Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In Response (Part II)

In the comments to the previous post (On Blogger, not Facebook) The author of the original note responded with her feelings.

Read that comment before pressing on: (I've also attached it to the bottom of this entry.)

I apologize for not knowing you are from Los Angeles. I figured you were in UT, and I should have checked.

I think you mis-understand what I meant by the church asking gays the same thing in regards to celibacy and marriage. What I mean by that is that the church will never recognize, nor be forced to recognize or solemnize gay marriages, and therefore there is no chance for companionship in this life for a gay mormon. I was not insinuating that if gay marriage were legal that the church would have to shine it’s blessing upon gay sex.

You also seem to get very hung up on the sexual aspect of homosexuality. I realize this is the “icky” part that everyone immediately thinks of, but living openly as a gay man doesn’t not mean having sex. It means not fighting yourself all the time, and not having to hide. You take for granted that you are straight. You agree with the church that homosexuals do not choose their feelings—so imagine you have to spend your whole life fighting them. Imagine if the prophet commanded you that your feelings towards your fiancĂ©/husband or boyfriend were never to be acted upon, and in fact, you had to play out your life acting like a lesbian, could you do it? Wouldn’t it be incredibly hard and painful? Well reverse that, and that’s exactly how it feels to be gay and in the church. It hurts, and it’s not easy—especially when everyone around you is professing that how you feel inside, is an abomination to God.

“Gay people who tell the ward about their homosexual relationships are disciplined”. I never said gays who are in the church should be giving talks about their relationships—I’m talking about the members who are gay and DON’T act on their feelings. They TOO can be disciplined, even though they’ve broken no commandments, because Mormons are not yet ready to handle the idea that homosexuals can be and are worthy members of the church.

“I am interested in knowing what doctrines, council and scripture precede the doctrine we currently have on the issue.”

There is no doctrine that counter-acts the Mormon Church’s stance on Homosexuality—that is clear, and has never been in question. The scriptures that I’m referring to are

D & C 134:4 and 7
4 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish bguilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

7 We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.

And as stated previously, the 11th Article of Faith
11 We claim the aprivilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the bdictates of our own cconscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them dworship how, where, or what they may.

As well as these words, spoken from Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley:
“I plead with our people everywhere to live with respect and appreciation for those not of our faith. There is so great a need for civility and mutual respect among those of differing beliefs and philosophies. We must not be partisans of any doctrine of ethnic superiority. We live in a world of diversity. We can and must be respectful toward those with whose teachings we may not agree. We must be willing to defend the rights of others who may become the victims of bigotry.
(in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 94–95; or Ensign, May 1995, 71).

That's why Utah is being called on its bluff--the church's official statement is that they are not against equal benefits and privileges to same-sex couples. So they've proposed 5 laws in Utah to help achieve the level of equality enjoyed in states like California. We'll see the true feelings of the church when these laws fail to be passed by the Utah legislature. Or maybe they'll surprise me--I can always hope.

No, no one was forced—but some were coerced, I know that when I said I would not assist in calling on a phone bank, that my faith was called into question. Even if I am mistaken, is it the Church’s policy to insult people’s faith when they are weak? Aren’t we supposed to uplift those who are weak and unsure? Set a positive example?

“You don’t know my gay friends” No, but I know my gay friends, and they are all ANGRY with the Mormon Church. If they are level-headed people, they may respect your unwavering belief, but they are angry and hurt, and they don’t feel the same way about you as they did before. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to go to your gay friends, if they really exist, and ask them “How do you feel about my involvement in dismantling gay marriage in California?” I am 98% positive that the answer will equate to sadness at the least, and anger and betrayal at most.

“Couldn't I respect their desires while still upholding my beliefs?” Yes, you can respect their desires—but voting to take them away is not respect, its backhanded. You cannot look a homosexual in the eye and tell them you respect their desire to marry whom they love, and then turn around and vote to take away what they want. It doesn’t make sense.

“Our leaders have given us the church's point of view on this issue and I for one will heed the council of the Lord.” – I’d point out that the council of the prophets in the past has been that African Americans did not have the right to marry whites.—You’d have sustained that as well, I assume. Because I know I wouldn’t. I’m aware this is a part of its history the church wants to hide, but it can’t. The only semi-logical argument I’ve ever heard for this is that the Mormon membership was not ready to allow interracial marriage and African American’s to hold the priesthood—not God. If this is your best argument, then I’d like to state that the God I’ve come to know doesn’t withhold his blessings to his children because it makes others uncomfortable.

I’m going to assume that since there was no rebuttal on the points about tax exempt status and this country’s role as a protectorate of the minority from the tyranny of the majority, that you’ve agreed with me or at the very least have no non-secular argument. I realize that in the end, you think this is the right thing to do, based on your interpretation of the words of the Prophets and God. But remember, the church asks us to seek our truths and have them confirmed—if they really wanted you to just fall in line with everything that’s ever said, what is the point of having that doctrine? Why do we need to pray about the prophets council if we know he’ll always be right—what’s wrong with blind obedience then?

I appreciate the dialogue you’re giving me the opportunity to voice, and your civility in the matter.


The response from Joy, the author of the original post.

First of all all I said was that we no longer practice polygamy. I never said that have disowned our history of it. As a member of the church I know that if President Monson were to stand up at General Conference in April and tell us that the Lord had commanded we begin the practice of polygamy again, I would submit.
Second (this is kind of a side note) I am from the LA area of California so when I mention contention in our state I am referring to California. I stated the church didn't contribute money to the actual yes on prop 8 campaign which is true. They did pay some travel expenses. Now, we as members of the church, as I have previously stated, believe that there are people with homosexual feelings who do not choose to have them but the sin lies in acting upon them. Thus, when you say "just as we ask hetero men and women to remain celibate until marriage, we ask gays the same thing" you are mistaken. Because we believe that homosexual actions are sinful we do not believe that they should be married unless it is to someone of the opposite sex. We don't condone homosexual relationships at all, it is not a question of whether they are married. As a member of the church I would expect that you understand that there are varying degrees of sin; this accounts for the time difference in deferring missions. You're right, the church doesn't allow you to live openly as a gay person. Gay people who tell the ward about their homosexual relationships are disciplined. I believe that if someone was actively involved in fornication (heterosexual) and was shouting it on the roof tops that they would be punished similarly to those gay people who divulge their personal sins. If, however, a homosexual kept his or her sins private and simply spoke to the bishop about it, I believe similar punishments would be issued to them as are issued to those who fornicate and simply tell their bishops. And YES, if someone is a member and says that they are having homosexual relations they should have their temple recommends taken away because we don't believe they are worthy. It's not just sins of homosexual actions that cause the remand of temple recommends.
I am interested in knowing what doctrines, council and scripture precede the doctrine we currently have on the issue.
I would also like to know if you are aware that unless something comes from the mouth of THE PROPHET it cannot always be counted as entirely true. Apostles and general authorities are sometimes mistaken in their discourses. (Just in case your preceding evidence comes from people other than the prophets.)
I don't think that anyone was forced to give money to the campaign or felt threatened if they wouldn't. That's simply ridiculous. You said that members were asked to donate of their TIME and money. That means not just money...
And finally, Ezra, you don't know my gay friends and therefore cannot know what their level of respect for me is. Could it be that my gay friends respect the fact that I stand up for my religious beliefs and am unwavering? Couldn't I respect their desires while still upholding my beliefs?
Our leaders have given us the church's point of view on this issue and I for one will heed the council of the Lord.


Joy Kara said...

I know that I cannot fully understand the feelings of those who are gay or the situation that they are in. Thank you for providing the scriptures you referenced. I would like to know if you really feel that gay marriage is a form of worship. I believe that the scriptures are saying that we believe all people can worship freely. I personally do not consider marriage a form of worship, unless one is using their marriage to glorify God. What are your opinions?
Do you consider marriage a right or a privilege?
I'm sorry that you felt coerced by some in the church, you are right that if one's faith is struggling they should be uplifted, not put down.
Ezra, I am a convert to the church. I was actually baptized October 13th of 2007 after attending church for 2 years while waiting to turn 18 and be baptized. The issue of African Americans is still one that I struggle with, however, I do believe in blind faith. If the spirit tells me the church is true and all of the doctrines contained in it are true, then even if I struggle I will have faith. I believe that we are asked to pray about the words of prophets not to justify to ourselves that what they say is true, but to continue to strengthen our testimonies and find that the spirit reassures us about even those things which we find hard to swallow.
I have another honest question, not meant to be hurtful or rude.
Do you think that you can oppose those things the prophets have told us to do (when I say oppose I mean believe that what they are saying is wrong, not just opposition in deed) and still consider yourself an active member of the LDS church?
When I say "you" I am not necessarily referring to you as an individual, just a general you.

I also appreciate your civility and this exchange of ideas and opinions.

Abelard Enigma said...

Do you think that you can oppose those things the prophets have told us to do (when I say oppose I mean believe that what they are saying is wrong, not just opposition in deed) and still consider yourself an active member of the LDS church?

Speaking for myself: Yes. As an active member of the church (who happens to be gay) I believe it is possible to support the church leaders even if we don't agree with them 100%. Infallibility is not part of our doctrine.

Matt Duff said...

I posted this question on a blog I am part of. A group of us just created a blog that has the opinion of many members of the church.


Feel free to leave a comment, opinion, and pass the site along. I would love to hear people's opinion on this matter.

Matt Duff said...

To make sure the posts are all on the same page, I am moving my post to the argument about how we entered the political sphere so we are fair game to here.

But I want to ask the question here that is at the end of my post. What, exactly, are the principles that we are advocating homosexuality on.

Wow, this conversation is sapping all of my mental strength. Too many posts and opinions to respond to.

The short one first: in response to the comment of the church entering the political sphere. The problem is that the opponents of Prop 8 are not addressing the issue of Prop. 8, they are addressing Latter Day Saints and the faith of Latter Day Saints. It is one thing to say that they disagree with Prop 8 and to say that all should be treated fairly under the constitution. It is quite another thing to say that missionaries are barging into people's houses and going through their underwear in a frantic attempt to rip up their marriage license. Also, it is a very large departure from productive dialogue to state that all people who oppose same-sex marriage are bigots and full of hatred and intolerance. Not only is this an inability to see another viewpoint, but it is hateful speech.

Yes, the church participated in a moral issue fought over in a political sphere, but that does not mean that there places of worship should be fair game to protest at. Also, why the focus on the Mormon faith? 70% of the black voting population voted for Prop. 8. Are they going to densely black locations and protesting there. Also, it was the people of California who voted for Prop. 8, not the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Are they going into the people of California's neighborhoods and protesting? No, they are singling out a vocal minority who expressed the feelings on an issue.

I reiterate, calling a people hateful or bigots is just ineffective dialogue. It also shows a true inability to see things from another perspective. I consider homosexual behavior to be sinful. Do you hear me saying that everyone who advocates homosexual marriages is an antichrist and a promoter of wickedness? Of course not! I assume the best of people. I assume that they are doing what they feel is right. Why can't we be the recipients of the same tolerance? Why can't you assume that we have some valid points that need to be addressed?

If we are bigoted then so is almost all of the US. It seems that a very large premise is that "we cannot tell people who they can love." I have also heard the argument that "we cannot require others to live by our morals." I have also heard the argument that if it "does not hurt you why do you care." If that is really the argument then why do we not advocate for the rights of brothers and sisters to marry? I AM NOT SAYING ANYTHING ABOUT THE GOODNESS OR BADNESS OF EITHER HOMOSEXUALITY OR INCEST HERE, JUST ILLUSTRATING A PRINCIPLE. If those are really the two viewpoints than it should be argued that a brother and a sister should be able to be married. Remember, we cannot tell people who they can love, we cannot cast our morals on others and incest does not hurt us, so why should we care. If those principles were furthered a relationship between a brother and brother would be just permissible as any other relationship.

But that is the very point I am trying to make. We can make others live by our morals. That is all a society is. It is a group of individuals who come together to DECIDE COLLECTIVELY what laws they want to live by, what moral codes they want the group to adhere to. We do not permit brothers and sisters to get married because we LEGISLATE MORALS! And we have every right to. The majority should rule. We decide as a culture (majority) what morals we want to live by.

Anyway, I am going to post this on my blog too because I think it is too long for a comment. I will come back and check the rebuttals; I assume they will exist.

Dan said...

So many words...it hurts my brains. You know Ezra, after reading your arguments, it reminds me of the Scopes Monkey Trial. It had something to do with monkeys and microscopes or something -- oh wait, evolution, that's right.

It reminds me not so much of the fact that religious beliefs were being imposed in the public forum, but rather how you argued.

In the sweltering Tennessee Summer of 1925, two of the greatest trial lawyers at the time stepped into the court room to argue (in essence) religion vs. the State. Clarence Darrow for the Defense, backed by the ACLU, was pitted against opposing council William Jennings Bryan.

Bryan structured his case on the moral distaste of the theory of evolution. He figured that any scientific argument would be overwhelmed by the devouts' complete revulsion that they descend from monkeys. Darrow, however, studied the Bible and scripture. In a completely unorthodox move, Darrow called Bryan to the stand and began questioning him on the literal interpretation of the Bible. Completely overwhelmed by the Defense's case, Darrow couldn't hold his own and struggled to answer any questions.

And we all know how that case ended up....well, the Defense lost after a 9 min deliberation by the jury. But, then they took it to the Supreme Court...and lost that one too. But evolution can be taught in school today! So there.

The point I'm trying to make is your arguments remind me of Darrow's. You are in a unique position to argue and challenge the current standing of the church. Unlike most of us who can only bring non-secular arguments to the table, you have the knowledge to challenge scripture with scripture. It's not going to do any good to have people attack someone's core belief - a la Jonny Paula's argument - as much as we love him :). We have to bring the argument to them, on their terms. That is the only way there is a chance for understanding.

The journey is long and hard, but know that you are not alone. You have friends and family that stand along side of you.