Matt Walsh: Humans are more valuable than dogs
Matt Walsh: You're wrong to love dogs more than humans
Me: Bite me
Matt Walsh: I would kill every dog on the planet to save one human
Me: Go to hell
The classic debate of dogs vs. humans rears its ugly head once again. On the one hand you have disgusting, unintelligent creatures that frequently attack for no reason, and on the other hand you have dogs. Why do I love dogs more than humans? Maybe because dogs aren't the ones who bullied me every day throughout my entire childhood. Maybe because dogs aren't the ones who rejected me from their society and whispered about me behind my back. Maybe because dogs aren't the ones who expect me to conform to their unspoken, arbitrary, stupid norms of behavior and condemn me when I can't. Okay, so, maybe one dog is worth less than one human, depending on the human. I wouldn't kill one dog to save Kim Jong Un or Joseph Kony or Donald Trump. Actually, there's literally nothing I would do to save any of those humans. If all I had to do to save one of them was lift my pinky finger, I would superglue it to a table. And I would kill any human to save every dog on the planet, and if it didn't matter which one then I'd be the first to volunteer for such a noble cause.
I realize these come across as strong words. Let me add as a counterpoint that I love many individual humans I know in person or via Facebook and that my heart breaks for people I've never met who are suffering and that I try to help them by donating to humanitarian aid and advocating against Donald Trump. But don't tell me I'm wrong to prefer dogs.
I spoke in church last week. It went very well. First, of course, I had to open with a couple of jokes to reduce my nervousness level from paralyzing to merely crippling. And people laughed at those and also at three other things that weren't meant to be funny, so I came across as hilarious. That wasn't quite my intention because it was a rather serious topic. Oh well. I also had the opportunity to publicly thank whoever put paper hearts all over my door, because I'm 100% sure they were from church and, via the evidence and process of elimination, 99% sure of which ones they were. And the actual topic, "Finding Comfort in Christ", was so good that the Spirit poured out in abundance and tricked people into thinking I'm a good speaker. Suckers!
Critiquing a Mormon Blog Post I Recently Read
Dustin Phelps recently published a post called "Actually, the Mormon Position on Gay Marriage is Stronger Than You Think" that is much broader than gay marriage per se and seems determined to snuff out what little desire I have to get married myself. He wrote:
"[People claim that] 1) A hope for romantic attachment is a basic human need, and without such a hope, people are doomed to a miserable existence. 2) Romantic attachment is foundational to marriage and is 'necessary for a functioning marriage.' Those arguments seem persuasive in a world mesmerized by romantic media. But here’s the problem: for 99% of human history, people lived in a world where romantic love had virtually nothing to do with marriage (source). That’s right. Western notions of romantic attachment developed over the last few centuries, and the way our society defines it and obsesses over it is a fairly recent phenomenon (source)."
These facts are accurate. But for 99% of human history, people lived short miserable lives, so I see no reason to assume they were right and we're wrong. (Yes, millions of people still live short miserable lives, but even so the vast majority of the world's population is better off than they would have been a couple centuries ago.) We no longer need to get married at 16 so we can crank out two dozen babies so that one of them will survive to adulthood, and I don't see a problem with that.
"What we seem to have forgotten is how radically individualistic our society has become. Our world celebrates romance because it is one of the supreme expressions of individualism. But for most of human history, there was no room for such an expression. Most of our ancestors lived in a world where a person’s duty to his family or her community superseded everything else. Social and economic circumstances required a level of interdependence far greater than anything we can imagine today. Under those circumstances, the pursuit of romantic love was viewed as a social danger. It threatened a person’s commitment to communal values and distracted from more important matters (source)."
Yes, and because those circumstances no longer exist in any first world country I fail to see their relevance to anything. Why should I give a crap about the values of a community that doesn't want me to be a part of it? A quote from Kevin McCarthy as R.J. Fletcher in "UHF" seems appropriate: "The community? Let me tell you something. This community means about as much to me as a festering bowl of dog snot!" Well, actually I do very much love this beautiful little town, but it can butt the heck out of my nonexistent love life. Let me tell you, though, if I was made to understand that me getting married would somehow bring about the collapse of society, I would start doing everything in my power to make it happen.
"As society became increasingly obsessed with romantic thrills, the institution of marriage became increasingly unstable. People started believing that they were depriving themselves of true happiness if they stayed in a marriage that proved to be less than the dreamy fairy tale they expected. If you met someone who sparked your romantic flame, you were being untrue to yourself, not to pursue that new love interest (only to have the cycle repeat itself…because romantic love isn’t real love at all)... It’s one thing to use the infatuation period we call “falling in love” as a pairing mechanism. It sure beats having your parents arrange your marriage, but we’ve convinced ourselves that romantic love is more than just a way of bringing two people together. We’ve come to believe that it is the bedrock of marriage."
Brother Phelps seems to believe that romantic love is mere infatuation, which is nonsense. It has been scientifically and anecdotally proven to evolve into another form after a year or two of marriage, and anyone who thinks they'll be the exception is wrong, but it shouldn't disappear altogether. Yet he is correct that it shouldn't be the foundation for marriage. I have believed for a while, albeit with no experiential knowledge, that friendship should be the foundation for marriage because it is more likely to endure through the decidedly unromantic experiences that constitute most of life. And yet it is by no means sufficient on its own.
"[M]arriage is not predicated upon romantic love. It is built upon sacrifice, strengthened through pain, and rooted in longsuffering. Its essence is selflessness and its core is commitment. That’s not as sexy as a Nicholas Sparks novel, but I guess the truth isn’t always sexy. Paul taught spouses to love one another, 'even as Christ loved the Church.' How did Christ love? Not with the glazed over eyes of a lover, but with determination, dedication, commitment, charity, and sacrifice. It is sacrifice, motivated by charity, that lies at the true foundation of an Eternal marriage - and the very essence of the Gospel itself. By Christ’s sacrifice are we saved, and by our own sacrifices are we exalted. My wife and I bring each other happiness through romantic attachment, but I would be far from surprised to learn in the next life, that marriage is bound merely by the pure love of Christ, rather than the dopamine rush of romantic thrills."
I'm willing to sacrifice for lots of people. In theory I will someday have the pure love of Christ for all people. That doesn't mean I want to live with them forever. I'm failing to understand how marriage has any meaning or appeal whatsoever under this paradigm. Why arbitrarily pick one person to be stuck with? Why not marry the entire human race if romantic love has little or nothing to do with it?
"And I would not be shocked at all to realize that sexual orientation was only a mortal means of ensuring that men and women procreated. After all, there’s nothing in scripture that gives the impression that sexual attraction is anything but a mortal experience."
I actually hope this is correct. I have no sexual attraction in this life and really don't want to gain it in the next one. And of course, sexual attraction is neither synonymous nor interchangeable with romantic love.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.