming, or suggests that racial segregation of college students is an appropriate idea (in the 21st century!), or lectures on affirmative consent without being honest enough to wear a "Sex Police" badge, or justifies mob intimidation to shut up speakers they don't like, or claims there's moral virtue in spending other people's money, or basically makes the classroom feel indistinguishable from what you'd hear at a Democratic/Socialist pep rally—when your college professor does this, I want you to remember something: You don't have to take them seriously. Being employed by a university doesn't make them right, and it doesn't make them wise, and it doesn't mean you have to take them seriously.


How Anti-Discrimination Laws Are Used to Discriminate Against Religion
May 21, 2016

Imagine if "shopping day preference" was added to anti-discrimination law. That's innocuous, right? I mean, who would want to discriminate against someone just because of their shopping day preference? And then the following Sunday, Andrew, who fancies himself a Sunday Shopper, strolls down Main Street, visiting store after store, as is his habit, when he comes across a door that won't open and a sign that says "Closed". Furious, Andrew calls his lawyer and a lawsuit is filed claiming discrimination against Andrew on the basis of shopping day preference. Andrew, you see, claims to be a Sunday Shopper.

The store-owner is confused. She has nothing against Andrew. She'd be happy to serve him on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday. But Sunday, for her, is different. Her religion calls it the Sabbath, and she doesn't want to work on that day. She's not trying to discriminate against Andrew. If he wants to shop on Sunday, then that's his business; but she doesn't want to be involved, not on a Sunday. She wants the freedom to live her life as she sees fit, and to not be involved with activities—such as shopping on Sunday—that she considers to be wrong.


Divine Authority and "Gender Identity"
May 18, 2016

Everyone has a religion. Yes, I know some people dispute that fact. They claim that because they don't go to church or read leather-bound scriptures, they don't have a religion. But they are incorrect. Religion isn't church. Religion isn't scriptures. Religion is truth. More specifically, our religion is what we accept as truth—the truth about morality, the truth about the meaning of life, the truth about reality itself. Yes, everyone has a religion, and there is no better proof of this than the supposedly secular but actually quite religious ideology of "Gender Identity".

Have you ever deconstructed your beliefs? Have you ever broken them down to discover where they came from, what they are based on? If you have, then what I'm saying here should not come as a surprise to you, but if you haven't, then now is a good time to start. Down in the midst of all our thoughts and beliefs, you will find there are two main types: secular facts and religious truths.


Opposition to "Gender Identity" Is Driven by Logic, Not Religion
April 29, 2016

Many are asking the question "Can religious freedom coexist with 'LGBT rights'?", not realizing the question is a false one that therefore cannot be answered. The two sides here are not religion versus "LGBT rights". The two sides are actually just two separate religious camps, and the phrase "LGBT rights" is nothing more than a battering ram being used by one camp to force its moral views onto the other.

But that is a topic for another day. Instead I want to point out that, while the acronym "LGBT" might make it appear the behaviors it represents are all bundled together and any opposition to those behaviors is also bundled together, that's actually not true. The L, G, and B stand for the words "lesbian", "gay" and "bisexual", all of which are identity shells used to force the acceptance of same-sex sexuality, and it is the religious belief that same-sex sexuality is wrong which causes opposition to that behavior. Yet, the T is very different. T stands for the word "transgender". And what is a "transgender"? A believer in "gender identity" claims a "transgender" is someone whose true gender doesn't align with their biological sex, which means that the religious opposition to that would be the religious belief that … that what exactly? That biology matters? That we shouldn't encourage behaviors which, if followed by everyone, would cause human extinction?


I Am the Absence of Homophobia
March 28, 2016

Things were different in our youth, were they not? Do you remember playing "smear the queer"? Can you imagine playing that game today? And the words we used to describe men who had sex with other men—pervert, faggot, and worse. We built a wall, didn't we? A wall of separation between "us" and "them". We created an other because we needed an other because we couldn't bear the thought of there not being an "us" and a "them". We built a wall. And the wall kept us safe. The wall kept us comfortable. The wall kept us separate.

Now, the old insults are gone, lost in the history of forbidden words and phrases, replaced by safer words such as "gay" and "homosexual". We're so careful today, so cautious. We're so desperate to avoid offense. Yet, although the insults might be gone, the wall still remains. Oh, we won't insult "them". We would never dream of it! But they are "them" and we are "us". They are different! They are other! They must be other because we are not the same, no, definitely not the same. We would never insult "them", but we are "us" and they are "them", and the wall remains, as high and wide as ever. We depend on it. We hallow it. We bend our moral standards to accommodate it, to accommodate a wall we ourselves created, a wall we so fear to lose. And the wall keeps us safe. The wall keeps us comfortable. The wall keeps us separate.


A Modest Proposal for the Replacement of Our Outdated Gender Binary Classification System with One More Suited for Our Progressive Age
March 10, 2016

(with a hat tip to Jonathan Swift)

As our society continues its progress into uncharted (and surely good!) territory, we continue to find ourselves stymied by outdated, unnecessary concepts left over from pretechnological ages. Left unchecked, this constant backward clinging to obsolete wisdom will do nothing but stall our growing (and surely good!) ability to mold reality into a shape that better fits our individual preferences.

And so, as others have done in times past, I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

Of all the concepts blocking our absolute control over reality, none are more stubborn or more threatening than the continual, nonstop (and frankly quite aggravating) idea that gender should be based on biology. We have put earnest effort into eradicating this vile ideology, even employing anti-discrimination laws to criminalize wrong thinking. Yet, aided by natural forces and the obstinacy of so-called "common sense", the ideology remains, proving it isn't possible to simply redefine gender, we must completely remove and replace it instead.


Some Connected Thoughts about Gender
January 28, 2016

Think, please think. Why do we have separate restrooms for men and women? Why do we not have everyone use the same restroom? Why do we have separate sports teams for men and women? Why do we not have everyone try out for the same team? Why do we even have the words "men" and "women" at all? The reason should be obvious. Open your eyes and think!

* * *

There are two competing definitions of gender. One is based on physical reality, while the other is based on feelings and wishes. Why are our elected representatives writing laws that force us to follow a definition that contradicts reality? And more importantly, why do we continue to vote for politicians who enact such ridiculous laws? What does that say about us?

* * *

Mother Nature's definition of gender is based on physical reality. She views it as an extremely important characteristic, a characteristic essential to the survival of the human race; and she has no tolerance for foolishness.


Soft yet Steady Resistance
December 31, 2015

This essay is for those, such as myself, who see the world according to the Behavior View despite the crushing social pressure in favor of the Identity View. To understand these two opposing viewpoints on sexuality, I recommend you read my essays "The War Between Identity and Behavior", and "Identity Shells and How They Are Used Against You".

The Identity View sees the world clouded by identity shells. An identity shell is a false outer layer of identity placed around a behavior in order to hide that behavior and force its acceptance. Identity shells are designed to change the conversation from whether a behavior is right or wrong to whether a person should be accepted or rejected (with their behavior then forced to be implicitly accepted as well).

The most obvious example of an identity shell in society today is sexual identity. The same-sex movement claims that to oppose same-sex sexuality (the behavior) is to oppose "gay people" (the identity shell) because it claims that the people and the behavior cannot be separated, that the people are the behavior. What manipulative nonsense! Attraction is something that you feel, not something that you are, and behavior is always a choice.


Identity Shells and How They Are Used Against You
December 3, 2015

In mythology, Hercules was a half-mortal, half-god with immense strength. Born from one of Zeus' many illicit affairs, Hercules was hated by Zeus' wife, Hera, who tried to kill him but failed due to his great strength; so, instead of confronting his strength directly, she caused madness to fall upon him; and then, in that mad state with his sense of reality twisted, Hercules used his strength to murder his own family.

You see, you don't have to be stronger than your opponent. You don't have to be faster, or smarter, or wiser. You don't have to face them directly at all. The only thing you have to do is warp their sense of reality. Cloud their vision. Hide the simple truth of reality behind an artificial concept that isn't really there, causing them to mistake good for evil and evil for good. Then you can sit back and watch as they themselves tear their world apart (using their own strength!) while you laugh and laugh and laugh.

That's an apt analogy to describe what is going on in our world today, a world whose own goodness is being used to tear itself apart. As I discussed in my essay "The War Between Identity and Behavior", there are two opposing worldviews about sexuality: the Identity View and the Behavior View. I recommend you read that essay for the full description of the two different worldviews, but here is a brief summary: The Behavior View is based on the reality that some behaviors are simply wrong and should be rejected no matter how difficult that might be. The Identity View, on the other hand, is ruled by illusion. At its core is the idea that people are their attractions, that humanity is divided into three separate subspecies (gay, straight, and bisexual), that morality itself must be bent to fit within the confines of the Identity View's flawed vision. The Identity View is a fantasy, a powerful fantasy used to manipulate our society, and it has proven very effective these past years. Many of those who hold it are good people, strong people, people whose strength cannot be confronted head on; so instead, like Hercules, their reality has been purposefully twisted so that now they are using their own strength against themselves.


The War Between Identity and Behavior
November 23, 2015

There is a war being waged within our culture today, two opposing worldviews about sexuality, both of which offer different visions of right and wrong. One of these worldviews is compatible with the moral beliefs of my religion, the LDS Church, and other religions that share those moral beliefs. The other worldview fights against us.

The Identity View

Let's discuss the latter first, for this is the worldview that holds sway in the world today. This is the worldview used by the media as they report the news. This is the worldview used by celebrities, politicians, and other elite. This is the worldview used by judges as they twist the law into unrecognizable shapes. The worldview I'm speaking of is the Identity View.

According to the Identity View, people are defined by their attractions, with humanity divided into what are essentially three separate subspecies: gay, straight, and bisexual. Imagine three gigantic buckets with everyone assigned to a specific bucket, the buckets' walls reaching high into the sky, consigning us to our predetermined fate. You were born in a bucket, and you will die in that same bucket. No escape. No possibility of change.


Why It's Worse
November 11, 2015

Those of us who believe sex is only appropriate between husband and wife have grown accustomed to living in a society that says the opposite. Premarital sex is common in movies, books, and TV shows. It's become a lazy way to indicate that a fictional couple is getting serious. Are writers today even capable of showing emotional intimacy in the absence of sex? It doesn't appear so.

Indeed, we live in a society where the assumption today is that sex before marriage is normal and those who choose otherwise are abnormal (and perhaps backwards). Those of us raising children worry about the choices our children will make about sex when such negative influences are pulling them in the wrong direction.

Yet humanity never stands still, and the moral landscape has shifted even further. Now it's not sex before marriage that is the main source of friction within society. Now it's same-sex sexuality. And seeing this change, it's natural to ask the question: Is it any worse? We've already been dealing with widespread acceptance, even encouragement, of sex before marriage. Is dealing with same-sex sexuality any worse?

Yes, it's worse. Allow me to explain why.


What If That 'When' Had Never Happened?
November 9, 2015

In the personal history shared by those who call themselves 'gay,' watch carefully for the word 'when.' Yes, some claim there never was a 'when,' but notice how often there was:

"I learned I was when ..."
"I discovered it when ..."
"That was when I realized ..."

Then ask yourself this question: What if that 'when' had never happened? What if they had never gone through that experience, or what if they had, but had processed it differently?

The acceptance of same-sex sexuality, encouragement of same-sex relationships, and celebration of same-sex marriage will have an effect. We are creating countless additional possible 'when's.

Think about what that means.

We are human—so flexible, so full of possibility.

Think about what that means.


Gender Identify Is a Self-Defeating Ideology
October 5, 2015

Gender identity—the idea that a man is a woman if he identifies himself as such—is a self-defeating ideology. If gender can be shrugged on or off like a garment, then it is meaningless. And if gender is meaningless, why bother identifying with one?

Why does he want to be referred to as she? He wants that because the word "she" means something today that he wants for himself; but if he were able to convince everyone that he can become she simply by saying so, then suddenly the word "she" won't mean the same thing it does today. The definition he covets would be destroyed by his own success, leaving him with nothing.


The Reality of the Situation
September 24, 2015

Much confusion has been sown on the topic of same-sex attraction in recent years, causing many to lose sight of what is actually going on. Please allow me to sum up the reality of the situation in two related points:

  • A disagreement over moral behavior is being falsely portrayed as a disagreement over people, allowing the emotional weight of the civil rights legacy to be forced into what is actually a religious conflict over sexual morality.

  • Too many today pretend that our sexuality is predetermined and completely unaffected by outside influence. They refuse to see that it's not only our culture that is capable of change (for good or ill); it's us ourselves.

You might disagree with me about the immorality of same-sex sexuality. Religion is about the unseen after all, and everyone has a religion, their underlying core of right and wrong; so, it might be that your religion, your moral core, simply disagrees with mine. But the two points I said above are not a matter of religion. They are a matter of reality.


Our Halfway State of Absurdity
September 21, 2015

Earlier this summer I flew across the country and had the pleasure of going through airport security. The baggy pockets of my jeans seemed threatening, so the TSA agent gave me a brief pat down, which included running his hand right up into my crotch. There was a male TSA agent there and a female TSA agent there. The pat downs were professional and strictly same-sex. But why were they same-sex? Why do we not allow male TSA agents to give pat downs to women? Actually, let me ask another question first: What if the male TSA agent who gave me my pat down is someone who chooses to engage in same-sex sexuality? Would the TSA have prohibited him from giving me a pat down? Now let me return to my prior question: Why exactly do we not allow male TSA agents to give pat downs to women?

Let's jump to a different, related topic. When learning about the dorm rules at a local public university, I was surprised to hear that the university prohibits a man from sharing a dorm room with a woman. I was pleasantly surprised, but I was surprised nonetheless.

But then I started thinking: What is the logic here? What are the consequences? Does this university prohibit sex in its dorm rooms? No. Does this university prohibit same-sex sexuality specifically? No. So a same-sex couple could share a dorm room, but a boyfriend and girlfriend could not. Isn't that discrimination?


Some Connected Thoughts about Religion
September 18, 2015

Everyone has a religion. We might not all go to church, but everyone has a religion. And all of us (even those who pretend to have no religion) believe that our religion is the right one.

* * *

Religion is a set of beliefs about morality and the meaning of life. Sometimes these religious beliefs are formalized through a church, but more often today they are not. And in our day, informal religions—fluid and crowd-following—are imposing their religious beliefs onto formal religions more and more.

The State cannot force an equilibrium between religions. Anything it does only tips the scale from one side to the other. When it bans prayer, it promotes those religions that disbelieve in prayer. When it forcibly legalizes same-sex marriage, it favors those religions that believe same-sex sexuality is moral over those that do not. Any action the State takes to weaken one religion will always strengthen another. The State should therefore do as little as possible. It should allow the people to believe their own beliefs and live their own lives. It should allow religions—whether formal or informal—to rise or fall on their own merits.


On Honor
February 12, 2015

These words are directed at men. Society today offers us uncertainty in how we should live our lives. Concepts such as honor have been discarded by the wayside. My purpose here is to stand against that uncertainty and explain how a man can be an honorable man. Women should be honorable women as well, of course, and I'm not saying that the responsibilities discussed here don't also apply in some ways to them. But I don't think it's my place to tell a woman how to be a woman, so I won't. I feel no such unease, however, in telling a man how to be a man—more specifically, in telling a man how to be an honorable man.

21st-century feminism and the hookup culture
As I said, society today offers men uncertainty on how we should live our lives. There are numerous ideologies and lifestyles competing for our attention, but many of them are contradictory and few of them are good. Consider 21st-century feminism and the hookup culture. These two are entangled in a bitter conflict over sexuality, and men are caught in the crossfire. Some people support one side. Some people support the other side. Frankly, I hope they both lose. There is no point in putting a thin veneer of respectability over the noxious hookup culture, a lifestyle fixated on momentary pleasures; and there is no time to waste on the nonsense offered by 21st-century feminism, an ideology that views men as a threat and seeks to diminish them. Must a consent form be signed and notarized prior to every one-night stand? That's not a fight I care to participate in. Too many are wasting energy fighting about whether males should be permitted to urinate on newspapers laid down in the corner of the room or if they should be trained to go outside on the lawn. I have a higher vision for men. The hookup culture only appeals to overgrown boys, and 21st-century feminism can only produce housebroken males. But I'm not interested in overgrown boys or housebroken males. What I want—what we need—are honorable men.


When the Ship Enters Rough Waters
January 10, 2015

Imagine a giant ship full of people, everyone up on the deck, socializing, talking, laughing, sharing meals together, doing business with each other, parties here and there, everyone weaving amongst each other, everyone fitting in, everyone doing what everyone else is doing. This is society.

The ship might turn to the left. The ship might turn to the right. The direction doesn't matter to the people on the deck because they are all together, and that is what matters to them—getting along, fitting in, being part of the crowd, being agreeable, doing what everyone else is doing.

Then the ship enters rough waters. It used to be stable; now it rocks wildly to and fro. And everyone is stumbling around on the deck, bumping into each other, spilling their drinks, getting sick, vomit on the deck, vomit on each other. Yet, despite the heaving of the ship, they're all still socializing on the deck, doing their best to keep their feet underneath them as the ship rolls violently back and forth. They're still talking and laughing and being together because that's all they know how to do—fitting in with everyone else, getting along, going where everyone else is going, being agreeable, not causing a disturbance. They are part of the crowd, and they are doing what the crowd is doing, and if that means they are stumbling about and sicking up on themselves, then at least they are fitting in with everyone else because that is what matters to them, that is what they know how to do, that is what they want to do.


On Genetics
November 29, 2014

It's amusing to watch the timeline of scientific studies on whether or not a particular food is healthy. One day it's great for you, then a new study comes out and says it's horrible, then another comes out and says it's not so bad, then yet another comes out and suddenly it's great again, then horrible, then great, then …

Isn't science wonderful? Actually, it is. Science is great. There's nothing wrong with recording our observations, sharing them with others, and building upon them. The problem comes with “therefore”. That's the word that gets science into trouble. The more cautious and conservative the “therefore”, the less problematic it will be. Unfortunately, a cautious “therefore” is unlikely to help a scientist win a research grant, capture the public's attention, or help the scientist further their agenda; so don't be surprised to hear wild and crazy scientific “therefore”s that push far beyond the limits of what the observations actually show.

On that note, let's turn to the topic of same-sex attraction and genetics. From time to time, the media will breathlessly report about a new study “proving” that same-sex attraction is genetic. Hopefully they won't actually use the word “proving” in their headlines since the studies never go near as far as that, but someone who only reads headlines could be forgiven for thinking that science has found a stronger link between genetics and attraction than it actually has. However, once you dig into the stories and look at the details, suddenly the situation is very different from what the headlines lead you to believe.


Why I Write about this Topic
November 28, 2014

“Why do you write about this?” With the “this” being same-sex attraction and same-sex marriage, I find the question surprising. Given the direction of society, it seems to me the reason should be obvious. This is something capable of causing massive societal change, yet some seem to think what I'm doing is equivalent to walking into the woods and kicking a random tree for no reason.

Is that what I'm doing, just kicking a random tree? That's certainly not how I would describe it. For me, it's as if my family and I are being chased through the forest by a lion. I could continue to run, but I've chosen instead to turn around and fire some carefully aimed shots.

Or to put it a different way: After my church has endured years of mortar shelling with no sign of abating, I don't think it strange that I am intent on neutralizing the attacking artillery.

This conflict was not created by me. Whether or not I bury my head in the sand, it will continue on regardless. But I choose to not bury my head in the sand, and that's why I write so much about this.


Why the Comparison Fails
November 26, 2014

Picture yourself about to compete in a footrace. There you are, crouched at the starting line, awaiting the whistle, when suddenly your opponent smashes your kneecap with a baseball bat. Then, as you writhe on the ground in undeserved pain, he goes on to win the race and pretends it was his speed that gave him the victory rather than his cheap tactics.

That's how I feel whenever someone tries to win the debate about same-sex marriage by comparing the opposition to same-sex marriage with the opposition to interracial marriage. It's a cheap shot, like a baseball bat to the kneecap. Let me explain why the comparison fails.

Imagine that John and Mike have decided to be same-sex married. They approach a wedding planner and ask for her assistance, but she declines their business because she doesn't want to participate in a same-sex wedding. Okay, let's dig into her motivations. Why did she decline their business? Is it something against John? Is it something against Mike? There's an easy way to find out. Imagine that those same individuals, John and Mike, had instead both decided to marry women. Imagine that they each approached the wedding planner separately with their female fiance. Would the wedding planner decline the business of either couple? No, of course not. She has nothing against either John or Mike. It's not opposition to people that caused her to refuse to take part in a same-sex wedding; it's opposition to behavior. It's opposition to a choice she disagrees with—namely, the choice to legally lock oneself into a relationship she views as immoral.


Identifying What Just Bloodied Your Face
November 3, 2014

If you've ever been blindsided by an accusation of bigotry when you thought you were just talking about behavior, here is an explanation to help you understand what just bloodied your face.

The Shame of Past Racism
The root of it all is racism; or, more accurately, the shame of past racism. We know it was wrong. We hear about the horror of slavery and segregation, and we are shamed that it happened in our own country and by our own ancestors. We are grateful for the bravery of the civil rights movement, for the heroic men and women who took a stand and helped society turn its back on institutional racism. There is still further to go, but at least now the door has been opened, allowing us to step through once society fully accepts that skin color is no more significant than hair color. We have yet to step through that door, but look at how far we have come.

And this legacy of racism, this mixture of shame for its existence and gratitude for its waning, lingers with us today. When we hear the word bigot, we think of racists. We think of adults barring the way so children with a different skin color couldn't attend school. We think of police officers setting fire hoses against civil rights marchers. And when we hear the word discrimination, we think of racial discrimination, of segregated lunch counters and drinking fountains. We think of hotels that banned people based on skin color, of theaters that wouldn't let some walk through the front door. All of those actions were wrong, and we're grateful they have since been rejected.


On Identity - Again
October 18, 2014

Arizona Falls Beneath the Juggernaut
As a resident of Arizona, I was disappointed by the recent court ruling that imposed same-sex marriage upon our state. Given the current direction of our courts, the ruling wasn't a surprise, but it was disappointing nevertheless. Those who have been placed in a position of honor and authority should be expected to use that honor and authority to do the right thing; and in this case, they didn't.

The result is both frustrating as well as annoying because it is both wrong as well as incorrect. It's wrong because same-sex marriage is a bad idea. My past writing explains why, but for a more comprehensive explanation, I refer you to Discussing Marriage, a website which I recommend both for the intelligence of their arguments as well as the civility of their tone. May more people learn to speak about same-sex marriage with such civility. (And may I.)

The ruling was incorrect because limiting marriage to male-female couples is not unconstitutional. If the law hasn't changed, then judicial rulings should not change either. The people might have changed, but let them prove that through their votes. That's how a democracy is supposed to work. Instead, our judiciary is disgracing itself. Their faulty rulings will not be forgotten, nor will the names attached to them.


20 Truths about Same-Sex Attraction and Same-Sex Marriage
August 7, 2014

After all the words I have written about same-sex attraction and same-sex marriage, I thought it would be useful to create a list of truths to summarize the subject:

Truth #1: Same-sex sex—more specifically: same-sex sexual intimacy in any form—is morally wrong.

Truth #2: Although we should love and support each individual, we cannot celebrate or be happy about a same-sex union because, due to truth #1, we will always want them to split up.

Truth #3: The gay rights movement* is an expression of religious tyranny. At its heart is the demand that everyone must agree that same-sex sex is not a sin. Any who refuse to conform are smeared as bigots and are expected to be shunned.

Truth #4: We are not gay. We are not straight. Those labels are false and misleading. People are flexible and attraction is malleable.

Truth #5: Any man living today, had he been raised in ancient Greece or Rome, would most likely have been attracted to other men. Yes, I'm talking about you. Stop thinking that you're different. You're not. You are far more influenced by your generation than you realize. This applies to everyone, men and women. Please reread truth #4.


On Words
July 22, 2014

Imagine that a young man walked to the front of your church congregation and announced, "I'm gay!" Suppose this is a church where same-sex sex is considered to be morally wrong. This young man has just declared, "I'm gay!" But what does he mean? You know this boy. You care about him and want what is best for him. So what does he mean? Obviously he is saying that he feels same-sex attraction, but is that all he is saying? Remember, this is a church that preaches that same-sex sex is morally wrong. When he calls himself gay, what is he saying about his choices? Is he saying that he believes the teachings of the church and will therefore resist his same-sex attraction in the same way that others in the congregation, each and every one of them, are expected to resist their desires to do wrong? Or is he saying that he has embraced his same-sex attraction, that he has adopted it as his core identity, that he will live that lifestyle, that he will seek out same-sex partners, that he will engage in same-sex sex?

What exactly is he saying to the congregation? What exactly is he asking of them? Does he want support through his trials? If that is what he wants, then he will get it. But is that what he is really asking, or is he asking them to change their doctrine? Is he asking them to alter their concept of sin in order to accommodate his personal desires? What is he really saying? We don't know. We don't know because the words don't tell us. They're ambiguous, and the ambiguity is tearing morality apart. We need better words, more accurate words.


On Perspective
July 10, 2014

The world is burning down. It certainly feels that way to those of us who oppose same-sex marriage and continue to insist that same-sex sex is morally wrong despite the emotional appeals and social pressure exerted on its behalf. Yes, it's easy to feel despair as we watch institutions and standards crumble around us, yet history suggests we should not let that feeling linger. Waves rise but then fall. What seems unstoppable today is discarded and forgotten tomorrow. Every Goliath will meet a David; every Titanic will strike an iceberg; every behemoth will become a fossil; and every judicial ruling in favor of same-sex marriage will one day be considered as illegitimate as Dred Scott.

Still, it certainly is an interesting time, when MTV and Rolling Stone parrot the establishment, and those whose morals are attached to something more permanent than transient whim find themselves as the underdog counterculture. Isn't it strange? Rock music in all its varieties, once the anthem of rebels, has faded into elevator music for the trend-following horde.

But strange or not, our times can be distressing. Especially if we view the societal changes as irreversible, meaning that things will never get better. A related message is shared on the Discussing Marriage website in their "The Objection from Bandwagon" article and video. They point out that, while those in favor of same-sex marriage prefer to compare their cause to the civil rights movement, a better comparison can be made with the abortion debate, where opinion has shifted over time, proving that change in opinion is not irreversible. This comparison is especially appropriate when you step away from the same-sex marriage debate and instead focus solely on the matter of same-sex sex. Like abortion, same-sex sex is an action. And just like abortion, some people think this action is morally wrong while others disagree.


On Intellectualism
June 25, 2014

I am not an intellectual. That might seem strange for me to say if you think of intellectuals simply as those who are intelligent, but that's now how I view intellectuals, not anymore. It seems to me that intellectualism claims that arguments can always be compared against each other, the better argument reliably determined through reason. It's as if intellectual conflicts are like gladiator fights in an arena, where the arguments face off against each other and the better argument inevitably comes out the winner.

But that's not how things actually work. The intellectual arenas are filled with artificial obstacles, and those obstacles get in the way of the arguments, at times giving an unnatural advantage to one argument over the other, at times removing any chance for an argument to even win at all. In the end, it's not the better argument that emerges triumphant, it's the argument more suited to the obstacles of the particular arena. I see intellectualism therefore as better at awarding trophies than at discerning truth. That's why I am not an intellectual. Reason will always win in a fair fight. Unfortunately, it's rarely ever a fair fight.

Consider the example of Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird". Despite public opposition, Atticus, a lawyer, chose to defend Tom Robinson, a man falsely accused of rape. Atticus made his case effectively, leaving no doubt that Tom was innocent. Yet, Atticus failed anyway and Tom was found guilty of the crime. Why? The two arguments entered the arena, why did the weaker one emerge as the winner?

It was the arena. When those on the jury saw the defendant, they did not see a man, they saw a black man; and their racial prejudice created an impossible obstacle for Atticus to overcome. There was simply no argument that Atticus could make that would allow black innocence to prevail in the face of white accusation, not in the minds of those jurors, not in the arena within which Atticus was forced to make his case.


On Identity
June 18, 2014

Alternate title: A plea for my allies to please stop shooting themselves in the foot.

I want to elaborate on something I said in my post last week about stewardship. In that post I indicated it was a problem for those who oppose same-sex marriage to make statements such as "gay men should be celibate." Can you see why it's unhelpful to word the situation in that way? If you can't, let me explain: The problem is that when you make statements like that, you're making an assumption about identity and are limiting people who struggle against same-sex attraction to only two choices: celibacy or not. But those two choices do not actually reflect what is at issue in this conflict. The issue is whether or not people resist their same-sex attraction. That's it. Sometimes the things we say make it appear we are asking for something very different than we actually are.

It all comes down to identity. Who are we? What defines us? Are we men and women, or are we something else? And is the way we identify others helpful or harmful to them? Does it accurately reflect their potential, or does it artificially limit their choices?

Look at it like this: Would we ever say, "liars should be mute"? Of course not. We wouldn't say that because we know better than to identify people based solely on the action of lying. Instead, we would say that people should not tell lies. We would say that people should tell the truth. Can't you see the difference? Do not identify people based on their preferred sin. Don't fall victim to the trap of preaching against people. (And yes, it is a trap. See my story "The Unneeded Panic Room".) Sin is not who we are. Attraction is not who we are. Do not debase others in that way. Don't fall victim to the appeal of short noun phrases that give a distorted picture of reality. Take the time to accurately explain your point of view.


On Stewardship
June 13, 2014

Lately I've been thinking a lot about stewardship. A stewardship is something you are responsible for, something you have a duty to care for, to develop, to preserve, to protect. Some have high-profile stewardships, significant callings in their church, positions of great responsibility in their governments. But, for most of us, our stewardships are more local, more close to us. For me, I see my stewardships as my religion, my family, and then my work, my community, and more loosely my nation and then, even more loosely, mankind as a whole.

I've been thinking a lot about stewardship lately because reading the news makes me angry; and then my frustration at the blind foolishness I see consumes me, tearing away time, energy, and emotion from my primary stewardships, making me the greatest fool of all.

I'm reminded of a talk given by Dallin H. Oaks, one of the leaders of my church (I'm a Mormon), called "Good, Better, Best." Put simply, it's possible for good things to distract us from doing the best things. It's good to be aware of what is going on. It's good to be involved in our communities and our nation. But what if that pulls us away from what is best? What if that pulls us away from our primary stewardships, from our families, from our friends?

Yet, I still feel drawn to what is going on, especially with all the craziness surrounding same-sex attraction. I look at the way people talk about it and the assumptions they make about it, and it's aggravating to me, as if millions of people were simultaneously scratching on a chalkboard together. Even those who seem to agree with me about same-sex attraction—those who agree it should not be indulged, those who oppose same-sex marriage—even they often misunderstand same-sex attraction and how we should approach it. Too often they say things like "gay men should be celibate", not seeing the trap they have created for themselves with their very words. (This trap is explained in my short story "The Unneeded Panic Room").


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