Depression, homosexuality, and understanding.

I have fought depression. I understand what I have experienced. The feelings I have had and how it has effected my life.

I remember a moment, years ago, when I was driving down the road in my jeep. There came a feeling in my hands and a thought so piercing it took me by surprise. It was as though my arms wanted me to jerk the wheel into a large telephone pole, and my thoughts wanted the same.

This wasn’t the first time I had felt that. One time it was to pull me into oncoming traffic but I couldn’t put someone’s life in danger. My belief in God literally saved my life in those moments. I knew that hurting someone was wrong, and that taking my own life was also wrong in the eyes of God. In the words of Job:

The Lord Giveth, and the Lord Taketh, blessed be the name of the Lord.

It wasn’t for me to play the role of God. His view is greater than mine. In proverbs it says:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy paths.

I learned to trust in the Lord and he has given me strength through the years and now I have a wonderful family, have never been in a wreck, and have seen many happy days. Does that mean I still don’t fight and struggle and have bad days, absolutely not. But it means I have power and strength to follow God, strength that is greater than mine, through Jesus Christ.

Social norms and Sam

This article isn’t about me, or depression, this is about my view of God and understanding and living with each other. Social norms are and interesting thing. When a majority of people start to believe and act in a certain way it becomes accepted. A person or group can be at the root of the change. Two examples are the World Wildlife federation and Adolfo Hitler. Both have tried to raise awareness to their ideals, both have done outreach and gathered supporters. Both had people who felt the cause was right. One took life, and one is saving it. Both were socially acceptable to their target group. We know that one was morally incomprehensible, the other morally noble.

There is a concept for the Japanese Air Force in WWII, kamikaze. It was an aircraft loaded with explosives to where the pilot was flying a deliberate suicidal mission to take out the other forces. They were giving their lives in, what was to them, a cause more important than their lives. That was something, at that time, was socially good.

In our culture we have a medal, the Purple Heart. It is awarded to those who are injured or killed in battle. The highest honor is the Medal of Honor, and, more than any other act, is awarded to those who have thrown themselves on a grenade to save the lives of others. Killing yourself, in some instances, is noble in our culture.

What if it became socially acceptable to commit suicide?

I don’t know what may cause it because it is so socially unexceptable currently. There was a time and are still places where premarital sex, divorce, and drinking alcohol are each socially inexcusable, and now, against my hopes, are not.

For the sake of this article I am not going to worry about how, but just assuming suicide has become socially acceptable. What might hat mean?

There are many people that have depression, and that is real and I know and understand that, but if it was socially acceptable and at times socially desirable, who else might see themselves as depressed?

For example, let’s look at Sam, who is a teenager. Sam is a leader in sports and smart in the classroom. He is well liked, smart, and has a bright future. He also feels a lot of pressure to perform. He feels that if he doesn’t lead the team to victory or doesn’t get an ‘A’ he see that he has failed. In Sams mind he is stuck, he is under lots of pressure and can’t take it anymore. Today we hope he will seek for help, he will ask for aid, he will look for overcoming or sidestepping these pressures. In this fictional world, where suicide is socially acceptable, when he seeks for help he is told to take his life, that that is ok, and that he will come out better in the end. In the movies he sees it, messages given in media and medical advice all points to the same conclusion. There are a few voices pleading to hold on, but those are dismissed as old fashioned and needing to keep up with the norms of society.

Sam has no biological problems or imbalances, he has no depression, he is just hitting a moment of stress, and through social pressure and messaging, he takes his life.

Tying depression to homosexuality

I know this is where, if anyone reads this, I am going to get some responses that are truly hateful, but that is the purpose of this article, about hate and understanding.

Let’s move Sam from battling stress and suicide and move the situation to homosexuality.

This is no longer hypothetical. Sam has been taught that marriage is between a man and a woman, that the purpose is to raise a happy family through a sacred union between husband and wife, and teach them to follow Christ. He is still a leader in sports and in the locker room sees other boys and feels a curiosity inside of him. In asking about this curiosity he seeks help from those around him. He hears social messages of homosexuality and is told by friends, media and medical advice to explore that curiosity. Like above he has no biological difference or premonition towards homosexuality, but society is pushing him towards that.

It is easy to see, when talking about suicide, the harm that can come through that fictional, but plausible, social pressure. It is harder to see it, for some, when talking about homosexuality.

Bringing together, last thoughts

The core issue is that one side of the argument sees a social risk the other side does not. One has fought hard and long to be socially recognized. The biggest problems comes when the side that has been fighting starts fighting against people instead of for their cause, and the side defending their long held values sees an enemy rather than a child of God.

This issue is particularly challenging because there is no neutrality. Either society will bring influences toward homosexuality, at times enforcing it through the courts. Taking away the ability of people to control what influences they allow into their lives. Forcing compliance to beliefs they cannot support. Or society will reject homosexuality and will deny the same rights that allow freedom of religion to those who feel homosexuality is correct in their beliefs.

I believe the best home has a father and a mother, I believe that with all my heart and will defend that point of view, but I also believe a man can believe in what they feel is right. I believe that a person cannot, and should not, force their beliefs on others.

Can’t we see that they are the same rights for both sides of this issue? Joseph Smith, the Prophet and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said:

The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a ‘Mormon,’ I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.

If we remove the right and freedom of expression for religion in one group we are destroying that freedom of expression from all. In which case atheism has become the state religion. And we are probably already there.