Proposition 8, the American mainstream, and the unspeakable

October 30, 2008 | 129 comments
By

Most online discussions of gay marriage are not worth the effort, because no actual discussion takes place. Contributions usually consist of variations on either of just two propositions:

1. If you oppose gay marriage, you are a bigot.
2. If you support gay marriage, you are a tool of Satan.

Between these two positions, there is no actual room for conversation, apart from repeating one assertion or the other. It makes for dull and unenlightening reading.

To my understanding, the church itself does not take the second position. While it vigorously opposes gay marriage, it seems to acknowledge that gay people have an unsurprising wish that their relationships might enjoy the benefits otherwise conferred by marriage. And why shouldn’t people pursue happiness wherever they find it?

The church’s resistance to gay marriage should be equally unsurprising. Mormons sacralize marriage and procreation as no other religion does, Christian or otherwise. Our holiest ordinance is not the sacrament of bread and water or baptism, but rather marriage, and reproduction is endowed with eternal significance. At the same time, sex outside of marriage—fornication, adultery, gay sex, take your pick—remains firmly in place as one of the Big Three sins. In Mormon thought, there is no way to reconcile the holiest aspect of faith with a particularly grievous sin.

That in itself shouldn’t be a terrible burden on the church. We’re living in a sinful world, we tell ourselves, and we’re accustomed to see ourselves as the people who don’t smoke and drink or curse while those around us do. The church even operates quite well in societies where gay marriage has become an accepted practice.

But the United States is not Denmark, and the church’s place in society is different here. American Mormons can openly be senators and business leaders and professors. We have a place in the mainstream, although it’s a place we can’t take for granted. There are still plenty of people who will tell you that a Mormon’s religion disqualifies him or her from serving as president or vice-president, as we learned earlier this year.

The church has experienced friction between its teachings and society at large before, but I don’t think the earlier episodes presented quite the same challenge as gay marriage might. Denying the priesthood to blacks was not in itself a core doctrine or a part of our self-definition, and it was easily trumped by the belief that God directs administration of the priesthood through his prophets. Polygamy was both a core doctrine and how we defined ourselves in the 19th century, but monogamous marriage was both the more common practice, and not regarded as sin. There was even firm scriptural basis for thinking of polygamy as a temporary condition, and recent experience at the time with the suspension of ostensibly more perfect more forms of life (United Order communalism) in the face of practical difficulties. In the case of gay marriage, however, I see nothing that would make its eventual acceptance possible. There is no mechanism through which sin can become non-sin and the church still continue.

So what happens now? Maybe nothing. Perhaps enough localities will decide that civil unions are sufficient accommodation of gay couples’ needs.

Maybe opposition to gay marriage will become the new sexism. The church extended a lot of effort against the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. While the ERA ultimately didn’t pass, sexism is not considered acceptable in polite society today. Single-sex colleges are acceptable, however, and single-sex school classes are a subject about which reasonable people are allowed to disagree. The church maintains its male-only priesthood (while emphasizing the equality of marriage partners), and I would guess most people accept it as one of those weird things that some religions do.

But maybe opposition to gay marriage will become the new racism. What happens if no right-thinking person would ever oppose gay marriage, talk to people who oppose gay marriage, fund research at universities whose sponsors oppose gay marriage, or schedule football games against teams whose institutions oppose gay marriage? That is the marginal status of racism today, fortunately. But if opposing gay marriage becomes as radioactive as racism is, the church’s place in the mainstream may no longer be worth the cost. The church might have to decide if it faces a situation like Joseph in Egypt, who assisted in the effective administration of a despotic regime, or like that of Lehi, who gathered his family and possessions and departed into the desert. Will the tensions between the church and the world of 2020 be similar to those of 1978, where accommodation was relatively easy, or to those of 1890, where accommodation was eventually possible—or like those of 1847? Heading to Mexico or Canada by handcart to set up an independent Zion is no longer possible (although is Iceland still available? someone ought to check), but there is more than one way to leave the country.

None of this is an argument for or against Prop. 8, but I don’t think we can dismiss the church’s anxiety over the issue as unwarranted or nothing but homophobia. It may be worth the cost to the church to energetically oppose gay marriage now not to effect any particular change in society, but to attempt to preserve opposition to gay marriage as a speakable position in American public life.

* * *

Some thematically related posts have ended with a note requesting that commenters discuss only the sub-section of the issue that inspired the original post or avoid discussing the merits of Proposition 8, but I’m not going to do that. You can discuss whatever you’d like, as long as you keep in mind that you’re conversing with actual people honestly representing valid concerns, and that very few of them are actual bigots and/or tools of Satan.

Tags:

129 Responses to Proposition 8, the American mainstream, and the unspeakable

  1. Julie M. Smith on October 30, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Actually, I think Iceland is on sale right now, so that might be a good choice. And hopefully a frozen wasteland would stamp out that hideous Mormon obsession with farming and sowing and reaping and whatnot. _And_ we can steal Chabon’s phrase and call ourselves the frozen chosen.

    But I digress. You raise some fascinating points and I have no easy answers. I would note that while a church that announced itself unwelcoming to blacks would be (rightfully) shunned, Sunday morning at 10am has been described as the most segregated hour in America. So one option might be to quit talking about gay marriage but let our historical opposition to it speak for itself, so to speak.

  2. Mark N. on October 30, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    “… very few of them are actual bigots and/or tools of Satan.”

    Well, thank goodness you left the door open a crack.

  3. Mark N. on October 30, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Maybe if we were to go back and readopt the “Adam-Eve/God-Goddess” doctrine, it would be clearer to one and sundry why we’re not all that enamored of gay marriage. It’s hard to populate new worlds when Adam shows up in the Garden of Eden, all freshly exalted and stuff, and doesn’t bring Eve but ends up bringing…

    … wait for it…

    … Bruce.

  4. the narrator on October 30, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    “To my understanding, the church itself does not take the second position.”

    In the Prop 8 Broadcast Elder Cook said, “Some 
ask 
what 
is 
wrong
 when
 marriage 
is 
granted 
to
 those
 of
 the 
same
 gender,
 as
 was 
done
 by
 the
 California 
Supreme
 Court. 
I’ve
 already 
stated
 one 
reason:
 it
 is
 contrary 
to
 God’s 
plan.”

    I don’t know of any time that it has been explicitly stated by Church leaders that Satan is opposing Prop 8, however all of the rhetoric given that God strongly supports Prop 8 and that those who are on God’s side support Prop 8 strongly implies that those who oppose Prop 8 oppose God. And well I have been taught over and over in Church whose side it is that those who oppose God are on.

    My stake presidency has said on several occasions said that Prop 8 is separating the wheat from the tares. Whose side are the tares on?

    Adam Greenwood’s last two comments before he closed commenting on his post to avoid criticism accused those who oppose Prop 8 of opposing, God and finished with: “If only some here found it a little more difficult to serve two masters. Comments are closed.” Since there was no discussion of mammon, so I assume he was claiming that the second master was Satan.

    If all the rhetoric of “If you support gay marriage, you are a tool of Satan.” has not been taught by the Church, where has it come from? Or is it that the Church has been implying this all along through it’s rhetoric without making it explicit?

  5. Julie M. Smith on October 30, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Mark N., you are supposed to say STEVE.

    “Bruce” doesn’t even rhyme, for Pete’s sake.

  6. queuno on October 30, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Was the Prop 8 broadcast viewed by anyone outside CA?

    I’m just trying to think in terms of “just because it’s shown to people in one state doesn’t mean it’s binding on people in another state”, as Julie’s comments during the whole BKP-talk thing have reminded us.

    The whole issue has received basically zero play in my ward/stake.

  7. MikeInWeHo on October 30, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Why does “benign sexism” (male only priesthood, etc) remain largely tolerated by society, while overt racism (imagine a no blacks in the priesthood policy now!) is no longer tolerated? Very interesting question and post, Jonathan.

    I politely disagree that the Church “acknowledges that gay people have an unsurprising wish that their relationships might enjoy the benefits otherwise conferred by marriage. And why shouldn’t people pursue happiness wherever they find it?” One press release saying the Church does not oppose California’s domestic partnership law is a far cry from your assertion. In fact, the evidence supports just the opposite conclusion. If the Church is in ANY way supportive of gay couples and their happiness, uh, why does it summarily excommunicate all of them??

  8. Larry Ogan on October 30, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    “We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”

    Gay marriage would not change that fundamental truth. Studies show that “functional” families with both a father and a mother are the healthiest kind families. Functional is a key word in that statement. It would seem to be the natural order of most societies. That doesn’t mean that a “functional” same sex family can not also be healthy. Families straight or gay as a societal unit I’m sure will benefit will us overall.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    I think the LDS Church is concerned about losing its religious rights as stated in the 1st Amendment of our Constitution. I don’t think it can be forced to perform same sex Temple marriages or be compelled to change the Endowments. People might try to force these issues but I think they would fail in the Courts.

    A civil marriage for gays is just a matter of time and will happen as a general right in our country. How we deal with it as Mormons and a Church will be up to God and revelation. Until then the Law still in effect is, “Love thy neighbor”.

  9. Eric Russell on October 30, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    It may be worth the cost to the church to energetically oppose gay marriage now not to effect any particular change in society, but to attempt to preserve opposition to gay marriage as a speakable position in American public life.

    Excellent post, J. Green. I think this is exactly why the church is taking a stand on the issue and, in fact, Elder Bednar nearly says as much in the Q&A video on Prop 8. I really don’t think the powers that be on either side of the issue are primarily concerned with marriage itself – this is a battle over the commencement of a civil rights movement.

  10. Steve Evans on October 30, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    “To my understanding, the church itself does not take the second position.”

    Your might want to check with Connor Boyack on that.

  11. DavidH on October 30, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    I think it will be a while before opposing gay marriage in polite society becomes unacceptable.

    Barack Obama may not oppose gay marriage with the depth that the Church does (at least he does not oppose it enough to support Proposition 8), but he has stated that he is not in favor of gay marriage, but does support civil unions. This is not particularly far from the Church’s official position articulated in California–that the Church does not oppose civil unions/domestic partnerships with the legal rights of marriage, but it does oppose “marriage” of same sex partners.

    If the Church’s position is not that far from the position of the candidate whom the various right wing websites (including, regretably, LDS oriented ones like Meridian) frequently assert is the most left wing candidate in history, then I do not think we are that far out of the mainstream.

  12. Jerry on October 30, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    It is an interesting thought about where this will be in 2020. It was 10 years ago that Matthew Shephard a gay sudent was killed and that seemed to turn the tide against homophobia. Todays teens openly accept gay classmates as just another little clique thats not bothering anybody. 12 years from now this type of blog may only a half dozen entries because who cares if anybody took the time write about it at all. I would suspect the church would still be opposed to gay marriages.

  13. mpb on October 30, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    I worked in the temple with this dude who swore that the Church had contingency plans to relocate its headquarters to Monterrey, Mexico should gay marriage ever become the norm in this country. This was at least nine years ago. I don’t remember ever really thinking about gay marriage at the time, but looking back this guy was remarkably ahead of things with regard to the friction this issue would create with the Church.

    I also think he was a mild nutjob.

  14. Timer on October 30, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    “It may be worth the cost to the church to energetically oppose gay marriage now not to effect any particular change in society, but to attempt to preserve opposition to gay marriage as a speakable position in American public life.”

    This was my sense from watching the remarkable video in the widget that Adam Greenwood posted. I am following this only from a distance, and most of the pro-Prop. 8 arguments haven’t made much sense to me, but I realized while watching that video, in a way I hadn’t before, that many of the supporters of Prop. 8 are genuinely afraid

    It seems that many of them are not so much worried about the effect Prop. 8. will have on a few thousand gay couples and their children as they are worried about the effect it will have on conservative religious groups. The more gay marriage is accepted, the thinking goes, the more Mormons and other social conservatives will be mocked, maligned, and marginalized. And the harder it will be for them to say anything negative about homosexual relationships in polite society. Once children are taught in schools that opposing homosexual relationships is the moral equivalent of racism, what will become of religions like ours? Will they wither away and become irrelevant, as they have already done to some extent in Europe?

    One can sum up this point of view with a couplet: “The gays will be fine. But what about us?”

    This is a serious question. In the short term, we could certainly avoid the problem by staying out of politics — treating gay marriage in San Francisco the way we treat alcohol consumption (or gay marriage in other countries), i.e., abstaining and disapproving but not seeking to abolish politically.

    But will the church be more viable in the long term if we take a stand now? Is it really possible to stem the tide of greater-gay-relationship-acceptance in a way that will somehow benefit us? Will it be a good thing if Mormons ultimately come to be seen as being defined by their opposition to gay relationships (the way catholics are defined by opposition to birth control)? Can we and should we partially avoid further marginalization by recruiting allies early, by convincing a few states to amend their constitutions?

    Anyway, the church is not politically fighting civil unions, only the use of the term “marriage.” Even if Prop. 8 passes, there will still be the civil unions, broadly accepted by society, taught and explained to children in schools, etc. Will public opposition to gay marriage make the church’s private moral opposition to civil unions more tenable?

    These are pretty tough questions. But I am glad someone is thinking about the “long term effect on conservative religions” aspect of the question. It seems a far more sensible topic of conversation than whether gays make good parents (since we have no evidence that they don’t — indeed, it is much easier to argue, from the statistics, that poor people make bad parents, or that certain ethnic groups make bad parents, and I really don’t think we want to go there).

    Should we be bracing ourselves for long term marginalization over the issue (possibly lasting decades or centuries)? Or should we move toward more acceptance, trying to get to the point that we can have a few gay (presumably unmarried) general authorities in twenty years?

    Or a little of both?

  15. MikeInWeHo on October 30, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    re: 14 “Is it really possible to stem the tide of greater-gay-relationship-acceptance in a way that will somehow benefit us?”

    Probably not. Keep in mind that the Prop 8 battle represents the culmination of a 50 year political struggle, not a movement in its early phase. Given extensive LDS interest in all things gay of late, there should be a little primer on the history of the gay movement designed for a Mormon audience. How did we get to this point in social history? Know your opponent, right? (Hey, that gives me an idea…..)

  16. Utahn in CT on October 30, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    > Should we be bracing ourselves for long term marginalization over the issue

    Yes.

    > Or should we move toward more acceptance, trying to get to the point that we can have a few > gay (presumably unmarried) general authorities in twenty years?

    Looks like there is reason to brace for more paranoia, at least from some LDS circles.

  17. reisters on October 30, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Once the church loses the fight against legalizing gay marriage (now, or sometime in the future), then that will be the end of the push. Sure, they won’t let gay marrieds get baptized, but they also won’t let other people in certain situations get baptized either.
    We have lost so many fights. People live together. People have children out of wedlock. People get divorced. Drinking and gambling and porn in our society keep going on, despite the church’s ideology that is against it. I guess we’ll see how much of a “price” the church pays for it. I don’t think it will be too big a price to pay.

  18. ed johnson on October 30, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    There seems to be a common belief that the church is not opposed to same-sex civil unions. Here is a quote from the inverview with Elder’s Oaks and WIckman posted on the LDS Newsroom site:

    ELDER WICKMAN: One way to think of marriage is as a bundle of rights associated with what it means for two people to be married. What the First Presidency has done is express its support of marriage and for that bundle of rights belonging to a man and a woman. The First Presidency hasn’t expressed itself concerning any specific right. It really doesn’t matter what you call it. If you have some legally sanctioned relationship with the bundle of legal rights traditionally belonging to marriage and governing authority has slapped a label on it, whether it is civil union or domestic partnership or whatever label it’s given, it is nonetheless tantamount to marriage. That is something to which our doctrine simply requires us to speak out and say, “That is not right. That’s not appropriate.”

    http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/same-gender-attraction

  19. No on 8 Mormon on October 30, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Jonathan,

    Thanks for the effort.

    You write:
    “At the same time, sex outside of marriage—fornication, adultery, gay sex, take your pick—remains firmly in place as one of the Big Three sins. In Mormon thought, there is no way to reconcile the holiest aspect of faith with a particularly grievous sin.”

    One possibility is that reconciliation will not be necessary because the definition of sin will, in the future, shift. Since the Church no longer sees “same sex attraction” [sic.] itself as sinful, the Church could come to a place where it acknowledge the idea of sexual orientation as an accurate description of human experience. At some point heterosexuality & homosexuality may be thought of as ontologically the same. At that point the Church’s position that “same gender attraction” is a trial that some people struggle with will be even less sustainable than it is now.

    Regardless of one’s position on Prop 8. The debate over it, and the language being used in the Church suggests to me that what we need is a more honest and comprehensive understanding of what human sexuality is. Part of what I think is unsustainable in the Church’s current position is the attempt to maintain that homosexuality fundamentally a matter of physical attraction.

    You write:
    “To my understanding, the church itself does not take the second position.”

    Perhaps not but some local leaders here in CA are essentially taking the second position. I am hearing very different things from local leaders and GA’s regarding participation in Prop. 8. There has been a HUGE amount of Satan talk in my ward, but then there is an interesting comment in the SL trib. from last week “Latter-day Saints are free to disagree with their church on the issue without facing any sanction, said L. Whitney Clayton of the LDS Quorum of the Seventy. “We love them and bear them no ill will.”

    I wish Clayton was in my ward!

  20. Mark N. on October 30, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    you are supposed to say STEVE

    I know, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it somehow.

  21. No on 8 Mormon on October 30, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    #14 & # 18:

    What you point out is an interesting tension between different statements made by the Church. In the August 13th DIOM statement the Church DID say that it doesn’t oppose civil unions and specific rights for gay couples as long as those rights do not come into conflict with religious liberties. One way of interpreting this is to say the Church knows that there is a degree to which gay rights are here to stay in California but that the Church will seek to take action against gay rights to the extent it is believed gay rights may be in conflict with religious rights. Unfortunately there has been so much misinformation presented about that topic that it will take years to straighten out.

  22. MikeInWeHo on October 30, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    re: 18
    Thanks for the link, ed. That was the point I was trying to make in comment #7. I believe the Elder Wickman quote more accurately represents the Church’s current position than the press release supporting Prop 8. As I recall it was carefully worded and rather vague, never actually using the expression “domestic partnership.” Can somebody find the link?

  23. Roland on October 30, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    A popular picture going around the email chains in LDS California Wards right now is the one of Samuel the Lamanite holding up the Yes on 8 Sign. It reflects how many of us feel right now.

    P.S. I just got back from another successful street rally.

    Traditional Values come from Traditional Families
    Traditional Families come from Traditional Marriage

  24. Roland on October 30, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    California is not the only place with this issue. Arizona is voting on Prop 102 and I believe Florida has a similar issue on the ballot.

  25. Jerry on October 30, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    I\’ve always thought it would be smarter to fight to legalize gay marriage and put the preferred limits on requiring churches to recognize or alter their teachings in any way.

    Wickman\’s
    http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/same-gender-attraction

  26. ed johnson on October 30, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    MikeInWeHo:

    A collection of links regarding SSM and prop 8 can be found here:

    http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/same-sex-marriage-and-proposition-8

  27. Paula on October 30, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    re: #19 – “Perhaps not but some local leaders here in CA are essentially taking the second position. I am hearing very different things from local leaders and GA’s regarding participation in Prop. 8. There has been a HUGE amount of Satan talk in my ward”.

    My guess is that not enough people have taken the time to really *understand* the intricacies of the reasons behind the position the church is taking. For many, it is probably a case of, “well, the brethren have said it, and I support the brethren, so that is enough for me”. In and of itself, that position isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, without seeking to understand exactly WHY we disagree with gay relationships, people run the risk of falling in line with other groups who single it out as a uniquely “bad” brand of sexual sin, worse than mere fornication.

    As far as I know (and please correct me if I am wrong), homosexual sexual activity isn’t any more egregious than any other non-marital sex. For example, a man and a woman cohabitating and bearing a child out of wedlock is viewed no differently than a gay couple cohabitating and adopting. (Am I right?) However, the rest of the right wing world seems to think gays are “evil” BECAUSE of both who they are AND the nature of the sexual activities they conduct. Their disgust with and condemnation of the act extends to a condemnation of the whole individual. A gay person’s worth as a human being is diminished (or outright discounted) and people become self-righteous in their belief that because gays are “sinners”, they aren’t worthy of our consideration.

    If it appears to the non-Mormon world that we view gays in the same way as other right-wing Christian groups do, then is it any wonder that we are considered to be just as bigoted and fearful of gay people as the ultra-right?

    I don’t think the Church will ever change its position and I doubt they will ever give us carte-blanche to form our own opinions on this issue; there will always be a Church standard that we will be expected to uphold. I also think it is inevitable that as the world becomes more and more tolerant, we will be seen as more and more “out there” and backwards in our thinking.

    I think one way to combat this is to make sure that we let the world know that we are not disgusted by gay people; we just don’t agree with mainstreaming and legalizing non-marital sexual relationships. To do this, we first need to make sure to squelch any anti-gay fearfulness, hysteria or misguided beliefs by educating our own on what we really believe. This issue is NEVER going to go away, so we will need to be prepared to have meaningful dialog (many times over) with people who won’t understand our position and will likely jump to an immediate conclusion that we think gays are intrinsically evil. Our own members can be our own worst enemy if/when they make misinformed statements that represent our beliefs as different than they are.

  28. we on October 31, 2008 at 12:27 am

    Paula, in California many homosexuals are married. So why are their sexual relations within marriage sinful? What is it that makes it so in the eyes of the LDS church over against heterosexuals?

  29. MikeInWeHo on October 31, 2008 at 1:49 am

    re: 26

    Thanks for the link, ed. This is the statement from the Church that interests me:

    “The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family…”

    What does “so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family” mean?? Seriously, I don’t understand. While the statement implies that the Church does not want to press for the elimination of domestic partnerships in CA, I’m curious as to the wording. Also, how does this statement square with the quote from Elder Wickman in comment #18?

  30. Chino Blanco on October 31, 2008 at 2:03 am

    I enjoyed this thoughtful post.

    That said, if the Church did in fact enter this contest in order to “preserve opposition to gay marriage as a speakable position in American public life” I’d suspect that many who’d hold that up as a laudable goal must now be sorely disappointed with the campaign that’s been run. This is not just me piling on in typical fashion. The political race is nearly run and I appreciate that you’ve not banned folks like me from T&S during the course of it.

    If it’s clear to many on both sides of this contest that the Prop 8 campaign itself has done much to further marginalize the position under consideration here, I wonder if it’s this realization that ground has now already been lost on this front that is now helping to drive the increasing volume of increasingly fevered speculation being generated by individual members regarding what happens after November 4th – after the news of Prop 8′s defeat begins to sink in.

    At least in my own Mesa, Arizona Mormon family, there seems to be a deep vein of separatist sentiment that runs through their psyches and leads them to look at elections as a kind of stage production that includes a certain amount of audience participation in the script, but that is ultimately no more than a performance that they’re free to walk out of any time they lose interest in the show.

    As such, rather than do the hard work of seeking answers about what position their church or their religious beliefs should hold in contemporary America (a place that is as much theirs as any other American’s), they escape to the easy solace that “no matter what happens” they can always take their ball and go home to Monterrey, Mexico.

    I’m guessing that’s a sentiment that’s fairly unique to colonial Mormon families, and I’m wondering if it hasn’t played a role in some of the stranger and uglier aspects of this campaign.

    Like most Americans, I absolutely believe in and respect the right of individual Mormons to be guided by their religious beliefs when voting for Prop 8 or 102 or whatever. I think that what has scared some of us on the No side is that there seems to be little appreciation coming from Mormons that, on our side, we tend to view the process (that messy jumble of elections, judicial interpretation, legislation, etc.) as thoroughly binding.

    Maybe it’s just that I’ve spent too much time this time around talking with the “nutjobs” referred to in #13, but some of these have led me to feel that they were basing their “my way or the highway” stance on Prop 8, in part, on this nostalgic Mormon idea that the losers somehow get to pack up and find freedom elsewhere … i.e., what’s the big harm if we rely on the power of the state of California to enforce our view? After all, it’s one jurisdiction and it’s still a big country, isn’t it? Or is it?

  31. the narrator on October 31, 2008 at 2:08 am

    #10 “Your might want to check with Connor Boyack on that. ”

    I’ve tried to avoid his blog as much as possible ever since he wrote a post just about me, and then banned me from leaving comments.

    Traditional Values come from Traditional Families
    Traditional Families come from Traditional Marriage
    Traditional Marriages come from Patriarchal Ownership
    Patriarchal Ownership comes from Slavery

  32. Alison Moore Smith on October 31, 2008 at 2:15 am

    Jonathan, great post. Much to consider. Thanks.

  33. julie on October 31, 2008 at 3:28 am

    #28,

    I will try to answer your question. I am not sure that my answer will satisfy you, but (according to my understanding) it is the answer I believe to represent the LDS Church\’s position.

    As Jonathan indicated in his post, \”Mormons sacralize marriage and procreation as no other religion does.\” (See for example, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland\’s talk \”Of Soul, Symbols and Sacraments.\”)

    This is because human sexuality involves the potential to CREATE human life (and by extension potential eternal godlike life). When you think about the real implications of that, this is awesome, godly, really quite overwhelming power.

    Is it any wonder that a Heavenly Father sharing this power with his children would also establish some rules about how this power should be handled? When you think about the sacredness of this responsibility, it becomes clear why the LDS Church teaches that it is so distasteful, so ungrateful, yes even sinful, to treat sexual actions as merely a matter of personal choice or desire or convenience. (The urges and \”drives\” which we mortals like to use to excuse our behavior seem so flippant and transient and carnal when compared to the long-lasting, solemn consequences of handling a power that God designed to create lives for his children.)

    The LDS Church, because of its view regarding the sacred place of sexuality in God\’s plan of happiness, teaches that any heterosexual sexual relationship that does not stem from a committed marriage union is a sin. It is an abuse of one of the most sacred of God-given powers. Likewise, homosexual acts are a sin, as they also represent an abuse of one of the most sacred of God-given powers. From the standpoint of LDS doctrine regarding the worth of the human soul, all sexual acts which occur outside the bounds set by the Lord cheapen the use of this God-granted power.

    (Now, I know that this doctrine does not always make life easy for us in the short-term. As mortals, we each struggle mightily with desires that are contrary to the standard set by God. I know from my own experience how true this can be of sexual desires. However, I embrace with all my heart the LDS doctrine regarding sexuality. With any degree of perspective, it becomes overwhelmingly evident how truly sacred is this gift from God.)

    #28, I sincerely hope my response helped answer your question. I recognize that my post does not deal with the question of why the LDS Church is choosing to take a stand on the political aspects of this particular issue. I leave that discussion to the many others here who are addressing it. I merely wanted to try to address your question since it seemed genuine and is a point about which I think others might wonder as well.

  34. Aaron Brown on October 31, 2008 at 5:24 am

    “(although is Iceland still available? someone ought to check)”

    Given the havoc wreaked on the Icelandic banking system by the financial crisis (with greater impact on the financial health of that country than any other), I dare say that Yes, Iceland will probably soon be available.

    AB

  35. micah on October 31, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Julie – #33

    Since sexual relationships out side of marriage are sinful, if I understand you correctly, because eternal procreation as marriage partners is our eternal goal, then why aren’t non-procreative sexual acts within a heterosexual marriage sinful? In other words, is marriage and sexual union all about procreation? I think that the Church has backed away from that proposition over the past several decades.

    And, since the temple recommend question is “Do you live the Law of Chastity?” (defined elsewhere as not having sexual relationships except with one’s spouse, to whom one is legally and lawfully married), why can’t a married gay member truthfully answer “Yes?”

  36. Timer on October 31, 2008 at 8:59 am

    I still stand by my statement in #14 that

    “the church is not politically fighting civil unions, only the use of the term ‘marriage.’ Even if Prop. 8 passes, there will still be the civil unions, broadly accepted by society, taught and explained to children in schools, etc.”

    There may be some in the church leadership (such as Elder Wickman) who are expressing discomfort with civil unions, but the church is not actively fighting civil unions the way it is fighting gay marriage. Indeed, Prop 8 proponents have worked very hard to reassure swing voters that the passage of Prop 8 will leave gay civil unions, with all the traditional rights of marriage, in place.

    The church is also uncomfortable with gay adoptions, but they aren’t fighting those politically at all.

  37. rd on October 31, 2008 at 9:09 am

    There really isn’t a gray area here, right? Prophets asked us to support Prop 8. Okay, so we go and do. That’s it if we believe in a prophet, right? If we choose to not believe in a prophet, than fine. So choose. I’ve got bigger fish to fry than to tell those that oppose Prop 8 that they are “tools of the devil.” Because, most certainly, if those opponents were to see into the recesses of my soul they would see acts and thoughts that run “contrary to the plan of God.” But what I have a very difficult time doing is trying to justify my bad acts in the face of prophetic statements to the contrary.

    This may be a simplistic view, but the scriptures are pretty secure in their simplicity.

  38. rd on October 31, 2008 at 9:10 am

    There really isn’t a gray area here, right? Prophets asked us to support Prop 8. Okay, so we go and do. That’s it if we believe in a prophet, right? If we choose to not believe in a prophet, than fine. So choose. I’ve got bigger fish to fry than to tell those that oppose Prop 8 that they are “tools of the devil.” Because, most certainly, if those opponents were to see into the recesses of my soul they would see acts and thoughts that run “contrary to the plan of God.” But what I have a very difficult time doing is trying to justify my bad acts in the face of prophetic statements to the contrary.

    This may be a simplistic view, but the scriptures are pretty secure in their simplicity.

  39. Rameumptom on October 31, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Julie #33, thanks for the post. For LDS, the issue just isn’t SSM, but any act that would affect God’s law of eternal procreation. For a world that believes solely in dwelling in heaven and playing harps all day, casual sex or gay marriage is a meaningless thing that has nothing to do with reason. All condemn murder, because we can see how it deprives a person of life. Yet, sex is considered the victimless crime, or no crime at all.

    I do not think the “definition of sin” will ever shift for the Church. It will for the world. I think we will see a continually growing schism between Zion and Babylon, the Church and the World, as the world moves away from God and His righteousness.

    Will we become unpopular again? Probably. But then, we expect the day of the Gentiles to come to an end prior to the Coming of the Lord. The prophecies are rather clear of how our world will be akin to the one in Noah’s day prior to Christ’s coming. And as Nephi explained to his rebellious brothers, the truth of God hurts to the core. It does that to cause a choice/reaction from us: either repent and get in line, or rebel all the more.

  40. Jerry on October 31, 2008 at 10:14 am

    All this talk of sex for procreation – I have had way too many priesthood meeting discussions where way too many thought that any sex that was not targeted to making children was a sin. So birth control was certainly evil, the good thing is no church teaching at all that resricts sex just for pleasure within the marriage. Every GA I’ve heard discuss it actively promoted it as a relationship builder.

  41. Jim Cobabe on October 31, 2008 at 10:19 am

    The arguments are endless. We need not suffer from confusion on this matter. There is good counsel long available to help us sort out the issues. Elder Bednar speaks with authority, addressing this matter well before proposition 8 became a contoversy: Elder Bednar speaks on this issue.

  42. djinn on October 31, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Point 1, we’re not discussing temple marriages

    But Julie, the whole sacred place of sexuality doesn’t even kick in until couples are married in the temple. It doesn’t work for civil unions. It seems that the church is requiring to be written into law a very specific section of the Mormon religion that doesn’t even affect but a tiny portion of those voting on it.

    Point 2: not all heterosexual unions produce life, not all acts of procreation produce human life (thank goodness)
    Since your (incorrect) thesis is that Gays can’t produce life, what reason is there to worry about them within an LDS perspective; if you are saying godlike sex = conception, since they don’t get to that point (except when they do, never underestimate the power of the turkey baster.) then there’s the contraception issue to worry about, not to mention the problem of infertile couples. All which should be equally condemned, as they “cheapen the use of this God-given power”. Basically, I can’t figure out your point.

    Or, if you have a point, it is that you wish to write a specific portion of LDS doctrine into the California constitution. Can’t you see a slight problem there?

  43. bbell on October 31, 2008 at 10:39 am

    JG,

    I think church leadership sees it in the future being treated more like racism then sexism. The leadership is taking a multi-generation look into the future and like Ray likes to say a look at the polygamy battles as a guide to what can happen to the church.

    I think this is a fundamentally correct quote:

    “I see nothing that would make its eventual acceptance possible. There is no mechanism through which sin can become non-sin and the church still continue.”

  44. MikeInWeHo on October 31, 2008 at 10:39 am

    re: 36 OK, that helps me understand. Thanks, Timer.

  45. we on October 31, 2008 at 10:41 am

    #33 Thanks. I understand that you believe that this power of creation comes from Heavenly Father, that he shares it, right? It is a gift? It’s not like the “intelligence” which is widely talked about in LDS circles that was not created but is co-eternal and is not a gift from HF?

    If the power of procreation is not like intelligence, then is the libido part of this power of creation that HF shares?

    If libido is part of what HF shares, then what happened to cause it to be the way it is for those on the homosexual side of the continuum of libido? How did that happen?

    If the LDS don’t know the question looms so large in this debate (how many other contemporary issues have raised such discussion and debate here), should the prophet then make inquiries of HF to find out?

  46. MikeInWeHo on October 31, 2008 at 10:52 am

    re: 43
    Revelation perhaps, bbell? There are lots of OT sins that are no longer sins. It’s not particularly difficult to imagine ways that non-celibate gays could be tolerated within the Church without trashing the Plan of Salvation. In fact, from many of the comments we’ve both read in the Bloggernacle there seem to be plenty of active LDS already who would be quite comfortable accepting gay couples in the Church even if they don’t accept SSM per se.

    If earthly parents who believe homosexuality is a sin still find ways to accept their gay children, and even embrace their partners as part of the family and include them in the home…..is it really impossible to imagine our heavenly parents doing the same? My beef isn’t really with the Church’s position on SSM, it’s how Mormon culture and the Church tend to treat gay members who can no longer edure permanent celibacy.

  47. Martin Willey on October 31, 2008 at 11:06 am

    This has geven me a lot to think about, and forgive me if this sentiment has been expressed – - I scanned the most recent comments quickly. If (and it is a pretty significant “if”) the Church’s true position is to ensure that opposition to gay marriage does not become an unspeakable position in society, it arguably casts the prophetic call-to-action in a different light. Perhaps our own personal convictions on the issue are somewhat secondary. In other words, there is room within in the Church for Yes on 8-ers and No on 8-ers, so long as the Yes on 8-ers are not marginalized by society. While some will give time, talents and money, maybe “all that [some] can do” to support Prop 8 (and similar initiatives) is openly acknowledge that supporters of those propositions have a point.

  48. bbell on October 31, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Mike,

    I am of the view that institutional acceptance of SSM would result in schism like most other denominations. Its simply not possible for the body of the church (by this I mean active TR holders) to accept violations of the LOC as being in Gods plan from SLC and continue. This issue ain’t the PH ban…. I am afraid that you are getting a unrepresentative view of active church members in the Bloggernaccle.

  49. we on October 31, 2008 at 11:30 am

    #41 I have read the talk at your link (not for the first time either) and it always raises so many questions in my mind.

    From lurking about in the bloggernacle, I seem to remember that you aren’t so much into raising or addressing questions, but in advocating following of counsel of the authorities.

    Nonetheless, just taking the first sentences in the Bednar talk into account (e.g. “We have been counseled strongly by the First Presidency to devote our best efforts to the strengthening of marriage and the home. Such instruction has never been more needed in the world than it is today, as the sanctity of marriage is attacked and the importance of the home is undermined.”), it occurs to me that strengthening marriage and sanctifying the home is just what the California court did in permitting SSM.

    I am right-handed. Glad of it. I have some left-handed children. They have had more challenges because of it because they are a minority. In fact, historically, at times and in some places left-handers have suffered discrimination and ridicule. Why am I right-handed? Why are two of my children left-handed? Who is responsible?

    Likewise, libido. I am hetero others are homo. Who is responsible? Or should we even view it that way? Should we appreciate diversity? The fact that every leaf on the tree is not the same as the others? The fact that some people have red hair, freckles, and easily sunburn?

  50. djinn on October 31, 2008 at 11:55 am

    36. Utah has an extremely stringent no gay marriage no civil union law (prop 3 2004) and also has done its very best to restrict adoptions by same-sex couples. Neither of these laws was in the least contested by the Mormon church. I think the laws in Utah (lots of Mormons) more adequately present the issue of how Mormons feel about these issues than the current state of the law in California, which has, to say the least, not been encouraged to give more benefits to same sex couples by the LDS.

    I disagree, vehemently, that the LDS all excited about California’s willingness to grand same-sex couples benefits. I think they’ve just been backed into a corner here.

  51. MikeInWeHo on October 31, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    re: 48
    Is there a difference between “institutional acceptance” and some kind of tolerance? The Catholics, for example, maintain a theological position on homosexuality that if anything is more stringent than the LDS view. Yet even they don’t excommunicate non-celibate gays at the parish level. On the contrary; they are welcomed. On the whole, gay Catholics seem to stay in the church more and have generally better lives than Mormon gays. Rome isn’t exactly on the brink of schism. So I don’t agree that the only option is to kick out all the non-celibate gays or wind up like the Episcopalians.

  52. we on October 31, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Martin Willey,

    The LDS don’t want to find themselves marginalized like the predominantly hetero society–including LDS society–often does and has done to those predominantly homosexual?

    Looks like what might happen Martin is that you’ll have to load your cart and move to Iceland.

    : – )

  53. Jim Cobabe on October 31, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    We, I am not responsible for interpreting Elder Bednar’s counsel. If you think you’ve got it all figured, I urge you to follow your heart.

    I speak more from the position of one who feels inadequate to the task of sorting out these issues. Some people are going to be injured and take offence, no matter what I decide. Since I already have a firm conviction that the Lord warns us, through inspired counsel, of the pitfalls we are likely to encounter along the way. This issue is obviously one of them, and Elder Bednar’s counsel is unequivocal in supporting marriage, and identifying counterfeits the world proposes as a continuing assault on that traditional bond.

    I don’t pretend to know of myself how to answer your arguments. I only know in my heart that you miss the mark, when you part company with the brethren.

  54. bbell on October 31, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Mike,

    The issue is that LDSism is much more controlled as far as worthiness issues is concerned then Rome. Plus the non-paid ministry requires lots of people in callings and normally they are looking for members in good standing to fill them

    EI: gay couple shows up and wants to be active. The handbook says church court, no callings etc. Its been this way forever.

    There is little difference between SLC institutional church wants it and how the leadership operates at the local level. The AA’s will simply release SP’s and Bishops who do not follow the handbook on these matters and send in somebody else to clean it all up.

    Gay couple shows up at St. Pete’s. No bigee because of the way the church operates. No worthiness issues, no callings no church culture of enforcing worthiness. If institutional Rome was to change on SSM big time Schism trouble esp with the 3rd world just like with the Episc.

    I agree that at the local level Rome is better set up to accomodate.

  55. Martin Willey on October 31, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    WE: So, you are an “eye-for-an-eye” kind of person. That’s cool. Personally, I am pretty agnostic on the whole Prop 8 thing. I think there are good arguments on both sides. It would be great if no one was marginalized, but waht are you going to do?

    I do feel grateful (if a little milquetoast) that I do not live in CA, and thus do not have to vote or hear about Prop 8 in priesthood meeting.

  56. TMD on October 31, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    A great post, the key points of which I have long agreed with. The theological problem with gays is great indeed, for once we speak of exaltation, it seems to me that there is no consistent way to include homosexual relations. And even to just say that active gays are not sinning would require a tremendous revisiting of the nature of chastity. These things would be a theological revolution almost as big as the move from Kirtland to Nauvoo Mormonism; it would certainly be greater than the ending of polygamy (which, after all, was merely ended as a practice through an official declaration).

    And I strongly agree that this is all about maintaining the ability of individuals and institutions to maintain a heteronormative perspective without discrimination. Because I assure you, based on my reading of queer theory and the gay activism (legal and otherwise), that they view this as a means of securing societal affirmation and the enlistment of the government on their side of these issues (since civil marriage makes the recognition of those relationships a state interest). The SSM campaign is not and never has been merely about ‘individual rights’.

    That said, it seems to me that there is a possible place here where there could be something of a grand agreement, were both sides willing–something along the lines of ‘we will accept the right of individuals and institutions (including institutions other than churches) to maintain heteronormatist perspectives without interference or opposition, in exchange for marriage rights”. I could certainly live with that; if what Jonathan and I think is the underlying reason for the fight, I imagine the church could be brought around to such a position, as well. But I strongly doubt that the gay rights lobby will–certainly so long as they are possessed by their largely unfalsifiable naturalizing rhetoric (driven quite strongly by activism, a naive understanding of how to interpret personal experience and feelings, and a pick-and-choose approach to scientific evidence).

  57. Mark N. on October 31, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    46: There are lots of OT sins that are no longer sins.

    According to Deuteronomy 22:5, cross-dressing is an abomination:

    “5 ¶ The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.”

    So, when did we get the revelation that allowed women to wear pants? There may be a special corner in hell for Hillary and all her pantsuited sisters…

  58. Josh Smith on October 31, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Interesting post. How will Church members reconcile their religion and their country as the two potentially diverge? What will an American Mormon believe in 2020? Here’s my take:

    The 2020 Church is a church of converts. When the convert becomes a member of this church, he brings his own history. I’m a convert. My history, the “faith of my fathers,” is an American story. My ancestors were seeking prosperity, seeking adventure, seeking religious freedom, etc. My ancestors made tremendous personal sacrifices for the country. My history is American. Other converts from other countries will bring their own histories; those histories will not be Mormon.

    Part of the American story is a story about compromise–in order for us all to live together happily, we all agree to leave our gods at home sometimes: “My god said so” is an unsatisfactory justification for law. I think being American means being willing to leave some of my faith at home. And I’ve chosen to do this. I accept that my God will not make rules for the rest of America. I’m a Mormon, but I’m an American first.

    In 2020, I think there will be a lot of converts in this position. I think you’ll have many converts who are committed Mormons, but they will be Americans first (or Chileans first, etc.). They will not move away (Iceland, very funny). They’ll compromise. The convert will bend. Sometimes the convert will bend away from the Church, and sometimes the convert will bend toward the Church. I imagine the Church will facilitate that bending.

  59. m&m on October 31, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    it occurs to me that strengthening marriage and sanctifying the home is just what the California court did in permitting SSM.

    I think it’s important to remember that when our leaders talk about marriage, they mean marriage between a man and a woman. Marriage in our doctrine is heterosexual.

    BTW, thanks for this post. I think you have captured one of the concerns that many have about SSM.

  60. DavidH on October 31, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I agree with both bbell and mikeinweho.

    I think that a major change in church policy–like endorsing gay marriage–would cause schism. In my mind, it would be more like the Manifesto–from which schism still continues–than the priesthood revelation–for which the LDS people were ready and willing to accept.

    On the other hand, I think continued modifications “around the edges” would be acceptable. Currently, noncelibate gay members are usually left alone (disciplinewise) if they do not attend Church. Typically, discipline only becomes an issue if the noncelibate gay member becomes or has recently been an active member.

    To encourage our noncelibate gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to receive at least some of the blessings of Church participation, I could visualize a change in policy–without causing schism–in which the Lord directed the Brethren to allow noncelibate gay members to attend Church, without risking the trauma of formal Church discipline or revocation of membership. The sin or transgression could be treated similarly to violations of the word of wisdom–no callings, no priesthood advancement, no temple recommend. Or it could be treated more severely but informally, withholding Sacrament or public speaking/praying privileges. But the noncelibate gay members would still be a member of the Church, he or she could still tithe, and otherwise participate informally in the Church.

  61. WillF on October 31, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Even if Prop 8 fails, the fact that it was enacted has resulted in all kinds of promises from the left that we not have had otherwise. Imagine this scenario

    1. Prop 8 supporters claim that bad things will happen if it fails.
    2. Prop 8 opponent lawyers rebut these claims and assure us that there is no way these bad things will happen. (see http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/politics/voterguide/20081030-prop8letter.html )

    3. Prop 8 fails.
    4. Bad things start happening
    5. We call the bluff of the lawyers in step 2

  62. WillF on October 31, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I meant to say “the fact that it was put on the ballot”

  63. Utahn in CT on October 31, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    > But I strongly doubt that the gay rights lobby will–
    > certainly so long as they are possessed by their
    > largely unfalsifiable naturalizing rhetoric (driven quite
    > strongly by activism, a naive understanding of how
    > to interpret personal experience and feelings, and
    > a pick-and-choose approach to scientific evidence).

    This is the sort of arrogance that convinces many heterosexuals that they are absolutely doing the right thing in supporting equal rights for their gay brothers and sisters. Your “gay-rights lobby” includes thousands upon thousands of people who are not gay.

  64. jjohnsen on October 31, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    “To encourage our noncelibate gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to receive at least some of the blessings of Church participation, I could visualize a change in policy–without causing schism–in which the Lord directed the Brethren to allow noncelibate gay members to attend Church, without risking the trauma of formal Church discipline or revocation of membership.”
    Isn’t this already policy? I know more than one openly gay celibate member that attends a ward every week. They aren’t allowed to have a calling or pay tithing (though two of them contribute to the missionary fund). Are their local wards skirting the rules, or am I not understanding you post?

  65. jjohnsen on October 31, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    Ooops, i just noticed the celibate/non-celibate difference in our posts. Now I understand.

  66. Roland on October 31, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    #60 – Schism in the Church –

    This is the big issue causing the current breakup of the Anglican Church. Check out VirtueOnline.com – where Orthodox Anglicans are blogging their disgust about their own church leaders convorting in the Gay pride parades in most immoral manner.

  67. MikeInWeHo on October 31, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    My impression is that there are already non-celibate gays quietly participating in some wards in some cities, with knowledge of the leadership. I can think of one example where a calling was even extended. It’s like a very informal don’t-ask/don’t-tell/don’t-pursue situation.

    So I’m not sure things are quite as uniform as you suggest, bbell. Individual wards deviate (no pun intended) from the handbook in both directions. For example, the members jjohnson describes in comment 64 (“openly gay celibate”) SHOULD be allowed to pay tithing and have a calling under current Church policy, shouldn’t they?

  68. bbell on October 31, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Davidh,

    Here is why that will never happen. The church sees LOC violations very seriously for active members who care. Esp adults. There is simply no way to give non-celibate gays even those in a state-sanctioned “marriage” a “pass” on the LOC and at the same time keep the current LOC standards for hetero’s. It has to be one scriptural standard for all as dictated by HF.

    Any change like what you mention and we are on a slippery slope that leads to large scale schism

  69. palerobber on October 31, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    the LDS church actively and successfully supported Prop. 22 in 2000.

    Q: did that victory in any way abate the decades old trend towards greater acceptance of gay civil marriage in CA?

    of course not. gay civil marriage has significantly more public support in CA today than it does just 8 years ago. and 8 years from today — whether prop. 8 succeeds or not — public support for gay civil marriage in CA will likely have grown at a similar pace to what will be a clear and working majority.

    whether the church will one day become a pariah for its hardline stance on gay civil marriage the way it did over blacks and the priesthood i have no idea, though i personally doubt it. but it\’s certain that stripping gays in CA of their new found civil marriage rights (for a time) certainly won\’t prevent that future. and should that future ever come to pass, the church would be all the more reviled on account of its current activities.

  70. bbell on October 31, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Mike,

    The situations that you describe if brought to the attention of local AA’s would come to a halt. trust me the key word in your post is “quietly” In my view as a mainstream member your examples would lead to some “non-sustainings” during stake conference if it happened here in TX.

    As always when I discuss this issue I am referring to non-celibate gays

  71. Troy Westin on October 31, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    This is not just an issue about gays and lesbians. I recommend you read the post at editorial section http://editorialsection.com for another perspective.

  72. MikeInWeHo on October 31, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Hey bbell,
    I’m sure you’re right, but one has to wonder about regional differences. I’ve personally met two guys in different areas of CA who report their bishops know they are gay and not celibate yet quietly encourage them to stay active. Neither sought a TR, however. There are other reports.

    So I wouldn’t be so sure that David’s solution to the LDS gay problem “will never happen.” A person (more cynical than me, of course) might predict that’s exactly what will happen down the road: A semi-official don’t-ask/don’t-tell/don’t-get-a-TR policy toward non-celibate gay Mormons.

    Question, Bloggernacleites: In your experience are gay members treated differently in, say, Berkeley 1st Ward than in the Bbell Texas 1st Ward ?

  73. we on October 31, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Martin Willey,

    Sorry, I should have said “you’ll want to” instead of “you’ll have to”. My mistake. An eye for an eye? No, not at all. It just seems so common in LDS history (both modern and ancient) for the “faithful” to pull up stakes and leave. What is less common, but not unprecedented is to pull up stakes and abandon a long-held belief about something being a sin that has been/is harmful.

    m&m (you said I think it’s important to remember that when our leaders talk about marriage, they mean marriage between a man and a woman. Marriage in our doctrine is heterosexual):

    So, the issue for you, m&m, continues to be that the LDS and others who believe likewise get to define “marriage” in California (or Canada, etc.) for the wider culture? That despite what courts decide (e.g., in California) or what general society decides (e.g. Canada, Spain, etc.), the LDS and its allies in this issue get to decide? Is that consistent with LDS scripture? Is it misguided to apply internal LDS messages (Bednar) intended for the faithful to those whose faith varies from LDS doctrine?

    Jim Cobabe:

    So is it wrong to ask questions about commandments? Is it wrong to want to understand the underlying rationale? To keep asking until it makes some sense or more sense? Until your heart is in it? Especially in the absence of some exigency? Do responsible parents ridicule a kid who in sincerity asks why it is wrong to swear or why shouldn’t we take what’s not ours if we need it?

    You said: I am not responsible for interpreting Elder Bednar’s counsel. If you think you’ve got it all figured, I urge you to follow your heart.

    My premise was and is that I don’t have it all figured out. That is why I am asking, in a sincere attempt to figure it out or at least understand better and find some reconciliation between my mind and my heart. I assure you if my heart wasn’t’ driving my concerns, you wouldn’t be hearing from me.

    You said: I speak more from the position of one who feels inadequate to the task of sorting out these issues. Some people are going to be injured and take offence, no matter what I decide. Since I already have a firm conviction that the Lord warns us, through inspired counsel, of the pitfalls we are likely to encounter along the way. This issue is obviously one of them, and Elder Bednar’s counsel is unequivocal in supporting marriage, and identifying counterfeits the world proposes as a continuing assault on that traditional bond.

    SSM is then a “counterfeit”? Why? Is it because it is union between heteros, and not homos? It is? Then who made homos homos? Why?

    You said: I don’t pretend to know of myself how to answer your arguments. I only know in my heart that you miss the mark, when you part company with the brethren.

    Isn’t it the brethren parting company with some gay members who want to be in full fellowship in a SSM and not the other way around?

  74. queuno on October 31, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    bbell said — I am of the view that institutional acceptance of SSM would result in schism like most other denominations.

    Just like the official non-acceptance of polygamy led to schism…

    And bbell is right (in #70) when he says that this would have to be done quietly in a local ward level. Esp. in Texas, you’d see mass non-sustainings at stake conference and walk-outs en masse.

    But then maybe I’d get parking at stake conference or sacrament meeting if I don’t arrive more than 15 minutes early…

  75. bbell on October 31, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Mike,

    Clearly there would be regional issues with local bishops. The bishops you describe if the AA’s got informed of it would face the following range of reactions. Most of them would depend how the bishop reacted to the AA/SP hammer. First thing that happens is the SP get chewed on by the AA. Then it rolls downhill to the Bishop

    1. Chastisement from a chewed out SP and a stop put on it
    2. release
    3. Church Discipline. It would be hard to get to this but its possible

  76. Jim Cobabe on October 31, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    I think it’s important to remember that when our leaders talk about marriage, they mean marriage between a man and a woman. Marriage in our doctrine is heterosexual.

    Yes. There is really no justification for using the term any other way. Everyone knows this — the reason for the controversy is the question of whether we continue
    with this defination.

  77. MCQ on October 31, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    bbell: You know this how?

  78. Jerry on October 31, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    I can’t imagine any acceptance of even a celibate gay person being accepted by my local leadership. Noncelibate gay people were tolerated at BYU when I was there. They did extend couseling but I don’t know what effect that has ever had. I do think the way most mormons approach the issue is based on why they think people are gay. Clearly the FP has been quiet too long and they just sit quiet and let families destroy themselves. Most mormon families that I know of that find out a member is gay have cut off all contact and thrown them out.

  79. DavidH on October 31, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    bbell,

    Perhaps the Lord will inspire the Brethren to treat all sexual transgressions/sins in the manner I outlined.

  80. TMD on October 31, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Utahn in CT: where exactly is the arrogance? Is it in the idea that there is a naturalizing discourse which is used consciously used by queer theorists and gay rights activists for rhetorical purposes, but which is not the only one that queer theorists use in their theorizing and discussion? ’cause that’s true. Is the idea that this discourse is unfalsifiable? Given the nature of science, it’s always impossible that something new might be found, so it is scienficially impossible, ever, to fully exclude a hypothesis–so that’s true too. Is there picking and choosing of evidence?–yes–this is particularly evident in the fact that while there has been for some time a ‘search’ for an explanation, the best evidence is circumstantial and mixed, and bedeviled by the fact that many homosexuals with an identical twin have a straight twin. So this too is true. Is it founded on a naive interpretation of personal experiences? yes, by definition, given that it assumes that what one feels gives access to the fundamental nature of things–that is, ‘I feel a same sex attraction, therefore the only possible explanation is that I’m gay, and I never feel like I chose this’. This is a definitional example of a naive interpretation, in that it assumes that there could be no more complex, inapparent cause.

    So, for my comment to be arrogant, one of those statements must not be true. Which one?

  81. DavidH on October 31, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Jerry,

    Both my wife and I come from very conservative LDS extended families (we are probably among the only Obama supporters). I have an uncle who lived openly with his gay partner and my wife has a cousin who does so. Interestingly, both families (even the staunch traditionalists) have been supportive of our gay relatives and partners and welcoming them to family activities. Anecdotal evidence of course; I am sorry about the Mormon families you know who have cut of contact with gay relatives and thrown them out.

  82. Jerry on October 31, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Thanks David, Clearly your experience reflects the church’s teachings more than what I have seen.

  83. Roland on October 31, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    I can’t find where it’s at – but I vividly recall a prophecy from either Joseph Smith or some other modern prophet that in the last days the membership of the restored church would face issues of fire that would challenge their faith and cause even the very elect to fall from fellowship.

    Previously those issues were fulfilled by Persecution, Polygamy and the Immigration to Utah.

    I wonder if in our time it will be SSM?

    I have really wondered at the timeliness of Proclamation on the Family (1995) coming out and this issue really spinning wildly since (Prop 22- Y2K) and Prop 8 now. The opposition seems to get more wound up after each instance.

    Prop 8 happens to be made very public by the media – but for the last 8 years we in California have been bombarded by a wide range of gay rights legislation from our very liberal leaning state assembly, legislature and judges. It seems every month there is some call to action email making the rounds here.

    I’m worried that the we’ll face even more ferocious political battles in the future. California has a very politically active gay rights community and they hold major positions of power throughout the state.

    (Excuse my venting.)

  84. mjp on October 31, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    bbell (#75):

    I think you have this mostly correct, but there are also differences among AAs and SPs.

    On the AA level there is variation in their views and also variation in their desire to micro-manage.

    On the SP level, there is variation in their views and in their ability to “work around” AA control. Of course, you don’t get to be a SP without being very faithful, but there is still some variation in SPs on both of these dimensions.

    Also remember that the SP usually called and trained the bishops. So if the SP is more flexible, the bishops will ususally reflect that. And the SP doesn’t relish chewing out or replacing a bishop.

    On the other hand, the AAs don’t usually call the SPs. Since the SPs stay in place longer than the AAs do (since the AAs are rotated from assignment to assignment), the SPs can have somewhat more impact than your post implies.

    Also, the SPs are closer to the local and individual situations, and therefore are forced to adapt principles to the complicated reality on the ground. The AAs are two levels removed and rarely get much direct pushback to their instructions (even the strongest SPs ususally adopt a “work around” approach), but what they instruct doesn’t always happen.

  85. Bob W on October 31, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    While I do support the church protecting the ability of the church to define itself and be free from legislation requiring it to act in any particular way. I do struggle with legislating morality any more then we have to. I do not fear homosexuality and I see the opportunity to allow them what they want and still pass legislation that gives the religeous the protection thay want. These things are not in opposition as so many have argued that they are. We may find ourselves in a minority that needs protection by 2020. I think some posts here show that some already feel like they are on the way to being in the minority at least in CA.

  86. Utahn in CT on October 31, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    TMD (#80)

    The arrogance is in marginalizing not only a group of people but also those who support them and the abstract notion of equality of opportunity and status for all by using labels such as “queer theorists” and “gay rights activists.” How far would you go in extending these label? How about pastors of welcoming and affirming Protestant (and non-Protestant) congregations? How about those parishioners? Or those who would publicly oppose Prop 8? Or are such people just dupes of queer theorists and gay rights activists? And as for science, do you think this really will be the fundamental basis for judicial rulings on issues regarding homosexuality and society? The use of a group with power, influence or privileges trying to use science to preserve those privileges for themselves alone seems arrogant to me.

  87. TMD on October 31, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    Utahn in CT:

    There is actually a group of LGBT scholars who describe themselves as queer theorists (see for instance Judith Butler). I’m using their label for themselves. The same holds for gay rights activists–many people describe themselves as such (starting with Stonewall and Lamba Legal but including others). These people have been the key strategists for the movement, rhetorically, legally, and intellectually.

    And actually, the people who have been most trying to ‘use science’ in these debates are those in the gay rights community who advocate the naturalizing discourse–indeed, it’s something of a cornerstone of it, as part of their argument about it not being a matter of choice.

    Frankly, I think that they are making greater efforts to marginalize LDS and other orthodox christians who have not yet accepted their position than vice versa. Hence, in the ECUSA, refusals to make accomodations that have historically been used in theological disputes (offering parishes alternative episcopal oversight, for instance) and an increasing tendency to prefer that the conservatives in the church leave quietly (manifested in their moves against Bishop Duncan). Moreover, note that my preferred position is one that would actually try to avoid the marginalization of anyone, be they gay-affirming or heteronormative in outlook.

  88. queuno on October 31, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Micah in #35 asked:

    And, since the temple recommend question is “Do you live the Law of Chastity?” (defined elsewhere as not having sexual relationships except with one’s spouse, to whom one is legally and lawfully married), why can’t a married gay member truthfully answer “Yes?”

    I predict that the Church will reword the official Law of Chastity if it has to (and the temple recommend question), if it has to, so that a valid sexual relationship is defined between male/husband and female/wife.

  89. Bob C on October 31, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    \”“Queer theorists” I think is an academic label, for reasons that escape me. \”Queer studies\” is a Library of Congress designation and is the only field in which D Michael Quinn ever published a peer-reviewed book not published by a Church-related press. Just a small point of difference and trivia. I\’\’m not sure these are considered improper \”labels.\”

    I read a lot of agnst and difficulty about Prop 8, its supporters and opponents, but I wonder where all these people were when Californians overwhelmingly passed Proposition 287, which marginalized, imperiled, and denied rights to an entire group of people based upon national origin?

  90. James on October 31, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    I’ve got a few observations based on the theme that what we have here is a failure to communicate.

    #86 – Utahn in CT: I wouldn’t call “Queer Theorist” a pejorative since that is an accepted research methodology in qualitative research. (See Creswell’s Research Design, p.10) It’s just a point of view for social science research. Now “activist” can be somewhat of a negative if only because many in that role have used disruptive methods in their advocacy for social change. They’ve given themselves a bad name through their impatience. Social change takes time to really stick.

    There is a real disconnect here between those who view this whole issue as fighting sin as described in the scriptures (Rom. 1: 27, 1 Cor. 6: 9, 1 Tim. 1: 10, and Jude 1: 7 for those of you looking for New Testament references.) and those who see this as an issue of civil rights. None of us are really communicating because there are two very different world views here. For the opponent of sin, they are fighting to protect society from what they see as destructive trends. For the advocate of civil rights, they are striving to give homosexual relationships the exact same legal and moral standing as heterosexual relationships for what they consider to be high ethical reasons. Civil rights tend to trump divine right and wrong when it suits the relevant judge.

    I don’t see how anyone can cross that gulf and find a middle course. In order to fully accept that homosexual acts are sinful, any equation of same-sex unions to marriage is pretty much out of the question. To fully buy into the civil rights argument, one just about has to reject the idea that certain types of sexual acts are sins. Those disparate positions don’t leave any room for compromise. That is why we see such a clear division between the two factions.

    In #58 – Josh Smith wrote: “I’m a Mormon, but I’m an American first.” What this seems to be saying is that he will sacrifice or compromise on the teachings of the Gospel in order to get along. If one of the missions of the Church is to proclaim the Gospel, can we be americans first? In order to do our duty to God, it seems that our loyalty to the divine supercedes our loyalty to country.

  91. Paula on October 31, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Bob C….interesting point in your last paragraph. A comment was made earlier about how much more acceptable gay marriage has become in CA in the last 8 years since Prop 22 was passed. When I read that, I immediately wondered what the trend is for the nation as a whole. Does anyone know? I voted for Prop 22 when I lived in CA, but no longer live there so am not able to vote for Prop 8. Other more liberal minded folks have moved into CA since I left. I am wondering if this rapid rise in support is in line with national trends or simply due to liberals moving in and conservatives moving out? (As an aside, we left the Bay Area in order to find a more affordable area which would allow me to stay home and raise our kids….not because of the rising tide of uber-liberalism in CA.)

  92. Larry Ogan on October 31, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    From mormon.com offical statement on homosexuality:
    “People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.

    Is the Church implying that “certain inclinations” mean they are born with these so called inclinations?

  93. Utahn in CT on October 31, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    TMD and James,

    I’m too am not using “queer theorist” is not a pejorative. It seemed to me your reference in #80 to a “unfalsifiable naturalizing discourse” by QT and gay rights activists implied that hey, if some academic theorists and single-issue “activists” could be identified as the root of idea of equality for gays, and then they could be found championing unfalsifiable claims, then the hetero (I would say, hetero activist) majority could more easily marginalize them.

    The LDS hierarchy of course has the right to teach what it wishes among Church members. I don’t think they have proven that this right will be impinged upon by a passed Prop 8. I’ve watched Elder Bednar’s YouTube video; I’m more convinced by the law profs who are not concerned that organized religion will undergo upheaval with a passed Prop 8.

    I recently took my children to what was advertised as a “Jewish fair” in a Connecticut park. Turns out it was a Lubavitcher event, These are people that have very conservative (extreme even by Mormon standards) social norms. They are also active proselytizers, but only among other Jews, and when it soon became clear that I and my kids were not Jewish, I thought I could sense disinterest in us. What they don’t do is try to shape state-level (or national) legislation, at least as far as I know. They live their religion and are perfectly happy to let you live yours. They condemn homosexuality, but as far as I know are not trying to play the role outside their own religious community that the LDS Church is on this issue.

  94. theradicalmormon on October 31, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Steve Young is apparently one of Satan’s minions.

    http://cbs5.com/local/steve.young.prop8.2.853885.html

  95. TMD on October 31, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Ut in CT,

    Your example of the Lubavitchers to a certain extent misses what I see as the central argument of Jonathan’s post: that gay rights activists are not content with a live and let live approach. They want to change all social and moral institutions, and use the state to assist them in that mission. Their battle with the boy scouts (however you feel about the boy scouts) is clearly motivated by this, and shows their tactics–get the law on their side, then use it to go after dissenting institutions. When the case was lost at the supreme court, the turned to city, county, and state anti-discrimination laws to try to get the boy scouts turned away from facilities that they had long used and contributed to the city (etc.) through. If you think they will ‘leave us alone,” if we do, I’m afraid you are mistaken. While the 1st amendment protects the church itself, they will use the full extent of the law to their advantage. This could well mean efforts to decertify LDS social services should they refuse to deal with gay couples (see catholic charities in MA and the UK), arguments in zoning cases that a organization that discriminate in ways contrary to the community (as evidenced by its rejection of gay marriage) should be unable to get zoning exceptions (often needed for things like steeples) and every other means they have.

  96. Paula on October 31, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Larry – I don’t think anyone knows and it really doesn’t matter if it is nature, nurture, or whatever. Children are born with all sorts of natural inclinations. Some might be considered gifts and some might be considered challenges (or trials, or burdens, or temptations or whatever). As children grow, these natural inclinations are either encouraged or discouraged based on whether or not they comply with social norms. If the child is born into the church, the bar is raised as we are taught to take into account God’s commandments.

    Every believing LDS member knows the plan of salvation and the role of the family. They know just what choices they need to make and the steps they need to take to follow the Lord’s plan. Sometimes taking these steps is very easy and sometimes it is not, depending on the mix of gifts and challenges each person possesses. However, no matter the individual case, every person is expected to follow these commandments unless there is some specific reason they cannot. (For instance, people suffering from profound physical or mental limitations are not expected to become parents if this is an impossibility.)

    I think the church has been very clear in stating that homosexual orientation does not qualify as one of those extenuating circumstances. To add to that, just because a person may be born with a homosexual inclination does not excuse them from gospel commandments.

    I understand the frustration that the homosexual LDS community must feel, especially those that still believe in the gospel and want to be full participants in LDS life. It is unfortunate for them that the gospel does not provide an avenue for them to marry people to whom they are physically attracted. However, even though sexual and romantic fulfillment seems to be what the world sees as the main reason for marriage, I really don’t think it is an important part of Heavenly Father’s plan. It definitely isn’t a rationalization for legitimizing homosexual relationships.

    Many members are single and have been unable to find their husbands or wives. Many will never marry. Yet, you don’t see these people lobbying to make the church condone non-marital sex so that they can be “fulfilled”. They patiently wait for the right person and, in the meantime, focus on other things. It is hard for them, but they deal with it. The argument may be….well, it’s not the same because gays aren’t allowed to marry but singles CAN marry. Well, actually gays CAN marry (the opposite sex) and not all singles can or will marry in this lifetime for a variety of reasons. We don’t tell them that since they can’t find an appropriate spouse, they can go look to other methods in order to be fulfilled. It may be distasteful to a gay person to consider marrying someone to whom they aren’t attracted. It is no different for a hetero single who is faced with a pool of potential mates whom THEY find unattractive. It is all a matter of priorities and keeping the right focus. If it is more important to a person, gay or straight, to follow the commandments, then they will marry the best person they can find and create a family OR remain celibate until that opportunity should arise. If it is more important to be “fulfilled”, gays (or straights) can toss aside the commandments, take that path and accept the outcome. They shouldn’t expect the Church to renounce what is right so that they can feel better about their chosen path.

    For these reasons, I think it is highly, HIGHLY unlikely that we will ever see a change in our marriage “policies”.

  97. Utahn in CT on October 31, 2008 at 11:21 pm

    > This could well mean efforts to decertify LDS social services should they refuse to deal with gay couples (see catholic charities in > MA and the UK), arguments in zoning cases that a organization that discriminate in ways contrary to the community (as evidenced > by its rejection of gay marriage) should be unable to get zoning exceptions (often needed for things like steeples) and every other
    > means they have.

    Could, might, potentially. Quite a gamble, it seems to me, to bank on legal protection for the LDS Church by attacking equal rights of a minority.

    I think I agree with James’s dichotomy of fighting sin vs. civil rights. In the public sphere, I would bet on the former eventually winning. Mormons then can just fight sin within themselves alone, a la the Lubavitchers.

    > If you think they will ‘leave us alone,” if we do, I’m afraid you are mistaken.

    I read this with a healthy dose of irony.

  98. Utahn in CT on October 31, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    Re: my #97

    > In the public sphere, I would bet on the former eventually winning.

    Obviously, I meant “I would be on the latter [civil rights] eventually winning.”

  99. we on October 31, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Paula,

    Are you acquainted with Bruce R. McConkie? He was wrong and he repented it. I think of the heartache it contributed to.

    Could you give me some specific examples of natural inclinations children are born with to better illustrate your point so I can better understand what you are equating to being gay.

    I think the quotation Larry made uses “inclinations” like someone who may be inclined to hit people, to steal, to lie, or to drink alcohol, etc. These inclinations — dispositions or preferences — involve choice; we usually have more or less to control over them (except for maybe the legally insane). They also impact others. How do others see it?

    Is handedness an inclination? I have heard a gay man make that comparison. (Only if I don’t act upon being right-handed or left-handed, according to the quote, can I go forward with the faithful? So handedness must not be an inclination or the citation suffers from ambiguity. That doesn’t make any sense.)

    To me, being gay is similar to being right-handed or left handed. I didn’t have the choice in my handedness. I have tried being opposite from the way I was born or at least being ambi-, but it just didn’t work that well. I am what I am (Popeye). It is not the same as being inclined to steal, lie, hit, etc. Is it?

    It just doesn’t make sense to me. I want to understand. Others say understanding doesn’t matter; you must have faith. I can see where in certain circumstances of exigency acting on faith without understanding might be necessary. I don’t see why that is the case here. Not until after the trial of your faith, some say. That’s what they said to polygamists before the manifesto and to priesthood holders before June 8, 1978. Have faith. Have faith, because the brethren say so. And then…

    I want to understand. In my heart I know what is fair and compassionate.

    By the way, I have a child who is attention deficit. I have a child who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. I know about afflictions.

    I want to know from those propounding it what makes sex wrong in a gay marriage? And why.

  100. Paula on October 31, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    Utahn in CT…..I don’t think any of us can second guess what may happen. We live in a litigious society. Disgruntled people can come up with any number of reasons to raise a ruckus in the courts. I could see all sorts of things happening.

    A fertility doctor in CA was sued because he didn’t want to help two lesbians conceive a child and referred them to his partner. He lost, even though the women were offered services at his clinic. They just wanted to take out their indignation and make him pay. That was before marriage was legal. Now that it is, I can see people going one step further and suing insurances companies if their fertility treatments aren’t covered!!!

    If Mary and John get married, and Mary finds she cannot get pregnant, she might receive covered services. If Mary and Jane get married, they will find that cannot get pregnant either. Will Mary demand covered services?? After all, she is married and cannot get pregnant! Will she sue if the insurance company denies her? Far fetched, perhaps, but anything is possible.

  101. Utahn in CT on November 1, 2008 at 12:04 am

    > Now that it is, I can see people going one step further and suing insurances companies if their fertility treatments aren’t covered!!!

    Bad example, at least for me. I am absolutely in favor of any woman who wants to become pregnant in having necessary infertility treatments covered by her health insurance. And by the way, ask someone who works at an infertility center whether they check whether the sperm has come from the patient’s lawfully wedded husband.

    The second part is more paranoia, Please pardon my bluntness, but Tuesday is only four days away.

  102. Roland on November 1, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Today’s Gay Rights News Update –

    I mentioned in my post further up that these shennigans happen weekly here in California. Gay activist teachers are pushing an agenda that is clearly inappropriate but nobody is holding them accountable for it. I just found this story about Faith Ringwold School:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,445865,00.html

    A California school system refuses to say what action, if any, it will take after it received complaints about a kindergarten teacher who encouraged her students to sign “pledge cards” in support of gays.

    During a celebration of National Ally Week, Tara Miller, a teacher at the Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science in Hayward, Calif., passed out cards produced by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to her class of kindergartners.

    The cards asked signers to be “an ally” and to pledge to “not use anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) language or slurs; intervene, when I feel I can, in situations where others are using anti-LGBT language or harassing other students and actively support safer schools efforts.”

  103. Paula on November 1, 2008 at 1:31 am

    To We….
    Thank you for your very thoughtful post. (It “crossed in the mail” with my last post.) I would like to comment on it in a thoughtful way….it will take more time than I have right now. I will try to get back to you on that as you have brought up some very good points. At the very least, please know that I want to understand too. People’s lives are going to be affected by this issue and I don’t think any decision should be arrived at without prayerful thought and consideration. If we are commanded to “love thy neighbor”, we need to do that. Even if we end up disagreeing with our neighbor, we need to understand why we do and to still treat that neighbor with Christ-like love.

    To Utahn….

    I know that that was a far-fetched example, but not due to any paranoia on my part. I am not afraid of gay people, I do not bear then any ill-will or animosity. I was just trying to make the point that nobody knows what will happen if ever there is univeral gay marriage. Probably nothing. Maybe all kinds of things. It is out of my sphere of influence and beyond my worry. What I can influence is how I treat others and I hope that I will only get better at my ability to love unconditionally and treat others as I would want to be treated.

    That said, I respectfully disagree with you on the fertility treatments for any woman topic. I don’t believe that any person has the right to just go out and create a baby. If you are a single woman (or man), there are plenty of children out there that need to be adopted. I do believe that the best environment for a child is a two parent household with a mother and a father. Sadly, there are children in the system for whom one parent is better than none. But to deliberately create a new life to fulfill your own need to be a parent when you have no spouse is not the best choice. We will have to disagree there.

    I also disagree with the level to which people feel that the insurance companies ought to pay for absolutely everything. Necessary medical costs are becoming exorbitant partly because we all share the burden of covering everyone else’s procedures. Should we expect insurance to cover treatments to restore health when it is impaired? Absolutely. Should we cover elective procedures? Only within reason. Is it reasonable for us to bear the costs of creating a child for a woman who has no fertility issues, but chooses not to go through the normal methods of sexual reproduction? I believe not.

    Does this sound harsh? Maybe. But I just think we, in modern culture, need to stop focusing on the pursuit of our own personal fulfillment while expecting others to pick up the tab.

  104. Chino Blanco on November 1, 2008 at 2:57 am

    It sounds worse than harsh, Paula, but nevermind … watching this vid has got me in such a good mood:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akt908vnUT0

    Absolutely loved the inscriptions on the gravestones that Barb placed in front of the Young’s home for Halloween:

    RIP inequality, Nov. 4

    RIP
    May discrimination
    be a thing of the past,
    May hate and fear
    be gone at last
    RIP prop 8!

    Those who forget
    the past
    are condemned
    to repeat it.
    No to 8!!!

  105. Utahn in CT on November 1, 2008 at 7:58 am

    > Is it reasonable for us to bear the costs of creating a child for a woman who has no fertility issues, but chooses not to go through
    > the normal methods of sexual reproduction?

    This is way off topic, but what I said went beyond this. The cost of infertilizing a woman without fertility issues is minimal; I’m supportive, actually, of much more expensive procedures. We as insurance premium payers already support all sort of expensive procedures that protect the health of pregnant mothers and ensure babies at risk can be carried to full term. I’m not going to be the one who tells a woman, “You can bear a baby,” and to another, “You cannot.” In this sense I am resolutely pro-life. Now, more on topic: how often do women in same-sex relationships request fertility treatments? This is something I’d really like to know. I would be surprised if the number is huge.

    And finally, I am also pro-adoption, which does not contradict what I say above. Fertility treatments won’t work for all couples.

  106. Utahn in CT on November 1, 2008 at 8:08 am

    > The cost of infertilizing a woman without fertility issues is minimal.

    Last night was too late, this morning too early—but that’s life with kids. What I meant was

    “The cost of inseminating a woman without fertility issues is minimal.”

  107. Adam Greenwood on November 1, 2008 at 10:09 am

    “Bruce” doesn’t even rhyme, for Pete’s sake.

    Depends how you say it.

  108. Adam Greenwood on November 1, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Excellent post, J. G. That thought about “maintaining opposition to gay marriage as a speakable position” tied together a lot of things for me.

  109. hamster on November 1, 2008 at 11:15 am

    # 27\”it is probably a case of, “well, the brethren have said it, and I support the brethren, so that is enough for me”. In and of itself, that position isn’t necessarily a bad thing.\”
    I disagree. Obeying the brethren just because they are the brethren smacks of blind obedience. This is is hurtful when you vote away rights, base on these sentiments. If you are going to vote Yes on Prop 8 at least study both sides, and at least consider the possibility that the brethren might be wrong.

  110. Frank on November 1, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Paula said “stop focusing on the pursuit of our own personal fulfillment while expecting others to pick up the tab.”

    Is it possible to get anyone to vote for a politician who doesn\’t promise the middle class a free ride?

    #109 So you have not drank the Kool-Aid yet? The one thing about mormons that actually does smack of cultism is the way we worship the brethren and lean on every word. In Miracle of Forgiveness Pres Kimball linked masterbation with homosexuality. I think this has been dispelled as a factor. But as an apostle not every word he said was or should be expected to be fact. But on this issue I do see most of us are looking to the spirit and who we are to come to our conclusions. Even when we agree with the brethren it can be with a great deal of thought.

    I do like the above post that says we shuold find ways to protect the church from these activists by getting laws that specifically address the concerns. With or without prop 8 the church could still be sued by activists that want access to something

  111. Ray on November 1, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I just want to say that this has been probably the most civil and thoughtful discussion on this topic I have read anywhere – particularly one with over 100 comments.

    Thanks.

  112. Peter LLC on November 1, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    a teacher at the Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science in Hayward, Calif., passed out cards produced by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to her class of kindergartners.

    Not really the same thing, but I had an English teacher pass along a chain letter (before the interwebs) that even as a seventh grader struck me as strangely inappropriate. There’s no accounting for some folks.

  113. Larry Ogan on November 1, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    #99 “inclination” is the official word the Church uses on mormon.org to describe homosexuality. It is certainly a better term than life style choice. As for me I would add the term genetic to inclination which kind of makes homosexuality like being left handed. I think if the Church was to acknowledge that it is genetic then their approach to it would have to be different than it is now. I don’t know what changes they would need to make within the Church. Does God create a person who is predisposed to sin? I don’t think so. Maybe then, I’m going to say it, as I dive for shelter, homosexuality is not a sin.

  114. Utahn in CT on November 1, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    > I think if the Church was to acknowledge that it is genetic then their approach to it would have to be different than it is now.

    Have earlier judicial decisions regarding SSM or any other similar issue made recourse to science? This is what I was getting at in an earlier post: I doubt this would, or should, form the basis of such decisions.

  115. we on November 1, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Larry, that’s my “inclination” too. Ah-oh.

    I’d like to have heard the interchange, though, that ended up settling on “inclination” to understand better how and why they chose that particular noun.

  116. Frank on November 1, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    I don’t buy the genetics argument. I think it is more likely biological but not necessarily genetics. The reason is that would mean all sexual attraction would be coded in genetics and I do not see that.

  117. we on November 1, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Frank, wikipedia has theories of causality which include, among others, genetics. It references various studies, etc. You have a theory that genetics are not involved, and a reason you hold it, and it should be given weight because? Understand, I am not saying it shouldn’t, but I don’t understand why it should be more important than, for example, what I read in wikipedia and the referenced materials there.

    Handedness is also addressed in wikipedia. It is interesting to read about the theories of casuality relative to homosexual orientation and handedness, which both seem complex and rooted in genetics, prenatal or postnatal events, etc.

    But my point is about the description used by the GAs: “inclination.” Isn’t using “inclination” as the descriptor a gross simplification of a very complex matter that should require more sensitivity and understanding? I wouldn’t like my right-handedness described as an “inclination,” and told I better not succumb to using it, particularly if using it had such dire consequences as what we’re talking about here.

    Wouldn’t it be wiser to ask memebers to contribute to meaningful studies to understand what homosexual orientation is? Such studies might clarrify what has been characterized by the Church as a moral issue–although oddly enough members are free to hold differing opinions, while on the opposite side it has been termed a political matter the Church shouldn’t be involved in, wouldn’t they?

  118. Sara R on November 1, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    #117, Elder Oaks presents the Church’s viewpoint on this topic in the October 1995 Ensign:

    “Just as some people have different feelings than others, some people seem to be unusually susceptible to particular actions, reactions, or addictions. Perhaps such susceptibilities are inborn or acquired without personal choice or fault, like the unnamed ailment the Apostle Paul called “a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure” (2 Cor. 12:7). One person may have feelings that draw him toward gambling, but unlike those who only dabble, he becomes a compulsive gambler. Another person may have a taste for tobacco and a susceptibility to its addiction. Still another may have an unusual attraction to alcohol and the vulnerability to be readily propelled into alcoholism. Other examples may include a hot temper, a contentious manner, a covetous attitude, and so on.

    “In each case (and in other examples that could be given) the feelings or other characteristics that increase susceptibility to certain behavior may have some relationship to inheritance. But the relationship is probably very complex. The inherited element may be nothing more than an increased likelihood that an individual will acquire certain feelings if he or she encounters particular influences during the developmental years. But regardless of our different susceptibilities or vulnerabilities, which represent only variations on our mortal freedom (in mortality we are only “free according to the flesh” [2 Ne. 2:27]), we remain responsible for the exercise of our agency in the thoughts we entertain and the behavior we choose.”

    Handedness is not an apt comparison because that is morally neutral. The Church does not consider homosexuality a morally neutral character trait.

  119. Jim Cobabe on November 1, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    We counters:

    Isn’t it the brethren parting company with some gay members who want to be in full fellowship in a SSM and not the other way around?

    Have it as you will. The fact that you insist on a certain perspective is rather revealing in itself. What interest wishes to introduce changes in custom and tradition long standing? In the context of Elder Bednar’s talk, the implications are very clear.

  120. Jim Cobabe on November 1, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    Sara, your assumptions are obviously quite different from we. He seems to assume that homosexual behavior is inevitable, beyond control or restraint. Of course the comparison between handedness and homosexual behavior is a good one, given that we are machine-like automatons programmed by our inflexible nature, so supposed. The fundamental assumption is specious and faulty. Behavior is readily distinguishable from any predisposition.

    We’s questions reveal this faulty premise that so much “gay” logic depends upon. Without that faulty assumption, many of the otherwise sensible questions fall apart.

  121. Jonathan Green on November 2, 2008 at 12:38 am

    Ahem. “[Y]our assumptions are obviously quite different from” us. Gender confusion is one thing, but what might start as experimental case-switching will surely lead to the breakdown of the traditional pronoun system. I will not let this forum be misused to advance the agenda of subject-verb disagreement!

    So thank you all for your contributions, but if you have anything else to add, say it soon.

  122. Sara R on November 2, 2008 at 12:52 am

    JG, he’s referring to the poster who refers to himself (or herself) as we. But you probably already knew that and I’m spoiling your joke.

  123. Jim Cobabe on November 2, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Jonathan, I was pointing out that Elder Bednar’s basic premise is the traditional one. To me, it is those who wish to raise new questions about traditional marriage that are staking new ground. The newcomers have the burden of proof.

  124. we on November 2, 2008 at 1:56 am

    Jim,

    Wouldn’t it be better if you worried about your interests and let me worry about mine? You get it wrong when you make assumptions about my interests and represent them. Is it kind of you to do so? And I’m not referring to quoting my prior question about “parting company” either.

    Rather, is it fair to say of me, “Have it as you will.” as though my queries and explorations are fixed and closed, as if I have a closed agenda, am committed to a side on this issue no matter what the evidence and the arguments are to the contrary? In essence, isn’t that saying that I am close-minded and insincere? Dishonest?

    Is it fair to assert that I “insist on a certain perspective” or to say that “I assume that homosexual behavior is inevitable, beyond control or restraint” when I don’t?

    Isn’t what I attempted to do is to make a comparison: homosexual orientation and handedness? Where did I ever divorce agency from homosexual orientation or handedness in the mix? Where did I ever say that the right-handed person couldn’t choose not to use the right hand predominantly instead of the left? Where did I ever say the homosexually-oriented could not choose to remain celibate? Isn’t it ludicrous to represent me that way?

    So now, Jim, given that, whose assumptions in our interchange fall apart?

    But Brother Jim, for me it is not about who is right or who is wrong in the argument, but about me trying to reconcile my heart and conscience with the respected and honored counsel of brethren to the contrary of my heart and conscience.

    I don’t understand why accommodations can’t be made among the LDS for gay folks to have a loving marriage just like straight folks, or why such an accommodation wouldn’t make sex between loving, married gays okay as far as sin goes just like sex between straight folks who are married. I don’t understand the seeming hypocrisy. I know that the sex drive relates to procreation, but that’s not all it relates to, and we know sex gets preformed in hetero- marriages all the time without any chance whatever for procreation. That just seems hypocritical and I want to understand why others believe it is not.

    Why do you engage in the interchange, Jim? What are your motives?

    Why do you ask: “What interest wishes to introduce changes in custom and tradition long standing?” when a long history exists within the Gospel of changes in custom and tradition? What kind of question is that, considering the teaching of Christ over against the Mosaic Law or polygamy over against monogamy, or blacks and the priesthood, or pre- and post-Word of Wisdom, etc. etc.?

    & Sara,

    Thanks for reminding me of Elder Oakes’s viewpoint on “susceptibilities” (a word akin to “inclinations”) and “vulnerabilities,’ wherein he seems to acknowledge the complexity and the lack of understanding relative to the subject of being gay, among these others, by admitting that figuring out where inclinations and vulnerabilities come from is difficult. Expectations relative to his examples (e.g., gambling, tobacco, alcohol, hot temper, contentiousness, coveting) don’t discriminate the way being gay does, do they? They apply across the board. On the other hand, expectations relative to sex does discriminate. Sex is okay for heteros who marry, but not for gays. Why is that?

    Handedness is morally neutral in our society today. It has not always been so in all cultures and societies. See the article in Wikipedia on handedness, the subtitle on stigma and repression. Even in scripture right and left are taken up as agents of symbolism: Jesus sits on Heavenly Father’s right hand and sin is depicted as being on the left side of Christ.

    Even so, being gay is stigmatized and repressed. Witness the recent movement in the Church relative to position on being gay.

    Why can’t sex in a marriage between gays be like sex in a marriage between those who are not gay?

  125. Mark N. on November 2, 2008 at 3:02 am

    “What this seems to be saying is that he will sacrifice or compromise on the teachings of the Gospel in order to get along.”

    I thought that’s eventually what the Church did with regard to the ruling in Reynolds vs. the United States. Sure seems to have set a nice precedent, at least.

  126. Hellmut on November 2, 2008 at 3:09 am

    “The church’s resistance to gay marriage should be equally unsurprising. Mormons sacralize marriage and procreation as no other religion does, Christian or otherwise. Our holiest ordinance is not the sacrament of bread and water or baptism, but rather marriage, and reproduction is endowed with eternal significance.”
    And since that is the case, we need to realize that we are imposing our religious standards on non-believers. Relying on majoritarian mechanisms, we are throwing rocks in the glass house.

  127. MikeInWeHo on November 2, 2008 at 3:36 am

    re: 126

    I’m always struck by how ironic this Prop 8 kerfuffle is, given the history of the Mormon people. Must the persecuted always pile on the next despised minority to come along?

  128. Jim Cobabe on November 2, 2008 at 3:44 am

    We:

    Wouldn’t it be better if you worried about your interests and let me worry about mine?

    I don’t know what you mean – better for who? Worrying is bad for your blood pressure. I decline your invitation to worry.

    In all fairness, you are free to say and think as it pleases you. I am simply stating my own fixed opinions, which do not allow me nearly so much latitude. I follow the brethren, no matter what argument clouds the issue. For me, it is a very effective solution to this difficulty, and to many others. As I already acknowledged, it may not suit you or ease your mind, just because I find that it does so for me.

    My responses to your arguments are simply my own attempt to point out that your doubts on this matter seem of less consequence to me than other considerations. So I feel, and hold the hope that others may share that belief. You are welcome to ask as many complicated questions as you can think up. You may not be satisfied with the answers. That’s okay with me.

    You can even hold on to the argument that church doctrine is mutable. I don’t believe it is. All the examples you cite actually demonstrate that fixed principles do not change, and the church is not prompted to act based on popular opinion.

  129. Jim Cobabe on November 2, 2008 at 4:43 am

    Mike, can you identify the players, for those of us without a program? Who is persecuted, and who is despised, in your playbook?