Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pre-Op: Nuss Procedure, Pectus Excavatum

     Tonight will be my last night sleeping with my heart and lungs compressed by my own rib cage. Tonight is the last night I'll sleep with my pectus excavatum. Tonight is the last night I have before I'm strapped into the wild-ride that is 'change'.
     I'd say the majority of people in my life don't know that I have a pectus excavatum. It's not something you can tell just by looking at a fully-clothed person. And if you've never seen me shirtless, and I haven't told you that I have it, there's really almost no way of knowing. But my pectus and I go way back. All the way back, actually.
     For those of you who don't know what a pectus excavatum is, it's a congenital deformity (congenital meaning you're born with it) which results in some of your ribs and your sternum forming incorrectly and caving-in giving it a sunken, crater-ish-like (totally a word) appearance.
Here's a good diagram of it:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/~/media/kcms/gbs/patient%20consumer/images/2013/08/26/10/41/mcdc7_pectus_excavatum_jpg.jpg 
Luckily mine is not that severe.


Here's some images of my chest I took tonight. It's hard to really get the depth from a picture, but at least it's something.

     For much of my life, my doctors, my parents, and I thought it was for the most part cosmetic. There wasn't significant evidence to show that it affected me beyond that. I definitely didn't want surgery just to "look better", so we never went through with anything. It wasn't until this past year when my best friend expressed concern when I was struggling to breathe and getting really sick and dizzy when I went to the gym with him that he urged me to get it checked, and so I did.
     I found a doctor who specialized in dealing with chest issues (known as a cardiothoracic surgeon), and set up appointments with him. He scheduled different tests for me, and the tests confirmed that my pectus has been causing me a lot of physical limitations. They ordered an MRI and CT-scan of my chest, and I asked the doctor to print me out one of the images. While it's not the best image, here's what I got:
The white bone on the bottom is one of the vertebrae in my spine, and the top bone that is indented downward is my sternum. The grayish lump in the middle is my heart, and the black areas inside my chest are my lungs. Basically, my heart in pinched between my sternum and my spine, so any time I work out, my heart can't beat hard enough or fast enough to provide adequate blood flow and oxygen levels, hence why I get so lightheaded and dizzy so quickly when working out.
     Now the surgery I'm getting is known as the Nuss procedure. It involves inserting metal bars through the ribs, under the sternum, and out the ribs on the other side. The bars are bowed, and go in with the edges protruding out of the chest. Once in, the surgeon forcibly flips the bars. The bars hook onto the rib to hold them in place, and once they are flipped, they push the sternum into place. The bars are left in for at least 2 years in order to fully reshape the chest cavity. After the two years have passed, the bars are then removed and the bones in almost every case retain their new shape. In some cases, only one bar is necessary. For me, I'm old enough and my pectus excavatum is deep enough that I will be getting two bars.
     I'm honestly terrified. Not really for the surgery, but for the recovery. I've heard recovery is a very painful experience.  I will likely be in the hospital after surgery for 3-5 days, and then I was recommended to take off work for about 4 weeks. As someone who will freely admit that I have a low pain tolerance, I'm definitely nervous. Right now, I'm just trying to tune out my anxiety, and just accept that it's out of my control. Will the surgery likely be worth it? Yeah. Will I likely look back and be so happy I did it once the misery of recovery is over? Yeah. But right now, I'm just so nervous...
     Beyond just the pain, it in a way feels like I'll be losing a part of who I am... For me, I usually like things that make others unique. I find them intriguing and fun to learn about. I enjoy the things that make me unique, and my pectus is one of those things. But it will soon be gone... And I've only been able to use it as an excuse to get out of heavy work for the past year... Truly unfortunate that it must be corrected so soon so I can no longer play the "I'm limited, I can't help with (insert project/activity name here)." card after surgery and recovery.
     I got a really good blessing from the missionaries this week, though, and I'll get one from my dad before the surgery as well. I've already heard from a lot of people who have said they will be praying for me, and are thinking of me. I've been told my name has been placed on the list in the temple prayer roll. I'm feeling really blessed and loved at the moment. I'm just hoping God can pick up the rest because there's no way I can handle the stress and misery of this by myself. I'll get on and write a Post-Op once I'm feeling a bit better.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Addiction & Leaving the Church

     Before you read any of my post, please watch this video. Quick preface, it is a TED Talk. There are things TED Talks cover that I don't agree with. In this video specifically there are a few lines I disagree with. But overall I think it's absolutely amazing and illuminating, so please watch before reading further:

(Video not showing up? Click here)

There's also an article that adds a bit more to the discussion that you can access here 
.
    Alright, hopefully you've watched the video by now. I watched it for the first time earlier this week because someone had shared it on Facebook. I won't lie, it sort of blew my mind at first. As I thought about it more, it made sense. Really it did. But starting out, like he mentioned, I had been taught that addiction was all about the chemical hooks. I believed it. I thought it was something wrong with me chemically and spiritually, and that I just needed to tackle it on my own, and if I couldn't overcome it, then I must be a failure.

     For those of you who have read my blog before, you know that my primary addictions have been pornography and masturbation. Those are the addictions I relapse on most frequently, but I'm also addicted to self-harm, food, video games, etc. My first exposure to pornography and masturbation happened when I was about 10 or 11 years old.

     One thing the video and article touched on that really got me thinking was they mentioned that trauma makes it difficult to trust people, and therefore difficult to feel connected, and therefore make you prone to addictions. I looked back on my own life, my past, to see what I could identify, and needless to say there was a fair amount. I was physically and emotionally mistreated by people I trusted when I was young, I was bullied a lot from elementary school, up until I graduated high school. I was excluded from peer groups within my own ward. Scouts and young mens activities were difficult for me. I rarely felt like I belonged, I observed that sometimes I was treated differently than my peers, and I didn't have any male friends.
   
     I had a male friend when I was young. I talked about him in My Story. I remember loving his friendship. I enjoyed spending time with him. Everything seemed to be going well, until sexual exploration entered our relationship. At the time, I think both he and I were too young to understand what we were doing. It was driven by curiosity, and it just seemed like part of our relationship. We were caught a few times, though, and he would be quickly sent home, and I would usually receive some type of punishment. I remember how shocked my parents were each time... I remember how much confusion and pain I felt. Here was a relationship I valued, that had an aspect I didn't fully understand, and I was told very strongly that it was wrong and bad, and needed to end. This friend and I eventually stopped spending time together. We got into a fight, and he moved away shortly after. This all happened when I was probably only 8 or 9. The experience was traumatic enough, though, that I feared friendships with boys. I never wanted my parents to react that like that around me again, I never wanted to go through the pain of losing a friend again, and I tied all of the emotions to boys. I decided that I never wanted another friend that was a boy again.

     That resolve did not hold, of course. I ended up needing male friendships, craving them, praying for them. I would watch the Lord of the Rings movies, and then go to my room and cry myself to sleep. Seeing the friendship that Frodo and Sam had was something I craved so deeply that anytime I watched the movies, I was reminded of what I didn't have, and felt like I couldn't have, and would become depressed. The same was true in my daily life. When I saw true male friends interacting with each other, I would come home and cry.

     When I found pornography, it became a replacement. I didn't feel like I could ever have real male friends in this life, but I could convince myself I was having a relationship through pornography. My searches for pornography were rarely random. They would instead focus on a few individuals that I felt I had some form of relationship with. Was it a false and unhealthy relationship? Yes. Most definitely. But it was all I felt I could have in this life. Masturbation was a similar situation. I would use it to create synthetic relationships in my mind, though other times I would just use it in an attempt to numb the pain and loneliness.

     Now that I finally have real relationships with men in my life, I feel like my addictions are better than they were in the past, but they're not gone yet. I have connection in my life like I never have had before, but I still isolate at times. When I go to church, I sit alone. I don't feel like I have friends in my ward. When I was in the Pathway program, I would sit alone during class. I have people in my immediate life that I have connection with, but I lack external connections that I feel are necessary, too.

     I feel like I'm jumping all over with this post... I came here with a specific goal in mind, and instead got distracted by my own life and thoughts.

     What I really want to write in this post is a thought/comparison I had about the idea of connection. A theme I've noticed in my life this past month has been people that my family and friends know who are gay have been leaving the church to pursue romance with members of the same gender. A friend my older sister had in high school came out as gay a while ago. At the time he was a member of the church. Just recently, he married his same-sex partner. A member of my home ward who is a bit younger than me who also came out as gay not too long ago recently decided to leave the church, and now has a boyfriend. My best friend had a guy he was meeting with who is gay that he was trying to reactivate in the church, and it seemed to be going well, but just a couple weeks ago, he told my friend he is no longer interested in the church, and now has a boyfriend.

     I've been perplexed, I guess. A big mistake I've been making for quite some time now is assuming that those who leave the church, for any number of reasons, are leaving because they just aren't strong enough, or because they're just making poor decisions. I want to apologize for thinking this way. I really do. I've been working on myself, trying to become more loving and understanding. I'm making progress, but I have a ways to go still. The reason I bring this up is that the TED Talks video realy changed my perspective on it this week.

     I want to make clear that I'm not comparing same-sex attraction to addiction. I'm very aware that it's a different issue entirely. But I believe that connection has much more prevalence in our life than just helping us overcome addiction. I had a thought this week... what if these people are leaving the church because they are not getting their needs met in their wards, and from friends and family? As a gay man myself, I know how desperately I need real physical connections with people, especially men. And I also know how difficult it is to find that in the LDS culture. The LDS doctrine may be true, but wow... LDS culture is honestly corrupt in some ways. So if they have innate needs, that aren't being met in the church, where can they turn? Well, to romance of course. That's what our culture dictates. If I need a hand to hold, I either need to be a young and cute child, or I need to be romantically involved. If I go to church and hold hands with my male best friend, the assumption for most would be that we are romantically involved.

     I think I understand now why I've heard some LGBT members of the church say they need to leave the church otherwise they'll take their life. I can't speak for people, but I can't help but feeling that maybe they're right... not in the sense of doctrine, but culture... they have innate physical needs that they need met in order to be healthy, but culture dictates that they can't have it unless it's romantic and sexual... so they leave. And I honestly don't think I can say I blame them anymore... I used to. I used to be judgmental of those who left, but I think I understand now... at least part of it...

     Do I want people to leave the church? No. I feel sorry for them. Really, I do. They should have been loved, they should have been shown that they mattered. As a church that claims to represent Christ, we should be completely loving. Not just accepting. I think accepting is less of an issue in our culture (though still an issue). I think love is where we lack. I don't feel comfortable asking for hugs from my ward, even from my own bishop sometimes. That shouldn't be the case. I should feel comfortable approaching members of my ward and expressing my needs. I should likewise be willing to meet the needs of those who express them to me as far as I am able.

     Now I want to point out that agency is most definitely a factor. I don't believe life should be all rainbows and butterflies. Membership in the church can be hard sometimes, there will be trials of our faith, and the actions of the members around us should not dictate our spiritual journey and well-being... at the same time, however, we desperately need love in our congregations.... Sometimes I feel the need to shout it from the pulpit, but I really don't know if it would change anything... The change needs to start with me. I need to be someone who expresses love to those around me, the same love I always craved, but rarely received. If I don't, there's little hope of me changing anything.

     Just a couple weeks ago, I was sitting next to someone in my ward who is comfortable with physical touch. It was so nice to have someone I could sit next to in sacrament meeting, and give a back scratch to. I could see some members squirming in discomfort in seeing the display of affection, especially when we were in elder's quorum. But you know what? I'm thankful I had that opportunity. He's out of the ward for now because he left for college, but having someone I can be a cultural example with during church was a great opportunity.

     One other thing I just thought of that could be a great help to addicts, LGBT members, and really anyone with any kind of trials in their life, would be to stop the culture of shaming... the video mentions that shaming addicts doesn't help them overcome addictions, and often just exacerbates the issue. Couldn't the same be said for other situations? For me, I already believe I'm a horrible sinner and terrible person. I'm trying to change that false belief and hatred I have about myself, but it is never helped when people walk up to the pulpit and preach about how such and such are such awful sins, and how everyone needs to repent, etc. etc. etc. Don't get me wrong, these things need to be discussed. Repentance especially is a core part of the gospel of Christ. But I know about repentance, I know I sin and fall short... What I need is a hospital, a place I can go to be loved and healed, not ridiculed and simply diagnosed. Rather than talk about how addictions are awful and make you unworthy, let's discuss how to love addicts and help them come out of cycles. Rather than talk about how evil gay marriage is, lets discuss how to love our LGBT members and keep them active in the church. Rather than talk about how tea and coffee are terrible, let's discuss how to help each other become healthier, and maybe stop eating sugar-loaded foods at church activities.

     I've known other people in my life who have left the church because they felt persecuted and judged. I love these people. I want them to come back to the church. And while I don't know their whole story, I can't help but wonder if the persecution they felt led to a lack of connection which was then attributed to the LDS Church, and I really can't blame them for leaving because they were mistreated. Yes, you shouldn't let members dictate your testimony. If people in my life did, with the way I've treated people in my past, some of them likely would leave the Church, too. But that's not an excuse to be complacent. The culture in the church needs to change. We shouldn't just love people when they're going through a crisis, or when they're returning to the gospel... They should be loved always, because you never know when they may feel disconnected enough that they turn away.


     I really feel so strongly that I want to better connect to the people in my ward. I really want to make an effort to do it. I want to change culture, I need to change culture, even if it's just my own personal culture, if I have any hope of staying an active member. I need connection in my life, and I am so thankful for those I do have who are willing to give it to me. My best friend, my family, and especially God. I've struggled with loving people in the past, I struggle with loving myself, but in both areas I'm slowly improving. My desire right now is that everyone has the ability to feel connected and loved. Ideally this means people in your life love you coupled with the love of God. But I understand that's not the case for everyone, and I can only imagine how hard that must be, but I believe that God can make up the difference, and make it right somehow. Hold on. You are loved. Reach out to those around you. Show them that you love them, too. Together, maybe we can make this world a better place.

Much Love,
     Mitchell Clark.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Why I Violate the Honor Code *Updated*

*Updated 8/11/2016* Update is at the bottom of this post.


                Writing this post is potentially dangerous for me. As a current BYU-Idaho student, what I’m about to share and express, under current CES Honor Code, potentially subjects me to investigation, discipline, and expulsion. But this is important. So I’m writing it anyway.
                Today, I was reading a news article that talked about BYU and the recent letters submitted by LGBT groups attempting to persuade the “Big 12” from accepting BYU into their group. To be honest, I don’t really know what the Big 12 is, other than it has something to do with sports (which I don’t care about anyway). That’s okay, though. It’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is that the article quoted the BYU Honor Code. I’ve read the Honor Code before, I committed to follow it last year when I joined the Pathway program through BYU-Idaho. But the honor code was different then.
                The quote the article referenced is from the Homosexual Behavior section of the CES Honor Code that states: “Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.” (https://policy.byu.edu/view/index.php?p=26)
                I support and believe that sex in any relationship outside of a marriage between a man and a woman is wrong. I support and believe that acts of self-pleasure by means of pornographic materials, masturbation, etc. are wrong. I support and believe that members of the same sex intentionally or knowingly engaging in romantic or sexually arousing activities is wrong. And if the Honor Code specifically forbade engaging in romantic or sexually arousing activities and left it at that, I would have no issue whatsoever. I’d be supportive. I’d defend BYU and their right to believe and enforce such beliefs. But they completely crossed the line by saying “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings” are wrong. Not just morally or socially, it goes deeper than that.
                To make sense of this, let’s first define homosexual. According to Merriam Webster, the simple definitions are 1) “sexually attracted to people of the same sex” and 2) “based on or showing a sexual attraction to people of the same sex”. Real quick, I want to define the word “sexual”. According to Google’s generated definition, “sexual” means “relating to the instincts, physiological processes, and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate physical contact between individuals.”
                Next, let’s define physical intimacy. This is where it gets interesting. According to Wikipedia, Physical intimacy is “sensual proximity or touching. It is an act or reaction, such as an expression of feelings (including close friendship, love, or sexual attraction), between people. Examples of physical intimacy include being inside someone’s personal space, holding hands, hugging, kissing, caressing, and sexual activity. It is possible to be physically intimate with someone without actually touching them; however, a certain proximity is necessary. For instance, a sustained eye contact is considered a form of physical intimacy, analogous to touching.”
                According to the CES Honor Code, used by BYU, BYU-Idaho, LDS Business College, etc. Simply being attracted to men in even a mildly sexual way means that ANY form of intimacy between them and myself is a breach of the Honor Code that subjects me to discipline and potential expulsion. When I hug my best friend who is male, I am breaking the honor code. When shaking the hands of men in my ward, I am breaking the Honor Code. When I am sitting directly next to a male, even if I’m not touching them, I am breaking the Honor Code. When my dad hugs me, I am breaking the Honor Code. When I get a priesthood blessing, or am doing baptisms for the dead at the temple, I am breaking the Honor Code. I could name endless examples of how I break the Honor Code every day of my life.
                I am going to be honest… I have defended BYU in the past. I have believed in and supported the Honor Code. I have tried to help people who have misunderstood it. But I’m pretty sure I am not misunderstanding what I just read. I did the research, I looked up definitions. I went to the source. And to be totally frank and honest, I am shocked and disappointed, even angered. I feel little loyalty towards BYU right now. If I knew about this change in the Honor Code, I may have honestly looked elsewhere for schooling, and I may still tell others who are considering BYU to look elsewhere. But, on the other hand, I am thankful I am enrolled right now, because I am going to do whatever I can to get this grave mistake corrected.
                Right now, according to the Honor Code, if you are a gay, bisexual, or even a heterosexual who sometimes admires same sex peers bodies or personalities, you must live your life as a college student as an outcast. You cannot let anyone of your same gender look at you for prolonged periods, have deep intimate conversations with you, sit next to you, and certainly not touch you. According to the Honor Code, you must completely isolate yourself from every single person of your same gender. If you are a man, you can never receive blessings, you can never be baptized for yourself, or for the dead, you can never shake your bishops hand, you can’t even look into your bishops eyes. Are all of those things not obviously ridiculous and even blasphemous? They obviously weren’t for whoever wrote that part of the Honor Code…
I usually hate using the word discrimination, because I feel like in today’s culture it’s often a misused and abused word. But I’m going to use it. I honestly feel like the current Honor Code is discriminatory to any student or staff member who experiences same-sex attraction. I feel the Honor Code does not at all represent how Christ lived His life, or how we should live ours. I feel the Honor Code is incredibly damaging and isolating to a group of people that need a lot of love and understanding. I feel that the Honor Code needs to change.
To be honest, I feel that the same blanket statement they used to severely limit social, spiritual, and physical interaction of same sex attracted individuals should also be applied to heterosexual people. After-all, what the Honor Code is banning for same sex oriented students and staff isn’t all sinful in nature, so why not apply the same to everyone? That way, at least, it couldn’t be labeled as discrimination against any specific group. Maybe heterosexual students shouldn’t be allowed to be physically intimate with one another. Maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to shake hands, or hug, or cuddle, or look into each other’s eyes. After-all, those things could potentially be arousing, or could be done with sexual motives in mind, right? I don’t think heterosexuals would be very happy or accepting of a rule like that.
                To recap, if I am at all physically intimate with another man, simply because I am same sex attracted, and even if our intimacy is nothing more than a hand shake in greeting, I can be expelled from BYU. If Christ Himself came and hugged me, I could be expelled. But if I was heterosexual, and shook the hands of other men, cuddled with other men, hugged other men, so long as I wasn’t attracted to them, and they weren’t attracted to me, there would be no Honor Code violation.
                As a gay member of the Church who attends BYU-Idaho, I’m expected to go out of my way to avoid ANY interaction with men. If I follow the Honor Code, I can’t shake anyone’s hand at church, unless they’re a girl. I can’t look at my bishop, or the Sunday school teacher. I can’t sit next to anyone in Elder’s Quorum. I probably can’t even take the sacrament from the person passing, because I’ll be too close to them in proximity. I better never perform baptisms for the dead again, either, because I’ll be breaking the Honor Code…
                But I’m feeling vitriolic right now, I’m feeling betrayed, I’m feeling discriminated against and mistreated…
                I’m not going to follow that part of the Honor Code. I’m going to fight it. I spent too many years of my life denying myself any physical interaction with men. It destroyed me from the inside out. I need men in my life. I need physical, emotional, and spiritual affection from men. I don’t need sex. I don’t need romance. But I do need love. I spent too many years suffering by keeping myself from it. I spent too many years lying to myself and those around me. I spent too many years attempting to conform to toxic Mormon culture that isn’t even consistent with doctrine. I’ve spent too many years experiencing those pains, and I will not allow myself to do it again because of some blasphemous Honor Code.
                Next time I see my best friend, I’ll be sure to give him a big hug, tell him I love him, look him in the eyes, and just enjoy the closeness. Because I love him. Because I love myself. Because I love God and the gospel. And because when I am intimate with my best friend, or other men, and even with some women, I feel closer to God. And I need to feel close to God.


                Since this post was probably really controversial, and I was fairly vitriolic, I just want to make clear that this post is in no way anti-Mormon or anti-LDS. This post isn’t even anti-BYU (yes, even though I did say I may have chosen a different school and tell other people not to go). This post is “anti-one sentence in the Honor Code I take issue with”. I still very much have a testimony of the LDS Church. I have a testimony of God and Christ. I have a testimony that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, and the apostles here on the earth today are ordained of God. This post was not meant to erode, damage, or destroy anyone’s testimony of the church. I wrote this post out of love and concern. Once I hit “Publish”, this post is ultimately out of my hands. I cannot control my readers, what they think, feel, or do about my post. I just want to make it clear that my intentions are to advocate for the church, even for BYU, not against.


                If you want another post to read about this same subject, check out my friend’s blog post on it. He’s usually more eloquent than I am, and he’s also usually less vitriolic and more patient and loving in his posts. Plus I already read his post and thought it was great. http://gaymormonguy.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-byu-honor-code-bans-hugs-handshakes.html



*Update* I called BYU-Idaho today inquiring about the section of the Honor Code about physical intimacy. When I called in, I was connected with a woman who said she was willing to answer my question. So I told her the section of the Honor Code in question, read it to her over the phone, told her I'm same-sex attracted and also a faithful member of the church, and proceeded to ask her if, because I am same-sex attracted, I cannot hug, shake hands with, or even receive a blessing from another man. She told me that her thought of it would be that no, those things wouldn't be a breach in the Honor Code, despite the blanket statement of "physical intimacy", but she told me that she wasn't 100% sure, so she offered to transfer me to someone higher up, but I don't think she told me what is position was, so I don't know how "high up" he was, or if he really had the authority to translate o explain it correctly.
Well, when she transferred me, I guess it went to the wrong person, because they transferred me again. When I got in contact with the person I was meant to be transferred to, I posed the same concern and question to him. I read him the sentence in question, told him I’m gay, mentioned what physical intimacy entails, and asked him if, as a student of BYU-Idaho, I’m breaking the Honor Code any time I hug, shake hands with, look at, sit next to, or even receive a blessing from another man. He basically told me that those situations aren’t really what that sentence is meant to cover, and that most likely, it wouldn’t actually be a breach (at least in his personal opinion). I asked him if that meant the statement revolved more around intent, and he said yes. He told me that, in his eyes at least, the statement more applies to same sex individuals who are romantically or sexually involved, or who are displaying affection publicly (or privately) to prove a point or express romantic/sexual desire. With what he told me at first, it sounded like he believed it had more to do with intent.
As a follow-up after his explanation, I told him that I have a best friend who is male that I am very close to. I told him that I hug my friend, that we put our arms around each other when sitting together, and that we even hold hands (though not usually in public), and asked him if that would be considered a violation. He told me that hugging my best friend, and putting my arm around him was fine. He said he didn’t feel the Honor Code was attempting to erode close and healthy friendships. But with the hand holding, he said if someone found out, there would likely be an investigation. He told me that because other students would likely interpret it as sexual/romantic, or feel uncomfortable about it culturally, that action would likely be taken against it. I finished by confirming with him that it’s mainly involved with intent, and he confirmed this. But I still have concerns…
With what he said about hand holding, that because other student would interpret it as sexual/romantic, or feel uncomfortable about it, that’s just opening doors for discrimination, misunderstanding, isolation, and further toxifying the culture at BYU schools… While I appreciated him saying that it was based more on intent, and in specific cases like that, they would talk to the student about it before deciding anything, I still feel the wording in the CES Honor Code is very dangerous, especially when he added in the variable that other students’ cultural feelings and expectations can be forced on a same sex attracted student, even if that student had no intent to be sexual. And with how corrupt and ignorant some LDS members still are regarding issues like this, I see it posing a real issue… While I appreciate the guy I spoke with at BYU-Idaho for being more understanding than what I expected, I don’t think this issue will be anywhere close to resolved until the wording is changed.
I have to give that guy credit, though. I was there when David called BYU (Utah) about it, and I heard their conversation. David wasn’t lying in his blog post when he said the guy literally told him that any physical intimacy is unacceptable between members of the same-sex if one of them is homosexual. The guy I spoke to was much more understanding and looked at the spirit of the law. Maybe BYU-Idaho is just a nicer, more understanding place than BYU? Or was their answer influenced by the fact that I brought up receiving priesthood blessings as potential violations under the current wording? Either way, I don't think the guy I spoke with had significant authority to explain, interpret, or change policy, and was more-so just sharing his opinion.
Regardless, the Honor Code needs to change. I will keep looking for ways to fight it and get it corrected. Hopefully it was just someone ignorant who wrote that part of the Honor Code, and hopefully that someone, or someone else, will realize the danger that sentence poses, and be willing to change it. I still stand by everything I said in my blog post. I was thankful for the man I spoke with at BYU-Idaho, but while that conversation helped me understand his point of view, it did not validate my concerns about the cultural dangers of such a policy, nor did it give me an answer as to why it's worded that way. Hopefully God can help soften hearts. Including mine.