Here are my responses to the questions as well as Brother Pruden’s Answers.
Q1: How do members harm those in their wards with SSA?
A1: SSA Members feel the general fear and apprehension about sex and sexuality that most members have.
David’s Response: I agree that the general fear is felt, but beyond that the negative attitudes and statements about homosexuality, same-sex attraction and eternal marriage, often weigh heavily on the minds of those with same-gender attraction. Often marriage is spoken as “When you get married” it stands as a eventual fact when for many that simply isn’t so. Boy Scouts taught me to be prepared, but Sunday School left me with inadequate education to know what to do when the likelihood of getting married seemed to vanish. If Eternal marriage lessons were taught with caveats regarding same-gender attraction it would help all members, both those with and without SSA.
Q2: Are there traceable causes of homosexuality in every case?
A2: There are many causes, but genetic/biological factors don’t predetermine who we are.
David’s Response: In his full answer he used the example of a 7’ tall kid from the middle of Utah to whom someone puts a basketball into his hands and teaches him how to play. Was he predetermined to be good at basketball? No. But he did have certain traits that made basketball an easy path. In this example, Brother Pruden alluded that basketball was homosexuality and height represents the biological factors that might preclude someone to same-sex attraction. Given my own experience, I don’t think that someone “put a basketball in my hand.” It may be true for some cases, but I don’t think so in mine.
Q3: Is there anything Church Headquarters is doing to spread information about SSA?
A3: No. But we can ask our leaders.
David’s Response: Sadly there isn’t any action from SLC, but that doesn’t mean we can’t and should talk about this openly and often. We need to discuss homosexuality in church. We could also push for discussions in Sunday School, Priesthood, Sacrament and perhaps 5th Sunday discussions. By talking about it we can dispel rumors, by staying silent we perpetuate them.
Q4: Am I (David Baker) dangerous for believing that the Lord is guiding me towards finding a husband?
A4: In all due respect to Brother Baker, I appreciate him and his previous testimony, but that isn’t going to happen. But there is a lovely wife waiting for him. We have to teach correct doctrine, which is why everything I have said refers back to the brethren. Lets stay with what the brethren are teaching us and we will be fine.
David’s Response: First off, he skirted the question asked. Second, he seemed to mock my solemn testimony, which I wasn’t a big fan of, but was probably the best thing I could ask for given the situation. Third, he stressed the utter importance of following the brethren, the brethren, the brethren. In his answer he mentioned “brethren” 3 of 4 times. I have utmost respect for the brethren; in fact I do follow their counsel. The brethren have counseled the need to follow the spirit. Elder Oaks in particular on many occasions has discussed the importance of following the spirit above even his words. Nephi was commanded to do that which was contrary to the law, to the prophets, to the “brethren” and yet God had a reason for it. I think that Brother Pruden’s dismissal of me was appropriate given the situation, but his analysis of following the brethren above the spirit is incorrect.
Q5: What Counsel do you give to those who are faced with the loneliness of celibacy?
A5: The loneliness of singlehood isn’t unique to those with SSA, Single women like Sherri Dew and disabled members also do not have that ability here in this life.
David’s Response: The difference between Sherri Dew and an SSA Member is that Sherri Dew has hope. She has hope that Mr. Right could turn the corner any day. An SSA Member most often feels that there is no hope. As President Uchtdorf pointed out in October 2008, hope is essential. I did feel kind of offended when Brother Pruden alluded (albeit loosely) that I, and others with SSA, are disabled, or just like those who are disabled.
Q6: Do you think that Reparative Therapy is worth continuing to push even though it is dangerous and causes psychological damage?
A6: APA is wrong. There is no tie to genetics and the only thing not tied to genetics for which there is no growth. That makes no common or doctrinal sense.
David’s Response: I disagree that the APA is wrong. Having read the statement regarding over 73 independent studies on the matter I think that therapy designed to change your orientation can range from the odd and unlikely to the downright dangerous. That being said, I also agree with the APA, and myself, when I state that religion and spirituality play a great component in someone’s sexuality. I believe that if someone desires to, and feels like they should, live life as heteronormatively as they can, that these tactics might help them. However I feel that sometimes the idea is spread that because some people can do this, that everyone with SSA should do it. It is there that I take issue. If you tell someone that they are wrong and that you know how they can be right, even if they feel otherwise, and persuade them into a situation that has been documented to lead to psychological damage, then you are wrong.
Q7: How should we react when someone comes out, or when someone is stressed about the church’s stance on a given issue like Prop 8.
A7: The first half of the question was dismissed, but the second was answered as such: In some countries where certain events have taken place, where marriage and families have dissolved what we are finding is that the work of the gospel is almost completely halted. Scandinavian Countries after Same-Gender Marriage’s started to take place, the overall marriage rate has dropped below 20%. 80% of the people never marry at all.
David’s Response: I can appreciate the difficulty of global social policy that the church has to face. For example Haiti’s laws concerning religion states that any religion that recognizes gay members is barred from having missionaries and even recognized churches (wards and stakes). Knowing that I can understand the policy position of the Church a little clearer. That being said let me present the following statistics for you. The global temperature has increased by nearly 2.5 degrees since the decline of pirates (see graph).
Basic statistics teaches us that correlation doesn’t apply causation. That being said, gay marriage and the decline of marriage both deal with marriage, beyond that the issue of gay marriage threatening hetero marriage rates is as absurd as stating that the decline of piracy has caused global warming. It would be better to state that the Free Love Movement had a strong effect on marriage in Scandinavia leading to various decline in traditional marriage as seen in Gay marriage and the overall decline of hetero marriage. Brother Pruden presented a logical fallacy and that is why, to those of you in the crowd, I was was shaking my head profusely.
Q8: What is the process for diminishing unwanted same-gender attractions?
A8: This is a very individual process because individuals reached this point in their lives uniquely.
David’s Response: I agree that individuals reached this point in their lives uniquely. To think that an Almighty God would expect individuals to come back to him using a procrustean method seems absurd. It seems much more akin to the god Elkenah that Abraham’s father sacrificed to. I believe that the Lord provides unique individuals with unique paths and solutions for their journeys.
Tomorrow the reactions so far.