Saturday, October 11, 2008

even more reflections on prop 8

i know i've been writing a lot on this. it's may way of sorting things out in my mind. the following is a comment i left on a previous post, but decided to give a post of its own.
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ezekial 16:49 teaches us the sin of sodom and gomorroh. it was not homosexuality as homophobic religion has taught for centuries:

"Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

in response to a failed revelation, joseph smith said "some revelations are of god, some revelations are of me, and some revelations are of the devil." i believe strongly that joseph smith was a prophet of god, just as i believe that thomas s. monson is today. however, i also believe that they are human beings and struggle, just as i do, to understand the will of god.

i believe that it is important to protect families. i have no doubt that my prophets feel inspired that the lord desperately wants to protect families. however, i feel also feel that there are better and more important ways than this. there are much larger threats facing the family than two people who love each other.

church leaders have made mistakes in the past. church leaders have made mistakes in the past in the name of god. for over a hundred years, as a church, we discriminated against a large group of god's children because of the color of their skin. it was wrong. brigham young was wrong. but i believe he was a prophet nonetheless.

this is a mistake that we can't make again.

on wednesday night i witnessed men that i believe to be prophets of god characterize some of god's children who simply want to express their real love for someone else in some of the most hateful ways possible. they characterized people with good hearts and good intentions as selfish satan-inspired opponents of god. they characterized them as family-haters who do not care about children. they characterized good people as dangerous threats to our society.

it was wrong.

it is wrong for us to tell someone else that they can't worship and love as they please because it goes against our own religious beliefs. it is wrong for the same reason our church was arguing it was wrong just over a century ago.

over a century ago, others were telling mormons that they shouldn't be allowed to marry as they please. mormons were told that their marriages were a threat to traditional families. mormons were told that they were satan-inspired opponents of god. mormons were told that they were dangerous threats to society.

how dare we forget our own suffering and then go afflict in on someone else? how dare we?

we owe a big apology.

and how dare we pretend that we are a minority fighting for a cause that most everyone is against. this is not brave. this is cowardice. the church is not alone, but is doing this amidst dozens and dozens of 'christians' who are united in tearing down others.

the brave thing to do is to stand up against this unchristlike mob of discrimination and try to act and love as christ would.

christ was belittled by the pharisees for socializing with and truly loving those whose lives reflected different values. shouldn't we be doing the same instead of demonizing them.

12 comments:

  1. Loyd, you're a brilliant and sensitive soul. I admire your bravery and your loyalty to your beliefs.

    don

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  2. hey i just found your post and i'm a bit confused by some of the statements you're making. how did the leaders of the church characterize anyone as a family hater or as selfish Satan inspired opponents to God?

    I felt the message of the broadcast was not to accuse but to explain why the church believes marriage between a man and woman is so important. I don't remember them speaking ill of anyone but I do remember them expressing love for everyone. Thanks.

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  3. rodney,

    imagine if i told you that god does not approve of your marriage. that satan wants to destroy families and wants your marriage to happen to do see their destruction. imagine me saying that your marriage was a threat to society. that your marriage hurt children. imagine me saying that everyone who is against your marriage is doing so because they love families. imagine me saying that satan is behind your desire to marry your wife. imagine me saying that you and your wife getting married is so dangerous that we need to make it illegal. imagine me saying that your marriage will make it so that families are no longer welcome in society. imagine me saying that if you want to marry your wife, you are directly choosing to go against god's will and are participating in the destruction of families.

    how is that not saying that your desire to marry your wife is also saying that you hate families and are a selfish satan-inspired opponent of god?

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  4. Rodney,

    In his introductory remarks at the California fireside the other night, Elder Ballard stated, "Today the pressures and forces working to destroy the divine institution of the family and marriage are many" (emphasis added). While same-sex marriage was the "force" with which Ballard was most obviously and immediately concerned, he mentioned rising divorce rates and pornography as other examples of "forces working to destroy . . . the family." Right there in the introduction, he implied that proponents of same-sex marriage are "working to destroy the divine institution of the family and marriage," right alongside pornographers.

    Last week in General Conference, Ballard made a similar remark: "[W]e see the institution of the family, including the divine institution of marriage, under attack as groups and individuals seek to define away the prominent and divine role of the family in society" (emphasis added). This is an obvious reference to proponents of same-sex marriage. In his words, they are "attack[ing]" the family and trying to "define away" its "prominent and divine role."

    Similarly, Elder Nelson's conference talk, which Ballard referred to during the fireside, compared decisions regarding marriage to shopping: "Wise shoppers study their options thoroughly before they make a selection. They focus primarily on the quality and durability of a desired product. They want the very best. In contrast, some shoppers look for bargains, and others may splurge, only to learn later—much to their dismay—that their choice did not endure well. And sadly, there are those rare individuals who cast aside their personal integrity and steal what they want. We call them shoplifters" (emphasis added).

    The analogy is pretty clear. Those shoppers who focus on the "quality and durability" of marriage and "want the best" choose temple marriage, because it is "highest and most enduring type of marriage that our Creator can offer to His children" (Nelson's words). Those shoppers who "look for bargains" or "splurge" get a legitimate (i.e., heterosexual) marriage, but of an inferior quality. These shoppers "opt[] for a marriage that was valid only as long as they both should live" (not that Nelson admits its validity, at least in mortality). Finally, there are those "rare individuals who cast aside their personal integrity and steal what they want." They are "marital shoplifters," as Nelson puts it. They want the benefits of marriage, but do not pay the price for even a lower-quality but "valid" marriage.

    This final class could be interpreted broadly; by itself, it is not clear that Nelson was referring exclusively to same-sex couples (it would also include fornicators, e.g.). But it would be difficult to argue that Nelson intended to exclude same-sex couples from that class, especially given the context of the Church's current efforts in California. This interpretation is supported by Ballard's comments at the fireside, for he painted Nelson's talk specifically as a defense of traditional marriage. After emphasizing that marriage is to be between a man and a woman and that gender is an eternal characteristic, Ballard said, "Elder Russel M. Nelson made this very clear to the whole church Sunday afternoon in his talk at General Conference."

    Commenters at BCC's GC open threads immediately interpreted Nelson's "shoplifter" remarks as referring to same-sex marriage (see this comment, for instance).

    So same-sex couples lack integrity and are trying to "steal" what rightfully belongs to heterosexual couples. Ouch.

    Given this miniscule sampling of quotes, I don't know how one would argue that the Brethren haven't been painting proponents of same-sex marriage as enemies of the family and of God.

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  5. Oh, and I've got to say one thing about this "gays are destroying the family" rhetoric. The biggest irony is that gay marriage actually affirms the fundamental importance of marriage and family. That's right. Gays and lesbians want to marry because they value commitment and fidelity, and because they too consider marriage to be the ideal context in which to raise children. By allowing gay and lesbian people to marry, we will only be strengthening marriage and family as the foundation of society.

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  6. i have read all the posts and comments regarding prop 8 but only want to add one comment encompassing them all, so if my comment is not directly relevant to this particular post, that is the reason.

    what a sad situation we as members of the LDS church find ourselves. there are so many efforts to safeguard what we value as sacred, such as life, marriage, freedom ... but what are we doing?

    we can not change peoples actions, but only try to change their hearts. that was the gist of a statement in one of the talks in general conference. but we can only help change people´s hearts through the spirit, which is absent when hate, anger, and strife are present.

    i feel like so many that posted...that we should strive to align ourselves with our church leaders...but we must do so in love, charity, and friendship.

    if you feel that it is your duty to support prop8, then please do so by debunking the lies and stereotypes and not spreading hate, fear, or angst of any kind.

    i wonder in what ways we as members of the church are being tested. like members from the different eras of our church´s history....those that did agree with poligomy, those that did not agree with ending it, those that felt the church was racist, etc.

    so now what? we have been taught to love others, we have been taught to be meek, to turn the other cheek, to humbly bear our burdens, to be careful how we judge because we will be judged that way (which was in another conference message).

    if we want to protect our families and the sanctity of marriage then we must start with love. love thy neighbor as thyself. if we want others to love us despite our faults, despite what they disagree with, then we must love others that same way.

    again, if you feel that you must support prop8, then please spread love and not fear or hate.

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  7. So much of this reminds me of the stories I've read about the civil rights movement and segregation in the South. (Just finished reading a few books about segregation and poverty in the South in the 50's and 60's, so I guess that's why it's on my mind.)

    Man, this is tough for me, Loyd. I read all of your posts at once and I cried when I read your guest's blog because I have been thinking about the good, kind, honest, compassionate people that this proposition is affecting.

    I'm having a tough time with Church leaders asking (assigning) members to act politically for a specific proposition. It just doesn't feel right to me. Telling them to get involved in political issues that they believe in is one thing, telling them to actively campaign and vote for something specific is strange to me. I can't help but think about all of the lives that have been lost in wars for freedom of choice, the sacrifices for blacks and women to vote, and the very basic right to follow our conscience. I repeat: it feels strange to have leaders actively (pressuring?) people to act politically. Especially when it has been my experience that many people "just take someone's word for it" rather than studying propositions out on their own.

    I received an e-mail from RS secretary about signing up to make phone calls to residents in California. I missed RS yesterday, but apparently the Bishop came in and talked about the proposition and said he needed to report back to the Stake Presidency about how many volunteers we could get from our ward. I'm thinking it was a good thing I wasn't there because I'm sure my heart would have been pounding pretty hard and who knows what I would have said without really thinking about how to say it.

    The e-mail said volunteers would receive a list of names to call and a script to read from. Good grief - a script!

    I thought for a long time about the talk in gen. conf. about temple marriage....I know people who are married to non-members, inactive members, disfellowshipped members, and so forth. I just kept thinking about one of my friends that I see in the temple and her husband is not a member and absolutely not interested in the Church. I also know a woman who was married in the temple and her husband had an affair, left my friend and their kids, and has been sealed in the temple to the woman he had the affair with. So many stories...

    After the talk I told my family that I would have to take some time and study that talk when the Ensign comes because I didn't "get it". It seemed to exclude so many faithful members of the Church and put them in a category of less privileged, or something like that. At least, that was my first impression.

    I was wondering how you were doing in California with this proposition. My heart is with yours on this issue.

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  8. P.S. after reading last post I realized I needed to clarify that I understand the privilege in the eternities regarding celestial marriage. I'm talking about couples that aren't married in the temple and the belief that they will not have any association beyond this world when they die. (curious) Plus, the idea that a nonmember spouse (that a member loves very much) is bargain basement cheap because the member didn't shop for temple worthiness. (I have a few stories about how quality merchandise didn't stand the test of time.) In other words, I get the doctrine, but I don't necessarily agree with the presentation. I guess I'm thinking too much about the complexities of life and relationships and struggling to conform them into absolutes. Perhaps I need to work harder on that.
    carry on

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  9. In response to the notion that genderless marriage "affirms the fundamental importance of marriage and family":
    Genderless marriage affirms a fundamental importance of marriage and family but does not affirm all that is important to marriage and family. While it is true that genderless marriage affirms "love and friendship, security for adults and their children, economic protection, and public affirmation of commitment" there are other social goods that are lost if genderless marriage were the rule. A man woman marriage affirms the same values in a genderless marriage in addition to “a child's right to know and be reared by his mother and father (with exceptions only when in the best interests of the child), of maximizing the private welfare provided to the children conceived by heterosexual intercourse, of sustaining the optimal child-rearing mode (married mother and father), of bridging the male-female divide, and of furnishing the status and identity of "husband" and "wife."” When the principle aim of marriage is purely creating a relationship for the adults involved, society loses out on an already efficient means of ameliorating the consequences of heterosexual coupling--children. Imagine a society where marriage is viewed fundamentally as an activity distinct from having children and you must come up with other ways to solve the problems of having children. While our society may be close to viewing marriage as an activity purely for the relationship of adults(as evidenced by the social acceptance of abortion, adoption, and contraception as well as procedures for gay couples to have children) most people probably still think that when a child is born, it will ideally be attached to the two people who are responsible for its birth.
    Why should a change in the definition of marriage cause such a change? Changing the definition of a thing as widespread and powerful as marriage changes how people view the activity as well as how people act. An example of how laws have changed the definition of marriage is the no-fault divorce. After the introduction of such divorces, our country realized a sharp incline in the rate of divorce. Traditionally, marriage connoted permanence, but this is slowly giving way to notions of personal need and fulfillment.
    But why should a definition of marriage change how an LDS person views marriage? Divorce rates even among temple marriages have increased after the introduction of no-fault divorce and closely follow the national trend. Such trends lend support to the notion that the church can't simply hope that changes in our society's definition of marriage will not affect how church membership view marriage.
    **for reference to quoted material see: Monte Stewart. "Marriage Facts." Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy Volume 31, Number 1.

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  10. Erik Gumbrecht10/17/2008 8:52 PM

    Not that I believe the resolution to this issue should be resolved via government law per say...but at least the motive of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints should be properly recognized.

    It is LDS doctrine that for eternal progression man must have woman. Without woman, man cannot progress. If this is true, then would God be considered hateful for not allowing someone to progress eternally because of this choice? Or is it one of those eternal principles at if God were to defy he would cease to be God?

    Is it far fetched to believe that God would inspire LDS leaders to do everything in their power to help save the eternal progression of these souls? Is it not then out of love?

    God sometimes has to be bold. "Reproving betimes with sharpness...then showing forth afterward an increase of love with whom thou has reproved." (paraphrased from memory in D & C 121...sorry if minor errors exist). Nephi said "the guilty taketh the truth to be hard."

    Not all of the gospel is delivered in a way that we view it should be delivered. "The Lord's ways are not our ways."

    I will also have you know that a close friend of mine had the opportunity to share the gospel with someone who has struggled with homosexuality for nearly 20 years. This man heard Monson's talk, and was inspired by the Spirit to talk to his bishop. He did so, and is now on a path that leads to eternal life...all because of the love of my friend, and Monson's inspired talk. How can one argue a spiritual confirmation?

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  11. Dewey,

    I have a difficult time believing that we should base laws on controversial sociological speculation.

    Erik,

    Those are theological views that should not be used to legislate laws. I'm pretty sure you agree with that.

    As far as your anecdotal story goes, that is by far the exception and not the rule. Read the church's latest official statement on homosexuality. The Church very clearly states that for many homosexual orientation will not change and that it is something are going to have all their life. The Church highly discourages anyone who has homosexual feelings from marrying someone of the opposite sex as it inevitably causes pain and heartache. It is for this reason that Elder Marlin K. Jensen said that to be gay and Mormon is hell.

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  12. Erik Gumbrecht10/18/2008 12:19 AM

    Loyd,

    I wasn't by any means saying that he is now not gay, or getting married. When I said he is now on the path of eternal life I meant that he is now coming back to church.

    I believe God loves us all deeper than we could ever imagine. I believe for those who are faced with the challenge that is being a "Gay Mormon" and overcome all odds will be heralded as some of the strongest spirits in the life to come. God will reward them accordingly...he does not forget to bless his children, and all will be made right.

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