The Mormon Philosophy of Sexuality

From an Ensign article by Brother Brent Barlow (from 1986!):

Several years ago when I was a young missionary and had just received a new companion, we met a Protestant minister who invited us in out of the cold. After exchanging points of view on various topics, he asked us, “And what is the Mormon attitude towards sexuality?”

I choked on my cup of hot chocolate, but my new companion seemed unmoved. “Well,” said the minister after a moment of silence, “could you please tell me the Mormon philosophy toward sexuality?” I was tongue-tied and believed my new companion knew next to nothing on the matter. However, when my companion realized that I didn’t have an answer, he finally said, “Sir, we believe in it.”

After reading the above article, and lamenting on how I felt like the Church doesn’t seem to push it’s Sex-positive theology to the front very well, I decided to do an experiment and see how easy it is to find such positive views on the Church’s website, lds.org.  So, I did what any curious Young Man/Young Woman would do… hop on the official LDS website and search for “sex.”  I expected to find a smattering of conference talks and articles about modesty, chastity, and pornography. Here’s the top 20 results:

search

Now, for the analysis. Based on the results, apparently the LDS philosophy is that sex is:

  1. Gay? – No less than 13 (THIRTEEN!!!) of the top 20 results are links to articles about same-sex marriage or same-sex attraction. Even the link to the Eternal Marriage Institute Student Manual is about Same Sex Marriage!  I was really surprised to see this.  What I expected to see came in a very distant second place.
  2. Dangerous – Next up, are three articles on pornography, masturbation, sex addiction etc.
  3. Secret – Next up, were three articles about Sex-ed… not actually providing sex-ed… more like complaining/condemning sex-ed in schools. To be fair, one was a link to a video that wasn’t bad on the importance of doing some of this teaching at home. (One of these was actually double dipping from category #2)
  4. Awkward – A funny Q&A about how awkward teens can stop being so awkward with members of the opposite sex.
  5. Other – One link to a Q&A on the Church’s position on the Equal Rights Ammendment.

Search Optimization

Now, at first I thought, maybe these have bubbled to the top due to these being more frequently clicked on pages with all the recent controversy over the Church’s treatment of LGBQT members and their kids…  but then I see such interesting articles as this, about a group of concerned LDS sisters worked to block the implementation of comprehensive Sex-Ed in their school district, and ensured they’d be allowed to opt their children out of it. (Yay, go team, Go!) There’s just no way that made it into the results based on popularity of the article…. its from 1979.

So that means there’s likely something deliberate going on in choosing these results.  Now, I find it fascinating that MormonsAndGays.org is actually the number one result up top, and that made me happy, even if slightly confused. I’d love to see the church promote the website on the front page of LDS.org, but hey, this is a start. Now, whether this is something wrong with the algorithm, or a deliberate choice… this search is broken. I’d be amazed if “sex” isn’t one of the more commonly searched for terms on the lds.org home page by our youth in the church, and I’m pretty sure there isn’t a single one of them who’s confused as to exactly which side of the Same-sex Marriage debate the Church is on.

Theology

Instead of the above 20 results, what if our results included talks/teachings actually about sex? I’d like to do a full post on this in the future, but LDS doctrine has the potential to be incredibly sex positive.  There’s no reason we have to be constrained by the very conservative sexual attitudes common in the Church today. Our doctrine embraces that we are in fact physically (both male and female) created by God; and that creation was pronounced “good.” One of the biggest parts of the plan was for us to obtain these physical bodies, which will go with us into the eternities… this distinguishes us from the vast majority of Christians, who see our physical bodies in a much less positive teachings on the body.  And these bodies include the capacity for eroticism, sexuality, desire, and orgasm.  They come with specially created systems, circuits, and even body parts designed to make sex pleasurable… why, think of the clitoris, which literally serves no function in reproduction, yet God felt it was an essential and worthy part to include on half the world’s population.

If as Mormons, our position on sex is that “we believe in it,” we sure could do a better job acting like it, and teaching it.

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