Thank you, Valerie Hudson

April 15, 2009 | 95 comments
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For the first time ever, I’ve read a defense of the anti-same-sex-marriage movement that didn’t make me cringe.

HT: Nate Oman.

95 Responses to Thank you, Valerie Hudson

  1. Chris H. on April 15, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Hey, thanks.

  2. Mark D. on April 15, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    It seems perfectly fine to say that is what the purpose of marriage is in the modern world, or what the purpose of marriage should be, or perhaps the only one whose defense will stand up, but it seems rather awkward to claim that the “true” purpose of marriage is the pursuit of an ideal that more or less didn’t exist until a century or two ago.

    I agree that what is suggested is perhaps the highest purpose of marriage, but I think it is rather questionable to claim that it is the predominant one, the sine qua non without which the institution would not exist. If it weren’t for the purpose of raising and protecting children, marriage as an institution would probably have the same historical salience as civil unions, i.e. it historically probably wouldn’t exist at all – not as a civil, legal, or religious institution anyway.

  3. DavidH on April 15, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    While in our LDS beliefs, there is room to believe that men and women are absolutely equal partners (a belief that I share), I do not think that it is unambiguously taught or believed.

    For example, I prefer Elder Hafen’s interpretation that men and women are to rule together, but President Kimball’s view was that the passage should be interpreted not that men rule over wives, but instead “preside.” ( “And unto the woman the voice of the Lord was saying, ‘In sorrow [or pain or distress or waiting] thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee’ (Genesis 3:16)–or, I like the term ‘preside over thee.'” http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=6057)

  4. Nitsav on April 15, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    It’s too bad she uses Elder Hafen’s innocent misreading of Genesis 3:16 as the italicized coup-de-grace in talking about Adam and Eve.

    She obviously hadn’t read my post ;)

  5. Chris H. on April 15, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Mark D,

    The historical purpose of marriage was to maintain the male control of property. It their is not a higher purpose, then this is all just a ridiculous debate.

  6. Nathan on April 15, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Great link, Julie.

    I think that this point is key to the whole debate: in order to successfully defend the gospel idea of heterosexual marriage we must sharply distinguish that idea from “traditional” marriage.

    There is nothing “traditional” about our revolutionary idea of celestial marriage.

    Even if Mormons are naturally “conservative” on a variety of issues, our unyielding commitment to eternal family values means that we are radicals with respect to the rest of human history and human tradition.

    There is little worth conserving about an institution whose traditional effect – intended or not, “benign” or not – has been the oppression of half the human race.

    Viva la revolution.

  7. Kari on April 15, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Is there any more gender equal marriage than one in which both partners are women or men?

    What we understand from our doctrine is that the telos of marriage is to ground every human family in real, lived, embodied gender equality.

    This concept of Valerie’s is almost laughable. This isn’t taught on Sundays, it isn’t taught at conferences, it isn’t taught in the scriptures, and it certainly isn’t taught in the temple (although post 1990 changes certainly make it a bit less male-domineering).

    As long as the LDS concept is that the man presides there isn’t gender equality.

  8. Rob Perkins on April 15, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Kari, no Mormon presidency, including the “presidency” in a Mormon household, is effective without the common consent of the group’s members. In this specific case, husband and wife under common consent is the rule, and it is verifiably taught in Sundays, in conferences, whenever the Proclamation on the Family is discussed in detail, and it is in the scriptures in sufficient force. (“If ye are not one, ye are not mine.”)

    Largely this has meant that we still have to get agreement between Mr. and Mrs. about every household decision. So, y’know, I disagree, almost completely, that gender roles preclude gender equality. My wife is just as responsible for overseeing my stewardships as I am for overseeing hers, and if I’m not listening to her, I’m damned. I know of very few things that are clearer in Mormonism than that.

    Certainly that’s no excuse for the Mr. if he’s slacking off. Too many men slack off.

    And no, I can’t imagine that every same-sex-union is devoid of dominant/submissive roles.

    Nathan, I disagree on the multi-millenial history of marriage, in that I don’t think it can fairly be characterized as the oppression of half the human race.

    For one, modern sensibility about what constitutes “oppression” is far broader than ancient sensibility, and before the advent of certain technologies employed in personal hygiene and/or control of conception, the biological circumstance of any average woman was 20 years or more of unrelenting and near-constant helplessness.

    Thus, the original purpose of marriage had to have been the protection and nurture of both women and small children.

    Yeah, there’s a fine line there between “protection” and “protection racket”, but I still think it’s important to recognize the exigencies present in human history.

    That’s no excuse to do things the way they’ve always been done, especially in the face of modern innovations or technological approaches to obviating those exigencies; I recall that Utah Territory was quite liberal for its time with things like universal suffrage, for one perhaps cogent historical example that had to be reversed in order to keep an institution of baying Protestants from marching yet another Army into Utah.

  9. Julie M. Smith on April 15, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Yes, Nitsav, I wasn’t happy about that line either.

  10. Bryan H. on April 15, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    This can’t be serious. Children raised by a same-sex couple would grow up not learning how to treat members of the opposite sex as equals? Why not?

  11. Kari on April 15, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Rob, you’re just engaging in standard LDS doubletalk when you argue that LDS gender roles don’t preclude equality. At one time in the not so distant past, all endowed women covenanted to obey the law of their husbands. And woman are still required to covenant to hearken unto their husband’s counsel as he hearkens to the Lord’s. At no time is a man required to hearken unto his wife’s counsel. Can you get a more clear definition of inequality in marriage than that? Man serves as intermediary with god for his wife.

    Say what you will about what the scriptures say or what current or past leaders have said, but when the rubber hits the road the take home message from the endowment is one of inequality.

  12. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 15, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    No wonder the anti-same-sex marriage movement is faltering, with Iowa and Vermont the latest stumbles. By missing the true telos of marriage, these men render themselves utterly incapable of protecting it.

    a defense of the anti-same-sex-marriage movement that didn’t make me cringe — most convince me that the same sex marriage movement has to be right.

  13. Kari on April 15, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    Oh yeah, don’t forget the fact that the church teaches that the man will be resurrected first and then call his wife forth out of the grave. In a truly equal marriage they would be resurrected together, as a couple.

  14. Bridget Jack Meyers on April 15, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    The LDS church teaches equality in marriage? Please. Presiding, the resurrection order, temple names, and the hearken covenant? That isn’t equal and it isn’t different-but-equal; it’s hierarchy and subordination. That article was an exercise in self-delusion.

    And Genesis 3:16 is not a mistranslation, “He will rule over you” is what the text says. However, the standard egalitarian take on that passage is that it is descriptive, not prescriptive, so there need not be any fretting with trying to re-translate it to say something it doesn’t.

  15. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 15, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    “doubletalk when you argue” — Kari, if what you intend is insult rather than dialog, you accomplish that. Otherwise, you are missing the point, all in all. /sigh

  16. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 15, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Nice article: “Ezer (think of Ezra “God is a help” or Azriel/Eliezer “God is (my) help”) is applied only to two characters in the Bible- Eve and God. If you’re in a group of two, and the other member is God, that’s a fairly elite group. In other words, Eve is some kind of divine aid to Adam, and the nature of that help is not subordinate, like that of a secretary, a gopher, an assistant, or when parents say of their three-year old “he’s such a good helper.” It’s God-like aid. God is a help and clearly not subordinate, and that’s apparently the kind of aid Eve is”

    http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/2007/08/playing-fast-and-loose/

    Obviously you take it well past that.

    Though you agree with me when you say:

    I think it’s descriptive. In other words, I view Genesis as describing the natural circumstances of their now-fallen state, our earthly imperfect impulses and conditions, not the heavenly ideal.

    Looks like you read my article on that. ;)

  17. Ugly Mahana on April 15, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    It is my lived experience that mormonism teaches equality. It was so between my mother and father. My father taught it to me. I strive to live that ideal with my wife. Every counter-example offered here, from presiding to the temple, has a different meaning to me than the critics represent. I have yet to hear a church leader suggest that men should dominate their wives. But I have heard men rebuked for abusing their spouses and offspring.

  18. Nitsav on April 15, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Kari, CFR.

    “the church teaches that the man will be resurrected first and then call his wife forth out of the grave. In a truly equal marriage they would be resurrected together, as a couple.”

    I’ve heard this, but can’t find it spelled out anywhere. Not in the JoD, not in Dialogue or Sunstone, or obscure BY talks, not in anything. Find me a good clear cite :)

  19. Kaimi Wenger on April 15, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    Nitsav,

    There are a lot of quotes on male resurrection calling-forth, but they’re all pretty old and wacky. I really don’t have a problem discounting what Charles Penrose or Erastus Snow said 150 years ago. After all, they said a lot of other wacky things, too.

    A bunch of quotes about calling-forth, collected by our anti-Mormon friends over at Utah Lighthouse: http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/resurrectwife.htm

    One apologist response at Light Planet:

    http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/response/qa/women_resurrection.htm

    But, again — if a person really plans on living by every wacky quote from the mid 1800s, then resurrection calling-forth is probably the least of their concerns.

  20. Nitsav on April 15, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Thanks for the link.

    I’m still unconvinced that Kari’s claim is exactly what these quotes intend. Take a look at the sources from the link- two Apostles (who don’t quite say what Kari does), George D. Smith’s non-LDS interpretation of William Clayton, two exmormons, and non-LDS HH Bancroft.

    If that’s the best we can throw up to establish this claim, it’s fairly weak.

  21. Nitsav on April 15, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Oh, and note that HH Bancroft is explicitly quoting from Fanny Stenhouse and her juicy tell-all expose.

  22. Jeremiah J. on April 15, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    There is an equivocation in Hudson’s and Cassler’s comments that bewilders me. Hudson recounts the story of Robert George’s poor answer to a female BYU student who asked why women should support “traditional marriage”; meanwhile at the end of Cassler’s (great) essay, she or he claims that the pro-democracy, pro-equality opponents of same-sex marriage must never align themselves with “traditional marriage”, since the latter is merely “a euphemism for “evolutionary marriage.”” I’m not sure what country Hudson and Cassler are talking about, but in the U.S., companionate, egalitarian, monogamous heterosexual marriage is roughly what people mean when they say “traditional marriage”. Support for women working outside the home is high in the U.S. (higher than many parts of Europe, and even among conservatives), as is support for equality of decision-making in the home and men’s shared responsibility for children. In one paragraph Cassler cites marriage in early-modern Northwest Europe as the beginning of equality in marriage, while the next she or he implies that when people today say “traditional marriage” it’s basically the same thing as the sexuality of chimpanzees, or perhaps among human societies in rural Pakistan. So isn’t it crucial to point out that if right-wingers like Hancock and Sherlock get everything they want, marriage in the U.S. will still be *more* egalitarian than the kind of marriage institution which, according to Cassler and Hudson, laid the original groundwork for capitalism, civil society, and modern democracy?

    I understand why women concerned about equality might hesitate to rally under the banner of the reactionary- and antiegalitalitarian-sounding “traditional marriage”. That is, until they see that, at least in the U.S., it almost always means monogamous heterosexual marriage, American-style. Which seems to be about what Hudson and Cassler want.

  23. Kari on April 15, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Thanks for the lecture Stephen M. Sigh all you want, but many, myself included, find the whole concept of “gender roles do not preclude inequality” to be doublespeak and dismissive of how central teachings in the church are perceived at the grass roots. You may disagree, but my comment was no more insulting than yours is condescending.

    Nitsav, I don’t have a good clear cite. I guess it’s just one of those “unwritten order of things” that was an integral part of what I was taught growing up in the church. As Kaimi points out, its probably left over from 19th century preaching. (btw, what is cfr?)

    Ugly Mahana, I’m glad that your experience in the church has been significantly different than mine. If everyone’s experience was such as yours we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  24. Gina on April 15, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    I enjoyed reading that argument very much. It feels true to me in one sense, so I wish her arguments followed more naturally. My personal experience as a woman in our church and in my temple marriage is very affirming.

    However, her belief that our doctrine stands as a light of gender equality to a confused world is very bizarre. On the contrary, it seems we are forced into all sorts of semantic gymnastics and careful parsing of scriptural passages, and elaborate interpretations of how only one person presides in a marriage and there is no vice-president, but they both lead together (?). Not to mention outright ignoring actual covenants we make regarding marriages that are in fact not equal (although perhaps beautiful and useful and true in an eternal view).

    It is a continuing mystery to me, actually, that many of our practices are so explicitly inequitable regarding gender and marriage. And yet, my experience and that of many other Mormon woman I know is that our marriages actually do seem to promote gender equality – as measured by respect and sense of worth and power in a marriage – better than other arrangements I’ve observed.

  25. Nitsav on April 15, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    CFR= call for references.

    Thanks :)

  26. Matt W. on April 15, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Interesting post. I think Valerie is arguing from a position of what the Church ought to be, rather than what it is, as that would be inarguable. Marriages in the Church ought to be paradigms of absolute equality. I think this article is a great method of forwarding that Agenda.

  27. DavidH on April 16, 2009 at 1:05 am

    “doublespeak” may be a harsh term, because, for some, it connotes deception. I think “ambiguous” is a more accurate description of the LDS position as I understand it. The Proclamation on the Family is open to a traditionalist-patriarchalist interpretation and to a more egalitarian one.

    1. Traditionalist-patriarchalist

    For the traditionalists, we teach that “[b]y divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness”. There is room for some with a patriarchalist orientation to construe this to mean that the husband is the “decider”.

    True, he is to preside (and perhaps “decide”) by common consent. But in the LDS culture, the term common consent has been largely drained of a conventional meaning of agreement with decisions, and converted into an duty to consent to the decisions of the presider (and decider).

    Interpreting a husband’s presiding to mean deciding would be similar to the teaching of our brothers and sisters in the Southern Baptist Convention that a “wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. ” http://www.sbc.net/aboutus/basicbeliefs.asp

    I know a few families that appear to operate this way in the Church, but not many.

    2. Egalitarian

    As has been discussed many times, the Proclamation also includes a sentence, “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”

    By focusing on the concept of “equal partners”, a husband’s presiding could be structured as whatever the two spouses jointly decide it should be, with or without any decisionmaking component. The language of “equal partner” could allow for presiding on alternate days, or presiding as to certain issues and not as to others, as the spouses agree. As to decisionmaking, spouses might structure the partnership so that one’s spouse’s views are given preference on certain matters, and the other spouse’s on others.

    And that is my perception of the way most LDS families operate, including that of my parents, of my in-laws, and siblings, siblings in law and our own.

    (Note: The Southern Baptist statement also has language about equal worth of husbands and wives and states that a wife is equal to her husband (albeit with different roles), but the statement has no language about “equal partners”. In this respect, I think the LDS statement permits of greater flexibility or adaptability in implementation.)

  28. Nate W. on April 16, 2009 at 1:42 am

    Is it just my hasty reading, or does Ms. Hudson make no argument about same-sex marriage whatsoever? While I think that marriage ought to be the way she describes, that does not preclude same-sex couples. Marriage as a gender equality institution is decidedly not traditional, and it is the move toward equality between partners that has made the idea of same-sex marriage thinkable.

  29. MAC on April 16, 2009 at 4:36 am

    The pro-same-sex-marriage side has organic problems of their own. Why are civil unions insufficient? What is it so significantly important to copy the traditional marriage model? Why the drive to declare it a fundamental right before even properly defining it?

  30. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 16, 2009 at 6:59 am

    to be doublespeak and dismissive of how central teachings in the church are perceived at the grass roots. You may disagree, but my comment was no more insulting than yours is condescending.

    Probably so.

    Your experience of grass roots perception is probably why there are so many collected talks and essays on the point from LDS leaders that go back to times when women were not allowed to practice law in most states through today, in a continuous stream.

    Over and over they make the point that women are equal, make as good of lawyers or accountants as men, and that they are not property in marriage, but equal partners.

    On reflection, if there was not such a strong strain of people who misunderstood the central teachings, there would not be all the sermons by apostles and prophets pointing out the contrary.

    You make an excellent point that it is easy enough for many people to misunderstand the doctrine.

  31. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 16, 2009 at 7:00 am

    Let me add, a strong streak of people embracing a false doctrine does not make statements to the contrary, repeated many times for generations, doublespeak.

    It makes it correction, which is what those leaders are for, among other things.

  32. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 16, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Though, thinking about it, a strong streak of people embracing a false doctrine does raise some concern about how effective the presentation of the LDS approach to marriage has been at rebutting that false doctrine.

    Personally, though, as a federalist, I’d like to see states each go their own way and experiment. I’m in favor of weddings of all kinds, though not necessarily convinced about all kinds of marriages.

  33. Russell Arben Fox on April 16, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Jeremiah,

    Just in case there is any confusion on this point, it should be noted that “Valerie Husdon” and “V.H. Cassler” are the same person.

  34. Jeremiah J. on April 16, 2009 at 9:27 am

    “Just in case there is any confusion on this point, it should be noted that “Valerie Husdon” and “V.H. Cassler” are the same person.”

    The “V.H.” in front of “Cassler” made me pause, but I was obviously confused about that. These are some strange conventions on Square Two so far. Citing yourself in the third person, with a different name? And Lindsey Hulet from the second issue was only “L. Hulet” in the first.

  35. Chris H. on April 16, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Why would she be citing herself as though she is a different person? This journal seems to have potential (heck, look at all the political theorists and political scientists in it already), but this is too strange.

  36. Rosalynde Welch on April 16, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Gina, I agree that it takes a great deal of hermeneutic exertion to make our scriptures harmonize with a notion of gender equality. While I don’t share Kari’s tone, I can’t disagree with her basic point that equality of the sexes is not encoded in the original intent of our foundational texts.

    So where does that leave us? If we are committed to an ideal of gender equality (which seems to be the basic presumption of this entire discussion), we can either discard the texts or find new ways of reading them, ways to recreate the meaning that preserve their relevance. Yes, this does a certain violence to the text. Much of the Old Testament and all of the New can be seen as a similar exercise in misreading older sacred texts in ways that suit a later context. The question is whether this is a legitimate move.

    I think it was Nate Oman who introduced me to the idea of a “saving interpretation”, a kind of pun on the word saving: in one sense, a productive misreading of an ancient sacred text meant to preserve its relevance “saves” the text itself as an object of reverence and authority; in another sense, the very act of wrestling with scripture and finding ways to shape our lives by its words is a form of worship, and thus is a “saving” exercise for our souls. (I’m sure Nate expressed it much more eloquently and cogently than I.)

    But aren’t these “saving interpretations” just so much social construction of religion? Aren’t they nothing more than the philosophies of men mingled with scripture, a counterfeit revelation? Maybe. But as Nate also once suggested, our view of heaven is social and sociality through and through. Perhaps social construction can itself be a legitimate form of revelation in such a heaven.

  37. Rob Perkins on April 16, 2009 at 11:29 am

    After almost 40 years in the Church, I have yet to hear taught by the Church that I’ll call my wife forth at the resurrection. I think that’s the exegesis of outsiders or people with less understanding, and don’t feel obligated to believe it, especially if it produces or implies a false conclusion about gospel unity.

    I stand by an egalitarian interpretation of the Proclamation, a descriptive interpretation of Genesis 3:12, and insist that any interpretation of the “hearken covenant” must be understood in terms of other scripture requiring unity. (Jack, this includes scripture in the Bible, such as the Intercessory Prayer in John, in my opinion.)

    Unity implies equality in that framework of interpretation, according to actual Church exegesis, rather than casual interpretations or interpretations provided by dissidents or outsiders.

    If your experience with the matter is different, then I think the people who did it to you are out of harmony with Gospel teachings.

    If I’m not required to get my wife’s counsel on household matters and on my personal behavior, it’s news to me.

    I’ll repeat the harsh language: I’ll be damned before I think that a Priesthood ordination or an innate gender trait authorizes people to treat a woman like a doormat.

  38. Alison Moore Smith on April 16, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Rosalynde, I sincerely thank you for your post.

    Rob, I’m so surprised at your questioning of this teaching. As others have said, it’s been taught to me my whole life. No, I can’t site a source–but that’s true of a great deal of the temple stuff. Assuming you were married in the temple, however, I suppose you know you wife’s name, but she doesn’t know yours. I was taught–both in the temple and out–that the “calling forth” was the reason for that. Do you have another explanation?

    DavidH #27

    True, he is to preside (and perhaps “decide”) by common consent. But in the LDS culture, the term common consent has been largely drained of a conventional meaning of agreement with decisions, and converted into an duty to consent to the decisions of the presider (and decider).

    Amen. I remember hearing over and over how polygamist wives had to agree to the marriages of subsequent women. Only problem is (1) it simply wasn’t true and (2) that was followed with something like “but if you don’t consent you’ll rot in hell for eternity.”

    I don’t know what “consent” means in that context.

    And it’s not just a duty to consent, but often a duty not to speak up in any way that questions the “presider.” (I’m thinking of creating a new reality show, The Presider.)

    I see this so often in the church that it’s almost stunning. Just the other day I wrote a blog that, in a nutshell, said I wish the church included some more upbeat music in its repertoire. I didn’t say I hate hymns, just that our set of music seems stuck in time and that I thought we could still be appropriately respectful if some of the music was more modern, more upbeat. (Personally, I am much more spiritually moved by spirituals and the like.)

    I was nearly taken out by a poster who thought it wrong to question those who make the musical decisions in the church. Since choosing the music for the general church isn’t within my stewardship, I should just shut up and sing.

    This comes up regularly over ANY kind of questioning, wondering, thinking about what goes on–particularly when the thinking is by women. And when this happens in an institution in which women are NEVER the ultimate “deciders,” it poses an ultimate inequality.

    To be clear, I’m not speaking of my own marriage. My husband is the best darn man in the world. On all counts, I am a most happily married woman and deeply in love with him. And my parents, who were both born in the 1920’s, were so “equally yoked”–and so far ahead of their generation’s norm in that arena–that it wasn’t until I became nearly an adult that I realized that this isn’t always the case. Maybe those thing make it even more alien to me.

  39. Bridget Jack Meyers on April 16, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Rob, my own husband believes in the husbands-call-forth-wives at the resurrection thing. And even the apologetics article Kaimi cites above says, “Now, Latter-day Saints do believe that in some instances, a woman’s husband will be given the privilege of performing the resurrection ordinance for and in behalf of the Savior.” I believe you if you say you’ve never heard it, but it’s certainly not because it’s never been taught.

    And #38 Alison asks a good question:

    Assuming you were married in the temple, however, I suppose you know you wife’s name, but she doesn’t know yours. I was taught–both in the temple and out–that the “calling forth” was the reason for that. Do you have another explanation?

    I’ve never heard an alternate explanation for the reason why the husband knows the wife’s name but not the other way around, it’s always been the resurrection thing. I’m open to alternatives, but I can’t see any way that situation can be considered “equal.” The husband knows everything the wife knows and is privy to information which the wife is not permitted to know. That automatically makes him the privileged one.

  40. Tim J on April 16, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I was unaware of the resurrection teaching as well.

    Here’s some commentary on the subject from BHodges.

    http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/2008/12/resurrection-as-ordinance.html

  41. Steve on April 16, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Alison (#38):
    “I remember hearing over and over how polygamist wives had to agree to the marriages of subsequent women. Only problem is (1) it simply wasn’t true and (2) that was followed with something like ‘but if you don’t consent you’ll rot in hell for eternity.'”

    If I correctly understand the rule set forth in D&C 132:61 and 65, the wife of a polygamist-to-be had a say in WHO her husband married, not WHETHER he could marry another.

    Whether or not this rule was followed exactly in the 19th century I have no idea. We Mormons (as any general authority will tell you) do and often have failed to perfectly obey the patterns set forth in the D&C for the governance and administration of the Church.

    I wonder if the wives of any would-be-polygamists ever pulled a sort of “filibuster” in the process of approving a new wife. “No, no, dear…I just don’t feel that she’s right for you. We’ll know when we find the right one…”

  42. Starfoxy on April 16, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    I also was taught the ‘husband calls forth his wife to resurrection’ thing too. As evidence for this he cited the name set up.

  43. Rob Perkins on April 16, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Not to try and put too fine a point on it, but since when is organized religion anything but an explicit social construction?

    Of course sexual equality is not encoded in our foundational texts. The idea of gender equality is an amazingly recent innovation, with traction evident only in the last 25 years or so. Every culture at the time of those writings had distinct and specific gender lines which were not crossed without violent controversy.

    Historically speaking Western modern culture is the first culture to consider the idea of gender equality and to struggle with what it means, and perhaps even to desire it on a wide scale. As a culture, we’re very far from actually implementing it, of course, no matter how desirable it seems to us all. (Evidence of that is legion; modes of dress, grooming, and hygiene are persuasive external examples of continuing gender role separation.)

    The cultural context of every single verse of canonized scripture contains ideas either about the subordination of women in general, or the idea of women as a protected class, with the two notions virtually always intermingle. One of the epistles of Paul is a prime example of that.

    If we accept that new cultural exigencies apply today, especially with respect to gender roles, then it makes perfect sense from a Mormon point of view for Mormon leaders to be teaching people to live as equals in a gender-equal society. This is, of course, what they’ve been doing, and it should never be discounted in a discussion like this.

    A straight-line projection of that into the future may portend a change to priesthood organization and to the roles of women in leadership capacities in the Church.

    I have no idea what precise form that would take, but I have an image in my head of a 16 year old boy and his girlfriend administering the sacrament ordinances together, and I don’t have the impression the boy would be able to cope.

    (Yes… this is a new thought to me, not a rhetorical tool.)

    When I asked my wife about it today, she looked nonplussed and said, “I’m in a presidency which has priesthood authority right now,” followed by comments like, “Why would I want to be in a Bishopric? I don’t even want *you* to be in a Bishopric.”

    She was also shocked to learn that the Temple ordinances teach her to subordinate herself. The idea was perfectly foreign; she’d already interpreted the “hearken covenant” in an egalitarian light.

  44. Kari on April 16, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Alison, your comments reminded me of this exchange during the Reed Smoot hearings (and clarifies Steve’s comment that there really is no consent required for who or whether):

    [after a discussion of D&C 132:61-64]

    Senator Pettus: Have there ever been in the past plural marriages without the consent of the first wife?

    Mr Smith [Joseph F. Smith]: I do not know of any unless it may have been Joseph Smith himself.

    Senator Pettus: Is the language that you have read construed to mean that she is bound to consent?

    Mr Smith: The condition is that if she does not consent the Lord will destroy her but I do not know how He will do it.

    Senator Bailey: Is it not true that in the very next verse if she refuses her consent her husband is exempt from the law which requires her consent?

    Mr Smith: Yes he is exempt from the law which requires her consent.

    Senator Bailey: She is commanded to consent but if she does not then he is exempt from the requirement?

    Mr Smith: Then he is at liberty to proceed without her consent under the law.

    Senator Beveridge: In other words her consent amounts to nothing?

    Mr Smith: It amounts to nothing but her consent.

    from: Testimony of important witnesses as given in the proceedings before the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the United States Senate in the matter of the protest against the right of Hon. Reed Smoot, a senator from the state of Utah, to hold his seat By United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Privileges and Elections, Julius Caesar Burrows, Joseph Fileding Smith, Joseph Benson Foraker, Reed Smoot, United States, Senate, Congress

  45. MikeInWeHo on April 16, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    re: 29 I tend to agree with that. There are arguments on both sides that don’t seem very well thought out to me.

  46. Rob Perkins on April 16, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Alison, I don’t know where you’ve lived, but is it possible that because I largely grew up and lived outside of the Intermountain West, I had a different experience in Church. it was never taught in correlated lesson material, or sacrament meetings, or the various Church conferences.

    I’ve heard the “calling forth” doctrine mentioned, but I’ve long held an opinion about Church doctrine that unless it has solid backing in canonized scripture, it might not actually be so, and is certainly not binding on the Church.

    That leads me to another thought: The primary source citations for anything in the Temple endowment is canonized scripture. The one reinforces the other. So, that’s your primary source.

    Jack, you are certainly right, in that I know something about my wife, and she doesn’t know that thing about me. But frankly your husband’s beliefs are not binding on mine, unless the idea is canonized, or at the very least, correlated. So, yeah: CFR. And good luck with it.

    What I really think about it is that it’s a marvelously misunderstood thing. Besides, what can I do about it? If I’ve been given any putative authority to “call my wife from the grave”, won’t she and I still have to depend on Jesus Himself for the knowledge and power needed to do it?

    Further, doesn’t the notion make hash of the passages in the Book of Mormon which grant the resurrection benefit of the Atonement to all people?

    It’s an implication possible from the Temple ordinance, but my claim is that it’s not the only implication possible. And because it isn’t a canonized notion, it isn’t binding, in my opinion.

  47. Kari on April 16, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Rob,

    Since you didn’t grow up in the intermountain west, you were not blessed with the further light and knowledge that comes to those of us did. There’s lots of church doctrine only known in Utah-Idaho-Arizona as the church there is now has graduated from milk to meat. ;-)

  48. Alison Moore Smith on April 16, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Steve #41

    If I correctly understand the rule set forth in D&C 132:61 and 65, the wife of a polygamist-to-be had a say in WHO her husband married, not WHETHER he could marry another.

    Verse 61: How do you make the distinction, considering that the “whether” is supposedly dependent on the consent.

    Verse 65: And, yea, like I said, it’s followed up with the “and if you don’t consent you’re doomed.”

    Whether or not this rule was followed exactly in the 19th century I have no idea.

    Seriously now.

    Rob, you have brought up some great points #43. My thought is that a great deal of the gender inequality in the church (such as the “woman can’t open sacrament meeting” issue) isn’t canonized, but persists nonetheless. It is my hope that the act of discussing it openly will increase awareness and that such awareness will lead to removing any that isn’t actually sanctioned by God–but rather assumed from the long-standing cultural inequality.

    Even on the bigger issues, like the priesthood itself, I am unsure how much is tradition and how much doctrine. As I’ve said before, the scriptures are almost exclusively about men, with male references, male characters, and male writers. At some point this became an issue and so we were told “man” means “mankind.” But it only means that sometimes. Who decided that scriptures *selectively* apply to women? And who decided which ones did and which didn’t.

    The real question, I think, is did anyone actually decide at all. Or was the notion that all the priesthoodish scriptures mean only males simply accepted because it was the cultural norm of the time and never revisited?

    Kari, thanks for saving me from searching to find that exchange! The obvious debunk of the “oh, but the women had to consent” rebuttal.

  49. Ryan Bell on April 16, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Really? The fundamental purpose of my marriage is to model gender equality for my kids, so they can go on and do the same for their kids? That’s the foundation and ultimate reason for the Lord’s implementation of this institution?

    Don’t get me wrong- I think gender equality is important and something we should all be seeking. But I can think of at least ten things I hope my marriage will accomplish more than the one of modeling gender equality.

    I join a lot of people (including Julie) in being uncomfortable with the “reproduction is the purpose of marriage” rhetoric. It’s just so reductionist, it almost seems like empty sophistry. But isn’t this just as reductionist? Marriage is an institution of enormous importance in the lives of those living it and in society in general, whether or not it is commonly understood as a fully equal relationship.

    Put it this way: Do the millions of marriages that lack gender equality fundamentally fail to accomplish their purpose, or do they just suffer from a significant flaw? Those arguing for the former have a tough task on their hands, says I.

  50. Rob Perkins on April 16, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Scads of it all is tradition, of course. We only have to go back 300 years to see cultural discomfort extreme enough for Jane Austen to have written under the name “A Lady”.

    My ward calls on women to offer the invocation all the time. Last year, as Executive Secretary, I was given no specific guidance on “who may pray” and never gave a thought to the gender of a person when making invitations.

    (Why can’t women be the Executive Secretary? Bzzt. That’s been done in certain circumstances, which is another indicator that the role division is cultural and situational.)

    Ryan, I think the purpose of marriage in wider culture is to effect the nurture and protection of children. The Church overlays notions of eternalness and exemplary unity around those, and makes the claim that without them, the relationship doesn’t persist past death.

    So, yeah, an LDS marriage is supposed to model behavioral unity for children, but I can’t think of reasons why it would have to take the exact form of Western gender equality, as envisioned by this or that activist.

  51. DavidH on April 16, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Regarding males in female callings and vice versa. A high official in our stake once served in the bishopric of a ward in Manhattan. He told me that one week they sustained a man as a counselor in the primary presidency. Unfortunately, that week a member of the primary general board was visiting family in New York and in attendance. Within a couple of days, the callings was rescinded.

    The lesson? According to that high official in our stake–if a ward is going to sustain a man to a position in a calling generally reserved for women (or vice versa), do not call for the sustaining vote on a Sunday when the ward has general board members visiting from Salt Lake.

  52. TT on April 17, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Well it isn’t cringe worthy, but it’s not great.

    Sorry gay people, you cant get married because of feminism! While Hudson tries to revive an anachronistic feminism before Judith Butler, pitting feminist goals of an undefined “gender equality” in a zero-sum game against gays and lesbians still makes neither political nor theoretical sense.

  53. nasamomdele on April 17, 2009 at 10:12 am

    I agree with some of the comments here that this wasn’t very good at addressing SSM. I actually think it was a good defense of SSM.

    Not that egaitarian=SSM, but that gender differences have nothing to do with strong marriage.

    I’m always skeptical of the intentions of egalitarian approaches, mostly because the world is inherently unequal and unfair. Taking the cause too far is reflective of imposing homogeneity, and reflective of gender and even race animocity. To create equality, you have to challenge identity. This is positive in many ways, but I feel some of the issues raised in the comments here have shown the counter-productive side.

    One flaw I see in her analysis is a common one- attributing strict ‘traditional’ gender roles to a definition of ‘traditional’ marriage. Those things are not combined in any doctrine I know of, even in the proclamation, which has been discussed to death. I think this is a straw man of traditional marriage opponents that has been a successful demonizing, polarizing tool.

    At least part of our doctrine on presiding is in D&C 121 and has nothing to do with arbitrarilly deciding, as was mentioned above, and nothing to do with compulsion.

    I think marriage has less to do with equality of roles than it has to do with the strength created by engaging inherent differences -complimentarianism. I think this is true for any social issue.

  54. dr.bsm on April 17, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Let me address the issue of new names in the temple. This is actually one of three or four aspects of temple worship that empower women.

    Before a temple sealing, a man and women participate in a portion of the endowment ceremony which allows the man to *ask* the woman to give him her new name. According to the language of the ceremony, the man is at the mercy of the woman; she decides whether to share the name with him. The power lies with her. Yes, most (all?) women who get to this point choose to do so, but it is still her choice.

    To view the ceremony in this manner, you must remove it from the context of the endowment and consider it a new ordinance, preparatory to sealing.

    This is actually a good argument for encouraging women to be endowed well in advance of their temple marriage. The endowment should be viewed as its own ordinance (as it is for departing missionaries) rather than a preamble to marriage. The sharing of the new name is thereby its own sacred event.

    So why does this empower women? The new name represents a key-word to allow a man and woman to become a godly couple and enter into the presence of God (the Father and Mother) and their godly Order. The woman is the sole guardian of that key word. I also propose that any for any man who fails to treat his wife as an equal partner, that key-word will be utterly useless to him. Its power lies in their unity.

    Were a woman unwilling to share this with her husband, their joint progression would be halted.

    I reject the notion that knowing her new name gives a man power over his wife. I assert he is at her mercy and depends upon her willingness to share her power with him.

    Why doesn’t a man share his name with his wife? I’m not aware that he cannot. But perhaps he does not do it ceremonially because it does not offer her anything that she does not already possess. I acknowledge that many find this insufficient to explain away an apparent inequality. But is it not possible that our perception of inequality is flawed at times?

    Finally, even if the resurrection follows the rumored man-then-woman order, so what? Since when did order matter in the plan of salvation? “The first shall be last, the last shall be first.” Role reversal is an eternal principal that proves that order is meaningless in the final analysis.

    Sorry to have posted such a long comment.

  55. dr.bsm on April 17, 2009 at 10:39 am

    The other comment I wish to make is that this marriage debate is useless as long as we continue to make it principally about sexual desire and intercourse. Yes, sex is important, sex is wonderful, but it is not the true end of our existence or marriage.

    To become like God, a man and woman must partner with each other and create a godly whole, the divine male joined with the divine female. This is what Mormon doctrine teaches, even though it gets downplayed in order to avoid offending traditionalists.

    But some Mormons may err when they assume this union is principally a sexual one. It is not. Yes, sex is sacred and a part of a healthy marriage. But it is not *the* critical element. I propose the critical element is commitment and charitable love, resulting in gender integration, and thereby gender equality. This is Valerie’s assertion, and it is most assuredly *not* a defence of SSM. It is a powerful argument against it.

    Until the Church formally clarifies its doctrine of the divine feminine, it is impotent to deal with questions of SSA and SSM. Our polygamous history is another massive stumbling block that must be dealt with to establish the Church’s credibility on this issue.

    Let me also state that I feel that those who love and are attracted to members of the same sex are absolutely entitled to be respected in creating secure, loving commitments with one another. But there is nothing wrong in pointing out that the Godly pattern is for a man and woman to unite, and that union must amount to far more than mere intercourse.

  56. Rob Perkins on April 17, 2009 at 11:05 am

    #54 — I dunno, that seems like a conflation of symbols. A woman’s new husband might be on the other side of that veil, but in that place he represents the Lord, not himself.

    Further, long experience with Temple ordinances suggests to me that the symbols there are symbols which hearken back to the scriptures, not as new scripture or as matters which can reasonably be considered new concepts not supported in scripture.

    I think the feminist worry is that men, historically in charge of almost everything and historically all too willing to abuse their charges (speaking generally, of course), will misconstrue or have misconstrued the Church’s organizational structure as some kind of excuse to ignore cases of real physical and emotional abuse.

    The fact that the structure makes the excuse superficially plausible is seen as a problem which needs fixing. I don’t know if I agree with every approach to fix the problem; it seems to me that the Church has taken a different approach to it than American activists typically want.

  57. dr.bsm on April 17, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Rob,

    I’d agree with you if the new name were uniformally given to the husband within the full endowment. But for many, myself included, it is given in a seperate encounter at the veil. Hence, we can safely remove this instance from that of the typical live endowment in which the person behind the veil represents the Lord.

    In this iteration, we can see the husband not as the Lord but as the husband asking for power (in the form of key-words) from his wife.

    Must it be seen this way? I don’t know. But as you point out, symbolism is key here. And the power of symbolism is in its ability to signify many things on multiple levels. To reduce symbols to a single interpretation robs them of their potency.

    I’d also quible that there are plenty of symbols in the endowment that lack any clear scriptural parallel. Saying that we have to find all the answers in our current cannon is not any different from an evangelical Christian stating we don’t need anything beyond the biblical texts.

  58. dr.bsm on April 17, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Sorry for typing too fast without editing–“quibble” and “canon” were my intended spellings!

  59. Julie M. Smith on April 17, 2009 at 11:46 am

    I’m not comfortable with the direction the comments have taken; this isn’t the place for interpretation of the temple ceremony.

    And it isn’t the point of this post in any case, which is to explore Hudson’s take on SSM. I think a grand total of three comments have actually evaluated her position.

    Please stay on topic.

  60. dr.bsm on April 17, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    My apologies, Julie. I came to this thread very late and saw that question brought up several times but never addressed.

    #55 was my actual response to Valerie’s argument.

  61. Rob Perkins on April 17, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Fair enough; but I thought Hudson’s text not so much about SSM as it is about marriage.

    She writes: “Mormons believe that Eve was courageous and wise in that decision, not evil or airheaded, and that God was very proud of her for her choice to partake–Eve was told that Adam would rule with her, with Adam’s earning that privilege through fulfilling his family and priesthood obligations.”

    Not all Mormons believe that. My picture of the Fall was that it was a bona-fide transgression, and acting out-of-order upon something God had planned to present to Adam and Eve in His good time, and which in turn placed both of them in significant personal peril.

    In fact, I’d go further and argue that the Church doesn’t actually teach that, even if it does provide an entirely separate context for the Fall than mainstream Christianity might. “The choice Eve made in the Garden” is a possible extrapolation from what the Church actually teaches, and many Mormons believe it, but I can’t honestly see Church leaders directing its use in an anti-SSM political fight.

    It won’t resonate with the rest of the anti-SSM cohort.

    There are, however, other bases upon which to lay an insistence that an LDS marriage is supposed to be an utterly equal thing, but if we want to claim that the telos of marriage is that, then we have to reconcile the practice of polygamy as an ideal with what actually happened to women who practiced it, and evaluate whether or not they were equals with their shared husbands. Mormons cannot ignore the fact that men may still be sealed to a second wife after the natural death of the first, but women may not.

    If we propose that marriage’s telos is “the care, safety, nurture of children,” then we have to refute anecdotal edge cases where a same-sex couple is safely raising children. One or two of those households are peacefully doing it in my own neighborhood, quite unmolested.

    If we propose, however, that marriage’s telos is a combination of the two, that it is, ideally, “an expression of gender equality,” and also, “the safe care and nurture of children,” under which reproductive sanction is a consequence, instead of the raison d’etre, do we escape the refutations of SSM-proponents?

    I think we don’t. I think the reason behind this has to be that they’re not listening to counter arguments all that much; instead, they’re laying claim to an implicit right, and asking courts and legislatures (but mostly courts) to ratify and make explicit what fewer than half of all interested Americans suppose is implicit. (I think as usual, most people are pretty laissez-faire about gay marriage. Most Americans don’t even vote, except for the President…)

    The problem with the movement isn’t that the right shouldn’t somehow be recognized; I think it should, in some form. But the recklessness and sophistry which its proponents use to lay hold on the right runs the real risk, already realized in certain places, that religious freedom is significantly curtailed.

    Perhaps to preserve heterosexual marriage, what we will have to do is insist to all State governments that marriage be returned to the purview of churches only, with the State issuing domestic partnership certificates to every couple it registers. It’s the only way I can think of to mollify both sides.

  62. TT on April 17, 2009 at 7:42 pm
  63. Kari on April 17, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    I’m not comfortable with the direction the comments have taken; this isn’t the place for interpretation of the temple ceremony.

    And it isn’t the point of this post in any case, which is to explore Hudson’s take on SSM. I think a grand total of three comments have actually evaluated her position.

    Please stay on topic.

    Julie, you post an article that argues that SSM shouldn’t be allowed because the LDS ideal of marriage is to promote gender equality. Yet many of us feel that that the basic doctrine and the penultimate ordinances of the church don’t jive with her assertions. The temple, for many of us, stands in direct opposition to her central thesis, taking the discussion where it went.

    And now you’re not comfortable with a discussion of these ordinances that do so much to promote inequality? Nothing in the discussion so far even comes close to violating the covenants of secrecy that are made in the temple.

  64. Julie M. Smith on April 18, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Kari, different people have different tolerance levels for determining what is and what is not OK to discuss outside of the temple. When you put up your own post on your own blog, you get to determine what is and what is not OK to discuss. Here, it is my call. I am not comfortable with some of the comments, and I’ll delete anything further in the same vein.

    Further, if one wants to dismiss Hudson’s premise that the church has (or can have, or should have) an egalitarian streak, more power to them. But this isn’t the post for that. This post is for considering how that position relates to support for or opposition to SSM. Again, your post on your blog is under your control; here, I get to shape the discussion. And I will by deleting comments that detract from exploring what I want the post to explore.

    Oh, the heavy hand of the moderator.

  65. Blake on April 18, 2009 at 10:37 am

    If the reason for marriage is full gender equality, I fail to see why SSM doesn’t promote more of that equality or sameness. Indeed, isn’t that the essence of homosexual relationships — sameness?

    If the real purpose of marriage is heteronomy or difference, however, then SSM fails to promote the purpose of marriage. Why not see the purpose of marriage as opposition in all things so that another who is really very different constantly pulls us our of our comfort zone where we can grow from the relationship? It is the difference that promotes life and personal growth — growth only takes place outside the comfort zone. So if the purpose of marriage is to provide for the generation of new life and to promote personal growth, it is heteronomy or difference and NOT homonomy or sameness that is the essence of marriage.

    Why not simply say that the real purpose of marriage for the State is precisely the protection of the potential for generativity of life possible only within a heterosexual relations? What justifies the State in protecting or promoting any kind of particular human relationship? Why should the State get involved and spend resources and set up costly institutions to protect and promote a particular kind of relationship at all? The State has an overwhelming interest to promote such relationships and to protect the potential for having children within them. It doesn’t have that same overwhelming interest in promoting or protecting SSM.

    From the Church’s standpoint, I would think the opposition to SSM is fairly clear and obvious: (1) homosexual sex is sinful and the State ought not promote what is sinful; (2) if SSM is recognized as a fundamental right on par with hetero marriage, then the Church could be denied important privileges by the State like the privilege of licensing for social services and welfare.

    I suspect that (1) plays a very large role. However, it isn’t a secular reason and so won’t have traction with those who don’t share the same underlying commitment that there is such a thing as sin, that homosexual sex is sinful and that the State ought not promote it. Indeed, members of the Church that I have dialogued with who support SSM (including the author of this post) don’t regard homosexual sex as sin — full stop. However, I believe it is the role of the prophet and Church precisely to define what is acceptable conduct and what is required of us in moral appraisal — and to critique and call to repentance the society that fosters immoral conduct. I regard those Church membes who undertake to redefine what is sinful as rejecting prophetic authority of the Church. However, I acknowledge that this is an argument that won’t fly in a secular society such the US. However, I don’t understand why it doesn’t have more traction with some Church members. It is not a reason that is cogent for those who don’t accept that homosexual sex is sinful; but it ought to be cogent for those who do.

    Reason (2) seems to me to have secular traction. Why should the States interest in homosexual unions (which I believe is slight at best) take precedence over religious beliefs and such rights as licensing to provide social services? The problem with this argument is that most don’t see it as a real danger — it has only happened very recently in California that a a court ruled that a physician must choose between giving up her license to practice medicine or treat homosexual couples the same as heterosexual couples. I believe that this is a very legitimate concern — but until such rulings become established and more widespread, the concern just won’t sink in.

  66. Blake on April 18, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Oh, and thanks Julie, I was very concerned about Kari’s lack of concern both about dissing and also about stating and commenting on the endowment. I would love to defend the endowment against Kari’s attacks — there is so much she overlooks and doesn’t see that it is painful to me. However, to do so I must discuss what I have given my word not to discuss.

  67. Blake on April 18, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Oh, and thanks Nate. I am sorry that my posts on SSM made you cringe.

  68. dr.bsm on April 18, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Blake,

    In my view, your thoughtful and persuasive argument has two flaws.

    First, gender equality has nothing to do with sameness (what I would term “equivalence”). Gender equality maintains the differences between the sexes while encouraging interaction, cooperation, and mutual respect. This simply cannot take place in a same-sex relationship; two partners of the same gender may experience the admitted benefits of human interaction and love, but they will not be challenged to grow and develop in the same manner that a heterogeneous couple would.

    Yes, each individual is different, but two individuals of the opposite gender are more so: physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. The interplay of the sexes is what makes men and women transcend their mortality. Same-sex couples lack this dynamic interplay. This is why a heterosexual marriage is a requirement to become like God. I’m sure some will take umbrage with this assertion, and I respectfully understand that.

    Second, the sinfulness of homosexual sex is simply irrelevant. Any form of sex outside of marriage may be “sin,” but that has no bearing on the doctrine. We are not commanded to marry someone of the opposite gender to avoid sexual transgression (for surely it lacks any such effect for millions, gay or straight). We are commanded to marry because marriage is a crucible that will make gods of us.

    Whether you are gay (for I know many gay people who are married with children), straight, poor, rich, of any given ethnicity, etc., heterosexual marriage is one of the biggest challenges and greatest accomplishments possible. It is hard for everyone, but it can also be wondrous.

  69. Bridget Jack Meyers on April 18, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    If we’re no longer allowed to discuss how what’s taught about marriage in the endowment pertains to Valerie Hudson’s argument, then I really don’t think it’s fair to allow further commentary or attacks on the earlier comments of people who attempted to discuss the issue.

  70. dr.bsm on April 18, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    One other thought.

    I am saddened that impled accusations of faithlessness or covenant breaking are thrown around in these forums. While I cannot speak for everyone, I personally know many faithful members who truly yearn to better understand the temple. The endowment can be painful for many, usually because of their keen sense of faith and desire to be close to God seems at odds with what they encounter in the ordinance.

    People need a safe place to voice their fears and hear ideas from faithful members who can offer insights. Rejection will not help these people; it only makes things worse.

    Certainly Julie has the right to monitor the comments here and direct the discussion, and we will happily respect that. But if you cannot offer ideas because you feel you would break your covenants, just refrain from commenting at all.

  71. Blake on April 18, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    dr,bsm. I am at a loss to see how your comments regarding differences in gender engender growth for both partners in a way that same sex relationships do not. Aren’t we in agreement there?

    Further, your comment about sex outside of marriage is confusing to me. Sex outside of marriage is sin for both hetero and homo — how does that disagree with anything that I said?

    Bridget: The point is that those of us who take seriously our word will not take the time to discuss with you what the endowment means. In fact, the reason for not discussing it has more to do with the fact that having someone else tell me “what it means” gets in the way of my own revelation and insight from the endowment as I discover what it means in my own life.

    It is also quite appropriate to point out that discussion of the endowment with those who don’t hold it sacred is not a level playing field. I will not discuss it because of how I regard it and thus I cannot defend it against mindless accusations like those I have seen here. In the total context, the charges made are beyond ludicrous — but I will not discuss that context with you.

  72. Blake on April 18, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    dr.bsm: In re-reading your post #68 I see that I missed the point of your comment about the purpose for marriage. First, we are in full agreement that marriage with one of another sex presents differences that foster growth in a way that SSM is not likely to.

    However, you claim that the sinfulness of SSM is irrelevant. Really? Do you believe that the State ought to promote what you regard as sin?

  73. dr.bsm on April 18, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Blake,

    Yes, I believe we are in agreement by and large. I was pointing out two areas of your argument that I felt were flawed–because I agree with your conclusions and want them to be well supported!

    It seems we differ on the meaning of “gender equality.” Your words seemed to indicate this was achievable through SSM. I do not agree with that point.

    As for extra-heterosexual-marriage sex (what a term!), you indicated it was the Church’s prime motive to discourage SSM. I also disagree with that point. If you were right, I’d be forced to find that the Church is in error here.

    But I do not believe the Church is in error becuase they are forwarding the doctrine of celestial marriage, and not merely trying to stop fornication.

    Hope that clears it up. Finally, I do take umbrage with this assertion:

    “In the total context, the charges made are beyond ludicrous–but I will not discuss that context with you.”

    Sorry, this just doesn’t pass academic muster. You simply cannot charge someone of mindlessness while witholding your logical critiques. “I will not discuss it because of how I regard it” is insulting to the entire dialogue and all involved. If you feel that way, either step up and voice your ideas carefully, or simply keep your peace.

    How else does anyone know whether your views might be mindless?

  74. dr.bsm on April 18, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Oh, I didn’t update my browser while I was composing 73.

    Glad to see we are on the same page.

    But how does any of this make the state promote sin–I’m not sure what you mean there? I’m guessing you mean that if the government sanctions SSM, people will feel liberated to have more gay sex?

    It seems to me that our current, traditional-marriage scheme has been woefully poor at discouraging homosexuality as well as good, old-fashioned fornication. Including among the ranks of Mormons.

    Hence the irrelevance.

  75. Blake on April 18, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    dr.bsm: I admit that my refusal to discuss the endowment will not “pass academic muster,” for which I don’t give a fig. I won’t discuss it with you points out that only those who don’t regard it as sacred get to comment. That is a very important observation in my view. If you view it as insulting to the dialogue, so be it. I regard it as essential to the dialogue to point out that often silence is as important as what is said.

    I believe that homosexual sex is a sin — and I believe that it is the prime motive for rejecting SSM by the Church and in every state (all 30 of them) that has adopted laws which prohibit SSM.

    So I ask again — do you think that the State ought to promote what you regard as sin?

  76. dr.bsm on April 18, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    No. On the other hand, I don’t believe that SSM can be necessarily considered the promotion of gay sexuality. As I said before, if traditional marriage, as now seen in our society, is supposed to “promote” monogomous heterosexuality, it is laughably ineffective! I am forced to conclude that state sanction of SSM would be just as impotent to affect people’s behavior.

    Homosexuality has been around for a long time, and it simply isn’t going to disappear, even if all 50 states outlaw gay marriage. And the issue is too complex to understand completely with our finite, mortal perspective.

    You don’t care about being academic, and I get that. But why be dismissive of your brothers’ and sisters’ concerns? Sure, Kari’s tone may offend those of us who love the temple, but why invalidate her questions? What does that really accomplish? I reiterate, if you feel that you can’t answer her (for whatever reason), simply keep your peace.

    Please forgive me if this sounds condescending. I completely understand both viewpoints here and think everybody deserves to be heard, if they wish to share.

  77. Bridget Jack Meyers on April 18, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Blake ~ You personally not wanting to discuss the endowment with me as a non-member? This is about how I feel about that. Different Latter-day Saints have different comfort levels on this issue and I’ll never grudge anyone who chooses to remain silent. Not you, not Julie, not anyone else.

    However, Julie asked everyone to not discuss what the endowment teaches about marriage. When you continue to attack Kari’s viewpoint on the issue in spite of that, you leave Kari in a position of either having to defend her views and thus continue the discussion against Julie’s wishes, or she’s at the mercy of your attacks since she has essentially been gagged.

    I think the best way to comply with Julie’s request is for all parties to drop what has previously been discussed about the endowment and move on. That’s all that I’m asking.

  78. Blake on April 18, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Bridget: What I said was hardly an attack. Pointing out that the discussion is one sided by its very nature and that those with a different view will naturally choose not to respond is totally appropriate. My comments merely point out that I hold a different point of view — which I do and I’m free to express it — and that the discussion is a one sided affair where the opposing views will not be aired because of the nature of the discussion.

    dr. bsm: The state’s promotion of marriage is extremely effective. What the State cannot do is make relationships work. However, the State spends billions on divorce courts, domestic protection and marriage license and medical testing facilities in promotion of marriage. WE agree that the state is very ineffective at promoting or achieving anything like celestial marriage.

    Spending money and using state resources to protect SSM as a paramount right even over other interests in courts and through marriage bureaus most certainly is promotion of SSM and gay sexuality by its very nature.

    I believe it is entirely appropriate and necessary to point out that Kari’s viewpoint isn’t the only one, but that it may appear that way because those of us who regard the temple endowment as sacred will not debate her point for point. It often appears that the kinds of statements she makes about the endowment are the only reasonable and defensible point of view. They aren’t.

  79. dr.bsm on April 18, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    I too regard the temple ceremonies as supremely sacred.

    But I will happily discuss them *appropriately* with anyone who has questions. These two facts need not be mutually exclusive.

    Blake, the logic you offer breaks down. You say SSM does harm to society because it makes us more permissive of homosexuality, therby undermining traditional marriage. But what about policies that make us more permissive of the decay of monogomous heterosexuality? Do these not have the same negative effect on society? Shall we make divorce illegal? Make pre/extramarital sex illegal? Force unhappy marriages to stay together? How about cancelling all welfare benefits to unmarried parents?

    And then of course there is the polygamy problem. In case we’ve forgotten, remember how thorny the Yearning for Zion case was last year? Shall the state rush in and immediately dissolve these families because they aren’t traditional? Or if that is too harsh, how can they be penalized for undermining traditional heterosexuality?

    When it comes to the state, what’s good for the goose must be good for the gander.

    This is why the SSM debate inevitably falls on its face without a basis in the doctrine of apotheosis through the monogamous cooperation of the sexes. Any other argument is like a dam made of swiss cheese–including sexual morality. Many people just see too many inconsistencies.

  80. dr.bsm on April 18, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Rather than “SSM debate” I should have put “pro-traditional marriage argument.”

  81. Blake on April 18, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    dr.bsm: “Blake, the logic you offer breaks down. You say SSM does harm to society because it makes us more permissive of homosexuality, therby undermining traditional marriage.”

    Really? Actually, I don’t say anything like that. Perhaps you could point out where you take me to say that. I said only that the Church’s position is simple. Homosexual sex is sin. SSM promotes homosexual sexual relations. The State ought not promote what is sin. Therefore, the State ought not promote SSM. It is a perfectly logical argument.

    For those who accept the premises, the argument is cogent. I assert that for Church members, the premises ought to be accepted. You add another premise for which I have not argued: “the State ought not promote SSM only if SSM does harm to society.” But that is a secular argument based on consequentialist ethical considerations. I stated clearly that the argument is not cogent if taken as a secular argument because the premise about homosexual sexual activity being sin won’t be accepted. Indeed, it isn’t even cogent for many members of the Church because they don’t accept the Church’s stance that homosexual sexual activity is sinful.

    The secular argument that I gave is completely distinct. It is simple: recognizing SSM as a fundamental right will subordinate the interests of the Church to the State’s interest in promoting SSM and place its activities which require state licensing in legal jeopardy. Now if you believe that there is a fundamental right to marry anyone you want, then this argument won’t be cogent. If you believe that the interests for the state to promote SSM are more fundamental than the Church’s interests, then it won’t be cogent for you. But I believe that it is a legitimate interest and concern that drives the Church’s position that could be accepted by those having only secular interests.

  82. dr.bsm on April 18, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Blake,

    Guilty as charged. I wrongly assumed that you were asserting that SSM would be bad for the state. Thanks for clarifying.

    Regarding your take on the Church’s position:

    Of course if someone agrees to all your premises they will find your argument cogent! I’m still iffy on two of them:

    1. “SSM promotes homosexual relations.” Can you prove this? I would be very surprised if total occurences of gay sex changes sigificantly in states when SSM is legalized. Obviously, this number would be nearly impossible to divine. Hence this premise is unreliable and leads to a potentially fallacious conclusion.

    2. “The State ought not promote what is sin.” Who really wants the government to determine what is or is not sin? Perhaps the Church’s and the US Government’s views overlap now, but do we risk assuming that will always be the case? What happens when Mormon religious practice becomes sinful in the eyes of the government?

    If your summary represents the Church’s true position here, I fear all those who opposed its involvement with Prop 8 may have been justified.

    I much prefer to believe that the policy comes from the Church’s teachings about the primacy of male-female unity as it relates to the plan of salvation, i.e. exaltation.

    By the way, thanks for debating this with me. I am finding it to be fascinating and I really appreciate your insights.

  83. jupiterschild on April 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    It’s futile to ask this question given the comments above, but I’m curious all the same:

    Where did we covenant not to talk about the endowment ceremony?

    As I understand it, there is only one thing we covenant not to say.

  84. Blake on April 18, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    dr.bsm. You’re right, the premise that same-sex sexual activity increases with SSM is questionable. I don’t think that gays who are sexually active give a hoot about the state’s sanction of their activities and those living in committed relationships now don’t give a fig for marriage as a basis for their sexual relationships. It is already largely the same even for heterosexual couples.

    However, that doesn’t affect the argument in the least. Change premise 3 to “the state ought not promote or condone behavior that is sinful.” By legalizing SSM, the state gives its imprimatur to the proposition that same sex sexual activity is normative and condoned and will promote it by protecting it. BTW I believe that this premise is what is really driving the debate. I believe that those who promote SSM want the State’s imprimatur and approval of their relationships as State sanctioned and normative for society. I don’t believe that is the appropriate role of government; but I believe that it is really what is at issue. So we could add another argument:

    The State ought not be involved in approving homosexual sexual activity as State approved and ethically normative for society. I believe a lot of people will sign on to that one. If one accepts, as I do, that by accepting SSM as a fundamental legal right the State adds its approval of SS sexual activity as ethically normative and approved by the State, then we can conclude that the State ought not get involved in moral issues like SSM. It just isn’t the role of government to put its Good Housekeeping seal of approval on such relations. Frankly, I also doubt that SSM adds anything to what gay couples can already achieve in almost all states just by contracts and signing permission forms for visitation.

  85. Julie M. Smith on April 18, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    “Where did we covenant not to talk about the endowment ceremony?”

    My threads will follow the norm in the LDS community of not discussing details of the temple ceremony. I don’t remember claiming anything about covenanting not to discuss them; rather, I see benefits to the lack of discussion itself as well as benefits to honoring the norm.

  86. jupiterschild on April 18, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    I understand the (non-doctrinal) norm, and I’m perfectly happy with your exercising your right to moderate discussion and will do my best to stay within the bounds you desire. I was referring to Blake’s assertion

    “However, to do so I must discuss what I have given my word not to discuss.”

    in comment 66. Technically, he doesn’t use the term covenant, but I suspect that’s what he means. And if so, he must be referring to a different ceremony or promise from the one I’m familiar with.

  87. Blake on April 18, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Like I said Jupiter, I won’t discuss it. Go and listen next time.

  88. dr.bsm on April 18, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    I’ve got to side with you on this one, jupiterschild.

    Blake,

    I think you have struck on the dirty truth behind this whole debate. Homosexuals want to feel legitimized socially (understandably–Mormons long for the same thing), and many in the Church will stop at nothing to keep that legitamacy from being awarded.

    My view is that both of these positions are primarily selfish, which is why the proponents on both sides very rarely refer to them. They try to use every other reason to win this true war over legitimacy.

    So why don’t I side with those who try to deny legitimacy, given that we agree about the primacy of heterosexual relationships, and even the sinfulness of homosexuality? First, sin doesn’t nullify one’s right to respect (or else no one deserves it). Gays in committed relationships deserve to have respect. Does that mean marriage? I don’t think it has to be. But I wonder whether the Church will eventually have to choose between ceding either partial legitimacy or marriage itself in this war.

  89. Mark on April 18, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Blake,

    Why all the hostility? Have you considered switching to decaf? Metamusil also is said to work wonders.

  90. Kari on April 18, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    For the record, and despite Blake’s assertions otherwise, I made one and only one comment about temple covenants before Julie’s redirection request. And I never attacked the temple or the endowment. I simply stated how it makes me, and many others, feel. Blake, you need to go back and read the thread a little closer before you start making assertions about what has been said and by whom, and who’s attacking what.

    I didn’t agree with Julie’s position, and questioned her about it, but as she said, it’s her blog and she has the right to moderate how she sees fit. I will honor her request.

    Julie stated, “This post is for considering how [Valerie Hudsons's] position relates to support for or opposition to SSM.”

    I will defend my original point, and leave the thread to others as it’s rapidly approaching its close. Valerie Hudson’s paper made the assertion that the central tenet and ideal of marriage, in fact the telos of marriage, in LDS ideology is that of gender equality. I am not the first, nor will I be the last to say that she is wrong. And I’m not the first, nor will I be the last, to suggest that the temple covenants of obedience (particularly the pre-1990 version) are a major stumbling block for many as they deal with what they see as inherent gender inequality in the LDS Church.

    So I say that Ms. Hudson’s fundamental tenet is wrong, and shouldn’t be used to support or oppose SSM.

  91. jupiterschild on April 18, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    “Like I said Jupiter, I won’t discuss it.”

    It’s one thing to refuse to discuss, and another to refuse to discuss the refusal to discuss.

    “Go and listen next time.”

    Shouldn’t this be followed with a “and then you’ll see it my way.” ?

  92. dr.bsm on April 18, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Kari,

    But what then, in your view, is the purpose of marriage? You are certainly well within your right to deny Valerie’s claims, but at least offer your opposing ideas.

  93. Blake on April 19, 2009 at 1:32 am

    No Jupiter, I don’t care if you see it my way. Just going and listening is enough.

  94. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 19, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Just the other day I wrote a blog that, in a nutshell, said I wish the church included some more upbeat music in its repertoire. Good for you, it was people with those thoughts that led to _How Great Thou Art_ being added to the songs we sing.

    I remember the beginnings of that movement, and they started at pretty much the bottom.

  95. Stephen M (Ethesis) on April 19, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    Bridget Jack Meyers — but can I haz cheeseburger?

    http://mormonmatters.org/2009/04/19/surprising-speculations-where-can-practice-and-theology-take-us/ is where this thread took me, all in all, though the closest I’ve seen to it before was at http://www.janegalt.net/blog/archives/005244.html and the article of faith that states:

    We believe in being married according to the dictates of our own conscience. We also allow all the privilege of marrying according to theirs, let them marry how, what or when they may.

    Or something like that.

    But this has been interesting.