There are 9 thoughts on “Addressing Prickly Issues”.

  1. I’m writing a paper on the influence of Freemasonry on the LDS Church for a doctoral seminar on the philosophy of communication at Duquesne University and don’t have easy access to either A Reason for Faith or Harper’s essay. Would you please e-mail Harper’s essay and/or send me a courtesy copy of A Reason for Faith?

    • Hi, Charles —

      I don’t have a copy of Harper’s essay other than the one in my print copy of A Reason for Faith — and since I’m not the copyright holder anyway, I think what you should probably do is contact Harper directly. I don’t have his contact information, but he works for the Church History Department and I bet you could get ahold of him by starting there.

      Similarly, I don’t have access to copies of the book for distribution to interested parties. Your library at Duquesne should be able to get one for you via interlibrary loan, or you could contact Deseret Book directly and see whether they’re willing to send you one for research purposes (though my guess is that they’ll prefer that you buy one).

  2. Being someone who experiences SSA, I feel an affinity for the portions of Ty Mansfield’s essay that have been highlighted in this review, especially the quote from Tom Keen. There is a difference in what I observe as “acceptable” intimacy between men in the Church and the level of intimacy someone like me desires from men (which does not necessarily include sexual intimacy, but is influenced by my psycho-sexual orientation). I often believed men’s general unwillingness to be physically and emotionally affectionate was an expression of cultural homophobia, and while reading this review, I kept thinking to myself that the author of this review just doesn’t get it, that he doesn’t recognize the homophobia among the men in the Church, which prevents them from being warmly affectionate with one another because he is part of that homophobic culture. But upon reflection, I started to think that it may simply be that straight men think very differently than gay men, and what is considered “feeling warmly toward another man” by a straight man may not be nearly enough for a gay man. I have always felt like I needed more warm affection from men than most men were willing to give, and I think that this may be a common experience among men who experience SSA.

    • Thanks for that thoughtful comment, Ron. For what it’s worth, I don’t deny that there is homophobia among men in the Church (just as there is pretty much everywhere). But as for what the Church actually teaches, it’s clear that “close and warm relationships” between members of the same sex are explicitly encouraged, and such relationships are actively and programmatically fostered by the Church.

      You raise an interesting point, though, about differences between gay and straight men as to what constitutes “nearly enough” when it comes to close and warm same-gender relationships. I would counsel caution about making broad generalizations about either straight or gay men. Certainly there are gay men who long for closer and warmer relationships with other men than most straight men would want, but I’m sure there’s great variation among gay men in this regard, just as there is among straight men when it comes to a desire for close and intimate relations with women. Many straight men long for closeness and warmth with women, and some fear that intimacy, preferring to have casual sexual relationships with women and to spend most of their quality interpersonal time with their male buddies.

      Anyway, my point is simply that just as there is no singular “gay experience” that is common to all men experiencing SSA, there is also no singular “straight experience” when it comes to close and warm same-gender relationships.

    • Ron, I was thinking of this exchange last night as I watched the Face to Face program with the youth of our ward. (It’s publicly available for viewing here. This program featured Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and President Henry B. Eyring answering questions posed to them by LDS youth from around the world, and my wife and I were both really struck by how constantly Elder Holland and President Eyring touched each other throughout the program. It may be because your comment on my essay has been on my mind regularly since you posted it, but it was really striking to me how unusual that level of physical affection is in our world between straight men, and yet how natural and completely appropriate it seemed in this context. For me it underlined the reality I cited in my essay — that in the Church, close and warm relationships between members of the opposite sex are not only tolerated but explicitly encouraged. Again, by no means does this indicate that there is no homophobia among members of the Church, or that we always succeed at cultivating those relationships. But the Church actively encourages us to do so, and our leaders are often excellent examples of what those relationships can look like.

      • Rick, thank you for your comment. I just noticed it. I believe that men who are infused with the love of Christ do touch one another more often than is commonly seen in our culture at large, and seem to do so with little self-consciousness. It also seems to have been more acceptable and common among men in older generations. It is regretful that our culture has been so sexualized that that kind of touch has become much more rare.

  3. Mansfield wrote (unless Rick Anderson didn’t quote him correctly),
    “Given the diversity of experience, and the varied persistence of that experience, for whom might homosexual behavior become a sin and for whom is it simply unfair, as some would characterize, to be required to live the standards guiding sexual behavior and relationship as articulated by Church leaders?”
    That is one of the most convoluted, poorly worded sentences I’ve ever seen. I’ve read it several times now and still have no idea what it means.

    • Jack,

      Anderson did, indeed, quote Mansfield correctly. I double-checked it myself *after* Interpreter Foundation’s source checkers had done their work with the article.

      Hope you are doing well, my friend.

      -Allen

  4. How did Mansfield’s article sneak past the Deseret Book guards? His article does sound troublesome. Thanks for this helpful review.

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