Not Very Political

Posted by Zenaida

Not long ago, I was surprised by a friend’s announcement that his political views were “liberal.” I never would have guessed that this friend would be so pro-choice, pro-free health care, pro-immigration reform in his views being from Provo, UT. After having my assumptions thrown out the window, I asked what his opinion was of me. His label for me was “not very political.” (Please note that this discussion was prefaced by an acknowledgement of the uselessness of labels as they carry different meanings for different people, but that’s another post.)

I suppose he’s right. I don’t enjoy politics, and I would rather spend my time involved in music or other pursuits, but I was somewhat ashamed of this assessment. I still believe I am “not very political,” but I try to be a somewhat informed voter, and stay a little better on top of what’s going on around me. So, I couldn’t ignore California’s court decision to allow same-sex marriages. I was celebrating! I have dear friends who could potentially be affected by this, and I can only be excited at the prospect.

I cannot imagine what it must be like to love someone and have the opportunity to build a life together thwarted in so many directions. What must it to be like to have the person you are closest to on the other side of a hospital door, and be unable to have any decision-making power or even the ability to be in the same room with them because you have no legal ties. The system simply makes it difficult for people to care for each other in some of the most basic ways. Today, I was listening to NPR, and the story of Chris and Don was told. They were together for decades, and their solution to legal issues was for Chris to adopt Don.

Another exposure came from reading Carol Lyn Pearson’s book “Goodbye, I Love You.” This book opened a window into the struggle of a homosexual man forcing himself into a heterosexual marriage because his eternal salvation was at stake. I cried.

My own views on this issue were largely shaped by my parents’ views and the church’s view. It was never really much of an issue, because it did not affect me, or really anyone I knew personally…until I went to college. I made a close friend that struggled so profoundly because of the forced repression of homosexual tendencies. It was so difficult to see damaging choices made because of society’s inability to be accepting of a different lifestyle. There was no support system to encourage healthy relationships because the entire notion of anything homosexual was considered “sinful” or “abnormal.” I think it is too simplistic to simply toss out and bury a person’s entire biological/emotional set up.

My next exposure to a same-sex couple was a family with a very healthy relationship. I saw genuine care and concern in ways that I would want to incorporate into my own relationships, and I couldn’t help but toss out my own prejudices. Their family is large, and open. They are willing to to extend love and acceptance to so many people, without qualification. They are truly amazing.

So, I may not be very political, but I can’t help but want to be sure I show up to vote in November.

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25 Responses

  1. Alisa says:

    I like how this post hits on a lot of the non-political considerations that Margaret Young’s post did. I think that on an intimate, individual level, it’s hard to be political, and it’s necessary to be compassionate. The post-modern ethicist Emmanuel Levinas said we see the vulnerability and need to be compassionate when we can see the faces of others. This is true for me as well. I had some pretty limiting ideas about homosexual people when I was in high school, but in college, about four of my high school guy friends (only one who was LDS) came out. Faced with that proximity, I learned to readjust my judgments and hope for their happiness.

  2. cchrissyy says:

    I haven’t blogged my opinion before, but since I just summarized it in email, I’ve got it ready for here too. it fits.

    Personally, I’m disappointed about the church’s stand. Let them marry who they will, but don’t interfere with legal protections for non-member families. Same-sex households already exist. The adults are already gay, the kids are being raised, the houses are owned. As far as I’m concerned, letting them have official “marriage” is just a legal shift affecting their social security and medical decision making and income taxes and not related at all to whether or not gay people set up committed households and raise kids. My children already go to school with their children. Gay families are already here. And I want them to have every right.

  3. Jim Donaldson says:

    I was the bishop of our ward from 1991 to 1997. Ours is a central city ward and includes the area of the largest concentration of the city’s gay population. There were/are usually about 500 members on our ward list, in more than 400 families, meaning the membership is overwhelmingly single.

    In those days, we received hard copy membership records from SLC in the mail once a week. On Wednesday nights I’d call all those new members that had phone numbers. I discovered that around 10% of the ward was inactive gay members. More than once a month I heard heartbreaking stories about estrangement from families, 4 years of “therapy” at BYU, failed marriages, semi-testimonies, anguish, pain, and frustration. A significant percentage almost begged not to be excommunicated because their parents still had no idea.

    During that time our stake president was taking an aggressive stand in public meetings, instructing us that gay members were not to be allowed to have their names removed from the church and we were to call disciplinary councils, etc. At least periodically obedient, after each of those phone calls, I’d contact my SP and explain the situation. At that point, his aggressiveness melted as the rhetoric was tempered by real flesh and blood and I was instructed to just ‘be kind,’ and take no action. After several months of this, he told me to stop calling him about these, handle them prayerfully and informally as best I could, and if something out of the ordinary came up, to call, but he didn’t want to hear about it any more. It was too painful. And that’s what I did.

    You can’t hear those stories and remain untouched or unmoved at the pain and the sadness. I didn’t know what to do, and I still don’t know what to do. But I knew what NOT to do.

    These are difficult times. We need, I think, to remain focused on the people, ‘the sheep,’ and feed them.

  4. Tronchik says:

    I find this topic very interesting because I have many, many homosexual friends. I have talked to them about it and I was surprised to find out that not all of them supported this measure. When I asked one of my close friends why, he told me that it went against his personal beliefs about marriage. I couldn’t help but agree. I’d been holding back my opinion in order to hear his. The truth is, according to LDS teachings, that marriage is instituted for a man and a woman. The doctrine behind it is simple, we are meant for each other. We are to progress as man and woman, bearing offspring if possible, and learn and grow together. I do believe that there is love is many homosexual relationships and some of my dearest friends have chosen to be in same-sex relationships, but I cannot deny that I do not believe that their relationships will continue after this life. It would be a fraud to marry them to each other, promising them that they could be together. That is why I cannot advocate homosexual unions.

  5. nicole says:

    “I cannot deny that I do not believe that their relationships will continue after this life. It would be a fraud to marry them to each other, promising them that they could be together. That is why I cannot advocate homosexual unions.”

    So my question is, do you also believe marriages between a man and a women outside of the temple shouldn’t be advocated either because they won’t be together in the afterlife? One has to remember that not all people are LDS. Some people just want equal rights for their families in THIS LIFE. Why don’t we let Heavenly Father figure out the next.

  6. Caroline says:

    Jim,
    Wow. Thanks for your story. It would have torn me apart to be in your shoes and have to make those calls to the SP.

    I rejoiced when I heard the news about the CA decision to allow gay marriage. For me it’s a social justice and equity issue. I want all the loving and committed gay people out there to have the same privileges and rights I enjoy.

    As for the Church, I don’t expect them to recognize gay marriage anytime soon. And that’s their prerogative. But it doesn’t seem like too much to hope that they might some day open their arms up wide and say, “We’re all sinners. Come and worship and serve with us.” That’s my fantasy.

    As for the CA marriage amendment, Cchrissyy you said it perfectly – the Church should stay out of it and not interfere with legal protections of other people.

  7. D'Arcy says:

    I went to church with my Episcopal friends on Sunday and I was delighted to see many gay, happy couples there. They fit in, they were loved, they were accepted, they followed the teachings of Christ. They were allowed to take the sacrament (and so was I, something I am not supposed to do in the LDS church). It was such a great experience. I wished so much that our church would open its doors too.

    Seeing the news and people picketing gay marriage with signs that say “God hates fags” and other horrific things is not Christian behavior. Where is the love? Where is the acceptance? What would Jesus really do? I just wish there was more room for the “sinner” in LDS society.

  8. Jana says:

    D’Arcy:
    One of the aspects of Quaker Meeting that I appreciate is that there are gay and transgendered members of the congregation. None of this is necessarily ‘obvious’ (perhaps because it’s just so normal in SoCal to mix with all different types of people–for example, I work with and we live near many gay people), but it’s certainly quite a change from LDS services.

  9. Lori says:

    I am horrified by some of the comments I have read here. Some posters are disappointed in the church, fantasize that the church will recognize homosexual marriage and think the church should just stay out of it. Yes, these are some of the comments here. Is this site designed for Latter-Day Saints or not? Do you who post here believe that the church is true? Do you not understand the plan of salvation requires marriage and eternal sealing of children to their mothers and fathers?

    Do you not recall that the First Presidency has urged you, urged all of us to give of our means and time to pass the California marriage protection amendment? This is a call from the Lord to act and work on his behalf to protect what God has ordained. How can you respond to this call with attitudes such as these? Please visit http://www.protectmarriage.org and offer your help with a worthy cause. This is a righteous endeavor and may save California from the destruction that will surely come when wicked pervert the true and everlasting covenant of marriage.

    I am glad to receive the direction of the church. We have been called to take a stand for marriage as only God has ordained. We have been called by prophets of the Lord. Having heard their words, how you can then say that you are “disappointed”, or wish for the acceptance of homosexual marriage, or think the church should “stay out of it” is outrageous!

    You are being influenced by he who wishes to destroy us. You have yielded to a prevailing idea that this is about adult rights. It is not. It is about the eternal plan for exaltation, that marriage and sealing of generations of children to their fathers and mothers must be unbroken. This is a beautiful plan that is going on in temples across the globe. Anything less is to cheapen and counterfeit that which is holy. This is what Satan is trying to do. He is trying to make an unholy and artificial version of the family equal to what God has designed in order to break the human chain that binds us to heaven.

    “To get salvation we must not only do some things, but everything which God has commanded….It mattereth not whether the principle is popular or unpopular, I will always maintain a true principle, even if I stand alone in it.” –Joseph Smith

  10. Abby says:

    Thxs Lori for your comments. I can’t see any passage or verse in the Bible where homosexualism is accepted. Have we forgotten about Sodom and Gomorrah???

    I have gay friends and I love them to
    bits-but I believe marriage is instituted between a man and a woman and not same sex people. It’s totally wrong and not right!

  11. ouestdieu says:

    I hope that last comment was joke. Seriously.

  12. AmyB says:

    Of all churches, I would think ours would have a little sympathy for nontraditional marriages. And with our history of persecution and being driven from place to place, we could have some sympathy for others who want to be left alone to live their lives out the way they choose. I don’t expect that the church will be sealing gay couples to each other in the temple anytime soon, but I so deeply wish that we could live and let live.

  13. Beekeeper says:

    Lori,
    First, I’m going to provide you with a website as you have so graciously offered one of your own. It is http://www.abanet.org/family it is the american bar associations resource site for family law. If you do your homework, you will discover the true threats to family dissolution i.e. the primary causes of divorce. Now, lets talk irony. One of the greatest causes these days is addiction, specifically pornography. Did you know that Utah, (in the areas with greatest density of mormon residents) has the second highest internet search rate of pornography in the country?
    Financial strain and irresponsibility also ranked highly. Did you know Utah has the highest paycheck to paycheck loan rates in the country as well as staggering credit card debt and (in the past) disproportionate bankruptcy rates?
    Unfortunately, Utah also is in the top few for antidepressant use in the country, did you know that emotional problems are another big cause for divorce? and while I’m on the subject (as one of the biggest side effects of SSRI’s is diminished sexual libido and muted sexual responsiveness) did you know that one of the number one reasons men state for divorce is “sexual compatability”?
    So my problem is Lori, and the reason I can’t get behind the church’s “donate your stuff” drive, is because it makes no sense to get fanatical over an invisible threat when there is no effort behind the true existing threats to failed family. I’m glad “you’re glad to receive direction from the church” but not all of us need all of our thinking done for us. Unfortunately, as history has well shown, leaders make mistakes and leaders are wrong and leaders evolve in their thinking. We were once all going to hell for using birth control. Blacks were once lesser people without any equality in mormon religion and heaven forbid someone consider interracial unions as that was definitely an influence of “he who wishes to destroy us”. Of course,reading your Joseph Smith quote we can always invoke polygamy arguments, but I’ll leave that one alone.
    In summary Lori, if you want to save your forever family and put your efforts behind a worthy cause, instead of witch hunting a fictional threat, you and others should focus your efforts at the known causes of divorce and family destruction, or is that a little too close to home? And I wouldn’t worry too much about the “destruction that will surely come” to California, none of the other countries or states that have legalized have fallen into the ocean, I doubt Cali. will either….

  14. Kiri Close says:

    Hey, Lori! sounds like you haven’t orgasmed in years.

  15. gladtobeamom says:

    It is nice when you can share your views and not be attacked. It is unfortunate that this has become attack Lori forum in the comments. The last comment is really juvenile.

    I do think we need to open our doors to everyone gay, sinners whatever. It is certainly one of our failings as Mormons to reach out to everyone.

    However I don’t think that that should involve changing certain aspects of the gospel so that everyone is comfortable. Their wouldn’t be much left. We would become the do whatever you want church with the belief it will be ok in the end. I don’t believe that will end well with anyone. I personally do not want to be part of any church that would change things just to get people in the seats. A church that tells me what I want to hear instead of what God wants me to hear. I believe he knows better then us even if sometimes it is hard and especially when we can’t understand the why.

    There is a reason we feel uncomfortable with certain things. That being said I don’t think we have to change where we stand on certain issues but we do need to change how we view people and be less judgmental. We need to love them even if we don’t agree or understand them. After all we are all God’s children.

  16. Zenaida says:

    I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping up with the discussion. I just returned from a vacation.

    I was hopeful that with this post I could put more of a personal face on this issue. Thank you Jim for your story. I think, Lori, that it is important to remember that these are people we are talking about and not just random “sinners.” Maybe they are making poor choices. That’s not for me to judge, but they still deserve to be treated as human beings. It is very difficult for me to dismiss people outrightly because of something they have no control over. The only way I can possibly relate is if I were told, “The only way you can reach the celestial kingdom is to sleep with a woman for the rest of your life.” It would be so difficult for me to choose either celibacy or something that goes against everything my instinct tells me is right. I don’t know what the right answer is, but I think it is important to see the other side before making a choice like showing up in the voting booth in November.

    In my ward, the first wave has been talks where the point of “It is impossible to just live and let live because of the importance of this issue, and the view of the church,” is emphasized. Also, I’ve received an email stating that we have an important issue to give our voice to in November, and we need to be registered to vote with a link to the state’s voting registration page. It just feels strange to be getting political urgings from an ecclesiastical source.

    Thank you Beekeeper for your analysis. I also think it’s important to keep our history with us.

    You know, the church does not advocate marriage outside the temple. The church advocates a civil marriage over “living in sin,” but I think that is seen as a lesser of two evils. I’ve never personally seen a wedding outside the temple that was not seen as a disappointment to friends and family members within the church.

    I must also say that I’m disappointed that people are resorting to cheap shots in attacking those with conflicting views. gladtobeamom, I agree that this should be an open forum where we discuss, not a zone where we resort to simply trying to offend one another.

  17. Lori says:

    This is not a time for “witch hunting” as I have been accused. This is not a time for condemning those with same gender attraction. There is no sin in those feelings and no need to accuse those who testify of the truthfulness of eternal marriage of infering there is. But marriage has been created by God for his precious purpose and He will command his followers to defend what is right. Protecting marriage is an opportunity to be an instrument on His behalf at His bidding. I would urge all my fellow Latter-Day Saints to do your duty to Him.

    I further would encourage you to read Elder Oaks Q&A on the subject of same gender attraction and gain a spiritual insight of this subject from an apostle and prophet.

    “There is no fullness of joy in the next life without a family unit, including a husband, a wife, and posterity. Further, men are that they might have joy. In the eternal perspective, same-gender activity will only bring sorrow and grief and the loss of eternal opportunities.”– Dallin H. Oaks

    http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/same-gender-attraction

  18. AmyB says:

    Lori, I don’t know if our comment policy is
    easily viewable since we’ve moved to wordpress,
    but this is a place for discussing our own
    personal points of view, not exhorting or
    preaching to others.

    That said, I can understand where you are
    coming from because I have been there. I used
    to think the same way that you appear to. It
    just doesn’t make sense to me any more. I find
    it just as offensive to try to dictate to other
    people who do not share my beliefs what they
    can and cannot do with their personal lives as
    I would if the government were to try to force
    the LDS (or any church) to perform
    marriage ceremonies for homosexual couples if
    they did not want to.

  19. Zenaida says:

    “There is no sin in those feelings and no need to accuse those who testify of the truthfulness of eternal marriage of infering there is.”

    Lori, perhaps I am unclear on what you are trying to say here, but I fail to understand how you can hold this view in context with your assertions that marriage should be reserved for man and woman. I’m assuming that you are saying the sin comes when those feelings are acted upon. It just makes me sad to think of the degree of repression necessary for someone with same-gender attraction to live “right.” You might say that each of us have our cross to bear, but again, I’ll just say that it makes me sad.

    “There is a reason we feel uncomfortable with certain things.”

    I’m not sure what to think about this. I personally am uncomfortable with the idea of engaging in a same-sex relationship because I do not have any attractions like that, but I am no longer uncomfortable with the idea that people can engage in happy, healthy same-sex relationships, because I’ve seen them.

  20. Lori says:

    Zenaida–you say repression, I say overcoming temptation. It is challenging to overcome, as all temptations are. But we must do our best to be obedient and to persuade others to be obedient.

    Not everyone faces this temptation, but we all face temptation of one kind or another. That some seem willing to accommodate or exempt a group who have in common same gender attraction from obedience to certain laws of God troubles me greatly. We do not have a cafeteria-style gospel. We cannot cherry-pick which commandments apply to us. I recognize that no one is perfect. But we must try. We all struggle with temptation of some sort. Let us strengthen one another rather than make excuses and accommodations that are contrary to the gospel.

    Those who oppose the church on marriage seem to be saying that the law does not apply in all cases. They want to give them permission to disobey. Only God, He who gave the law, can remove our obligation to obey it, right? No group has a special dispensation to commit sin. Nor would we think its fair if our Father would have such a double standard for his children.

    I wish to strengthen my fellow saints on this issue that we support one another in standing for truth. This issue of same gender attraction is polarizing wards everywhere. My own ward has seen its share of temple recommends pulled and calling releases because of their opposition to the church’s urging that we work to protect marriage. I fear this issue may be the catalyst that creates a giant rift in the church that when its over will find fewer faithful and more members having gone the way of the world.

    And to AmyB—these are my profound personal views and feelings. I am troubled, I am afraid, I worry, I believe. Sorry if you think I am preaching, but it was clear to me as I read the others’ “personal points of view” that they criticize the only true church and those called to lead us. I could not sit silently while so many were piling on. I am sorry if I did not comply with policy. My only wish was to defend the church.

  21. Jana says:

    Lori:
    The problem with the church so ardently promoting Prop 8 (or other similar measures) is, in my opinion, that it’s not about the church being forced to marry gays in their temples. It’s about the church campaigning against gay marriage (and civil liberties for gay couples) for NON-MORMONS. Okay, sure, I can get that the church can decide who they get to marry. But why spend so much time (and money) on non-members’ choices?

    Lori I’m really curious to know where you live–where are ward members losing their temple recommends because they aren’t supporting the church’s political stance on gay marriage?

    To others: would you be willing to sacrifice your temple recommend because of your beliefs on this issue?

  22. Caroline says:

    Jana, in answer to your question, I would. But it should never come to that. No person should ever lose a temple rec because they have a different political point of view. I realize there’s that question of sustaining our leaders, but I think you can sustain them and still disagree with them on certain things.

    Lori, I appreciate the sincerity of your stance, but I have a different take on things. I believe all of us – every single one of us – picks and chooses which things to obey and which to not obey. Do you drink coke? Do you watch TV on Sunday? Do you eat meat when it’s not a time of famine. Do you or your loved ones hunt? Each of those things we have been counseled by general authorities to not do, but a lot of good upstanding MOrmons do them anyway. They have simply decided to deemphasize certain things and focus on others.

    The same, of course, can be said about those of us who would like gay marriage to go happen. We are focusing on some gospel traits (inclusiveness, forgiveness, acceptance, love, equity) and not emphasizing others (those 2 or 3 verses in the bible that seem to forbid homosexual relations.) Our consciences have led us to this place.

  23. ThomasB says:

    Thanks to everyone for sharing their views and insights. My first real exposure to the gay lifestyle was when I started a professional career at a Major Retailer (Yes it is stereotypical but extremely true).

    During my 10 year tenure at this company I formed many associations with many gays. Most were very positive. One of which has been a very close friend ever since. He is a kind, loving, gracious person who would do anything for my family and would be the first person there for my wife if something happened to me (yes even before our home teachers….. whoever they are). There were also some individuals who held me in contempt because I was a Mormon and for no other reason.

    I have spoken in depth to many of my gay friends and associations and have learned so much about their “plight” as it were. The struggle to come to terms with their feelings and all of the ensuing difficulties when they accepted these feelings. I cannot imagine.

    All of this being said I cannot abide supporting gay marriage. Yes I will attend my friends ceremony in October because I love him and because he asked me to be there. Should he be allowed to have a legal partnership recognized by the state and country? Yes! Should he be free from impediment to make legal and healthcare decisions for his partner should the need arise? Absolutely! Should this be called “marriage”? No.

    Call it whatever you will. Recognize it everywhere. Just do not call it marriage. It is not the same as my marriage to my wife or my parents and do not pretend to act like it is.

    There is nothing godly about the gay lifestyle. If you disagree then take a peak at the news during gay pride weekend to learn what gay pride is all about. I don’t know but I do not think that leading around your loved one in a dog collar and flogging his naked body in the street is anything to be proud about at all. Feel free to chime in if you disagree.

    Once I was doing some training in San Francisco and my friends we polite enough to allow me to spend the night and their home so I would not have to commute. That night we went to the Castro District for dinner. I could not believe what was on display for the world to see in the windows.

    My friends partner was embarrassed for me and mentioned that they should have not brought me there. I appreciated the sentiment and replied that I was not quite sure previously but that everything indicated to me that the focus of the gay lifestyle was on deviant sexual practices. I did not get a response to indicate any contriction.

    Through all of these years growing up in the church, developing my own testimony, serving as a missionary, as Elders Quoram President, teaching seminary and other auxillaries, and serving as a Bishop this is what I have learned first and foremost. Following is the key.

    Right now the current prophet has stated that we must “defend” marriage against this “attack”. Trust me this is exactly what it is and do not think for a second that the GLTC is not thrilled that the church is doing what they knew it would do.This is all about mainstreaming the “lifestyle”. It is all about eroding morals which in time will lend to the collapse of our society (Remember Rome and please do not revise the history).

    At the end of the day I do not have any answers why some are predisposed to being straight or gay and yes I am relieved that I do not have to struggle with those considerations. I do believe that the Lord does know and will make every consideration when sitting down with those individuals in the final interview. I believe he will be compassionate in a way the we cannot comprehend in this sphere.

    Those of you that are members you are “free to choose”. I suggest you do it prayerfully. Those of you who despise the church. Please find a different hobby for you will be happier.

    Oh, and if between now 30 years the prophet proclaims that we will support gay marriage so will I. I will be judged for following and he will be judged for his decision.

  24. AmyB says:

    Hi ThomasB, You said to chime in if you
    disagree, and I must do so strongly. This post
    isn’t meant to be a debate about the merits of
    gay marriage, so I won’t go there. But I do feel
    compelled to note my disagreement with your
    characterization of what you call “the gay
    lifestyle.” Just because some people at the gay
    pride parade behave certain ways, or sex shops
    exist in certain districts does not mean that
    is representative of all or even a majority of
    gay people. Straight people engage in what you
    would call “deviant” sexual behavior as well.
    There are sex shops galore catering to straight
    people. You are taking a few points of evidence
    and assuming they apply across the board, helping
    to maintain your view that our gay brothers and
    sisters are very different from you and there is something
    “deviant” and wrong with them.

    Did you know the Brigham Young stated that
    monogamy was the cause of the downfall of the
    Roman Empire? Social constructs of sexuality
    were completely different in those times. There’s
    no simple comparison to what we have now. If that
    is your argument against gay marriage, it’s an
    argument built upon a foundation of quicksand.

  25. Kiri Close says:

    hey, gladtobeamom, and others–you make think my comment is juvenile, but this conversation on same gender attraction at the core is not an issue of church, per se.

    It is an issue of understanding human sexuality at the psychoanalytical level (at the very least). Period.

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