From the Archives: Anti-Gay Violence and Church Belief

August 19, 2007 | 110 comments
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We seem to discuss issues of homosexuality ad nausum around here. Surprisingly, one particular subtopic that hasn’t really come up in the past is the real problem of anti-gay violence.

Statistics

Reported cases of anti-gay violence affect thousands of people every year, and a high number of cases are believed to go unreported. One organization reports that 18 anti-gay murders and 700 assaults took place in 2003. And recent years have seen a number of high-profile anti-gay incidents, such as the murder of Matthew Shepard.

Links to Religion

Unfortunately, many times religious leaders do nothing to discourage anti-gay violence. In some cases, they may even encourage that kind of behavior. A few months ago, there was some discussion in the blogosphere in general about comments made by formerly (still?) influential preacher Jimmy Swaggart, who told a crowd he would kill any gay man who looked at him romantically. (Swaggart later apologized.)

That incident brings to mind Elder Packer’s controversial, somewhat ambiguous statements from thirty years ago wherein he (in response to an unspecified context) apparently endorses some instances of anti-gay violence. In his talk (which was published as a pamphlet), Elder Packer’s writes:

Now a warning! I am hesitant to even mention it, for it is not pleasant. It must be labeled as major transgression. But I will speak plainly. There are some circumstances in which young men may be tempted to handle one another, to have contact with one another physically in unusual ways. Latter-day Saint young men are not to do this.
Sometimes this begins in a moment of idle foolishness, when boys are just playing around. But it is not foolishness. It is remarkably dangerous. Such practices, however tempting, are perversion. When a young man is finding his way into manhood, such experiences can misdirect his normal desires and pervert him not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well.
It was intended that we use this power only with our partner in marriage. I repeat, very plainly, physical mischief with another man is forbidden. It is forbidden by the Lord.
There are some men who entice young meant to join them in these immoral acts. If you are ever approached to participate in anything like that, it is time to vigorously resist.
While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done.
After patient encouragement he finally blurted out, “I hit my companion.”
“Oh, is that all,” I said in great relief.
“But I floored him,” he said.
After learning a little more, my response was “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way”
I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself.

What did Elder Packer Mean?

As it is, the statement is ambiguous. It includes:
(1) Statements that men should “vigorously resist” homosexuality and “protect yourself.”
(2) The disturbing remark that “Somebody had to do it” — possibly implying that it is normal for gay men to be beaten up.
(3) The ambiguous mission story.

The key question, of course, is “what happened prior to the fight?”
(a) One possibility, which would make the elder’s behavior acceptable, is that his companion attempted to rape him or forcibly molest him. If that was indeed the background, then the missionary certainly had every right to defend himself from rape, using such force as was needed to do so.
(b) The other possibility is much more disturbing. It is the possibility that the second missionary “made a pass” at the first, or tried to (using Elder Packer’s words) “entice” him into participation in homosexuality, and that the first missionary reacted violently, with Elder Packer’s eventual approval.
This is a more problematic interpretation.

Since Elder Packer is an apostle of the church, I’m inclined to give him the more reasonable reading and assume that the missionary’s violent reaction was in response to a legitimate provocation — an attempt to rape or forcibly molest him. But I’m worried because it can easily be read the other way.

And I believe that some church members have that impression — that if a gay man hits on them, it is appropriate to assault that gay man in retaliation.

Legal Consequences of Violence

As an attorney, this impression (if it indeed exists) worries me. That kind of behavior — assault in response to a perceived slight — is clearly not legal.

If a gay acquaintance unambiguously approaches me (for example, says “let’s go to a gay bar and hook up”), I have several options. Most obviously, I can say “thanks, but no thanks” and make clear that I’m not interested in that kind of activity. If I think it’s necessary (for instance, if I feel uncomfortable around that person), I might avoid that person in the future. And I may have other options. If it’s a work environment or school environment, and if I feel that the behavior is coercive or harrassing, I might complain to a supervisor or perhaps file a harrassment claim.

One thing I would _not_ do, however, is immediately punch out that acquaintance. It’s pretty simple — that’s assault. It’s a crime in all fifty states, and the mere fact that the assault victim may have made a pass at me would in no way excuse me from my criminal actions.

Anti-Gay Violence and Church Belief

This leads me, in a roundabout way, to the real question — what should we, as members of the church, think about anti-gay violence?

One possible position is that church members might condone such behavior. Church doctrine does state that homosexuality is a sin. However, I’m not inclined to accept that position myself. After all, church members do believe in upholding the laws, including laws prohibiting violence. In addition, while it is true that church doctrine holds that homosexuality is a sin, it is also true that most sinful behavior does not justify a violent response. We don’t go around punching people out for drinking alcohol, after all, or for smoking cigarettes. We don’t go around assaulting people who don’t pay tithing.

Church members may believe that anti-gay violence is justified if a gay person makes a sexual advance towards a straight person. However, that argument is also unconvincing. Church members may feel that an invitation to participate in gay sex is an invitation to sin, and is inappropriate. However, it is unusual that an invitation to sin is acceptably met with violence. If someone offers me a cigarette — also sinful behavior under church doctrine — am I justified in hitting him? If someone tells me “Kaimi, maybe you shouldn’t pay your tithing this month,” should I punch him out? And if not, then why would I be justified in punching a person for suggesting that I participate in homosexual behavior with him?

At the end of the day, I don’t think that most acts of anti-gay violence can be justified under church doctrine. As church members, we should see this kind of violence as the same sort of unsavory behavior as any other sort of violence. It is entirely possible, and eminently sensible, to refuse to move from the church’s stated doctrinal position that homosexual sex is sinful towards any sort of position that anti-gay violence is ever acceptable.

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110 Responses to From the Archives: Anti-Gay Violence and Church Belief

  1. Kaimi Wenger on August 19, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    For a number of comments on this topic, from the last time this was posted a few years back, see http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=1358 .

  2. Julie M. Smith on August 19, 2007 at 9:32 pm

    I think it is unfortunate that you chose to emphasize Pres. Packer’s ambiguous comment when you could have highlighted the church’s brand-new pamphlet on homosexuality–which (IIRC–can’t check because lds.org is down right now) doesn’t address violence issues but does suggest that the some members of the church can learn from those who struggle with SSM–a radical idea in official LDS discourse.

  3. Kaimi Wenger on August 19, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    Um, this post was written before the new pamphlet, Julie.

  4. Julie M. Smith on August 19, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    I know that, Kaimi. My point was that if you wanted to discuss homosexuality and violence, I don’t know why you’d go about that by shining a light yet again on this ambiguous and problematic quotation instead of focusing on the new statement–which you can’t get past the first sentence (“You are a son or daughter of God, and our hearts reach out to you in warmth and affection.”) without realizing that the Church would not condone violence against gays. So I don’t understand what the point of this post (and its resurrection) was/is.

  5. Julie M. Smith on August 19, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    Or perhaps I might state it more clearly: given the conclusions that you draw in your final paragraph (which I believe are correct), I’m not sure why most of the post is about Pres. Packer’s statement instead of being about the new pamphlet.

  6. Kaimi Wenger on August 19, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    Um, because it was a slow news day, so I quickly pulled up an archived post? (And because Elder Packer’s statement still does carry some weight, doesn’t it?)

    But you’re right on the broader point. The subject of anti-gay violence is absolutely affected by the new pamphlet.

  7. D on August 19, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    Taking all of the Church\’s (and Elder Packers) comments together (both recent and dated), it is obvious to me that 1) the Church is anti-violence; and 2) there is no mystery as to how members of the Church should feel about violence toward those who yield to SSA.

    However…

    As an attorney, you focus like a laser beam on the law, but fail to recognize real world scenarios that fall between attempted rape and \”making a pass\”. You also equate smoking and drinking with sexual matters as though they are all simply generic sins. But that is where you are wrong. Sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances violate the essence of a person\’s personality and sacred space. I have no problem with a woman slapping a man who brushes against her or kisses her neck at work even though such activity would not constitute “rape” in a court of law. Similarly, as a 19 year old male missionary, were I to find myself the subject of an unwanted advance from my companion I may react somewhere between strong words, shoving him away or even \”slugging\” him. It would all depend on the situation. We should remember, a mission is not the same thing as a gay bar and some rules about what is appropriate and offensive have already been established.

    I might also react in one of the above three ways (yell, push, punch) were I to see a sister missionary being accosted by a male as well. Would my response be an assault? Maybe, depending on all the facts. But “reacting” in such a way should not be considered tantamount to unprovoked aggression toward anyone.

    What happened to Matthew Shepard was despicable and belongs in a separate category than what Elder Packer may have been talking about. And no, I don\’t think that defending oneself against sexual harassment or worse, with an appropriate (or even somewhat of an in-the-moment, inappropriate response) is a slippery slope to anti-Gay hatred or violence of the sort associated with Shepard’s attackers.

    Ps…while its rare overall, there have been many fistfights between companions over the years and I’ll bet a discrete minority of them were provoked by the subject matter here and even fewer of those slugfests resorted in appeals to the law—criminal or civil.

  8. Mondo Cool on August 19, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    An unsolicited kiss on a dance floor; a frontal grab in the men’s room; a backside grope in the workplace – - – I just think you’re a little addlepated if you classify the response as “anti-gay violence.”

    Interesting that one of the definitions for violence is “damage through distortion or unwarranted alteration.”

  9. jessawhy on August 19, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    So, when LDS.org is back up, can someone link to the new pamphlet please?

  10. Julie M. Smith on August 20, 2007 at 12:05 am

    Re #9–it is up now. Go to Gospel Library and search for God Loveth His Children.

  11. jessawhy on August 20, 2007 at 12:15 am

    thanks

  12. Velikye Kniaz on August 20, 2007 at 12:51 am

    I believe that there are several accounts of anti-gay violence, many, if not all, without seeming provocation, to be found on the “Affirmation” website. Some of those note that although the individuals (assailants) were identified their ecclesiastical authorities took no action whatsoever against them for their behavior. If the Church wants the world to know where it stands on this issue then in must not equivocate on it. The pronouncement(s) must be made absolutely clear and published to the Saints and to the world at large. Assaults made by Latter-day Saints must be dealt with in ecclesiastical courts with alacrity, and when deemed necessary dealt with the same gravity as attempted murder . Then and only then will the Latter-day Saint people get the message that this is conduct unbecoming a Latter-day Saint Christian.

  13. Guy Murray on August 20, 2007 at 1:28 am

    And I believe that some church members have that impression — that if a gay man hits on them, it is appropriate to assault that gay man in retaliation.

    I’m curious how you know this Kaimi? How many is some? And, are they Church members who have this impression today or 30 years ago? Frankly, while I was alive when this talk was given, it wasn’t until your post that I had any recollection of it. It never occurred to me as a Church member that Elder Packer was either advocating or sanctioning violence against anyone.

  14. MikeInWeHo on August 20, 2007 at 1:55 am

    Thanks for revisiting this issue, Kaimi. Even though I live in West Hollywood, arguably one of the safest places in the U.S. for a gay person, my mom often worries that I will encounter a violent attack. That makes me very sad.

    A summary of the Matthew Shepard murder can be found here:

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

    I think at least one of his attackers was from an LDS background, but I can’t document that. Does anybody have the details?

  15. Jonathan Green on August 20, 2007 at 2:17 am

    Kaimi, I don’t know the date of the original post, but I recall at least one very clear condemnation of anti-gay violence by Pres. Hinckley, in a talk on homosexuality, in a conference talk (I think) a few years back, perhaps early enough to have warranted a mention in the original post.

  16. Kyle R on August 20, 2007 at 3:58 am

    Anti-gay violence does not take place in isolation. It takes place within a context, and that context is the heavy-handed religious prohibition against it. To say that homosexuality is such a terrible sin but that this does not in any way condone violence against gay people is, in my view, disingenuous.

    I believe Sam Harris has made an analagous argument about the invisible link between ‘moderate’ Islam and violent, militant Islamists. The moderates, he says, must accept that although they may be moderate in their actual behaviour, they nevertheless are the ‘silent masses’ who still accept very judgemental beliefs in principle. This provides a big invisible cushion for more extreme militant action.

    Similarly, the psychosocial truth is that those who commit violence against gay people may feel they are in some senses in possession of an unspoken license to do so, because of the harshness of the moral judgment by the religious, or social culture to which they belong, the social or religious culture in which their violent attitude is indirectly accomodated, in which it it is in a very profound sense ‘nested’.

    I also wonder about another aspect of the attitude which says one must, “Hate the sin but love the sinner”. This I take to be the church’s policy in a nutshell.

    I believe this attitude to be actually sleight-of-hand. It allows its advocates to not only – wrongly I think – condemn gay people for their way of loving and sharing pleasure, but it makes this condemnation patronising as well as condemnatory. It adds insult to injury by allowing the LDS or other Christian person to cling to an attitude which causes misery and rejection among gay family or community members while at the same time being able to feel this emotional persecution is somehow being done in the name of love and that those carrying out this persecution are somehow still kind and decent people.

  17. Adam Greenwood on August 20, 2007 at 6:28 am

    “Hate the sin but love the sinner”. This I take to be the church’s policy in a nutshell.

    I believe this attitude to be actually sleight-of-hand.

    That’s deeply disturbing. It would be a sad, bitter world if we couldn’t condemn any kind of behavior without hating the person who’s committing it.

  18. Peter LLC on August 20, 2007 at 7:00 am

    It would be a sad, bitter world if we couldn’t condemn any kind of behavior

    So what is it about condemnation that brings about joy and sweetness?

  19. Adam Greenwood on August 20, 2007 at 7:20 am

    Right and wrong are real. A world where we pretended that what we did was just a matter of impulses and consumer preferences would be a sad, bitter world.

    You’re relying on at least one fallacy here. I forget the word for it, but its the one where you assume that “‘if x, then y,’ entails ‘if not x, then not y.” Saying “if the sun goes out soon the world will be without life” is not the same as saying “if the sun does not go out soon, the world will be without death.”

  20. Seth R. on August 20, 2007 at 8:03 am

    MikeInWeiHo,

    I went to law school in Laramie. The Matthew Shepard murder is still rather fresh in everyone’s memory there. The sheer violence of the event shocked the entire town.

    There was an absolute media feeding frenzy following the murder. Most of the reporters had already made up their minds what the story was going to be – a bunch of violent backwoods hillbillies who kill gay people. Most of the reporting was geared toward telling that story. Much of the truth was obscured in bias. I doubt we’ll ever get a really objective take on this story.

    There’s a lot of bitterness in Laramie about how the media essentially violated the town for a few months and then left without paying the hotel bill. It’s actually one of the more forward-thinking communities in Wyoming, due to its college town character and consequently, relatively highly educated population. The people there are some of the friendliest I have ever met in America. Many of them are a rather bitter that Detroit gets hundreds of murders each year and no one gives a damn, but Laramie has one and suddenly the US is “gripped with an epidemic of redneck violence.”

    The Matthew Shepard case was essentially a “shark attack” case, and handled just as stupidly.

    The guy has been painted as a holy martyr and none shall defile this graven image of him. Likewise, his assailants have been painted as faceless monsters, and none shall question this either. I just don’t think we’ll ever know what the real story was there.

  21. Kyle R on August 20, 2007 at 8:11 am

    #17 & #19

    A world where we pretend not to understand or straightforwardly acknowledge all the multiple, real and more subtle consequences of our behaviour and attitudes would also be – and thus is -a sad, bitter world.

    I don’t think it’s fallacy to point out that there are clearly very real psycho-social threads connecting the person who says “X is terribly wrong but I will not beat up someone for doing it” and someone who says “X is terribly wrong and so I will beat up someone for doing it”. I’ll say once again that it’s disingenuous to pretend that the general attitudes of a social culture are unconnected to local forms of ‘tribal retribution’.

    In any case, the condemnation is itself a form of emotional, psychological and spiritual violence to begin with and after that there are merely matters of degrees. Indeed I fear that anyone who decides to pummel a gay person is merely putting the final touches on more horrible and subtle forms of psychological and emotional persecution, cruelty and rejection practiced by judgemental parents, friends or co-religionists long before.

    The consequences of this are a sad and bitter experience for people who’s only crime seems to be the practice of an unconventional form of love that harms no-one.

  22. Adam Greenwood on August 20, 2007 at 8:51 am

    Uh huh. Look, there’s no reason to condemn behavior that no one does. Which means that there will always be someone who does it and who might get their feelings hurt if we condemn the behavior. And its also true, as you point out, that condemning behavior might encourage others to unjustly treat that person badly. So what? So either you’re wanting us to pretend that there’s no right and no wrong or you’re wanting us to embrace the idea that we should hate people who do wrong things. Both are absurd.

    Based on what you’ve said, it looks like the absurd option you prefer is the one where we feel comfortable hating people who do behaviors we condemn. I and the LDS Church condemn homosexual behavior. Yet you condemn my doing so, without any concern that I can see for how this subtle form of psychological and emotional persecution, cruelty and rejection makes me feel. People like you who engage in the horrid psychological, spiritual, and emotional violence of thinking what I do is wrong are just unimportant degrees away from actual violence against me (like the gay man in Chicago who killed his Catholic neighbor because, when he asked, she said that the she thought gay sex was wrong). You must obviously hate me, man.

    Or maybe not. Its possible that all your talk against ‘love the sinner, condemn the sin’ is an unintentional sham and, as in evident in #21, all you’re really saying is that gay sex isn’t sin.

  23. Kyle R on August 20, 2007 at 9:14 am

    #22 That I don’t view it as a sin is precisely what I’m saying. I realise that puts us at odds on this question which is fine, and in a sense there’s no resolving diametrically opposed opinions. But you’ve granted that the condemning behaviour can lead to consequences you wouldn’t yourself advocate. It’s an unpleasant truth for the the guardians of such an attitude to face that the responsibility for the violent outcome does not rest entirely with the thugs who carry out it out. Reality is not that simple. I was simply pointing this out, so my comments are not sham, as I think you know perfectly well Adam.

    But now here’s the rub. Though I hestitate to mention it because, my brother, it is a distasteful subject. Although I obviously condemn this heinous sin of yours in condemning gay people, I only remonstrate against the sin. You as a person, I do not hate, nor do I in any way countenance you’re being beat up for it Adam. I know that many people may have wanted to thump you for various reasons but I must state strongly that I do not think you deserve it. (Although if you put your hand on their shoulders and push your face into their’s while being obnoxious you may have to accept the results, which I would not agree with, but neither would I be unduly upset and if I had a chuckle over it with my friends I could hardly be blamed.) I understand that you have only given into a weakness and that although it is wrong, I believe you have the strength to overcome it. It is okay for you to condemn gay people in your thoughts, or for you to feel the urge to condemn gay people. That’s not your fault and may just be something the Lord has given you the challenge of overcoming for reasons we do not understand. But it is wrong for you to translate this icky impulse into action.

  24. Nick Literski on August 20, 2007 at 10:44 am

    #19 Adam:
    Right and wrong are real.

    Has anyone considered the LDS prohibition of homosexuality in terms of covenant, rather than absolutes? For example, few LDS I know would consider a non-LDS person who used tobacco or alcohol as “sinning,” because the non-LDS person isn’t under the same covenants as an LDS person. To the limited extent that Biblical comments show up on the topic, perhaps they are injunctions to a specific people, rather than blanket statements for all the world? Judaism understands this distinction, and points out that “it is no sin to be a gentile.” Judaism sees a very different set of moral laws for non-Jews than for Jews. Maybe it’s sinful for an LDS person under LDS covenants to engage in homosexual relations, but not necessarily so for a non-LDS person, who is not under LDS covenants.

    #20 Seth R.:
    I know you’re trying to say that the media affects public perception of events, but please—your post seems to approach the point of blaming Matthew Shephard for his own murder, or at least saying he “deserved” it. You don’t come out and say that, but your criticism of Shephard being “painted as a holy martyr” really seems to imply that. I hope that isn’t your intention.

  25. Adam Greenwood on August 20, 2007 at 10:04 am

    Which is all a long and mealy-mouthed way of saying that you love the sinner while condemning the sin. Perhaps its only Mormons that you think are incapable of this feat?

  26. MikeInWeHo on August 20, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    I think one of the reasons these discussions can get so ugly so fast is because the two sides have such different perspectives at the outset.

    A gay person typically sees their sexual orientation as a fundamental aspect of their personhood. The “love the sinner, hate the sin” sounds as absurd as saying it’s OK to be a Leftie as long as you only use your right hand when you write. But worse still, “love the sinner, hate the sin” feels personally hateful, even if that is not at all the intent of the person expressing it. Why? Because to the gay person there is no separation between self (gay person) and behavior (relationships). Worst of all, for those of us in relationships with kids it feels like an attack on our family. How would you respond to that?

    This leaves individuals who believe deeply that homosexual activity is sinful in a dilemma when it comes to interacting with gays. “Why do they seem so angry?” Has anyone here ever wondered that?

    Keep in mind that less than a generation ago, most LDS were avid supporters of sodomy laws which effectively made gays criminals. If somehow they were to return, I suspect many LDS would be OK with that.

    So I agree with what Kyle R is saying. There is real violence here as experienced by the gay community. My sense is that the other side feels equally threatened by the things that gays fight for.

    Sometimes I think that this is an intractable situation similar to the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. Only in this case, gays and conservative Christians both lay claim to the same moral land and holy sites. Marriage, in some way, is our Jerusalem.

  27. Ugly Mahana on August 20, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    One who has convictions, and assumes that others are intelligent, must accept that others’ convictions may differ from one’s own. The question becomes, then, may others be permitted to hold to convictions that differ. The civilized answer is yes. Discussion, understanding, and even the change of opinions may take place within civilization. Barbarians of all stripes attempt to make the answer no. The two main methods of doing so ought to be considered.

    On the one side are those who will use brute force to compel others to adopt a position in fear of life or limb. On this thread this is exemplified by beating up gay people simply because they exist.

    On the other side are those who stifle debate by denying that civilization exists at all. Adam demonstrated this masterfully by attempting to impose on this discussion the manifest falsehood that all who believe homosexual behavior is acceptable will kill those who disagree with them. In a civilized society, of which we may assume most gays, gay advocates, and others who believe homosexual behavior is acceptable in society or before God are a part, disagreement with or even condemnation of others’ convictions does not authorize violence. To suggest otherwise is to insist that one’s interlocutor is barbaric.

    To repeat, civilization is composed of those persons who permit others’ convictions to differ from their own. Barbarism is characterized by stifling the peaceable expression of conviction. Some hold that a higher standard distinguishes barbarism from civilization. For example, some believe that those who suggest homosexual behavior is acceptable in society or before God are not civilized. They are wrong. Only a subset of those who suggest homosexual behavior is acceptable are barbaric: those who attempt to stifle another’s conviction that homosexuality is sin by positing that it is impossible to hate the sin but still love the sinner.

  28. Ugly Mahana on August 20, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Well stated, Mike. Thank you for describing the ground so clearly.

  29. TMD on August 20, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    But, Kyle in re: 21, might not one also say ‘condemnations of necrophilia: another “sad and bitter experience for people who’s only crime seems to be the practice of an unconventional form of love that harms no-one”? When, if ever, does you argument allow you to label any kind of behavior that people might engage in as unworthy?

  30. Adam Greenwood on August 20, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    UM,

    Either I lost you or you lost me. Of course I don’t think that people who condemn traditional, Mormon morality as vicious bigotry and so on are all actually advocating violence against Mormons. I was making two points: (1) if you claim that there’s no such thing as loving the sinner while hating the sin, then if you condemn traditional LDS morality you must be saying that you hate LDS people and (2) if people who say that homosex is sin are responsible for Matthew Shepard, then people who say that thinking homosex is sin is wicked are responsible for the bludgeoned Catholic woman I mentioned. Both conclusions are absurd. Whether that makes me barbaric in your view . . .

    And ditto #28.

  31. TMD on August 20, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    MikeinWeho:

    I think you sum up much of the problem fairly well, but I would add that this state of affairs is the direct result of the intentional political construction of what homosexuality is or should be by gay rights activists, who argue that, for instance, their ‘dignity’ concerns should in law and society more generally outweigh those of religionists.

  32. Ugly Mahana on August 20, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    I think I should clarify my last line in 27. Often hating the sin but loving the sinner takes a tremendous amount of soul development. My guess is that Jesus is the only person who mastered such love. That is in part why he is the lawgiver. The rest of us should indeed be careful that our words or acts do not promote violence towards our fellow-travelers in life. However, it is also clear that some behaviors ought not be pursued, some inclinations should not be acted upon. And, often, the very statement that X behavior or act is wrong offends Y person who either participates in X or believes that nothing is wrong with X. To demonstrate, think of a child and a stolen candy bar. Some rules, such as those against stealing, largely deal with the public sphere. A greater number deal with the private sphere and either can or should only be enforced privately. The rub comes when these private actions have public recognition and public consequences. Marriage is an example. The relations between spouses is essentially private, but marriage, both by nature and by policy, has a great deal to do with the public sphere. Attitude and conviction is similarly situated, inasmuch as public discourse affects attitude. Thus, even though we are ill-equipped to truly love the sinner while condemning sin, I believe public discussion of what is and is not sin, and even the appropriate response to sin, must be permitted in the public sphere. We must trust to mores against violence and the rhetoric of “love the sinner, hate the sin,” to protect against physical violence. Of course, this holds true for those who do not believe X is sin as well. They must be permitted to explain why those who think X is sin are misguided.

    In the end, I think this is essential because silencing the public discussion will not change hearts, even if it changes behavior. Only convincing, which leads to conversion, will lead to a change that will outlast the use of violence or sophistry to silence debate.

  33. Ugly Mahana on August 20, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    Adam, I don’t think you’re barbaric. I was using you as an example for the irony. I guess it was too subtle. I actually agree with your points, and was trying to back you up when I got long-winded.

  34. LDSDanny on August 20, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    I believe that the GLBT community overplays the “anti-gay violence” aspect in order to claim the mantle of being a “victimised group”. They want to have it both ways- i.e. to continue to sin and then be allowed to do so by the Church, whether it be our Church or other non PC Churches who follow their Scriptures.

  35. Seth R. on August 20, 2007 at 2:27 pm

    NIck, is it ever possible to suggest there are unknown facets to a story without encountering accusations of “you’re blaming the victim!” ?

    Are we to consider Joseph Smith’s human defects off-limits simply because he was gunned down by an angry mob?

  36. Seth R. on August 20, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    UM,

    A third way of silencing debate is to assert:

    “You disagree with me, so that means you hate me!”

  37. Ugly Mahana on August 20, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Depends. If it is a conviction, then the point becomes debatable in itself. (“You disagree with me, so that means you hate me.” “No it doesn’t, it just means I disagree with you.” “Does not.” “Does too.” . . .) I suppose this silences the debate by moving the target.

    On the other hand, if we equate hate with violence, then the statement becomes a special case of point two. In other words, “You disagree with me, so that means you hate me” is another way of saying “There is no way you can disagree with me and remain civilized. Therefore, in a world where you and I disagree there is no civilization. You are a barbarian.”

  38. Nick Literski on August 20, 2007 at 4:23 pm

    #34 LDSDanny:
    [The GLBT community] want to have it both ways- i.e. to continue to sin and then be allowed to do so by the Church, whether it be our Church or other non PC Churches who follow their Scriptures.

    Quite the contrary, Danny. I don’t want to be “allowed” to do anything at all by any church. There are many individuals who make informed decisions to grant a particular religious body authority in regard to their decisions in life. That is their right, for which I would fight. I, on the other hand, have made an informed decision not to grant any religious body authority in regard to my life decisions. This is where I take issue with efforts by religious groups to impose the requirements of their faith upon those who are not members of that faith. No church has a right to “allow” me to do anything at all, because I don’t grant them that authority.

  39. Nick Literski on August 20, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    #35 Seth:
    Nick, is it ever possible to suggest there are unknown facets to a story without encountering accusations of “you’re blaming the victim!” ?

    There are always “unknown facets” to any story, Seth. Your post, however, was to criticized the media for not painting Matthew Shephard as a bad guy, and those who killed him as good guys. You made it clear that you resent the portrayal of Matthew Shephard as “a holy martyr,” and of his murderers as “faceless monsters.” If you actually meant what your post said, the only reasonable conclusion is that you are suggesting Matthew Shephard “got what was coming to him.”

    Of course, if you actually have information against the character of Matthew Shephard, or in favor of the character of his murderers, I encourage you to make your case.

  40. MikeInWeHo on August 20, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    re: 31, I agree with that. The gay community has done an excellent job of framing the debate and gaining the rhetorial high ground. Church leaders seem to recognize that and push back (using expressions like SSA, etc). Dallin Oaks’ article on Same-Gender Attraction (March 1996, Liahona) lays out the counter-argument quite well.

    This is not gaining traction at all in the broader culture. Perhaps within the echo-chamber of the already convinced and among the Evergreen crowd such language is used, but outsiders would consider it bizarre. It is now self-evident that gay people exist as a distinct subculture in society, like it or not. For example, can you imagine a segment on the evening news that referred to gays as “individuals with SSA” ??

    I don’t think that arguing against “love the sinner, hate the sin” is akin to stifling anyone’s religious convictions. The problem is that “Love the sinner, hate the sin” seems to really mean “Love the sinner, hate the sin, pass sodomy laws, fight anti-discrimination statutes, prevent gays from teaching in school, keep them out of the military….” and on and on and on.

    This is why the fairness and dignity arguments will ultimately prevail politically, imo. It’s crystal clear that as more people know openly gay individuals and families, the politics shift in their favor. I can’t really imagine a scenario where that trend could be reversed in our society, conservative wishful thinking notwithstanding. How could the genie be put back in the bottle at this point?

  41. Adam Greenwood on August 20, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    A little sexual Marxism, no? The Future is Inevitable, all hail the Future.

    I don’t think that arguing against “love the sinner, hate the sin” is akin to stifling anyone’s religious convictions.

    Of course it is. If you reject ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ you’re saying that if I think gay sex is sinful I hate gays.

  42. Nick Literski on August 20, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    I’m with MikeInWeho. It’s tough to believe you “love” me, when you lobby your senators to prevent me from enjoying the same basic civil rights you treasure. It’s tough to believe you “love” me, when you seek to pass laws which punish my private, consensual behavior. It’s tough to believe you “love” me, when you seek to limit my employment opportunities for reasons which have nothing to do with my job performance.

  43. MikeInWeHo on August 20, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    It’s a bit heavy-handed to call me a Marxist, isn’t it Adam? I’m hardly naive enough to assert that anything is inevitable. Heck, this country could veer into some fundamentalist-fascist phase that leaves Mormons in as much of a bind as the gays. Who knows.

    I’m not saying you hate gays, Adam. I don’t believe that at all. I’m just trying to highlight what I see as the problems in your argument, and show how your line of reasoning has historically been used to justify all kinds of atrocious policies….which I doubt you yourself would now support.

    Somehow I’m not too worried about either of us being stifled, for what it’s worth.

  44. Kaimi Wenger on August 20, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Nick,

    I tend to agree on substance, that same-sex couples should be given the same rights are heterosexual couples.

    But your rhetoric in 42 is silly. It’s entirely possible to love someone, yet prevent them from entering into certain contractual arragments, or legally punish their behavior. Are you really saying that love is defined as lack of legal prohibitions? Don’t be silly.

  45. Kaimi Wenger on August 20, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    Seth,

    On the question of Mathew Shepard, I’m with Nick. If you’ve got some concrete factual complaint, say it. Assert some factual grounds for criticizing Shepard or contesting some particular account. Otherwise, your innuendo about the victim of a brutal slaying is completely inappropriate.

    (As for the Joseph Smith comparison, I’m fine when critics point to _facts_. Respectable historians don’t say, “there’s probably more we don’t know, and it’s probably not the perfect image all Mormons have, neener neener.” They lay out facts.)

  46. Adam Greenwood on August 20, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    All right, Nick L. You may believe that I hate you if you wish. Now that we’ve established that, quit whining about it.

    MIWH,
    My argument has been that it is possible to condemn behavior without hating the person who behaves that way. You see ‘problems’ with that argument but apparently still don’t think I hate you. I’m not sure I follow your reasoning.
    I doubt ‘hate the sinner, love the sin’ has been used to justify all kinds of atrocious policies, but I really don’t care. True principles are always used in the justifications for atrocious policies.
    In my opinion, there’s more of the true spirit of fundamentalism and fascism among the gay-rights activists then there is among moral conservatives.

  47. Ray on August 20, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    Two things:

    1) The Church’s new pamphlet clearly does not condone anti-gay violence, except in cases where the Church would approve of true self-defense regardless of orientation. I don’t think it can be argued otherwise without resorting to a claim that non-acceptance equals discrimination equals implicit approval of violence – and that’s a stretch that is simply ludicrous.

    2) I have a VERY liberal opinion on social policy relative to homosexuality (not at the extreme, but much closer than to the middle). I have a fairly conservative opinion on homosexuality as sin from a personal, religious perspective (VERY conservative as to definition, fairly liberal as to ultimate consequences). I have a moderate opinion on dealing with homosexuality within the framework of the Church. My problem is that too many people stake out positions on the extremes of this type of issue, so I get blasted by both sides – as not conservative OR liberal enough. What is particularly galling is that many of the people for whom I advocate socially call me homophobic simply because I will not retract my religious opinion on their activity. I speak actively and forcefully against all discrimination outside of religious morals – and especially acts of violence, but I am a bigot simply because I think they are wrong in their choices? I’m doing everything I can to help people learn to love – truly love – people whose actions they cannot accept as “righteous”, and I am homophobic? If so, the words now mean nothing more than “someone who disagrees with me and has the audacity to say so” – and that is truly frightening.

    I don’t like the phrase “hate the sin; love the sinner” at all. I prefer something like “refuse to accept the sin; love the sinner.” The difference is primarily psychological, but I think it is important, nonetheless.

  48. Kaimi Wenger on August 20, 2007 at 6:02 pm

    By the way, I should note that I’ve had multiple conversations with church members where people made statements suggesting that they endorsed anti-gay violence. Particularly, the blustering, “if anyone ever tried to do anything like that to me, Pow!” kinds of comments. (Not unlike the Swaggart comment I linked in the post.)

    I don’t know how much of these are just the usual bluster and bravado.

  49. Ugly Mahana on August 20, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    But Mike, is calling an act a sin the same as condoning violence? Is the notion “hate the sin, love the sinner” actually faulty or merely offensive because it calls an act a sin?

    If moralizing is hate speech, and hate speech is violence, then moralizing must be violence, too. This reasoning shuts down discourse because conversation between opposing parties may only take place when conflicting opinions may be discussed without the threat of violence. Conviction which itself is violence cannot be part of a conversation.

    On the other hand, I think what you may be getting at is not that it is impossible to love the sinner while hating the sin, but rather that this is rarely done and hard to do. And that’s a lesson well worth repeating. We all must frequently be reminded that charity matters. We are all sinners, and not justified in throwing anyone away or up against a wall. But a call for charity and tolerance should still permit individuals to express their conviction that a given behavior may (or may not) be sinful.

  50. Nick Literski on August 20, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    #44:
    Rather, I’d say that attempting to impose one’s religious faith upon non-believers via civil law is the very antithesis of loving your fellow men.

  51. Nick Literski on August 20, 2007 at 6:27 pm

    #46:
    In my opinion, there’s more of the true spirit of fundamentalism and fascism among the gay-rights activists then there is among moral conservatives.

    Would you care to elaborate on this with examples, or do you prefer to just toss it out without foundation?

  52. Mark IV on August 20, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    I think the reason gay people take exception to the phrase “hate the sin, love the sinner”, is because we do a lousy job with the second part of it. We have good skills at reproving with sharpness, but we don’t follow through by showing an increase of love. Therefore, they esteem us to be their enemy. Gordon B. Hinckley has repeatedly asked us to befriend and fellowship gay and lesbian people. Have any of us participating here gone out of our way to do that?

  53. Ray on August 20, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    Yes, Mark.

  54. Jacob on August 20, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    “Based on what you’ve said, it looks like the absurd option you prefer is the one where we feel comfortable hating people who do behaviors we condemn. I and the LDS Church condemn homosexual behavior. Yet you condemn my doing so, without any concern that I can see for how this subtle form of psychological and emotional persecution, cruelty and rejection makes me feel. People like you who engage in the horrid psychological, spiritual, and emotional violence of thinking what I do is wrong are just unimportant degrees away from actual violence against me (like the gay man in Chicago who killed his Catholic neighbor because, when he asked, she said that the she thought gay sex was wrong). You must obviously hate me, man”

    “In my opinion, there’s more of the true spirit of fundamentalism and fascism among the gay-rights activists then there is among moral conservatives.”

    Adam – you are my hero, and I love you!

  55. MikeInWeHo on August 20, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Trotting out one bizarre gay/Catholic murder in Chicago is a classic red herring. Unless I’m missing something, gay-on-catholic violence (or gay-on-anyone violence) is not a major social concern. You undercut your point, whatever it is, using an example like that. If you believe that homosexual activists are the root of the problem and gays are ultimately getting what they deserve, why not say it? Stifled by the PC-police?

    The question to ask Adam and Jacob is this: What would you do about the ‘problem’ of homosexuality as you see it? We know what you are against, but what are you for? Re-criminalization of homosexuality? Removal of children from gay households?

    One of the reasons I participate in these conversations is to push people to examine where their arguments eventually lead. I appreciate it when people do the same with me (‘cuz goodness knows I’ve made some really stupid arguments before!).

  56. Adam Greenwood on August 20, 2007 at 8:11 pm

    Adam – you are my hero, and I love you!

    But not in a gay way.

  57. ronito on August 20, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    This all reminds me of conversations that must have taken place a long long time ago. In fact I’m pretty sure that if you replaced words homosexuals (or gays) with Mormons and homosexuality with mormonism they might just match up exactly in some cases.

    A bit ironic.

  58. Jacob on August 20, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    Just looking at the religious side of it (since that is what this post is about), I would do what the church is doing: teach that the specified behavior is a sin but teach that we should treat the sinner as we would treat ourselves, recognizing that all are in some form or another sinners before God.

  59. Ray on August 20, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    Mark, I was rushed when I responded to your question in #50. I did not mean to sound so curt, particularly because I agree with the basic point that it’s much easier to say we love someone whose actions we reject than to show true love for them. Overall, I think the histories of mankind, Christianity and Mormonism all show our inability to live what we teach as the ideal in that regard.

    In “A Time to Kill”, the White lawyer tells the Black man he is defending that they are friends. The Black man’s response is, essentially, “We’re not friends. You’ve never been to my house. You’re daughter doesn’t play with mine. You might see me as equal under the law, but you don’t treat me as equal outside this courthouse.” (OK, the last sentence is my translation.)

    This tendency to say one thing and live another is visible acutely when it comes to homosexuality. When I am with my heterosexual friends at church, I put my arm on the back of a the chair beside my or the pew on which I’m sitting – and if there is a brother sitting in that chair, nobody bats an eye. When I am with a homosexual friend and do the exact same thing (anywhere, not just in church), you bet I get looks. I am a hugger. When I hug a heterosexual friends, it’s lauded; when I hug a homosexual friend, it’s viewed with incredulity – as if I’m placing temptation in his path.

    In summary, it’s hard to claim love for someone whom you never serve – whose house you never visit and whose children (or friends) don’t play / associate with your children (or friends). With respect to this thread, I think it’s hard to say you “hate the sin, but love the sinner” if you don’t embrace and spend time with the sinner. In my mind, that’s a fairly bright line.

  60. Jacob on August 20, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    Ray – maybe everybody thought you were too good looking! (grins)

    You make an excellent point.

  61. timer on August 20, 2007 at 9:38 pm

    Adam,

    I don’t think there is anything in Mormon doctrine that requires us to “hate” homosexuality, just as we don’t have to “hate” coffee-drinking or alcohol consumption, and we are not required to “condemn” these things to the world. Yes, we all condemn acts of violence, abuse, coercion, etc. We don’t have to “hate” or “condemn” every single activity that fails to conform with current LDS teachings. Most GAs these days also avoid this kind of language (even if it was used in the past).

    Rather, we should say, as humbly as possible, “These are some things that I do not do (and would not do even if I were tempted) because I am LDS. Homosexual intercourse is one of those things.” And leave it at that.

    The idea that ordinary members should go around “condemning” homosexuality (or coffee, or Catholocism, or non-garment-wearing) is a sure recipe for for disaster. I’m sure your heart is in the right place, Adam, but I am frankly not at all surprised that you annoy and offend people when you use this kind of language. If you want show gays that you truly love them, perhaps softening your rhetoric (in particular, refraining from saying that you “condemn/hate” the “sin” of “homosexuality”) would be a good first step.

    If you really feel you have to speak out against homosexual intercourse, try first writing ten nice things about gays you know (or favorite gay authors, gay composers, gay actors, gay architects, etc.), expressing deep gratitude for the unique contributions gays have made to our world, and showing some true sympathy for the difficulties gays face in our society. After you have said all of these things — persuasively, convincingly — then you can maybe slip in, “Oh, and in deference to my church’s moral doctrine, I’d prefer that you all remain celibate.”

    But the way you go about things, I really can’t blame gays for concluding that you simply don’t like them very much. Your “condemnations/complaints to genuine compliments” ratio is seriously out of whack. Remember that we are are a church with a reputation for being not-so-hospitable to gays and lesbians. We should use our language to actively fight this reputation, not to subtly encourage it.

  62. Ugly Mahana on August 20, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    Mike, you ask an excellent question. Significantly, your question is different than what Adam initially addressed. Adam is on the record saying that he believes homosexual acts constitute sin. Kyle R said that therefore Adam must either hate gays or accept violence towards gays. Adam essentially said that Kyle’s conclusion does not follow the premise. You have asked a more nuanced question. To wit: “you believe homosexuality to be a sin, so what follows?”

    I, for one, think Jacob provided one good answer. Those who believe any behavior is sin should be able to say so, especially in their own churches. But this should not license violence or, especially for true christians, authorize hatred. As the scriptures make clear, even if we are offended by any sin, the greater sin remains with the person who refuses to forgive.

  63. Seth R. on August 20, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Actually Nick, I didn’t really want to say anything about Shepard one way or the other. I was clumsy about it, but really all I wanted to do was point out that it was a one-sided media feeding frenzy and a town I’m quite fond of got rather unfairly worked-over. That’s really it. Anything else that may have been implied, I’ll readily retract right now.

  64. Ray on August 20, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    UM, I have no right nor responsibility to “forgive” someone who has not hurt me. If my brother or sister chooses a life of active homosexuality, s/he has not hurt me in any way that is direct and measurable. S/he might offend my sensibilities, but Elder Bednar pretty much destroyed that as an excuse for feeling like I need to forgive him/her.

    Since we believe all of us are brothers and sisters in a very real way, where is the need for human forgiveness for someone who practices homosexuality with someone else who consents? My stake is full (word chosen intentionally) of sinners who attend church regularly – and I feel no need to “forgive” them for their sins or have them forgive me for mine. I’ll leave that issue in God’s hands – even though I accept the “sinner” label for them and me.

    In summary, the “sin” of homosexuality is no different in my mind than the sins that so easily beset me and of which I can’t seem to repent fully. If the Lord will grant me mercy in my inability to let go completely of my own pet sins, why should I not grant that same mercy to others whose sins simply are different than mine?

    I think if we really understood how little we deserve what we receive as we fail to live God’s ideal, we would be more likely to cut others slack whose lives don’t conform to our ideal.

  65. Ugly Mahana on August 20, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    Ray, I agree with you that the mere existence of another’s sin, no matter the sin, should not offend us. That’s why I said “even if we are offended.” IF we do feel offended (and I do not think that such offense would be justified) THEN we should remember that in harboring such feelings we are, in fact, committing greater sin.

    As always, it is much easier not to sin in the first place.

  66. Left Field on August 20, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    My building was a stake center until a couple months ago. Yesterday, I was snooping around in the decommissioned stake offices, and ran across a stack of “To Young Men Only” pamphlets in the back of a cupboard. I considered throwing them out, but decided that perhaps I should wait for an opportunity to do so more discreetly. Interestingly, when I came home, I read this post, and saw that the first time around, a commenter recommended that very action.

    A story that might be relevant to this topic: In my mission in the late ’70s, it was customary after a prayer for missionaries to shake hands after a prayer. It just became automatic to extend your hand after “Amen.” In small groups of 4-8 missionaries, we did a round robin of handshakes all around. One day, a few months into my mission, we were with the other elders in the district. When I reached out to Elder Hunt, my DL’s companion, instead of shaking my hand, he put his hands on my shoulders and with great flourish, kissed the air once on either side of my head, simulating the nonsexual double cheek kiss done between men in some European cultures. I was startled and amused, which was of course, his intention. Elder Hunt was kind of nuts. It never crossed my mind that there was anything sexual about the action, or even a simulation to anything sexual, let alone homosexual. The joke was in responding to a ritual greeting with an unexpected and culturally inappropriate greeting. He could have had much the same effect if he had curtsied or given me the “live long and prosper” sign. I enjoyed the joke, but didn’t think much more about it.

    Fast forward >1 year. I had been shaking hands after prayers for nearly two years. One day after a prayer with my companion, I was spontaneously struck with the same whimsy as Elder Hunt had been. Instead of shaking my companion’s hand, I put my hands on his shoulders, and leaned forward, aiming for the space above his left shoulder. He started to pull away, and I realized that perhaps he misunderstood my intention. I figured the best way to be sure he knew my humorous intent was to complete the intended “air kiss.” If I had backed off, that might have left him with the impression that I intended to give him an actual kiss. I pulled him back and made smacking sounds as I quickly leaned side to side while he continued to pull away. Obviously, I did not execute the joke as well as Elder Hunt had. Perhaps my companion had missed Elder Packer’s conference address, or at least he thankfully did not interpret it as some have suggested. He didn’t punch me out, but he did call the district leader and report that I had tried to kiss him. I tried to explain the joke to the district leader, but somehow, all the humor had gone out of it.

  67. Mark IV on August 20, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    In summary, it’s hard to claim love for someone whom you never serve – whose house you never visit and whose children (or friends) don’t play / associate with your children (or friends). With respect to this thread, I think it’s hard to say you “hate the sin, but love the sinner” if you don’t embrace and spend time with the sinner. In my mind, that’s a fairly bright line.

    Well said, Ray.

  68. Kaimi Wenger on August 20, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    Adam writes,

    “In my opinion, there’s more of the true spirit of fundamentalism and fascism among the gay-rights activists then there is among moral conservatives.”

    That is a bit of a head-scratcher. Which fundamentalist, fascist gay-rights activists are you talking about, anyway? And how do they stack up compared to, e.g.:

    -The “God Hates Fags” church protesters (Westboro Baptist) who claim that God killed people in New York on 9/11 because New York had too many gay people;
    -Jimmy Swaggart’s comments about killing any gay person who looked at him;
    -Michael Savage telling gay people on the air that he hopes they die of AIDS;
    -Jerry Falwell stating that AIDS is God’s punishment to gays, and later saying that 9/11 happened as God’s punishment for gays;
    etc.

  69. Ray on August 20, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    UM, I think it is MUCH harder (actually impossible) not to sin in the first place. I think it is MUCH easier to forgive or not judge than to not sin. The greater sin lies in those who
    condemn, specifically because those same people kneel at night and ask to be forgiven. IOW, I simply refuse to “blame” someone for SSA or for homosexuality activity, when there are sins with which I struggle and simply can’t seem to conquer – because I am human and that’s what humans do.

    My fundamental take on the whole issue of how homosexuality has been addressed and treated throughout history is two-fold: 1) I accept defining it as sinful, but I define “sinful” with absolutely no venom and apply it to each and every one of us in our own private struggles; 2) I think it has been used too much as a scapegoat and a differentiator for heterosexual sinners.

    For example, I don’t know how many times I have heard homosexuality accused of being the most obvious attack on the sanctity of marriage in our time, while I think the >50% divorce rate among heterosexuals (and 30-40% divorce rate among proclaimed Christians) is a much more obvious attack on the “sanctity” of marriage. I think if, over the years, we had treated gay men and women with the same degree of love and forgiveness and understanding and tolerance and mercy as we have treated their heterosexual counterparts (even if we focus exclusively on those committing the sin of fornication or adultery), we still would have many of the same discussions we now have about whether or not it should be an acceptable activity, but we probably wouldn’t be dealing with the core issue of “reject the sin, but love the sinner” in the same way we do now. It’s like a gay person has two strikes against her heading to the plate each and every time, while her heterosexual counterpart gets a new strike count for each at bat. That simply is wrong and hypocritical, and the gay community is justified in complaining about it.

  70. Jack on August 20, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    Kaimi,

    Quoting those idiots doesn’t resemble anything that looks like a viable crossection of social conservatism.

  71. Ray on August 20, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    Jack, it would if you had lived in an area where those statements are held to be gospel truths – like I have. I agree, they represent the extreme, but they also represent far too many people who attend church each week and lift their hands in praise of a God who smites gay people down by the millions for their abominable and corrupting plague on the world. That really is the way I have heard it expressed, with Amens and Hallelujahs shouted to the rafters after each sentence. I have heard otherwise intelligent students repeat these sermons in the halls of their school – and promise to kill any “fag” they find. I want to believe none of them actually would do so, but I have heard it too often to dismiss it as an unrepresentative anomaly.

  72. Ugly Mahana on August 21, 2007 at 12:15 am

    Ray, you misunderstood me. When I said it is easier not to sin in the first place, I meant it is easier not to take offense in the first place. I was talking about the sin of not forgiving. In short, I agree with you wholeheartedly, and have from the start. My comments were intended to point out that in addition to it being bad manners to take offense just because someone else does something we don’t like, doing so is sin itself, and holding onto such feelings more heinous from a doctrinal standpoint than whatever the someone else did in the first place. I think this was part of your point, too. Or am I still missing something?

  73. Ugly Mahana on August 21, 2007 at 12:17 am

    In other words, its a whole lote easier not to judge than to have to go into the weird world of having to repent for being holier-than-thou.

  74. Ray on August 21, 2007 at 12:30 am

    Got it, UM. Thanks for the clarification. Yes, we seem to agree completely.

  75. Mark IV on August 21, 2007 at 12:43 am

    Jack, FYI – Jerry Falwell is very representative of social conservatism in America. In fact, I would say that his is the prototypical social conservative.

  76. MikeInWeHo on August 21, 2007 at 1:01 am

    re: 68

    I was thinking the same thing, Kaimi. While I agree that liberals can be intolerant as conservatives, my sense was that Adam’s “fascism” comment sprang from a certain frustration on his part. When gays stand up and say “No, that’s not how it is and we’re not going to take this from you anymore,” we’re accused of being intolerant. A comparison to fundamentalism and fascism is deliciously ironic, when you stop and think about it.

    Jack may have a point that Kaimi’s quotes represent the extreme, but I have yet to see anyone define a forward-looking vision of “social conservatism.” All I observe are people saying “stop gay marriage” and pining for the old days of sodomy laws and closeted gays. Adam’s views, if ascendant, lead to a society where there is no visible gay community. Openly gay people would just be, well, gone.

    Is it any wonder that the occasional angry young man hears this and decides to take matters into his own hands, eliminating a gay or two on his own?

    Is it any wonder that a gay family might view this as an existential threat?

  77. Ray on August 21, 2007 at 1:25 am

    Mike,

    I think it is important in this type of discussion to separate (1) anti-gay violence, (2) a belief in homosexuality as sin, (3) hyperbolic condemnation of the gay community and (4) opposition to “gay marriage” (as opposed to civil union). I know plenty of people who oppose the first adamantly, accept the second fully, reject the third without disclaimer and accept the fourth completely. I believe that most civil union issues outside of religious acceptance should be addressed outside of marriage or union entirely, at least in a society that is screwed up morally as badly as the US is (and I mean that most pointedly toward the Christian, heterosexual community and how it fails to uphold basic standards among its own). I myself support a quite liberal application of civil unions – making “marriage” a religious ceremony and “union” a civil designation, thus allowing individual religions and denominations to determine what they will and will not classify as “marriage” – or even if they want to do so.

    However, I have heard many gay activists say, essentially, “If you can’t support redefining marriage to include homosexual relationships, then you are a homophobic enemy.” Frankly, an extreme stance in opposition to the other extreme is its twin – at least in fundamental attitude. I don’t believe that this description fits you or what I have seen you represent, but I do believe there are many people who don’t fit the stereotypical “‘stop gay marriage’ AND pining for the old days of sodomy laws and closeted gays” you describe.

  78. Chino Blanco on August 21, 2007 at 1:39 am

    Falwell may be representative but not even a cross-section would likely turn up anything viable at this late date.

  79. MikeInWeHo on August 21, 2007 at 2:24 am

    Ray,

    I sure hope you’re wrong about those gay activists, whoever they are. We could end this whole debate right now if we agreed to leave the definition of marriage to individuals and the church, while providing equal legal rights for all couples under the rubric of civil unions.

    This is what the UK recently did: establish domestic partnerships and end the whole gay marriage debate. I would certainly support the same thing for the U.S., although I suspect we’ll wind up with gay marriage here eventually. Look to Canada: the courts imposed gay marriage, and after a while nobody really cared. It’s not that big a deal.

  80. Brian on August 21, 2007 at 3:24 am

    I have a sister who’s sexual preference is that of the same gender. It is not my job do judge her, so I don’t. On the other hand, she has cut off contact with the family, because we have not agreed with her that homosexuality is in someone’s genes, and therefore not a sin. I love her just as I always have, but why should she put me in the position of morally condoning her behavior, when it is not for me to condone or condemn? And by the way, the percentage of people in the church who condone physical attacks on homosexuals is so small it is hardly noteworthy.

  81. Kyle R on August 21, 2007 at 4:04 am

    #24 “Which is all a long and mealy-mouthed way of saying that you love the sinner while condemning the sin. Perhaps its only Mormons that you think are incapable of this feat?”

    My sense of humour seems to have sailed right over your head Mr. Greenwood. The whole point is that I don’t see a sin in it to begin with and I accept that two consenting adults may have a way of expressing love for each other and sharing pleasure that’s different from mine, but that in the world God made for everyone, not just for you or I, this is okay and natural.

    #29 “But, Kyle in re: 21, might not one also say ‘condemnations of necrophilia: another “sad and bitter experience for people who’s only crime seems to be the practice of an unconventional form of love that harms no-one”? When, if ever, does you argument allow you to label any kind of behavior that people might engage in as unworthy?”

    TMD, it’s always possible to take someone’s point ad absurdum but it should be clear that on the gay question we are talking about the private romantic affairs of two consenting adults. Necrophilia does not involve consent and is a violation of someone’s – the deceased’s – rights, even in death. So that is the borderline. Now it’s possible to say, “So what about suicide pacts between consenting adults. So that’s okay then?” but again, this is to extend someone’s logic as a way of avoiding the argument.

    #30 “(1) if you claim that there’s no such thing as loving the sinner while hating the sin, then if you condemn traditional LDS morality you must be saying that you hate LDS people”

    Adam this is a perfect example of deliberately misunderstanding the point and using courtroom jousting techniques (extend the logic ad absurdum or invert the logic or lump separate categories into one category to muddy the waters).

    To disagree with one LDS position – on homosexuality – is emphatically NOT the same thing as “to condemn traditional LDS morality”. LDS morality is a much larger – and otherwise laudable – thing than its views on homosexuality. And I’m not singling out the LDS for this. The same problem exists in a variety of religious and social cultures.

    #41 “Of course it is. If you reject ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ you’re saying that if I think gay sex is sinful I hate gays.”

    Again you’re putting words in people’s mouths.

    #62 “Adam is on the record saying that he believes homosexual acts constitute sin. Kyle R said that therefore Adam must either hate gays or accept violence towards gays. Adam essentially said that Kyle’s conclusion does not follow the premise. You have asked a more nuanced question. To wit: “you believe homosexuality to be a sin, so what follows?”

    Mahana, my point was not exactly that, though you’re entirely right that questions need to be nuanced. What I was originally trying to point out is that direct violence against gays and the psycho-emotional violence of vehement – even if not physically violent – anathemas against their ‘sin’ are clearly connected.

    #69 Ray, that’s the most intelligent summing up of the situation I think I’ve ever read.

    #77,#79 Civil Unions for gay couples in the UK have worked really well. With regard to this issue, it’s ironic that a frequent complaint against gay people is that they are supposedly promiscuous and immoral and debauched, which evidently ‘threatens the fabric of society’. Yet the moment two of them want to publicly declare a bonded commitment to each other, there are cries that this is an attack on the ‘sanctity of marriage’ which… well…which ‘threatens the fabric of society’.

  82. Kyle R on August 21, 2007 at 4:29 am

    #25 “Maybe it’s sinful for an LDS person under LDS covenants to engage in homosexual relations, but not necessarily so for a non-LDS person, who is not under LDS covenants.”

    This sounds like a very good and thoughtful resolution of the issue.

  83. TMD on August 21, 2007 at 7:31 am

    KyleR: Why is that ad absurdium? In fact, its not even that far away–inasmuch as it requires a theory of harm, (and a rather abstract one at that, given that this practice involves no actual physical or psyhic harm for the person involved, for you to claim that there is a violation of some sort–just as those who condemn gay practices hold a theory of harm associated with them (you just support the theory of harm when conveinent, but not when applied to homosexuality). As such your argument is slippery and in your application of it, self-serving.

  84. Kyle R on August 21, 2007 at 7:56 am

    As I said, the ‘harm’ involved in the example you gave was one of violation of someone’s right to consent. In a consenting gay relationship this harm is clearly not there. In saying this I’m obviously taking the position that to visit something on a dead person is a form of ‘harm’ (to their dignity in death and to their right to consent – even post-departum – to uses of their corpse). The fact that no actual physical harm can be suffered by a dead person I accept. But if as in LDS belief the soul is reunited with a resurrected body then there would be a form of psychic harm/offence involved.

    I’m not sure I understand what theory of harm applies to gay practices between consenting adults. If it means they might cause each other spiritual, psychological or emotional damage then how does that differ from the terrible mutual wounds that are often inflicted on each other by heterosexual couples?

    In all honesty TMD, if my arguments are in any way slippery then I beg to understand how they can be any more examples of sophistry than the arguments coming from the opposing view.

    As I myself am not gay and am happily married it’s hard to see how my position on homosexuality is ‘self-serving’.

    Throughout this entire thread I feel that both ‘sides’ are engaged in a futile battle. There is little common ground between those who assert gay people are sinning and those like myself who don’t see what the problem is.

    I don’t feel as though I’ve even myself taken the dialogue any further than Kaimi’s original post, which was extremely thoughtful, I felt, and drew some important and sensitive distinctions.

  85. timer on August 21, 2007 at 8:58 am

    Brian,

    “I have a sister who’s sexual preference is that of the same gender. It is not my job do judge her, so I don’t. On the other hand, she has cut off contact with the family, because we have not agreed with her that homosexuality is in someone’s genes, and therefore not a sin. I love her just as I always have, but why should she put me in the position of morally condoning her behavior, when it is not for me to condone or condemn?”

    But most scientists believe that homosexuality itself IS in the genes (or otherwise determined by birth via hormone levels in the uterus, etc.) And homosexuality itself (by which I mean having same-gender attraction, openly “being gay”, and associating with and advocating on behave of the gay subculture) is not a sin at all. It is only homosexual sex that is currently forbidden by our church (for reasons we may never fully understand).

    Of course, I don’t know your family situation, so I am undoubtedly oversimplifying things (and it may be that your sister is indeed unreasonable in the amount or type of validation she requires), but I can’t see why the scientific question of “genes versus uterine hormones versus early childhood psychological imprinting” should affect your family relationships. Can’t you say, “You may be right about the genes. Who knows?” and leave it at that?

  86. MikeInWeHo on August 21, 2007 at 11:04 am

    re: 80

    I’m relieved to see you and your family didn’t contribute anything to your estrangement from your sister, Brian.

    (Sarcasm = Off)

    But seriously, if you care about your sister you really should read Carol Lynn Pearson’s new book “No More Goodbyes.” It might help your family find a path forward, and it comes from a faithful LDS perspective.

  87. MikeInWeHo on August 21, 2007 at 11:08 am

    “What I was originally trying to point out is that direct violence against gays and the psycho-emotional violence of vehement – even if not physically violent – anathemas against their ’sin’ are clearly connected.”

    Incredibly well-stated, Kyle. Thanks. You also helped steer this post back to the original topic.

    What’s interesting is how Adam, TMD, et. al. basically respond that those who oppose the Church’s condemnation of homosexual behavior are committing some kind of psycho-emotional violences themselves, in the opposite direction. I had never heard this before; it’s something to ponder.

  88. Kyle R on August 21, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    #87 Mike I’m afraid that turning the argument on its head does seem to have been the essence of the response but as you seem to realise it skirts the issue. The psycho-emotional violence of declaring some [consenting, adult] members of the community to be in sin because they love and desire differerently takes place within a context where this anathema has been widely spread and has led to and still leads to terrible persecution and violence. So, as I say, the ‘sin’ condemnation is historically and socially linked to hatred and violence. But there is no similar historical or social context where LDS or other people have been subjected to terrible cruelty, ostracism and bashing because of their position on the gay question. Quite the opposite. This position is still comfortably within mainstream opinion and in fact serves to lessen the distance between Mormons and evangelical enemies on at least one point.

    For this reason, turning the argument around and saying that to challenge this condemnation of gays is itself some kind of psycho-emotional violence or hatred of LDS people is simply disingenuous and in fact trivialises the very real suffering of gay people on this score.

    Saying that, the LDS church does deserve qualified credit, I feel, for improving its attitude towards more kindness. I say qualified credit because it still seems 1950s under the gloss and there’s only a little to congratulate over adopting a kind attitude late in the game when this kind attitude would have made good Christian sense a lot earlier, and would certainly have lessened a lot of misery.

  89. Adam Greenwood on August 21, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    this is a perfect example of deliberately misunderstanding the point and using courtroom jousting techniques

    You don’t like my pointing out the logical implications of your arguments but you don’t want to retract your arguments either. So why not resort to an ad hominem?

    Jerry Falwell is very representative of social conservatism in America. In fact, I would say that his is the prototypical social conservative

    I would say that your acquaintance with social conservatism is as intimate as is mine with the topography of the Marianis Trench.

    that direct violence against gays and the psycho-emotional violence of vehement – even if not physically violent – anathemas against their ’sin’ are clearly connected

    This is just a smear tactic, in my opinion, a way of blackening people who hold a moral position by associating them with violence that they do not condone or advocate.

  90. Nick Literski on August 21, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Adam, would that be like the “smear tactic” of blackening people who hold a different moral position than yours by associating them with facism and fundamentalism that they do not condone or advocate?

  91. Brian on August 21, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    In response to #85: Timer, can you tell me what gene or hormon causes homosexuality? Just wondering…….

  92. MikeInWeHo on August 21, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    You can disagree with Kyle’s logical construct without accusing him of smear tactics, Adam. Likewise, disagreeing that Jerry Falwell is representative of social conservatism hardly requires impugning his knowledge of social conservatism. You might make that claim about me (although you’d be wrong), but Kyle seems like an active member of the Church. So if anyone is veering toward ad hominem arguments here, it’s you.

    I’ve noticed that in these highly polarized debates it’s common for individuals on either pole to assume that the other side is either ignorant, deluded, or just plain evil. I have been guilty of that myself in the past, but the older I get the more I realize the world is much more complicated than that.

  93. MikeInWeHo on August 21, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    re: 90

    The Wiki articles are pretty good, Brian. Start here:

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

  94. Mark IV on August 21, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    “As much as anyone, he [Falwell] precipitated a reconfiguration of our public life whereby democracy has been reinvigorated by the inclusion of millions of citizens determined to have a say in how we order our life together.”
    Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor-in-chief of First Things

    “And it was once Falwell and his followers identified so strongly with the Republican party that they forever made themselves enemies of the secular Left that dominates our media and culture.”
    Paul Kengor, director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College

    The Rev. Dr. Jerry Falwell was an unapologetic spokesman for the Judeo-Christian values on which America is based… In the political realm, he will be most remembered for his role in founding the Moral Majority — the organization that galvanized evangelicals into political action in the late 1970s and helped Ronald Reagan win a landslide victory in the 1980 election…A founding father of the religious Right, his success in encouraging millions of Americans to engage in political action will be a major part of his legacy.
    Ed Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation

    With the emergence of the Moral Majority and its successors such as the Christian Coalition, the Christian Right became a major player in American politics. It helped defeat a dozen liberal Democrats in Senate races in 1978 and 1980, helped Ronald Reagan win a landslide victory in 1980, and provided the essential ground troops for conservative candidates over the next quarter of a century. Reverend Falwell…was an organizational genius whose political legacy will be with us for years to come.
    Lee Edwards, distinguished fellow in conservative thought at the Heritage Foundation

    Falwell mobilized millions of here-to-for apolitical fundamentalists to become more active in civic life and public policy disputes and his work deserves much credit for the political victories of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984. His movement was a “defensive offensive” (Nathan Glazer’s term) against Supreme Court decisions, especially Roe v. Wade, that caused Falwell, and other fundamentalists leaders, to reconsider their former negative view of politics.
    American politics has never been the same and the ongoing influence of religious conservatives will remain a powerful (if often overstated) force in our public life. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Falwell’s theology, politics, style, or tactics, the work he began in the late 70s has kept many moral and social issues of great consequence at the forefront of our public conversation. And that is not a small accomplishment.
    Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington

    Adam,

    Neuhaus, Feulner, et.al. think that Falwell was the major force in social conservatism over the past 30 years. Apparently you disagree. Fair enough. I really don’t care that you think I don’t know what I’m talking about. As you would say, your opinion of me is a matter of complete indifference to me. But a smart guy like you sure looks stupid arguing with Neuhaus when you post something from First Things to the sidebar every other day.

  95. Adam Greenwood on August 21, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Neuhaus, Feulner, et.al. think that Falwell was the major force in social conservatism over the past 30 years. No, they don’t, not even in the quotes you cherry-picked from eulogies (the link is here, by the way, for those who are a little unsuspicious of unsourced quotes on the web: http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MDQ4NTJmZGUzOWJlMjFiMzUyMGM2NzY1YzBkNGVjMGU= ).

    In any case, claiming that Falwell was an important contributor to the rise of social conservatism over the last few decades is not the same at all as saying that he is a representative or prototypical social conservative. Goldwater was an important contributor to the rise of the conservative movement generally but he was hardly a prototypical conservative, especially in his later years.

    Here’s First Things, the journal I am guilty of reading, on the subject of Jerry Falwell.

    when he returned to public life later in the 1990s he seemed to have become something like a caricature of the caricatures of Jerry Falwell: a bad imitation of the imitations of himself. He stopped being careful; he started spotting off. He would say, from time to time, bizarre and stupid things—all faithfully reported as the latest lunacy from the Republicans’ religious right, although, in truth, he hadn’t mattered much to that world for a decade.

    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=739
    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=788

  96. Mark IV on August 21, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    In any case, claiming that Falwell was an important contributor to the rise of social conservatism over the last few decades is not the same at all as saying that he is a representative or prototypical social conservative.

    True enough, Adam. But it is clear, at least to me, that most mainstream social conservatives feel very comfortable with him. NRO doesn’t do wall to wall eulogies for people it considers to be beyond the pale. Do you disagree?

  97. Brian on August 21, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    To Mike: Thank you for the link, but that actually proves nothing.
    “no scientific consensus exists as to how biology influences sexual orientation”

  98. Adam Greenwood on August 21, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    I think they tend to do it for significant political figures. President Clinton will probably get one when he dies, e.g. But I agree that while mainstream social conservatives wouldn’t want to identify themselves with everything that Falwell did, most probably do think that he was not a John-Birch completely-beyond-the-pale type and that he was often unjustly caricatured in the press.

  99. Adam Greenwood on August 21, 2007 at 3:31 pm

    Brian, there’s lots of uncertainty about how biology affects homosexuality but a lot less uncertainty that it does. The identical twins of men who are gay, for instance, are disproportionately likely to be gay. But while biology clearly affects homosexuality, it isn’t fate. Many identical twins of men who are gay are not gay themselves, even using fairly fool-proof tests like measuring penile responsiveness to male and female images. So while biology is a major influence, you have to believe that chance, environment, or choice also play some role.

    The leading theories about how biology might affect homosexuality are the genetic theory, the fetus-affecting maternal hormone theory, and the low-grade infectious disease theory, with the first two being seen as more likely.

  100. Mark IV on August 21, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Brian, 96,

    While you are correct that nothing has been proved yet, are you aware that the church has now allowed for the possibility that there may be a biological cause to homosexuality? It would be a shame, I think, to break up a family by taking a harder line than the church itself.

  101. Ray on August 21, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    I know I probably am overstepping my bounds, but I really don’t want to see this turn into a debate over whether or not homosexuality is genetic. When we embrace that conflict, we essentially embrace a “natural man” is good / “unnatural man” is bad philosophy – which goes directly against our focus on overcoming the natural man who is an enemy to God. In that light, I think Christianity lost the homosexuality debate the instant it allowed the discussion to become a scientific one (natural vs. unnatural). Also, the Church’s new pamphlet very clearly does not try to make the “unnatural” claim, so I don’t think I should do that, either.

  102. bbell on August 21, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    “penile responsiveness”

    First time ever used in the bloggernaccle?

  103. Adam Greenwood on August 21, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Ray, FYI, “natural” for most Catholic social conservatives does not mean “found in nature” or “caused by biology.” I say this only as an aside because your main point about the dangers of relying on genes to make a moral case is clearly right.

  104. Jonathan Green on August 21, 2007 at 3:59 pm

    If anyone has anything substantial to add to the conversation, you’d better act fast. Comments will be closing soon, I suspect. Penile responsiveness must be the new chupacabra.

  105. Ray on August 21, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    Adam, Thanks for that clarification. I know the Catholic outlook on a lot of things is very different than its Protestant and evangelical counterpart, and sometimes I forget to make that distinction.

  106. Ray on August 21, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    I laughed at the first usage; #101 about killed me.

  107. Brian on August 21, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    In response to #99, I am more than willing to allow my sister her opinion, though I believe it to be wrong. And if you are quoting from that pamphlet, am I mistaken or does it still consider acting on homosexual feelings a sin?

  108. Nick Literski on August 21, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    Ray, I think your use of “the natural man is an enemy to God” is a bit misdirected. It appears you are suggesting that if homosexuality is “natural” in the sense of having at least a partial biological origin, then it falls under the condemnation expressed in this scripture.

    I don’t think that the scripture was intended to use “natural” in the sense of “biological” or “found in nature.” I think it was intended to mean carnal, as in “to be carnally minded is death.” If the scripture is meant to indicate that man “in his natural state” is an enemy to deity, I think that flies in the face of Mormon doctrines regarding accountability. It would suggest that an infant, for example, is “an enemy to God.”

  109. Ray on August 21, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Brian, I don’t know the answer to what I am about to ask, so I don’t mean it to be accusatory. It is sincere, but it is not meant to be leading in any way. Also, I realize it is very personal, so if it goes too far, feel free to not answer. I will understand that completely.

    Are you and your family willing to drop the issue, not discuss it with your sister ever again, invite her and any partner / friend into your home(s) and otherwise treat her / them the same way you wold treat her if she were heterosexual and “sinning” in some other way?

    I ask this because I think I can say with complete confidence that your sister knows how her family feels about her lifestyle. She doesn’t need to be told how you feel. It sounds like she is an adult. I wonder if she is being allowed to govern herself – knowing fully the disappointment her choices cause her family, but not having it mentioned when she is with family. In other words, even if you can’t agree with her actions as being “right”, can you accept that she is free to make them – and can you accept her despite them? If she has a partner, you aren’t accepting your sister if you are rejecting her partner. You don’t have to accept the partnership theologically, but can you accept it as her own free choice and embrace it as part of who she is – right now and possibly until she dies?

  110. Kaimi Wenger on August 21, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    Thanks for the comments, all. I think this thread has been remarkably un-contentious, given the topic. Thanks all for contributing.

    Now, for various arcane reasons, I’m going to close comments on this topic, for another 76 years.