Friday, March 6, 2015

I hate it when people go into armchair confrontational therapist mode...

Yesterday, I was on RfM venting about a situation that arose in my online life.  Someone in the Vents group posted this photo...

I had seen this before.  Someone on RfM posted it some time ago.  I'm absolutely certain that the Web site this appears on is satire.  However, there are a number of religious groups out there that are against masturbation.  Mormons are one such group that discourage members from "self pleasure".  I brought up the fact that they have some weird ideas about masturbation and included Mark E. Peterson's steps to overcoming masturbation.  I did not include a link to Boyd K. Packer's  "To Young Men Only" pamphlet.

Someone not familiar with Mormonism assumed I was "Mormon bashing", which I guess I was.  She thought this was an "extreme" teaching within the church.  It was obvious to me that she doesn't know anything about Mormonism and thought what I'd posted was something bizarre from a "fringe" group or something.  I have run into folks like these before.  In fact, I used to be one myself.  I was so open-minded about "beliefs" that any criticism I heard about religion offended my sensibilities.  

It also turned out that there was an inactive Mormon in the group who had not heard of these teachings.  Things got awkward fast.  I suppose I could have written all I know about this subject, but I figured it would open a big unpleasant can of worms.  That particular group is supposed to be fun, so I apologized for bringing it up and said I thought it would be best if I didn't comment more on the subject.  I had a feeling it might be embarrassing or hurtful to the inactive Mormon, whom I actually like.  She seemed shocked enough by Mark E. Peterson's thoughts.

But I was a bit troubled by the incident, mainly because our culture is so hyper-sensitive to religion and "respect" for other peoples' beliefs that even when you express a valid concern about potentially harmful beliefs or practices, people are quick to label you a bigot.  So I was on RfM lamenting about that and some guy comes along and goes all into confrontational therapist mode.  I was immediately reminded of a guy I met (and could not stand) when I used to attend Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings.

Until last night, I had never even interacted with this person and we don't know each other at all, yet he was brazenly telling me how I handle people in my personal life and accusing me of not being assertive.  Unfortunately, this happened just as I was about to go to sleep, so it got me all riled up.  That made falling asleep more difficult.

I called the guy (I'm assuming it was a man who confronted me on my alleged "wimpiness") an asshole.  He came back and said "You're willing to call me an asshole.  So stand up the same way to people who call you a bigot."

My response was, "That's right.  I am willing to call you an asshole.  Do not assume you know how I deal with people in my personal life.  This isn't an intervention and you are not my therapist."  I think he assumed I am a people pleaser.  He assumed wrong.

While I certainly think it's worthwhile to discuss harmful beliefs with people who don't know any better, there is a time and a place and an appropriate style for every confrontation.  Just coming out and assertively attacking people and/or their beliefs isn't effective because when you do that, people assume you're just an irrational hater.  I don't hate Mormons.  I hate Mormonism.  I have very good reasons for feeling the way I do.  I have already shared the video below on this blog, but it bears repeating.

Mormon Mission Pres Allan Pratt On Masturbation!! von samueltheutahnite

"Self-abuse" is bad, y'all.

Now... I do know that there are forward thinking religious folks out there who have more evolved opinions about masturbation.  In fact, last night I even found a very good blog post written by a Mormon therapist who expressed an enlightened viewpoint regarding what some church members call "self-abuse".  But I have seen enough evidence out there that there are a lot of religious people who think jerking off is sinful.  In fact, even today, someone on RfM posted a link to a Web site that offers "treatment" for excessive masturbation.  What's really sad is that this particular "program" is geared toward teenagers.  

Can a person be addicted to sex or porn?  Maybe.  I would imagine that if you spent all your waking hours viewing porn and jerking off and you spent your money on porn rather than paying your bills, you might have a "problem" with sex addiction.  Masturbating more than two or three times a week does not, in my opinion, constitute an addiction.  But the people at the LifeStar Network seem to think that having a healthy, normal sex drive is grounds for entering treatment.

Anyway, I know that some people think I am "bigoted" for hating Mormonism (and frankly, a number of other religious "isms").  There's nothing I can do about that.  This opinion did not form in a vacuum, though.  I have good reasons for feeling the way I do.  

The photo that appears above is kind of shocking.  It's obviously intended to be funny.  However, the reason it's good satire is because there are enough people in the world who actually believe that masturbation needs to be "stopped" because it's sinful, selfish, and "dirty".    

When I think about all the people who have been shamed about masturbation, it makes me angry.  When I think about all the people who have been taught that sex and sexual feelings are "sick" or "dirty", I get pissed off.  But I don't think confronting every religious person I know about this issue is the right approach.  That doesn't mean I'm a "wimp" or lack assertiveness.  Trust me.  I'm very assertive when I have to be.  And I sure don't need some random dude on an Internet message board to call me to "accountability" for not vociferously decrying religion at every opportunity I get.  There's a time and a place for everything.

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