Ty Mansfield shared something that is worth consideration. He wrote an article in which he deals with some of the controversial attitudes about sexuality in the modern world. The idea that mankind may have natural feelings that need to be expressed without limit or hesitation is something that is rising in popularity today more than ever before. As a counterpoint to some of these attitudes Mansfield stated:
There seems to be this assumed idea that because a feeling or impulse or desire is “natural,” it must also therefore be good or morally acceptable. “Natural” does not necessarily equate to good or desirable. The only thing that “natural” means is that feelings, desires, and impulses naturally manifest themselves within a given set of circumstances. Regardless of whether something shows up naturally, it may still require the exercise of inherent agency to channel, control, manage, bridle, or educate. Psychiatrist M. Scott Peck stated in his book The Road Less Traveled: “The tendency to avoid challenge is so omnipresent in human beings that it can properly be considered a characteristic of human nature. But calling it natural does not mean it is essential or beneficial or unchangeable behavior. It is also natural to never brush our teeth. Yet we teach ourselves to do the unnatural until the unnatural becomes itself second nature. Indeed, all self-discipline might be defined as teaching ourselves to do the unnatural.” 1
Even the natural desires and affections we have that are essentially good are still vulnerable to all of the distortions inherent to life in a fallen, mortal world, and, as President John Taylor taught, “want sanctifying.” He stated, “We have a great many principles innate in our natures that are correct, but … like everything else, (they have) to be sanctified. An unlawful gratification of these feelings and sympathies is wrong in the sight of God, and leads down to death, while a proper exercise of our functions leads to life, happiness, and exaltation in this world and the world to come. And so it is in regard to a thousand other things.” 2
Christian biblical scholar N.T. Wright has similarly observed:
We have lived for too long in a world, and tragically even in a church… where the wills and affections of human beings are regarded as sacrosanct as they stand, where God is required to command what we already love and to promise what we already desire. The implicit religion of many people today is simply to discover who they really are and then try to live it out- which is, as many have discovered, a recipe for chaotic, disjointed, and dysfunctional humanness. The logic of cross and resurrection, of the new creation which gives shape to all truly Christian living, points in a different direction. And one of the central names for that direction is joy: the joy of relationships healed as well as enhanced, the joy of belonging to the new creation, of finding not what we already had but what God was longing to give us. 3
This is a segment of an article by Ty Mansfield entitled “Homosexuality and the Gospel” in a book entitled A Reason for faith: Navigating LDS doctrine and church history (Published by the Religious Studies Center, BYU, Provo, UT, in cooperation with Deseret Book Company, 2016),p. 209-210.
- M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (New York: Touchstone, 1988), p. 52-53.
- John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom: Selections form the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, Third President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, collector’s edition (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987), p. 61.
- N.T. Wright, Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), p. 219.