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Mormons & Gay Marriage

Perhaps you heard about the Mormon church issuing strict new rules governing its relationship to Mormons who are in same-sex marriages, and their children [1]. Excerpt:

The new rules stipulate that children of parents in gay or lesbian relationships — be it marriage or just living together — can no longer receive blessings as infants or be baptized at about age 8. They can be baptized and serve missions once they turn 18, but only if they disavow the practice of same-sex relationships, no longer live with gay parents and get approval from their local leader and the highest leaders at church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

The church views these acts as promises to follow its doctrine that bind people to the faith.

Scott Gordon, president of FairMormon, a volunteer organization that supports the church, said he understood why some would find the changes jarring and consider them meanspirited toward children.

But, he said, he believes the rules are intended to protect gay couples and their families by allowing the children to mature and make the difficult decision at 18 about whether to become fully invested in a religion that holds as a root tenet that their parents’ lifestyle is a sin.

“The idea of family is not just a peripheral issue in the Mormon Church. It’s core doctrine. It’s a central idea that we can be sealed together as a family and live together eternally,” Mr. Gordon said. “That only works with heterosexual couples.”

I don’t know enough about LDS theology to comment on the internal consistency here  — and if you aren’t Mormon, you probably don’t either. And there’s an interesting point in that, one addressed in this terrific column by Jacob Hess [2], a member of the Latter-Day Saints church, explaining why the LDS see homosexuality the way it does. Hess helpfully describes what’s going on in the conflict between orthodox Mormons and LDS dissenters, as well as non-Mormons who agree with the dissenters, as a clash of irreconcilable narratives. Excerpt:

Welcome to what I call the ‘story wars.’ Front and center in American society, an endlessly fascinating, increasingly intense conflict is unfolding between fundamentally divergent narratives—one woven around the primacy of heterosexual marriage, and the other woven around the celebration of different forms of sexuality and relationships.

Given the sensitivity of these questions, any critique or disagreement can understandably be experienced as a rejection of people themselves, as opposed to a rejection of the particular stories they carry about their identity. In this way, Mormon leaders are taken to be questioning who people are—making it easy to brand Mormonism itself as ‘obviously hateful.’

If that’s what I believed was happening around the new policy on gay couples, I would come to the same conclusion. But I don’t, because I don’t see identity the same way as my friends who identify as gay.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints relish what they call the “restored gospel,” precisely for the new narrative it introduces about who we are and where humanity comes from. It’s a ‘re-storying’ of life that we embrace as a true reflection of things as they are.

This includes a conception of God not as a vapor or an essence or an immensity filling all space, but as a literal Father and Mother from whom all humanity inherits a “divine potential” at the deepest level of our DNA.

No matter whatever else is faced or felt in life, the future possibilities of ‘growing up like Mom and Dad’ touch every aspect of life for the Mormon community. That’s why Mormons get married, enjoy children and family, and have an interest in sharing our convictions with the rest of the world. As one of our apostles has said, “Our theology begins with heavenly parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like them.”

Even if you think Mormons are dead wrong, maybe this will help you see how hard it is for us to ‘simply accept’ the identity of non-heterosexual couples as they see it. Barring further revelation from God (which many are admittedly hoping for), doing so would essentially require tossing aside some of our own cherished beliefs about God and the family pathway to becoming like Them.

Read the whole thing.  [1] Again, I cannot comment on Mormon theology, but I am struck by how much this parallels the way orthodox Christianity sees marriage and metaphysics. We too believe that male-female marriage is an icon of God and His creative work, and that it cannot be represented any other way. What’s more, marriage is not simply a representation of divine nature, but also participates in it. In other words, complementary marriage (male-female) is really real, in a way that same-sex marriage cannot be. This is not a legal distinction (because same-sex marriage is a legal reality in many countries now), but a metaphysical one. Though orthodox Christians disagree deeply with Mormons over the nature of God, we share the belief eloquently expressed by Jacob Hess that to discard what the faith teaches about the nature of marriage as a way to participate in theosis, or metaphysical unity with God, is to lose something essential to the faith.

Again, based on what little I know about Mormon theology, the key point to take away here, re: orthodox Christian theology, is that both orthodox Christians and Mormons believe that marriage is not simply the name we give to a specific form of social relationship, but it is also something built into the fabric of reality. As Hess says, you don’t have to believe that story, but if you are going to understand why so many of us on the conservative side of this issue believe as we do, you have to understand that for us, to accept SSM is to deny something we believe is real. And that we cannot do.

This all goes back, of course, to nominalism vs. metaphysical realism. The Christian theologian David Bentley Hart, in his wonderful book The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss [3]

According to the model that replaced the old metaphysical cosmology, in fact, at least in its still reflexively deistic form, there is no proper communion between mind and matter at all. The mindless machinery of nature is a composite of unrelated parts, in which the unified power of intellect has no proper or necessary place. Even the human mind inhabits the universe only as a kind of tenant or resident alien and not as an integral participant in the greater spiritual order of all things, able to interpret physical reality through a natural intellectual sympathy with and aptitude for it. In mediaeval philosophy it had been a standard precept that the human intellect can know an external object for two related reasons: first, because the intellect and that object both, according to their distinct modes of activity, participate in a single shared rational form (the form, for instance, that is embodied and made particular in a certain pale yellow rose languidly nodding over the rim of its porcelain vase, but that is also present in my thoughts as something at once conceptually understood and sensually intuited in the moment in which I encounter that rose); and, second, because the intellect and that object both together flow from and are embraced within the one infinite source of intelligibility and being that creates all things.

Thus to know anything is already, however faintly and imperfectly, to know the act of God, both within each thing and within the self: a single act, known in the consonance and unity of two distinct instances or poles, one “objective” and one “subjective,” but ultimately inseparable. By contrast, René Descartes (1596–1650)—the philosopher most typically invoked as emblematic of the transition from premodern to modern philosophical method—is often said to have envisaged the human soul as (in Gilbert Ryle’s phrase) a “ghost in the machine.” Whether or not this is entirely fair, it is certainly true that Descartes thought of all organisms, including the human body, as mechanisms, and he certainly thought of the soul as an immaterial “occupant” of the body (although he allowed, in some inadequately explicated way, for interactions between these two radically disparate kinds of substance, and even for their collaboration in a third kind of substance).

According to the earlier model, one could know of God in knowing finite things, simply through one’s innate openness to and dependence upon the logos that shines forth in all things, and on account of the indissoluble, altogether nuptial unity of consciousness and being. According to the Cartesian model, however, in which the soul merely indwells and surveys a mechanical reality with which it has no natural continuity and to which it is related only extrinsically, nothing of the sort is possible. This is largely why, for Descartes, the first “natural” knowledge of God is merely a kind of logical, largely featureless deduction of God’s “existence,” drawn chiefly from the presence in the individual mind of certain abstract ideas, such as the concept of the infinite, which the external world is impotent to have implanted there. All of this was perfectly consistent with the new mechanical view of nature, and all of it set both the soul and God quite apart from the cosmic machine: the one haunting it from within, the other commanding it from without.

As I have said, the dissolution of the geocentric cosmos, with its shimmering meridians and radiant crystal vaults and imperishable splendors, may have been an imaginative bereavement for Western humanity, but it was a loss easily compensated for by the magnificence of the new picture of the heavens. Far more significant in the long run was the disappearance of this older, metaphysically richer, immeasurably more mysterious, and far more spiritually inviting understanding of transcendent reality. In the age of the mechanical philosophy, in which all of nature could be viewed as a boundless collection of brute events, God soon came to be seen as merely the largest brute event of all. Thus in the modern period the argument between theism and atheism largely became no more than a tension between two different effectively atheist visions of existence. As a struggle between those who believed in this god of the machine and those who did not, it was a struggle waged for possession of an already godless universe. The rise and fall of Deism was an episode not so much within religious or metaphysical thinking as within the history of modern cosmology; apart from a few of its ethical appurtenances, the entire movement was chiefly an exercise in defective physics. The god of Deist thought was not the fullness of being, of whom the world was a wholly dependent manifestation, but was merely part of a larger reality that included both himself and his handiwork; and he was related to that handiwork only extrinsically, as one object to another. The cosmos did not live and move and have its being in him; he lived and moved and had his being in it, as a discrete entity among other entities, a separate and definite thing, a mere paltry Supreme Being. 

This conception of God, and of the nature of Reality, is more or less what many modern Christians (including, surprisingly, some unaware conservatives!) believe. Whether Jacob Hess understands it or not, he is making an essentially realist argument within the Mormon theological tradition. In that sense, I agree with him. Pro-SSM folks who insist that the only reason traditionalists disagree with them is “hate” and “bigotry” refuse to accept that hate and bigotry have nothing to do with it. Sure, there are plenty of Christians who hate gays, and shame on them. But to dismiss all traditional objections to SSM as nothing more or nothing other than hatred is a cheap and easy out, and one that I don’t take seriously.

In that light, the Mormon action, while harsh, may well be necessary, in the same way that it is necessary to tell someone that if they jump off a cliff, they will not float in the air, but will fall to their deaths. From the point of view of people who believe Mormonism (or Catholicism, or Orthodoxy, or orthodox Protestantism) to tell us things that are true about Reality, and not just expressions of what we think and feel about Reality, to live outside of these truths, or in defiance of these truths, may well mean spiritual death. It is not a joke.

The anthropologist Mary Douglas, in her great little book Natural Symbols [4], credits Emile Durkheim with the insight that social relations tell us what a society thinks about God: “to the extent that society is confused in its structure of relations, to that extent is the idea of God poor and unstable in context.” The converse must also be true: that the extent to which a society’s idea of God is confused, so too will be its structure of relations. For Mormons, it appears, this cultural-anthropological truth is deeply embedded within LDS theology of the family. New generations of Mormons, like new generations of, well, all of us, first learn about the way the world is through the way their families are, and their immediate societies. This may be good, and this may be bad, and it’s probably a bit of both: I’ve written about how much angst I struggled with for most of my life because until recently, I could not disentangle my relationship with God from my fraught relationship with my father. In our adulthood, we may reject the picture of God and the world that we were given in childhood, or we may affirm it, or, again, we may do a bit of both. I certainly have, and you probably have too.

The point to take here is that family and society inescapably shape our views of God, and of ultimate reality — in Richard Weaver’s felicitous term, our “metaphysical dream.” And vice versa. This stuff is very, very important. In the same-sex marriage debate, we are not contending over trivial matters, not at all.

This brings us to a really good short piece from earlier this month by Tom Stringham, titled “Same Sex Marriage and the Mormon Benedict Option” [5]. In it, Stringham, who is Mormon, explains how it is that the Mormon Church criticized Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but also massively tightened up its own internal discipline on marriage. Excerpt:

However, there is a way of drawing a straight line through all of this, and that line may take the form of a Mormon Benedict Option. The Utah legislative compromise, the stepping away from Kim Davis, and even the church’s mild response to Obergefell all fall neatly under Rod Dreher’s definitional criterion (as far as I can discern it) of strategic retreat without disengagement. The new sanctions on same-sex households, likewise, make for an excellent example of the sort of cultural separation and in-group moral renewal involved in actually implementing the Option.

What would distinguish the Mormon Benedict Option from Dreher’s prototype is that it is growing from the top down and not from the grassroots. We should expect this from the Mormons, who have been led into the wilderness by their leaders before. Following prophets may well be the best way forward—local congregations tend to lack the structure needed for radical change. In all the discussion of the Option it’s worth asking whether non-Mormon Christians have forgotten to find a Benedict, and whether Mormons are now leading the way.

Stringham’s point echoes one that this blog’s reader and frequent commenter Sam M. keeps making about the difficult but necessary Benedict Option practice of drawing strong boundaries and enforcing them. The LDS leadership has decided that this issue is so fundamental to the faith that it cannot tolerate dissent. Whether in this instance they are being too legalistic and unmerciful, or telling a hard but saving truth, is impossible to say without a meaningful understanding of Mormon theology, which I do not have. However, I applaud the seriousness with which the leadership takes its role in maintaining the theological integrity of their faith. Read Mary Douglas [4] to understand why actions like Christians casting aside core symbols like the traditional family costs them far more than they understand.

As I see it, you lose the traditional family, and you will lose the faith. We have lost it in public life, thanks to changing customs and the US Supreme Court, but we must not lose it within our religious communities. Stringham is right: the Mormon leadership understands this better than some orthodox Christians do.

UPDATE: Reader IsaacH writes:

I have been waiting for this topic to grace your blog, Rod. As a Mormon, it blew up a few weeks ago on all my social media pages. I want to share a few thoughts:

1) The first thought I’d like to share is how the media blatantly misrepresents anything they consider “homophobic,” casting it in the worst possible light. This new policy is a perfect example: so many are reporting, incorrectly, that the policy requires children of same-sex couples to “disavow their parents” before receiving baptism or other church sacraments (what we call “ordinances”). This is just untrue. The church requires that children “disavow the practice of same-sex marriage,” which is a far cry from disavowing their actual parents. (Although, as Hess stated in the post you quoted from, I suppose many see those as the same thing.)

It’s a minor but crucial distinction, but the media seem completely uninterested in it, saying that the church will force children to basically disown their parents. Rather, I suspect the logic goes like this: the church is very concerned about doctrinal integrity, and are worried (rightly) that support for same-sex marriage will creep into the church; they also worry that children of same-sex married couples are more likely than the average person to support same-sex marriage than the average member; therefore, there is an additional requirement that children of these relationships clearly state that they accept the church’s teachings on this topic.

Why is that so scary for people? A church asking members to affirm teachings they are very public about? What a scandal!

2) The church made a major PR mistake here, and other church’s should take notice. This was a small update made to a church handbook that is only made available to local church leaders — it contains basic instructions on how to administer the policies of the church. So the church did it without fanfare and without explanation. So when it hit the media, the church was caught flat-footed. Rumors flew for days before the church finally put out statements (both text and video) explaining the policy and the reasons behind it. They should have done that beforehand, been up-front with the policy. Many still would have hated the policy, but the church could have better explained its reasoning.

3) I’m tired of people objecting to a policy like this, when really their objection is that the church teaches homosexual relations are sinful. It’s disingenuous. People freak out, not really because of the policy, but because they disagree fundamentally that homosexual activity is a sin. It’s entirely consistent for the church to make policies like that to prevent its members from sinning (in their view) and from supporting sinful behavior. If you disagree that homosexual activity is a sin, fine, but let’s keep focused on the real issue at hand.

4) When the church finally did explain for themselves, they clarified a few things: first, this only applies to children whose primary residence is with same-sex parents; second, this does not apply to children who are already baptized. They also explained, rightly I think, that this policy was at least partially created to protect these children. Imagine joining a church that teaches your current family structure is sinful. Might that cause conflict at home? It’s simpler for all involved to wait until these children are legal adults, then let them make their own decision with their eyes wide open.

5) A brief note on LDS theology: your author above is right, in my view. We view the heterosexual family as a basic building block in God’s plan for His children — us humans. We believe that the nuclear heterosexual family is a direct parallel of the life God lives, and that families formed here can and will persist beyond the grave in the same kind of life that God experiences. Changing this fundamentally changes LDS theology in a way that has never happened before. The church has changed many policies in the past — most notably when it started, then stopped, practicing polygamy; and when it stopped, then restarted, allowing males of African descent into the priesthood — but these past changes would be nothing compared to a changing stance of homosexuality. That would be changing the very foundation of the whole project.

Just some thoughts from a Mormon reader. I don’t love everything my church does, and I certainly think this was a PR fail, but I’m among those who think this policy is probably for the best.

114 Comments (Open | Close)

114 Comments To "Mormons & Gay Marriage"

#1 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 1, 2015 @ 6:44 pm

In any case, Scotty isn’t ashamed to talk about his sexuality in front of a Catholic. I am not ashamed to talk about my Catholicism in front of a homosexual. It proves that with maturity and good will, people who hold diametrically opposed ideas can cooexist not only politely, but with shared respect, friendship, and camaraderie.

That would be an excellent note to end on.

#2 Comment By John On December 1, 2015 @ 6:53 pm

“But for the liberal or the leftist, social reality is primarily the result of human intentions, not some natural order.”

Um. Wow. Perhaps you should let us speak up for ourselves and we don’t all think alike.

Depending upon what you mean by “human intentions” it could be argued that intentions are predetermined by a “natural order,” of which Judeo-Christian “natural law” theory is but an incomplete understanding of that order.

So no. We don’t deny that there is “a real truth” so much that we disagree with how conservatives as to the substance of that truth.

Some think it is unknowable, others think that they know, or hedge their bets but think that others should have the right to hedge their bets in a different direction, and still others ground it in nature whether that is supplemented with some religious beliefs or not.

We have, as Jacob describes it, two sets of irreconcilable “stories” about the truth because neither is provable or disprovable. So you can pick whichever story you choose to believe is the true one, or perhaps, which one is more true. We all choose one story over the other but please don’t assume that we are rejecting the notion of there being a truth. Revealed or not, knowable or not, religious or not, the truth is out there. We just don’t happen to think the traditionalists got it right.

#3 Comment By John On December 1, 2015 @ 7:25 pm

“Gay marriage is already a thing and is working as well as one would expect. 60% percent of them end in divorce.”

That figure seems pretty low unless a substantial percentage of those “couples” that don’t end in divorce reached an understanding on when and with whom they can relieve their sexual urges extramaritally.

75% of gay Mormons leave the church,”

Hmmm. I wonder why.

“this policy seems to increase the likelihood their family goes with them.”

You are probably right. Most people don’t want to cut off ties to their family members and to whatever extent this new policy does that (again, I don’t know if it does or if it is strictky limited to church functions) I would bet on the family members siding with their loved ones. Now if there is any sibling rivalry or if this is an issue concerning the in-laws’ gay and transgendered family members all bets are off.

Either way though I don’t think there is any way around it as there are two competing and irreconcilable truth claims here and everyone who is either is a member of the LGBTQA community or is a close friend/family member of an LGBTQA person has to make a decision one way or the other. The fundamental question they have to ask is whether that which they taught to believe as the revealed word of God is true or if the disclosed sexual orientation and/or gender identity disproves what they were taught.

Religions make as I said in an earlier post, claims about nature and about God. They are by definition discriminatory. Someone is either right or wrong. If a bishop, rabbi, priest, priestess, Inman, or witch doctor admitted that he or she was wrong about anything that was claimed to be the revealed word of God, then he or she casts doubt on all of that religion’s teachings. From their standpoint it is better to have a smaller but theocraticalky coherent faith than to have large but diluted faith. The faith of the faithless does not suit them.

#4 Comment By DeepSouthPopulist On December 1, 2015 @ 8:39 pm

JonF,

Islam is not going to allow threats to their family institutions. Islam will put it back where it belongs — the closet.

To add a secular twist here, I think it should noted that even proto-homo sapien hominids used the classic mother, father, children structure. It’s just the worst sort of bunk to think only American so-cons see little real value in normalizing homosexuality.

You really think liberals will succeed in overruling a structure that has worked for 100s of thousands of years? Read or re-read your Aristotle. Nature will recur.

#5 Comment By MichaelGC On December 1, 2015 @ 10:29 pm

smith said on December 1, 2015 at 11:49 am

Today it is widely believed – especially by conservatives – that the constitutional right to free exercise of religion can be invoked by religious folk who don’t want to comply with state laws. That’s why you had Mike Huckabee on stage with Kim Davis.

We had quite a discussion of Kim Davis in this forum. Rod and many other conservatives disagreed entirely with her, saying that she should either issue the licenses or resign her position, as many who were similarly situated did. At any rate, she chose her course and went to jail, and I’m sure her opponents will have a lot to use against her in the next election.

But in the 19th century the Supreme Court helped the U.S. government to force a religious group to change their view of marriage (with an assist from divine revelation, apparently). No one today – not even most liberals – recommends that the government act in that way today. Why not? And what would happen if it did?

In Reynolds vs The U.S., A Mormon was violating bigamy laws and claimed it as his religious duty. The Supreme Court at the time simply affirmed the common law on marriage. The Mormons today are not violating any laws when they tighten up their doctrine around marriage and affirm man/woman marriage as the only valid form. Kennedy reiterated this first amendment right in the Obergefell decision.

#6 Comment By Jettboy On December 1, 2015 @ 11:39 pm

I am tired of people comparing what happened with the blacks and polygamy with what might happen in the future simply because Mormons believe in Revelation. Now, it could happen “just like that,” but those who actually understand Mormon doctrine of prophets and revelation will know how unlikely “just like that” will be.

[6]

“Despite the clear call to end polygamy, at no time did the revelations or manifestos discount the original doctrine of Temple marriage. In fact, what is known as Doctrine and Covenants section 132 that outlines plural marriage remains as part of Scripture. There have been a few requests to have it removed or seriously amended because of the clear implications of its continued publication. This action is doubtful to happen considering the doctrine of Temple Sealings for Eternal Marriage and Family is based on the section. The New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage is considered an essential and basic Mormon belief; ironically the one that the discontinuance of plural marriage sought to save.”

“. . . And that is the danger of having a belief that revelation comes from nowhere, ungrounded, and unmoored from past precedent and Scriptural justifications. People start to believe anything can be reversed and nullified with the snap of a finger or enough social agitation. A prophet simply “asking questions” on a topic that there is already ample answers for will not receive a diametrically opposing revelation. Slight tweaks are the norm, and even groundbreaking knowledge must build on what already exists. The prophet works for God, not the other way around.”

And more reading:

[7]

[8]

“But just like fundamentalists who reject the living prophets by following dead prophets, progressives reject the living prophets by following anticipated future prophets.

In reality the future prophet that they are following is just a projection of their own views in the present. In other words they are setting themselves up as an alternative authority to the current prophet by attributing their contrary positions to a future prophet who does not yet exist. Whether by reason or supposed personal revelation, they are claiming to know which direction the church should take better than the current prophets do.

This is true even if the change they anticipate in the future ends up being correct.”

I also want to clear something up from above, and one that traditional Christians love to point out. The Mormon concept of God is much more in line with the Deist, if the description above is accurate, that God is part of the Cosmos at the same time He is the Creator within its sphere. Yes, He is considered above all and the maker of all (and able to comprehending all existence) observable, but not fully separated from time and space.

The point of all this explanation? That for Mormons, marriage is more than an ideal. Its more than a metaphysical reality of spiritual importance called “good” by God. Marriage is Divinity Itself, and humanity a Holy Progeny. Homosexual relationships are, for Mormons, theologically a dis-grace (i.e. a denial of God’s Grace) and blaspheme of the very Nature of Deity. So no, one cannot simply wave a “revelation” hand and cancel out a basic premise of Mormonism.

#7 Comment By Frank On December 2, 2015 @ 12:34 am

Dude, I don’t know how many times we have to go over this. People think it is about bigotry and hate because you are: 1. Picking on a small minority. 2. Your side no longer really argues for patriarchy to be reflected in marriage law, even though Paul the Apostle, writer of half of the New Testament, says patriarchy in marriage is a metaphysical truth. If you only apply “metaphysical” truths from your creed against a small minority, but don’t argue for them against a politically larger group, even when your creed is explicit about it, you are deserving of the label hater or bigot.

And don’t try to argue that I am some churlish fundamentalist Christian in my reading. I am not pulling something out of context from the Old Testament, or have a wacky reading of Psalms, or am over-interpreting the New Testament. I am doing a clear reading of the text from Paul the Apostle.

It is like when conservatives like Ross Douthat or others say, “We want to keep fathers involved in their child’s life.”Well, there is an easy way to do that-mandate dual custody. Your side controls a bunch of state governments that determine child custody. I think it would be hard for the Supreme Court to argue, “In 80% of the time, a woman should have primary custody.” But does your side do anything practical to help Dads? Nah. Too busy gassing on about the culture, writing over-wrought blog posts (more Ross than you to be fair man), giving speeches. On this social issue, your side should put-up or shut-up.

That public policy change would have a more profound impact on American life than any change in American culture would. But I am sure if we stopped watching American Idol or sang some songs we wouldn’t need to change public policy on this point. Dante is cool but he does not help the law help Dads. Public policy was never for patriarchy or anything…

You know what is more ineffectual than a public policy nerd? A culture nerd.

#8 Comment By MikeCA On December 2, 2015 @ 1:08 am

Siarlys,if the cashier or whomever simply disapproves of a gay person that’s one thing. If they are actively engaged in trying to make life more difficult rather than adopting live and let live, that’s another. No one expects everyone to like them but to dislike someone simply because of something as benign as sexual orientation is actually quite sad. I’ve seen the look that my brother in law gets sometimes when he introduces his husband or the change of tone. It’s really awful and unnecessary- he was ok till you found out he’s gay? (I guess I must have the “gay” as well, better stay away. )I’m probably more sensitive about it than he is (he’s experienced far worse and some of it from his Evangelical parents) but I’ve no use for it. I’ll remain polite but that’s it. I broke my own rule not to engage with you because you seemed so agitated over my innocuous remarks and I don’t see why. We’ll agree to disagree.

#9 Comment By Oakinhou On December 2, 2015 @ 12:08 pm

Jettboy

“The point of all this explanation? That for Mormons, marriage is more than an ideal. Its more than a metaphysical reality of spiritual importance called “good” by God. Marriage is Divinity Itself, and humanity a Holy Progeny. Homosexual relationships are, for Mormons, theologically a dis-grace (i.e. a denial of God’s Grace) and blaspheme of the very Nature of Deity. So no, one cannot simply wave a “revelation” hand and cancel out a basic premise of Mormonism.”

What I know about Mormonism and its theology is basically zero, but it surprises me that somehow opposition to something (committed homosexual long term relationships) almost no one had ever heard about before the mid XX century is one of the keystones or basic premises of Mormonism, or, for that matter, several other Christian denominations. And therefore accommodating theserelatively rare situations will somehow collapse the whole structure.

I understand the arguments, that the male-female pair in marriage represents the Union of Christ and His Church, or that a male-female pairing is necessary to bring forward new souls (the latter seems to me more theologically valid argument than the former, for what it’s worth). But there is a whiff of after the fact rationalization around. As if someone looked around and asked: what can we say about why same sex marriage is theologically impossible that does not sound as if we didn’t like the gays? I don’t think Joseph Smith or Aquinas ended a theological dissertation with “…and this is why in the XXI century we should oppose same sex marriage”.

#10 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 2, 2015 @ 12:36 pm

Mike, you seem intent on creating a controversy because, as I said before, you simply can’t stand the thought that someone, somewhere, thinks a gay couple cannot be a marriage.

How in the world would any customer have any idea whether the cashier EITHER “simply disapproves of a gay person” OR “are actively engaged in trying to make life more difficult” for that person??? Its a pink herring. (I object to mis-use of the color “red” for such a purpose.)

Secondary to that, you are awfully ambiguous in what constitutes “actively engaged in trying to make life more difficult.” E.g., if someone is walking by a gay couple’s house changing “I wish all the f****s would get out of the neighborhood,” or setting off cherry bombs, or feeding butyric acid into the heating system (you know, the stuff terrorists who are not typical of the pro life movement do to Planned Parenthood offices where no abortions are done), that should be actionable, civilly and/or criminally. But, if you mean, actively campaigning to preserve the statutory definition of marriage that prevailed before 1990 or so, any person, whether a cashier or not, has every right to speak up about what she thinks the law should be, and why.

As to your brother-in-law, some people in the world will be taken aback by the notion that another man is his husband. He probably wants to choose his friends from among the many other people who will not. But, if people of diametrically opposite views on that subject happen to transact across a grocery counter, this question should be entirely irrelevant, to both of them.

Your remarks are not innocuous, because the way you state your case is NOT an agreement to disagree. Potentially, you are demanding a suffocating conformity. I grew up in the hometown of the late Joseph McCarthy, albeit just after he died, and I have been averse to suffocating conformity all my life.

It’s just the worst sort of bunk to think only American so-cons see little real value in normalizing homosexuality.

Indeed there is no real value in it, but probably no long term harm either, for more or less the same reasons DeepSouth outlines. This too shall pass.

#11 Comment By JonF On December 2, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

DSP,
You are very wrong about Islam– it does allow, or at least tolerate, “threats to the family”. Good grief, it allows for polygamy, and even concubinage! As well as divorce. And in some areas of the Islamic world pederasty is a long-established custom, something the Crusaders once noted with distaste. You are confusing Islam in toto with a handful of extremist and puritanical sects. Islam regularly generates that sort of thing– but within a few generations they tend to lose their fervor and become quite worldly and accommodating. (Moreover, the likelihood of Islam getting itself in control of the US is about equal to that of my becoming pope)

As for “proto homo sapiens, unless you have a time machine hidden in your basement, you (and all of us in general) know very little about them that isn’t revealed by their bones and their stone tools. We actually don’t know a thing with certainty about their social structure, though we infer this or that from the social behavior of later hunter-gatherer people. Among whom the occasional sexual oddball is often tolerated and perhaps seen as touched by the spirits or some such– they tend to become shamans and the like among such folk. And some tribal folk (e.g., the Plains Indians) even allowed for a social sex change, hence the berdache, who functioned entirely as a woman even though born as a male. The world contains many wonders undreamt of by your philosophy.

#12 Comment By bt On December 2, 2015 @ 5:36 pm

Let’s keep things separated, it is for the best.

If there are discussion within the Mormon Church about the definition of marriage, then that is entirely up to the Mormon Church. I think they can be allowed define it any way they wish to. Multiple wives would be ok with me. Same for the Catholics and Muslims.

But please religious persons, don’t try to enforce your religious views of the ways things ought be onto other people who don’t share your religious views.

Don’t be Like Kim Davis – no one was asking here to get gay married, but she took it upon herself to tell other people that they are not allowed to.

#13 Comment By Jettboy On December 2, 2015 @ 10:47 pm

Oakinhou,

you are right. You know absolutely NOTHING about Mormonism. Marriage between a man and a women (or women for that matter) with family obligations is ESSENTIAL theology. To put it bluntly, marriage in Mormonism is the highest form of Divinity that can exist! In fact, it is the very POINT of Divinity. Anything less is considered effectively damnation.

[9]

“15 Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world.

16 Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.

17 For these angels did not abide my law; therefore, they cannot be enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity; and from henceforth are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever.

18 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there, because the angels and the gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory; for my house is a house of order, saith the Lord God.

19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.”

#14 Comment By DeeAnn On December 6, 2015 @ 7:42 pm

I’m kind of late commenting on this, but I do have a few things to add to the discussion. I’ll state up front that I am a devout Mormon.

I ran across this article today and thought it was very demonstrative of how I envision this policy to work with the children of gay couples. It’s written by a young man who grew up in a polygamous home. The policy towards the children of polygamous families is very similar, if not identical, to this new policy towards children of gay parents.

[10]

As a practicing Mormon, my understanding is that when a child of gay parents, wants to join the church at age 18 or older, they have to disavow the practice of gay marriage, but that does not mean they disavow their parents.

This policy is about setting church boundaries. It is NOT about cutting people off or not showing love. Our leaders are constantly exhorting us to love others, whether we agree with those people or not or whether we agree with their lifestyle or not.

We all sin. The problem with this one issue, is that society wants to say gay activity is not a sin. The same issue arose when the LDS church disavowed polygamy. Our prophet received a revelation that the practice should be stopped. (The Book of Mormon is clear that monogamy is the rules and polygamy is the exception only when commanded by the Lord.) Many people still believed that polygamy was ok, so the rules surrounding polygamous families were instituted to make clear that polygamy was not acceptable.

Of course, these new “rules” are just policy, and policy can and most likely will, change. I know this for sure, the policy was not instituted out of hate or a desire to marginalize people or keep them from God. It was created out of love and concern, nothing more. Whether it was the right policy or not is up for debate, but the motivation, in my mind, is not.