Good news for Gene Schaerr

January 23, 2014 | 78 comments
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AnillosAs reported by outlets including Above the Law, well-known LDS attorney Gene Schaerr is leaving his law firm for a new post at the State of Utah. His departure e-mail describes his new role as “defending the constitutionality of traditional marriage.”

This certainly seems like a worthwhile endeavor. It would be terrible if male-female marriage (which is often described as “traditional marriage”) were found unconstitutional, barring straight folks from marrying.

I have good news, though. A careful perusal of the Kitchen v. Herbert opinion reveals that male-female marriage remains completely constitutional in Utah. In fact, based on anecdotal reports, male-female marriages are still taking place in Utah, even after Judge Shelby’s court ruling, and apparently without triggering any constitutional crisis.

It looks like traditional marriage is still constitutional in Utah. And since that’s the case, I guess we can all go home now.

(Image: Wikicommons.)

78 Responses to Good news for Gene Schaerr

  1. Josh Smith on January 23, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Last time I posted on Times and Seasons my post was deleted. And I didn’t even use in naughty words. This post is just a test.

    Thanks for the link to Above the Law.

  2. JH on January 23, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    A little snarky and, dare I say, un-Christian. I think we all know what he meant.

  3. Josh Smith on January 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    That first post seemed to work.

    Those clever folks at “Above the Law” failed explain why Mr. Schaerr’s new retainer was signed by Jesus. Explain that Mr. Wenger!

  4. Dave on January 23, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Generally law profs approve of attorneys representing unpopular clients. If a 1L objects, you reply, “we want cases decided in a court of law, not the court of public opinion,” or “even unpopular clients or issues deserve a capable legal advocate to present their case,” or some other helpful rule-of-law aphorism. Maybe the rule has changed, and it is now wrong for clients or causes you disagree with to have a good lawyer.

    Nor is there anything wrong with him resigning to take the new position — Above the Law seems to suggest he did it to avoid making waves at the firm. I thought big firms could handle a little controversy, but maybe not. In any case, it would appear he did the right thing by sparing the Firm the angst some would feel about the representation. So I am just not sure what you are getting at, Kaimi, except maybe that you would have written the good-bye memo a little differently.

  5. Amy on January 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    I can’t imagine working for a firm where “I invoke [God's] blessings on the firm, and on each of you” was considered a good way to close an office-wide memo. On one hand, it sounds like a good sentiment, sincerely felt. On the other hand, it reads kind of creepy.

  6. JH on January 23, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Everyone, including Above the Law, seems to assume this email was a “departure memo” circulated to the entire firm. It is worth noting that the identity of the recipient of the email is redacted.

    It is entirely possible this email was sent only to a limited number of individuals and was intended to explain on a more intimate basis why Mr. Schaerr decided to leave his prestigous job to take this case.

  7. Kaimi Wenger on January 23, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Mr. Smith, I have no idea what your comment even means.

    Dave,

    I’m happy that unpopular causes have good lawyers. I’m focusing on one particular statement which he made, about what Utah is doing. I don’t think it’s an accurate characterization — and as I point out, if it is an accurate characterization, then we can all go home.

  8. Nancy Browne on January 23, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    I know Gene Shaerr from when I lived in Maryland and he was in the stake presidency. Great man who will do a great job supporting male/ female marriage in Utah.

  9. JH on January 23, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    What you’ve done is taken a hyper-technical reading of his statement–where his intent is clear–and used it as a basis to poke at him.

    When Schaerr says he believes in defending the constitutionality of traditional marriage, everyone knows what he means.

    Consider a different example: Plenty of people say that Utah’s law prevents gay individuals from getting married. That’s not technically true. Gay people can get married in all 50 states on the same terms as a straight person–i.e., by finding a willing person of the opposite sex. What these people mean is that the law prevents gay people from marrying the person of their choice.

    Of course, no one pretends like they don’t know what these people mean. Even if you disagree with Schaerr, engage him on the merits and show some respect for his courage.

  10. Mark B. on January 23, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Some day a little child will say “But he’s not wearing any clothes.” Until then, I suppose we’re stuck with all the smart set praising the lovely robes of their emperor.

  11. Josh Smith on January 23, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Kaimi, my comment was simply a smart alec way to suggest that Jesus doesn’t hire lawyers. Schaerr believes he’s been called by God to argue a case. If God were really serious about affecting the outcome of the Utah case, God would hire a judge.

    In all seriousness, if he feels called of God to accomplish some political goal, it’s certainly a free country and he can do as he pleases. However, as far as I’m concerned, any person who invokes God as his justification for arguing a legal case is immediately suspect.

  12. Dave K on January 23, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    JH (#6), the actual email can be found here: http://www.hrc.org/files/images/general/schaerr_email_012014.png (with appropriate redactions)

    From my view, the mostly likely thing is that the email was sent to all attorneys at the firm. That is what HRC and other outlets are reporting. In my experience, it is a common practice for a departing attorney to send such a notice to everyone. The email was clearly sent to many people, as it begins “[w]ith gratitude for all the friendships that I have developed with so many of you, …” The recipient field is very short (and redacted), which suggests the email was sent to a bulk list. Is it possible the bulk-list included only LDS attorneys or some other group that would not be offended by the religious tone. But if that was the case, I wonder why the email was leaked. The simplest answer is that it was a firm-wide email.

    Of course, this issue could easily be cleared up if anyone has a friend at W&S ….

  13. Kaimi Wenger on January 23, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Josh Smith writes,

    “any person who invokes God as his justification for arguing a legal case is immediately suspect.”

    You mean, like Martin Luther King?

    http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

  14. Dave K on January 23, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Kaimi,

    I agree with some of the above comments that Mr. Schaerr’s views should be clear to us all, even if he did not articulate them as well as he could. Your tongue-in-cheek critique is well placed nonetheless.

    What I find really intriguing is Mr. Schaerr’s framing of the debate as a “defense” of male/female marriage rather than an offense against SSM. Like so many, he feels a need to conceptualize the conflict as something attacking him. I see the same tendancy in many church friends. It’s no longer kosher to demonize LGBT. Our language has shifted to implying that they (LGBT) are out to harm us. Unfortunately for Mr. Schaerr, there is not, and never has been, any evidence that heterosexual families are under attack. The arguments he will need to make to the CA10 and SCOTUS will instead have to focus on the merits of gay families. If he comes with the approach shown in his email, the left-leaning judges will excoriate him and the right-leaning judges will ignore him and try to make their own case to their fellow jurists. Somehow I think Scalia is already drafting his opening statement.

  15. Josh Smith on January 23, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    “any person who invokes God as his justification for arguing a legal case is immediately suspect.”

    –Me

    “You mean, like Martin Luther King?”

    –Kaimi

    … and George Wallace

    Seriously, we’d be better off naming people who *don’t* invoke God in support of their political cause. I’m holding by my original position. If someone invokes God as a justification for a political end, my first response is “That’s nice. And why else do you think your cause is just?”

  16. ASM on January 23, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    What may seem “hypertechnical” to the casual reader is not at all so to a lawyer who makes his living explaining fine points of language and logic. And we’re talking here about a lawyer who has distinguished himself in the highest courts. This memo is not a legal brief, but a lawyer as good as Schaerr writes memos just as carefully as he writes briefs.

    Kaimi Wenger has noticed something important here. At this point, Utah’s lead lawyer in this case believes that his job (or maybe his mission) is to protect traditional marriage against a threat from SSM. That argument has not generally been well received in the courts. We’ll see whether his thinking changes.

    Those who are following this case will have noticed that Utah’s SCOTUS petition for a stay was much more sophisticated than its previous work. One of the changes in Utah’s approach was to downplay arguments that claim SSM endangers traditional marriage and families. The increased sophistication should be credited to the outside counsel the state hired (before Schaerr was hired) to write the stay petition because lawyers in the attorney general’s office had performed poorly in the trial court. Perhaps Schaerr’s approach will also become more nuanced as he collaborates with the other outside counsel who continue on the case.

  17. Jax on January 23, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    What I find really intriguing is Mr. Schaerr’s framing of the debate as a “defense” of male/female marriage rather than an offense against SSM.

    Yeah, much like the “pro-choice” crowd frames themselves as defending “choice” instead of attacking and killing babies. Everyone frames conflicts in the best possible light for them, and non-violent conflicts are generally resolved when a majority of people begin to agree with one side’s framing, instead of the other sides. This isn’t a battle to be won in courts, but in marketing. Which is why the State of Utah will lose, even though they are on the right side.

  18. jimbob on January 23, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    I follow, Kaimi, but it was a hurried departure email, not an amicus SCOTUS brief, in which he made his misstatement. Perhaps you could cut him a little slack.

  19. mtnmarty on January 23, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Jax,

    Why is a marketing battle biased to one side or the other? Wouldn’t a marketing battle to support a right for a minority against tradition be an uphill battle?

  20. Jax on January 23, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Mtnmarty,

    For years this was an uphill battle for SSM proponents, so much so that for a LONG time it wasn’t even a battle at all but just a far off dream. But we’ve approached a point where it is fairly evenly split among the US populace with the momentum of change in favor of SSM.

    How could a marketing battle not be biased? Do SSM marriage proponents put forward an equal amount of marketing material against SSM as they do in favor of it? Of course not! They put for the idea that SSM is fair and right and that opposing it is a civil-right violation and bigoted. The anti-SSM marriage likewise frame the argument in terms favorable for them. They are both biased towards their own goals. And the winner is the side that claims the most believers/adherents to their claims.

  21. Steve Smith on January 23, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Wow, and Gene Schaerr got into Yale Law???

  22. Nathaniel Givens on January 23, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Proponents of gay marriage couch their arguments in terms of equal access because it taps into American sentiments about fairness (in general) and the Civil Rights movement (in particular). It’s powerful rhetoric, but it is also misleading.

    The reality–technical but straightforward–is that the institution of traditional marriage (i.e. the heterosexual variety) has always been equally open to gay people and straight people. Obviously it has not been equally appealing to gay and straight people, but there is no legal barrier whatsoever to gay men who want to marry a woman or lesbian women who want to marry a man from getting married. There is no question of access. The fairness issue arises not in who can get married but rather in what counts as marriage. A gay couple who says “let us be married” is not saying “give us access to heterosexual marriage” (obviously) but rather “redefine the institution so that it includes our relationship.”

    So when traditional marriage folks talk about “defending marriage” they absolutely right in that they are attempting to preserve an institution in its current form rather than deny access to anyone based on sexuality. (Whether or not they are right that redefining the institution will harm the institution is another question entirely.) When gay marriage proponents talk about equal access, they are clearly eliding the reality to accentuate the fairness issue.

    Please note: this is not an argument for or against gay marriage. Just an observation that the current debate is more accurately seen as one of defining the nature of the institution and not deciding who has access to it.

  23. Cameron N on January 23, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Your snarky posts are getting a bit obnoxious. If you want to educate people, a friendlier tone might be more constructive.

  24. European Saint on January 23, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Well said, Nathaniel Givens.

  25. Howard on January 23, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Nathaniel your spin is giving me vertigo.

  26. Kaimi Wenger on January 23, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Nathaniel,

    You realize that the identical argument was made to support laws against interracial marriage?

    Here’s _Pace v. Alabama_, the Court ruling that laws against interracial marriage were not a violation of equal protection:

    “The defect in the argument of counsel consists in his assumption that any discrimination is made by the laws of Alabama in the punishment provided for the offense for which the plaintiff in error was indicted when committed by a person of the African race and when committed by a white person. The two sections of the Code cited are entirely consistent. The one prescribes generally a punishment for an offense committed between persons of different sexes; the other prescribes a punishment for an offense which can only be committed where the two sexes are of different races. There is in neither section any discrimination against either race. Section 4184 equally includes the offense when the persons of the two sexes are both white and when they are both black. Section 4189 applies the same punishment to both offenders, the white and the black. Indeed, the offense against which this latter section is aimed cannot be committed without involving the persons of both races in the same punishment. Whatever discrimination is made in the punishment prescribed in the two sections is directed against the offense designated, and not against the person of any particular color or race. The punishment of each offending person, whether white or black, is the same.”

    If we’re defining equal access as you’ve done, there’s no reason why interracial marriage restrictions should be unconstitutional. They affect both Black people and white people. No one is allowed to marry interracially. So there’s no discrimination. Of course, this limits one’s ability to marry one’s desired partner, but that’s all.

    And, as in the case I cited, that’s in fact the argument that was used to uphold these laws, for a century.

    As for redefining traditional marriage, I give you the lower court in _Loving v. Virginia_:

    “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

    The redefining has been happening for centuries. This is just one piece of the fact that social institutions evolve to fit their societies.

  27. Geoff - A on January 23, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    As a member who lives outside USA and is not a legal person I would like to know when is the appeal likely to be heard?

    I thought the point you were making was very clear Kaimi.

    I think the church will oppose the ruling until it is appealed as far as it can be. Can it be further appealed if this one fails?

    If it is still law after all the appeals, (the sooner the better) I think it will be accepted by the church. We believe in honouring, obeying, and sustaining the law. This will remove a great division from the church and we can all move on to wards a more Christlike and loving church.

  28. Nathaniel Givens on January 23, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    Kaimi-

    You realize that the identical argument was made to support laws against interracial marriage?

    You’ve clearly missed the point of my post. Let me try again.

    Issue 1: What is the structure of the argument for “marriage equality”?

    Issue 2: What are the merits of the argument for “marriage equality”?

    Let’s take interracial marriage as an example. Let’s also assume (for the sake of argument) that prior to Loving v. Virginia the definition of marriage was “one man, one woman, same race”.

    If that were true, then the answer to Issue 1 (for interracial marriage) would be that proponents of interracial marriage were, in fact, redefining marriage. It wasn’t actually about equal access, but about redefining the institution.

    Furthermore, the answer to Issue 2 (for interracial marriage) is still: yes, it’s a good idea.

    The very fact that you can have the argument be about redefining marriage and have the argument win is exactly why my claim to not be making an argument for or against gay marriage was sincere and reasonable.

    So, going back to gay marriage, the only point of my post was that on Issue 1: gay rights proponents are seeking to redefine marriage. In that context, it makes sense for opponents to speak of “defending marriage”. And yes: it would have made sense for opponents of interracial marriage to have spoken of “defending marriage”. But answering Issue 1 doesn’t say anything necessarily about Issue 2.

    Got it?

    If you think that Loving v. Virginia redefined marriage and you think it was the right thing to do, then you clearly do not need the subterfuge about “marriage equality”. It’s not about deciding who is allowed to marry. It’s about deciding what marriage is.

  29. ASM on January 23, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    The argument for “marriage equality” is not a subterfuge. The idea of “marriage equality” is about keeping the institution of marriage true to our best understanding of what our culture’s ideals presently demand. “Marriage equality” combines the structural argument with the argument on the merits. That’s why it’s such a potent phrase.

    Don’t pretend that you can make the structural argument without touching the argument on the merits, even if it’s just implied. As a rhetorical move, that’s either naïve or disingenuous. You can’t have it both ways.

  30. Steve Smith on January 23, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    “So when traditional marriage folks talk about “defending marriage” they absolutely right in that they are attempting to preserve an institution in its current form rather than deny access to anyone based on sexuality.”

    No they’re not. Because in order for one to “defend” marriage, there has to be an outside threat to it. And extending marriage rights to gay couples poses no threat whatsoever to opposite-sex marriages (and the OP makes this point loud and clear). By legalizing gay marriage, the institution of marriage will still exist, just a larger variation of romantic couples will be able to enter into it. Besides, the “current form” of marriage in many US states and countries is both same-sex and opposite-sex couples can marry.

  31. Josh Smith on January 23, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    Nathaniel,

    If I understand your point, you claim that SSM redefines marriage in ways that interracial marriage did not. Presumably SSM troubles you more than interracial marriage. What’s your perspective on this?

    Utah was only allowed to join the U.S. after it defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Prior to becoming a state, Utah had a different definition of marriage. Now the very provision in Utah’s constitution that allowed it to become a state is challenged on federal constitional grounds.

    1. Is Utah tossed from the U.S.? :-)
    2. Given Utah’s unusual track record for redefining marriage, shouldn’t its citizens be very understanding of more inclusive definitions?

  32. chris on January 24, 2014 at 1:06 am

    Josh,

    The laws enacted in the days of plural marriage in Utah were highly unjust, and not even -close- to comparable. Just as gay marriage is not even close to racism and its tragic history of slavery, lynch mobs, etc.

    But still at the root in Utah was a female-male relationship. The issue was whether a man could engage in multiple such relationships concurrently.

  33. palerobber on January 24, 2014 at 1:11 am

    @ Nathaniel Givens #22

    as for “no question of access”, SCOTUS rejected your view in Loving.

    as for “redefine the institution”, your thinking is wrong there too. from Kitchen v. Herbert

    Instead of declaring a new right to interracial marriage, the Court [in Loving v. Virginia] held that individuals could not be restricted from exercising their existing right to marry on account of the race of their chosen partner. Similarly, the Plaintiffs here do not seek a new right to same-sex marriage, but instead ask the court to hold that the State cannot prohibit them from exercising their existing right to marry on account of the sex of their chosen partner.
    The alleged right to same-sex marriage that the State claims the Plaintiffs are seeking is simply the same right that is currently enjoyed by heterosexual individuals: the right to make a public commitment to form an exclusive relationship and create a family with a partner with whom the person shares an intimate and sustaining emotional bond. [...] Both same-sex and opposite-sex marriage are [...] simply manifestations of one right — the right to marry —applied to people with different sexual identities.

    so, there’s only one right to marry and one definition. all that gays are seeking is equal protection.

  34. Stan Beale on January 24, 2014 at 1:22 am

    The key is not why a lawyer takes a case but rather the arguments and evidence he or she uses in court. If Schaerr tries to use the basic argument that his e mail indicates, he will probably lose. So far the only things backing the idea that SSM harms heterosexual marriage is opinion and several really bad studies. However, a minority of the Court may buy it, namely Scalia, Roberts, Thomas and Alito.

    The problem is finding a compelling argument for Justice Kennedy. That is where Barrister Schaerr will have to use all his legal magic to conjure up some argument that works.

  35. Josh Smith on January 24, 2014 at 10:17 am

    One last post for me and then I’ll shut up. I’ll continue to read comments, but I’ll keep quiet.

    Chris, the point of my comment above is that Utah is in a position to express empathy. “We know what it’s like to be excluded. We were once excluded based on the very same constitutional provision at issue. While we disagree with SSM on moral grounds, we appreciate that we live in a pluralistic society.”

    Instead we have intelligent men like Schaerr mounting up and racing off on a 21st century crusade. In my mind empathy is a much more inspired than “God has called me on a political quest.” Though I’ll be the first to admit that empathy doesn’t have the same pizazz. (To its credit, empathy also lacks the hubris.)

  36. Mtnmarty on January 24, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Jax,

    Thanks for the response. I didn’t earn that the marketing was biased, I agree that it obviously was. I wondered why you thought that Utah would lose just because it was a marketing contest. Bias towards a marketing battle being better for the SSM side.

    I think what you are saying is that it is not inevitable that they would lose a marketing battle but just that current trends suggest they would lose.

    My follow up question would be why you think the state of Utah side is losing thearketing battle.

    My own thought is that the pro SSM side has been very effective in placing their argument within the long tradition of individual choice. The no SSM has been ineffective in showing a harm from SSM.

    The argument is pretty abstract. The benefits to those wanting Ssm seem direct; we all see the smiles on the faces of those getting married. Showing the harm in SSM has been difficult because there are no bodily or financial injuries to show.

  37. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 11:22 am

    M* is running an OP called Metaphorical Martyrdom: …there are now ample opportunities for Mormons and other Christian communities to be united like never before in a new kind of virtual martyrdom…metaphorical martyrdom comes swiftly if any dares to publicly profess the tenets of the faith that have been firmly entrenched for six thousand years. To describe sexual immorality as sin is to instantly become socially marginalized and vilified as worst example of humanity imaginable… Minding your own business is safer and easier than exposing yourself to the fury. The live and let live mantra rolls off the tongue easier today than ever before. But there is no safe place as we watch the tide slowly erode the small piece of ground on which the church has always resided. To stand down is to serve other gods, as was so eloquently taught by Elder Dallin H. Oaks.

    What is this war about?

    If Christ is our exemplar doesn’t the adulteress in the temple story shed some light on where Jesus stood with regard to sexual sin? When the pharisees approached him with an adulteress in tow arguing a similar position, he ignored them, he blew them off! Then turning to the sinner he said; neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more!

    Why are Oaks and his followers making more out of this than Jesus would? Jesus was silent on the issue of gays and kind to sexual sinners but intolerant of pharisees seeking letter of the law enforcement!

  38. Michael P. on January 24, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Howard,

    It is interesting to see how you interpret the story of the adulteress woman. She did sin, hence Christ saying of “go and sin no more.” The pharisees should not have condemned the woman and we have no right to condemn sinners either. But it doesn’t mean there is no sin.

    And last I checked Oaks is not the only apostle talking about this.

  39. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Michael P.
    I’m not arguing there is no sin. I’m suggesting that Jesus’ example be followed.

  40. Michael P. on January 24, 2014 at 11:44 am

    So how is Jesus’ example to be followed here?
    “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

  41. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 11:48 am

    So you believe Jesus would campaign against SSM? Jesus brought us love in the form of the sermon on the mount and plain not Pharisaical OT enforcement of the 10Cs.

  42. Michael P. on January 24, 2014 at 11:55 am

    I won’t pretend to know what the exact actions of the Savior would be. But He was not afraid about speaking out on the issues of his day. But I am not sure why you think what the church does now is “Pharisaical OT enforcement”. Could you elaborate?

  43. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Sure, to the adulteress Jesus said; neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more. To the adulteress the Bishop says: I’ll schedule you for a court of church discipline.

  44. Jax on January 24, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    MntMarty,

    I think Utah will lose because the majority of recognizable media personalities (TV, movies, news, etc) are overwhelmingly in favor of SSM and so the pro-SSM gets spread more often. People tend to be sheep, and if they hear one message more often than another they will change their views to conform with what they perceive to be the majority opinion.

    Also, people tend to have a very poor understanding of Jesus’ tolerance. They point to one example of tolerance and say, “See, everyone needs to be tolerate of everyone else because Jesus was once tolerant.” But he wasn’t ALWAYS tolerant. And he never tolerated sin. He didn’t kill the adultress, but did tell her to STOP SINNING. Which would be a great message to spread to homosexuals!! Jesus’ message wasn’t one of “I love and accept everyone.” His sermon on the mount direction was that before you were held guilty for committing adultery, but now I’ll hold you guiltly just for thinking about it.

    Also, specifically with this battle within/against the church on homosexuality… when they try to point to Jesus’ tolerance I suppose they don’t think Jesus is a part of this Church, isn’t calling those same leaders they criticize for not doing what He would do, isn’t giving them direction on church policy, etc.

  45. John Mansfield on January 24, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Jesus had much admiration for John the Baptist who was executed for boisterously condemning sin.

  46. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Jax your version with it’s CAPS seems to greatly exceed the Biblical passages about Jesus. But as I recall he did turn over some tables relating to a completely different issue!

  47. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    And you extrapolate what from that bias characterization John Mansfield? Isn’t repentance necessary step prior to baptism?

  48. rb on January 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    As I recall, there is pretty good evidence the story of the adultress is just that. It was inserted into the scriptures by a well intentioned monk/scribe/translator. In other words it likely never happened.

  49. Michael P. on January 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Howard,
    Don’t you think that is a simplistic comparison? Between church discipline and what Christ said to the adulteress?

    Besides, church discipline is not eternal damnation or stoning. It is supposed to part of the repentance process in relatively few cases of sin.

  50. Trey on January 24, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    JH (#9), saying that gay people are free to marry as long as they marry into a for-show, intimacy-free heterosexual marriage does more, I think, to hurt “traditional marriage” than to let them marry someone they actually love.

  51. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    rb,
    Well, if you have compelling evidence of that why don’t you move to have it stricken from the Bible.

    Michael P.,
    No, I think it’s an excellent example. The point is Christianity brought us the beatitudes some 2,000 years ago not the ten commandments that was OT Moses. Isn’t it time we began to live them? Shouldn’t the church set that example? Shouldn’t we model Jesus?

  52. Michael P. on January 24, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Howard,
    While not perfect, I think we are doing our best, on the whole, to model Jesus Christ.

  53. John Mansfield on January 24, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Howard, where is the bias in writing that Jesus admired John and that John condemned sin? Do you think that John was executed for quietly preparing investigators for baptism?

  54. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    The black and white laws are given because we struggle with understanding principals but gospel principals are closer to God than bright line laws. Why? because black and white thinking truncates and polarized the (information rich) nuance contained in a principal. So the law is just a simplified approximation of the principal, not it’s equivalent.

    Let go of the ten commandments and live the beatitudes and you will move closer to God not further from him!

  55. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    #52 Well slamming gay marriage isn’t modeling Jesus nor it it doing the best we can to model him, he was silent regarding gays and kind to sexual sinners.

    John Mansfield, the were both executed for delivering a message the world wasn’t ready to hear but since repentance is REQUIRED for baptism and since “John the Baptist” was the Johnnie Appleseed shall we say of baptisms it follows that he needed to call people to repentance in order to get on with the dunking required by his calling.

    Keep in mind it is Jesus NOT John who serves as our exemplar.

  56. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Why do otherwise good Mormons become such zealots about those who sin differently than they do?

  57. Michael P. on January 24, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Howard,
    “Slamming” gay marriage? Can’t we be opposed to it without resorting to such language?

    There are many things that Christ’s biblical ministry does not touch on. And why would it? Was gay marriage something that the Jewish people were thinking about? Does Jesus ever condemn racism or slavery outright? Are you taking the position that if Christ didn’t mention it, then it can’t be that important? I just find your reasoning here completely inconsistent with the concept of continuing revelation.

  58. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Are you taking the position that if Christ didn’t mention it, then it can’t be that important? No!

    I just find your reasoning here completely inconsistent with the concept of continuing revelation. Well I don’t, but maybe you are aware of relevant official revelations I’m not. What is there besides the D&C, OD1 & OD2? Apparently not the Family Proc. based on the written changes made to Packer’s talk.

  59. Michael P. on January 24, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I think you read way too much into the Packer edit. But obviously we have different definitions of revelation. I just am of the opinion that if prophet after prophet, apostle after apostle teach something with little to no difference between them all, then it might be pretty important to listen to. Especially if they put it into an official proclamation and quote from it all of the time. And that doesn’t apply to just our time, I do not see a single prophet, apostle, or church leader or member of any kind from any dispensation or any utterance from the Lord that can give us even the slightest expectation that homosexuality/gay marriage is not sin.

    Instead some members just assume that the church is wrong on this.

  60. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Michael P.,
    Perhaps but Given SWK’s written experience regarding revelation I think you assume far too much regarding the podium words of the brethren, inspired perhaps, certainly at times but revelation? Revelation is a much higher bar.

    Aside from that, others sins are not your business and your sins are not their business and Jesus made it pretty clear that the adulteress’ sin was not the Pharisees’ business!

  61. Michael P. on January 24, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Howard,
    You still have nothing, absolutely nothing, to point to contradict the position of the church on this. Even if you want to compare it to the Priesthood Ban (which I don’t think is a good comparison), there were statements from leaders of the church that the ban would one day end, there was Joseph Smith’s ordination of black men, there were mentions in scripture of the equality of races before God. In other words, there was some reason to think that the ban would some day be lifted. There is nothing in this case.

    On your last point, I completely agree. The sins of other’s are generally speaking none of my business.

  62. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Michael P.,
    What are you talking about in the first paragraph of #61 and what do you consider the “position of the church on this” to be?

  63. Michael P. on January 24, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Essentially the law of chastity as it is presently taught concerning the topic of this blog post…. traditional marriage, gay marriage, etc.

  64. Howard on January 24, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    My position is that we as members should follow the example set by Jesus unless otherwise prompted by the spirit or directed by the President of the church who is the only one who can receive revelation for the church.

  65. Steve Smith on January 24, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    “I think Utah will lose because the majority of recognizable media personalities (TV, movies, news, etc) are overwhelmingly in favor of SSM and so the pro-SSM gets spread more often. People tend to be sheep, and if they hear one message more often than another they will change their views to conform with what they perceive to be the majority opinion.”

    Oh, and there are no media personalities who are against gay marriage (say, Fox News)? Bear in mind, people opposed to legalized gay marriage are still winning. Most of the US has not yet legalized gay marriage. But they likely will in due time because it is quite clear that the majority of US citizens are in favor of gay marriage. Why are people favoring gay marriage? Sure, in part, it may be because they are blindly following a popular trend. But people who are against gay marriage don’t ever blindly follow popular trends? I think the reason that gay marriage is growing in popularity is because people are becoming more educated. They are finding that there is no evidence that there is anything inherently inferior with being gay or having a gay romantic relationship. They are asking the anti-gay marriage crowd on what reason should we deny marriage to gay romantic couples and are finding that those against SSM have no reasoned answers. That all the answers they give boil down to 1) God said so, and 2) because it is gross and unnatural. So if we are to accuse any side of being blind sheep, I think would say that anti-SSM folks fall into that category much more than the pro-SSM crowd.

  66. Alison Moore Smith on January 24, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Nathaniel, spot on and perfectly clear. Anyone who doesn’t understand your points either didn’t read or is pretending.

  67. Josh Smith on January 24, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    So what is he saying Alison?

  68. mtnmarty on January 24, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    There is another way to see the equality issue and that is as a question of whether government should be involved in gender roles rather than just about sexual orientation.

    The idea is that the US citizenry are less and less comfortable with government playing any role in establishing gender norms or rules.

    That is why if marriage is being redefined the redefinitions go away if we ignore the gender role component.

    The argument is that if a man can choose a woman for a spouse then a woman should be able to choose a woman for a spouse. That argument has nothing to do with sexual orientation, but it does strongly have to do with avoiding government involvement in gender roles.

  69. mtnmarty on January 24, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Here is a hypothetical. You have a woman that has an an economically valuable skill set, say a lawyer. You have another woman who has a less economically valuable skill set but enjoys the homemaker sole.

    Both of these women enjoy men sexually but not as marriage material.

    Why should government refuse them the legal arrangement of marriage, if they want to agree to share responsibilities in the same way male/female couples do?

    What arguments can be offered against that arrangement that don’t involve God or treat genders differently?

    In fact the greater the natural differences between the sexes the greater is the harm done by limiting the choice of spouses to opposite genders. Men would be prohibited from accessing the natural capabilities of other men and women would be prohibited from accessing the natural capabilities of other women.

    If the sexes have very different capabilities then government is limiting marriage to people with opposite natural skill sets. The marriage choices under SSM will allow more couples to choose to use a strategy of maximizing certain natural skills rather balancing them with a gender division of labor.

    I see SSM as being pro-choice in a quite literal way. If one gender is more desirable as a marriage partner than the other, then the less desirable gender will have increased competition for spouses.

    There does not appear to be a large number of heterosexual people desiring same sex marriages but after SSM marriages become more common among the gays and lesbian people, heterosexual people may begin to weigh the option.

    The future is futuristic.

  70. Jax on January 24, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    I don’t think of this in terms of gernder roles at all. I think of it in terms of “I want to do what is right.” But I’m married already and won’t be getting having a SSM so it doesn’t involve “me”, right? Not exactly.

    Many of the readers on here have college degrees. Through stress, sweat, tears, and struggles they earned them. Many professionals have their diplomas framed and on their walls to show their accomplishment. What happens if the college they labored through started to sell diplomas for $5 a piece? Not imitations, ACTUAL diplomas for $5 without attending a class or sitting through a lecture? Now diplomas are everywhere and everyone has one. Doesn’t damage the value of yours? Nobody thinks it is special or important. Afterall, they have one too!

    This is what happens (will happen) when you introduce an imitation/fake into society. It diminishes the importance, prestige, value of the originals. “Traditional” marriages will be de-valued when imitation marriages start being recognized. The importance of marriage will be decreased. The value of it will diminish. That does affect me.

    And I think I have a role in discouraging others from doing what is not right. Homosexuality is not right. It is a sin. I don’t care if you don’t think so, because I do think so and will therefore try to encourage laws against things I think to be wrong. Similarly I think gambling is wrong and vote against it everywhere/time I can. Same with drug use/domestic violence/fraud/etc.

    There are a myriad of laws that dictate behavior on “moral” things, and only a few of them affect me directly. It doesn’t matter whether anyone thinks they will affect me or not, I think it is right and proper to oppose things that are morally wrong. I don’t just oppose them in religious realms, but all avenues of politics, government, economics, recreation, entertainment, etc. A person who says that they oppose something on a religious level, but won’t stand against it on a political one, are saying that they don’t think their religious beliefs should control their behavior; when in reality our religious beliefs are precisely what SHOULD be controlling our behavior.

  71. mtnmarty on January 24, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Jax,

    Interesting point of view. What are your damages? How much value do you get from the prestige of your marriage that will be lost from fake marriages?

    Also, if the marriage partners don’t have sexual relations, do you still oppose it as morally wrong? If so, why? Its not religious marriage after all, its just government marriage, so why would celibate, non-religious, governmental marriages be immoral?

    If the sexual relations mattered, why isn’t more effort going into restoring the ability of government to limit sexual practices of consenting adults compared to just the marriage question?

    So, where does religious liberty fir into your ideas? Worshiping a false God would seem to be immoral, would you vote to prohibit it? Say devil worship?

    Is it ever morally unacceptable to you to limit the scope of some one else’s agency by governmental act? Should we tax unkindness for example?

    Then it would seem like laws would be controlling our behavior rather than our religious beliefs.

    I don’t see where you draw the line on what moral behavior you are religiously required to desire the government to discourage.

  72. mtnmarty on January 24, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Jax,

    By the way, I’m not commenting on homosexuality at all, just government and gender roles. My mormon heritage makes me sceptical of government as a force for moral good.

    However, I doubt that SSM will increase the number of homosexual acts.

  73. Jax on January 24, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    MntMarty,

    We all suffer (or will) the damages caused by the dissolution of families (See the proclamation). I won’t sense a loss of prestige, but someone might feel a loss of it; “prestige” just isn’t important to me.

    Do any marriage partners not have sex? Why would married homosexuals not?? Seems like a really odd question. But the sexual relationships are immoral, and an imitation marriage degrades all others. So… I guess I oppose it for both reasons.

    Unkindness isn’t something you can readily pinpoint. It’s subjective. Marriage isn’t that way… a person is either married or not. Laws should only control behavior, never belief. Whether a certain behavior should be controlled is up to society to decide, and I strongly favor supporting marriage as a man/woman institution. We can’t really go to a point where gov’t DOESN’T define marriage at all, so we need to decide HOW it will define it.

    What behavior YOU are “religiously required” to discourage is up to you and the HolyGhose I suppose. If He tells you to discourage something, then do it! SSM a area where the churches position is clear, and I’m happy to support that side.

    I hate big gov’t. If I got to choose today between our current massive Federal gov’t and no federal gov’t, I’d choose none. But like I said above, gov’t is going to be involved in some way, so I’ll use what little influence I have to try to ensure that their involvement is a morally based as possible.

  74. Jax on January 24, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Holy typos batman… I guess I should proof-read, especially when I take a break mid-post to do scriptures with the family.

    Please forgive the terrible grammar/spelling above!

  75. Jay on January 26, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    @Nathaniel – You are obnoxious and your arguements are circular and obtuse.

    Got it?

  76. Dave Whittle on January 27, 2014 at 9:49 am

    @Jay, you SOUND (can’t judge how you really are from your writings) obnoxious, insufferably arrogant, and biased; and your arguements (sic) and assertions are, worst of all, unsupported.

    Got it?

    Now, how does that sound when directed at you? Next time, you might want to try a little empathy before exposing your bigotry.

  77. Raymond Takashi Swenson on February 4, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Kaimi, we all know what he meant. You are distorting what he meant in order to ridicule it. The assumption you make, that institutionalizing same sex marriage into the myriad laws that use the term “marriage” will have no effect on the real marriage of a man and woman, is an assertion that is offered without proof. By and large, advocates of SSM don’t want the public thinking about the long term effects on our culture and laws, and on our children, of this change in so much of the law that governs and guides us. What most concerns me is that SSM as law is being used by governments as a basis to punish people who simply want to excuse themselves from participating in or endorsing SSM. It is revealing itself as nothing less than a new law that proclaims that unrestrained sexual expression trumps religious expression.

  78. stephenchardy on February 5, 2014 at 9:45 am

    “It is revealing itself as nothing less than a new law that proclaims that unrestrained sexual expression trumps religious expression.”

    I see it in a very different light. SSM allows ss-oriented people to practice gay-chastity (a terms I have seen used by Nate Oman.) That is, rather than “unrestrained sexual expression” SSM could be seen as encouraging gay people to participate in life-long monagamous sexual expression and significant restrainment on sexual activity. SSM encourages the building of families rather than encouraging promiscuity.

    “… institutionalizing same sex marriage into the myriad laws that use the term “marriage” will have no effect on the real marriage of a man and woman, is an assertion that is offered without proof.”

    I am not sure what you mean here. Are you asserting that SSM marriage in Canada, the Netherlands, Massachusetts, and elsewhere is having a negative effect on “real” marriage? Advocates of SSM would say that there is proof of lack of harm to institutional marraige and thus it is more than a mere assertion.

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