Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sophistry



Sophistry:
1.a subtle, tricky, superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning.
2.a false argument; sophism.

In Church on Sunday there was a discussion of "sophistries", relating to the arguments or teachings of the world that seem very true at the surface, and yet subtly false at the core.

One brother gave an example: "BE TRUE TO YOURSELF!"

Now, over the course of the last 9 months of blogging, I've heard this advice countless times given to myself and others regarding the importance of accepting the essence of being "gay". And to not be true to oneself (one's gayness) because of outside pressures of religion, tradition, culture etc. is completely wrong; to deny oneself of his basic sexual identity, leads only to self-hatred, unhappiness, and self-inflicting angst and misery.

To a great extent, I do believe this - particularly when it comes to beating up on oneself, hating oneself, wanting to cause harm to oneself. I've been there / done that, and it isn't a good place to be. To come to terms with the truth of oneself is a GOOD THING.

This brother said further. "Being true to oneself - sounds good, sounds right, sound irrefutable. But being true to oneself over what IS right and good, is wrong. It's a subtle thing..."

It has made me think a lot this week of my coming to terms with "who I am" and "being true to myself". I am more than my sexual orientation. I have thoughts and feelings, spiritual promptings and revelations, experiences and knowledge gained from life's trials and experiences that make me who I am as well. I need to be true to myself when all of these other parts of myself tell me otherwise to NOT act upon these very real, very powerful, very consuming passions I feel toward guys, and a couple of guys in particular. I need to be true to my married self. I need to be true to my family self. I need to be true to my religious self. I need to be true to my sexual self.

As these various selves combine and conflict with each other, I find the axiom of "being true to yourself" ringing hollow. There's got to be something more to live for! There's got to be something that IS true, and right and good for all aspects of myself, not just one aspect of myself.

I don't want to judge anyone who has chosen against this line of thinking. These are my thoughts. I don't know where I'm even going with this. I feel like I'm Jimmy Stewart in "It's a Wonderful Life" where he makes the deal with Mr. Potter and shakes his hand to draw up the papers for a lucrative job and career move - and then looks down at his hand and becomes creeped-out by what he just did...

It just doesn't feel right FOR ME, to live my life by this axiom of life. As much as I want to kiss a guy and make love to a guy doesn't mean necessarily that I should do it. Does it? Be true to yourself - maybe should be "Be true to truth."

Aww... but there's the rub... what is truth?

It's not sophistry!

18 comments:

Thrasius said...

Interesting thought on truth and sophistry, thanks. I saw your comment on my blog, thanks. I don't think that hiding my homosexuality from myself is a viable option anymore. I tried it long enough, but those days are over. I am so grateful for that. But I look up to the experience that others such as you have, and am trying to learn as much as I can from it.

Gay LDS Actor said...

You make some very valid points. It's hard to find the balance sometimes, I'm sure (I know it was for me), but it's true there are a lot of "selves" to be true to. I guess ultimately you have to do what you believe is right and what will bring you the most joy and happiness, and whatever you determine that to be, don't ever let anyone try to convince you otherwise. It isn't the same for everyone. I guess the real trick is figuring out what it is that makes you the happiest.

Kengo Biddles said...

I have always looked at it as being true to my immortal soul, and if I'm true to what God made my soul to be, I know I'll end up in a good place.

Loyalist (with defects) said...

In my mind I hold the ideal of who and what I want to be. At the sametime I take a full assessment of my current standing. Then as many of the AA treatments teach pray to change the things I can, accept those things which cant be changed, and the ability to know the difference.

KB says is best - be true to ourselves we wish to be.

Sophistry is a dangerous weapon. We as a society us sophistry in nearly every portion of our lives. We are bombed with "shock and awe", and pacified with plausible deniablities. Advert jings fill our minds as we watch tv. It is very easy to deceive ourselves with it all.

Chris said...

I've always understood "Be true to yourself" to mean "Live a life of integrity." I see no sophistry in that.

santorio said...

being 'true to yourself' doesn't mean elevating every part of your personality to non-changing permanence and acceptance.

integrity: are closeted gays by definition not integral? or does integrity meaning that you actually live the moral standards that you profess in public, which leaves room for a certain amount of privacy

Chris said...

santorio,

I certainly believe that a closeted existence inhibits integrity. That said, only the individual can determine for himself to what extent that is true. Culture, faith, religion, existing relationships -- all of these things play a role in forming our identity and all have influence in how we align with our sexuality.

For what it's worth, while I agree with the sentiment that I frequently hear from other Mormons that sexual orientation is but one aspect of the self, it is a very significant and far reaching aspect of self. It influences how we interact with others and is the driving force behind our ability to show and share intimacy with others. In other words, sexuality is about more than self -- it's also about other.

Scot said...

I’ve never been one to think such a slogan helpful. As others have already pointed out, it can mean anything to an audience from hopping upon on a gay parade float, to campaigning against gay rights, to doing both.

No, I think everybody should be true to myself. Now there's a slogan I can back ;-).

Elbow said...

"Be true to truth." ABSOLUTELY! I hate to think that my own personal beliefs are not based on reality/truth. Living in the now, and being true to yourself are equally important, and none of them can be satisfied without true to what is the truth. "Oh say what is truth"...that's my problem, what is truth. We can't all be right!

Beck said...

Wow! I appreciate all of the feedback. I am trying to understand the points raised and the "truth" behind the various opinions.

But, I'm still kind of left with Elbow in thinking that if everyone is true for himself, then what am I left with - no absolute truth? Is there no final answer?

I know I'm going down a road that is dangerous in trying to have it both ways in some senses, and that isn't very absolute, but it's a survival technique I've used for years. In some ways I do lack integrity because of my choices, but honoring the good choices I've made and having integrity for what I feel is "true" sometimes "trumps" the other "selves".

So I'm back to Elbow's statement: We can't all be right!" Can we?

Chris said...

In what ways are the truths we are adhering to in conflict?

Beck said...

I'm working under the precept that there is right and wrong, there is moral authority, there is truth from a higher authority than "myself". I know that I am fallible and so being "true to myself", though it may feel right or make me happy, may be in conflict with unfallible sources of what "is right" or what may be "true joy".

Chris said...

What is "true joy"?

Beck said...

True joy: a Godlike happiness and love.

Now, can this be achieved with "Him" in my arms forever, or with "them" (wife and kids) as an eternal family and posterity surrounding me forever? Is my view of the afterlife so "tainted" by my Mormon vision that I can't see any other way?

Chris said...

What is Godlike happiness and love?

I'm not trying to be annoying, I promise. I've wondered about this for years. And more and more I find myself wondering why we try to judge other people's happiness or determine whether or not the joy and happiness they feel in their lives istrue.

Beck said...

I'm not judging anyone here (particularly you Chris) other than myself! I am trying to work through this for myself! I have had these core beliefs in my head for so long that they are a part of me as much as my understanding of "who I am" with my sexuality. And when they don't jive I get these internal questions of my own regarding "truth" and regarding "joy" and regarding "right and wrong" and regarding "integrity" and regarding "happiness" etc. It forces me to question all notions of "truth" that I believe in.

It's like a friend once told me that I needed to get a handle on my own coming-to-terms with being gay and then let my belief system follow where it may after that.

I don't know where this is heading, but I feel I "know" certain things to be "true" and feel that I should be living and being true to that "knowledge".

Chris said...

Beck, I'm sorry if I'm coming across as aggressive or critical. I think you are sincere, and I can sometimes feel your inner conflict oozing out of your posts. I have never felt judged by you at all. You're one of my favorites!

I have, however, felt judged by a church and a culture that profess to know the one way to true joy and happiness and dismiss any evidence that such a path doesn't seem to work for some people. And I'm thinking not just of gay people. My former wife, for example, has many of the same issues and concerns. We all have to work these things out, and many of us will make mistakes along the way. Ultimately, I think it comes down to what I wrote about a week or so ago on my blog: conscience. What does the still small voice say? And are we able to block out all of the noise (from the Church, from the gay community, from family, from friends, etc.) to hear it?

Beck said...

Chris: Thanks for your response. I love your thought process and respect the steps you have taken as you have gone down this similar road! Believe me, you are one of my "favorites" as well.

I concur that the way for each of us to find that path of "truth" is to learn and listen to the "still small voice"!