Thursday, October 30, 2008

Proposition 8

By Joe Vogel:
"In late 2002, as President George W. Bush began building his case for preemptive war in Iraq, a remarkable thing happened. In contrast to the general timidity of American churches in response to the conflict in Vietnam, leaders of faith were speaking out. Observed the Reverend Jim Wallis at the time:
 
Opposition to war with Iraq has come from a wide spectrum of the churches - Roman Catholic, Protestant denominations, Evangelical, Pentecostal, black churches, Orthodox. All of the statements, letters, and resolutions from church leaders and bodies take the threat posed by Saddam Hussein seriously, but they refuse war as the best response.
 
Importantly, these church leaders are not making their decision based on whether or not they approve of President George W. Bush - some do and some don't. Rather, they are doing so on the basis of Christian theology and moral teaching.
  One notable exception to this dissent: the Mormon Church. 
  The LDS Church's cautious official response to the war (one of the most consequential decisions in recent American history) and near-unconditional subsequent support for the Bush Administration (in 2005, Dick Cheney was awarded an honorary doctorate and invited as the commencement speaker at BYU, the Church's flagship institution), raise important questions about the Church's involvement in political affairs, particularly when an issue has moral/ethical implications. When should it speak out? When should it stay neutral? And how does it treat its members with minority views?
  Nearly six years and thousands of lost lives since the war began, Mormon authorities still haven't weighed in on Iraq, Abu Ghraib, or Guantanomo Bay. Neither have they directed semi-annual Conference addresses to the genocide in Sudan, human rights violations caused by multi-national corporations, or climate change that could have devastating effects on future generations. Instead, in the past few months they have decided to take action on a "moral issue" of a different sort: denying gay couples the constitutional right to get married in California."
[continue reading]

40 comments:

Aaron said...

There's more to this issue than equality. Equality already exists, the church is very supportive of equality and human rights. What the church has taken a stand against is the legal implications of homosexual marriage. For more info check out some of the resources I linked on my Prop 8 post, or watch the BYU forum address from last Tuesday where Robert P. George of Princeton made some excellent points in regard to homosexual marriage. http://www.byub.org/devotionals/

Torben B said...

"equality already exists" :)

Will said...

Wow. Good on Joe.

The church's history on these issues makes my heart hurt.

Hbernbubb said...

'equality already exists'

Aaron, I have to disagree with you. The church certainly takes a loving and respectful tone, for which I am grateful, but I don't think loving the sinner and not the sin is the same as equality. Within the church we are taught that our salvation and perfection can be found within the family and marriage relationships, but homosexual brothers and sisters are asked to remain celibate if they cannot squelch their same-sex tendencies. Still, although I disagree with it, the church should be allowed to make these decisions for its membership.

But I take issue with the church trying to prevent homosexual people from having legal protection and recognition for their families. Sexuality between two consenting adults is essentially a private and moral issue. It seems antithetical to agency and the plan of salvation to prevent people from making those choices.

In addition, I think the legal arguments and examples that are being used to defend this stance are specious and the exception rather than the rule. Catholic priests are not forced to marry non-Catholics, Rabbis are not forced to marry people who aren't Jewish, etc. I believe the courts will and should support churches when their right to free worship is challenged. However, two wrongs do not make a right. The church should not suppress the rights of those who choose to live differently because they might file an unfair suit against the church or any other church. When I read the example of the florist, I was more torn. Let me just say that at first I thought she should be allowed to refuse someone service, but then I also had an uncomfortable picture of separate drinking fountains and I wasn't so sure. Perhaps that is rightly one for the courts to determine.

Finally, the other major agument being put forward by the church (other than it is just bad and will destroy families, which is never fully explained) is that kids will be taught that homosexual marriages are legal and normal. So what? Kids are going to meet families that have parents that are divorced, parents who live together and are not married, families that drink alcohol, coffee and tea, families that have a parent that smokes, and families that don't go to church. Families with two mommies or two daddies will be just another example of people who have chosen to do things differently. It is up to parents to decide how much interaction children have with those families with different morals and up to parents to explain that we have chosen to do things differently because we believe that is what Heavenly Fahter wants us to do. Teaching children tolerance and that gay marriage exists is not a bad thing, they probably already know.

Aaron -- this lengthy post (rant) was not wholly directed at you. I'm afraid you are getting the full force of my ruminations on this topic over the last few weeks.:)

Dave & Shandie said...

Will Prop 8 become the new Plessy v. Ferguson? Are Mormons going to end up looking like current day segregationists a hundred years from now?

Aaron said...

As far as I know, homosexual couples are afforded the same rights as married heterosexual couples under the title of "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships." That's what I meant by equality already exists. The only difference is the title. Giving homosexual couples the title of married seemed ok with me at first and I was all for it, but then I started thinking about it more and realized that there are serious legal implications with homosexual marriages being made legal by the state. One is that homosexual marriages with be protected by law, meaning that religious institutions who teach against homosexual marriage could find that the void between church and state isn't that wide. Many examples of this are already seen, especially in Massachusetts. Dr. George from Princeton who spoke at BYU this past Tuesday at the forum address mentioned a Methodist church that owns a pavilion in which they perform marriages for their congregation and lend it out to members of the community. A gay couple asked to use it, the church declined them of this because it was against what they believed, that marriage was between one man and one woman. The state got involved and to make a long story short that methodist church lost its tax-exempt status.

My tithing funds could be taxed because there is no way the LDS church will perform homosexual marriages. The thought of tithing money being taxed makes me ill to my stomach.

There are many other examples of legal implications of homosexual marriage being legalized that attack the schema I have of what a family is. I don't like the idea of homosexual marriage being taught as equal to heterosexual marriage. That to me is a moral issue and children should not be taught things like that especially without parental notification (which is not given in MA).

Also if you research the main spokes people leading the homosexual agenda you can see that equality is not the ultimate goal. The goal is to attack religion, to attack morality to attack the traditional family.

I wrote a lot on this topic in a Hmong forum recently, check it out for more of my opinions. http://forums.hmoob.com/showthread.php?t=61962

look at post #17 and #19.

If you don't agree with my position, or others, in opposing homosexual marriage, that is fine. However, I would hope that you at least understand where I am coming from. To say I oppose it without reason, and that I am a bigot, a hater, etc. (not that anyone here said that, but may be thinking it :-) is so misinformed. I've sat on the other side of the aisle and once believed that homosexuals should have the right to marry. Why not? Well, I now oppose it because of the direction that would move us toward and which elitists are already pushing for.

Aaron said...

also, any LDS person who has unresolved issues with the church's stance here should at least read this article: http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/the-divine-institution-of-marriage

It may not clear up all (or any) of your issues, but I think it makes the church's position more understandable.

Hbernbubb said...

Aaron-

You have clearly thought a lot about the issue and I don't think and did not mean to imply that you were misinformed or bigoted.

I read the article you refer to on LDS.org several weeks ago and looked at it again before my comment above. I have not had time to listen to the devotional and I will do so when I can carve out an hour.

Just a few thoughts:
*Domestic parnterships do grant many rights, but not anywhere near the more than 1,300 rights given to married couples.
*California law only requires that children be taught respect for the institution of marriage, not explicitly 'gay marriage.'
*The school districts do allow parents to take their children out of class during sex education.
*I have read a great deal on the subject and have not found an anti-family or anti-religious mission to be the norm against opponents to Prop 8. That is not to say that those extreme opinions don't exist. There are a myriad of reasons, but most of them are concerned with equality and a belief that the right to marriage is like the right to freedom of speech and religion.

Aaron said...

I am no legal expert, I was told by an old room mate of mine (who is in law school) that the only difference between heterosexual marriages and homosexual civil unions was the title. I could be misinformed though.

Another thought I have on this issue of equality is whether or not equality is even justified in regards to marriage. Research strongly supports the fact that children's development is optimized in a family with two parents (mom and dad) involved in their upbringing. The whole reason family units exist is for this purpose, to bring up children. The speaker at Tuesday's forum mentioned how even the pagan Plato observed that there is more to marriage than just love, but that a literal union of flesh occurs. I don't think that it is coincidence that only heterosexuals can produce offspring naturally.

I guess what I'm pretty much trying to say (I have never really been good with words) is that maybe another way to look at this is to ask "does evidence support that homosexual unions are equal to heterosexual ones?" Just like scientific theories have to be put through peer-review, etc. in order to be taught in public schools, perhaps more research should be done with homosexual couples in order to ascertain whether or not such a union is indeed equal. Then maybe it could be taught as equal, accepted as equal and promoted as equal. For now I think science, logic, and nature favor the traditional family.

I am curious which rights are given to married couples which are not given to homosexual couples. The only one I can think of off the top of my head would be adoption.

Dave & Shandie said...

Aaron asked for legal expert information, so here he goes...There is no need to worry, Aaron, because i'm sure that 10 years from now, 10 years after prop8 failed, the mormon church prophet will receive "revelation" saying that it's now ok to be a gay mormon, just like they did with black mormons in 1978 and polygamy in 1890. It's a very Darwinistic religion (irony intended).

Hbernbubb said...

I don't believe there is any way we can quantify things like equality and love. Furthermore, I don't think there is any way we could quantify or objectively analyze whether my love for my husband is greater than or equal to, for example, Torben's love for Marissa. Nor would I want to, it is not my place to judge or place a value on other people's relationships.

I am not a legal expert either, so I've been doing some fact-checking on the legal arguments put forward by the Prop 8 people and in the BYU devotional, particularly the case of the Methodist Church. Here is the link: http://www.mormonsformarriage.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/mat-responses-to-six-consequences-if-prop-8-fails-rev-1-1.pdfPavilion.

Hbernbubb said...

Sorry, I didn't realize I'd deleted half of my last sentence. The link is to an article written by an LDS lawyer that explains the facts of the cases put forward as evidence for Prop 8. I have done some additional fact-checking and found him to be very credible. Please check it out.

Torben B said...

i'll post his article on my blog. i stumbled upon it a few weeks ago and have been meaning to post it.

Aaron said...

There was a rebuttal to that "BYU professor" (who is apparently just a guest lecturer or something like that). I found it interesting when I read it a couple weeks ago. I put a link to it on the Other post.

Hbernbubb said...

O.K. I've checked out your legal expert and then found a rebuttal to that from Thurston and it goes on and on. Here is what I can say with some authority -- various lawyers are interpreting the law differently. Just as we are interpreting the moral implications of Prop 8 differently. (On a sidenote, I have started getting serious flashbacks to the whole intelligent design debate; the tactics and logic are amazingly similar. Although, I think anything to do with sex in this country elicits stronger feelings -- as it should be. But I won't digress into a tangent about my experiences up close and personal to that whole thing)

What I can say is that I am deeply grateful that our disagreements are being carried out on a blog and in the voting booths and not with the violence that has marked most religious disagreements of the past and present. I am opposed to Prop 8 because I believe that the cornerstones of our religion are love and agency. I have prayed sincerely about this and I feel that the actions being taken essentially violate those principles. But I respect and understand that others of my faith do not believe as I do and believe they are following the prophet and that he has recieved revelation for our day.

Again, I am grateful that we can have such differences. I believe passionately in the separation of church and state. My belief has only intensified living in England as I've been to see so many cathedrals and holy places that were defaced and destroyed during religious disagreements. Thousands of Catholics and Protestants lost their lives and I sometimes think that Americans have come to take the blessing of the separation of church and state for granted and do not realize how essential it is to protecting our religious freedoms. LDS, of all people, should not have such short memories of the violent consequences that occur when someone in power does not like your religion. I have faith that our first amendment rights are vital and will endure to protect the church's right to teach whatever it wants about marriage. But with that right comes protection for the rights of others and we should not be afraid of that. As Joseph Smith said, 'I teach them (men) correct principles and let them govern themselves.'

Dave & Shandie said...

I took a Law & Religion class this past summer. It covered all the major US Supreme Court and State Supreme Court cases involving religious material. There was one dominant theme throughout the textbook and our lectures: that American Mainstream Christian religions receive exemptions from laws that affect their religious practices nearly 100% of the time. Other religions and fray Christian religions do not follow this trend. It is only mainstream Christian religions that get exempted on almost everything. So, even if the arguments involving the legal implications of gay marriage are true, there is no way the courts would not issue exceptions for the various mainstream Christian religions, especially with Scalia and Roberts on the bench.

Grabloid said...

Aaron,

I can't help but think that the issue runs far deeper for you than simply 'legal ramifications'. I think that you are disguising the issue. Your view that homosexual marriages should be civilly separated (by title), but then also somehow civilly equal has the same inherent problems as racial segregation...("separate but equal"). I encourage you to review that paradigm and see how well it has worked out in the past.

Your arguments that a homosexual marriage somehow impinges on the sanctity of heterosexual marriage are flimsy, and not at all based in real issues or argument. As far as I can tell they are only based in the rhetoric of the Mormon church and its leaders. The state of marriage in the Mormon faith is still firmly in the control of the Mormon organization...unaffected by the civil marriage of homosexuals.

So, the discussion of legalities seem inappropriate to the core issue here. Joe Vogel's arguments in the article talk about how the LDS church needs to accept same-sex marriage as a social reality, not switching their own personal moral/religious views and practices about it. Joe also rightfully shows how, in the past, Mormons have been far behind the times with civil rights issues. And as an institution, the Mormon church is better off accepting this as a social reality sooner than later. If you think Prop 8 is going to do away with this issue then you are painfully mistaken. This is a civil rights issue that won't disappear, just as race issues are constantly being reconfigured and redetermined.

Additionally, something that religious folks will have to wrestle with is that diverse sexualities have been shown to have a strong basis in human biology, this has even been admitted by the Mormon church. With this in mind the phrase "Hate the sin, not the sinner" breaks down dramatically as there is no longer the distinction between "sin" and "sinner". In other words: if homosexuality is biologically determined, it is not extraneous to the person...the duality between sin and sinner collapse. Therefore, a more nuanced discussion will have to be formulated when dealing with issues of homosexuality if religious folks aren't willing to incorporate them as equals.

And finally, if you don't see diversity in sexual orientation as a civil rights issue, then you are in the realm of homophobia. Homophobia runs deep in this country, and it is bubbling up from under the surface. Intolerance for diverse sexuality is on par with racism. You have to allow for real equality, and the "separate but equal" paradigm that you are holding is far from that.

I'd encourage you to stop doing the dance with unclear diversion of legal implications and face the core issue straight on. I'm looking forward to a response and further discussion.

Grabloid said...

p.s.
Your assertions and worries that legalizing same-sex marriage will carry on an influence in schools and other institutions in society presupposes that there is a movement of homosexuals and other groups spearheading a cause to convince others to become homosexual. THIS IS ABSURD! How or why would anyone be interested in trying to convince another person to espouse their own sexuality. That's would be like me trying to promote and project my sexual preferences, fetishes, "deviances" for feet onto others...ridiculous...why would anyone be interested in that?

And, lastly, concerning your worry about children's perception of homosexual couples - I couldn't agree more with HBERNBUBB's response to you, where she says (in the 4th comment in this thread...second to last paragraph): "Finally, the other major argument being put forward by the church (other than it is just bad and will destroy families, which is never fully explained) is that kids will be taught that homosexual marriages are legal and normal. So what? Kids are going to meet families that have parents that are divorced, parents who live together and are not married, families that drink alcohol, coffee and tea, families that have a parent that smokes, and families that don't go to church. Families with two mommies or two daddies will be just another example of people who have chosen to do things differently. It is up to parents to decide how much interaction children have with those families with different morals and up to parents to explain that we have chosen to do things differently........."

In addition to my post, I would be interested to hear your response to that.

Aaron said...

I think that you grossly misunderstand my position.

Of course there is more to this than legal ramifications. Wherever homosexual marriage has been legalized the citizens of those countries devalue marriage, less people get married, and this in turn has many detrimental effects on children, abuse, poverty. I am opposed to anything that would lessen the importance of something as valuable to me (and society in general) as marriage. Obviously I have religious beliefs which help shape these views, but I don't see that as bad, bias maybe, but not invalid. (http://townhall.com/Columnists/FrankTurek/2008/05/26/gay_marriage_even_liberals_know_its_bad)

Homosexual genes have been found. You're informing the wrong guy here, I am a scientist after all. That discovery doesn't change anything. There are genetic components that cause me to have a strong desire to have sex before marriage, with more than one woman, etc. does that make it right? I once read a scientific journal which had an article about another "gay gene" that was found, they proposed things analogous to your remarks. The very next month another article from a different author talked about a gene common to serial killers a "serial killer gene." They both have genetic factors does that mean we accept any behavior with genetic influence? Does genetic influence prove right and wrong?!

"Your assertions and worries that legalizing same-sex marriage will carry on an influence in schools and other institutions in society presupposes that there is a movement of homosexuals and other groups spearheading a cause to convince others to become homosexual." No, no, no, no, no! I do not agree with this at all, nor did I imply anything of the sort. I think that the article I posted on my blog and the link I posted above make the dangers of homosexual marriage being legalized apparent. You may not agree and I respect that, but I definitely have reason to think homosexual marriage being taught as equal to heterosexual marriage as a social unit who's primary purpose is to bring-up children is erroneous. As a scientist I firmly support research going into this issue. As of right now research supports the traditional family.

Now "separate but equal" is an unfair comparison in that it elicits memories of the civil rights movement. You're trying to make my ideas equal to redneck racists. Cheap. I have proposed that rights should and are granted to homosexual couples, they should be allowed to love, have sex, be open about it, hospital visitations, etc, etc, etc. Does that mean that they are equal to the traditional family??? Does that mean that is an ideal situation to bring up children (i.e. be defined as a marriage)?

You have apparently decided to turn me into a caricature, this close-minded Mormon who opposes social progress, science, and even equality.

Dave & Shandie said...

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it's probably a duck.

Grabloid said...

I haven't decided to turn you into a caricature, I don't even know you. I'm operating off of the substance of your arguments.

The articles you site are bona-fide propaganda and slanted rhetoric...do some research! For being a "scientist"...I haven't seen a coherent or rational argument on your part. You keep referring to these awful articles online that are just espousing a single view on the issue. That is hardly a basis for argument...you are deferring the support to your own arguments to someone else. I'd like to see you support your own points.

First: A quote from your last post: "Wherever homosexual marriage has been legalized the citizens of those countries devalue marriage, less people get married, and this in turn has many detrimental effects on children, abuse, poverty." --I'd be floored if you could provide a single example based on any kind of research that supports your claim. You are dead wrong there. Again, everything you've cited so far is straight rhetoric and propaganda.

Second: I never claimed that a genetic/biological basis categorically proves "right" and "wrong"...only that it does away with the polarized paradigm of the duality between "sin" and "sinner" operate on. Religious folks need a more nuanced approach to discussion on this topic now if they are going to accept homosexuality as being a biological phenomena.

Next, who is going to be TEACHING homosexuality to children as you claim??? Again, you are presupposing that there is some kind of movement that is promoting homosexuality. This is some kind of myth you are buying into. The existence of homosexual couples...whether or not they have some kind of effect on children has nothing to do with them being legally married, they will still exist as couples. Besides...I believe HBERNBUBB's comment that I copied pasted above dispels your arguments for homosexuals having some adverse effect on the development of a child...revisit her response to that...

And finally, I never said that you yourself were a racist...only that the paradigm of "separate but equal" is bound to failure...as that paradigm failed miserably with race issues...separate and equal are a contradiction in terms when you are talking about social groups. This is not a cheap accusation, but an apt comparison in viewpoints. Yes, I'm proposing that same-sex couples SHOULD DEFINITELY be on equal ground as heterosexual couples. And, yes, stable homosexual couples should have the right to adopt and parent children...why not? I still hold that your viewpoint is primarily homophobic.

And, on the Mormon subject: Mormons hardly have any kind of moral authority when it comes to conceptions of "traditional marriage"...uh..."traditional marriage" in the Mormon context is polygamist/plural marriage! The Mormons only began defining marriage being between one man and one woman in 1890...that's 118 years if we are counting...not a very long tradition.

Aaron said...

You're right that I've primarily researched sources from one side. Have you not done the same? Honestly? To be honest I haven't researched this issue that much, but have indeed relied on others research. The only thing I have done is give it some thought and post about it. I personally think my opinions on this post hold ground. Any argument can be made to look bad especially when there's only one person on my side... me. I am definitely a minority here being the only one in favor of Proposition 8. That said I think I'll agree to disagree with y'all. No hard feelings.

errin julkunen-pedersen said...

It seems like this discussion is at its close, but I can't help but chime in.
First, I can see how there may be no "hard feelings" on Aaron's part; Prop 8, is unfortunately, likely to pass, and its passing doesn't directly affect his family or marriage.
However, I would imagine that for those people who are struggling with the fact that their marriages are being torn apart by this.
Imagine the following scenario: You and your partner have been together for years. A decade even. You'd have been married long ago, but the government wouldn't recognize it. You feel that your love is something that is good and that God has sanctioned (let's remember, that just because other people don't think God believes in our love doesn't make it any less strong in your own eyes). Then, the government decides, "you know what? they are living in committed relationships, are consenting adults, love each other and want to be married. We will let them." So, you finally, FINALLY, get to marry the one you love. Then, a few short months later, people start saying to you, "Your marriage isn't sanctioned by my God, it threatens MY marriage, you're teaching MY children to be like you, so we're taking it away from you." How would you feel? Would you have hard feelings? I think that you might.
I think it is interesting that the offer of "no hard feelings" was made. While there are some on the side of gay marriage who are very angry (which they have EVERY right to be), I think more than anything, they are very, very hurt and saddened, which is something all together different.
I think an argument in favor of allowing gay marriage can be made on the basis of logic alone, but, since others want to bring religion into it, I can go there, too.
First things first: Your God isn't everyone's God. Plain and simple. Your beliefs aren't the beliefs of everyone else. That being said, what gives you the right to dictate how others live their lives based on what you believe God to have said?
Second: I think it is very important for us to remember that God's greatest commandment was to love one another. I think it can be very simply said by an LDS Church hymn, "As I have loved you, love one another...By this, shall men know ye are my disciples." How can we claim to be spreading the love of our Savior when we are doing something that so clearly shows a lack of love and understanding to those who are different from us? People are divided over whether or not homosexuality is a choice or whether it is genetic. I am of the belief that it doesn't matter. I have always been confused by members of the church voting on and choosing to have rules that take away the agency of another. If God thinks as harshly about this as people are claiming he does (which, in my opinion, doesn't manifest a God I would be comfortable in believing in), isn't it the burden of the sinner before God and not ours? All we can do is love. Legislating against it is not the Christlike thing to do.
I'm puzzled most by the inability of Church leadership and many of the members to see the irony in all of this. The very existence of the Latter Day Saints is based on marriages the government wouldn't recognize.
Maybe that's what all this is about. There's some sort of grudge being held over the fact that since we couldn't do marriage OUR way, nobody else gets to either (explains the struggle the church had with race, especially interracial marriage).
I guess more than anything, I'm a firm believer that we should do our best to not hurt others, in word or deed. I think that the best way to do that is to try and put ourselves in the position of the people who are being hurt by us, and see if we still really believe that our actions are for the best. I dare say we would not. We are amidst the greatest social struggle our generation will see, and I hope to be on the side that allows for love and acceptance of all people.

Grabloid said...

Errin - word to that! Very well said, and rather humbling (can I say that word without being a Christian ;) ?), especially so after a rather tense argument. I think you hit the nail right on its head.

Anonymous said...

I hesitate to make a comment here. Much has been already written. The voting is over. I am confident that the legal battle is only beginning. The ultimate constitutionality of prop 8 is not certain. Significant challenges may prove fatal to it.

I am inclined to engage in an academic debate. My personal research and study confirms my position. Yet converting others to a different view in these kinds of matters by rhetoric is misplaced. We live in challenging times. The "Osmond" era is behind us. The concept of being a peculiar people is being realized.

I have loved the insights that Neal Maxwell gave us. In our efforts to find peace in a world of chaos, consider his prophetic advice given 30 years ago at BYU:

"Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions. President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had 'never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional or political life.'

"This is hard doctrine, but it is particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ. . . . Your discipleship may see the time when such religious convictions are discounted. . . . This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions.

"Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened....Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some Skirmishes will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel. There will also be times, happily, when a minor defeat seems probable, but others will step forward, having been rallied to rightness by what we do. We will know the joy, on occasion, of having awakened a slumbering majority of the decent people of all races and creeds which was, till then, unconscious of itself.

Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves, 'summer is nigh.' Thus, warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat." (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Meeting the Challenges of Today," BYU Devotional, October 10, 1978.)

Jeff Walker (Torben's uncle)

Hbernbubb said...

Jeff, thank you for posting. I think it is healthy and certainly good to hear another perspective here. A couple of thoughts, you wrote that the ‘time of the Osmonds is over.’ The strange thing about that statement for me is that while we might have further estranged ourselves from the secular world, which we arguably have never been a part of, we have aligned ourselves much more closely with the conservative right. Exercising our political clout (through our impressive resources) in this way has certainly drawn us closer to Focus on the Family and the mega churches. For me, the views and methods of these organizations are just as dangerous as the far left or radically secular philosophies.

More importantly, as I’ve pondered and prayed about this issue over the last month and searched for answers, I also came across that talk by Neal A. Maxwell. I took his words to heart and I was troubled by their implications for the church and for myself. The church requires much of us. It requires that we sacrifice our time and talents; it requires that we give up worldly pleasures and subdue our natural man. I have done these things willingly and faithfully because I do feel that I have been given much. I have done these things because I felt that they brought me closer to the Savior. But I cannot sacrifice my conscience, which is wholly intertwined with my spirit and my testimony of the church. A testimony which is based on loving my neighbour as myself and a belief in the plan of salvation. We have been taught that the War in Heaven was fought over the principle of agency. Satan’s plan was to compel, the Savior’s plan was to allow us choice so we might grow and willingly return to our Heavenly Father. I think we are violating people’s agency by not allowing them the freedom to marry. It is one thing to teach that homosexuality is wrong within the church (something which I have admittedly struggled with, but ultimately been able to accept) but quite another to allow ourselves to be drawn into a political battle. I think it is assumed that opposition to Prop 8 and the church’s financial support is an intellectual exercise, perhaps a belief that we have been ‘imperialized’ by the ‘irreligion’ spoken of by Elder Maxwell. For me, this is not the case. I am against it because of what I have been taught about Christ. I am against it because I have been taught not to follow the prophet with blind obedience, but with faith and when I have exercised my faith and prayed about the issue, I have not received a witness. The choice laid before me is to choose the church’s witness over my own and I find that I cannot do that.

Elder Maxwell’s talk was written in 1978. A pivotal time for the church. The prophets have never fully explained why blacks were not given the priesthood; only that the revelation had not come that it was time. The answer has proven not to be doctrinal, although it was argued vigorously by some that there were doctrinal and scriptural reasons for the prohibition. I have often heard it posited that the church members themselves were not ready for blacks to have the priesthood. And now I see so many members, many good members with good hearts, following the leadership of the church on Prop 8 because they believe their obedience is more important than personal revelation or their consciences. I don’t have an answer for this, but I am troubled by it. Perhaps the church would have been ready for blacks to receive the priesthood much earlier if more members had spoken out and followed their hearts rather than following the leadership without question.

Torben B said...

What is peculiar about following the dominant view that homosexuals should not be given the right to marry? i don't see anything peculiar about that at all. In fact, to me it seems indicative of the church's constant attempts to blend in with the mainstream. Well, if you consider Christian fundamentalist groups (who can't stand us, btw) to be the mainstream.

i'll write more later if i can get a few minutes...

Anonymous said...

I think there is an important difference between macro and micro involvement on such issues. It is the genius of Joseph Smith's work - to diffuse rather than concentrate power.

The Church will orchestrate and implement macro positioning. Such involves managing the radical right and left, from hate groups on both ends of the continuum. It also addresses the national and international impact of societal trends and movements. I do not claim to have the perspective that the Church has on this issue. I therefore do not fain intellectual or moral superiority over its position. My stewardship simply does not extend there. Having worked closely with some of the key leaders of our time within the Church, I have come to trust them with this responsibility.

As a member, I live and have corresponding stewardship over my micro involvement. Such maintains the full extension of agency and accountability. I am required to find my own voice balancing conscience or spiritual understanding with obedience and doctrine. In acknowledging these rights, the Church does not demand strict or even narrow compliance. There has been no dictation from the Church on my personal position, nor has it threatened any punishment for divergent views. Of course such views properly exist within the Church.

My test, my responsibility, my stewardship is to live in accord with my conscience. To be a Christian not merely a Mormon. To treat and love my gay friends as my neighbor. To be slow in judgment and quick in understanding. To allow Christ to guide my actions. To develop love, even charity to those who live lives differently than my own.

Within my stewardship, as daunting as it often feels, I need not try to usurp the Church's. I respect the distinctive roles between us. I support the men and women given that stewardship, whether or not at the moment my conscience or spiritual insights allow me to be in full accord with them. I believe that Christ's purposes will be accomplished within the Church. I worry a lot more as to whether Christ's purposes will be accomplished within my own life.

Heidi, your tender troubles evidences to me a Christian heart. Your perspective is clear, obviously confirmed through inspiration. I believe it strengthens the fabric of the Church. You will help others broaden their views and hopefully decrease their biases. You will help make the Church at the micro level where we live unquestionably better. This is yours and my stewardship - Thank you for reminding me of it.

Jeff Walker (a long lost uncle)

Grabloid said...

Anonymous/Uncle...

I have to interject with what you are saying...at least in your first comment. Your argument exists only within the Mormon context, so it should stay there. Your argument is not academic, it is doctrinal...citing and discussing only Mormons and Mormon issues. I am not Mormon, so your argument doesn't apply to me. Nor does it apply to most of the folks that this legislation will apply to. I don't care what Mormons think about same-sex marriage and am not obliged in the least to follow what the Mormon prophet says, or what any of the other Mormon leadership says for that matter. So, I think you ought to reconsider extending your argument as an argument or participation against same-sex marriage in society. The issue can certainly be debated in that way in the Mormon context and organization, but then you should state it as such (an internal issue). The Mormon Church will always have the final say over what marriage it recognizes/what marriages are allowed in the temple. Any legislation passed in government would never extend into making religious organizations recognize same-sex marriage. And as I mentioned above, the vast majority of folks opposed to Prop 8 are not Mormon, and the ramifications of Prop 8 would have no affect on Mormons...so what is the problem? No harm is done if each side is allowed to define marriage for themselves. So why get involved in this civil issue if it doesn't affect religious issues?

If it really is the tax issue (exempt status, etc.) that Mormons are worried about, then the argument is about money...money and tax issues, not marriage. For Mormons concerned about that aspect of the legislation, I would suggest working on passing some other legislation to allow the Mormon church to retain its same tax status under whatever the legislation that passes concerning marriage. But I doubt that anybody is really this worried about the church's tax status or money situation...that argument is a diversion (a rather insignificant one as well) from the actual issue.

Furthermore, playing the card that the Mormons are peculiar, revolutionary, or otherwise unique on this issue is a weak hand. There is nothing more safe and mainstream than the Mormon church's stance on this issue. Any peculiarities in the Mormon church are in the past, or are being swiftly swept under the rug...that is another discussion.

Also,...and this could start another discussion entirely...the church has really opened a can of worms here. They have shown that they are willing to get involved politically, when for so long they've said it was not in their interest or general policy to do so. They are going to have to answer to a significant percentage of their membership now when new polarizing political issues arise. Shouldn't they be mobilizing to make a stand other (perhaps even more serious) moral concerns???...how about supporting the anti-war movement, or at least vocalizing an opposition to the wars, what about pushing for universal health care???, etc...

Aaron said...

The Church took this same stance ten years ago when Californians voted on this same issue (prop 22 or something like that). I remember the church handing out signs and everything. The Church has been consistent in staying out of politics. They have taken on this issue (both then and now) for reasons that are obviously beyond your willingness to understand or maybe even acknowledge.

The advice of Kurt's uncle obviously wasn't directed at you by the way, I think it was meant for members of the church.

Grabloid said...

The church also took this same stance in its history (particularly the 50s/60s/70s) when they were opposing interracial marriage...nowadays that is an embarrassing thing for Mormons. Did you know that your own marriage would have been disallowed and invalidated by the LDS church 30 years ago!? It wasn't until 1978 that the church allowed interracial marriage in the temple.

And I'm curious...exactly what REASONS has the church taken on this issue that are "beyond my willingness to understand or even acknowledge"...enlighten me...I've addressed all of your arguments...the tax issue...the issue of same-sex marriage impinging on hetereosexual marriage...the civil rights/civil unions issue...

So I'm asking you to clarify that reason that you think I'm not getting, acknowledging, or understanding - because, so far, I think I've addressed all of the arguments in this thread and beyond...

Grabloid said...

p.s.
just to clarify...that last comment was directed toward Aaron, just wanted to make that clear as there was a personal reference about marriage, and it may have been construed as being unclear about who I was referring to...

Torben B said...

You mean, like, umm...me? :)

Aaron said...

I don't know much about the churches stance on inter-racial marriages, but I've never heard of the church supporting legislature against such a marriage, nor have I heard of those marriages being banned by temples. All I have heard is the brethren strongly suggesting against inter-racial marriages (I think it is a fairly wise thing to advice, especially given that time period's attitude toward inter-racial marriages). I've never heard of inter-racial marriages being proclaimed a sin or anything like that. I could be wrong though, I'd be interested on your source for your information.

The reason the church and its membership has decided to support Prop 8 are, plain and simple, because God defined marriage. That's what I meant by it's something you wouldn't understand or acknowledge. As for me I firmly believe that when the brethren tell me to do something, that even if they are wrong (which I wouldn't discount) that I will still be blessed for doing so.

I don't like to do so ignorantly which is why I am collecting data and coming to my own personal conclusions on the matter as well. There are many (and I mean many) things that support the churches stance. Once I'm done collecting these reasons I plan on blogging about it more, until then its the same old argument.

Hbernbubb said...

O.K. Men. I've done a bit of research (courtesey of Greg Prince's book on David O. McKay and Dialogue) and it turns out that the ban on interracial temple marriages only applied to blacks. It did not apply to Hispanics or those of Asian descent; although, those marriages were discouraged, sometimes lovingly (Kimball) and sometimes in a very ugly way (Apostle Mark E. Petersen).

I don't think that makes the ban any better, in fact, if anything it makes it seem more arbitrary. The interesting thing about comparing blacks in the priesthood to Prop 8 and other social battles (ERA) is that it raises interesting questions about how revelation works. I think in the church we have an idea of it being a process of divine knowledge pouring into pure vessels (the prophet). But if the history regarding blacks and the priesthood is any indication it is a more complicated, sometimes muddy, process. In the case of blacks in the priesthood, it was a process that had prophets contradicting past prophets and required a unanimous vote BEFORE the revelation could be sought. No wonder it took almost 10 years (the first time the apostles brought it to a vote was in 1969)Human beings, albeit ones that have devoted their lives to trying to be good and trying to serve, are seeking revelation with their individual weaknesses, prejudices and limitations. That is why we are entitled to personal revelation. The survival and progress of the church depends on a BALANCE of obedience and loyalty and also members who are willing to evolve and change. If we follow a bad policy (or one that violates our conscience)how will the church ever evolve? And, yes, it does evolve. It moves too glacially for some of us, but our morality or goodness should not be questioned because we believe the church can and should change.

Torben B said...

i think it's interesting that the FIRST time it was brought to vote was 1969, five years after the Civil Rights Act. And the fact that it took nearly ten years after that is mind blowing.

i love how people often try to soften the interracial blow by saying that it was "only blacks." :) Truth is, i've read articles and talks about the way my marriage was viewed by leaders in the 60s and 70s that make me cringe.

Grabloid said...

Thanks for the research...and good post. Yeah...I agree with you - I don't think that necessarily makes it better (it only applying to African-Americans)...if anything, a bit more confusing, disturbing, strange, meaningless...(as you said).

Also, I was very struck by the statement: "it was a process that had prophets contradicting past prophets and required a unanimous vote BEFORE the revelation could be sought..." - BEFORE?! I believe you...but that sounds very strange to me. I mean...doesn't that sound a bit backward - that humans make a decision before getting revelation from God... Isn't the prophet in conversation with God regularly, isn't he attuned to revelation? I would doubt that God would withhold such revelations from a prophet because humans hadn't come to a conclusion or an agreement yet. Very strange to me...

In response to Aaron (above)...why would it ever be a good thing to give advice to avoid an inter-racial marriage? Wouldn't the right/moral thing be to encourage your marriage if you were in love, cared for one another, thought it was right for your life, etc...not based on what race your partner was and what kind of social ramification it might have? Again, shouldn't there should be a protocol...being fair and moral about race issues/civil rights issues should trump, morally speaking, any adverse social ramifications, etc., right?

Aaron said...

I agree, but I also think it is equally naive to say advice shouldn't be given to inform people who want to engage in inter-racial marriage about social ramifications etc. Also it's important to separate individual quotes from brethren from an official church stance. The church hasn't taken an official stance opposing inter-racial marriage. It has against same-sex marriage. I think the inter-racial marriage tangent may not be as applicable to this discussion as you think. Now I'm not saying the church has NEVER been wrong in any official stance it has taken (Blacks and the Priesthood and evolution to name two I don't agree with) all I'm saying is that I support the church in THIS issue, that is defending the institution of marriage, the seedbed of society.

Aaron said...

I just posted some more of my thoughts on same-sex marriage on my blog. Check it out and let me know what you think.

http://awbutler.blogspot.com/2008/11/some-thoughts-on-same-sex-marriage.html

Andrew James said...

Everyone go to my blog and watch prop 8 - the musical. Travis, your arguments were great. These are hard times to be a self-identifying Mormon.