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Reportedly the FAIR website will post Byrd's paper in its entirety sometime this month.

Perhaps it's enough of a spiritual connection to exclaim, "Oh my G*d!" at an appropriate time.

I have to say that I'm highly dissapointed that Ann's URL -- which includes a subdirectory called "newordermormon" -- led to a message board for disaffected LDS.

Here I was ready to talk '80s New Wave. I mean, I'm one of those undiscriminating fans who actually likes "Movement."

Kind of tangental, but does anyone find it more than a little ironic that the big "bands" for Mormons of the mountain west and California in the late 80's and early 90's were typically bands that were gay and who's songs were very concerned with the social issues homosexuals face? New Order, Depeche Mode, Erasure. I'm 99% sure that most of the kids dancing to these songs were actually fairly homophobic and would have bust a gear had they known what the songs were about.

Yikes! Those bands were gay??!! Time to have a CD-burning party! (Just kidding).

Wow, this post has been TOTALLY hijacked, Dave.

Did Mormons in the '80's listen to "Personal Jesus"?

To add further proof of my total lack of shame when it comes to exposing myself online: I find righteous men very sexy. It's a turn-on when a man has the holy spirit. As for the actual sex, I wouldn't know.

I often wondered about that homosexual 80s dance bands and mormon affinitiy for them. I just figured most LDS teens outside Utah feel awkward and alienated because they can't fit in, so they relate to the bands who sing about feeling awkward and alienated. Anyone have a better idea?

I guess the title of the post should have been, "Music, Sex, and Spirituality." Of course, any two of those three seem enough for an interesting discussion.

Ann asked, "Did Mormons in the '80's listen to 'Personal Jesus'?"

Yup, as well as "Losing My Religion."

Lyrics? What lyrics? ;-)

What I thought was funny, as a child of the 80's, was that Van Halen *couldn't* be played at church dances because it was heavy metal but Madonna *could* and so could Billy Idol's White Wedding. (Yeah, local control - guitars were evil - this was before Madonna's in your face publicity cruise with her later albums)

Yes, when a band's big hit is "Runnin' With the Devil" the local leaders get a little spooked. At least "Like a Virgin" and "White Wedding" seem to be sending the right signals (at least if all you read is the title) to impressionable youth.

Grashopper has got it right.

When I was a priest, I once explained to one of the laurels in my ward that Depeche Mode's song "Halo" was basically a song about a dude trying to get his girlfriend [Hey, they may have looked gay, but the guys in DM were supposedly straight -- after all they had that video that showed them making out with girls] to forget her religious qualms and go to bed with him.

Her response: I don't listen to the lyrics.

I was also amazed by the fact that Erasure's "A Little Respect" -- with it's line "What religion or reason could drive a man to forsake his lover?" -- was incredibly popular at church dances when I was a teenager (late '80s). Part of the answer, I think is that most of us only listened to the chorus -- and, of course, asking your boy/girlfriend to give you a little respect is part of the whole drama of teenage dating.

Of course, the thing that puzzled me most is how many of my fellow LDS youth listened to Erasure (and Depech Mode) and Chicago (and Journey) and the latest EFY (and Afterglow) album.

I, of course, was a post-punk/new wave snob who sneered at soft rock and LDS pop.

I remember a Sunday School class in which the team instructors (a married couple in their early 20s) cited "Losing My Religion" as one of the most evil songs on the radio and the video as worse. They said it was advising listeners to literally "lose their religion," i.e., become atheists and commit all sorts of wickedness.

The debate over the "real" meaning of song is found all over the web.

I'm pretty opinionated when it comes to music ... and it's a little hard for me to figure out how people can listen to music and not pay attention to the lyrics. There was a rap song on the radio the other day and my wife was kind of grooving to it... then I pointed out what the guy was actually saying and she hastily changed the channel. I was just kind of grinning...

I guess I'm guilty of something worse. Often I know what the lyrics are and I _STILL_ listen to the song.

"Did Mormons in the '80's listen to "Personal Jesus"?"

Still do. ;-)

"They said it was advising listeners to literally "lose their religion," i.e., become atheists and commit all sorts of wickedness."

Despie the fact that it is nothing more than a colloquial saying meaning "cursing" or "at the end of your rope".

Ahhh...good ol' ignorance. ;-)

To go even further down a tangent, I've noticed that some (many?) Mormons tend to treat music quite different from literature. I recall doing the ride wall thing and driving up to Canada for Christmas with this kid and I put in some Johnny Cash. Well his famous song Delia's Gone evoked a bit of anger for me listening to a song about a guy murdering his wife. I tried to explain that authors and artists often speak from the point of view of a bad person to portray evil acts as evil. I then tried to point out that the guy ends up in jail where he is haunted the rest of his life. No go. Kind of interesting.

It is a well-known Mormon folk doctrine that sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll are the root of all evil. Music, under the general term "rock," is presumed to be evil. Literature is presumed harmless or at least obscure.

To take Clark's offhand comment one level deeper, it's worth noting that sex, drugs, and rock (as a type for all youth music) are all "sins of the young" or a type of mass market sin directed at youth culture. They are thus a great target for adult moralizers to moralize about. The sins that generally beset adults (pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed, sloth) get less attention. I'd even put gluttony, greed (if proceeds are properly tithed), and anger (if "righteous") on the list of Mormon virtues.

While I think there is a perception that sex, drugs and rock and roll are all temptations of the young, I'm not sure that is true. With more and more single adults, I think these things are a temptation for many. Further even us "old fogies" go to rock conerts. Heck, I was in a mosh pit just a couple of years ago even though I was in my early 30's.

Still, perhaps they are less of an issue for the "settled married folks with kids" that make up many in wards. I don't think, however, that the sins of these people are ignored. Pride is constantly harped upon, both in conferences but also over the pulpit in most regular wards I've been in. Anger, especially within families gets a *lot* of attention. Gluttony probably doesn't get as much as it ought (especially given the obesity problems of America) but I've heard it mentioned. Greed, especially connected to unrighteous business practices is oft mentioned in most wards I've been in here in Utah. Indeed I've noticed an unfortunate assumption among most that any who are rich somehow were unrighteous.

Re Clark's Johnny Cash comments:

I wonder if those same people burned their Kingston Trio records? I mean, come on -- Tom Dooley!

Previously Posted by the Starter of the Thread: "Whether an individual is religious or not, there seems to be a need for a spiritual connection when dealing with sexuality." So says a U of U med school psychologist at the recent FAIR conference, as reported in a story at BYU NewsNet. I am trying to think of survey questions that would provide support for this proposition: Do you feel a sudden need to pray during sex? Do you find your heterosexual urges strengthened when viewing religious art or singing hymns? The article is a bit sketchy--I suppose that's understandable for a BYU NewsNet article on sexuality. Even so, it still seems a little half-baked to me. But I'm sure it brightened up the FAIR conference.

Ken Responds: So "that" explains why I'm 34 and still single--and yes, that would mean I'm also a--Gasp!--"virgin"! Heck, here I thought that intimacy was supposed to be about "connecting" on "multiple" levels (including the spiritual level) with one's partner. Boy, have "I" ever been naive!!! It really "is" just about "exchanging bodily fluids"--about satisfying "biological urges"--then? Man, have I ever missed the boat! Can you say "'Peter Priesthood' seeks 'Molly Mormon'"?

Gosh-Almighty! It makes me wish I woulda gone to BYU when sneaking away to Vega$ for the weekend and getting married so you could do The Old Hippity-Dippity "without" quote-endquote breaking the law of Chastity (and later having the "marriage" annulled) was "en vogue"!

"Spiritual connection during intimacy"? Whoever heard of such nonsense!

Ken, nice comments. Two responses. Point one: If I were forced to layout my own theory of sex in 25 words or less, it would go something like this: Plainly, there is a deep emotional connection in a sexual relationship. And there is something like a strong spiritual component to marriage, whether religious or secular. But I think conflating the two and saying there is a deep spiritual component to a sexual relationship is to mislabel one's categories. Not having read the FAIR speaker's full remarks, I can't really delineate my agreement or disagreement with his thesis. My remarks were intended to convey curiosity about the data, if any, on which he might have founded his pronouncements, and the odd notion of a bunch of zealous religious apologists sitting around the FAIR Conference listening raptly to a discourse on "Sex and Spirituality."

Point Two: 34 is young.

Previously Posted by Dave: I think conflating the two (spirituality and intimacy) and saying there is a deep spiritual component to a sexual relationship is to mislabel one's categories.

Ken Responds: You "compartmentalize" in a way that I find hard to do. I can't imagine sharing myself with someone on that level physically while holding back from her spiritually or emotionally. (Yes, I know that isn't the "Confession" of a "Typical Male," but I'm far from typical--assuming such a creature even exists. Like I said, "'Peter Priesthood' seeks 'Molly Mormon'" . . .)

I'm not saying that every intimate encounter necessarily has a spiritual dimension. You don't often (hopefully you never) hear someone get up in a testimony meeting and equate ("conflate," to use your term) physical intimacy and spirituality. But let's face it: if you don't have a close spiritual connection with someone, it's hard to elevate intimacy with that person above the level of "biological urge satisfaction," "bodily fluid exchange," or--God Forbid!--"business transaction"!

In my view, the closer one is on a spiritual level with someone, the more satisfying the physical relationship. I certainly "hope" there's more to intimacy than "mere procreation"! (Even the Brethren would agree with me on that score). The two species on the face of the Earth for which intimacy is used "recreationally" are dolphins--and humans. We're "supposed" to enjoy intimacy--and not just because it drives us to "perpetuate the race"!

"Men [and women] are that they might have joy." Intimacy brings joy into marriage like nothing else I know (according to the married people I know ;), and it's not just about the "Endorphin rush" from "consummating" the encounter. It's about sharing yourself with that person in a way that you don't share yourself with anyone else.

Your vision of equating intimacy and spirituality by turning an intimate encounter into a Church meeting--"Honey, I think we should, well . . . you know . . . too, but first, will you say the opening prayer, after which our opening hymn will be number . . ."--and so on, is not at all what the researcher is suggesting. Instead, the idea is that the closer a couple is spiritually, the more apt they are to enjoy intimacy, and the more apt they are to enjoy intimacy, the more closer they're apt to be spiritually.

Previously Posted by Dave: . . . the odd notion of a bunch of zealous religious apologists sitting around the FAIR Conference listening raptly to a discourse on "Sex and Spirituality."

Ken Responds: Why is that notion so odd? Because "apologists" are--or are supposed to be--asexual? Because scholars are? Because there aren't any "uniquely Mormon" truths about sexuality and intimacy? Because those truths are somehow "less worth defending" than the other truths of the Gospel? Because we're all supposed to be so busy "sustaining and defending the faith" that we don't have time for anything else? ;) I don't know how you would answer any of those questions, but I would answer them all "No," so if you think about it, maybe discussing intimacy at an apologetics conference--particularly a MORMON apologetics conference--isn't so "odd" after all.

Okay, let's try another angle Ken. Marriage is a flexible institution--how "spiritual" a marriage is, or a relationship, or even a physical relationship, varies from couple to couple. So by briefly sharing my view I'm not really critiquing anyone else's. I wish nothing but the most fulfilling relationships for you and every other reader, however each may define it for their own marriage/relationship/friendship.

I do find it odd that you use the terms "emotional" and "spiritual" synonymously in reference to relationships, marriage, and intimacy. I'm not sure how you (or the FAIR speaker) would describe a "spiritually meaningful physical relationship" any differently from an "emotionally connected physical relatinship."

Although, to be frank, this wasn't a topic I was really intending to explore in depth. The piece on the talk at the FAIR conference was just something I ran across when looking for something to blog about and was written rather tongue-in-cheek. So if you are a big FAIR fan, don't take offense. Hey, when sex comes up (generally in veiled terms) at General Conference, I perk up and listen, so there's really no serious criticism of FAIR intended.

This conversation reminds me of an exchange between teacher and student in a BYU "Philosophy of Body, Mind, and Spirit" class:

Teacher: I have a hard time thinking of God as a sexual being.
Student: I have a hard time thinking of God as a non-sexual being. Can we conceive of non-sexual people?


Sigh! I guess my views are irredeemably odd--at least to the cynical and jaded, or at least to the learned and urbane! ;) I guess maybe I am simply naive, but if I have to become learned and urbane, let alone cynical and jaded, to ever get married, I'd rather stay naive and single, thank you very much. ;)

Why does it seem like we--me, and apparently everyone else on the thread--are talking past one another here? I thought we were starting with something in common in terms of belief and/or conviction, but perhaps not. How do you view me? Am I just one of those "unenlightened" members of the Church who is unwilling to accept the realities of "Sex and Dating in the New Millennium"? I can't divorce intimacy from marriage, but it seems from the tone of your posts that you are more willing to do that . . .

It sounds to me like your attitude is a bit more practical (Dare I say "cynical"? No offense!): "Hey, True Love is fine, if you're into that kind of thing, and if you can find it, but if not, what's really all that wrong about taking what you can get . . . ?" I'm not judging you; the Acme Judgment Company offered me a job with a great salary and terrific fringe benefits, but I turned it down because I felt I wasn't qualified. ;) I'll leave Judgment to The One Whose Right it is to Judge--we do both believe in Him, don't we?

Why is it so odd that I use the terms emotional and spiritual interchangeably? To use an "apologetics" example, Born-Agains (Evangelicals) "rag" on Mormons because of our reliance on the Witness of the Spirit because from the Mormon perspective, that Witness involves positive "emotions." Evangelicals, on the other hand, distrust such emotions because they believe Satan can counterfeit them; in fact, they believe this is exactly what has happened with Mormons and that as a result, we have been deceived.

Are Evangelicals really right to be so skeptical of a Spiritual Witness? If "the Spirit" and one's emotions are really so separate and discrete, why does the Doctrine and Covenants say that when we receive the Witness of the Spirit, we shall FEEL that it is right? Is the Spirit something that's "fine--for Sunday and 'Church stuff'" but is somehow supposed to be aloof from matters involving marriage and intimacy--in all its varied forms, sexual, spiritual, emotional, etc.? I'm no Spiritual Giant, but if that really is your view, that concept is utterly foreign to me. Again, I guess I just don't know how and why it is you seem to "compartmentalize": is it because we have less in common than I thought with respect to belief and conviction?

I think the problem is that "spirituality" is a vague and broad concept. Within LDS circles we tend to tie it to a more narrow range of religious areas than is probably apt. Further we tend to link too closely spirituality and The Spirit. However spiritual has a much broader sense, which is why so many people can talk about being in nature as a spiritual event.

I think given the broad sense of the term in our culture that sex is spiritual in its socially normative performance. When one moves out of that sense, such as say some player at a Club having sex with as many women as possible, it isn't spiritual. Yet that very change from spirituality is part of why society judges the act wrong.

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