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A religious beating

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I held the red manual in my 16-year-old quivering hands. I had just come out to my bishop and told him I was struggling to stop thinking about men.

“What exactly do you think about when you’re thinking about men,” he asked.

I hesitated, not sure how to respond. “I guess it starts with the dreams that I’ve had, I think they’re called wet dreams. But I know I’m not gay, I just need some help getting over this,” I sobbed into my hands, utterly ashamed.

He reached into his desk drawer and handed me a pamphlet.

“This isn’t for everyone to read. It’s got some detailed information and it should help you,” he said.

I walked out of the office. It would be the last time I talked with him about my ‘feelings.’ I sat down on the couch in the foyer and scanned through the booklet called, To Young Men Only, written by Boyd Packer.

I passed the section about masturbation to the part where it talked about how to deal with homosexual feelings. I found the section I was looking for and began to read:

“There are some men who entice young men to join them in these immoral acts. If you are ever approached to participate in anything like that, it is time to vigorously resist. While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done.

After patient encouragement he finally blurted out, “I hit my companion.”

“Oh, is that all,” I said in great relief.

“But I floored him,” he said.

After learning a little more, my response was “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.”

I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself.

There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it. They are just “that way” and can only yield to those desires. That is a malicious and destructive lie. While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life. From our premortal life we were directed into a physical body. There is no mismatching of bodies and spirits. Boys are to become men – masculine, manly men – ultimately to become husbands and fathers. No one is predestined to a perverted use of these powers.”

To say that religious practices were the root cause of the recent string of attacks on gay people is simplistic. But the impact of statements like Packer’s should not be ignored. The engendering of labeling gays as different and worthy of a good beating every now and then has a dangerous implication.

Flooring a friend is not a mature or acceptable way for an adult to behave, no matter the occasion. There’s no excuse for violence and any religion that claims a mandate from god to ‘protect yourself’ in that way is at odds with its own supposed Christian roots.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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