Why Mormons Should Be Hopeful Gay Marriage Won’t Tear The Church Apart

December is traditionally the time for Oscar-bait dramas but this year they’ve been upstaged by a 43-year-old federal judge. Judge Shelby was confirmed to the United States District Court for the District of Utah on the recommendation of Senator Orrin Hatch. He enjoyed support of Tea Party favorite Senator Mike Lee who endorsed him as “pre-eminently qualified” and predicted he would be an “outstanding judge”.

On Friday, only a little more than a year and a few months after being confirmed to the bench, Shelby struck down Utah’s law banning same-sex marriage. Depending on your politics you might view Shelby’s opinion as one of the best heel turns ever executed–up there with the moment Andre the Giant challenged Hulk Hogan to the title in WrestleMania III. [1] If you lean left Shelby looks like the second coming of David Souter following Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Utahns (and a good part of the nation) have sat on the edge of their seats obsessing over the legal maneuvering and by turns celebrating and despairing. As far as drama goes, this one has had it all. The ruling itself on Friday. A motion to stay the ruling and Judge Shelby’s denial on Monday. An appeal to the 10th Circuit to stay the ruling and another denial on Christmas Eve. A promise of an appeal for a stay to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But as interesting as the legal drama has been, the personal drama has been even more compelling. Shortly after the ruling was announced a determined couple, Michael Ferguson and Seth Anderson, were rushing to the clerk’s office, got stuck in traffic and then dashed through the streets to be the first to get hitched. By Monday a majority of county clerks were issuing marriage licenses while a minority, notably in Utah County, continued to withhold them. Hundreds of gay couples have followed Mr. Ferguson and Mr. Anderson and received state recognition of their union.

My email box and Facebook feed is full of reactions. There are pictures of weddings and of joyful faces. There are photos of embraces, kisses and supportive family and friends. There are couples who have solemnized their commitment before society and the state proudly displaying their marriage certificates. There are also pictures of the Mormon church’s The Family: A Proclamation To The World and links to editorials decrying judicial tyranny. There is a state senator calling the changes in law a massacre of traditional marriage and morality.  There are sincere expressions of concern about the direction our society is heading. Lurking over the whole thing, of course, is the irony of a people welded together by their ancestors’ practice of polygamy fighting about what marriage is about.

Apart from the satisfaction of seeing my own policy preferences prevail, the thing that strikes me as hopeful about the last few days is that everyone, for or against state-sanctioned gay marriage, is talking about it. Because so many people in Utah are related and connected by our Mormon heritage, and because we go to church every Sunday and sit together for three hours, and because this week is Christmas and families are gathering anyway, we are, for or against, talking about gay marriage together. The last few days have felt exactly like a family argument where feelings run high but you know your love for one another will remain no matter how crazy you make each other.

The place gay people should have in our society and the legal rights accorded them are among the great issues of our time. It is good for the populace to have a conversation about them. It is even better when the conversation is had not just in magazines and newspapers or among like-minded people, but among a divided citizenry, preferably face to face in churches and family rooms where you are reminded of the ties that bind. Mormonism’s unique demography and social structure with an assist from the calendar have resulted in a largely civil discourse on an important civic matter. The last few days have made me hopeful that wherever we end up as a church, we will arrive as a people.

[1] In professional wrestling “heels” are the bad guys and “faces” are good guys. Faces are usually crowd favorites but may suddenly become heels as story line unfolds. This is known as a heel turn.

Comments

  1. “Because so many people in Utah are related and connected by our Mormon heritage, and because we go to church every Sunday and sit together for three hours, and because this week is Christmas and families are gathering anyway, we are, for or against, talking about gay marriage together. The last few days have felt exactly like a family argument where feelings run high but you know your love for one another will remain no matter how crazy you make each other.”

    Maybe for some people. For others though, there has been a moratorium placed on all such discussions so as to keep total peace and happiness (or the look thereof) in the home. I like your way better. Feels healthier.

  2. Couldn’t post a comment before, and so, as usual with me, it turned into a long-winded post. Very short version: I hope you’re right, Mathew, but I’m not holding my breath.

    http://inmedias.blogspot.com/2013/12/contentious-christmas-arguments-in-utah.html

  3. Really, if you’re talking epic heel turns you’ve gotta mention Hulk Hogan joining the nWo :P

  4. Times change. They always have. They always will. The question is: Can we identify the fundamentals, the very basics of our faith, our beliefs, our hopes and apply them to these changes so that we 1) do not loose faith, belief and hope and 2) reconcile our meager understandings to keep pace with these changes without compromising those basics, realizing that with respect to some of what we think are basics, we might have been wrong?

    The list of topics over which we struggle grows longer: universality of priesthood, the roll of family and gender in all of its fascits, the roll of the faithful in enduring the struggle of war [we have yet to really address this one, but Pope Francis just did!] and so forth.

    In the articles and comments we have recently read, we see this struggle to reconcile going on. Some have yet to “give in” and be lead to making a reexamination. For those of us who for one reason or another have already walked through this process a time or two before, we can only hope that others will be as successful as have we. For we have come to realize that for all of us, more struggles lay ahead.

    Good luck, all ye who labor and are heavily burdened. We wish you the best. Know that there is light at the end of these paths. And if you wish some help with going forward through this struggle to hold on to that iron rod, consider fasting and prayer. That worked well for Joseph Smith, Jr. And know this, too. We were sent here by our Creator to struggle and by and through those struggles, to become more like Him.

  5. “with an assist from the calendar….”

    Not to mention the AG’s office. That’s an epic in itself. From this morning’s Daily Herald:

    “The Attorney General’s Office is working to prepare the appeal to the Supreme Court on the 10th circuit’s denial of a stay. Due to the necessity of coordination with outside counsel the filing of the appeal may be delayed for a few days. It is the intent of the Attorney General’s Office to file with the Supreme Court as soon as possible.”

  6. Marriage is not a right without conditions. We still deny marriage “rights” to all types of individuals, based on our notions of morality, what constitutes “marriage”, and what’s best for society and perhaps even what’s best for those who might otherwise claim the marriage right for their arrangement as well.

    To claim it’s an equal right that must be administered to same sex couples really is a stretch, but it’s widely acknowledged the only way not to be a bigot on this issue is to stretch both logic and reason.

    Marriage has always had a man and woman at the foundation. For a large group of the population, we will -NEVER- get away from that foundation. Eventually (already!), you and your political allies will start relying more and more heavily on the heavy hand of the state to force others into agreement with you. But like myself and others, we will not consider a same sex union marriage, and we will not support it.

    I have no intention of being a jerk in conversation who feels the need to interrupt, “but your relationship is not really a ‘marriage’ in the traditional sense” as long as others around me don’t force a response or acquiescence out of me and others, but I worry that will be done too.

    If “history” keeps marching in this direction, I and many others will no doubt be teaching our children and grand children that a large portion of our population is tragically deceived on what a real marriage is. Certainly, it’s much more than just a woman and a man, but that will always be the biological foundation. There may be exceptions and we can acknowledge disagreement on this issue, but it’s not something “we” will ever support.

    This is so much more than the terrible racial prejudices of last year. Do not expect the issue to die quietly, but bitterly like that racist uncle we all imagine…

  7. Well, at least the losers in Utah are better losers than the ones in California. When the prop 8 decision was handed down, the losers turned to rioting, vandalism, fake anthrax letters and other destructive behaviors. The current losers in Utah just grumble–which is a lot more civilized.

  8. Lonicera,
    Your comment demonstrates an astounding intellectual (im)maturity to divide this issue into winners and losers. You’re a winner and enlightened, while those who disagree are losers and bigots.

  9. I can’t see how any of this would “tear the church apart”. The vast majority of Mormons still oppose legalizing gay marriage so if anything it will give most Mormons something to commiserate about. And the Church’s law of chastity is not changing so gay sex is still expressly forbidden in the church under any circumstances.

    Hopefully Mormons who are thrilled with the court decision can avoid gloating and taunting and those who aren’t can avoid losing their tempers at their political adversaries.

  10. doctordoctorstein2013 says:

    Most uncharitable, Lonicera. If by “losers” you mean Californians who opposed Prop 8, then only a tiny percentage misbehaved. Your statement makes about as much sense as saying, “When the 1890 Manifesto was announced, the Mormons responded by moving to Mexico and doubling down on polygamy.”

  11. DonQ – I honestly don’t care much whether you consider the marriages of same sex couples to be “as legitimate” as marriages between a man and a woman. As a member of the church who has been married to someone with dark brown skin, and twice divorced and remarried, I know that many Mormons consider my third marriage to not be as good as their first marriage. There is gossip, whispers, and while annoying, that kind of prejudice, is people thinking less of me, which I cannot control. I can’t stop that the gossip gets back to my children, who are hurt by it. It’s not great, but there isn’t a civil right to having people like you or agree with your decisions. I’m okay with that, and when I think it might help, I occasionally share the reasons behind the breakup of my marriages. Mostly, I don’t. I simply want to be left alone to love my husband, build a strong, loving, happy relationship, that models for my children, what mutual respect, love and support look like. When I talk to my gay and lesbian friends, most don’t care whether people are *talking* badly about them, they are trying to change the systematic denial of civil rights to them, and their children.

    While a good percentage of people in my ward may think my marriage is “less than” theirs in many ways, my marriage has exactly the same legal standing under the law. I have the same rights in a courtroom, hospital and when I file my taxes, as someone who has only been married once. I don’t put a lot of energy into arguing with those who are sure that they are better than me because they are currently married to their first spouse, and I honestly hope that their marriages is as good behind closed doors, as it is displayed at church. Whether they are happy at home or not, as a married couple, they have rights and privileges in society. All heterosexual, married couples, no matter how many times one or both partners were previously married, and then divorced, from someone else. I think that *marriage equality* is the right terminology. It doesn’t need to be marriage sameness, just equal.

    So, be as “right” about your beliefs as you want and need to be. Teach your children what you believe. Just don’t deny basic human rights, to families that don’t look like yours. In this case, that means letting homosexuals marry, and have the same legal rights as I do with my 3rd husband, who I have not been sealed to. I’m sure you think that your temple sealing is better than our civil marriage. I’m not asking you to change your opinion about which is *the best* kind of marriage, I would just ask you not to punish those who disagree with you. They aren’t hurting your marriage, or your family, so why hurt theirs?

  12. My primary hope is that members on each side of this issue can allow for those with whom they disagree to be sincere in their disagreement and still be “good members”. I hope the resounding response moving forward, from all, is more praying for others (and not just that they change) and doing good to others (in very practical ways) and less condemnation and divisiveness.

    I think this will test our Christianity in ways that few other issues can – and I say that about all of us, not just people on one side of this issue or the other.

  13. Julia,
    I must confess, I have no idea what you are talking about with regards to your marriage and looking down on it, and I would be surprised to learn that others give it much thought either. I’ll take your word for it that such and such was said, but please also keep in mind sometimes we humans put our foots in our mouth and say things we don’t really mean to. That issue is entirely aside from what constitutes marriage in my eyes, many of my fellow citizens eyes, in history, and in God’s eyes.

    As far as talking badly about others, I don’t believe I’m doing that unless you consider the judgement that others are tragically mistaken to constitute “talking badly”. I’ve been called a loser, presumed to uncharitably judge your marriage as inferior, and presumed to deny civil rights as well as hurt other families.

    It’s not surprising, but always saddening to see many on the wrong side of an issue not only willfully refusing to understand the other side, but casting their very own perceptions of their own failings upon others. It happens time and again, that I start to wonder if that old schoolyard advice Mothers give their children that, “he’s only being a bully because he’s insecure” or “he’s only calling you stupid because he’s worried you’re smarter than him”, etc. is being reflected beneath the surface among some adults.

    The point of my comment was basically to say, the issue won’t go away. It won’t die off like institutionalized racism has, and the thrust of the title of this post is probably too premature. I do actually worry that in the coming decade or so, we will see main torn away from the church as they presume they’ve “evolved” and the church and their fellow members should just evolve with them.

    If this is the degree of charity you have to those who disagree on an issue that even the President himself disagreed with you (or didn’t have the courage to say so) up until recently, imagine the vitriol 10+ years from now.

  14. forwardjoe says:

    I am also confused by the premise of this post. Isn’t a very solid majority of the LDS membership against legalizing gay marriage? Isn’t the entirety of the church leadership? Haven’t the last few conferences kind of entrenched the church’s position on this and related issues? Granted, it is just my perspective, but it seems to me that the Bloggernacle is the only place that could be torn apart.

  15. I would love to hear how one who feels this legality change is the correct and constitutional thing do to rationalizes this with their support of the Prophet and Apostles and their teachings. How do you rationalize the legality while, presumably, raising your hand to the square that these are prophets, seers and revelators? Do you accept the Proclamation TO THE WORLD on the Family as doctrine, or just a really nice suggestion? I do not see the church being torn apart over this, but I do see a number of my more liberal acquaintances distancing them from the church. I remember being taught when I was young to stay close to the Prophet. I feel that is excellent council today.

  16. Christian J says:

    NCViking, I reconcile it the same way I reconcile my support of alcohol legalization.

  17. forwardjoe says:

    Christian J. & all,

    I think that some on my side of this issue (opposition to SSM) see support for the legalization of SSM as the same as supporting same-sex marriage in our religion. Do you think that is correct? If so, would it be accurate to say that most LDS people who support legalizing same-sex marriage would stop short of wanting to incorporate it into our religion? Or is that incorrect?

  18. Christian J says:

    Also, NCViking, how one “feels” about this issue doesn’t seem to be relevant to anything related to sustaining Church leaders. In fact, I’m certain that most of the Mormons in Utah who feel that this ruling is wrong, will also do nothing substantial to carry that opposition beyond their own brains. Are they also complicit?

  19. NCViking, there are a whole lot of things I support over the pulpit for myself and fellow congregants that I don’t support as legislation for everyone. There also are a whole lot of things that I would support if legislated properly that I don’t support when legislated poorly. Finally, I support nothing that is not applied across the board equally – or that I could not support if enacted with the exact same reasoning in a situation that is directed “against” me.

    I sustain and support our church leadership fully, as prophets, seers, revelators and apostles of the Lord, Jesus Christ. I simply believe that there is no solid legal argument available **in the context of our current society and, ironically, our own Mormon history** to forbid same-sex marriage. From a strictly historical perspective, as I’ve said in other comments, in the context of marriage legislation, my polygamous ancestors were the gay marriage proponents of their time. In order to fight gay marriage now with any degree of integrity, I believe we have to repudiate the justifications the early saints gave for their fight to maintain polygamy and accept that the laws passed to end it were just and right-minded. I believe their reasoning was solid and the laws outlawing their marriages were unjust, even as I do not like so much of what happened in so many of their marriages and the legacy left among fundamentalist groups.

    For me, there is a difference between a moral issue within one group and a legal issue that impacts multiple groups. As Christian J said, it’s no different in that regard than alcohol and tobacco being sold in Utah – or tithing not being required of all state citizens.

  20. “I think that some on my side of this issue (opposition to SSM) see support for the legalization of SSM as the same as supporting same-sex marriage in our religion. Do you think that is correct?”

    I’m sure some see it that way, but, to be brutally direct, it’s a completely unreasonable view. Some who support this would support it among fellow Mormons (and some would support same-sex temple sealings); some who support civil gay marriage would not. That, however, should have absolutely nothing to do with the question of legality.

  21. To clarify, I mean that disagreements among Mormons about what they would like to see happen within their own religion should not be the basis of a legal decision that impacts people of multiple religions.

  22. Folks, I have seen what Juliathepoet describes. Perhaps in order to help solve some of this discomfort, we need to get government out of the business of licensing marriage and switch it over to licensing domestic partnerships, declaring that all relationships heretofore classified as a marriage are now domestic partnerships. Then for those who need to be married under some sort of special conditions, the authority preforming the ceremony can establish those conditions and call the relationship whatever they will. We LDS have celestial marriage, marriage for time and all eternity. Yet as with Juliathepoet, I have seen celestial partners looked down upon by those who appear to believe that same-race marriages are some how better. I judge not!

    Juliathepoet, if you and your spouse lived in my ward, we would become best of friends. Why? Because I know that in order to judge not, I have to get to know the details. I will not judge you and your spouse. I certainly will not judge LGBT domestic partnerships. I have known enough to know better.

    What I do know about LGBT relationships is that like same-sex relationships, commitment is needed. Parenting requires commitment. Roles must be assumed and respected. The rules which apply, apply to all sorts of relationships. After all, the partners are still humans.

  23. “Do you accept the Proclamation TO THE WORLD on the Family as doctrine, or just a really nice suggestion?”

    The latter, of course: “It is a guide that members of the Church would do well to read and to follow.”

    http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/cleansing-the-inner-vessel

  24. forwardjoe says:

    Ray,

    I am just trying to understand what those in this blog who are happy about this ruling see as the end goal. Simple legalization of marriage or a change of doctrine in the church? I am sure some fall in both or other camps. Not making a legal argument, but trying to understand the minds of my fellow Mormons.

  25. forwardjoe, I understand and appreciate that – and I simply point out that people here are as diverse as people everywhere else. People here see this issue differently than each other in some ways (even in some key ways), even among those who support legalizing gay marriage.

    Just as people who support the legislation shouldn’t lump everyone who doesn’t support it into the same narrow category, people who oppose it shouldn’t lump everyone who supports it into the opposite narrow category. Intelligent, considerate, faithful members can see this differently and still be intelligent, considerate, faithful members. If only understanding of that simple fact could be a widespread result of this overall situation, regardless of the eventual (and I believe inevitable) legal outcome, I would be happier than I am with the lack of that understanding.

  26. @ DonQ – You and I share the same concerns about coming under social or religious pressure to compromise beliefs and values; about being marginalized, judged, labeled and even persecuted for our foundational beliefs about this; about the damage that the cultural momentum on this issue is poised to do the church, since the church’s stance is not about the change, etc. This is exactly how I feel, even though I hold the position opposite of yours on marriage equality.

    So I’m not doing victory laps around marriage traditionalists right now, I’m not plotting with my “political allies” on how to use “the heavy hand of the state to force others into agreement with [me],” or anything like that. I’m just trying to figure out how brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree about this, like you and me, can prevent this disagreement from dividing us. Maybe it starts with respecting the fact that neither of us will change our minds, but that our disagreement does not make either of us that “racist [or in my case, apostate] uncle we all imagine…”

    I’m not saying there is no right or wrong side to this; one of us is passionately mistaken. But if you can accept me as a brother even if I’m wrong, I’m eager to do the same for you. Being wrong does not make me any less worthy of love and acceptance within the church. On the other hand, to the degree anyone in the church makes this into a contest between “bigots” and “apostates,” they’re dividing the body of Christ. Like the OP, my concern is that “wherever we end up as a church, we will arrive as a people.”

  27. The analogy to alcohol legalization would be decriminalization of homosexual acts (which happened in Lawrence v. Texas), not in the re-defining of marriage to include couples of the same sex.

  28. Christian J says:

    Mark, you’re the lawyer – but I don’t see the legal sale and consumption of alcohol as benign the way I see homosexual acts.

  29. Several years ago one of the oldest mediation and reconciliation organizations in the United States devoted a year to attempting to reconcile congregations to each other over the issue of Gay marriage.

    Two blog posts from the past are probably worth reading, as they touch upon those efforts:

    http://www.themennonite.org/bloggers/timjn/posts/It_is_time_speaking_truth_about_LGBT_inclusion_in_the_Mennonite_church

    and

    http://peacetheology.net/homosexuality/mennonite-church-usas-%E2%80%9Cteaching-position%E2%80%9D-on-homosexuality-a-critique/

    That background given, I remember the outgoing editorial by the leader of the group, as he passed the leadership mantle on to the next president. He had concluded that the resolution of the topic was beyond his skill and ability.

    That struck me. That someone devoted to reconciliation and to resolving the issues had come to the conclusion that the divide was one that was beyond the skills of those he knew. It has informed my thinking ever since.

    [For more about the MCC, see Wikipedia and the following quote:

    Peacemaking

    MCC also takes an active role in advocating for peace both in North America and around the world, seeking “to be a witness against forces that contribute to poverty, injustice and violence.”[9] In North America, MCC established the Mennonite Conciliation Service (MCS) in 1979 to encourage Mennonites and others to actively pursue peaceful resolution of conflicts. MCS was a pioneer in the burgeoning field of conflict resolution in the 1980s and director Ronald S. Kraybill led early mediation workshops in Northern Ireland which eventually led to the establishment of the Northern Ireland Mediation Network. John Paul Lederach took over MCS in 1989 when Kraybill moved on to South Africa, and in the years following, MCC moved active peace building into the forefront of its work abroad.

    Responding in part to the establishment of active Mennonite-led peace centers that had emerged in the 80s and 90s, such as the Conflict Transformation Program at Eastern Mennonite University, the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center in Lombard, Illinois, a group of peace builders at Fresno Pacific University, the Peace and Justice Network of the Mennonite Church and other activities, MCS was discontinued in 2004. But the Peace Office of MCC continues to advocate peace interests broadly in the US and in MCC programming abroad. Internationally, MCC partners with local organizations to reduce violence in the aftermath of conflict or war.

    Perhaps one of MCC’s more controversial activities is in advocating military exemption or alternative service for conscientious objectors in times of war. MCC runs a “conscientious objector registry” in Canada, taking statements from Canadians in the hope that they will be recognized by the Canadian government should the government restart drafting citizens into the military.]

  30. Christian J says:

    That is – benign as it relates to society as whole.

  31. Christian: I am not able to make a judgment over what the ultimate consequences of a particular course of public policy may be. You may indeed be right, and one can hope that the fears of those who oppose this change in law turn out to be unfounded.

    But my comment wasn’t about the potential effects on society of the two things you analogized. It was more about what the state did: in the case of booze, it allows the sale; in the case of same-sex marriage, it doesn’t simply allow two people to live together, but has given its imprimatur to a certain type of relationship. It’s sort of like the difference between permitting gambling and sponsoring a lottery–in one case, the state permits a private entity to run games of chance, but in the other, it’s actually running the game itself (and encouraging its citizens to engage in gambling, because, “Hey, you never know”).

  32. I don’t see the state encouraging same-sex couples to do anything, so as an analogy this fails. I also don’t see an “imprimatur” in simply extending access to an institution to all citizens, including a group previously excluded for no good reason whatsoever.

  33. If you don’t see the state’s imprimatur, or if there isn’t one, then why was there such objection to the denial of “marriage” to same-sex couples in California, when the state’s civil union law granted effectively equivalent rights to couples who had entered into those unions? And why does Judge Shelby speak of the “stigma” of being denied the right to call same sex unions “marriages”? You can’t have it both ways; you can’t seek the blessing of the state, but then claim that you have not obtained the state’s imprimatur once you’ve got that blessing.

    As to your phrase “extending access to an institution”–it’s simply inaccurate. The laws that permit same-sex marriage–or the judges that have imposed it by decision–have changed the institution. And we should be honest enough to admit that, and then proceed to a discussion about whether that change of definition is a good thing.

  34. Russell Arben Fox, the comparisons to Brown and the civil rights movement are a natural fit but as you acknowledge they are different in key aspects as well. The white South’s commitment to segregation, particularly among the elite, was near total. Lots of Mormons support varying degrees of gay rights. Last month the Senate passed a workplace discrimination bill that protects homosexuals with key support from several Mormon senators including Utah’s Orin Hatch. It’s impossible to think of another giant of the Senate like Richard Russell of Georgia doing something similar. Supporters of the Lost Cause were opposed to racial equality at all levels, formal and informal. The Mormon church itself voiced support for SLC’s 2009 anti-discrimination ordinance that made it illegal to discriminate in employment and housing on the basis of sexual orientation. During Prop 8 the church stated that members did not need to support Prop 8 in California to be in good standing. There is a much wider range of acceptable actions available to both lay members and church leaders than were open to whites in the Jim Crow South. Your concerns about the social fall out due the anti-democratic nature of court decisions would worry me more if public opinion wasn’t already changing so quickly.

  35. Geoff J, I expect the vast majority of Mormons will eventually support legalizing gay marriage while supporting the church’s current teachings on the LOC. The ideals of love and family are so deeply ingrained in the Mormon psyche that it becomes very difficult indeed to continue to oppose gay marriage in the face of happy, loving gay unions. The hundreds of couples who rushed to the court houses to solemnize their commitment to one another are making it that much harder to believe this isn’t a good, particularly when the reality of gay marriage doesn’t match the rhetoric that has relied on demonizing them.

  36. In the first place, “imprimatur” is not an accurate description of what the state “gives” to same-sex marriage, which, you seem to be implying, includes approval or endorsement. I’d use the word “recognition.” In the second, the “institution” of marriage at its most basic – a commitment of fealty between two consenting adults – has not been changed at all by including same-sex couples. Black and white can do it; old and young can do it; tall and short can do it; one man and several women can do it; one woman and several men can do it; those of the same gender can do it; those of opposite gender can do it. And “it” is precisely the same: To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish ’till death do us part.

  37. In order to see same-sex unions the same as heterosexual marriages, one MUST accept the idea that the genders are absolutely equivalent. If one holds that the genders have unique attributes (as most LDS and some socially-conservative religions do) then viewing same-sex unions as the equivalent to traditional marriages is difficult at best.

    Brace yourselves, the next battles will not be the legality of same-sex unions, but about individual and institutional views on these unions. We have already seen the first few sparks of that next round as conservative Christians have been targeted by gay couples in lawsuits. It doesn’t take much of a stretch to envision church-owned businesses and hospitals being targeted.

  38. “In order to see same-sex unions the same as heterosexual marriages, one MUST accept the idea that the genders are absolutely equivalent.”

    Absolutes rarely are.

  39. Old Man, the Church operates in many places around the world where same-sex marriage has been legal for years. Are you aware of “church-owned businesses and hospitals being targeted” in any of these? (Places that allow same-sex marriages and the date on which they were first performed):

    Netherlands 2001
    Belgium 2003
    Canada 2003–05 (provincially in 2003, nationally in 2005)
    Massachusetts (US) 2004
    Spain 2005
    South Africa 2006
    California (US) 2007–08 (now pending)
    Norway 2009
    Sweden 2009
    Connecticut (US) 2009
    Iowa (US) 2009
    Vermont (US) 2009
    Washington DC (US) 2009
    Coquille Indian Tribe (Oregon) 2009
    Mexico City (Mex) 2010
    Portugal 2010
    Iceland 2010
    Argentina 2010
    New Hampshire (US) 2010
    New York state (US) 2011
    Quintana Roo (Mexico) 2011
    Suquamish Indian Tribe (Washington) 2011
    Maine 2012
    Maryland 2013
    Uruguay 2013
    New Zealand 2013
    Delaware 2013
    Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (Michigan) 2013
    Rhode Island 2013
    Minnesota 2013
    France 2013

  40. doctordoctorstein2013 says:

    Don’t forget Utah 2013!

  41. “the Bloggernacle is the only place that could be torn apart.”

    I doubt it. The Bloggernacle seems overwhelming populated by progressive cheerleaders who don’t think there’s anything to discuss.

  42. The world moves forward/left, Ben S. So does the Church, but with a lot more kicking & screaming.

  43. “The last few days have felt exactly like a family argument where feelings run high but you know your love for one another will remain no matter how crazy you make each other.”

    I don’t fully understand the welding link that connects me to my sisters and brothers in the gospel and in the church. In many ways, it feels as strong as bonds with my own flesh and blood. And I’ve felt it time and again. Maybe it’s our shared view of an eternal (currently mortal) family – our understanding of our literal relation to each other. But the above sentence was my personal favorite part of your post, Matthew.

    Our shared struggles and ongoing engagement around issues such as same-sex marriage are evidence of familial love and commitment. “I love you, therefore, I will share my discomfort and anger and angst with you. And love you still.” Some of the arguments may get ugly. But the interactions as a whole are beautiful to me.

  44. Some might dispute the direction of the world’s trajectory, p. But I suppose each of us has to figure out for himself whether any step in the world’s movement is toward a glorious and grand enlightenment, or toward the state that Isaiah warned of, where men call evil good and good evil.

  45. Steve Evans says:

    Let’s just keep a running tally of adjectives demonized by the right because of association with agendas they don’t like:

    -Liberal
    -Intellectual
    -Progressive
    -Feminist
    -Humanist
    -Bleeding-Heart

    Others I’ve missed? Seriously, I’d pay good money to have those adjectives describe me. Too bad none of them do.

    RE: the state of the world — Mark, I take enormous comfort in knowing that decrying the state of the world has been the affairs of the prophets since the dawn of time. Isaiah was speaking of his own society. Sure it’s applicable to us as well and our world is evil and cats and dogs are living together, &c., but let’s not pretend that this is some sudden event and until now we were all doing pretty good and if it weren’t for SSM we’d just about have Zion. We were nowhere close even in the good old days when Bro. Brigham could castrate you for adultery (to say nothing of consequences for being homosexual).

  46. Forward/Left Exhibit A: “The structure and organization of the Church encourage racial integration.” (From http://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood)

    The “I” word was a very dirty word in the church until recently. Almost without exception (Hugh B. Brown) the Brethren regarded the American movement for civil rights as subversive: “LOGAN, UTAH–Former Agriculture Secretary Ezra Taft Benson charged Friday night that the civil-rights movement in the South had been ‘formatted almost entirely by the Communists.’ Elder Benson, a member of the Council of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a public meeting here that the whole civil-rights movement was ‘phony’.***” (Deseret News, Dec. 14, 1963).

    Without question the Church has benefited tremendously by absorbing some of the values of larger American culture. Its current intransigence on both gender equality and status of homosexuals will also be seen as anachronistic. Holding on to this nonsense damages the Church and it is a damned shame the Brethren don’t understand this, especially with “droves” of the “best and brightest” apparently opting out.

  47. One person’s damage, is another’s refiner’s fire.

  48. The body of Christ is always lessened when an individual disassociates from it. The idea that the church is being purified when someone leaves is a pernicious sort of comfort. The shepherd left the 99 to seek out the 1, he did not say to himself “Whelp, the sheep that have stayed are better off without the one.”

  49. To be fair, the left has done its own share of demonizing certain words:

    -traditional
    -conservative
    -religious (as opposed to “spiritual”)
    -family values
    -patriotic

    and so forth. Making those who disagree with you the enemy and despising what you think they believe in is not the sole province of any side in any argument, it’s just an aspect of the natural man and woman that we are supposed to overcome as we develop charity.

  50. Has the left demonized terms like “traditional”, “family values”, and “patriotic”, or is it pushback to a redefinition by the right?

  51. Hm, good point. A little of both, I think. Could be true of at least a few of the terms in Steve Evans’ post as well.

  52. Steve: my intention was simply to question the implication that state sanction of same-sex unions as marriages represented progress–not to say that it signaled the final fall of society into depravity. I’ll let others argue that point, and another judge it. And if I were cite the Lord’s statement about “marrying and giving in marriage” it would be with tongue planted firmly in cheek. The only trouble I have with the word “progressive” is that it has been applied to a certain wing of American politics without anybody asking me whether I think a particular policy actually represents progress.

    So I reserve the right to call “progress” whatever I believe to be progress–and to dispute anybody who thinks he or she owns all rights to the word. :)

    p: “The “I” word was a very dirty word in the church until recently. Almost without exception . . .” Those statements are at best ahistorical. “Integration” was not a practical issue for the Church for most of its first century–so it seems likely that almost nobody gave it any thought. It became an issue for some when the civil rights movement began in America in the post-war period, and then ceased being an issue for most of the church well before the 1978 revelation on priesthood. (Evidence that it was no longer an issue: the near absolute acceptance, with joy, of that revelation.)

    You say “almost without exception” and then cite one statement by Ezra Taft Benson. Yeah, I know you could have dredged up some awful statements by Mark E. Peterson, but “almost without exception” doesn’t work with two general authorities on one side and the rest generally silent.

    As to your calling the teachings of the leaders of the church “nonsense”–my only response is that it’s a damned shame that they don’t have the advantage of your wisdom to help them through the fog.

  53. Mathew: isn’t it fortunate, then, that I said nothing of the kind.

    I wasn’t talking about people leaving. I was talking about dissonance being an opportunity to learn the Lord’s will and align oneself to it.

  54. Steve, if you think my mild and short comment constitutes “demonization” then truly no conversation is possible. It is just that kind of polarization that would “tear the Church apart.”

  55. The idea of learning through pain and suffering is oversold in the church, usually at the expense of the victims, usually with the word “opportunity” somewhere in the sentence. Never underestimate your ability to learn the Lord’s will near a fire while nursing a cup of cocoa and reading a good book. Work like hell so that everyone else can do the same.

  56. Mark B.

    These two opinions [12/13/13 & 12/20/13] appear to me to be forward progress. 1978 was forward progress, too. As I said above, Change happens and there will be more change to come. Fight it, oppose it, study it, reconcile to it, whatever one chooses to do. But more change is on the way. So get used to it.

  57. Mathew: the idea of learning by pain and suffering is the very underpinning of the Church and indeed the Gospel. Rather than costing victims, it empowers them. Because a victim who can seize opportunity from hardship is no longer a victim, but a disciple of Christ. You cannot hope to effect positive change in others until you can effect it in yourself.

    But if it makes you feel better to dismiss what I’m saying by supposing I’m “nursing a cup of cocoa” and pontificating on things I have never experienced, well . . . that, too is a choice you make, and a choice of which only you will reap the consequence.

  58. Mathew: “Geoff J, I expect the vast majority of Mormons will eventually support legalizing gay marriage while supporting the church’s current teachings on the LOC.”

    Sounds feasible. The church can’t control the laws of the land but the Law of Chastity is unaffected by those sorts of things.

    But I’m still confused about the “tearing the church apart” thing in your headline… was that just a rhetorical flourish? I don’t see how these political and constitutional questions pose any threat to most church member getting along and carrying on.

  59. Well, Mark B, here’s a suggestion to help us all “through the fog” on a variety of issues: Adult conversations between the Authorities and the Body of Saints. I stress the word ADULT, as in equal and interactive – as opposed to anonymous pronouncements issued from the newsroom that do almost nothing to clarify issues or alleviate controversy. Exhibit B, the recent “statement” on polygamy: Had the Brethren bothered to ask any number of so-called intellectuals (progressives, liberals, bleeding-hearts, whatever), said intellectuals would likely have urged them to, for the love of God, make a clean sweep of this once and for all – Fannie Alger, polyandry, BY’s “inherited” wives, under-age wives, unsupported wives – the good, the bad & the ugly. As it is, what have we got? I’ll tell you what we’ve got: a “statement” so laughably incomplete it is, for all practical intents and purposes (actually understanding Mormon polygamy) worthless. Is this sound leadership? What would YOU have told them, had they bothered to aks you?

    We members of the rank & file are not stupid and we are not immature. We need to be part of the decision-making process in this church. Dallin Oaks and Boyd Packer are NOT the final authorities on homosexuality in the LDS Church. They should not act as if they are.

  60. “Dallin Oaks and Boyd Packer are NOT the final authorities on homosexuality in the LDS Church.”

    You’re absolutely right. That would be Thomas S. Monson, wouldn’t it?

  61. SilverRain, I was actually thinking of myself nursing a cup of cocoa. I don’t like to suffer and am deeply suspicious of anyone who tells me I should suffer because it is good for me. Too often people who hawk suffering as a means of self-improvement are invested in defending the status quo which, not coincidentally, works well for them.

    In relation to gay marriage, for instance, we see a lot of people suggesting that gay marriage is against God’s law and should not be allowed. Not coincidentally virtually none of the people making that argument are gay. Historically it hasn’t cost a straight person much to deny a gay person social recognition of their union. Those costs are now going up dramatically as social mores shift and straight religious types are suddenly very keyed in on things like “religious freedom”. This is because they want state protection in order to avoid bearing the full costs of their actions. They will get it–as they should. But if we were to accept your logic, then they should embrace social approbation as an opportunity to suffer for Christ rather than seek the protection of the state. When the shoe is on the other foot this strategy becomes much less appealing

    In short, there will always be suffering enough to go around. You hint darkly about your own tribulations. I hope you learned a lot from them, I really do. I’ve certainly learned some things while suffering. On the balance, however, I think it is best to avoid it whenever possible.

  62. “Not coincidentally virtually none of the people making that argument are gay.”

    This is not universal. I was in France for several months last year, during France’s legislative slog through this issue. Most surprising was that I saw several short interviews on the news with gay people who were part of a gay protest/lobbying group that opposed gay marriage. Of course, France is not the US. Whether the discrepancy between the US and France on this issue (“virtually none” vs a loud minority) is due to different media coverage or just different cultural views, I have no idea.

  63. Last I heard, Ben S., the President of the Church is not gay, and, with all due respect, I seriously doubt he knows more about this phenomenon than Elders Oaks & Packer. The Church has been fumbling along on this issue for so many years it’s counterproductive to point to ANYONE in the LDS hierarchy as expert/authority/inspired, etc., etc. Leadership on this issue, frankly, has been abominable, absolutely abominable, and for so many years. Oaks/Wickman went out of their way to affirm that, contrary to past advice, heterosexual marriage was actually NOT a solution to same-sex attraction. So far as I know, nobody in the hierarchy has yet acknowledged that Church animus created conditions that precipitated thousands of gay LDS suicides. Now we hear that faithful gay LDS members are expected to live entire lives of celibacy in order to maintain their standing. This is OK, according to Oaks, because other conditions such as “total paralysis or serious mental impairment” also indicate celibacy. To expect something better, according to Wickman, may reflect self-absorption.

    Beyond belief.

  64. Mormonism is the only religion actually sanctioned by God, right? Is Mormonism strengthened or weakened by the fact that the state recognizes forms of religion not ordained of God? If Mormonism is central to the Creator’s plan of happiness, does that mean that Mormonism is the only form of religion that should actually count as religion? That other, false, non-God-ordained faiths should be called “spiritual unions”? Does Mormonism require that the state only recognize us in order for the Church to do the work God has ordained it to do?

  65. No, Thomas S. Monson is not the final authority on this or any other question. No individual, church president or not, is the final authority.

  66. Well, Mathew. Firstly, I was talking originally about dissonance, not suffering. Suffering was your insertion. No one likes to suffer. Yet, suffering is a reality of life. It isn’t intrinsically evil. I know because I have suffered. Just because I have found immense joy and growth through my suffering doesn’t mean I’ll dive headfirst into another round, nor that I think “suffering is an opportunity for growth” is some kind of panacea.

    But what I said is “dissonance is an opportunity for growth.” Incidentally, most of the people I see arguing against religious exercise in a public sphere are not themselves very religious. Does that mean they should be silenced? Not allowed to vote? Not allowed to work or live in peace? You could take everything you say and flip it. That’s the problem with logic. It always cuts whatever way you wish it to, if you are sufficiently versed in it. But please don’t attribute logic to me that is not mine. I wasn’t appealing to logic, I find it merely another tool in the box and one of no particular value.

    I didn’t “hint darkly,” either. I merely mentioned that you seemed to assume quite a bit about me without doing your research. I admit I misread that part of your statement. I couldn’t imagine that you actually said what you did say. Incidentally, it’s just that sort of hubris—feeling like we as a people can learn as WE see fit, with our cocoa and comfort over what God Himself demonstrated by His life of suffering and sorrow, and that we “need to be part of the decision-making process of this church” as “p” mentions above, that will bring the greatest sorrow.

    The bottom line of this debate is where our ultimate priorities lie. That is the exact opportunity for growth I was alluding to, a chance for us to decide who we truly are and what we truly believe. If our faith is action or just words.

    When men called of God to lead us ask us to support the definition of marriage between a man and a woman, do we ultimately rely upon our faith in their callings, or in our logic and reasoning? Do we back down because we are afraid of the consequences leveled by an enraged populace, or are we truly willing to dedicate all that we are and have to God? Do we twist the words of the prophets until they fit our notions, or do we work out a broken heart and contrite spirit? Do we really believe in this Church, or is it a mere cultural convenience? Each will choose for themselves. Yes, it is a painful process. But it is a divine one.

    To be honest, if you are going to tell me what I’m saying instead of listening to what I’m saying, it’s time for me to move on. I don’t think we’re playing the same game anyways.

  67. “When men called of God to lead us ask us to support the definition of marriage between a man and a woman, do we ultimately rely upon our faith in their callings, or in our logic and reasoning?”

    That’s actually a framing I can respect, even if I ultimately don’t embrace it in the same way you do. What bothers me much more is the claim (usually grounded in 1950s folk sociology or a prosaic awareness of something called “evolutionary psychology”) that there is a rational basis for keeping same sex couples from marrying.

  68. As opposed as I am to it, I believe that gay marriage is on a march to acceptance that will soon envelope the land. I also believe that there will be a push within the church from the more liberal members that occupy the Bloggernacle, for legitimization of homosexual unions. There will also be extreme pressure from outside the church to do so. Some will push to remove tax exempt status. Other lawsuits will pop up in an attempt to force the “backward believers” to become more tolerant.

    The church can respond 1 of 2 ways.

    1. Hold fast to the central doctrine that eternal marriage is between a man and a woman, and refuse to bow to secular pressure, or pressure from those who have already left (or are on their way out.). Accept the law of the land, but never condone or accept the sin.

    2. The church can gradually make changes that start with some of what we see now. Mormons and gays websites, etc. Eventually they will stop ex communications for homosexual behavior. Then they will allow for non temple homosexual marriage. Eventually, homosexual marriage will enter the temple.

    Both of these responses tear the church apart to some extent. Option 1 is a stand for righteousness against an increasingly wicked world, which may drive away those already questioning the church.

    Option 2 is a legitimization of sin, which in my opinion would lead previously believing members to the conclusion that the church is not lead by inspiration, and simply bows to the social pressure of the day.

    I hope that the church takes option 1. But if it doesn’t, I am headed out to take the first drink of my life, because I couldn’t believe in a religious institution that changes the definition of sin in order to gain acceptance from the world.

  69. “When men called of God to lead us ask us to support the definition of marriage between a man and a woman, do we ultimately rely upon our faith in their callings, or in our logic and reasoning?”

    Coming from someone who claims to be a Mormon, that is a shockingly naive position.

  70. “Do we really believe in this Church, or is it a mere cultural convenience?”

    There, in a nutshell, is the problem, your test of faith. I can readily imagine a version of that same argument utilized in support of bishops and archbishops during the (ongoing) child abuse catastrophe still engulfing the Catholic Church (new & improved pope notwithstanding).

    It is not unfaithfulness to, in good conscience and with ample evidence, oppose the Brethren on certain issues. Many good faithful Catholics learned this the hard way.

    BTW, your recipe of obedience is NOT an adult conversation (see above). Why is that so much to ask? Why is that “hubris”?

  71. AP, as has been noted above, the church has operated for years in countries and states where same-sex marriage has long been legal. Your dramatic scenario of a beleaguered but valiant church fending off the forces of darkness might play in Hollywood, but not in reality. Please!

  72. gay men have open marriages even when married–they are not faithful. open secret. ask sully.

  73. Finally we see some of us begin to struggle with the issue of change. But as I would have predicted, the struggle remains an all or nothing discussion. We change policy and practices slowly, eventually “licensing sin” or we stay put. Not so.

    But start here. We have established that same sex attraction is not a choice, but is natural. The policy is to prohibit those who are same sex attracted from acting on those attractions. Some who are same sex attracted have chosen to marry conventionally. A few have given birth to children. One I have personal knowledge of gave birth to five children before giving up, divorcing, and moving away. What a shame that this member found it necessary to do so. They were never a happy person before. I trust they are a bit happier now. And now the entire family suffers. But

    When questioned about this matter by local “authorities,” I have found it interesting to see what their opinion is about having one of their children marry a same sex attracted person. I have yet to see any approve. So, the practice is that same sex attracted persons pretty much have to live a celibate isolated life style. And there is a lot of that going on the the LDS same sex attracted community.

    So, people out there. your young adult child comes to you saying that they “love” someone who has same sex, but not opposite sex attraction. What do you recommend?

    I’m waiting to hear from you.

  74. Dale, I would recommend they leave LDS.

  75. https://www.google.com/#q=mormon+tax+exempt+status

    It may not have happened yet, but there are plenty of people who are working to make it happen. We Cana rogue until the cows come home, but because we are arguing a prediction of the future, we won’t get anywhere.

    It is simply how I see it playing out. If you see proponents of same sex marriage stopping at civil marriage and acceptance there, you have a different worldview than I do. I believe they won’t stop until the behavior is no longer deemed sin by religious organizations. I believe they will claim that it’s not fair to expect celibacy. That the sin designation is leading to suicides, etc.

    It’s simply the world I see. If you see it differently, that’s fine. Time will tell.

  76. Stupid autocorrect. Should have been “we can argue”.

  77. P, trying to insult me by calling me infantile says a lot more about you than it does about me. My position is ultimately, a very Mormon position, which this forum purports to be. Just because my morality isn’t consistent with the premise you hold most dear (your own version of “objective” reasoning) doesn’t mean it isn’t consistent with the principles I hold dear. I do not address the world as ultimately black-and-white, utterly objective. I have enough experience to see that everything is subjective, and that isn’t a bad thing.

    Brad, I’m not sure which of your comments was truly directed at me. I’ll optimistically assume the first, and that the second is a copy/paste error. If so, thank you. There are logical reasons to support the withholding of gay marriage, but they support an ultimately faith-based decision. I do not apologize for that. I find faith to be just as valid as reason, which is more often than not faith trying to pretend to be otherwise.

    Dale: “We have established that same sex attraction is not a choice, but is natural” No, we haven’t established that SSA is not a choice. In fact, the research suggests there is a continuum on that. (Kinsey scale, a much more nuanced approach.) But even if we COULD establish that SSA is natural, that doesn’t make acting on that attraction “not a choice,” nor does it absolve us of accountability. I believe in the strength of the human spirit. We can be more than our environment or our genetics make us out to be.

    At any rate, I really am done being the token conservative for everyone to tear apart for tonight. *LOL*

  78. MikeInWeHo says:

    AP: Brigham Young said “If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot.” Yet today it’s perfectly fine for a white member to marry a black member in the temple.

    Some Latter-day Saints twist themselves into pretzels trying to show that the Church has never changed its definition of sin, and never changed its doctrines. That position only gets harder to defend, though, and I don’t think most thoughtful members believe it. President Uchtdorf said quite clearly that errors have occurred.

    The core of the Restoration is the fact that “He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” It’s easy to imagine Mormonism eventually finding a way to include gay couples in the family of the faith.

    So it’s really not as simple as picking between your Option 1 and 2. And if it is, I’d be happy to mix you a great margarita because history is not behind Option 1.

  79. SilverRain, this is the version of reality you seem to be advancing: Hierarchy to members – No, we won’t DISCUSS this complicated, sensitive issue with you, we’ll just tell you what’s up with the whole gay marriage thing (it’s a no-go) and then we’ll expect you to support us. This despite the fact that we have been so wrong so many times before. If you are faithful, you’ll support us yet again. That’s how the program works.

    No, SilverRain, this postion is NOT rational, and YES, rationality does have its place, even in the LDS Church! How is the Church made better or even maintained by unquestioningly supporting incompetent leadership? Where else would you do this and expect positive results?

  80. p, the reason the explanation of polygamy in Utah didn’t deal with all the issues you mentioned above is that the explanation was about polygamy in Utah. Hence, the title.

    Once the explanation for polygamy in the time of Joseph is published (and it’s being written by very good Mormon historians, just like the others), you can discuss if you like it or not. In the meantime, it’s best not to criticize something for not being what it doesn’t claim to be.

  81. MikeInWeHo,
    Just a comment on that BY quote as I think it’s a tad unfair. The quote was in the context of slavery, and he very likely had slave owners raping their slaves in mind when saying it. He was certainly not envisioning a white man marrying a black woman, but rather had fornication in mind, and specifically, the master-slave kind, which is why he called for death to the white man doing it. I don’t think this is a knee jerk apology, but just think of the context of the quote (North/South, slave owners, abolitionists, he states he’s appalled at some of their conduct, etc.).

    What you or perhaps others are really hoping for is some miscegenation quote where he condemns a married black/white couple to death. In that quote he has nothing to say of the woman’s sin, but condemns the man because he seems to be thinking about the master-slave relationship. Notice that quote also makes no reference to black men sleeping with white women, which adds a bit more evidence.

    So BY was terribly regressive… he argued for slave owners to be put to death for raping their slaves while many others in the world largely rolled their eyes at the well known problem.

  82. No, DQ, that is not the context of that quote. If that was the only quote related to the issue, your interpretation might have a chance of acceptance among historians who want to see Pres. Young as not racist. It isn’t the only quote available (just the most extreme one), and pretty much every Mormon historian understands it differently that you write above.

    Seriously, it’s objectively wrong. Please don’t perpetuate it, regardless of how you came to believe it. Brigham was complicated, and I accept him as a prophet – but he was racist, due largely to his Protestant upbringing, just as the new explanation says.

  83. Realist!!!!
    http://www.mormonsandgays.org, a Church sponsored site says:

    “Where the Church stands:
    The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”

    The Church does not recommend that “they leave LDS. So why do you?

  84. Dale, the sad reality is that homosexual members often sit in meetings where they are described by people who don’t know they are gay as one of the biggest threats to society and marriage that exists. They hear ignorant members call them abominations and, far too often, they hear members say things like, “The world would be a better place if all gay people were shipped to their own country and allowed to die together.” That last statement is one I heard personally in a Priesthood meeting a few years ago, and, while I and others immediately corrected the person who said it, it often doesn’t get corrected. It’s hard to ask someone to stand still week after week, just so he can get kicked in the face week after week.

    Gay youth, not rarely, still get shunned and/or kicked out of their homes when they come out to their parents. The suicide rate among gay youth, inside and outside the Church, is far too high. I could go on and on and on.

    I don’t recommend that gay members leave the Church, speaking collectively. I want them to stay and help change the attitudes of so many members around them. I love it when MikeinWeHo adds his perspective to these discussions, and I would love to have someone like him in every congregation in our church. However, I absolutely will not argue with a gay member who decides to leave, given what I have seen and what I have heard from close friends about their experiences. In way too many cases, it has been brutal – truly and reprehensibly brutal. I can’t understand what gay members go through fully, but if it is a matter of life and/or emotional well-being, I absolutely will support the person in such an individual decision.

  85. Paul Brown says:

    LOC forbids sex between unmarried couples. It says nothing about the gender of those married.

  86. Ray I never said BY didn’t have racist opinions. But No One was imagining or talking about a white man marrying a black woman. It was not even legal at the time for a white to marry a black. Why would he be talking of a white/black marriage in that context anyway as the proceeding lines are all slavery talk… You have your opinion I have mine. But I think it’s highly likely the textual evidence supports him talking about a white mixing seed with a black out of wedlock, and likely in the master slave relationship as that’s exactly the context. I have no doubt he’d be opposed to a white marrying a black, but I don’t think he’d say the penalty would be death…

  87. “You have your opinion I have mine.”

    Yup.

  88. “It was not even legal at the time for a white to marry a black.”

    The irony of that statement in this context is indescribable.

  89. Mike, if 2 happens, I will take you up on that margarita!

  90. “Mormons and gays websites, etc.”

    AP, somehow I missed that when I read the comment about two options. Are you saying you don’t approve of that website and think it’s an example of a bad step in the wrong direction? I want to make sure I’m not misunderstanding what you are saying.

  91. Not that many years ago the church taught with equal vigour, and many of the same arguments, about the evils of interracial marriage. Now it is a non issue.
    I believe that once it is confirmed that gay marriage is legal in Utah, it will only be a few years until it is accepted in the church.
    Looking at it as acceptance rather than something being forced on the church makes it more acceptable. Gay marriage was not an issue a few years ago and there has been no revelation to make it a sin. Like much of the culture that is accepted by some as Gospel it is a temporary issue.
    We now recognise that gay people who are celibate can hold a temple recommend. In the temple it defines chastity as “only having sexual relations with your husband or wife to whom you are legally and lawfully married”. So the gay member who holds a TR gets legally and lawfully married to another gay TR holder. As far as I can see there is no lack of chastity ensuing.
    In a little while this good LDS couple may wish to have there union sealed ( as we encourage all civilly married couples to do). Are the requirements for sealing, that a couple hold TR and be legally and lawfully married?
    Why would they not be sealed? Just as we now seal mixed race couples, and any other couples who hold TR and want to be sealed.

  92. Ray, I believe that homosexual behavior is a sin. It is what I have been taught my whole life. I have been taught that celestial marriage is the highest goal towards which we should strive. I have been taught that marriage is between a man and a woman.

    I have also been taught that the only perfect being on earth was Christ. I have been taught that church is a hospital for sick sinners, rather than a pedestal for perfect saints.

    I believe that as a church, we should socially be more understanding and accepting of people despite their weakness. However, I don’t believe that we should take steps to legitimize the behavior because it’s difficult for some people to follow the ideal. I have known more than one person who committed adultery, and followed that up with suicide. Both of these are tragic. Despite that, I can’t imagine the church creating a website for Mormons and adulterers to try to stem this from happening.

    If homosexuals marry civilly, I don’t have a huge problem with it. I don’t think smoking is good and right, but I wouldn’t push to ban someone from making that decision either. I actually support a more liberal drug policy. Legalize and tax. Not because I support drug use, but rather because it’s current status results in money and power going to the cartels, rather than stopping the use.

    The issue I have is that I see the church changing its core to accommodate social mores. If the past prophets were simply racists, in 30 years will we say that the past prophets were simply homophobes, because everyone was at the time? I believe in revelation. If there is not revelation behind the values in the church, then it’s not for me. I would rather leave and spend my Sundays with my family instead of listening to stuff that will be disavowed when it becomes socially expedient to do so. I guess the gay marriage thing is my tipping point. If I see the church change here, I can’t believe any of it.

    I don’t want it to come to that point, but I don’t see any other logical path. Either our prophets are inspired, or they are simply products of their environment.

    So long answer, a part of me has a problem with it, and a part of me understands it.

  93. Geoff -A.
    Did the church truly teach “with equal vigor” against interracial marriage? Everything that I can find from that time says that is not the case. The church has actively campaigned against same-sex marriage. was the same ever true of interracial marriage?

    The rest of your comment is exactly the sort of doctrine conforming mumbo-jumbo that conservative members of the bloggernacle roll our eyes at. To say ” Gay marriage was not an issue a few years ago and there has been no revelation to make it a sin” is incredibly naive and shows a lack of understanding about not just Mormon history but Christian history as well.

    If Christianity (including the church) flips on this issue, I see it as potentially destroying their/our credibility.

  94. “Either our prophets are inspired, or they are simply products of their environment.”

    Why does it have to be either/or? Why can’t it be both? Why can’t we accept them as highly inspired, good, godly apostles of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and simply acknowledge that they are human, too, with some human blind spots? If even Paul could say he and other church leaders saw through a glass, darkly – and that even prophecy would fail sometimes, why must our current leaders see perfectly clearly, devoid of their own human limitations? Why must our leaders be infallible (which they are seen to be in practical terms if we hold them to a standard of perfection in any way), when we don’t hold others to that same standard throughout history?

    After all, we accept fallibility for pretty much every ancient prophet whenever we don’t continue to follow restrictions they had in place back then (and the examples are legion) or whenever they do something that we simply can’t fathom doing now (like committing genocide) – or, in the case of the Book of Mormon, when we no longer believe some of the things taught by them (and we don’t, if you look really closely – with which I have NO problem, whatsoever). Why must our modern prophets be different?

    If on-going revelation can’t change previous understanding, even previous understanding gained through revelation given “in their own language, **according to their understanding**”, then what good is continuing revelation?

    Seriously, why does it have to be either/or – when we teach explicitly that absolutely nobody except Jesus, of Nazareth, was perfect? If our leaders fail to live up to completely unrealistic expectations, it’s not their fault – and I believe Pres. Uchtdorf had that in mind when he stated in General Conference that even prophets and apostles make mistakes.

    Why can’t we accept that and be truly charitable in our view of them?

  95. forwardjoe and AP, one more thing to consider, because I believe it is incredibly important to consider:

    I have been actively involved online (understatement, I know) for just over six years, and in that time I have read innumerable statements by “conservative” members chastising more “liberal” members (and I really hate those sort of classifications, since neither term fits me well) for not accepting everything our top leaders say as shared directly from God’s mouth to us. The line, over and over, has been that if someone disagrees with anything said by an apostle or Prophet, that person is at least on the road to apostasy. I’m about as active, faithful, dedicated, believing, committed, orthoprax, etc. as it’s possible to be, and yet I’ve been called an apostate on some sites simply because I have said I don’t agree with some things some leaders have said.

    In the end, I’m staying no matter what happens with regard to this issue, largely because I don’t have unrealistic expectations of our leaders. I value them to a very high degree; I simply recognize and allow for their humanity, as well. I stay, regardless, because I have a deep and abiding testimony that does not rely on “the arm of flesh” to any degree. I sustain and support our leadership despite (really, because of) my belief that they are human and make mistakes – and, therefore, in a very real and important way, need my sustaining and supporting as they do the best they can in their heavy, heavy callings.

    If people who could be described as conservative members leave the Church because they realize leaders make mistakes, even in important things, while those who could be described as liberal remain in the Church because they accept that leaders make mistakes, even in important things, which perspective really is an example of fully sustaining and supporting truly human leadership – and having true charity toward them? I hope, deeply, that nobody will leave over this issue, no matter the eventual outcome. I know that is unrealistic, but I hope it, nonetheless. I hope the ties that seal us are greater than the forces that would break us.

    In the words of Elder Wirthlin, I don’t want to hear only the piccolos, but I absolutely want to hear the piccolos. The beautiful orchestra wouldn’t be the same without them.

  96. Oh, and just to say it clearly, I was using “conservative” and “liberal” in totally non-political ways in that last comment. I really do hate labeling people with generic terms like those and used them only because they have been used in the conversations I referenced.

  97. Some great comments Ray. Thanks for your contributions.

  98. “Either our prophets are inspired, or they are simply products of their environment.”

    It’s not just one or the other. It’s both.

  99. forwardjoe: Mercy, mixed race marriage was preached against over the pulpit. I heard it. When my cousin married a Japanese woman 50 years ago, there were some in the family who were scandalized.

    I support the prophet and the twelve. The Church is their Church, not mine, and they can do with it as they see fit. They can drive it over the cliff, if they want. I will be very unhappy if they do. I know enough about human nature to know that deeply held beliefs (prejudices) can be mistaken for revelation. I have fallen in that trap myself. Bruce McConkie fell into the trap. It happens. Brigham Young fell into the trap. So I support their right to lead the Church in an incorrect direction.

    I know enough of life to understand that agency trumps everything. Even the agency of the President of the Church. God could not force Harold B. Lee to accept Blacks into the Church, for example. God could not force Brigham’s eyes open to accept and love his black brothers and sisters. It is short sighted and plain wrong to argue that the Prophet cannot lead us over a cliff. Remember what the Savior told the Pharisees, that he could raise seed to Abraham from the stones on the ground. That observation is still valid today. We should not take the absolute survival of the Church for granted if we do not live up the measure of our creation as Children of Light and love.

  100. I add my testimony to Ray’s, and everyone else who is okay with infallible prophets. I wrote it a while ago though. You can read all my thoughts here if you are interested: http://www.poetrysansonions.com/2013/01/my-testimony-welcome-to-new-year.html?m=0

  101. The following quote is taken from mormon.org regarding the apostasy and restoration of the church.

    “Without authority or divine direction, Christianity struggled to survive with conflicting opinions on even the most basic teachings of the gospel. Without priesthood authority or the full gospel, people had to rely on human wisdom to interpret the scriptures, principles and ordinances. Many false ideas were taught as truth, and much of what we know about the true character and nature of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was lost. Essential doctrines like faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost became distorted and important doctrines were lost entirely.”

    If what you describe is correct, what is the difference between the church now and the church during the apostasy?

    While I agree that people are fallible, and will make poor decisions, my view of the gospel includes a more direct and literal interpretation of how revelation works. I believe that our prophets and apostles have a more direct way of talking to god. If they were leading the church horribly astray, I believe God would quite directly tell them to stop, and call them to repentance.

    I am sure there is something to be said for the refiners fire, and maybe I am lacking in faith. Maybe my test is whether or not I will support leaders as they take us down what appears to be a dark and evil path. Maybe appearances are deceiving. But in the end, I don’t believe that my faith will withstand THIS test. If the church goes down this path, I will respectfully leave. I am pretty sure I won’t be alone in that either. I just can’t accept that god would allow a central doctrine of his church to be so horribly…wrong. That’s the logical path my mind cannot navigate.

  102. I understand that, AP – I really do. I hope it does not come to that for you or anyone else, but I understand it.

    As one of my favorite old prayers says: “May there be a road.”

  103. Fwiw, try reading Jacob 5 and seeing the vineyard as the kingdom of God that includes the LDS Church as the final grafting. Notice that even after that grafting, pruning still was necessary.

    Some people see that as referring to people, but I can’t read it that way in context of the entire allegory. I see the pruning as referring to ideas and beliefs that inevitably exist when “wildness” is part of the finished product. I see it as pruning the incorrect traditions of OUR (wonderful, sincere, inspired in so many ways) ancestors – and of us as we can’t grasp and be fed by the fullness of the root and, thus, insert our own wildness. Converts bring apostate beliefs with them, and long-term members bring mutated ideas, as well.

    Pruning can be painful, and it also can be deadly – especially if it’s not done “according to the strength of the root”. Fast, radical change has caused great pain and splintering in the Church in the past (think polygamy – both its implementation and its end), so I am okay with slower change, even in cases where I personally would prefer faster change. I figure there is enough change that would be greatly painful to me if done too quickly, so I’m okay with changes that won’t hurt me being made more slowly than I would want if it were all about me. I figure that determination is WAY above my pay grade, so I do what I can within my own sphere of influence to do good while doing no harm. I fail in that regularly, but, I do try, fundamentally, to do as little harm as possible.

    If this issue is painful for you, AP, may I suggest stepping away from this conversation for now? If we have reached (or passed) the limits of what you can accept, and if continuing isn’t going to change anyone’s opinions right now, a friendly end can be a very good thing.

  104. Oh, I don’t think I need to step away. I am not offended in the least. We have differing viewpoints, and that’s ok.

    I don’t see the church on that path yet, but if it goes the way that some may desire, that’s when my test starts. For now, it’s a friendly disagreement about a hypothetical future.

    It is however time for bed. We will talk more I am sure,

  105. forwardjoe says:

    Ray,
    Thanks for your thoughts here. Infallible prophets? Of course. But I see some members trying to lead the prophets along on their desired path, assuming that by their own methods they have reasoned what future doctrine will be. Not saying you do this but I have seen it at this blog and elsewhere.

    But instead of thinking our leaders infallible, I try to understand why their message on same-sex marriage and homosexuality is so out of step with much of our culture. Perhaps they really are teaching us sound and eternal principles. Maybe they are really our warning us of the evils and deceptions of our day. I do not think every social stance of our time will get undone with a 1978 style revelation.

    While our leaders aren’t perfect, assuming that they are wrong on this or other issues or that some future prophet will “correct” it is, in my opinion, very damaging.

  106. See what I mean by struggle. Having had to deal with this issue years ago, I am pretty much beyond struggling with it today. For myself, if not for others, I have found peace. For those others, I find sympathy. Recall how much struggling we witnessed when the Church changed its policy on same sex attracted young men in Church sponsored scout troops just a few months ago? Well, both the change and the struggling go on. And with respect to Church Leaders and revelation, our Father in Heaven struggles with them, too. When the Savior admonished us to “be ye therefor perfect” He was not suggesting that perfection was a readily achievable goal, or even something any of us [Church leadership, too] might achieve in our life times. Rather His perfection was more along the lines of the term in biology, i.e. complete, whole and open to charity, His pure love for all.

  107. European Saint says:

    I am mystified as to how 1978 has become the lens through which same-sex attraction (and other issues) are being viewed. In what way exactly are Mormon views on homosexual behavior supposed to be analogous to the former priesthood restriction situation (and yes, I believe our leaders are fallible-yet-inspired)? I know gays who chose to live with their partners, gays who chose marriage with someone of the opposite sex, and gays who have chosen celibacy. So no, I cannot accept the idea that there is no choice to be made — reality has demonstrated otherwise. And I do not see how central questions of eternal significance (the purpose of life, the make-up of the family) can be written off–like wearing bell-bottoms vs. more modern jeans–as just more issues that are subject to the unstoppable march of history, or whatever you want to call it. I assume that, in addition to the Family Proclamation, most BCC readers reject LDS Handbook 2, which states: “Those who persist in such behavior [homosexuality] or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline.” Is promoting and celebrating the alteration of the country’s (or state’s) definition of marriage to include homosexual unions “influenc[ing] others to do so”? Might be worthy of discussion. True charity does not mean endorsing behavior that does not bring happiness. (I know the vast majority of BCC disagrees with me on these issues, but I love you all and refuse to call you haters and bigots.)

  108. Yes, European Saint,

    Those are the three choices. But isn’t it amazing how few of us look at them in detail and therefore appear to disagree with you and I. We see a total condemnation of all LGBT by the majority of BCC commentators, this mirroring their condemnation of same sex attracted young men in Scouts. This majority seems to view all gays as opting for the first of your three catagories, choosing to live with a same sex partner. The third appears to be the category Church leaders champion, living a celibate life. And I have known only three who have opted for the second, marriage with someone of the opposite sex, one ending in disaster, one doing quite will, one a work still in progress. With the first two, disaster occured with one after 5 children when the one “came out” and left. The other did quite well caming out only to the spouse, who kept the secret quite well. The third came out in the mission field, returned home, was rejected and kicked out of the family and rejected by the ward, fortunately finding a mate whose family accepted them.

    We need a marked change in attitude so that those who opt for the second alternative are accepted, stay accepted and can succeed in life. And my asking for reaction to those whose child might come to love a same sex attracted for their opposite sex union pointed this out. Not until same sex members are fully and warmly accepted among us, will we be on a path to becoming perfect as individuals and as a church. Why don’t we all re-read Matt 5:43-48.

  109. In giving my opinion of this issue, I’d simply be restating what AP has said, so I’ll simply refer to AP’s comments as the voice of reason and realism in these comments (among others). I do think this issue has the potential to marginalize the LDS church, and that AP’s two scenarios are the likely outcomes. Many regular commenters on the bloggernacle will celebrate either way.

  110. AP and Brentanam,

    Yet European Saint’s second option, marriage with someone of the opposite sex, made more feasible by my observation that as a body of Saints, we need to accept same sex attracted people more fully, is the one we need to pursue. AP’s first option, holding fast to our current positions, fails to change us and place us on the correct path. His second option changes policy in ways that would destroy us entirely. So we need to accept same sex attracted people as the potential saints we all are, encourage them and us to reach a point where opposite sex attracted marriages can work out for same sex attracted people, and stop casting stones.

    As of yet, far too few of us accept the notion that same sex attraction is natural for some, this notwithstanding studies pursued on the campus at BYU and the Church’s sponsored web cite on the subject! What more can the Brethren do?

  111. forwardjoe says:

    Dale,

    The church did not change its policy concerning gay young men and church sponsored scout troops. The national BSA organization changed its policy but the church has always simply had a standard of sexual purity and has not in any consistent way kept chaste young men out of the scouting program who were gay. Though it may have happened here and there.

  112. Dale: The church quite specifically recommends that so-called same sex attracted people should NOT pursue marriage with members of the opposite sex as a means of dealing with their situation.

    Has this post slipped into some kind of temporal loop and taken us back to 1988?

  113. I am concerned that so many assert that gays are (currently) persecuted within the Church, or that blacks (historically) were persecuted. They generally juxtapose the two. A quick survey of the history of race in Utah doesn’t reveal much of a racist history. The KKK tried to move into the Wasatch Front in the early 20th century and found that Mormons were too tolerant for any sort of recruitment purposes and quickly turned on the Mormons. The slavery-era race theories were there, but there was also an understanding that Christian charity demanded a different set of norms than those adopted in other parts of the nation. Were there some distasteful and regrettable occurrences of racism in Utah history and in the Church? Sure. But they are incredibly insignificant when compared with the events across the globe.

    As forwardjoe has already noted regarding the Scouting issue, something similar has occurred with the homosexual issues. Gays are NOT persecuted by the Church. Many Utah wards have gay members. It is not widely taught that homosexual ATTRACTION is the danger to society, it is the continual redefinition of marriage and decline of morality that threatens the traditional family, which of course for Latter-day Saints is also the mechanism for salvation and exaltation.

    Innocent people, dealing with attraction to their own gender, are being manipulated by individuals who have philosophical or political agendas that place them at odds with the goals of the Church. Some of these, who value an individual’s sexual expression above that of the covenants which produce a Zion community and culminate in an eternal loving relationship with God, suggest that gays should abandon the LDS Church. Most faithful Latter-day Saints I associate with would NEVER suggest such a thing.

  114. Dale, I appreciate what you are saying, but I don’t see it playing out that way. On the Mormons and gays website, it clearly states that the church does not necessarily encourage opposite sex marriage to those who are homosexual like it did in the past.

    I also don’t believe that gay people will all of a sudden be content with an opposite sex marriage, just because people are nice to them.

    I don’t believe that we as a church should be unkind to gay people. I also don’t believe we should be unkind to adulterers, alcoholics, drug addicts, etc.

    The difference I see is if you cross the line of legitimizing from a spiritual standpoint in any way the behavior (vs. the state of being), I don’t see the logical end for it until temple marriage is part of it.

  115. I respectfully suggest that the Brethren recommend that gay and lesbian members remain celibate because they know how poorly the rest of us will receive them once they’ve “come out.” LDS Social Services still attempts to “fix” same sex attraction, not because they believe that they can, but because they hope that once through the process, their family and friends will believe that they are fixed and accept them. It’s a form of going back under cover.

    Just as with universality of priesthood in 1978, it is US who need the fixing.

    And AP, if being same sex attracted is not a choice, only acting on those attractions is a choice, are you saying that the physical body inhabited by gays and lesbians is some how defective? Does God make junk?

    We need to reconcile our response to same sex attraction with all of the aspects of our faith, not just one or two. Same sex attraction has been observed in human kind since recorded history began. Chances are many of the Roman soldiers who crucified our Lord were gays. Addressing them in particular, Christ said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” They were just following orders. Yet we know have reason to suspect that Christianity flourished among those soldiers. Any of you know what a pentagram is? Constantine’s vision of a cross in the sky may have been his attempt to get out in front of his largely gay army, whose pentagrams now demonstrate a faith in Christ. He was asking his troops to enter Rome and take it over. That may explain why Constantine did not seek baptism until near death but why he chose to back Christianity in sharp contrast to his predecessors. Many of his gay troops were Christians.

  116. I may be too simple minded, but I cannot see anything in your post that would lead to a conclusion that opposite sex marriage for gays is the optimum solution. I sincerely doubt that many gay people will agree with you.

  117. Dale,
    I am no professional historian, but I am skeptical of your reading homosexuality into these events. Of course homosexual acts and feelings have existed throughout history and so has every other sin but that is no reason to embrace it now even if previous civilizations did.

    I think there is also a difference between homosexuality which has always existed and the concept of sexual orientation and identity which is much more recent in origin.

  118. In a nation founded on the idea that all men are created equal, and which is not run under a theocratic government, I have difficulty seeing how anyone can expect that this can possibly go in any other direction than the one it is currently taking. It’s one thing to argue that God says this is wrong and sinful and not good for the nation, but until God shows up in court in person to make his own arguments, a religious point of view isn’t going to be taken very seriously in our courts of law. It’s one thing to adopt a religious point of view that helps you decide what your own actions will be with regard to your relationships with your fellow human beings, but it’s another thing entirely to try to force others at the point of a government gun to adopt those same beliefs.

  119. The 100 comments rule is amazing.

  120. What’s the 100 comment rule Ray?

  121. And as Mark N. points out, establishment i.e. “to force others at the point of a government gun to adopt those same beliefs” is what we oppose on a very fundamental level. See Art of Faith 11. And where we LDS support the concept expressed in Art 11, we must support allowing all others to decide what is and what is not an element of their faith. But once they have made that determination, mustn’t we honor it? With respect to polygamy and the 12/20 court ruling, the Browns very clearly declared their marriages to be spiritual, and that declaration under Art 11 must be honored by us. Then we must allow our courts to decide whether a religious practice imparts sufficient damage to society such that government may prohibit it. That showing being nonsensical or insufficient, the prohibition gets struck down. Nothing in the 12/27 ruling addressed faith based practices.

    Forwardjoe? Isn’t homosexuality sexuality between same sex people where heterosexuality is sexuality between opposite sex people? And isn’t sexual orientation, same sex, opposite sex, or either sex, the motivation to have sex consistent with the orientation? How am I reading anything into this that has not been a part of these definitions sense before these concepts were given names?

    And regarding your earlier assertion about Church policy against inter-racial marriage, I was not aware that it did. I am aware of LDS inter-racial temple marriages involving priesthood bearing men and life time member women, one going back to the early 60’s. When the couple and their several children move into my ward well south of the Mason Dixon line, it created quite a stir. Our Dixiecrat members thought that Polynesians were not supposed to have been given temple recommends.

    AP, I agree that very few if any LGBTs will choose same sex marriage, especially where we condemn them for coming out as being same sex attracted. It’s this societal condemnation that we need to fight, to stop, to turn around. That point has been made in much of the LBGT literature I have studied. The Brethren state that they “love” LGBTs, just not their chosen life style. But we LDS do not act like we do love and accept them. Hypocrisy abounds.

    I shall be checking back in every few hours or so until this blog topic is closed. Although I am heterosexually oriented and opposite sex attracted, I have been dealing with these issues on both a professional basis as well as on a personal basis since 1968, most recently 2001 through 2007. When I say “Change is coming” I well know what I am talking about. We either change ourselves to truly afford respect, acceptance and some sort of accommodation to same sex attracted members and potential investigators, or we fail to help the Lord roll that stone all across the world [Daniel 2]. And once again, I know from first hand knowledge three same-sex oriented/attracted to opposite sex oriented/attracted marriages, of which one failed [did not come out for some 18 years], one succeeded [did come out up front but only to the opposite sex attracted partner who kept it in confidence], and one which still struggles [came out first to family, got rejected, but found a partner willing to marry and struggle together with the spouse for success. As with the other two, the third couple has children and is temple married.]

    The latter appears to me to be the way to go, but only if we Saints will change our attitudes and our ways to adopt more saintly ways. To this change I have dedicated my life and my service to my Lord. I invite you all to join together with me.

  122. Antonio Parr says:

    Dale (and others who favor the legalization of same sex marriage):

    Once we get past the legality of same sex marriage — I think that we as a county are all but there — what do you propose as the Gospel standard with respect to sexual expression/the law of chastity?

    Sex is acceptable only between a married man and woman (i.e., who are married to each other)?

    Or sex is acceptable only between two people who are married to each other, with gender being immaterial?

    Is consensual vaginal intercourse between a married man and woman morally/spiritually indistinguishable from consensual anal sex between two married men?

    Is sex outside of marriage ever acceptable for anyone, gay or straight?

    And what role, if any, should sexual orientation play when it comes to placing children for adoption? Is homosexuality indistinguishable from heterosexuality when it comes to the best interests of children?

    These questions form the backdrop of the way that Latter- Day Saints approach the gay marriage issue. The answer to these questions inform the way that Latter Day Saints teach their children and teach and minister to one another. And these questions remain, independent of what the government decides to do with the institution of marriage.

    So what say ye regarding the law of chastity? (I suspect that most will say that this is a private choice between consenting adults, and, therefore, none of our business, but ours is a Church defined in large part by orthopraxy, and we go to great lengths to self-identify by adherence to teachings pertaining to certain areas of private conduct, sexual purity being among the most important.)

  123. Antonio, this is exactly what I am thinking as well. I don’t believe that supporters of SSM will be content with civil marriage, and they will push for more.

    You simply articulated it more succinctly than I could.

  124. AP ? Antonio Parr

    I most certainly do not “favor” the legalization of same sex marriage!! I merely understand why opposing it in the mode that we do, and not making the change in attitudes that I call for, is not only fruitless but destined to be disastrous. For you see, legalization is inevitable! “Kicking against the pricks” would be more useful. Study the law and the trends in law and that inevitability become obvious. In 1890, President Snow saw that staying behind polygamy would bring dire consequences to the Church. I see a similar but likely much less dire situation today.

    I propose that we LDS change our attitudes becoming more Christ like such that same sex attracted people in the Church can find a reasonable and potentially more acceptable and productive choice to the current alternative which is remaining celibate. That better choice is finding a mutually acceptable union between a gay or a lesbian on the one hand and an “normal” opposite sex attracted mate on the other. I have seen three of these and point out the difficulties associated with them, all stemming from your and my old fashioned hate riddled attitudes. We need to change our attitudes, not our values on what acts are right and what acts are wrong. We fail to show understanding to the same sex attracted who are living right now among us. Since 1968 I have known that they are there, 1960 if I count an incident which I forgot to consider herein above. Were you living in 1960?

    Go back and read all of my posts over again. You miss the thrust entirely.

    The remainder of your questions become irrelevant, important but nonetheless irrelevant if and when we change. Until then, those questions only highlight the problems we will have to face.

  125. Antonio Parr says:

    I am not “AP. “

  126. Dale, you aren’t the one who I would like to hear the answers from. I know where you stand. I just disagree that the problem with those marriages is my “hate filled attitude”. I think it stems from the fact that these people don’t WANT to be in an opposite sex relationship. Whether or not I believe that homosexual sex is wrong has absolutely zero to do with the success or failure of these marriages.

  127. Antonio Parr says:

    I actually am not making a point, other than to ask how those who are unequivocally supportive of same sex marriage view the broader issues of chastity.

  128. Antonio Parr says:

    And Dale, sincere apologies for misreading your posts! Just trying to better understand others’ point of view. So much to digest in this thread that I am losing count as to who said what!

  129. Antonio Parr says:

    And, of course, I agree that our gay brothers and sisters should be and feel loved and welcomed in our meeting houses and in our places of employment and in our homes and in our hearts.

  130. AP and Antonio,

    I am glad to know that you both do not feel adversity towards our numerous gay brothers and lesbian sisters, same sex attracted and all. But from my experience and the experience of that sister who appears to be in an interracial marriage as she expressed above, it would appear that far too many of us LDS do not share your feelings and attitudes. And it is those feelings and attitudes that I suggest we must be addressing.

    Do we not claim to be members of the Kingdom of God on the Earth? Should we not be showing Christ like acceptance towards all, just encouragement to modify behavior? I have seen most LDS who “come out of the closet” get shunned, shunned by family, shunned by members, shunned even by some leadership. Yes, things are improving. In 1960, leadership refused to address inappropriate behaviors from those LGBT who had strong Church connections but had not come out. Then, after several years of taking wrong turns, those leaders found themselves in trouble with the law for now disclosing allegations of behavior involving minors. Church investigations were a sham. One leader even claimed “clerical immunity” but to no avail. I forget what the punishment was. But my course 17 instructor, a police officer handling the case, told me about it and a few others.

    Finally the General Handbook addressed the situation and things ran to the other extreme. When young members come out of the closet, at one time they were excluded from participation in certain activities. Many were disowned by family, etc. Then when the Church placed its support behind California Proposition 8, saying it was the behavior and not the status that was offensive, most member LGBTs knew differently. While the Brethren voiced support and acceptance, these members had already experienced different attitudes. Hypocrisy reigned supreme. If any of you are from the Oakland, San Francisco Bay area, you will know about much of this. The Bay Area lead the way toward more appropriate acceptance and inclusiveness. But it has yet to spread very much further. CA Prop 8 did much harm. The most significant cause of death in the teens and twenties is suicide after coming out as gay!

    I suggest that we need to work on that hypocrisy, now! Then when same sex marriages become legal in all jurisdictions, we will have an environment which offers LBGTs a reasonable alternative, one consistent with all of our core values. AP suggests we have only two alternatives, I suggest we have a third and that it is consistent with all of our core values. He suggests that most LBGTs will reject that alternative. I know of three couples who tried it, but two were back in the days when our attitudes were wrong headed. The most recent appears to be working out but not without great struggles. I would address those struggles by our applying Christ like behaviors.

  131. I see a very significant difference between what civic society does and what should be expected of non-believers, and what should be expected of the professing Latter-day Saint. I cannot see how a member of the church can endorse the legitimisation of sinful relationships, and still maintain that he or she has a testimony. We must, absolutely love and care for those who have a same-sex attraction. We should support and encourage those within our faith facing such a monumental challenge to hold strong, and to deny themselves of all ungodly behaviour; to prove themselves to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord commands them, even though that may be more than a challenge. But should we not also hold and encourage others to hold to the belief that God never gives to us challenges that we cannot defeat through faith, and that there is an eternity of joy that awaits those who overcome through faith? We all have natural tendencies, which can be powerful, but do we just give in to them? A married man may find another woman to be attractive; may be hard-wired to want to act on that impulse, and may find his present spouse unattractive and intimacy with her unappealing (same too for married women of course). What should he (or she) do? Act on powerful natural inclinations? Divorce so as to pursue the other interest? It is of course very difficult to for a person to be expected to proceed through a lifetime without experiencing the type of intimacy that they desire, but God expects that of us all in all sorts of ways. He has been clear through the brethren, and how we can agitate against that expectation whilst still professing belief in the scriptures and tenets of the church beats me. In all the conversations I’ve had with those of our faith who support the legalisation of same-sex marriages, the underlying point is that they think that same-sex attraction really is an eternal condition, that should be treated as such by the church, and that the Lord is just waiting for the right time to reveal it. That view is simply inconsistent with all recorded scripture and teaching, past and present, on the subject, and cannot be reconciled, try as one might. The desire for legitimization of same-sex marriage, and its endorsement in the church is just the following of man’s precepts (2 Nephi 28:14) and will not survive any true, prayerful introspection, as is true for so many other ideologies that we are prone to accept. Prayer, and study will always correct us of false beliefs, but rational, logical thought rarely will. This is the last days, and it is a shame that for a minority in the church they do not see the devil’s agenda for what it is.

  132. Latter-day Guy says:

    Prayer, and study will always correct us of false beliefs, but rational, logical thought rarely will.

    Yep, reason and logic are surefire guides to falsehood. Which makes no sense whatsoever. Which––according to your assertion––must mean it’s correct, I guess?

  133. “I cannot see how a member of the church can endorse the legitimisation of sinful relationships, and still maintain that he or she has a testimony.”

    “The desire for legitimization of same-sex marriage, and its endorsement in the church is just the following of man’s precepts (2 Nephi 28:14) and will not survive any true, prayerful introspection.”

    There is no way to have a real discussion when, “I’m right, and I can’t understand any other position,” “anyone who disagrees with me hasn’t thought and prayed about it enough,” and the inability to see why some people can support communal laws that are different than their religious beliefs is the foundation.

    Not agreeing is one thing; not being able to understand is another thing altogether. All I can say is that I have a testimony, and my beliefs have been forged through true, prayerful introspection. Really, that’s all I can say.

  134. Antonio,
    As I understand it part of the reason the Utah law was struck down is because it wanted to define marriage in such a way that it excluded some people.

    You seem to be trying to define chastity so the definition is different for different people. In the temple it defines chastity as ” having sexual relations only with the husband or wife to whom you are legally and lawfully married.”

    If marriage is now legal for both gay and straight, then you can’t very well claim that sex within the straight marriage is OK but not in the gay marriage. They are each legally married under the same law.

    So James where does the sin come in? You seem to be believing that your culture, and that of some of the brethren is the same as Gods will. It is a very recent deviation that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, or that a sexual act heterosexual couples can do within the bounds of chastity, becomes a sin when homosexuals do it within the bounds of their marriage.

    I believe that like so many other things that were taught as if they were Gospel, but have now been dropped (because they were only culture and that change), it will not be long before we treat gay couples just as we do the rest of us, both inside and outside the church. We will be better people for it – just as we are better people without racism in our hearts. Neither can be condoned in a church that claims to follow Christ.

    We are going to have to start recognising what is Gospel and what is Church and what is culture.

  135. Gay marriage won’t tear the church apart any more than fornication- it will be fine. It will probably tear some people from the church, or give them episode to tear themselves from the church, but Mormons in general are very used to having different standards from the predominant population. There will be some adjustment in Utah and conservative areas of the US, where societal morals have been pretty similar to LDS teachings (at least in word), but that adjustment shouldn’t be worse for Mormons than for anyone else in those areas who supports now-“conservative” norms.

    Being Mormon means seeking to understand and follow the Lord’s will, and build the Church, regardless of social consequences. From the 50s to 80s or 90s in the US Mormons have had it pretty easy, with relatively little flak beyond the label of being “weird”, but in other nations and other time periods Mormons have consistently dealt with being “different” and more derided by their neighbors. Faith trumps popularity, or should, that is one of the basic messages of the 2nd half of the Book of Mormon. If anything, increased social derision due to consistency in heterosexual marriage will strengthen the Church, and those members that choose to be faithful.

    Gay people have been around forever, and if they’ve increased in the last century it’s been only slight. The main change is simply visibility. Once we all get over the drama of “I do” in courthouses, we will realize that not all that much has changed, except that proponents of gay marriage have another piece of ammo to add to their stack to shoot at religious people “toldya so, we’re right, you’re unjust and bigoted”, et al. In 2030 I’d guess we will be looking back at these blog posts and wondering why we thought this issue would change anything about the church.

  136. Antonio Parr says:

    Geoff –

    I am not trying to do anything other than invite answers to good faith questions.

    That being said, your attempt to pigeon hole LDS theology on marriage into some “legally and lawfully wedded” definition while ignoring the context of countless edicts on the topic by LDS authorities is entirely unpersuasive, as I am sure even those who agree with your overall conclusion would acknowledge. (“Render unto Caeser”, and all that …)

  137. Geoff A,
    The underlying LDS “theology” behind marriage is we are I God’s imagine, acting out God like and God given powers of procreation. That those actions do t always lead to creation of life doesn’t mean they aren’t creating a stronger bond between husband and wife, which further strengthens the foundation of a family.

    Homosexual sex has at the foundation only the relationship of its participants and never has the possibility or potential to create life, further extending God’s work and glory, and foreshadowing our own divine potential if we are exalted.

    This is the LDS theological viewpoint, which I’m surprised you don’t seem to be aware of. It’s not talked about often, possibly rightly so, because it’s hasn’t been entirely more relevant than the other traits we need to acquire in order to become like God in the first place. No sense putting the cart before the horse… With increasing confusion over the purpose of marriage maybe we’ll see more discussion in this direction, but even then there is a line upon line issue (somethings can’t be taught easily, they need to be revealed) , as many members on this site seem to discount it and many nonmembers like to call us crazy for suggesting it.

  138. Hey DonQ, Geoff, Antonio, Trent, Ray, Latter-day Guy, and James L.

    I see no one on this site arguing for legitimization of same sex marriage or advocating that standards be lowered. Rather I see some, including myself, who point out that we can and ought to be doing a much better job of making a place for same sex attracted members to marry and do the things we find rather easy and straightforward to do. Recall that among teenagers and those in their twenties, suicide after having “come out” as same sex attracted is the number one cause of death. Why? Rejection by the likes of us. If we on this site will not own up to the roles we play which lead to these horrible results for some, and to dissociation for others, then the wrath of GOD be upon us.

  139. Latter Day Guy,

    I do not know whether you deliberately misunderstand my point, but for the avoidance of doubt, I do not say that reasoning and logic have no part to play in important theological questions, perhaps far from it: But as what we believe is based on faith (think of Joseph Smith’s own view of what he himself would have made of the first vision from a rational perspective), there is a much more limited place for worldly wisdom. Think of the account of Korihor (Alma 30: 11-17,23-28); his ‘reasoning’ would be very difficult to overcome with reason, but it was plainly wrong, although taken at face value no doubt very persuasive, then and now. Think of what is said in 1 Corinthians 1-2: The concept of God and a Christ are ‘foolishness’ to most people, and there are powerful arguments against belief in them, and only non-rational support for them. I’m not an advocate for blind faith, but we are backed to that wall when all is said and done. What the present debate does, always, is to leave out scripture and faith and to argue using the wisdom of the world.

    Ray,

    what I cannot understand is how people are where they are in accepting the world’s view (at least the shouting minority), whilst still professing belief. I do not accept that on this point, anyone can have prayerfully sought an answer to this question and have received a response which is utterly at odds with all scripture and all of the teachings of the brethren (including up to the most recent general conference). To the extent that the issue has made the community thoughtful and kinder to those who are different, it is without doubt a very good thing for our mutual journey: But to go beyond understanding, kindness and charity not only places us in direct conflict with what God has proclaimed (and is proclaiming) on the subject, but also prevents us from properly supporting those who struggle with same-sex attraction. Ironically, in being ‘kind’ through condoning now, we are encouraging others to not do what the scriptures urge, namely to put off the natural man and becometh a saint, but to give in to natural inclinations; we usurp God’s right to tell us what we can and cannot do, and in its stead tell others that their struggle should not be undertaken. We help to prevent others from overcoming, what for them, is no doubt one of the challenge of their lives. That is no kindess at all. It is a gross disservice from those who should know better.

    Dale,

    Doing a better job of a making a place for same members to marry, is a very obvious form of legitimising the process. We should be encouraging such members to fight against this, not making a place to allow it. You also conflate the encouraging of others to deny themselves of sinful acts with a rejection of them. Why? Would it be rejection to encourage unmarried members to refrain from sexual intimacy, or liars from lying, or the angry from acts of aggression…? Why single out this single issue? I suggest that it is because it goes to heart of our eternal progression as those with and without the challenge. In respect of the former, it is undoubtedly a great challenge given to them for their benefit; for the latter, it encourages us to be at odds with God’s teachings.

  140. James L.

    Read the scriptures! You are wrong! Dead Wrong. You judge and are commanded not to judge.

  141. On that (ironic) note we’ll shut this thread down. Thanks all for your participation.

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