Concerns about The Marriage Amendment

I have a number of concerns about the Marriage Amendment. I’ve studied the issue and pondered at length,
but still I feel uneasy about the prospect.

Make no mistake about it. I accept the Gospel doctrine revealed by the Prophets. I am willing to accept the fact that homosexual relations are sinful, and will not dispute it.

My issue with the Marriage Amendment is based upon three premises:

  1. The Marriage Amendment is inconsistent with the character of the divinely-inspired Constitution, and would fundamentally alter that character.
  2. Using legislation of any sort to ban homosexual marriages is an exercise in futility–indeed, such legislation would in many ways likely be self-defeating, subverting the very purpose of the legislation.
  3. legal coercion, particularly on religious matters, is inconsistent with the principles of the Gospel.

I hope that everyone will read these arguments with an open mind, weighing them out in their minds, and not just dismiss them out-of-hand.

Constitutional Issues

We hold the Constitution in special esteem in the Church. The Lord has revealed that he inspired the Constitution, raised up the founders to establish it and the principles it represents as the law of the land. This being the case, I have a hard time understanding why we would want to change the essential character of the Constitution with an amendment such as the Marriage Amendment.

It would be very valuable for any contemplating such a change to review the document. It is not long, nor for the most part very complex. As citizens, it is wise for us to be familiar with the Constitution. Not merely with the individual rules and concepts of the document, but the Constitution as an organic whole. As we do, some interesting patterns emerge.

The original Constitution (that is, the Constitution as originally ratified, prior to any amendment) is a document rigorously limited in scope. The founders ultimately crafted a charter concerned solely with the structure and process of governing. The bedrock principles upon which the Constitution was created were representation of the governed, accountability of the governing to those governed (more limited at the time than what we expect today from democratic institutions, but rather more broad than virtually any other nation at the time), and limitation of governing power. Aside from concessions demanded by the slavocrats in the South to protect their interests, virtually the entire Constitution was aimed at promoting those principles.

Even those limits and safeguards established in the original Constitution were not enough for many around the nation, including some of those attending the Constitutional Convention (most prominently George Mason of Virginia). They demanded a Bill of Rights (consisting of the first eleven amendments) which would protect the rights of individuals from the federal government (and ultimately, after the passing of the Fourteenth Amendment, from the state governments). One of their foremost concerns in doing so was to protect the minority from the majority. These were mostly classically educated men, people who had studied the history of Greece and Rome. They had seen how the Greeks used the democratic practice of ostracism to deal with unpopular minorities and individuals. They saw how religious minorities had been persecuted throughout Europe with the consent of the majority from the advent of Christianity onwards. They saw that the tyranny of the many was no better than the tyranny of the few. They were suspicious of the possibility of the majority to use the government to persecute and eliminate opposition. For them, it was essential to protect not just popular speech, actions, and religions, but unpopular ones as speech and religions.

The rest of the amendments deal with one of three issues. They either refine the processes of government (the Twelfth, Twentieth, Twenty-Second, Twenty-Third, Twenty-Fifth, and Twenty-Seventh Amendments); expand civil and political rights (the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Seventeenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-Fourth, and Twenty-Sixth amendments), or enhance the national character of the country (the Fourteenth and Sixteenth Amendments).

Thus, the core principles of the entire Constitution are freedom (“life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” to quote the Declaration of Independence; to use the term most often used in the Church, “agency”) and democracy (public participation in the political process, which participation increasingly expanded over the years, as well as an accountability upon the part of governing officials to that public which has consented to be governed by those officials).

I will digress momentarily to forestall those who would claim we are not a democracy, but a republic. This is true. But because we select our representatives through election–the public chooses who will speak for them—that republic is based on democratic principles.

Those are the only principles represented within the Constitution as we have it today. Ultimately, the founders and virtually all following generations understood that to include anything more than these principles–the basic essence of their and our belief in government–would be to subvert those principles. Statements of religious belief or moral strictures would undermine the freedom the founders so fervently advocated. Thus there is no mention of God, aside from a reference to the date, in the entire composition. The Constitution was not a testimony, but rather strictly a document on governing and establishing the principles upon which governments should run. They knew that the promotion of moral principles and standards was not stewardship of government, but rather the realm of churches and individuals. If we believe the Constitution to be divinely inspired, is it not likely that this refrain from religious statement, this tacit approval of the separation of Church and State, was also divinely inspired?

There are two exceptions in the entire Constitution to its moral neutrality, and both are rather instructive. These are the Eighteenth and the Twenty-First Amendments. The former instituted Prohibition. The latter repealed the former.

Prohibition was promoted by a groundswelling within the religious community, with a very worthy goal in mind. I can certainly appreciate their desire. I would be thrilled were there no drunkenness and alcoholism. And we know that the Prophet Joseph F. Smith was an enthusiastic advocate of the Eighteenth Amendment.

But Prohibition ended up an unmitigated disaster. Drinking was undiminished, while crime grew rampant. By the time it was repealed, a great many of the former supporters were leading the movement to repeal (the Prophet was not among their number, and he lamented after the Twenty-First was ratified).

With the passing of the Twenty-First, we again have a governing contract in the same essential mode as it was when inspired by our Lord. Its very restricted, narrow, even pure focus is upon the proper principles of government: freedom of choice, accountability, and democratic participation.

The Marriage Amendment would fundamentally alter that focus and therefore the very character of the Constitution. No longer a document solely about governance and the relationship between the government and those governed, the Constitution would have stepped into morass of moral edict.

I am very concerned about such a change in the character of the Constitution. Do we really want to do something so drastic to this divinely inspired code? Is there perhaps anything we can learn from the last time an amendment was ratified which pushed the Constitution over its very narrow boundaries? When one step is taken into those waters, what is to prevent another one? How far will it go? Do we want government meddling in role properly belonging to religion and individuals?

It would be one thing to establish the marriage relationship by regular law passed through congress. But to play with the fundamental document by which our nation defines itself alarms me.

Self-Defeating

Even were this an ordinary law as opposed to a Constitutional Amendment, I would hesitate to support it. By any practical measure, it will work no better than Prohibition. I tend to do a lot of study of political and social issues. The whole process fascinates me. One thing that I’ve found is that even well-intentioned efforts to instill moral values in others are self-defeating. I can’t help but wonder if the conservative movement to ban homosexual marriage will be equally as self-destructive.

At the very least, the amendment will prove futile. After all, what is the core sin in homosexual marriage? It isn’t having two people of the same gender living together or sharing finances. Were that the case, the entire missionary force of the Church would be in sin, as would the vast majority of the college student population.

No, the root of the problem is sex between members of the same gender.

Does anybody really think that homosexual couples will stop having sex because a Constitutional Amendment prevents their marriage? Will they break up and seek heterosexual companionship?

Hardly. Virtually all will go right on with what they are doing. So at the very least, the amendment will accomplish nothing of value.

But the greater risk is that the amendment will actually hurt the cause which its leaders claim to promote. Homosexuals, usually with justification, feel judged, condemned, and even persecuted. This amendment will only make them feel more so. What will be their reaction? They same way that they react when others go out of their way to condemn them. Just the same we react when others go out of their way to condemn us (think the protesters at General Conference). Whether it is the boycott and anti-gay demonstrations at their parades, or the vocal indignation at Brokeback Mountain, it is all the same. They, like us, will circle their wagons. They will become defensive. When people are defensive, they are not open to listening or discussion.

So the Amendment will, like so many conservative actions, defeat its own purpose.

Gospel Principles

Why do efforts to use legislation to promote morality seem to fail?

I think a lot of it has to do with the simple fact that such methods are not consistent with the proven Gospel principles.

One of the most important concepts in the Church is that of agency; freedom, the right to choose for ourselves what we will do or believe. This principle is an essential part of the Gospel. Without agency, we cannot grow or progress. Understanding this, we stood up for agency in the War in Heaven. The principle was crucial enough that our Father was willing to lose one-third of his children over it.

Agency is so vital that the Book of Mormon repeatedly shows the great respect that servants of the Lord have for freedom.

Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah choose for a time to undermine the Church and to lead people away into wickedness. Yet their fathers, Prophet and King, did not seek to restrain them by force or law. Instead (presumably after much pleading with their sons), they turned to the Lord in prayer (Mosiah 27).

Nehor was allowed his freedom, which he chose to squander in teaching false doctrine and satisfying his greed. When he was eventually taken into custody, it was not for his sinful lifestyle, but because he had crossed over from living sinfully to the crime of murder (Alma 1).

We should respect and promote agency. Except in areas where sin deprives others of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” (ie, murder, rape, and other forms of physical violence, theft, etc) we should preserve their freedom to make their own choices.

Alma’s later life leads to some valuable lessons. He was simultaneously the Chief Judge and the Prophet. But when he grew concerned with the iniquity rising throughout the land, he very carefully kept his roles separate. He did not seek to establish laws banning the sin he saw. He instead gave up his government role so he could concentrate on curing the sin in the proper way (Alma 4:15-20).

What is the proper way to deal with sin? We have a wonderful guide in the D&C 121:41.

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.

While this verse specifically addresses the priesthood, I would submit that this is the proper mode of moral instruction and improvement for all.

This is why the efforts of the Religious Right tend to fail in their goals. I fear that all too often, as in the Marriage Amendment, they succumb to the sin of unrighteous dominion (D&C 121:39). They in their pride would force their conception of morality on others. But whether that morality is right nor wrong, the very act of coercion is wrong, and will inevitably fail. Legal coercion is not a legitimate method of moral inculcation. Christ does not want us to follow him because we are forced to. Such “righteousness” is meaningless. He wants our hearts, or willingness to follow his example.

Therefore, the best way to deal with the problem of homosexuality is to use “persuasion, long-suffering, and love unfeigned.” We must respect them as human beings. We must respect their choices. Respect their right to have their parades, and their Brokeback Mountain‘s. We don’t have to participate or support them, but we can and should allow them to pursue their activities (their “pursuit of happiness”) in peace. Get to know them and to love them. Only once they trust us and know that we don’t hate them will they be willing to listen as we share with them the Gospel. Only then will their hearts possibly be receptive to the Spirit. Only then is there a chance they might accept the Savior, and if it is possible (a dubious prospect), change their orientation—or at the very least, seek to suppress their desires.

This seems to me to be much more in harmony with the teachings of the Gospel. This is more reminiscent of the Savior, who did not exclude or marginalize the sinners, but instead walked, dined, and spent time with them. He was not interested in telling them how bad they were, but rather in sharing with them the joy they could find in righteousness. I prefer to follow his example than to take a treacherous path which I fear will lead nowhere.

I am not suggesting that homosexuals should marry. I can accept the counsel of the Prophet that they should not. Nor could the government force the Church to perform homosexual marriages. The 1st Amendment guarantees the Church the religious freedom to refuse to perform homosexual marriages or to recognize them as acceptable within the Church.

What I am saying is that if homosexuals want to be married civilly, or if other religious bodies wish to perform homosexual marriages, we should not prevent them. We believe in freedom, and that must by necessity include the freedom to think, believe, or do what is wrong.

There is a great deal of scriptural support for religious freedom. As we have already discussed, Alma did not use his role as Chief Judge to promote the Gospel. Indeed, he insisted upon freedom of religion in the land and tolerance for other beliefs by the members of the Church (Alma 1:21). King Mosiah refused to judge the sinners taken in sin, as this was the prerogative of the Prophet, not the secular ruler (Mosiah 26). Once King Lamoni was converted to the Gospel, he did not establish the Gospel as the law of the land. He instead declared freedom to worship as the people saw fit (Alma 21:22). The Book of Mormon leaders routinely asserted the right of the people to reject Gospel morality for other beliefs.

Joseph Smith himself enshrined religious freedom in the Articles of Faith:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almight God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Understand as well that the freedom of religion includes the freedom to reject religion. Just as in choosing dinner, I can choose not to have dinner, so must a person in choosing his religious beliefs have the right to choose no religious belief. To eliminate that option is to make the entire choice a lie.

There are some faiths out there that wish to permit homosexual marriages within their organizations. That should be their right. There are also many homosexual couples who have chosen to reject religion, and who feel it morally valid to enter into a relationship which provides all the civic benefits of marriage and which they want to call marriage. Such should be their right should they so choose–just as it is our choice to believe the Gospel precept that homosexual relationships are sinful, and to try to convince them of this.

The true test of our commitment to liberty comes when people choose to choose contrary to our beliefs. Will we pass the test, or will we be proven hypocrites?

Final Thoughts

I had an uncle who was gay. He died of Aids a few years back. But prior to his death, he lived in a committed relationship with another man for several years. This partner was devoted to my uncle. He stuck with my uncle through all sorts of terrible illnesses, painful and physically humiliating treatments, and the knowledge that their time together was going to be brief. I can’t help but believe that such dedicated partners deserve the same sort of hospital visitation, health care, and end-of-life decision rights as any committed heterosexual couple, even if the relationship itself is not ideal in the eyes of the Lord. I cannot believe such love, sacrifice, and devotion is not in itself pleasing to the Lord.

Does homosexual marriage threaten or harm marriage? The idea is questionable at best. The Right would say that Homosexual would distort our concept of marriage. That threat is a quite exaggerated. Nobody can change the concept of a true, binding, eternal marriage for us. If others have a different concept, that is their right.

If marriage could be threatened by human action, heterosexuals would have annihilated it long ago. Infidelity has always been widespread. While I do believe that divorce is sometimes valid, there is no question that far too many undertake divorce lightly. How could committed homosexual couples harm marriage any more than serial monogamists such as Rush Limbaugh? The scriptures have a number of harsh words for divorce. Why is not Focus on the Family denouncing him and serial monogamists like him? Why not promote an anti-divorce amendment?

And who are we in the LDS Church to cast stones about non-traditional marriages, anyway? Considering our history in that regard, I would think we would be a little more accepting of the right of others to pursue marriage according to their own conscience in peace.

Frankly, I’m a bit perplexed as to why so many want to make such a big deal about homosexuality. Yes it is a sin. But it is far from the most insidious sins. The Scriptures address homosexuality a handful of times. The Book of Mormon, according to the Topical Guide, refers to homosexuality only once–and that only in passing (2 Nephi 13:9). In contrast, the scriptures contain hundreds of references to the plight of the poor, to honesty, to pride, and to greed. Homosexual sin is a temptation to a small fraction of the total population. Pride, on the other hand, is a challenge for the vast majority of us. Why the focus on homosexual sin?

I would suggest that there are two primary reasons for the concern with homosexualty. Neither have to do with the morality of homosexuality.

I see two primary reasons for this. The first reason is that homosexuality is for most of us, frankly, “Icky.” Call it homophobia or not, we find the idea repulsive. This seems to be a natural enough feeling considering the cultural atmosphere in which we are raised. But the fact that the sin is particularly “icky” to us does not make it a more egregious sin than those we ourselves engage in. We are all sinners. We are not justified in singling out homosexual sin just because it is “icky.”

The second is the human tendency to scapegoat. How easy it is to complain about the mote in someone else’s eye! Much easier than dealing with the beam in our own. If they can be blamed for our problems, we obviate our responsibility to work for change.

Neither attitude is worthy of followers of the Savior. We are called upon very specifically to love everyone. We are commanded to take care of our beams before worrying about the motes of others.

If we truly want to protect and preserve the family; if we want to defend Christian values, we will strive to raise up a society in which we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the homeless, and care for and heal the sick. We would work to share what we have with others, fight against greed, selfishness, pride, and hate. We will seek to unify and gather in the Lord’s children rather than to divide, marginalize, and alienate. We will seek to share the Gospel word through gentle persuasion and love unfeigned. And we will not obsess over wedge issues and futile legislation simply to send some message about our moral standing.

All of my studies and prayers have led me to seriously question the wisdom of the Marriage Amendment. I certainly don’t expect or ask anyone to be convinced based upon my words. But I hope you will think about them, and pray on the issue. If you truly find that your support of the Marriage Amendment is confirmed by the Spirit, then by all means go ahead. But please make certain that your support isn’t based on prejudice and pride.

40 Responses to “Concerns about The Marriage Amendment”

  1. One Utah » Blog Archive » Special Conversations Says:

    [...] The local blog “A Liberal Mormon” provides a classic example of how what would otherwise be considered dissent, takes instead the form of reserved “questioning” dressed in subtleties of scripture and use of the passive subjunctive and third person plural, such as “we can succumb to the hubris [or…],” expertly crafted so as not to be confrontational. [...]

  2. Benjamin Says:

    I think that this blog is very important and a wonderful breath of fresh air for critical thinking Latter-day Saint discourse. There is one part of the “concerns about the marriage amendment” issue that is just based on a very traditionally protestant/catholic reading of the Sodam and Gommora story. 2nd Nephi 13:9 passingly discusses the Sodam and Gommora “sin” but it does not discuss “homosexuality.” The Book of Mormon is completely silent on the issue of homosexuality. Do you really think that the ancients understood this issue as we do today? Do you think that Paul (in the New Testament) understood it like we do? There was no word for a person who was homosexually oriented. When you think about the fact that the word “homosexual” was only coined in a clinical sense during the past century and a decade how can anyone anachronistically say that the ancient Apostle Paul or the Nephites had a name for it or understood sexual orientation as we do today? The Bible is an empty closet as far as I see and so is the Book of Mormon. Even the Doctrine and Covenants is when one realizes that this issue wasn’t even a topic of discussion during the times when the sections of the D&C were being recorded. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t just as many homosexually oriented people during those days as there are now. Also this passing reference in 2nd Nephi is refering to the Isaiah passage linked to the story of the cities of the plain.

    If you read Dr. Hugh Nibley’s interpretation of the sins of Sodam and Gommora in Approaching Zion you will see that Nibley never once discusses homosexuality as though it has a connection with the cities of the plain. Rape, lust for power, greed were many of the things that happened in the ancient cities of the plain. If you look at 2nd Nephi 13:9 you have to have a preconceived view of the term “Sodam” before you can interpret that scripture that way. Also look at the entire text and you’ll see that the Lord is often talking about how the I have found a link to an excellent discussion regarding the Sodam and Gomorrah at a gay Evangelical Christian website http://www.ecwr.org/resources/homosexuality.html

  3. Benjamin Says:

    A Correction: In the last sentence of the last paragraph of my statement on the fallacy of connecting the Sodam and Gommorah story of corruptionn with homosexuality there is a portion that was left out. If you look at the text of 2nd Nephi 13:9 you’ll see how the prophet is focusing a great deal on the terrible and ungodly ways in which the poor are treated. The ill-treatment of the poor is one of the greatest sins of Sodam and Gommorah.

  4. cb Says:

    This is a really good post . . . that I disagree with in many, many ways. Be prepared for a LONG response. Here goes . . .

    “With the passing of the Twenty-First, we again have a governing contract in the same essential mode as it was when inspired by our Lord. Its very restricted, narrow, even pure focus is upon the proper principles of government: freedom of choice, accountability, and democratic participation.

    The Marriage Amendment would fundamentally alter that focus and therefore the very character of the Constitution. No longer a document solely about governance and the relationship between the government and those governed, the Constitution would have stepped into morass of moral edict.

    I am very concerned about such a change in the character of the Constitution. Do we really want to do something so drastic to this divinely inspired code? Is there perhaps anything we can learn from the last time an amendment was ratified which pushed the Constitution over its very narrow boundaries? When one step is taken into those waters, what is to prevent another one? How far will it go? Do we want government meddling in role properly belonging to religion and individuals?

    It would be one thing to establish the marriage relationship by regular law passed through congress. But to play with the fundamental document by which our nation defines itself alarms me.”

    It seems as though Derek is saying that the passing of a constitutional amendment restricting rights is contrary to the nature of the Constitution. In other words, his contention is that (minus the aberration of prohibition, we have only passed constitutional amendments that expand rights. The simple fact that the Bill of Rights and Slavery Amendments are phrased in positive language, should not disguise the dual nature of the amendments. Each amendment passed that expands a right does so by limiting another. The language “Congress shall make no law . . .” or “No State shall deny . . .” is an infringement upon the rights of citizens within the United States, or their individual state, to exercised their democratic rights. Indeed, Derek does not argue that the interpretation of the right to privacy into the Constitution by the Supreme Court is a deprivation of rights to unborn children or their fathers . . . and I’m sure it is not because he does not believe that they are actual, protectable persons. The Constitution is full of limitations on rights . . . those that the people (or the federal courts) view as fundamental enough to enjoy protection from legislative action. The strict requirements of constitutional amendment, coupled with limited faith in the people, were designed to ensure that only those truly fundamental and important principles became part of the Constitution.

    Reasonable people may disagree about the WISDOM of such an amendment, but, to argue that we shouldn’t do it because it might change the Constitution boils down to a rejection of the liberal idea of the living constitution . . . which, we assuredly have.

    NEXT . . .

    “Does anybody really think that homosexual couples will stop having sex because a Constitutional Amendment prevents their marriage? Will they break up and seek heterosexual companionship?

    Hardly. Virtually all will go right on with what they are doing. So at the very least, the amendment will accomplish nothing of value.”

    On this issue Derek violates a fundamental law school principle: don’t assume there is only one purpose underlying a proposed law. Derek may be right (and I think he is) in his contention that this law will not stop homosexual conduct . . . but is that really the purpose behind it? What other purposes might there be? What about preventing the legitimating function of laws sanctioning homosexual marriage? This amendment would preclude such laws, and therefore prevent any legitimizing function that they might have. I’m no social-pyschological scientist, but my experience with human nature supports the principle that people conform their conduct to the limits of the law. Additionally, there are benefits associated with marriage (primarily sociological in nature, in my opinion) that would only be obtained through compliance with the constitutional rule . . . that might aid people in choosing a heterosexual direction. I realize that this sounds extremely paternalistic and ignorant to many, but I have a religious belief (in common with Derek) that says we are under an obligation to help aid individuals (while respecting their agency) to find true happiness—and I believe that happiness does not exist in homosexual marriage. This amendment defines choices and sets out consequences that I believe are within God’s law, and therefore not contrary to the principles of agency. Others may disagree. Finally, isn’t there something that is gained by a society defining its own moral principles. This amendment would do that, unequivocally. We do it all the time with our criminal law, even though its deterrent effect comes under fire periodically. I disagree that every attempt to legislate morality (because this is more than religion) is self-defeating. What is law other than a legislation of morality?

    NEXT . . .

    “What is the proper way to deal with sin? We have a wonderful guide in the D&C 121:41.

    No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.

    While this verse specifically addresses the priesthood, I would submit that this is the proper mode of moral instruction and improvement for all.
    This is why the efforts of the Religious Right tend to fail in their goals. I fear that all too often, as in the Marriage Amendment, they succumb to the sin of unrighteous dominion (D&C 121:39). They in their pride would force their conception of morality on others. But whether that morality is right nor wrong, the very act of coercion is wrong, and will inevitably fail. Legal coercion is not a legitimate method of moral inculcation. Christ does not want us to follow him because we are forced to. Such “righteousness” is meaningless. He wants our hearts, or willingness to follow his example.
    Therefore, the best way to deal with the problem of homosexuality is to use “persuasion, long-suffering, and love unfeigned.” We must respect them as human beings. We must respect their choices. Respect their right to have their parades, and their Brokeback Mountain’s. We don’t have to participate or support them, but we can and should allow them to pursue their activities (their “pursuit of happiness”) in peace. Get to know them and to love them. Only once they trust us and know that we don’t hate them will they be willing to listen as we share with them the Gospel. Only then will their hearts possibly be receptive to the Spirit. Only then is there a chance they might accept the Savior, and if it is possible (a dubious prospect), change their orientation—or at the very least, seek to suppress their desires.”

    If this true principle really stands for what Derek suggest it stands for, then why have laws or rules at all? Derek knows that Agency does not mean freedom from consequence. No one is prohibiting homosexual conduct. To do so is currently unconstitutional anyway (and should be). This late-amendment forces morality on no one—it is society (as a whole) defining their conception of the most fundamental relationship among individuals. I agree that the “best way to deal with the problem of homosexuality [or adultery, or divorce, or whatever sin you want to include]” is according to D&C 121. But that does not necessarily mean that society cannot with good conscience pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

    FINAL THOUGHTS:

    As I said, Derek’s posting is exceptionally thoughtful. I disagree with it, though. Derek has a fond habit of urging the “conservative movement” to be cautious, or to beware. Can I, in good faith, send along the same warning to him? Derek–It is not a trifling thing to second-guess the brethren. Both you and I know that they do not say things lightly. I know you didn’t take their pronouncement lightly, but you stand on the other side of the line when you disobey. I believe acceptance of that obedience principle is part of what it means to be a Mormon. Many rebel at that, and think we’re all deluded because of it, but I don’t believe you or I believe that.

    Thanks, and I’m a conservative who appreciates your blog.
    I enjoy your blog.

  5. Richard Redicj Says:

    I enjoyed Derek’s original post very much. I must take issue with the conservative “cb” who posted on July 18, 2007. Derek is not disobeying the Brethren when he opposes an ammendment to the United States Constitution that governs what has heretofore been a state regulated issue (marriage). The First Presidency authorized its press corp to release a PR statement that stated that the Church supports such an ammendment. The only press release (that I am aware of) that members have been obligated to follow has been Wilford Woodruff’s Manifesto. That obedience of the members was not required immediately, but the Manifesto became binding upon the saints after vote by a constituent assemby of saints gathered in Salt Lake City (I believe for General Conference). In other words, the Manifesto was accepted by common consent. Keep in mind that the Manifesto is not a revelation. Wilford Woodruff never represented it as a representation of God’s will. He did say that the Lord told him what to write. It must not be a representation of God’s unalterable will, because Wilford Woodruff married a plural wife several years after the Manifesto. The Manifesto, as well, is not a statement of the First Presidency (only signed by Wilford Woodruff). Like the press release that states the Church supports an ammendment that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, the Manifesto started as a press release. The significant difference between the two is that the Manifesto was also accepted by common consent as binding upon the saints. That step has not happened with this most recent issue. Of course, it really cannot happen, can it? If a letter was crafted on this matter of affirming heterosexual marriage by constitutional ammendment, and it was read in sacrament meetings across the United States, and sustaining votes taken, it would be easy to see the Church (and the Brethren) as dictating in political matters. I don’t think that the Brethren are very anxious to try that.

    Notwithstanding the high unlikelihood of such an event, I am still justified in affirming that Derek is not disobeying a directive from the Brethren. He cannot disobey a directive that was never given, or that does not exist. From the language in your post, it appears that you attended law school. I did not attend law school, but I would think it difficult for one who has read the law to disagree with this last statement of mine. Derek cannot disobey a directive that does not exist. Further, while ignorance of the law is no excuse in civil and criminal matters, it is in the Kingdom of God. The scriptures reveal that God himself will judge us according to the law which we have received. The scriptures also say that the saints shall receive all things by common consent. Derek has never received this position of The Church by common consent, because it has never been so extended. Although it is the expressed position of The Church in the public arena, it does not, necessarily follow, that the expressed position is also the position of each member. It also does not follow that each member should be expected to so adopt it as his or her own. The Church can posture itself as an institution that stands ready to defend heterosexual marriage and the family in the public arena through its media spokespersons, without enforcing such posturing as church dogma upon its members. I believe that is what the Church is doing. Jesus came to gather us together in principle and in righteousness, and to cleanse us from sin, and relieve us of guilt and of burdens. When you use guilt as a weapon for imagined offenses, you are not aiding the ministry of the Master. He came to relieve us of guilt, and you are – as politely and nicely as you can – trying to use it to manipulate. I mean, it was such a magnanimous gesture on your part to tell him you appreciate his blog, right after you wrote a paragraph telling him that he is on shaky ground spiritually. My heart was warmed.

  6. Bonnie Says:

    Hi, Derek,

    This isn’t necessarily for posting on the Web page. I just wanted to say hi. And tell Sara hi! It was so lovely to meet her.

    I read some of your blog and also the article you printed on fMh. Very nice! I’m impressed! All very well-reasoned and supported by gospel sources.

    I’m very, very against the marriage amendment. My first boyfriend ever, in high school, turned out to be gay. He told me years after we broke up and begged me to forgive him for lying to me. He was still one of my best friends. I never, never knew he was gay until he told me. In fact, I defended him vigorously against rumors — who would know better than I, that he was heterosexual? We had been quite close, physically and emotionally. But he fooled even me.

    But I’m so glad he did! I was very glad he didn’t go public in high school because I would literally have feared for his safety. I think people would understand homosexual people more if they had a close friend who had struggled with it for so long. I still consider him a close friend though I haven’t seen him for many years. I invited him to my wedding and would not hesitate to introduce him to my children.

    I repeatedly saw elders on my mission kiss, hug, rub each others’ backs, etc. — often jokingly, but sometimes in dead earnest. Such behavior was much ickier to me than thinking of my friend and his boyfriend in a loving, committed relationship. I really honestly think that just about anyone could be gay if they chose to be so.

    Anyway, just some thoughts. Thank you for doing this blog. It must take a ton of work! But I’m so glad to find out someone’s getting this point of view out there.

    Best,
    Bonnie

  7. fstaheli Says:

    Of all the great points in this article, the best one, I think, is regarding

    [the perplexity] as to why so many want to make such a big deal about homosexuality. Yes it is a sin. But it is far from the most insidious sins.

    I agree. Our obsession with homosexuality causes us to not treat it with the respect that it deserves. Some people are homosexual. That should be fine with us so long as they don’t flaunt it in our presence. For many people homosexuality is as perplexingly egregious as was to the Catholic church the fact that Copernicus said that the earth revolved around the sun and not vice versa.

    I also wonder why the LDS church was so crestfallen when the prohibition amendment was amended out of existence. Prohibition was a mistake in the first place.

  8. alliegator Says:

    Derek- I’ve been talking about this issue with my family again recently, and preparing for Kyle’s political adventure (we figure it would be good to be able to articulate where he stands….).

    I read through the church press release with Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman, and the only real concern that I got out of it was the one or two cases in other countries where church leaders (none LDS) have been prosecuted or jailed for preaching that homosexuality is a sin.

    What are your thoughts on that?

  9. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Allie, because our nation has explicitly guaranteed freedoms of expression and of religion, a Church leader here could not (sorry for the initial mistake) be prosecuted for preaching against homosexuality. Even Churches and religious leaders who preach racial superiority are protected.

  10. alliegator Says:

    Then there doesn’t seem like a reasonable reason to support a ban.

    Thankfully, I was reminded that sustaining the brethren doesn’t mean I have to agree with them on political issues.

  11. mellancollyeyes Says:

    This is wonderfully written. Thank you for this–I honestly was beginning to think I was the only Mormon in the entire world who has serious reservations about this amendment.

  12. D. Sirmize Says:

    No, mellancollyeyes, you’re not the only Mormon who has serious reservations around it. You’re one of at least 8.

  13. Danielle Says:

    I am SO excited to find this webblog! It’s been really hard for me as a convert to understand why I cannot be liberal AND believe in the gospel principles. It has come to the point that I have thought about leaving the church but still believing in the doctorine. People here are SO inconsiderate of others diverse political beliefs. I SERIOUSLY would LOVE to make friends with all of you. The few of us that there are. I am in need of friends who can inspire and encourage me- who love the gospel but question things. Email me @ lovetoteachec@aol.com. I NEED some help because I am faithful and I have my beliefs and I don’t want to apostacize especially since I was just recently baptized in Easter 08. Thanks!

  14. D. Sirmize Says:

    Danielle, I’m glad you joined the church and I’m glad you have found a point of view that you agree with politically. I would encourage you to stay faithful and active despite what other members do or say. If the gospel and the church are true, no amount of intolerant behavior or attitudes on the part of your fellow members would justify abandoning it. Your salvation is about you, not Joe Republican down the street who frowns at your liberalism.

    Now, I take your post as almost a threat- “I don’t want to leave the church, but…”

    Might I suggest that it is possible to be inspired and encouraged by people you disagree with politically?

    Might I also point out that politically liberal members of this church are no more intolerant than you perceive conservative members to be. The difference is that you’re in the minority.

    I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with some politically liberal members of this church. Believe me, they’re no more tolerant of differing political views than the conservatives here. I’ve been very, very offended by the leftist political beliefs of some of my fellow members. It doesn’t matter. Thomas Monson is a prophet of God, regardless of whether the Relief Society president thinks liberalism is a mental illness or not.

    I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but if you’re ever willing to abandon the church because people aren’t tolerant enough of your political beliefs, you didn’t have a strong enough testimony in the first place.

  15. Danielle Says:

    I can understand your points about me not having a strong enough testimony- I have only been in the church for six months as well as I was raised protestant my whole life. It would be one thing if I lived in the same state and went to the same ward, but coming here in California I have REALLY struggled with my testimony since the Prop 8 stuff has been jammed down my throat but I am trying VERY hard to find the middle road. Right now I am REALLY struggling though!

  16. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Danielle, there are more than a few (more than just eight, as D might have you believe) who do not believe your struggles are in any way a sign of a weak testimony, or that your beliefs are contrary to the core principles of the Gospel. Do not let the “blind faith” crowd deceive you. There are lifelong members, people who’ve never questioned the divine origin of the Book of Mormon or the restoration of the Church; people who have served (or currently serve) as bishops, RS presidents, stake presidents, etc; people frequently attending the temple; all who disagree with the Church’s position on homosexual marriage or their political efforts on that front.

    Stay with the Church, where the Spirit obviously guided you to go to find the Lord. But continue to follow that spirit and your conscience. If they lead you, as they have many of us, to challenge the policy decisions of the leadership (wonderful men all, but still human), then do so. You are not alone.

  17. D. Sirmize Says:

    Uh, Derek, I did not claim that Danielle’s struggles are a sign of a weak testimony.

    The fact that she would potentially leave the church over a political disagreement would be such a sign.

    As I alluded to in my comment above, my first exposure to the church was a bunch of liberal (as in Derek-type liberal) members in Connecticut. They mocked my Utah upbringing, my politics (which at the time were actually pretty centrist), and suggested I wasn’t as Christlike as them because of it.

    Never once did I think about leaving the church. Not that I was Joe Testimony or anything. I simply realized that the political views my fellow members had nothing to do with Jesus, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, or my salvation.

    I once had a really, really liberal Bishop in Salt Lake City. Over the years, he and I have had political debates that have almost come to fisticuffs. But when he was called as my bishop, I readily raised my hand in support.

    Apples and oranges, Danielle. That’s all I’m saying.

  18. Danielle Says:

    Thank you Derek that was inspiring and I do not feel so alone. I guess I didn’t know what to do because I completely believe in the gospel and I support it wholeheartedly- I have been down this road before with the politics in the protestant church and I left immediately. I thought the church was nonpartisan so I guess I questioned if that was true and thought that maybe I should leave like I did the preotstant church. D I appreciate the encouragement as well because my testimony can ALWAYS be stronger- even though I was thinking of leaving the church- the gospel and my beliefs in it would still be the same. I know it is the truth! I will never leave the truth- I thought maybe if I left the church for a while everything would clear up. I appreciate both of your insights as I continue to struggle- I know now that I am NOT alone! God Bless-

  19. D. Sirmize Says:

    Danielle, one of the beauties of the gospel is that while we may have ardent political disagreements, the essence of both our joys and our struggles is the same.

    There will always be personal triumph and struggle. In this we are one, friend, and that’s what matters.

  20. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Danielle, if you’d like more support, you might be interested in the website Mormons for Marriage, an organization of faithful LDS members who oppose California Proposition 8. You might also be interested in participating on Sign for Something, a petition by California Mormons who believe in a stronger separation of Church and State and disagree with the Church’s political involvement on Prop 8.

  21. David Rubert Says:

    I think you are tripping over your own profundity; missing the forest for the trees.

    1. Constitution. Big mistake here. Your entire argument is reflective of the the U.S. constitution. Prop 8 is about a state constitution. State constitutions are not even similar in nature to the U.S. constitution–they are the inverse. The fed is declaring limits, leaving the rest up to the states. Hence, the states are generally speaking much, much larger and do the work of defining all the things that the fed was trying to stay out of. Defining marriage clearly fits in with the other things California lays out in its constitution; water, education, medical research…go read it for yourself. Clearly, defining marriage could fit nicely. It certainly is not out of bounds or breaking some self integrity issues.
    No disrespect intended, but in my view you really missed the mark in your argument. However, if someone ever proposes a national constitutional amendment (and some have) you are loaded for bear with what you have written.

    2. Self-defeating. Close but no cigar on this one too. I really like your analogy and it would have worked if we were talking about stopping homosexual behavior. But we just aren’t. You can’t really stop people from drinking…you can’t stop people from having sex…yup you nailed it. However, I’m pretty damn sure that if we don’t give someone a marriage license that when they go into a court saying “I’m his husband, err wife, err sumthin” that the judge is simply going to say “No your not.” And who is going to win that argument? The judge will every time. So it clearly isn’t self defeating. Deciding what to legally recognize and issue licenses over…that just isn’t the same thing as prohibition.
    BTW-despite my thinking that you are missing the point. I could not agree more with you on the sanctity of marriage crap that is always floated around. I think the Elvis chapel in Vegas puts us well past any bound of sanctity. Your rampant divorce argument is pretty good too.

    3. Religious coercion. I argue ALL law is a reflection of values; some moral values and some not. i.e. Incentivizing savings through tax law is not morel per se but certainly reflects a value judgement. The general liberal position that morality should not be legislated is crap IMHO. That morality CAN not be legislated is true, but SHOULD not…”crap” I say. I’m sure I’ll have to explain this to people until the day I die, but the constitution does not say “separation of church and state” but is aiming to protect the church from the state. “Establish” is the key word I recall of the top of my head. The secular government interpretation is exactly that, interpretation, but I’ll argue that religious influence of government is very different from religious influence on people who then process moral teachings on their own as they go about civic matters. I will agree with you that a lot of caution and restraint is prudent at this juncture (said with Dana Carvey’s voice doing Bush 41). However, we certainly should stand for some things and clearly have the right to do so. I happen to agree that not perverting the family unit as the basic building block of our society is something worth standing for. If you want to disagree. Cool. That is how it is supposed to work. But to argue that it is improper or violating the principal of agency…it just doesn’t hold water given my view of government. Your view of government may be different, alas, again we meet the basic enmity between liberals and conservatives.

    Here is a quick yet true anecdote to illustrate. I was about 25-ish when there was this big debate about condoms going into the high-school bathrooms. One day I was visiting my pseudo-adoptive family (I have a real family too.) only to find the high-school-aged daughter explaining to her mother how draconian her views were and why she favored the condom machines. After listening for about 45 minutes to a young (but old enough to have very good arguments), caring (she had friends she loved who had been harmed through their choices), yet naive (did not have enough real experience to understand any thing her mother was saying) young lady get way too worked up over the issue…I simply asked her one question. “Megan, should we put the condom machines in the bathroom in the church?” She replied of course not and clearly articulated that the church has standards and should set an example and waiver on those standards…eureka. I simply stated that society has standards too. And in a high-school where standards are taught (even when they are not being taught) to adolescent and still developing minds is a great place to stand for something. Megan got it and sheepishly grinned.
    I know that most liberals disagree with me on this, but society does set standards (even when they are not setting standards). I’ll agree that we should not set many of them (your prohibition example fits better here than in #2) but the liberal argument that you can’t or shouldn’t…just ignores the reality of my view of what politics and laws are; collective, reciprocal judgements on value.

    May I pose a follow up question to you. Perhaps food for though and another posting for you.

    Why do gays and lesbians want to be married? What is it they are seeking?

    My company has offered benefits to partners for forever. Estate laws and such are easily addressed by a will which everyone should have anyway. The medical decision canard that is always floated is easily addressed (plus I’ve never seen a real story only the proverbial “I heard one time that…”)
    I’ll I see is a group getting huffy over something that they used to mock. Honestly, I’ve asked some gay co-workers and friends in the past and have never heard a clear rational for going to societal war. Their motivation is somewhat of a quandary for me.

  22. Derek Says:

    David, if you will take a gander at the post date, you will see that this was uploaded at the time when a movement was afoot to amend the national Constitution. Hence the opening argument on the national Constitution.

    As to the motivation of homosexuals for demanding the right to marry, I think it boils down to the correct notion that “separate-but-equal” doesn’t work.

  23. Stacy Says:

    OH my am I happy to have found this site. I’m right there with Danielle but also Der. I keep trying to remind myself they are good men, but human and the doctrine is what is true. But it is hard not to get disheartened when sitting in church being read a letter from the 1st Prez saying we should use all means necessary to
    protect marriage’. =( I guess I don’t get why it’s a big deal, we don’t consider a marriage binding unless performed in the temple. So, who cares? I’m more concerned that once the church, any church, starts to mix with govt then the door is going to be opened to a whole host of other things we are going to be really, really sad about. You can’t suppress the rights of one group without putting yours at risk.

  24. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Welcome to the blog, Stacy. I’m glad to be a window to an alternative view into the Gospel than many typically see within the Church. There are many of us who are very disappointed at the manner in which the Church has aggressively pursued the matter. If we find the core principles of the Gospel to be true, all we can do is remain in the faith and work to reform it from the inside out, as so many who were concerned about the discrimination against the blacks did in the sixties and seventies. Hopefully, our faith will bear fruit someday.

  25. Erik Says:

    This is the first time I have read your blog, and I really enjoyed reading your insights. This is a subject that I have thought about and prayed about and the only conclusion that come up with certainty is that I am glad I don’t live in California and that at this time I don’t have to vote on this issue. I have always felt that it really isn’t our job to tell other people how to live their lives as long as it doesn’t infringe upon our rights. I have never been too comfortable with the idea that allowing homosexuals to marry will destroy the family. However, I also believe that Thomas s. Monsoon is a prophet. I believe that he is the mouth of God and I believe that He wasn’t giving a light hearted recommendation. I also believe that God is all knowing, and knows much more than my feeble mind can comprehend. The problem is, I don’t believe in blind obedience. The scriptures don’t teach blind obedience. The doctrine in covenants says that the Lord will teach you through your mind and your heart, but banning gay marriage doesn’t sense to me. The common reasons seem to be 1) it is just wrong and 2) it is harmful to families. However, these reasons do not seem to bear enough merit for me to tell others what rights they cannot have. Maybe it is because I don’t live in California that I am not receiving clear answers upon this topic. Or maybe it would not be a circumstance of blind obedience, but of taking the step of faith. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that we have a prophet on the Earth, so would acting on what the prophet counsels be blind obedience or a step of faith? An all knowing God knows the future. Maybe the counsel was given because of slippery slope effect that would be caused by the denial of Prop. 8. However, it always comes back to that scripture in D&C for me. It just doesn’t make logical since to deny homosexuals the right to marriage because I believe homosexuality is wrong. It seems to do that would be forcing people to live my beliefs, at the expense of their agency. But then the thought occurs to me: Should polygamy be legal? Should adult siblings who commit to birth control be denied the right to marry? I think if you ask the latter question to most homosexuals, they will say no with the only argument being that it is just wrong. So where should we draw the line and why there? Should we eliminate the line altogether? I personally don’t think it should be legal for siblings to marry, but that means that I am contradicting myself for saying that it is not my job to tell others how they can live their lives. I really don’t know. I think this reply has expressed my indecisiveness . If anyone has any answers to the questions I asked, please let me know what they are.job to tell adults how to live their lives if it does not hurt anyone else.

  26. Jacki Says:

    Hello! I imagine you are probably getting tired of all the recent comments to a post you wrote years ago, but I would just like to thank you for a wonderfully written piece. While I am neither LDS nor any other Christian denomination, I lived in Salt Lake City for a short time and I left with a wonderful respect for Mormonism, and I defend its values as best as I can when people say things about it that just are not true.

    Anyway. Obviously homosexual marriage has been quite a hot topic lately, and I was trying to find a way to explain to some of my peers that they can personally disagree with homosexuality and still support gay marriage, and while I was making some ground, your article explains it far better than I ever could. Your blog is excellent all-around. So thank you!

  27. susan Says:

    Great Blog!! So many comments that I agree with. I feel it to my very core that free agency is a very special gift that I would never, ever want to take away from another human being.

  28. Gnostic Says:

    Everyone, first we need to agree that physiologically homosexuality is an abnormality, a perversion.

    By legalizing it we, the government, would be sending a wrong message to the growing generation, particularly conveying that it was normal, which it is not. Thus, by legalizing homosexual marriage we would be dis-educating the growing generation, thus opening the field for more perversions. The bottom line is that things must be called by their correct names.

    In general, any legal matrix is unable to cover all the endlessly growing spectrum of human immorality. The homosexual marriage issue cannot be resolved via means of the current legal matrix.

    From the prehistoric times the relationships in the society were regulated via culture, a set of values, inner mechanism predetermining the relationships between the community members (Some herds of mammals, especially monkeys have a strong culture). Later that culture developed into religion which continued to regulate the relationships in the society in its more sophisticated state. Later on Hammurabi created the first legal matrix. Which unfortunately was unable to cover all the aspects of human life. Religion was still used to cover the rest.

    Currently we have the same situation. Our laws were created to protect against human immorality, theft, robbery, plunder, physical and verbal abuse, etc. They were labeled as crimes, misdemeanors, or felonies after being put on paper. And again, the rest is left for the religion to cover. No wonder that religions (not only LDS) stepped forward to do their job in this matter.

    So, just because the society’s opinion, mentality, culture, religion about homosexual marriage is not put on the paper yet, is not made part of the legal matrix, does not necessarily mean that the society approves it. We, the society, the government, should not rush to allow it just because it is not banned by the legal matrix. We may need to decide, hopefully, that the homosexual marriage must be banned, just because homosexuality is a perversion, and to put it on a paper as a law. Which California already did. People are not the slaves of the law, the legal matrix. The legal matrix (reflecting their culture, or religion, if you want, or mentality of the society) is created by the people to serve them. On this planet homosexuality is a perversion. Therefore we may need to create a law banning it. Unless the majority are for it either because they are practicing it, or are in favor of those who are.

    Actually, here are numerous ways for homosexuals to still have the same BENEFITS (which is what they are fighting for) without legalizing their unions. I am sensing that the only thing that is going on here is that Satan is trying to spoil the growing generation. He is actually laughing at the stupidity of our society in this matter. We should not even discuss this matter. The Prop 8 should not even been brought up to vote on it. There are more serious problems plaguing the society. We are free falling without a parachute and are trying to notice and fix flaws in each others hair style.

  29. Urban Koda Says:

    Excellent post Derek!

    A couple of thoughts…

    First on Gnostics comments. I think a valid arguments can be made that homosexuality is abnormal, but my experience with those who have same sex attraction is that it isn’t a choice they have made. So abnormal yes, but a reason to discriminate against a person, definitely not. Gnostic also supports polygamist relationships where 14 year old girls are taken as brides, as well as the stoning of women if they are accused of adultery. I’m not saying we should discriminate against polygamists. In fact I believe it is a personal choice that should have legal recognition (unless you’re taking under age girls as brides – in which case I would argue that castration would be appropriate) but supporting polygamous unions, while discriminating against homosexual marriages is pure hypocrisy.

    Second, something I heard on TV a few nights ago struck a chord with me. We defend religious freedom in the country with all our hearts. Religion however is a personal choice, and not something you are born with. I fully support religious freedom and would defend it to the death, even if some choose to use that freedom as an excuse to try and suppress the rights of others. At the same time however, those born with same sex attraction do not appear to have as much of a choice. Why do we defend a matter of personal choice with such vigor, yet at the same time, discriminate against something which is not necessarily a choice?

    Allowing those who feel differently to solemnize their relationships in the same way that we are able to solemnize ours, does not take away from marriage at all. In addition, it doesn’t require you to accept or embrace their lifestyle or anything like that. It’s imply a case of allowing others the freedoms upon which this country was founded, and the freedoms which have allowed the United States to become the nation it is.

    If you feel threatened by homosexual marriage, it may be an opportune moment to ask yourself why. If you are afraid of your children seeing a same sex couple, perhaps it is your bigotry showing and not so much the risk of damage to your children.

    My 8 year old son found out about homosexuality when some kid at school told him that all gays should be killed. We’ve discussed with him that some people are different and that that’s OK. His only distress or concern over the matter is why his friend thinks that other people should be killed. I’m a little concerned about that myself.

  30. Derek Staffanson Says:

    Urban, your thought on religious freedom reminds me of an irony about the stand on rights by the anti-homosexual conservatives. They frequently believe that homosexuality is a choice, and so don’t deserve the same civil rights protections as racial minorities, who can’t chose their race. But they certainly believe that civil rights for religion should be protected, despite the fact that religion is most certainly a choice.

  31. D. Sirmize Says:

    Is religion really a choice, Derek? Ok, maybe choice of denomination is a choice, but I have a hard time believing that belief in God and certain spiritual fundamentals is a choice. We can choose whether to nurture that or not, but I’m not sure it’s a choice.

    Take me for example: I’m not “religious” at all. I’m not way into my religion’s culture, per say. I don’t really enjoy reading scripture, and I don’t find going to church all that inspiring. Personality-wise, I’m apathetic to religion.

    Yet I have certain beliefs that are deeply ingrained in my soul. They shine through despite my apathy to even my own religion. I don’t feel like I chose to believe these things (in fact it would be very convenient for me to be able to disbelieve them- living right ain’t always easy, you know).

    So here I am, an active, temple-going Mormon. Nurturing my Mormon testimony is certainly a choice, but believing the things that brought me to the church and keep me in it most certainly was not.

  32. D. Sirmize Says:

    And may I reiterate what I have on many blog comments sections (it’s much more convenient to comment on others’ blogs than it is to write whole posts on your own blog)-

    This gay marriage thing is NOT ABOUT CIVIL RIGHTS. Marriage never was a civil right. This has nothing to do with morality, religion, or evil conservatives hating gay people. The argument is legal.

    Marriage is not a civil right. It’s not a right, period. Not even for me. It’s something, like driver licenses, that government chooses to sanction. By sanctioning it, it reserves the right to regulate it as it wishes. Gay relationships have NO LESS equal protection under California law than heterosexual ones.

    So let’s please dispense with the “it’s not fair”, “it’s not moral” strawmen arguments. Whether it should or shouldn’t be legal is irrelevant. This is a legal issue. Let’s deal with it on that plane.

  33. Gnostic Says:

    Utah Koda, religion is NOT a personal choice, and is something you are born with. D. Sirmize explained it well. People are born with an inherent sense of morality and immorality, sense of right and wrong, Light of Christ if you will. As D.Sirmise put it “choice of denomination is a choice” not the religion. Originally all of the religions independent of their time, place and name, were created to reflect that inherent Light of Christ. Even the Muslim religion (the last and most artificially created one) still reflects morality and social justice (it is the only religion I know where usury is still considered a blasphemy) (Actually in not a very distant past usury was considered a blasphemy even by Christianity). It is because of the priestcrafts of vipers that they, those religions have later changed their face. Although the fullness of the Doctrine is given to us, Mormons, it is an unpleasant experience for me to go to the church meetings.

    But coming back to the main point, NO person, NO society can go without a culture, a mentality, a religion. Absence of any culture makes one a savage and the society an uncivilized savage one. Capitalism has succeeded to beat out of us that which used to make us humane, the religion, the morality, thus turning us into immoral jungle animals and our world into a dog eat dog world. Dogs run on their four feet, we on our four wheels.

    Urban Koda, you still cannot distinguish between homosexuality and heterosexuality. Because you lost your religion, you are putting them on the same shelf in the existing legal matrix. How many times one must explain to you the difference. I have also stated several times in our previous debates at http://www.economicspolitics.blogspot.com that I do not support taking young ladies 14 years of age in marriage. You are employing a low life form tactics. It is also low to pack with others to form a gang to feel you are somebody. In this virtual reality only intelligence counts.

  34. Urban Koda Says:

    My apologies Gnostic, in looking back I see that you didn’t actual say you supported men marrying 14 year old girls, you only consider it “to be something more important than the Church, something way bigger than anything else in the world, something truly Celestial.” Please forgive me for believing that to be something other than support. You also pointed out that pedophiles are only sexually attracted to young children, and that if a pedophile engages in sex with older people, they cannot be considered pedophiles. Excellent deductions my good friend!

    Islam is the last and most artificial of religions – again I was mistaken thinking it originated when Isaac and Ishmael parted ways. Like other religions is has changed and morphed over time, but I can’t think of a single religion that hasn’t.

    How is religion not a personal choice? How can you possibly claim that people are born religious, yet deny the possibility that someone who is attracted to the same sex is making a personal choice to do evil and was not born with that.

    I know the difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality. I just don’t accept your opinion on the differences, just the same as you don’t accept mine.

    I would actually agree with D. Sirmize’s comment about marriage not being a right, and that like drivers licenses, it is something the government chooses to sanction and regulate. D. Sirmize have been the rounds on this in the past as well, and I think he has raises valid points when he debates. He and I differ on opinion on this matter, but I still respect his opinion on it. I support the democratic movement towards changing how government regulates marriage, and I think D. Sirmize and others fulfill and important role in that process.

    Low life form tactics – Nice mature way to approach this argument. Next thing you’re going to try and defend your argument by saying I have the philosophy of Satan in the marrow of my bones or something ridiculous like that….. Oh, wait a second….

  35. Gnostic Says:

    UK,
    By quoting me say “to be something more important than the Church, something way bigger than anything else in the world, something truly Celestial.” pertained to the Last and Everlasting marriage covenant where the plurality of wifes was allowed, polygamy, not pedophilia. i remember I have specifically answered your question on marrying 14 year old ladies, stating particularly that I did not approve the practice. Intentionally or not you have missed to quote me on that.

    FYI, Islam did not appear when Abraham sent Ishmail away. Islam has appeared in the seventh century AC (After Christ). So, you are, yes, misthken. And you can’t think of any religion that has not morphed because most of them have. That, actually was my point.

    You still do not get what religion is. Religion is much deeper embedded inside any individual than any of its visible manifestations. It is the morality, sense of right and wrong, light of Christ. I am again compelled to explain to you whatever I have stated over and over again. If you have got it, but for some reason could not agree with it, just state it. It seems to me that you did not understand my argument, which actually was brought in as reinstatement of D. Sirmize’s point. Now how is religion not a personal choice. Let’s see. A person born Muslim will not embrace Buddhism, just because he happened to be born among Muslim and from Muslim parents not among Buddhists. If he had been born a Buddhist or Hindu he would not change to Islam. This is true for any person born inside a certain religion. Although there are instances of changing a denomination due to marriage or recruitment. There are a number of factors as to why people usually stick with their original religious denomination. Family ties and patriotism are first two. But as I said most of the religions are deviations of their original versions. The point was that any religion was originally created to reflect the inner Religion, Light of Christ. Once I argued that Hindus are more Christian than most of the Christians. By that I meant that the original inner Religion is preserved more intact in other religions than in current multitude of Christian denominations. This does not necessarily mean that the essence of Christianity has been changed. The essence of Christianity is the same in the books. It is just the different branches of it have deviated either by focusing on one or two points of it or have changed the whole point (creating a pseudo- doctrine), again without changing the books. This is the case with Mormonism. We very quickly (in less than a century) changed the point of the fullness of the Doctrine replacing it with a pseudo-doctrine. In free societies like ours, where freedom of religion is part of, people have opportunity to easily change their affiliation with any religious denomination (from being a baptist to Mormon, or even to Islam, or vice versa). But again, the point argued was about the inner Religion, the sense of morality and immorality, sense of right and wrong. Apparently you have lost your Religion, which is the case with very many, and is not an impossibility at all. The Light of Christ, even though inherently furnished to every individual, cannot dwell with you forever. You have lost it by relying too much on the opinions and philosophies of men, the majority following the Satan.

    It is a low life form tactic to refuse to honestly and intelligently address issues, choose to overlook certain ones, and to distort the contexts with the aim to belittle the opposite speaker in order to achieve personal aggrandizement.

  36. Urban Koda Says:

    “low life form tactic to refuse to honestly and intelligently address issues, choose to overlook certain ones, and to distort the contexts with the aim to belittle the opposite speaker in order to achieve personal aggrandizement.”

    Alrighty then, why don’t we have an honest and intelligent discussion and if you can somehow resist calling me a servant of Satan or something like that perhaps it may even be productive? Do you think you can handle that? I don’t think you can, but I would be overjoyed to be proven wrong.

    So about the 14 year old girls…

    We started a conversation about about same sex marriage, and you got upset because you assumed that I would not defend polygamy with the same vigor. A wrong assumption because I have and will continue to do so. I disagree with it, but that is a different matter.

    You did very clearly state that you were against the practice of taking 14 year old girls to wife.

    You then introduced the argument that the early leaders of the LDS Church revelealed the true Gospel of Christ and indicated that since Polygamy and the Law of Consecration were abolished that the leaders of the Church have become abominable in the sight of God.

    Please correct me if I am missing anything here, or mis-characterizing your responses.

    I have agreed with your opinion that the current leaders of the Church are not perfect, but then none of us are, so criticism really isn’t something we should be doing. At least that’s my opinion.

    You continued to defend the characters of the early leaders of the Church in their support of and practice of Polygamy.

    I pointed out some key aspects with regard to the history of polygamy.

    1 – It’s first instance was when the prophet had what was described by his councillor as a dirty little affair with a 16 year old girl staying in their home. His wife only found out about it when she caught them engaged in a sexual act in their barn. Later the young girl was driven from the house when it was discovered she was pregnant. His own wife was never told of their marriage, and their were no witnesses to it, so I would argue that a marriage never took place.

    2 – This same leader continued to ‘spiritually’ marry other women. Generally without the knowledge of his wife. 2 of these girls were as young as 14. Many were already married to other men.

    3 – The document declaring the New and Everlasting Covenant was either revealed (or I would contend authored) by the Prophet for the sole purpose of convincing his wife that his conduct was commanded by God.

    4 – The reason he was arrested was because significant leader in the Church discovered what he had been doing and had published an article about it in the local newspaper. The prophet discovered that his had been done and proceeded to burn the building house the newspaper and destroy the printing press. This was the reason he was arrested and tried, during which time he was killed.

    5 – Prior to his arrest he attempted to destroy the document known as the “New and Everlasting Covenant.

    None of these actions strike me as those of a Prophet of God who is abiding by God’s law.

    You denied that the prophet took 14 year old brides, so I then pointed you to a website which detailed these marriages.

    You responded with the quote I used that it (Polygamy / New and Evelasting Covenant) was “to be something more important than the Church, something way bigger than anything else in the world, something truly Celestial.”

    You also stated that there is no record that he entered into a sexual relationship with either of the 2 14 year old girls, and that by virtue of him having sexual relationships with older woman, he was not a pedophile.

    There is no record that he didn’t have a sexual relationship with either of his 14 year old brides, and I would contend that based on reports of his conduct with other brides involving as they described it (carnal intercourse) that he most probably did.

    You also indicated that most of the women later gained testimonies that this was ordained of God. I would argue that for the women, gaining a testimony was the only way they could deal with this relationship into which they had entered under the guise that God had commanded it.

    There are many women who are beaten by their husbands who stay with them because mentally they convince themselves that they are the problem and that their husbands love them. I suspect the reasons for this unnatural thinking would be the same in both cases.

    So that is my attempt at full disclosure on the 14 year old girl and polygamy debate.

    I still have no problem with consenting adults who wish to enter into polygamous relationships as long as it doesn’t involve child brides and incest. I would also vote for any ballot issue which would grant these individuals the right to call it a marriage and receive government sanction of the same.

    On the matter of each of us being born with religion, there are two issues that you are combining, which I believe should be separate.

    The issue of basic morality – of right and wrong is something that I believe each of us is born with. Be it called the light of Christ or your inner consciousness. I believe it involves the inner desire to protect life, to seek for liberty and happiness and preserve those for others as well.

    Religion is a learned thought pattern. A child born to Hindu parents is not born a Hindu. Rather he is raised Hindu, and in all likelyhood will become a Hindu when he is older because that is what he is used to and comfortable with accepting.

    In my opinion, Religion is a learned pattern of thing. A pattern which is usually formalized by an institution and may change over time.

    As humans we have a tendency to seek for something more than just this mortal existence. We desire something more, something which ties us together. In many ways religion provides this, but in many ways it also seeks to limit and control this desire.

    Perhaps I have lost my religion. I don’t believe in following men who claim to speak for God blindly. This kind of thing results in men flying planes into building for God, and to tie this into the previous points, to take 14 year old girls as brides.

    I have however found an intense spiritual connection to my fellow men, and to a power greater than myself. I seek daily to understand this power more, and to align myself with the kind of person that I think I should be.

    I believe each human being has in us the seeds of godhood. Not to be awarded at a later date, based on blind obedience to a set of rules, but based on the divine nature of my spirit.

    You will note that those thoughts are very similar to things taught by Joseph Smith and other leaders of the Church. I believe that Joseph Smith was indeed a true prophet and revealed many great and amazing things. I believe that he was also a man and as such was subject to making mistakes and in the case of polygamy, some monumental screw ups. I believe that the current Church leader too are inspired men, but also possible of making mistakes.

    I believe the problem is that today many Mormons believe the prophet to be infallible and incapable of making mistakes. My personal belief is that you recognize that now, but fail to see the same problems with leaders from the past.

    I don’t disagree with you that homosexuality may be a perversion, and based on the religion which you have accepted as truth, it would appear to be a grievous sin.

    With that said, I know many moral and God fearing people who are attracted to members of the same sex. This doesn’t appear to be a learned behavior, but rather something these people were born with.

    I don’t understand it fully, and I don’t thing you, nor most of the world does either. With that knowledge, I’m not prepared to discriminate against someone because of something that is different and that I don’t understand.

    Brigham Young, another leader of the Church which you hold in high regard, but I believe perpertuated a big mistake in polygamy, also introduced the idea that God did not wish men of African descent to receive the priesthood. I believe this was another of those collosal screw ups.

    Fortunately this has been rectified in recent decades. I’m not saying that the Church should or will embrace homosexuality, but there is a parallel between how blacks were treated by Brigham Young and how the Church treats homosexuals now.

    Please let me know if I have misrepresented your opinions and past comments in any way. Also please understand that my views on the Gospel, the eternities and same sex marriage are my opinion. I mean no offense to you or other who believe differently, and I haven’t presented them as facts because they are not.

    Please do me the honor of responding with your opinion – not presented as fact as you have in the past, but rather as your opinion, which it is. If you could resist the urge to belittle my opinion or refer to me as a servant of Satan or something similar, perhaps we might even be able to have a civil conversation.

  37. Gnostic Says:

    UK
    It is good to hear that you admit the fact that I did very clearly state that I was against the practice of taking 14 year old girls to wife.

    I am still holding fast to all my assertions. I believe that the everlasting Marriage Covenant is not fabricated by Joseph Smith. I believe he was a prophet of God. He has made some mistakes. But polygamy was not one of them.

    It is good we agree that homosexuality is a perversion while heterosexuality is not. It is also good to know that you recognize the polygamists’ right to legalize their marriage. Homosexuals though are striving for benefits. Although there are numerous convenient ways to have the same benefits without legalizing their unions. Nobody has any power whatsoever to prevent them to practice their stuff.

    The Church leaders after Brigham young have gradually (under the pressure of the bottom) fallen into apostasy and are currently leading the Church astray. They have abolished the Law of Consecration. The Polygamy though was abolished under the pressure of the Laws of the Land.

    The commandment “Be perfect such as your Heavenly Father is perfect” does not call for perfectionism. Nobody is and can be perfect-perfectionist. The commandment implies free of natural man features-Perfect. Pay attention that two different nouns, perfection and perfectionism have the same adjective, perfect. Here is where everybody stumble. Again, “Be perfect” does not mean perfectionism, but perfection=free of natural man features, a saint, a Priesthood holder. Which is possible. All of us LDS are to be perfect according to the commandment.

    In general Mormons are heavily plugged in. It is impossible to unplug them. They want to be misled. Why? Because the obligation is on the shoulders of the leaders. They want to believe that God assured them many times that they can sleep like babes, thus leaving the responsibility on the shoulders of the leaders. It was a big mistake from the side of Brigham Young to say something like that. But when he said that, he meant the leaders of his time rather than the future Church presidents. Isaiah 3:12 is explicit about our leaders leading us astray.

    Truth is God. Any time you are looking for it, you are looking for God. Any time you turn away from truth, you are turning away from God. On the great judgment day He may say “I know you not.”

    My statements may often be qualified as arrogance. It is only because I do not doubt in them being in compliance with the Doctrine.

    I am not sure I am ready to evaluate what Brigham Young said about blacks. I do not know blacks. I have not interacted with them long enough to know them. But I am sure Brigham Young would provide a legitimate reason for his statements. This is not to say I agree with the idea.

    About relativism. It is truly from Satan. Relativism negates any truth=God. It particularly states that there is no truth without realizing that the statement negates itself. If there is no truth, then the statement itself cannot be true. So relativism is a self negating philosophy. Only the blind do not see it. Currently the Objective Realism is taking off.

    All the best

  38. edge_able Says:

    Interesting interview with former Hawaii Mormon marriage equality opponent, Debi Hartmann, who now renounces her past opposition and supports same-sex marriage rights.

    Here’s the link:

    http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=3710

    “Marriage opponent regrets past, now supports equality

    With the Hawaii Legislature now considering civil unions for same-sex
    couples, a former leader of the Mormon opposition to same-sex marriage
    in that state reiterated that she no longer believes what she spent
    years fighting to defend. Marriage rights, she now says, should be for
    everyone, though she stops short of actually supporting same-sex
    marriage.”

  39. K.P.P. Says:

    The bible does not bring up lesbianism or romantic relationships between people of the same sex at all. It just didn’t cross the writers’ minds. The bible specifically speaks about sodomy (some versions of the bible use the euphamism “if you lie with a man as you would with a woman…). This made sense back then considering many older men sodomized younger boys (painfully, and without the preperation any type of intercourse requires), and it was thought of as an equivilant to any other type of rape.
    Today, most people know better that gay couples know how to take care of each other sexually without hurting eachother. Since straight couples as well as gay couples today practice anal sex, it doesn’t make sense to tie in romantic feelings and saying the bible opposes either straight or gay couples that practice anal sex, it just opposes anal sex (and that’s just one book, not the whole bible).

    Adressing another point you made, that God inspired the constitution and spoke to the founders. He did not speak to the founders, none of them were mormon. Thomas Jefferson admitted in his personal journals that he was an Atheist. Although, I will not dispute that the majority of the founders were profoundly christian and that parts of the bible inspired the people who constructed our Declaration of Indipendence and Constitution.

  40. geostrophic Says:

    Can I just say that after finding Concerns about The Marriage Amendment | A Liberal Mormon on SilverStripe, what a comfort to see someone who ultimately understands what they’re talking about when it comes to this. You definitely understand how to bring a problem to light and make it worthwhile. A lot more people have got to look at this and understand this perspective. It’s surprising you’re not more popular, as you most certainly possess the gift.

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