Well…I guess I am writing this for the five of you who actually read this. Truth be told, I am writing it for myself. I don’t have a punching bag down in the basement in which to release my frustration so the verbal barrage is about to begin. After writing my “I Give Up” posting it now seems as though everyone and their mother wants to discuss Proposition 8. They must have missed the whole point of my blog. I no longer want to discuss it. Alas, I am throwing this together to hopefully (and finally) close the book on my feelings on California Proposition 8.
A little over two months ago, our local Bishop read a letter from the First Presidency (http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/california-and-same-sex-marriage) over the pulpit during Sacrament meeting and read as follows:
“In March 2000 California voters overwhelmingly approved a state law providing that ‘Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.’ The California Supreme Court recently reversed this vote of the people. On November 4, 2008, Californians will vote on a proposed amendment to the California state constitution that will now restore the March 2000 definition of marriage approved by the voters.
“The Church’s teachings and position on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan for His children. Children are entitled to be born within this bond of marriage.
“A broad-based coalition of churches and other organizations placed the proposed amendment on the ballot. The Church will participate with this coalition in seeking its passage. Local Church leaders will provide information about how you may become involved in this important cause.
“We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to
assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.“
This has inevitably sparked various talks from ward and stake leadership on the evils of homosexuality and the eventual impacts on church, family and society if it is allowed. The raging amounts of propaganda and slander assigned unilaterally on every gay person simultaneously denouncing gay bashing and promoting Christ-like love was enjoyably disgusting to say the least. Not a single Sunday has gone by since without the Proposition 8 being addressed in some fashion and usually it dominates the gospel discussions.
Recently, the state of Utah has been considering a flat rate income tax and the church was solicited for a response and gave one. It raised the following question: “To what level do members of the church give credence to statements issued by the church on social policies?”
The LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills replied to that by saying: "Church statements on public policy issues reflect the united voice of church leaders. While such statements often reflect church teachings and practices, positions on matters of public policy do not rise to the level of doctrinal declarations." (http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,605154969,00.html?pg=2)
And what of those “doctrinal declarations”? We have to look no further than the Doctrine and Covenants to find our revealed and inspired position: “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.” (D+C 134:9).
My beef with this from the beginning has been the premise that marriage is under attack and we need to prevent the gays of America from laying claim to what the conservative Christian base of America clearly holds so dear. The fact that more than half the marriages end in divorce and the insanely large number of Americans cherish the marital commitment by shunning this sacred institution and “shack up” as Dr. Laura so eloquently labels it.
Clearly marriage is failing because of the homosexual influence of America.
I also find the LDS Church taking an ironic stand on the issue. It wasn’t much more than a century ago, Mormons wanted the definition of marriage out of the hands of the government. For any of you “Big Love” fans out there (it got a second season so someone is watching), you know Mormons practiced polygamy which contrary to network television officially ended in 1890.
However, in 1862 we find the first Government legislation attempting to define marriage specifically addressing the polygamy found within the Mormon community. Church leaders were furious and were appealing to the Bill of Rights for justification: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
The Mormons wanted the government to butt out of the religious practice of marriage. They found loopholes in the legislation continued performing plural marriages. Further legislation was issued in 1882 and 1887 to seal the loopholes and the LDS Prophet received revelation in 1890 indicating that it was time to put the practice of polygamy on hold.
Now we, as members, find ourselves in an interesting situation. We are now being encouraged to petition the government to stick their noses in and define what marriage is and who can participate. We are being asked to deny an infinitesimal fraction of the population from entering into a covenant of committed love. Are Christians afraid that homosexuals may actually succeed where they have personally failed? Or maybe, out of Christian concern, religionists are trying to save them from the inevitable doom of divorce?
Why are we even looking to the government to define marriage? In the LDS church, a proclamation went out to the world from our governing leadership declaring: “We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God…”
Not ordained by the government but of God and most traditional Christian religions believe this. The answer seems simple enough: Let marriage be for the religionists and civil unions be for the government. If you would like the government to recognize your union, or domestic partnership, apply for the license. If you would like to have a religious marriage ceremony to profess your commitment before God, go to your churches. “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).
Do I even dare address the catalogues of propaganda being spewed over pulpit, during class discussion, and over the Internet?
1. “Children in public schools will have to be taught that same-sex marriage is just as good as traditional marriage.” - Is that drastically cataclysmic? Do Christians seriously fear that they cannot combat current issue education with their home taught and church instructed moral values? They are already being taught about evolution, failure of prohibition, slavery, and sex education in the public schools. Is there an epidemic of Christian teens becoming alcoholic, sex fiend, slave-owning evolutionists?
2. “It will lead to more government intrusion into private lives.” – No. Asking them to intrude into our private lives will lead to them intruding into our private lives.
3. “It will lead to speech monitors.” – Yes, just as giving equal rights to other minority groups lead to speech monitors. Now, you can no longer use derogatory names when referring to homosexuals…boo hoo hoo. The bar for public awareness has been raised to include another minority section of the citizenry.
4. “Anti-discrimination regulations will become more important than religious beliefs.” – An example was cited in which a lesbian couple sued a doctor who refused to perform a requested artificial insemination because of the doctor's religious beliefs. Although another doctor offered to do the procedure, the California Supreme Court held unanimously that the ‘1st Amendment's right to the free exercise of religion does not exempt defendant physicians here from conforming their conduct to the … antidiscrimination requirements.’ Religionists see it that Anti-bias laws will outweigh religion rights. I say that is ridiculous. Let’s say this doctor retires because of this situation and decides to open up a Bakery Café. This same lesbian couple stop by the Café and the doctor/baker decides to tell them that he will not serve them but that Starbucks is across the street and they will serve lesbians but he cannot because of his religious bigotry towards hell bound sinners. Is this not discrimination?
5. “Churches will be sued over their tax-exempt status if they refuse to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies in their religious buildings open to the public.” – The thought is that religions will be required to allow such marriages in their chapels and sanctuaries. Who knows? Maybe it will but more than likely the worst case scenario is that no one has access to church buildings for weddings or wedding receptions. So much for the cheap cost of Mormon weddings versus those of mainstream America…
6. “Religious adoption agencies will be challenged by government to give up their long-held right to place children only in homes with both a mother and a father.” – The example often cited in this one is that Catholic Charities in Boston has already closed its doors because of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts which is so untrue. Catholic Charities has not closed their doors they simply have chosen not to continue the adoption agency section of Catholic Charities because they relied heavily on state taxpayer funding to stay in business. I do not believe that LDS Adoption Services will run into that issue.
7. The implication that 100% of homosexuals are so by choice. If we just look at general authority statements on the issue over the last 20 years it clearly shows how our Church position is evolving. Ten to fifteen years ago you never heard prominent church leaders admitting that there may be those born “with tendencies.” I wonder what their statements will look like with another 10-15 years of scientific advance.
8. The constant barrage of salacious comparisons of homosexuals and pedophiles. That is almost as ridiculous as saying all adulterers or fornicators are pedophiles. The Church went through the same cycle when the huge lawsuit against the Boy Scouts was underway. “We can’t let gays into Boy Scouts because they’ll molest our kids.” Foolishness. Just state that your interpretation of “morally straight” part of Boy Scout oath means not gay and move on. That is a respected position and answer, not the fear mongering.
9. Again from the proclamation: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” I have no issue with the statement, it is that just that some people have interpreted “gender” to somehow equate with sexual orientation. I don’t find the two compatible.
10. “This is a doctrinal issue not a civil rights issue.” How is it not? We are essentially saying that Mormon morality (again which I do believe, in case you forgot that by now…) should be the civil law of the land forcing those who do NOT share our same moral code to live by and honor it. And yes, I understand that the voice of the people voted for the amendment however many years ago and now the California Supreme Court overturned it. I understand. But the question that I still have not answered for myself is: Can the voice of the people calling for a morally restrictive civil code be enforceable while still upholding the constitutional rights of all a state or nation’s citizens?
In defense of the current Church leadership, I will say that they actually issued a very well prepared document explaining to the church members why they were getting behind this. You can read it at: http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/the-divine-institution-of-marriage.
The Declaration of Independence proclaims “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Many would counter with “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). The Declaration simply states they are entitled to “the pursuit”. Just because we Mormons are so confident/arrogant in our position as “the one true church”, it doesn’t mean we can force our moral code upon the citizenry of America. “What if, “ you then ask me, “the majority of the populous decide to not allow homosexual citizens the right to marry? Doesn’t the will of the people decide social policy?”
If you accept that mentality then you are essentially saying that the will of the American people, the wickedness of a nation of Gentile non-Mormon believers, had the capacity to change God’s position to His chosen people on polygamy and declare it unnecessary for church practice.
The most insane part of this whole thing is that it isn’t going to matter what the outcome of the California vote is. The fact that California is addressing it for a second time and that the state citizens are in opposition to the California Supreme Court upholding Constitutional rights of a minority group will inevitably force the United States Supreme Court to finally address the issue instead of continually pushing it back to the states. The time has come and we need a federal policy even if it only meets the issue somewhere in the middle of both sides of the argument similar to the Roe v Wade decision did.
I will close this by maintaining that while I am voting NO on California Proposition 8, for the reasoning listed above, I do not believe that either side is completely right or completely wrong on this issue. I simply believe the Devil is doing his job and we are arguing about the wrong issue. He has achieved his goal of taking the teaching of Christian principles out of our church meetings and replaced them with the political rhetoric of hate. I once again leave you with the words oft attributed to the Reverend Martin Niemoller circa 1945 in reflection of the Nazi rise to power and subsequent atrocities:
“First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.”