Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hand holding and other sins at BYU

I have spent part of the last few days arguing whether the holding of hands is an intimate form of expression -- meaning sexual – meaning that a Mormon man shouldn’t hold another man’s hand.
After a day of deliberation in which I have watched the presidential debates (!), read about human on human abuse, seen video of buildings being blown up and children covered in blood, I have decided that I am sick of arguing whether a human should hold another humans hand or whether a meaningful look between those of the same sex could be construed as a breach of the BYU honor code.

Now I support the honor code and BYU's right to establish one. If one signs the admission form, he abides by the code. The end. However, I reserve my God given right to state an opinion as a TBM, a gay man, a temple recommend holder, and one who went to BYU -- one of the most positive experiences of my puny little life.

The only moment of joy that has come in the last 24 hours I have spent deliberating this question was watching online as people came together over a common foe -- a boa constrictor that crawled out from the hood of a driver’s car while he was parked at a stop light.

Suddenly, everyone at that traffic stop banded together to combat a snake who posed a threat. It didn’t matter who the driver was, or his race, sexuality or political stance. That snake was just way to close and the group stood together and took care of business -- albeit behind a broom. (Not so great for animal rights folks, but a great day for people coming together.)

So where did I come-out on the holding hands issue?

As the witch said to the baker and his wife Into The Woods, "Who Cares!"

I have seen prophets of the living God hold hands. I have heard tell of apostles kissing each other and hugging tenderly. Hand holding in and of itself is not sexual. On my mission I witnessed many men putting their arms around each other to share an umbrella in the rain, or huddling under a small blanket. I would have loved to have given my missionary companion a hug and to have held his hand to tell him how much I loved him and admired and appreciated his hard work that day.

Culturally we LDS are a mess. In the grand scheme of messes, ours could be a relatively quick fix. But while we are messed up, we are banning simple gestures like hand holding because we don’t understand the intent.

I can't imagine Christ denying the lady -- with her own pure intent -- the experience and the blessings of washing the His feet and drying them with her hair.

And, parenthetically, who are we that we have to understand someone else's intent? May I express tenderness or feeling of any sort by holding someone’s hand? Please? May I have your permission?

Denying anyone the right -- dare I say -- to be affectionate, to express a normal and everyday (hopefully everyday) feeling is silly and a waste of our collective time. Let the kids hold each other’s hand -- for God’s sake. Maybe we should worry about the bloody child, the homeless in our neighborhood, or supporting and defending those assaulted at BYU.

Or, at the very least, minding our own business.

And, in light of the recent information on BYU law enforcement, I am compelled to state that I am the biggest BYU-phile there is. I alternately bleed either royal or navy blue – often at the same time.

And I am asking publicly for my school to change how we treat victims at Brigham Young University whether we agree or approve of their behaviors or not.

No is still no – even if it’s in an outfit that shows “more skin than the honor code allows.” We are the Church of Jesus Christ. Please, let us act like it in all things.

Do you agree or disagree? Please feel free to leave a comment. I will respond.

Monday, October 17, 2016

BYU is not invited into the Big Twelve. And it's all because of Gays

BYU is not invited into the Big Twelve. It's official

Before anyone bursts a blood vessel, no team was invited to join the Big Twelve.

Publicity stunt?  Pressure from the "bigs" in broadcasting?  Who knows.

On paper, BYU looked good - huge market, travel well, competitive in football and basketball, national attendance records at home and most impressively, away -- all on the cougars side. 

The one minus was the honor code. Yes, the honor code - that thing that for years made BYU stand out from the party universities. That badge of honor that kept blue chippers from signing at a stone cold and dry program -- may have been what stood in the way of BYU being invited to the Big Twelve. BIG SURPRISE!
Looks a little gay ...

So not a surprise. The honor code was reported by SB Nation as being discriminatory "against LGBT students and victims of sexual assault, which makes the issues all the more difficult to fix because they run more deeply than merely with the school itself."

Quotes by SB Nation are in italics:

"Hell, student-athletes can't even wear a beard at BYU" the article continued. "Are beard-wearers discriminated against, then? Can a school have any kind of behavioral code, anymore, without claims being brought against it?"

Again, this is SB Nation: "The answer is that, yes, in fact, beard-wearers are being discriminated against and while that type of discrimination may seem benign, it’s not, because it’s only one small example of larger and much more dangerous discrimination happening at BYU."

"So the larger answer is that, yes, a school can have whatever type of behavioral code it wants, as long as it doesn’t discriminate against students, especially students in communities that already suffer from an incredible amount of discrimination from other elements of society."

Just for the fact checkers, BYU Honor Code decries premarital sex - opposite gender or same gender. This is the homosexual behavior that the code speaks of. One can be gay and attend the university. However, the same standard applies for all students. There is no premarital sex allowed.  Frankly, I don't know if a person married to one of his same gender would be allowed to attend the university. In the honor code there is a qualification that a student must be active in their church and attend regularly. I suppose that if that criteria is met then such a student would be allowed into the school.  And the law would be the same for him or her -- no sex outside of marriage.

I am not blindly supporting the honor code. It does mention that handholding and kissing is not permitted by those of the same sex -- hand holding and kissing not necessary being precluders to premarital sex.  However, any straight couple sitting on a bench at the Marriott center who is snogging would be asked to stop or leave the premises. So it would be interesting to hear from someone with actual same-sex-snogging experience here. 

Moving on...

"And if the behavioral code serves as a reporting barrier for sexual assaults, then it is not acceptable and needs to change to follow federal guidelines. That’s not an opinion, that’s the law." SB continues.  I don't understand what is going on with sexual assaults, so I will comment on this later.

um, hum
Is it the law?  Has the SB Nation not heard of religious freedom?  BYU is not an open school. It is not subsidized by tax dollars in any way. It is a private institution, and private institutions run by churches invoke religious freedom. They have the right to set standards. They have the right to say no beards, no short-shorts, no drinking, no sex outside of marriage for anyone gay or straight. And go to church.

"The Big 12 should avoid the potential for future scandals and decline to invite BYU into the league until such a point at which the school can reform the Honor Code to be inclusive of LGBT students and properly follow Title IX guidelines in dealing with victims of sexual assault" says the article.

Let me add another suggestion.  BYU should find a way to thrive in the world of college football without lowering it's standards. If that can eventually be done in the Big 12, then congratulations.  If not, then move on.  BYU has the freedom to set honor code standards.  They have the right to deny us entrance into their club.

Does BYU Sports need their club?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Windows in doors -- and other preventions

Today is a decent day for anyone associated with the LDS church -- especially if you have kids.  

Mormon officials have released a new document outlining its standards for preventing child sexual abuse in its congregations. The statement is on its Mormon newsroom website.

It's the least we can do
I think that it is important to mention that this is not a new direction for the church. These standards have been in place for some time. I had these rules explained to me when I was called as a primary teacher years ago with my wife. I was instructed that we were a "team." 

Subtle. I was told that if I was ever alone with the kids that I should grab the nearest female primary worker or anyone in a skirt -- and by grab I mean get their attention and politely call them over. It was canon even then: 
  • Fire drill, 
  • Stick to the manual
  • No sugar treats (Didn't follow that one. Give the child a treat at the end of class as a reward and the parents have to deal with the sugar rush.)
  • Keep the kids safe
It pains me to say that am not new to the world of abuse. In my social working days, I knew all the rules of dealing with children -- especially children who had been abused: Leave the doors open, do not wander off even if you are having a heartfelt talk with a kid, do not be alone with an adolescent, know the difference between an adult psyche and an adolescents, don't be stupid.

This was standard practice twenty years ago. Even so, when I was reminded of these same standards by a church lady in flats, I confess that I was a little offended. Men were singled out as abusers.

Well, it's time to face facts, and the fact is that the chances of an abuser being a woman are slim. As an LDS man and a father, I will gladly live with a bruised ego for the opportunity to protect a child from potential abuse.