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BYU Professor denies power of change, condemns homesexuals to inescapable lifestyle

from the free-agency-for-all dept.

In a disappointing bow to secularism and succumbing to 21st century victimization hype, BYU professor William Bradshaw gave a lecture in which he claimed "no encouraging evidence suggests the possibility of behavioral and biological changes" for those with homosexual tendencies. He later went on to say "it is virtually impossible for these people to change their orientation, despite their righteous lifestyle."

Although "Bradshaw said though he is absolutely committed to the atonement of Jesus Christ," his viewpoints seem completely incongruent with a belief in the infinite nature of the Atonement of Christ and the fundamental power of change within the human soul.

Read more about it at BYU Newsnet. Update: Three student responses to Dr. Bradshaw's lecture have been posted in the Daily Universe. They can be found here, here, and here. Update (#2): Six more responses have been posted here, here, here, here, here, and here ... wow.

The key is understanding

While it's difficult to really understand where Bradshaw is coming from without having heard his lecture, I think he brings up some interesting points. It seems that the message here is understanding--recognizing that those who struggle with homosexuality face some unique and extremely hard circumstances and that homosexuals aren't likely to change overnight. It may take a lifetime for some to overcome homosexual feelings, and the important message is that we should be loving and understanding of the challenges they face.

The key is understanding... what Bradshaw is saying

I wholeheartedly agree that homosexuals, and particularly LDS homosexuals, deserve much more understanding than they currently receive. Dr. Bradshaw, however, goes several steps further than call for understanding. By purporting that people do not have choices over their actions, Bradshaw dehumanizes homosexuals by depicting them as animals with no control over their biological desires. Furthermore, by ascribing all actions to biological and environmental stimuli, he erodes the moral basis of accountability.

As an example, consider the fictitious (and perhaps facetious) case where I have a strong, natural inclination to light things on fire. I would certainly hope that society would never condone my burning down of buildings simply because I cannot possibly be expected to make a choice that contradicts my biological predisposition.

If you have ever been on a Boy Scout camp out, you would know that nearly all boys actually have this disposition. Why is it that so few things are burned down?

Admittedly, homosexuality is on a distinctly different moral footing that arson. Since we are, however, in Provo, it's safe to assume I am writing for an LDS audience. The aforementioned moral erosion caused by a separation of actions and culpability is a dangerous thing indeed -- the first step down a slippery slope. Things that are decried as heinous acts against humanity and our universal morality today will be tolerated tomorrow and embraced the day after that. We must remember that secular research and morality have distinctly different aims. For example, it’s actually rather easy to find "academic" research that supports pedophilia.

As for reconciling research and religion, just recall that a religion wholly compatible with the science of today will be very incompatible with the science of tomorrow (a paraphrase from Hugh Nibley).

Misunderstood

What's curious to me is that there was not one quote by Professor Bradshaw in the second half of the article published by the Daily Universe. This is where the article interprets Professor Bradshaw's "beliefs" about the homosexual and his non-ability to change orientation. I was not there at Professor Bradshaw's lecture so I don't know what was said in class, and I don't know how his arguments were presented. But I think that before we allow his intentions to be mis-interpreted, or start telling our parents to stop paying tithing, as was suggested by one of my fellow classmates, we should consider that his arguments may have been taken out of context.

scottkins
BYU Student (Cypress, CA)

doubtful of professors findings

I like many others did not attend the lecture given by professor whatshisname about the biological indications of homosexuality. I have thought about this kind of thing before and concluded that God may give us certain predispositions in our personal genes that make us suseptible to certain types of temptations (i.e, gambling, alcohol, drugs, other junk) but we still have our choice to follow after the Savior or to give in to the temptations that Satan sends our ways. Another thought that me and my roommates had about the issue of homosexuality in general is that if being homosexual is a natural and biological thing then why when we look out into nature don't we see homosexual animals. There aren't any so homosexuality can't be natural.

Doing something about it

I think that more important than talking here would be to do something about it. Go to defendmarriage.org then tell all your friends to as well. There are some groups here on campus to work with as well, try familydefense@hotmail.com to get involved.

paul weitzel

Why think when I could just have an opinion?

It is very easy to say things. As a missionary in Costa Rica I was fond of saying something I know was not very kind and not even limited to Ticos: "Tico logic: it is true because I just said it, the words coming out of my mouth". It was to this type of brandashing of ignorance that I wrote the following: "preconceptions: synthesis of ignorant observations masquerading as truth" (http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/49541). Yep! I was actually at the lecture. The question that seems to be facing everyone is; "How do I know what I say I know?". In the case of a few of the posters on this site and the opinion papers in the campus paper as well as most of the hallway discussions I have at Church, the answer is: "I know because the words are coming out of my mouth".

When someone proceeds to try and understand the world in this fashion I often take pause to examine what they have said and see if I know any observations or facts that might challenge what they know. Or, just as often, I try and discover weakness in myself that could be straightened by observations, facts or experience that has been shared with me (that's why I love testimonies). Many of you have simply posted opinion steeped in personal perception. Is it the Spirit that told you the words coming out of your mouth are true and that observations of a careful and rather tempered man are absolutely bogus? Was it the Spirit that told you "pass judgment and defend yourself because the truth out there is dangerous"?

There are homosexual animals. Not all heterosexuals are upstanding citizens. Sexual predators come in all shapes, sizes and persuasions. If you don't believe me, and I don't recommend that you do, go look for the research. If you cannot believe in scientific discovery then I cannot help you. I have thought much about discovery and knowledge and my experience indicates that in a temporal existence there are things known more efficiently with intellect and things known more efficiently by faith. To eschew one or the other is to toss aside agency and the God given tools of mortality.

What I love about Dr. Bradshaw is that he left this discussion where we all need to jump in. Not to simply to dispute the evidence that is plainly there but to reason what we are to do about sexual relationships. I did not grow up in Happy Valley. I did not only have Mormon friends growing up and I have seen that no matter where you are there are people doing the best they can with what they know. What I feel is endangering society (notice I shy away from the use of KNOW) is a departure from an understanding of what Love really is. Sexuality is not love. I know first hand that sex is a manifestation of love and the it can be a powerful means of creating unlimited love (http://homepage.mac.com/parsimony) . . . but it is not Love.

So many individuals ignorantly grope through this life chasing love of self via their own sexuality. It cannot be found, but as any with experience will attest, in sex can be felt a satisfaction and elation only eclipsed by true love. Hence, often in seeking love and joy many are sidetracked by the indescribable feelings associated with sex.

Nicely said

I think that people with homosexual tendencies need loving yet stern support in order to best help them to change. We are to hate the sin yet love the sinner. I think that one of the worst things we can possibly do is what it appears that Professor Bradshaw is doing, which is to effectively exonerate them of responsibility and in-turn weaken the resolve of those who are working to change.

Who is this guy?

I read your opinion on BYU's Newsnet site and just finished reading your comments on this site as well. You speak of science, facts, intellect, knowledge, observations, etc., but use absolutely none of these to support any of your opinions. The only tool you seem to use is gross arrogance. It seems that your only objective is to reveal to the lowly BYU undergrads and to the sheltered citizens of "Happy Valley" their base ignorance compared to your supreme omniscience and experience in this harsh world. Every other sentence in both of your letters reeks of conceit and self-admiration. I'm not saying you can't have an opposing view to this matter. Just have one with some supporting evidence. Don't curtail around the topic of homosexuality by attacking the motives and intellect of those who fight against it. And don't generalize all those who have an opinion contrary to that of Mr. Bradshaw's as ignorant followers of the Mormon faith whose opinions are only based on false preconceptions. How dare you accuse others of forming their beliefs of homosexuality solely from their "personal perceptions" and not from the Spirit? How can you even begin to know the convictions and motives of others beliefs? It is in fact the Spirit of God that has helped me see clearly the truth about this topic. I accept Mr. Bradshaw's claims that biology has a role in homosexuality. I accept and love science as a whole and it certainly has a major part in the gospel and in explaining many of its doctrines. It's the misuse of scientific evidence to nullify the power of the atonement and take away our accountability to God of which I adamantly disapprove.

Who is this guy?

I read your opinion on BYU's Newsnet site and just finished reading your comments on this site as well. You speak of science, facts, intellect, knowledge, observations, etc., but use absolutely none of these to support any of your opinions. The only tool you seem to use is gross arrogance. It seems that your only objective is to reveal to the lowly BYU undergrads and to the sheltered citizens of "Happy Valley" their base ignorance compared to your supreme omniscience and experience in this harsh world. Every other sentence in both of your letters reeks of conceit and self-admiration.

I'm not saying you can't have an opposing view to this matter. Just have one with some supporting evidence. Don't curtail around the topic of homosexuality by attacking the motives and intellect of those who fight against it. And don't generalize all those who have an opinion contrary to that of Mr. Bradshaw's as ignorant followers of the Mormon faith whose opinions are only based on false preconceptions. How dare you accuse others of forming their beliefs of homosexuality solely from their "personal perceptions" and not from the Spirit? How can you even begin to know the convictions and motives of others beliefs? It is in fact the Spirit of God that has helped me see clearly the truth about this topic.

I accept Mr. Bradshaw's claims that biology has a role in homosexuality. I accept and love science as a whole and it certainly has a major part in the gospel and in explaining many of its doctrines. It's the misuse of scientific evidence to nullify the power of the atonement and take away our accountability to God of which I adamantly disapprove.

Professor Bradshaw given a chance

Professor Bradshaw was given a chance in today's Daily Universe to clarify any misquotings or misrepresentations that may have occured. Well, all he really did was further his position that the Atonement CANNOT change some things and that homosexuality is one of those things. This stance is in direct opposition to what the prophets have told us. If you have any questions on the subject I recommend reading "Same Gender Attraction," a talk given by Elder Oaks in 1995. He goes into great detail on this very subject.

animals

incidentally, there are documented occurrences of homosexuality among animals of hundreds of species from nearly every part of the upper animal kingdom. If you don't believe me, go to the BYU library (or anywhere else) and check out the book "Biological Exuberance", read the bibliography, and check out the studies. You'll be surprised.

Where was the article you refer to?

I didn't actually look in the newspaper itself but I looked at newsnet.byu.edu and couldn't find it. Do you know where it is?

Yeah dude, sure

I don't have time to go through it point for point but did anyone else think that this guy's (not the one I'm immediately replying to but the one he's replying to, the pro-bradshaw one) original letter to the daily universe made no sense whatsoever? I sat there trying to understand how the words he was writing were proving any kind of point and just failed to see it. Call me stupid, but I'm pretty sure his letter made no sense. Maybe someone else has time to pick it apart and expose it as being non-sense. I'll do it later-on if i have time, but for now I need to get some sleep... good night guys

I Agree

I'm the guy that wrote the comment titled, "Who is this guy" and I completely agree with you. I was going to go through both his articles and point out all the points that made no sense at all, but realized it would take to long!

Thinking takes too long?

Comon' it would take too long to address a couple points! Oh! no wait, every single things I said was disagreeable and sorely in need of retribution. Since I addressed a handful of points that would obviously require the better part of 10 minutes-time much better spent reading other post (I will conceed this point for sure) dismissal without addressing anything is a much better route. I know you can do better than this. If not then truly many were angered not by my arrogance but how close I came to the truth :-P

Anyway, it seem there are a couple of things that really bother people concerning Dr. Bradshaws comments (when points about what I wrote are specified such will allow for an efficient exchange of opinion there too).

1) Scientifically observed proclivity or predisopsition ameliorates agency and thus nullifies the atonement of Jesus Christ. I honeslty do not follow this reasoning. I have a brother who came home early from his mission early in the midst of a sever nervous breakdown. He was diagnosed with OCD (obsesive compulsive disorder). No, he didn't wash his hands all the time. It was actually a very moving experience to find out how this wonderful child of God had struggled his whole life with the most monserous of thoughts. For instance every single time he saw a picture of Christ in any setting his mind would say "F* you". Often when he was stressed he would stay away from the family because his mind would fill with thoughts of mutilating those he loved. He hid this and was terrified of it his whole life. Unfortunatley, his understanding of the atonement lead him to think that he was sinning and that becuase he could not just STOP, there was no hope. He had resigned himself to hope that he might see us at least once in the life hearafter before he was cast off to HELL.

Imagine how sad all of us were to know that our dear brother who we loved and cared for deeply was confronting such demons in his life, alone. He felt isolated from us and even from God because his thoughts made him a sinner. We have a history of mental illness in our family and there is an abundance of scientific observation that evidences a strong iheritable factor. My mother has suffered a nervous breakdown as has my father (while he was a bishop in our ward in Arizona). Belive me when I tell you there is a terrible stigma surrounding mental illness, this stigma is grossly exhagerated in a religious setting where many say they do not belive God punishes us unduly (hence it follows that their turmoil was the outgrowth of unrepentant sin). Oddly, I must say this is often true but the sin everyone in my family, and probably many others commit, is the sin of self hatred or the sin of not willing to forgive ourselves.

So, when we talk about homosexuals and what we are at the root talking about is same sex attraction we have to ask ourselves how is the atonement of Christ active for the many of us, if not all of us, who sin in thought? Certainly there is a place for us sinners of thought. When it is thought that we reasonably have control over them there seems to be a great argument for us needing to practice self control. When self governance is impeded by biology then we should seek help. In the case of mental illness some can be cured/controlled with counseling others with medication or both. Some things, like OCD, are now very controllable with mediation but this is a recent advent. So for those born before treatment who committed sins and crimes because they were ill, are they lost? Did biology nullify the atonement for them. Is biology the real saviour here? Obviously not.

The atonement is so much grander than any of our limited perception. I think everyone who believes in Christ would testify of its grandness. Moreover, it is a personal interaction that need not the judgment of man but rather the rallying of man to support all individuals susceptible to temptation and sin.

2) I'll just list a few questions that I've asked myself over the years, inserting homosexuality were appropriate. However, it should be clear that just about anything could fit.

What does the Spirit indicate about sexuality? homosexual attraction? when to stop sin: emotion, thought, action, etc.? Who might be tempted by sexuality? What is the greater sin: sexual predation, victimization, abuse, homosexuality?

In an us vs. them paradigm can "they" win salvation without becoming one of us? Where do you draw the line of us and them? Can the Spirit lend help in discerning this?

Where does homosexuality fit into the basic questions our faith answers marvelously, namely: Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?

I apologize if I have offended any with my writing but only in as much as you may have become angry. I'm still working to not illicit anger while still sharing my own understanding (it seems to be a rather human problem).

Time taken to write this 13 min (17 if you include the diaper change in the middle)