Gay Marriage!

Brian Johnston Mormon 77 Comments

GAY MARRIAGE !

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Well nothing else gets any attention around here, so I screamed it.

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While nobody was looking, the investment bankers on Wall Street stole $1 trillion dollars and left YOU as the signer on the loan for it.  Have fun never being able to retire.  There’s no money left in medicare or social security either.  We shut down all the factories in the US, and now you can’t move when you get laid off because your house is worth less than your mortgage.

But at least we put a couple hundred million dollars to good use defining a word, temporarily.

People are probably pissed off for me saying something like that.  Too bad.   Hey!  Did you know that 6 dozen little children died of starvation while you read this stupid blog post?  Don’t worry.  It was not in your town.  It happened somewhere else where they don’t have internet access.  It’s not really that important.  There was not even a news camera to film it.

So many different priorities.  So  much money.  What is really important?

Keep the argument alive!  Fight fight fight!  Win win win!  sigh…

So what do you think about gay marriage and the aftermath of Prop 8 for the Church?

Comments

comments

Comments 77

  1. About all I can do in response is to quote Christian minister Tony Campolo:

    “I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said ‘shit’ than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”

    Just some perspective on how skewed our values can get.

  2. Its all about balance, Valoel. We would all like to see less children dieing of starvation.

    But you are right in the “stole $1 trillion dollars” and the rest of that.

    It seems that the USA is doing all it possibly can to become a New Zealand of early 1980’s or even worse, and Argentina 2001!

  3. So what do you think about gay marriage and the aftermath of Prop 8 for the Church?

    Let me put it this way: I would much rather be known as a member of the church that helps save starving children than a member of the church that bankrolled an initiative to strip gays and lesbians of their rights.

    Even if the California Supreme Court strikes down Prop 8 or voters pass an initiative reinstating gay marriage in a future election, the Church’s involvement in passing Prop 8 will not soon be forgotten. Along with denouncing interracial marriage and the civil rights movement, and fighting against the ERA, this will be a blemish on our history for decades to come.

    My only hope is that the repercussions will cause us to think twice before getting involved in politics again.

  4. First, you are exactly right on the attention getter. Posting here these days is tough if you don’t talk about gay marriage or something that is controversial.

    But, I guess I missed the point here. Are we supposed to feel guilty for the fact that some countries do not take care of their children or subject them to war and strife as adults battle for political control and leaders get rich on the contributions of other nations?

    There is certainly much we can do in the US with the resources we have to help the situation in those places. But, I guess you are saying that somethings are more important than others.

    But, are you hinting that eternal consequences are less important than what happens in this earthly life? And what about the money? Should money or the loss of money (pensions, 401K, etc) drive our charitable acts?

    Whose agenda is more important: God’s or man’s? This question comes from the LDS theological perspective.

  5. Thanks Valoel!

    Charitable acts which prevent the death of innocents apparently are unconnected to eternal consequences. Defining marriage in California will have eternal consequences apparently.

    I don’t get it. Let’s spend our money on “the least of these”, as our President-elect has asked us.

  6. “I would much rather be known as a member of the church that helps save starving children than a member of the church that bankrolled an initiative to strip gays and lesbians of their rights.”

    The Church does the first on an on-going, steady, quiet basis – spending FAR more on humanitarian efforts than on Prop. 8 and other political issues. The Church’s humanitarian efforts put almost all (if not all) other Christian denominations (except perhaps the Catholics) to shame. Whatever other issues one has with the Church, I wish this one would die the death it deserves. It’s a straw man of the highest order and patently false.

  7. Post
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    I don’t really have a particular cause I am championing in this post. I just threw out some big ones. My point is that we all look like a band of pirates fighting each other on the deck of ship. Both sides are locked in a deadly struggle to make sure their *feelings* are properly validated by the other side. Nobody seems to notice that the sails are on fire, the bilge is filling with water, and the officers just took off in the last life boat with the treasure chest.

    It’s the end of freedom in the United States. Tyranny reigns supreme! Religious totalitarianism is now the established order. Executions of the unfaithful and the unclean will certainly begin at any moment. Two Mormon missionaries will appear at every door step to search your house for marriage contraband, probably escorted by a dozen jackbooted soldiers repelling out of unmarked black helicopters.

    On the Church side, it was a temporary speed bump slowing course to the inevitable.

    I think it said somewhere in the Book of Revelations the Horsemen of the Apocalypse will appear when 144,000 gay marriages are performed. It will usher in the end-times tribulations. Woe woe! unto the inhabitants of the earth! For the Anti-Christ will come in the form of a rainbow with 8 Props, and upon those Props will be 8 rings, and on those rings will be written “Adam and Steve, not Adam and Eve.” This will be a sign of the end. The second coming is nigh at hand. Ye verily. Prepare yourselves. Gird up your loins for battle. Hide your children! They might find out that … [quiet whispered voice] homosexuals love each other … [eyes dart around, nervously in alarm].

  8. Ray, how do you know if the LDS humanitarian work puts anyone to shame? The church does not make its financial records public. I’m honestly curious how you find out about the details of where and how humanitarian funds are used because if it really is enough to put everyone else to shame it might do a lot to help me feel like I have a place in this church. Here in Gilbert, AZ, “service” is defined as bringing casserole to other Mormons, helping Mormons move furniture, and spending a few hours at the cannery.

    Terry, nice reference to Tony Campolo. For anyone who likes that kind of preacher, you should check out Sojourners magazine: http://www.sojo.net

  9. Guess what? The Church does help starving children and hungry countries and disaster victims and everything else. It is possible to do both, you know. They have for decades, which is why it doesn’t get any press. We just quietly serve. Feeding starving children doesn’t get people burning your scriptures or calling you a bigot. It doesn’t pull out the newspapers.

  10. Ray,

    I am with Clay Whipkey on this one. All of the data I have seen shows that the church does way less than other churches with humanitarian aid. See here for a little bit of data. Also, just using the humanitarian aid numbers that the church publishes I crunched the numbers and was shocked at how pitifully small the churches humanitarian aid is. Granted, there may be some tithing money going to humanitarian aid but since they won’t disclose those numbers how can anyone know.

  11. Ray,

    “I would much rather be known as a member of the church that helps save starving children than a member of the church that bankrolled an initiative to strip gays and lesbians of their rights.”

    Emphasize the word known in Steve’s comment and the word quiet in yours and I see where the misunderstanding is coming from–the one Clay alluded to.

  12. I agree with Clay. We hear about third world initiatives from time to time and here at home high profile volunteer disaster relief but nothing about total dollars and how and where they’re spent. I’d like to see some facts and figures.

  13. Look, I don’t want to see another anecdotal comment about how much service the LDS church does. Give details or tell us how to find details. I am being absolutely serious here. I am in great need of this lifeline. Without details, it sounds like hollow missionary apologetic BS. Because what I see in my reality is a stark contrast between LDS and non-LDS humanitarian work, and a LOT of LDS time spent on church activities, meetings, missionary (proselyting) work, and temple ordinances.

  14. Isn’t the root cause of most starvation in foreign lands totally dysfunctional governments? How do you propose the Church tackles that one – separation of church and state you know.

    I really find interesting the things that Christ didn’t correct during his ministry in the old world – abuse of women, slavery, oppressive governments, torture. Those things did seem to be corrected in the new world – for 200 years. Remarkable contrast.

  15. Good,corrective post.How might it be if ,gay and straight,we worked together for the right of others not to starve?Clay,I’m past caring what the other guy does,I want change and so i try to do what I can-we could all start with fair trade gift giving-sorry if that sounds self righteous,didn’t mean it that way,just all have to do what we can.Can we fix it-yes we can.It’s the only thing that has a prayer of working.

  16. After seeing the way prop 8 played out both within the Church and outside of it, I am looking into the possibility of interfaith dialogue, and small group discussions to talk about prop 8, the ethics of listening, and other topics. This is part of the direction I think we need to go now.

  17. Clay, I took some time and read every link I could find, both from apologetic sources and from critical sources. Three things practically leap out of the pages when you look at the actual articles being written:

    1) The ELCA numbers that are mentioned almost always as the best comparison are CASH donations – and nothing whatsoever is said of donations that are not cash. In fact, the implication is that the vast majority of the ELCA’s donations are cash donations. Therefore, the LDS figures that are used as a comparison are limited exclusively to the Church’s CASH donations – and everyone who knows even a little about the Mormon Church’s humanitarian efforts knows that a HUGE percent of its donations and charitable work is dedicated to providing wheelchairs and hygiene kits and wells and vaccines and other NON-CASH resources. By the more narrow “cash only” classification, not even the food from the Bishop’s storehouse would count as humanitarian aid – which is just plain silly. (Btw, if you want to see blatantly biased wording, the report on the ELCA vs. LDS giving compares ELCA “humanitarian aid” and “disaster relief” to LDS “cash donations for non-Mormon charity”. It credits the ELCA for activities for which it does NOT credit the LDS – as addressed in my next paragraph.)

    Iow, almost NONE of the relief sent to Indonesia after the tsunami or the Gulf Coast after Katrina or any other large-scale effort counts in the stats that are used to praise the ELCA and bash the LDS – and neither will the large percentage of individual giving to alleviate personal circumstances, be they of members or non-members. **The figures I saw totally ignore fast offering, “in-kind” assistance.** If you start that discussion with such biased and uneven criteria (focusing solely on only cash donations), you are going to get the result those who want to criticize the Church desire.

    2) Every single criticism I read also focused solely on cash donations given to people OUTSIDE the churches. In the case of the ELCA, this means that there wasn’t even an attempt to measure how much it was and is doing internally to combat situations of its own membership. This wipes out every penny spent through the normal distribution of fast offerings – again, hardly a fair or reasonable comparison.

    3) There is an assumption that the Church’s building and maintenance of physical facilities is a bad thing – in one case, a direct call to cease building temples and performing vicarious work for the dead and use the money being “wasted” thereby for relief of the poor. Throughout the articles, non-cash, non-liquid assets are used to make the comparison between “percent of assets used for charitable giving” between the ELCA and the LDS – with nothing stating how ridiculous that sort of comparison is, as long as those buildings are an essential part of the religion (and it’s hard to argue that meetinghouses holding multiple congregations and temples are not an integral part of our religion). So, the LDS Church’s assets are listed as substantially higher than the ELCA’s assets, while the ELCA’s cash donations are listed as 10x higher than the LDS’ cash donations. There is NOTHING that takes out the value of the religiously-essential physical facilities and readjusts the percentages accordingly. I believe the ELCA percent still would be higher than the LDS percent, but when you then factor in points #1 and #2 (knowing that the cash VALUE of non-cash donations for each major disaster relief effort is in the millions) you end up with a very different discussion than the one that makes it an apples to pianos argument from the very beginning.

    Clay, I humbly submit that if you are basing your argument on these types of comparisons, that is an incredibly sandy foundation.

  18. I am really shocked at what I am reading. I suppose if the adversary needed to find a way to drive a wedge in the membership of the Church, he could have done a better job. I am saddened by this.

    Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

  19. Jeff, I think we should resist the temptation to use Isaiah in such a simple way. Its a dynamic and challenging scripture. It’s insulting that you want to use it as a proof text. When I look at the way my yes on 8 friends behaved, and many of the statements of local church leaders, I see they ways in which they called evil good and good evil, they put darkness for light and light for darkness, they too put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

    But such accusations do not have much of a point. What needs to be done is to look at how and why good, compassionate people turned their back on Christian ethics in order to advance a political agenda.

  20. Ray,

    I already knew the case you made. Frankly, I’m not super worried about how we actually stack up dollar for dollar with some other church. I was more intrigued about what it is about LDS service that you thought was solid enough to put anyone to shame.

    But I will happily acknowledge that the church and its members does a fantastic job taking care of its own. Anecdotally, I doubt any other organization compares to that kind of service. I also am aware of the fact that the LDS definition of service includes ordinance work and proselyting. I already knew that it is Mormon doctrine that enabling the eternal salvation of souls is far more important than working to create peace and justice in this [temporary] world.

    That is precisely my problem. I see the LDS church as the most powerful and efficient religious organization on Earth. The Catholic church is the only other with comparable infrastructure, but they are fractured, like a million satellites only occasionally getting transmissions from the mothership. I see what the LDS church can do when an issue comes into focus (prop 8, Katrina, tsunami, etc.) In that power I see the potential for so much good in this world, a good that is supported by the teachings of Christ. Changing *this* world is what I currently believe is God’s work for us. The problem is not that the LDS church is ignoring God’s work, but rather that its definition of God’s work is very different. In other words, Mormonism is next-world focused, and I feel like God wants me (speaking only for myself now) to be this-world focused.

  21. All the discussion of dollar amounts and aid amounts misses the point. Charity is wonderful and necessary but we need to understand that there is a huge gulf between charity and working towards social and economic justice.

  22. Mark 14: 4-7
    “4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. 6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. 7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.”

    I’m certainly not going to compare quibbling over a word (Prop 8) with anointing the Savior for burial. I merely point out that Christ’s focus was never on relieving the physical suffering of mankind. We should be charitable, but more for our own spiritual growth, IMO, than for the impossible dream of overcoming world poverty. If charity is a means to personal spiritual growth, how then can it be turned around as a way to criticize others’ charitable efforts? Doesn’t that criticism stagnate our own growth by reinforcing our belief in our own rightness and moral superiority?

  23. Clay, I appreciate your response, but, frankly, it doesn’t address what I actually wrote.

    “Changing *this* world is what I currently believe is God’s work for us.” I agree completely, which is why I am baffled by the fact that we disagree so clearly about the Church’s humanitarian efforts.

    For example, you said:

    “But I will happily acknowledge that the church and its members does a fantastic job taking care of its own. Anecdotally, I doubt any other organization compares to that kind of service. I also am aware of the fact that the LDS definition of service includes ordinance work and proselyting. I already knew that it is Mormon doctrine that enabling the eternal salvation of souls is far more important than working to create peace and justice in this [temporary] world.”

    The “taking care of its own” was only a small portion of what I wrote, and I never once defined its service relative to this post and your question as ordinance work and proselyting. I said every criticism I was able to find as I read numerous on-line criticisms was flawed fundamentally – and I explained why. The “best” case that is cited by almost everyone is the ELCA, and it is badly flawed from a standard survey perspective. I’ve written research projects, and what I said is that the ELCA example is a terrible example.

    I also can’t understand the argument that the Mormon Church is inordinately next-world focused. My central point in my comment was that, when you actually count donations in kind at their face value, the Church does an incredible job alleviating suffering and distress in the here and now where it pours its resources into doing so – and where it organizes long-term relief. There still are work crews in the South every weekend rebuilding in the Gulf Coast region from Katrina. How many people know that?

    Perhaps we simply see this differently, but I have a really hard time agreeing that the Church is “next-world focused” – especially when it ties faith and works so tightly together and rejects the “confess his name and be saved” idea that justifies inaction in this life.

    What I said is that if the arguments against the Church in this regard are based primarily on the ELCA comparison (and that appears to he be “gold standard” argument that everyone cites), that is an incredibly shaky foundation.

  24. Iow, Clay, I can’t understand trumpeting a smaller amount in cash donations (ELCA) over a significantly higher amount in goods and services necessary to sustain and enhance life (LDS). Could the ELCA donations have purchased what the LDS gave? No, so why is the cash better than the goods and services? I searched and searched, and I couldn’t find one single source showing more extensive giving by another church. I simply couldn’t find it.

    Furthermore, is it better to give all to the poor if it means there is no place for members to worship and perform sacred ordinances? (No meetinghouses and temples in which to meet?) Without those places of communal worship, the Church would die (and not that slowly) – which would dry up all funds and goods and services that are being donated currently.

    I simply can’t fathom that argument, but it is at the heart of every criticism I read.

  25. I think charity is more than a means to personal spiritual growth. I think its also a vehicle for creating community, which is to say reconciling the human family. Its a turning of the heart’s desire from “me” to “us”.

    Now, I do believe that temple and missionary work are “us” exercises, but I just don’t connect with the logical basis. That is to say that God needs people to not only have the will to be good, but must receive a physical ordinance or else He will not save them. The physical ordinances being so important that its worth spending Billions of dollars in trackable resources (plus X amount more in untrackable resources) on doing these physical ordinances… while other activities that the church would also see as being worthy activities to create justice and peace in this world are on the back burner. It just doesn’t make sense to me anymore.

  26. Ray,

    The ELCA argument is not the “gold standard” it’s the only standard and yes it is flawed as you point out. Now, Ray, time for a little honesty. Why is it flawed? Because there is so little data. The church releases the least amount of data it can possibly release according to law (no, I am not interested in your spirited defense of why this is good, desirable, or whatever). By definition there can be no meaningful comparison, church policy guarantees there cannot be one.

    Clay simply wanted to know that his church is doing something to alleviate poverty and suffering. There is really no way of knowing because there is no disclosure. Anecdotal evidence suggests that we are pretty miserly, but it’s anecdotal.

    However, based on personal observation, the suffering that we alleviate as Mormons is highly geographically biased and tends to go towards those who need it the least. Anyone who has been a financial clerk knows that fast offering money all too often goes to pay mortgages, phone bills, cable bills, traffic tickets, or whatever crazy stuff shows up in a Bishop’s office. And, anyone who has served in poor countries knows that there are hungry saints who don’t get any money or food from their Bishop or Branch President because none is available to them.

    Also, please no one pop up and say, “Well, it’s not that way in my ward.” I don’t care if it isn’t, it’s that way in too many wards in the U.S.

  27. “while other activities that the church would also see as being worthy activities to create justice and peace in this world are on the back burner.”

    but they aren’t on the back burner. The Church is doing both – better than anyone else, as far as I can tell.

    Seriously, please find me something that shows a religion doing more. I couldn’t find anything.

  28. #29 – “Now, Ray, time for a little honesty.”

    Please don’t stoop to that kind of statement. I’ve never done that to you or Clay, and I won’t respond to it.

  29. Ray, my apologies. I have excised what you found offensive and I would appreciate if you would address the substance of what I am saying:

    The ELCA argument is not the “gold standard” it’s the only standard and yes it is flawed as you point out. Why is it flawed? Because there is so little data. The church releases the least amount of data it can possibly release according to law (no, I am not interested in a spirited defense of why this is good, desirable, or whatever). By definition there can be no meaningful comparison, church policy guarantees there cannot be one.

    Clay simply wanted to know that his church is doing something to alleviate poverty and suffering. There is really no way of knowing because there is no disclosure. Anecdotal evidence suggests that we are pretty miserly, but it’s anecdotal.

    However, based on personal observation, the suffering that we alleviate as Mormons is highly geographically biased and tends to go towards those who need it the least. Anyone who has been a financial clerk knows that fast offering money all too often goes to pay mortgages, phone bills, cable bills, traffic tickets, or whatever crazy stuff shows up in a Bishop’s office. And, anyone who has served in poor countries knows that there are hungry saints who don’t get any money or food from their Bishop or Branch President because none is available to them.

  30. Ieb, I have continued to search on-line for information on church disaster relief by denomination. The paucity of specifics is eye-opening. I am having a hard time finding any real numbers from anyone. About the Mormon Church:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanitarian_Services – “In 2007, $104.9 million of aid was given throughout the world.” (Needs citation, so cut it in half if you want.)

    http://www.irw.org/news/inthenews/200608 – “Church officials estimate that from 1985-2005, more than $800 million in material and cash assistance were donated to humanitarian causes in more than 160 countries.” (credible)

    Pres. Hinckley – “I am grateful for the humanitarian aid we have been able to extend to the poor and the unfortunate. This very day hungry children are eating food . . . because of the aid which you have sent. In a world where there is so much of hunger and suffering, where death walks hand in hand with little children, we must continue and enlarge our efforts, not permitting politics or other factors to hold back the hand of mercy.”

  31. I’m OK with fast offerings going to help a middle class family keep their home when dad gets laid off. The fast offerings come from their neighbors, and I don’t think that need should be ignored, just as the crises of AIDS and starvation in Africa should not be ignored. And I’m not saying LDS people (in Africa) are totally ignoring them. I only know that global issues are just not major topics when I attend church. Never have been. They only come up when people are making a point about the last days being evident. Maybe if I lived in Africa, or China, or Serbia, I would see the evidence that our church is doing more to change the world than anyone else. I also know Mormon doctrine, which puts other activities on a higher priority than changing this world. This world is only temporary.

    Really, I’m not demanding a change of focus for the LDS church. I have changed MY focus and, I’m kind of stuck in the church, so I’m trying to figure out how I can live in the western US as a Mormon and not feel like I’m swimming upstream. It would be cool to see the church opening schools and clinics in developing nations. Are we doing that already? That’s the kind of detail I am looking for, not just dollar amounts. I would love to see our leaders make statements against oppressive regimes, decrying the use of torture, pleading for restraint in the face of new war campaigns, petitioning world leaders to reconcile, and maybe even mediating diplomatic summits. Are we already doing that stuff? Other religious leaders do that kind of thing. If we are, that is the kind of detail I’m looking for. Something to make feel a little better about being in a church where it feels like the current is moving in the opposite direction that I’m swimming.

    BTW, that Hinckley quote is cool. Do you have a citation for that?

  32. Ray,

    Working with the numbers you have.

    Let’s be generous and round that $800 million up to $1 billion.

    Current estimates put estimated church revenues from tithing at 5-6 billion per year. Let’s be conservative and say that over that 20 year period (1985-2005) the church averaged half that, 2.5 billion/year in total revenues collected.

    Now let’s do the math. That means 2% of total church revenues go to humanitarian aid, by this estimate. That’s a pretty low percentage in my book, but I am sure others will disagree.

    Now, be little less conservative. Bump revenues to 4 billion and keep the 800 million as estimated. Now you are at 1% of total church revenue to humanitarian aid.

    Of course this is all guesswork, I’d rather it not be, but there is no disclosure. In any case, I wouldn’t call 1-2% worthy of bragging.

  33. (4) Even if the California Supreme Court strikes down Prop 8 or voters pass an initiative reinstating gay marriage in a future election, the Church’s involvement in passing Prop 8 will not soon be forgotten. Along with denouncing interracial marriage and the civil rights movement, and fighting against the ERA, this will be a blemish on our history for decades to come.

    My only hope is that the repercussions will cause us to think twice before getting involved in politics again.

    Steve M – Just crystal ball gazing. Goes for you too Valoel. There is not some hopeful inevitable march towards social progressivism. Sure, we’ve seen a fair run for 40+ years. Hey! Did y’all see we’re entering a new Great Depression! That may shift the pendulum a bit, don’t you think? America as we know it is dying and China’s taking her place. Did you see the stock market fell 14% since Obama was elected? The fight over gay marriage DOES seem surreal in this crazy economic environment. We have more experts than ever talking about hyperinflation, and all we can argue about it this STUPID marriage debate. I predict in four years, we won’t be talking about gay marriage, we will talking about bread lines, and there won’t be any cultural zeitgeist movement for cultural progressivism because people just won’t able to afford it. Marriage will be a duty like it used to be, not based on some idealized romantic notion we’ve all bought into and feel like we deserve. All of the Media outlets we all take for granted now, NY Times, Time, CNN, NBC half will be gone. The NY Times is already talking about layoffs and possible bankrupty – but then again, it may be TOO BIG to fail, as King Henry Paulson may think. The Church may be an economic haven for those downtrodden, as Monson and co. gear up to take care of the poor and needy of the church. Forget history, we may be one the ones writing it.

  34. IEB,

    The name you have chosen to go by on this blog does not exactly engender the kind of respect a person deserves so you might try changing it.

    Since you are apparently so critical of the church and they way money is used, just what is it you think the GA do with the money that comes in as donations? Horde it like some South American dictator? Line their own pockets like Wall Street executives? Thrown lavish events for themselves like AIG? Just what?

    You have no real data of your own, but yet, you are hyper-critical.

  35. Jeff,

    My point is that there is no real data to go on, only guesswork. But, that the guesswork points to us as Mormons as not being as generous as we think we are. I made no accusations as to what happens with the money. The only accusation I can possibly be construed as making is that I think the church should disclose more financial data. If anyone can provide actual data that shows us Mormons as giving a larger percentage of money to the needy then I will rejoice.

    However, apparently this is is being “hyper-critical” so I’ll just move along now.

  36. Post
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    #38 Peter Brown

    Yeah. My crystal ball tunes in that channel too sometimes. It is good to remember that history is not a linear progression, but a series of cycles. We are indeed at the very top of the crest of the cycle of individualism, which is the polar opposite of the civic and community-oriented wave. Hard times don’t allow large groups of people to do so much soul-searching, not when they don’t know where their next meal is coming from (real or figuratively).

    “Past performance should not be relied upon as an indicator of future returns.” That’s true in a stock prospectus. I might very well also be true in the advancement of individual and social liberties. We could be heading back in the other direction. That is very possible.

  37. IEB,

    “However, apparently this is is being “hyper-critical” so I’ll just move along now.’

    I am not surprised that when challenged, you just “move along.”

  38. I’ve heard a great deal about how un-humanitarian Prop. 8 is for spending all this money on defining a word. And are many LDS rather monotonal when it comes to same sex marriage? Certainly. But I’m reminded of Judas, who complained to the Savior about the alabaster ointment–expensive stuff, that–being used on his feet. After all, Judas said, could it not be used for the poor? Jesus rebuked Judas, commending the woman for her generosity. She would be remembered forever…no small feat given that Jesus could have easily backed up Judas and told the woman to go sell the remainder.
    Sometimes Jesus commanded just that. Sometimes he did not.

    Furthermore, this criticism assumes that none or even most of us are only thinking about gay marriage. It ignores that many of us care about the PEF, about the church’s massive humanitarian effort. That some of us oppose redefining marriage AND support humanitarian work. Who says the two are incompatible when we’re contributing to both? And plus, if we’re going to be ticked at a misuse of funds, let’s start pointing these same fingers at inane academic conferences on early modern France or on gender confusion in colonial Uruguay. Let’s start complaining about the barrels of money being used to fund useless books on irrelevant topics…books that maybe a few policy wonks *somewhere* will read. Books on ancient Greek gods that have long ceased to have any relevance to the dying beggar in the street.

    Never mind that anti-8 groups raised more money than the pro 8 group did. So really, they are *just* as guilty. No one should dare lay this at the feet of pro 8 alone…if they want to level blame for starvation, there are so many other more apropo targets.

  39. “I am not surprised that when challenged, you just ‘move along.'”

    Jeff, if I asked Ieb to lay off the vitriol, I should do the same in response to your comment. Once two people get to the point of saying things like that, it’s always better just to agree to disagree and move on without saying things like that. Ieb hasn’t dodged anything here; he simply said what I often say and is bowing out. Fwiw, I respect that.

  40. Dallin H. Oaks, “World Peace,” Ensign, May 1990, 71

    The blessings of the gospel are universal, and so is the formula for peace: keep the commandments of God. War and conflict are the result of wickedness; peace is the product of righteousness.

    During the past year we have seen revolutionary changes in the governments of many nations. We are gratified that in most nations these changes have been accomplished without war or bloodshed. Nevertheless, we are far from securing peace in these nations or in any others throughout the world.

    Many take comfort from the Old Testament prophecy that nations will “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks.” (Micah 4:3.) But this prophecy only applies to that time of peace which follows the time when the God of Jacob “will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” (Micah 4:2.)

    For now, we have wars and conflicts, and everywhere they are rooted in violations of the commandments of God.

    The leaders of some nations have systematically murdered their opposition.

    Persons in power in some nations have stolen public and private property so they could live in luxury. At the same time, they have neglected the most basic needs of the hungry and homeless among their people.

    Some private citizens have promoted poverty by stealing, by corrupting public officials, and by oppressing the poor and defenseless.

    Just across the borders of some nations are the wretched camps of refugees whose suffering circumstances are also traceable to man’s inability to keep the commandments of God.

    Democracy does not ensure peace. When a nation is governed according to the voice of its people, its actions will mirror the righteousness or wickedness of its people.

    We cannot have peace among nations without achieving general righteousness among the people who comprise them. Elder John A. Widtsoe said:

    “The only way to build a peaceful community is to build men and women who are lovers and makers of peace. Each individual, by that doctrine of Christ and His Church, holds in his own hands the peace of the world.

    “That makes me responsible for the peace of the world, and makes you individually responsible for the peace of the world. The responsibility cannot be shifted to someone else. It cannot be placed upon the shoulders of Congress or Parliament, or any other organization of men with governing authority.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1943, p. 113.)

    The Savior and his Apostles had no program for world peace other than individual righteousness. They mounted no opposition to the rule of Rome or to the regime of its local tyrants. They preached individual righteousness and taught that the children of God should love their enemies (see Matt. 5:44) and “live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18).

  41. Sorry, Ray, there is too much criticism of the Church on this one, where no one has real proof to back it up, only “their” interpretation of the data. They don’t choose to beleive what is told to us by Church leaders about how much money, time and effort is spent on humanitarian efforts throughout the world each year.

    So, in other words, since they can’t prove it to themselves, the unspoken comment must be that Church Leaders are not truthful about it or that we should be spending far more than we are.

  42. It looks like I missed the discussion that my comment apparently sparked, but I should point out that I did not say or imply that the Church doesn’t do humanitarian work. In fact, I think the Church’s humanitarian program is impressive (although I frankly do not know how it measures up to that of other churches).

    My main point is that the passion and attention that fighting gay marriage has garnered among Latter-day Saints is appalling when compared to the relative lack of enthusiasm for reducing hunger, fighting poverty, and repairing the planet. Latter-day Saints are probably fairly generous in their fast offerings (which is commendable), but I get the feeling that most of us write those checks more as a matter of routine or duty, or perhaps out of a desire to secure personal blessings, than out of a real passion for helping the most unfortunate members of our society.

    Why are Mormons’ humanitarian efforts carried on in a “quiet” manner? Perhaps it has less to do with our humility and more to do with the fact that most of us just don’t feel that strongly about this aspect of our Christianity.

    What bothers me is that we’ll hold mass firesides, raise millions, and mobilize thousands to deprive gay and lesbian couples of the right to use the word “marriage,” but when it comes to real global issues, we get lines like this: “We have been hearing a lot about fuel and energy—about their high cost and limited supply, our unsafe and unpredictable dependence on their suppliers, and the need for new and sustainable sources of energy. I leave the discussion of these complicated issues to leaders of government and industry.” (L. Tom Perry, “Let Him Do It With Simplicity”, Oct. 2008 General Conference).

    I don’t mean to criticize Elder Perry, but I think that his line points to the apathy that many Mormons feel about pressing issues like poverty, war, hunger, and the environment. Maybe it would help if we started defining these as “moral” issues (for they are). Maybe it would help if we started characterizing poverty and disease as “adversaries” (for they are). Maybe it would help if we recognized that a couple of dudes getting hitched is much less likely to hurt families than when parents are unable to put food on the table or provide basic medical care for their children.

  43. Steve:

    Are you in a position to question the motives of those who give fast offerings? Do you get to sit in council with them as they decide to divvy up their person l funds?

    Ultimately, we are wrong to place these issues at odds with one another. I, for one, believe the Church is correct on Prop. 8. I also believe we can be better humanitarians…even on a community level? It’s not hypocrisy…it’s less-than-perfect love…something that we *all* suffer from. To criticize those who do a wonderful job paying their fast offerings, raising their children, and caring about their community is really quite pretentious indeed.

  44. Russell,

    I was straightforward about the fact that I merely “get the feeling” that many of us pay fast offerings out of duty, routine, etc. Of course that is only the impression I have based on my own experiences and observation.

    My criticisms do not negate the commendability of paying fast offerings, raising children, or caring about one’s community. Indeed, I expressly recognized that paying a generous fast offering is commendable. But my concern is that, despite our strengths as a people, we may have some of our priorities mixed up. The passion with which Mormons campaigned to strip gays and lesbians of their rights is a sad contrast to the unexcited and apathetic approach that we often take to performing genuine Christian service.

    I only wish we would bring that type of passion to addressing society’s larger problems, rather than fighting about who gets to use the word “marriage.”

  45. I can agree, to an extent…except that you still seem to assume that Prop. 8 was illegitimate, not “genuine.” I understand that I’m in the distinct minority in believing that it was. But make sure you criticize the opposition as well..they spent more than the pro-8 crowd as well and they were fighting over the word marriage too.

    I agree that we should bring passion to these issues, but it seems that you’re just looking for another way to delegitimize Prop. 8. I’m of the attitude that both Prop. 8 and humanitarian service are worthy goals.

  46. Russell,

    I think you are missing Steve’s point entirely. It’s not about the dollars and cents the Church spent that could have gone to humanitarian aid. It’s about the passion behind the Church’s support of the Proposition. One has to ask if we show this same passion for Christian service. It’s one thing to give fast offerings and pay tithing but do we as members have the same passion for Christian service that many had for supporting Proposition 8? And I would add, do we as members have the same passion for working on our own marriages?

  47. …not to derail the thread but I want to expand on my last comment. While other Christian churches are exploring new and creative methods for promoting strong marriages based on psychological research, the LDS Church is barren. Infact, I have heard of many instances where LDS couples have to go to other Christian Churches to explore these methods including retreats, conferences, group therapy, etc.

    If we are serious about protecting the sanctity of marriage, one would think we should be showing the same passion many have shown for Proposition 8.

  48. “While other Christian Churches are exploring new and creative methods for promoting strong marriages based on psychological research, the LDS Church is barren.”

    I think the easy answer is that married couples need to adhere to gospel principles and the covenants of the Temple. We don’t really need touchy-feeling programs. It is the simple things that make marriages strong and the 100% effort of both parties. for issues, there are bishops and Family Services to assist.

    The Young Men’s and Young Women’s program, properly carried out can assist in teaching the youth about the sanity of marriage and making and keeping temple covenants, but he best place to learn that is in the home with two loving parents, man and woman.

    For those always wanting to adopt the world view of things, this answer probably does not satisfy them.

  49. Jeff,

    I think your attitude is EXACTLY what is wrong with how the LDS Church deals with counseling married couples. To be blunt, your answer is ignorant.

    The world view of things? The divorce rate of the Church is “wordly” at 50% and rising. I don’t understand why you approach the matter with such staunch arrogance.

  50. FWIW, one of my gay friends said that she always felt that if she had decided to have a family, she felt the Mormons were the best ones to emulate in how to raise a strong family. She has always admired how devoted parents are to their kids in the church and how time together as a family is such a focus.

  51. hawkgrrl,

    I do think the focus on an eternal family, and the doctrine of that is truly beautiful. I cannot comprehend how other Christians live without that. My point is that the Church has used the same approach to marriage counseling for many years, while other Churches have used pyschological studies and research to build creative approaches.

    Jeff,

    You prove my point of your sinful arrogance on every post 🙂

    Seriously, I agree that living the principles of the Gospel will bring a family closer. However, there are psychological and personality factors that require additional assistance. The Church recognizes that otherwise it would not offer marriage counseling through LDS Family Services. Since the Church agrees with and supports the science of applied psychology to work through marital problems, I don’t think it is worldy to desire that the Church utilize psychological studies and research further instead of being stagnant.

    If you think that simply counseling members to live the gospel is all that is needed then your own view is not in harmony with the Church.

  52. Russell –

    The difference between the money spent by those pro- Prop 8, and those against it is clear. Those against Prop 8 were forced into spending money to defend the rights of part of our community. It was such a huge waste of money, initiated by those putting Prop 8 on the ballot. The money coming in from out of state was completely disheartening, and then equally so that it was spent on fear based advertising. The ends clearly do not justify the means, and it is frankly shocking to me that a church would take that path in the name of Christ.

    If there’s good that came out of this proposition, I see it here in these discussions, where it might initiate a closer examination of the church’s role in the world.

  53. “You prove my point of your sinful arrogance on every post :)”

    And I was so hoping to hide that problem from you, but you figured it out. I’m exposed now for what I really am.

  54. “I guess I shouldn’t waste my time with meaningful dialogue since I’m dealing with a child.’

    Yes, you are, your inner child.

    The dialogue stopped a while ago.

  55. Ricercar,

    “CM tried to diffuse this a couple of times pretty well, you don’t have to be antagonistic.”

    I think you need to re-read the posts and see how this all started. Mainly 56. 59, 62. When a person calls your response ignorant and arrogant, the dialogue is pretty much over.

  56. Jeff,

    I apologize for those statements. I do feel that your comments were simplistic and brushing over the reality of marital problems. I can’t see a bishop saying to a struggling married couple “You guys just need to live the gospel” and leave it at that. The Church has already invested resources into counseling through LDS Family Services. I am suggesting it needs to be taken a step further and brought up to date with programs that have been proven to work. I think that type of focus is what is truly needed to protect the sanctity of marriage. And my point on the divorce rate in the Church is it reflects the divorce rate of the country, therefore one could conclude that what is in place is not working.

    This is a subject that is very important to me, and I wish you wouldn’t approach it so non-chalant.

  57. Capt,

    I can offer my apologies as well, but I do not take this subject lightly at all! My observation is that the problems that plague marriage outside of the Church apply to Church members who:

    1. Do not pick their mate well.
    2. Are unwilling to really give 100% of themselves to the relationship
    3. At the first sign of trouble, they leave or get involved with someone or something else other than their family.
    4. If they have children, they do not put their welfare first.
    5. As individuals and as a couple, they do not live the gospel completely and honor their spouses and temple covenants

    If you go back and re-read my first post on the subject, I stated that “For issues, there are Bishops and Family Services.” So I know it may be simplistic to think that living the Gospel fully is an answer but I think that it is starting point. Part of living the Gospel is serving others. If we serve our spouse sincerely, it would be a major step in improving the relationship. Most of the issues in marriages are based on selfishness of one party or both parties.

    Actually, the divorce rate among Temple Married couple is far less than the national average but creeping up there.

  58. Jeff,

    I don’t think all couples experiencing serious marital problems fall in those categories. I think that a partner can bring emotional baggage (sometimes trauma) into a marriage. Also, there are those that suffer from emotional disorders either through genetics or nature that cannot be overcome by simply living the Gospel (although that would strengthen any marriage).

    And for the many that do fit in the categories above, there are reasons (sometimes deeply embeded) that prevent them from living the Gospel fully. In those cases the purpose of professional help is to help them find those reasons, the root of the problem, so they can be worked on.

    Currently, the Church offers two methods –

    1. Counseling through the Bishop
    2. Counseling through a professional through Family Services

    While these tools are great and we are lucky to have them, studies have shown that in some cases group therapy, retreats and other forms of therapy are the most effective. I have personally seen couples come back from retreats more committed to their marriage than ever before. I think the Church should start incorporating these into LDS Family Services.

  59. I have to agree with Captain Melody on the limited marital counseling focus. Partly this seems like a by-product of a lay clergy, and also a very conservative stance on choosing counselors due to a gerontocracy. Jeff’s points about why marriages fail are well taken, too, but taken point by point, they aren’t practical to solving marital problems, nor are they a very in-depth analysis of the problems:
    1 – Picking the wrong spouse falls into the “horse is out of the barn” scenario. Now what?
    2 – Being unwilling to give 100% of themselves could be much more complicated. Do they have conflict resolution skills they need? Are they able to communicate effectively? Do they even understand how to assess what their spouse’s and their needs are?
    3 – Leaving at the first sign of trouble is just a symptom of their inability to cope, perhaps due to lack of skills.
    4 – Not putting kids’ needs first; honestly, the opposite can just as easily erode a marriage.
    5 – Not living the gospel completely and honoring covenants. That just sounds like adding insult to injury.

    Of course I wouldn’t blame the bishop if a couple needs marital counseling and gets divorced any more than I would blame the bishop that someone was on church welfare. But sometimes we do a better job at handling those temporal needs than we do at the re-parenting involved in helping people through marital problems.

  60. well, certainly we can come up with a number of examples where nothing is really practical due to the severity of a person’s problems. But, is that the normal or the exception? And I agree, that the “read the scriptures, take two aspirin, pray and call me in the morning” is not a good answer either.

    But it all starts with a mature approach to choosing a mate and not being willing to give up at the first sight of problems, no matter what. It may be the inevitable end result, but there are many things to try first.

    We’ve talked about the Missionary who is instructed by the Mission President to marry as soon as they return from their mission only to fall in love with the first girl he sees at BYU. Or the Young Lady who marries after her first year and has a child by the second year.

    Anyway, I do think there are viable options to the Bishop and Family Services available. The danger has always been that secular marriage counseling can lead to inappropriate advise not in a gospel context.

    Nothing works perfectly, not even in the church, but i suppose that is an obvious statement

  61. “studies have shown that in some cases group therapy, retreats and other forms of therapy are the most effective”

    I’m interested in some specifics here. What are the studies and what are the “other forms?” How is a retreat better than couples counseling? If a counselor doesn’t understand the demands of church activity and callings that are unique to members of this church, then counselling may be less effective. Sometimes though, it takes someone who is out of the church to bring attention to a couple that they need to scale back church commitments and bring both partners back home every night of the week. until the family can regroup.

    It seems like recurring common problems in church marriages that I am aware of (and my awareness is not from being a Bishop thank goodness) involve alcohol or substance abuse/addictive behaviors, husbands who don’t want to work, or infidelity.

  62. I’m just now reading all of the comments, and I’d like to jump on my own broken record and say one thing:

    I was disheartened when I got to the caustic and mean-spirited back and forth between Capt. and Jeff – deeply disheartened. Having said that, it was great to read the apologies and subsequent civil comments that followed. We really can have constructive discourse even about a topic this emotional, and I just want to thank both Capt. and Jeff for proving that it can be done.

  63. Rigel,

    If you want, you can google for this information. I can promise you will be inundated with information. If you have an evening to burn you can sort through the statistics and information and come to your own conclusions.

    While infedelity is a frequent cause of divorce I have found that many marital problems within the Church do not fit the reasons you cite. I have no studies or data to back that up, only my experiences and conversations with local Church leaders. Especially in younger couples a lot of the marital problems center around personal baggage, personality conflicts, or mental illness of one or both partners.

  64. I don’t personally care whether gays can marry or not. However, I believe that the LDS church should never have gotten involved in this political issue. In church it is almost as if the gay marriage debate became the utmost important political issue that we face, as if the decision over whether gays could marry or not were the sole issue that determined whether or not society would collapse into utter moral decay. The issue of gay marriage is so inconsequential in the grand scope of things. There are so many other social issues that are of far greater importance.

  65. points to the apathy that many Mormons feel about pressing issues like poverty, war, hunger, and the environment. Maybe it would help if we started defining these as “moral” issues (for they are). Maybe it would help if we started characterizing poverty and disease as “adversaries” (for they are). Maybe it would help if we recognized that a couple of dudes getting hitched is much less likely to hurt families than when parents are unable to put food on the table or provide basic medical care for their children.

    The strawmen hogged all the attention in comment #48, but I just wanted to highlight this statement. It really illustrates pretty clearly how I am feeling.

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