Friday, December 25, 2015

The True Color of Crows

In my hometown in California, our high school played host to a murder of crows. I remember my English teacher asking me to go outside and throw a rock on the roof to try and dispel the gathering of loquacious birds, who despite my best efforts would return only a few minutes later. During lunch I’d watch them swoop in for a dropped french-fry and then settle on a branch, cawing in triumph.

I loved their glossy black color. I would search for hours for a dropped crow feather, though I never did find one. When I entered college, I was shocked to learn that crows are not black at all; they are ultraviolet. Humans have only three kinds of cones in their eyes, which means we can only perceive color from red to violet; everything beyond that just looks black. Light is still reflecting off the surface, but it is of such high or low frequency that our eyes just don’t register it.

This got me thinking about a passage in the scriptures: Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter (Isaiah 5:20, 2 Nephi 15:20). Many have this attitude in the recent political debates over gay marriage and the place in general of homosexuals in society. Prophets are warning that we are legalizing evil. To quote Elder Boyd K. Packer, “when you put a moral instrument on it, the needle immediately flips to the side labeled ‘wrong’” and “even one who is spiritually immature ought intuitively to sense that such actions are wrong, very wrong” (“To The One,” 1978).

But what if gays aren't dark after all, but  a kind of light most people can't perceive? What if they are ultraviolet? The funny thing about birds is that they have 4 or 5 cones in their eyes, allowing them to see into the ultraviolet range. In textbooks they represent this with bright colors, but in reality these birds look and see in colors that are beyond human imagination. No human has ever seen the true color of a crow. But other crows can. What if straight people can only see gays as black, and only other gays can see their true colors?

Perhaps this is why we can’t seem to see eye-to-eye on this issue. I believe that the leaders of the Church are called of God, and I also believe that they are imperfect mortals like me. I believe that they receive revelation, but this revelation is contingent on their readiness to receive it and is filtered through their own mortal perceptions. If the Church ever changes their policies and doctrine on homosexuality, it will be through revelation, through the proper channels God has established. But it may be that the revelation was already there, and it only took a shift in perspective to be able to see it.

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