Wednesday, February 16, 2011

single white mormon

allow me to return, if i may, to my recent brush with fame.

it all started with this article in the new york times.

i read it, and then i read some responses in the mormon blogosphere, namely the responses found here and here.

and then, just as i was brainstorming a blogosphere response of my own, intrepid salt lake tribune religion report peggy fletcher stack (who is also intrepid first-cousin-once-removed peggy fletcher stack) called and asked if she could interview me for her story about the story. you can enjoy my pearls of wisdom here.

but, there are a few more things i'd like to say. and so i will say them now.

for one. relationships are about more than sex. i feel like we, as mormons, get totally fixated on sex because we aren't having it (before we're married, that is) and we assume that everyone else around us is having it, and so sex becomes the thing that we strive for, the light at the end of the long abstinence tunnel. we are not fully formed, real people until we have sex, we think, and so our relationships and we ourselves cannot be complete without it.

when the truth is that relationships of all kinds are about an infinite number of things, all of which are well within your grasp whether you are having sex or not, including patience and charity and forgiveness and compromise and emotional connectedness and selflessness and giving and taking and learning and teaching.

and, though i have no personal experience on this end of the equation, i would imagine that these are the things that are most important in relationships that do include sex, too. sex isn't the thing that is magically going to turn us into the people we want to be. but treating people with care and respect and tolerance just might.

for two. chastity is about more than sex, or the lack thereof. i was at a temple wedding a year or so ago where the officiator talked about chastity in the context of the marriage relationship. surely, he said, complete physical fidelity is required between a husband and a wife. but, more than that, chastity and fidelity mean never putting your spouse in a bad light for your own gain, never talking down to them or badly about them, never spotlighting their weaknesses, never belittling or betraying trust. i loved this description of chastity. it is about honoring people, physically and otherwise. and i frankly can't see why anyone would think that was a value not worth keeping.

for three. in my opinion, anyone who is willing to leave the church over nothing more than sex before marriage is missing the whole point, the whole essence, the whole magic and blessing of the gospel.

i once heard someone describe it like this.

we should imagine our experience in the gospel, the components of our testimonies and belief as items on a scale, the good or the blessings or the benefits on one side and the bad or the confusing and the unbearable on the other. as long as the good outweighs the bad, the actively participating in the church is worth it. as soon as the bad outweighs the good, maybe it is time to reconsider.

in my personal experience, for all the frustrations and questions i have had about the church, they have never weighed more than the unending blessings the church has given me. and i just cannot imagine that sex, when weighted against the gifts of the gospel, would ever come out on top. unless someone was missing the gifts of the gospel entirely.

of course it is hard and frustrating and sometimes embarrassing (see my last epistle on chastity here) but i still maintain that it is totally, completely, 100 percent worth it and i am going to stay in the fight until the bitter end. because i know that end will not be bitter at all, but oh so sweet.


erin j bailey said...

amen. the whole post in the new york times bothered me. i just never had the right words to express it. you've expressed it beautifully.

steve said...

"we, as mormons, get totally fixated on sex because we aren't having it (before we're married, that is) and we assume that everyone else around us is having it"

wait... there's sex after marriage?

ok, now for serious, I think you're on to something here. The assumption is the danger. It may seem all of our single friends who aren't LDS are engaged in a constant sexfest. But they're not. And after marriage, sex isn't always this easy, great, wonderfully perfect experience that just happens all on its own. It's a small yet complicated piece of the much larger relationship.

ahhh sex... that funny word and topic we avoid like the booger on the public bathroom wall.

Sarah Stout said...

You don't even know how true this is. Sex is great, but it isn't the end-all-be-all! I cannot tell you how glad I am that I waited to have sex until I was married (at an OLD age for mormons... 28). Life isn't about sex and shouldn't revolve around sex. Like you said, marriage isn't about sex and sex isn't about being an adult. If that's all we equate with the gospel, then we truly are missing the point and need to rethink what the gospel is about.

I had a friend, similar to the one in the NYT, who left the church because she decided it was time for her to have sex and, therefore, become an adult. I keep thinking about how ridiculous that was. Was her faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ SO rooted in SEX that she had to leave the church just to experience it?