Tag Archives: religious

There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted. — Henry David Thoreau

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“Do you think religion inherently good?” This was a rhetorical question posed to the class when I was a student at Queen’s University in 1986. The class was in a course in the history of Christianity. The question was posed by Professor William P. Zion who was on the faculty of the department of religious studies and the Queen’s Theological College. He was also a Russian Orthodox Priest, Father Basil. We were young students who never stopped to think about this. Professor Zion answered the question for us, telling us, “no, religion is not inherently good.” He cited the fact that historically Christians gathered to watch people burned at the stake as a witness to their faith. Professor Zion had a bit of fun with the class in posing this question, but what made me recall this memory is the fact that the majority of humanity practices some kind of religion. I appreciate and understand the appeal of religion for people. I was a pious Roman Catholic myself for several years. Interestingly, it was Father Basil who supported and encouraged me to accept my gayness and continue practicing my faith. I concur with Professor Zion in that I do not think religion is inherently good. This puts me in a bind at times as I interact with people of various faiths, who view their faith as inherently good, right and desirable, both personally and informally in my daily life. Continue reading

Society may no longer define marriage in the only way marriage has ever been defined in the annals of recorded history. Many societies allowed polygamy, many allowed child marriages, some allowed marriage within families; but none, in thousands of years, defined marriage as the union of people of the same sex. — Dennis Prager

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Polygamy is a broad term and when applied to human society refers to plural marriage which means having more than one spouse. Facets of this term include polygyny which refers to a form of plural marriage in which a man is allowed to have more than one wife. Polyandry describes the form of plural marriage in which a women has more than one husband. Polyamory is a form of plural marriage where a family consists of multiple husbands and wives at the same time. These kinds of marriages existed historically in human societies and continue in some societies in the present. However, in the Western world monogamous marriage (between one man and one woman) became the norm and was enshrined in law with the rise of the Roman Empire and the ascendance of Christianity as the dominant faith. In the current controversy over same sex marriage raging across the U.S. critics and opponents of same sex marriage often refer to polygamy as a reason to deny marriage rights to same sex couples. The common assertion is that if monogamous marriage is redefined to allow same sex couples to marry, then people who want to enter into polygamous marriages will demand the right to to so pointing to the fact that same sex couples are free to marry. Is there any merit to this claim? Continue reading

What will survive of us is love. — Phillip Larkin’s An Arundel Tomb

536072_486556508070130_1208265843_nGeoffrey and Mika in their library.

The story of the life and love shared by Thomas Lee Bridegroom and Shane Bitney Crone resonates with me to this day. I learned of their life together and the tragedy that befell them in viewing It could happen to you, the YouTube video produced by Shane Bitney Crone in memory of Thomas Lee Bridegroom, who died in a tragic accident on May 7, 2011. Though I do not know either of these men, I was so moved in a way that I normally am not upon hearing of a personal tragedy that strikes people who are strangers to me. Watching It could happen to you had a profound effect on me; I felt grief and outrage well up inside me upon learning of the injustice and iniquity that was heaped on Shane Bitney Crone following the death of his partner, Thomas Lee Bridegroom. As same sex couples could not marry in California at the time of Tom’s death, Shane had no legal standing as Tom’s partner and could do nothing as the Bridegroom family claimed Tom’s body, his assets and barred Shane from attending his funeral. This is so wrong and it happens to other couples. From the grief and outrage I experienced I was inspired to join in the effort to advocate for full civil rights for gay people, marriage rights in particular. Continue reading

The LDS (Mormon) Version of Satan

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I was born and raised in the LDS (Mormon) church, and left during my teen years. To many, Mormonism is not considered a Christian religion, though Mormons consider themselves to be Christians and believe in the Bible. There is some overlap, as well as some contradiction, in the teachings of the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Seeing as Mormonism is what some would call a fringe sect of Christianity, Geoffrey recently asked me to share a few thoughts about the Mormon view of Satan.

Much of the Mormon version of Satan is in keeping with the traditional Christian version. To be honest, I have a hard time remembering which bits of doctrine are distinctly Mormon, and which come from the Bible. One could say that the lines are blurred, so to speak. But the “origin story” of Satan as far as Mormonism is concerned is as follows.

Before we were put on this earth, we were spirits in Heaven. We were all children of god, but we desired to have a physical body of flesh and blood, as he did. It is for this reason that god created the earth. We would come to earth to be put to a spiritual test, and if we passed, we would get to return to Heaven in our physical bodies. Two plans were proposed to god. One by Jesus Christ, the other, Satan (also called Lucifer). Satan’s plan was to not allow us, his spiritual brothers and sisters, to have the power of free agency or choice. His plan was designed to ensure that each and every one of us would be able to succeed in our test on earth, so that all of us would be able to live in Heaven with our Heavenly Father for all eternity.

Jesus’ plan, however, was to allow each of us to have free agency, or, the right to choose between good and evil. God chose Jesus’ plan, as it was a better test of worthiness. Satan became angry and waged a war against god, Jesus, and those who sided with them. It is said that one third of Heaven sided with Satan (how do we know that?). The one third that was on Satan’s side lost the war in Heaven, and was cast out forever, never to be given bodies.

It is in this way that Satan and his followers tempt us. They do not have physical bodies, so they are able to both infiltrate and be cast out of a room, area, etc. It is very curious that Mormons do not believe Satan has a physical body, because Brigham Young, the second president of the church, stated that apostates (people who leave the church) “will become gray haired, wrinkled, and black, just like the devil” * How on earth can a spirit have dark skin? Either he has a body, or he doesn’t. One without a body cannot have dark skin on that body which does not exist.
Not all Mormons subscribe to this bit of doctrine, and the church has even made efforts to cover the Journal of Discourses up, as it is riddled with absurdities (including a statement that people live on the surface of the sun).

I don’t think I’ve ever seen any official church doctrine teaching this, but I have heard it be said in the Mormon church that Satan is a homosexual. I repeat, this opinion is not official doctrine of the church. It doesn’t surprise me, though, that some members of the church believe this. They believe that Satan is the source of all evil, and seeing as they believe homosexuality to be immoral, it’s not hard to understand that some Mormons think of Satan as possessing this particular trait.

So there you have it, folks. Mormon Satan is an invisible, black, gray haired homosexual. I do adore the Mormon, and even Christian, Satan. He is an incredibly intriguing character, and the Mormon “origin story” would make a GREAT fantasy movie. Perhaps I’ll make that movie one day, and play Satan myself. It will be deliciously evil.

*Journal of Discourses, Volume 5, page 332. The Journal of Discourses is a series of volumes of talks given by early church leaders, as well as written passages. As far as I know, the church does not consider them to be doctrine (anymore), and they are not discussed in Mormon church. It’s clear that the church is embarrassed by them, which is why many Mormons have never even heard of the Journal of Discourses.

Posted by Tom