Monday, January 11, 2010

Pieces of the Past: Introduction

By Mister Curie

I thought I had left cognitive dissonance behind when I decided that the world made a lot more sense if the church wasn't true. Turns out I was wrong about the cognitive dissonance being gone. After I accepted that the church wasn't true, I began to realize that I'm gay, and that has restored the cognitive dissonance.

Madam Curie is, I believe, still working on some research for a post on personality types, disaffection with the church, and subsequent faith community. From the Meyer's Briggs personality test, I am an ISTJ (but only slightly more than an INTJ). From Wikipedia:
ISTJs are faithful, logical, organized, sensible, and earnest traditionalists. They earn success by thoroughness and dependability. Shutting out distractions, they take a practical, logical approach to their endeavors. Realistic and responsible, they work steadily toward their goals. They enjoy creating order in both their professional and personal lives.
Despite their focus on their internal world, ISTJs prefer dealing with the present and the factual. Keen observers of life, they weigh various options when making decisions. ISTJs are well-prepared for most eventualities and have a good understanding of most situations. They believe in practical objectives, and they value traditions and loyalty (emphasis mine).
This describes me quite well. I like the "tried and true" method. When working in my lab, I prefer to ask around for the scientific protocol that others have used, rather than blaze my own path. So what are the traditions that shape my world view? My Mormon culture, of course, is the largest influence on my world view. Gay Mormon Boy's post this past Friday with it's sentence, "Part of us is aligned with Church teachings while the other half stands (whether it be in action or existence) in opposition to that ideal", hit me powerfully. Despite my disbelief in the LDS church, it turns out that I'm still (at least culturally) a Mormon boy at heart. I should have realized this was so. Even though I'm disaffected with the LDS church and Madam Curie no longer attends, I still attend weekly with Le Petite Curie and fulfill my calling - its tradition after all.

My Mormon world view doesn't have a place for being gay. Being gay isn't in the "program" and that caused me a lot of cognitive dissonance this past weekend. I didn't think that things relating to the church affected me anymore, but I was wrong. I have this irrational fear that due to the temporal nature of my journey, TBM family and friends are going to think that my losing faith in Mormonism gave Satan the opportunity to enter my life and turn me gay. I mean, how do you get married and not know you are gay?!?! It seems preposterous!

The answer came to me when I read Good To Be Free's aptly named post "Questions Answered" when he said:
Much of the current position of the Church with regard to homosexual attraction is fairly recent, ie early to late 90’s. Before this time, and honestly even up until now, the most comprehensive guide for dealing with homosexuality has been the book Miracle of Forgiveness. . . . I will quote a few lines, “This perversion is defined as the sexual desire for those of the same sex or sexual relations between individuals of the same sex, whether men or women. It is the sin of the ages.” And later he uses these adjectives to describe homosexuality: repugnant, deviant, unnatural, abominable, evil, ugly, and curable. To those who fail to overcome he denigrates as “weaklings.”
Good to Be Free further noted that the church's most recent resource on homosexuality is an interview with Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman which contains:
certain words used several times . . . in order of most to least used in referring to homosexual feelings: struggle used 10 times, challenge and affliction each used 5 times, problem and limitation used 2 times, and one each for not normal, infirmity, and "the problem of homosexual inclinations." There are also comparisons of homosexual feelings to alcoholism, theft, disfigurement, physical and mental disabilities, and short tempers.
I related to Good to Be Free when he stated:
Let me ask you, as an impressionable young man . . . who places all his trust in the leaders of his faith to hear himself described in such language, would he not feel unworthy of God’s love? Wouldn’t it be easier to deny that these adjectives describe yourself than admit to being the deviant that you must be? Some of the family, I’m sure, wonder why I wasn’t able to be honest with myself . . . . I hope this helps in understanding. As I developed my sense of self growing up, I could not admit to myself that I was one of these unnatural creatures. How could I be? I didn’t feel that I was, so I could not admit to myself or anyone else that I was in actuality a deviant.
I'm working on a series of posts now where I try to piece the evidence together that should have clued me into the fact that I am gay, which I will title "Pieces of the Past". It didn't start with my disaffection, I just couldn't believe that I was gay when I was TBM because the cognitive dissonance was too great.

As FireTag commented on the post, "Labels":
What struck me was not the labels, but the "vs." we automatically put between them.

Particle and wave is truth.

Particle or wave is convenient.

Particle vs. wave is usually entirely inappropriate.
My whole life it has seemed Mormons vs. Gays. Now I'm trying to be Mormon and gay. Now that's some cognitive dissonance for you.


  1. Glad you found the previous comment helpful. I'm sincerely hoping that my church deals forthrightly with the issue this coming Sunday when proposed Section 164 is announced to the church. Our theology of the afterlife does not tie our fates to gender roles the way LDS theology does. Ontheotherhand, we have three demographic blocs with major national and international cultural differences between them regarding marriage, family, and priesthood roles.

    We live in interesting times.


  2. Brilliant writing Mister Curie. I wonder how I will tell the story of where I land when the time comes.

  3. @BB - not too much brilliance on my part, just aggregating quotes from others that describe the feelings I struggle to put into words. As a TBM I never would have thought I had much in common with the homosexual community, but reading everyone else's stories makes me feel like they are writing a page out of my own.

  4. Wow, this is quite the work. I much appreciated the wave vs. particle commentary. It is surprising just how appropriate a comparison it is to what we face.

  5. I really liked the wave-particle theory as well. In fact I used it the other day over at Faithful Dissident's blog. She had a simmilar post as well.