On the Nature of Sex

I’ve been thinking a lot about chastity — what it is, and how it is lived. And I think that the way we talk about chastity is informed by fundamentally mistaken notions about the nature of sex itself — and these fundamentally mistaken notions about sex often come from psychology, which is my passion, my hobby, and to some extent my profession. That’s about as bold a claim as I can make, but I intend to support it.

I believe that to truly understand chastity — and marriage itself — we need to (1) become fully aware of the non-revelatory origins of many of our assumptions about the nature of human sexuality, and (2) adopt assumptions about the nature of sexuality that are entirely at odds with the assumptions handed to us by the world, and perhaps even seen as ludicrous when viewed from those worldly assumptions. Continue reading

What Is Happiness?

We are taught rather boldly in the scriptures that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). We’re also taught that God’s plan is a “plan of happiness.” We here talk of the “happiness” prepared for those that serve God. It’s almost indisputable that we are promised happiness if we but follow God’s commandments. Many are feeling disappointed by these promises, because they feel they’ve done everything they are “supposed” to do, and feel deeply unhappy. Where’s the happiness that was promised them?

I read a blog post today written by a mother who found child raising to be a very unpleasant and at times miserable experience. She hated changing diapers, she hated entertaining her children all the time, and she resented being “pressured” into motherhood and away from other pursuits. The tone of the post expressed a feeling of betrayal—she was supposed to be happy as a mother and a gospel-living saint, but wasn’t. And worse, she had sacrificed her ambitions for it. She was feeling trapped by her parental obligations and stymied in her non-familial pursuits (pursuits she believes would have made her more happy). So clearly either she’s broken or the Gospel’s broken (or at least the way we teach it). At least, that was the implicit conclusion of the blog post.

I completely believe the promises made in the scriptures: the Gospel does bring us happiness. But I believe that we often define happiness entirely differently than God does. Continue reading

General Conference and Same-Sex Marriage: a Personal Analysis

Introduction

I’ve decided to digest what I learned from General Conference that I believe is applicable to the ongoing conversations about same-sex marriage, same-sex activity, and the Church’s role in valuing and defending traditional marriage and family. It is hard (if not impossible) to argue that the leaders of the Church were silent on the matter this past weekend, or that their words are irrelevant to how we should feel and act concerning the matter.

I’m far from perfect at this, but I generally agree that we abuse the teachings of prophets when we use them as weapons to alienate those with whom we disagree. When teaching and sharing Gospel truth, it should never be done with a warring heart, and using the teachings of prophets and apostles as weapons is certainly the outgrowth of a heart at war. So that’s not what I intend to do in this post. If it comes across otherwise, at least know what my intent is. Remember that I don’t mean it that way.

So instead of sharing what others should have learned, I’ll share the important truths that I learned, and I sincerely hope that others will consider these truths as well. I’m going to try my very best to confine my entire analysis to specific quotes from this conference (with three deviations/exceptions only)—because I hope that by doing so, I can sidestep any criticisms that the messages I’m sharing are out-of-date (as if prophetic teachings have a built-in shelf life). Continue reading

Of Hope and Gethsemane

This is amazing. A voice of hope. Blake is an old acquaintance/friend of mine, and I love his remarks in this video. What I take from this is that hope comes not from a belief that SSA will someday disappear or become a non-issue in their desires to marry (for a great many, in never does), nor from a belief that the same-sex marriage or relations will one day be viewed as morally permissible by God (something that is unlikely, considering gour cherished doctrines taught in the Proclamation on the Family), but from a belief in Jesus Christ and His grace, mercy, and Atonement.

Grace is the enabling power of Jesus Christ, and He can grant us lasting peace and happiness, even as we experience the pain and loneliness of our own personal Gethsemanes. Christ has been through Gesthemane, and in that experience He was comforted by a messenger from God. Christ can and will be the angel that comforts us as we experience our own dark nights of despair, suffering, and loneliness. Continue reading

Critiquing Gospel Teaching

I have a curse. I’ve been doing graphic design on the side for a number of years now. I’ve studied principles of composition, and so I know better than I used to how to make things look good. For example, related information should be near each other—on a business card, the phone number shouldn’t be on the furthest corner from the email address. Their should be structure and order in the design. Fonts shouldn’t strain the eyes. Colors should be complimentary, and images should not distract from the text. It shouldn’t hurt to look at. The designer needs to pause and ask, “What do I want those who view the design to do? What information do they need the most?” He should make that information the first thing that people see. Etc. Etc. Continue reading