At the Table

Living with the belief that gay people have a place at the table of Christ.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sacred and Profane

It is a long held position in the LDS faith that the "power of procreation" is sacred. I do not wish to question that point of view, but I have to ask what is it about sex between loving, committed gay people that would be inherently profane? Why do we not forbid sterile people or those who are past the age of procreation from engaging in sexual activity? Would not unprocreative sex make a mockery of the sacred procreative activity? Or for that matter, recall that no one who was "wounded in the stones" or had blemishes could approach the holy tabernacle. Wouldn't it follow that the sacred powers of procreation should be withheld from people with acne or birth defects, or for that matter, from unbelievers? I simply do not see why people who find themselves attracted to the same sex, and therefore do not fit into the ideal model for mankind as set forth in Genesis, should be considered so flawed, so blemished, that they are unworthy to enjoy the sacred blessings of sex in their unions.

The Plan of Happiness, which includes the command for men and women to multiply and replenish the earth, assumes a perfect world. The Plan and the Proclamation on the Family define a narrow ideal to which many people, for whatever reason, will simply never be able to conform. I have no problem with the Plan of Salvation as an ideal. It is wonderful. But to think that whatever does not fit neatly into that picture, even when viewed as an aberration, defect or handicap, to be inherently sinful, defies reason!

The gay community has long described homosexuality as being part of the great diversity of mankind. For years I was not quite willing to accept the idea that a homosexual orientation is simply a variant of human makeup like being left-handed or having blue eyes. It just seems too "broken." After all, it doesn't take a scientist to convince anyone that men and women are physically designed for heterosexual coupling. Yet, it is clear that homosexuality does widely occur in the animal kingdom. And coupled with the estimates that between 5 and 10% of the human population is homosexual, it does suggest that it is a "natural" aspect of life on this earth.

I see homosexuality as "diversity" more akin to the idea of "opposition in all things," which I don't believe is strictly black and white. Homosexuality, like left-handedness, diabetes, mental illness, gray hair, perfect teeth, or olive colored skin, is part of the wondrous and complex fabric of the human condition. Sometimes tragic, sometimes beautiful, sometimes plain, these things are all part of the rich experience that mortality provides. And what matters is how we intersect and interact with the variety of people and situations with which we come in contact.

If we seek a divine purpose for human sexuality, the model in Genesis seems to fit, where men and women are called to join together and multiply and fill the earth. The LDS doctrine of exaltation gives this model its ultimate expression. Yet not everyone can achieve this ideal state, nor fulfill the command to bear children. A portion of humanity, for whatever reason, finds itself outside of the norm, the ideal, the divine Plan of Happiness for mankind. Yet here too, we believe that there is divine purpose underlying the incongruities of life. When we sorrow for the childless couple, we hope that, somewhere in the grand plan of the Creator, there is meaning to the apparent deficiency. I believe that somewhere in the wisdom of God there is purpose behind what some may perceive as the homosexual's broken existence.

4 Comments:

Blogger -L- said...

Yet not everyone can achieve this ideal state, nor fulfill the command to bear children.

Everyone can achieve the ideal. All they have to do is be obedient and patient. Life goes beyond death.

The demand to have sex for yourself on your own terms now in this life is fine, but don't criticize those who believe differently and see temperance is a virtue.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Dave Walter said...

Howller,

I read your post only after making a passing reference to the same subject matter in L's blog. Thanks for discussing this in such detail and eloquence.

2:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are no estimates of "5%-10%" of the human population as homosexual that merit any attention. The best studies we have (see any of the several books written by the team at the University of Chicago back in the mid-'90s based on a nationally representative sample) indicate the numbers are more like 2%-2.5%.

We have to at least get the facts right if you want to talk intelligently about this topic.

12:57 PM  
Blogger howller said...

Although the 10% figure has been cited for years (I think it goes back to Kinsey's research), you are correct that no one takes it seriously any more. However, newer figures than the 90's studies indicate that in 2002 about 4.1% of both men and women aged 18-44 identified as either homosexual or bisexual (Mosher, W.D., A. Chandra and J. Jones (2005). “Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures: Men and Women 15–44 Years of Age, United States, 2002.”).

If we assume that there are still many closeted homosexuals, and those unwilling to identify as gay, it is easy to conclude that about 5% of the population is homosexual or bisexual.

We can quibble about the exact percentage, but even if we accept the generally accepted 5% figure, that is still 1 in 20 people, a sizable portion of humanity, when the numbers add up.

3:03 PM  

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