Celestial Kingdom or Bust

26 Jul

This isn’t about sex, per se. It’s about the way we live our lives versus how we practice our faith.

The core of our doctrine is that we are saved by the atoning grace of Jesus Christ after all we can do. This puts some of the onus on us to do the best we can, which I feel is right and proper. It meets the conditions of both justice and mercy, dealt to us by a deity who knows our hearts, our struggles, our souls.

A major complaint amongst evangelical types about our way of practicing our faith is that we believe we are saved by works alone. Now, the “alone” part is hyperbole on their part because they really don’t want to look too closely at our truth; they’re comfortable in their hatred and lies, so let’s leave them to it. (Justice=leaving them to wallow in their comforting poison; mercy=leaving them to wallow in their poisonous comfort.) We use words to fight this perception constantly. We are saved by grace! we protest. We do believe in the atoning sacrifice of the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We’re just like you! (mostly) (except for that Trinity business) (and the burning lake of fire).

But our actions…? Our actions make liars of us all.

To watch us is to know, with rightful certainty, that we don’t believe in grace at all. We live with the fear that there is no room for error, no forgiveness, no mercy.

You may either be perfect or you may fail. There is no in between.

Pass/fail.

Exaltation/damnation.

A+/F.

We talk about repentance, but don’t talk about being forgiven.

I’ll not rehash some of the disastrous/dangerous statements made in the past that make this binary explicit because they are, well, disastrous and dangerous and, I think, the brethren are trying to correct that. I also largely feel that this binary of perfection/failure is endemic to the American spirit and came with the Puritans, so this isn’t about Mormons per se. There are aphorisms aplenty out there that demonstrate this amply enough:

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

“Second place is just first loser.”

“When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet him he will win!”

Perfect practice makes perfect.”

Then there are the ones about trial and failure:

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed on an equal or greater benefit.”

“Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.”

“Line upon line; precept upon precept.”

When contrasted, the subtext isn’t about perfection or failure, the first set is about being perfect at all times in order to become perfect where the second set is more pragmatic in that it acknowledges that failure is inevitable.

And the way we Mormons do this is by casting trial and error as a permanently damning failure, and pretending that failure does not happen, cannot happen, if we simply do not acknowledge the very possibility of failure. If we do acknowledge it, we have opened the door to the inevitability of failure.

To wit: In my post The Talk, I enumerated a way of dealing with the subject of premarital sex that is both pragmatic and discouraging of the practice. However, this comment:

You’re trying to push your values about sex onto your child. That’s what’ parents do all the time, intentional or unintentional. Since you portray yourself as a true Latter-day Saint the appropriate question to ask is whether you are exposing your child to your own values or God’s values. You get one or the other. The only way it gets to be “both” is if you have already aligned your values with the Lord’s.

perfectly illustrates my point.

The Lord’s value as we see it is to be chaste until marriage. But why must we pretend that the possibility cannot exist if we simply do not speak of it?

Now, think about that for a moment.

We believe that our entire reason for existence here on earth is to learn. How does one learn? By failing. Thus, failure is inevitable. It’s our entire purpose. We knew, when we chose this course, that there would be no perfection. Perfection is a quest, a destination. It cannot also be, by definition, the journey.

Making it the journey is crippling.

I, personally, don’t believe that a loving Heavenly Father would ask us to fail only to damn us for doing that very thing. He can’t have, if we also believe in Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

So…why do we act like he did?

Project Unbreakable

20 Apr

Trigger warning: This is a post about Project Unbreakable, a photography project aimed at helping sexual abuse survivors take the power back of the words that were once used against them. It contains a photo and a video, both of which are safe for work (no graphic or disturbing imagery) but deal with the words and effects of sexual abuse.  Continue reading

Heart Broken. And then what?

16 Apr

Have I introduced you to O. M. Grey yet? I don’t think I have! Well, here she is. Steampunk Author and Relationship Blogger both. I first found her when looking for information about alternate partnerships (ie, open marriages, polyamory and other non-monogamous varieties. More about that later.) I’ve found her to hit the nail on the head about a great many things.

Here are two articles (one published years ago, the other just the other day) about breaking up, being hurt, and then what? Continue reading

….minding my own business…

12 Apr

What happened during my lunch break today:

I was out for a walk, just getting some fresh air. On the way back to my office I took a detour through a short alley behind a library, when a large white SUV pulled up next to me. The man in the driver’s seat said:

“Hey, I like how you walk. Can I give you a lift?”

It was a WTF moment that lasted longer than a moment. I said No.Thanks. And kept walking. He continued to slow roll along beside me in his car, window down, asking again, and again, and again if he can give me a lift, take me to lunch, take me to dinner… Red lights are going off in my head as I begin to gauge how much further it is to the outlet at the end of the alley. If he cuts me off with his car, which way will I run. He is a big man, could I outrun him? Scream? Pick up a rock? ((Looking around for rocks…))

It didn’t come to that. He finally drove off leaving me to finish my walk, jumpy and looking over my shoulder.

I was dressed in jeans, a long sleeve hoodie, with a baseball cap on my head.

Does it matter what I was wearing? Would this incident have “made more sense” if I was wearing a short skirt?

I don’t really have it in me right now to make a nice wrap-up and take away for this post. But, I will leave you with two other articles that are bouncing around in my mind right now as somehow being related:

Ashely Judd fights back against the media’s misogyny towards women’s bodies.
And Any Sundberg rages on behalf of wicked smart women.

Promiscuity.

5 Apr

I keep hearing this song by Ani Difranco on the radio and have been wanting to say something profound about it. We’ll see how this goes.

Continue reading

Talking about a Little Pillow Talk

26 Mar

A study done not too long ago concluded that falling asleep immediately after sex, or rather one partner falling asleep immediately after sex, can serve to avoid conversation about commitment.  Apparently when a study participant reported that their partner consistently fell asleep after sex before they did, that same study participant expressed a higher desire for bonding and affection than did other participants whose partners did not consistently fall asleep first.  The conclusion reached based on this information was that falling asleep quickly after sex could indicate an unconscious desire to avoid talking about commitment, or commitment itself.

After deciding this study is not all that interesting for a variety of reasons (couldn’t it be that one partner has a more physical job and is therefore consistently more tired? or that the participants in this study tended to be 20-year-old college students? And doesn’t it seem like there would be far more important tells that your partner is avoiding commitment than how quickly s/he falls asleep after sex?), I shifted to thinking about pre- and post-coital habits.  The pillow-talk I share with MM is admittedly rather odd, as it includes such topics as the future prospects for gender equity in the Mormon church, the likelihood that a new business in our neighborhood will succeed or fail and what that has to do with the cultural attitudes of our city’s residents, and the problems of gendered toy marketing.  I could list a whole slew of reasons why these conversations, which tend towards congenial intellectual sparring, turn both of us on, but I won’t.  Because mostly I’m just interested to learn what other people’s pre- and post-coital habits are.  And I’m curious how you think these habits affect the emotional and sexual health of your relationships.

There’s no way I could have anticipated every possible pre- and post-coital activity, so I tried to make poll answers somewhat general.  The first two polls allow multiple choice, the last one does not.  Feel free to use comments to elaborate on what kinds of pre- and post-coital activities you engage in and how you think they affect your relationship.

“Can You Love Two Men at Once?”

13 Mar

That is the title of this Huffington post article, by Iris Krasnow (who wrote the book, as they say.)

It’s a subject close to my heart. I have “men friends” and, at times, the friendship has been very close. I have never been sexual with another man, but I have been flirty. And I have been very very emotionally attached. I’m not going to go into that right now. Instead, I’ll share a few excerpts from the article, while I process it a bit.

“The chapter on flirty friendships in my book “The Secret Lives of Wives” has prompted a deluge of mail from wives who swear by their boyfriends-with-boundaries, men they love in their hearts and not with their loins. These flirtations can spice up the gray corridors of a long marriage. Feeling sexually and cerebrally charged by others beyond a primary relationship is a natural response of the human animal. And when kept within limits, who can deny that it feels good?

Men we aren’t married to find us smart and extraordinary because they don’t live with us in the grind of ordinary life, with kids, mortgages and sinks strewn with toothpaste and their newly shaved facial hair. In old boyfriends, we find our lost youth; in new men friends, we get the endorphin rush of being on a first date. The trouble starts when sexual crackle between two people who aren’t married to each other erupts into a roaring bonfire love, an urgent attraction that is both dangerous and delicious.”

And this, her concluding thought:

“Fantasy is too often better than reality. A new boyfriend becomes an old boyfriend who probably shakes gross facial hair off his razor into the sink like that yucky husband of yours does. Holding a flirtation at arms length allows you to sustain the alluring mystery.”

Thoughts?

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