A letter from my sister…

Perhaps our feelings about tomorrow’s letter were abreacted in last week’s multifarious and sporadically acerbic discussion. My purpose here is to highlight some of the feelings and perspective of one who is connected to many aspects of the Church’s political action regarding gay marriage. My sister Emily is a lawyer in California, and gay (also kind, witty, and sagacious, but that is beside the point). Her journey through life has had a positive and profound impact on my family and I. I have learned a lot from her, but this issue specifically has inspired me to be more thoughtful and considerate of those who are different from my straight white male middle-class American self (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

I have often contemplated on the thought that members who have gay friends or family often seem to feel differently than those who do not (or who are not aware of it). The following is from an email regarding this topic she recently sent to the rest of our family and some friends.  With her approval, I would like to share it here:

This morning someone forwarded me the letter that went out, I knew about it but hadn’t seen it yet. I don’t know why I should all of a sudden be so hurt and disappointed, maybe it feels more directly threatening than previous times this ’cause’ has been taken up by the church but I am seriously considering showing up in my ward for the first time on a testimony meeting Sunday and offering a few thoughts. I am thinking about how I could get the word out to ‘inactive’ gay Mormons all over the state to suggest a similar effort… If people spoke from their hearts, no doubt many would be made a little uncomfortable, and some probably offended, but if it made them feel even a little conflicted then it would be a success. And it’s not like a whole lot is at stake for us in terms of our standing. I’ve worked so hard to maintain a positive attitude for many years but I am very very hurt and disappointed and angry right now.

One of my BYU professors, in whom I confided before I left there, said “there will be a lot of Mormons who won’t love you but you don’t have to turn your back on your faith.” I have often reflected on that. I don’t know if I would be able to go through with the testimony meeting address or not, but if I did I would want to do my best to have a spirit of love about it. Though it is deeply offensive that a religious, or any, private institution (and many of its constituents) feel completely justified in a effort to dictate my, and my friends’ civil, secular, and / or individual rights, but would probably not at all welcome the opposite in the form of a gay intrusion into their worship services, and part of me wishes I could get up and tell them that. I just don’t think it would be very helpful toward winning hearts and minds. I know how fearfully people react to anyone they perceive as a ‘hostile’ disaffected or ex-Mormon because that’s how I used to react, and fear is already big part of the problem.

I’m sorry if this is troubling to any of you but I am grateful that I’m now able to express these feelings, whereas even a year ago I don’t think I could have. A lot of that is due to your expressions of love and increased invitations for communication even when it’s challenging…

…In response to…why is it that gay people seem to make such a big deal about being gay, the point was…that if you’re not gay / lesbian you never really have to give it a second thought. If you’re holding hands on the street with your opposite-sex partner, you can be confident wherever you go that nobody will notice or care (other than maybe thinking how sweet it is to be in love). But if you’re gay, you have to decide if you feel safe or not just to express this simple little affection in public, because people might take it as some kind of ‘statement.’

Thanks for listening,

Emily

Comments

comments

66 comments for “A letter from my sister…

  1. June 28, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Lesbians are, in my humble opinion, awesome! I supposed it’s more about where you live, as regards your sister’s fear of public persecution in response to “why is it that gay people seem to make such a big deal about being gay”.

    Where I live, we are quite used to “Kansas City faggots”. In the black and latino communities here, there seems to be a special respect accorded to their homosexual members. I used to run an all-ages multipurpose venue and art gallery next to a “gay bar, gay bar” called Belle Starr’s Time-Out. They would have latino drag nights, and some of the hottest lookin’ chicks I’ve ever seen were actually dudes, and they’d be escorted by the straightest lookin’ honky-tonk Mexicans I’d ever seen.

    I can’t tell you what the difference is that causes the non-white races to give so much more respect to their [gays] than do us white folk. Perhaps they are less brainwashed against it in their cultures.

    In Missouri, we have one of these state constitutional amendments which defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Personally, I wish we had an amendment banning both men and women from marriage. My generation (end of X, beginning of Y) seems to prefer “business partnership” over “marriage” any day. Also, I think banning the IRS is a much hotter topic than banning marriage.

    Still, all that said, I can’t for the life of me understand why [gays] (male or female) would want to marry at all in the first place (call it “generational disparity”).

  2. June 28, 2008 at 11:55 am

    My Dad had lots of challenges growing up during the depression. His mother,(I never met her) was abusive, physically so, at nearly 300 lbs. He left home at 15 or 16 years of age and become a fighter, street and ring. He had a tough life. He found strength in alcohol. It’s not a happy day when Dad is drunk. In later life he stopped drinking and worked hard building up a successful business. He had no interest in religion. He was a worldly man. When I told him I wanted to go on a mission he asked me to to stay and continue to help with the business. It was hard to tell him no.

    I learned that the Lord send me as a “missionary” to my family. This was revealed to me in a Patriarchal blessing and by other means.

    My point is that we are to love our family regardless of what they do. Sometimes we need to protect ourselves from them, but we need to be examples to them and intervene with our faith and prayers. I believe many church members were called to be “missionaries”– Saviors on Mount Zion, not only for the dead but the living.

    I believe the Lord will give all his children the greatest reward possible, and the least punishment possible at judgment day. There are multiple degrees of glories for a reason. The Lord has made it clear what it takes to reenter is presence. He has provided all that He can to help us come back into his presence. Our pre-mortal faithfulness and our mortal experience are connected.

    The church is here to give us direction back. We are provided with prophets and everything we need. The outcome is in our hands as we use our agency to make choices. The Lord through His prophets is making His will known regarding the issues surrounding marriage. We can sustain the prophets or stone them (mentality). What will it be?

  3. June 28, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    I’ve got two posts I need to finish. One is on how to ignore scriptures, the other on the danger of anecdotal evidence. (I ignore the ones that say not to wear blended fabrics all the time, 10% nylon in your socks makes them wear longer and better — I’m sure everyone has scriptures they ignore. As for anecdotal evidence, the gay guy in the family went to jail for pedophilia and for homosexual rape, at different times, and spent much of his married life trying to get into the boy scouts. Obviously that isn’t a good data point, much like the first Mormon my dad met — the guy got drunk all the time, not a terribly accurate data point either).

  4. June 28, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Jared – some nice thoughts.

    One comment: “The Lord through His prophets is making His will known regarding the issues surrounding marriage”

    I don’t think everyone (including many TBMs) will agree with you on this. The contents of the letter may or may not be the Lord’s will. Believing it is is based on whether one holds to the idea that everything from the church (in this case, the First Presidency letter) IS the will of the Lord. To me there are sound arguments on both sides of that debate (and we could both list scriptures and quotes ad nauseam to support either side), leaving the decision ultimately up to the individual. I do not think that is equivalent to mentally stoning the prophets.

  5. June 28, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    #3 Stephen & #4 AdamF

    I respect you point of view and wit (lol Stephen).

    By the way, what does TBM stand for?

  6. June 28, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    oh– “True Believing Member” … *I think*.

  7. nicole Marekalli
    June 28, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Adam,
    Your sister is awesome and extremely brave for standing up for her True Self; i admire her courage. I admire your openness, and your willingness to see beyond things you might not agree with for yoursefl but to see the true beauty in others; being a child of God. We are all loved by God, we need to treat everyone with love and respect, when we meet others we are meeting Jesus, we would never turn our back on him. When others meet us they should see Jesus, who is kind, compasionate, loving, and all forgiving.

    Nic

  8. amelia
    June 28, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    i think TBM is actually True Blue Mormon; referring to that story about one of the early apostles/prophets being confronted in the west at gun point and asked if he was one of those “blankety-blank” mormons to which he responded, ‘yessir, true blue, through and through’ which earned the respect of the would-be attacker who holstered his gun and let the apostle/prophet pass unharmed. but i could be entirely wrong. 🙂

    i really just wanted to voice my appreciation for your sister’s thoughts, AdamF. i would be thrilled if gay mormons would use testimony meeting as an opportunity to express their feelings–in an attitude of openness, honesty, and love, as your sister seems to suggest–about this issue.

    and while i appreciate jared’s point–that we need to love our families while still being true to our own beliefs–i really don’t think that god intends family relationships to have a missionary dynamic to them. there is something inherently judgmental and unaccepting in thinking about family members as “missionary opportunities.” and the very idea of intervening with a gay family member through faith and prayer (which jared implies) leaves a sour taste in my mouth. as if there’s something wrong with our gay brothers and sisters. as if we’re better than them and if only they would open their eyes they would somehow realize the truth.

    i just don’t think it’s our place to try to tell any of our brothers and sisters–either within our families or outside of our families–how to understand their own identity.

  9. June 28, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    amelia–for clarification I would like to say that the idea of being a “missionary” to our family doesn’t mean we’re being condescending and judgmental. Christ like love isn’t that way. I wish I could somehow take you to places I’ve been where the Lord helped me in dealing with my Dad.

    The Lord will often work through another person to bring blessings into the lives of others. Brother Carlfred Broderick wrote something that explains it far better than I can.

    For those interest go to:

    http://www.ldsaliveinchrist.com/61/

  10. Nick Literski
    June 28, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    #2:
    Of course, in this case, Emily may be the “missionary” to AdamF’s family. I think that was actually part of his point.

  11. June 28, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    #10 Hi Nick,

    I would imagine the Lord would send someone who would have a proclivity to follow the Savior and His prophets. Whose knows how these things work out. Repentance is available to all.

  12. Nick Literski
    June 28, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Jared,
    History is replete with examples wherein religious tradition created non-existant “commandments.” That was one of the things that Jesus of Nazareth preached so vehemently against. Funny, but he never got around to preaching against homosexuality during his ministry.

  13. June 28, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Nicole #7 – I appreciate you stopping by, and for your kind words.

    Amelia #8 – the term “True Blue Mormon” is especially funny in this particular case if you think of political parties and their colors… 😉

    Testimony meeting (and church meetings in general) would surely be more intriguing with a more diverse range of experiences, and more openness. This may be a topic for another post, but I am convinced there is a whole other side to most of the people in any particular ward that we never see. Not that we all need to air our laundry in sacrament meeting, but there could be a lot more fellowship and love and less shame and hypocrisy if there were more openness I think; less stress on conforming and more on love and celebration of uniqueness among individuals. It is in the atmosphere of love and acceptance that real and lasting growth can take place, imo.

  14. June 28, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    #12 Nick said: Funny, but he never got around to preaching against homosexuality during his ministry.

    The Savior said the following to his disciples:

    He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

    Matthew 10:40

    The teachings of the Lord and His servants regarding sexual sin, and homosexuality in the New Testament are known. His modern day prophets are carrying the same message forward today.

    Nick–it appears we will disagree on this subject. I respect your right to believe any way you want. Please allow me the same.

  15. June 28, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Derek #1 – I’ve edited your comment twice, putting the word “gay” instead of the word you used… Is not that a highly offensive term? Akin to the “n” word when referring to African-Americans? Am I missing something here?

  16. Nick Literski
    June 28, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Jared, of coure I respect your right to believe anything you want! Disagreeing with you is not in any way an infringement on that right, let alone a call for that right to be eliminated. You can believe that Jesus of Nazareth taught Scientology, for all I care, and I will uphold your right to believe.

    That said, I can’t help but chuckle at your “around the bend” attempt to claim that Jesus taught against homosexuality during his moral ministry. It’s one thing to try to reason that he would have supported such teachings. It’s quite another to use that quote as proof that he did teach against homosexuality during his mortal ministry. 🙂

  17. June 28, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    #16 Nick, thanks for you thoughts on “rights”.

    To my knowledge the Savior never directly taught on the subject of homosexuality during his mortal ministry. The point I was making using Matt 10:40 is that the words of his authorized servants are the same as though he spoke the words. I wasn’t attempting an “around the bend” approach because it isn’t needed.

  18. amelia
    June 28, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    does that mean that jesus once thought that it’s a sin for a black person and a white person to have a baby together?

    because brigham young said as much once. and by your logic, jared, it’s the same as if jesus said it.

    i know the scriptures about the words of the church leaders being as if christ had said them himself. but i believe wholeheartedly that we’re meant to use our own wisdom and access to the spirit in order to discern which words spoken by church leaders are in keeping with the teachings of the savior. which means you might think one thing and i might think it’s opposite where gay marriage is concerned and ultimately neither of us can demonstrate that our understanding is THE understanding.

    in the end the only way i really know to make a determination is to assess the fruits of what’s at issue. which is why so much of the effort against gay marriage has come in terms of the alleged harm it will do to society. but i think those arguments are a lot of smoke and mirrors. all i see is a lot of potential for good.

  19. Nick Literski
    June 28, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    I’m going to go out on a dangerous limb here, and suggest that literally every recorded case we have of deity commanding us to receive the words of “his servants” as if they were the words of deity, the record has been created by mortals who considered themselves “his servants.”

    Of course, you may have faith that those men literally wrote the words of deity. On the other hand, one could suggest that it’s quite convenient for a mere mortal to tell everyone that deity has ordered them to obey that same mere mortal’s words, as if they came from deity directly.

  20. Greg
    June 28, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Hi all, just heard of the “letter”. I am an active member but very disturbed by this announcement from Salt Lake. I hear they want money and saints time for the cause. A couple of thoughts…

    Money and time to fight the Gay’s is BS. The church has way too much money already and now they want us to pay more to fight the gays. This is comical. It’s just a business afterall and there is no reason for them to get involved. The church sells us anual passes to heaven in exchange for tithing. No man or organization has the right to take your money and promise you salvation. Sorry but that’s not what Jesus taught and that’s the unfortunate truth to most Mormons.

    Secondly we have to many skeletons in our own closet to be casting stones at others. We’ve been persecuted for a hundred years for our belief in section 132 and plural marriage. Now we want to persecute others for their obscure sexual practices. Polygamy was always a sin and always will be. It was only through some creative re-printing of doctorine that we were left with the remnants of a pervert trying to justify his lust. Face it it is wrong. The Gay’s are wrong also, but should not be pursecuted for their beliefs just as the Mormons shouldn’t. I’m an active mormon, and many I know think like I do. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

  21. June 28, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    “The church sells us anual passes to heaven”
    “a pervert trying to justify his lust”
    “The Gays are wrong also”
    “I’m an active mormon”

    Some of your thoughts, Greg, I can understand… but putting those quotes together makes them seem more than a little incongruent, (although I freely admit I have plenty of dissonance in my own life, religion and otherwise). Basically you are comparing tithing to indulgences, imho. I am completely fine with your opining, and welcome it, but I am curious (sincerely) as to how are you “active” in a church that was founded by a “pervert” and makes you pay $ to get into heaven? NOM perhaps? Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 🙂

  22. Dan Knudsen
    June 28, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    #18–“i know the scriptures about the words of the church leaders being as if christ had said them himself. but i believe wholeheartedly that we’re meant to use our own wisdom and access to the spirit in order to discern which words spoken by church leaders are in keeping with the teachings of the savior…”

    “…i think those arguments are a lot of smoke and mirrors. all i see is a lot of potential for good.” Explain about “smoke and mirrors” and “a lot of potential for good”–and no possibility of anything else?

    Don’t we need to be careful that “our own wisdom and access to the spirit” comes from the right source? There is always the possibility for counterfeit wisdom and promptings of a wrong spirit. It is so easy to be deceived. The following are worth remembering, to help us keep on track:

    “And the multitude of the earth was gathered together; and I beheld that they were in a large and spacious building, like unto the building which my father saw. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Behold the world and the wisdom thereof; yea, behold the house of Israel hath gathered together to fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (1 Nephi 11:35)

    “O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.” (2 Nephi 9:28-29)

    “Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.” (Jacob 4:10)

    “Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths! Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide.” (Helaman 12:5-6)

    “There is no danger of any man or woman losing his or her faith in this Church if he or she is humble and prayerful and obedient to duty. I have never known of such an individual losing his faith. By doing our duty faith increases until it becomes perfect knowledge.”–Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, “Walking in the Path That Leads to Life Eternal”, From the Life of Heber J. Grant, 23

  23. Ray
    June 28, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    An “active member” saying “the Mormons” . . . *sigh*

    Adam, this was a very thoughtful letter. I understand her desire to share her feelings about this issue, but I would like her to consider a different tack.

    If gay members show up in fast and testimony meeting next week and appear to be highjacking the meeting to express their feelings about the letter, I think it will be about as detrimental and counter-productive as anything they could do. It will reinforce many members opinions of them, and that won’t be a good thing.

    I would suggest attending church as a “regular, baptized member” – and bearing her testimony as a regular member. At the end of her testimony, hopefully when everyone has felt the spirit of her sincere testimony, she can say something very simple and sincere like:

    “As a gay member, I am hurt deeply by my inability to marry someone I love with all my heart, but I am grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the hope it gives me – both for myself and for everyone else in the Church who loves Him as I do.” As I’ve said before, I can’t support gay “marriage” fully, but I truly believe that sincere testimonies expressed with the aid of the Spirit can do more to bring understanding and love and respect than just about anything else imaginable.

  24. Nick Literski
    June 28, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Hi all, just heard of the “letter”. I am an active member but very disturbed by this announcement from Salt Lake.

    It appears you’re not the only one!

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/nation/20080628-1248-wst-mormonchurch-gaymarriage.html

  25. June 28, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    AdamF – I was born in the covenent but have friends and family that will disown us if I spoke my mind. To answer your question, it’s the cultural benefit why I and most mormons stay and dont question the leaders. I stay for my children, their friendships and the social events that seem to strengthen them. The doctorine is for the most part very uplifting and helpful – even to me. It’s only when you begin to deeply research the history of the church that it becomes apparent how it all started. That’s why protesting others is so hypocritical.

    Another reason I stay is that there is nothing better in my opinion. That does not mean that Joseph wasn’t a perv, it just means there’s no better culture for my children. I’ve served a mission etc.. I just dont believe blindly anymore and I plan to teach my kids to think for themselves, accept others as Christ taught. I will fight hard to teach my children to identify and avoid the judgement of others and the “I’m always a sinner” mentality that our Church teaches. Perhaps they will be strong enough to see it for what it is and set an example to others.

  26. June 28, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    AdamF #15 — I think you are missing something. Maybe it’s because you are from Utah or some similarly pansy state, where “fag” is not a part of the vernacular. I just had dinner today with a gay friend, and I used the words “fag” and “faggot” in conversation with no problems merely hours ago. Haven’t you seen Blazing Saddles? You are free to “jump around like a bunch of Kansas City faggots” based on my simple word choice and your own oversensitiveness; I am able to laugh at your comedy of errors.

    What you did editing my post is totally gay!

  27. June 28, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Dan #22 – I agree, it is easy to be confused, and those are important scriptures to remember when making decisions. We can all use a dash (or more) of humility.

    Ray #23 – I agree, it could come across they way you describe it. Most people want to be productive, I think. On the other hand, sometimes people need their consciousness razed a little by something a little more profound. It may also result in further polarization, which would be an outcome that nobody wants.

    Greg #25 – Thanks for the response. I am sincerely saddened that you cannot discuss these things with some of your friends and family. I also appreciate that you are concerned that your children learn to avoid judging others and being humble. It is such a difficult task to teach children anything yet also instill in them not to judge others who don’t behave similarly.

    Derek – fair enough. I could change it back if you would like. Yes, I am quite sensitive, mostly in regards to the feelings of others. I am often more concerned about hurting others than being funny. 😉

  28. June 28, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    No bother editing things further. Our local Kansas City chapter of Anonymous (the force that will destroy the Church of Scientology) is called “kcfags”; and, of course, the feminists and P.C. wussy-boys (none of which were gay) spent quite a long time debating a name change before a genuine lesbian came along and explained to us that “the gays” have attempted to embrace their “fagdom” and are none-too-offended by the use of the word “fag” or “faggot”. YMMV. Thanks to Mel Brooks, the term has pretty much been forced upon those of us that live in The Real Zion(tm)!

  29. June 28, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    AdamF — I think this movie explains it all:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5121649266422516795

  30. Ray
    June 28, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Derek,

    What is accepted among friends and associates isn’t always appropriate among people you don’t know as well – those for whom such invectives might not be so harmless. I have many gay friends and many black friends. I wouldn’t use terms of general derision with any of them unless they had made it crystal clear that they wanted me to do so – and even then they would have to insist, and I would do so only in private. Those words carry HARSH connotations for many people.

    Simply consider that, please.

  31. Joe Geisner
    June 28, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    Adam,

    I want to thank you and your sister for sharing such a eloquent and intelligent letter. I have been impressed by all the people who have shared their feelings on why this is a hurtful letter by the First Presidency. Reading Nick Literski, Jeff Nielsen and Matt Thurston in the A.P. story today continues the dialogue in a well reasoned and well thought out manner.

    Your thoughtfulness on this issue is equally impressive.

  32. James
    June 29, 2008 at 1:20 am

    Fireworks in the Stakes and Wards in California today!!

    I would imagine its not one of those letters thats read and they ask you to raise your hand to sustain it.

    Gay Marriages have been legal here in the UK for two years- UK members were never asked to oppose it here or get involved what I can remember.

    I’m sure many parents with Gay Children maybe even Adams parents would have changed their views and would oppose the church’s stand on this.

    Who in their heart of hearts would want to see their son or daughter live a lonely unfulfilled life.

  33. June 29, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Here’s an interesting juxtaposition…

    February 2008: “In reality Church leaders had asked members to write to their senators with their personal views regarding the federal amendment opposing same gender marriage, and did not request support or opposition to the amendment, (LDS.org).”

    June 2008: “We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment…”

    Maybe this belongs in one of John N‘s “Evidences and Reconciliations” posts. 😉

    Joe G. – Thank you for your kind words.

  34. Peter Brown
    June 29, 2008 at 10:35 am

    I’m sorry for the dissappointment and anger by your sister, but it doesn’t mean she’s right. Tolerance is a two-way street. I respect you to live your live as you wish, and you respect my right to disagree with it (yes I can disagree with it using secular and natural law ethics). The marriage issue is just the latest canard used to fight this proxy battle. My eyes were opened when an article said that in Canada you’re not allowed to teach that homosexuality is a sin. Is that where we’re headed? If homosexuals seek true acceptace, a marriage law won’t end it. There will still be people that preach and teach against it. What will they do then? If we could allow some form of marriage (or civil unions) in a manner that would placate both sides (as true tolerance would have us dictate) would it end there? I doubt it. The culture war will rage on.

    I used to be a polarist who then converted when I got more sophisticated and saw shades of gray. I feel like I’m moving back towards seeing the battle lines drawn between Satan and God. God would have us tolerate each other and love each other and not force each others ideals down the throats of others. Satan would have us legislate by fiat, and then by force, our own way down others throats. He uses both sides, that Satan does. He either wants us to be philistines and heathens that persecute the righteous, or he wants us all in burquas and philactories.

    As well, the appeal the history isn’t helpful for those of your that resign your opinions based on the change in mass appeal. While in the short run, we are still following a steady liberalization of tradition, in the long run (I give us 50 years), I believe the Brave New World will have us back in the 12th century. We need to come together in a pluralistic manner to avert that.

    What ever happened to the art of diplomacy, compromise, and problem solving?

  35. June 29, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Peter –

    “My eyes were opened when an article said that in Canada you’re not allowed to teach that homosexuality is a sin.”
    I’ve heard this before… do you know where, exactly, one is not allowed to teach that? Obviously it should not be taught in a public school, but if the U.S. government started regulating what can be taught in a church I think the ACLU would be the first in line to defend the church. I don’t see that happening here, but I am curious…

    “God would have us tolerate each other and love each other and not force each others’ ideals down the throats of others.”
    This sentence can be used by either side, imo. In fact, it seems it would work better on the side of gays, i.e. I’m assuming most people on the gay-rights side of the issue don’t feel that their right to marry has anything to do with anyone else’s throat.

    “We need to come together in a pluralistic manner…”
    I think so too!

  36. Peter Brown
    June 29, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    “I’ve heard this before… do you know where, exactly, one is not allowed to teach that? Obviously it should not be taught in a public school, but if the U.S. government started regulating what can be taught in a church I think the ACLU would be the first in line to defend the church. I don’t see that happening here, but I am curious…”

    It’s bill c-250 passed in 2004 making speaking out against homosexuals a crime. It supposedly protects what it calls hate speach in the name of religion, so technically you can still do it in the name of religion, but it has not been used that way. Glenn Beck had a few people on his program awhile back that were told they could not teach that homosexuality was a sin. Now they could do it in Church, but in the public square or in the media, it deemed a hate crime. I’m dubious about the ACLU, but they have surprised me in the past.

    “This sentence can be used by either side, imo. In fact, it seems it would work better on the side of gays, i.e. I’m assuming most people on the gay-rights side of the issue don’t feel that their right to marry has anything to do with anyone else’s throat.”

    That was my point exactly, except for the right-to-marry folks, IMO, aren’t just going to hold hands an kumbaya once every gay person in the country has a right to marry. The Canada example is one of the areas where I’m concerned it won’t stop.

    Before I go too far, let me back up. The 14th amendment guaranetees equal protection. I believe that everyone should have access to basic rights. Marriage is not a right. If we want to first define it as a right, then we can argue equal protection under the 14th amendment. Four years ago the argument was states rights. Well and fine but we are finding out that people are now getting married in California and suing in other states for right to be recognized as married in those states. So much for states rights.

    I think we should convene a blue-ribbon panel of people of conscience from all stripes. I’m not interested in ideologues, but those that respect in a pluralistic manner people of all stripes and let’s solve this problem. If the issue is a matter of equal protection of benefits, lets allow civil unions (even the non-sexual kinds between brothers, friends, or widows) that don’t specify the nature of the relationship. If it’s a matter of forcing acceptance, litigation won’t do it, so let’s drop it and allow people to feel that homosexuality is a sin or inferior to a heterosexual union.

    If we want to redifine marriage, lets do it in steps. First, we need to define what marriage is to the state. That’s awful ambiguous right now anyway, since all it has to do with marriage is the civil benefits that come from marriage. Does the state have an interest in promoting an ideal social relationship? I think so, but let’s discuss it without all of the biblical appeals that the right-wingers like to appeal to and the absoulte need to be absolutely equal about everything. We can’t or we would allow unions for those that think the number 2 is discrimination. Keep it Lockean and secular.

    Next, let’s define homosexuality, because that is a albatross as well. Is homosexual a behavior or orientation? I know many homosexuals that don’t practice the behavior, and many straigt guys that do–supposedly. Can we isolate so that we aren’t promoting the behavior practiced in the name of perversion by the cruisers, clubbers, etc. but allow for the equal treatment for those are biologically prone and feel threatened? What about lesbians? Again, we need to isolate the biologically prone and not ingratiate the political lesbians, the man-hating ones, or the party hardy Paris Hilton girls on the side type that do nothing but the corrupt our culture.

    Once we do that, then MAYBE we can put all of this together, but not until then.

  37. Joe Geisner
    June 29, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Peter Brown writes: “It’s bill c-250 passed in 2004 making speaking out against homosexuals a crime”

    I just did a little check on the internet and discovered that this is not a new bill and it does not have, say or use the word homosexual or any of its synonyms. The law is protection against hate speech towards any individual or group based on their religion, race, color or ethnic origin. Sexual orientation was added. Unfortunately I think they are still missing two groups the disabled and sex (man or woman). The exclusions of who or what that can be prosecuted is quite long and seems to go out of its way to protect religious people giving hate speech’s. I have to admit I would like to see a similar law like this in the U.S. that doesn’t exclude religious speech when it comes to the Baptists church in Kansas that attends fallen U.S. soldiers and yells horrible comments at the family saying they are glad they died. My guess is that is why the law in Canada was put into effect in the first place.

    As far as I know none of my Canadian in-laws have been prosecuted for speaking and some of them are quite vocal with hate and embarrassing.

  38. Katie Langston
    June 29, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Joe, the mere fact that there is legislation against hate speech is terrifying–regardless of whom it’s protecting. For the government to define what its citizens can and can’t believe openly is slap in the face of true pluralism (and another reason why I’m not moving to Canada, thank you very much). Look, as much as you or I may not like it or agree with it, people (should) have the right hate whomever they want. And they should be able to say so in public.

    Now, I have long been torn on the subject of gay marriage. On the one hand, I agree with those who argue that it is discriminatory for the government deny privileges to one group of people because of their sexual orientation. I look at it and see how wrong it is.

    On the other hand, I share Peter Brown’s concern that the pendulum will swing so far in the other direction that we will end up trampling the rights of parents, religious leaders, and even extremists and bigots, to continue to maintain their moral position on homosexuality.

    Again, I’m still not sure where I come down on all this, but one thing seems clear to me. WHETHER OR NOT homosexuality is a sin, people have the right to believe it is–and they have the right to teach their children it is–and they have the right to tell others it is. So if the true agenda of the gay marriage movement is to eliminate this kind of discourse from the public arena, I get *very, very* nervous. (Of course, I readily acknowledge that withholding rights from a whole group of people just because we fear it will lead to this is still problematic–so I have no easy answers.)

    There must be some way to solve this problem so that everyone’s rights are equally respected and preserved–even (especially?) those whose positions we disagree with.

  39. June 29, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    What a mess. As much as I abhor those hateful funeral protesters, I completely support their rights. After reading the Canadian law myself, however, I don’t see how it prevents people from teaching their religion, unless what they are teaching “promotes genocide” or “incites hatred…where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.” I don’t think it will lead to this in the U.S. due to our belief in free speech. In fact, I’m almost feeling patriotic about that.

    Katie – “the mere fact that there is legislation against hate speech is terrifying–regardless of whom it’s protecting” I completely agree.

    The reason I mentioned the ACLU is they seem to back all kinds of minorities like the KKK and the Neo-Nazis when they have their parades. I may not like them, but stopping it is chilling.

    Peter – “Marriage is not a right” – I don’t think so either. As a Mormon, I don’t think rights or the state should have anything to do with the most important religious ordinance in my life. Keep the state out of the Temple! My Temple marriage should not have given me any “rights” from the state, imo.

  40. June 29, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    The letter was read in my ward today, which came as a shock because I was under the apparently false assumption that it would only be read in California, (“To: General Authorities, Area Seventies, and the following in California: Stake and Mission Presidents; Bishops and Branch Presidents).

    On top of that, what do church leaders expect a member in a different state to do for the amendment in CA? Call up our friends and relatives in CA and tell them how to vote?

  41. The Green Man
    June 29, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    RE: Hate speech

    The legal test in Canada for hate speech is that the speech is likely to promote violence against an identifiable group. The case law on Hate Speech creates a very high bar – you can find plenty of anti-semitic (both against Jews and Palestinians), anti-American, anti-French, anti-English, anti-East coast / West Coast, anti-First Nations (lots of that) all over the place in Canada with no laws being broken. The only problem is when sub-standard adjudicators like the Human Rights Tribunals with no legal training but with lots of piss and vinegar try to make the world in their image, making outrageous decisions that are rarely appealed.

    Whatever the case, it is a fine line – no freedom exists in a vacuum, but every single one must be balanced against the other.

  42. Ray
    June 29, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Adam, the letter has not been read or referenced in any ward in our stake – and should not be. It was addressed to CA, and CA alone.

  43. Joe Geisner
    June 29, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Katie,

    It appears I did not make myself clear. Sorry. There is nothing in the law about homosexuality or any of its synonyms. I know we as American’s hold freedom of speech scared, but laws already have been enacted, such as not yelling fire in a crowded theater. I suggest you read the Canadian law because the protections it has are quite extensive. One of the websites I found uses the example of ministers in the U.S. calling for the mass genocide of wiccan’s. To be honest I don’t know many wiccans, infact I know none, but to call for them all to be killed seems reckless and I think the minister should be held accountable. The ministers are completely free to do this because of the first amendment. I really don’t get this idea that the constitution should be set in stone. Our founding fathers never intended this. Oh and if you think freedom of speech is alive and well in the U.S. most studies have shown quite the opposite. Unfortunately it is not protecting the common man or woman, it is protecting big business. Clear Channel is a case in point.

  44. June 29, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    “It’s bill c-250 passed in 2004 making speaking out against homosexuals a crime”

    You can read a good deal of analysis of actual prosecutions over at Volokh.com — a law professor group blog. They are libertarians, so mostly in favor of freedom to marry and free speech.

  45. June 29, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Regrettably, the First Presidency letter, which I would not support, will be used by those already challenged to fan their bigoted feelings toward the Gay community. As Mormons we struggle anyway with issues related to color, ethnicity and gender orientation. Too bad the letter did not emphasize or say anything about reaching out in kindness and understanding for those who are different among us.

    Sorry this is happening.

  46. June 29, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    The reason the church is against legalizing gay marriage and such is because it makes the sin legally okay. The church recognizes that people have leanings. But that doesn’t make acting on them okay, just like because someone being a kleptomaniac does not make it okay for them to steal.

  47. June 29, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Interesting, this post is linked to in a call for protests (of various types) at LDS Chapels today in California. Does anyone know if they occurred? I’ll note one person said about the thought:

    Not a good idea in my opinion (2+ / 0-)

    Recommended by:
    Rogneid, karmsy

    I was raised LDS.

    A core part of their culture is the flight west to SLC. Driven out of Missouri and Illinois because of their religious beliefs.

    But from their perspective, the willingness to abandon their homes, families, and everything else to defend their beliefs is what makes them the one true church.

    So by protesting their decision, at their church, you are strongly reinforcing this belief system.

    It changes this from being yet another thing they ask you to do (like weeding next saturday at the Stake farm) into a core battle to defend their beliefs.

    Not a good idea in my opinion.

    by jello5929 on Sat Jun 28, 2008 at 07:57:52 PM PDT

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/6/28/65245/2417/859/543246

    ////////////////////////////////////

    Also

    The Anglican Communion will be split tomorrow when conservatives representing more than half its total membership will announce the formation of a new orthodox body to be a stronghold against liberal views. It will be schism in all but name.

    The new global Anglican fellowship will act within the legal boundaries of provinces such the Church of England that make up the existing Communion but, in North America, it will declare its independence from the ultra-liberal Episcopal Church and from the Anglican church in Canada.

    http://www.getreligion.org/?p=3654

    That bears a comparison.

  48. Katie Langston
    June 29, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Joe, thanks for the tip; I’ll try and check out the actual legislation before making any other comments on it. I am uneasy with the concept of legislating “hate speech” in general, but I would be uninformed to try and comment further without understanding what this particular piece of legislation actually does.

    In my ward (Logan, UT), they made mention of the letter in passing, but didn’t read it. I thought it was interesting they’d brought it up. Our high councilman talked about the members on the “fringe” who opposed the amendment and were turning in their memberships, etc. as a result.

    It’s difficult, because this really *is* a political issue, not just a moral one. Politically, I’m just not down with the government favoring one group of people over another, or denying them basic privileges because of their sexual orientation. Like many main-stream Mormons, I view homosexuality as “sinful” behavior–just as many homosexuals undoubtedly view the Church as being wrong or incorrect–but one doesn’t have to be an ardent gay-rights supporter to have problems with the amendment. I wish there were just a little more consideration for those of us who are “faithful” members of the Church, but have political views that hold justice and equality before the law as being absolutely paramount, and view this legislation as being counter to those core principles. The cognitive dissonance gets kind of loud when on one hand you’re asked to deny your framework for making all your political decisions…and on the other, you’re going against the counsel of the Church.

    I mean, I’m new to this discussion and so you may have addressed this elsewhere, but would it be possible for members in California to, say, reject this bit of council and still be considered (and/or consider themselves) faithful? (Feel free to ignore this question if it’s too much of a threadjack.) 🙂

  49. hawkgrrrl
    June 29, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Katie – IME, quiet dissent is okay. Attempting to blacken the eye of the church in a public forum is what is not acceptable. I suppose the fine line is if a local bishop became very militant and overreaching in his requests for support and pushed someone’s private dissent into a more public realm (“outing” the dissenter, if you will). That is rare, but possible.

  50. Paula
    June 29, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    #41, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind you sending a check, no matter what state you’re in. 🙂 But I thought that the letter wasn’t sent to any leaders outside California.

    Katie, last time, I only know of one person who was called in by local leaders last time, during about Prop 22, and that was because he had written a letter to the local paper, critical of church involvement. The problem is that last time, our meetings were taken over by the issue, many times. One time we were even dismissed from church after Sacrament Meeting and sent home with lists of precincts to walk and knock on doors to talk to voters. People who were very involved in the efforts to support the proposition were pretty much the same ones who were called to what my old bishop referred to as “high profile” callings, like bishop, high council, etc, for the next few years.

  51. hawkgrrrl
    June 29, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Did any CA members have stories to share? What was the response in the wards? Militant lesbians storming the pulpit? Crickets chirping?

  52. June 29, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    It is amazing how this has split the Anglican communion. Looks like the majority of the communion will end up in the “schism” — “more than half its total membership” — the issue is by no means as simple and as easily resolved as it may seem.

    I’m saddened.

  53. hawkgrrrl
    June 29, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    I doubt the Anglican schism will have much bearing on the LDS church or a parallel in response to the church’s stance on homosexuality. The Anglican schism can be seen as a cautionary tale about too much or not enough liberal thought (depending on which side of the fence you are on). But I for one am amazed it has taken this long to experience schism. There are many divides in Anglicanism, predominantly in different regions of the world. It is not nearly as unified as LDS.

  54. Rigel Hawthorne
    June 30, 2008 at 12:18 am

    A view from a different perspective, taken from the Modesto Bee, Monday June 16, 2008.

    It does hurt society, said David, a Turlock resident who once struggled with homosexual temptations. He went to counseling in Sacramento through Exodus International and has been married for 10 years. To protect family members, he asked that his full name not be used.

    He calls gay marriages “immoral,” but also believes the church as a whole needs to learn to respond to homosexuals with truth “tempered by love. I do believe there are many people in the homosexual community who have been hurt.”

    He rejects the idea that the Bible is wishy-washy on the issue.

    “Jesus didn’t mention lots of things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t say they’re not wrong or sinful,” he said. “He never mentioned incest. And he never said (homosexuality) was OK. There wasn’t any confusion among the people about that issue, so he didn’t clarify it.”

  55. June 30, 2008 at 7:48 am

    #51 – Paula – there is no way I could have knocked doors about this, yikes.

    #55 – Rigel – Thanks for the other perspective.

    I am fine with people having their religious/spiritual beliefs about homosexuality, but when they bring it to the secular sphere I want secular proof. (Re: from the article “it does hurt society.”) I have asked people more than once for any evidence that having gay parents is not good for children, for example, and have yet to see any. If anyone has anything on gay parents specifically, please let me know.

  56. June 30, 2008 at 10:40 am

    Isn’t it a Mormon folk tale that in the last days before the establishment of Zion that the Church will be split in two?

    Maybe it is stuff like this declaration regarding homosexual marriage that will effect a split in the Church.

    Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had a very creepy feeling about Thomas S. Monson (during conferences).

    Pictures like this make me feel like the “Illuminati” is finally in charge of our Church:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:President_Bush_meets_with_First_Presidency_of_LDS_church_May_2008.jpg

    ***(Derek, I some of your temple language has been expurgated) – admin.

  57. Ray
    June 30, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Derek, I am not aware of any such folktale.

  58. Paula
    June 30, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    AdamF– I certainly didn’t go knock on doors about it, and I’ll bet that most of my ward just went home and enjoyed the break. I had moved here very recently, and didn’t know people to ask them about what they thought of the whole thing. But we were told at first that none of the activism would happen at church. We were just invited over to other members’ homes to learn about what to do. Apparently no one else went because within a few weeks, there was no more talk of meetings at homes, and many meetings, particularly RS and Priesthood, were dedicated to talks about what we should do. Note, I did not use the word discussions. We even had a lesson during the RS hour about how to make phone calls from the phone bank the church had set up. I do think my stake went over the top compared to some others, and that SP is no longer in the stake, so maybe it won’t be as bad, but I’m not comfortable at all about this.

  59. June 30, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Myself #58 — Then just delete my posts rather than censoring and editorializing with them.

    In that picture the Presidents Bush & Monson are shaking hands, and [deleted description of temple action]. So you say it means nothing they use a half-version of the [self-censored name]… I say it weirds me out!

    How about if I link to here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endowment_%28Latter_Day_Saints%29#cite_note-25

    Please feel free to censor Wikipedia. Who is to say how much or how little of the temple can be cited here? I have tried to be respectful in pointing out the handshake/grip and saying not much more — I guess I can’t say anything at all!

    I am not bound by an oath or a covenant, I am an uninitiated Priest after the Order of Aaron and I was born a Nazarite like Samson (I do possess the Melchizedek priesthood by right of my father and the lineage of kings, but I do not possess an office, station, or ordination in that priesthood). What I know about the temple I’ve learned either from my parents or by studying history.

    Ray #59 — Perhaps a “division amongst the Church” is a folk tale peculiar to Kansas City or the mid-west. It seems like something I remember from childhood. Perhaps I a mistakingly inserting a memory, if no one else can confirm this folk story.

  60. June 30, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Derek – “I guess I can’t say anything at all!”

    Hah. 🙂 Maybe you can’t. Really though, it IS possible to be a LITTLE more sensitive (not overly sensitive like me) and consider the rest of the readers here when you comment. It would go a long way towards winning friends and influencing people. Otherwise, we’ll continue to “editorialize” your comments, or, if you insist, moderate your comments entirely.

  61. June 30, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    AdamF #61 —

    I appreciate your sentiment and your sensible (and quite excellent) rebuttals to my exaggerated sense of polemicism.

    When considering my attitude and disposition, feel free to be racist: I descend from the “warlike” race of the O’More family, Clan Cionga, Clanna-Rory, the House of Ir. πολεμικως (polemikos) means “warlike” or “hostile”. I am also a Real McCoy(tm), and researchers seem to have found certain genetic traits in us (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatfield-McCoy_feud#Possible_genetic_explanation).

    “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” — James 3:8

    While friends are always nice, I have more interest in perturbing the waters and speaking to things which are little known. The Missouri tongue is quite harsher than what is to be found in the rest of the United States. Remember: we brought you (and continue to revere) the likes of Jesse James! (Just yesterday I was driving down Troost deep in the ‘hood [Kansas City is also still quite segregated], when I caught a glimpse of the following license plate: 3KS4ME!)

  62. June 30, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    AdamF — Just so’s we’re clear: I respect your right to control the content attached to your article and to redact from my comments to your story references to the placement of index fingers. I am honored that you have put up with me this far.

    But, please, consider me “the weakest of the saints” and consider now as the time when all of the saints shall know the mysteries of godliness!

    There is one great, vast, and virtual temple that man has constructed (through DoD contracts with Mormon ties) in which knowledge and intellect freely flow; and, guess what, you’re in it!

    Hush now, can you feel the Comforters in this Celestial Room adorned with the beauty of the baud and with chandeliers of electrons and switches?

  63. July 1, 2008 at 7:46 am

    “I have more interest in perturbing the waters and speaking to things which are little known.”

    Even after you speak to these things I’m still not getting it, Derek, lol. You are a man cut out of your own cloth. I’m here to learn about the perspectives of others and to build relationships, so do forgive me if I don’t understand your mysteries or exaggerated sense of polemics. Your comments belong in the Pompidou Centre rather than a blog like this.

  64. July 1, 2008 at 8:53 am

    #60:
    I am also “not under covenant,” since I had my name removed from the records of the LDS church, thereby voiding my ordinances. Even so, I NEVER treat LDS temple matters with ridicule, or publicize the private activities there, that so many of my friends hold sacred. Derek, your behavior in this regard is contemptable, and all you’re accomplishing is giving active LDS a reason to hate those who’ve chosen to take different paths in life. I urge you to behave yourself with some basic human civility.

  65. Emily
    July 1, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Interesting discussion here. Hooray for cognitive dissonance…I think it must be a divine principle because the Church offers so many opportunities to experience it.

    In closing, the words of the prophets:

    “You say you’ll change the constitution, well you know
    We all want to change your head
    You tell me it’s the institution, well you know
    You better free your mind instead”

    🙂 Emily

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