Mormon theories of freedom

Over the past few weeks, I have been discussing with friends the merits of a case where the DOJ is prosecuting a pornographer for distributing obscene material—regular old pornography without children, violence, or anything else to make it especially objectionable.  In the minds of most people I’ve spoken with, this case is easy: It should not even have been brought to court.

That is not to say that these people approve of pornography.  In fact, most express disgust and disapproval at the films on trial.  But regardless of how they personally feel—and maybe even regardless of the legal standard—the bottom line is that people seem to have overwhelmingly accepted the idea that adults make a “personal choice” to consume and produce porn that should be respected.  Freedom of choice trumps other social values.

Mormons also see free agency—freedom of choice—as a paramount value.  But while society at large has accepted socially “deviant” activities in the sexual realm as protected by freedom of choice, at least some Mormons have sought to restrict choice in that area.  While I recognize that marriage is different from other sexual activities since it involves state recognition of the relationship, Prop 8 comes vividly to mind.

When people at large discuss why adults should be able to use porn (and make other sexual choices), I hear two basic explanations: It imposes few harmful costs on others so should not be restricted and sexual activity is central to personhood.  I’m not sure that these explanations pass muster empirically or can fully explain why Mormons allow some activities and not others.  But what I am wondering is whether Mormonism has a coherent explanation for what activities it would seek to restrict and what ones it would not.

Mormonism in general seems to caution people away from addictive behavior that will restrict freedom to make other choices.  Some of the restrictions it suggests are warranted, in other words, because they protect our capacity to make choices.  This explanation works well in regards to practices like the Word of Wisdom.  But it is not at all clear that some of the activities that Mormonism has tried to discourage—like same sex marriage—can be explained by the idea that engaging in them would restrict our freedom.  On the contrary, prohibitions on something like same sex marriage elevate substantive ideological beliefs over the value of freedom of choice.

Moreover, Mormonism certainly does not recognize the body as a space of autonomy and personal expression.  See garments.  See also theories about how bodies are temples and children are on loan from God.  So what, if anything, philosophically unifies the choices Mormonism encourages and discourages? How does Mormonism’s belief in the importance of agency square with substantive religious beliefs?

Comments

  1. I’m glad DOJ is prosecuting an obscenity case. I hope it wins. Obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment, and the state can and should reasonably regulate it. If not personal possession, then certainly commerce.

    Freedom of choice is not the paramount virtue. We are given agency by God along with commandments. Obedience (a choice itself) is the first principle of the gospel.

  2. “Mormons also see free agency—freedom of choice—as a paramount value. ”

    In theory, but rarely in practice, unless it is within the realm of property rights.

    “How does our belief in the importance of agency square with substantive religious beliefs?”

    I am hoping to be edified by this thread. Very thoughtful. Thanks.

  3. ji,

    Where do you get the idea that “obedience” is the first principle. Not buying that at all.

  4. Maybe ji meant (or mixed up) “first law of heaven,” as that phrase is the basis for a lesson in one of the Sunday school manuals.

    Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is generally stated as the 1st principle of the gospel…

  5. Chris H. (no. 3),

    http://institute.lds.org/manuals/doctrines-of-the-gospel-student-manual/doc-gosp-11-20-17.asp

    Here, in Chapter 17, one can read that obedience is the first principle of heaven, the principle upon which all progression rests.

    A Google search on obedience, first, and principle will reveal other readings.

  6. I’m not sure I buy the equivocation/equivalence in this post. Arguing against SSM is not the same as arguing for laws banning homosexual acts. The church is pushing for a particular definition of marriage, but not for prosecution of gay people (and they have in fact supported legislation designed to protect LBGT or whatever the acronym is now against discrimination).

    So I’m a little puzzled. It seems the post is confusing approval with merely allowing something to be.

  7. “…but the fourth Article of Faith says faith is the first principle of the Gospel…”

    “Doesn’t matter. In the seventeenth chapter of an institute manual it says obedience is. I win.”

  8. Rusty,
    I was stuck in a Stake meeting, and the closing hymn came up just after I refreshed my iPhone and saw #5. I drove like a madman on the road home just so that I could make the exact comment you did. Oh well.

  9. Rusty (no. 7), We’re commanded to have faith, and we’re obedient when we develop faith. Maybe there isn’t much difference in the two propositions; indeed, I see both as sides of a single proposition.

    Twice (no. 6), Perhaps there is other confusion as well. The freedom to choose is God-given agency. But man and man’s governments must establish laws for our individual and societal welfare. Being able to choose good over bad is God-given agency. Demanding the legitimization and acceptance of pornography or other bad practices in the arena of making public policy for our society is not the same as God-given agency. And yet the original posting seems to treat these as equivalent “right to choose” matters. A society can choose to prohibit certain practices as a matter of public policy for the general good without taking away anyone’s God-given agency.

  10. Natalie, I don’t think you can criticize the LDS Church if it doesn’t have a value or theory that “philosophically unifies” its various positions and views. No group or person (not even philosophers) meets that test. It’s a phony test.

    If you’re going to criticize Mormons or the LDS Church for a position on Prop 8 because it limits freedom of choice, you should (if you are philosophically unified) also criticize people who oppose prostitution, illegal drug use, incest, sex with consenting minors, and a host of other choice-reducing legal restrictions. Or maybe your Prop 8 view actually has nothing to do with promoting choice.

  11. ji,

    Obedience (to the Lord) is a good thing. I don’t think anyone here is disputing that. Calm it down a bit.

    Natalie,
    I think that the church rejects the notion that pornography or homosexual acts are just another choice. I think that they think that (for better or worse), these are things that actually make life worse.

  12. Dave,
    I don’t read Natalie as criticizing the church here. I read her as trying to find the connection.

    ji,
    Huh? I thought being able to choose the bad over the good was included in. If it is only agency when we choose well, then what is it when we don’t? And isn’t the point of incarceration specifically to restrict the use of agency (God given or otherwise)?

  13. John C. (no. 12), I’m trying to express that we err when we equate God-given agency with man-given temporal privileges, or in other words, when we try to suggest that temporal societies cannot prohibit certain practices because in so doing they are denying God-given agency. Temporal societies should (and must) establish laws for the governance of their citizens; some of these laws will necessarily proscribe some conduct or practices. But the citizens of those societies where certain practices are prohibited as a matter of law still have their God-given agency to choose. And the petitientiary inmate still has one-hundred percent of his God-given agency, even though his fellowman have removed some of his choices.

  14. I don’t get a lot of what you are trying to say in the post. Freedom of choice is not a mormon “value.” Free agency is part of God’s plan for our mortal existance. Sinning is using free agency but that is not a mormon value. Choosing to follow God is.
    But if you are looking for something to unify being against SSM and against porn:
    Porn is bad for the individual but also bad for society so it merits a law against it.
    SSM is against God’s law but also bad for society so it merits the stance that the government should not produce it.

  15. “you should (if you are philosophically unified) also criticize people who oppose prostitution, illegal drug use, incest, sex with consenting minors, and a host of other choice-reducing legal restrictions.”

    Actually, no. Only a philosophy that ignores Mill’s harm principle (the government should not restrict activities that do not harm others) would require opposition to those activities as well as same-sex marriage. The recent prop-8 court case exposed the paucity of evidence showing any harm to society/others from allowing same-sex marriage. In fact the evidence showed just the opposite. And by evidence, I of course mean evidence admissible in court – you know the kind our multireligious society tests certain of its laws by (sorry, “Family: A Proclamation to the World” is inadmissible).

    Natalie’s question is indeed interesting. Why does the Church work to force its morality (in the area of same-sex marriage at least) on non-believers rather than “by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.”

  16. Eric S. says:

    The concept of “obedience” assumes that there is at least some level of choice involved. I think free choice is just this concept that exists that LDS–like most other religions–values and recognizes. But from there, LDS teach that while the freedom to choose is nice and great for everyone, it is only nice for “us” to the extent we use it “correctly.” And “correctly” is understood among LDS to mean obedience to the LDS “substantive” religious beliefs (WOW, tithing, garments, etc.). So I don’t see the two concepts at odds with each other or anything like that, and I think they can be explained if you’re looking at someone or a group who believe in the substantive religious beliefs. LDS, like other religions, simply has a prescription of how to use/not to use freedom.

    The nastier, more complicated question is whether LDS sincerely sincerely respect, honor, and uphold the concept of free choice of those who do not share our substantive religious beliefs (porn, LGBT, abortion, booze, weed). I think LDS are split on that one–judging both by what they may say and by the way they behave (vote). Should I go into (misplaced) fear of different people and the unknown at this point . . . ?

  17. Latter-day Guy says:

    The “obedience is the first law of heaven” (not “principle of the gospel”) quote was popularized––if not originated––by BRM. I suspect it is drawn from the order in which covenants are presented in the Temple ritual.

    So what, if anything, philosophically unifies the choices Mormonism encourages and discourages?

    Nothing, really. At least, nothing does so consistently. The Church is subject to the winds of doctrinal fashion like everyone else. I suppose the Standard Works offer some grounding, but we are more than willing to adjust and reinterpret, sometimes radically. The Proclamation on the Family reads like a “Leave it to Beaver” manifesto, but seems at odds with earlier statements from the Church’s polygamous period. George Q. Cannon, for instance, once belittled monogamy, saying,

    I wonder how man, standing up in the face of heaven, dare look at woman and talk about being her protector. Read the history of the sex and of the frightful evils which have been brought upon our sisters…. If it were to be told to another people differently situated to us, with different traditions to us, they could not believe that intelligent man would entertain for one moment, or that women themselves, in view of what their sex has suffered, would cherish and cling to the wretched traditions [among them, monogamy] that have prevailed in Christendom…

    However, I don’t anticipate a talk in our next General Conference entitled “Sister-Wives Who Know.”

    More broadly, (but more subtly), a careful search reveals that 19th Century LDS culture resisted the shift to the “nuclear family” model, which was more attuned to the needs of an industrial society. The Church seems to have been more aligned with an agrarian extended family model (sometimes called “Elizabethan”), and before Family Home Evening was promoted, LDS leaders were encouraging members not to leave the farm for the city. (I suspect FHE was something of a stopgap for when they lost that battle.)

    The doctrinal flexibility of the Church has been essential to its continued survival, while the fact that it tends to follow popular culture at a distance of a few decades (give or take) allows its members the enjoyment of feeling they “stem the tide” of evil and degradation and fluoridated water. When the constitution hangs by a thread, we know that members of the Church, at least, are doing their part to protect our precious bodily fluids. God versus Satan, Good versus Evil, Light versus Darkness––we see ourselves on the battlefield these words depict, which are themselves only symbolic reflections of that most ancient, primordial struggle: Gene R. Cook locked in implacable combat with Mick Jagger.

  18. I think I agree in spirit with no.15 Marcus. This has long been a struggle for me as I don’t much see the point in judging people or asking them to obey laws with no portion of belief. I guess we could legislate obedience and have all the stores shut on Monday nights for FHE but that would not be considerate to those who have no belief/desire to spend the additional time with their families. In a nation of many backgrounds and faiths, I think the laws should be passed based on a neutral playing field where all the rules can be agreed upon. Take your stance on SSM/pr0n from here…

  19. Natalie B. says:

    Just to clarify, I’m not trying to criticize the church here. I’m just trying to make sense of its positions.

  20. I really like your post Natalie, #17 FTW

  21. Because SSM does not restrict agency in the sense that opponents generally don’t legally try to stop them from having the relationship, they just don’t want to legally sanction it. And to them it’s more than just a label, it’s everything the label means.

    I don’t think the LDS Church wants to legally sanction porn, either, but those battles have already been fought.

  22. Dave P. says:

    I’d just like to point out that, in the time of Joseph Smith, there were no such things as marriage licenses and thus people did not have to receive approval of the state to wed. They weren’t even forced down the peoples’ throats until after the War for Southern Independence and mostly done so as a means to “discourage” (ie: not allow) interracial marriages.

    As for obscenity laws, let the community decide.

  23. I would also like to point out that the concept is agency not freedom of choice.

    And another thought occurred to me. Porn between consenting adults is theoretically limited to those consenting adults. Creating a family bond between two people generally reaches out beyond consenting adults to include minors. That could be a philosophically moral difference.

  24. MikeInWeHo says:

    I’ve missed these kinds of posts wherein seemingly educated adults hold up gay families and seriously compare them to the pornography industry vis-a-vis their negative effect on society. Just don’t forget the drug dealers!

  25. Breathe deeply and slowly, Mike. No one’s comparing gay families to porn, she’s comparing the Church’s stance on gay families to their stance on porn. Both are, for the Church, moral issues which are seemingly dealt with differently.

  26. I know this is inflammatory, but the question is genuine. How is the Church forcing its opinion on others? I’ve seen many people say this like it is obvious, but I don’t see how campaigning involves the use of force.

  27. britt k says:

    voting is force when you don’t agree with what they are voting for…when you agree with what they are voting for it’s being a responsible citizen. imo

  28. I’d just like to point out that, in the time of Joseph Smith, there were no such things as marriage licenses and thus people did not have to receive approval of the state to wed. They weren’t even forced down the peoples’ throats until after the War for Southern Independence and mostly done so as a means to “discourage” (ie: not allow) interracial marriages.

    This is just so historically incorrect and agenda-driven that I can’t let it pass no matter how tangential it is.

    Although not every state was issuing marriage licenses in the 1810s-1840s, most states (north and south) were. Even places like New York that didn’t issue licenses at that date had issued them in colonial times, but the general breakdown of record keeping at about the time of the Revolution, when the colonial system faltered and a new system had not yet evolved, resulted in short-term gaps in state issuance of marriage licenses in some places. Then there are anomalies, like Utah during most of its territorial days, which didn’t issue licenses or record marriages in an attempt to protect against prosecution for polygamy. But those are truly exceptions: during Joseph Smith’s adulthood, most states issued licenses with their attendant bonds and returns. (We have, for example, Brigham Young’s license to marry Mary Ann Angell, issued in Kirtland and very much during Joseph Smith’s time.)

    Anyone who claims otherwise hasn’t done the first lick of genealogical research.

  29. Really great post and question Natalie.

    Also, kudos to Latter-day Guy #17. I think you nailed it!

    To answer the question, I don’t think there really is a unified philosophy. I think Mormons and the church itself are just like everyone else – namely, we preach agency and freedom as long as it doesn’t reach our arbitrary threshold for tolerance. Then we seek to enforce our morality on everyone else and find creative ways to justify it, including careful nuances between “agency,” “freedom,” “obedience,” etc. I’m not saying that we’re bad for it, or that there aren’t sometimes when enforcing our morality on others isn’t justified (e.g. Mill’s harm principle), just that we’re in the “mean” as it were. Very unsatisfying I know.

    In this vein, I personally find it helpful to view the church as a regular human institution (since it is composed of humans) subject to the same problems any such institution would have. I think what makes us “special” is that hopefully our institution aims us in a direction toward God (and I believe it does).

  30. The “obedience is the first law of heaven” (not “principle of the gospel”) quote was popularized––if not originated––by BRM.

    Another historical adjustment, much more minor than the last:

    This concept is much older than BRM and goes back to Joseph Smith. I’ve got a hilarious (my humor is impaired) battle between George Q. Cannon and someone (I forget who) arguing heatedly and at length as to whether “obedience” or “order” was the first law of heaven, drawing on statements from the earliest church leaders to support each side’s stand in this oh-so-not-important doctrinal battle.

  31. The recent prop-8 court case exposed the paucity of evidence showing any harm to society/others from allowing same-sex marriage. In fact the evidence showed just the opposite.

    There is no evidence showing anything vis a vis same-sex marriage, as no society has allowed same-sex marriage until just a few years ago. There’s no evidence that it does harm, and there’s no evidence that it does good, and there’s no evidence that it’s neutral, because there’s not enough data to draw any conclusions one way or the other. All we have are theories and speculation. Obviously allowing same-sex marriage is going to change our society, or it wouldn’t be an issue at all–no one would care about something that’s not going to change anything. The immediate effects will be inconsequential for everyone but those same-sex couples who want to marry. No one should expect to see the full implications of this change for at least a generation–and probably not for two or three. No one can foresee this. We have to base our decision on something less comfy than “evidence.”

  32. Fletcher says:

    #21 “I don’t think the LDS Church wants to legally sanction porn, either, but those battles have already been fought.”

    If you want to see the church mobilize it’s political wheels against porn, have someone put up a state or federal constitutional amendment banning the production and distribution of porn. But, as stated, those battles have already been fought and lost. Until there is a final legal/political decision on SSM, the church will fight against it.

  33. Steve Evans says:

    “I would also like to point out that the concept is agency not freedom of choice.”

    Inane. Without freedom of choice there is no moral agency.

  34. There is no evidence showing anything vis a vis same-sex marriage, as no society has allowed same-sex marriage until just a few years ago. There’s no evidence that it does harm, and there’s no evidence that it does good, and there’s no evidence that it’s neutral, because there’s not enough data to draw any conclusions one way or the other. All we have are theories and speculation.

    I think this is a bit misleading. I recognize that you’re talking about SSM here particularly, but there is most definitely evidence that should influence our decision. For example, only a few weeks ago I read about a 25 year study of children raised in SS homes. The study showed no distinguishable behavioral, physical, or emotional deficiencies from being raised in such a household. Since SSM would clearly allow for SS couples to adopt children (and is one of the arguments against SSM used by the church and the ProtectMarriage campaign) I think it is disingenuous to ignore such evidence. However, this post is really not about SSM anyway.

  35. Agency does not mean unfettered choices. Each choice we make has consequences, and while we are free to choose, we are not free to separate our consequences from the choice.

    We do not need to legalize everything in order to allow people to choose it. Teenagers, for instance, drink alcohol even if it is illegal to do so. How? Because they are free to choose.

    Even when abortion was illegal, many women still chose abortion.

  36. Re: First law of heaven. First doesn’t mean biggest, best, greatest, most important, or anything else, it just means first. I crawled before I walked. Crawling came first. Walking, IMHO is a little better and more important for my social/physical/career/everything-else development.

    Re: Agency. Agency is a god-given right to all humans. Outside of slavery, false imprisonment, or physical abuse I don’t really see where agency enters our discussion. Even if sodomy was re-criminalized, it wouldn’t affect the individual’s god-given right to agency. Similarly if Mormonism were outlawed, it wouldn’t be an infringement on agency, I could still practice Mormonism, just in violation of the law. (BTW I believe both would be stupid laws, so don’t attack me for either statement because you believe I support one or the other)

  37. Antonio Parr says:

    One could argue that the placement of a child for adoption into a same-gender relationship compromises/complicates that child’s free agency when it comes to making important decisions about how he/she will live her own life. Instead of having guides that direct them into heterosexuality (upon which the perpetuation of our species is dependent), such a child has as a guide two people who present an alternate reality, which could be confusing for the 90+% of children who are predisposed to heterosexuality.

    Same gender marriage does not

  38. Antonio Parr says:

    OK — I pressed “submit comment” before proofing, something that is an ongoing problem with my internet posts. Apologies for the fragmented, stray last sentence, mixed pronouns, etc.

  39. I agree with B. Russ. This isn’t really about “agency”. It’s about whether we want to create human laws that discourage behavior we consider detrimental to society.

    Bringing sacrifice and covenants (eg., wearing garments) into it makes no sense at all. God gave us agency and warns us of natural and spiritual consequences of exercising that agency. Our agency isn’t affected as we can unmake those choices sacrifices and covenants in an instant.

    However, every choice we make affects other people to a greater or lesser extent. We therefore create human laws to regulate that. We talk about “rights”, but since people’s “rights” conflict, we have to put limits on those rights (eg., freedom of speech can be limited by slander laws). As far as I can see, every time we make a law to protect one set of “rights”, we’re impinging on another set. We’re making value judgments about which is most important. In our society, the majority’s value judgments rule. Currently, those who value freedom of expression more than they fear the deleterious effects of pornography are ascendant.

    The question really is what is the value hierarchy (the degree to which one value supercedes another) within the church which helps us determine which human laws we wish to support. It’s not about agency at all.

  40. I in turn agree with Martin.

    And I’ll take it one step further, I think in the end it comes down to states rights v. federal control:

    According (as I remember) to Lockian philosophy, society is acheived when a group of people get together and decide on what rules they want to follow in order to maintain civility and the government has power as long as the people are willing to give up their freedoms in order to maintain civility and peace.
    I personally don’t see anything wrong with California, a government where less than 2% of the population is even Mormon, allowing SSM. I also don’t see anything wrong with Utah, with a much higher population of Mormons, disallowing it forever. I think it’s up to the communities to decide what freedoms to sacrifice in order to foster a community that they want. Same thing goes for pornography.
    The problem arises when the federal government tries to force all states to follow laws or legal precedents of a moral nature. And I think this is largely why the LDS church protested so fervently the Proposition 8, for fear of control loss in their own communities. Unfortunately, to my understanding, over the decades power-hungry politicians have made grabs for more and more dominion, like Caesar, never giving back to the states that power once they’ve attained it.
    I’m not a lawyer, and the legal precedent may be sound, but I don’t think our supreme court has any moral or logical right to tell Utah it has to allow XYZ. I’m a fair man, and even though I strongly believe in gun rights, I don’t think the SC has any right to tell Illinois that they can’t ban handguns. I don’t think its inherently wrong to try to legislate morality (I don’t think its particularly effective either), but I do think its idiotic to try to do it on a non-homogenous national level.

  41. Latter-day Guy says:

    One could argue that the placement of a child for adoption into a same-gender relationship compromises/complicates that child’s free agency when it comes to making important decisions about how he/she will live her own life.

    But I doubt one could argue it convincingly.

    Instead of having guides that direct them into heterosexuality (upon which the perpetuation of our species is dependent), such a child has as a guide two people who present an alternate reality…

    That kind of sounds like Tron, Antonio.

    Seriously though, Mother Nature and her lesbian partner, Evolution, have already arranged a way for most people to be guided into heterosexuality: they call it genetics. I really don’t think you need to worry about the propagation of the species. In fact, I seem to recall a number of lessons in Church that seemed aimed at putting the breaks on when it came to perpetuating our genes.

  42. But I doubt one could argue it convincingly.

    Sure one could, LDG. You just start with italics, then move to bold italics, then to ALL-CAPS, and eventually to BOLD ALL-CAPS.

    People cower before such forms of argumentation.

  43. Forgive me, I’m going to ponder out loud (in type). If homosexuality is biological, then it is most likely genetic (unless there a homo-virus or something). If it is genetic than it is propopogated through reproduction, which a homosexual only acheives by going against their natural desires and partnering with a heterosexual. If this were the case, then according to my elementary understanding of biology, this genome would likely only be propogated in a society where homosexual partnership were discouraged, and if homosexual partnership (SSM) were more accepted and encouraged, the genome fostering homosexual tendency would disappear (or at least become much more rare) within a few generations. So, following this tenuous but fun logic, the people who want to discourage homosexual behavior are by consequence encouraging homosexual tendencies.

  44. StillConfused says:

    So what did porn man do wrong to warrant the case?

  45. It's a series of tubes says:

    Re: 41…

    Perhaps you might want to review the U.S. Constitution, Article 4, Section 1 (aka the “Full Faith and Credit Clause”):
    “Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.”

    and the specific exemption thereto granted to the states in the DOMA (codified at 28 U.S.C. 1738(C)):

    “No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.”

  46. Latter-day Guy says:

    Ummm… Sorry, tubes. I must be missing something. Unless you were referring to #40 and not #41.

    Scott B., you’re right of course. Strangely, I have noticed a related phenomenon that works the opposite way: the more whispery tone a speaker uses over the pulpit, the more inspired their remarks are. I suppose this eventually leads to some kind of event horizon/testimony singularity. Luckily though, like a bird dropping a baguette in the LHC, a baby starts crying before that can happen and we are saved.

    B.Russ, that is teh awesome. Seriously, the biological causes are probably pretty complicated, involving multiple genes interacting, etc. However those who still insist that it’s all nurture over nature… Well, I guess they’re brave folks who don’t mind staring down the barrel of scads of research, insisting that, yes, they have heard of NASA, but they take it on faith that the moon is composed of cheese, and no scientist with any amount of book-larnin’ will convince them otherwise.

  47. Antonio Parr says:

    41. I think that people who are unsure about their sexuality are more likely to choose homosexuality/bisexuality if they are raised by gay parents. I also think that it is possible that individuals who would not otherwise be confused about sexuality might become so if the norm that they see is same- sex parents as opposed to opposite-sex parents.

    I try to be open minded, but I do worry about the impact upon infants of being placed in a same-sex home and having as an example a parenting arrangement that is inconsistent with the male-female parenting model which is the ideal.

  48. 47. I believe that children raised by blonde parents are pre-disposed to growing up stupid. I believe this because I made it up. We need legislation!

    But seriously, did you, in the 21st century, just refer to homosexuality as a choice?

  49. Antonio Parr says:

    Seriously, I think that ther are instances where sexual behavior is very much a choice. I think that there are other instances where sexuality appears to be a biological predisposition. However, the fact that we acknowledge or even respect a predisposition does not mean that we have to now pretend that homosexual unions are capable of producing children. If we are going to let nature dictate, then we should do so with the understanding that same-sex copulation will not produce children.

  50. Antonio Parr says:

    (I am troubled by the insistence that society acknowledge that homosexuality is not a choice, i.e., driven by nature, while in the same breath demanding that society celebrate the normalization of family units that nature could never, ever produce. I genuinely worry about the impact that this latter trend, i.e., the normalization of same-gender family units, will have on young children and on generations to come.)

  51. Antonio Parr says:

    (I have no way of knowing, but I think that it is the impact on children that is driving the Church’s oppositoin to same-sex marriages. I concur with the Church’s support of legislation prohibiting employment discrimination or housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and have a hunch that there is something substantive behind the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriages.)

  52. Nature produces homosexual family units ALL THE TIME. Google gay penguins. (Just make sure your internet settings are set to filter out adult content first! Wouldn’t want you to catch gay!)

    Geez, read a book.

  53. Antonio, why are you commenting parenthetically? Is it because your comments are seriously messed up and you don’t want to make people think you actually mean what you say?

    Thanks for trying to be open minded, but that’s no substitute for actually being open minded, which you clearly are not.

  54. Antonio Parr says:

    Val:

    Nature also produces infantcide (see lions), polygamous arrangements (see most species), abandonment of disabled (see many species), etc. The laws of nature as applied to the animal kingdom don’t necessarily hold sway over the moral code of humans.

    With respect to human sexuality, surely you have read enough books to know that there is a spectrum of sexual identity, and there are those who are closer to the middle who unquestionably would be impacted by the examples of parents who are in a same-gender relationship. During your reading of books and such, you may want to google the study conducted by Stacey & Biblarz regarding the impact upon sexuality experienced by daughters being raised by lesbian parents.

  55. Antonio Parr says:

    MCQ:

    Sorry — saying somethins is “messed up” is not self-authenticating.

    As for being open minded, one does not cease to be open minded simply because they reach a conclusion that is different than your own. I could just as easily say that you are close-minded for so quickly rejecting my concerns.

    My comments are in the context of free agency, and I believe that the teachings and examples of parents impact (for better or worse) the choices of children.

  56. Oh dear, you just put polygamy in the same list as infanticide.

    Besides, I didn’t even imply that the laws of nature dictate human morality. You did.

  57. Val, in the context of that particular comment from Antonio, polygamy does belong one the same list as infanticide – and the actual point he made is exactly on point to your comment about homosexuality being natural.

    Agree with Antonio or not about his other conclusions, all he said is, essentially, “OK. So what about these other examples?” There really isn’t anything controversial in that list when it’s read in context.

  58. jjohnsen says:

    ” I think that people who are unsure about their sexuality are more likely to choose homosexuality/bisexuality if they are raised by gay parents. I also think that it is possible that individuals who would not otherwise be confused about sexuality might become so if the norm that they see is same- sex parents as opposed to opposite-sex parents.”
    Actually I remember headlines a couple of months ago that talked about a study that showed the exact opposite. I’ll try to dig it up.

  59. Antonio, just to choose one example, the Church has had all kinds of time and opportunity to articulate its reasons for opposition to SSM. Saying that you have no way of knowing what its reasons are is just not accurate. Either you have intentionally avoided knowing or you know and want to avoid admitting it.

    Also, saying that you “have a hunch that there is something substantive” behind the Church’s opposition to SSM is just silly. If there is nothing substantive behind it, then why would the church be engaging in such opposition? If there is, then why would you be required to rely on hunches? Why wouldn’t the Church have just told everyone what it is?

  60. Gee, MCQ, now you’re making Antonio sound subtle and conniving. Sounded to me like he was just musing publicly. Bad Antonio.

    As far as I can tell, the offensive part of Antonio’s rambling has got to be the underlying assumption that homosexuality is bad, because he doesn’t want people in the middle to opt toward homosexuality and is willing to support legislation to that effect.

    Right before the whole prop 8 thing heated up, NPR ran a story about young Thai men who had decided they were really meant to be women. They attended high school in dresses, talked in high voices, etc.. When they came of age, they would get sex-change operations (much cheaper in Thailand than here). The fact that there were so many young men doing this wasn’t the story — it was that they demanded, and got, a third bathroom in the high school. These women-to-be felt uncomfortable using either the men’s or women’s restrooms because they felt like women but still had man parts. So, the Thai school officials accommodated them. The majority of Thais simply gave a collective shrug about the whole thing, but in the US it was a story.

    I obviously have no evidence whether the phenomenon was sociological or biological. Sociological seems more likely, but maybe there’s such thing as a genetic “outbreak”. I can’t help but think that some of those young men are going to regret that operation. If the phenomenon did turn out to be more sociological than biological (ie, say it’s a fad), should legislation be attempted to limit it’s influence, or should it just be allowed to run its course? The underlying assumption here would be sex-change operations are bad. Or at least, bad for those caught up in the fad. And they’re certainly more permanent than experimental homosexual promiscuity.

  61. ” I think that ther are instances where sexual behavior is very much a choice.”

    Nearly all sexual behavior is a choice, Antonio. Sexual orientation, on the other hand, appears to most these days to be determined without any conscious choice. Are you trying to debate that orientation is actually determined by a conscious choice? Or are you saying that children raised by SS couples would be somehow “nutured” into homosexuality such that they would have no conscious choice in the matter?

    Either way, I think the statistics are against you.

  62. I just wish my wife would stop choosing celibacy.

  63. *rimshot

  64. (I hope KLS approves of my non-self-directed rimshot)

  65. Cynthia L. says:

    Martin, unisex bathrooms for transgender or intersex people are popping up in the US as well. Many universities have them, since universities tend to be at the forefront of such things. I think my university has some, or at least I’m recalling a movement to try to get some. And that was probably 5-10 years ago. I agree that the culture in Thailand does seem to have an unusually, maybe even uniquely, malleable/flexible approach to gender and sexuality.

  66. Antonio Parr says:

    Martin:

    I was musing publicly, and, based on the consensus so far, do not appear to be smart enough to be subtle or conniving.

    I am not sure that I have ever said (or even thought) that homosexuality is “bad”. At the risk of sounding trite, I know plenty of homosexuals, some of whom are outstanding people who possess great character and wisdom.

    That being said, I am not ready to concede that there are no moral laws governing human sexuality. I am also not ready to concede that general notions of masculinity and femininity are irrelevant. Although I rarely say much that is perceived as orthodox, I find the model of a family with a father and mother to be an ideal, and a model worth protecting. (I am fully aware of the irony of the Mormon Church being the standard bearer for a one man/one woman marriage, but, irony notwithstanding, I believe that the emphasis is inspired.)

    My experience on bycommonconsent.com has been part maddening/part amusing. When I write things that appear unorthodox, I get stern corrections. When I write something more conservative/more orthodox, I get stern corrections.

    I gotta work on my delivery!

  67. I know anectotally that often international stories make a story seem like its applicable to a whole country or at least a whole province when in reality its a couple of isolated cases, i.e., the story could report that middle-gender bathrooms were being installed in a number of schools when the truth is that number could be 3 or 4 and most Thai people would have no idea what you are talking about if you were to ask them about these bathrooms. Don’t know if thats the case, but thats my default assumption when I read an international news story.

  68. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 54
    “The laws of nature as applied to the animal kingdom don’t necessarily hold sway over the moral code of humans.”

    True enough, yet people of your opinion trot out the natural-law argument all the time. Yet with each passing year it’s increasingly clear that there’s no evidence to support continued suppression of gay relationships other than “Because God says so.”

    To assert “There’s no evidence that it does harm, and there’s no evidence that it does good….” ignores decades of research, actually. Don’t get distracted by the word marriage being relatively recently applied to gays: Homosexuals, their relationships, their mental health, etc, have been the subject of extensive debate and scholarship for a very long time.

    To go back to the original post, though: It’s pretty clear that Mormons are more than willing to use the force of law to limit the agency of those who reject their moral positions. Liquor laws in Utah, supporting sodomy laws for decades….the list goes on and the track record is clear. Being a pragmatic people, however, when the battle is lost you do move on.

  69. Antonio Parr says:

    MCQ:

    I think that sexual orientation in many instances is a choice. I acknowledge that for some/many, it appears to be a biological predisposition. I do believe that there are many in the middle who capable of being nurtured/lead/influenced/whatever into homosexuality who are just as capable of being nurtured/lead/influenced/whatever into heterosexuality, hence my concerns regarding the mass production of children for placement in newly-sanctioned same-sex unions. If all we were talking about is two men liivng their lives together or two women living their lives together, then I am not sure that I would have bothered to post (or even give the issue another thought). Instead, there is a trend towards ignoring the biological limitations inherent in same-sex unions, and, through surrogacy or test tubes, manufacturing chilren for unions void of one of the representatives otherwise necessary for the creation of a child, i.e., a man or a woman. This concerns me, hence my humble musings before a surprisingly hostile crowd.

  70. Antonio Parr says:

    P.S. I am aware of the editing problems in the prior post. Sorry.

  71. Kristine says:

    “mass production of children for placement in newly-sanctioned same-sex unions”

    Oh, please. Surely we can generate enough hysteria about the horrors of children growing up in a world that includes gay people without raising the spectre of laboratories devoted to producing hordes of gays in embryo.

  72. Antonio Parr says:

    Final thought:

    My post No. 69 is inartful. What I meant to communicate is that the sexual orientation of some may not be well-defined, and, in these instances, the manner in which such people are nurtured/lead/influenced/whatever seems likely to influence their sexual behavior.

  73. Antonio Parr says:

    This will be my final post in what appears to be a decidedly losing battle:

    Kristin:

    I have never said, nor even thought, that there is a problem growing up in a world that includes gay people. I was referring to the creation of children for the single purpose of placing them with gay couples who cannot create children because they are, well, gay. I have concerns for the children being created without any potential for ever having either a mother or a father, and do not in any way see this as an ideal.

    I hope that I am smart enough to recognize when it is time to cut my losses and move on. I am in the minority on this one. So be it.

    Best wishes to all.

  74. MikeInWeHo says:

    While I don’t want to be disrespectful, I have to say that some of these comments are darn funny. One fact is clear: Large Mormon and Catholic families manufacture a helluva lot of gays already.

  75. ” I was referring to the creation of children for the single purpose of placing them with gay couples who cannot create children because they are, well, gay. I have concerns for the children being created without any potential for ever having either a mother or a father…”

    !!!!!!

    What? Where are you getting information on anything of the kind happening? Where are children being created for this mythical purpose you imagine? There are more than enough children who need homes and loving families in the world, even if every gay couple took several- I’m not sure where this distopian idea is coming from.

    And if a child is placed with a gay couple, by what equation do you imagine they have neither mother nor father? Study after (longterm) study show that children raised in a LOVING home is what matters, not the orientation or composition of that love.

  76. Latter-day Guy says:

    I think that people who are unsure about their sexuality are more likely to choose homosexuality/bisexuality if they are raised by gay parents. I also think that it is possible that individuals who would not otherwise be confused about sexuality might become so if the norm that they see is same-sex parents as opposed to opposite-sex parents.

    I see where you’re going with this, but I think the relevant literature suggests a somewhat more nuanced point; namely, children of gay couples tend to be more open to the idea of homosexual relationships. That isn’t the same as saying children raised by a same-sex couple are more likely to be gay.

    Most children tend to experience some form of sexual anxiety or confusion. In fact, I can imagine few more troubling scenarios than for an adolescent to realize that they experience homoerotic desire, while living with parents who consistently condemn homosexuals and gay orientation as evil, abominable, and as a threat not only to the familial model they embrace, but a threat to the eternal nature of the very family to which the gay youth belongs.

    Seriously, I think that there are instances where sexual behavior is very much a choice.

    Yes, sexual behavior is a choice. I don’t think anyone has argued differently.

    I think that there are other instances where sexuality appears to be a biological predisposition. However, the fact that we acknowledge or even respect a predisposition does not mean that we have to now pretend that homosexual unions are capable of producing children. If we are going to let nature dictate, then we should do so with the understanding that same-sex copulation will not produce children.

    Again, who is suggesting that homosexual unions can produce children?

    The argument that homosexuality is natural is important, because for decades one of the most relied-upon arguments against it was the charge of it’s being “unnatural,” “a crime against nature,” etc., and thus is could be universally condemned (regardless of one’s religious convictions) because it was a violation of inborn natural law. On the other hand, if sexuality is biologically determined, then it is simply a normal variation in a wide spectrum of genetic traits. This is borne out by the observation of homosexual pairings in the animal kingdom, and by the relatively consistent rate of the phenomenon.

    (I am troubled by the insistence that society acknowledge that homosexuality is not a choice, i.e., driven by nature, while in the same breath demanding that society celebrate the normalization of family units that nature could never, ever produce. I genuinely worry about the impact that this latter trend, i.e., the normalization of same-gender family units, will have on young children and on generations to come.)

    I could take this comment more seriously if you didn’t use such patently silly, inflammatory rhetoric: “demanding that society celebrate [unnatural] family units,” indeed. “Come and have cake and ice cream at my birthday party or I’ll kill kill kill you all!!! Mwuhahahaha!!!” “All citizens must watch, cheering while I have gay sex––and if you don’t bring something nice from Bed, Bath & Beyond, you’ll be arrested and your children will become wards of the state!”

    I have no way of knowing…

    100% correct. Ten points for Griffindor Gryffindor.

    …but I think that it is the impact on children that is driving the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriages. I concur with the Church’s support of legislation prohibiting employment discrimination or housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and have a hunch that there is something substantive behind the Church’s opposition to same-sex marriages.

    Possible.

    Nature also produces infanticide (see lions), polygamous arrangements (see most species), abandonment of disabled (see many species), etc. The laws of nature as applied to the animal kingdom don’t necessarily hold sway over the moral code of humans.

    And here we go. Didn’t you just criticize the creation of “family units that nature could never, ever produce”? Now you’re dismissing “nature” as irrelevant to human morality. You can’t have your cake and eat it.

    With respect to human sexuality, surely you have read enough books to know that there is a spectrum of sexual identity, and there are those who are closer to the middle who unquestionably would be impacted by the examples of parents who are in a same-gender relationship. During your reading of books and such, you may want to google the study conducted by Stacey & Biblarz regarding the impact upon sexuality experienced by daughters being raised by lesbian parents.

    I would encourage you to read the Meezan and Rauch article on the same subject. It takes broader and more recent research into account (along with the Stacey & Biblarz paper), and––most importantly––spends some time outlining the difficulty of studying same-sex parenting and the methodological pitfalls that plague this corner of sociology.

  77. Latter-day Guy says:

    Citation for aforementioned article:

    “Gay Marriage, Same-Sex Parenting, and America’s Children.” William Meezan, Jonathan Rauch. The Future of Children, Vol. 15, No. 2, Marriage and Child Wellbeing (Autumn, 2005), pp. 97-115. Princeton University. [http://www.jstor.org/stable/3556565].

  78. Antonio Parr says:

    (Answering a question does not count as a post . . . I am keeping my promise to discontinue posting on this issue.)

    Tracy:

    My information comes from acquaintances with gay couples who could not conceive (obviously) and used surrogates/artifical insemination to create a child. I am surprised that you would question the existence of this rather common practice.

    For the record, I advocate kindness and warmth and genuine friendship towards and with all people, including gays. My concerns about the integrity of the traditional family unit should not be construed otherwise.

    Signing off.

  79. My information comes from acquaintances with gay couples who could not conceive (obviously) and used surrogates/artifical insemination to create a child. I am surprised that you would question the existence of this rather common practice.

    And same sex marriage is relevant how?

  80. In defense of Antonio, though not of his arguments per se:

    I think that Antonio represents the typical LDS member who follow that arguments made by the Church on this issue. If you look at the arguments used by Church-back Yes on Prop 8 groups, this is the type of stuff being argued. Members are then put in the position of defending it or going against the church.

    Of course, I am more worried about babies being created in labs by rogue Jedis and Sith lords.

  81. Latter-day Guy says:

    Antonio, I apologize if my comments contributed to your feeling like you had to leave. Such was not my intent, and I hate to feel like I shut-down a conversation, which (apart from rudeness or discourtesy) is really counterproductive. Sorry, man.

  82. Kristine says:

    Antonio–no one is questioning the assertion that gay couples make use of technological means of conception. What Tracy and I were objecting to is your hyperbolic rhetoric–“mass production,” “manufacturing,” “single purpose of placing them with gay couples.”

    Do you object to adoption by infertile couples, too? Would you say those children have no mother or father? We are a long ways down the road from the time when infertility was seen as evidence of God’s disfavor, at least for heterosexual couples. It seems, then, that an argument from natural sterility must rely on some degree of homophobia (unless you’re willing to argue that all couples who cannot have children in the usual way should not be allowed to avail themselves of technologies to overcome that condition).

  83. Antonio wrote:

    My experience on bycommonconsent.com has been part maddening/part amusing. When I write things that appear unorthodox, I get stern corrections. When I write something more conservative/more orthodox, I get stern corrections.

    This is the truth, sometimes. On any given day, the forums at BCC get accused of being both apostate and uber-orthodox, often at the same time. We just can’t win.

  84. Antonio Parr says:

    OK — I am breaking my promise not to post.

    Chris:

    I do not live in California, have not followed Prop-8, and have no idea (or even care) what California Mormons have said or not said regarding the issue. I am not motivated by fear of appearing disloyal to the Church, although I certainly have great affection for my chosen faith.

    The normalization of same-sex unions and the elevation of those unions to the moral equivalency of heterosexual families (who have been the breeding ground for humanity for millenia) is a new social experiment that may prove to be absolutely harmless or very harmful. I have merely voiced concerns about the potential implications of this social experment, and have attempted to do so respectfully and candidly.

    You come back with rogue Jedies and Sith lords, which is the type of sarcasm that, respectfully, reveals more about you than about me.

    Now, back to working on keeping my promise about posting. Same good wishes (mostly) to all.

  85. Dude, haven’t you seen Attack of the Clones. Sure it really sucked, but you must have seens it. Come on, that was my friendly sarcasm.

    Of course, it does say more about me…it says that I am a nerd.

    My comment was really less about you and more an observance of the type of argument generated by the Church’s position. Shrug.

  86. It seems, then, that an argument from natural sterility must rely on some degree of homophobia

    I don’t think that’s fair, Kristine. On the one hand, you have an exception-based sterility, and on the other you have a definitional-based sterility. For two heterosexual individuals who remain celibate prior to marriage (yeah, yeah), there is no reasonable expectation that they would constitute an “exceptional” couple; for two homosexual individuals, there is zero ambiguity about the inability to have children.

    Having a different policy–or even mentally stratifying–for exceptional cases than for definitional cases is not the most illogical concept in the world.

  87. Antonio Parr says:

    Chris —

    OK, so my final, final, ~final~ post is me realizing that I muffed your post, a la that Engligh goalkeeper during the World Cup match against the USA.

    My bad!

  88. Antonio, I would still really like to understand how SSM is relevant to whether or not homosexual partnerships have children artificially. i.e. to my understanding a homosexual couple can concieve surrogately, artificially, what be it regardless of a marriage union. Just like teenage girls can get pregnant regardless of whether or not they’re married. I really don’t have a dog in this fight, but I am trying to understand your thinking here.

  89. I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that children raised by gay parents will be more likely to turn out gay. Most gay people were raised by straight parents. Sexual orientation isn’t fully determined by either biology or environment, but it’s a complex interaction between the two, and there’s no indication that it can be controlled (or probably someone would have thought of a way by now).

    It’s true that people may start with a certain capacity for homosexual or heterosexual attractions and situational factors (e.g. societal acceptance of homosexuality, not to mention plain old opportunity) will influence whether or not they end up acting on those attractions. Women tend to be much more “flexible” in their sexuality than men are, so situational factors will have more of an impact on women’s “choices” in this arena than on men’s. If society deems sex irrelevant to the marriage relationship and no longer holds up a heterosexual ideal, it will probably affect how people, especially female people, choose to express their sexuality. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on your point of view, but no one can foresee the long-term implications of this. (Personally, I don’t worry about the children or a mass movement toward gayness, but neither do I know what effect this paradigm shift will have on society 40 or 100 years down the road.)

    Homosexuality has always been around and different societies have had varying levels of acceptance/toleration, but the fact that both pro-SSM and the anti-SSM sides are fighting so hard over a word indicates that homosexual marriage is a bigger deal than the sum of benefits that marriage automatically affords in this society. It’s a symbolic gesture that says sex (/gender) is irrelevant to the purpose of marriage. That would constitute a major shift in thinking that I think society is already undergoing organically, but obviously a majority of Americans are not ready to go there yet. I think if we had something like civil unions (or domestic partnerships), that would be a major step forward, as it would give gay couples and their families more privileges than they have now, and by separating the benefits from the word “marriage,” we could have a more productive discussion about what the state’s interest in marriage is and why the institution (so far as the state is concerned) should or should not remain strictly male-female.

    Finally, in the interest of (sort of) addressing Natalie’s post:

    So what, if anything, philosophically unifies the choices Mormonism encourages and discourages?

    I’m going to go with “nothing but the belief that God cares more about some issues than others.” (And the hierarchy of issues depends partly on who is in charge at the moment.)

  90. Obviously Mormons aren’t the only ones who struggle with self-consistency when it comes to prioritizing values in legislation.

    Some abortion-rights defenders become very offended at the suggestion that their arguments could just as easily be used to defend legalized prostitution. SSM proponents mock Mormon hypocrisy for their history of polygamy, but it’s not like a majority of them would support legalizing polygamy. Europeans defend their right to offend Muslims with their depictions of Muhammad, but can prosecute those who question the Holocaust (not due to validity — you can publish other falsehoods, but this one is offensive). Many of the same politicians who favored ignoring obscenity and anti-sodomy laws are the same ones who supported anti-tobacco legislation and seatbelt laws (at the time, you could have argued sodomy was a greater health risk than cigarettes). And the same arguments to end Prohibition could be used to legalize drugs.

    I’ll be even fundamentalists and extremists aren’t self-consistent.

  91. Martin,

    All of those issues are of far more complex than you seem to be hinting.

  92. That didn’t come out right.

  93. Chris, I know. That’s part of the point.

  94. Got it.

  95. Kristine says:

    Scott, I think you’re right. Damn.

  96. Chris H,
    It kind of looks to me that he’s actually directly pointing out the complexity of those issues. He’s suggesting (methinks) that basically, any of those arguments can be used for whatever end the arguing party desires because they are so multifaceted.

  97. Latter-day Guy says:

    “Ten points for Griffindor Gryffindor.”

    [GASP!]

    [Shock.]

    [And then the shame––OH, THE SHAME!]

    [Ritual suicide to follow.]

  98. Scott, I think you’re right. Damn.

    Holysmokes!

  99. LDG (97),
    You didn’t think I’d fix your HTML tags for free, now did you?

  100. Scott,

    It has now sunk in. I was more thinking that such arguments do not really carry over. Prohibition argument really do not apply to drugs in that the historical context is too different. The historical context of banning Nazi’s and Holocaust deniers in Europe might not translate in other contexts. Martin’s comment does have me thinking about the original post.

    I think the problem within Mormon culture is that we do not want to seriously consider the ramifications of agency because it will rattle our conservative cultural preferences. BKP has done a lot in the past decades to squash a more robust interpretation or the idea. That some above have denied that it is related to the freedom of choice is because we have decided that we are more strongly opposed to how people use their agency than we are committed to the concept itself.

    I personally find Kant’s idea of autonomy more satifying that anything I have found in Mormonism. As a result, I have distanced myself and no longer make claims on the LDS idea of agency.

  101. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 90
    You make a very good point. Nobody is completely consistent, from what I can see. As a wise man told me years ago: “No one is more illiberal than a liberal.” Wow do some of my lefty friends demonstrate that at times.

    Is it some core aspect of human nature that we really only want to tolerate people who agree with us?

  102. But can’t we make a differentiation between not tolerating MikeInWeHo and not tolerating Neo-Nazis?

  103. But can’t we make a differentiation between not tolerating MikeInWeHo and not tolerating Neo-Nazis?

    YES WE CAN! Skinheads can stay, Mike, you gotta go. (nothing personal, but having good looking guys around dilutes my slight attractiveness, and my narcissism won’t stand for it.)

  104. B. Russ,

    I know how you feel, he robbed me of my best shot at a Niblet.

  105. Antonio Parr says:

    I just revisited the dialogue of the day.

    Respectfully, although there are some very gifted, talented folks on this list, and an impressive amount of intellectual firepower, the smug vitriol and sarcasm is as much unseemly as it is unnecessary.

    I follow BCC because there are some refreshingly thoughtful contributors and some very impressive intellectual firepower. The recurrent nastiness, though, becomes a spoonful of sewage in Schopenhauer’s barrel of wine.

  106. Antonio Parr says:

    The other spoonful of sewage comes when people like me take a draft and fail to edit said draft to a finished product. My post should have avoided the redundancies of the second and third sentences. Notwithstanding the errors of my post, I stand by my lament about the level of vitriol on this list.

    No fun to be on the receiving end, and no fun dealing with the anger and resentment that flows from the sarcasm. I remain convinced that those most prone to vitriol would not dream of making such comments face-to-face, and recognize that the internet has the potential for creating the equivalent of a cyberspace version of roadrage spurned on by anonymity and distance. That being said, it is really not ~that~ hard to be civil.

  107. Antonio, sure there’s some sarcasm. Mostly it’s because BCC is more than a list, and we’ve had to defend our writers over the years from a myriad of people and positions.

    It’s been said before, and we can say it a million times- no one has to have a particular ideology to participate here- but we do hope for respectful dialog. When someone uses hyperbolic rhetoric, the defenses go up a little. A comment might get a shot fired over the bow, or it might get some sarcasm flung back at it. You cannot come into our living room, as it were, and accuse folks of putting sewage in your wine for responding to inflammatory words. Well, you can, but you might not like what happens…

  108. Antonio Parr says:

    Sorry, Tracy, but there was absolutely nothing inflammatory about my posts, and there was absolutely no disrespect — not even a hint — shown by me towards anyone (not even you).

    Its your playground or living room or whatever, and you appear to have the all-important power to make up your own rules. And you are correct, I don’t like what happens, and will pass on any future discussions.

    Carry on/best wishes/etc.

  109. Calling our writing and thoughts “sewage in the wine” doesn’t strike you the least bit inflammatory? Mentioning something as unsubstantiated and hyperbolic as “manufacturing babies for gay couples” is not inflammatory? Those are extreme words, and assuming a given company of saints will accept them without discussion of what you mean by them is… illogical.

  110. Antonio,
    I entirely agree with you.

    While I agree with Tracy also that this is a community and we can defend ourselves, you are not a newcomer, but are a friend of the blog, and your reminder to be considerate is 100% on point.

  111. MikeInWeHo says:

    Re: 108
    “but there was absolutely nothing inflammatory about my posts, and there was absolutely no disrespect ….”

    Here’s the dilemma, Antonio: Many find your comments extremely homophobic:

    “I am troubled by the insistence that society acknowledge that homosexuality is not a choice, i.e., driven by nature…”

    “Nature also produces infanticide…”

    “I know plenty of homosexuals, some of whom are outstanding people….”

    “there are many in the middle who capable of being nurtured/lead/influenced/whatever into homosexuality….”

    You can strike a reasonable tone and call for civility all you want, but the content of your comments is intrinsically inflammatory and disrespectful to gays (especially those who are parents). I know that’s not your intent.

    From my perspective, your views are highly problematic. Let’s compile your Bloggernacle comments and replace every reference to homosexuals with Jews. Let’s replace your fear of SSM with fear of miscegenation. Then re-read the exact same comments. How would they sound?

  112. “Nature also produces Jews”

    So far so good, Mike. What’s your problem, straightophobe???

  113. MikeInWeHo,
    You actually kind of demonstrate what I think Antonio wishes took place more often:
    Your #111 is possibly the most critical, biting response of all to what Antonio wrote, and yet it was done 100% without vitriol, sarcasm, or ambiguity.

    There are ways of disagreeing very strongly–even vehemently–without resorting to poor form, and your #111 is the perfect example of how to get it right.

  114. Latter-day Guy says:

    “Nature also produces Jews.”

    Yeah, Steve, but that doesn’t make it okay––we have to draw a line somewhere.

  115. LDG, that probably sounded a lot funnier before you typed it, huh.

  116. Latter-day Guy says:

    Not really, no. But I have been listening to Wagner lately, which might account for it.

  117. MikeInWeHo says:

    I love BCC because it’s kind of like this:

  118. #101 – “Is it some core aspect of human nature that we really only want to tolerate people who agree with us?”

    Unfortunately, yes, Mike. If it were not so, the Sermon on the Mount wouldn’t be much of a challenge. It is so easy to perceive disagreement as attack, and it is so hard not to attack when an attack is perceived.

    I agree with the idea that we really want to believe in agency, but that we also are scared to death of the ramifications of agency. That’s why we need a vibrant Savior who promises to make up the difference between who we are and who we want to be – but also kicks us in the butt and demands obedience to commands.

    Mormonism (at least what I view as pure Mormonism) embraces paradox and the need for opposition in ALL things more than any other -ism I know – and I’ve gained peace personally about a lot of things only be embracing that need and trying very hard not to condemn or belittle those who provide it for me. I fail miserably at that sometimes, but I’m trying to honor the way others choose to exercise their freedom / agency even when I disagree with them – and even when my disagreement with them might affect their ability to practice what they believe or restrict others from practicing what those others believe.

    Sometimes we forget that we can disagree strongly with someone else and still love them – mostly because we often feel unloved and rejected when someone else disagrees with us. Yes, it is natural to tolerate only those on our side – and even to create sides when none need exist in order to feed that natural tendency.

  119. While I agree #111 is in good form, I’m not sure it’s content makes sense. The four statements you listed, Mike, don’t seem all that homophobic (in context) to me, except perhaps the first, and Antonio acknowledged a biological component elsewhere. The “nature also produces infanticide” came from a discussion about nature creating variations that don’t propitiate the species, which is a big “so what” in my mind. Choosing to be offended by “I know plenty of homosexuals (or Mormons/Jews/etc.)” seems silly to me. And the last statement about whether homosexuals can recruit fence-sitters seems a topic of disagreement. Given the spectrum of human sexuality, it doesn’t seem homophobic to suggest those with a malleable sexuality couldn’t be influenced one way or the other.

    And replacing homosexual with Jew seems silly.

    The only thing which I thought might be offensive was #69, and even he admitted it was “inartful”.

    I still maintain that Antonio’s main offense (see #60) is that he considers homosexuality to be “bad” (ie., something not to be encouraged, or even, something to be discouraged). Does that make him a homophobe?

  120. Martin,
    I don’t know that anyone has a perfect meter for measuring when exactly a person becomes a homophobe, but I think that anyone who is willing to publicly state that they think it is bad must understand that a large part of society is going to consider them homophobic and that saying “No I am not!” is unlikely to fall on fertile ears.

  121. MikeInWeHo says:

    It’s entirely a matter of perspective, Martin. That’s the dilemma here. If I consider interracial marriage to be “bad” (ie., something not to be encouraged, or even, something to be discouraged), does that make me a racist?

  122. Mike, if only we were that erudite and entertaining! We have all the same class without the fun verbiage.

    Antonio does come across as a homophobe to me, which is why I reacted the way that I did. Perhaps I misjudged him and if so, I’m truly sorry.

    My problem is, I don’t understand why some peope are so fearful of children being raised by gay couples. We have many many children in this very country being raised in horrible conditions of poverty and in single parent households. I say if two loving people with a nice home want to welcome and love a child, then hallelujah, who cares about their sexual orientation?

    I’m much more fearful of allowing ignorant single parents with no job get pregnant and raise children, and I don’t care about their sexual orientation either. I wish there were a license to procreate that we could revoke, and then grant it to an educated, affluent, loving, deserving gay couple somewhere.

    Honestly, the sexual orientation of parents is about the last possible thing we should be concerned about. If you really care about children, get a credible list of priorities and get your nose out of the parents’ bedroom!

  123. Yeah, when it comes to using parenting as an argument against SSM, there is more than a little stone throwing and blame shifting happening.

  124. Latter-day Guy says:

    “Choosing to be offended by “I know plenty of homosexuals (or Mormons/Jews/etc.)” seems silly to me.”

    Uh, Martin, I don’t think that was the offensive part. The original quote read: “I know plenty of homosexuals, some of whom are outstanding people” (emphasis mine).

    It’s offensive for the same reason this is: “Yes, he’s a black man, but he’s an articulate black man.” It’s the combination of the two traits that’s offensive, really. You can say: “He’s a black man.” No problem. You can also say: “He’s very articulate.” Again, no problem. The way those traits were combined, though, make it seem like the speaker believes that black people are typically not articulate. (This construction can be used entertainingly as a kind of mini “Mad Lib.” “Yes she’s a Relief Society member, but she doesn’t eat her young.” See! Try one for yourself!)

  125. “unlikely to fall on fertile ears”

    [insert your own joke here]

  126. “But it is not at all clear that some of the activities that Mormonism has tried to discourage—like same sex marriage—can be explained by the idea that engaging in them would restrict our freedom.”

    Same-sex marriage would restrict free agency, without question.

    We seem to have picked up the false idea that the council against homosexual relations originates with the prophets. That council comes from Heavenly Father. He has said that He does not honor such unions with the blessings of eternity. Those who participate in homosexual relations are free to choose them, but those same people cannot presume to call their actions marriage–a religious institution meant to consecrate a relationship in the sight of God. To choose against Him in this way would limit agency because it removes the choices necessary for eternal progression.

    As Latter-day Saints, we have no reason not to understand that marriage is supposed to be eternal. To be eternal isn’t just to be forever–it’s to be in a state to procreate and bring new birth; not just to worlds without number, but to children as well. The fact that procreation is only possible between men and women expresses, undeniably, Heavenly Father’s feelings on the matter.

    Regardless of what those around us think about same-sex marriage, Heavenly Father has been clear. The institution of marriage, inseparable from the blessings of eternity, are not ours to bestow to anyone against the will of God–whether through government or public opinion. When we as humankind make these choices against Him, we will not be exempt from His consequences, including the removal of our agency. If that’s not the ultimate restriction of our freedom, I’d love to know what is.

  127. Paradox, you are talking about temple marriage. Temple marriage is supposed to be eternal. Civil mariage makes no such claim. If you want to say that God has prohibited same sex couples from marrying in the temple, fine. But what is your argument that we should keep same sex couples from civil marriage? In most cases, civil ceremonies do not even claim to be religious.

    Given that, please answer the following:

    How does allowing same sex couples to marry civilly restrict agency?

    How is civil marriage “inseparable from the blessings of eternity” when our own doctrine says that civil marriage is not eternal?

    Some men and women can’t procreate. Does that express Heavenly Father’s feelings on the matter too?

    If same sex couples choose not to procreate, but rather adopt children that would otherwise never have a family, is that somehow against the will of God? If so how?

    Please explain your answers, I’m genuinely curious.

  128. GatoraideMomma says:

    Not all hetero relationships create healthy, safe, desirable environments for children or spouses. Many are not the ideal loving home and with parents that mirror the church or society’s “ideal home model.” Much abuse has been dished out by a heterosexually oriented parent figure on children in the home. And there are homes of either type parents that are very nurturing and safe homes for spouses and children.

    Not all hetero nuclear families are purely hetero, some are faux-hetero with one of the mates of a different orientation either living a double life or trying to “over-come” that tendency. Some heterosexual families have no intimacies between “spouses” or mates. Some spouses have cut off their mates so to speak. Likewise there are same-sex led families that are not having any sexual relationships, they are combining resources to raise a family or provide for themselves. Whose business is it what is going on physically or not going on physically in the bedrooms of anyone’s home?

    Some family units whether Mixed of SS are

  129. I’m much more fearful of allowing ignorant single parents with no job get pregnant and raise children, and I don’t care about their sexual orientation either. I wish there were a license to procreate that we could revoke, and then grant it to an educated, affluent, loving, deserving gay couple somewhere.

    I’ll be honest MCQ, this seems really prejudiced against the poor, as if a non-educated, non-affluent couple or person is incapable of raising children. I don’t see how this is any better (or different) than homophobia.

  130. GatoraideMomma says:

    Oops left a straggling left last line that I meant to erase.

    Just wondering now that I’ve posted: should we allow women who are too old or incapable of having children and men who are infertile or who have been “fixed” to be legally married if they are childless?
    If they marry legally and then find they cannot have children or heaven forbid decide not have children, should the marriage be annulled? Are they a bad example and threat to society and continuation of the species?

  131. “I would also like to point out that the concept is agency not freedom of choice.”

    Inane. Without freedom of choice there is no moral agency.

    Not inane at all. True, choice is PART of agency. There is always freedom to choose, just not always the degree of freedom a person desires. Unfortunately, everyone seems to focus on freedom to choose when they want things their own way at the expense of the other half: accountability. You cannot have agency without accountability. Choice is given, no one can take away the ability to make choices. All they can do is impose consequences until a particular choice becomes unpalatable. Lawmaking is the process of applying consequences that the general populace feels appropriate in order to make certain choices unpalatable.

    As has already been pointed out: if freedom of choice were itself a good thing, anarchy would be the only answer.

    And that ends up restricting freedom of choice even further than reasonable laws.

  132. Also, being open-minded means being willing to entertain ideas that don’t agree with yours. It does NOT mean necessarily agreeing with those ideas.

  133. I’ve been thinking about this, and maybe hit on a relevant point.

    The entire argument about SSM is not really about homosexuality. It is about endorsement. Same-sex relationships are a fact of society, whether you agree with them or not. Same-sex marriage is different because it is telling society to not only accept the existence of same-sex relationships, but to put the stamp of approval on them.

    Perhaps this is why it is such an emotional topic. Really, (and tell me if you think I’m wrong) those in same-sex relationships are saying “approve of me!” and those who believe those types of relationships are not ideal, or even harmful, are rebelling against the idea of being forced to legally and outwardly approve of something they feel is harmful.

    It seems to me that the burden of proof should always be on those who want a social change. But arguing, denigrating, protesting, mud-slinging and name calling only serves to make those who don’t want change more certain that they are right: that there is something harmful in that change. Moving to legislate acceptance of a behavior only makes those who don’t accept more entrenched in their opinions, not less.

    Both sides see their freedom to choose being restricted: the one side by their choice in sexual lifetime partners, the other in their choice to support only things they believe in.

    Just some thoughts, anyways, that probably deserve their own post, since they are a bit off-topic.

  134. Steve Evans says:

    “Same-sex marriage would restrict free agency, without question.”

    RIDICULOUS. Free agency cannot be restricted except by divine intervention. I hate it when people talk about laws as limiting free agency — they don’t. Stop it.

  135. Steve Evans says:

    SilverRain, if that is the real dilemma mormons face — our freedom is threatened to refuse to provide indirect endorsement by permitting the mere existence of gay marriage — then we lose. That is a pretty pathetic little freedom.

  136. MikeInWeHo says:

    “…. those in same-sex relationships are saying “approve of me!” ….

    No they’re not. They’re saying “Please leave me alone!” I can’t think of a single gay couple who could care less whether or not all of society (not to mention the Mormon subculture!) approves of them. What people want are the same legal protections, tax benefits, inheritance rights, etc, that other families have. Because the rhetoric and anger on both sides has been ratcheted up over the past decade or so, few seem willing to compromise at this point.

    Such a shame. Our more pragmatic British cousins across the pond put this whole problem on the back burner for a generation by creating Civil Parterships for gays, which confer all the rights and responsibilities marriage. Americans, with DOMA in place at the federal level, are doomed to battle this out for a long time to come.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_partnership_in_the_United_Kingdom

  137. Civil Partnerships are too easy and logical for the US, Mike. We like the complex over the simple – like spending millions to create a pen that works in zero gravity instead of using a pencil.

  138. It isn’t “mere existence” and it isn’t “pathetic” and SilverRain isn’t as far off as you try to paint her, Steve.

    I spent most of my youth in Las Vegas, where, duh, there is a somewhat public endorsement of gambling. You can’t escape gambling’s effects even if you never go near a casino. Every public decision, from whether this road will get a left-turn signal to whether or not 7-Eleven gets a building permit for that corner, is studied from the point of view of “how will this affect gaming?”

    Even if the potential public effects of endorsing SSM are ones you think are pathetic or trivial or hateful, you really have no grounds for such a glib dismissal of somebody who does think those potential effects are worth thinking about.

  139. Right on, Mike. It really need not be this difficult.

  140. Aaron R. says:

    Mike, just as a bit of context for the civil partnerships situation, I think it is important to remember that from a Mormon point of view civil unions are not necessarily very popular. In fact, I have met some who see them in similar terms to Prop 8, rightly or wrongly. I suspect that if the Church felt there were sufficient numbers over here to make a significant impact upon this decision, when it was being discussed, they might have asked more of the membership.

    For my part, I think it was an excellent move and I am glad that the law is currently in place.

  141. Mike, at #121, I think that is a very similar question.

    During the Huckabee – Romney primary fight, most Mormons thought very poorly of Huckabee. I think it would be fair to say that many Mormons would consider him a “Mormonaphobe”. Why? Were the things he said truly that outrageous? It’s not like the guy would stop by a Mormon bar, tie a Mormon to his truck, and drag him down the highway. Maybe some things he said rubbed people the wrong way, but to use the term “phobe” seems extreme.

    However, from what he’s implied, Huckabee thinks Mormonism is bad. Something to be actively discouraged. Does that make him a “Mormonaphobe”? Mormons would never vote for the guy for fear of what he might legislate. He may know many good Mormons, and even be “friends” with some of them, but since he considers Mormonism bad, we could never trust him.

    I think the LGBT community has the same problem with Mormons, and justifiably so.

    I just think terms like “homophobe” and “misogynist” used to refer to extremists and are now just used for name-calling. There’s no doubt many Mormons are true homophobes, but Antonio didn’t come across that way to me.

  142. Cynthia L. says:

    I’m surprised to see the civil partnerships floated as a solution to all the rancor in the context of a Prop 8 discussion, given that CA had that setup and Prop 8 was just about the marriage. (though admittedly the federal level thing complicates it)

  143. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 141
    Fair enough, Martin. I’ve never particularly liked the term ‘homophobe’ either, although I can’t think of any alternative. How about Folks Against Gays? : )

    re: 142
    The federal issues really are the notty problem at this point, Cynthia; I agree. Many don’t even realize, for example, that gay couples have no immigration rights. There are some incredibly sad stories of families separated because the partners are not both U.S. citizens. This is happening in 2010, in America. So perhaps Antonio, Ardis, et. al. can better understand the anger they get in response to their worries about the “potential effects” of rectifying such obvious injustice. Glib is in the eye of the beholder.

  144. MikeInWeHo says:

    Wait, since we’re all about loving-the-sinner-and-not-the-sin here in the Bloggernacle, how about this:

    Folks Against Gay Sex

    Y’all cool with that?

  145. Mike? FAGS?! That’s awesome. You didn’t just come up with that on the fly…?

  146. 143
    Yes, indeed, we shall call all people hencetoforth referred to as homophobes as F.A. . . . . wait a minute. D’oh!

  147. Eric S. says:

    Hi Mike 101 – I saw your question at the end on this post and I love thinking about that subject. My lay answer is, yes. Intolerance (another word for resistance to the unfamiliar/a perceived threating idea) is a disease that comes bundled in the human condition. It stems from survival mechanisms. It’s the amygdala at it’s best (err, worst). The gospel: this is not a terminal disease! These despicable and illusory “fears/threats” perpetuated by the ego can be overcome through persistent self-awareness and commitment to virtue. That’s the beauty of being an intelligent, self-aware species.

    The fact that we are becoming more aware and conscientious of concepts like tolerance (which would have been silly to suggest as an idea to people even just 300 years ago), suggests we’re evolving towards a more self-aware society, and one free of the illusory fears of ego. The fact that people participate on message boards like this–where they are honestly and sincerely (I think, I guess) committed to understanding viewpoints that may be foreign or previously uncomfortable for them–is a step in the right direction. These boards promote tolerance, at some level, to the extent participants hold a sincere commitment to understanding and even acceptance.

  148. Mark Brown says:

    Let’s remember, the coalition of which we were a part in prop 8 is on record as seeking to roll back civil unions and other rights for gay people.

    It seems to me that the burden of proof should always be on those who want a social change. But arguing, denigrating, protesting, mud-slinging and name calling only serves to make those who don’t want change more certain that they are right: that there is something harmful in that change. Moving to legislate acceptance of a behavior only makes those who don’t accept more entrenched in their opinions, not less.

    That is one way to look at it, SilverRain, but I think that approach often misleads us. How would this approach have applied to school integration, for instance? What about laws forbidding marriage between races?

  149. #135 Steve— it is not indirect endorsement that is threatened, it is direct endorsement. (After all, we already indirectly endorse it in a myriad of ways, depending on who you talk to.) It is not a “pathetic freedom” to vote the way one feels is best nor is it a “pathetic freedom” to have the freedom to use a moral code to dictate your vote.

    And calling it “pathetic” is exactly the sort of denigration I mentioned. I’m not calling it pathetic to want so badly to affix a little label, now am I?

    Mike: I admit to some level of ignorance on this issue. I’m not a naturally politically-inclined person to begin with. I hope you understand that I am not reading this nor commenting on it because I think I know what’s what. Quite the opposite. When all of this started, I was much more inclined to support SSM than I am now, after hearing the different sides and seeing them act. I’m still in the middle on the issue, but it’s a shifting-towards-conservative middle. I would welcome arguments that would help me understand the pro-SSM side a little better.

    I do have a hard time seeing this as a “leave me alone” issue. Change is coming from the pro-SSM side, not the no-SSM side. If it was truly about being left alone, then why agitate for change? That invites the opposite of being left alone.

    I also have difficulty seeing how this is an issue of legal rights. No one, even the Church, is opposed to legal rights, from what I can see, as far as “legal protections . . . inheritance rights” go. From what I understand, it is already possible to gain those rights in other ways. As far as tax benefits, I can see the potential problem, depending on why you think there are tax benefits to marrieds. I have always thought that marrieds get tax benefits because the government has a financial interest in encouraging biological families to stay together (economically, socially, etc.). Those tax benefits would not in theory apply to same-sex partners, as there are no children coming directly from same-sex partnerships. There are children involved, definitely, but they are at best biologically attached to one or the other parent. It’s possible that the state would have similar interests in keeping same-sex partners together, but that has never been explained to me in a way that makes sense.

    And I fully agree with you about the anger, that was part of what I was trying to say.

    And I don’t have any reason to be opposed to legal civil partnerships, so long as it is truly possible to form that legal bond with any adult. And I also see no reason why such a legal bond could not be formed between many adults, just like a similar company set-up.

    Thank you, Ardis! Perhaps that is why I think the way I do. I lived in Vegas for a couple of years, and I’ve lived in Europe for eight. I’ve seen how various laws affect cultural tone. And I appreciate the support. I always feel nervous trying to understand political things because I don’t feel terribly skilled in them, and because my natural inclination is to make everyone happy: a prospect that cannot happen in a country like the USA.

    As someone relatively neutral on this issue, I have to admit that I’ve seen name-calling on both sides, a practice I find unpleasant. I’m beginning to lean against SSM, however, in part because I’ve been attacked far more from pro-SSM than from no-SSM.

  150. How would this approach have applied to school integration, for instance? What about laws forbidding marriage between races?

    From what I understand, it was. The move to enforce school integration and interracial marriages was made after the majority voted for it.

    Some time after, from what I remember, though I’m not that great at history, either.

    Any chance we could all debate what makes good web design or triple fudge cookies some time? I’m good at those. ;)

  151. Mark Brown says:

    SilverRain, you are correct, in most parts of the country school integration was the choice of the majority. But in certain parts of the United States, primarily in the South, integration had to be imposed by federal marshals. The argument at the time was that integration might have unforeseen consequences, so the burden of proof should be on those who favored integration to prove that nothing bad would happen. If we took that approach in every change we made, we would just now be deciding if female suffrage was good or bad.

    Sometimes we need to do what the hymn says — “Do what is right, let the consequence follow”.

  152. MikeInWeHo says:

    “No one, even the Church, is opposed to legal rights, from what I can see, as far as “legal protections . . . inheritance rights” go.”

    Unfortunately, on that point you are clearly incorrect SilverRain.

    re: 145 Yes, Martin. I come up with lots of things on-the-fly, which gets me into trouble at times…..

  153. #149: “Those tax benefits would not in theory apply to same-sex partners, as there are no children coming directly from same-sex partnerships.”

    Tax incentives (benefit) and divorce statutes (disincentive) are designed by government to control resources for caring for dependents (children and, historically, women). That is, prior to such tax incentives and community property laws, men (the ones who historically bring home the survival resources) would simply just up and bail out on women and children and leave them hungry, homeless, etc.

    Governments do not want to have to take care of these dependents or have them wandering around looking for support while the dude is off doing whatever he wants with no consequence and all the resources. All these government created institutions are to create stability and control that formerly didn’t exists because men have historically had almost all of the survival leverage (except for procreation).

    A same-sex marraige with children can have the same issues regarding resources for dependents that a hetero marraige does. If one spouse has become the “bread winner” and bails the other spouse and kids, the government is most likely interested in allocating the departing bread-winner spouse’s survival resources (money) through statutes back to the dependents. The tax incentives are incentives to keep this resource pool unit (family) together. I see no difference from a government and resource-controlling standpoint.

  154. Re MikeInWeHo’s 152,
    Yes–SilverRain, the pews of our chapels are full of people each and every week who are opposed to any form of legal recognition for gays, no matter the issue. I wish it weren’t so, but it is.

  155. Mark—I used the term “burden of proof” not to mean that anyone had to prove that nothing bad would happen. That would be impossible. A better term would have probably been “burden of persuasion”. In other words, rather than calling people bigoted for not immediately changing their minds, a better approach would be to expect that some people would need to be convinced that change would truly be a good thing.

    And that’s just it: both sides are convinced that what they’re doing is right.

    Mike—do you mean that the Church is opposed to legal rights, or that some individuals are? If the latter, although I am certain you are right and a few do, I don’t think they constitute the majority. And I live in an EXTREMELY conservative ward. (I’m the black sheep flaming liberal there.)

    Eric—But that’s just it: there is an objective way for the government to assign responsibility for children: biology. Anything else has tons of legal hoops to jump through (the very thing that constitutes one of the to-me-most-persuasive arguments for homosexual marriage.) In homosexual relationships, by definition at most one of the parents would be a biological parent. There are three main ways I know of that children can come into a homosexual-parent family: from a previous relationship of one of the parents, from artificial insemination, or adoption. With the first, there is already another legally responsible parent, the second those responsibilities have been shifted from biologic to legal bonds (which takes a great deal of paperwork, from what I understand), and the third, which takes a great deal of paperwork and background checks, etc. This means that by definition a homosexual-parent family is more nuanced and complicated than a simple biological tie. It is not legally a simple shift from hetero- to homosexual family dynamics.

    Although, I have heard that there are extensive efforts being made to try to create a homosexually-fertilized zygote. If successful, that, if anything, only complicates things further.

  156. If the latter, although I am certain you are right and a few do, I don’t think they constitute the majority. And I live in an EXTREMELY conservative ward. (I’m the black sheep flaming liberal there.)

    SilverRain,
    I think they probably constitute a very dominant majority. I think you’re really, really not right here.

  157. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 156
    I’ll let SilverRain and Scott fight that out. I’m in no position to describe the current position of the Church, much less the average-member-in-the-pew. The historical track record is abysmal, however. One does get the sense that things are changing in a more liberal direction, as indicated by the Church’s recent support of some non-discrimination ordinance in SLC.

    “…..there are extensive efforts being made to try to create a homosexually-fertilized zygote.” Oh come on! Where on earth do you get your news?

  158. Personally, I think the percent who oppose homosexual civil rights varies quite radically depending on location and the specifics of the proposed legal rights (exactly what “rights” are being proposed). I think it is much higher than SilverRain thinks, based on her ward, and much lower than many supporters of such rights think, based largely on their experiences in Utah or with Prop 8.

    I know many members who are perfetly fine with many legal rights but oppose certain things being seen as rights; I know some who support almost anything except marriage; I know quite a few who would support the re-criminalization of almost any homosexual activity.

    As an institution, I don’t think there is a reasonable argument asserting that the LDS Church is on the more lenient side of this disucssion, but members are all over the board – with fewer at the extremes than most people think, imo.

  159. Sorry, I should have added that I know many who support SSM without qualification. That’s obvious, but I simply forgot to type it in the list.

  160. I think this illustrates that there is a recognition within much of the Church membership (especially outside of areas where everyone is LDS) of the need for personal agency (the freedom to believe slightly or radically different things than others) – even though the natural tendency Mike mentioned to tolerate only those who agree with us rages in the Church just like it does everywhere else around us.

    It’s really hard to allow and not attempt to curtail personal agency; it’s harder to value it fully; it’s harder still to encourage and celebrate it when it takes a form different than what we desire. I understand the need for consequences and laws and restrictions whenever more than one who are not united gather, but we use that need all too often as a bludgeon to avoid having to learn to value others fully, imo.

  161. B.Russ, you are absolutely correct. I hate the poor. I’m prejudiced against them and want to stamp them out. I want there to be no poor whatsoever. I’m a poorophobe. I admit it. I ask all to joing me in getting rid of the poor once and for all.

    SilverRain, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. There are many heterosexual couples who have no biological connection to their children. Are you suggesting that they are somehow less of a family and deserve less tax benefit than those who have biological children?

  162. #156—Well, that’s all subjective, eh?

    #157 Mike—By my educational background in genetic engineering. I know that efforts have been made (perhaps “extensive” was exaggeration, it depends on your outlook).

    Ray—”I don’t think there is a reasonable argument asserting that the LDS Church is on the more lenient side of this disucssion,”

    You mean other than their recent support of the bill in Utah?

    MCQ—No, I’m saying that there are extensive legal hoops to jump through when a non-biological legal responsibility for children is forged.

  163. So what?

  164. SilverRain, I don’t think support of that particular bill can be taken as placing the Church on the more lenient side of this discussion. I am happy they did so, but it doesn’t put us as an institution on the left of the middle with regard to legal rights for homosexuals.

    If that support continues and expands, I will change that statement in the future – but right now . . . right of center is accurate.

  165. Eric S. says:

    #155 – Silverain. Biology is not objective because that assumes (unreasonably I think) that non-biological parents (hetero or homo) lack some sort of parenting capacity (love, care, nurture, provide) that biological parents have. The objective way, from a government perspective, to spread family unit resources is this: 50 – 50 between spouses, alimony for the kids. This does not depend on biology, gender, orientation, age, race, or any metric. It is simply a calculation. Just slice it down the middle at 50-50. By taking biology into account, government would compromise (considering factors that really don’t matter to the bottom line) an otherwise clear cut, impersonal, objective, numeric standard.

    I’m just not convinced there is a reason, through a government’s lens, to draw such distinctions.

  166. SilverRain,

    Don’t the children adopted by gay parents deserve the same benefits and protections that the law affords to children adopted by straight parents?

    This is why the claim that “it’s all about protecting the children” is proved false. Those who are against equal rights for same sex couples put roadblocks in the way of those couples that want to adopt kids, regardless of what good parents they would otherwise be, solely on the basis that they are fearful of the supposedly terrible effect that the couple’s sexual orientation will have on the child.

    This leaves the adoptive child to be adopted by maybe no one, maybe a less loving and less stable couple who just happens to be heterosexual.

    Then if a same sex couple does somehow get children by adoption or some other way, the children and/or dependent spouse are not protected by the divorce laws from being abandoned and uncared for, and they are not allowed the benefits of inheritance or insurance beneficiaries in the case of death.

    How is any of that helping kids? Answer: it’s not. We are not protecting kids from the supposedly scary situation of being raised by same sex parents (because these families are being formed with or without the benefit of marriage) and we are certainly not protecting kids from separation, illness disability or death of their parents and the attendant financial uncertainty.

    If we are serious about protecting kids we should allow and even encourage marriage (or its equivalent) to be a part of the equation in same sex relationships so that all children, regardless of the sexual orientation of their parents, have equal protections and benefits under the law.

  167. Antonio Parr says:

    MCQ – Is this an accurate summation of your position with respect to same-sex marriages/same-sex adoptions?:

    1. Sexual orientation is not a choice;
    2. Since sexual orientation is not a choice, same-sex marriages are every bit as valid/worthwhile as opposite-sex marriages;
    3. Same-sex couples should have the identical right to adopt children as heterosexual couples (i.e., no preference should be granted to either couple by virtue of their sexuality);
    4. A child’s sexual orientation will not be influenced by the sexual orientation of his/her parents;
    5. Even if a child’s future choices with respect to sexual relationships were to somehow be influenced by the sexual orientation of his/her parents, it doesn’t matter, since a person’s decision to pursue a same-sex relationship is every bit as valid/worthwhile as a person’s decision to pursue an opposite sex relationship.

  168. MikeInWeHo says:

    This is where these kind of posts start going round-and-round, and availeth naught.

  169. Cynthia L. says:

    Where’s gst? We need him to perform the ceremonial thread-closing.

  170. Actually, this whole thread reminds me of one of the last couple of episodes of Boston Legal where William Shatner’s character decided to marry James Spader’s character, not because either was gay, but to avoid probate on a substantial estate. When they filed for the marriage license, they were challenged in court by a gay advocacy group on the basis that they were making a “sham of marriage” and “threatening the institution of same sex marriage”. All in all, pretty funny and a rather gentle poke at convoluted logic, some of which has been on display here the last couple of days. I don’t think any of the posts here have been overtly homophobic, just more of a knee jerk reaction and trying to understand the church’s position on this. But then, the original post wasn’t really about SSM, was it?

  171. Eric S. says:

    How about if we sign “Round and Round” by RATT together *heads bouncing*?

  172. Thanks everyone for your contributions. The thread is now closed.

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