Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It's a No Go

Book Review for No Going Back by Jonathan Langford, published by Zarahemla Books, 2009

Touted as an appeal for compassion for conflicted LDS self-determined “gay” teens, the novel, No Going Back, is yet another push for accepting gayness, alternative sexual orientation, homosexuality, SSA—call it whatever you like — as an identity within an orthodox church, in this case in minors, ages 12-16. Yes, this is an exploitation of children in an over-the-top attempt to have one's cake and eat it. Sorry, one can't be both a true follower of Christ and proclaim a gay identity.

The book is an overlong, self-conscious one, including vulgar sex jokes among kids, that cannot decide its audience and goes nowhere. The adult characters come across as clueless and self-absorbed as those in the funny movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. And the protagonist is a sneaky know-it-all teenager who rationalizes ways to break the rules while fooling Mormons around him (including readers?) into thinking he is an exemplary young man. The difference is, Ferris blows off criticism while the gay teen throws up a lot, has to take antidepressants, and moves away because he allows himself to be victimized by just about everybody and everything. Evidently it is not his fault that he masturbates, oversexualizes his classmates, looks at porn, and acts out homosexually. According to this book, lusting is a wholesome activity for LDS youth both gay and straight. This is a work of fiction in many more ways than one.

Like most attempts at literature today, this piece of writing is one long whine about everything the author wanted to whine about. He has his characters give lip service to religion and the worth of souls, without an iota of real understanding or application, which unthinking exercise is represented as righteousness. The premises and doctrines it is based on are stunningly false. Scientific facts and common knowledge are stunningly absent. The publisher of this book, Chris Bigelow, has said that his fellow Church members must soften their “rigid and extreme” (does he mean "steadfast and immoveable?") orthodoxy concerning homosexuality or the Church risks loss of membership, negative popular opinion, and “further expulsion from society.” Make of that what you will.

As far as ideas for helping sexually wayward kids, this book leaves adults hopeless and empty-handed. Young readers who are socially underdeveloped, whose sexuality is moving in unhealthy directions, and who may be emotionally troubled (all of which apply to the book’s protagonist) are left without direction or assistance in getting to the roots of and overcoming a sexuality dilemma that could destroy an otherwise bright future. In the meantime they are cast afloat, at odds with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and grossly preoccupied with sex. Young people not troubled with sexual issues may be persuaded by this book to jump on the band wagon in the gay parade just because it appeals to the shallowest of human emotions and is oh so cool. Kids are like that. And adults who produce material like this about and for kids would seem to be, well, you make the call.


-Janice Graham

*If a young person you know announces he’s gay, do not accept this deception to any degree. Love him, teach him the truth about human sexuality, nature, and God, and, if necessary offer him some cutting-edge professional help. Send questions to our resident expert at Ask Dr. Dan (dr.dan@standardofliberty.org). Or call expert Dr. Jeffrey Robinson at 801-318-9528. Watch for the new book, Chased by an Elephant, the gospel truth about today’s stampeding sexuality, for LDS families. Also Captain of My Soul, a young man’s true story of conquering pornography addiction and homosexuality, a great book for teens and young adults. SoL will keep you informed as to when and where these books will be available.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Gays in the Church? Let's Think It Through.

So often in today's nonjudgmental, PC culture, we simply do not think things through. Here's an example.

There are perilous ideas circulating in our Mormon culture, such as that it's perfectly okay to come out as gay as long as you don't fully act out, that gays can't help their particular sexual feelings, that these people need Church support for their homosexuality, and that homosexuality can be chaste. (And by the way, go ahead and substitute the terms SSA, same-sex attracted, or same-gender attracted for the word gay, if you like. These are the trendy terms some LDS are publicly promoting and adopting perhaps to give the appearance of setting themselves apart from the world and the controversial politics of homosexuality. Don't be fooled. This is an attempt to soften sin and is a self-serving deception. The homosexual orientation is wrong and harmful whether you are a member of the Church or not and whatever you call it.)

We know these ideas have been stated in so many words by a few leaders, but the total opposite is also stated in our scriptures and by prophets and has never been retracted. Take The Family: A Proclamation to the World which states that all of us are either male or female and our assigned gender roles have both temporal and eternal significance. Take President Kimball's The Miracle of Forgiveness which states homosexuality as a sin in thought and deed that must be overcome in no uncertain terms. Take numerous speeches and talks by apostles. Take the word of God. For every word affirming gayness that can be quoted from a leader, we can give you many, many, many more from the completely opposite viewpoint. It becomes obvious that we must each be taught by the Spirit of the Lord to know the truth on this issue. Of course this is what we should be doing anyway about everything.

Let's think further about homosexuality and the like being accepted in the Church, about gays being chaste, and about gays, however celibate, interacting and serving in the Church. Many mind-boggling questions arise, so many we can't write them all here. But here are a few off the top of our heads:

-When individuals are emboldened enough to publicly proclaim the self-determined gay or SSA label as a personal identity, whether they realize it or not, aren't they joining a highly politicized and radical sexual movement which offers limitless support for unlimited inclinations? Won't they tend to spread their espoused ideologies with others in the Church? (Faithful and otherwise healthy people who are troubled with sexuality problems do not identify or pronounce themselves as gay or SSA. They keep their problems relatively private, get help in overcoming them, and don't give up. They do not wish to be coddled or treated differently than others, nor do they associate with those who have their same problem. This goes for their families too.)

-Endowed latter-day saints covenant to keep their appetites, desires, and passions within God's boundaries. Is a homosexual appetite, desire, or passion within God's boundary for sexuality? Is it chaste to desire to commit sodomy? How do we teach inner chastity to those who claim they are gay/same-sex attracted? How do endowed self-determined gays keep this temple covenant when their identity is based on sexualizing those of their own gender? How do we teach about marriage in the Church when we do not allow gays to get married to each other? Mustn't we teach strict, life-long celibacy to gay Mormons and at the same time encourage marriage, sexuality, and family to straight Mormons? Will gay Mormons think this is tolerant and accepting?

-Some gay Mormons are getting married to the opposite sex so they can receive temple blessings and have families. Still, they claim their sexual desires are oriented toward those of their same sex. How does this work with the marriage relationship? As in adultery, isn't lusting after someone other than your spouse unfaithful? Are gays exempt from adultery in thought or deed while everyone else is not?

-When individuals insist that they are gay wouldn't it seem logical that they have explored and nurtured homosexual ideas and practices, and continue to do so through self-labeling, lusting, associations, support groups, same-sex porn, chat rooms, blogging, writing books, etc. ? And don't they have to keep this up in order to justify their choice to come out? Doesn't anything we hold in our minds expand? Is this chaste?

-Should openly gay males be called to serve as Scout and Young Men leaders and publicly proclaimed lesbians as Young Women leaders? How about Primary teachers? What about self-determined gay kids and gay adults on overnight activities, at youth conferences, scout campouts, girls' camp, and in rest rooms and dressing rooms? Do parents of straight kids want gay kids bunking with their kids? Should two male gays or two lesbians be in the same tent/dorm room? Is this appropriate or safe? How many leaders will turn a blind eye to these risky and unseemly situations?

-How about college dorms and housing at church schools? Do same-sex attracted people room with those of their same sex? Isn't that just like opposite-sex people rooming together? Should we put gay males and lesbians together then? Is that appropriate? How about married housing? Won't gay "married" couples insist on being allowed to live there?

-What about when self-proclaimed gays or SSAs (who supposedly claim they are chaste) serve full-time missions? Do you assign these males male companions when they say they can't help sexualizing their own gender? Is that fair or safe for anyone? Would parents go along? Again, this is presumably like putting males with females. How about lesbians? If we are going on each person's self-determined sexual preference, wouldn't it seem more appropriate to assign a gay male and a lesbian as companions rather than a gay person and a straight person? But is that really appropriate? What will such companionships model to investigators? What will openly gay missionaries exemplify? Will gay missionaries demand to be open about their sexual identity and teach false doctrine?

-How young should we go when accepting or acknowledging self-identified gayness in our ward members? Young adults? Teenagers? Primary children? What if parents proclaim that their child is gay or transgender when he's just a toddler? Must we respect their assessment? (This actually happens. We're not making it up.)

-Will lesson manuals, groups, and organizations all have to be changed so as to accommodate those with alternative sexual orientations? Won't there be an outcry of discrimination if they aren't?

-How about self-proclaimed gays in leadership and teaching positions on all levels? Will these individuals keep their unorthodox and radical views toward sexuality to themselves or incorporate them in their associations, meetings, teachings, and administrations?

-If we accept gayness, don't we have to let gays get married? In our chapels? Or in our temples? Won't all or some of them demand totally equal treatment? Will the Church get in trouble for discriminating against gays if they don't give them all the same opportunities for blessings and ordinances?

-What about bisexuals? Where do they fit in?

-And transexuals? How do we accommodate them? For instance, do we let an obvious male dressed in women's clothes speak from the pulpit and hold leadership positions? Does he attend Relief Society or Priesthood meeting?

-What about transgendered people, those who claim they were born with the wrong gender and have surgeries and hormone treatments to "change" their biological sex? Will a man who claims he has changed his male gender to female still hold the priesthood? Will "women" then be priesthood holders? If not, how is it revoked? Will these "women" attend Relief Society? How about women who claim they are really male? Won't they have to be taken seriously and be given the priesthood?

-What about how we distinguish between the two sexes in so many ways in our auxiliary programs, dress standards, and in the temple? In order to fairly include gays, will we have to make sweeping changes so as to pretend there are no differences between the two sexes and no specific gender roles such as fatherhood and motherhood?

-What should parents teach their children about the self-proclaimed gays in their ward who are outspoken or who are their teachers? Should they teach them that homosexuality is perfectly natural and normal?

-Does anybody really believe that gays don't act out this self-determined sexual identity? How do we define acting out? Isn't coming out acting out? How about masturbating, lusting, same-sex porn, chat rooms, phone calls, meeting, hanging out, "dating," associating with gay-affirming groups and individuals, or reading, testifying of, speaking or writing about, or teaching anything pro-gay? Don't all these behaviors encourage and nurture same-sex sexual attractions including the desire to commit sodomy? Are people doing these things to be considered faithful, orthodox, and sexually pure?

Clearly, embracing the gay identity and ideology, whether ostensibly standing against the physical behaviors behind it or not, would prove problematic in carrying out the outward everyday functions of the Church organization. (The welfare of our individual immortal souls may well be affected also but is a different and much more important topic.) In fact, our whole way of life would change. God-given gender roles, gender distinctions, and sexual morality would be things of the past. If there is to be no more careful distinguishing between the two sexes, all situations that used to retain such order would become inappropriate, unseemly, embarrassing, immodest, and even dangerous. We could not rely on any safe, orderly place and chaos would ensue.

And yet we don't think this essential issue through because that might get us into trouble with other humans. We want to be thought of as open-minded, tolerant, big-hearted. Is being politically correct and popular worth abandoning doctrine, truth, safety, order, normalcy, and God? This is what Flannery O'Connor had to say about it 50 years ago. "In the absence of faith now we govern by tenderness. It is a tenderness which long since cut off from the person of Christ is wrapped in theory. When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness its logical outcome is terror."

Think about it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

No Going Back?

Here is an email we received from an LDS publishing company, Zarahemla Books, and our response.

> Date: Thu, 1 Oct 2009 16:25:24 -0700
> Subject: 11-Year-Olds Coming Out?
> From: chrisbigelow@gmail.com
> To: zarahemla-books-updates@googlegroups.com
> Primary-age kids coming out to their friends? Deacons and Beehives
> attending gay dances? This article from the New York Times about
> students coming out in middle school shows that this isn't as far-
> fetched as many people may wish.
> Coming Out in Middle School
> http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/magazine/27out-t.html?_r=1&emc=eta1
> "Reading this article underscores just how ill-prepared we are as a
> Mormon culture to try to help kids deal with this," states Jonathan
> Langford, author of
No Going Back, a new coming-of-age novel about
> a gay Mormon teen.

> "We're still playing catch-up from when most LDS kids who experienced
> same-sex attraction were in denial until after their missions. The
> greater openness of today's society means we can't afford the luxury
> of waiting until our kids have a firm spiritual foundation before we
> try to address this."
No Going Back is only $11.53 at Zarahemla and Amazon (regularly
> $16.95):

Dear Jonathan Langford and Zarahemla Books,

Please correct me if I'm wrong. You seem to think, as the world does according to the article you have cited, that there is only one way of looking at this issue, as if teenagers, even 11-year-olds, know all about human sexuality and do not need to be taught the proper way to think and feel concerning the power of procreation or even corrected when they get on any one of many wrong paths (which is pretty easy to do in our oversexed culture). It is strange that you talk as if this is not a controversial issue, especially when there is no biological test for homosexuality. The only way we know a person is "gay" is if he "comes out," and here it appears you are trusting that 11-year-olds (physically, mentally, and emotionally immature and inexperienced human beings) can make this momentous judgment that will greatly affect their future if you believe, as I think you do, that homosexuality is innate and immutable.

In fact, most young people who experience same-sex sexual attraction outgrow it naturally. If you ask young people if they would be involved with same-sex sexuality if we didn't live in an oversexed, gay-affirming culture, you (and they) would be very surprised that their honest answer would more often than not be no. This is an acquired, not an inborn, identity, just as proper gender roles and heterosexuality must be modeled and taught. The question for us is, which will we teach and support? Ultimately, these two worldviews cannot peacefully co-exist within an individual, a church, and a society.

Can you possibly have missed the public celebration of homosexuality in our nation's culture and schools, even elementary schools? Incredibly, you say we are failing to support individuals (you mention there may even be Primary kids, Beehives, and Deacons) with same-sex sexual attraction in the Church. I agree that we are at a loss, but my view is the complete opposite of yours. Churches are fast going the way of the world by turning a blind eye to the actual behavior that is practiced, by watering down God's law of chastity, and by accepting and embracing homosexuality as an identity, rather than teaching the everlasting gospel principles of sin, true repentance, and divine love and redemption toward making us new creatures in Christ.

What about the effect of same-sex porn, which is a huge industry? (Surely you know that adolescents can be turned on by anything, including males or females acting out sexually among themselves.) Are parents asking the kids who come out what they have been looking at, who they have been talking to, what they spend their time thinking about and doing? An 11-year-old who comes out could very well be unusually and unhealthily preoccupied with sex and sexuality. This can have many causes. Children are easy prey to secret sexual predators and are easily exposed to pornography and propaganda which can wreak havoc with their developing sexuality. They may be caught up in the political correctness and trendiness of "gayness." They may just want some attention. They may be using this as a way to rebel, or test their parents' unpopular convictions. What a travesty it is when well-meaning (or predatory) adults jump on this adolescent bandwagon and celebrate a phase that will soon pass or that can be healed and corrected. Every parent knows that their 11-year-old is not capable of adult decisions. Sex is a serious thing. It hurts people unless it is channeled in the one healthy direction.

We have a son who as a young teen was lured into homosexual porn on the internet and acted out homosexually to a degree with older men in his late teens. At 19, he came to us for help in overcoming these unwanted behaviors, thought patterns, and feelings. He turned back to the Lord, got excellent professional help, went on a mission at 25, and now at 28 is married to a lovely girl. He has written a book about his experience into and out of homosexuality coming soon entitled Captain of My Soul. This is a true coming-of-age story of a young man's social, physical, mental, and spiritual progress.

If your book matches your sympathies, your book is fiction in more ways than one.

Janice Graham
Standard of Liberty Foundation