Same-sex marriage and hypocrisy?

This post started life as a comment at Chino Blanco’s TPMCafe blog. However, the comment never cleared moderation there, clear evidence of a conspiracy to keep Mormons out of the discussion wacky technical glitch. Given the conspiracy glitch, I thought I’d post a slightly modified version of the comment here. In it, I try to address Jason’s suggestion at TPMCafe that the church’s published statements against same-sex marriage shows “blatant hypocrisy and shameless disregard for Mormon history.”

Many bloggers in the nacle — among them the inimitable Russell Arben Fox — have pointed out the potential incongruence of a once-polygamous church now waving the one-man, one-woman banner. (And other observers such as Jason have pointed this out as well, suggesting that it’s evidence of hypocrisy.) The discussion in the bloggernacle has tended to be less of broad-brush condemnation, and more along the lines of discussion about how the church’s present stance may be affected by its history. For instance, Russell wrote a few years ago of ways that that the church’s history limits its ability to make certain types of argument:

our history of polygamy prevents us, as far as I can tell, from speaking of heterosexual monogamy as either “traditional” or “natural,” at least not in the same way many evangelicals, Catholics, and others have tended to talk about it. Mormons can adopt their language all they like, but until or unless church leaders announce (or at least tolerate the development of the idea) that 19th-century polygamy was wrong and/or a mistake and/or one of those crazy aberrant things, like God commanding Abraham to kill his son (except 19th-century Mormon men did, in fact, go through with marrying multiple women), I simply do not see how we can in good conscience defend a position which instantiates a particular definition of the family as intrinsically necessary or good or worthy.

Russell’s assessment is interesting in both its similarities to, and differences from, the common (typically outsider) assessment of simple hypocrisy — and is, I think, more accurate overall. After all, there are a number of ways that one could conceptually be in favor of one type of marriage change, and not the other. Rejection of some societal constraints on marriage does not imply rejection of all societal constraints on marriage. (To imply otherwise would be, in a lot of ways, to buy in to Stanley Kurtz’s arguments about a slippery slope — that any change in marriage leads inexorably to human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.)

I don’t think that gay marriage advocates who oppose polygamy are necessarily hypocritical, for instance. And I similarly don’t think it’s necessarily incoherent to be in favor of polygamy and opposed to gay marriage. That is, it’s overly simplistic to simply say “polygamous history + current opposition to SSM = hypocrisy.”

But the church’s history does, I think, to build on Russell’s analysis, constrain its ability to make particular types of statements. In particular, the repeated reliance on a simple “one man, one woman” opposition-to-SSM framework seems problematic and incongruent with church history. Whatever our opposition to SSM is based on as a church, it should be on something different than simply “one man, one woman.”

Now, I don’t think this potential incongruence bothers many members at the rank-and-file level. Gay marriage comes up regularly as a topic of conversation with ward members, and I really have not heard these kinds of history-based opposition to or criticism of the church’s involvement in the SSM debate. On the other hand, the possible problems with church history of polygamy (and its particular arguments against SSM) seem to come up regularly in online discussions. I’m not sure to what extent this difference reflects the different community and audiences, different discussion norms, or something else (or some combination). But I do think it’s significant to point out to outside observers (hi, Jason!) that the online discussions are not necessarily representative of general rank-and-file member thought.

And, of course, Mormons aren’t the only ones connecting the two concepts. Various other observers wonder whether same-sex marriage will ultimately lead to polygamy. For some critics (e.g., Kurtz, Maggie Gallagher), this is another reason to oppose SSM; some legal scholars — for instance, Jonathan Turley or Elizabeth Emens — have also pointed out ways that SSM may at some point lead to legalization of polygamy.

The Cal decision itself contains a very unconvincing footnote that says in effect, “This won’t lead to polygamy.” I don’t find that footnote very compelling, and I do think it’s reasonably likely that greater marriage equality for same-sex couples will ultimately lead to decriminalization or legalization of polygamy. And I’ve personally talked to plural marriage advocates who hope to use recent gay-rights cases to overturn laws against polygamy. (Weirdly enough, I suspect that the modern LDS church would be strongly opposed to that change as well.)

Even if the two do end up linked in this manner, I don’t think it’s necessarily hypocritical or problematic to try to disaggregate them. The devil is in the details, though. A careful disaggregation may be sustainable, but the simple bumper-sticker anti-SSM sound bites that get bandied about in the political arena are sufficiently broad that they almost certainly conflict with early church history and doctrine, and thus seem singularly unconvincing to many church members I know.

(And the issue of disaggregating the two arguments is sufficiently complicated — and the political soundbites sufficiently simplistic — that an observer like Jason might reasonably draw the conclusion that the church is of necessity being hypocritical. That conclusion might be premature — as I’ve suggested, the issue is more complicated — but it’s not unreasonable.)

The issue becomes particularly charged for members like me who personally support marriage equality (and equal rights more broadly). I don’t want to give the church (or any institution) a free pass for hypocritical behavior. On the other hand, I don’t want to prematurely accuse the church of acting hypocritically, and I think that the issue is sufficiently complex that, as I note earlier, one cannot simply say, “polygamous history + current opposition to SSM = hypocrisy.” And I know that I may be particularly inclined towards caution in making charges of hypocrisy, because as a practicing church member, I’m limited in my ability to directly criticize church leaders. I don’t really want to be the next Sonia Johnson, but neither do I want to compromise on my beliefs; striking the proper balance is a complicated matter.

So, that’s my broad response to the general question of whether opposing SSM necessarily means the church is acting hypocritically: It’s more complicated than that. Certain types of anti-SSM arguments seem inconsistent with church history; but this does not itself mean that all anti-SSM arguments are inconsistent with church history.

(And as a quick side note, I’m going to be on a panel at the upcoming Sunstone conference this August, where my co-panelists and I will examine some of these issues. I hope to see some of you there for an interesting discussion.)

A few quick notes that I should add:

1. An earlier version of the post referred to Chino’s post as an outsider analysis, but I don’t know if that’s correct, so I removed that line.

2. This post examines one particular issue — the accuracy of Chino’s assessment of the church’s opposition to SSM as hypocritical. This is not a general “everything gay marriage” thread. I’m going to watch comments, and I’ll remove threadjacks. The general topic is always threadjack central.

3. I’m not making any statement here about the overall validity of the FP letter; I’m analyzing one particular line of critique, as raised on Jason’s blog.

Comments

  1. Please note the updates at the end of the post. Especially, the “don’t threadjack” note.

  2. I don’t mean to pick at nits, but I am unaware of any church quotes that state marriage is to be between “one man and one woman”. The proclamation on the family states simply “Marriage between man and woman is ordained of God” and I seem to recall statements that might have stated marriage is to be between “a man and a woman”.

    Both of these statements have a very different meaning than specifying “one man and one woman”.

    If there are statements from the church out there that do specify the number “one”, I would appreciate knowing them.

  3. I don’t think the Church is being hypocritical. I think our leaders have good reasons for publicly situating the Church as a bastion against the kinds of rapid social changes (evolving gender roles, broader acceptance of non-traditional family models, sexualization of pop-culture, etc). The Church has an important mission to accomplish — to carry the restored gospel and access to salvific covenants to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. The kinds of social changes that the Church is acting in opposition to are very popular in some parts of the world — especially North America and Western Europe. But they are far less popular in other areas — Latin America, Eastern Europe and Russia, Sub-Saharan Africa, China and India, the Muslim world. I know these are sweeping generalizations, but you get the idea.

    I suspect that the Church’s public stance on SSM will not be particularly terrific for Church growth in the US, Canada, and Western Europe. But I suspect the opposite to be true in parts of the world where the Church is seeking either to stabilize growth, gain a foothold, or even establish a presence. The Church’s opposition to SSM may or may not have lasting consequences for the institution of marriage in the US. That opposition will definitely have consequences for the future of the Church globally. I suspect that Church leaders, under the inspired guidance of the Lord, are far, far more concerned with the latter than the former.

    I take the position I do on SSM (I support it) in my capacity as a citizen. I think it will be good for the country and good for families. I think it will strengthen the family as a central unit of society. I also think that the Church’s oppositional stance to SSM will strengthen the Church’s ability to grow globally, and that said opposition is the result of a cost-benefit analysis that frames the Church less as a US citizen than as a vehicle for carrying the gospel to the world. I support SSM. I also strongly support the Church’s opposition to it.

    I am very, very glad that I don’t live in California.

  4. The major issue I have with this is that the First Presidency doesn’t explain itself, its rationale for why this particular situation is a threat to “traditional marriage.” I found the following from President Hinckley in November 1998:

    Question 2: What is your Church’s attitude toward homosexuality?

    In the first place, we believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. We believe that marriage may be eternal through exercise of the power of the everlasting priesthood in the house of the Lord.

    People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.

    We want to help these people, to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God-sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families.

    It would be a logical fallacy for me to point out that numerous other heterosexual things “make light” of the “very serious and sacred foundation” of marriage. So I won’t. But I’d like a deeper explanation as to why this is such a threat to traditional marriage. I’d also like to know if the church has been vocal and made efforts in other countries on this same issue. After all, morality is a universal principle. Do we stand for it everywhere, or only where we can politically?

  5. I am so eager to hear the panel at Sunstone, Kaimi. I appreciate your thoughtful approach–to everything you approach.

  6. I don’t understand the contradiction: a man with two wives doesn’t have *one* marriage to two women, he has *two* marriages, each to one woman. Thus, polygamy doesn’t actually violate the ‘marriage = one man + one woman’ paradigm.

    The difference between the two marriages should be obvious: one wife passing away (or filing for divorce) has no bearing or impact on the other marriage. (Compare to one guy being the drummer in two different rock bands at the same time. One band breaking up has no impact on the other, other than freeing up some extra time for the common member)

    I don’t see how this is hypocritical at all–especially given the obvious fact that most Church members nowadays don’t support polygamy either.

  7. MikeInWeHo says:

    I don’t agree with the hypocrisy argument at all, and think it represents rather lazy reasoning.

    My problem with the Church’s political activity is this:

    The Church does not allow its members to engage in same-sex relationships. It has every right to take that position. It also has every right to prohibit its members from drinking coffee. This is a voluntary organization.

    Is it therefore acceptable for the Church to attempt to ban Starbucks via constitutional amendment? (Disclaimer: I might support that amendment myself)

    Would it be acceptable for Christian Scientists to attempt to block universal health coverage because they don’t believe in medical care?

    Shall the Jehovah’s Witnesses spend millions to close the blood banks?

  8. Of course, to insiders it is hard to see why there “must” be hypocrisy at all, as one change to traditional marriage came by commandment from the Lord and another apparently did not. This dodges the larger the question of what is behind the two changes, but then again, I wouldn’t want to go off topic.

  9. Steve Evans says:

    Mike, ever since they stopped selling Chantico, I agree with you.

  10. Mike, the banning starbucks and closing the blood banks analogies don’t apply because you’re talking about changing society based on religious beliefs. In this case the LDS church is trying to preserve a societal tradition, not change it.

    The fighting against universal health care example does apply since they would be fighting for the status quo, based on their religious beliefs. And no I don’t see a problem with them doing so. Whether or not they would be able to convince enough people to vote their way is another question.

    But to the main topic, I agree with others that there is no hypocrisy on display here. Broadly speaking, you can disagree with SSM and agree with polygamy (or vice versa) and still be consistent. Everyone is entitled to their opinion about what a marriage should consist of without being called a hypocrite for it.

  11. Kaimi, thank you for this thoughtful post.

    I am bothered by the charge of hypocrisy more than by just about anything else. I just don’t see it, and every argument claiming hypocrisy I have seen is based on emotion and hyperbole that doesn’t address the Church’s actual statement.

    I actually support the amendment as a good legal description of the Church’s current view on marriage, and I support their ability to ask for membership support of it – particularly since it is a “voice of the people move” rather than a legislative move. I just don’t think it is the best solution, and I have reservations about the legal discrimination I see relative to heterosexual alternatives to traditional marriage. I’m glad I don’t live in CA.

    Difficult issue? Yes. Hypocrisy? Not at all.

  12. Kaimi,
    Thanks for the great post.
    Aaron and I will be in La Jolla this weekend–if you aren’t far from there…

    People! Quit saying your glad you don’t live in California!

  13. MikeinWeHo #7,
    I think it’s acceptable for any person or group of people with common ideas as to proper public policy to organize and advocate for their position. Everybody is trying to impose their own values on everybody else. Within constitutionally defined limits (which are also subject to the will of the majority, albeit indirectly), the majority wins.

  14. Oops. I think my reply was off topic. I remembered Kaimi’s request just after I submitted. I’m fine with being deleted.

  15. I also do not see hypocrisy. The Church has always been in favor of hetero marriage (granted poly as well) and has consistently been disapproving of homosexual sex.

    As far as California is concerned…… My understanding is that church membership is either flat or down in CA since the early 1990′s. Mostly due to people leaving the state right Queno?

  16. Elder Oaks recognizes that some may see irony in the church’s position.

  17. I’ve removed a few threadjacking comments.

    This is not a general thread about dogs and cats living together; it’s an examination of a specific issue, and a particular argument (hypocrisy).

    Steve, Chantico is tasty, but it’s still a threadjack. Also, it’s a hot drink, you sinner.

    Thanks for your comments, folks.

    DTL,

    I’m not aware of the church itself making one woman, one man statements. But I believe that many anti-SSM advocates make just that argument — and the church is, I believe, joining that coalition.

    Brad,

    That’s a very interesting way to resolve the potential tension — I like it.

    Dan,

    I think you’re right to point out that the term “traditional marriage” is very problematic. As church members, we have a history of going directly against traditional marriage norms. That particular line of reasoning is really not a good one for Mormons to adopt.

  18. Margaret,

    Thanks. You rock. :)

    KMB,

    On the narrow issue, you’re right. It doesn’t have to be inconsistent.

    However, certain arguments against SSM — for instance, that we must “preserve traditional marriage” — really don’t work with church history.

    Mike,

    I think it’s a little more complicated. The church isn’t seeking to criminalize same-sex relationships (though I’ve heard some members criticize Lawrence). It’s more like Jehovah’s Witnesses fighting against tax exemptions for blood banks.

    But you’re right, that it’s an interesting place to take a stand. Why spend our political capital here rather than elsewhere?

    Ray,

    Well, I’m glad I don’t live in Ohio. :P

    Mmiles,

    I was in La Jolla just a few days ago — it’s just a few minutes north of me. Let’s meet and have a barbeque, or something.

    Justin,

    Thanks for the link — the Oaks and Wickman interview is interesting. One important line from it is that it’s each person’s duty as a citizen to make their own choice.

  19. FWIW, Elders Nelson and Ballard have used the formulation “one man and one woman” in General Conference, and Elder Nelson signed a letter using that language.

  20. Great thread. It’s nice to have this issue presented with a little more nuance than usual.
    I’m surprised no one has linked to the thread from Monday about the ERA and how the arguments made from the church at that time have implications for the SSM issue today.
    Kaimi, I’ll agree that the “one man, one woman” argument seems a little weak. I almost prefer the unnatural argument “tab A, slot B.”
    As far as the implications for polygamy, I think as a church we need to address the way we are still living polygamy through biased sealing practices. Thus, polygamy isn’t as far behind us as we think it is, so the rhetoric about SSM seems a little empty to me, if not entirely hypocritical.
    Good post. I can tell you’re an attorney. Sooo many words. :)

  21. If you are afraid of losing an argument, one approach is to attack the integrity of your opponent. A good way to do that is to call them names. And if you can make it sound good, all the better. Those people who have limited capacity for reasoning will buy into it.

    (See, I just ended my statement by attacking the intelligence of people who disagree with me.)

    btw, I loved living in California.

  22. Nate Oman says:

    I was glad that I don’t live in California long before the current SSM thing came up.

  23. Even if we assume that it’s hypocritical for a formerly polygamist church to oppose same-sex marriage, what of it? By that I mean, even if you go along with Chino Blanco’s position, where does that lead? That because of a conflicted past we have no standing to take any position with regards to marriages? I am not sure that a claim of hypocrisy is necessarily a killer to the Church’s ability to function in this realm, even if arguendo we are hypocrites.

  24. Am I the only one who doesn’t understand BruceC’s point?

  25. Just because we believed in one kind of “alternative” marriage practice doesn’t mean we have to accept all alternative marriage practices. I should think that most of those who do support SSM would still have trouble with the sheep thing- would that make them hypocrits as well?

  26. Chad Too says:

    I find this scripture apropos the discussion:

    Exodus 22:21
    Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

    As we were once strangers, I find it hypocritical to vex and oppress others who find their marriage ideas at odds with the majority.

  27. #16
    In your response to DTL, are you trying to tell me that people are saying we (Mormons) are getting church doctrine from statements made by other organizations and churches?
    He was stating what the church has said and in those statements there is no hypocrisy…

  28. What everyone seems to forget is that the Mormon church didn’t seek legal recognition of its marriages. Gay couples in Utah and the rest of the country already have the same rights Mormon polygamists sought for themselves — the law leaves them alone.

    Chad Too, your argument leads to the ridiculous position that Mormons must support every unpopular alternative marriage.

  29. Matt W. says:

    Um, polygamy = ‘widely popular in the old testament’, homosexuality = ‘widely condemned in the old testament’

    Seems pretty simple to me.

  30. I would protest that hypocrisy itself is an overused term actually related to people who pretend to a righteousness they do not in fact possess. Hypocrisy would be preaching against SSM then actually performing or engaging in SSM. I object to the use of that moralistically loaded term in this context. It implies that any criticism of SSM is self-righteous moralizing, which is unfair to some earnest and thoughtful opponents of SSM (few of whom would, I suspect, vote for the constitutional amendment). Some anti-SSM rhetoric certainly is absurd self-righteousness, but even that rhetoric is not truly hypocritical.

    The more interesting question is, as Kaimi has expertly noted, what types of arguments are internally consistent for a faith with a history of reforming family structure and decrying the inherent corruption of monogamy (yes, folks, some of our early leaders used that type of rhetoric in public)?

    The anti-monogamy rhetoric was primarily meant to respond to anti-polygamy criticism (particularly the bizarre moral physiognomy arguments) and to emphasize the absurdity of promoting Victorian morality at the expense of the Latter-day Saints while looking the other way at adultery. Mormons have been on the other end of arguments that look like the arguments some of them are making vis-a-vis SSM.

    The other important piece of rhetoric used historically was the emphasis on the rights of religious freedom. Here I have not seen SSM advocated as a religious rite per se, though with enough emphasis in liberal Protestantism it could become so. This argument might be more significant against anti-sodomy laws, as the religious rite of SSM could exist entirely independent of civil marriages between people of the same biological sex.

    I think the LDS can take a coherent position, at least for their own policy, which is that marital systems must involve couplings that have plausible biological expectation of reproductive competence. The trick will be sorting out the effects of adoption, infertility, and techniques of artificial insemination, but peripheral exceptions do not necessarily scuttle a system, no matter how much we in our journalistic tendencies may believe it so. This view would not involve internal inconsistency, and I think would be true to an important view of the founders’ visions of family structure.

    How or whether to propagate that system to the broader civil society, as MikeWeHo notes, is a trickier point, but I think they could craft an internally consistent system based on notions that reproduction of the constituents of a society is possibly regulable by that society (though this type of interventionalist government seems particularly tethered to “moral” issues relating to sexuality in the conservative movement, which generally makes philosophical stands against “big” or intrusive government.)

  31. Matt W. says:

    (On the sunstone panel, who will oppose SSM?)

  32. Latter-day Guy says:

    Interesting post.

    And I’ve personally talked to plural marriage advocates who hope to use recent gay-rights cases to overturn laws against polygamy. (Weirdly enough, I suspect that the modern LDS church would be strongly opposed to that change as well.)

    Yes. I certainly think the decriminalization of polygamy would put the church in a very strange position indeed, given that the major justification for ending polygamy was a matter of obeying the law. I really think that the church would rather not deal with that situation, and that this influences their involvement in the gay marriage issue. A tar-pit of La Brea-ic proportions.

  33. Latter-day Guy says:

    RE 19,

    Yes, and I think there was a small evangelical group gunning for Elder Nelson to be removed from some think-tank/marriage defense group or other, because of charges of hypocrisy due to Nelson’s sealing to his second wife. Interesting business.

  34. Justin (19),

    Good catch — thanks.

    Jess (20),

    I’m hesitant to go too far off thread here, but you do realize that there are a significant number of heterosexual couples who put Tab A into slots B or C? And the church doesn’t seem to have a problem with this, at present. (There was a no-oral-sex letter in the 1980s, but it was quickly withdrawn.)

    Steve (23),

    Good question. A charge of hypocrisy has a clear purpose, I think, to rob the speaker of moral force.

    However, for believing church members, the charge is unlikely to outweigh prophetic statement. If God has changed things in the past, why not now?

    Jess (24),

    No. :)

    Noray (25),

    Let’s keep sheep out of it, please. That’s just a baaaad comparison.

    But yes, it’s correct to note that there are real problems with slippery-slope arguments.

    Chad (26),

    That’s one eloquent way to note potential moral problems with opposing SSM. Thanks.

    Matt (28),

    Yes — recourse to the Old Testament pretty well settles it. I like to draw all of my moral bearings from the O.T. I’m in favor of genocide, for instance.

    Matt (30),

    All of us, of course.

    LDG (31),

    I think you’re right — decriminalization of polygamy would open a lot of weird cans of worms.

  35. Sam (29),

    That’s a very good analysis, I think. You’re correct to note both the deep problems from our earlier anti-monogamy rhetoric; and also, some potentially, non-ends-based ways to frame the issue that makes the current position coherent. It’s possible to split the baby here.

    Whether that particular compromise is either (a) representative of the church’s position, or (b) palatable to any particular latter-day saint, is a separate issue.

  36. Adam Greenwood says:

    I am against people besides me being hypocrites.

  37. Aaron Brown says:

    If you administered a test to the general populace, asking everyone to identify instances of hypocrisy vs. instances of irony, most everyone would fail it, methinks. But accusing people of hypocrisy is FUN, FUN, FUN, while exclaiming that they are “purveyors-of-irony”, not so much.

    I’ve always thought Russell Fox’s thoughts on SSM have been some of the Bloggernacle’s best.

    AB

  38. Bro Jones says:

    I heard a conservative talk show guy on the radio the other day. He was talking about the announcement by the church to actively support California’s One-man-one-woman amendment.

    His opinion was that the reason for the church to be so active on this issue is to make a public statement that we are in fovor of traditional marriage ONLY BECAUSE we used ot practice polygamy, and we want to draw a clear distintion between ourselves and the FLDS who have gotten a lot of press of late.

    I don’t agree. What is your take on that possibility?

  39. Kaimi–
    Email me and we’ll work out the details.

  40. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 29
    “…peripheral exceptions do not necessarily scuttle a system, not matter how much we in our journalistic tendencies may believe it so.”

    Amen, smb. But what on earth is SSM if not a “peripheral exception” ?? How have the small number of gay marriages in Canada and other countries “scuttled” heterosexual marriage there?

    I think people level hypocrisy charges against the Church because many outsiders view some of these anti-gay arguments as obviously flawed, terribly unfair, and perhaps even disingenuous.

  41. Bro Jones–completely false. The Church has already done this in California–same issue, different time, but the FLDS were not in the picture at all. There is a poignant account of that particular effort written by Stuart Matis, a gay LDS man who ultimately took his life on the steps of an LDS Church. You can find it in Carol Lyn Pearson’s _No More Goodbyes: Circling Our Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones_.

  42. I’m kinda bummed about the TPM glitches, as I was hopin’ to enjoy watchin’ this discussion unfold over there. That bit of bellyachin’ outta the way, it was great to see Kaimi show up and attempt to weigh in.

    I think I’m hep to the abundance of hypocrisy. Following the link in the middle of my TPM post gets you here:

    In Romer v. Evans (1996), the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that laws that infringed on political participation by gays could offend the Equal Protection Clause. In dissent from the opinion in Romer, Justice Scalia wrote that there was nothing unconstitutional about antigay discrimination because the Supreme Court, in Davis v. Beason (1890) ruled that Idaho acted constitutionally by depriving polygamists of the right to vote.

    In doing so, Scalia made a conservative rhetorical move against expanding rights by equating a left-wing sexual minority against a right-wing sexual minority, so that each upon reading his argument would be offended at comparison to the other, and crawl back under the bed in silence while heterosexual, Protestant white men golf and drink whiskey, their womenfolk bake, and their sheep get nervous. A pox on all deviants, his dissent reads.

    The hypocrisy is not Scalia’s (he’s consistently bigoted here). The hypocrisy is in that pesky footnote that Kaimi mentions above.

  43. Mike, I’m not persuaded by the anti-SSM rhetoric, and a great deal of it is hurtful garbage. But, as long as we can separate the discussion from the horribly anti-Christian sentiments underlying hatred and persecution of gays, I’m willing to allow people to elaborate a rationale for proposing that ancient marital norms persist. My Progressive convictions tempt me to shout down the anti-SSM group, but I’m trying to be as conscientious as a progressive as I expect a conservative to be, and that means thinking it through independent of my personal affection for a variety of people both general and particular.

    I have a hard time understanding how my marriage is affected by another person’s marriage (unless the other people are NRA activists with a grudge), but I’m willing to hear arguments against civil SSM if they can be articulated reasonably and without vitriol. (I will confess that I’m largely still waiting for that to happen.)

  44. I just sent a comment, and it’s not showin’ up, so I’ll keep this brief and hope I’ll be allowed to participate …

    Here’s my take so far after reading above:

    RAF: Mormon defense of “traditional marriage” is problematic. (agreed)

    Kaimi: Opposition to polygamy is just as problematic for gay marriage advocates. (agreed)

    LDG: The LDS Church has decided to play offense on the gay marriage issue because, let’s face it, a problematic defense of “traditional marriage” is still a defense. Were polygamy to become legal, well, I think the term is “instant nostalgia” … (agreed? I don’t know, but it’s an interesting take on this)

    So, yeah, hypocrisy on both sides, but I’m wonderin’ if LDG hasn’t hit on what’s really behind the LDS Church’s actions on this issue?

    Also, I’m wonderin’ – settin’ aside talkin’ ’bout “hypocrisy” for a moment – if anyone here might be interested to answer the question I invited the bloggernacle to answer?

    If, as with Prop. 22, LDS church members in California are again asked to canvass their neighbors in support of the church’s position against gay marriage, what view would you take of activists on the other side of this issue who might deem it fair play to mobilize and park themselves outside LDS chapels on June 29th in a show of disagreement with your church’s position?

    That’s not meant to sound belligerent. I think it’s a fair question to ask.

  45. Chino, here’s my take on your question: if they’re not acting illegally or unethically, let activists on both sides do what they feel in their hearts to do. I can’t fault them for it. Now picketing a chapel during Sunday services is definitely impolite and inflammatory, and I would hope activists would mobilize themselves in a way more geared towards bona fide debate. But again — if people are acting in a legal and ethical way, why should we complain of these things?

  46. #45 – Ditto.

  47. Latter-day Guy says:

    RE 44

    wonderin’ – settin’ aside talkin’ ’bout

    I’m impressed with this fragment. 4 out of 5 truncated by apostrophes. What are the chances of that? Seriously, any statisticians out there?

    But… on topics other than my fascination with grammatical anomalies… If the parking lot is considered private property, then could hypothetical protesters be viewed as trespassing.

    However, if, on the first Sunday of July, gay people would organize so a few gay families with children would show up to every ward in Cali, and then, during testimony time, one would get up and briefly say: “Hi. I’m not a member of your church, but I am impressed with what nice people you all are, and what beautiful families you have. That’s why I cannot understand why your leaders would encourage you to vote for a measure that would hurt MY family. I hope you don’t,” and then sit down, or leave with their children, then they would–I think–make both a powerful protest and a very good argument. It would change some minds.

  48. Latter-day Guy says:

    “then could hypothetical protesters be viewed”

    Wow. Awkward grammar. Try:

    “then hypothetical protesters could be viewed”

  49. Great, now Steve’s fair answer has got me wonderin’ if I shouldn’t try making my questions not only fair but interesting as well?

    By the way, when does this disaggregation project that Kaimi talks about get underway? Maybe that’s a more interesting question that could be asked of all sides?

    Or at least a couple of sides. I’ve already picked the easy side that avoids the hard work of disaggregation by adopting a permissive attitude toward both polygamy and gay marriage. For those who’re hard set against one or the other, when y’all plannin’ on gettin’ the project started? Or is pluggin’ the gaps with foot soldiers and footnotes as good as it gets for now?

  50. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 47

    That’s a fascinating idea.
    Wouldn’t it be considered disruptive, though?

  51. Latter-day Guy says:

    RE 49,

    Oh, probably. That’s one of the reasons that not sticking around afterwards would be a good idea. However, if the comment is kept VERY short, and it is delivered in a calm and charitable way, then I doubt it would elicit much anger. At least that is my hope. If that isn’t the case then I have hugely misjudged the LDS people.

    I really do believe that it would be food for thought, and that, whatever way an individual member might decide to vote, it would put a human face on an issue that tends to spawn a great deal of demonization. (To wit, the recent post on Mormon Matters on this issue and the behavior of one commenter who, several times, behaved like a troll.)

  52. Re #47:

    Please pardon the truncations. I sometimes go overboard with ‘em when I’m tryin’ to come off as self-deprecatin’ in situations like these where I figure I stand a good chance of comin’ off like a jerk. Nervous habit.

    In any case, the important thing here is the final paragraph of your comment. What you’re suggesting would be a beautiful thing to behold. I don’t know if I have enough faith in humanity to believe it’s possible. If we were all made of stronger stuff, I suspect it would be, and it’d be a great way to actually get some real work done on June 29th.

  53. I agree with Steve in 45 — I’m not opposed to it, but it doesn’t strike me as particularly efficacious.

    Comment 47, on the other hand, is a fascinating idea.

  54. You’re still around? Great, I’ve got two more comments held up in moderation, and then I’d like to bid you all a very fine day. Thanks again for engaging.

  55. 29 – My thoughts exactly. The Lord has sanctioned polygamy at certain times in certain dispensations. Never has SSM been sanctioned. No hypocrisy on this issue exists where the church is concerned. I think it is possible that polygamny will be sanctioned again not by the church but by the loopholes that will evolve from the recent legislation. Religious freedom to freely practice ones beliefs will combined with changes in marriage legislation, I feel, outweigh the current laws on polygamy.

    I am sure the church will oppose that potential future ruling, but perhaps not as vehemently as the SSM debate.

  56. Sorry to continue this threadjack, but even the approach in #47 would be quite disruptive and inappropriate for a testimony meeting. I suggest those wishing to protest position themselves, and any of their children across the street, dressed in conservative attire and quietly hold signs that read, “Please don’t vote to hurt my family.”

    Re: #3, Brad raises a very good argument for the church to proceed very conservatively on many of today’s social issues primarily to position the church for growth in Eastern bloc and developing countries.

    On the one hand I think Brad may very well be correct, but on the other hand, it seems fundamentally wrong, even immoral, to be complicit in societal homophobia merely to position the church to succeed in countries which tend to be homophobic.

    Now, I’ve probably twisted Brad’s words. And certainly to discuss this further would be a threadjack. Still, it is a good topic for another thread.

  57. Thomas Parkin says:

    32 – I’m not sure. I think legalized polygamy, and everything that lead up to it, would create no end of bloggernacle controversy. Although I doubt it would generate the same volume of words words words that this SSM situation generates. (Mostly because I think that polygamy carries a whiff of something that _isn’t_ the sexual freedom of the individual, especially the women involved. And will therefore not be as popular with the right people as everything surrounding homosexuality in our culture. Should polygamy come to be seen as liberating sexually, for women, especially, it will gain a lot more traction.) But, I think the the church would go right on not allowing polygamy, and would give little or no justification, wouldn’t talk about it any more than it does now, excpet to say, we don’t practice polygamy anymore – and the vast majority of Western Hemisphere and European members would be just fine with that.

    ~

  58. Peter LLC says:

    Here’s my definition of hypocrisy (hat tip to Latter-day Guy):

    RE 50:

    VERY

    I’m impressed with this word. 4 out of 4 letters capitalized. What are the chances of that? Seriously, any statisticians out there?

  59. Haven’t read the whole thread, but I wonder if the greater hypocrisy arises when bloggernaclites become downright giddy when the church makes efforts to recognize and expose historical gaffes but show even more downright indignance when the church takes a stand that may not fully compute with their view of a complicated past (but that fits squarely within the bounds of revealed doctrine)?

    As with all LDS GLBT banter that takes whatever roundabout road to supporting some sort of government-recognized union of homosexuals, there are fundamental doctrinal points at issue that get shoved out the window to accomodate individual agendas. As for me and my house, I’m deferring to the prophet on this one.

  60. Adam S. says:

    How is this for hypocrisy: Why did the church not send out a similar letter to my ward in Massachusetts when organizations were struggling to overturn the court’s ruling on gay marriage? Could it be the bad press it would have given to Mitt Romney? Why are they perfectly comfortable with two different approaches to this policy in California and Massachusetts?

  61. Latter-day Guy says:

    Peter LLC, you’ve found me out!

    (But seriously, there are only so many words that can be shortened by knocking off an “ing” or some other letter. On the other hand, all letters can be capitalized.)

  62. Steve Evans says:

    rd, (#56), unfortunately your first paragraph is too tortured to let your dripping disdain for all of us come through effectively. Fortunately your final sentence establishes both your unparalleled righteousness as well as your capacity to stand in judgment of everyone else. Bravo. BRA-VO, good sir!

  63. I think the actual point may not be whether or not Mormons being currently against SSM is actually hypocritical, but rather, huge portions of the populace immediately jump to that conclusion. Plus, it gives all and sundry another reason to discuss the wacky, tittilating polygamous past history.

  64. Kaimi:

    I was serious. Who is going to be on the panel. Or is sunstone going to just be all gay pride and whatever? Who’s going to say Gay marriage isn’t the issue, but that the whole nation(world?) has conflated love with sexuality. I’d love to see someone intelligently argue against SSM. It’s not me, but I am interested in seeing if you are going to have some real discussion, or is this going to be like that evil republican straw man we roasted in the last post?

    Also, I don’t like the Old Testament, I just know that many LDS see the against homosexuality scriptures in the OT (and aren’t there some in the NT? this isn’t a topic I normally gear up on.) as justification for their thoughts on this, as do evangelicals and other religious groups. Dismissing it by calling them genocide loving monsters(ok, you didn’t really say that, but that’s the tone conveyed by your quip.), while logically an interesting and true use of reductio ad absurdem, doesn’t really win the day.

  65. KMB,

    You’re looking only at a particular notion of polygamy. Other arrangements are possible, including group marriage in which each additional partner enters into a marriage with all the other partners. Such an arrangement would certainly violate the “between one man and one woman” language that gets thrown around. However, I will admit that such arrangements don’t apply to the discussion of LDS hypocrisy on the issue because LDS polygamy (in general, you could have a polyandry discussion here) was not a group marriage situation.

  66. Steve Evans says:

    Matt W., there aren’t a large number of anti-homosexuality scriptures in the NT. There are some Pauline musings that come close — Romans 1, 1st Cor. 6, 1 Tim. 1, but nothing like the OT.

  67. Matt W.,

    You’re correct, I think, that most LDS folks see Leviticus as justification for attitudes towards gays today. (There are, I think, all sorts of problems with that reading — but I think it’s accurate as a description of how most LDS folks see it.)

    As for the panel, I’m really not sure. I submitted a proposed talk to Sunstone, and Mary Ellen later told me that it would be part of a panel with other speakers. As far as details, I don’t know them. You could e-mail Dan Wotherspoon or Mary Ellen Robertson. Or, you could wait till the preliminary program comes out (in a week or so, I think).

    My proposed talk was largely focusing on the legal aspects of the Cal decision. Depending on panel composition, I may adapt it some.

    The proposal I sent in was this abstract:

    Last May in In Re Marriage Cases, the California Supreme Court held unconstitutional a state ban on same-sex marriages, making California the second state to officially permit same-sex marriage. It is expected that thousands of same-sex couples will marry in California before year’s end. The court’s decision has drawn criticism from various quarters, including a statement from the church.

    This talk [panel?] will discuss several different aspects of the In Re Marriage Cases decision. Some questions I [we?] will seek to address include: Just what legal doctrines were at issue in the case? What does this case mean for individuals, both inside and outside of California? Will this case directly or indirectly affect legal questions about other unpopular proposed marriage systems — particularly, plural marriage? What actions, official or unofficial, can we expect the church or church members to take in California? And how do these questions relate to broader issues of family definition, societal assimilation, or the political role of the church? Finally, how might In Re Marriage Cases affect our ability as individuals to better love and serve our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters?

  68. Kaimi, thanks for your response. I’ll look forward to seeing what comes out of sunstone this year.

  69. Kaimi,

    Hypocrisy is defined as claiming to believe in something when our actions indicate the opposite, or refusing to apply the same standards to ourselves that we apply to others. Since the LDS Church has never published anything that endorsed or encouraged same sex unions, what they publish now does not fit the definition of even mild hypocrisy, let alone blatant.

    I do not doubt that some LDS members are ignorant or obtuse in their beliefs and actions, but in all honesty, most of the LDS folks I know that oppose same sex unions do so because they understand and accept God’s definition of marriage and its role in His eternal plan as revealed to both ancient and modern prophets. They also know that the teachings of God’s living prophet apply even more specifically to them, and that while they are defending truth and condemning sin they are also expected to be loving and kind to their brothers and sisters who believe differently.

  70. think the actual point may not be whether or not Mormons being currently against SSM is actually hypocritical, but rather, huge portions of the populace immediately jump to that conclusion. Plus, it gives all and sundry another reason to discuss the wacky, tittilating polygamous past history.

    Which is more of a distraction technique than an argument with any substance.

    If the LDS Church was leading out and alone in this effort to keep gay marriage at bay, that might be at least some justification for considering our past with what marriage has been. But I think it’s ludicrous to do so given the fact that we have simply joined a coalition that already existed…with many, many other people who believe that marriage, in our current society, needs to stay as it has always been defined and supported by the state — as between a man and a woman. I think people who want to use polygamy as reason to suggest that we don’t have any right to take this stand are just grasping at straws. And they are flimsy ones at that, imo. We have never supported any marriage that wasn’t heterosexual, and that is really the point.

    Besides, in the end, when and if we have the chance to vote and be involved in this issue, we all get to vote according to our conscience and belief on the issue. My personal history doesn’t matter to that right (what if I used to have a gay relationship but then changed my mind that that isn’t good? — any person certainly has that right), nor does an institution’s history matter on the right to get involved on one side of the issue or the other.

    But again, our Church has never believed that homosexual relationships were acceptable, so there is consistency there.

  71. Kaimi,
    I would love to see someone also explore the issue of rights in a broader sense. There are many on both sides of this issue who recognize that it’s very likely that a continuation of gay rights could end up infringing on other rights, such as free speech or religious rights. Since you are exploring this issue from a legal standpoint, I think that would add something important to your presentation.

  72. Kaimi,

    Maybe you should ask Chris Bigelow to represent the anti-SSM side from the standpoint of a believing but openminded member.

  73. Latter-day Guy says:

    RE 67,

    I think that that is a very good point. It is the reason that I (like others around here) wish to see marriage become a wholly religious issue, and civil unions become the government’s responsibility. If marriage it outside of the government’s purview, then our church (and others) can follow their own policies without danger of interference.

  74. Latter-day Guy says:

    If marriage it = If marriage IS

  75. 68
    It’s more than that to me. I would like to see people consider things like the following:

    -parental and taxpayer rights related to schools — there have been stories of parents in Massachusetts who are told they can’t have a say in what is taught/read to young children — their young children. In another state, students attended a gay-themed assembly and were told not to tell their parents, etc…

    - free speech rights — hate crime legislation could end up being a fallout of gay rights. That could mean that I could be in trouble with the law for sharing my belief publicly that I believe homosexual marriage/relationships are wrong. Or that my leaders could be for teaching something that is, in our doctrine, unequivocal. (68 gets to that a bit)

    - organizational rights — I’m thinking, for example, of the Catholic Charities adoption situation, or other such organizations.

    What other kinds of legal fallout could come about? I think that it’s really important to consider what could happen as a result of this, rather than assume that it’s just about gay rights and nothing else will change. I think it’s important to think about how they could, and get people thinking about this in a broader way.

    On the other hand, what really are the legal ramifications if gay marriage doesn’t pass? For example, from what I understand in CA, gays don’t really have any more rights than they did before, except to be able to get a marriage certificate. There were already domestic partnership laws that gave them legal rights in CA. So I would ask, why do they want the stamp of marriage? To me, it’s more about social acceptance than legal rights, and that is concerning in its own right. We don’t make major changes like redefining marriage just because it sounds good to some people, or because it has an emotional or social benefit.

    I think we need more careful analysis of this issue all around, rather than the kind of emotional-level debate that often ensues (such as is the case with the whole ‘hypocrisy’ argument). Which takes me right back to where I started. (And gets us back to that core of the post…sorry, Kaimi, but since Sunstone was brought up, and you are a lawyer addressing this, I wanted to get my two cents’ in)

  76. M&M-
    I’m not sure why you think the church simply joined a coalition that already existed. You are incorrect. The church proactively built a coalition on this issue.

  77. 44 re: protesters at LDS chapels,

    I think most Mormons would find the presence of protesters at their chapels to be extremely offensive. The experience that most members have with protest are the “Christians” that protest outside Temple Square during General Conference, and that never goes over well. Personally, I would be fine if there were some picketers on the other side of the street, for instance. (See LDG’s 47 on trespassing on private property) I understand that protests have to be visible and somewhat inconvenient in order to be effective, but protesters at a sacrament meeting, or worse, a temple, would likely cause more harm than good.

  78. sister blah 2 says:

    #70–

    - free speech rights — hate crime legislation could end up being a fallout of gay rights. That could mean that I could be in trouble with the law for sharing my belief publicly that I believe homosexual marriage/relationships are wrong. Or that my leaders could be for teaching something that is, in our doctrine, unequivocal.

    Look, I’m not a lawyer, but this seems 100% implausible. African Americans have a very strong legal framework for protecting their rights. Yet KKK groups are still allowed to exist and say whatever they please. So even for this outlandishly extreme analogy, your argument doesn’t hold. Why then would your argument hold in the case of the church and gays? SCOTUS has said that miscegenation is a constitutional right, but could I be arrested or punished in any way for saying that I think miscegenation is wrong? Nope. I might not have a lot of friends, but there is no restriction on my free speech rights.

  79. mmiles, I know the church has been very active in the coalition, but my understanding has always been that the church was not the creator of the coalition. (If you have something that shows me otherwise, I’d be interested.)

    But either way, my point either way is that it’s not like the church is fighting this battle alone. There is a huge coalition of organizations, churches, and individuals that go way beyond our reach alone (see this site, for example). It’s silly to try to pick apart our church for taking a stand that many, many others have chosen to take as well. The fact that people want to single out our involvement seems weird to me when there are boatloads of other organizations also joining in the effort, and would be doing so even if we chose not to as an organization. The effort is in no way dependent on our church, although obviously it will benefit from our participation.

  80. Why then would your argument hold in the case of the church and gays?

    I didn’t come up with this on my own. There are many concerned about these kinds of things. I’m not saying I know it will all be a problem; I’d just like an open and honest consideration of these kinds of concerns that people DO have, without the usual emotional, dismissive response that is common.

  81. m&m,
    The Church never faced any legal/free speech/free organization consequences over the persistence of racist doctrines or practices in the wake of civil rights legislation. The Church also recently supported a hate crimes bill in Utah that included sexual orientation as a protected group category. There may be many concerned about these things, but their concerns are wildly misplaced. The ACLU has handled countless cases and written countless friend of the court briefs in defense of the right of religious organizations (including the LDS Church) to teach unpopular things. Church leaders were “discouraging” interracial marriage even after the 1978 revelation.

    Not sure why you’re so hung up on the “coalition of the willing” thing, here. It’s not the size of your coalition that dictates the rightness of the cause for which it fights. It’s either right or wrong. If you’re convinced it’s right, why are you falling all over yourself to mitigate the Church’s involvement?

  82. m&m-
    I think it depends on which coalition we are talking about. Certainly they didn’t start the coalition you referred to, but have forged a coalition with other churches.

    The effort is in no way dependent on our church, although obviously it will benefit from our participation.
    You are dead wrong. Historically speaking, Prop 22 passed by and large because ofchurch involvement on the issue. Without us, frankly, it probably would have failed. The church has actively worked with other churches because they know this time it will take more than us. If it didn’t matter if we participated, then why the letter?

  83. Matt W. says:

    mmiles:

    Can this be proven?

    Historically speaking, Prop 22 passed by and large because ofchurch involvement on the issue I’d read an article in any scholarly journal about that!

  84. Steve Evans says:

    It also passed because of Chick-Fil-A’s “free sandwich if you voted yes whilst wearing a cow suit” campaign.

    But the term “coalition” seems to me to have a strain to it, though not as strained as it was in the case of Iraq. Let’s look at who our allies and enemies are here.

  85. Re: Protesters at church.

    About two years ago, there was a guy in a wheelchair in front of our little chapel with a sign. We discriminate against the handicapped apparently. Anyhow, there was an almost amusing impromptu meeting in the foyer with everybody discussing how to best reach out a loving hand of fellowship to the unhappy non-member fellow.

    Of course, there was only one person and he was misinformed. A slew of well-informed protesters might be a different matter all together.

  86. Brad and mmiles, the size of the coalition is not my point. I realize we have an impact on this issue. But my point is that it seems silly to me that people want to try to undermine the Church’s involvement in this by bringing up polygamy. Our history doesn’t change our right to be involved in the coalition. And the coalition is not about the Church alone, it’s about lots and lots of groups and individuals who, on their own, also feel strongly about keeping marriage heterosexual. This isn’t a gays vs. Mormons issue, and people should stop making it one.

  87. m&m (#86),

    Agreed. In fact, our ward was invited by someone in this group to join them and their coalition. Our church is not The Voice of the anti-SSM, just part of the chorus.

  88. I didn’t come up with this on my own. There are many concerned about these kinds of things. I’m not saying I know it will all be a problem; I’d just like an open and honest consideration of these kinds of concerns that people DO have, without the usual emotional, dismissive response that is common.

    Sure, people say it’s a concern. But I don’t see much in the way of solid argument for it.

    For instance, people often point to some other country that has no First Amendment. Those are not relevant comparisons.

    In this country, with the First Amendment, I think it’s highly unlikely that a church leader or member will ever get in legal trouble for saying, “homosexuality is a sin.”

  89. I hate to play the semantics card, but marriage (even in polygamy) has always been “one man, one woman.” This church has never supported a “marriage” where, for instance, a man and two women were sealed together.

    Keeping this in mind will probably help us to maintain a notion of what an eternal marriage is and what it isn’t. It has never been an expansive view of human relations. To think that polygamy undercuts this doctrine seems sloppy at best and misguided at worst.

  90. Steve Evans says:

    Jon, the problem with “playing the semantics card” is that so often that equates to “making words mean whatever makes us feel better.” If a polygamous LDS marriage never, in your mind, meant when “a man and two women were sealed together,” then more power to you, but it ain’t necessarily so — in fact that’s a perfectly permissible description of what a polygamous household looks like in the hereafter, and the point here is that nobody knows how sealings and polygamy ultimately shake out, so it’s silly to even approach the topic for the purpose of distinguishing the current SSM debate. Your final paragraph is unfortunately based on a narrow reading of how polygamy was actually administered in our faith, and as a result your conclusions are more tenuous than perhaps you realize.

  91. The same argument was made by Baron over at Waters of Mormon, at http://watersofmormon.org/archive/2008/06/25/polygamy-and-same-sex-marriage-a-contradiction.aspx.

    In response there, I said:

    This is an argument that gets used relatively frequently in the discussion. I really don’t find it convincing.

    It’s correct that you can argue that this fits in, technically speaking. But really, that reading strikes me as disingenuous and counter to the natural connotation of the text.

    If you polled 100 people on the street and asked them, “is a person who practices polygamy following the rule that marriage is between one man and one woman,” I believe most people would say, “no.”

    That is, that statement, for most people, probably implies not just one-woman-per-marriage (in which case, we get in on a technicality), but also one-woman-per-man

  92. MikeInWeHo says:

    I’m rather sure that marriage defined as “one man and one woman” or “a man and a woman” most certainly excludes polygamy. The semantic/logical contortions required to get polygamy through that door are remarkable indeed. Sorry FLDS friends, you’re out of luck too.

    The Church isn’t being hypocritical when it opposes SSM. But given its history of earthly polygamy and nod-nod/wink-wink position on celestial polgamy today, maybe it would be more accurate to accuse it of putting forth a double-standard on the issue. Yeah, that’s it: a double-standard.

  93. I don’t disagree that the on-the-street perception may muddle the issue, but to equate that with hypocrisy is akin to allowing other people to define our motives–and still more ridiculous–our doctrinal position (especially when we can all agree that it has not be fleshed out by the ones who have the authority to do it).

    I empathize with the intellectual struggle with figuring out how “sealing and polygamy ultimately shake out”, but trying to predict that end is as murky today as it would have been for the people practicing polygamy 100 years ago. Dealing with the issue is important, but to pretend we can definitively draw the lines (based on a “narrow reading” or a liberal one) smacks of hubris.

    I respect the fact that we must come to terms with what our faith and doctrine mean in uncertain applications, but I get queasy when we place an unnecessarily firm stake in the ground because of our contemporary interpretations of historical issues. And I get even more uncomfortable when we mix up our doctrine with the cultural sound-bytes of a political movement.

  94. MikeInWeHo
    I really don’t think you can say it is a double standard either. It is a bad idea to argue anything to do with temporal life with any religion based on their ideas of an esoteric afterlife. It’s kind of silly, don’t you think?

  95. Steve Evans says:

    Jon, aren’t you arguing against your own position?

  96. MikeInWeHo says:

    Absolutely, mmiles. Thank goodness there’s nothing esoteric or silly about battling gays tooth-and-nail based on the idea that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” which can be “perpetuated beyond the grave….”

  97. Steve, I can see how it might look like I am coming down on both sides of the issue. What I am trying to say is that there are political expediencies that one leans on which should not be interpreted as doctrinal pronouncements. We can stand with a sound-byte because a more nuanced exploration of the issue would be counterproductive in the political marketplace. However, we should not feel that we have to define ourselves by it.

  98. Historically speaking, Prop 22 passed by and large because ofchurch involvement on the issue. Without us, frankly, it probably would have failed.

    If this is even part-way true, it makes the current goings-on in California that much more civically and morally problematic for me. This is really testing my faith- not in the Savior, but in the machinations of the Church.

  99. I think Jon just made my point. As did Gordon Smith, the Oregon senator.

    http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/06/gordon_smith.php

  100. My dKos diary on this is now up at:

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/6/27/11291/1484/408/542680

    Your comments are more than welcome. More to the point, I’m hoping y’all might assist by showing up and contributing to an interesting conversation. I’ve never been a big fan of online echo chambers, and I’m thinkin’ y’all might hold the power to inoculate my little post against that particular malady.

  101. janeannechovy says:

    I don’t think the church is being hypocritical, becuse I see polygamy and same-sex marriage as being qualitatively different. I’m with Gene England in thinking that there is something special about a relationship between two an donly two people, but I don’t think those two people need to be of different sexes.

    I was sort of invited to be on that same Sunstone panel, but I won’t be at Sunstone this year. In any case, I wouln’t have been representing the anti-SSM side. :) I’m sure Kaimi will do his usual fabulous job.

  102. The preliminary program is up at the Sunstone site right now. Looks like no anti-SSM panelists, at least not yet.
    http://www.sunstonemagazine.com/

  103. Oh, btw, I’ve figured out the answer! Yay me! Hypocrisy? For the insubtantial amorphous entity “the church?” Certainly. For individual members? Absolutely not.

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