Answers to the ’22 Messages From Creationists’ – Part 1

I know a lot of my blog deals with LGBT issues, so this will be an interesting turn (maybe uninteresting for some) towards my love of science, atheism, and being a skeptic in general.

Bill-Nye

You may have heard of a recent debate between creationist Ken Ham and Bill Nye. Someone at Buzzfeed asked some creationist viewers of the event to ask a question or send a message to Bill Nye afterwards.

Here are my answers and responses to their questions and statements. Obviously this is just my opinion and not that of the great Bill Nye. I just found it would be a good medium to expose my audience (all 10 of you 😉 ) to another side of my personal views. I’ll ask these as if they’re addressed to me, except for the first one because it was explicitly addressed to Bill Nye. Disclaimer: I’m not a professional scientist. There are better answers to these questions by people who study this for a living. I promise.

1. “Bill Nye, are you influencing the minds of children in a positive way?”
I don’t know if he means specifically in the debate itself, or in general, but the latter is definitely yes. The Science Guy is all about educating children and raising a generation that can meet the scientific problems of the future. In terms of the debate itself, if you believe science and the scientific method is the way to evidenced-based reason and truth, then absolutely. Exposing a child to reality is always better than telling them a comfortable lie.

2. “Are you scared of a Divine Creator?”
Are you scared of Sauron, Voldemort, or Glory(Buffy, Season 5)? Me either. I feel very sad for you that you are scared of something that has as much evidence for existence as do other literary villains.

3. “Is it completely illogical that the earth was created mature? i.e. trees created with rings… Adam created as an adult…”
Yes. Is it impossible? No. There is just no reason to assume it happened that way because of an ancient story. You’ll notice my answer to this question will start a pattern of sorts for evolutionist, atheist, and skeptic reasoning. Just because something is possible doesn’t make it true, and there’s no reason to believe something until you have justified evidence that it happened that way. Everything we know about human and tree existence is that they don’t suddenly appear as mature lifeforms.

4. “Does not the Second Law of Thermodynamics disprove Evolution?”
My super smart boyfriend shared this as a response when someone on social media asked the same question. The second point is the one you want for this question specifically. The direct answer to this question aside, I have to marvel at the reasoning behind the question. If Evolution was so easily disproved by what seems to be a very basic law of science… why would so many scientists and experts not have disproved it? I can almost guarantee that person would with a Nobel prize, at the very least they would get money from the Templeton Foundation…

5. “How do you explain a sunset if their[sic] is no God?”
Well… you see the rotation of the Earth makes it so that sometimes where you live is facing the sun, and sometimes it’s not. The transition into and out of those dark or light states, what we call night and day, are called sunrise and sunset, because it appears as if the sun is rising or setting from or into the horizon line. If you’re with me so far, the pretty colors we sometimes get with sunsets come from the way the light from the sun refracts off the atmosphere and the various particles in the air. Some colors like pink and purple are actually caused by pollutants. National Geographic describes it very well this way, “at sunset, the light takes a much longer path through the atmosphere to your eye than it did at noon, when the sun was right overhead. And that is enough to make a big difference as far as our human eyes are concerned. It means that much of the blue has scattered out long before the light reaches us. The blues could be somewhere over the West Coast, leaving a disproportionate amount of oranges and reds as that beam of light hits the East Coast.”

To turn off my sarcasm and address what I’m assuming your actual question is “How do we have natural beauty without God?” The universe is vast and mysterious. We as humans have an interesting connection to art and the social construct of beauty. We find certain things in nature to be beautiful, but even those aren’t universal. I had a friend once who found spiders beautiful much in the way you and I do sunsets. We…disagreed on that point. The point to come back to is that beauty and the emotions it evokes exist in our brain, something we are still in the process of mapping and understanding, but we do know that those warm fuzzy feelings you get when you see a sunset are chemical reactions in your brain reacting to visual stimuli. There’s no God required.

6. “If the Big Bang Theory is true and taught as science along with evolution, why do the laws of thermodynamics debunk said theories?”
The easy answer is that they don’t, and you don’t understand the laws of thermodynamics. For a better explanation, ask a scientist. We covered evolution and these laws earlier. I don’t know what part they apparently debunk, but the Big Bang Theory doesn’t prescribe the creation or loss of mass, energy, heat, or matter, just that they used to exist in a ‘hot dense space’ and then they weren’t anymore.

7. “What about Noetics?”
What about them? To be honest I’ve never heard of it before, but Google and Wikipedia tell me that, “The Institute of Noetic Sciences proposes noetic sciences as an alternative theory of “how beliefs, thoughts, and intentions affect the physical world.” So… we use our brains to will things into or out of existence? I mean, that’s what people did with God… so…

Heh, I kid. Kind of. Anyway, as soon as there is sufficient evidence that I can Neo the world with my brain, I will be happy to believe it, and will immediately learn Kung Fu and bend spoons. Until then, I don’t see any reason to worry about it.

(Yeah I realize my entire answer to this question was a sarcastic straw man, but I put it at the same level of astrology or anthropomancy.)

8. “Where do you derive objective meaning in life?”
Ah, excellent! Finally a good philosophical question. This topic could fill many, full blog posts all by itself. To give a very inadequate, short answer: I would say I find meaning in life through experiences, relationships and legacy. Experiences can be anything from watching a great show to bungee jumping. Relationships from romantic to platonic, professional to personal, I enjoy interacting with the other fantastic human beings who share this planet. Finally, legacy: what will my life add to the lives of those around me? Will I have contributed to the betterment of humanity because of my brief life. See, I don’t think that a lack of an afterlife makes my life less important. I think the opposite happens. Every second of every day becomes that much more important and valuable, because when I’m done… I’m done.

9. “If God did not create everything, how did the first single-celled organism originate? By chance?”
Let’s define, “By chance,” real fast. Google tells me, “the occurrence and development of events in the absence of any obvious design.” If that’s what you mean, then yes. However, often in these questions there is the implication that such an event was just completely random and unpredictable. Everything we currently know about abiogenesis (the process of getting life from non-life) tells us that it is a natural process, just like evolution (and no they’re not the same scientific theory). Natural processes are anything but random or unpredictable. Given the right circumstances, and given the vastness of our universe, they are inevitable.

10. “I believe in the Big Bang Theory… God said it and BANG it happened!”
Oh, good for you. Really, I’m happy for you and your belief. I don’t. There’s no reason to assume that God is the answer for the things we don’t fully understand.

11. “Why do evolutionists/secularists/huminists [sic] /non-God believing people reject the idea of their [sic] being a creator God but embrace the concept of inteligent [sic] design from aliens or other extra-terestial [sic] sources?”
Numerous spelling mistakes aside and forgiven, the flat-out answer is that ‘we’ don’t. I put ‘we’ in scare quotes there because I’m sure some atheist evolutionist somewhere for some reason believes we were created by aliens, but there is just as much scientific evidence for that idea as there is for creationism, which is to say none. Many people believe the right thing for the wrong reasons and because they don’t have good critical thinking skills they can then go on to believe some other non-evidenced, also ridiculous thing. Once again, it’s not impossible that we were created by aliens… but there’s no reason to believe it until we have evidence to do so. Claims require evidence, and really big claims require a lot of evidence.

I’m going to stop here for now, because this is already getting long. I’ll do the next 11 in my next post. What do you think? Agree, disagree? Leave your comments below, I’m happy to answer questions, discuss or provide clarification.

Have a great week!
– Trent

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Response to Mainwaring’s “I’m Gay and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage”

Hello faithful blog readers! Another topical one today, away from my personal story, though it contains a little bit about me of course. There has been a certain article floating around by a guy named Mainwaring called “I’m Gay and I Oppose Same-Sex Marriage.” I’m writing a response to this because I’ve seen too many people read this and say, “Aha! See, he doesn’t want gay marriage and he’s gay, that means something!” I hate to burst your bubble, but it does not mean anything for the millions of gay people and our allies who are fighting for Marriage Equality, and it certainly has no legal relevance.

The article in question can be found at http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/03/9432/

First let’s get the topic of slant out of the day. Mainwaring’s article is an opinion and anecdote article, and my response will be the same, so the political stances of each author will be important for anyone who plans to read them.

The author, Doug Mainwaring, has been described by the Human Rights Campaign stating, “This Doug Mainwaring is not just some random gay man but rather a Tea Party activist who has adopted opposition to marriage equality as a major (if not most major) focal point on his conservative agenda.  He is an advocate who, increasingly, seems to be working with (if not for) NOM [National Organization for Marriage]. (http://www.hrc.org/nomexposed/entry/nom-determined-to-make-doug-mainwaring-seem-like-a-coalition-rather-than-an#.UVR6rxyG1yw) In the article itself, at the end it reads, “Doug Mainwaring is co-founder of the National Capital Tea Party Patriots.”

The publisher, the Witherspoon Institute, is described by its Wikipedia article (go there for further sources) with “The Witherspoon Institute is a conservative think tank in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded on religious principles, the group is opposed to same-sex marriage, stem cell research, and abortion.”

As for me, if you’ve read my blog you know I am a non-religious, gay man who believes in full, federal, legal, marriage equality regardless of gender. I was raised in an active Mormon household and have a solid grasp of typical LDS and also mainstream, Christian theology.

Now, with all of that aside, time to dig into the guts of Mainwaring’s article. If you haven’t read it and would like to, please go do so now.

The very first thing Mainwaring does it use a quote from Reagan to cast the entire issue in a right vs. wrong, good vs. evil battle, stating that what it is good will always triumph. While perhaps a little dramatic, this is a very sensitive issue, one that both sides imbue with a lot of passion, some with some supernatural involvement, so I understand why he might go there.

He makes a lot of statements near the beginning of his article that he never goes on to substantiate or give any evidence or reason for. The first glaring example is, “The notion of same-sex marriage is implausible… Genderless marriage is not marriage at all.” Why? No reason. He doesn’t even attempt to give any of the typical, though refuted, positions of procreation, benefit of the children, nothing. He just moves on.

Obviously I disagree with his notion here. Marriage is the legal and sometimes religious recognition of a commitment between two people to love, support and protect each other as long as they are able to do so, typically with a ‘till death do you part’ at the end. You can’t just say something you disagree with isn’t marriage without offering a definition yourself, at least if you want to be taken seriously.

Mainwaring’s next issue is perhaps my favorite issue with his entire article. “As a young man, I wasn’t strongly inclined toward marriage or fatherhood, because I knew only homosexual desire.”

I’m sorry… what? This is a classic black and white fallacy that creates a false dichotomy. In his mind, these two ideas are mutually exclusive. You may have one or the other, but not both. You can’t have any inclination towards fatherhood if you also have homosexual desire. My experience and the experience of millions of other LGBT people utterly discount this statement. I want to be a father someday, whether that’s through adoption or some other method. My lack of any interest in being intimate with a woman has absolutely no bearing on that.

Also, I’m curious what this has to do with marriage? I’ve been to a few weddings in my life. Traditionally, the vows uttered were not focused on children, or the commitment to having children. Marriage simply cannot be about children only for gay people if we do not also hold straight couples to that same standard.

The next mistake he makes is in regard ‘Philos love’ and ‘Eros love.’ These are Greek words used by ancient Greek Philosophers such as Plato to describe relationships and the world itself. Not only does he show a blatant misunderstanding for the definitions of these types of love, he also makes the mistake of assuming they are mutually exclusive. I’m seeing a pattern of very strong black and white thinking that is pervading every view this man has.

He talks about friends he made in his twenties, “I had many close friends who were handsome, athletic, and intelligent, with terrific personalities. I longed to have an intimate relationship with any and all of them. However, I enjoyed something far greater, something which surpassed carnality in every way: philia (the love between true friends)—a love unappreciated by so many because eros is promoted in its stead.”

Ask any happily married couple or really any dedicated loving couple, gay or straight, and I bet they would tell you they have both philia and eros love in their relationship with each other. In fact many psychologists would argue that the best romantic relationships must contain both due to human nature.

Back to address his definition issues, I turn again to Wikipedia where you can follow the sources there to find more information on the subject. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_words_for_love)

Éros (ἔρως érōs) is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Modern Greek word “erotas” means “intimate love;” however, erosdoes not have to be sexual in nature. Eros can be interpreted as a love for someone whom you love more than the philia, love of friendship. It can also apply to dating relationships as well as marriage.”

Philia (φιλία philía) means affectionate regard or friendship in both ancient and modern Greek. It is a dispassionate, virtuous love, a concept developed by Aristotle. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity. In ancient texts, philosdenoted a general type of love, used for love between family, between friends, a desire or enjoyment of an activity, as well as between lovers.”

I hope you can see through this where his entire notion of Eros vs Philia goes out the window. Of course all of this is completely beside the fact that he fails to mention Agape or Storge love in any way. (See the Wiki article).

Moving on, I’m not trying to be mean with this next point, because I know it is heartbreaking, but am I the only one who sees the irony that after deciding to marry a woman, he discovered they were infertile as a couple and were forced to seek out adoption, and then later divorced?

He proceeds to go on making more unsubstantiated claims: “ Over several years, intellectual honesty led me to some unexpected conclusions: (1) Creating a family with another man is not completely equal to creating a family with a woman, and (2) denying children parents of both genders at home is an objective evil. Kids need and yearn for both.”

There are so many issues with this single statement that it’s almost difficult to enumerate them. What is intellectual honesty, aside from a way to call people who disagree with you intellectually dishonest? How is creating a family with another man not equal to creating one with a woman? How is the denial to children of parents of both genders an ‘objective evil?’ What evidence do you have that kids need and yearn for both?

All of this is utterly opposed to all, if not most, of the major psychological and sociological associations in America. The most recent of which, the American Academy of Pediatrics, that just came out in support of marriage equality, stating that it is in the best interest of the kids already being raised in loving, supporting families with same-gender parents.

Am I the only person bothered by the fact that this man, whose own children had to live in a broken home without both parents for ten years due to divorce, has the gumption to criticize loving, same-gender-parent families? It just blows my mind.

It gets better… He goes on to say, “One day as I turned to climb the stairs I saw my sixteen-year-old son walk past his mom as she sat reading in the living room. As he did, he paused and stooped down to kiss her and give her a hug, and then continued on. With two dads in the house, this little moment of warmth and tenderness would never have occurred.”

He’s absolutely right. If Mainwaring had been married to a man, the son might have paused, stooped down to kiss his loving dad and given him a hug before continuing on instead. How terrible that would be! The reason Mainwaring thinks this won’t work is revealed in his very next sentence, where he displays his staggering gender issues:

“My varsity-track-and-football-playing son and I can give each other a bear hug or a pat on the back, but the kiss thing is never going to happen. To be fully formed, children need to be free to generously receive from and express affection to parents of both genders. Genderless marriages deny this fullness.”

Obviously. Only women can be hugged and kissed by sons. Only men can give bear hugs and manly pats on backs to their sons. There can be no gender crossing of any kind! Men cannot hug! Women cannot give bear hugs and pats on backs! What is this, the 70s with your free-flowing love fest? We’ll have none of it! (He seems to say).

Sarcasm aside, let’s be honest. I know men much more loving and sensitive than many mothers I know, and I know women who are tougher and stronger than a lot of fathers I know. The idea that each set of husband and wife will be this perfect 1950s cookie-cutter dynamic with the strong, protective man and the doting, sensitive housewife, is a notion we gave up a long time ago. Well, at least for straight people we did. Two opposite-gender people can get married that we know will be absolutely horrible parents, and we don’t care when they want to get married. When it’s two men or two women we suddenly declare that they must prove their ability to be good parents? Where did that come from? Two men can be caring, and strong, and sensitive, and compassionate, and protective, and a provider for their children. The same is true for two women.

Moving beyond sexism, we run into another great nugget of wisdom from Mainwaring:

“Here’s a very sad fact of life that never gets portrayed on Glee or Modern Family: I find that men I know who have left their wives as they’ve come out of the closet often lead diminished, and in some cases nearly bankrupt, lives—socially, familially, emotionally, and intellectually. They adjust their entire view of the world and their role within it in order to accommodate what has become the dominant aspect of their lives: their homosexuality. In doing so, they trade rich lives for one-dimensional lives. Yet this is what our post-modern world has taught us to do. I went along with it for a long while, but slowly turned back when I witnessed my life shrinking and not growing.”

Perhaps these men should never have felt pressured to be married to women in the first place?

Living proof of the falseness of his statement can be seen all around. My sexual orientation is definitely an important aspect of my life, and a source of great joy and pride, but it is not the only thing that defines me. I’m still a brother, a son, an uncle, a boyfriend, an employee, an IT professional, an on-and-off again college student, an atheist, a skeptic, an activist, a musician, a gamer, a nerd, an avid book reader, a Science Fiction/Fantasy fan, a huge Star Trek and Star Wars nerd, and so much more.

Coming out and searching for real love and happiness in my life didn’t diminish my life at all! Do you know what I’m not anymore now that I’ve come out? I’m no longer a liar, a pretender, afraid, self-hating, unhappy, alone, and I’m no longer content with living my life for someone else’s happiness at the expense of my own. Embracing my sexuality has done wonders for me, I’m sorry that it never did for Mainwaring.

People don’t become financially bankrupt because they’re gay. They become so because they make bad financial decisions. Also to assume that people become intellectually bankrupt by living how they choose is not only insulting, it’s blatantly inaccurate.

I’ll agree with Mainwaring on one point, “Same-sex relationships are certainly very legitimate, rewarding pursuits, leading to happiness for many, but they are wholly different in experience and nature.” At least we have a tiny sliver of common ground.

He dwells briefly on the slippery slope argument about polygamy or polyamorous relationships, which gay people are not pushing for by the way, so I won’t spend any time refuting that particular red herring. Oh and he also cites the scholarly mocked, and apologized for on behalf of the author himself, study by Mark Regnerus that has been widely refuted.

Over and over Mainwaring rejects any notion that any of his decisions have been based on religious or ‘traditional’ views, that it all comes from experience and reason. He then chooses to end his article with a very curious statement:

“Marriage is not an elastic term. It is immutable.”

First and foremost, unless belief in a higher power or some kind of eternalspiritual code is part of your motivation, marriage is just a word that describes a legal contract. Languages evolve every day. I mean, look at how we speak compared to ten years ago, fifty years ago, one hundred years ago. Terms and definitions, especially legal ones, change all the time. Marriage is no exception. It used to mean a man’s acquisition of a female by trading work or goods to that female’s father. We’ve evolved past that decision.

To show how marriage has changed even in the past century, I’ll use the following example: I have two very close friends who are married. They are both atheists, come from two different racial heritages, and were married in a beautiful bed & breakfast inn by a female judge in the presence of friends and family. They have absolutely no interest in having children, and have taken steps to ensure they will have no children.

To recap: no church, no minister, no children, interracial, all reasons people in the past might have used to keep them from marrying. Yet absolutely no one bats an eye at the legality of their marriage because they’re the correct gender, and because we’ve come to a point in our culture where we accept that they love each other, want to commit to each other and spend the rest of their lives together and be afforded the rights and benefits of a married couple.

So if theirs, why not your gay relatives or friends?

Gays in the Boy Scouts

I’m taking another shift in my ‘normal’ routine. This is another topical, current event perspective on the Boy Scouts of America ban on openly gay scouts and scout leaders. I wrote a rather long response on a friend’s Facebook thread, a thread that is already over 70 comments long, and I realized that as I wrote it, I was putting as much, if not more, time into it as I would  a blog post, and I’m interested in more people knowing my opinion on it. So here it is, with some modifications (removed specific references to comments made earlier in the thread that will not make sense to anyone reading it here 🙂 )

Personally, I think the BSA delay is cowardly. The major lobbying push to get this to happen has been going for well over a year or two. With the general issue the writing has been on the wall for well beyond that. 

I’m a very practical guy when it comes to stuff like this, and assume it mostly comes down to money. While they are a non-profit organization, they have to maintain certain operating costs and they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. They are losing corporate donors such as UPS, but if they change their policy they could lose the participation of the LDS church, which would devastate the program just in terms of sheer numbers of participants and annual events. However… it doesn’t take another three months, in addition to the years they’ve had to see the polling and read the culture shift, to run the numbers and projections and make a decision.

If you’re taking the position that it’s a moral choice based on religious principles, then the BSA needs to be clear which religion they’re basing their core values on, and I’m sorry but “Christian” is way too broad a term. Christians can’t even all agree on the nature of God, predestination, revelation, authority, even what version of the Bible to base their teachings on, and even today, there are Christians on both sides of the gay rights debate. There are even agnostic Christians (which some could say Thomas Jefferson was, google the Jefferson Bible) that believe in the moral and philosophical teachings of Jesus but don’t claim belief in a supernatural God.

As to whether the BSA should change? I actually don’t care. This isn’t like Chick-fil-a where the owners are also advocating and donating money to anti-gay hate groups. They want to be an old-fashioned boys club? That’s their prerogative. I think that the people who want to change the scouts should just make a better organization that includes boys and girls, gay and straight and everything in between, oh yeah and the atheists too. Let me be clear, I think it would be wise for the BSA if they decided to lift the ban, because that is the way culture is shifting, and since they are in fact not a church, they have the freedom to move any way they like.

A brief side bar for internet and Facebook discussions in general and the people that engage in them: I love that you’re participating in discussions like this. It’s a good sign of an open mind and a willingness to be challenged that can actually serve to strengthen your faith, despite what some will say. It will also lead to people understanding your views better, and you understanding theirs with more clarity as well.

To dispel a few things I see being posted a lot, ad nauseum,  from people seeming to think they are the first to make this point… being gay is not something that needs to be cured or ‘overcome.’ Being gay does not mean you are more likely to be a pedophile, or a murderer, or a rapist, or any of the other things. Can we please just put this to rest? It’s utterly silly and the fact that I constantly find myself having to refute it in people’s logic is staggeringly exhausting.

In a similar vein, I know that Mormons tend to have their own special definitions of these terms, due mainly to the leadership of the church avoiding saying the words gay or lesbian for decades… Let’s be clear. Homosexuality and same-gender attraction(SGA), or same-sex attraction (SSA) are synonyms. They mean the same thing. Homosexuality is what the rest of the world calls it. This is because homosexuality is a subset of sexuality, which deals with the capacity for sexual feelings. Look it up. It is the physical, mental, emotional, and social attraction to other human beings, and in the case of homosexuality, the attraction of the same gender.

When it comes down to it, you people who know me treat me differently, because you know me, than they might strangers you might be treated as the caricature (for good or bad). 

I have a special request for all of the active LDS people, and other actively religious people, and all parents in general who might be reading this. What I would stress to you is to remember that these 11 and 12 year old boys you are so worried about have a roughly one in ten or one in twenty chance, depending on the study, of being gay themselves. Think of the messages you are sending these children, many of whom I guarantee you are just starting to figure out what this means for them in their life. I was in 6th grade when I first put a name to what was going on in my life, which is the 11-12 age bracket. It was then when I first started to label myself as broken, an abomination, and told myself that this was something I absolutely had to keep secret, that I couldn’t even trust my parents with, because I was so ashamed of myself, and was afraid (wrongly) that they couldn’t love or accept a gay son. I hated myself for who I was, convinced that somehow God had punished me with this, wondering what I had done, maybe in the pre-earth life, to have warranted it.

Now, to be fair, the LDS church has come leaps and bounds forward on this issue since that time period, stressing the love and acceptance that people need to have. Keep in mind that when you tell your future son that you don’t want him associating with gay people because what they do is wrong, etc, etc, that you might be informing your child what you think of him (or her).

I’m not saying any of you would do this in the wrong way, but please keep in mind, and I cannot stress this strongly enough, that there are absolutely gay kids in your wards and congregations right now, that are paying very close attention to what is being said in sacrament meeting and in sunday school, by their parents, and by their leaders, and they hear and internalize every single word

Please, think about what messages you want to send with positions on subjects like this. Make sure you are very, very clear how you want them to hear about the love and acceptance first, and then the ‘spiritual danger’ that ‘those people’ bring to the table secondly.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave a comment below and tell me your thoughts.

Quest for Understanding

I’ve started the first paragraph of this post at least five times in my mind already before sitting down to write this, and yet as I sit here to write it they all come up short, all feel wrong or inadequate for different reasons. I feel like despite my warnings, and disclaimer, and change of locale, I still have people that have read and not understood my purpose for writing.

I’ve always considered it somewhat ironic that despite a love of words, reading, and expression, being understood by others in the way I want escapes me. I know that part of this comes because communication is a two way road. I can’t control the way my words are taken despite intentions. A talented English professor explained to me once that words do not have meaning in and of themselves. Words call forth a meaning in the person that hears or reads them. This meaning is unique to that individual based on their personal life experiences. To illustrate this, if you were to say the word Germany to someone who lived in the 1940’s, you would most likely get a different reaction from a teenager today. This leads to the initial problem with people being unable to understand each other in general.

These unique and varied definitions are enough to create confusion and misunderstanding, and it doesn’t even begin to address the amount of communication we do through tone, volume, inflection, body language, and any other non-verbal means. When you have situations with text-only mediums, such as on internet blogs, it is amazing that we manage any kind of meaningful dialogues as it is.

Cut down to the base intention, this blog was first and foremost only for me. In that regard, the reflection and inner dialog this blog affords me means I can already consider it a success. I am way more at peace now than I have been. I do know, however, that people read this, and it’s one of the other purposes for the blog, which was to share my experience. I am a firm believer that hate and misunderstanding is the product of ignorance and lack of perspective. Which means I can’t help but be concerned for those that I know are reading it, their feelings, and how they are taking my words. If anyone comes away from my blog with less understanding, or a bad taste in their mouth, or even more of a negative feeling towards gay men or those that have left the church, I will feel that I’ve failed in part. That may sound unfair and unrealistic, but it is what it is and I can’t keep myself from feeling that way.

One of the things I cherish about my LDS upbringing is the firm learning of some universal principles like opposition in all things. Strong reactions come from strong actions. Those that express strong feelings about the church, or their family, or their college, or anything in life all stem from strong feelings in the beginning. If you know anyone who is having strong negative reactions towards something, it is often because it was tied to something they used to have strong positive feelings about. I’ve heard from others in my position that leaving the church is very often similar to going through the stages of grief. This makes perfect sense to me.

To those brought up in the church, the idea of leaving is incredibly painful. I was taught since before I could understand all the words being used that I was part of an eternal family, that I would be with my brother, sister and parents forever. Not only do we have to deal with the notion of losing that, but with the guilt that we are creating that loss in our family members, parents especially. The thought of what my mother must feel about this situation brought me to tears many times before I made my decision. It still does if I dwell on it too long. Family is so central to the LDS faith, it’s almost impossible not to feel guilt over being the one that ruins that for the rest of your family. Depression was a part of my journey to say the least.

I’ve definitely been through Denial, years of pretending everything was fine. Bargaining happened with every prayer before my decision. I would love to say that I’ve been able to avoid Anger…wouldn’t that be nice. Obviously it hasn’t been true, and bouts of it still surface. ‘Who’s to blame?’ ‘Why me?’ ‘Why did I let this go on for so long?’ All of these questions and many, many more went through my mind just before and after, and all the days since. My public coming out on Facebook was one of my steps of Acceptance. While I still have plenty of time to go to figure things out and come to terms with everything, I’m happy that I finally feel like I’ve started to find peace and true joy in my life again.

What scares those closest to us is that they normally don’t know anything is going on until the Anger stage. The other stages are mostly internal and often quiet. Anger is usually very outward and hardly ever quiet. Human beings are still quite in their infancy in terms of the internet and social media communication. We seem to have all lost the ability to give each other the benefit of the doubt. I’m definitely guilty of that also, but I think it’s something we all need to work on. Given all the possibilities for misunderstanding communication on the internet, we should all strive not to create problems where none exist. Especially if it is a family member or a close friend involved. I’m not going to apologize for the life changes that have brought me so much more happiness and joy, I am sorry if I’ve hurt anyone on the way. I’ll just keep doing what I can towards furthering understanding, knowledge, and appreciation for how we’re different, and for what we still have in common.

Lots of love.