What should BYU and the church do to reduce future firestorms regarding LGBTQ issues?

August 25, 2021    By: Geoff J @ 4:36 pm   Category: Ethics,Life,Mormon Culture/Practices

Hey y’all. I’m back.

Or I guess I’m still here…

As you know, blogs are lame now. Or something like that. Anyhow I’ve spent most of the last decade diverting myself at my BYU sports Twitter account (@geoffjbyu). But I still maintain the ol’ blog so I figured I’d slap up some thoughts on the latest turbulence surrounding Elder Holland’s speech at BYU a couple of days ago since this topic doesn’t really work there. Read or listen to Elder Holland’s talk here.

Based on some reactions I saw online, liberal Mormons (er, church members?) are severely disappointed in all sorts of things about the talk. They don’t like that it feels like a smackdown to them and LGBTQ BYU students in general. They don’t like how he quotes the “trowel and musket” analogy from church history and a previous Elder Oaks talk for fear it will inspire looney right wingers to violence. And they don’t like that he seemingly threw that BYU valedictorian who came out in his graduation speech under the bus, even though the speech was approved by BYU.

On the other side, there is evidence that the Mormon alt-right wackos are indeed doing some victory laps and using the musket talk somewhat menacingly online. This “DezNat” wannabe secret combination of Mormon alt-righters is a scourge. Anything that revs those turds up concerns me.

Anyhow, I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty of the talk. I think, based on the freaking out some folks are doing, it’s safe to say that Elder Holland probably didn’t quite hit the mark he was aiming at though.

In this post I more want to step back and suggest a few ways BYU and the church might handle this LGBTQ issue in the future.

1: Move on from the gay marriage fight

It’s over. Gay marriage is legal. Accept that fact and move on. It’s the law of the land now and the church won’t change that.

2: Focus on the Law of Chastity only

In the end this is about the Law of Chastity. And by that, I mean the church teaches that any sexual behavior outside of a legal hetero marriage is a sin. It’s 100% within a church’s rights to believe and teach that. So stick to it. You’re gay? Fine, live the Law of Chastity as we teach it and there’s no problem with the church. You’re Bisexual? Fine — same. Making discussions and arguments about sexual identity is always going to be a losing battle. Focus on the behavioral standard and at least you can be consistent.

3: Because of the Law of Chastity, be ok with a permanent truce

The LGBTQ community will likely never be satisfied with the church until the Law of Chastity changes and gay sex (within marriage at least) is considered chaste. And it’s unlikely the Law of Chastity as I’ve described it will change. So at best the church will likely have to settle for a truce. Say and mean that we don’t focus on whatever sexual identity people claim. Say and mean that to be in good standing with the church (or with BYU) folks of any sexual identity just need to live the Law of Chastity. The church would benefit from having strict standards when it comes to sexual *behavior* and keeping the focus on that, rather than wading into the weeds of sexual identity.

Of course this gets messy because they’d have to determine what qualifies as sexual behavior. Does holding hands count? Snuggling? Kissing? What about just being transgender? There would have to be allowances for these things to be consistent. The church and its members would need to give ground on many of these things over time, but would not have to give ground on strictly adhering to the Law of Chastity.

4: Start reacting to violations of the Law of Chastity more consistently

Breaking the Law of Chastity is breaking the Law of Chastity. Seems to me that we will need to get to the point where the ecclesiastical reaction to Bryce and Breanna having sex outside of marriage is equal to the reaction to Bryce and Dallin having sex. If and when the Law of Chastity becomes the standard we are focusing on regarding this issue, we can’t wink at hetero indiscretions and freak out about gay indiscretions among members or BYU students. This one is gonna take some cultural training but I think it is required if we really aren’t going to be bigoted. The standard has to be “no sexual behavior outside of a legal hetero marriage” period. The breaking of that standard would need be equally and fairly dealt with when it comes to church discipline (and BYU discipline).

If #4 makes you uncomfortable then perhaps it’s time to ask yourself why hetero breaking of the law of chastity is more “ok” than gay breaking of it. It’s not. Or at least reason dictates it shouldn’t be.

Anyhow, that’s what I got for you today. Is it controversial? I hope not. Doesn’t seem like it should be. I think I’m just trying to be pragmatic and fair. But let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

(I know this is a heated topic for many, but please try not to be obnoxious in the comments — I’ll be moderating the comment section to keep things productive. Thanks!)

freeing neighborhoods and nations from the virus of poverty pt 2 Single Parents

May 3, 2020    By: Matt W. @ 1:29 pm   Category: Life

Single Parent Families with Children under 18 have a markedly higher rate of poverty. 26.6% of single parent families (41.4 % in the US (, 2nd only to Ireland’s 45.8%) are below the relative poverty line. This is 3.5X the rate of dual parent or childless homes (which are similar, 7.6% and 8.9% below the poverty line). The number one cause of single parent families is still Separation or Divorce, followed by unwed pregnancy. (56% of childless homes from divorce per pew research for the US, and more dramatic in other nations like Japan, with 96%+ from divorce). While there are some indications that unwed single parents are financially worse off (30% of median 2 parent income vs 49% for divorced), there isn’t a good source I have yet found which breaks out single parents in poverty by these two cohorts and by the definition of relative poverty in the prior post, both would be below the relative poverty line. (more…)

freeing neighborhoods and nations from the virus of poverty pt 1 Introduction

April 27, 2020    By: Matt W. @ 10:43 am   Category: Life

Jeffrey Holland at one point said, speaking of the current pandemic: “We pray for those who have lost loved ones in this modern plague, as well as for those currently infected or at risk. We certainly pray for those who are giving such magnificent healthcare. When we have conquered it—and we will—may we be equally committed to freeing the world from the virus of hunger and freeing neighborhoods and nations from the virus of poverty. May we hope for schools where students are taught—not terrified they will be shot—and for the gift of personal dignity for every child of God, unmarred by any form of racial, ethnic, or religious prejudice.”

This is an amazing call to action from an Apostle of Jesus Christ: to end hunger, end poverty, increase education, increase safety, and end prejudice.

It’s also really big and complicated, and there are a lot of opinions about what does and does not work in this space. Many of these items are inter-related and have causal relationships one with another. Hunger is caused by Poverty. Poverty is impacted by lack of education, education is impacted by prejudice.

(more…)

20 years up and running

October 11, 2018    By: Matt W. @ 8:53 am   Category: Life

20 Years ago today, I was baptised.

20 years on, I still believe.

 

 

Insulting Utes on Twitter

October 9, 2017    By: Geoff J @ 5:07 pm   Category: Evolutionary psychology,Life

Hey look! I just noticed I still own this blog… nice.

Ok, I knew I still owned NCT. I just haven’t posted here in more than three years. These days I mostly get my online fix by talking BYU sports on Twitter. (See @GeoffJbyu) The thing about rooting for BYU on Twitter is it means I get to argue with Utah Utes fans a lot. Of course arguments in the 140 character format of Twitter mostly consists of taunting and insulting. I get a lot of Ute challengers appearing in my Twitter mentions these days because I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for being highly optimistic about BYU (which infuriates and frustrates many of them to no end) and for being somewhat pugilistic in my responses to Ute antagonists who come after me. My go-to insult with most Ute fans is to call them imbeciles in one form or another. Some variations on that theme have included: moron, dimwit, stupid, dumber than a box of rocks, illiterate, fool, dullard, ignoramus, simpleton, pea brain, numbskull, and knucklehead. Such insults tend to get under their skins, which of course is my goal.

Not sure if I should feel bad about all the online arguing and insulting or not. I normally don’t. Although sometimes I get the feeling the rough-housing has gotten too heated and sort of feel bad when that happens.

Anyhow, in some ways the whole Twitter fighting process is kind of cathartic. I have long been a bit of a fan of evolutionary psychology theories that posit that we have all sorts of instincts that we’re born with as a result of the evolutionary history of humans. (And yes, I do think human evolution can square with a Mormon cosmology just fine with the right assumptions). So I kind of suspect this sort of raw tribal fighting is coded into all of our DNA. It sure seems to come naturally to us all.

If that’s the case, seems to me that the low stakes, almost ritualized sparring associated with this literal Team Blue vs Team Red serves as a useful and largely harmless outlet. It is undoubtedly a lower stakes fight than the ugly political fighting we see between Team Red (conservatives) and Team Blue (liberals) so many other places these days. Likewise, the religious fighting I used to do with anti-Mormons here and elsewhere online seemed to have higher stakes (even if that was just my impression).

I recently saw someone make a prediction for the future of humanity that went something like this: “Unrelenting Tribalism”. I tend to agree. I think tribalism is probably in our DNA. So I’m hoping that getting my tribal warfare fix via low stakes sports team rivalries is actually a useful pressure release valve rather than just an excuse for me to be rude to a bunch of anonymous Ute fans online.

If unrelenting tribalism is in our blood and inevitable, maybe finding a low stakes outlet like a sports team rivalry for it would be good for all of us. Especially if we could then let cooler heads prevail when it comes to higher stakes issues in society.

Moving to Seattle

April 11, 2017    By: Matt W. @ 6:12 am   Category: Life

This Summer, My Family will be moving to Seattle.

Questions I have:

What is church like there?

Why isn’t there a website that helps you find the right ward? (Reviews of YW programs and choirs would be nice)

Is it morally wrong to ward shop?

Rent or Buy? Is the AirB&B thing going to cause a housing price decline?

Utah election results

November 13, 2016    By: Matt W. @ 8:43 am   Category: Life

Alot of people are bothered that Trump won Utah. A couple things to keep an eye on.

In 2012, Romney won Utah with 740k votes. In 2016, Trump won with 375k. In 2012, a million people voted, in 2016, only 700k did.

So the reality is that trump did 50% worse than Romney,  and the top drop in support came from disenfranchised voters who didn’t vote for anyone.

If we estimate Utah voting population growth for the past 4 years at 2% a year (which per the census would be very conservative)  This would mean almost 400k people who would have voted, based on 2012 rates, didn’t. This is more votes than trump received.

So the Utah reality is that Trump won for a number of factors, but none of those factors was massive Mormon support for him.

The Mormon Ross Perot Moment

October 22, 2016    By: Matt W. @ 10:14 am   Category: Life

Ross Perot was the anti-establishment candidate in 1992, who rose to prominence for taking 19% of the Vote in the presidential election. The vacuum that created his success was a very unpopular incumbent president, who’s party was disenfranchised with him due to broken campaign promises about taxes, failing to eliminate Saddam Hussein, and a poor economy. The vacuum was also created due to lukewarm response to the democratic candidate, who was freshly coming off a scandal where he had an affair with Gennifer Flowers. This created a space for a 3rd party candidate to give people somewhere they could vote as a protest to the other two candidates. There is often talk that George Bush would have won without Ross Perot taking the votes, but polling data and exit surveys clearly paint that Bush was always lagging behind Clinton and Ross took votes equally from both candidates.

I think this parallels well the situation in Utah today with candidate Evan McMullin. McMullin is a relative unknown with virtually no history, but the one main power he has is that he is neither Trump no Clinton. He gives people who do not feel comfortable with either establishment candidate a space where they can register their dissent. This is why the latest polls show McMullin with a 14-25% chance of winning Utah (and thusly a .00001% chance of becoming president through a very unlikely scenario that the house negotiates with him after a very unlikely Clinton/Trump tie)   (more…)

From Civic to Liberal Republicanism: John Locke and the Dutch

September 29, 2016    By: Jeff G @ 1:19 pm   Category: Calvinism,Ethics,Happiness,Life,Money and getting gain,Politics

This is the 4th part in my series whereby I roughly follow Jerry Muller’s Thinking About Capitalism, in order to bring socio-economic and intellectual history to Jonathan Haidt’s political taxonomy.  Here is the political spectrum that I have been working with:

spectrum-and-legend

Last post I discussed how Machiavelli, Hobbes and various religious thinkers contributed to the transvaluation of Civic Republican virtue into the modern “virtue” of self-interest.  This post will discuss the ways in which the 17th Century Dutch experience in general and – even though Muller strangely ignores him – John Locke in particular transformed the aristocratic Civic Republicanism into the middle-class Liberal Republicanism that would later form the very heart of the American constitution. (more…)

A Genealogy of Self-Interest: Machiavelli and Hobbes

This is the third post in my series where I appropriate Jerry Muller’s lecture series “Thinking About Capitalism” to bring socioeconomics and intellectual history to Jonathan Haidt’s social-psychological account of political differences. Briefly, on the right is a very rough, graphical depiction of Haidt’s tripartite political taxonomy. On the left is my taxonomy which is (with huge caveats that I won’t elaborate upon here) the vertical mirror image of Haidt’s:

my-spectrumhaidt-spectrum

Paternalism = Theocratic Chiefdom (Traditional Segmentation)
Abs. = Absolute Monarchy
Const. = Constitutional Monarchy
Individualism = Libertarianism (Classical Liberalism)
Welf. = Welfare State Liberalism
Soc. = Socialism
Fraternalism = Anarchism (“Utopian” Communism)
Mult. = Multi-Cultural Humanism
Civ. = Civic Republicanism (Aristocratic Humanism)
Nat. = Nationalism

To be sure, no 2-dimensional political spectrum could ever include every nuance or exception to every rule.  As such, these circles and boundaries are suggestive, high-level generalizations intended to function as entry points and primers rather than the definitive, last word on any such position. (more…)

Greek/Christian Condemnations of Profit/Usury

September 12, 2016    By: Jeff G @ 4:29 pm   Category: Ethics,Life,Money and getting gain,Mormon Culture/Practices,Politics

(This is the second in a series of posts dedicated to the relationship between Mormonism and capitalism.)

Last post I proposed to frame the history of capitalism around the tensions between self-interested exchange and reciprocal charity – two very different and mutually incompatible ways of organizing social relations.  This tension is best illustrated by a father who will not provide for his family unless somebody can answer the question: “What’s in it for me?”  To be sure, some classical liberals have sought to actually answer this question, but I think most of us think the very act of asking the question (let alone trying to answer it) is, at best, morally problematic.

The question that capitalism forces upon us is the extent to which we want to model social relations on familial reciprocity or on contractual exchange?  Which is the rule and which is the exception, and when is it the exception?  Muller’s second lecture, “The Greek and Christian Traditions,” is aimed at describing how medieval society insisted that we organize economic relations around household relations as both the Civic Republican and Christian traditions dictated. It is against this moral background that the modern advocacy of capitalism and the radical trans-valuation of morals that it entailed should be understood.  The questions which we Mormons ought to ask ourselves are: 1) To what extent do our scriptures and revelations presuppose the traditional condemnations of profit and usury? and 2) To what extent do our scriptures and revelations support the radical trans-valuation by which these condemnations were overthrown?  (more…)

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