Talking About Talking About Stuff

Sometime married people get themselves into a situation that is hard to get out of.  An issue between them — how to raise the kids, how to spend the money, what to do about the future — becomes so contentious and difficult for them to talk about that they both get tired of arguing, throw up their hands,  and give up.  It’s easier in the short run — no more fighting! — but in the meantime the checkbook doesn’t get balanced, the kids don’t get any clear direction, and the future approaches anyway, whether they are prepared or not.

I am a firm believer in the value of taking a break and catching your breath when you don’t appear to be making progress.  Sometimes the best thing you can do with a problem is take it under advisement for a while and hope for a fresh perspective, and   sometimes the things we worry about really do work themselves out.  However, I have learned (through sad experience) that most problems don’t work themselves out, and that progress is often difficult and can only be measured in very small increments.

Which brings us to the point of this post:  the reaction of LDS people to California ballot proposition 8 in 2008.  Last week my friend and co-blogger, Rebecca J, wrote an excellent post wherein she outlined her reasons for wanting to avoid the acrimonious and pointless back and forth that almost inevitably results whenever this issue is raised.  I appreciate her clear-eyed and careful approach, and I agree completely with about 95% of it.  I think she accurately describes our present situation with this sentence:

I see us retreating to our respective camps and hardening our hearts out of pride and emotional necessity.

It is sad to say, but that is where we are, and maybe for now, that is the best we can do. But if that is the best we can ever do, then damn us all to hell. Literally.  Eventually, if we are going to fulfill our calling to become saints, we need to learn how to do better.

I don’t know if the time is right to make an attempt, but I’d like to suggest that it is time to put the what if’s and should have’s and if only’s behind us.  The issue is now in the hands of the judicial system and it will be decided one way or the other, and nothing we say here will have any influence, as if it ever did anyway.  I think we have two problems which are more immediate, and which are problematic for the church, especially the church in California, and that is what I want the remainder of the post and the comments to address.

First, I think we will need to re-work and re-think our understanding of how to determine if something is right or wrong.  The thing that surprised me the most on the day after the election was how little celebration there was among LDS people on the pro 8 side.  Usually when our side wins a tough election there is elation, accompanied with much high-fiveing and the popping of corks on bottles of non-alcoholic sparkling cider.  But in this case there was a palpable sense of relief that it was finally over.  I have family and friends in California, all of them pro 8, and they all had pretty much the same reaction.  They participated in a sort of unpleasant, grim business, necessary, but grim nonetheless.  And now they all feel a sense of ambivalence about it, and some of them even regret and sadness.  They almost all describe their experience working in the campaign as horrible and traumatic, even hellish, and something they wish to never be called upon to do again.  It was a Pyrrhic victory, and it had costs to our people far beyond the millions of dollars we donated.  So how to we process this?  When we teach primary children or new investigators how to follow the spirit, we tell them that if a thing is right, we will experience a sense of peace and calmness.  We also teach that if something is wrong, we will know it by the feeling of unease or confusion we call a stupor of thought.  We need to formulate some kind of satisfactory explanation as to why these good people who did what they deeply felt was the right thing continue to feel so uneasy about it all.

The second problem is of great concern.  I hear reports that many of our wards in California are still fractured and split along lines that developed in the campaign.  One friend described almost with a sense of despair her frustration at the division that prop 8 caused in her ward, her family, and even in her marriage.  If time were going to fix this, I think we would start to see some healing take place by now.    But if the reports I hear are accurate, the opposite is happening.   The divisions continue to deepen and fossilize, creating an even bigger sense of alienation and schism in the body of Christ.  And bear in mind, this is among the people who supported prop 8.

If you have a suggestion as to how rank and file latter-day saints can address these two questions, I want to hear from you in the comments.  Sooner or later we need to learn how to metabolize our differences.  I hope it is sooner rather than later.

Comments

  1. I will always be grateful that I didn’t live in California in 2008. I don’t have a problem with the church taking a position on the issue, but I was deeply uncomfortable with the level of involvement, or more specifically, with how members were pressured to get involved and contribute financially; I felt it went way beyond what was appropriate. I don’t know how to fix things now, but I guess it was already obvious that I’m at a loss here.

  2. Larry the Cable Guy says:

    Regarding your first point, I think that there is perhaps more retrospective glumness about our Prop 8 efforts than was indeed the case during the campaign itself. Those little spiritual boosts that usually accompany and direct our good efforts have had nearly two years to be replaced by post-election contention and the realization that the monumental effort was in reality just a finger in the dike.

    I think that politics is one of the last places you would expect to cultivate the fruits of the spirit. Where that healing needs to take place is in a context far removed from homosexuality, judges, donations, ect. Being shoulder to shoulder at the local HS game, packing boxes at the Bishop’s Storehouse, pitching in on an Eagle project, having the neighbors and/or members over for dessert and a board game are a few of my personal remedies for getting over bruised feelings in the past.

    As long as the ward and online discussions continue to be dialed in to this particular frequency, I think we’ll hear plenty of static.

  3. “We need to formulate some kind of satisfactory explanation as to why these good people who did what they deeply felt was the right thing continue to feel so uneasy about it all.”

    Maybe if the right thing was done in the wrong way? I am still at odds with myself about what the right thing regarding prop 8 is, so I can’t answer my question. I imagine some people in California were equally unsure. When you’re not certain that what you’re doing is right, it’s hard to fight for it in the right way.

  4. Larry the Cable Guy says:

    OK, rather than totally diss your premise of being able to discuss the matter in a civil and productive way, let me say it another way.

    Historically, the church hasn’t tried to be on the public stage full-time on stuff like this. Seems like it pops up once or twice a decade, if that, and in the meantime we keep all of our other balls in the air. If we can dial down the prop 8 stuff to a ratio that is more in line with what our church would typically emphasize, we might make some progress.

    I understand the frustration though, that it WAS the church that decided to ramp things up and in so doing undermined some of the concepts and involvement that tend to more cohesiveness.

  5. Mark Brown says:

    Karen, I’ve wondered that same thing.

    It is my understanding that in some wards the bishop read the letter encouraging the saints to get involved once over the pulpit and that was it. In other wards it became all prop 8, all the time, every Sunday, all three meetings. Who know what the best approach might have been? The only thing we know for sure is that the institutional church, unintentionally to be sure, inflicted wounds upon its own members. And it is ironic that a measure that was intended to strengthen families also caused some weakness and division and additional stress to LDS families.

  6. Mark Brown says:

    Larry tCG, I agree with your suggestions and think they would apply very well to almost every situation. They probably apply here as well, but there is there is the additional complication of church involvement. This division didn’t just happen, it was a result of the way we framed the question of our participation. If this is an apocalyptic struggle in which the future of civilization hangs in the balance (and in many cases, that is precisely how it was presented) then you need to pick your side. When the election is over, it is hard to go back to the way it was before. There was real pain and real damage done over this, even among supporters of the measure. At a minimum, I think we need to acknowledge that.

  7. I think deep down, perhaps even subconsciously or on an unconscious spiritual level, many of us sense that this whole gay issue is one of the long-feared terrible dividers of the last days. It’s a biggie, in terms of how it will affect our standing and relations in the world over the next few decades, as the “world” becomes more and more pro-gay and less and less tolerant of those who resist. I’m certain that within the near to medium future, Mormons will be back to nineteenth-century status in society, because of this issue and perhaps others that become bundled with it.

    So the unease we feel in doing what we know is right is similar to the unease one might feel before undergoing a series of chemotherapy. We know it’s the right thing, the necessary thing, but we certainly dread and fear it because it is hard. It’s a small version of the dread the Savior felt when he had to take the bitter cup for a greater good.

    By resisting the gay movement and gay marriage, Mormons are taking a bitter cup that will have major repercussions for us over time. But it must be done; we must uphold God’s ways as long as possible and persuade as many of our fellow countrymen as well to resist this “cancer” of confusion, permissiveness, etc. represented by the gay movement and related gender- and family-destroying efforts in our society.

    Over time, this issue will cause a colossal split inside the church as those who can’t stick with the church’s position peel off and go the world’s way on it. It will also put the church itself back into the dog house. Deep down, we know this, and having to take steps to stand up for what’s right is thus extremely difficult and will continue to get more difficult as this issue ripens and festers and metastasizes.

    This is the big one, or at least one of them. The underlying feeling in the air, I believe, whether people consciously realize or admit it yet or not, is that we’re leaving the twentieth-century eye of the storm and getting back into the real storm of the latter-days. Hopefully it will take at least 20-30 years to play out to the degree that Mormons will be back to the nineteenth century situations of persecution and prosecution, but it could be sooner. Hundreds of thousands will leave the church over it, if not millions. Society will eventually spit out the “bigoted” Mormons, and then it will collapse. This dynamic is all very clear in the Book of Mormon, which is nothing if not a warning of what will befall this continent again before the Savior’s Second Coming. When the nation that inhabits the Promised Land of America stops serving God, it will be swept away. Enabling gay sex in any way is clearly not serving God, and crossing this line is a clear indication that our society is on the fast-track to turning completely away from God and toward hedonism, secularism, etc. The separating and winnowing forces are already clearly at play and will only gain force and strength.

    We may still be in the latter days today, but pretty soon I think we’ll all be able to agree, at least those of us who stay in the church, that we’ve crossed the line into the real LAST days. That’s the feeling in the air: it’s getting closer and coming faster, and watching the society embrace gay marriage is a more blatant sign than anything to date of where it’s all going to end up.

  8. Mark Brown says:

    Christopher, well, that is certainly one possibility. Another one might be that we are in a situation similar to the one before the 1890 Manifesto. Our prophet was inspired to change direction on an issue for which hundreds of our people had been sentenced to prison. I have confidence that the church isn’t going to die on this hill and that our leaders will be able to find a way that will allow the church to continue to do its necessary work.

  9. Mark Brown says:

    And seriously, Christopher. I know you have strong feelings on this topic, but it really is difficult for a reader to tell whether it is your honest reaction or whether it something you would write for the Sugar Beet.

  10. Comparisons to either the racial issue or the polygamy issue don’t work for me. In my most humble personal opinion, anyone who sees any possibility for Mormonism ever to accommodate gay marriage like it gave up polygamy and the ban on priesthood for blacks really doesn’t understand Mormon theology or isn’t fully converted to it. Polygamy is obviously something that comes and goes upon the earth at God’s command, and race is in no way comparable to one’s declared “gender” or “sexual orientation,” the causes of which are so different from person to person and do absolutely include elements of environment, temptation, and, yes, choice as to what impulses one inwardly entertains and what behavior one participates in.

    I don’t think it’s the church that will die over this; I think it’s American society itself, eventually, and by extension the whole modern civilization, prior to the Second Coming. Obviously, the church will survive and do all the work the Lord wants it to do, and no doubt much more great work will be done even here in the Promised Land before things get too bad. But eventually, we know that it will all fall apart, and the things we’re seeing now are signs that it’s accelerating. Or do you not believe the prophecies, or do you think they are many more centuries away and all this gay stuff will somehow just blow over like polygamy and race largely did?

    So I see the conflict you identity as evidence that people sense this dynamic deep down. Many members are genuinely confused by their compassion for those who have made it known that they face the gay dilemma and really, really, really want to live a gay life. Many others are deep down fearful of the pain they know they will feel from society’s pressure on Mormons to get on board with social progress and put aside their bigotry. Oh, it’s going to be hard.

    So with all these pressures and confusions, of course you’re going to have intra-church stress and squabbling. People want to keep life good and nice and want everybody to be “happy.” So many people are going to have to decide whether to swallow their fears and their confusions and stay on the Mormon train, or get off. That’s the tension that’s really going on here.

    It’s possible that the church may just go silent on this issue for PR purposes, and that may buy us some more time of relative good will. But gays are not going to stop at getting marriage rights. They and their supporters are eventually going to attempt to force all public and private institutions to fully embrace and celebrate gayness, and the church will have to resist then or lose its very identity. This is not all that far down the road. We will soon be in as much trouble with society over gays as we would be today if we still denied the priesthood to blacks. But sorry, we will not be able to change to plan of salvation to accommodate gayness. And by then, I think we’ll see plenty more signs that American civilization isn’t going to survive forever, as God withdraws his blessings and protections from a nation who chooses to go against him.

  11. Peter LLC says:

    Comparisons to [...] the racial issue [...] don’t work for me.

    Fair enough.

    We will soon be in as much trouble with society over gays as we would be today if we still denied the priesthood to blacks. But sorry, we will not be able to change to plan of salvation to accommodate gayness.

    Hmm. Are you suggesting we were able to change the plan of salvation to accommodate blackness, but that lines will be drawn in the sand at gayness?

  12. Peter, I don’t really understand the race issue that well or feel compelled to argue about it like I do about the gay issue, but I think that changing the plan of salvation to accommodate gayness would involve MUCH bigger and more fundamental alterations to key doctrines, etc. than neutralizing the statements of individual G.A.s on race. Like, that God himself could also be gay. Because the sole purpose of the plan of salvation is to get us home to god and make us more like him, so if you say gay is OK, you have to say God could be gay. And if you can say that, good luck to you. There are no classes of his children that are authorized in taking an alternative path that gets them somewhere where God himself could not or would not go.

    This is what I mean about not fully understanding or accepting Mormon theology, which if you don’t, that’s fine for you, but I do, so that’s how I argue it. And this is why we’re squabbling in our congregations, because some see a threat to Mormon theological identity, and others see a threat to Mormon social identity. To me, social = Babylon.

  13. Mark Brown says:

    Christopher, I take it that you think there is nothing that can be done to help our church recover, and that it is all downhill from here. OK, we disagree.

    Again I ask that you entertain the possibility that there is a certain unhinged, over-the-top quality to your comments that is more appropriate for parody or satire. That isn’t meant to demean you, but to inform you that a disinterested party might have a hard time discerning what you are up to.

  14. I think you’re right that part of the discomfort stems from the unprecedented level of institutional Church involvement in particular US political issues. People might reasonably ask what other political issues will be the target of massive spending, and in what other areas their political views and activities will be controlled and directed, now that this precedent has been set. I think people are right to be uneasy about this, regardless of their views on any particular issue.

  15. Mark,
    As we talked about last weekend in SLC, my experience in California during 2008 working to help pass Prop 8, despite serious reservations about both the measure itself and our involvement, was nothing short of traumatic both emotionally and spiritually. I found myself at odds with virtually everyone in my ward–both those in favor of passage and those opposed to it. The divisions between myself and my fellow parishioners–whether they are only in my mind or real–are enormous for me and continue to this day, 2 years later.

    I have found that the only thing that helps is to follow precisely what Larry the Cable Guy said in #2: Service, rendered side-by-side with the same ward members I have such a difficult time relating to during Sunday school. Helping people move, cleaning the chapel, and babysitting during RS activities has done more to heal my soul than anything else, and I expect that it will always be that way.

  16. Mark Brown says:

    Also, Christopher, your claim that anyone who disagrees with you either doesn’t understand or doesn’t believe Mormon theology is, well, kind of crazy. As in mod queue crazy.

  17. “And now they all feel a sense of ambivalence about it, and some of them even regret and sadness.”

    They could feel this way because the cause was ultimately unjust. They may also feel this way simply because of the public reaction. Mormons, more than most groups, want people to love us.

    We’re fed primary stories from an early age about how if we do the right thing, people will respect us. Before the Mitt Romney thing, I think most of us felt that although the rest of the world might think we’re weird, they still admired our faith and values. Ouch. Talk about disillusionment.

    I think it may be the same with prop 8. Most pro-prop 8 LDS demonstrators felt they were acting out of principle, when they were depicted as acting out of hate. Didn’t work out like the primary stories. We don’t like people thinking we’re haters.

    Add paying the price in goodwill to the inevitability of losing in the end, and “God’s people” aren’t feeling too sure of themselves.

  18. I very much agree with Christopher. I have a similar sense of the future as he does. I do not see a way to accomodate “the world” on this issue given our scriptures and theology. So we will either follow the world and most likely if we go this path we will schism in a deep and meaningful way or we will hunker down and the schism will still be there but it will be an individual at a time who chooses to follow “the world”.

    I also think this is the deep unease that we feel. I feel it to. Its not over prop 8 specifically its over what I feel coming in the not so distant future. I think we will look back at the 1960-2004 period as a high point in American acceptance of Mormons

  19. anon for this says:

    #2:

    Where that healing needs to take place is [...] Being shoulder to shoulder at the local HS game, packing boxes at the Bishop’s Storehouse, pitching in on an Eagle project, having the neighbors and/or members over for dessert and a board game are a few of my personal remedies for getting over bruised feelings in the past.

    CA resident and (reluctant) prop 8 supporter here. I am one of those who to this day feels despair over the fractures this caused within our ward, within my immediate and extended family (we’re all faithful LDS but with widely divergent views on it), and between the church and everyone else I know.

    I (barely) survived the rancor, hard work/exhaustion, and non-stop prop8ness at church during the campaign by clinging to the hope that it would eventually end. I held to the belief that it would be like you say—that after it was over, all I would have to do would be to diligently apply myself to church, family and community, and eventually the pain would be forgotten and things would at least mostly go back to normal. THEY HAVEN’T. Not for my family, not for my ward, not for my friends and their views of our church. Ignoring it and putting my shoulder to the wheel, even redoubling my efforts, while it sort of works in the moment, has utterly failed to heal the underlying wounds.

  20. Mark Brown says:

    bbell, for all I know, you are correct. My question is, what do we do in the meantime with people in our church like comment # 19? For people who have covenanted to bear one another’s burdens, I think we have to come up with something besides “tough luck, it’s the last days”.

  21. It’s interesting that the decision to be heavily involved in Prop 8 happened while evangelical groups are reported to be decreasing their intense involvement in right-wing politics. What is the appropriate lesson to draw from the experience of Falwell et al., now that the second generation of leaders are turning away from that approach?

  22. Latter-day Guy says:

    7, 10, 12:

    Well, at least you’re not being, you know, alarmist or anything.

    So the unease we feel in doing what we know is right is similar to the unease one might feel before undergoing a series of chemotherapy. We know it’s the right thing, the necessary thing, but we certainly dread and fear it because it is hard.

    For some of us, the unease is much more attributable to not knowing that “it’s the right [or] necessary thing.” Even if we don’t think the Church can change its position on homosexuality (which I’m not at all sure of), the matter of how we should try to influence the realm of secular law is another thing altogether. C.S. Lewis makes an interesting point, germane to this conversation:

    Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question––how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mohammedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp… [emphasis mine]

    A canny man, that Lewis.

    It’s a small version of the dread the Savior felt when he had to take the bitter cup for a greater good.

    I am a bit bemused by the notion that Prop 8 is the example par excellence of emulating Jesus.

    But to each his own… (unless, of course, I don’t happen to like yours, in which case I’ll do my damnedest to prohibit it by dint of legislation).

  23. Although I was not in CA in 2008, I’ve had the opprotunity to get to know San Francisco and a ward within it this past year.
    First, let me say that I have never been so embarrassed in my life as when I registered at an emergency room this year in SF. I purposely omitted my religious affiliation knowing I was in contact with my VT (who works in the very same hospital). But, the ER visit turned into a pre-admittance for surgery visit. The visibly gay nurse intake nurse just wanted to make sure my religion was taken care of for surgery and to tell him I was Mormon felt so very very wrong. Everyone, including my nonmember husband, was super embarrassed.

    The story above is the reality of being LDS in SF. Obviously Prop 8 caused a great deal of hurt within the ward, but perhaps in a bit of a unique way due to the location/liberal composition.

    First, there were several gay members in good standing that have removed themselves from formal activity. Just too painful to come to sacrament meeting or teach Sunday school anymore. But they are very much missed.

    Many flat out choose not to participate in pro-prop 8 stuff; some quietly (and in some cases not so quietly) spoke out against the party line. It seems the local leadership honored that position by turning their heads. There is now some sense of admiration for those who were courageous enough to say no.

    So while the schism in the ward itself wasn’t as awful as it could have been, other lasting effects remain. It has been difficult in a ward where the actual impacts of Prop 8 were very real to many people to post prop 8 balance the local community- LDS and otherwise – with the greater LDS community. For instance, those anti Prop 8 members have struggled to understand where – if it even exists – their place is in the greater church, particularly as they’ve gone out of their way to maintain friendships with the gay members. These same members also continually struggle to maintain their anti Prop 8 position with their (usually out of state) family.

    Another element of this particular ward that is interesting is how those who are battle scarred from prop 8 view the new members (primarily transient grad program couples). There is a sense in the ward that the newbies just don’t understand and fear that they may not respect the truce within the ward; when a new person brings up a prop 8 issue, most of the old timers almost visibly cringe.

  24. Mark Brown says:

    Nicole, you bring out something that I am just beginning to realize. Those of us who didn’t live in California at the time really don’t understand what it was like to be there, and how crazy it was. For many of us it was an abstract proposal, but the people in CA really took a beating

    It is hard for to blame people for taking a sabbatical from church when every single meeting is is about prop 8.

  25. Other Scott says:

    Just gotta say Chris’s #7 is completely awesome. No one I know has summed up these things so well. Thank you!

  26. Mark Brown says:

    And it has been almost two years now. The idea that there is still and uneasy, unspoken truce in our wards is just unspeakably sad.

  27. It is sad. I’ve heard many people explicitly express anger and despair at the church’s Prop 8 position not due to the position itself (although that comes up often) but at the hurt it brought to the ward family.

  28. And to underscore this silent truce, there was a lot of chatter about last weeks court ruling on various list serves associated with the ward (which, honestly, I think grew out of the camps of Prop 8) but I heard not one word uttered during the three hour block last Sunday. I suppose this is a good thing – everyone wants to respect Sunday as a space to worship. But it is very telling as to how badly hurt all sides are.

  29. Mark,
    That is right–While I appreciate many of the thoughts and conversations I have had with many people, I always leave virtually every conversation with non-Cali folks feeling like they just don’t quite get it. Perhaps it’s because of my flawed ability to describe it.

  30. Cynthia L. says:

    Amen on non-California people not getting it. A-men.

  31. Mark Brown says:

    Scott/Cynthia/Nicole, part of my reason for posting this is so that the people who actually went through it and are living with the consequences could help us understand. It is one thing for me to pontificate about an issue when I have no skin in the game, but you guys were getting worked over every day. Thank you for your contributions.

    Everybody, I’m going to be shutting down comments in about 30 minutes. If you have something to say, please do it now.

  32. I don’t really want to get into my own feelings about Prop 8, but I will say that for me one of the most disheartening things about the whole situation was that although I can honestly accept that the leaders of the Church who spearheaded this did so out of a sincere sense of duty and not out of hate, I must also recognize that some of the enthusiasm of Church members’ response was indeed out of hatred. In my Utah County ward, it seemed to give ward members license to spit out the words “The GAYS” with even more derision than before. When they asked for volunteers to man phone banks, the eyes flashed and the hands shot up–and I thought to myself “Oh dear, you really think Bro. So-and-So is going to stick to script?! Of course not! He’s going to launch into a spittle-flecked tirade about THE GAYS!” (Sure enough; that idea ended up being a disaster, and was ended almost before it started.) I thought I might have been projecting this, but then I noticed how conspicuously silent Church members have been in response to repeated calls from the brethren to take a more compassionate tack on the immigration issue; certainly no calls to walk any picket lines or call any legislators.

    Moreover, it has been painful for me personally because I’m having a hard time helping my children see local leaders and teachers as credible. Church members in our ward told horrible tales of the dangerous gays. And my kids, who had moved to Utah not long before, were surely thinking to themselves “Wait? Those two friends of dad’s from work, the guys that take in foster babies the state had to take away from drug addict moms, those are the bad guys? Uncle X’s neighbors who helped him clean out his basement during that flood–those guys are dangerous?” In short: if you know some decidedly non-dangerous gay couples, it’s really hard to process the message that gay couples are a danger to society.

    I don’t want to engage with Christopher’s tirades, except to say this. When the Church recently released it’s statement “The Mormon Ethic of Civility,” I noticed something very interesting. It discusses the cycle of prosperity, pride, and downfall in the Book of Mormon, and it points to one single cue that most consistently marks the corruption of a society. Sexual perversions? Nope. Political shifts? Nope. The most consistent indicator of a corrupt society, according to that statement, is a lack of civility. And when I listen to the hatred with which my ward members speak of The Gays, or The Illegals (or The Socialist Obama, or The Heretic Reid, etc.), and when I hear the praise they heap on divisive and decidedly uncivil figures like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, I can’t help but think that yeah, maybe these are the last days…

  33. Although I disagree with the church’s involvement in Prop 8 and in Prop 8 itself, I cannot conclude that Christopher’s comments in #7 are an inaccurate portrait of the church’s teachings. It does seem to me that the church teaches that both sexes are essential to salvation and that gay marriage is incompatible with the plan of salvation. The difficulty for me is with what the church teaches and with our inability to grapple with the issue–not Christopher’s characterization of it.

  34. It seems like such a simple matter. We just need the brethren to reconsider what it seems they’ve taken to be a this and that issue (the construct of marriage) and to seek and carefully follow the spirit’s promptings as the truth unfurls. Kind of like they have done with other issues we know of. Then they need to act upon it. Those who blindly follow will be following them following the spirit, at least until the next big archaic doctrine or practice that arose in haste and ignorance in the past (maybe a male-dominated priesthood?) comes to the forefront to be improved. We see through a glass darkly. With patience and love, we’ll all get to more clarity. It took us a long, long time as followers of Christ with a multitude of other issues and slow changes to get where we are, hopefully in a more loving place. There’s no need for a schism or for damning people left and right in the process.

  35. To clarify, I disagree with Christopher. But I think his views are probably mainstream for Mormons.

  36. Mark Brown says:

    Ok, thank you for your participation, everybody.

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