A question that occurred to me this week in Sunday School

I am not being snarky with this. I am genuinely interested. In the church, we often draw distinctions between how the world seeks to undermine the family and the church seeks to promote it. My question is “What exactly do we teach about the family that is contrary to some commonly held scholarly, social, or journalistic teaching about the family?” In this, I am not talking about morality in general (teen pregnancy and all that); I am specifically interested in the differences between what the world teaches and what the church teaches regarding family. Please elaborate them specifically for me.

Comments

  1. Steve Evans says:

    The continuation of family unit after death is a biggie.

    The notion of priesthood/patriarchal leadership is also not currently in vogue, nor are some of the more gender essentialist things in the Proclamation.

  2. I just like that your post title is a question. Are you asking us if that was a question you had during Sunday School? I’m sorry John, but I don’t know the answer to that.

    [editor: it done been fixed]

  3. I think this is generally code for anti gay marriage speak too. This is funny to me since most of the world doesn’t promote it (unfortunately in my mind) but the idea exists in the world and the Church believes that it is an attack on the traditional family.

    Also, I’m not sure if this is more than a moral issue, but I think the Church perceives that it is more acceptable to the world to be unmarried partners and have children and I think the Church believes that you can’t be as good of parents or as solid of a family if the parents are not married.

  4. I think it would first be helpful to define “world.”

    World = social scientists and evolutionary theorists and economists? No difference.

    World = Hollywood? Big difference. Marriage-on-paper doesn’t matter (several celebrity couples are militant about that). Single-mother parenthood as an acceptable (possibly superior) alternative to two-parent families (lots of that going on).

    World = the man-bashing arm of feminism? Big difference. Don’t need to explain that, I guess.

    World = MTV/youth culture? Where “pimp” and “ho” are terms of endearment/hierarchy, women are subjugated, and the whole “hooking up” thing goes beyond the traditional one-night stand…

    So, which world were you talking about again?

  5. I think that the world is agnostic on the afterlife, so let’s set eternal units to the side.

    So, the world at large disagrees with our statements regarding traditional gender roles?

  6. Ugly Mahana says:

    I think you may need to also explore the various definitions of “world”. It may well be that much scholarship supports many Church positions, but that popular culture undermines activities encouraged by both Church positions and scholarship.

  7. Oops, sorry, Rusty. You know how I hate syntactic confusion.

  8. I think if you take the eternal perspective away then we are not much different John.

  9. John C. says:

    Eric,
    Why?

    MoJo and UM,
    Exactly!

    Amri,
    I suppose. I think that the church hierarchy of marriage is “temple, civil (hetero), non-solemnized (hetero or homo)” Does that differ from, say, Catholic beliefs?

  10. Ugly Mahana says:

    Posted 6 before I saw 4. Sorry.

  11. I think at church, we don’t define world. Do y’all? I mean, when we’re in Sunday School hearing a lesson like John did, they don’t say the world=Hollywood, MTV, feminists, Massachusetts (they love the gays), people say it to mean any potentially powerful group out there that chooses what we see as the ungodly way.

    I never hear people say the world, disclaimed by well, except not the people in the Bible belt, or Saudi Arabia, or most developing countries with Christian values. So really I mean, Europe and the coasts (California and the Northeast are particularly bad) and in those mostly people with money and influence.

    That’s a good disclaimer though. People should start saying it.

  12. #9 John, that’s it, in this case the Catholic church does not represent the world and so they don’t count.

  13. Steve Evans says:

    Johnny, the world’s not agnostic on the afterlife.

  14. Amri said:

    I think at church, we don’t define world. Do y’all?

    Erm, well, when I’m in Sunday School, I make sure to point out a lot of distinctions (to the great irritation of the Gospel Doctrine teacher) that would otherwise smack of sweeping generalities and intellectual laziness/dishonesty.

    Maybe that’s just me…

  15. Steve,
    Are there a large number of churches out there that argue that families will be split up in the afterlife? Or is the world definitely atheist? Until the world can get its act together regarding what it believes about the afterlife, I’m going to say it doesn’t know and doesn’t particularly care. Besides, isn’t “worldliness” caring too much about THIS life and not enough about the next?

  16. I can only speak to Oklahoma evangelicals (who were my friends growing up) the after-life is spent praising God and there is no recognition of self or family relationships. In their minds, there is no need for eternal families.

  17. Amri,
    So, in that case, the Episcopalians are the world?

  18. I have found the notion that of an eternity with family common even amongst those who believe that we will be ministering angels or some such.

  19. I say yes. Damn them.

  20. John (9)

    To me it is the religious and eternal ideals that help to motivate me to be a better husband and father than I would ordinarily be. Some people seem to do a good job with their family without that – but I am not sure I would.

    The idea that marriage and family are intended to be eternal and permanent give me a perspective that helps me want to work through problems instead of wanting to get out.

  21. Steve Evans says:

    John, are you really asking your question, or is this just a weird way of insisting, “mormons teach the same stuff as the rest of the world!” Because each of your comments is aimed at discounting every difference we’re bringing up.

  22. I think the world in general is very much in favor of families, family life, and family happiness. In PH not too long ago, I heard for the nth time someone tell us how the family is under attack, by the “world” in general and Hollywood in particular, and that marriage is “out of favor.”

    I dunno. One of the most popular sitcoms of the last 50 years, Friends, depicts six twenty to thirty somethings, all desperately wanting to settle down, get married, have kids, and be happy in the suburbs. And by the time the show ends, five of the six ARE married, faithful, and monogamous.

    I’m just saying. Just because the rate of failure in marriage and family is high doesn’t mean people outside the church aren’t trying, or that they don’t want what we want. The fact that they generally say “till death do us part” doesn’t mean they don’t want domestic bliss. Who are “They” again?

  23. Bull Moose says:

    Does the Church have a “hierarchy of marriage”?

    It seems to me that the Church teaches that “the family is ordained of God,” which the proclamation declares as “marriage between man and woman.” In states that recognize common law marriages, the legal formalities must be followed for a non-solemnized union to be considered a marriage, but even in those cases, homosexual unions are not recognized as “marriage” legally or by the Church.

    Regarding children, “children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony,” a concept that “the world” wouldn’t necessarily endorse. I also think the idea that “children are entitled … to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity,” is another concept that may challenge the sensibilities of society at large who still feel the impacts of the sexual liberation movement of the ’60s and ’70s. At least it appears that way in my neighborhood.

  24. Perry Shumway says:

    As others have suggested, the primary way in which “the world” undermines families is probably not through “commonly held scholarly, social, or journalistic teaching(s).”

    Still, in response to your question and at the risk of stating the obvious, I’ll brainstorm for a minute and then throw out a few “worldly” ideas which seem both to be widely accepted and to contradict our own views and doctrines on the family:

    1. Advice to keep family sizes small so parents can have more time for their self-centered pursuits.

    2. Selective abortion to end inconvenient pregnancies.

    3. Seeking legal sanction of same-sex marriages and adoptions.

    4. Advice calling for couples to live together to assure compatibility, before tying the knot.

    5. A call for laws requiring employers to hire equal numbers of both genders and to pay equal salaries for equal work, which while laudable in some ways, would nevertheless further encourage able women to abandon motherhood in exchange for career ambitions.

    6. Promotion of humanism or agnosticism via anti-religious scholarly articles and programs.

    7. Minimization of the role of gender in God’s eternal plan.

    8. The suggestion that society and its institutions play the most important role in raising children, as opposed to traditional families (“It Takes a Village . . .”).

    9. The suggestion that marital infidelity can be acceptable if both spouses agree (i.e., swinging).

    10. Rejection of the traditional patriarchal role of fathers within the family.

    Anyway, you may not agree with all of these and I don’t know if this is the kind of thing you were looking for, but I hope it helps.

  25. Steve, I suppose that I am tired of our communal railing against the world and the world’s take on the family without our having any understanding of what “the world” is or what it is teaching? I don’t find much difference between ourselves and the world, which could be because the world is right or we are wrong or neither I suppose.

    It just seems like we spend an awful lot of time in discussion over our difference without ever really understanding what we are different from and why?

    To take another example, I like Eric’s recent comment about how the church helped him to not divorce his wife and abandon his children ;). But is there a prominent movement out there right now that argues that divorce is an unqualified good? Is our communal notion of divorce different only by degree? If so, are we really that different?

  26. sister blah 2 says:

    Can I just say that #5 (of comment #24) pisses me off. I’m not sure even the church would agree with #5. Ask a Bishop or church employment counselor who is trying to help a single mom become financially self-sufficient whether they think that we should pay women less for equal work. I think they’d say no–the less she’s paid, the more she either needs to be on church fast offering assistance and/or the less time she spends with her kids.

  27. I have to say, one of my pet peeves is the question structured on US vs THE WORLD. It assumes there is no heterodoxy amongst US and complete unanimity in THE WORLD. I reject the structure and never answer the question. Actually, I don’t hear the question in the MTC, where I go to church. Thank God.

  28. Steve Evans says:

    Agreed, SB2. That’s ridiculous and offensive.

  29. Doug Davies and SMB independently think it’s mainly a theological difference (mediating salvation and power through a familial model). as far as actual practical mechanics, I don’t know that we’re that different.

  30. Sister Blah, capitalist pig that I am, I can’t agree with you more on Point 5 of Post 24.

    I work in an industry where women do not feel “worthy” of a living wage and therefore will take whatever they can get, thereby bringing down wages across the board. The reasoning is that the women get to stay at home to work (thereby staying home with their kids) and work in their jammies (thereby saving tons of money on gas and laundry) and speaks nothing toward general business sense, overhead, and well, the particular skillset it takes to do my job.

    Too, let me refer to my time working in a financial planner’s office. A stay-at-home mom’s/wife’s life insurance value was calculated on how much money it would cost to replace her work in the family: taxi, cook, maid, laundress, bookkeeping, etc. with commercial services to supply those needs. The amount of money that would take is staggering.

    So the net result is that the “woman’s work” value is undercut both in and out of the workplace and home. Money is used as weapon enough without adding that women should be paid less so they’ll give up working and go home.

  31. Thank you, SB2 and Steve. I didn’t even know what to say to #24 comment 5. I couldn’t think straight to respond.

  32. We are the world, we are the children, ergo, Mormons hate children.

  33. For me in this case “the world” is not some organized consipiracy, but a worldview that glorifies one’s immediate experience and satisfaction. Eat drink and be merry, if you will. My experience with marriage and raising children is that they take remarkable sacrifice and commitment on everyone’s part. The gospel gives meaning to that sacrifice, in fact making the experiences and relationships one gains within a family among the most important we can have in this or the next life. It reassures and affirms to me that although there are many things I could be doing that would bring me great satisfaction and enjoyment other than raising my crazy children, even though I am “giving things up” it is worth it. Without the gospel I’m not sure I would believe that.

  34. Thomas Parkin says:

    I don’t think it is so much anything specifically taught by any specific group in the world so much as it is against a set of strong tendancies that that has weakened family ties: the underlying assupmtion that each is primarily out for him/herself, that our overriding first priority is ourselves.

    ~

  35. In defense of #24, he did call it a brainstorm. That said, I agree the 5th point is probably not on the mark. The other points, though…good answers, says I!

  36. Perry Shumway says:

    Sister bah 2 – You and Steve are right, of course, about equal pay; your example of a single mom is compelling. I’m still (for free market reasons) against forcing employers to pay equally, but there’s no question that women (or men) who choose home over career should do it for spiritual reasons, not because a foolish employer underpays female employees.

    I just brainstormed quickly to come up with my list; I should have given #5 more thought. Sorry to offend your sensitivities.

  37. The list in #24 really seems to be the type of overgeneralizations that are used in the Church to prove we are much better than everyone else. In reality, most of the ideas you suggest are not really supported by U.S. society, in general.

    Just a few comments.

    What sister blah 2 said about employment of women. (Besides, aren’t quotas illegal?)

    Swinging — do you really think that many people in western culture swing?

    Selective abortions — Although a slight majority of Americans support a woman’s access to abortion, many if not most (I can’t remember the number off hand) actually qualify that support by the typical health, rape, incest line.

    What is wrong with “It takes a village. . .?” If we, as a society, cared more for children and families we would see a reduction in poverty and inequality. In reality, the family is the most fundamental social institution. U.S. culture tends to hold it sacrosanct; we believe in family responsibility above all else. What other social institutions are taking over for the family? The US gov’t certainly isn’t.

    Just my thoughts.

  38. This is an easy question.

    The “world” is defined as elements in the Western World in regards to the family and sex that have changed as a result of the sexual revolution.

    IE:

    Easy Divorce
    low birthrates
    prevelant pre-marital sex
    easy abortion
    acceptance of homosexuality
    Hollywood
    Feminism

  39. dug and Margaret,
    Exactly!

    BM,
    Does the church recognize common-law marriages as legitimate? I don’t actually know, but I would be surprised. Why would an illegitimate relationship suddenly become legitimate just because a certain period of time had passed?

    I like the notion of children being entitled to a family. I don’t get a feeling that the world at large has endorsed bringing children into unmarried homes, but there is certainly a large minority out there arguing that committed relationships do not need the endorsement of a church or a civil government to be legitimate and that it would be alright to bring a child into that sort of committed relationship. Is Amri right that this really is all code for being anti-non-traditional marriage?

    Perry,
    Interesting list. While I doubt the Church is counseling its members to underpay women, I agree that the church does encourage us as a people to care less about our pursuits at work and more about our family. How well do we actually keep that counsel?

  40. rondell says:

    Just read over my response. It sounds snarky; wasn’t my intent. I just get tired of hearing the same kinds of things touted all the time about how the family is under attack, but then little real/empirical evidence is given.

  41. bbell,
    I am a little confused. Is your list a list of unqualified bads that the world promotes and the church is against?

  42. I’m guilty of generalizing about “the world” as I see certain values taught in the church not generally accepted outside the church. However, I agree that trying to define it is kind of a hopeless task. I hear from time to time that some of the most common “private heresies” of the evangelicals and social conservatives really are closer to our beliefs than we recognize. The common ones are marriage extending into the afterlife, and a pre-existent life, both contrary to the teachings of the churches they go to.

    The World is a pretty complex place, but in particular, we do tend to see bigger differences in popular culture here in our country that highlight some of the value differences. If you nail that down, however, that probably is a relatively small group of folks involved in those particular industries, ic TV, Movies, Music.

    Everything is always more nuanced than we like to recognize.

  43. bbell in #38, I’m curious, you say Hollywood? What does that even mean? Is Hollywood code for “The World”? Hollywood isn’t a thing, the entertainment industry isn’t a cartel with a secret (or not so secret) anti-family conspiracy. It’s people, some straight, some gay, some conservative, some liberal, some pro traditional family, some not.

    Also, “Feminism”? You mean the idea that women are sovereign and equal? Yes, damn them.

  44. Researcher says:

    For rondell:

    The actual number of abortions dropped to a new low, with 1.2 million abortions in 2005 (US News and World Report 1/17/08)

    There were 4.1 million live births in 2005. It’s hard to believe that one in five pregnancies involved women with serious health risks, or those who were victims of rape or incest.

    Are one out of five pregnancies among active members of the church ending in abortion? Not likely.

  45. kristine N says:

    Hmm, didn’t Utah boast one of the easiest paths to divorce when it was a territory?

    As for low birthrates–we also have the expectation more of our children will reach adulthood. High birthrates are more typical of areas where more children die before reaching adulthood. Our leadership may lament low birthrates, but they’re really a byproduct of our high standard of living.

    Premarital sex has been a part of the human landscape for an awfully long time. Not that I know the statistic off the top of my head, or can remember where to look it up, but as I recall, the majority of first children born to Puritan families (just to pick out one of the groups in the colonies for which this was true) were born significantly before 9 months after the marriage took place. Now, men did marry the women they impregnated, and those unions didn’t end in divorce often, but they also probably weren’t the idealized marriage we expect today, and there was still a lot of remarriage due to the death of one spouse.

    Maybe I’m just too much a part of the world myself, but I tend to believe whenever someone says “the family is under attack by the world” that the world being discussed is a caricature there for rhetorical reasons more than as an actual discussion point. “The world” is a bit of a straw-man for me, which makes that particular argument rather easy to ignore.

  46. Pretty much John.

    This is pretty easy. The LDS church pretty much rejects the 1960’s sexual revolution and its attendant ills. The rest of the West outside the more conservative religious traditions accepts its premises to varying degrees.

    Here is an example.

    BBell to YM quorum:

    The “World” teaches that you should feel free to gratify yourself sexually with any woman you are capable of convincing of jumping into the sack. Your buddies are sexually active correct?

    YM: Series of Groans….. Yes some of them are for sure. Are we talking about the LOC again?

    BBell: yes the LOC again. You guys wanna go on missions? Listen up… The Church teaches that you should wait for marriage.

    Lets whiteboard the reasons why the “world” is wrong and the church is correct.

    Pick you attendent ill and proceed.

  47. I always read “the world” as being the generic “natural man” tendencies that drive people from God – and any organization that supports those tendencies. However, that’s probably because I have always hated how some members turn it into a Mormons vs. Gentiles pride-fest.

    Having said that, I have worked in areas across the Eastern US where I feel totally comfortable saying I have been seen the drastic effects of the teachings of “the world”. There is something to the idea when you see a divorce rate of nearly 80%, such prevalent crime that the police don’t even bother trying to curb anything but murder, drugs sold and bought openly 24/7 on the street – with no hint of secrecy, pre-marital sex nearing 100%, teenage pregnancy as a viable financial option – as a “net good”, etc. I don’t like the vast majority of uses for that phrase, but I can’t help but see an accurate application out there.

  48. Researcher,
    Look here. While I agree that the church prolly has fewer abortions per capita than the norm, I don’t think that the norm is clamoring for abortion on demand either. Almost everyone I have talked to about abortion argues that only rarely, if ever should abortion be performed for “convenience.” That said, people are often willing to make themselves the exception to a restrictive rule.

  49. Researcher says:

    Let me get this right, bbell…

    …you’re teaching your YM that Feminism is one of the Sins of the World?

  50. If THE WORLD has a particular message, then it would be conveyed easily and uniformly in the media. So all television shows would be similar to “Sex and the City”, given the US vs. THEM mentality. However, the most enduring shows depict “family values” very similar to LDS values. “Everyone Loves Raymond”, “Home Improvement”, “Family Ties” (for those of us who remember), “King of Queens” etc. I recall an episode in “Family Ties” where the father was strongly tempted to commit adultery–and chose not to. Someone prepare the baptismal font. (Obviously, we have a current fascination with ugly murders, especially if they include rape, but that sort of thing has been around forever.)
    Our current favorite show at home: “The Office.” Yes, apparently there is some assumption of pre-marital sex, but the show is just about humans trying to work together. Even “Frasier”, which also assumed that people would have sex before marriage, had an episode where Frasier “caught” his boss messing around with a married man and confronted her on it with some rather strong moralizing.

  51. Researcher,
    Apparently acceptance of homosexuality and Hollywood are unqualified ills also. Who knew?

  52. While I agree with the point that using the term “the World” negates the heterodoxy which obviously exists, I think it is unfair to ignore the sentiment expressed. I am sure that, if you were to challenge the questioner/commenter they would easily agree that there are many, many non-Mormon examples of good families.

    But it is hard to deny that there are social and legal pressures to define marriage, and by extension family, in ways that are new.

    Here are some quote from a good article by Monte Neil Stewart

    Marriage is a vital social institution.” Like all social institutions, marriage is constituted by a unique web of shared public meanings. For important institutions, including marriage, many of those meanings rise to the level of norms. Such social institutions affect individuals profoundly; institutional meanings and norms teach, form, and transform individuals, supplying identities, purposes, practices, and projects.

    With its power to suppress social meanings, however, the law can radically change and even deinstitutionalize man-woman marriage. The consequence of such deinstitutionalization must necessarily be the loss of the institution’s unique social goods.

  53. Ray,
    That does sound pretty bad. May I ask what are the demographics of the areas where you encountered these conditions?

  54. Sure, MAC, but all that is saying is that traditional hetero marriage enjoys a privileged position and if we gave the same privileges to other social units it would no longer be privileged. It doesn’t seem to say why this would be bad.

  55. #53 – Poor and mixed-race. Some inner-city; some extreme rural.

    I’m not adding this next statement as an indictment of your question, John, but I need to make sure NOBODY interprets what I typed as race-specific. I HATE those assumptions.

  56. rondell says:

    I don’t want to threadjack, so I hope this response goes mostly ignored.

    Reseacher:

    I wasn’t suggesting that all/most abortions are for health, etc reasons. I was commenting on the idea that “the world” supports selective abortion. Although they occur in large numbers, a majority of people in the US do not support the idea of selective abortions.

    I’d explain myself further, but I really don’t want to threadjack — which often happens when the topic of abortion is brought up.

  57. Ray,
    I hope the same. I was interested because I am curious if this is a cultural divide based on economics (or, at least, influenced thereby). As far as I know, the situation you described tends to denote our nation’s poorest. While they are as much in the world as the rest of us, it doesn’t appear to me that we turn to them much for role models. People watch “Jerry Springer” to mock those folk, not to admire them.

    Perhaps this indicates that the more we strive to fight poverty, the more we are doing to erase the influence of the world (liberal diatribe over…NOW).

  58. John C,

    I’ll echo one of Ray’s concerns, while also recognizing some of what Margaret said. Premarital sex is pretty much a given outside the LDS church here in the NW. My wife, teaching junior high, sees kids becoming sexually active in 8th and 9th grades. It’s not all of them, but a significant portion.

    Also, try and find a church, other than the Catholic church, that actively teaches chastity and abstinence before marriage, and preaches that over the pulpit. They are few. It’s more likely a wind and a nod, and hope for fidelity in marriage.

    Margaret, though, is right, about popular culture. I think there is a sense out there that we can be better, and I find that our church is admired for our emphasis on family values and sexual morality. And we do like to see folks in our popular media doing the “right thing”. Most romantic comedies focus on an eventual marriage, and most tales of marital infidelity ultimately seem to be teaching “don’t go there”. The “world” wants to do better.

    I’d say as a church we are slightly better at it, but the elephant in the room is how many of our unmarried singles have had sex outside of marriage. It’s why we try so hard to get them together to find each other.

  59. John C. #54

    The quotes don’t but the linked article lines some of it out;

    1. Society’s best and perhaps only effective means to secure the right of a child to know and be raised by her biological parents (with exceptions justified only when they are in the best interests of the child).
    2. The most effective means yet developed to maximize the
    private welfare provided to children conceived by passionate, heterosexual coupling (with “private welfare” meaning not only basic requirements like food and shelter but also education, play, work, discipline, love, and respect).
    3. The indispensable foundation for that child-rearing mode—that is, married mother-father child-rearing that correlates (in ways not subject to reasonable dispute) with the optimal outcomes deemed crucial for a child’s, and therefore society’s, well-being.
    4. Society’s primary and most effective means of bridging
    the male-female divide.
    5. Society’s only means of transforming a male into husband-father, and a female into wife-mother, statuses and identities particularly beneficial to society.
    6. Social and official endorsement of the form of adult ntimacy—married heterosexual intercourse—that society may rationally value above all other such forms.

  60. Umm,
    in my last comment # 56, we try hard to get our singles together to find each other “for marriage”, in case that wasn’t clear. The way it was worded, was, well, ironic in the context of what I was trying to say.

  61. My #56 is now #58.

  62. Bull Moose says:

    John C., in states that have common law marriage statutes, it is a legally valid way to be “married” without a state-authorized official performing a solemnizing ceremony.

    For instance, in Texas, a couple must 1) Agree to be married, 2) Hold themselves out as husband and wife, and 3) Live together in Texas as husband and wife. No time period is required, just meet the statutory elements (Mileage may vary by state). I don’t think the legitimacy of a “relationship” is based on lapsed time period, but rather on the state-defined legal status of the relationship which the Church, rightly IMO, defers to.

    Query if a legally valid common law marriage in Utah has any less validity than a 5 minute marriage ceremony solemnized by a voodoo priestess in New Orleans (bring your own live chicken for sacrifice), when both are authorized by the state.

    I’m shooting from institutional knowledge rather than mission procedures of Handbook instructions, but in states that recognize common law marriage as legal (Nevada isn’t one of them for obvious reasons) the Church recognizes the common law marriage between a man and a woman. But, if a couple is merely cohabitating (“Oh, I don’t want to get married. It’s too much hassle!”), that presents LOC issues.

  63. BM,
    I’m confused. Does anyone have a CHI handy that comments on the considered legitimacy of common-law marriage?

  64. I don’t know how it’s done in the U.S. but when I served a mission in Chile in the mid 80s, the church routinely recognized common law marriages as legitimate, probably partly out of necessity, since so many people lived that way, due primarily to the difficulty in obtaining legal divorce.

  65. MikeInWeHo says:

    Oh the irony. Many of the commenters here are probably descendents of polygamists. The contemporary “traditional” definitions of marriage, family, and gender roles would be incomprehensible to them.

    Society’s definition of all these things has and continues to evolve. There are moments of tectonic shift (the Manifesto, the Sexual Revolution, etc). The notion that there is a static definition of family is just plain historically false.

    But wait, there’s more irony! Conservative Christians (including many LDS) spend their Sundays ruminating about how their families are “under attack by the world,” then go out and launch relentless rhetorical and political attacks against families like mine that are deemed unacceptable.

  66. Mike, fwiw, my son got into hot water in college in a conservative area for saying in one of his classes that bad heterosexual marriages have done FAR more harm to heterosexual marriage than homosexual relationships ever will. It’s easy to blame “the world” for problems, but it’s much harder to recognize “the world” within us.

  67. Bull Moose says:

    Good call! I’ll bow out of the discussion of the Church’s official stance on common law marriage because I can’t defend with proof (although it is interesting that Utah is one of the few states that recognizes common law marriages. It was reinstituted in 1998 and has similar requirements to Texas).

    I just know that in my stewardship in common law marriage states, when the Bishop asks if a couple is married and I reply “I don’t think so,” he asks if they call each other “husband” or “wife,” and that’s good enough for him.

    But from a legal standpoint, common law marriage (i.e. a legal relationship that meets the state’s requirements set out in statute) is as effective as a marriage solemnized by a state-authorized official and creates the same rights and obligations.

  68. Bull Moose says:

    MikeInWeHo, I’m not sure how your family is deemed “unacceptable,” nor do I know who has deemed it such. I don’t think that anyone has argued a static definition of family.

    But, Elder Ballard gave a definition of “the World” with respect to the entity attacking families as “those who attempt to change the God-given and scripturally based doctrines that protect the sanctity of marriage, the divine nature of the family, and the essential doctrine of personal morality.” Now, this certainly leaves open the possiblity of continuing revelation on what constitutes a marriage (“God-given”) and allows for both the doctrine of plural marriage and the Manifesto.

    Elder Ballard also stated that “To justify their rejection of God’s immutable laws that protect the family, [they, meaning "the World"] even attack the inspired proclamation on the family issued to the world in 1995 by the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles.”

  69. MikeInWeHo, # 65,

    Point well taken. In my experience, bigotry starts to fade when you actually get to know the people who are targets of that bigotry. My own attitude about what constitutes an attack on my family has certainly changed. In my mind, you are not the problem, Mike.

  70. #68 – Bull Moose, if you stick around long enough (and I hope you do), you will understand the irony of your last comment. That’s not an insult or attack or other commentary in any way. It’s just an observation.

  71. Thomas Parkin says:

    re: the World.

    I’ve always interpreted the things of “the World” as being anything you can have for money. You can have pretty much anything in this world for money. If it is something you can have for money, it is a thing of this world. If you can’t buy it with money, then maybe it isn’t a thing of this world.

    For instance:
    you can buy a person’s influence, but not a friend
    you can buy a house but not a home
    you can buy a prostitute but not a lover
    you can even buy an education but not wisdom

    etc.

    I don’t know what the collolary to you can buy a car is. But the car is definitely a thing of this world. ;)

    If this is right, then I guess you might say that concentrating on those things you can have for money weakens the family – or, in other words, deep-heart ties.

    *shrug*

    ~

  72. In this discussion, is only the US being discussed as “the world”? Other countries have more than a leg up to support the family in many ways, and financial incentives for child bearing. Our biases are showing.

  73. P. Shumway,
    I think you are missing the point of what made your comment so astoundingly repulsive. It was this part, “would nevertheless further encourage able women to abandon motherhood in exchange for career ambitions.”
    It appears you think women are incapable of making good choices to rear and raise a family if all options are open to them. Therefore you imply it would be much better if these options were not in place to protect the family from women would make a bad choice. You don’t want women to make a bad choice now, do you? Isn’t that Satan’s plan?

  74. With regard to poverty’s effect on “morality,” I shall quote from one of my favorite movies:

    Colonel Pickering: Have you no morals, man?

    Alfred P. Doolittle: Nah, can’t afford one. Neither could you, if you were as poor as me.

  75. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 68
    My partner Pete and I have a daughter, Bull Moose. (And she turns 18 on Friday! How can it be???!)

    WeHo = West Hollywood, CA. It’s like HomoProvo.

  76. Kevin Barney says:

    Mike, I thought you were saying your daughter’s name was Bull Moose. I was all ready to sic the authorities on you for child abuse for giving her that name!

  77. Steve Evans says:

    Mike, Bull Moose sounds like a good WeHo name, but probably not what the commenter here had in mind.

  78. MikeInWeHo says:

    LOL, now that was a funny error. No, our daughter’s name is Kate.

    Thanks for clarifying. I probably would have wound up as an example in a talk somewhere this Sunday:

    “The world teaches that eternal gender roles are meaningless and to be mocks those who believe in them. Homosexuals represent the most extreme example of this. One so-called gay in West Hollywood even admitted naming his daughter Bull Moose…..”

  79. sister blah 2 says:

    Oh good, I’m not the only one. I got *sooo* confused by that. #78, example in a talk, LOL.

  80. MikeInWeHo wrote: But wait, there’s more irony! Conservative Christians (including many LDS) spend their Sundays ruminating about how their families are “under attack by the world,” then go out and launch relentless rhetorical and political attacks against families like mine that are deemed unacceptable.

    I cannot claim to know what conservative Christians do on Sunday. But I am not aware that LDS engage in “relentless rhetorical and political attacks” against families. I certainly do not heard such things said over the pulpit or in Church classes.

    Could it be that you are confusing the Church’s opposition to the practice of homosexuality (and its normalization in society) as attacks on you family?

  81. #75 – “It’s like HomoProvo” – a population that doubles at special events. I can’t stop laughing at that, Mike. Thanks.

  82. StillConfused says:

    Maybe I am missing something but my family really hasn’t been under attack. I don’t like those terms. Now there are things going on in the world of which I don’t approve but I don’t view them as attacking my family. I have explained choices and consequences etc to my children so they can see that there are people making certain choices and experiencing consequences as a result thereof. We don’t view that as an attack though.

  83. Could it be that you are confusing the Church’s opposition to the practice of homosexuality (and its normalization in society) as attacks on you family?

    That seems pretty disingenuous. The church does not merely have opposition to that practice, or merely voice opposition, it enforces opposition, expects opposition, and recruits opposition.

    And families, like, say, MikeInWeHo’s, are in fact attacked in the process.

  84. MikeInWeHo says:

    “Could it be that you are confusing the Church’s opposition to the practice of homosexuality (and its normalization in society) as attacks on you family?”

    Funny how a person can get confused like that, isn’t it?

    Maybe it’s all those ballot initiatives attempting to prevent us from sharing health insurance, pensions, custody of our child, etc. You know, all that sex-related stuff.

  85. Perry Shumway says:

    Mmiles (#73) –

    I’ve already apologized for my ill-conceived wording. I had no intention of implying that women are “incapable” of choosing correctly, nor did I wish to indicate that the availability of “these options” (employment, equal pay) would inevitably lead women make the wrong choice. I categorically and emphatically reject this point of view, and always have.

    Still, it’s not inaccurate to suggest that higher pay rates might cause SOME women to diminish motherhood roles in favor of money and career. Does this mean that pay rates should be kept artificially low, or that we should applaud chauvinism among employers, or that the Church is glad women don’t earn more in the marketplace? Of course not. Like I said, my comments were poorly worded and ill-conceived.

    The fact that you found them to be “so astoundingly repulsive,” however, is yet another sad reminder to me that although I greatly enjoy many BCC and blogernacle discussions like this one, I must always remember to tread extremely lightly over the fragile eggshells of potential offense for my many liberal, erudite LDS friends here.

  86. dug wrote: That seems pretty disingenuous. The church does not merely have opposition to that practice, or merely voice opposition, it enforces opposition, expects opposition, and recruits opposition.

    Disingenuous? Not so. The LDS Church makes no secret of its opposition to the practice of homosexuality. In a free society, the Church has every right to speak out on the issue, and to insist that members observe its teachings if they are to remain in good standing.

    However, the Church has no power to enforce anything. If you do not like what the Church teaches about homosexuality, you do not have to be a member. If you oppose the Church’s public pronouncements on the subject, you are free to support organizations that take a contrary view. The Church will not try to stop you.

    dug wrote: And families, like, say, MikeInWeHo’s, are in fact attacked in the process.

    I would appreciate hearing MikeInWeHo explain how the Church has attacked his family.

  87. P. Shumway–
    Most people probably wouldn’t consider me very liberal, FWIW. Other than that, point taken.

  88. PK,
    reread 84. That would be the attack to which he refers.

  89. ps. PK,
    If you feel a need to blithely encourage others to leave the church, please feel free to not feel welcome here.

  90. Maybe it’s all those ballot initiatives attempting to prevent us from sharing health insurance, pensions, custody of our child, etc. You know, all that sex-related stuff.

    That is how the LDS Church “attacked” your family?

    I seem to recall the Church has supported initiatives defining marriage as between a man and a woman. I was not aware that the Church has ever addressed the issues of health insurance, pensions, and so forth. Am I mistaken?

  91. Hey, at PK left the sneer quotes off of family…

  92. PK,
    Those initiatives have at times been used to justify not providing those legal and financial benefits to homosexual families.

  93. If you feel a need to blithely encourage others to leave the church, please feel free to not feel welcome here.

    I have not encouraged anyone to leave the Church. Nor would I do so.

    However, I did point out the obvious fact that the Church cannot force anyone to be a member, or to remain a member. Do you disagree?

  94. Perry: “I must always remember to tread extremely lightly over the fragile eggshells of potential offense for my many liberal, erudite LDS friends here.”

    Too true, Perry. Indeed, to get along well at BCC one must almost, but not quite, converse with others as if in the company of good friends. We’re all fragile eggshells here. Should we be some other way?

    In that vein, it would be nice if both Mikey and P.K. were a little bit nicer, each. Mike, I know this is a tough issue for you, and you’ve had to listen to a lot of Mormons put down and belittle your life and your family. That won’t be tolerated here. P.K., I don’t think your clarifications are really necessary regarding the Church’s stance on homosexuality, as well as the Church’s political activities in California, Hawaii and elsewhere. Can we move on please?

  95. John C. wrote: Those initiatives have at times been used to justify not providing those legal and financial benefits to homosexual families.

    Has the LDS Church done so?

  96. If you do not like what the Church teaches about homosexuality, you do not have to be a member

    Yes, PK. You have.

    Steve,
    I’m happy to move on.

  97. P.K., I don’t think your clarifications are really necessary regarding the Church’s stance on homosexuality, as well as the Church’s political activities in California, Hawaii and elsewhere. Can we move on please?

    Judging from some of the comments posted here, a review of the Church’s stance and activities was necessary.

    I am truly sorry if Mike or anyone else has endured un-Christian treatment at the hands of Mormons. I agree that such treatment should not be tolerated.

    I hope we can also agree that unfair attacks on the good name and reputation of the Church should not be tolerated either.

  98. (sighs)

    PK, you seem to be new to BCC. A few pointers, if you’ll indulge me as a site admin?

    First, you’re not an authority here, scholastically or administratively. You’re participating in a conversation, not lecturing us.

    Second, nobody’s attacking, fairly or unfairly, the good name and reputation of the Church — and if someone here were to do so, I’d be the first to step in, delete their comments and ban them. Your perceptions of attacks on the Church are inaccurate (really!)

    Third, tone matters. Your prior comments on other threads have been great, but I worry that things are turning a bit confrontational. Think of how you would talk in Elder’s Quorum. Think about pleasant conversations with friends, and act accordingly. Because if you don’t, you’re going to have a rough (and brief) sojourn among us.

  99. Yes, PK. You have.

    Well, that certainly was not my intent. My apologies if I was unclear.

    That said, you have not addressed the substance of anything else I wrote. Do you believe that the LDS Church’s teachings on homosexuality constitute an attack on certain families?

  100. Brad Kramer says:

    P. K.
    If it can be argued that legalizing gay marriage constitutes an attack on the traditional family, then how is it fighting against that change does not constitute an attack on non-traditional families? I’m not saying that the two are substantively the same, just that Mike’s claim that the Church’s political posturing and activism are, in effect, an attack on families like his is less of a stretch than the claim that Mike seeking the legal benefits and recognition of marriage for his family is an attack on mine or anyone else’s.

  101. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 94

    Agreed, Steve. I need to chill a bit.

    There aren’t too many things in the Bloggernacle that get me angry and trigger the nasty sarcasm, but this topic does. It’s difficult to over-state just how deeply threatening some of the sentiments expressed here feel. Rationally or not, it really does feel like an existential threat to my family. Lots of gay couples with kids feel exactly the same way. It’s just scary.

    That said, I do overreact sometimes. It’s not like my family lives in a hostile environment, not at all.

    Isn’t it amazing how quickly this topic can polarize people?

  102. Brad Kramer says:

    Mike,
    That’s because for the people sounding the Sodom-is-calling alarms, the threat is against “the family” as an abstraction. You’re not trying to take anything concrete from us, just threatening our monopoly on all the concrete good stuff (as well as abstract identifications and honorific social titles). When heterophiles fight back, it tends to be the real, everyday, lived reality of real families that is existentially threatened.

    The traditional family survived the transition to sedentary living, to monogamy, away from women-/wives-as-property, away from coverture, away from arranged marriages, away from marriages as socio-political posturing and families as units of economic production. I’m pretty sure we’ll weather the storm of WeHoHomos adopting children and kissing publicly.

  103. To reiterate something I said way back in #66, if we are going to focus on a group of people who are threatening heterosexual marriage in this country, let’s focus on heterosexuals who have 1) given us a skyrocketing divorce rate, 2) given us a skyrocketing illegitimate birth rate (and if you don’t like that term, we can employ the older, more traditional “bastard rate”), 3) given us skyrocketing co-habitation and fornication rates and 4) encouraged us to ignore these practices among a large percent of our population and blame a very small minority – the homosexual community – instead.

    If we identify and face the “world” among “us”, we might get somewhere in real terms. If we always find some “them” to blame, we never will.

  104. Jennifer says:

    John, your question seems pretty disingenuous. Do you honestly think that the “world” in general is as supportive of family life as the church is? And I think the premise of your question is flawed. Instead of asking what do we teach that is “contrary”, the question probably should be: “Is the LDS culture/faith, better at transmitting values with any authority, such that teachings are translated directly into modification of behaviors and good actions.” The world preaches lots of things that it doesn’t really require people to practice. That being said here are my suggestions:

    1. Authority. I might read a study in the New York Times about the importance of x vs y for my kids, and then the next week read a story saying that scientists elsewhere are pretty sure y carries the day. Take a look at the interminable debate over the blessings/detriments of daycare and you will get my point. I am a lot less fraught with parenting panic (and believe me, I got plenty as it is) since I have a fair portion of faith that a good path is laid out for me.

    2. As a working woman, I felt very valued by my society. As a stay-at-home mom, not so much. Any of you guys in this esoteric debate ever attended a social function, told someone what you did, and watched them calculate how fast they could run away? Hallelujah for a church, and the men in that church, that place a very high value on the fact that I will spend a good portion of my most productive years wiping snotty noses, and don’t assume that this represents the full range of my competencies. As far as full-time mothering goes, the simple truth is that currently there isn’t any other consistently forceful societal advocate for what I have chosen to do.

    3. My children are seen as Children of God. A few months ago, my husband was offered tickets to an NBA luxury box through work. Men and women split off pretty quickly, and I was left with two women who are extremely successful in their careers. Both of them told me within 20 minutes that they never planned to have children (one valued her independence and one was shooting for zero population growth) and neither asked me ONE question about me or my children. This would have been fine (I have escaped for a few hours and the last thing I want to think about is my kids) if I hadn’t had to spend the next 90 minutes listening to them talk about their PETS!!! They even showed me pictures! My church sees the children I bear as people of incredible value, rather than just burdens on the global climate, or crampers of style. In fact unlike anyone else out there, it sees them as potential gods, and there ain’t nobody else who has met my kids that would claim that.

    That’s my two cents (or possibly fifty).

  105. “In fact unlike anyone else out there, it sees them as potential gods, and there ain’t nobody else who has met my kids that would claim that.”

    That has to be one of the funniest yet most profound comments anywhere in the Bloggernacle.

  106. Kristine says:

    “Do you honestly think that the “world” in general is as supportive of family life as the church is?”

    I’m not John, but I’ll bite. In my world, in fact, there are many elements that support family life.

    –My kids go to a school where parents’ help and input is routinely sought in their instruction and the development of an age-appropriate curriculum (in contrast, to, say, Primary, where my children hear things I find quite distressing at least every couple of weeks.)

    –I have many friends who do not have children themselves, for various reasons, but who are extraordinarily thoughtful and generous with my children, and who (perhaps because they are not exhausted with children of their own) are far more likely to remember my children’s birthdays or attend their school play or send an encouraging note than my home or visiting teachers.

    –I regularly read articles in publications ranging from the NYTimes to People magazine (only at the gym, really!!) extolling the virtues of SAHM-hood. I’m very open about what I’ve been doing for the last decade with acquaintances in many settings, and the reaction 99.8% of the time is along the lines of “oh, that’s wonderful that you have chosen to stay home with your kids. I’ll bet it’s a sacrifice for you, but it’s really great for them.” In many ways, I much prefer that response to the rhetoric I most often hear at church, which rarely recognizes that I might really prefer (and be better at) some other occupation, and that staying home with children entails real sacrifice.

    –No other organization of which I’m a part makes nearly as many demands on my time as the Church. And many of those organizations go to great lengths to minimize the impact of my involvement on my children–providing childcare, scheduling around children’s sleep schedules, holding as many meetings as possible by phone, being considerate of families by not requiring both parents to be away from home at the same time.

    –Other organizations which involve my children would not dream of scheduling three-five hours in a row of meetings for adults’ convenience and requiring children to sit still for that length of time and endure guilt trips like “It shouldn’t be hard to sit very still/And think about Jesus, his cross on the hill…” (!)

    In short, I think that how well the world supports your family life depends a lot on which elements of “the world” you choose to be involved with. There are lots and lots of people who care a great deal about families and children. Their rhetoric may be less vehemently “pro-family” (at least pro-one-particular-type-of-family)than the Church’s, but in practical terms, there is a great deal of support in many corners of the world.

  107. Ray, #103

    I don’t think “blaming the homosexual community” is really the gist of what most people are discussing.

    The modern issues you bring up of illegitimacy, co-habitation, and fornication can easily be correlated to the sexual revolution of the 60’s & 70’s. To paraphrase something I read recently, “love is free, but sex has a very high cost.” The push to redefine the family can be seen, not as handy bête noire, but an extension of the failed experiment that caused the social upheavals you are listing.

  108. –Other organizations which involve my children would not dream of scheduling three-five hours in a row of meetings for adults’ convenience and requiring children to sit still for that length of time and endure guilt trips like “It shouldn’t be hard to sit very still/And think about Jesus, his cross on the hill…” (!)

    Um, like elementary school?

    I understand your complaint, Kris. I’m all for making church better for parents and kids, and I don’t think we always do that very well.

    But really, it’s not all that unusual for kids to have to sit for hours. School, doctors’ office, trips in the car — it’s really not the case that church is unusually harsh in its conditions.

    And I’ve _never_ been in a ward where kids actually sat still (or were expected to) for even close to three or five hours solid. It’s really more like “sit still for twenty minutes, then color quietly for forty minutes, then run through the halls for a minute or two, then go to singing time and bounce up and down for ‘Do as I’m doing,” then have a big activity involving balloons in sharing time, then go to a lesson about Daniel and the lion’s den, involving a lot of construction-paper figures.”

    That’s still often hard for many kids. No doubt about that. But it’s not exactly the old Catholic school, sit still in your seat for four hours or the nuns will swat your hands with a ruler.

  109. Brad Kramer wrote: The traditional family survived the transition to sedentary living, to monogamy, away from women-/wives-as-property, away from coverture, away from arranged marriages, away from marriages as socio-political posturing and families as units of economic production. I’m pretty sure we’ll weather the storm of WeHoHomos adopting children and kissing publicly.

    But will the family survive widespread social acceptance—among heterosexuals—of cohabitation and divorce?

    I agree with Ray (#66 and #103) that heterosexuals have done more to harm marriage than homosexuals could. Gay marriage does not loom large as a threat to my family.

    That said, I am concerned the push for gay marriage will result in the expansion of state power over our lives.

    In an ideal libertarian world, marital and family arrangements would be treated as agreements between consenting adults. Issues relating to inheritance, insurance, pensions, and so forth would be settled by contract; the state would not dictate the shape of those agreements. Individuals and groups (such as the LDS Church) would be free to approve or disapprove of homosexual unions. That would be fine with me.

    But we do not live in an ideal libertarian world. Too often the coercive power of government is used as a tool of social engineering, with disastrous results.

    This is a special concern for the LDS Church. Barring a revelation, I do not see how the Church can ever approve of homosexuality. Even if the wider society chooses to recognize gay marriage, the Church will continue to teach that homosexual relations are sinful. Will the Church be allowed to get away with it?

  110. P.K.,

    Huh?

    You’re against gay marriage because it’s an expansion of state power, and too coercive?

    “Even if the wider society chooses to recognize gay marriage, the Church will continue to teach that homosexual relations are sinful. Will the Church be allowed to get away with it?”

    What’s there to “get away with”?

    The church isn’t required to give ecclesiastical endorsement to every legal action, is it? Drinking alcohol is legal in every state. So is drinking coffee. And it’s generally legal (with some exceptions) to have sex with someone other than your spouse. (There are still anti-adultery laws on the books in some jurisdictions, but they’re generally not enforced against the general public.) And abortion is legal, too.

    The church “gets away with” stating that these perfectly legal actions are sinful. That’s the normal course of action in a non-theocratic government.

    If the government announced that gay marriage was legal, tomorrow, it wouldn’t affect the church. Some churches would marry gay couples. Others would not.

    Doesn’t sound like such a bad outcome to me.

  111. #107 – I agree, MAC. I was addressing the aspect of homosexuality and that alone. I didn’t mean to tie #47 in with #66 and #103. I meant them to be totally separate comments.

  112. Kristine says:

    Kaimi,

    Jennifer’s claim was that the church is better than the world insofar as it believes children are Gods in embryo. My point was that, while we may believe that, we treat them rather shabbily, and that, in fact, many parts of “the world” give more resources and more attention to meeting my children’s needs in developmentally appropriate ways than the Church does.

    “Not as bad as the old Catholic school” doesn’t buy a lot in that argument, I don’t think.

  113. Norbert says:

    Great question. A problem we have is that we use the word family to refer to both the eternal unit and the group of people that live communally. Society has redefined the latter, largely out of necessity, and we feel the former is under attack. I don’t see it myself … in this country we have a broad range of legally recognized civil unions, and here we are with our family doing our thing.

  114. Right, Kris. And I agree on your general point — Jennifer’s comment doesn’t hold water, and your comment does a good job of pointing out why.

    I’m just nitpicking, like a good attorney, in a spot that I think you overstated your case.

    (But I should have been clearer upfront that I agree with you, in general. I just don’t see the same conceptual problems with meeting attendance that you’ve suggested.)

  115. Kristine says:

    Kaimi, I wouldn’t say Jennifer’s point doesn’t hold water, only that it depends on a pretty strong set of assumptions and a selective engagement with the world. In fairness, so does mine.

  116. Careful, PK.
    Here at BCC, it is only OK to tear down faithful LDS people who support the churches position.

    If you tear down anyone else, you will be blocked for sharing a viewpoint different from that of a moderator.

    There is no tit for tat here, just an expression of liberal ideas, and where conservative voices are silenced.

    Which is really funny, because instead of believing that by discourse the truth will be known, some of these guys think they need to silence others with diverse opinion.

    Wo to those who call good evil, and evil good.

  117. MikeInWeHo says:

    I don’t see “faithful LDS people who support the churches (sic) position” being torn down in here at all. Can you point out specific examples?

  118. #116 – Laughing at myself in this case proves you are 100% wrong. I’m not shy; I comment now and then. Probably 75% of my comments would be classified as “conservative” by most members; maybe 15% would be classifies as moderately liberal; the other 10% probably are liberal. (Yep, I pulled those numbers straight out of my land down under.)

    It’s interesting to me how many times we see what we think we will see, rather than what actually is.

  119. Steve Evans says:

    NOYDMB, wo to those who are total dickwads.

  120. Steve Evans says:

    …by that, I meant you. Do you really address your fellow Saints in that condescending tone all the time? No wonder you go by a pseudonym.

    Do I really need to say it again? It’s fine to disagree. We all disagree with each other, lots of times. But if you are not able to disagree with someone without coming off as a complete ass, then you’re just not invited to participate. It’s that simple, folks! If some of you need to go off and read books on how to disagree without coming off as complete asses, go do so and return to BCC thereafter.

  121. Yes Steve,
    Because calling someone a “Di*kwad” and an “As*” is not condescending, is not rude, and what you would do in an Elder’s Quorum Meeting?

    Lead by example, Brother. :)

  122. To reiterate something I said way back in #66, if we are going to focus on a group of people who are threatening heterosexual marriage in this country, let’s focus on heterosexuals who have 1) given us a skyrocketing divorce rate, 2) given us a skyrocketing illegitimate birth rate (and if you don’t like that term, we can employ the older, more traditional “bastard rate”), 3) given us skyrocketing co-habitation and fornication rates and 4) encouraged us to ignore these practices among a large percent of our population and blame a very small minority – the homosexual community – instead.

    In other words, there oughta be a law preventing Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, or Britney Spears from getting married again?

  123. NOYDMB,
    That’s how Steve used to talk to me in Elder’s Quorum. But then, he uses dickwad and ass politely.

  124. Steve Evans says:

    Sam’s exactly right. I do indeed use such language. I am a potty-mouth. It’s not condescending, at least!

  125. Well Steve,
    I’ll remain confused why it is OK for you to call other people names, and you still think it is not condescending. I’m not expecting perfection, and I do like some of your comments. But to limit another person’s expression (when it isn’t impolite) seems fairly disasterous. It makes it look like other peoples’ arguments cannot be challenged. That looks poorly upon the person, the moderator, and the blog.

  126. Steve Evans says:

    NOYDMB, that’s precisely the point — you’re the newcomer here, participating in discussions with people you just barely met. Your comment #116 was presumptuous and incredibly rude in that light. It’s not that people can never question anything on BCC, but rather that you do not seem to understand the basics of human interaction.

  127. Kaimi wrote: You’re against gay marriage because it’s an expansion of state power, and too coercive?

    I am concerned about that possibility.

    Now, I will readily admit that I may be prone to alarmism.

    I gather from your posts that you are a lawyer. Perhaps you can put my mind to rest about a few things:

    (1) If gay marriage were declared the law of the land, would LDS Family Services be able to provide services (such as adoption) if they treated gay couples differently from straight couples?

    (2) If gay marriage were legal, would BYU be in danger of losing its non-profit status or accreditation for discrimination against gay couples?

    (3) If gay marriage were legal, would individual Mormons be required to provide services, employment, rental housing, etc., to gay couples on the same basis as straight couples?

    Kaimi wrote: If the government announced that gay marriage was legal, tomorrow, it wouldn’t affect the church. Some churches would marry gay couples. Others would not.

    Doesn’t sound like such a bad outcome to me.

    I agree that the outcome you describe would not be bad. (As I wrote before, I tend to be a libertarian.) However, I am not convinced that activists and social engineers would be content with such a sensible state of affairs.

  128. PK, the answer to each of your questions is no.

  129. Dear Steve:
    Just because I’m confused as to why your personal hypocrisy is OK, doesn’t mean I’m new to reading. I’ve read this blog for the the last 6 months. I’m just sharing my observations over several times that a commenter has disagreed with other commenters, and obviously, with you. You may think it rude, but it was just my observation. If you truly believe in allowing a free exchange of ideas, you need some better (e.i., more objective rules) because right now it’s becoming whenever you disagree with Steve, you get booted.

    It IS rude and condescending to call someone a dic*wad. It is rude and condescending to call anyone an A$$. It is rude and condescending to say that someone else “doesn’t understand the basics of human interaction” just because they say things you happen to disagree with.

    P.S. An acronym =! pseudonym.

  130. OK, NOYDMB, I’m tired of you. Allow me to prove you right. Go brag to your friends about how Steve banned you. I’ll leave up your comments as a testimonial. Beat it, dickwad.

  131. John Mansfield says:

    Why again was it that Catholic Charities of Boston ceased adoption work two years ago?

  132. NOYDMB,
    You are exactly that which you criticize. Be more self aware or, yea verily, you shall be banned.

  133. Ooops, the day of repentance has passed.

  134. Interesting questions, PK.

    (1) If gay marriage were declared the law of the land, would LDS Family Services be able to provide services (such as adoption) if they treated gay couples differently from straight couples?

    I’m not a family law expert, so I could be wrong on this. But I’m not aware of statutes requiring that LDSFS allow adoption for all legally married couples.

    For instance, I have a family member who just adopted a child (not through LDSFS). As part of the process, he had to show income — as I recall, that he made over $70,000 or $90,000 or some threshold like that.

    Apparently, the agency has discretion to deny adoption to (legally married) couples who don’t satisfy additional requirements.

    What your question really seems to be getting at is the extent to which gay couples (or gay individuals, for that matter) are protected under anti-discrimination laws.

    It’s true that certain combinations of strongly worded, no-exception anti-discrimination laws would require some changes from the church and from church members. And it’s true that some gay-rights activists have pushed for that kind of legislation.

    To date, sexual orientation is not protected under most state anti-discrimination laws that I’m aware of (and is not a protected federal category).

    In some instances, anti-discrimination laws do protect for sexual orientation. The recent New Mexico case (wedding photographer fined $5000 for refusing to take pictures of same-sex wedding) is one example. That seems like a really bad approach, to me. In fact, I had a discussion with one of my students — a lesbian woman, a very strong believer in gay rights — about that case. She immediately said, “why would anyone want to force someone who doesn’t want to, to take their wedding pictures? Just find another photographer.”

    Seems sensible enough to me.

  135. John M., that’s a good point, but my read of the events surrounding the CCB is that it had little to do with gay marriage per se. The law in question prohibited discrimination against gays – it was not explicit legislation regarding gay marriage.

  136. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 127
    Actually, I can see P.K.’s point in asking those questions. Likewise John Mansfields in comment #131.

    It’s not implausible to imagine that if gay marriage were fully legalized nationwide, BYU could find itself in a position similar to Bob Jones University a while back (Bob Jones banned interracial dating, BYU bans same-sex dating). I don’t think one needs to be paranoid to have that concern. Not sure the solution though. Probably tighter religious freedom exemptions to all this stuff.

  137. John Mansfield says:

    Steve Evans, doesn’t that move the answer to PK’s questions a lot closer to a categorical yes than to a categorical no?

  138. John, I don’t think so. The fact that a state would recognize gay marriage wouldn’t necessarily result in some of the more draconian implementations of broader antidiscrimination laws.

  139. I was under the impression that you could not discriminate on housing or jobs based on sexual orientation already- am I mistaken?

  140. Tracy,

    Sexual orientation is protected by state law in some jurisdictions. And federal agencies are prohibited by federal law (by a particular agency ruling) from discriminating on that basis.

    But it’s not a protected category under the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, or under related statutes.

    For an overview of what the 64 Act protects (and does not protect), see http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html

  141. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 139/140
    Or to put it in non-lawyer terms:

    You are mistaken, Tracy M.

    In much of the country (including most of of Utah) it’s perfectly legal to flat out say “We won’t hire you because you are gay” or “We don’t rent to gays.” There’s no legal protection at all in many areas.

  142. Timburriaquito says:

    In California, sexual orientation and gender identity *are* protected classes. See Cal. Gov. Code §§ 12920, 12940, 12926 and 12949.

  143. MikeInWeHo says:

    Indeed, which is one of many reasons why I am thankful to be here!

  144. You live in CA, Mike?! All this time I thought you lived in Cedar City or Panguitch.

  145. Well, see that explains why I thought it was protected- I’m a CA girl, and grew up in that environment.

  146. Oh, and by the way, I personally find it abhorent that in many areas of the country

    it’s perfectly legal to flat out say “We won’t hire you because you are gay” or “We don’t rent to gays.” There’s no legal protection at all in many areas.

    Just in case I haven’t been clear on that.

  147. Jennifer says:

    Kristine and Kaimi,
    I responded to the question at hand based on my experience with children in the church. It wasn’t an “argument” per se, simply an expression of what I have found in my last 10 years as a mother. I wouldn’t devalue your experience so offhandedly, please don’t devalue mine.

    The question posted was specifically about the teachings of the church and what is unique about them. I attempted to answer that question, again, from experience not necessarily assumptions bereft of experience.

    So, I stand by my statement that the church remains unique in my life in terms of its doctrinal advocacy for what I do. Articles in People magazine (only on airplanes, honest!!) and nice comments from former colleagues and old people in Costco are not enough to support me in what is, in fact a sacrifice. I have been able to sustain this sacrifice, in large part because of the incredible support I have at church which teaches me, (and I have come to wholeheartedly agree) that there is something divine in that sacrifice.

    As a family, we have been lucky to have a pretty wide range of friends both within and without the church; my children feel loved by lots and lots of lovely people who are not LDS. But, there is something unique about how they are treated by fellow church members. In a variety of wards, across a wide social and economic spectrum, I have seen more people than I can count care for my children as they would their own. I have seen other members with whom we are not “friends” make pretty substantial sacrifices of time and resources on their behalf. They have never, ever been treated “shabbily”. I am glad my kids have people in their lives who remember their birthdays (and you are right, it has never been their home teachers), but I am more glad that they have people in their lives who see them for who they really are, in spite of what pigs they may be in Primary (definitely their home teachers).

  148. MikeInWeHo says:

    So we end up in California, which is altogether fitting in a thread which attempts to identify that great teacher of all things sinful and anti-Christ, the World.

  149. MikeInWeHo says:

    OH MY!!! The California Supreme Court just legalized gay marriage.

  150. kinda-sorta, Mikey.

  151. MikeInWeHo says:

    Actually, my understanding is that it’s not kinda-sorta at all. But that’s for another thread.

  152. Mike, functionally you are correct, but you’re not quite right on the legal process. The decision doesn’t ‘legalize’ gay marriage, exactly. It interprets the CA constitution to affirm the right of gay couples to marriage. But that’s nit-picking.

  153. Well, I suppose we and the world differ in regard to our belief that we were all brothers and sisters for eons and were made stewards over our ordained temporal families and familial roles (who knows where that leaves us when the SATs are over). I don’t believe any gay ordinations were made, but after watching Idol this season, nothing surprises me anymore.

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