Prop 8 Redux: Afterthoughts

Without touching on any of the merits of one or the other side of the same-sex marriage/marriage equality debate, I’d like to suggest a possible answer to the following question: How can Mormons who feel that the Church is wrong about the threat gay marriage poses to families reconcile their doubts on this particular question with their faith in the restored gospel, and in the identity of Church leaders as prophets, seers, and revelators?

Church leaders made a choice to commit time, energy, financial resources, and social and political capital to the passage of Proposition 8 in California. There are many things the Church cares about in the world and in the US and in California. Yet the Church chooses to involve itself minimally in many of these issues — poverty reduction, disease eradication, abortion, domestic violence, environmental protection, war and peace, economic globalization, etc. — at least at the level of lobbying and/or grassroots organizing and campaigning. A correct framing of the question of Church involvement in Prop 8 must address the fact that the brethren have chosen to focus on this particular issue, as opposed to other issues. Church leaders have elected to very publicly involve the Church and (part of) its membership in a high profile campaign, in a manner that directly impacts the Church’s image in California, the US, and around the world. The relevant question regarding Church involvement here is not, what are the potential costs and consequences of gender neutral marriage in the state of California, but rather, what are the costs and consequences of Church involvement in the campaign to stop it?

Church leaders make decisions about where to commit resources and how to frame the Church’s public image based on cost-benefit analyses like all decisions. The difference with Church leaders is that their analysis is based on a less limited vision of future consequences as well as on the desire to fulfill goals unique to the Church. The brethren (and the Lord) presumably knew that Church participation in a campaign to ban SSM would produce a number of possible consequences on two levels. Church involvement could affect the the legal status and definition of marriage in CA and other states; and Church participation would have more far-reaching consequences in terms of how the Church is viewed in parts of the world where we still hope to grow.

From personal experience with the latter, I know that how the Church is perceived in other countries (where, among other things, it is viewed primarily as a Euro-American Church), and especially how it is perceived in relationship to what is happening in Western Europe and North America, is an important part of its success or lack thereof in spreading the gospel. I think that the impact of Church involvement in the campaign on the Church’s future ability to fulfill its global mission is far more important to the Lord than the outcome of the campaign itself. In spite of my own personal position as a citizen, if I were personally advising Church leaders on whether or not to involve the Church publicly in the SSM debate, based on my experience abroad and my research on Church growth throughout the world, I would advise the Church to publicly position itself in defense of traditional marriage and in opposition to anything perceived as threatening to it. I support the Church’s position here, even while I personally believe that gay marriage does not threaten families. I don’t think a change in the definition of marriage in the US will adversely affect Church growth globally. But the Church wins in the big picture even if it fails in the small (which, regardless of the narrow victory of Prop 8, it most assuredly will in the not very distant future), because it fought on the losing side and has bona fide credentials as a bastion of traditional family models and gender roles.

Of course I have no idea if what I’ve outlined above is what is actually happening, if the cost-benefit analysis I imagine is actually driving the thinking of the FP and Q12. I would point out, though, that the brethren themselves need not be consciously aware of it in order for their their actions to be directed according to its terms. This is merely an attempt from my own narrow perspective and very limited, speculation-dependent understanding to suggest a possible alternative way of thinking about the decision to enmesh the Church in this campaign. The main point is that the inspiredness of the brethren’s decision here need not correlate to the merits of the political, moral, or sociological arguments advanced via newsroom statements, viral emails, or political advertising for the proposition. It is entirely possible for people who find the yes-on-8 arguments wholly unconvincing or even somewhat disingenuous to believe that the brethren were acting with divine approbation in involving the Church so extensively in the campaign.

The costs and consequences of Church involvement, from the perspective of the First Presidency, should be weighed not in terms of the social consequences for Californian society but of the long-term global mission of the Church. I suspect that positioning the Church as a major and influential player in the fight to preserve tradition in the face of rapid social change will have an overall positive affect on the global aspirations of Church growth and conversion. And no one is in a better position to make such cost-benefit calculations than the servants God has chosen to manage the affairs of His Church. I sustain them in word and deed, and I believe that even people who oppose Prop 8 should be able to trust that the brethren are enacting God’s will by supporting it.

Comments

  1. Well put. Along similar lines, I have often wondered if this initiative has less to do with gay marriage and more to do with keeping the church (in CA and beyond) from becoming overly complacent in our faith.

    To me, gay marriage in CA is inevitable no matter what the church does. While I obviously don’t have any concrete answers, I can’t help but think this is one way the Lord has chosen to keep his people “peculiar” in the current social and political climate.

  2. I don’t believe for a moment that the Lord wants us to be peculiar for the sake of being peculiar; I believe peculiarity is a byproduct of the inevitable discrepancy between the gospel and the ways of the world. But that’s a threadjack.

    I’m really curious to see how BCCers will answer Brad’s question. I’ve been asking myself that ever since so many became so vocal in disagreeing with the request for California Saints to support Prop 8. Regardless of the practical outcome of that support or disagreement, how do you square your disagreement with your support of prophetic leadership?

  3. From someone living south of the equator, I can’t see where teh Church’s stance is going to have any negative affects. Okay, maybe an argument can be made for Australia/New Zealand.

    But I think that as a whole the SSM issue is much more Euro-American-centric than the Church is.

    But I have to agree with the idea. When I see the photos of people protesting in Salt Lake I kind of assume that these aren’t the folks who would chasing the missionaries down South Temple asking about Joseph Smith, their minds are pretty much made up already.

    In places like Cameroon, Korea or India, the Church’s message of traditional families is still going to resonate.

  4. You know, I was just thinking: You know what the Mormon blogs need? Another Prop 8 thread.

    Thanks Brad.

  5. We aim to please, gst.

  6. James/Brad, I tend to agree. As moral values become more and more diluted as time rolls on, I think it is wonderful that the Church has taken a very vocal position on a social issue that is core to our beliefs. This will attract the right kind of people to the Church, as we will be seen as the last bastion of “traditional family models” as you described. While many people see these events has a setback for missionary efforts, I see them as a great development in the quest to find those who desire to know of God’s truth and His plan.

    Many have argued that we ought to be investing more of our money and efforts in issues like hunger and world poverty. Yet, we already do this on a grand scale (welfare program, fast offerings). And the exuberant promotion of moral values that are essential to our eternal progression is just as important (if not more) than fighting evils of a temporal nature.

  7. Steve Evans says:

    “And the exuberant promotion of moral values that are essential to our eternal progression is just as important (if not more) than fighting evils of a temporal nature.”

    Tell that to the starving children in Africa. Seriously.

  8. Perhaps the leaders are wrong about societal marriage….again?

    I mean as little as 60 years ago my marriage to my wife was considered “repugnant”, contrary to the gospel and not anything that someone with a “right mind” would do because we’re interracial. And my marriage is the keystone of my life and to me the church could not have possibly been more wrong.

    Of course I don’t see the need for the church to go out and start marrying gays in the temple, that will never happen, or should it. But I disagree that the church has a proven track record about being right on these issues of gender roles and marriage. I’d say just the opposite.

    In the end it’s given to every man to chose for himself. To me, history has shown that not every word from a prophets mouth is from God. It’s been said here countless times, but it bears repeating. Catholics teach that the pope can’t make mistakes and none of them believe it. Mormons teach that their leaders can make mistakes and none of them believe it for a second.

  9. ronito,
    The point here is not whether the Church is taking the “right” position, defined abstractly. That’s open to debate (though not on this thread). The point is what are the actual, real-life consequences — in terms of the Church’s global future and mission — of publicly staking out a rearguard position here?

  10. Thanks, Brad for this. BUT, I need you to spell your position out a little more. Are you saying that the Brethren’s understanding about the societal effects of Prop 8 is flawed, but that they’re correct to resist gay marriage because it will probably result in more baptisms internationally? If so, are you saying that the Brethren are *unwittingly* enacting God’s will by supporting Prop 8?

  11. Thomas Parkin says:

    “I mean as little as 60 years ago my marriage to my wife was considered “repugnant… etc. ”

    ronito,

    Just because it is right to walk half way to Tacoma doesn’t mean you want to walk all the way to Tacoma. ~

  12. What do you mean by this: I sustain them in word and deed, and I believe that even people who oppose Prop 8 should be able to trust that the brethren are enacting God’s will by supporting it.

    Do you mean that those who oppose the Prop should have voted yes because they trust that the brethren are divinely inspired?

    If the “actual, real-life consequences” of the Church staking a position and making it very public are ultimately good for the church, why should every member feel like they have to support that position?

    I guess the question is, which set of actions is ultimately good for the Church? Is it simply the Church taking a strong position? Or is it the members unitedly and publicly taking a strong position? Maybe it’s both, but if the latter is included, ronito’s position seems very relevant.

  13. Do you mean that those who oppose the Prop should have voted yes because they trust that the brethren are divinely inspired?

    That’s just crazy talk!

  14. Brad,
    I believe you can’t get a true unbiased opinion about whether or not this prop 8 thingy was good or bad for the church. I’ve asked the same question to many friends. Invariably those mormons that are anti-gay marriage think of the Church as a shining white knight protecting the family. Interestingly though those non-mormons that were anti-gay marriage view the church as “meddlesome” and more of a pest (I know it’s anecdotal but every single non-mormon anti-gay rights person I’ve spoken with holds this view). Those that are anti-prop 8 think that the church has done itself irreparable harm and that they endeared themselves to their base and alienated everyone else. Sorry but I don’t think you’re get a very unbiased answer. I know mine isn’t.

    Thomas: Fool me once, shame on…shame on you. Fool me twice….you can’t get fooled again!

  15. John Mansfield says:

    Rearguard position? I guess that goes with the assumption, for the sake of this post’s argument, that the Church’s position was wrong; however, so far marrriage between people of the same sex is allowed only in a couple of New England states, Canada, and one or two minor European nations. That’s not a lot on which to project an inexorable march forward for SSM.

  16. I’m saying that’s possible, Hunter. Of course, I don’t really know. Mostly, what I’m saying is that when the brethren decide (or are prompted) to do something like this, I’m certain that the cost-benefit analyses that drive the decision are geared toward matters mostly unknowable. God can direct the affairs of His Church however He sees fit. He can make clear to Church leaders the impact that certain decisions, statements, allocations, and policies might have on the future of the Church, or He can withhold such sweeping understanding. In either case, He is still the Head and they are His servants. But plural marriage was not ended because God found the anti-polygamy arguments about the centrality of the nuclear family to a healthy, free society suddenly more convincing than the rhetoric of Church leaders who defended it. It was ended for benefit of the Church. I think it’s foolish to tie our belief that the brethren were enacting the Lord’s will in CA with the merits (or lack thereof) of the sociological arguments for opposing same-sex marriage.

  17. Brad, I confess that I find your argument more than a little distressing. Do I have to believe in a God who might not mind gay people being allowed to marry, but is willing to sacrifice the happiness of many thousands for the sake of the Church’s institutional growth? Doesn’t sound a whole lot like the shepherd who left the ninety and nine…

  18. Brad: This is thoughtful and provocative. I’d like to add to Hunter’s follow up questions. Could you be more explicit about what you think the Church gets abroad by having mobilized on behalf of Prop. 8? You say it got “bona fide credentials as a bastion of traditional family models and gender roles.” It is not clear to me how that benefit trickles down to missionaries on the streets in Asia or Africa.

  19. Mansfield, that’s a compromise I can believe in–calling marriage between two men “marrriage” with three r’s. Preserves traditional marriage.

    I’m struggling mightily to keep back a joke about “rearguard position.”

  20. I’m struggling mightily

    No one said this stuff was easy, son.

  21. I disagreed with the Brethren on Prop 8.

    I have shared some of my feelings privately, and in a comment or two in the Bloggernacle, but I would never (EVER) write a letter to a newspaper or start my own web site, no matter how passionately I felt. I sustain the leaders of the Church, even when I disagree with them, and would never work against them.

    I think this is how to handle disagreements over matters of conscience within the Church.

    Personally, I take great comfort in the story told in John 6:66–69. Despite any personal misgivings Peter may have had about what Jesus taught, he realized the He was the way to eternal life. Likewise, I’m not going to let a disagreement over a social/political issue drive me out of the Church because that’s where the saving ordinances are found. Even if all the brethren are dead wrong on an issue, they still hold the keys of the priesthood.

  22. While the church have may considered reinforcement of our peculiarity to members, I believe the fundamental reason was legal. When gay marriage is made lawful in a state, gays can then use that legal status together with existing anti-discrimination laws to force clergy to marry two gays or lesbians, no matter how repugnant that may be to the person asked to perform the ceremony. What happens when two gays ask a bishop (clearly as a test case) to perform a marriage and he refuses? He may well face fines or worse. What happens if two in-the-closet gay members get temple recommends and then demand a temple wedding, with lots of media attention? In a worst case scenario the situation could lead to severe complications for the church. It is one thing to say gays should be able to do what they want and quite another to find ourselves forced to do things that we will never do.

  23. Brad,
    I’ve gotta go with Kristine here, but I love you mightily so that will suffice for now.

  24. I think we have to look at the entire history of the LDS involvement in anti gay-rights measures. The church’s involvement in the ill-conceived and clearly bigoted 1993 Colorado Amendment 2 marked an entry into the gay rights political realm. At that time, the church was unwilling or unable to acknowledge the idea of sexual orientation and believed homosexuality to be mutable.

    Amendment 2 was not about gay marriage. It was not about “protecting” traditional marriage. Rather it entirely disenfranchised an entire minority from the political process. Amendment 2 was as anti-gay as can be imagined in the United States.

    Now, a lot has changed in society’s world view about homosexuality since that time, due to social and scientific studies into human sexuality and as a result of gays and lesbians living openly in society. Yet the church remains steadfast in it’s agenda to limit gay rights. Can this be the result of having committed itself at a time when less was known about homosexuality?

    Looking forward, can the church maintain growth when it is at odds with society’s understanding of gays and lesbians? Will the LDS position only contribute to growth in eastern bloc countries which remain homophobic?

  25. Kristine,
    If you’re asking which God would choose between granting the label of marriage to gay couples in the State with the most robust domestic partnership rights in the US, on the one hand, and the ability to spread the gospel sooner, with greater success, and to a greater extent in parts of the world where we have virtually no presence right now, on the other, I’m inclined to choose the latter. Of course I have no idea if that is the choice He actually faces. My point is that, given the nature and purpose of the Church and the charge the leaders have to gather Israel from throughout the world, I think that a given action’s short-term impact on Californian society is considerably less significant for God than its potential medium- and long-term impact on the fulfillment of the mission of the Church.

  26. So….those white liberals weren’t getting baptized anyway, so why not up the ante on everyone else – even if the Church alienates some of its friends?

    Ok, I can see some logic in that. But lets just say that this analysis does a pretty good job of supporting the claim that the Mormons are secretive and even disingenuous.

    What you lay out here was no where to be found in the argument for Yes on 8. If it was, we all know it would not have passed.

    Mormons are trying to expand their international empire? ahhhh!

    As far as how one can reconcile disagreement with sustaining prophetic counsel – look no further than Mitt Romney. The second he claimed that he was not beholden to Salt Lake on political issues – that is when he set the standard for the future. Because no one corrected him – and I think he’s still in full fellowship.

  27. “Yet the Church chooses to involve itself minimally in many of these issues — poverty reduction, disease eradication, abortion, domestic violence, environmental protection, war and peace, economic globalization, etc. — at least at the level of lobbying and/or grassroots organizing and campaigning”

    I beg to differ on the first three. The main difference is that the church leadership wants to put as much energy as possible in the “catcher in the rye” stage rather than the “ambulance at the bottom of the cliff” stage. (It does both, but they are among the few voices at the top.)

    That’s why I believe the leadership was in support of Prop 8 — traditional marriage has been devalued so much already (primarily by heterosexuals), expanding the tattered tent to include a possible Pandora’s Box of homosexual variations would devalue it even more. Traditional marriage is the strongest hedge against a host of social ills.

    I’m highly sympathetic to the emotions behind the pro-gay marriage side of the debate — why wouldn’t they want the same chances as heterosexuals? So I understand their anger at the passage of Prop 8. But if No on 8 Mormons want to evaluate the prophetic impetus behind the church’s position, consider that every societal change carries with it unintended consequences. Consider negative hetero trends in attitudes toward marriage, ranging from unrealistic expectations of “a soul mate who completes me” (which has a nearly built-in divorce clause) to viewing marriage as medium-term cohabitation with paperwork and “we’ll see how long it lasts.”

    Many segments of Society have already largely lost sight of what a real marriage is. Add to that the creative variations that certain proudly counter-cultural members of the gay community will certainly introduce to their marriages, and I’m not so sure the marriage melting pot will deliver on the “how could this possibly affect you?” side of their arguments.

    It’s hard enough for many in the world to understand the interplay of marriage, commitment, children, and the long-range view of the linking of generations. While it certainly hurts those in the gay community who want all the governmental and social benefits that marriage provides, I’m not sure society as an institution can handle the unknown baggage that an increasingly diversified definition of marriage will bring.

    I think the brethren are taking the long view and are choosing the fabric of society over the (arguably legitimate) desires of homosexuals. I really do suspect that no matter how we frame the debate, it really will come down to whether gay marriage wins or whether traditional marriage avoids taking a cumulatively massive blow, and we won’t get to have it both ways. My guess is the brethren see it that way, too, and they should be thanked for being willing to take a some big hits in defense of a divine institution.

  28. Do you mean that those who oppose the Prop should have voted yes because they trust that the brethren are divinely inspired?

    That’s just crazy talk!

    I know!

    That part of my question was for clarification. His sentence could be read in a couple of ways.

  29. The Church has global aspirations. If the time comes when Mormons represent 1% of the global population, what percentage of Church members will be in India, China, the Muslim world, Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe? What has to happen to get us from here to there? Does anyone here really think that images of gay-rights protesters at Mormon temples will be an obstacle to realizing what is, from an inside Mormonism perspective (“swept every country and sounded in every ear!”) a very modest aspiration of 1% globally?

  30. Do you mean that those who oppose the Prop should have voted yes because they trust that the brethren are divinely inspired?

    More like, those who voted against the Prop can still believe that the brethren are divinely inspired, because their inspiration can have nothing whatsoever to do with the merits of the Yes-on-8 campaign claims.

  31. I’m with Kristine and Ronan.

    It’s all well and good to call this an Abrahamic test. But really, Abrahamic tests are usually a very bad idea, not least of all because they inflict all sorts of collateral damage on innocent people. Abraham skips off into the sunset having passed his test; Isaac is left with PTSD and years of therapy.

    Isn’t there a way to test or prove some of God’s children without being horrible to others of God’s children?

  32. I’m not arguing that this is an Abrahamic test, Kaimi. I’m simply arguing that it’s entirely possible, taking the widest possible view, that people who opposed Prop 8 can in good conscience believe that the brethren are not fallen prophets or that their actions here do not ultimately serve the interests of the Church and the Kingdom.

  33. Yeah, yeah. Tell it to Isaac’s therapist.

  34. There are only two problems with Kristine’s comment:

    Do I have to believe in a God who might not mind gay people being allowed to marry, but is willing to sacrifice the happiness of many thousands for the sake of the Church’s institutional growth?

    Unless one believes that the leaders of the Church are wrong in calling homosexual acts sinful and, at the same time, suspends the operation of Alma’s declaration that “wickedness never was happiness”, then the “sacrific[ing of] the happiness of many thousands” is simply a logical impossibility.

    Of course, it may well be that God has no problem with gay marriage so long as they don’t have sex.

    Second, you have reduced the salvation of souls through the spreading of the gospel and the growth of the Church to “the Church’s institutional growth.” Every one of those persons who make up the institutional growth of the Church is a person who has found the pearl of great price, for which he would be willing to sell all that he had.

    It’s not like they’re trying to get more peoople to join the Rotary club.

  35. Kristine-

    ‘Institutional growth” is a relatively unsympathetic way of describing the ends to which the church is working. That observation certainly isn’t wrong, but doesn’t this growth ultimately represent the total sum of individual saving ordinances performed? All depends on your perspective, I suppose…

    While I agree that many aspects of the whole Prop 8 thing have been vexing, I think Brad raises some interesting points.

  36. I’m not arguing that this is an Abrahamic test, Kaimi.

    How about this take: it was an Abrahamic test, and the Church as a whole failed.

    The Lord commanded the Church to do something reprehensible and immoral to see if the LDS membership would stand up for what is right and refuse to go along. They didn’t. So we wander in the wilderness for another 40 years.

    (Hey, its no crazier than the rest of this thread.)

  37. I’d question the proposition that “marriage” is a sine qua non for gay happiness, particularly when the alternative is all but identical from a legal perspective, as Kaimi himself has pointed out elsewhere.

    Moreover, why would God find divine pleasure in such “happiness,” when it’s essentially state-sanctioned sin?

  38. it’s essentially state-sanctioned sin?

    Most sins are quite legal.

  39. USA Today’s Elton John interview today.

    In December 2005, John and Furnish tied the knot in a civil partnership ceremony in Windsor, England. But, clarified the singer, “We’re not married. Let’s get that right. We have a civil partnership. What is wrong with Proposition 8 is that they went for marriage. Marriage is going to put a lot of people off, the word marriage.”

  40. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 34 “….a logical impossibility.”

    But happy, thriving, long-term gay couples exist. Lots of them, actually. And most of us aren’t even on anti-depressants.

  41. Brad,

    I still don’t know how you square the fact that your theory is no where to be found in the public statements of the Church supporting Prop 8.

    If you’re right, I’m even more skeptical of my leaders ability to be straight with me.

  42. CTJ, indeed. My point is, the legalization of it by any term doesn’t legalize it in God’s eyes, nor make it “happiness.”

  43. If it’s an Abrahamic test, then like Abraham, the supporters failed.

  44. I wish I had a furnished john.

  45. Steve Evans says:

    I’ve seen unfurnished johns — hell I’ve dug them myself on scout camps.

  46. I still don’t know how you square the fact that your theory is no where to be found in the public statements of the Church supporting Prop 8.

    You’re tilting at windmills, here. Church leaders need not even be consciously aware of the reasons, assuming that God is and that He is directing their actions, much less announce them publicly for them to be real or valid.

    Again, I’m not advancing this particular theory as the Grand Unified Theory of why the Church did what it did or does what it does. I addressed this specifically in the post:

    This is merely an attempt from my own narrow perspective and very limited, speculation-dependent understanding to suggest a possible alternative way of thinking about the decision to enmesh the Church in this campaign. The main point is that the inspiredness of the brethren’s decision here need not correlate to the merits of the political, moral, or sociological arguments advanced via newsroom statements, viral emails, or political advertising for the proposition.

  47. OK,

    Enough Prop 8 threads. Good grief we belong to a traditional minded religion with traditional values like catholics or baptists. We all know that its religious reasons about the sinfulness of homosexual sex and relationships combined with real world concerns about persecution and raising kids in an environment hostile to our values that drove support for prop 8.

    So lets stop making up reasons for the brethrens and fellow church members participation in CA politics to make us feel better about ourselves if we are more liberal then the main body of the church on this issue.

  48. Mark, I wasn’t positing that God doesn’t mind gay marriage, only noticing that Brad’s reasoning allows the possibility.

  49. Thanks for a thoughtful contribution to the discussion, bbell. I somehow knew I could count on you…

  50. I might find it easier to try to support and throw myself into awkward rationalizations for why the brethren are supporting Prop 8, if I had any remaining confidence that this was an inspired decision.

    I’m having a really hard time with this whole thing.I have a hard time believing that the men who lead our church aren’t just plain old – swayed by their own cultural experiences and biases – just as they were wrong on inter-racial marriage, blacks and the priesthood, ERA, women submitting to their husbands, whether or not people were born gay or just perverted, etc., etc., etc.

    I know these are the same old chestnuts that people get tired of hearing, but I can’t get past them. The church has a terrible record regarding social issues and civil rights, and they inevitably change/correct course a few years after society moves on.

    Still, someone made a comment on another post – “I’ll stand with my people,” and that’s about all I can do right now. I don’t believe it, don’t understand it, but for now at least, I will try to stand with my people, keep my mouth mostly shut (I don’t talk about this to the thousands of women who read my blog – why contribute toward making someone else as conflicted as I am, bleck), and hope I’ll understand it later.

    I can’t decide if that’s cowardly or faithful.

  51. Sorry, that should have been, “…that the men who lead our church aren’t just plain old wrong….”

    (typing too fast)

  52. Brad,

    I am just tired of prop 8 threads. I do think its pretty simple no Abrahamic test at all. traditional sexual morality = support for Prop 8. You can see all of this in the exit polls and in the two camps for and against.

  53. Steve Evans says:

    “I am just tired of prop 8 threads.”

    And yet here you are, you crack fiend.

  54. bbell,
    I personally argued against the notion of Abrahamic test, if you read the comments. I’m not sure what exit polling has to do with anything in this post.

  55. Just a quick question: Gay marriage is now legal in Conneticut. Do you think there will be a proposition to overturn it and do you think the members there will be given the “California treatment” by the church leadership?

  56. If it’s an Abrahamic test, then like Abraham, the supporters failed.

    Ann, I think that’s the best thing I’ve read all day.

  57. In re squaring opposition to Prop 8 with prophetic roles of church leaders….am I wrong to tell myself that it’s okay for me to disagree/disobey/voice opposition to the prophet because this was a democratic process and I believe the church’s position overlaid on the California constitution is simply bad policy? Or is my posting that opinion apostacy too? One of the MANY problems that pop up when the church tries to inject mormon theology into California ballot measures in a pluralistic society.

    As someone else said, if members can’t disagree with church leaders on a ballot measure, Mitt Romney was wrong when he said he would not be told how to vote from LDSHQ.

  58. Brad, thanks for taking the time to flesh this issue out. I am searching for a way to reconcile all of this with my belief in the divinity of the Church. So, thanks for the discussion. This isn’t just “another post about Prop 8.” It’s the necessary clean up.

  59. Kristine said, “…willing to sacrifice the happiness of many thousands… “

    I’m not opposed to gay marriage, but to suggest that the happiness of gays is teetering on whether or not they can marry (something which only a handfull of them have been able to do only very recently) is a bit condescending, no? Both your reduction of their happiness to “marriage” and your reduction of individuals coming unto Christ to “institutional growth” seem to both be a bit disingenuous.

    (and my point has nothing to do with Brad’s argument, only with Kristine’s response)

  60. Do you mean that those who oppose the Prop should have voted yes because they trust that the brethren are divinely inspired?

    Why not? I know of a few people in that camp (among the very limited set of people I personally know in CA).

    Why is this notion so strange?

  61. And what’s this I hear of an ianternational Church with international growth? Darn it – you don’t really think there’s anyone outside the US who gives a darn about the Church, right?

    We’re only concerned with domestic affairs, right?

  62. Brad,

    I am with you when you talk about the international implications. yes Steve I am a addict.

    The Global South is based on demographics where the future of religion and where most church growth is occuring these days. The Global South is very much against SSM. See Church of England for reference.

    I am not convinced that all 50 State gay marriage is anywhere close to us today. We are 30-30 on ballot propisitons against it. Even US Demographics are against it based on the increasing black and Hispanic pop in the US. It would take a SC ruling and I see that as very unlikely.

  63. John Mansfield says:

    The way some write, you would think that SSM is the current law of the land in France, Germany and England, but really, it hasn’t advanced that far even in Europe.

    Maybe some with broader experience with this can comment: My wife’s experience as a missionary in Germany and Austria in the early 1990s was that homosexuality was looked at as an American thing.

  64. Larry (#12 and #28), I agree that the sentence could be parsed in different ways.

    What do you mean by this: I sustain them in word and deed, and I believe that even people who oppose Prop 8 should be able to trust that the brethren are enacting God’s will by supporting it.

    Do you mean that those who oppose the Prop should have voted yes because they trust that the brethren are divinely inspired?

    I parsed it this way: “by supporting it” refers to the aforementioned “brethren”, in their process of “enacting God’s will”, rather than to the “people” in their process of being “able to trust.”

    I also agree that is within the realm of possibility for members who think Prop. 8 was drafted by old Patch himself to still believe that the Lord is at the helm, and (especially) that the First Presidency and the Quorum of the 12 are responsive to His orders.

    Wasn’t that Brad’s question?

    I do not envy those who do not find this to be a viable possibility. Stand with your people, Sue!

  65. “But happy, thriving, long-term gay couples exist. Lots of them, actually. And most of us aren’t even on anti-depressants.”

    Mikeinweho–

    I have faith that happy, thriving, long-term gay couples (not on anti-depressants) do not exist (and no longer exist in California)–in fact I am sure of it for two reasons, one religious and one nonreligious:

    1. Religious reason: The scriptures tell me that such individuals cannot exist and be happy.

    2. Nonreligious reason: The only way such couples can exist and be happy is if their relationship is legally denominated a “marriage” and, except for a few short months in California this is not and has not been the case.

    Q.E.D.

    (Above is satire)

  66. Brad: Your post raises two different questions one might ask. The first is how do I reconcile my opposition to Prop 8 with my faith in the Gospel and in my leaders as prophets. The second is how do I reconcile my opposition to Prop 8 with a belief that this particular decision was inspired.

    I can reconcile my faith in the Gospel and in my leaders simply by believing that this is one instance where my admittedly fallible leaders were mistaken. That seems like a perfectly respectable and faithful position to take.

    With respect to the second question, I agree that one might reasonably conclude that the arguments made in support of Prop 8 are flawed, while still believing that the brethren are inspired in their support of it. But I don’t see how your argument allows me to take the position that I can oppose Prop 8 while believing that the brethren’s support of Prop 8 is inspired, as your last sentence seems to suggest.

  67. Since I don’t live in California, I didn’t really have a stake in the outcome of this (Okay, my wife’s gay brother lives in SoCal, but we never hear from him. His choice–he doesn’t return emails or snail mail, and we don’t have his phone number. He’s still my favorite among her brothers).

    If there are parallels to polygamy and the priesthood ban, it seems to me that they would run something like this:

    –Church takes strong stand.

    –Soceity condemns Church.

    –Church recieves huge backlash.

    –Years later Prophet receives revelation, Church changes position.

    If this is a parallel situation, we may only be at the beginning of the backlash step. The men in the First Presidency all seem relatively young and healthy. I’m not sure there’s going to be a change anytime soon.

  68. “Maybe some with broader experience with this can comment: My wife’s experience as a missionary in Germany and Austria in the early 1990s was that homosexuality was looked at as an American thing.”

    Not so, John. My experience in Europe is definitely not along those lines.

  69. I guess I still don’t understand the disbelief that someone can be privately opposed to Prop 8 (or as an alternative, privately support SSM), yet decide to support it for no other reason than to support the Brethren.

  70. palerobber says:

    your post is at once insightful and sickening.

    and when i say “sickening” i’m not using a pejorative – i just mean it literally upsets my stomach to think that church leadership would endeavor to anull the marriages of thousands of newlyweds in california for no other reason than to help boost baptism numbers in the developing world.

    i really, really don’t want to believe that.

  71. palerobber says:

    #15:

    “a couple of New England states, Canada, and one or two minor European nations”

    your list is a little outdated there…

    Netherlands (2000)
    Belgium (2003)
    Massachusetts, USA (2004)
    Canada (2004)
    Spain (2005)
    South Africa (2006)
    California, USA (2008)
    Norway (2008)
    Connecticut, USA (2008)
    (in addition, 18 countries — including UK, France, Germany — and 8 US states have civil union)

    but hey, it’s easy to see how you might have missed some of those with the recent acceleration towards marriage equality. it’s almost as though there’s some kind of “inexorable march” going on.

    btw, did you happen to see the age splits from the Prop8 exit polls?

  72. #67: Yeah but the Lord has a way of taking care of the “healthy” part if He has a mind to.

  73. Interesting and good thoughts Brad.
    There has been much made of the church’s poor record on social issues. I can understand that perspective, but I have to ask; What would our church be like if it was at the cutting edge of social change? Maybe there is a reason that the church responds to social changes rather than forging social change. Take the ERA for instance. The church was resistant to a lot of what was seen as radical rhetoric about roles and equality, and has been criticized for it ever since. Since that time though, the church has slowly evolved to a more open egalatarian view of gender which seems to strike a fair balance between our “traditional” values and the feminist ideals. Don’t get me wrong, the church is not now a feminist institution, but it’s certainly more hospitable to feminists than it once was. My wife has no problem calling herself a feminist in the context of the gospel.
    My point: by not operating on the vangaurd of popular social change, the church has the advantage of weighing costs and benefits of tumultuous movements- movements which often have many ill effects along with the good. Sifting through the aftermath and seeing what we might learn from and where things were taken too far. We guard ourselves from throwing out the baby with the bath water.
    I see the Black civil rights movement being one area where our reticence doesn’t have the same payoff. But I’m also hesitant to allow my supremely reductive view of history (as ALL human views of history necessarily are) to claim supremacy over God’s wisdom. And I believe the prophet and apostles are the conduits of that wisdom on the earth. The one thing that I constantly asked myself as I puzzled over Prop 8 (I was working in CA during all of Oct.) was ‘Is it possible that our leaders know something we don’t about the consequences of this battle over this issue?’ If I couldn’t answer that question with a resounding yes, if I couldn’t entertain the possibility of such knowledge, then why am I following a prophet?

  74. MikeInWeHo says:

    Bbell,
    Your ‘the future of religion depends on the homophobic global south’ synthesis is an idea put forth by the Evangelicals you seem to admire (envy? –sorry, couldn’t resist). Do you read Christianity Today, by any chance?

    Frequently you hold up the Anglicans as a horrific example of where increased tolerance would lead the Church, but that’s an oversimplification at best and a straw man at worst. Do you really believe Latter-day Saints must set the standard for anti-gay activism lest they go the way of mainline protestants? Heck, if that’s the case the Islamists have you beat unless you break out the stones and really go for it.

  75. palerobber says:

    #22:

    gays can then use that legal status together with existing anti-discrimination laws to force clergy to marry two gays or lesbians…

    then how come blacks were never able to use racial anti-discrimination laws to force the church to let them marry in the temple before 1978?

  76. Yet the Church chooses to involve itself minimally in many of these issues — poverty reduction, disease eradication, abortion, domestic violence, environmental protection, war and peace, economic globalization, etc. — at least at the level of lobbying and/or grassroots organizing and campaigning.

    I think it’s kind of hard to compare what happened with prop 8 with these other things because rarely have we seen any kind of measure like this one on the ballot.

    But there *is* a sustained effort to help with many of these issues…many resources (human and financial) are used to help the poor. And for disease eradication. And for pregnancy counseling (did you know LDSFS is free, available to anyone?). I think the PEF and the welfare program worldwide helps with economic issues, and trying to help people out of their financial traps.

    Let’s not confuse the less-visible and more continuous efforts with not caring or not being involved or not doing anything.

    I also appreciated Lorin’s comment way back in 27.

  77. palerobber says:

    #37:

    I’d question the proposition that “marriage” is a sine qua non for gay happiness, particularly when the alternative is all but identical from a legal perspective

    how about for mormon happiness? i mean you wouldn’t mind having your right to “marriage” stripped as long as you retain similar legal rights, would you?

  78. Is it possible that our leaders know something we don’t about the consequences of this battle over this issue?’ If I couldn’t answer that question with a resounding yes, if I couldn’t entertain the possibility of such knowledge, then why am I following a prophet?

    This is an important question, imo.

    I also believe, at least from what I have read in scripture, that the people often don’t know all that the prophets know — and that they aren’t always able to tell the people everything.

  79. @Thomas Parkin, #11

    A quick Google search on walking halfway to Tacoma gives me two other hits, both written by you. Is this an ancient and wise saying, or a still-wise-yet-not-ancient coinage of Thomas Parkin?

  80. Yeah, I don’t like the thought of this as an abrahamic test, or a way of positioning ourselves for future advancement in other nations. That sort of calculation makes me feel sick to my stomach. I’d much rather just believe the brethren wholeheartedly believe that gay marriage will cause society to fail and are acting in good faith against it. Somehow letting them be wrong is easier.

  81. ’d much rather just believe the brethren wholeheartedly believe that gay marriage will cause society to fail and are acting in good faith against it. Somehow letting them be wrong is easier.

    As I’ve pointed out more than once here, even assuming that I’m right about the specifics here (which is highly unlikely), the brethren do not need to be doing this eyes-wide-open. They could very much believe that Prop 8 failure would result in the inexorable destruction of free society — and they could even be wrong about that — and yet there might still be some utility, in terms of the long-term, global interests of the Church, in taking such a reactionary stance and positioning the Church publicly as a heavy-lifter in the fight to preserve traditional sex and gender ideals in the face of the kinds of social change that are wildly unpopular in most of the world.

  82. M&M LDSFS is not free. It costs around $60 an hour. If you can’t pay then the ward pays. As financial clerk I used to write the checks they come out of Fast Offerings.

  83. Jerry,
    Actually, pregnancy counseling IS free…that’s different from other counseling.

    “Do I have to pay a fee for services?
    Our birth parent services are free, confidential and available to anyone regardless of religious affiliation, age, ethnic background or marital status. Services are also available to birth fathers and birth grandparents.”

    From a FAQ here.

  84. Everyone:

    See that ye remember these things; for Brad said there is but one God; yet he saith that the Son of God shall stand at the head of his church, but he shall not necessarily inform the brethren—as though he had authority to command God.

  85. “How can Mormons who feel that the Church is wrong about the threat gay marriage poses to… ”

    While one can be concerned about being told how to vote, the main issue is a different one. It’s about love and full and complete happiness.

    The Prophets and apostles main job here is to tell us all how to reach that full love and complete happiness level. And they now say that it is achieved by, and only by reaching the highest level in the celestial kingdom, the level of exaltation. And to reach that level one needs to be marriage to the opposite sex not the same sex. If you are in SSM they teach that you can’t reach that level under any possible variation, so therefore they need to oppose SSM to stand up for so called ‘traditional’ marriage which at least is on the correct road to exaltation whereas same sex marriage is not.

    This is why they will always say that they stand for traditional marriage and by default against SSM.

  86. I can think of multiple reasons (quite a few) why the Church leaders would back Prop. 8 – and most of them are not sinister or disingenuous or creepy at all. I can think of a few reasons (maybe really only two) why they would not back Prop. 8. Many people believe that the few (one or two?) reasons for the Church not to back it outweigh the many reasons for the Church to back it, based on their own assumptions about what God just has to want in the here and now. The strongest one is, “God really can’t disapprove of what I believe and want and understand.” That’s a little ironic, to say the least.

    Perhaps the Brethren really believe God doesn’t approve of gay unions being classified as marriage and that such an outcome will be detrimental to society in the aggregate. Perhaps, as prophets and seers, they see what will happen if sexual experimentation is encouraged openly for all – and it’s different than what you and I see. Perhaps, the outcome of normalizing gay marriage has tremendous implications for how extra-marital heterosexual activity will be viewed in the future. There are lots of reasons that the Brethren might back Prop 8 that have absolutely nothing to do with God’s love for His gay children.

    If God’s objective is to make all of His children “happy” and free to do whatever they want in this life with the full support of the apostles and prophets, He has done a really lousy job ever since Adam fell that men might be. I want to find ways to allow gay couples and individuals to sit next to me in our pews and worship with me, but completely gutting the belief that homosexual activity is sin (or even transgression, which I could accept) is a step beyond what I can accept without revelation on the subject. Therefore, I appreciate Brad’s post – that there are ways to reconcile the Church’s involvement without rejecting the prophetic and apostolic role of its leaders.

  87. how about for mormon happiness? i mean you wouldn’t mind having your right to “marriage” stripped as long as you retain similar legal rights, would you?

    Actually, Palerobber–no, I wouldn’t mind all that much.

  88. Mark Brown says:

    Without addressing Brad’s argument, I’d like to give some perspective to the financial commitment our people made to prop 8.

    In the wards I’ve attended over the past twenty years, an average of $3000 – $3500 per month was collected through the fast offering, for a total of about $40,000 per year. It is my understanding that middle class wards in California were given an assessment of around $65,000, which they were able to raise in a couple of months.

    I am happy to see that commitment, and it is wonderful that people willing to sacriice for something they think is right. But we are missing the mark by a mile if we think that having pregnancy counselling at LDSLF and Humanitarian Service distributing atmit gets us off the hook.

    The question is: Why do we not feel the same sense of urgency to care for our brothers and sisters as we do to prevent gay people from calling their union a marriage?

    We have church members who will go to bed hungry tonight in their homes of tin and plywood in various parts of the world. Why can we mobilize to raise 20 million in two months for prop 8, but can’t for other things?

  89. Rusty (59),

    I don’t see how positing that marriage and family, in which we proclaim that the greatest happiness is to be found for heterosexual individuals, would also be a great source of happiness for homosexual individuals, is condescending. Nor do I see how the souls who may come to Christ because the Church is seen as promoting traditional families are of more value to God than those who will be repulsed by the Church’s tactics and thus likely delayed in coming to Christ. I used “institutional growth” as shorthand for “individuals coming to Christ” because Brad’s post was couched in the language of cost-benefit analysis, and in that rubric, “institutional growth” can stand in for a greater number of individuals who are converted by one political strategy than another.

    (Also because I was running out the door to pick up kids from school and do the afternoon’s round of basketball/cello/soccer/physical therapy/grocery shopping/cooking/homework/laundry/dinner/Scouts/bedtime, and “institutional growth” was quicker to type. If you want nuance, please hire me a nanny and chauffeur ;)).

  90. “As someone else said, if members can’t disagree with church leaders on a ballot measure, Mitt Romney was wrong when he said he would not be told how to vote from LDSHQ.”

    To be legalistic about it, the Church has formally stated that elected government officials who are LDS are not expected always to follow the Church’s official position in order to be, and be regarded, as faithful Latter-day Saints. It has not yet made such a statement about LDS voters (although I think the same principle applies).

    “I also believe, at least from what I have read in scripture, that the people often don’t know all that the prophets know — and that they aren’t always able to tell the people everything.”

    I agree, but I also believe that the FP and 12 do not always know everything that some individuals may know. They are not omniscient. And they are not infallible.

    “And I believe the prophet and apostles are the conduits of that wisdom on the earth. The one thing that I constantly asked myself as I puzzled over Prop 8 (I was working in CA during all of Oct.) was ‘Is it possible that our leaders know something we don’t about the consequences of this battle over this issue?’ If I couldn’t answer that question with a resounding yes, if I couldn’t entertain the possibility of such knowledge, then why am I following a prophet?”

    The FP and 12 are not the sole conduits of God’s wisdom on the earth. Presumably, as individual voters, it is in our individual stewardship for God to reveal wisdom to us directly through our hearts and minds how to vote. To my knowledge, the Church has never formally and officially taken the position that direction by the FP and 12 must trump individual inspiration and conscience for faithful LDS voters. The FP and 12 are “general” authorities, circumstances and experiences and personal revelation may indicate that we should individually vote (and contribute or fail to contribute to a campaign) differently from the general teachings of the Church.

  91. May I say, only partially tongue in cheek, that Brad’s analysis would also suggest that the reason it took so long for God to lift the race-lineage “ban” on temple and priesthood blessings was so that the Church would be more appealing to U.S. whites (and those in other countries) who were opposed to complete equality regardless of race. And, it goes without saying, so that the Church would be more appealing to its own members who were opposed to complete equality regardless of race.

  92. John Mansfield says:

    palerobber, Canada, South Africa, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Norway account for what portion of the world’s population? The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Norway account for what portion of Europe?

    “btw, did you happen to see the age splits from the Prop8 exit polls?”

    In ten years, we’ll all be ten years older. Although there will be holdouts, most of today’s twenty-year-olds will even be so conventional as to use capitalization at start sentences and for nominative singular personal pronouns.

  93. Ben (#84), isn’t it a little bit more than ironic that you would quote Zeezrom there? Brad floats a speculative idea to promote greater understanding and the next thing we know he’s “commanding God?” I mean, heaven forbid that people who are attempting to reconcile this whole issue with their faith in the church actually try to do so.

    Egads. I really hope you were kidding I just missed the tongue-in-cheekness…

  94. Thomas Parkin says:

    Dane,

    I think that phrase is the very coinage of my fiery brain. I think I first thought it while my wife and I were discussing the idea of ‘progressive’ politics, ‘slippery slope’ arguments, and were still living in Seattle. Relative to this unfortunate subject matter: the idea is that the fact that the church has been rightly following ‘progressive’ changes at a distance heretofore doesn’t mean that it is desirable or inevitable that the church will not now go no further. That _we_ did ultimately go all the way to Tacoma notwithstanding. ~

  95. The question is: Why do we not feel the same sense of urgency to care for our brothers and sisters as we do to prevent gay people from calling their union a marriage?

    If we as members are not responding to the constant teaching and reminder to care for the poor, whose fault is that? We were reminded of this need in Oct. conference. And April conference. We are reminded constantly in the scriptures. We are reminded every time we fast, every time we make a donation (humanitarian and fast offering and PEF are on those slips).

    As a church, we send humanitarian missionaries all over the world to help people, to help them help themselves. We sponsor DIs all over the place that are helping people at many levels, both to get needed supplies and to have a hand up economically. We have employment services and welfare services and inner city services etc. etc. etc. to help with these problems.

    I understand the concern at the outset, but imo, just assessing one ward’s monthly contribution, doesn’t take all of this into consideration. To help the poor takes more than monetary contributions, so if we are going to consider what the Church actually does, we ought to consider all the other resources that come into play. If we could measure missionaries’ time and funds supplied every month, and the cost of church employees and buildings and overhead and all that goes into helping the poor, I think we’d be stunned at the numbers. This kind of thing is built into the structure and function of the Church at so many levels.

    As a contrast, passing a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage was a unique situation, imo that they obviously felt required special attention. It was do now or don’t do anything…you just can’t compare the two things, imo. One was a deadline-driven thing, the other problem will ‘always be with us.’ And so it takes a longer-term, more sustained and constant approach.

    I also am always amazed when the idea that somehow the yes on 8 people aren’t caring for the poor as they should. What about the no on people (who, incidentally, raised MORE money)? Why does no one point out their alleged lack of concern for the poor?

    Obviously, this was an issue a LOT of people felt strongly enough to spend their money on. And the money from NO was certainly not encouraged by the Church.

    Just because we feel strongly about one issue doesn’t mean we don’t care about another. And that can go for people on both sides of the issue. I don’t believe no on 8 people don’t care about the poor, and don’t put their money and time toward that end. Quite the contrary, actually.

    I don’t think making such generalizations about yes on 8 folks or about the Church are accurate or helpful.

  96. James (#89),

    Sorry. I worried I might have been too dry. The Zeezrom paraphrase was definitely intentional. : )

    I find Brad’s speculative idea quite interesting, and I find some of the reactions to it (or to misunderstandings of it) quite amusing.

  97. Obama has indicated that he wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and will be working with large Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate. If Proposition 8 had failed then it would have been reported as California voting in favor of Same-Sex Marriage. Consider the momentum that would have been built, and would have been wielded by a President who is very favorable to the cause. This could have opened the door to inter-state litigation making it harder and harder for traditional marriage to remain the norm.

    In contrast, the fact that even California has voted against same-sex marriage should give national politicians pause and force Obama to be cautious when it comes to SSM at the national level.

    Perhaps it only buys time but who knows what will change in the interim. Will a high-profile ex-gay change the narrative about the mutability of orientation? Will a movement to recognize Muslim polygamous marriages cause Americans to realize the slippery slope that SSM brings?

    I can see where you’re getting at with global benefits Brad, but I see some real tangible benefits here locally for those of us that agree with the church’s view of what marriage should be.

  98. Thomas Parkin says:

    Speaking of ‘Coming to Christ.’ I was thinking of the vast amounts of ink and space used on the subject by the church – GC talks, Ensign articles, correlated Sunday lessons, the scriptures themselves – as compared to the relatively little space and even time used talking about SSM. And then I was thinking about the inverse relation on the bloggernacle. And then I was think about how ‘out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ And then I felt to repent. ~

  99. Will a movement to recognize Muslim polygamous marriages cause Americans to realize the slippery slope that SSM brings?

    Let’s all pray to the God of Heaven that it never comes to that!

    Seriously, though. While the Church did play a critical (and rather impressive) role in turning around public opinion and getting out the vote in CA, there’s a point about numbers that bears acknowledgment — especially against claims that this was some kind of major victory for opponents of gay marriage: less than a decade ago Prop 22 passed by a 20 point margin. That means that the pro-SSM side has made up 15 points in a mere 8 years. 6 months from now the state of NY will be the first to enact gay marriage legislatively. If you think that overturning DOMA is a high priority for an Obama administration, you will be sorely disappointed. This will go forward slowly, but inexorably.

  100. Token Average Member says:

    I haven’t had time to read all of the comments, so maybe this has already been said.

    It is my impression that the Church is very concerned about the growth of our membership here in the states. Perhaps our involvement in Prop 8 will enhance our reputation in other countries and possibly even with evangelicals here. But the people they want the elders to target in New York or Missouri or any other state are middle class families, and they are more likely in my opinion to be put off by our hard nosed stance on gay marriage.

    There is no way I want to second guess the Bretheren or the Lord on this subject. I am sure there is cost/benefit analysis going on in SL but I really think the costs outweigh the benefits on this one.

  101. Brad,
    I like the broader point of your post, which if I’m reading it correctly, proposes that we try to look past our own personal, political convictions and accept that the Church is being guided by a wiser purpose than we can fathom. Well done.
    That said, I’m interested in hearing what you’d suggest as far as a plan of action for those unenlightened among us, who wonder how many times the Church can be “wrong” on social issues. Please note the quotations. My wife helps me understand almost daily that what I think is wrong is in fact correct. I can wrap my head around that. I’m open to being dissuaded from my convictions. However, my own take on the Mormon gospel is that we are allowed to solicit spiritual guidance on any issue, even (especially) when we don’t agree with our leaders. So, my conscience tells me that Prop 8 is a bad idea. What do I do, quit and protest? Vent on a blog? Vote against my conscience? Convince others to do the same?
    On the one hand, stories of Brigham Young admitting to deeds he hadn’t committed because Brother Joseph told him they were true come to mind. On the other, I seem to remember a story about a guy whose conscience told him to kill his Elder’s Quorum President (is this the correct analogy) and steal his brass journal.
    What do you think?

  102. wondering,
    It’s admittedly very messy stuff. I have close friends who are giving serious consideration to quitting in protest (i.e. having their names removed), or at least surrendering their temple recommend. But they, despite their serious misgivings about Prop 8 and about the Church’s history with regard to progressive social change, cannot shake the fact that they believe, at the core, the Church to still be true in the sense that God directed its restoration and that its leaders, imperfections notwithstanding, are God’s chosen servants. How to move forward can be a difficult question for some. As for me and my family, we’re still here and we mean to stay.

  103. Fwiw, there is a huge difference between being “absolutely right/wrong” (correct or incorrect no matter the circumstances), “rightly or wrongly positioned” (correctly or incorrectly justified), “right or wrong in time” (correct in one time but changed later for a different time), “socially right or wrong” (in or out of harmony with the external standard of society at large, etc.

    I think this post posits that the Church’s stance on Prop. 8 can be seen by members as both right and wrong, depending on which category one is using to define the words.

  104. Token Average Member,

    I’ve had the same thoughts about the impacts on missionary work domestically. And while we will probably become more unpopular with many because of this and likely future events, it did occur to me that (theoretically) the church just more popular with roughly 52% of Californians. To get even crazier with this line of thinking, if supporting prop 8 made even 5% of the population so enamored with the church they chose to get baptized, I’d suspect that the CA missions would have their hands full. That’s a silly thought in some ways, but still…interesting to think about.

  105. Brad,

    less than a decade ago Prop 22 passed by a 20 point margin. That means that the pro-SSM side has made up 15 points in a mere 8 years.

    I think you have to consider that the status quo carries with it some amount of support. Proposition 8 was against the status quo, in the next round it will have status quo on it’s side. But yeah, overall I agree that it seems like time is against us unless conditions change.

    Still, supporters of traditional marriage will have some powerful images to show in the next round thanks to the protests against churches which will make the case that Pro-Same-Sex-Marriage goes hand in hand with Anti-Religion. That might help hold the line.

    For example:
    “Cross-Bearing Elderly Woman Attacked by Gay Marriage Supporters”
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,450884,00.html

  106. Token average member-
    I believe that even among whites in CA, who as a group did not support prop 8, those married with children voted 60% in favor. This is in CA. Other states would probably show an even higher percentage of support from middle class families for traditional marriage.

  107. Mark Brown says:

    m&m,

    I also am always amazed when the idea that somehow the yes on 8 people aren’t caring for the poor as they should.

    Why is that amazing? We get told in every general conference that we ALL don’t care for the poor as we should. If it makes you feel better to compare yourself to others who aren’t doing any better, go ahead. But if the best we can do is look around as see somebody else who is doing worse than we are, well, that is something to be ashamed of.

    Just because we feel strongly about one issue doesn’t mean we don’t care about another.

    Precisely. So why don’t act like it? Why can people who can only afford to pay $20.00 per month in fast offerings suddenly come up with $5,000.00 in a month? Perhaps you see nothing wrong with that.

  108. The percentages are fascinating, but I don’t know that every person who voted yes is a potential convert. I am afraid many of them already belonged to conservative churches and voted yes in spite of the ‘Mormons’ being involved, not because we were.

    I do believe that the First Presidency and the Apostles are guided by inspiration to act for the welfare of the church. I am just not sure that the particular result Brad presents in this post was the ultimate aim of the Prop 8 campaign.

  109. However, my own take on the Mormon gospel is that we are allowed to solicit spiritual guidance on any issue, even (especially) when we don’t agree with our leaders.

    Here’s my take on this.

    Spiritual guidance sought and received through personal revelation is for personal choice and stewardship. We do not have the stewardship to generalize our answers for the Church as a whole. Therefore an alleged answer of ‘I can’t/don’t want to follow the prophet’ is not the same as receiving revelation that ‘the prophet is wrong.’

    It’s one thing to make a personal choice. It’s another thing to preach that it trumps prophetic direction.

  110. Totally off topic but I just read the $3000 to $3500 a month fast offering comment. Our poor little branch collected less than that for the year!

  111. John Mansfield says:

    “Why can people who can only afford to pay $20.00 per month in fast offerings suddenly come up with $5,000.00 in a month?”

    I doubt there more than three people who match that description.

  112. wondering some more says:

    Brad,
    So, what do we do then? Is there, as Ardis wonders, a way to protest this and not endanger my own spiritual standing as a supporter of the brethren?
    If not, what do I do with this?
    “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” –Paulo Freire

  113. Re #55

    I served my mission in Both CT & MA, 1980-82.

    It was known then as the toughest mission in the US.

    CT was one on the few states where the church was not successful in siting a Temple: Boston vs Hartford

    I am not a bit surprised that these are the first two states to sanction SSM

    Wasn’t there a prophecy once about Boston falling into the Sea???

  114. Um, no, but there is that little bit in D&C 111 about Salem: 1 I, the Lord your God, am anot displeased with your coming this journey, notwithstanding your follies.
    2 I have much treasure in this city for you, for the benefit of Zion, and many people in this city, whom I will gather out in due time for the benefit of Zion, through your instrumentality.
    3 Therefore, it is expedient that you should form acquaintance with men in this city, as you shall be led, and as it shall be given you.

  115. Is there, as Ardis wonders, a way to protest this and not endanger my own spiritual standing as a supporter of the brethren?

    This isn’t what I said, or at least not what I meant to say. I *don’t* believe there is a way to protest this while still acknowledging the inspiration of the brethren and their claim to my loyalty. I’ve been waiting for a hundred comments to hear someone who does protest this explain how they can reconcile the two. Haven’t seen it yet.

  116. I think there are institutional reasons that our Church does not lead out (meaning in a progressive/change oriented way) on social/political issues. I believe there is a natural and considerable institutional inertia in this divine organization because, not only do we believe in prophetic direction of the institution, but we believe it must be “cabined” by “common consent”.

    The principle of “common consent” (after which this blog is named) goes far beyond the largely ceremonial ratifying raising of hands in conference and in Church meetings. The principle is both prescriptive and descriptive. It is prescriptive in that, for example, the Doctrine and Covenants requires that decisions of the leading quorums be unanimous–i.e., by common consent of the leaders.

    It is descriptive in the sense that if a significant body of the Church is not persuaded or moved by the spirit that the program or decision is correct, nothing much will happen. Elder LeGrand Richards is reported once to have said, “In this Church, everything above bishop is just talk.”

    A change or proposition may be right and good, but it cannot effectively be implemented in this divine Church until each member of the leading quorums is persuaded or converted to it, so that the decisions are made in unity. That is why President Kimball spent so much time meeting with the members of the FP and 12 individually to discuss their feelings and his feelings about changing the race/lineage practices. He could have, I suppose, simply announced that he personally had had that inspiration to change the practice, and call on the others to get in line as a matter of sustaining duty. But instead, he waited and counseled and the FP and 12 unitedly came to the conclusion which each member could wholeheartedly support.

    And, in making changes, I think it is also wise to take into account the attitudes of the membership at large; in a way God did that in the Old Testament when Moses realized the children of Israel could not live a higher law, so, in consultation with God, he brought them a “lower law” that could prepare them for the higher.

    Social progress and change usually occurs one person at a time–it is unusual for an entire group to be persuaded all at once. Because attitudes and programatic changes in the Church are, perhaps by God’s design, deliberate and very slow, I do not think the Church usually can be on the forefront of needed societal change.

    But this does not mean that we as individuals cannot be part of and on the forefront of beneficial societal progress and change even before the Church institutionally becomes ready to endorse it or to drop its opposition. For example, my parents (and probably yours) supported civil rights legislation regardless of race or sex long before the Church issued a supportive statement in the mid-1960s. I think my parents were inspired to do that, even though they knew that, at that time, some or many of the Brethren did not support the civil rights movement.

  117. In my ward, large amounts of money were donated to Prop 8. The bishop boasted that he believed our ward raised the most in our stake. Yet, the boxes in our building for canned and dried food collections to fill our empty food banks in the county have been virtually bare Sunday after Sunday.

  118. Tesseract, I’d be careful drawing too many conclusions from that. Many people simply prefer to write a cheque. I actually hate the whole “bring a can” thing myself.

  119. I opposed the proposition. I cannot deny twinges of conscience or whisperings of the spirit to me in the matter that led me there. How to reconcile that experience over against the leadership? Truth is a matter of the imagination.

    For a considerable period of time I have believed that truth is a matter of the imagination. That idea gained traction when I first read Ursula Le Guin’s novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, wherein the opening sentences of Genly Ai read as follows:

    I’LL MAKE my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination. The soundest fact may fail or prevail in the style of its telling: like that singular organic jewel of our seas, which grows brighter as one woman wears it and, worn by another, dulls and goes to dust. Facts are no more solid, coherent, round, and real than pearls are. But both are sensitive.

    A favorite fictional character of mine is Pi Patel, the protagonist of The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Pi openly urges those who listen to his story to choose an interpretation that serves the listener the best. The primary theme of the novel pits imagination over against factuality. Chapter 22 from the book reads as follows:

    I can well imagine an atheist’s last words: “White, White! L-L-Love! My God!” — and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, useless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, “Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain,” and, to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story.

    If the Book of Mormon is, as has been posited, Joseph Smith’s expansion of an ancient work which built upon the works of earlier prophets to answer nagging contemporary problems, I do not feel at all constrained to apply some expansion of my own, intended just for me, especially when it comports with my inner feelings of spirit and conscience.
    So after reading the official pronouncements of the church, various court cases and opinions, newspapers and magazines, and blogs and webpages galore, and after approaching my God, I selected the version that said no. What’s more, my version of the story has me sticking with the culture I know best and among the people I love most, despite the fact that I understand there are other versions out there that do not comport with mine. Some of these are held by others with greater power and position. But in my imagination they are not as good a story as mine is.

  120. anon this time says:

    tesseract (cool name — I used it for my first cat), that doesn’t necessarily mean that ward members aren’t doing a great deal of humanitarian service, including filling the local food bank.

    Because I do all of my grocery shopping on foot, and also walk to and from church, all that extra carrying of cans as a donation isn’t exactly practical. I often buy extra cans (or jars, usually, of peanut butter) to put in the donation box at our local grocery store, and during the holidays when you can pay for a donated turkey or bag of groceries at the checkstand without actually having to lug the food around yourself, I do. I don’t celebrate holidays at my house, but I’ve sponsored a LOT of other people’s holiday dinners.

    When I bought books at a university bookstore today, the clerk asked if I wanted to donate a dollar to their food bank drive. I did. (Ditto for every time during the local Children’s Medical Center drive when the grocer asks if I want to donate a dollar. I do. Every trip. Because I shop on foot, it means I shop very often.) $1, big deal. It adds up.

    It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that a lot of other people find it more convenient to write a check, and actually do write a check, rather than go through the visible but limited usefulness of bringing cans with them to church.

    Don’t be too sure that your ward members aren’t doing likewise.

  121. What’s more, my version of the story has me sticking with the culture I know best and among the people I love most, despite the fact that I understand there are other versions out there that do not comport with mine.

    Thank you for this, We. I guess I’m still working on my version of the story. I want to believe. Things like Prop 8 just make it very, very hard to figure out how to do that.

  122. Interesting, we, but you’ll probably be willing to agree with me that yours is not the most orthodox, or at least not the most general, understanding of Mormonism. Yours is a thoughtful approach, but doesn’t help me understand how Mormons can protest (not merely disagree with and vote against, but protest) while simultaneously sustaining the inspiration of the Brethren and their right to call for support.

  123. Brad, thanks for your thoughtful post.

    #112. Elder Oaks answered that question in a February 1987 Ensign article.

    I like Ray’s comment in #103, but I would take it a step further. Many folks in this thread have suggested that the Church’s position on some social/moral issues has been ‘wrong’ in the past, just as it’s ‘wrong’ on Prop 8 now.

    The way I see it, the Church and the Brethren operate in accordance with the light and understanding they have. When additional light and understanding is revealed to the proper authority, the Church changes course.

    (For a great example, see the Arrington and Mcconkie quotes here.)

    Does that mean the Church was ‘wrong’ before it received additional light and understanding and reacted to it? I don’t think so.

    I’m not suggesting that the Church will or should change course on SSM after it becomes more ‘enlightened’, I’m just saying that I don’t see these types of social/moral issues as they relate to the Church in terms of ‘right’ vs ‘wrong’. I see them more in terms of the Church acting within the framework of existing revelation.

  124. By the way, when I say “how do you reconcile the two?” I’m not saying “you can’t do it”; I’m assuming that many BCCers have done it, and I’m asking how because I don’t understand.

  125. Ardis,
    100 posts really? I thought I explained it in detail just 3 posts after your initial post.

  126. Huh? You mean where you say church leaders are “wrong … again”? That explains how you can protest, but explicitly denies church leaders’ inspiration. How does that reconcile the two ideas?

  127. decline 2 state says:

    @22 nails it I think. I know people have said “that hasn’t happened yet in Massachusetts” but that’s weak logic. I can certainly see the legal challenge being mounted.

  128. Steve Evans says:

    “..doesn’t help me understand how Mormons can protest (not merely disagree with and vote against, but protest) while simultaneously sustaining…”

    what’s the difference between the two that makes one permissible and the other not?

  129. so then I have to agree with everything the brethren say or I’m denying their inspiration? Seems a little bit of a white and black way of looking at it. Sure I can say that I don’t think they were speaking from inspiration in this. Does that mean I must toss out the baby with the proverbial bathwater? Re-read the last sentence of my first post.

  130. I’ve been waiting for a hundred comments to hear someone who does protest this explain how they can reconcile the two. Haven’t seen it yet.

    Ardis,

    I touched on this above but I’ll say it again – Mitt Romney.

    Need I say more? The man said over and over again that he is not beholden to SL on political issues. If he WAS, he would have absolutely NO shot at the nomination. The man is not special – his standard applies to everyone else in the church.

    If a political figure can’t make independent decisions contrary to the Brethren then Mormons have no business complaining that people are freaked out my the notion of a Mormon President.

  131. “Permissible”? That’s not a distinction I had in mind.

    The difference is that one (voting against Prop 8)is a passive failure to support, while the other (publicly stating that the Brethren were wrong, out of bounds, don’t understand people or politics as well as we do, or whatever) is an active opposition.

  132. Quite right, Ardis; it is not the most orthodox or even the most generally understood. Yet even the most orthodox individual must recognize that nothing done in life escapes the imagination. My recommendation is that you use your own to complete the story. You can make it grim or you can make in holy.

  133. ronito, I’m being as careful as I can be, working over every one of my comments multiple times to be as courteous and non-accusatory as I can be. Please don’t be sarcastic with me; I really want to understand, but cannot do that when you put me on the defensive.

    I won’t attempt to suggest what percentage of agreement anyone must have with the Brethren to hold on to the baby while tossing the bathwater. But on the simple face of it, whatever the issue, when you say “They do not speak with inspiration on this,” you are saying “I do not accept their prophetic role in this.”

    I think you may be saying, then, that “I generally sustain them, but in this case I do not,” and that such a position is consistent with your understanding of your obligations as a member of the church. If that’s so, then yes, you have explained how you reconcile the conflict. It’s a stretch for me to see it that way, so your earlier comment, without this later discussion, was NOT as obvious as you apparently thought. Thanks for the additional discussion.

  134. it holy, not in holy

  135. wondering some more says:

    Brad,
    Ardis is really smart and, I believe, recently returned from the afterlife. What do we I do here? Do I follow my conscience and speak out, do I quietly subvert the church’s position and otherwise shut up, or do I suspend my conscience, cave in and start demanding wedding bands from gay couples?
    Of course, I believe that Evans resurrected her, so who knows how that could influence her credibility.

  136. CTJ, Mitt Romney’s case doesn’t seem as relevant to me as it does to you. It’s one thing to call on the membership in general to support a single proposition which the Brethren saw as a moral matter, and quite another to call the shots for a theoretical President Romney. You said it yourself in #26 when you referred to “political issues” in Romney’s case.

    Perhaps you see Prop 8 as entirely political and not at all moral. If so, then yes, I can understand your reasoning. But please understand that because I see a difference between moral and political, and difference between a call on the California membership in general versus personal directives for one specific member, your way of reconciling the question was not obvious to me on first reading.

  137. wondering some more says:

    I will say on my own behalf, Ardis, that I don’t think the Church would even care if I retranslated the Book of Mormon, so long as I continue fulfilling my calling with the 11-year-old scouts.

  138. Yes you got it. I can’t sustain them in this. Like I said I feel that if I did I’d have to sustain the beliefs that would go against my very marriage.

    Thing is to me, I sustain the brethren in talking about spiritual matters to me. To me this isn’t a spiritual matter. Letting gays get married in their own way doesn’t form or destroy my testimony. Certainly we’re not talking about a change in the doctrine, especially since the church’s stance is very clear on the matter and will continue to be. To me this was about how the church treats those outside its walls, and at that point it stopped being spiritual to me and hence an overstepping in my eyes.

    Yes, I’ve heard all the alarmist stuff out there that it will destroy my marriage and that 5 year olds will be dressing fabulously in the streets. Perhaps I’m a bit too selfish, but having been on the receiving end of discrimination I can’t in good faith think that it’s inspired.

  139. Sorry, we; I guess I’m too pragmatic or prosaic or something, because your figurative or poetic language conveys no meaning to me. But thanks for a courteous exchange.

  140. Thanks, ronito. And it suddenly occurs to me that a good share of my own position on the claims and countercharges over Prop 8 come from my having grown up in Nevada. There, it is meaningless to say “if you don’t want to gamble, don’t” or “the way he wastes his money has no effect on how I use mine,” because every decision, from the building of a new school to the routing of a new road to the hours of operation of a city park are ALL governed by how those decisions will affect the gaming industry. Even before you get to the social costs of gambling, its very legality impacts your life in countless ways even if you never drop a nickel in a slot.

    So while I don’t pretend to know precisely what the social consequences of SSM would be, it is very easy for me to believe that there *could* be consequences, that the consequences wouldn’t be obvious to someone who hasn’t lived in a society with SSM, and that the inspiration of a prophet could very well be greater than all my personal reasoning powers.

  141. Thanks, Brad, for letting me monopolize your thread tonight. I think I understand the positions of so many BCCers better than I ever have before, although I still don’t agree with them. Good night.

  142. Steve Evans says:

    Ardis, I guess that makes one of us anyways. I still don’t understand my own position let alone any of these nuttos.

  143. wondering some more says:

    Steve,
    Did you, in fact, resurrect Ardis, or merely witness the event?

  144. Steve Evans says:

    it was more of a zombie thing, to tell the truth.

  145. wondering some more says:

    Noted.

  146. GatoraAdeMomma says:

    Moderators: Please start a new thread to expand on this comment in this tread and explain what this is all about. Please…Thanks.

    “Obama has indicated that he wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and will be working with large Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate”

  147. Steve Evans says:

    GatoraAdeMomma go get your own blog to talk about your crazy Obama nonsense.

  148. GatoraAdeMomma says:

    I don’t live in Ca and was glad I did not have to “choose” or take a position on Prop 8. This is the first discussion that has led me to reconcile my thoughts on it and, although, still not totally supportive, has helped me understand better the consequences of it passing or not passing.

  149. GatoraAdeMomma says:

    Thanks Steve Evan, #146, very thoughtful of you.

  150. Always trying to please! Seriously, your #145 is nonsense.

    OHhhhhhhhhh….. I see, you’re talking about Aluwid’s comment up above. Yeah, just ignore it.

  151. Dude, Mr. Manners, way to treat the newcomer. Jeesh.

    GatoraAdeMomma: what Steve meant to say is that this blog isn’t really the place to discuss that. There are about 10 million blogs out there dedicated to politics and/or Obama. Your question doesn’t really have anything to do with Mormonism in particular, so it’s not a good fit.

  152. I’m sorry GatorAde. What can I say? I’m exhausted from exhuming Ardis and performing unholy rituals on the corpse to reanimate it as a Zombie Historian capable of taking out my ageless vengeance upon the Archives.

    That’s right Jensen, I’m looking at you.

  153. Little Sister says:

    I think its bed time.

  154. Although there will be holdouts, most of today’s twenty-year-olds will even be so conventional as to use capitalization at start sentences and for nominative singular personal pronouns.

    BCC: Come for the Prop 8 discussion, stay for the orthography policing.

  155. I’m in the UK, and apart from the occasional column inch or report in the broadsheet newspapers, this really hasn’t been news here.Nor in Church circles.

    In some ways, I wish I didn’t have internet access because that is the only way I have become conflicted on this issue. Maybe since we have civil unions and there were no probs there, I can pretend it hasn’t happened.

    Sir Elton’s comments were interesting though.

  156. david knowlton says:

    I think Brad is overall right in his emphasis on the different way Gay marriage is seen outside of economic powerhouse countries and the effect i can have on growth. Whether intentionally driving Church political action or not, the Church’s position on Gay issues will have an impact on Church growth around the world. The brethren travel the world daily and cannot help but be aware of this, to a significant degree, I imagine.

    However, things are changing in the rest of the world, as hegemonic, Western notions of sexuality develop there as well. Mexico city and Buenos Aires have moved to the forefront in recognizing Gay unions. Gay Pride marches are found in much of the world. To the degree these are successful in changing attitudes elsewhere, gains for the Church in growth may be short term.

    Of course, Latter-day Saints along with the Vatican are working to head off this change by articulating their notions of marriage and such in as many UN documents as possible, in the hope that these will have some kind of force of law.

    The global politics and social struggles around this issue promise to be interesting for decades to come. The Church’s position will bring it some strong advantages, including growth, at the same time other possibilities for it are closed. Many will also leave the Church and find themselves unable to hear the gospel because of the political overtones it will carry.

  157. Bottom line, the church can not condone unchaste behavior. If the stand on Prop 8 was necessary to keep us in line with gospel truth, then it doesn’t matter whether you or I like it or not. Perhaps we are complicating this too much.

  158. Rameumptom says:

    I think there’s occasionally an issue of import to the Church, where it feels it must take a stance: Polygamy (maintaining and ending of), ERA, September 7, etc.

    In each of these, there has arisen angst for many members who were convinced the Church either shouldn’t change, or should keep its nose out of politics, or allow total discord from its members, etc.

    In all periods of the Church, there have been those who have found themselves in disagreement with the Church. It always comes down to whether they will acquiesce to their testimony, or fight. After constructing the golden calf, Aaron had to choose to repent and follow Moses, or overthrow him. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy thing to watch 3000 people slain by the Levites, and then to have one’s “divine work of art” ground down and force fed to the Israelites.

    Once again, the Lord tests his people to see what is of greatest import to them: the politically correct or the spiritually correct?

  159. The question is: Why do we not feel the same sense of urgency to care for our brothers and sisters as we do to prevent gay people from calling their union a marriage?

    Perhaps because the poor are always with us (to paraphrase a wise man), but votes of import such as this are only occasional?

    Though, speaking of occasional events, didn’t the Church organize a particular Church-wide fast for Africa in the 80′s?

  160. This was largely a humanitarian effort.

    As it says in the Proclamation on the family:

    “Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

    We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

    I’m all for the Church making efforts, even public ones, to try and forestall calamaties.

  161. Rameumptom says:

    Ronito, #8,

    Different issues. The Church’s counsel to its members (which many didn’t follow and were not disciplined for it, btw), is very different from an issue that the Church jumps into the political bed over.

    At the time of that counsel, the world and Church were different than they are now. The priesthood ban was in effect. Racism was big in most of America. Rosa Parks couldn’t even sit in the front of a bus without being arrested!

    It was a difficult time for interracial marriages, and for children born to such marriages. Marriage is difficult enough, without adding new dimensions of struggle to it.

    As society and the Church has changed, those comments have gone away. I don’t think you will find the Brethren quoting them anymore. They will only tell us how to protect our marriages and nourish them.

  162. D. Fletcher says:

    The passing of the Proposition, and now all these protests (one in NYC in front of the Temple last night brought 10,000 people) just makes me sadder than I already am.

    Perhaps if the Church leaders had done nothing, Proposition 8 would still have passed, but then there wouldn’t be any single organization to blame.

    I did question my membership, but my Stake President’s talk on Sunday was so moving and inspiring, that I knew I would have to stay. I would miss my peeps too much.

  163. Mark Brown says:

    Ben,

    I assume you think it would be a good thing if church members were somehow able to increase the amount they contribute to the fast offering. Pres. Kimball asked us over the pulpit in general conference to increase our fast offering tenfold, if we can, but since we’re apparently thinking small here, let’s just ask why we cannot double it. If we can raise $65,000 in our wards for prop 8 in 60 days, surely we can contribute that much to the fast offering in a year, can’t we? What is stopping us? The most likely reason is that we had a sense of urgency about prop 8 that we don’t have about feeding and clothing the needy.

  164. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 161

    I sure wish you could find a way to stay active in the Church and not be so sad, D.
    I hope your brothers and sisters there in the Church know how much you’re struggling and give you tons of support.

  165. 160, really? Different? Immoral, abhorrent, an abomination, repugnant, damnable, for the mentally-ill, people who supported it didn’t know enough about the gospel and were being led away politics and the learning of man, traitorous. Scriptures were cited against it.

    All of these was used for gay marriage or interracial marraige….oh no wait they were used for both. But it must be ok because most of the country was racist back then.

    Again Prop 8 didn’t ask the church to change its view or its practices about gays. Just to let those that don’t believe be able to live as they want not to force them to live to the rules. I wouldn’t like it if evangelicals said “hey Mormon temple marriages shouldn’t be honored by the state.” certainly to them temple marriage is abhorrent.

  166. John Mansfield says:

    “I think Brad is overall right in his emphasis on the different way Gay marriage is seen outside of economic powerhouse countries”–David Knowlton (#155)

    Harping on my point again, of the G8 nations, Canada and two of the fifty United States are the only places that issue marriage licenses to couples of the same sex. Europeans may have more accepting attitudes regarding homeosexuality (I don’t know), but they don’t marry homosexuals to one another there either.

  167. Steve Evans says:

    John, inasmuch as marriage is an historically religious institution in most European countries, that’s a tough analysis. All European countries offer robust civil unions, which are increasingly chosen over marriage. I have never encountered a European who cared much about marriage the way Americans do. The only time it surfaces is among those families who want a RC church wedding as a matter of social conformity. I think I would articulate the point more as “Europeans don’t obsess with the definition of the word ‘marriage’ like America.”

  168. Well put, Steve. You’re wrong about Europe, John. Pointing there as an example of how to treat gays won’t win you many points with social conservatives here, that’s for sure. The Continent has managed to mostly avoid this whole SSM fiasco, yet any gay who’s ever crossed the Atlantic (one or two, I suspect) will tell you the situation politically and socially is much more in their favor over there.

  169. John Mansfield says:

    Back when Ségolène Royal made the U.S. news, it was kind of interesting to hear about her non-husband partner who was the father of her children. From Wikipedia’s entry on France’s pacte civil de solidarité (PACS):

    According to the 2004 Demographic Report (pdf in English) by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee), the number of marriages in France had fallen each year since 2000.

    266,000 civil marriages took place in 2004, a decline of 5.9% from 2003. However, the report found that the number of couples getting PACS had increased every year except 2001. There was a 29% increase in PACS between 2001 and 2002 and a 25% increase between 2002 and 2003. For the first 9 months of 2004, 27,000 PACS were signed compared to 22,000 in 2003.

    266,000 marriages compared with 27,000 (times 4/3 equals 36,000) PACS indicates that PACS are a significant and growing alternative, but marriage is still how the bulk of formal domestic partnership recognition was done in 2004. If news marriages continue declining 6% each year from the 2004 level, and new PACS increase 25% each year, then in the year 2011, there will be 172,000 of each. It is closer to 2011 than 2004 now; is that the pace France is on?

  170. John Mansfield says:

    MikeInWeHo, I’m not sure which things about Europe you think I’m wrong about. French and Germans are going to be upset that homosexuals can’t marry one another in the United States, even though they can’t marry in France or Germany either?

  171. Steve Evans says:

    John I think that’s right, far more people are opting for the PACS because it is secular, far easier in terms of red tape, and affords all the benefits of marriage. But I think it would be wrong to frame this as a “decline of marriage” problem or more evidence that Europe is going to hell. People just don’t really care very much about the definition of marriage, and view the whole controversy as very very silly. Homosexuals in Europe accordingly are not making the definition of marriage their focus, as their relationships are already viewed as completely on par. Broadly speaking, there’s no non-marriage stigma.

  172. John Mansfield says:

    Hey, looking through reports for more current numbers, I see that in France the “proportion de mariages de célibataires” is about 80%! That’s really nice to learn. Good for you, France. (Sure, go ahead and burst my bubble and tell that célibataires doesn’t mean what it sounds like.)

  173. John Mansfield says:

    Oh, and by the way, gst, that’s mariages with one r.

  174. Steve Evans says:

    lol

  175. I, for one, would be interested in seeing a poll of LDS opponents of Prop 8 to see what proportion of them believe

    a) that gay sex is not inherently sinful;
    b) that the Church should baptize/administer the sacrament to civilly married gay couples;
    c) that the Church should solemnize gay marriages in its temples.

    I mean, how do we as a people really feel about homosexuality?

  176. JimD, the three things you ask about have very little to do with Prop 8.

  177. I, for one, would be interested in seeing JimD answer a few questions to see whether he believes

    a) that opposing Prop 8 is inherently sinful;
    b) that the Church should baptize/administer the sacrament to people who oppose Prop 8;
    c) that the Church should allow opponents of Prop 8 to have their marriages solemnized in its temples.

    I mean, how do you really feel about Prop 8 opponents?

  178. No, I mean I understand why Jim is asking the questions, it’s just problematic to conflate those issues with Prop 8.

  179. david knowlton says:

    John Mansfield (#165) While Gay marriage may not be practiced outside of the Low Countries and Catholic Spain, the situation in Europe regarding Gays, including issues of Gay unions, is radically different than in the majority of the world. In Nairobi, for example, being Gay itself is an issue. By standing firm on Gay marriage the Brethren position the Church to look as a defender of traditional sexuality. Sure the Nigerian Anglican Church is much harsher on homosexuality, but even there the issue they take umbrage at is particularly the celebration of gay unions within the Church. They brethren can appear to be as strong a defender of so called “traditional values” as the African bishops.

    However, one should also notice that in very Catholic Spain, the Catholic Church has become one of the least liked and least supported of public institutions, in part because of its position on moral and cultural institutions, such as Gay marriage.

    To be sure, the issue is very complex and never as simple as a brief post on a blog. However in this we find the benefits and dangers the LDS Church faces on his issue, I think.

  180. David, Are you saying the church can win more converts in Africa than in Spain with their current position? I mean, the church could take any position and that would be true. What are you implying?

  181. david knowlton says:

    As was pointed out in MHA there are other issues that limit the Church in Africa, such as its power hierarchy that is not African and local, and its unwillingness to really, deeply, engage local issues. But the Church’s position on Gays will win it friends among the “tradition”- leaning population, while in Spain it may keep it out of the mainstream. The issue of Spain is actually a stronger warning, i.e. Church that tried strong cultural hegemony, using the political process, lost even the loyalty of its membership. That is a stronger point. But I do not want to jack Brad’s post. I just think he is right on the broader politics of the Church’s effort when seen in a global framework.

  182. Here’s an interesting “afterthought”:

    http://antigayblacklist.com/

    It looks like “anti-hate” folks are reverting to a neo-McCarthyism of sorts.

  183. JimD, since you’re so interested let me give you a Prop 8 opponent’s answers.

    1.) What does this have to do with Prop 8?
    2.) What does this have to do with Prop 8?
    3.) What does this have to do with Prop 8?

    There ya go.

  184. GatoraAdeMomma (#145),

    You can do a web search for Obama and DOMA to see various discussions on the impact of this but he has indicated that he wants to completely repeal it:

    “Obama also believes we need to fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act”
    http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/lgbt.pdf

    Campaign promises often don’t turn into reality (expect to hear that a lot over the next four years), but that is the way he spoke as a candidate. I’m curious how much the success of Proposition 8 will cause him to rethink any actions he had planned in this area.

  185. Brad, I wasn’t wanting to hijack the thread so much as thinking aloud–I’d be interested in seeing how the numbers break down. I’ve seen some posters over at another LDS blog come out in favor of the church’s solemnizing gay marriages, and I’m curious as to how prevalent that view is among LDS opponents of Prop 8.

    But, to answer your questions:
    a) No;
    b) Depending on the nature of their opposition, generally yes;
    c) Same as b).

  186. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 181
    Boycotts are a legitimate and time-honored tool that the civil rights movement used effectively for decades. This has nothing to do with McCarthyism.

    It is a bummer, however, that my beloved El Coyote Restaurant in L.A. has come under fire. Who knew that the owner’s daughter (who’s the manager) was LDS? She and I have been having nice chats for years; now I know why I like her so much. I’m going there this evening to show her support and offer some suggestions about how she might get out of this PR debacle.

  187. And to answer your last question, Brad: I’m still trying to make up my mind. Hence, the questions.

  188. D. Fletcher says:

    Mike, I’ve been crying for three days, since I found out about the NYC protest.

    Uggh, I hate myself for being such a … non-entity. I honestly don’t feel I fit anywhere.

    Obviously, I couldn’t protest in front of my own chapel. But other Mormons did, straight couples with children.

    My only impact in this life has been as an LDS organist/musician. If I give that up to take a stand, I’ll just be another single person who has let life pass them by.

    P.S. Isn’t it just like me to make this whole thing about me?

  189. D.
    My heart breaks for Mormon gays like yourself. You are really in a crappy place and have my sympathy.

    I do hope you keep playing that organ. That’s your stand right there.

    Do people in your ward know you’re gay?

  190. Seems to me that a lot of the concern raised by the No on 8 camp is that the Church went too far in its support of Prop 8. If only the Church had remained quiet, or maybe done less, then everything would be OK.

    But wouldn’t quiet acquiescence or a timid response have been widely interpreted as a repudiation of The Proclamation and other more recent public statements? Certainly the FP and Q12 knew that would be the case.

    So, if staying completely on the sidelines was an unacceptable course of action from the Church leadership perspective, my question for opponents of prop 8 is how much support of prop 8 by the Church was too much? Where did it cross the line in your mind?

    I’m guessing the answer to that question will vary widely by individual, but regardless of the amount of effort the Church put into prop 8, the Church has always been fundamentally opposed to the substance of SSM. The amount of effort put into this particular issue at this particular time certainly stands out as being notable, and there are likely a number of reasons the Church chose to make a statement in this way, including those raised by Brad’s post.

    But really, the only thing that’s notable about it is the amount of money and energy spent in support of it. Not the position itself.

  191. david knowlton says:

    D. Fletcher. Your personal situation is like that of many, many others who struggle with this issue. I personally can understand why being an LDS organist and musician is so important, even when other things about the Church may produce great conflict given ones personal reality and feeling. Like you, I keep finding reasons why Mormonism is important to me, even though there are many personal dimensions where it is conflictive and painful, including some that are a matter of public record. While I did go to the demonstration in Salt Lake City, I can understand why many others may not. I just want to let you know you are not alone.

  192. Those demonstrations are simply a fulfillment of a Joel H. Johnson prophecy:

    Her light shall there
    Attract the gays
    Of all the world
    In latter days.

    Of course, if the boycott takes off, I suppose that ends the fulfillment.

  193. Night of the living Justin says:

    “Yet the Church chooses to involve itself minimally in many of these issues — poverty reduction, disease eradication, abortion, domestic violence, environmental protection, war and peace, economic globalization, etc. — at least at the level of lobbying and/or grassroots organizing and campaigning.”

    Are you actually that unaware of what the Church does with humanitarian efforts? Are you really being serious that the Church is “minimally involved” with poverty reduction? Do you, for real, not know what the Church has done about helping with vaccinations and other humanitarian work against disease? Have you never heard of the help line for bishops to protect members for abuse and domestic violence? Do you not know that in Utah, lawyers for the Church have conducted training with workers in the Utah Division of Child and Family Services about preventing sex abuse and child abuse? Do you have any real doubt about where the Church stands on abortion? And what does the global economy have to do with religion at all?

    If you want to debate (endlessly) about the Church’s stance against gay marriage, fine. If you want to disagree with the Church or its leadership, fine. But have you considered that your discussion might benefit from knowing what you are talking about before criticizing the Church–criticizing what it actually does or does not do, that is.

  194. Night of the living Justin says:

    Should have been “from abuse and domestic violence.”

  195. Nice rant there fake Justin.

  196. #156, Bottom line, the church can not condone unchaste behavior. If the stand on Prop 8 was necessary to keep us in line with gospel truth, then it doesn’t matter whether you or I like it or not. Perhaps we are complicating this too much.

    So if the next prop, say, prop 9, is to criminalize fornication or adultery (still on the books in some states), or to prohibit pre-marital co-habitation, do you expect the church to put as much effort into passing “prop 9″ as it did in prop 8?

  197. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 187

    “Crying for three days…” “I hate myself…”

    You might have clinical depression, D. There is so much help available right there in your city. Do you know how to access it? Email me at hotmail dot com if you want (or find me on Facebook). I really empathize with you. You don’t have to be this sad, no matter which side of the church door you are on.

  198. Night of the living Justin says:

    #194 #

    Nice rant there fake Justin.

    Comment by Steve Evans — November 13, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

    You’re welcome, Steve. You might notice in my “rant” that I said nothing in favor or against of Prop 8, nothing in favor or against gay marriage in general, and nothing in favor or against the Church’s actions on this issue. Whether you are a true believer or Ed Decker, it is simply a fact that the Church makes efforts in the areas on which I commented. The point of my comment is that criticize away, but criticize based on accurate information.

    Apparently, this is a “rant.” Whereas unfiltered emotion and opinion in a vacuum is informed discourse.

  199. “nothing in favor or against of Prop 8, nothing in favor or against gay marriage in general, and nothing in favor or against the Church’s actions on this issue.”

    Precisely. Which is why your comment was a stupid, off-topic rant.

  200. “So, if staying completely on the sidelines was an unacceptable course of action from the Church leadership perspective, my question for opponents of prop 8 is how much support of prop 8 by the Church was too much? Where did it cross the line in your mind?”

    Caveat. My comment goes to tactics, not objectives. I am not a Californian and (copying Elder Marriott) neither I nor my family contributed any funds to either side of the proposition.

    As a matter of tactics, I think the Church’s level of involvement became troubling to me when, as I understand it, in some areas the Church came to resemble a political action committee–1. with significant amounts of time during the block devoted to Proposition 8 and organizing, 2. repeated statements or suggestions that to be a good member of the Church a member must not only vote for Proposition 8 but contribute significant amounts of money, 3. use of priesthood and RS channels to organize and “encourage” call centers and precinct walking 4. fundraising in which priesthood leaders approached, sometimes multiple times, members to “invite” “voluntary” contributions, with (in some or all areas of California) checks being contributed with ward and stake names to that the local priesthood leaders would know who had contributed and who had not.

    If the tactics had been limited to the original letter, with Saints left to implement individually that counsel without being “commanded [organized]” in all things, I doubt the fury would be as great as it is in some places. (There would still be anger though.)

  201. buh-bye.

  202. you said:
    Yet the Church chooses to involve itself minimally in many of these issues — poverty reduction, disease eradication, abortion, domestic violence, environmental protection, war and peace, economic globalization, etc. — at least at the level of lobbying and/or grassroots organizing and campaigning.

    What about the perpetual education fund? It seems like a great program to reduce poverty and better the lives of thousands of people.

  203. “at least at the level of lobbying and/or grassroots organizing and campaigning”, people!!!

  204. Mike in West Hollywood,

    Yes it is a boycott–that hopefully will not turn into a witch hunt. But I fear it may already be heading in that direction.

    D.,

    You already know my position on SSM–but I hope you also know that I’m totally sincere when I say that you are way, WAY up there on my list of favorite commenters. You’re brilliant, D.–the lights would definitely go out on Broadway with you.

  205. D. Fletcher says:

    Thanks, Jack and Mike.

    I’ve been in a depression for years, and I am seeing therapists, and taking some drugs.

    This recent bout of sadness happened as a direct result of this “war.”

    The Church has taken on a stain, that is far bigger than those people it has pushed away in the name of moral righteousness.

    When the missionaries go out to do their work in the world, announcing their Mormonism, this current public relations disaster will come before them, and make it all that much harder to even get a foot in the door.

    “Oh, Mormons, weren’t they associated with some evil political underhandedness?” The potential contacts won’t know any more, just that they can’t associate with Mormons at all.

    It’s really a big reckoning day for the Church with which I’ve been associated since I was born.

    My own failings and indecision aside, I see a sad near future for the Church; many people I know are deeply disturbed by the recent turn of events, the same events that make me cry.

  206. MikeInWeHo says:

    I’m glad you’re getting support, D. We’ll all get through the Prop 8 trauma. Even though the Church doesn’t want me right now unless I leave my family (not happening!), for some reason I am optimistic that in the long run this will work out OK. (Yes, I know I’m really weird.)

  207. Eric Russell says:

    My sense is just the opposite. I say enjoy the good times now, because it’s only going downhill from here. I anticipate that in a few decades Utah will be the only state the union not to recognize gay marriage, and not long thereafter the only major religion in the country that forbids homosexual activity. We will long for the days that protests and boycotts consisted of only a few thousand. Of this I prophesy.

  208. D. Fletcher says:

    I prophecy that all legal marriages will be called civil unions, and will be available to any two adults.

    And this will happen in the next 10-15 years.

    The word “marriage” will be reserved for the various religious groups to bestow upon whom they choose.

    The LDS Church may not choose to honor gay marriages, but these will happen legally in Utah and every other state, and sooner than one might expect.

  209. Eric you are one cheery man.

  210. Matt Thurston says:

    I’m an LDS in opposition to Prop 8. My answer’s to JimD’s three questions-that-have-nothing-whatsoever-to-do-with-Prop-8:

    a) that gay sex is not inherently sinful.

    Yes, gay sex is no more inherently sinful than heterosexual sex. As such, the answers to the next two questions are obvious, assuming the church is interested in being a conduit to God for both star-bellied and non-star-bellied Sneetches.

    b) that the Church should baptize/administer the sacrament to civilly married gay couples;

    Yes.

    c) that the Church should solemnize gay marriages in its temples.

    Yes.

  211. Matt Thurston says:

    Eric said: My sense is just the opposite. I say enjoy the good times now, because it’s only going downhill from here. I anticipate that in a few decades Utah will be the only state the union not to recognize gay marriage, and not long thereafter the only major religion in the country that forbids homosexual activity. We will long for the days that protests and boycotts consisted of only a few thousand. Of this I prophesy.

    Eric, I hereby prophesy that your grandchildren (and children, likely) will roll their eyes, grimace, and cast embarrassed side-glances towards each other when you grumble your mildly homophobic comments about the gay couple sitting two rows in front of you at church. They’ll whisper to their neighbors, “I’m sorry. Don’t pay attention to Grandpa Eric… he comes from a different time.” Let’s hope your gay neighbors in heaven cut you the same slack.

  212. Sheesh: “…the lights would definitely go out on Broadway with[OUT] you.”

    D.,

    Yeah, I’ve battled depression/anxiety for a long time now. It’s not easy–and I probably won’t overcome it completely in this lifetime. But I’ll tell ya one thing, chatting about the things I love–like the arts; music, film and theatre have been a healing balm in some of my darkest hours. You’ve help me (and others, I’m sure) more than you know.

  213. Thomas Parkin says:

    I agree with Eric Russell. At least in so far as the relative ease that believing Saints have enjoyed for these past decades are over. Things may wax and wane, even for years, but the ease of being a late 20th Century Mormon is over, or is soon to be over. This issue is a crucible for many people, but it is hardly the only instance where we will encounter crucibles. Because the division here ultimately runs deeper than red vs. blue, or conservative vs. progressive.

    The deep division lies between those – and this is all of us – who believe that the pursuit of happiness is mostly a matter of finding, exploring and living one’s true identity, and the very few that believe that the pursuit of happiness is mostly about developing virtue, although virtue runs contrary to deeply fixed individual desires and held identities.

    We could quote scriptures till the cows come home. ~

  214. Steve Evans says:

    TP, unless the Church changes its mind as it has done on other issues. It’s foolish of us to predict eternal lines in the sand and prophesy of decades of persecution to come.

  215. Thomas Parkin says:

    Steve,

    My entire point is that this issue ain’t the half of it. The fault lines go all the way down. The church wouldn’t only have to ‘change it’s mind’ about SSM, they (and by they I mean we) would have to become an entirely new religion. The church has taken a bend but don’t break approach, as it has learned, but there is no way this can project out indefinitely. Eventually, we encounter issues on which there is no bending. And my guess is that we are reaching that kind of world – even as individual members become more Christlike, more knowledgeable, see farther and deeper. ~

  216. I prophesy that I will post in this thread and it will be post 212.
    ————————-

    Well, will you look at that?

  217. Thomas’s prediction rings truer to me than anything else in the last few dozen comments. There have been lines drawn between bloggernacle participants over this that won’t go away no matter how friendly we continue to be, or how many unrelated topics we discuss. You and I are on different sides of this line, Steve, and knowledge of that will always be in the back of my mind no matter how closely we agree on other things. This is a Big Deal.

  218. Steve Evans says:

    Ardis, I guess I don’t know what you’re talking about. I actually agree with Thomas, at least in his #215, where there are issues out there where we cannot change our minds or bend. I also agree with him that we are “reaching that kind of world – even as individual members become more Christlike, more knowledgeable, see farther and deeper.” That’s a profound statement.

    All I was trying to say in my #214 is that we can’t say for sure that our Church’s current stance on secular marriage for homosexuals is one that we will continue to support through eternity. I don’t think that’s very controversial, is it? I am NOT saying that the Church should do so, nor am I predicting that it will. But the idea of continuing revelation to me demands that I hold open the possibility, even as I sustain the Brethren as they speak today.

  219. Matt: What do you take to be the role of prophet to be if you believe that gay sex is not inherently sinful? Or do you believe that it is up to you to define what sin is? Or in the alternative, to you have some funky definition of “inherently” like a Clintonesque “what does ‘is’ mean” approach? While I’m asking — do you believe that any kind of sex that is between consenting, unmarried adults is sinful — for example, is sex between unmarried people (fornication) sinful?

  220. Jonathan Stapley and I have fundamental disagreements on the nature of God and J. Nelson-Seawright and I have fundamental disagreements on the nature of personal revelation — two pretty foundational elements of the Mormon gospel. Those disagreements in no way negatively affect my relationships with these, the least of my brethren.

    Disagreement over the eternal status of civilly recognized marriages for gay couples as an immutable faultline, forever in the back of your mind? A Big Deal? Really, Ardis? Really?

  221. Steve Evans says:

    But Brad, I have not really been voicing a side on this here, or really anywhere. I don’t even know how it’s possible for me and Ardis to have a fault line between us when I have no stated position.

    Ardis, I’m confused! Please forgive me if I have come off as opinionated on this, I’m really not opinionated at all (except that I am really tired of talking about prop 8 stuff).

  222. No, Brad, that isn’t the line, although I agree with Thomas and disagree with Steve on that. The line is the totality of Prop 8-related discussions on BCC. If you’ve read any comment I’ve made on any related thread, you must have a general idea of the differences between my position on these issues and the BCC party line. There’s no point in my offering details to feed the flames. I commented only to support Thomas’s conclusions, not to open a debate where I would be shouted down because we’re on your playground.

  223. Nope,
    “Inherently” connotes “unalterably,” “eternally,” etc. Is there such a thing as an inherently sinful act? No exceptions, not subject to alteration via revelation? When Joseph Smith told a prospective wife that behavior that had hitherto been considered sinful (dating and marrying an already married man) was not really sinful in this case, this was his rationale:

    Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.

  224. Thomas Parkin says:

    Brad,

    I can’t speak for Ardis. But if I couldn’t be friends with people who disagree with me on this, or similar issues, then I would lose virtually every friend that I have – including my wife. That doesn’t mean that I don’t recognize that this is, even if it usually remains on the edge of my consciousness, as a point at which we may encounter painful disagreement and where there, at least for now, cannot be a coming together.

    Also, as the ink spilled testifies, this issue creates, for whatever reason, considerably more passionate divisions than the nature of God or revelation. (Though I’d also note that this issues touches both those.) ~

  225. You see what I mean by being shouted down? Brad couldn’t even wait until I had composed my 222 before he came back with another challenge, which strikes me as belligerent. I don’t want to fight. I’m tired of it too. I’m saying only that with the excruciatingly long and detailed and almost innumerable related discussions, I recognize some irreconcilable differences, whether you see them or not.

  226. Be assured, Ardis, that there is no Party Line here. But even if you perceive Steve to be in strong disagreement with you about the Church’s involvement in Prop 8, how does that taint the relationship? I’m not shouting at you for taking a different position from anyone. I’m mystified that this particular issue (as opposed to any number of more fundamental gospel principles, like the ones I mentioned in my comment) is capable of driving a wedge for you.

  227. Ardis,
    Comment 223 was not a preemptive shot at you; it was in response to Nope’s comment #219.

  228. And Steve, our differences aren’t just tied to a hypothetical revelation — like Thomas (at least, as I think I understand him — I don’t want to drag him into this through misunderstanding) I think the dead-endedness of homosexual relationships compared to the potential eternal increase of righteous LDS couples gives no expectation of any possibility of a change in LDS doctrine as profound as that. Our differences go to the totality of these Prop-8 discussions — the rights of the church to ask members to support such a thing, whether or not the brethren were blindsided by the backlash, whether there is any difference between a private decision to vote No and a public decision to oppose the church, the whole thing. And now I’ve given details that I said I would not do. This is my last public comment on anything to do with any of these related issues. I’m sorry for offending when I don’t have the diplomatic skills to express my sincere beliefs without stepping on the toes of those who disagree.

  229. Steve Evans says:

    Ardis, please don’t attribute the totality of what is said on Prop 8 here to me. My thoughts are not Brad’s, or Stapley’s, or Ronan’s. They’re mine alone. I am not in strong disagreement with you.

    Brad’s ardor aside (I feel you re: his belligerence!!), he is right about one thing — there is no BCC Party Line on this issue. I probably deserve better than to be personally judged on the basis of what other people have said.

  230. Steve Evans says:

    –I would just add that looking at what you’re talking about in #228, I see even less disagreement. I’ve tried to engage you a couple of times on those issues, not to disagree but to flesh out the reasonings behind them, but again I think you and I do not disagree very much.

  231. D. Fletcher says:

    I think that the right of gay couples has become a big deal to the Church only because it has made it so, along with its partners, the right-wing evangelicals and such who actually proposed Proposition 8.

    If there were no Prop 8, no fundraising and volunteer calling, no one voting one way or the other, gay couples would marry in California, and no one would care. Gays who were Mormon would still be sad about losing their faith, but again, it wouldn’t have become any big issue.

    The Church could have retained its reputation for high standards of charity, as well as central doctrines which censure homosexual behavior.

    But there’s no going back now. The Church has clearly drawn a line in the sand, and that’s why this is now a Big Deal, to believers and non-believers alike.

    Support Prop 8? You’ve got a testimony of the Power of Revelation, and you are obedient to the Prophet. You can go to the Temple without any guilt.

    Against Prop 8? What happened to your testimony? You used to be so faithful. No, you can’t have a recommend until you repent of your actions prompted by your misguided conscience.

    Or worse, if you’re against Prop 8, you’re probably guilty of some terrible sin which you’ve been hiding all these years.

  232. Matt Thurston says:

    Thomas said: The deep division lies between those – and this is all of us – who believe that the pursuit of happiness is mostly a matter of finding, exploring and living one’s true identity, and the very few that believe that the pursuit of happiness is mostly about developing virtue, although virtue runs contrary to deeply fixed individual desires and held identities.

    And we can define “virtue” until the cows come home.

    Is there a virtue greater than the bonds of love, trust, respect, and commitment that gay couples make to each? Defining “virtue” for people outside of your religion seems decidely less virtuous.

    Thomas said: The church wouldn’t only have to ‘change it’s mind’ about SSM, they (and by they I mean we) would have to become an entirely new religion.

    Hasn’t this happened a half-dozen times over the past 180 years?

    Ardis said: This is a Big Deal.

    I couldn’t agree more. This issue transcends “gay rights” and “gay marriage” and penetrates deep to a foundational, viscerally-felt spiritual baseline — the very morality of mankind.

    Those in support of gay marriage view discrimination against sexual attraction in the same way they view discrimination against gender or skin color — wholly immoral.

    Those against gay marriage view sexual intimacy between same-gendered people the same way they view pedophilia, rape, and murder — wholly immoral, a sin. (Don’t freak out — I’m not equating homosexual sex to murder, I’m simply grouping them into the same “sin” category.)

    It’s a huge deal, and no matter how closely I agree with people on the other side of the line on other matters, this visceral, fundamental difference will always be in the back of my mind.

  233. Steve Evans says:

    It feels like we all really want to draw lines in the sand here and force people to make final and ultimate choices on this topic. Guys I hate to disappoint but I won’t be doing so right now.

  234. Matt Thurston: “Thomas said: The church wouldn’t only have to ‘change it’s mind’ about SSM, they (and by they I mean we) would have to become an entirely new religion.

    Hasn’t this happened a half-dozen times over the past 180 years?”

    What kind a religion to you think you belong to? Is truth and what is sinful so easily redefined that it changes with every change in culture and political correctness for you?

    It is interesting that Brad believes that good and evil are wholly arbitrary and change constantly. He quotes Joseph Smith, but Joseph’s view was based on what God commanded. Does anyone have any instance where God commanded homosexual sex as one’s religious duty?

    Further, who gets to define good and evil if not God’s mouthpiece? I mean, if God gets to define, it surely isn’t defined by the prevailing mores of any given culture.

  235. D. Fletch,
    You said:
    “Support Prop 8? You’ve got a testimony of the Power of Revelation, and you are obedient to the Prophet. You can go to the Temple without any guilt.

    “Against Prop 8? What happened to your testimony? You used to be so faithful. No, you can’t have a recommend until you repent of your actions prompted by your misguided conscience.”

    Wow. Now I’m depressed.

  236. Ardis, in re: the Party Line, you should know that we permabloggers have wildly differing opinions on pretty much all aspects of the question. We’ve had long and occasionally rather heated debates in the back room. I suspect that the very thin end of the curve on the conservative side is not represented by any of our views, but other than that, we’ve got the whole bell covered. We shall assuredly all hang separately :)

  237. D. Fletch,
    Just kidding. I’ve been depressed about this for awhile now.

  238. Kristine,
    I thought that all the permabloggers were creations of gst’s mind, ala Fernando Pessoa.

  239. Those in support of gay marriage view discrimination against sexual attraction in the same way they view discrimination against gender or skin color — wholly immoral.

    Those against gay marriage view sexual intimacy between same-gendered people the same way they view pedophilia, rape, and murder — wholly immoral, a sin.

    Matt, no offense, but you are just wrong. Not everyone who supports SSM thinks sexual orientation is analogous to gender or skin color, and not everyone who opposes SSM does so because they think homosexual sex is sinful (or in any way on par with evils such as rape and murder). I know because I have been on both sides of the issue, at different times in my life, and neither of these descriptions bears any resemblance to my views as they were then and as they are now. You’re filling in gaps of knowledge with your own prejudices and assumptions. .

  240. Brad and anyone else who cares to comment,
    So, I’d like to ask again. What does a person do, let’s just say it’s me for the sake of simplicity, what do I do, if my conscience convinces me of something that apparently opposes the desires of the Prophet? What do you think?

  241. blt–we are all figments of gst’s imagination; I just don’t want anyone to underestimate the breadth of his creativity.

  242. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 232 You sum up the fundamental difference very well in the second half of that comment, Matt. Ardis would probably agree with you, had she not left the playground in a huff.

  243. Kristine (that is the synapses in gst’s conscience that constitute “Kristine”),
    You just blew my mind.

  244. That should read “consciousness.”

  245. The BCC party line! I love it. Please post the party line at the beginning of each week so we know what it is and we can end these discussions.

    I probably deserve better than to be personally judged on the basis of what other people have said.

    Hmm. What makes you think that Steve?

  246. D. Fletcher says:

    Bit, my niece is a sophomore at BYU, and she was told *by her Bishop and Home Teachers* that not supporting Prop 8 meant she didn’t have a testimony.

    She cried! She grew up with gay people in her hometown, her high school. She loved her friends.

    But for this young woman to be told that she’s a non-believer *just as she’s forming her belief system* is a tragic act, almost vandalism of the soul.

    She will be traumatized, but she will survive, as we all will, a little wiser and more cynical.

    And I mean all of us.

    Yep, it’s a big deal all right, something that none of us have ever experienced before.

    And the issue itself is such a non-issue. Regardless of what may or may not believe about the nature of certain sexual couplings, if two people want to join up, why stop them? Why not encourage them? Gay people don’t want our Church, as far as I can see. I don’t think they’re asking for celestial marriage. They just want…some approval for making a commitment. And some undeniable civil rights.

    Now, even I am exhausted trying to explain my position (since like Steve I’m not even sure what it is).

    And I’m dehydrated. And brain-dead.

  247. Personally, I’m not drawing an immutable line on sexual activity and orientation. I don’t understand the afterlife well enough to do that. This definitely is one area where I see through my glass, darkly.

    Fwiw, I think it would take very obvious and clear revelation to all the apostles collectively for gay marriage to be accepted by the Church as OK for a Bishop to perform (and I have a very hard time imagining a gay sealing), but I can see quite easily a way within our current theology and doctrine to allow civilly-unioned / civilly-”married”, monogamous homosexuals to be baptized and confirmed and be active members of the Church – with no official disciplinary action being taken. It would take a specific reading of the 2nd Article of Faith and the maintaining of the current wording of the Law of Chastity as the temple standard, but I can construct a simple explanation that at least would make sense doctrinally – much more sense than the justifications that were crafted to maintain the racial priesthood plan.

    I’m not saying I think it will happen; what I am saying is that there is little that I am certain enough about in this type of discussion to stake my eternal reward on it. Therefore, I will accept the counsel of those I support as prophets and seers and revelators as to the institutional stance of the Church on sexual matters like this. If it changes, cool; if it never does, cool. I just am not sure enough to fight or oppose the leaders I believe are inspired. I don’t believe I see the big picture better than they do. This is a faith issue to me – and I am fine with that.

  248. BTW, as with most subjects, I suspect that both of the extreme views on this particular topic are dead wrong.

  249. D. Fletcher,
    I understood you before. I was just trying to inject a little levity. Funny, though, my niece is a Freshwoman at BYU and she actively campaigned for Obama. My sister wants her to transfer, but she won’t have any of it. Apparently, she likes living in the non-existence that is a BYU liberal. My own RA from DT put it this way, “There’s no such thing as a good Mormon Democrat.” Charming.
    Anyway, I didn’t mean to make light of a serious point. Believe me, I’m just as worried about my own.

  250. Freshwoman(???)

  251. Steve #229:

    Brad’s ardor aside (I feel you re: his belligerence!!), he is right about one thing — there is no BCC Party Line on this issue.

    The following link was posted on the side-blog with the caption:
    I endorse this message.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27650743/

    The link is to an Olbermann Special Comment entitled: “Gay marriage is a question of love – Everyone deserves the same chance at permanence and happiness

    So, who is “I”? Group-blog or not, with no attribution it does give the impression of a party-line.

  252. Steve: It seems to me that with a few notable exceptions, nearly every contributor to BCC supported No on 8 and explicitly disagreed with the leaders of the Church. Perhaps it is not a univocal party line, but one would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to see that BCC in general and the posts here overwhelmingly disagreed with the leaders of the Church on this issue. It is one reason I rarely read or follow BCC.

  253. Nope,
    Had I been in CA, I would have most likely voted for Prop 8 (I would have held my nose, but I would have done it).

    Also, I wrote a post that was an apology for Prop 8.

    Aluwid,

    The sideblog is notoriously left leaning. On the back channel, we’ve discussed booting it from the blog, but it appears to have some dirt on Steve.

  254. Eric Russell says:

    Matt,

    Either you’re completely off your rocker or you mis-read what I said. I’m so entirely baffled by your response that I must assume it’s the latter, but given some of your other comments, I’m not counting out the former. Can you explain what’s homophobic here? Is it the assumption that the church isn’t going to change its position, or the assumption that the church will continue to receive increased heat from the public for its position as the years go by?

    If you’re suggesting that full acceptance of homosexuality will become the norm, then we’re on the same page, man. We’re saying the same thing.

  255. Nope, I am honestly defuddled by your summary of BCC’s reactions to prop 8. It is utterly incorrect and shows a paucity of reading and paying attention on your part. Completely inaccurate and unfair, I could not disagree more, wrong, wrong and wrong. Wow, wrong. If such is your honest assessment, you and I have been participating on completely different sites.

    Aluwid, I don’t know the answer to your question. I don’t know who posted that link. The “I” is not me or BCC, in any event.

  256. Steve,

    I don’t know the answer to your question. I don’t know who posted that link. The “I” is not me or BCC, in any event.

    I don’t need the question answered. I just wanted to point out that unattributed endorsements of positions can give the wrong impression.

  257. Aluwid, I agree, and my point is that the impression — yours, nope’s, to a lesser extent Ardis’ — is indeed wrong.

  258. MCQ,
    You’re right. That was totally lame.

  259. #240. I assume your question is asked in good faith, so I hope you won’t mind my pointing to Elder Oaks comments on this topic again. The whole article can be found here. I think his “fifth remedy” is particularly relevant to the question.

    So what do we do when we feel that our Relief Society president or our bishop or another authority is transgressing or pursuing a policy of which we disapprove? Is there no remedy? Are our critics correct when they charge that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are “sheep” without remedy against the whims of a heedless or even an evil shepherd?

    There are remedies, but they are not the same remedies or procedures that are used with leaders in other organizations.

    Our Father in Heaven has not compelled us to think the same way on every subject or procedure. As we seek to accomplish our life’s purposes, we will inevitably have differences with those around us—including some of those we sustain as our leaders. The question is not whether we have such differences, but how we manage them.

  260. For clarification, the “fifth remedy” appears later in the article. The quote above is simply an introduction to the various points he goes on to make.

  261. Cris,
    Thanks for the link. This is certainly food for thought.

  262. Cris,
    I wonder how to square this with the image of Paul pressing for a missionary effort among the Gentiles.

  263. I just answered my own question: Paul is Lennon to my spiritual “3rd in line for treasurer of the Menudo Fan Club.”

  264. #200. I appreciate the thoughtful reply. My question was sincere, but I wasn’t optimistic that anyone would respond. I agree that the measures used by Church leadership in support of prop 8 are highly unusual in our Church experience. And I’ll admit that they made me a bit uncomfortable as well. (I’m assuming that was the intended result).

    Are those extraordinary measures an indication of how concerned the Church is about the issue? Undoubtedly. Is that at least one of the reasons no on 8′ers are reacting so emotionally? Probably. I don’t recall the Church hitting the panic button like this on any other issue in my lifetime. If this were an issue I was more personally sensitive to, I’m sure my reaction to it would be much more defensive.

    And while I do not subscribe to the notion that the Church cannot or should not get politically involved in issues such as these, there’s no doubt that it becomes awkward when the rubber hits the road.

    I’m assuming there were similar feelings about the Church’s political involvement in the ERA back in the day, but I’m too young to remember any of those details. Does anyone have any insight as to how the Church’s tactics in support of Prop 8 are similar to or different from the Church’s involvement in the ERA?

  265. blt, I’m right behind you at 4th in line — especially if you can talk Lennon into making a guest appearance at the next fan club meeting.

  266. Thomas Parkin says:

    “Is there a virtue greater than the bonds of love, trust, respect, and commitment that gay couples make to each?”

    Yea, yea.

    “Hasn’t this happened a half-dozen times over the past 180 years?”

    Nay nay. ~

  267. one would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to see that BCC in general and the posts here overwhelmingly disagreed with the leaders of the Church on this issue.

    You mean like, uh, this post? What part of “no one is in a better position to make such cost-benefit calculations than the servants God has chosen to manage the affairs of His Church. I sustain them in word and deed, and I believe that even people who oppose Prop 8 should be able to trust that the brethren are enacting God’s will by supporting it” eludes your understanding?

  268. Cris,
    Marty Bradley’s book is a great resource to start with.

  269. Steve Re 155: Yup, that is my honest assessment. Perhaps you could do a head count of the individuals who post here who argued against and expressed there opposition to the Church and its leaders openly in a public forum. It was of course their right to do so under the Constitution. It was even something that could be done and remain in fellowship with the Church (with perhaps one notable exception on another blog site who promoted a petition to diss the Brethren). However, the general tone if disregard for the leaders of the Church was shocking to me to say the least from some from whom I least expected it.

    Further, it is fairly evident from comments by others here that I am not alone in that assessment. You may see yourself as the loyal opposition. I see it as something quite different — simple disloyalty. The reaction of the gay community in its anger and sometimes violent and defacing activity pales in comparison to the damage done to the Church by its own “faithful” members who see the Church leaders as simply misled old men. The real fall-out of the Prop. 8 battle isn’t from the gay community. The real damage is by members who claim to be faithful but disregard the Church leaders as having neither moral nor spiritual authority or insight — but just misled and conservative old men who just don’t get the hip new liberal line of politics.

    For instance, what are we to make of positions like those taken by Matt Thurston who openly opposed the Church on this site and others and even asserts that the Church is wrong to regard gay sex as sinful? He is of course free to form whatever view he wishes — and I’m aware he’s not a posting author here — but such views (which I believe are often accepted here) are interesting because it means that it us up to him to define what is good and what is evil, what is pleasing and displeasing to God; rather than the prophet or leaders of the Church. Just what is the role of the prophet and Church leaders for those who take such positions? It seems to eviscerate any sense of prophetic authority. Once that is gone, in my view we have reached the point addressed by Ardis.

    What is the difference between rejection and betrayal of the prophetic authority of Church leaders and merely rejecting them as phased-out old men who don’t have a clue? I suggest that the latter view is far more insidious and damaging to the kingdom.

  270. D. Fletcher says:

    Defuddled?

  271. Nope,
    Matt Thurston is not a blogger for BCC. He, like you, is a commenter who uses BCC to express his opinions. You might consider reading the original post (it’s the longish, rambling thing at the top of this page) before you choose this thread as a venue for making sweeping statements about BCC disloyalty. The only person to suggest that the Brethren are “just misled and conservative old men who just don’t get the hip new liberal line of politics” here has been you.

  272. No Brad, like this from this post: “How can Mormons who feel that the Church is wrong about the threat gay marriage poses to families reconcile their doubts on this particular question with their faith in the restored gospel, and in the identity of Church leaders as prophets, seers, and revelators?”

    You entire post is an attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable. How can I believe that the Church is led by a bunch of old men out of touch with political and moral reality and still believe they are prophets and seers and revelators? Well, to start with you could look inside and see what it is that suggests that they are out of touch on this issue such that you would oppose them.

    Look closely at the inherently contradictory message you stated: “I sustain them in word and deed, and I believe that even people who oppose Prop 8 should be able to trust that the brethren are enacting God’s will by supporting it.” Look if one opposes Prop 8 it seems to follow rather clearly that they are not supporting the support of Prop 8 by the Church. You can’t both support the Church on Prop 8 and also oppose Prop 8.

    So forgive me if I’m befuddled at how this post is somehow supportive of the Church. It is rather: How can you support the Church given that you oppose it? Or perhaps: how can you stay faithful to the Church while opposing its stance on political issues? I fear that the real god of many is their own political views.

  273. Okay, all.

    I guess Nope has finally provided the answer for us.

    “How can Mormons who feel that the Church is wrong about the threat gay marriage poses to families reconcile their doubts on this particular question with their faith in the restored gospel, and in the identity of Church leaders as prophets, seers, and revelators?”

    Or, put differently, “how can you stay faithful to the Church while opposing its stance on political issues?”

    The answer to both is, you can’t.

  274. Nope,
    Is it possible to support the supporters whilst opposing the supported? Or, do we oppose the supporters if we fail to support the supported?

  275. Brad, thanks for the pointer.

  276. Hi Nope.

    The Church says the Brethren are not infallible, and I believe it. Elder Oaks says we can disagree with the Brethren, and remain faithful members of the Church, and I believe him. Elder Cook said Mormon politicians could disagree with the Church’s position on a constitutional amendment (see quote and link below) and remain good and faithful members of the Church–and I believe him.

    Brad’s post explores what these concepts mean in the context of Proposition 8. If you are offended by open and candid discussion of such concepts, including disclosure of doubts and reservations, arguments and counter-arguments, then, on behalf of the posters and commenters on this blog, I apologize. (I have not authority to do so, but I am taking it anyway.)

    Quote from Elder Quentin L. Cook:

    “We did support the constitutional amendment with respect to marriage being between a husband and a wife, and some of the people chose to not take that same position, but they’re good faithful members of the church, and they have responsibilities to their constituents as well as to their conscience and to what they believe, and they’re in full faith and fellowship with the church.”

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2007/12/23/qa_with_m_russell_ballard_and_quentin_l_cook/?page=2

  277. Matt Thurston says:

    Rebecca J. said: “Matt, no offense, but you are just wrong… You’re filling in gaps of knowledge with your own prejudices and assumptions.”

    Thank you. No offense taken.

    Rebecca J.: “Not everyone who supports SSM thinks sexual orientation is analogous to gender or skin color, and not everyone who opposes SSM does so because they think homosexual sex is sinful (or in any way on par with evils such as rape and murder). I know because I have been on both sides of the issue, at different times in my life, and neither of these descriptions bears any resemblance to my views as they were then and as they are now.”

    Implicit to most complex social/religious/political issues is the understanding that there are multiple points of view — I don’t disagree that there are other, nuanced reasons for supporting or rejecting gay marriage; nevertheless, wouldn’t you agree that for most people, the issue breaks down across a natural line of demarcation?:

    1.) Those who support SSM do so based on a principle of equality — that it is wrong to discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation.

    2.) Those who oppose SSM do so based on the belief that homosexual sex is wrong (a sin), a belief usually based on religious dogma, or the belief that God opposes it. (Though there is a subset of non-religious people who also oppose SSM, but it is based on the same basic principle — it is “wrong” or “unnatural.”)

    If there is another obvious “category” that is significant (i.e. not an outlier) and unique (i.e. not a subset or more nuanced version of one of the above), I’m all ears.

  278. Those who oppose SSM because they believe that it is a pathway to limitations on religious freedom?

    That is the category of opposition that I have most often encountered.

  279. Those who oppose it because of the cultural and societal effects it will/may have in how it redefines marriage?

    That’s one I’ve seen a good bit too.

  280. Matt,

    I think there is another category, that SSM is not wrong or immoral, but different from opposite sex marriage, and that legal rules should be allowed to evolve differently. This could occur either by creating another category or subcategory of marriage, or restricting the name “marriage” to opposite sex unions, and divising another name for same sex unions but with, initially identical or substantially identical rights and duties.

    An example of non-morality-infused differences between same sex and opposite sex unions: most states prohibit marriage of first cousins; some of them have an exception when both cousins are over age 65 (and are therefore beyond childbearing age). I do not know why that rule should apply for same sex marriages or unions–or why it should not be modified so that same sex first cousins could marry at any age above, say 18, rather than waiting, like opposite sex first cousins, until age 65. I suspect that there are other situations where, because of biological or perhaps non-morality-infused cultural distinctions would natural lead to different rules for a same sex marriage union than a heterosexual marriage union.

  281. This is a terribly messy, difficult issue. Even people for whom taking a position seems like a cut-and-dry, simple question, the human consequences are messy.

    I am grieved by the pain that this is causing my gay brothers and sisters. I am grieved by the hostility and aggressiveness behind some of protests being leveled at the Church, our sacred spaces, our community, and our brothers and sisters. I am grieved that this is causing some to question their own faith, and that it is causing others to question the faith of others.

    Mostly, I am deeply grieved that our inability to talk about some things is producing fault lines within the community of saints, making us feel like we must attach labels to others that will forever affect our relationships with them. How can someone who wishes to remain in fellowship with the Church and who actively chooses to sustain the leaders of the Church despite personal doubts about a particular issue find communion with those who consider such wishy-washy uncertainty a blemish on a person’s faithfulness? On the other hand, how can those who lack those doubts feel fellowship in a space in which they feel like their lack of doubt is construed as totally irrelevant?

    I deeply wish that BCC could be a place where such messiness, doubt, and desire to strengthen faith could be be discussed without people feeling threatened or otherwise unable to express openly and sincerely the complex contours of their own personal faith. If it is to be, we must choose to make it so and strive to live up to that choice.

  282. Matt Thurston says:

    Nope,

    Our divergent views on prophetic authority, the prophetic revelatory process, and what it means to support and sustain leaders, juxtaposed against our probable divergent views on personal revelation, conscience, etc… neither of which exist in a vacuum but are framed by cultural influences and epistemological limitations, probably make a response too difficult and too threadjacky at this time.

    But what DavidH says in #276 is a good start.

  283. D. Fletcher says:

    DavidH,

    Gay trumps every other alternative relationship censured for biological or moral reasons, even incest.

    Two gay brothers can’t have children together; hence, there’s no “biological” reason to separate them, if they wish to try sex together.

    Similarly, cousins, father-son, mother-daughter, old-young.

    There may be moral censure for these relationships, but not for biological reasons.

  284. Matt Thurston: wouldn’t you agree that for most people, the issue breaks down across a natural line of demarcation?

    No, I wouldn’t, which is why I objected to your original demarcation. (I did notice that you phrased it differently this time, but I still disagree.)

    Those who oppose SSM because they believe that it is a pathway to limitations on religious freedom?

    Those who oppose it because of the cultural and societal effects it will/may have in how it redefines marriage?

    that SSM is not wrong or immoral, but different from opposite sex marriage, and that legal rules should be allowed to evolve differently.

    All three of these are arguments against state-sanctioned SSM that I’ve seen far more often than the argument that SSM is wrong because gay sex is wrong because God said so.

    I will concede that most of the pro-SSM arguments I’ve encountered equate sexual-orientation discrimination with racial discrimination. Perhaps I was unique in my own view–that SSM should be legal not because being gay was like being black (and hence discriminating against gays was the same category of wrongness), but because there was no compelling reason to privilege one type of family over another, and society would benefit if we extended the same privileges to all families, regardless of configuration). But I doubt it.

    The reason I doubt it is that I hear all the time from SSM proponents that they NEVER hear any reason to oppose SSM that doesn’t invoke the Bible or God or “sin.” That tells me that they are not paying very close attention to what the opposition is saying. So even though nearly everything I read/hear from people who opposed Prop 8 likens it to racism, I’m open to the possibility that there is a significant anti-8 contingent that doesn’t subscribe to that argument.

  285. Matt Thurston says:

    John C said: “Those who oppose SSM because they believe that it is a pathway to limitations on religious freedom?”

    Ben said: “Those who oppose it because of the cultural and societal effects it will/may have in how it redefines marriage?”

    I don’t know. For there to be a third category, don’t we need to make the assumption that one is neutral on the morality of homosexuality; in other words, that it is neither right nor wrong, it just “is”? And from this neutral point of view we can weigh the positive and negative effects of SSM on individuals and society. I’m skeptical that many such people exist.

    My sense is that people who espouse such ideas as Ben and John posit above also have an opinion on the morality or “rightness” of homosexuality. Such ideas are then used to defend one’s position.

    That said, there may be people who are against SSM, but don’t believe homosexuality to be immoral And vice versa.

    But such a position — at least in the former case — seems ironic and difficult to justify. Let’s assume you believe homosexuality to be the moral equivalent of heterosexuality, but are against SSM because you believe it is a pathway to limitations of religious freedom. Doesn’t that esteem the right of religions to discriminate against homosexuals over the rights of homosexuals? Furthermore, doesn’t it esteem the theology of some religions (i.e. those who view SSM as immoral) over other religions (i.e. those who view SSM as moral)? How does that protect religious freedom?

  286. My sense is that people who espouse such ideas as Ben and John posit above also have an opinion on the morality or “rightness” of homosexuality. Such ideas are then used to defend one’s position.

    So what? The point is that there are multiple reasons for supporting or opposing SSM, and they don’t fall neatly into two categories, i.e. “homosexuality is sinful” and “homosexuality is analogous to race (and therefore not sinful).”

    I’m skeptical that many such people exist.

    And why are you so skeptical? How many people have you interviewed on the subject? The fact is, we can’t possibly know how many people have x or y opinion re homosexuality’s “sinfulness” because most people keep these opinions to themselves. My own suspicion is that a significant percentage of people are uncertain about whether or not homosexuality is sinful (something only God knows for sure) and are uncomfortable making pronouncements about it one way or the other–and yet they still manage to have opinions on whether the state should sanction SSM. One could be not particularly religious (or not religious at all), be personally uncomfortable with homosexuality, and oppose SSM for x reason. One could be not-religious, be personally uncomfortable with homosexuality, and support SSM for y reason. I know many people who fall into these and other categories.

  287. Matt,
    I’m no lawyer, but I am pretty sure esteeming the right of religions to discriminate against homosexuals is good constitutional law. It may be wrong for governments and businesses to do so, but, legally, I think it is kosher for religions. It may be passe, but that is really a different issue.

    For that matter, I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a “neutral” position on homosexuality. There an “I’m okay with it” position or an “I’m not okay with it” position. Positions that say “It exists, but I’m not that shaken up about it” would seem to me to be aligned with the first of those options.

  288. I’m with Rebecca on this one–even the most conservative and enthusiastically pro-Prop 8 folks among the Mormons I know have variously nuanced, even tortured positions on this. This is inevitable as more people have experience with friends and family members they know are gay–they will love individuals and not be able to perfectly reconcile their abstract, ethical beliefs about homosexuality with that experience. People are capable, though, of managing a fair amount of complexity and cognitive dissonance in their religious and political convictions (which I think was part of what Brad meant to say in the original post), and the fact that someone has taken a different ethical position than you have just can’t be taken as evidence that they lack tolerance or empathy or charity on a personal level. Oversimplifying is unhelpful on either side.

  289. Matt Thurston: I agree that one can have a different political position on SSM and Prop 8 and remain in good standing — that means, you won’t be disfellowshipped. But I seriously doubt that one can preach that homosexuality is not a sin and have anything like a coherent or sound view of revelation or prophetic authority. I would love to hear your view of revelation and prophetic authority that would leave even a smidgen of either moral or divine authority with the Church or the prophet or the entire leadership of the Church given the stance you have taken. Indeed, I doubt that one can openly preach that homosexual sexual activity is not a sin and remain in good standing — we’ll see I suppose because you have done so.

  290. Kristine,

    The “variously nuanced and even tortured positions” on Prop 8 may be (among other things) evidence of proponents trying to see the good in those who disagree with them–as you seem to intimate.

    Even the church’s counsel to fight the fight with charity seems a little “tortured” doesn’t it? But such is the apparent contradiction in following counsel at times–and such has always been the lot of the saints in all ages–and this, more than abstaining from harmful substances or what-have-you, will brand the saints with a red-hot iron as “peculiar.”

  291. I thought Matt asked an interesting question about a possible third option.

    Here goes (not my position, by the way):
    Homosexuality is a sin within Mormonism, but an utterly improper and wrong basis for political discrimination.

    There are all sorts of things that are seen as sinful by religious institutions that aren’t (thank goodness!) written into law.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,703 other followers