Tuesday, November 1, 2011

US passes law allowing SGA couples to marry - PART TWO

Who is it we are talking about when we speak of those who oppose human rights for all? Why does the LDS church pop up in these discussions?

Recently I finished the novel, The Help, which I followed up with Crazy in Alabama and now I am re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird. In these books that focus on  civil rights, sometimes there are clear lines drawn and one grouping of people is placed on one side and another is placed on side two. Good here, bad there.  Also contained are written characters who are conflicted, or don’t know what to think. They open their doors to all in an emergency, but would rather keep the status quo if given their druthers (love that word.)

To lump Latter-day Saints together in any of these characterizations is misguided and inaccurate.   

Sometimes what is not said in a church meeting is said over the back fence, or on an anonymous note in a blog.  Some are closet liberals and others are more conservative than they want you to know.  Others say, lets talk turkey.  What is the truth here?, and I mean, everybody’s truth.  I would like to take some time to hear it all and allow readers the same opportunity.

Based on doctrine, and based on fruits – or results (better said for this blog) - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been moderate on the subject of equal rights – all things included: slower than the norm with blacks and the priesthood and “not currently” on the women and the priesthood, but fast in every other way.

The LDS church has a policy of not differentiating between OSA and SSA  - has even published its say. Culturally, status, class, background, education,etc. It is commonly believed the church actually seeks out poorer, and the ethnically diverse. 

Yet, the LDS church has come out against Gay marriage by its declaration of marriage being between a man and a woman.

But look at these several statements. There is no question about sexual preference in the temple recommend questions.

The LDS church believes in being morally clean,.  Yet there is a strong support group established – and on the Church payroll – for pregnant mothers and their partners, with choices not as conservative as many think.

Latter-day Saints believe in the word of wisdom, and yet, once again, there are well established programs for alcoholics or those who drink, smokers, drug addict and casual users.  At every turn there is a way in the LDS church to deal with problems that have arisen for a magnitude of reasons.

It believes in being honest in every interaction, yet church meetings are held in jails and prisons in areas of substantial LDS population.

It asks the members to have temple recommends, and has classes and assistance to get members from A to B.

Does anyone who has had interaction with the Church believe that Homosexuals would be left high and dry – without assistance or support simply because of the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman?  Does the LDS church currently support/assist families of every makeup and means?  The answer is yes.

The question then, understanding church policy and procedure, is not necessarily one of why the church gays can't marry in the LDS church, but why, when push came to shove, the LDS church during a state election came out in support of man/women marriage only - essentially casting a "no" vote for gay marriage. 

And, is the assumption that the LDS church was speaking politically for its members individually or collectively, or both?

Or is there a greater question? What say you, reader?


  1. I like where I think you are going with this. Unless you are not going there, in which case I am not sure where you are going, but I am excited to find out. - Lynette Thompson

  2. The last paragraph is unclear in what exactly your asking, but I still want to weigh in.

    I agree with you that the Church, like most similar organizations, should not be labeled with a blanket of being "against human rights" or whatever. That is definitely ridiculous, and as the examples you provide show, it works pragmatically (and not necessarily "conservatively") in a lot of areas for the general good, including in supporting equal rights legislation for gays short of marriage which you've commented on in the past, if memory serves.

    I take no issue with the Church's doctrine regarding marriage and its exclusion of same-sex marriage as exalting and thus--in doctrinal terms at least--worthwhile. I don't think most people care what the Church's doctrine is about this, to be honest.

    The Church can also express its views in "the public square," but I think it went beyond the bounds of appropriate action with the Prop 8 campaign and similar political acts like that.

    The awfulness, as I see it, is that the Church goes to great lengths to ensure that it does not "officially" act politically, but then Church resources and the Institution itself or the culture (my internal jury is hung on the question of where accountability lies because there is so much overlap) still manage to wield doctrine and "unofficial" practice (e.g. "encouraging" members to campaign--well, when members are in leadership positions with access to institutional resources like contact information and tithing records...) as effective weapons for real political efficacy. Having a "lay clergy" is a great cover for this strategy.

    They don't explicitly state that support for legalizing civil same-sex marriage is incompatible with doctrine--for example, you can vote for same-sex marriage legalization or against its illegalization without losing your temple recommend. However, they also don't explicitly state that supporting same-sex marriage is compatible with doctrine but rather strongly HINT and SUGGEST (never explicitly, apparently to avoid accountability for their actual influence) that the righteous who "follow the Prophet" will act politically to support Church doctrine as the Institution SUGGESTS and HINTS it should be understood.

    This have-your-cake-and-eat-it-to attitude is entirely untenable. From my perspective in the Church, it is clear enough that the Church has acted politically on this issue (through the implications of their strategy in Church culture) despite their "official" neutrality, and indeed it is so obvious that many outside of the Church took notice, and this has damaged the credibility of the institution of the Church. I'm convinced the Church realizes this (how could they not?) and that something like the Prop 8 campaign will not happen again.

    Instead, recently tactics have changed and it seems like doctrinal clarity has been intensified recently and the SUGGESTIONS and HINTING of what people SHOULD do although not necessarily absolutely required by the doctrine has been ramped up a lot, particularly to key groups like the youth--basically using the same strategy but making it less transparent to those out of the culture.

  3. Is the catholic church still getting the kind of flack that the Mormons are getting over their stance to gay marriage?

  4. Was opining on my blog (usmalesf.blogspot.com) on the "Are Mormons Christians?" issue and started hitting hyperlinks and wound up here.

    I'm not Mormon. I'm a happily "gay" man of Catholic background, though I no longer practice the faith. It was kinder to everyone that way.

    I don't favor samesex marriage. Two reasons: marriage has a nature, just like fatherhood or motherhood. You can't make it mean whatever you want. A man can't be a mother, nor a woman a father. And whether it's monogamous or plural, marriage is between males and females. Needs a husband AND a wife. Its structure and dynamics is created entirely out of the connection between and difference between male and female.

    Second reason: the friend-lover-brother relationship that two men make is not respected by trying to make it fit into a heterosexual container, marriage. It's like straight drag for something which has a dignity and meaning all its own, made out of male energy.

    I think gays have glommed onto marriage as a goal (in the last ten minutes) because it's an easy way to status and legal advantage and because Western liberalism is equality-fetishist. But it dishonors the uniqueness of a partnership between two men.

    For Mormons, IMHO, marriage is not just A sacrament (ordinance) but THE sacrament. I guess you'd want to be part of that.

    Gay, Mormon and married. Quite the balancing act. Good luck to you.

  5. I'm sorry, but I just don't understand how you could make this statement: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been moderate on the subject of equal rights – all things included: slower than the norm with blacks and the priesthood and “not currently” on the women and the priesthood, but fast in every other way."

    This is simply not true. The church was abysmally slow to allow black people the same respect and inclusion that even the federal government (notoriously slow) afforded.

    In many, many respects, women in the church are encouraged to adopt roles and lifestyles that are far more repressive and limited than those that men are encouraged to pursue. This is nowhere near "moderate" when compared to the rest of American society, and I'm not even beginning to address the fact that women have no place in actual priesthood leadership.

    In regard to non-heterosexual relationships and rights, the only way the church could be farther behind than it is now would be to encourage outright violence toward homosexuals. The church is currently one of the most prominent and vocal religions that actively works to deny homosexuals the right to marry and have relationships that are recognized and validated by society.

    In conclusion, the church has been far from moderate in regard to its position on race, sex, and sexual orientation--the three central groups that have been marginalized throughout the church's existence. How, then, can the church be considered moderate? What can you possibly mean by the church being "fast in every other way?"