Gay Marriage and Households with Kids

May 28, 2008 | 53 comments
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A Megan McCardle McArdle guestblogger has a well-expressed version of “the conservative case for gay marriage”.

Here’s the gist of it, though the whole post is worth reading:

An 8-year-old goes to play at the house of his friend, who is raised by two lesbian women. The environment is a loving one. So this playmate, whose straight parents are married, is going to absorb one of two possible norms.

1) My friend lives in a happy home. His parents are married. When people grow up and love each other, and want to have kids and a happy home, they get married. (I hope I get married one day.)

Or

2) My friend lives in a happy home. His parents aren’t married. When people grow up and love each other, and want to have kids and a happy home, sometimes they get married like my parents. Other times they don’t get married, like my friend’s parents. (One day I may get married and have kids, but maybe I’ll just have kids and live with the person I love.)

This is a good argument. But consider its implications. Replace “lesbian women” or “gay men” with “polygamous parents” or “polyamorous commune” or “single parent by choice” and this argument works just as well. If Johnny likes his little playmate Alpha Clone and enjoys going over to play with him at the house of his parent Daddy Alpha we must say that Daddy Alpha is married to himself or Johnny might grow up thinking that not getting married and having kids is OK.

Consider also that too many households these days consist of unmarried, straight parents. Needless to say, these households are not uniformly mean and hostile places for neighbor kids who come over to play. So by the logic of this argument, we should not allow our children to play over at their homes lest they grow up to become illegitimate parents themselves. Similarly, even if gay or polygamous etc. households are institutionally recognized as marriages, by the logic of this argument we still should not let our kids play with the children of these arrangments if we don’t want our children to grow up thinking that these kinds of arrangments are morally acceptable.

Now if parents are careful about what households they let their kids play in I have no problem with that. But maybe parents would do better to let their kids play while teaching them morals and good goals that are strong enough to survive meeting nice people who do immoral things or have settled for lesser goals.

P.S. For other posts on the conservative case for gay marriage, see Matt Evans’ post here. See also posts here, here, and here.

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53 Responses to Gay Marriage and Households with Kids

  1. Adam Greenwood on May 28, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    I won’t be monitoring comments closely during the day today. When I do get around to it, I will do it with the glint of comment deletion in my eye. I will delete comments that attack revealed sexual morality, that disagree with protecting and preserving traditional marriage in rancorous or unsympathetic or ignorant terms, that stray to far from the type of gay marriage argument discussed in this post (including comments about comment deletion), or that I feel like deleting.

    There are three types of comments I am likely to feel like deleting:

    gay comments,
    straight comments,
    and
    your comments.

    Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  2. Jeremy on May 28, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Before coming to Utah last year I taught at a small liberal arts college in the midwest. One of my colleagues in our small department was a gay man in a committed relationship — we’ll call them Charlie and Tim.

    Charlie and Tim decided to adopt, and through chance circumstances ended up with a foster-to-adopt child very, very quickly. I was quite concerned about how to explain it to my eight-year old. But for some reason he didn’t seem to sense any of the cognitive dissonance I thought he would perceive. Sure, he knows what we believe and the moral standards we hold dear; he also knows that many of our friends, including Charlie and Tim, don’t share those beliefs. If I had given him a fire-and-brimstone lecture about the perversity of Charlie’s and Jim’s family situation, I think he would have come away utterly confused, because he has seen firsthand that they have a very tranquil, happy family life, and that their son is well cared-for and loved.

    But to bring this into dialog with the questions Adam poses: I don’t know that the issue of whether or not they are married, or could ever marry, or should be able to, actually ever registered in my son’s mind. And having grown up mostly outside of Utah, he’s seen lots of people who seem to lead very happy lives while not adhering to the standards that my son has learned growing up as a member of the church. We’ve tried to raise him in such a way as to make sure his testimony is based on his own spiritual witness and his own experiences, rather than on the notion that unless he obeys x, y, and z his life will be miserable.

    And that question seems to be one of the main issues in the gay marriage debate–though it often remains unspoken. How dependent is our gospel pedagogy on the notion that disobedience to the commandments will bring a life of misery? Are we adequately helping our children to discern the unique happiness that the gospel brings — the happiness that others don’t experience? Because if we convince our children of the misery of the gentiles, and then their experiences don’t back that up, we lose credibility. When our children meet someone that enjoys and extremely happy home life outside the gospel (whether in a household with gay parents or otherwise), how do we explain to them what that home is missing?

  3. kevinf on May 28, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Adam,

    You said:

    “Now if parents are careful about what households they let their kids play in I have no problem with that. But maybe parents would do better to let their kids play while teaching them morals and good goals that are strong enough to survive meeting nice people who do immoral things or have settled for lesser goals.”

    Couldn’t agree with you more. No fear of deletion (whew)!

  4. Aaron C. on May 28, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Alma 36:30 ““…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land; and…inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence”.

    Jeremy, I think you’re right, LDS parents/leaders need to focus more on the blessings/joy that comes from living the gospel rather than the fire and brimstone if we don’t. If “our” joy isn’t better than “their” joy, what DO we have? Sure, sometimes disobeying the commandments leads to misery, but sometimes it doesn’t – especially if you’ve never covenanted to keep those commandments.

    That being said, I know a lot of gay people and have gay friends and they seem to be perfectly happy and kind people. I’m less worried about what gay people would do to the institute of marriage than what straight people are currently doing to it.

  5. John Mansfield on May 28, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    I do not recognize cohabitation as an acceptable alternative to marriage, but what sort of recognition do I personally confer or withhold? Well, when a co-worker invited me to a housewarming party at the house she and her boyfriend had moved into, I didn’t go because that’s not something I celebrate. Similarly, I decided I wouldn’t invite the cohabiting couple across the street into my house.

  6. jjohnsen on May 28, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    I’d like to know if John makes sure his neighbors obey the Word of Wisdom and avoid pornography before inviting them over to his house as well?

    My daughter has relatives that drink alcohol, but still have very happy, wonderful lives. Is it smarter for me to force her to avoid those people and try to make her believe the only road to happiness is that way we do it, or should I let her know the truth that there are millions of people that don’t pay tithing, drink wine and are gay that are probably just as happy (or happier) than we are?

    She’s going to figure out the truth sooner or later, I don’t see any reason to lie to her about it now.

  7. Kwadwo on May 28, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    John Mansfield: Would the couple-living-together-across-the-street suddenly be welcomed to your home if they took the discussions, got married, and were baptized? Because that has happened in our ward twice in the past six months (well, except that they didn’t live across the street). How, exactly, do you couch the “You weren’t good enough for my house a month ago, but come on over now” in a Christian manner?

    Sorry, man, I’m decidedly with Martin James on this one.

  8. cchrissyy on May 28, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    My 5.5 year old is going to a birthday party this week at a two-mom home and I think all he cares about is the friends and games.
    I don’t think he’s ever asked if anybody outside our family tree is married or not- everybody out there is just “a family” to him.

  9. Jonathan Green on May 28, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    A reasonable way to approach the issue of commandments and happiness is to think of it in terms of specifics rather than as a yes-or-no issue. It isn’t impossible to explain to kids that people are blessed in particular ways for the commandments they do keep, rather than cursed with a smiting, yea, a most sore smiting, for stepping out of line.

  10. Joseph D. Walch on May 28, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Kwadwo and Martin James,

    I think you’re being unfair. The post was about children, and children are very astute. They know when people are and aren’t married, they are very observant, they are very interested in new people. The same argument can be made about a person who uses the F-word frequently. Would you like having a person who uses the F-word into your home? Is it OK to make sure inappropriate elements of the world have access to your home?

    I for one would guard the doors of my home vigorously. If somebody lives an indecent, immoral life in private, they won’t be able to prevent that from coming out in public. I can respectfully tolerate other people’s values in public, but why should I choose to invite those indecet and immoral elements into the private lives of my family including my impressionable children?

    Another question: If you neighbors decided to bring a case of beer to some party you invited them to, would you ask them to take their alcohol back to their homes?

  11. Joseph D. Walch on May 28, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Look; the world is what it is and we have to tolerate certain iniquities and frontal attacks on our values, but do we HAVE to invite anything that the world thinks is appropriate into our homes? I think the answer is a clear NO.

  12. Adam Greenwood on May 28, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    By the authority invested in me by both sets of my superiors, I am tyrannically suppressing further vigorous exchange of opinion in the free market of ideas on the subject of John Mansfields’ neighbors.

    The discerning reader will note that this post is not really about whether we should invite paedophiles into our home in the name of tolerance, whether we should bar St. Teresa from our homes in the name of maintaining social norms because she thought uncharitably once, and all the range of behavior in between.

  13. alice munro on May 28, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    More than 2 decades ago my kids went to a school at great distance from our house. There was one other family and so we carpooled. It was only over the course of a couple of years that I got a complete understanding of that family history. There was a biological dad of a girl the same age as one of my daughters. He had been in a marriage with a woman who turned out to be schizophrenic and they divorced after the birth of the daughter. He then took on the responsibilities for parenting his daughter and, eventually, found a gay mate.

    All this was not apparent to me for the first year. I simply picked up the daughter, had casual conversation with the dad and was grateful for help with the driving. Later, someone else began greeting the daughter when I dropped her off. In time, they trusted me enough to be candid.

    They were, actually, lovely people. And they were very committed to their daughter who was a handful. I’ve lost track of them but I wondered whether she might not have some of the mother’s tendency — they were exceptionally intelligent and abstract people and knowing the difference between being abstract and disengaged it a toughie. Anyway, I grew to respect them and have complete trust in them even to the extent of allowing them to drive my son unaccompanied. They were parents just like me and had the same protective impulses.

    If they hadn’t given that child a stable and loving home there’s no way of saying what her life would have been like. What they did inside the privacy of their home is of no more interest to me than what anyone here does. But as parents, we were able to support one another and I remain grateful for their assistance and for trusting me to be able to deal with them candidly as friends.

  14. Ray on May 28, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    I am close to someone who was raised by a wonderful father and mother. His father served in various leadership positions in the Church and would do anything for his children and others. He is dedicated to temple work and loves the Lord with all his heart. I love this good man dearly.

    I also have seen the effects of his black and white view of the world that he taught his children. It was “us vs. them” – “the Church vs. the world” – “Mormons vs. Gentiles”. Gentiles were sinners who would endure misery; Mormons were saints who would be blessed with happiness. My friend is not the only child in his family who has recognized the discrepancy between what he was taught in his youth and what he experienced as an adult. Likewise, he is not the only child in his family who now struggles with a testimony of the Restoration.

    As kevinf said, your last paragraph is spot-on, imo. My 5-year-old daughter knows the broad outline of what it means to be gay. In her own words, it is either being “happy” or it is “when a boy dates a boy or a girl dates a girl – or when they sleep together”. She’s five, and she didn’t get those definitions from her parents. I hope her understanding of happiness, like mine, is not dependent on the happiness of others but rather her own spiritual growth. If it is, then things like gay marriage won’t affect her negatively – and she might actually understand how to address the Gospel in a way that can make sense and help her gay friends, even if they never embrace the Church. That I would celebrate.

  15. Jeremy on May 28, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    An earlier version of this comment was (justifiably, I admit) moderated, so I will say only this:

    Joseph D. Walch:

    Do you not see or make a distinction between someone saying the F- word in your house and having someone in your house that says the F-word elsewhere? Living outside of Utah I had plenty of friends in school or at work that used the F-word fairly casually. But they knew that I didn’t, and that I didn’t like hearing it, so they knew not to use it when they were at my house.

  16. Lupita on May 28, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    The onus is on the parents to know their children’s hosts and to determine their level of comfort with them, regardless of sexual orientation. I’m guessing that most people who refuse to socialize with gay people would be unwilling to allow their children into their homes. On one hand, I’m surprised at the free passes given some people based on certain assumptions of character/home environment. On the other, I completely understand wanting to avoid explaining complex moral issues with a child. It’s just as difficult to explain why Member X _____________ (doesn’t attend meetings, can’t babysit, wears maternity clothes, is in prison, etc.)

  17. Jeremy on May 28, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Also: there are plenty of nice folks in our ward and our neighborhood whose houses we don’t let our kids go to because they watch much more violent movies than we allow out kids to watch. But our kids have been to lots of faculty get-togethers, etc., where they’ve seen people drink beer and maybe even seen a gay couple holding hands. It’s much easier for us to explain our standards to our children in light of the second scenario than the first. In the second, we are tolerant of Dr. So-and-so’s drinking, etc., because he is not a member of the church and has not made the same covenants we have made. In the first scenario, though, we have to explain why we interpret the gospel standards differently than the other family, who for whatever reason don’t mind their children watching Dawn of the Dead.

  18. Huston on May 28, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    First, we’ve all probably seen some good LDS kid end up getting disillusioned, or maybe even going inactive, because they found out that what they had been raised to expect–that all non-members are miserable and that not living gospel principles always leads to some kind of (possibly secret) malaise–isn’t true. When teaching in my ward, I ask the youth if drinking is fun. They dutifully answer no. I tell them that they’re probably wrong. They’re shocked. I say that I’ve never had a drink, but that if it was so awful, millions of people wouldn’t volunteer to do it for fun. Then I ask them, “So why don’t we drink?” They’re often stunned. I have to draw it out of them that we don’t drink, ultimately, because we’re commanded not to. Period. Avoiding hangovers or DUI has absolutely nothing to do with it.

    Ditto for gay relationships. If a lot of gay people are (surprise!) perfectly wonderful folks just like anybody else, then why do we as a church oppose gay marriage? Answer: because leaders that we sustain as prophets who receive revelation through Jesus Christ have instructed us that it’s necessary. After that do we reasonably rationalize the principle based on the axiom that a two-parent, two-gender home is statistically and sociologically the best place for a child to be raised. (We could go on and on about the “conservative case for gay marriage”…it’s called libertarianism.)

    Also, it’s easy to wax enlightened about where we do and don’t let our kids go and why, or who comes into our home, with a view towards being tolerant. Truly, no matter what standard we enact, we’re going to seem inconsistent at times. But let me defend a couple of writers here: ultimately, we have to draw some kind of line. We may not like it that someone doesn’t let the cohabitating couple in or the drinker, while they do let the violent movie-watching family in (or the drinker in; these are meant to be hypothetical examples), but if we let that be an excuse not to exclude anybody or anything, then we’re not living by our values, either. At some point, we’ll have to look our gay friends in the eye and say, “I like you, but I think that gay marriage is wrong and that gay relationships in general aren’t what God intended. It’s not personal and I’m not against you in any way, but I know that my beliefs are true.” Of course many will be offended and hurt. Perhaps there’s a more diplomatic way to say it without compromising the basic message. But that’s the way it is.

    Yes, we need to reach out to others and invite them in and be neighborly, etc. But there’s a balance between constant open arms and our responsibility to the church. In a world that continues to slide towards no judgment of anything (except the kinds of things we stand for), if we want out families to be safe, we’ll need to look less like our “enlightened” neighbors, and more like some of those seemingly “narrow-minded” older generations that we so quickly pan for their lack of sophistication. We might abhor a “black/white” mindset; sadly, Satan will gladly use that tolerant worldview against us.

  19. Tiffany on May 28, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Huston, that was an excellent comment. I really appreciated it.

  20. C. Biden on May 28, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    “That being said, I know a lot of gay people and have gay friends and they seem to be perfectly happy and kind people. I’m less worried about what gay people would do to the institute of marriage than what straight people are currently doing to it.”

    Amen. Amen.

  21. Huston on May 28, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    “I’m less worried about what gay people would do to the institute of marriage than what straight people are currently doing to it.”

    I’m sure this was said and quoted by some writers here with the best of intentions–to be understanding and friendly while also holding to our priorities. But consider this–IF someone did want to just pander to mainstream ideals, isn’t this exactly what they might say? Shouldn’t that give us pause to think?

    Why should we differentiate at all between gay marriage and, say, cohabitation and divorce? Aren’t they all symptomatic of society’s selfishness at the expense of children? Shouldn’t they all be lumped together as obstacles to the preferable family unit as outlined in the Proclamation? If we sometimes focus on gay relationships, it isn’t because they’re disproportionately harmful, it’s because they’re disproportionately represented in the media and legal battles.

  22. Ray on May 28, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    “Why should we differentiate at all between gay marriage and, say, cohabitation and divorce?”

    That’s the real rub for me, excepting divorce, since the Church doesn’t teach that divorce necessarily is sin.

    I would add that we need to teach our kids that there is no fundamental difference morally between homosexuality and any other form of fornication. They simply are different manifestations of the same action – violation of the Law of Chastity. They all are less serious than adultery, since they do not involve covenants.

    My biggest problem with the way that this issue is portrayed by many is that so many treat gay and lesbian neighbors or associates differently than their heterosexually cohabitating (or “adultering”) neighbors or associates. If someone will keep their children out of the house of a gay or lesbian couple (or ban that couple from that person’s home) but will allow those children to play in the house of an unmarried heterosexual couple or a known adulterer (or invite them over), that’s selective discrimination and wrong, imo. That means, if you choose avoidance, you might have to ask about the marriage status of your kids’ friends’ parents, since you can’t assume marriage anymore.

    As Adam said, pick an approach; just do it consistently according to the standard you (collective group usage) choose to follow, not selectively to single out one sub-group.

  23. Larry Ogan on May 28, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    I grew up in the little town of Roy, Utah in the 1950′s. There was one family in particular whose kids were not alowed to play with me because my dad smoked.

  24. Jeremy on May 28, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Huston said:

    “We may not like it that someone doesn’t let the cohabitating couple in or the drinker, while they do let the violent movie-watching family in (or the drinker in; these are meant to be hypothetical examples), but if we let that be an excuse not to exclude anybody or anything, then we’re not living by our values, either.”

    Later, Huston voiced a fear of “no judgement of anything.”

    Because I may choose to let a gay friend and his partner in my house, or take my kids to a cocktail party where some people might be drinking, that hardly means I’ve abandoned any sense of personal judgement. I wouldn’t let my kids be around heavy drinking. I wouldn’t invite a gay friend over if he was wildly promiscuous and brought a different “friend” every time.

    Furthermore, I think we lose credibility when we couch moral standards in terms of “traditional values.” Because when our youth imagine the 50s, they may envision the smiling Cleaver family. But they also envision blacks at the back of the bus. And they must wonder, “Did some people see 1978 as a step down the slippery slope?”

    Our standards have to stand on their own. Our youth won’t gain a lasting conviction of them based on the notion that they are the only key to a reasonably happy life. They won’t gain a testimony of them based on the idea of “traditional values.” The only really conviction comes from their being true.

    And sometimes truth exists on a slanted plane between various points of view.

    I find that if I wear a good pair of shoes, the slope doesn’t seem nearly so slippery.

  25. Matt Evans on May 28, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Jeremy, I don’t disagree with your comment, but your final point is moot given that no one ever finds their own slope slippery.

  26. Adam Greenwood on May 28, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    I endorse Huston’s comments. Woo!

    Ray, you might well be right that there’s no fundamental difference, but I don’t know. From a subjective standpoint you’re probably right. From an objective standpoint you might make an argument that homosexual sex lacks the symbolic or mythic freight that heterosexual sex does, which could make it better or worse. I’ll have to think about it.

  27. Ray on May 29, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Adam, let me put it this way:

    The fundamental charge against homosexuality is either that it is unnatural or that it is contrary to God’s standard for sex. The first is suspect as a blanket statement, to put it charitably; the second I accept, but the exact same could be said of any other form of fornication I can mention.

    I don’t want to turn this into a discussion of gay marriage, so I simply will say that my view of the hypocritical way that heterosexuals often view and condemn homosexuality while giving a pass (or at least quick forgiveness) to heterosexuality outside of the Law of Chastity is central to how I view all of these discussions. It goes right back to what you said at the end of this post – that kevinf quoted in #3 and I referenced in #13:

    “Now if parents are careful about what households they let their kids play in I have no problem with that. But maybe parents would do better to let their kids play while teaching them morals and good goals that are strong enough to survive meeting nice people who do immoral things or have settled for lesser goals.”

    If parents are gong to pick the first option, I just think they should shield their kids from all households that violate their core principles – not just one particular type of household. From a fundamentally Biblical moral stance with the specific Mormon phraseology (all sexual relations outside of marriage are forbidden), in the eyes of God both homosexual activity and heterosexual fornication are violations of the same command and, hence, equally reprehensible. I can’t support marginalizing one and not marginalizing the other equally.

    I just see such action as telling our kids that we need to avoid those who have gay sex, but it’s ok to hang around serial adulterers or unrepentant fornicators. If we are going to rank these situations in order of potential danger (either just in their outlook or in real, physical terms) to our children, the vast majority of whom will be heterosexual, I think the order would be the cohabitators (since that would be more likely to be known), the serial adulterers (unless our kids are teenage girls, where this would move to number one) and then the gay couple. Therefore, if parents avoid the least likely to cause real harm, they also should avoid those more likely to cause harm.

  28. queuno on May 29, 2008 at 1:36 am

    There’s a new show coming out called “Swingers”. Hurray for traditional marriage!

  29. Kaimi Wenger on May 29, 2008 at 1:55 am

    I hope it’s not out of line to point out that, in a discussion on this topic, Mark IV’s fine post of today is also particularly relevant.

  30. Adam Greenwood on May 29, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Actually it isn’t, KW. Some folks would like to think that if you defend traditional marriage it means you go around chanting ‘hate the gays!’ but we have to remember that those folks are daft.

  31. MikeInWeHo on May 29, 2008 at 10:36 am

    re: 29
    I never said that those who oppose gay marriage are all the same as the members of Westboro Baptist Church, Adam. In fact, last night I described just the opposite scenario over at BCC. But clearly I am daft for even showing up on this thread, so you got it half right. : )

  32. John Mansfield on May 29, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Ray, are you calling upon parents to avoid those more likely to cause harm, or just asking them to ignore less likely sources of harm? Do you think any of those you mentioned are potentially harmful people whose contact with your family you should limit?

  33. Adam Greenwood on May 29, 2008 at 10:53 am

    MIWH,
    as long as you con’t contradict the sexual morality that you’ve revealed, you’re fine.

  34. Ray on May 29, 2008 at 10:53 am

    John, Neither. I would not keep my children from playing at the homes of ANY of the groups I described – unless I had credible reason to suspect that a particular situation was dangerous in a tangible way.

    Let me make this clear:

    I was responding to those who limit their children’s contact based on the sexual activity of their friends’ parents. IF they are going to limit it, I simply want them to apply that standard equally to all who are violating the fundamental standard they use to limit that contact. It’s either all or nothing in my mind (again, with individual exceptions), and it’s nothing for me.

    I would send my children to play at Mike’s house in a heartbeat if his family lived near us. Not doing so wouldn’t cross my mind.

  35. Sam B. on May 29, 2008 at 11:01 am

    John,
    If I may suggest an answer (not to put words in Ray’s mouth by any means): I would certainly limit my daughter’s contact with our old gay neighbor who used to threaten my wife and throw eggs at her door (heck, I tried to limit my contact with him). On the other hand, I wouldn’t dream of limiting her contact with the gay couple who lives a couple floors down from us right now, has the nice dog, and are unflinchingly nice (and know my daughter and dog by name).

    Of course, I would limit her contact with the first if he were straight, if he were married, if he were committing adultery, if he were a member of the Church, or in any other circumstance, too. And I wouldn’t limit my daughter’s contact to the second couple if they were straight, if they were married, etc. I think it’s important to protect our children. The first man had issues, unrelated to his sexual preference, whereas the second couple, as far as I know, doesn’t. I want to protect my daughter from bad people, irrespective of sexuality (or race or religion or nationality or profession or favorite team). I want to expose her to good people, with the same several caveats. I don’t think, however, that sexuality is a good proxy for good/bad. Neither is alcohol consumption, nor is (as much as I hate smoking) tobacco consumption. Adulteror may be, but it’s not something most people wear on their sleeves. Which is to say, I think parents have to evaluate people on an individual basis, not a group basis, wherever possible.

  36. John Mansfield on May 29, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Ray, that’s what I thought. Whenever I see someone write “Why worry about X when Y is a bigger problem?” it doesn’t seem that they really worry about either X or Y.

  37. Adam Greenwood on May 29, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Knock it off, you two.

  38. kevinf on May 29, 2008 at 11:46 am

    I’ve reread this discussion, and the discussion over at BCC, and I think that I may have misstated my case in # 3 above. Adam’s quote:

    “Now if parents are careful about what households they let their kids play in I have no problem with that. But maybe parents would do better to let their kids play while teaching them morals and good goals that are strong enough to survive meeting nice people who do immoral things or have settled for lesser goals.”

    I guess that in reflection, I agree with the last sentence, less so with the limiting aspects of the first. What we teach our kids should not only be gospel principles, but tolerance, love, compassion, charity. Oh, wait, those are gospel principles.

    As Mark Brown pointed out over at BCC, we are all sinners, to a some degree or another. Do we really want our kids to have no one to play with but us, who we know to be less than perfect?

  39. Adam Greenwood on May 29, 2008 at 11:54 am

    I’m about sick of this discussion.

    I have no reason to believe that John Mansfield lacks tolerance, love, compassion, or charity because he is careful about the kinds of influences his children are exposed to or worries about maintaining social norms. Its intolerant, unloving, uncompassionate, etc., to make that accusation.

    I have no reason to believe that Ray disregards Church teachings on human sexuality or thinks that they’re some kind of quirky, ultimately meaningless thing just because he lets his kids play in households with unmarried cohabitors. Criminy.

    Cease. Enough. Stop. No more. End of aforesaid discussion.

  40. Kaimi Wenger on May 29, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    “Actually it isn’t, KW. Some folks would like to think that if you defend traditional marriage it means you go around chanting ‘hate the gays!’ but we have to remember that those folks are daft.”

    Adam, I haven’t accused you of chanting “hate the gays.” I’ve suggested that Mark’s post is relevant for the discussion.

    I don’t believe that your own position is “I hate gay people.” However, I’d say there’s a constant danger that an online discussion will devolve. Thus, Mark’s post is quite relevant: In making a comment on an SSM thread, commenters ought to remember and heed prophetic counsel to love and honor and welcome our gay brothers and sisters.

  41. Joseph D. Walch on May 29, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    I am just very saddened that we even have to have this discussion. In one way, I wish it would all just ‘go away.’ My faith in Christ’s atonement informs me that one day all these arguments and positions will fade like fine straw in a furnace. I am forced by laws and my own good judgment to tolerate this great blight; this pandemic of homosexuality, adultery, and pornography on the earth. My love for others (including members of my own family) help to sustain my hope that someday they might cast off this invalid lifestyle before they run headlong into a the wall of reality; having wasted their entire life and being left in an existence of loneliness.

    Our modern world, however, has become a spiritual minefield with people all around us suffering invisible wounds. Some have become blind, others barely limp along life’s path because of amputated spiritual limbs. The precision spiritual weapons have become more sophisticated as we’ve taken on ourselves more liberties and technological prowess. The immediate debilitating effects of sin are masterfully covered up by skilled psychological surgeons who give us tools to avoid shame, grief and sorrow. Cover it all up with superficial relationships, hiding behind the defense of smiling eyes and give proportionally more time and effort to ‘self-actualizing’ selfish pursuits.

    Familial relationships are already being demolished to make way for the new and improved social constitution. The words ‘Husband’ and ‘Wife’ are anathema, while ‘partner’ and ‘companion’ have taken upon themselves satanic new meanings. Children will increasingly be raised by people who are ungrateful or completely ignorant of God’s hand in raising us out of the middle-ages where life certainly had been ugly, brutish and short. It may well be impossible to shield myself and my family from the fiery precision missiles that fly all around, but I will do my best; and perhaps that my mean that I will have to enforce boundaries (although not as strong as they may have been when, e.g. homosexuality was a felony), then I will have to do that to protect the sanctity of my own private family life. I wish I did not live in Sodom, but I need not slouch my way in that direction either.

  42. Aaron C. on May 29, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    My comments above should only be taken to express my disappointment in the current state of hetero marriages in general. I’m saddened by the climbing divorce rate (in and out of the Church).

  43. Kari on May 29, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Joseph –

    Isn’t it wonderful to be so certain of your opinion? Testimony is a wonderful thing – to know that your right and everyone else is wrong. Why even get involved in these discussions, particularly if they sadden you? You should know at the outset that you’re not likely to change anyone else’s opinions, just as they are not likely to change yours.

  44. Joseph D. Walch on May 29, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Isn’t it wonderful to be so certain of your opinion? Testimony is a wonderful thing – to know that your right and everyone else is wrong. Why even get involved in these discussions, particularly if they sadden you? You should know at the outset that you’re not likely to change anyone else’s opinions, just as they are not likely to change yours.

    I see all my natural charm has been lost in the text.

    At the risk of sounding pedantic, your comments immediately brought to mind Moroni 9:6

    Forgive me my momentary indulgence in self-righteousness.

  45. Jeremy on May 29, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Joseph,

    It comes down to this: I’m much more concerned about assaults on my family, specifically, rather than on the family, in the abstract. My gay friends and their lifestyle choices pose no discernible threat to my children — unless you count “proving that gay people can be good citizens and have happy homes” a danger.

  46. Aluwid on May 29, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Ray,

    Regarding your post where you stated:

    “I would add that we need to teach our kids that there is no fundamental difference morally between homosexuality and any other form of fornication.”

    That might be true when it comes to the degree of sin yes, but the practical differences cause homosexual unions to be much more difficult to correct than cohabitating heterosexual unions.

    In the case of cohabitating heterosexuals the solution isn’t terrible difficult: get married. This results in little change to life, their family remains the same, their intimacy remains the same, their living situation remains the same. But with a homosexual union the solution is the dissolution of the union itself. True they can remain friends, remain in platonic love, etc, but all intimacy needs to stop – forever. In effect, in order to right themselves with God, they have to completely turn their lives upside down.

    Because of this, while the relative seriousness of the sin might be similar, I would argue that homosexual fornication is more dangerous than heterosexual fornication. It carries the prospect of following a life-path that will never be compatible with Gospel standards, meaning that, as time goes by, a much bigger effort would be required to repent of it.

    “My biggest problem with the way that this issue is portrayed by many is that so many treat gay and lesbian neighbors or associates differently than their heterosexually cohabitating (or “adultering”) neighbors or associates.”

    But their cohabitating neighbors could get married one day and would no longer be “living in sin.” In other words, the union has a chance of being morally legitimate. This presents a fundamental difference between an unmarried heterosexual couple and a homosexual couple, and justifies treating the relationships differently in my opinion.

  47. Ray on May 29, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Aluwid, I would take what you just said and argue the exact opposite.

    If homosexuals are required to deny their very being in order to adhere to the Church’s standard, and if that is a result of who they are at the core, and if that is exponentially more difficult than it is for heterosexuals to do, then they are MUCH more likely to not be able to change their actions and, just like children who are not accountable for their actions, are covered by the grace of God and the Atonement of Christ much more readily than sinning heterosexuals.

    Phrased differently, if someone is breaking a standard simply because they won’t make a commitment – if they are fully able to follow a commandment with relatively little effort but refuse to do so anyway, then they are guilty of the greater sin **much** more than someone for whom obeying that commandment is excruciatingly difficult or downright impossible.

  48. snow white on May 29, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    I’m glad to see all the different points of view on this topic. I haven’t made up my mind about this topic yet, and I find all the different arguments reasonable and of merit. I think we are called upon to walk a fine line in our day between the compassion we want to show to others (which we certainly want shown to ourselves in all our areas of weakness) and the protection of our families, which is also a valid concern. To what extent does exposure and familiarity with any sin affect its acceptance? It seems to me like there is some danger in increased exposure to a given behavior. It seems reasonable that a person is more likely to drink alcohol, for example, if his social group also drinks and/or accepts drinking as a behavior. I’m not sure to what extent that would apply in the case of homosexuality or pedophilia (not that I equivocate the two!) where there is an issue of proclivity. We all have the same core beliefs, but it’s interesting and enlightening to see how many different ways people of obvious faith find to live the gospel. I look forward to reading what you all come up with.

  49. Aluwid on May 29, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    Ray,

    I’m referring more to the natural consequences of choices that one makes, and the practical difficulty in getting back on the right track. To put it another way, add a third union to the mix that consists of a man and two women. If they setup a life together, start a family together, and create a household, then they will be under the same degree of difficulty in fixing matters as a homosexual couple experiences. In both cases the only resolution is to dissolve the union itself. It doesn’t matter if the man, at his core, needed to love two women, there is a right way to live as taught by the LDS Church and his choices have made it harder for him to return to it.

    I’m not trying to talk about judging the relative condemnation of one couple or another, just to point out that in the case of a heterosexual couple they *could* have an eternal future, but a homosexual couple cannot. When looking at someone’s full potential, a heterosexual relationship is not a roadblock towards reaching it, they might need to put things in order by getting married, but they have the ability to set things right both individually as well as together as a couple. But a homosexual couple cannot do that as a couple, they can each individually go and be what they were meant to be, but the existence of the couple itself is holding them back from completely living as God commanded them.

    One last way to put it – if you want to help your homosexual neighbors follow all the commandments then at some point you are going to have to help them break up.

  50. Aaron C. on May 29, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    “if someone is breaking a standard simply because they won’t make a commitment – if they are fully able to follow a commandment with relatively little effort but refuse to do so anyway, then they are guilty of the greater sin…”

    This is assuming that the cohabitating couple is religious and has made covenants to keep certain standards and commandments. Many cohabitating couples are just as committed to the relationship as legally married couples, they just don’t live under the commandment to get married, for them to get married is just adhering to the social norms their parents may have taught them. As Church members we are commanded that if we want to engage in sexual relations we need to be married – we live under the commandment. (Rough analogy warning) If I, as a member, smoke, it is much worse than if Joe Schmoe, someone totally unexposed to the Word of Wisdom, smokes.

    Apply your reasoning to drug addiction – so if my sin has reached the point of total loss of free agency (even though I used my free agency poorly to get to this point), then I’m okay, because I now fall under the grace of God. I think I have a problem with this.

  51. Aaron C. on May 29, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Sorry, I wasn’t trying to argue which sin is greater. And I have a tough time even stating that any of the above described activities is a sin. I haven’t made up my mind on the topic either, I’m just throwing ideas out there. If this sounds like backpeddling, maybe it is.

  52. Ray on May 29, 2008 at 10:07 pm

    Aaron, the issue I would pose for your analogy – relative to the point of this post about influence on children and teaching vs. avoidance – is that smoking is a conscious choice. It is an exercise of agency that is influenced **totally** by external circumstances, since no child would feel an urge to smoke if nobody around him smoked – if he never saw or read of someone else smoking. Iow, smoking is not an inherent characteristic caused explicitly by the Fall; therefore, a smoking addiction (in and of itself) is not covered inherently by the Fall.

    Homosexuality, otoh, is radically different. Those urges and inclinations exist for many regardless of the influences around them – even if they never see someone else modeling the actions. In a very real way, it is a *direct* result of the Fall – and in many cases, it is an incredibly strong urge, just as is heterosexuality. That alone is worth considering as we try to figure out how to lead, guide and walk beside our children. My opinion – not established doctrine: The 2nd Article of Faith is second only to our belief in the Godhead for a reason and is MUCH more profound and powerful than most members realize.

    The strength of your analogy: If someone never smokes around my kids and never tries to convince my kids to smoke, why would I keep my kids away from them? I can’t think of a single reason. Substitute “engages in homosexual activity” for “smokes”; I can’t think of a single reason.

  53. Adam Greenwood on June 2, 2008 at 7:41 am

    See the update.

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