28 September 2011

Hello eternal perspective, I'm John Wayne

A friend of mine just posted a link on Facebook to an article at The Mormon Women Project about a woman whose husband left her after coming out, titled An Eternal Perspective.

Since I haven't finished any of the myriad of drafts I've begun about various topics, I'll throw this up here as a filler for now. My comment on the link this friend posted is as follows:

I just ranted about this, but I deleted my comments and will rant in my own space. I of course can't speak on her ex-husband's perspective. But I agree that it should be considered in light of the nature of her comments, which sound, to me, less like "eternal perspective" and more oversimplified and stripped of opportunity to really grapple with truth.

Of course, I understand that just because the interviewee doesn't seem to agree with my view doesn't mean she is less intelligent or hasn't struggled with the topic long enough. And just because she doesn't detail her study and research doesn't mean she hasn't done any. But she describes very little effort to really understand the issue beyond what church leaders and scriptures have said, and the way she discusses it indicates a lack of...*sigh*...OK, seems to reflect a view that, when I held it, was simplistic and did not include any effort to understand except from sources which confirmed and consoled my existing beliefs.

Clearly, I no longer share the beliefs my old self had, so I have a bias and am likely to be dismissed by some as merely an example of one who has been led away by Satan precisely because I sought knowledge outside of official church materials. I think that very accusation is what keeps some people in the church, just to prove that not only godless heathens believe such things but that you can believe "liberal" doctrines without abandoning the gospel.

Anyway, that's enough digression. This being my own space, here is the rant:

Troubling on a few levels: she says she deals with it by praying, getting blessings, and reading official church materials. That sounds nice and spiritually safe, but years of personal experience and talking with others have strongly indicated that that approach alone pushes the real conundrums away or polishes conflict with veneer that wears off. I finally decided the scriptures are for matters of salvation, but we're given light and knowledge in professional fields to really sort out some things for ourselves. Only then, when I started seeing the issue from a more human, real-life perspective rather than a merely abstract ideological one did I start healing and really understanding.

Second, she rejected counseling because the counselor didn't agree with her beliefs about "the family", as traditionalists like to refer to the notion of the modern nuclear family as the only acceptable definition of family. That's understandable, but to disregard someone's wisdom about human relationships just because they don't share your view of gender roles and religious beliefs about family seems rash after a month or less of counseling and potentially a bit of a copout or escape.

Third, kids don't need to be 12 to understand man and woman, husband and wife, and I've discovered they don't need to understand sexuality and "gender roles" to grasp husband and husband either. As I see it, such limitations are projected and imposed on children by adults who want to be able to explain in their chosen framework why it's wrong, not just what it is.

Sorry to seem harsh, but I think this woman still has some emotional growing up to do. Even the way she speaks almost dismissively of her husband's experience as if he suddenly decided to "go gay" and escape the marriage at all costs attests that she is likely pushing some issues away rather than really grappling with them. That's not strength and eternal perspective. That's a low-level, short-term coping mechanism.

Opinions? No, not me. Why do you ask?

Some days, I step back and try to tell myself things like, "She's probably still in a lot of pain and maybe shouldn't be talking publicly about this yet but clearly seems intent on helping, and she could be a lot harsher, so let's go easy on her." Today, that didn't work so well, maybe.


The Impossible K said...

When I read the article, I kind of hoped/expected the woman to have some sort of brilliant "aha" moment that could shed a new perspective on the old religious dogma... Shame on me for being so naive. I'm sure there are many who would read this and think her example was commendable - yes, it is simplistic, but how many of us are really prepared to grapple with nuance? We want to believe it's as easy as praying and following religious counsel.
I think my idea of "eternal perspective" is a bit different from hers, which could explain the disappointment. I want to know more, to understand an issue in depth - clearly, she just wants to find comfort. And honestly, it seems like comfort is easier to find when you oversimplify and avoid the tougher issues. I really can't blame her - it's what a lot of people do.

Scott N said...

"so let's go easy on her"

... And you did. You didn't rant on her post, or even on your friend's FB. I admire your restraint.

I only skimmed her article, but the bit about not telling the kids until they're 12 caught my eye, and I was sorely tempted to tell her that that's a mistake. I think we'd have done our kids a disservice to try to keep from them that Dad is gay—and I think that one of the main reasons they've coped so well with our separation is that they have a real, concrete, understandable reason for it (Dad likes men, Mom isn't a man, so they just don't quite fit together). They can easily grasp (even the 5-year-old) that it's not because they've done anything, and it's not even because Mom and Dad don't get along or don't still love each other.

Anyway... There's my own rant, not on her article, and not on someone else's Facebook wall...

Thanks for letting me use your space. :)

favoritenic said...

"Today, that didn't work so well, maybe."

Didn't work so well for me, either.

JonJon said...

I definitely felt for the woman. She's obviously going through something very difficult, but I winced and cringed more than a few times as I read the interview. Just like The Impossible K, I was waiting for her "aha" moment where some new insight is shared but it never came. A lot of unhelpful ideas and perspectives around homosexuality were just perpetuated, and as an unintentional result, I think the pain is as well.