Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In Response...

I've posted the original post that I'm responding to, found on a friend-of-a-friend's notes, below my response if you'd like to read it first.

Here's my response:

1. Mormons no longer practice polygamy.
This is true, but the Mormon Church abandoned Polygamy only as a condition to gain statehood--not because they no longer felt in was God's will. Polygamous marriages will be recognized and blessed in heaven according to the church, so it's far from rejected or abandoned, doctrinally speaking. Secondly, if the church feels that non-traditional marriages are damaging, then why are they not more aggressive in their pursuit of polygamous sects in Hilldale and other areas in Utah?

2. Mormons hate gay people.
This is true, Mormons don't "hate" gays, but they certainly offer conflicting viewpoints and double standards regarding the issue. I've often heard the argument that "all sexual relations, gay or straight, outside the bonds of a marriage (Not temple marriage, mind you, as evidenced by my parents who married in a ward before going to the temple) is sinful." And the argument is that just as we ask hetero men and women to remain celibate until marriage, we ask gays the same thing. See, it’s the same thing!

Unfortunately, the double standards abound. If, for example, you are preparing to go on a mission and you have hetero-sex, it takes 1 year of waiting before you can be reconsidered for a mission. However, if you have homo-sex, the waiting period is 3 years. So please stop lying and saying that "it's all the same" because it's not. Apparently, gay premarital sex is three times more abominable to God than hetero premarital sex. Also, you might say, straight people might never marry too—but they at least have the hope that someday the right person might come along. Gay members have no reassurance. Only a vague promise of a reward in the next life.

I’d also like to add that the church doesn’t allow you to live openly as a gay man—you are disciplined if you are too open with people about it. If the church really believes that the feelings are not a sin, only the actions, then why aren’t people who are living the commandments, but are gay, treated equally? I know gay Mormons (do a blog search, there’s hundreds) who’ve been threatened to have their temple recommends removed for talking about their sexuality.

3. The LDS Church contributed money to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign.
The church actually did make an in-kind donation of 2,000 dollars for plane tickets to visit the coalition in CA, so you're statement that they donated nothing is false. You are correct, however, that it wasn't that the church just took tithing money and handed it over.

The problem is that the church used fear of excommunication and disfellowship to coerce many who might have opposed or been ambivalent about the issue into falling in line with the church. At least one member has been excommunicated for his actions speaking out against Prop 8.

I live in California, and you don't understand that literally every week they spoke from the pulpit saying it was a trial of our faith to donate time and money, and it was God's will. Problem is I and other members who prayed and received the opposite confirmation from the spirit where immediately questioned about their lack of faith. How is this not force? How is this donation voluntary if you are told that not doing it is equivalent to apostasy?

3. Yes, you are intolerant for banning Gay marriage, because you are ignoring the council and scripture that has preceded this new revelation. If the church said, officially "these doctrines are now rendered null and void" by our new doctrine, that might be one thing, but that's not the case. The revelations of past and present prophets conflict, so what does one choose to follow?

My stake president came and spoke for and ENTIRE SACRAMENT MEETING about how the church wasn't getting involved in "politics" it was getting involved in a "moral issue" and that's why we shouldn't feel guilty about repressing another groups beliefs.

Remember, "we claim the privilege of worshipping almighty God, according to the dictates of our own conscience and ALLOW ALL MEN THE SAME PRIVELAGE--LET THEM WORSHIP HOW, WHERE, OR WHAT THEY MAY".

If I founded a religion that performs and solemnizes gay marriages, you have no right, both by law and by scriptural doctrine to tell me that I cannot. You are not required to accept it, but the state is, because the state is prohibited from holding the beliefs of one religion over another.

4. The argument about infringing on religious freedom is a sad and tired one. Here's why:

First off, you and I know that the church teaches that unless married in the temple "for time and all eternity", the marriage ends at death, and is therefore not recognized by God. Yet we allow these non-eternal marriages to exist in spite of our 'knowledge'. The church wouldn't dream of banning a non-temple marriage, even though it's not a marriage that will be valid in heaven. It seems pretty clear that it's a double standard, once again--sounds pretty intolerant to me.

Secondly, it's utter nonsense that the church would lose its tax exempt status or its right to perform temple marriages if gay marriage were legal—gay marriage WAS legal in California for months, and has been legal in Boston for years, and none of these lawsuits or tax questions have come up. Only members in good standing have been permitted entrance to the temple since the church's inception. No non-Mormon couple has come to the church and demanded to be married there, that I know of. And even if they had, they'd be turned away. In over a hundred years of existence, the church has never been "forced" to marry anyone it didn't want to. It's fear-mongering poppycock, and any lawyer worth his salt knows it.

5. The contention in Utah has been there since long before 8, but it's being brought out because people are tired of being ruled by a religion they don't subscribe to. It's not just, and the reason that Mormonism was brought forth in America was because it was the only place where personal beliefs were protected from tyranny of the majority. Think about it, and you'll understand.

6. Your "gay friends" have lost a lot of respect for you and are very hurt. It may not affect their outward display of friendship and love towards you, but they are hurt, very deeply, I might add, that you would tell them they are not allowed to have the right to marry the person they please. The church provides no support system for those struggling with their feelings and their sexual identity, and I know it may surprise you, but there are many, many gay Mormons who are losing their faith over this--they've struggled to do what they thought God wanted for them, only to see their faith rewarded with misunderstanding and fear.

But that's probably a-ok with the church—gotta separate the wheat from the chaff and all that...

Thanks for providing an opportunity to explain the issue from another Mormon perspective.


Original post, found on a friend-of-a-friend's notes:

I know we've all had enough of the talk about Prop 8 but I would like to express MY beliefs and opinions on the topic as well as clear up some possible myths.

First of all I'd like to clarify just a couple of things:
1. Mormons no longer practice polygamy.
Polygamy is a part of our history; it occurred but does not any longer. If you are interested in more information regarding why it was practiced you can ask me or follow my nifty link :) Anyway, my reason for writing this in this note is that I've seen and heard a few people say things such as, "If Mormons can have 10 wives, why can't I have 1?" I believe that anyone who says something like this is uneducated about our faith.

2. Mormons hate gay people.
Mormons, like almost all other religious people, believe that homosexuality is a sin. We get this belief straight out of the Bible. So no, we do not hate gay people. We view their actions as sinful, just like we view lying and fornication as sinful; it has nothing to do with the fact that they are homosexual. Also it is commonly taught among our church that homosexuals do not choose to have homosexual feelings, instead we believe that they choose to act on their feelings.

3. The LDS Church contributed money to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign.
Many believe that the LDS church as an institution contributed directly to supporting Prop 8. False. The church leaders did encourage the members to vote yes and contribute, however, no money came from the church as an institution. Instead it came from members of the church who had been urged to donate; the individual people, not the LDS Church as a whole, helped to fund the campaign.

I'm sorry I don't have a link for this one but only about 2% of California is LDS. There are more gay people in California than there are Mormons. We weren't the only ones who voted yes.

So if we are tolerant and not hateful towards homosexuals why are we so opposed to legalizing gay marriage? It's because the legalization of gay marriage would infringe on our religious freedoms. We as LDS people believe in Temple marriage. We believe that all faithful members of our church who are married and sealed in an LDS temple will be with their families forever. Most marriage ceremonies end with "till death do you part" but ours end with "for time and all eternity." Marriage and family are very sacred to our church. We believe that marriage is essential to salvation. I was married in an LDS temple in Utah and the ceremony meant the world to me. If gay marriage had been legalized then by law our church would not be able to perform temple marriages and sealings because we do not support gay marriage. This is one of the biggest motivating factors for LDS support of Proposition 8. We would no longer be able to practice our religious beliefs if gay marriage was legalized.

It saddens me to see the contention in our state. I do not like watching a place where I go to worship being vandalized (although I will say that the vandalism that has occurred has been minimal in comparison to what it could have been).

I hope anyone reading this knows me well enough to know that I do not dislike gay people. I am a friend to some and do not look down upon them.

I am not trying to fuel an argument but merely state my position and hopefully bring light to those who do not understand my religious beliefs.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope anyone who comments will do so in an appropriate manner.


Joy Kara said...

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.

Anonymous said...

When the Mormon church chose to enter the political sphere, the fact that they are a religious institution became irrelevant. They led non-Mormons in their political campaign, and they exhorted everyone – regardless of their religious affiliation — to vote "yes" on Prop. 8, which affected Mormons and non-Mormons alike.

Mormon leaders were acting in their role as citizens in the democratic process. But as citizens leading a political campaign, they cannot escape public accountability for their public actions. After all that, the leadership of the LDS cannot suddenly change roles, toss up their hands and say, "You can't criticize us! We're a religion!" They forfeited that right when they threw themselves enthusiastically into a non-religious, political campaign.

This is not bigotry or discrimination against a religion. They are politicians now, and they deserve the same scrutiny and criticism due to any other political leader or movement.

Matt Duff said...

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.

Jonny Paula said...

"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?"

Actually, Joy Kara, I am pretty sure your gay friends think you're an intolerant, selfish asshole, actually.

Basically, you are putting some bullshit you read in a 2,000 year old book BEFORE your actual friends. Not just strangers mind you, but your close friends... in this lifetime, in this mortality. Oh yeah, that's really classy.

Joy - I encourage to seriously rethink your position on this, because you are BLINDLY following some of the most fucked up doctrine ever written. The problem here is that you aren't simply "upholding your beliefs", while "respecting their desires" - you fucking VOTED AWAY THEIR RIGHTS.

You voted to make a law that says YOUR FRIENDS are LESS EQUAL than you. Way to go, why don't you just hire a slave while you're at it. Seriously - keep that Mormon bullshit in your own home, and brainwash your own children, and let Ezra, or whoever do whatever the fuck they want with their lives, because it really IS OF NO CONCERN TO YOU.

Wow, I thought we left the intolerance and ignorance of the dark ages years ago...

Jonny Paula said...

Matt Duff, I actually think incest SHOULD be allowed. I mean, it wouldn't be socially tolerated of course - but two people have every right THE SAME AS YOU DO - to marry whoever they desire.

Most importantly here though, is that EVERYONE HAS A CHOICE *not* to marry their sibling. Being gay... not exactly the same thing.

Chew on that one.

Ezra said...

Jonny, I appreciate your enthusiasm, and I agree with your message, but I hope you try and tone down your vituperation just a bit for civil discourse. Not that anyone here will change their beliefs over a blog post, but they definitely won't when put on the defensive...

Anonymous said...

Wow, Ezra, you had the opportunity to stand up for "civil discourse" and you really dropped the ball. You stroll onto the facebook page of this young woman that you don't even know and contradict her convictions in a fairly civil manner. Fine. She is kind enough to respond in a civil manner to this random person. Fine. Then a friend of yours comes in and calls this young woman despicable names and you "appreciate his enthusiasm" and "agree with his message," but ask him to "tone it down?" I don't care if you are gay, straight, or undecided, a "civil" gentleman should never just stand by and let a man speak to a woman in such an offensive way. Denounce such slanderous drivel and defend the honor of the young lady. If you're going to tout civility, stand up for it.

P.S. I don't know any of the parties involved, but I can tell you who is succeeding in winning hearts and minds...

Ezra said...

I don't think that anyone will win hearts an minds. Why do you feel the need to comment anonymously? I know your from Belgium, which makes me think that you may be on of the Fordhams, but I'm not sure. I wish I knew so I could address you as a human instead of a nameless coward.

Yes, you are right, I should have "denounced" his words. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't agree with his message. His message is that Joy is taking her beliefs and subjecting her friends who don't hold this beliefs to live under that law. That is selfish, and it runs contrary to church doctrine.

Say what you will about me, nameless accuser, but I'm at least trying. Forgive me, forgive all of us, for being a little raw at the chaos that's been caused in our lives over this issue.

Ezra said...

I don't think that anyone will win hearts an minds. Why do you feel the need to comment anonymously? I know your from Belgium, which makes me think that you may be on of the Fordhams, but I'm not sure. I wish I knew so I could address you as a human instead of a nameless coward.

Yes, you are right, I should have "denounced" his words. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't agree with his message. His message is that Joy is taking her beliefs and subjecting her friends who don't hold this beliefs to live under that law. That is selfish, and it runs contrary to church doctrine.

Say what you will about me, nameless accuser, but I'm at least trying. Forgive me, forgive all of us, for being a little raw at the chaos that's been caused in our lives over this issue.

Anonymous said...

A true nameless coward always uses a good web proxy...what country am I in now?! I'm a real world traveler.

I really don't know you; promise. Anyway, thanks for the apology; I hope the lady sees it.

Speaking of proxies, I think both sides of this debate are really using gay marriage as a proxy for other positions. I don't buy the argument from gay people that they can't love each other maximally without marriage when they have mocked the institution incessantly for years. I also don't buy that defenders of traditional marriage are only worried about the definition of marriage; they clearly don't want their children to think of homosexuality as a "normal" option.

Now back to my anonymous cave somewhere in the world...maybe I'll teleport to India?