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Guest Post: On Christianity and Proposition 8

Robert John Williams is finishing up his Ph.D in comparitive literature in So Cal. His band, Faded Paper Figures, has just released its first CD.

I wasn’t going to write anything publicly on this issue. The question of gay marriage comes up every few years (usually as a way of mobilizing politically people who are otherwise relatively non-political), and will probably come up again. I figured it would become an issue for more conservative Mormons, much like gun-ownership, flag-burning, etc. etc., but that the church would exercise its political muscles in its more typically subtle, cultural way—not explicitly demanding officially that church members get involved on one side of the issue. But it appears that the frenetic piousness of American evangelism has recruited the Mormon leadership to join the cause in a more overt and intrusive way. The First Presidency letter read over the pulpit a few weeks ago admits as much (i.e. that Mormon leaders were asked to join in a “coalition” with more conservative, openly homophobic churches). I suppose I understand that the First Presidency felt obligated to join the cause; having campaigned aggressively for a similar cause in 2000, they would have looked like traitors to pass on the issue this time around. But what is really surprising to me is that the California branches of the church would have forgotten how extremely alienating their activism on this issue was for certain members of the church, and for certain segments of the larger California population.

Nonetheless, with the First Presidency on board, and an official injunction to give of our “time and means” to Proposition 8, the Mormons in my ward have become politically active in a way that is truly breathtaking. One prominent, wealthy member of the ward who serves in the capacity of Public Relations for the church, and whose email listserve regularly bombards its recipients with editorials expounding the cultural evils of gayness, has become something of a leader in the cause. But he’s hardly alone in my ward. The bishop has testified several times on the issue, and his secretary recently sent out an email (signed by the bishopric) to the entire ward asking that members of the ward volunteer in the “substantial effort to mobilize support for passage of Proposition 8.” The ward has distributed envelopes, asking us to donate money to the cause. Sign-up sheets have been passed around Elder’s Quorum asking us to volunteer to make phone calls, go door-to-door, and distribute anti-gay-marriage propaganda.

For a number of reasons I’ll describe below, I find myself on the opposite side of this political issue. So far, though, I haven’t done much in the way of protest. I’ve been wearing a rainbow ribbon to church, along with my rainbow sandals, and if someone asks me, I’m happy to discuss, very civilly, my political views. But I haven’t born any testimony about it in sacrament meeting. I haven’t started a conversation about it on my own with anyone in church. And I didn’t mention homosexuality in any of my Sunday school lessons (a calling from which I was recently released—though ostensibly not for political reasons….ahem…even though the person they replaced me with is undoubtedly the most conservative, scripturally literalist member of the ward). So when I recently visited Utah and my mother asked me to take off my rainbow ribbon before attending the baby blessing of my niece, I felt a bit uncomfortable. The truth is, I was already uncomfortable wearing the ribbon to church. I don’t particularly want to talk about gay marriage with my mostly-conservative fellow church members. But I wasn’t the one who decided to turn the chapel into an arena for political discussion. This was imposed upon us by a “coalition” of other, less-true churches, and our leaders have decided to go along. So be it. Let’s talk about it. Why would a good Mormon possibly oppose the grand political machinations currently at work in church to pass Proposition 8? Why would I feel compelled to wear a rainbow ribbon to church, even though it makes me and my family feel uncomfortable?

In C.S. Lewis’s classic Screwtape Letters, the senior devil Screwtape comments to his young nephew, Wormwood: “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” The idea Screwtape goes on to expound is that if the devil can distract you from some greater good by convincing you to put all of your energies into some other, entirely inconsequential activity, you’ll be so worried about that other thing, you’ll completely ignore the larger good. In church we are told that Proposition 8 is not motivated by disdain for homosexuals, but by a sacred responsibility to protect heterosexual marriage. And it is true, undoubtedly, that marriage in the U.S. is in serious trouble. Divorce has become endemic, and its causes are numerous. However, even the most cursory glance at the statistical information on divorce shows that the legal status of homosexual unions is not a cause of heterosexual divorce (in fact, it’s not on any of the lists of reasons for divorce, anywhere!).

More to the point, financial problems, infidelity, major life trauma, and sexual dysfunction are all major causes of divorce. Consider, for example, how many marriages have been torn apart by the war in Iraq. According to this report, just last year there were more than 10,000 divorces in the U.S. Army. Two years after the war started (and it has gotten worse since), the divorce rate for enlisted personnel was up 28 percent—and for officers it was up 78 percent. And that is not counting the more than 100,000 Iraqi civilian families that have been torn apart by the death of a spouse (death being, of course, an even more devastating way to end a marriage here in mortality). What this means–in the most basic, empirical, totally provable sense–is that if Mormons were to become active in ending the war in Iraq, they would be instrumental in saving tens of thousands of marriages. But instead, they are campaigning for Proposition 8, which does nothing to save any marriages, at all. 100,000+ marriages or 0. You decide which the devil would have you campaign for most aggressively (I’ll be fighting for the 100,000+).

However, in fighting for that symbolic (yet completely inconsequential, for them) gesture, some Mormons have begun spreading deliberate and paranoid lies about what gay marriage would mean for the church and the country. I have heard, for example, that if Prop 8 does not pass, Mormons will be forced to allow gay people to get married in the temple. I’ve heard that teachers at school will be forced to read homosexually-charged literature with their children—and that our young Mormon kids will be consequently confused and drawn into to a gay lifestyle. I’ve heard that orphanages will be forced to hand over their children to sexually abusive gay couples (even though, obviously, a single responsible gay person can already adopt a child and live with that child with their gay partner). All of these are lies, of course. But the larger issue here is that whereas the government has a responsibility not to discriminate among its people, a church is entirely free to go on discriminating however it wants. My own feeling is that the church has every right to decide what counts as a “marriage” in church, but that the government has no right to decide whether a union between two consenting adults is or isn’t a “marriage.” It’s a position Brigham Young would have been very comfortable with.

But of course the use of scare quotes on “marriage” already gives away what it is we’re really arguing about: semantics, definitions, symbolic status. Marriage has been defined as “between a man and a woman” for a long time, right? The majority of the population defines it that way, right? Why should a small minority of people who feel like what they have is “marriage” actually be allowed to call it “marriage” if it actually offends the larger majority? These are certainly interesting questions for Mormons. “We’re Christians!” we like to tell our neighbors. “Just because the larger population of Christians don’t consider us Christians, so what? We’re still Christians!” And of course we’re just arguing semantics, right? Definitions, and symbolic status, right? It’s interesting that we don’t like it when it goes the other way.

I’ve really had to ask myself recently, are we Christians? If Christ were alive today, what would he be campaigning for politically? Would it be Prop 8, that merely symbolic, word-based initiative with no real impact on the marriages of the U.S. (except to grant that status to a group of people born slightly different from the majority)? Or would he be wearing a rainbow ribbon to church, loving even people who are different from the majority? Or would he actually have moved beyond such silly political games, and be actively campaigning to end genocide in Darfur? Maybe he would be campaigning to end the war in Iraq. Or to fight the massive starvation that currently faces the 1 billion people on the planet who live on less than a dollar a day. My dear Mormon friends, if we want to be considered Christians, perhaps it’s time we started acting like Christians—real Christians. If we could channel these political energies into something truly Christian, just think of what we could do!

Signed,

Robert John Williams

P.S. to anyone who would like to respond to this post, have the courage to do so with your own name. Anonymous (read: cowardly) responses will not get you points in heaven.

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women's Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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  1. SilverRain says:

    There is a small difference you failed to note in your comparison of semantics. No one is trying to pass a law forcing others to acknowledge our Christian status.

    You have the ability to form an opinion on what the Church should be doing, and so does President Monson. Unfortunately for you, he is in a better position to act on his opinion.

  2. Jensie says:

    Ah and amen. I’m so glad to read this. Thank you for the insight; I have been curious to hear from California church members.

  3. Justin says:

    Your column is what everyone member of the Church should read before choosing sides on Proposition 8. I think you for your candor and courage. To me, the whole Prop 8 debate is just letting people justify there own conservative political stances in lieu of seeking after righteousness. Instead of wasting all these resources on Prop 8, why don’t we put that toward education or healthcare or anti-hate campaigns? It seems that in banding together with hatemongering Christian sects, we certainly become a little less Christian ourselves.

  4. Robert John Williams says:

    SilverRain writes,
    “There is a small difference you failed to note in your comparison of semantics. No one is trying to pass a law forcing others to acknowledge our Christian status.”

    RJW:
    Ah, see SilverRain, now you understand exactly the predicament. It would be entirely inappropriate for the government to grant one particular group legal status as “Christians” while not allowing another group that same legal status, right? So what does the government do? It merely says, If you want to call yourself a “Christian,” then fine. That’s your prerogative. But let’s imagine otherwise for a moment. What if, for some traditional entirely arbitrary reason, the government *had* been granting legal status to Christians as “Christians”? You’d be the first to argue that Mormons should be allowed that same legal status, even if the majority of Christians find that distasteful and offensive. Why, you might argue, should one group of consenting adults have a monopoly on that particular word?

    I know it’s difficult to see the ironic trail we’re blazing here, but if you can’t put yourself in another’s shoes and see it from their perspective, your Christianity will always be somewhat limited.

    SilverRain also writes,
    “You have the ability to form an opinion on what the Church should be doing, and so does President Monson. Unfortunately for you, he is in a better position to act on his opinion.”

    RJW:
    Yes, perhaps this is unfortunate, but I don’t want President Monson’s job. I don’t want to speak for anyone else (whether that’s god, the church, or even my family). I speak for myself, and myself only. I ask only that my views be respected in the same way I respect others. Oh, and world peace. I ask for world peace too.

  5. CA Momonthego says:

    I am a “California Mormon” who will be voting NO on Prop. 8 and respectfully declined my Bishop’s request to participate in the “campaign” for this reason: Whatever the Church does will give the appearance of hate and I can’t think of anything that would make us less than Christ-like in the eyes of many.

  6. Nicole says:

    Amen.
    My husband and I have been very upset by the whole Prop 8 issue, and we live clear out in Georgia! You are able to articulate my feelings on the issue much better than I have been able to so far.
    I, for one, have WAY too many other things to deal with to focus loads of time and money on spreading hate. The whole thing makes me sick…

  7. Zenaida says:

    I was talking with my roommate tonight about owning my political decisions, even if they are the wrong ones. I have not seen the kind of activism you speak of in the singles ward I attend. I suspect that is because we have more time than means at this point in our lives, but political fervor and willful misunderstanding of the opposite view appear in meetings, where I did not see it before. My response thus far has been to stay out of it. I find political agendas being propagated in worship services to be distasteful, but perhaps, there is always agenda, and it is only being highlighted at the moment…

  8. Jana says:

    Amen, Brother John. 🙂

  9. Franz says:

    I appreciate your thoughtful post and I could not agree more. I find it so fascinating and so disturbing that we are encouraged in church to fight against gay marriage and accept an unjustified war as necessary. Like you I wish we would start behaving like the true Christians we profess to be. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this matter…it is nice to know we are not alone on this issue…even in Southern California.

  10. Rachel says:

    thanks for your post!

    today was another sacrament meeting where the entire service was dedicated to prop 8. in my tiny branch we have a different high councilman speak twice a month. so looks like i’m in for another 4-6 talks about this. arrghh! just seems so inappropriate for sacrament meeting. i remember feeling this way 8 years ago as a newly returned missionary. every time we had a sacrament meeting devoted to this, i would think….i’m so glad i didn’t invite anyone to church today. i agree with you, this makes us look like anything but Christian.

  11. LRC says:

    You’re not alone in your opposition to Prop. 8. Come and join us at http://www.mormonsformarriage.com

  12. Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill says:

    YASHER KOAKH!!! (In Hebrew this means GREAT ARTICLE!)

  13. Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill says:

    Oh yes, as a Jew, I do not believe that anything you do for “making points in heaven,” actually makes the desired points. As Pirke Abot states; “Do not do good for reward nor refrain from evil in fear of punishment, for you are created in the Image of God and are not a dog which fears the stick and seeks the bone.”

  14. Chino Blanco says:

    Well said, Mr. Williams. You deftly make some great points.

  15. Zenaida says:

    I spoke to soon. The troops were mobilized today during Priesthood/Relief Society for giving of our time. However, to my bishop’s credit, I really think he handled in the best way he could. It was not read over the pulpit, and pitched as highly desirable, but not required for exaltation.

  16. Aaron Brown says:

    “If Christ were alive today, what would he be campaigning for politically? … If we could channel these political energies into something truly Christian, just think of what we could do!”

    Your last paragraph gets to the heart of my uncomfortableness with the Church’s involvement on this issue. I actually have mixed feelings about gay marriage as a public policy issue. But anytime the Church becomes overtly involved in a political cause, I always ask myself, “Why here? Why now? Why not then?” Until the LDS church leadership discusses these sorts of questions frankly, rather than issuing vague assertions about “moral” issues that pretend to explain its stand, but that don’t really explain anything, church members like me will be uncomfortable and less-than-motivated to jump on board the latest political cause.

    Aaron B

  17. Geoff B says:

    Robert John Williams, I definitely would protect your right to make your own decisions regarding Prop. 8. As a supporter of the amendment, I do understand fully why some members are made uncomfortable by this issue. I guess I would ask you to consider Church history and look at the many, many times Church members have been asked to get out of their comfort zone to perform tasks that don’t seem to make sense to them at the time but do make sense to them over the course of history (and presumably through the eternities). The scriptures and the talks of the prophets makes it clear that obedience is extremely important when we are given clear guidance — and very often we don’t know the reason for being obedient. Again, more power to you for making your own decisions — I hope you do not think all of those who support Prop. 8 are mindless drones who have not done just as much thinking as you but have come to a different conclusion.

  18. Bethany says:

    “If Christ were alive today, what would he be campaigning for politically? ”

    If? He does live, and He guides this Church. D&C 1:37-38.

    This issue is moral. It was politicized by the gay rights movement, not the Church.

  19. Robert John Williams says:

    Dear Geoff B,

    I guess it depends on which church history you want to read. There have been hundreds of times when church members and leaders have been caught up in local cultural politics, losing sight of the larger issues. To point to just one example among many: Ezra Taft Benson’s aggressive interweaving of anti-communism and anti-civil-rights legislation—remember, he spoke out on these things, as an apostle, from the pulpit at general conference, just prior to his campaigning with Strom Thurmond for the presidency. Here’s a nice link to help get you in the mood: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgH7WgtIU2k

    But your implicit argument that those going along with Prop 8 are somehow more “obedient” than those who are not is really the biggest problem with this entire discussion today. Prop 8 is not a commandment, and I see no reason to think that it is. At most, Prop 8 has been passed along as a *suggestion* for California church members—not as a revelation from God, but as a vaguely implied sense that Prop 8 somehow jives with the Proclamation on the Family. So in what possible sense are supporters of gay marriage “disobedient”? I see no disobedience anywhere in my opposition to Prop 8. Those who support Prop 8 are not being “obedient” in any sense; they are being *eager*. Eager to go along with a political provincialism that denies a vital separation between church and state–a politics that did not originate with Mormon revelation, but with a broad coalition of Falwell-inspired, fear-mongering Republicans.

    I do think some Mormon supporters of Prop 8 have not thought the issue through very carefully (which is not to say they are “mindless drones”). Other supporters of it have clearly thought about it, and these latter Mormons are, in my mind, *opportunists* who sense not a commandment from god, but a delicious opportunity to pursue their own political agendas in a church building (the same way I would be excited if the First Presidency issued a letter asking us to give of our “time and means” to something like Iraq Veterans Against the War, see link below). Indeed, there is nothing about the suggestion to support Prop 8 that does *anything* to push the majority of Mormons outside their (as you say) “comfort zone.” Anti-gay marriage is as consistent with a white American Mormon’s comfort zone as anything could be. Now, promoting any of the issues I list in the last paragraph of my post, *that* would get the majority of Mormons outside their comfort zone.

    In the end, I of course realize that the majority of Mormons will go on in their comfort zone, and that my opposition to Prop 8 places me somewhat on the fringe for now. I don’t really expect any Mormons to change their political views because of me. I’m only arguing that if we are going to make the church a place where political agendas are openly discussed and campaigned for, then you’ll have to make room for voices like mine. Or, I guess, ask me to leave. But I have no desire to leave, and even feel that the church might benefit from a diversity of opinions on these issues coming at us from the more conservative factions of American culture. Celebrate my opposition. Don’t brand me with disobedience.

    All best,
    RJW

    http://ivaw.org/

  20. Aaron Brown says:

    Note also that all public policy issues can be framed as “moral.” Environmental regulation, tax policy, securities regulation … you name it, and the issue can be framed as a “moral” issue. So it would be really nice if someone could explain to me what “moral” means in the context of the Church saying it only involves itself in political issues that are also “moral” issues. I’m not saying that no good answer can be given; maybe one can. But if the Church is going to involve itself in certain political issues and not others, let’s have an open, honest conversation about which issues merit the Church’s (or God’s, if you will) involvement, and which don’t. As things currently stand, the word “moral” gets thrown around a lot, but nobody clarifies the parameters of the category they’re supposedly talking about.

    AB

  21. Robert John Williams says:

    My dear Bethany,

    I take it that your response to my post does two things 1) not-so-subtly questions my faith that Christ is alive and inspiring church leaders and 2) completely ignores the question of whether or not something can be considered “immoral” by church standards, and yet still legal in the political arena.

    I’ll just briefly answer these questions. First, whether I believe in the D&C is hardly the issue (but thanks for kindly insinuating my heathen mindset with your “If?”). Rather, my point is there is no reason for any Mormon to feel that god is the author of Prop 8. The First Presidency letter is very clear on this. It was written by a group of other churches, which then persuaded our church to come on board. The Proposition was not written by the apostles. It was not written in the temple. It is not scripture.

    Second, clearly you don’t feel that everything Mormons consider “immoral” should be legislated against, do you? Should we go back to the days of prohibition? Should all stores be forced to close their doors on Sunday? Should everyone in the country be forced to sustain President Monson as a prophet, seer, and revelator? Ah, what a wonderful world that would be, where no one really had a choice, and everyone was legally *forced* to do what was moral. Wait….whose plan is this anyway?

    Illegally yours,
    RJW.

  22. Dan Wilson says:

    Support of proposition 8 in California is in
    no way an attack on those with homosexual tendencies.
    It is only an opportunity to define marriage as the
    Lord has defined it. The Lord can also through
    His infinite Atonement remove these tendencies
    in any of His dearly loved brothers and sisters.
    So to answer your question about what the Savior
    would do if were here on earth right now, He will
    support His Prophet and 1st presidency of the
    Church whom He has already instructed as outlined
    in the letter sent to the Church. Following
    the Prophet will lead to safety and peace, I
    would ask you to please seek confirmation of
    the First Presidencies letter and support the
    effort to pass this proposition. Your friend
    in the Gospel

  23. Robert John Williams says:

    Dan writes:
    “It is only an opportunity to define marriage as the Lord has defined it.”

    RJW:
    Dear Dan,
    What your sentence literally means (and it’s important to tease this out because so much is packed into what you mean by “define”) is that this is an opportunity to make our *civil* laws coincide with what we understand to be *heavenly* laws. Right? This is exactly the “opportunity” you are referring to. But of course, you know as well as I do that our constitution was created to allow for freedom of religion. No one is asking the church to sanction homosexual marriage. In fact, the “opportunity” you are referring to is laced with theocratic impulse–which is fine, I suppose, if you think there should be no separation between government and religion, but Mormons beware! We’ve run into trouble with religious freedom before.

    Dan also writes:
    “The Lord can also through His infinite Atonement remove these tendencies in any of His dearly loved brothers and sisters.”

    RJW:
    The Lord could also end hunger, stop all wars, and make everyone’s skin color exactly the same. For some reason, though, he doesn’t. You seem to be implying that if a homosexual were to come before the lord, in true fear-and-trembling repentance, he or she would experience a miraculous change of sexual preference. Perhaps you know someone this has happened to? Maybe, but I doubt it. If you have read the statistics on how miserably programs to change sexual preference fail, you obviously know that such assumptions are close-minded, not based on reality, hurtful, and truly dangerous.

    Dan again:
    “So to answer your question about what the Savior would do if were here on earth right now, He will support His Prophet and 1st presidency of the Church whom He has already instructed as outlined in the letter sent to the Church. Following the Prophet will lead to safety and peace, I would ask you to please seek confirmation of the First Presidencies letter and support the effort to pass this proposition.”

    RJW:
    Perhaps you’re right, Dan. Maybe if Jesus were actually here on this earth he would wait around for another coalition of churches to organize a political campaign to support a Proposition that legally eliminated the right of gay people to marry . . . in California. Then, after those other churches got together their political campaign, they would come to Jesus (head of *our* church), and ask him to ask us to get involved politically. Jesus naturally lives in Utah, so they’d have to get a hold of him there. Also naturally, he’s not really busy with anything else, so he’s really concerned about the laws in California, and how they are so liberal in allowing gay people to have legal status as married couples. He also is fairly wealthy, white, and American, and really upset about all of these illegal immigrants coming across the border. He owns a few guns, a two-car garage, and has naturally shaved all of his facial hair. By golly, why do we even need him here? He’s just like us!

    I’m jesting of course, Dan. But my point is that these assumptions that Jesus naturally supports the *political* views of our white, American, male leaders is beyond presumptuous. It’s downright hallucinogenic. Is it heretical to believe that I know as much about politics as the First Presidency? Perhaps. But it didn’t used to be. Keep in mind that prior to the 1970’s organized correlation movement in the church, if you had said, “What does the prophet say about the issue of ___”, the assumption would have been, invariably, that by “prophet” you meant Joseph Smith. Ask your parents or grandparents; they’ll know what I’m talking about. You could disagree politically with other people at church, and that was okay. Nowadays, politics has taken on the malodorous scent of “morality”–so that the way you vote supposedly says something about your standing with god. Hence, all good Mormons are republicans. Like I said, if that’s the way it’s going to be, then fine. But just remember, I wasn’t the one who put the “Vote for Prop 8” sign up on Moroni’s horn.

    Dan, my good brother in the Lord (but not in politics), I would ask you to please seek confirmation for your own *political* views, and then leave them at home. Let’s get back to the gospel at church.

    Thanks,
    RJW.

  24. Robert John Williams says:

    Just in case anyone thinks I’m exaggerating the kind of political energy going into the campaign in my ward, I just got the following letter in the mail from another couple that lives here in Irvine. It’s a full page, so I’ll just quote the highlights:

    “With the bishopric’s support, [name] and I have volunteered to coordinate grassroots efforts in favor of the proposition’s passage on behalf of the PROTECT MARRIAGE campaign [all-caps are theirs] within Verano Place, Palo Verde, University Hills and the remaining dormitories at UCI. We’re hoping to have your help in this effort.”

    “Campaign organizers have asked that we contact every registered voter in this area and actively educate households about this matter. To do so, we’ll be going door-to-door, phoning residents, placing yard signs, monitoring media coverage, databasing feedback and enlisting friends, colleagues and neighbors in the cause. You can be an integral part of this operation.”

    “To make this possible, we need dozens of individuals and families to volunteer of their time and talents [and everything with which the Lord has blessed us, I presume, wink wink] on one or more Saturdays to spread the word. We’re currently in the process of reaching out to other churches, campus political and religious groups and various community organizations for their assistance as well, but we’re hopeful that you’ll be among the first to jump on board.”

    “Please take a moment to email us at [email address] and let us know if your family would like to join this campaign. We’ll then get in touch with you to determine how involved you’d like to be and how we can best utilize your time. If we don’t hear from you, we’ll try giving you a call.”

    That last part is my favorite. Not only has the chapel become an arena for political campaigning; they’re also going to call us each individually to make sure we have a chance to join them in the cause. Door-to-door work, phoning residents, yard signs, monitoring media coverage—like I said, just think what this ward could do if we were actually campaigning for something Christian. But not to worry, I’m sure tomorrow I’ll get a letter asking me to join the World Food Program, or Democracy Now, or Peacedirect.org, or the International Rescue Committee.

    All best,
    RJW

  25. Chino Blanco says:

    Considering that ProtectMarriage.com has decided NOT to appeal the ballot language, what chance do you really see for Prop 8 to pass? I just don’t see a majority of Californians voting YES on a proposition titled ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY.

    Once the churches realize that Prop 8 is an almost guaranteed loser, are they going to do the right thing and let their members know?

    If not, what happens after Prop 8 loses 40-60 (or worse), and then the members find out that the churches were privy all along to internal polling that predicted a crushing defeat? Do the members get their money back?

    Or do they get stuck paying for ads that were run by a campaign that knew it was going to lose but ran them anyway!

  26. Ken Taylor says:

    I sometimes wonder how I would vote on Proposition 8 this November, had I not been born gay, into an LDS family. I also wonder that same thing, if no one else in my family had been born gay, into an LDS family. But that’s just wondering. The reality is that some of us in our family WERE born gay, into LDS families.

    Here’s a good illustration of how I’m thinking right now:

    EDITH BUNKER TO ARCHIE BUNKER: “And another thing, Archie, I don’t like it when you tell me who to vote for!”

    ARCHIE: “Edith, I only tell you who to vote for, when you’re going to vote for the wrong person.”

    I think that many LDS voters in California (as well as those in other States) need to wake up and think for themselves on marriage equality. To take direction from a religious leader on a civil issue is just plain wrong.

  27. JohnR says:

    Apologies for the spam, but I’m trying to figure out ways to campaign against Prop 8–especially by reaching out to members who are struggling in the current political climate at church.

  28. Alan says:

    All my life I have been told that the Constitution of the United States was divinely inspired. That we should support it and live by it. Now the church is asking me to ignore one of the most important parts of that Constitution that is reaffirmed in the Constitution of California: We are all equal under the law of the land. How can I possible vote for something that takes away a fundamental right of one group of citizens of this country. It is just wrong. Are we willing to sacrifice one of our most important fundamental rights of this country because of unfounded fear. This isn’t about gay rights, this is about Americans rights. It is hard to read the decision of the California Supreme Court which by the way was all Republican except one Democrat, not exactly flaming liberals, who could not bring themselves to vote against such a basic right for this group of Americans. This Church once fought in the Congress of this country for those same basic rights and lost. Are we now willing to cast those rights away for another group of citizens just because we do not agree with who they are?

  29. Mark Wilkinson says:

    Alan raises a great point. I wonder how many of the California LDS folks have actually read the CA Supreme Court decision. That decision, written by a cadre of Republican judges, makes the case for why marriage equality is necessary better than I ever could.

    It’s so rational, clear, and fair, I have a hard time believing peoplw would be so up in arms over it if they had actually read it.

  30. Eric Kurla says:

    I believe gay marriage is morally wrong. Do you agree or disagree? In accordance with me belief, I support proposition 8 because it aligns with my belief that marriage is between a man and a woman and it reinstates the definition of marriage as explicitly defined in California statute since 1977 and implicitly defined since the inception of the California constitution. Will the passage of Prop 8 encourage or discourage gay marriage? If you think it will discourage gay marriage and you believe gay marriage is wrong then that should help you make your decision.

    Also, the Church is not “demanding” our support nor do we know all the reasons why the First Presidency feels compelled to involve the church in this political matter. I think that some members, as soon as they think they have received the “green light” from the Church to bring up politics, can go to extremes in their enthusiasm that can do things that are inappropriate. There needs to be constant vigilance in maintaining a proper balance and assuring that everything is done in accordance with the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, but we as members of the church make mistakes and I am sure there will be lots of issues.

    Finally, your assertion that as Christians we could be doing something more worthwhile than dealing with Prop 8 is short-sighted. Do you have any idea of the repercussions on the family that Prop 8 could have now and for the future? Also, isn’t the Church actively involved in a multitude of campaigns to fight hunger, help the poor and afflicted whether effected by natural disasters, war or other events. If we believe that Prophets are called of God and lead the Church as Christ would lead it shouldn’t we value a letter from the First Presidency. Are they inspired leaders or are they not? Shouldn’t we be humble enough to ask God what He wants us to do instead of following our own intellectual, political, familiar biases?

    Here is the First Presidency invitation “We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.”

    What will you do with this invitation? Have you prayed about it? It’s your choice.

  31. Robert John Williams says:

    Eric writes:
    “I believe gay marriage is morally wrong. Do you agree or disagree? In accordance with me belief, I support proposition 8 because it aligns with my belief that marriage is between a man and a woman”
    RJW:
    Again, Eric, whether or not you or I believe gay marriage is morally correct is completely beside the point. Your desire to make civil law so that it “aligns” with your belief is inherently theocratic. Is it immoral for someone to deny that President Monson is a prophet? Do you agree or disagree? Of course, you agree. So, would you vote for a law that in order for a religion to have legal status in the U.S. it must therefore acknowledge that President Monson is god’s only spokesperson on the earth? If you would vote for such a law, I see no point in continuing this discussion (simply because there is nothing, conceptually speaking, separating you from radical Islam). If, however, you *would* feel uncomfortable passing such a law in the U.S., why? How are you comfortable with the one, but not the other? The fact that marriage was previously defined a certain way is completely irrelevant. Miscegenation was similarly against the law in most states until the 1960s. Laws have to change to respect the rights of consenting adults.

    Eric writes: “Also, the Church is not “demanding” our support nor do we know all the reasons why the First Presidency feels compelled to involve the church in this political matter.”

    RJW: My point exactly. So my opposition to Prop 8 can hardly be considered immoral or disobedient–even though if I speak out politically in church, I’m branded an apostate, whereas if you speak out politically in church, you get a round of hand-shakes and an ‘atta-boy’.

    Eric writes: “There needs to be constant vigilance in maintaining a proper balance and assuring that everything is done in accordance with the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, but we as members of the church make mistakes and I am sure there will be lots of issues.”

    RJW: This would not be an issue if the church had said, as they do on any number of issues, vote your conscience, and left it at that.

    Eric: writes: “Finally, your assertion that as Christians we could be doing something more worthwhile than dealing with Prop 8 is short-sighted. Do you have any idea of the repercussions on the family that Prop 8 could have now and for the future?”

    RJW: Your failure to answer your own question has been precisely my point all along. What “repercussions” will gay marriage have on heterosexual marriage? Could you name one? Please. I am quickly growing tired of abstract arguments that it will somehow “protect” heterosexual marriage, or that gay marriage “violates” my own heterosexual marriage . . . somehow. In the face of so many *actual* threats to marriage in this country, I would like to at least see *one* instance where the legal status of a homosexual union caused another heterosexual couple to get divorced. Don’t plaster us with platitudes about the sacredness of marriage if the campaign you have undertaken does nothing to actually protect it.

    Eric: “Are they inspired leaders or are they not? Shouldn’t we be humble enough to ask God what He wants us to do instead of following our own intellectual, political, familiar biases? . . . What will you do with this invitation? Have you prayed about it? It’s your choice.”

    RJW: As I said before, and as the First Pres. letter clearly indicates, their “inspiration” on this matter came from a group of other (quite often Mormon-bashing) churches. Joining them in a coalition of homophobic, theocratic anti-democracy is no guarantee that they’ll turn around and respect us as “Christians” (but we’ll do almost anything, I guess, to get Mitt elected). And we’re certainly not winning points from the larger population for these aggressively non-Christian moves. The First Presidency letter was a *mistake*. They are men, and they make mistakes. I know, I know, that sounds dangerous and heretical to you. But it’s the reality of the situation. I wish I didn’t have to say it.

  32. Eric Kurla says:

    Something to think about. The supreme court used the “Strict Scrutiny Standard” and as opposed to the “Reasonable Basis Standard” in determining the constituionality of same-sex marriage. Strict scrutiny opens a legal flood gate. Under strict scrutiny to demonstrate that a particular law is valid it must be shown to be necessary or crucial rather than just preferred (ie national security, preserving lives, etc.). Under the strict scrutiny standard the court would be hard-pressed to negate marriages between brother and sister, brother and brother, father and son, polygamy, etc.

  33. Eric Kurla says:

    Sounds like you didn’t pray about. I am sad to hear your counter arguments and explanation, especially calling the First Presideny letter a “mistake” (not to mention the tone). If you think they are wrong, you are really saying that you do not sustain them as Prophets. Are they are only Prophets when their teachings fit within your own views and beliefs? I don’t want this next question to come off poorly but I am curious why you belong to the church. Do you believe the church is true (as in its the true and livng church of Christ on the Earth), do you believe in the scriptures, do you believe in Jesus Chrst, do you believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet? I am curious to know what things you do believe and what things you don’t.

  34. Robert John Williams says:

    Eric writes:
    “Under the strict scrutiny standard the court would be hard-pressed to negate marriages between brother and sister, brother and brother, father and son, polygamy, etc.”

    RJW:
    From a strictly legal perspective, I am okay with that. If they are consenting adults. Granted, I think it’s sick and immoral. But if they are consenting adults, I see no *legal* problem with siblings getting married, or with polygamy (although I would be willing to restrict legal status to exclusive one-on-one relationships—simply because there are a host of legal privileges that accompany marriage, citizenship, for example, if you’re spouse is not a citizen already, and I could see legitimate, legal, bureaucratic problems with allowing one person to marry several others. But in that case, you could easily provide a one-on-one provision in the law for those legal privileges, while still allowing the name to apply to polygamous couples).

    Eric also writes:
    “Sounds like you didn’t pray about. I am sad to hear your counter arguments and explanation, especially calling the First Presideny letter a “mistake” (not to mention the tone). If you think they are wrong, you are really saying that you do not sustain them as Prophets. Are they are only Prophets when their teachings fit within your own views and beliefs? I don’t want this next question to come off poorly but I am curious why you belong to the church. Do you believe the church is true (as in its the true and livng church of Christ on the Earth), do you believe in the scriptures, do you believe in Jesus Chrst, do you believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet? I am curious to know what things you do believe and what things you don’t.”

    Every sentence in that paragraph implies, to the utmost, that if I were to pray about this situation (and of course, you are assuming I haven’t), I would inevitably agree with you politically. And that if I believe in Christ and Joseph Smith, I must therefore have the same *political* philosophy as you. I am curious Eric, have you actually studied Joseph Smith’s political philosophy? Is it entirely impossible for you to see that someone would believe in the church and yet disagree with you politically?

  35. Eric Kurla says:

    You didn’t answer the question. For me, my personal political viewpoint before the First Presidency letter is that I could have gone either way. It seems eventually same-sex marriage will be a reality if not now then at some point in the future as tolerance and acceptance for different lifestyles is embraced by the majority. I understand most of the arguments for and against and I resonate to both. I prayed about what I should do in reaction to the First Presidency’s letter and I feel I received a response to support their letter. I don’t know all the reasons why but I don’t need too, all I know is that there is a reason seen or unseen. Why would I receive a positive response and somebody else would receive a negative response about the same thing.
    I think it’s great to have diverse political views, my wife and I have different views about many political topics and we often vote for opposing candidates, but when specific counsel is given from the First Presidency (which hardly ever happens) then it’s different for me. If the Lord told you to support Prop 8 would you do it even though it may not make sense to you or agree with your views? To me it’s kind of like the word of wisdom there are things that make sense about it, but that’s not why I follow the word of wisdom. I follow it because I know Joseph Smith is a Prophet. Prop 8 may or may not make sense, but once you receive a confirmation to support the First Presidency then it doesn’t really matter -you have your answer. Now, if you choose not to support Prop 8 it doesn’t make you a bad person, or unworthy, or a heretic…the First Presidency is asking you to support. But, it would seem that if you sincerely wanted to know what course of action to take in response to the letter and you sincerely prayed about it then you would get the same confirmation I received. I would have a hard time understanding that one person could receive one answer and another a different answer (it’s possible, but it would be difficult to understand).

  36. Rebecca says:

    While you make numerous good points, I was bothered by the comment about “less true churches”, as it felt hypocritical in that you stated, people should not discriminate against others.
    Are you not doing just that by thinking that other churches are less true then your own?

  37. Robert John Williams says:

    Eric writes:
    “But, it would seem that if you sincerely wanted to know what course of action to take in response to the letter and you sincerely prayed about it then you would get the same confirmation I received. I would have a hard time understanding that one person could receive one answer and another a different answer.”

    RJW:
    The peculiar structure of “knowledge” in Mormon popular discourse makes my answering your question a bit like someone trying to paddle upstream without an oar. If I say that I have not prayed about my decision to support Prop 8, well, then you’ve got me because your position is inevitably superior (having been sent to you by god, as you say). But if I say that I have prayed about my decision to oppose Prop 8, and received confirmation from god that I should oppose it, then, again, you’ve got me because I’m suddenly in the position of claiming *revelation* that surpasses President Monson’s direction to the church–and since that’s the definition of apostasy, your position is, again, superior to mine. Can you see that there is literally no way for me to answer your question without you feeling spiritually superior to me (I bet that feels wonderful)? The entire discussion has been set up such that god is supposedly on your side no matter what. But here’s the rub, Eric. You can’t have a rational discourse with someone who says, “God made me do it.” So perhaps we should just end this. I’m sorry you decided to make that the basis for our political discussion.

  38. Robert John Williams says:

    Rebecca writes:
    “I was bothered by the comment about ‘less true churches,’ as it felt hypocritical in that you stated, people should not discriminate against others. Are you not doing just that by thinking that other churches are less true then your own?”

    RJW:
    I confess, I was being a bit facetious there. I should have chosen my words more carefully though, so good point. I will say, however, that if you compare our Proclamation on the Family to similar “proclamations” made by these other churches, ours is generally more liberal (believe it or not, folks, it’s true; Jan Shipps has a great essay on this in her book “Sojourner” pp. 150-153). Very conservative, yes, but not nearly as frighteningly conservative as some of the church’s we have joined forces with.

  39. Dora says:

    Thanks RJW! This makes me miss Irvine all the more. Fabulous to read your post and responses. Too many times I get tongue tied when it comes to the debate on this issue, and it’s good to see someone else articulate some of my discomforts with the pending proposition.

  40. Will Spendlove says:

    First off, I want to thank you Robert and everyone else on this blog for being so involved in a tough issue that has affected me every day of my life (38 years).

    Five years ago I came “out” after desperately trying to date women and feeling inadequate because I couldn’t make it work. I was very active in the Church and loved it with all my heart. I never questioned any policy or commandment because I believed it was not my place to question the word of God.

    And now I find myself on the other side of the Church, through circumstances that I only had partial control over. I had no control over my feelings, but I did have control over my choice to come out. But I see my situation as a blessing. I truly believe that if I weren’t gay, I would have voted for Prop 8 and furthermore would have been on the front lines against people like me. I guess the old saying is true, “Your enemy is the person whose story you don’t know.”

    So I applaud those of you who are fighting the good fight. Against all odds you believe that love, kindness, and fairness are more important than militant obedience.

  41. Gail Thorne says:

    Please try to publish this article in California newspapers. As a non-Mormon originally from Arizona, I have had the privilege of living near and working with Mormons and counting many as my friends throughout my life. One does not have to be Mormon to appreciate their strong values and good influence on the rest of the community. Unfortunately, your leaders’ sanctioned bigotry will unfairly alienate many people against the members of your church. Outsiders need to know that there are clear thinking, righteous Mormons who do not agree with your church’s position on Proposition 8 – such as the member who sent me your article.

  42. Seymour says:

    It seems to me that, despite Eric’s insistence to the contrary, that it is entirely possible for individuals to prayerfully receive different answers to the question of how they are to respond to the letter since the letter itself merely encourages members to support the Proposition and the efforts to get it passed. Encouraging members to do something is a much different stance from making truth claims about the Church’s divine origins and claims to priesthood authority and therefore will, in my opinion, result in a much different kind of answer.

    In asking us to do all that we “can” do, does this not then take into account the possibility of a number of positions in relation to the initiative? Is it not reasonable to conclude that for some, all that they “can” do is to offer their tacit support or dissent, or perhaps even their more vocal, rainbow-ribbon wearing dissent?

  43. douglashunter says:

    The only problem with your post is that it was too short to live up to its name. You use the phrase “On Christianity” in your title which suggests a very broad engagement. In addition to your points, Christianity contains within it many reasons to put into question our Church’s (and other churches too) position on the issue of Prop 8 narrowly and of gay right more broadly.

    Perhaps the oldest and most profound ethical teaching found in the Jewish and Christian traditions is that of hospitality. Hospitality, which insists that our relation to the other, the moment of their arrival, is defined by our commitment to him/her/them, by our obligation, by our being brought into a relationship in which we are bound by duty to the other. We see this played out again and again in scripture from Noah’s duty to collect, care for, feed, shelter, the animals on the ark (there is no more radical other than other species.); to the story of the good Samaritan who halted, his journey, who postponed his goals, desires, and needs, who put himself in harms way, in order to care for the other, in order to insure the well being of the other.

    Within christianity today there is no group that is more other than homosexuals, they are the most disparaged, the are said to pose a serious threat, they are said to be debased, sinful, etc. And that is exactly the problem. First, otherness is being deployed as that which should exclude us from our ethical obligation, when in fact otherness is that which calls us into ethical obligation. Second, in non-violent situations the biblical ethic of hospitality does not create space for assessing the presence, needs, and even demands of the other in terms of our own desires, beliefs, material well being, needs or fears. But of course support for prop 8 does exactly that. Support for prop 8 asks us to fear the hypothetical impact of providing civil rights and responsibilities to the other in terms of our own beliefs, fears, needs and desires. We are being asked to defend ourselves against the other.

    I think that considering the ethics of hospitality provides a good tool for measuring our ethical response in the situation we currently face. Is our response to the other determined by what we perceive to be at risk, by a sense of threat or fear concerning to ourselves? If so that is a clear indication of a spiritual and ethical laps.

    -Douglas Hunter

  44. Robert John Williams says:

    (My apologies in advance to the general reader for briefly running arcane laps around Douglas’s trenchant, if a bit esoteric, indictment of the Mormon lapse of ethics in promoting Prop 8).

    Douglas Hunter writes,
    “The only problem with your post is that it was too short to live up to its name.”

    RJW:
    My dear brother in poststructuralist play, I’m the first to admit my writing doesn’t quite live up to its “name.” But, of course, there’s a phatasmatic un-naming in your own response. No doubt, your wonderful summary, of “Hospitality, which insists that our relation to the other, the moment of their arrival, is defined by our commitment to him/her/them, by our obligation, by our being brought into a relationship in which we are bound by duty to the other,” deserves perhaps a citation or two, no? I’m not opposed to channeling the greats, of course (I studied under Jacques Derrida here at Irvine). But I think you’ll have to admit, Derridean aporias will only get you so far with your average Mormon in the blogosphere. What the average Mormon supporter of Prop 8 needs is Chomsky-like clarity, not cryptic Derridean musings on the nature of hospitality. Your ghostly response is poetic and beautiful, no question. But it is also possible that such language may simply mystify a lot of readers (and subsequently insulate you from the potential repercussions that a more organic—think Gramsci—assault on Mormon cultural prejudice might involve). Render unto Descartes that which is Cartesian… 🙂

  45. Eric Kurla says:

    Seymour: “In asking us to do all that we “can” do, does this not then take into account the possibility of a number of positions in relation to the initiative? Is it not reasonable to conclude that for some, all that they “can” do is to offer their tacit support or dissent, or perhaps even their more vocal, rainbow-ribbon wearing dissent?”

    Only problem with your conclusion is that it doesn’t seem to follow the language used by the First Presidency’s letter; it doesn’t provide for such a broad interpretation. They state, “We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.” I have a hard time believing that dissent, whether vocal or otherwise, is all you can do to support the proposed amendment.

  46. Robert John Williams says:

    Just an update. The church has issued a statement on their support of Proposition 8. You can read it Here:

    http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/the-divine-institution-of-marriage

    What I have to point out here is the degree to which all of the arguments presented in this statement are *arguments*. Notice that the church is engaged here in attempts to *rhetorically* persuade (through claims of sociological evidence, experts, scriptural reference), not to announce revelatory engagement with the issue. I can’t stress this enough. The statement is making truth claims based not on revelation, but on sociological data. And if that’s the way the game is going to be played, they have to be willing to engage in discourse.

    And clearly, there are a number of deliberate fallacies in this statement. Take for example the following:

    “While it may be true that allowing single-sex unions will not immediately and directly affect all existing marriages, the real question is how it will affect society as a whole over time, including the rising generation and future generations. The experience of the few European countries that already have legalized same-sex marriage suggests that any dilution of the traditional definition of marriage will further erode the already weakened stability of marriages and family generally.”

    The assumption here—nay, the explicit logic—is that because European countries were so liberal in allowing same-sex couples to get married, this somehow *caused* an increase in divorces among heterosexual couples. If you take a class on logic, you’ll learn that this particular logical fallacy is known as “post hoc ergo propter hoc,” which is a fancy Harry Potter-sounding Latin phrase that simply means “after this, therefore because of this”. That is, because event B happens after event A, A must have therefore *caused* B to happen. In this case, because same-sex marriages were allowed in Europe, and divorce rates subsequently increased, same-sex marriage must have *caused* this to happen. But you don’t need a class in logic to see the problem with this fallacy. When I wash my car, it rains. Therefore, washing my car causes it to rain, right? Sorry, but no. It might *feel* true, on some kind of gut level, but that doesn’t make it true. The way the church’s statement tries to insure itself against accusations of blatant lying about the supposed “evidence” is by using the very common *weasel word* (that’s another real term, look it up on wikipedia) “suggests.” The situation in Europe, the statement says, “suggests” that heterosexual marriage is in danger when homosexuals marry. Notice, they don’t say it “proves” anything—-just sort of “suggests” it. In fact, it “suggests” nothing of the sort (but it sounds good).

    The rest of the church’s statement sets out to establish that sociological data proves that the “ideal” situation for childrearing is to have a mother and a father in the home. This is entirely true, actually. So, no argument there (and, again, I would emphasize the extreme importance of actually pursuing politically campaigns that *actually* protect couples against divorce)—except it is worth pointing out that all of these sociological studies compare the children of heterosexual couples against those of *single-parent* families. There are no studies that prove homosexual *couples* are less capable of raising healthy, happy, morally-sound children than those raised by heterosexual couples (you can infer, as the church’s statement does, that a homosexual couple is only as good as a single-parent, but that’s an assumption, not something based on any facts). Still, that’s not the real problem here. The problem comes when the church implies that the government has a responsibility to create laws that allow *only* the ideal. “Ideally” children will also be raised in homes without alcohol. “Ideally” children will eat dinner with their parents at the dinner table. “Ideally” children will sit and read with their parents for 20 minutes every day. “Ideally” children will not be taught false doctrine by their parents. I’m sorry folks. Our constitution has a very clear message: citizens of the U.S. are allowed to teach their children false doctrine. I know you want to, but you can’t legislate against everything you consider non-ideal.

  47. douglashunter says:

    Robert,

    It’s true I was thinking of Derrida but primarily I was thinking of Levinas who offers such great inspiration.

    I was not trying to be cryptic, I was using the language that I am most comfortable and familiar with when considering such issues. Further, since I am merely a random person making comments here I didn’t think it a good context to fully develop the themes, I was summarizing and hoped that it would be obvious. Be that as it may, I would be interested to hear your and other opinions regarding how these concepts are at work in the current situation. Obviously I think they are central, in my opinion there can be no considering of prop 8 without consideration of otherness and hospitality. But perhaps such a view is rare. Agency and duty also seem to be essential, in this case is there a competition between our duty to the other and what many will see as our duty to obedience?

  48. Robert John Williams says:

    For those who don’t have time to look it up on wikipedia. A “weasel word” (like the word “suggests” in the church’s statement on Prop Eight) is one used with “deliberate imprecision with the intention to mislead the listeners into believing statements for which sources are not readily available”. “Deliberate imprecision.” I love that line.

  49. Caroline says:

    douglashunter,
    I liked your comment on hospitality. Very insightful.

  50. Robert John Williams says:

    Hey Douglas,

    I hope we do get a chance to sit down and discuss it some time. I also really like Levinas (everyone who reads Levinas, you’ll notice, likes him—unlike Derrida for some reason). Thanks for your response.

    Yours,
    John.

  51. Seymour says:

    Ah, the wonderful possibilities of “can.”

    Eric retorts, “Only problem with your conclusion is that it doesn’t seem to follow the language used by the First Presidency’s letter; it doesn’t provide for such a broad interpretation. They state, “We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.” I have a hard time believing that dissent, whether vocal or otherwise, is all you can do to support the proposed amendment.”

    Eric, while the First Presidency letter assumes, much like your posts, that one will support and endorse the proposition, the very language of the letter suggests other potentialities as well (you see I, too, have read some Derrida like our friends John and Douglas). The word “can” implies willingness, capability, desire and it also implies the possibility of negation (if you can then it also is reasonable to assume that you can’t).

    The letter is an invitation, not a commandment (don’t for a second think that because they say “required” this makes it a command) and as such we are free to choose the nature of our involvement, the nature of what we can do. Certainly there are, on the part of Church leadership, desired actions and stances, but I don’t think you would find that any of them would actually go so far as to say that you can only choose to support the Proposition. Yet Eric, in all of your comments you seem only able to view and accept one position, one side on this matter (occasionally going so far as to insinuate a lack of faithfulness on those who interpret things differently). You should accept that, like it or not, there are other views on the matter and that’s the nature of healthy political debate. You can disagree and so can I. So can we all.

  52. Christ is living today. He is rescuing people from their prisons. Our responsibility to our children is to steward this country that they may have the unimpeded liberty to stand for God.

    Allowing people to use deceptive terms such as “gay marriage” will corrupt the legal system. The thin barrier of invisible words is the contract between the government and its people. If we allow words to be perverted without cause, we risk the very language of limited government and become, ourselves, the agents of deception and tyranny.

  53. Robert John Williams says:

    Paul writes: “Christ is living today. He is rescuing people from their prisons. Our responsibility to our children is to steward this country that they may have the unimpeded liberty to stand for God.”

    RJW: I couldn’t agree more. Religious freedom is paramount to our continued prosperity as Mormons.

    Paul also writes: “Allowing people to use deceptive terms such as “gay marriage” will corrupt the legal system.”

    RJW: Paul, I’m not sure what you mean by “deceptive terms.” “Gay” refers to homosexuality. I think just about everyone knows that now. In the 1950s, maybe, one could still use the word “gay” and mean “happy,” but nowadays, “gay” has come to mean almost exclusively “homosexual.” Do you think the word “gay” is still deceiving people? Or is it the term “marriage” that you find deceptive. Honestly, not sure how to make heads-or-tails of what you’re saying.

    Paul: “The thin barrier of invisible words is the contract between the government and its people.”

    RJW: Which exactly are the words that are “invisible”? You refer to “the” thin barrier of invisible words, as though I should know what you mean. Really, though, what are you talking about? (I’m asking not to be rude. I honestly don’t know what you mean).

    Paul: “If we allow words to be perverted without cause, we risk the very language of limited government and become, ourselves, the agents of deception and tyranny.”

    RJW: Wow. Paul, your words here are completely delirious. I’m not saying *you* are delirious. But what you’ve written here just barely makes sense. You seem to be connecting the idea that the definition of words can evolve to the possibility that we (somehow) become fascists in the process….or something. Honestly, your meaning is *very* opaque here. Sort of ironic for someone who seems to be lamenting the “perversion” of words and meaning.

    Perhaps you could expand a bit, in more straightforward language what it is you’re trying to say.
    Best,
    John.

  54. John says:

    Marriage is a moral issue defined by God not CA.

    Please carefully consider the following words
    for they are not mine, but come from the core of
    many faiths.

    Not those are true husband and wife that with each other
    merely consort:
    Truly wedded are those that in two frames, are as
    one light….Sikism. Adi Granth

    Representing heavene and earth, I have created
    husband and wife. This is the beginning of the
    world……Tenrikyo. Mikagura-uta

    The moral man finds the moral law beginning in the
    relation between man and woman, but ending in the
    vast reaches of the universe….Confucianism

    It is not good that the man should be alone; I wil
    make him a helper fit for him. This at last is
    bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall
    be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man..
    Therefore, a man leaves his father and his mother
    and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.
    ….Judaism and Christianity. Genesis 2:18-24

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

    We warn that the disegration of the family will
    bring upon individuals, communities, and nations
    the calamities fortold by ancient modern prophets.

    I’m telling you my friend that I speak from the
    powerful and tender feelings of a parent. My kids
    are most precious and i’ve sought many hours to
    understand what is going on in our society.

    Do you think California economy and worst fire year
    ever is an accident?

    When the people don’t heed the word of the Lord.

    He will speak with thunder, lightenings, eathquakes,
    tornadoes, floods and famines etc. Do you not see
    the signs of the times. I plead with you for
    careful consideration of these things that are
    true.

  55. oct says:

    As a quick introduction, I am a 21 year old single adult who is active in the church and attends a singles ward. I also deal with same gender attraction (as the church likes to term it), and have PTSD from being abused as a child. Since the reading of the letter in my ward back in June, I have personally witnessed a large rise in the homophobic statements casually thrown around among the membership at church, not only among other YSA’s, but among members of my bishopric and the stake priesthood leadership. I have watched a ward that I loved turn into a hostile environment for my PTSD. While the first presidency has asked for compassion and sensitivity in approaching the subject, they have not emphasized it at all. I would go as far as saying that as the call for compassion and sensitivity isnt even in the letter read to wards, but in a press release aimed at the media, the feelings of members like myself are of little concern and that my membership and life are expendable. Maybe I am being cynical here, but regardless, this is what it feels like. Unfortunately, we as a church have not learned our lessons from the knight initiative and I will be surprised if we dont have another suicide in the vein of Stuart Matis. It makes me wonder what the worse sin is; homosexual relations or suicide.

    In regards to the legislation itself, I am firmly against it. Not because I am gay and want to marry another man in the temple or want to marry one period. I dont. But these feelings arent going to go away and just because I have chosen to fight them, does not mean that I should force any aspect of my own personal choice upon the rest of society. This is a civil rights issue and regardless of whether it passes or not, it truly is a fruitless endeavor. Domestic partnerships will keep their legal status, and as pointed out earlier, a homosexual can legally adopt a child as a single parent regardless of whether he has a partner or not. So we really are fighting over semantics, and even so its foolish not to believe that the supreme court on a federal level will overturn these constitutional amendments throughout the various states who have passed them. What I find particularly frightening is our willingness to pass such amendments to constitutions without considering the risks of such legislative actions to our own rights. For example, lets hypothetically say that a group of anti-cult activists decides to define a cult as a group that in their view brainwashes through introducing initiatory doctrines before revealing esoteric ones once an ecclesiastical leader is convinced that the person is ready to believe such doctrines. Such an amendment would outlaw the endowment. And before anyone brings up freedom of speech, were dealing with constitutional amendments. If you are so sure that a court would strike it down as unconstitutional, take for example the laws in various states requiring members of the KKK to march without masks. Though I hate to use this as an analogy, the same idea could be applied to us, the idea of unmasking our doctrines as a whole to the public. And before anyone points out that I am arguing a logical fallacy (slippery slope), the church is doing the same in many of its own arguments.

    What I find so scary in all of this is the idea being put forth by members here on the infallibility of the first presidency on this issue. Its kind of hard to defend ourselves from anti-mormon attacks that quote the Journal of Discourses when we act as if our prophet today is infallible. The example of Benson campaigning with Strom Thurmond is an excellent example. What about George Q Cannon’s endorsement of eugenics for perfecting the human race (albeit not so much as a GA)? What about Brigham Young’s belief that a priesthood holder who race mixes with “the seed of cain” should be put to death and that this would always be the case or any other one of his racist views towards those of african descent? How about apostles and prophets referring to blacks as “darkies” in official church publications? They have been wrong before.

    Whats also troubling for me is that I see people saying that they arent targeting homosexuals but as you yourself have pointed out, there are other more direct ways of protecting marriages and making them more successful. Also, this is the only moral issue we receive direction on. General authorities have ofter listed a number of vices that were threats to the family and among them, gambling was included. Those of us in CA voted last april on indian gambling compacts and yet the church was silent on the issue. Is gambling not a moral issue? Whats ironic to me is how many mormons I know that have signed up to go door to door for this proposition, that gamble at the indian casinos and on cruises.

    On a side note, those of you who do not struggle with this have no clue how difficult it is, and that also goes for those of you who are empathetic towards my situation. I find it particularly troubling when people sit back and talk of the atonement healing me. Was Paul healed from his affliction? Miracles rarely work that way. Why dont blessings heal at a 100% accuracy rate? Obviously God knows what he is doing in testing his own children. Why cant homosexuality be viewed the same way? Why do you think the church created its own twelve step program for addiction? Obviously a simple prayer and a blessing wasnt cutting it. Your understanding of the atonement is lacking in its ability to explain these particular situations.

  56. Caroline says:

    Thanks for your story, oct. I’m incensed that the Church’s stance on advocating for this problematic proposition has resulted in homophobic comments in your ward. What a travesty. My best to you.

  57. Robert John Williams says:

    Someone else named “John” writes:
    “Do you think California economy and worst fire year ever is an accident?”

    RJW:
    Do you honestly believe that the economic depression and the fires in California were god’s vengeance for California’s liberal marriage laws? I never say this, but honestly, if you really feel that way, you should join another church. Pat Robertson’s church will be more than happy to have you.

    Of course, the saddest thing about my own comment here is that “John” will continue to go to church every week, feeling totally comfortable with his vengeful, hate-filled god, while “oct” (perhaps the most sensitive and thoughtful contributor to this post so far) will continue feeling uncomfortable in church. These are dark days, my friends.

  58. Abs says:

    Thanks oct for your comment, it’s been soo insightful.

  59. Jesse says:

    I have only read a couple of the comments that people have left, but from the few that I have read I find it upsetting that members think they have a right to form their own opinion on this matter. This is no opinion of President Monson, this is the will of God delivered to us through His prophet. I imagine if Christ were living today, he would be just as vocal as He has always been in denouncing sin and upholding righteousness.

    We do not know all the repercussions that will result from Prop 8 not passing, and it would be arrogant for us to assume we knew them all. We do know, however, that the voice of God has deemed it necessary to support Prop 8, which tells me there is more to this than meets the eye.

    God bless.

  60. Robert John Williams says:

    Jesse writes:
    “I have only read a couple of the comments that people have left, but from the few that I have read I find it upsetting that members think they have a right to form their own opinion on this matter.”

    RJW:
    Come on, Jesse. Be responsible here. Even members who support Prop 8 (the reasonable ones anyway) believe that people have a *right* to form another opinion on the matter. Don’t waste our time.

    You can’t refuse to read any of the comments and then just shoot your mouth off near the end with some blanket assertion that no one has any *right* to any opinion but the one you believe is correct. That’s just totally irresponsible. I’m surprised I’m even responding.

  61. douglashunter says:

    Thanks Caroline!

    Robert I’m in Pasadena, so its not an impossibility.

    Jesse you seem to be confusing a request with a revelation (among other things). The language of the statements read in my ward and the structure of the Church’s activity suggest that 1) The Church’s position on prop. 8 is not revelation 2) its not official church business. For those reasons alone we have more than enough right to form our own opinions. Second, and this is what really matters, agency only comes alive in situations like this, as far as I know the president of the Church does not have to answer for my actions at the day of Judgement. In other words the famous Nuremberg defense does not apply here either. I can not say to God “I was following orders”, I need to do the work. So when scripture study, personal revelation through prayer, ethics, and conscious are all driving me in a specific direction, there would be no agency if the only correct choice were to obey narrowly made leadership requests at all times. Further, agency is not merely a choice between right an wrong, agency often is a choice between multiple right choices. I suggest that it is right to obey the leaders of the Church but it is also right to obey the spirit, and to obey powerful ethical teaching such as that of hospitality that I mentioned in an earlier comment.

    OCT, your ward in not the only one, I have over heard a few negative comments myself (mild, but still there). But from the reports I am hearing, my ward is being extremely low key on the issue as compared to others so I am thankful for that.

    Are people speaking out in there wards the same way they are speaking out here? I think its necessary to do so, but as of yet I have not. What about others?

  62. Jesse says:

    RJW: I suppose I did word that wrong. Everyone does, of course, have a right to form their own opinion.

    What I meant to say was this: the Lord has made His opinion known through His prophets, and has asked for our help in this matter. I would not want to be found in the last days disagreeing with the Lord and His servants.

    The language of the letter read in sacrament meeting is very official:

    “We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.” (italics added) I do not understand how one cannot see that by not complying with these wishes that one would not draw disappointment from the Lord and His servants.

    Furthermore, Elder Oaks shares some counsel that can be found on the LDS Newsroom site in relation to this. After referencing the incident with Ake Green in Sweden, and other “trends,” he says this:

    “Given these trends, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must take a stand on doctrine and principle. This is more than a social issue-ultimately it may be a test of our most basic religious freedoms to teach what we know our Father in Heaven wants us to teach.”

    I hope I do not come across as someone ignorant to the subject just spouting off his opinion. I, too, have close family who are involved in homosexuality. I love and care for them. However, we cannot let our love and sympathy rob us of our morals. We have been called to action by the Lord and His prophets, and we are expected to accept that call.

    God bless.

  63. Robert John Williams says:

    Jessie writes:

    The language of the letter read in sacrament meeting is very official:
    “We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.” (italics added) I do not understand how one cannot see that by not complying with these wishes that one would not draw disappointment from the Lord and His servants.

    RJW:
    I’m glad you’ve decided to be civil, although I would encourage you to go back and read through some of these posts, as some of your questions/objections have already been answered by me and others (with, I think, completely legitimate answers that no supporter of Prop 8 has bothered responding to). Let me just briefly recap an argument I’ve been making here. The passage you cite above (and, indeed, all supporters of Prop Eight) makes a connection between the legal *definition* of marriage and the preservation of marriage itself. I confess that I do not see any such logical connection. Do you honestly believe that the biggest threat to heterosexual marriages is the legal/definitional status of other gay couples? Go back up and read my response to the church’s newsroom statement on this assumption. The government could just decide not to define marriage at all (I mean, why even make it a *legal* category anyway? Why not just tell everyone they have a “civil union”?), but I doubt that would make me feel like my own religiously sanctioned marriage was somehow at risk (I’m very happily, heterosexually married, thank you very much). So far, I have seen NO EVIDENCE AT ALL (zero, zip, nada) that shows gay marriage “threatens” my or anyone else’s heterosexual marriage. You look like a newlywed yourself. Are you going to get divorced if gay marriage becomes legal? Of course not.

    Now, you’ve obviously decided that the First Presidency letter is more persuasive regarding gay marriage as a *danger* to heterosexual marriages. You’re obviously free to decide that. But you should at least recognize that the main argument coming from that letter, and other supporters of Prop 8 is “we don’t know what this will do to heterosexual marriages.” That’s it. No one has any evidence that it will actually harm heterosexual marriage. “We don’t know”. That’s the whole argument. Period. Of course, you might argue that Pres. Monson’s prophetic calling makes him privy to consequences and potential calamities that we are not aware of. If so, it might be interesting for you (and your beautiful young wife) to find out that very similar arguments were made (and by apostles of the lord) against inter-racial marriage and civil rights legislation.

    Walk with me, for a moment, down the path of history, to a meeting of the First Presidency in 1961. Henry D. Moyle (who joined the First Presidency in 1959 after Stephen L. Richards died) brought up the question of Kennedy’s proposed civil rights legislation (desegregating buses, swimming pools, drinking fountains, among other things). Moyle was adamantly against it, arguing that “it is unconstitutional because it takes away a man’s right to contract, and to do business.” Another apostle at the time, Mark E. Petersen explained that it was god’s sacred will that American society be segregated: “I think the Lord segregated the Negro and who is man to change that segregation? It reminds me of the scripture on marriage, ‘what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.’ Only here we have the reverse of the thing—what God hath separated, let not man bring together again.” In 1961, Alvin R. Dyer (who would also be a member of the First Presidency) explained very clearly, “The reason that spirits are born into Negro bodies is because those spirits rejected the Priesthood of God in the Pre-existence. This is the reason we have Negroes on the earth, as a result of the curse placed upon them.”

    In the 1960s, when the church was approached about its stance on segregation, President McKay argued, “the Church had better not take sides, especially on the question of segregation.” When the civil rights bill eventually passed, McKay wrote, “The Civil Rights Bill is now passed and it is the law of the land. Some of it is wrong—the Negro will now have to prove himself”. Ezra Taft Benson, of course, was furious. As he would say in his general conference address of 1965: “What are we doing to fight it [i.e. civil rights legislation]? Before I left for Europe I warned how the Communists were using the civil rights movement to promote revolution and eventual takeover of this country. When are we going to wake up? What do you know about the dangerous civil rights agitation in Mississippi? Do you fear the destruction of all vestiges of state government?”

    Jesse, what sort of thoughts would you have had during all of this? Would you have agreed with all of these apostles and prophets of the lord? Be honest, now. Is it possible that our good leaders might sometimes overstep their prophetic responsibilities as they get involved in contemporary political debates? Clearly E.T. Benson was wrong. The Civil Rights Bill did not lead to the “destruction” of the power of the state government. It did quite a bit to curtail American racism, though.

    ***all of the quotations I use above are from Greg Prince’s magisterially-researched book “David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism” (University of Utah Press, 2005), Chapter 4. I bought the book at *Deseret Book*

  64. Nice post and subsequent comments, RJW. Tough to argue with common sense, and yet it is amusing to see some try.

    That said, I’m a little surprised that you’ve framed the church’s involvement in Prop 8 in kind of “reluctant, just going along with it” terms. For example: “This was imposed upon us by a ‘coalition’ of other, less-true churches, and our leaders have decided to go along.”

    Maybe I’m reading between the lines, but you seem to be suggesting the FP/Q12 don’t feel as strongly about campaigning on behalf of Prop 8 as most church members think. Besides the verbiage in the FP letter, (which could be translated numerous ways), have you heard something that would suggest this?

    I have a tough time believing the church would just “go along with” anything, let alone something this politically charged. Furthermore, the church has really jumped into this in a big way, with both of its sizeable feet. Were their feelings about the “coalition” and Prop 8 more reserved, I think they might have just had the letter read one Sunday and left it at that.

    But all of the evidence I’ve seen suggests that they have fully embraced the cause, that they are pulling out all of the stops. Of course, I’d love to be proven otherwise…

  65. Robert John Williams says:

    Hey Matt,

    First of all, I *love* the new abbreviation: FP/Q12. It sounds like an episode of the borg or something: I. must. campaign. for. Prop 8. it. is. the. will. of. FP/Q12.

    Anyway, you’re probably right. They do seem to be pulling out all the stops. I do wonder, though, how much they would have gotten involved if not for the invitation by these other churches. In any case, it doesn’t really matter now. The will of FP/Q12 has been heard.

    It is useless to resist it.

  66. Funny. Yeah, I guess the FP/Q12 is Borg-like in more ways than one. I’ve heard the term “The Morg” bandied around the internet and never put 2 and 2 together, but it is likely a take off on the nefarious Borg.

  67. Dawn says:

    I too have wondered why homosexual couples cannot benefit from insurance and other “marriage” bonuses and why it is so important for our church to stand against it. I have decided that what it comes down to, is what Heavenly Father has asked us to do. That is what you should really be focusing on. This is said with faith and a testimony of fearing God and NOT man. This is all part of Satan’s plan to twist and confuse members of the church and to ultimately divide our congregations. I’m sure you’ll get all your answers when you face the Lord and Heavenly Father on the other side.

  68. Seymour says:

    In response to and support of to RJW’s response to Jesse’s most recent post:

    Although I’ve twice discussed the wording of the letter here in the comments section I’ll make one more stab at it. It all hinges on the verb “can.” This implies choice, agency if you will. And the Church acknowledges this more than tacitly.

    See this, taken from a Newsroom post on the Church website dated 8/13:

    “As Church members decide their own appropriate level of involvement in protecting marriage between a man and a woman, they should approach this issue with respect for others, understanding, honesty, and civility.”

    While this assumes that a Church member will support the proposition, which may or may not be the case in actuality, it very clearly emphasizes that there is no “required” level of participation in any efforts regarding this political issue. The letter is an invitation and, while there is clearly a desire on the part of the FP/Q12 for a certain level of support, must be understood as such. We are not “required” to do anything and anyone telling you anything different is clearly overstepping the bounds established by the very Church leaders they will claim to be supporting.

  69. For a logical and doctrinal refutation of Prop 8 for LDS/Christians, please visit lds4gaymarriage.org

    Feedback would be appreciated. Thanks

  70. Mendocino says:

    I was going to scribble a few thoughts about Prop. 8, but I came across this LDS forum and saw many of my thoughts already posted here. This is a very rational and thoughtful post, RJW.

    But still, to sum it up, my partner and I have been together 15 years today. I love him more and more each year. Our families have always been fully supportive. Our friends have become mostly other married couples, and the majority of them are heterosexual couples. The town we live in is far left of center. We feel blessed.

    We do not feel our relationship is supported by government or religion. We do not need or particularly care about this support. But we also do not feel our relationship is supported by the so-called GLBTI (they just keep adding letters, don’t they?) community. When I pick up a “GLBTI” paper, most of the articles are geared toward young single men. And of course, a large portion of the classifieds deal with seeking out anonymous sex. When we attend urban Pride festivals, again, the festivals are geared mostly toward singles. In large social settings when I tell someone hitting on me that I’m married, it usually makes no difference in their subsequent persistent behavior. And then there are the so-called “open” relationships. Give me a break! If you want to mess around, do not call yourself married. I know of anecdotal cases where this works for the long term, but usually it is a signal that the relationship is over. The point is that if we want the world to recognize and respect our familial relationships, the recognition and respect has to begin within our community.

    Yes, I want Prop. 8 defeated. I don’t really care what makes a Prop. 8 supporter tick. We are all on our own paths and hopefully make our decisions based on what we believe to be best for everyone. I honestly cannot flatly state that all Prop. 8 supporters are ignorant wack jobs. Undoubtedly some are, but similar could be said of some Prop. 8 opponents.

    In our household, Prop. 8 passage or defeat will barely be noticed. By the way, no, we have not gotten legally married. As far as we’re concerned we did that 15 years ago, by ourselves, exchanging rings while sitting on a cliff at the Presidio overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the glittering Pacific Ocean on a warm and sunny August afternoon. No government or church can take that away from us.

  71. Rick in Portland says:

    What bothers me is that the church, for all its talk about defending and protecting traditional marriage, is engaging in double-talk. It doesn’t believe in traditional marriage, at least as its fellow travellers on this issue, Catholics and Evangelicals, conceive it. Polygamy has not only a historic and hallowed place in the LDS theology of marriage, it is currently still practiced. There are numerous active LDS men right now, including two GA’s, who are sealed not only to a previous and now deceased wife, but to a second wife, “for time and all eternity.” It is utterly irrelevant that these men are not currently living with both women; in the eyes of the church, they are sealed to both women, which makes them polygamous marriages. If the church were truly committed to traditional marriage, i.e., one man and one woman, it would not permit such sealings to occur.

  72. Dale Barton says:

    Robert, I can’t begin to thank you for your article and for the many follow-up responses to the comments it received.

    I was born and raised in the Church in an devote LDS family in Salt Lake City. I come from a long heritage of Mormons dating back to Liberty Jail with the Prophet Joseph, to the Hans Mill Massacre, to Navoo, and to the hand-cart pioneers who helped settle Salt Lake City. I was born and raised in Salt Lake in an extremely active LDS family, served a mission, performed with the Mormon Youth Chorus, and worked for 5 years in the Church Administration Building with President Monson and our other Church leaders.

    However, at the age of 32, after being faithful and active in every way, I was forced to acknowledge that prayer, fasting, priesthood blessings, and professional therapy would not remove the fact that I too am gay. I was forced at that time to choose between suicide and separation from the family and friends I loved by moving away from UT.

    I am grateful for choosing the later, moving to California, and finally acknowledging that I am a Gay Mormon. My life is now filled with love, joy, peace, and the support of my family. I am so happy to still be alive today.

    Although I will never be as eloquent as you and many of the posts here, I am grateful that there are intelligent, thoughtful people such as you who recognize Prop 8 as simple hatred and discrimination. I am deeply hurt that my LDS brothers and sisters could be so filled prejudice that they could even consider this proposition. I can’t believe they could hate me this much. I am one of them.

    How can an entire faith of people with such a long heritage of being persecuted and subject to discrimination, now find it acceptable to do the same to another group of people? Was it really so long ago that we have forgotten how it feels to be hated and feared? Thank you for posing the question of are we really Christians. What happened to the Christian principles I was taught in Primary of “As I have loved you, love one another?”

    I am grateful for intelligent people such as yourself and for my family who have decided that family is the strongest bond on earth and in heaven, that Christ’s gospel was that of love for all mankind even if they are different from us, and that it is more important to do the right thing than it is to bow to political pressure being exerted in our worship services. Thank you for confirming that even I am a Child of God and that my life also has value.

    Dale Barton

  73. Jesse says:

    Accusations of discrimination seems to be one of the often heard arguments from supporters of Prop 8. They say that homosexuals are being discriminated against by members of the LDS Church, and that this isn’t right. Then this will often be backed up by various scriptures where Christ taught to love all, and judge not. It seems as though all the reasoning boils down to believing that God does not discriminate. While it is true that God does not discriminate (for all His judgments are just), He does do something similar: withholding privileges.

    One of the more obvious occurrences of this is with the Aaronic Priesthood in ancient times. In those times, in order to hold the Aaronic Priesthood, one had to be a direct descendant of Aaron. Discrimination? Or a wise withholding of privileges by our Lord?

    Woman have never been ordained to the priesthood. Young men have to be at least 12 years old to receive the priesthood. One must be worthy to enter the temple. God has always withheld privileges from certain groups of people. Sometimes the reason is obvious, sometimes it is not. Even the gospel itself has been withheld from certain groups of people (Matthew 10:5-6).

    This is not a perfect analogy, but I do believe it is right in line with what is happening today. The Lord is once again inspiring His leaders (at the time of the constitution we know of no prophets of His that were on the earth) to establish a constitution built upon the gospel. I only bring up this point because this is a predominantly LDS conversation. If you believe the scriptures and doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the LDS Church, then I don’t see how you cannot arrive at this conclusion. The Lord inspired the founders of this country (D&C 101:80) to draft a constitution for the people, to protect our rights, according to just and holy principles (D&C 101:77).

    It is very saddening to see all this conversation coming from LDS members, who have the restored gospel at their fingertips, and the guidance of living prophets arriving on a constant basis. Might we all strengthen our faith in the Lord and His prophets, whom do His work for Him in these days (D&C 1:38).

    God bless.

  74. Seth Leishman says:

    I will not attempt to delve deeply into your comments, but simply make a few glancing observations. 1: Prop 8 has nothing to do with being homophobic. Yes, we would not required to allow gay marriages in our temples, but to maintain our status as a qualified 501(c) tax-exempt organization we would be required to allow gay marriage ceremonies be performed within our chapels. 2: Your stats on Army divorces is incorrect. Not every enlisted or officer that got divorced was deployed to Iraq. After you obtain that information, please post that. Until that time those stats are extremely skewed. Also, how many people did Hussein kill while in power? Add an exponent to that 100,000 figure you quote. 3: The church runs it’s own adoption program. Through which it has and can decide to only allow a married man and woman adopt a child. We believe that a child should and needs to be raised within a family with a father and a mother. Should this extremist judge ruling stand, the church would be forced to allow any type of married couple adopt children through its agency. It has the power to “discriminate” (I like to call it watching out for the well-being of the child) and not allow unmarried couples adopt children through its agency, but with the courts ruling, they would not be able to stop gay married couples from adopting children. 4: Homosexual tendencies have not been proven either way as “born with these feelings” or acquired over time. Stating that they are “a group of people born slightly different from the majority” is not a fact or solid truth. 5: Christ would preach and teach His correct, true doctrine. He would love everyone, but never would He condone or remotely support any actions or decisions that are contrary to His Plan of Salvation.

  75. Jim Riley says:

    It’s been quite some time since I’ve read such high-minded, nuanced, utterly senseless drivel. Some Mormons appear to suffer from a false application of tolerance based on the strange notion that “because we were ‘persecuted,’ no one should ever suffer the just penalties of the law.” Anti-Mormon pogroms, based on aversion to polygamy, should not be used as a pretext for throwing out the law itself. If some child-sacrificing cult in the suburbs were being investigated, would you cry fowl just because your great-grand-pappy had to watch his barn burn down in Kirtland?

    And don’t talk about this ruling of the California Supreme Court being deeply “American.” The establishment clause was intended to keep government out of the church, not Judeo-Christianity out of Government. The Aztecs and the Druids believed in human sacrifice. Pete Singer of Princeton is calling for the right to kill unwanted children under two years old. What argues against this sort of barbarity? Christianity! You better hope Christianity influences the state or you will get the sort of secular humanism that allowed the worst outrages of the 20th century to take place under Bolshevism and Maoism.

    I have a copy of a New Hampshire Justice of the Peace Manual on my shelf–for 1830. Among other things, it plainly states that an atheist should not be allowed to testify in court, since he had nothing to “bind his conscience.” You should all read the record, the historic record, before you post such incredibly uninformed observations. Most of you are a discredit to your faith.

  76. Melanctamus says:

    On Aug 12, RJW writes regarding incestual marriage:
    “From a strictly legal perspective, I am okay with that. If they are consenting adults. Granted, I think it’s sick and immoral.”
    This is very telling as this aversion (your words: “sick and immoral”) was precisely the majority sentiment regarding homosexual marriage 30 years ago. Now the homosexual orientation enjoys a type of saintly martyr status: “the poor wayfaring persecuted class that we must defend.”
    Poppycock. Ancient sexual taboos exist because they have social utility, unless you believe the nation should be burdened with the sort of severe deformities that can result from incestual reproduction. As for homosexuality, according to a 1988 Copenhagen study, “Amoebiasis and giardiasis were found respectively in 31.9% and 13.8% of homosexuals. None of the heterosexuals had pathologic protozoa..” Homosexual men also have a higher incidence of anal cancer. (http://abcnews.go.com/images/Politics/Holsinger_on_Homosexuality.pdf) The embracing of “homosexual marriage” as a respected choice, with the full approval of the law, is a perverse nod to the notion that human populations must be managed. Whenever man attempts to manage “human populations,” you wind up with all kinds of havoc, ranging from Hitler’s eugenics to the fiscal crises that may bankrupt the nation soon. Enshrining homosexuality gives you less children and more anal cancer. Equally offensive to God are the ‘saints’ who practice planned parenthood, so, yes, if it tends to less children it doesn’t have God’s blessing and may get his cursing.
    And in another 30 years, will we be ignoring other ancient taboos that have had social utility? If your “consenting adults” standard gets argued down to 12 or 14, as some have tried in Britain, will you have no defense against pederasts? If the “consent” of animals is measured by their compliance, are you ready for the sort of epidemics that can result from beastiality? Your impulses “sick and immoral” are there for a reason and who are you to claim that this represents “scare tactics” when your own words prove otherwise, it is a reasonable and logical conclusion of what will occur. “I am okay with that” is honest on your part, but evidence of why we are ripe for destruction. God is not ok with it, nor any other sexual deviancies and, looking through the long lens, it may not be in our life times, but it will come, rest assured. God is the author of the very science that makes His taboos worth honoring.
    This remonstrance comes from someone who expects the Proposition to fail as the majority of the Voice of the People (at least in California) has turned from righteousness. We have accepted your demented logic for quite some time now and have embraced the Adversary for too long. The chorus of misplaced tolerance has become so stifling that “ears no longer hear” and “eyes no longer see” the plain evil of what is being proposed. Sodomy is a sin that ranks with adultery, abuse, fornication, and all the rest. And, no, it is not akin to miscegenation. Nowhere in the scriptures does race mixing compare to the homosexual act, an “abomination” for which cities were burned.
    Do we have to pray there be five righteous left?

    M

  77. Robert John Williams says:

    Wow. A triple assault in just a few days. I stop watching the blog and look what happens! I’ll try to respond to all of this.

    Seth writes:
    “to maintain our status as a qualified 501(c) tax-exempt organization we would be required to allow gay marriage ceremonies be performed within our chapels.”

    RJW: Two things:
    1) The fancy “501(c)” in your sentence sure sounds official. Unfortunately, what you are saying is entirely false. A complete lie. Or maybe you’ve just deliberately decided not to think about the issue. Either way, shame on you. You know already that the church is under no legal obligation today to let just any heterosexual couple that wants to get married in our chapels. Think about it, if a bunch of hell’s angels wanted to have a good ol’ heterosexual wedding ceremony in our chapel, is the church legally obligated to let them? Of course not. Why would that all of a sudden change with the legalization of homosexual marriage? What you have here is a classic *scare* tactic.
    2) Let’s assume what you’re saying is true (even though it’s a deliberate lie). So what? Does the church only stand by its principles as long as they are inexpensive? I personally don’t care if the church pays taxes or not. Why should the church’s *financial* status have any bearing on this?

    Seth also writes:
    “Your stats on Army divorces is incorrect.”

    RJW: they *are* not my stats. If you had read the report I linked to, or any of the reports, you’d notice that they are the *army’s* stats. Do you honestly believe that the war has not had an impact on the marriages of enlisted soldiers? If so, then shame on you. You need to get to know a few more soldiers and learn about what they are currently suffering. It’s not pretty.

    Seth also writes:
    If Prop 8 passes, “the church would be forced to allow any type of married couple adopt children through its agency.”

    RJW: again, Seth, you are either deliberately lying or else deliberately uninformed. The church has *very* rigorous rules about who can adopt through its adoption agency, and none of these would be at all affected by Prop 8. Consider for example, that it’s currently legal (in non-Mormon adoption agencies) for heterosexual couples who drink alcohol to adopt a child. The church’s adoption agency, however, has a strict policy about alcohol in the homes of its adopting families. Just because something is *legal* does not mean that the church has to accept it as *moral*. Just because non-Kosher meat is legal doesn’t mean your local synagogue has to serve it. To argue otherwise is to be guilty of deliberate misinformation and *lies*.

    Seth again:
    “Homosexual tendencies have not been proven either way as “born with these feelings” or acquired over time.”

    RJW: Seth, even the church’s own psychologists and therapists agree that homosexuality is a combination of nature and nurture. To argue that one’s biological proclivities have nothing to do with it is (*sigh*) again to be deliberately lying or else going out of one’s way not to find out the truth.

    Jim Riley writes:
    “It’s been quite some time since I’ve read such high-minded, nuanced, utterly senseless drivel.”

    RJW: I’m glad you thought it was nuanced.

    Jim also writes:
    “If some child-sacrificing cult in the suburbs were being investigated, would you cry fowl just because your great-grand-pappy had to watch his barn burn down in Kirtland?”

    RJW: Jim, I feel great pains in my soul that it is even necessary to point this out, but there is a *huge* difference between a child-sacrificing cult and a homosexual union. Consider just a few (so-totally-obvious-I-can’t-believe-I’m-writing-this) differences:

    Child-sacrificing cult: kills people
    Homosexual union: doesn’t kill people
    Child-sacrificing cult: wants to hurt children
    Homosexual union: doesn’t want to hurt children
    Child-sacrificing cult: is anti-human, based on hate (or else vindictive insanity)
    Homosexual union: is completely human, based on love

    Oh, and did I mention that the one actually *kills* children?

    Jim writes:
    “What argues against this sort of barbarity? Christianity! You better hope Christianity influences the state or you will get the sort of secular humanism that allowed the worst outrages of the 20th century to take place under Bolshevism and Maoism.”

    RJW: I don’t see why one has to be a Christian to argue against human sacrifice or even abortion. You can certainly believe that life is precious and that people should have basic human rights without necessarily believing in Christ. Why does one need Christ to believe those things? Certainly you can’t argue that Christians have been less violent and intolerant than other people throughout history! There have been violent and terrible people of all kinds, Christian and non-Christian. It’s an attractive fiction to believe Christian societies have been inherently more tolerant and non-violent over the years than other societies. It’s not true, but it’s fetching.

    Jim:
    “I have a copy of a New Hampshire Justice of the Peace Manual on my shelf–for 1830. Among other things, it plainly states that an atheist should not be allowed to testify in court, since he had nothing to “bind his conscience.” You should all read the record, the historic record, before you post such incredibly uninformed observations. Most of you are a discredit to your faith.”

    RJW: Perhaps you could explain what possible relevance the New Hampshire Justice of the Peace Manual from 1830 possible has for the discussion at hand. Am I to believe that because a New Hampshire governmental manual said something in 1830, I should believe it? And I’m even a little confused by what you seem to be implying. Do you also believe that atheists should not be allowed to testify in court? If so, then wow. That’s really bad. I mean really, really bad. In your world, in a dark alley, a Christian could come upon two atheists, murder one of them, let the other one survive, and there’d be no one to testify against him (except that I’m starting to wonder if in your world the other one would survive at all). Perhaps you should consult that other “Peace Manual” (the bible) about that one.

    Melanctha writes:
    “Ancient sexual taboos exist because they have social utility, unless you believe the nation should be burdened with the sort of severe deformities that can result from incestual reproduction.”

    RJW:
    As much as I hate the thought of incest between consenting adults, you cannot *legally* restrict it simply because the reproductive possibilities include potential birth defects. Of course, you could require in all instances of incest-marriage that the couple get sterilized. Just like Hitler did with the mentally handicapped. Maybe we should make it a law that anyone who might have children with birth defects has to get sterilized?

    But of course, it’s just another wonderful scare tactic to talk about gay marriage as if it were going to open the floodgates of incest, as if people were just *dying* to marry their siblings and the only thing stopping them is the law. Please.

    Melanctha:
    “Homosexual men also have a higher incidence of anal cancer.”

    RJW: And I can see that your support of Prop 8 is motivated by a deep concern about how many gay people get cancer. We can really feel the love here.

    Melanctha:
    “The embracing of “homosexual marriage” as a respected choice, with the full approval of the law, is a perverse nod to the notion that human populations must be managed. Whenever man attempts to manage ‘human populations,’ you wind up with all kinds of havoc, ranging from Hitler’s eugenics to the fiscal crises that may bankrupt the nation soon.”

    RJW: This is my favorite part of your post. Let’s just map out the logic of your comment: 1) embracing homosexual marriage leads to 2) the idea that human populations must be managed, and therefore 3) we “wind up with all kinds of havoc” like Hitler. Melanctha, this is laughable. First of all, which position is it, exactly, that is trying to “manage” the human population? The one that *restricts* marriage to heterosexuality or the one that does *not* restrict marriage to heterosexuality? How is allowing more consenting adults to decide what they want to count as “marriage” at all, in any universe, a “managing” of human populations? Who exactly is doing the managing here? No, my dear Melanctha. Prop 8 is exactly an attempt to “manage” what is acceptable among a given human population, and you know it.

    Melanctha writes,
    “And in another 30 years, will we be ignoring other ancient taboos that have had social utility? If your ‘consenting adults’ standard gets argued down to 12 or 14, as some have tried in Britain, will you have no defense against pederasts? If the “consent” of animals is measured by their compliance, are you ready for the sort of epidemics that can result from beastiality?”

    RJW: this is known as the “slippery slope” logical fallacy. You can Wikipedia it for an explanation, but here it is in a nutshell: “In debate or rhetoric, the slippery slope is one of the classical informal fallacies. It suggests that an action will initiate a chain of events culminating in an undesirable event later without establishing or quantifying the relevant contingencies.” That is, if you allow gay marriage, people will be marrying children, animals, toasters, etc. etc. It’s yet again another scare tactic. Man, I tell you, people can do (and say apparently) horrible things when they are filled with fear. Logic is usually the first thing out the window. (An interesting side note here: in some of the literature distributed to me and my fellow ward members, one of the ten “talking points” about Prop 8 was actually called “Slippery Slope” ha ha).

    Melanctha:
    “God is not ok with it, nor any other sexual deviancies and, looking through the long lens, it may not be in our life times, but it will come, rest assured.” And homosexuality is “an ‘abomination’ for which cities were burned.”

    RJW: Ultimately, this is your only argument: *God says I’m right.* Unfortunately, for you, this is not a logical argument. Fortunately, for me and other opponents of Prop 8, illogical arguments like this have no legal standing.

  1. September 7, 2008

    […] for certain members of the church, and for certain segments of the larger California population. (via) Also, by taking such a public stand on this ballot initiative, the church marginalizes not only […]