oh bother…

I’m not sure what percentage of my readers are LDS, and though I don’t typically write about religion, it has definitely been at the fore front of my mind. All over facebook I have seen people commenting, arguing, and bashing over a recent talk given at the church’s semi-annual General Conference. The one by Boyd K. Packer. Where he repeats the same things the church has been saying for many many years. He address, with out specification, gay marriage. I know this is a touchy subject for some people, but no that there is no malice in my voice as I write this.

I’ll be honest – I was left with a bad taste in my mouth.

I know the church believes these things, but I also know that it was perceived as very discriminatory, and in bad taste what with the recent suicides. Elder Packer compares voting for gay marriage, to voting against the law of gravity.

And here is where I stand:

I don’t care, but I don’t discriminate. Just because person A makes promises to person B does not mean that the promises I made at my wedding are any less valuable or important. The LDS church also believes that it is the only true church, but I don’t see them going around saying other people can’t call their worship center a church. To me, it is semantics. If homosexual people want to get “married” then why can’t they? We talk about temple marriage as a covenant – because THAT is what it is about. It is not about the legal papers, or these earthly words that people spew out. It’s not about the “I promise to love you through sickness and health” either. MY marriage is about my covenants, and my neighbor’s marriage was about getting legally hitched before their baby was born. Lol, to be honest that seems a little more degrading to the ideals of marriage, than two people who really love and care about each other making a commitment to honor respect and support each other for the rest of their lives.

I know – this is really deep stuff, but it has been on my mind a lot. There are deeper issues to this situation, the whole nature vs. nurture thing, and a bucket of other issues. I’m not going to go there.

The church PR team released a statement in response to the Human Rights Commission. And in it, they say what I said to begin with. This is not new information. It is an untimely presentation, but nothing new. This is a church about love – God’s love. Something that is so often spoken about, but not acted upon nearly enough. It’s kind of like a piece of gum. It has helped remove the bad taste in my mouth, but I am still thinking about it. I am still bothered, still perturbed, but what all of this shows is that we are a church of human beings. People who over look things, who don’t consider hard enough, or long enough. People who coincidently hurt other peoples’ feelings. And it just shows that every one, even the upper leaders of this church, have things they can improve upon.

I don’t know that I would ever sport a bumper sticker shouting “I SUPPORT GAY MARRIAGE” – but mostly because I don’t believe in putting stickers on cars, it’s bad for the paint. Among my family and friends I think I am in the minority on this position, but I hope that people take time to consider WHY they feel the way they do about these issues. And if the reason is “because XYZ says so” (that could be the bible, God, church, your Mom, a teacher), then look a little deeper inside. Just like some one attending a different “church” does not invalidate or demean my understanding of church, some one else getting married does not invalidate, nor demean my marriage.

Continue the fun!

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm LDS and I feel sick to my stomach anytime the subject of gay marriage comes up – not because I'm against it, but because I know that many people assume I am. Some people are very quick to make assumptions about our opinions on the subject just because we are members of the church and it's nice to be reminded that just like with any other group of people you cannot make sweeping generalizations about our opinions.

    1. The LDS church is all about "personal revelation" and having that open relationship with Heavenly Father. To me that means that you can think however you want about whatever you want. If some one at church (or lots of people at church) feel, think, vote, behave one way – you can pray about it, and come to your own understanding of it. Some times that puts me at odds with people in the church, but honestly – it doesn't matter because my goal is that first relationship I mentioned. I guess that is the beauty of it. Joseph Smith had the guts to pray, and figure things out on his own, with out some one TELLING him how to live his life – and we all have that same freedom. 🙂

  2. The idea I got from the "voting" thing is that we are taking this idea of a sacred union and voting on what we think it should mean. We can't vote on gravity and decide it doesn't exist, because frankly that's impossible…well unless the earth dropped out of orbit, I guess things would change. It's a natural law, it's set. What is the purpose of marriage? To procreate. (this might not be followed in our day…seeing as the average # of children in the American household is less than 2) However, I still see it this way. It is physically impossible for two people of the same sex to procreate. Anyway, I know people are entitled to their opinion, so I respect how you feel!! Please respect how I feel!!

    1. I do respect that – and your opinion is a popular one. My point is that just because two things have the same name, doesn't mean they are the same thing. If some one wanted to start calling magnetic attraction (this is just an example) "gravity" – why can't they? It doesn't change that gravity is what holds us to the earth. I also agree that the purpose of marriage – in my eyes – is to raise a family. But I don't think that we should be able to control the use of the word. If two people want to commit to each other and call it marriage, why does it matter to me? They aren't changing or influencing my commitments or my marriage.

      As I said – semantics. I don't feel that I have the right to vote on what OTHER people are doing. I have the right to vote on what my government does, but I don't WANT control of other people's choices. It is against our fundamental ideal that the reason we are on earth is to exercise out free will. Why do we even have the power to control what types of choices other people can make? If Tom and Harry want to make promises to each other and call it marriage – who am I to vote on that?

      Perhaps a better comparison would be, if we can't vote on gravity, why CAN we vote against free will?

    2. Jennifer, it is physically impossible for many couples to procreate due to infertility issues- should only fertile people be allowed to marry? I'm not trying to be sarcastic here, I'm truly interested in your perspective since you specifically mentioned procreation as a reason for marriage.

  3. I agree with you in a lot of ways…a guy can tuck his junk, throw on a skirt, and demand to be called a girl, and that doesn't take away from me being a girl or change me or affect me. It's his choice and he can be as crazy or sane as he wants. But we're talking about changing the definition of marriage in society. We are talking about changing the definition from "between a man and a woman" to "between two people who love each other". That's very serious, and we need to think about the implications for the future. I personally think it's very dangerous.

    Now, all of us know gay people and love them. We love all God's children and we want them to be happy. But we need to really think about this. We know that TRUE happiness is found in the Gospel & Eternal families. Are we letting them be happy by saying, "Sure, you can be married too. You, as a guy, can marry another guy, and we will just let you believe that is just as good as marrying a woman across the altar of the Holy Temple, creating bodies for spirits to come to this earth to join your Eternal Family, and working together following the example of our elder brother Jesus Christ to return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father someday." I believe gay marriage is a cheap, flimsy imitation of true happiness, so no, I'm not going to just go along with it to keep the peace. We are not doing gay people and our future generations any favors by letting Satan's lies and cheap imitations become accepted as "modern".

    I lol-ed over your bumper sticker comment…I feel the same way! No bumper stickers on my car, thank you very much! 🙂

    1. I completely see where you're coming from. And thanks for sharing it so eloquently. 🙂

      I guess my thought is that are we letting other people be happy by "allowing" them to think they attend a "true church" or they "baptize" or do "sacrament"? All of these words are church related, and two of them are also covenants. My point is, it isn't up to us how the word is used. It isn't up to us what they do, and we shouldn't be the ones deciding if some one can call their union a marriage or not. This can be applied to other things too – millions and millions of people get "married" every day – and I'm talking about civil and religious services. Why does the church feel the need to discriminate against one kind of marriage that doesn't match our ideal, but not another? Essentially, people are getting baptized, married, taking the sacrament and doing a ton of things that don't fit with what we believe… and we aren't petitioning our government to stop any of that. We're not telling the Catholics to stop baptizing people because their baptism isn't as holy as ours is. Our covenants are more than just a word. Marriage means a lot of different things to different people. The word "marriage" does not even adequately define the relationship I have with my husband and my Heavenly Father .

      I agree – we do have a knowledge of what true happiness can be, but we are harming our chances of ever teaching any one by discriminating. It is a dangerous tight rope walk that I do not want to participate in. It's not my job to judge, ya know? And I really feel like if we believe in free agency, then why are we so set on taking away choices.

      I think I feel that way about bumper stickers because my Dad once told me it hurts the resale value… but now that I think about it – I don't know if that is true. lol. Oh well. We just put magnets on the car instead. 😀

    2. Hizzeather, you said "Are we letting them be happy by saying, “Sure, you can be married too. You, as a guy, can marry another guy, and we will just let you believe that is just as good as marrying a woman across the altar of the Holy Temple, creating bodies for spirits to come to this earth to join your Eternal Family, and working together following the example of our elder brother Jesus Christ to return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father someday.”

      I guess I'm confused- are you implying that, by giving gay people the right to a get married, you are preventing them from coming to know the "truth"? Your statement seems to be saying "by telling gay people it's ok to get married, we are cutting off any chance they might have at deciding to marry someone of the opposite sex". Gay people can't get married right now, and half the country tells them they should NEVER be able to get married, yet that isn't making any gay people I know go straight. Also, you clearly are referencing sealing, not marriage, by your definition- so why are you ok with allowing other people to call their unions "marriages" when they are clearly not up to par with your ideal marriage? As Jessica so eloquently stated, you already "allow" other churches to use the same terms you use, although they represent different things. Basically, a straight marriage is just a "flimsy" as a gay marriage, in the end, since it's outside of the temple.

      And with all due respect, I couldn't disagree more with your statement that gay marriage was a "flimsy imitation of true happiness"., I don't think you can quite understand just how judgmental that sounds- really and truly. You are not a lesbian. You are not a gay man. You might not want to make outside, subjective judgments about other people's happiness. I'm sure it hurts when people say "oh, Mormons aren't really happy, they're all wrapped up in Church and have to follow whatever the prophet says and we all know they worship a "different Jesus", so clearly they're not TRULY happy because they are not TRULY Christian". Trust me, without exception, every single one of my gay and lesbian friends is infinitely happier living out in the open, with partners they love, than they were when they were filled with shame and living a lie. I can see it in their faces, I can see it in the way that they no longer are so terribly depressed- I have literally watched my friends come to life before my very eyes as they began to live true to themselves and who they are.

      To me, a "flimsy imitation of true happiness" is a homosexual person denying who they are, cutting themselves off from love, and living a life alone. Or, worse, marrying someone of the opposite sex because they think they can change, and then suffering through, and making another person suffer through, such a marriage. I've seen that happen too. It's a terrible waste of a life.

      1. And just to be clear, I fully support your right to think homosexuality is a sin, and your right to not believe in gay marriage.

        I also believe that, due to freedom of religion, that if gay marriage is legalized no churches should be forced to marry a gay person. However, right now, as a straight woman who isn't a temple recommend holding member, I already can't get married in a Mormon temple, and I'm fine with that. Each religion, and each religion's adherents, have the right to their own beliefs and practices.

        But by the same token, your religious beliefs shouldn't get to dictate the rights my family and friends have. If we truly have a separation of church and state in this country, then gay marriage should be legalized. The only arguments against it are religious, and religion is not supposed to dictate law in our country. That protects everyone, and allows everyone to worship as they will. And you can still live your beliefs. Starbucks is on every corner, but you don't partake. R rated movies are in every theatre, but you don't watch them. P0rn is readily available on the internet, you don't seek it out. Tea and alcohol is in pretty much every grocery store, but you don't buy it. Abortion is legal, but you don't seek out such services. Same things with gay marriage- if you don't support gay marriage, don't have one. Continue to teach your children it is wrong, and teach them to get married in the temple. Nothing changes. If the argument is how "redefining marriage" is going to change everything, then there are lots of things in our society that, per your religious values, should be changed. But I don't see you petitioning to make divorce illegal. I don't see you trying to get liquor stores shut down, or make production studios stop creating R rated movies. I don't see you trying to get a boycott of Starbucks. Does that make sense? If you're going to try and legislate your own, specific morality, why aren't you doing it across the board?

        I love that I live in a country with freedom of religion. And the only way it will stay free and equal for everyone is to ensure that no ONE religion gets to dictate laws. Because there are lots of religions that believe that gay marriage is perfectly ok. Why don't they get a say? Are your religious beliefs/principles better than theirs? These are the kind of slippery slopes we get on when we start saying that our religious morality has a "right" to dictate laws in our country. That scares me.

        1. Courtney,

          There are more than just religious arguments against gay marriage. There are biological, social, cultural, historical, and political arguments as well. I agree that there needs to be separation of church and state, but by nature, laws are a moral code. They are created to define, protect, and ensure the morality of a people. If the majority of the people believe in a certain morality, they vote it into law (no stealing, no killing, etc.). You're right that no ONE religion should dictate laws. But when a society as a collective believe in a certain moral code, they generally try to protect it by passing a law. I'm not saying what people should believe. But when a group of people (perhaps a religious group) believe that something is moral or immoral, why shouldn't they try to protect that morality with law? Why don't they have that right?

          Is there any law that isn't based on some sort of moral code, some idea of right and wrong? Where else do we get laws?

        2. French Lily- First of all, to your question "But when a group of people (perhaps a religious group) believe that something is moral or immoral, why shouldn’t they try to protect that morality with law? Why don’t they have that right?"

          No, I don't believe they have a right to enshrine their specific morals into law, primarily because we are supposed to have a separation of church and state in this country, and if a group of people are trying to enshrine their religious morality into law, that isn't very separate. Let's turn it around, because many people don't think about it from a different perspective than Christianity. Let's say that, in Dearborn, Michigan- with one of highest percentages of Muslim populations in the U.S.- a coalition of Muslims got together and passed a law saying that every female in their town had to wear hijab- the Islamic head covering. How popular do you think what would be amongst atheists, Christians, Jews, Buddhists…. the list goes on. Or, let's say that in areas with a high population of Orthodox Jews, they passed laws saying that everyone had to observe the Sabbath, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. I could give many more examples where, as you said "when a society as a collective believe in a certain moral code, they generally try to protect it by passing a law". And I'm sorry, but I think that most LDS people would chafe at living under those laws, just as pretty much anyone not of that religion would.

          Further, "no stealing/no killing" are basic protections of our lives and our property. One can be an atheist and see the importance of such laws. I know of no religion, nor any atheist, who says "killing and stealing are totally fine!". In general, most laws are passed to prevent physical harm to one another, or to protect property, or to give rights. Two consensual adults being married does not harm one another and it doesn't infringe on any property rights. It simply gives equal protection under the law, and gives 1,049 federal rights to those who are married.

          Lastly, I would like for you to provide, as you said "biological, social, cultural, historical, and political arguments" against gay marriage, that, again, have zero to do with religious inclinations. I'm particularly interested in your non-religious stance on "biological and political".

  4. Jessica,

    As a member, I agree with most of your sentiments about just being loving and accepting. However, I do wish to defend the church's support of the legal definition of marriage. While semantics may not matter that much in everyday culture, they matter a lot in legal cases. If the legal definition of marriage is changed to include same-sex couples, this opens the door for legal pressure, costly litigation, and lawsuits against the church if they refuse to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. It may look like discrimination, but really the church is trying to protect itself from these legal implications.

    As Courtney intoned, hopefully the passage of any laws allowing same-sex marriage would protect religious groups from having to recognize or perform such marriages based on beliefs, but the best guarantee of protecting the church's practices are to keep the definition of marriage as is. This really is the reason for the church's political interest in the discussion.

    I would like to point out that the church has openly supported civil unions and other legal rights for same-sex couples. It really isn't a matter of discrimination. It's a matter of legally protecting our right to worship according to our beliefs.

    What people personally believe, how they about President Packer's message, are personal matters. There are definitely gray areas on this topic. I don't pretend to understand the why's or how's of everything. But the church's defense of marriage is not based on hate and discrimination. I do not believe in a church of hate. I do believe in a church of love. But I also believe in the church's right to defend it's doctrines and practices in a court of law. And in that setting, semantics matter.

    1. French Lily, I think all of the fear mongering of the threat to churches is unfortunate, because it's simply not based in fact. In states where gay marriage is legal- and has been for some time- there have been no cases of the LDS Church being petitioned to perform marriage ceremonies. In fact, as long as a church or religious group does not accept any federal funding, they are free to do as they please.

      During the Prop 8 propaganda drive, many people mentioned that "Catholic adoption services had to shut down because they wouldn't adopt to gay couples". What they *conveniently* left out is, the Catholic adoption services agency in question was accepting federal money. A private, religious school can teach that evolution is a myth, they can teach that homosexual marriage is a sin, they can teach abstinence until marriage, and churches can teach and practice all those things as well- as long as they are privately funded.

      Further, I am a straight woman in a heterosexual relationship, and guess what? I can't get married in your temple. I also could not get married in a Catholic Church. I know of no one who has petitioned this. My point is that, RIGHT NOW, the LDS Church is able to determine who is allowed to get married in the temple. Straight marriage is legal, and I know of no case of a random atheist straight couple petitioning a judge for the right to get married in a Catholic Church or an LDS temple.

      To specifically address your fear of having to perform same sex marriages, let's look at this logically. I'm a straight woman. I'm an American. In this country, I am able to marry any man I choose. But I CAN'T get married in your temple, because I don't have a temple recommend and I'm not a member. So, to be clear- your Church has no obligation to marry anyone who isn't a temple recommend holding member, even if they are a straight couple with rights to marriage in this country. Why, then, would legalizing gay marriage give gay people the right to get married in your temple? I can't right now, and they wouldn't be able to either. Legalizing gay marriage wouldn't magically change anything. Surely you see that? I mean, have you heard of any case of a straight couple petitioning the church to allow them to be married in the temple?

      And to be frank, I'm pretty sure the last place on earth any homosexual couple would ever want to be married is in an LDS temple, or any church who characterizes their love as a "temptation to be overcome" or "unnatural". I don't think anyone would want to get married in a building owned by a Church who condemns their relationship. In the end, we have a separation of church and state in this country, and if the Amish can get around the Department of Education and allow their kids to stop school in the 8th grade, I'm certain that the LDS Church, and the Catholic church, and Jewish synagogues, can continue to enforce their religious beliefs.

    2. I know of a TON of Catholic and Jewish officiants who will not perform interfaith ceremonies, will not do a wedding on a Saturday/Sunday, will not perform a marriage unless the couple agrees to specific provisions or undergoes premarital counselling. Nobody has sued the LDS faith yet for requiring a temple recommend to get sealed, and as far as I know, in states that have passed gay marriage, nobody has sued anyone of any church over not performing a ceremony.

      I got married three weeks ago. I currently have advance directives in place that give my mom the deciding power should I be hospitalized. All I have to do to give that power to my husband is tear up the directives. All I had to do to get on my husband's insurance was submit a copy of our marriage certificate. When he dies, I will inherit all of his property, tax free. When I die, he will do the same. This is only the beginning of the list of protections that marriage offer. Sure, the state could change the laws of inheritance, hospital visitation, and domestic partnership one-by-one. But truthfully, at the end of the day, that is waste of taxpayer money and opens a door to people who are cohabitating and not in a "serious" relationship to enjoy a lot of the benefits of marriage. I personally believe that to reap the legal benefits of marriage, people should also be ready to undertake the burdens.

      I do not want you to think that I feel that the Church's position, or yours, is based on hate or discrimination. I do think it shows a misunderstanding of the legal system. I don't know if you have been to law school or have any background in estate planning or family law. I think if you did, you would be able to admit that allowing gay people to marry will clear up a LOT of costly litigation that currently occurs when a gay couple separates, argues a child custody case, or somebody dies. These are the reasons why we have state sanctioned marriage in the first place – they are not religious reasons.

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