Gays v. Mormons: The new Pirates v. Ninjas!

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My old friends Elder Jones and Elder Smith

Forgive the facetious title. I’m in a goofy mood despite the serious subject matter.

The First Presidency of the LDS church has released a statement in response to the hostile attacks on and protests being held at their properties by Proposition 8 opponents. I think it’s worth reading in full, but here’s the money part:

Attacks on churches and intimidation of people of faith have no place in civil discourse over controversial issues.  People of faith have a democratic right to express their views in the public square without fear of reprisal.  Efforts to force citizens out of public discussion should be deplored by people of goodwill everywhere.

I don’t find myself saying this in response to the Mormon presidency very often, but… amen.

Seth from Nine Moons has made another good point in the comments both here and there on why Mormons are bound to oppose gay marriage:

The LDS view of the cosmos is not genderless, and the LDS view of God is also male AND female UNITED. We may not talk about it much, but it’s always lurking there and just because the Mormons haven’t had to deal with it yet, doesn’t mean they won’t have to confront it eventually.

There is little place for homosexual union in that calculation of deification as a joint male-female endeavor.

I think that explains why the LDS church will never allow same-sex sealings in the temple. However, the question I do ask (and I’m sure a lot of Mormons would as well) is, even if gay marriage is wholly inconducive to a soul’s eternal progression, isn’t it one of the principles of our society that people have the right to do the wrong thing, so long as doing the wrong thing does not cause harm to others? There are exceptions to that rule (both smoking and abortion come to mind), but in general, that’s how we live and how we govern. A recent movie that made this point very well was Thank You For Smoking.

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Another Mormon missionary in action!

Ultimately, I think the reason the church is going to oppose gay marriage in spite of the virtues of that line of thinking is that the church is, among many other things, a very shrewd business. That is not an insult as I think the most successful churches out there run themselves like good businesses, and it’s a fact that national, widespread social and legal acceptance of gay marriage is going to hurt the LDS flow of converts on several fronts. People will begin pressuring the church to abandon their gender-specific marriage beliefs like they abandoned their ban on blacks and the priesthood, and any married gay converts who are interested in joining the church will be turned off by the prospect of having to divorce their spouse before being allowed entry. The LDS church is just looking out for its best interests with their support of Proposition 8, and they’re likely to do more of the same in the future.

Ed Morrissey has also weighed in with some good thoughts on the anti-Prop 8 attacks on Mormons.

Gays leaving the church over Proposition 8? I imagine a lot more people would leave the church if they supported gay marriage. Is it cynical for me to ask how many of the people allegedly leaving the church were active, devout members of the faith until Proposition 8 passed? Just seems likely to me that if you support gay marriage, you’re probably disgruntled with the church on plenty of other levels so that you’ve been questioning the church’s core values for some time and had one foot out the door already. I know that’s not a guarantee, but it does seem likely.


Comments

Gays v. Mormons: The new Pirates v. Ninjas! — 4 Comments

  1. I think the LDS doctrinal case for rejecting gay marriage as a Mormon ordinance is a lot more solid than our case for fighting secular laws on the topic.

    I think that the gay community tends to link Mormon treatment of blacks to how Mormons treat them simply because this is the narrative they have crafted for themselves. They see themselves as the next logical step in the inexorable march of civil liberties.

    But again, we’re having a doctrinal disconnect when it comes to Mormonism.

    Mormon doctrinal interpretations supporting the Priesthood ban on blacks were always extremely sketchy scriptural exegesis. I mean, the Book of Mormon may talk about a curse – but it never even hints at what to do with it. And what to make of the “people of Ammon” and “Samuel the Lamanite?” Even biblical passages on the Mark of Cain or Curse of Ham came from a rather obscure passage and flew in the face of an overwhelming amount of evidence that God is no respecter of persons. The LDS leadership held out for a long time. But really, their read on the scriptures was simply untenable and it was bound to collapse sooner or later.

    This is not so much the case on homosexuality. The evidence on this front really is stronger. Given that LDS naturally view our sexuality – from a theological standpoint – as having divine potential and implications, it’s just harder to “get there” doctrinally in the way that gays might hope we will.

    So I really don’t think the example of blacks in Mormon history is all that good either. Once again, theological concerns cause Mormons to part ways from the conventional secular civil rights narrative.

  2. Woohoo! Comment time!

    Okay, I’ll do a little back commenting: You totally forgot to say “and visiting my totally cool friend Laura who’s going to come up to Sioux City.” By then I should hopefully have some of my own money; I know what it’s like to be pressed for cash, and so does… Um, like, everyone I know. Given US CEOs make 475 times more than their average employees, I can’t help but wonder if that could be an issue; the next nearest country, Venezuela, was only a 50:1 ratio, and other countries tend to average out around 10-20:1 ( http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/executivepay06.html ). Given Venezuela is one of the most corrupt countries in the world accourding to Transparency International ( http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2008 ; higher score = less corrupt!), you have to stop and say what that says about corporate greed and the weak, inevitable defense of laissez-faire capitalism. We don’t leave it alone to do so they can stuff their pockets.

    Now, on a more important note, I’m very terribly angered and saddened at both the two-month anniversary of your mother’s death, and your brother’s attack. My mother’s sister only has one child, my cousin Shane, who is autistic. One time my neighbor in the old neighborhood called the police on him for making noise in the front yard. It’s amazing how cruel people can be.

    Okay, and now, the sticky wicket of a subject ahead: gay rights, gay marriage. When it comes to the term of marriage itself, sometimes “separate but equal” can have a nasty ring to it. I understand quite well though the case you make for using a different term like “civil union.” It seems reasonable (very reasonable), but then I wonder about the social and psychological ramifications of using a different term. In the United States, marriage has become a more idealized thing: a union of two people who love each other. In truth, marriage has most often throughout history been an economic and sexual union where love was not a real concern. This isn’t to say they never loved each other back in oldene dayse, but with the social context of the word, I wonder if it would or does make them feel different and less valid than people who are married. No, I don’t know the answer to this! If I did, I might not be so poor.

    This, of course, gives them absolutely no right to be such utter (swear word omitted) to Mormons, or to any other religious affiliations. They have a right to worship, an arguably EQUAL right in the United States for people to be gay. That is to say, if you want to be Mormon or gay, you shouldn’t be facing blank, biased, and hateful discrimination in any form. To carpet bomb a religion with protests, especially during their times of worship, is truly a disrespectful and downright uncivilized thing to do. It’s as tactless and vile to me as protesting at funerals.

    Being the left-leaner I am, I oppose discrimination in all forms. I believe, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, religion, or any other factor you can name, that everyone has an equal chance of being a complete and utter moron. So when you find discrimination on any of those fronts, the morons tend to congregate and begin fighting battles on grounds with no footing like braying asses or crap-flinging monkeys. I hope each and every one of those people out there who would harass people during their worship need to stop and take a good, hard look at themselves. Chances are good they will discover they were stupid all along. Even if their battle IS with Mormonism and perhaps Christianity on the whole, fighting it in such a manner will only hurt them and their cause.

  3. It seems that you and I are almost 100% on par with each other when it comes to reasoning for or against gay marriage. Almost everything you had said was how I have felt, though I don’t feel that I express myself as eloquently as you do, or that I am as well-read on most topics.
    I think that people who try to say that marriage isn’t a religious issue doesn’t know much about those religions that are fighting to uphold it. Regardless of the union of man and woman aspect and the comparison to polygamy, the idea of parents and children as a cohesive unit or “family” is essential to Mormon beliefs. The fact that same-gender couples cannot procreate by their own means puts an end to their progression physical progression as a family unit. This is contrary to one of the first commandments given to multiply and replenish the earth, which Mormons believe is still in effect.

    There’s a lot to be said on the topic. I have been very personally affected by my circle of friends and family who are homosexual. I love them and want to support them how I can. I would hope that a marriage certificate is not the be-all, end-all for happiness, love, and commitment within a relationship. I think that all of those things should exist before two people decide to be married, but I also think that a technical marriage is not the precursor to those feelings. A union can bind two people, but the feeling of commitment and love should be what binds them most. Marriage has several more implications than a union, and semantics play a very important role in this case.

    I admire you very much for your strength of character and for the self-examined life that you live. There are few people who take time to decide where they really want to stand and what they want to believe. You’re great. I miss you lots. Love you. – Jenny

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