The Anti-Marxist View of the LDS Marriage Argument

Peter BrownMormon 21 Comments

I’m jumping us back into the shark pool. Please no derogative, homophobic comments, or personal attacks on me—just a warning—I’ll delete you. I’m assuming that most homosexual are true believers in the concept of equality in love. I’m also assuming that many people against gay marriage are not homophobic or anti-gay, but truly believe that the structure of the gay marriage movement is an attack on the family as well as freedom of religion. I think this is at the heart of why the Church is against the gay marriage movement, which unknowingly or untold has its foundations in Marxian Critical Theory. If you want to understand why this is so important to the Church, you have to connect the dots here. The foundation of this fight is steeped in a scriptural culture of conspiracy, and its recent 50-year history of anti-communism and the rich tradition of skepticism of government in the Church courtesy of its own history and Helaman’s Gadiantion stories.

The Failures of Classic Marxism

The political left has its roots in French Jacobin politics and has survived as a staple of leftist thought. This mindset is interested in a new order where state morality replaces private morality, with an aversion to religion, sexual repression, or aristocracy. They were built upon Karl Marx in the mid-nineteenth century, where economics became the big staple of the utopian dialectic and leftist thought. Classic Marxism, however, through revolution with a focus on economics, went by the wayside with the failures of Stalinism and Maoism and the successes of American capitalism in the mid 20th Century. But not giving up on Marxism, many leftist thinkers found another way.

It is found in Neo-Marxist Critical Theory, what they call cultural Marxism, outlined by Herbert Marcuse. They saw cultural institutions as inhibitors to evolved socialism. The family, religion, etc. became prime targets. The theory goes that if the nuclear family can be dismantled, the individual will place more faith in the State for his security and well-being, and Marxism will take root again. The battles of the sixties, anti-communists will say, were driven by these Marxist undercurrents that had been in the intellectual community. The LDS Church had its own historical dialectic. One of those is the idea that in the last days, the government would be subverted by secret combinations. With Skousen and Ezra Taft Benson at the very vocal helm of this thought, these secret combinations were defined as communism and socialism and evolved to include neo-Marxist critical theory ideas as well. The abortion rights movement and the ERA, were all seen by through an anti-communist lens. Gay marriage is the next in line of a string of neo-Marxist ideas that have to be repudiated. There really is a conspiratorial streak to this opposition to gay marriage; otherwise, I don’t think they would see it as a big deal. The question arises about evidence to support this fear. We are not the first country to go down this path, so we have templates to study.

The Case of Norway, Sweden, and Canada

Norway, Sweden, and most of Scandinavia played this game 15 years ago, and we have results to measure as well as attitudinal shifts to show how gay marriage correlates to other cultural shifts about religion, marriage, and the State. Stanley Kurtz has repeatedly examined this, and came to the conclusion that it does. To paraphrase his study, marriage is almost non-existent in these countries (as measured by the out-of-wedlock birthrate, and the family dissolution rate), and a bellwether for this change, he saw in the gay marriage movement. I’m not altogether convinced it is causal in nature, or just part of the overall chess game, but one of the most disturbing signs was the change in rhetoric. Before the gay marriage was allowed, the rhetoric was about equal rights, love, and acceptance. After gay marriage was allowed, the cultural left started attacking marriage as an outdated institution, as characterized BY gay marriage. This change in rhetoric confirms some of the conspiratorial view. The institution of marriage has altogether been subverted and replaced by the State in Scandinavia.

In Canada, opposition to homosexuality as wrong is now considered hate speech. There is an instance where an ad placed quoting bible passages showing why homosexuality is wrong, and the man who placed the ad was fined by the Canadian Human Rights Board of Inquiry. Furthermore, a Catholic bishop was taken to court by an offended gay man over printing a letter that called on Canada to overturn gay marriage. The case was withdrawn by the plaintiff who was just trying to make a statement, but thousands of dollars of court fees were incurred. Some lawmakers in Canada have regarded their hate crime laws as having a chilling effect on the freedom of religion.

From the same quoted LDS Newsroom article above, here are the concerns—some of which have already materialized:

“Public accommodation laws are already being used as leverage in an attempt to force religious organizations to allow marriage celebrations or receptions in religious facilities that are otherwise open to the public. Accrediting organizations in some instances are asserting pressure on religious schools and universities to provide married housing for same-sex couples. Student religious organizations are being told by some universities that they may lose their campus recognition and benefits if they exclude same-sex couples from club membership.

Many of these examples have already become the legal reality in several nations of the European Union, and the European Parliament has recommended that laws guaranteeing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples be made uniform across the EU. Thus, if same-sex marriage becomes a recognized civil right, there will be substantial conflicts with religious freedom. And in some important areas, religious freedom may be diminished.”

Interesting, the same article states, “The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference.”

Seems to me, in conclusion, that the Church’s opposition to marriage is not based on irrational fear of homosexual love per se (they seem awfully close to being okay with domestic parternship rights and have no qualm with employment discrimination based on sexual orientation), but on a deeper, subversive fear that relates to, cultural revolution, neo-Marxian destruction of the family, the State replacing religion, and limiting the freedoms of speech and religion that go along with forced acceptance of homosexuality. This is a massive chess game in a cultural war. Agree or disagree, that’s how you have to look at it if you want to see it through the Church’s lens.

Comments 21

  1. Fascinating stuff, friend. I’m not convinced on the Marcuse tack; just because gay marriage and the abortion agenda were SEEN through the communist lens doesn’t mean that they had their roots in Marxism. Postmodernism is my bete noire of choise for these things. And besides, conspiracy theories have a much longer heritage that Marxist critical theory.

    But at any rate, I find your general approach refreshing. I weary of trying to tell acquaintances why we shouldn’t be lumped with the Christian right, why this really is not just about love and tolerance, why symbolic “chess moves” as it were have real consequences over the long term. And then, sadly, as I try to do so, some of my LDS friends would probably be willing to jump in and “help,” citing doctrine or the “naturalness” of heterosexuality. So I appreciate that some Latter Day Saints are actually seeking to understand the Church’s views on this in rational terms.

  2. no qualm with employment discrimination based on sexual orientation)

    Back in 82 or 83 I applied for a job with Salt Lake County and I was struck by their well established and clearly articulated policy against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

  3. BTW, I found Kurtz interesting, I’ll have to think more about what he has to say.

    The taxes necessary to support the welfare state have had an enormous impact on the family. With taxes so high, women must work. This reduces the time available for child rearing, thus encouraging the expansion of a day-care system that takes a large part in raising nearly all Swedish children over age one. Here is at least a partial realization of Simone de Beauvoir’s dream of an enforced androgyny that pushes women from the home by turning children over to the state.

    Yet the Swedish welfare state may encourage traditionalism in one respect. The lone teen pregnancies common in the British and American underclass are rare in Sweden, which has no underclass to speak of. Even when Swedish couples bear a child out of wedlock, they tend to reside together when the child is born. Strong state enforcement of child support is another factor discouraging single motherhood by teens. Whatever the causes, the discouragement of lone motherhood is a short-term effect. Ultimately, mothers and fathers can get along financially alone. So children born out of wedlock are raised, initially, by two cohabiting parents, many of whom later break up.

    But, this is the first time I’ve read a discussion on the issue that did not cause me to immediately agree with the other side. 😉

  4. First, the court cases being cited are almost all situations where anti-discrimination laws were violated, rather than having anything to do with marriage equality. Several of these cases are from nations or states where marriage equality doesn’t exist, yet Prop 8 literature is claiming them as “consequences of gay marriage.” That’s simply dishonest.

    Then there’s the oft-touted “marriage in Norway plummetted at the same time as (if not because of) the legal recognition of gay marriage.” This argument seems rather popular, yet it’s entirely unfounded. To begin with, there is no gay marriage in Norway. Norway only recognizes civil unions, although legislation is being considered this year to grant marriage equality. Likewise, the rise in out-of-wedlock births are tough to correlate with non-existent Norwegian gay marriage, since those rates skyrocketed in Norway throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and then levelled off during the 1990s. Norway didn’t even recognize civil unions until 1993, so how is the rise in out-of-wedlock births connected to gay marriage? If anything, you could argue that the recognition of civil unions came at the same time (and maybe caused!) the rate of out-of-wedlock births to stop escalating. A handy refutation of the anti-marriage-equality Norway claims can be found at complete with supporting links.

    It’s so easy to quickly swallow a story that appears, on first glance, to support our particular views–especially if deep down we know that those views are precarious. As Mark Twain allegedly once said, however, there are three kinds of lies: “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

  5. It’s so easy to quickly swallow a story that appears, on first glance, to support our particular views–especially if deep down we know that those views are precarious. As Mark Twain allegedly once said, however, there are three kinds of lies: “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

    Well said, though I doubt seriously that agreeing with stories that support our particular views is easier if deep down we know that those views are precarious unless this is a cross reference to the way the left has reacted to Sarah Palin stories?


    Tossing that tag line in lessens the force of your argument, unless you are stating that you are citing to studies that you agree with, even though you know that deep down your views are precarious?

    I do think, all said, that it is much too easy to agree with things that support our views without examining them further.

    Kurtz seems to agree with you, Gay marriage is both an effect and a reinforcing cause of the separation of marriage and parenthood — though not on the terms for the unions.

    Is the law in Norway the same as the other countries?

    Take-up rates on gay marriage are exceedingly small. Yale’s William Eskridge acknowledged this when he reported in 2000 that 2,372 couples had registered after nine years of the Danish law, 674 after four years of the Norwegian law, and 749 after four years of the Swedish law.

    I’m wondering just how far off that is from reality.

    I’m also interested in noting that the individuals I know who would be personally and directly affected by marriage want it in order to be married, not to fit inside of the sort of thing described “The goal of the gay marriage movements in both Norway and Denmark, say Halvorsen and Bech, was not marriage but social approval for homosexuality” — that is, they want marriage much more than they want any sort of social approval.

    Of course Kurtz’s article is dated 2004, the box turtle article is later.

    The matter Nick is referring to is the following:

    After civil unions were enacted in 1993, the growth of that birth rate slowed dramatically. The the growth rate fell from 9% per year to an average of less than 1.5% per year between 1993 and 2006

    Anyway …

  6. Peter, very interesting approach. In general, I am skeptical of conspiracy theories, but is that wise or am I just playing into their hands? 😉

  7. Great article Peter. I always enjoy looking at things from different perspectives.

    I think Isaiah Berlin would be a good person to use in place of Marx/Marcuse in terms of state use of positive and negative liberties. From Wikipedia:

    “According to Isaiah Berlin’s view, one’s positive right imposes an obligation on another to do something for someone, while a negative right obliges others to refrain from doing something to someone.For example, a negative right to life would require others to refrain from killing a person, while a positive right to life would require others to act to save the life of someone who would otherwise die.

    Negative rights may be used to justify political rights such as freedom of speech, private property, freedom from violent crime, freedom of worship, habeas corpus, a fair trial, freedom from slavery and the right to bear arms. Positive rights may be used to justify police protection of person and property, right to counsel, public education, health care, social security, or a minimum standard of living.

    In the ‘three generations’ account of human rights, negative rights are often associated with ‘first-generation rights’, while positive rights are associated with ‘second-generation rights’.”

    The state naturally favours positive liberties. This is not neccessarily a bad thing in terms of social security, minimum standard of living or healthcare. However….for a paleoconservative like yourself I can see how you would be against it and as an anarchist I am mostly against compulsory government ESPECIALLY state morality.

  8. Nick, I think it is MUCH easier to take something that appears to agree with your beliefs without questioning it the more deeply you believe you are correct. So, I disagree with you on that point. I don’t think advocates misapply studies out of a sense of uncertainty – but rather from their certainty. I also know that both sides do this.

  9. I think you are right to assume that it is an attack – an attack on an idea that doesn’t match the moral standards of today. I would like to think we are progressing towards a moral tolerant society, but I suppose there is always the risk that when morality is defined by our present day interpretation of the past, our moral patterns will shift.

    I do not hope for a day when our society is not tolerant enough to accept people who hold religious ideals close to their hearts. However, religion needs to be accountable for its teachings that are in opposition to other’s freedoms. It is a difficult balance to maintain and a tricky paradox. How do you stand up for a person’s right to believe something when what they believe is complete contrary to what you believe? Our present standards do not speak kindly of people who criticise based on gender or race, but this was not always the case. Some religions are open to gay marriage, others will follow, and some see the day when the LDS church will accept it as well – I have my doubts, but I cannot see any religion alive today that doesn’t respond with that itching ear.

    It is a cultural war – a competition of ideas – and the church will probably lose out.

  10. Stephen and Ray, perhaps I wasn’t clear, but my comment about swallowing stories or studies that seem to confirm one’s predetermined point of view wasn’t just aimed at those who disagree with me. My intent was to make that as a general statement, because we all do it. It’s called confirmation bias. That said, you’ll notice my comments on the Norway marriage claims didn’t cite an alternative study, but rather pointed out that the underlying facts don’t support the conclusions being urged, particularly when marriage equality doesn’t even exist in Norway, and never has.

    Take-up rates on gay marriage are exceedingly small.

    This certainly makes for an interesting discussion point, but merely tossing off “raw” numbers doesn’t help us much. If 2,372 gay couples in Denmark chose to marry in a nine year period, what percentage of committed gay couples in Denmark does that represent, and how does that percentage compare to marriage rates among committed straight couples in Denmark, for the same time period? Is the percentage of committed gay couples who opt not to marry the reflection of a general societal shift toward cohabitation, or is it (as the anti-marriage-equality commentators seem to imply) an indictment of committed gay couples?

    A 2001 article from BYU claims that unmarried straight cohabitation in the United States rose from 10% to an astonishing 56%, between 1974 and 1994. Would anyone in their right mind claim that because cohabitation is common among straight couples in the United States, the government should cease to recognize heterosexual marriage? That seems to be the anti-marriage-equality argument being proposed by those who misrepresent the Norway data. How would the fact that any large percentage of couples choose not to exercise their right to legally marry be a legitimate argument that they shouldn’t have the right to choose whether they will marry?

  11. Nick, I understand confirmation bias. That’s not my point. I just think confirmation bias is stronger the more strongly people believe their beliefs have been confirmed. No need to discuss that further.

    I agree completely that the way these studies have been and are being used is ludicrous. You know my basic stance on gay marriage and civil unions, but one of the two things that might make me vote for gay marriage is the vast number of STUPID arguments and justifications used by so many of its opponents. It’s like the claim that gay marriage should be outlawed because “all children deserve to have a mother and a father”. Even if that is true, it has nothing to do with gay marriage in and of itself – and, even more importantly, nobody who makes that claim advocates removing children from homes with single, heterosexual parents.

    Yeah, the hypocrisy and over-reaching really bug me.

    Sorry, back to our regularly scheduled discussion – since I really don’t want to turn this into just another same old, same old gay marriage thread.

  12. Post

    (1) The Marcuse line of thought was outlined fairly convincingly by Robert Bork in his book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah. I was totally shocked that many of the early fathers of the post-modern thought on sexual politics acted on the central notion that they would be destoyinng the family structure–essentially to replace it with the State.

    (4) Nick, these anti-discrimination laws are based on free speech problems and freedom of religion problems. In each of these cases, people were sued for believing in ideas and advocating them. Where is the discrimination? I’m lost. As far as the actual sinister elements of a conspiracy idea, you can debate that, and in general I believe that many proponents of marriage equality are sincere in the quest. I’m only suggesting that its a sciptural belief of anti-family consipiracy that motivates the Church’s raison de’tre against gay marriage, and that there’s at least a perception of supporting evidence that this is more culture war football that and equality debate.

    (6) Hawk, I see you’re point, but I’ve more inclinded lately to believe that we are being manipulated, as much as I want to believe Time Magazine, I’ve lost my faith in government, the media, and scientific journalism. I’m an equal opportunity doubter 😉

    (9) Carter per your response:
    “Our present standards do not speak kindly of people who criticise based on gender or race, but this was not always the case. Some religions are open to gay marriage, others will follow, and some see the day when the LDS church will accept it as well – I have my doubts, but I cannot see any religion alive today that doesn’t respond with that itching ear.

    It is a cultural war – a competition of ideas – and the church will probably lose out.”

    First, I’m not convinced in the inevitability of cultural progressivism. First, history doesn’t always tack to one course. We could be reaching the point where the pendulum swings right. Right now, America is still behind the cultural curve, but Europe, who the left looks to for cultural guidance, is experiencing a demographics problem that will probably swing it in 50 years more towards an Islamic cultural center.

    I’m also a true believer in Zion and the New Jerusalem, the Great Tribulation, Armageddon, and the Millennium, so that pretty much makes me doubt the inevitability of cultural progressivism.

  13. Peter, my point wasn’t whether or not I agree that discrimination took place in the lawsuits mentioned. Rather, the point was that those lawsuits arose out of anti-discrimination laws, and not out of marriage equality. To say that two lesbians winning a lawsuit against a fertility doctor was a “result of gay marriage” is a falsehood. That, however, is precisely what the Prop 8 supporters’ literature is claiming.

  14. If the aim of the conspiritors is to undermine the family in favour of the state,in the USA they must be playing a very long game indeed.Perhaps one might see the gay community’s espousal of marriage as something to which they aspire as a move away from promiscuity.Bless.

  15. Excellent work here Peter.

    Although this issue is become a bit boring now, looking at the big picture imo this (gay marriage) is just another back door attack Satan has devised to bring down the institution of the family (which is by the way at the very heart of God’s own way of life). Pt Benson’s life message revolved around what he considered Satan’s attempts to reach this “neo-Marxian destruction of the family, the State replacing religion”, as you put it. I don’t think it is just a mistaken philosophy or just bad government policy.

    He has managed to weaken it before with social income redistribution and mandated child care centres on employers in many countries, not only those you’ve mentioned, and all we see as a result is an increased breakdown in family relations. But, off course, the church can’t lead a PR statement with this type of wording so they publish what they do. Maybe in general conference they’ll become more explicit and to the point.

    I would only add to all this ‘no fault divorce’ as another tactic he has to make this world more miserable. But then not even our church wants to touch that issue too much since they’re sure to loose more members over it than what they have already with the ERA and now with equal marriage rights.

  16. Nick #4

    “First, the court cases being cited are almost all situations where anti-discrimination laws were violated, rather than having anything to do with marriage equality”

    Its that one lead to the other. If gay marriage is legal marriage then the church will be forced to accept it too, to avoid anti-discrimination suits by gays who want to be married by a ‘Mormon Bishop’. When that bishop refuses the church will loose its right to perform marriages that are recognized by the state. This is why so many countries have accepted ‘civil unions’ instead of full out ‘gay marriage’.

  17. #14, C.Biden:
    The European demographics problem (Britain and continental Europe) is that the Europeans are not reproducing enough to sustain their numbers, and their populations are decreasing. The only thing maintaining their overall population numbers is immigration, mainly from Islamic countries of the Middle East and Africa.

    The United States is headed in that direction. Personally, I think there is a link between our illegal immigration problem and abortion. Over 40 million abortions have been performed in our country since it was legalized. And the number of illegal immigrants since then (and their US-born offsprint) is close to that number. Our country was “missing” millions of workers, and people eventually came in to fill that void.

    I’m not saying that was what was on the immigrants’ mind. However, I think the absence of those (aborted) workers caused our society to create an economic and social “draw” or “vacuum” that at least tolerated illegal immigrants. And once the early illegals told their family members that they were being tolerated, the rush continued.

    Then, during the 80’s (under Pres Reagan) our country gave amnesty to all the illegals, and that reward created an even greater inflow. (Reward something, and you get more of it.)

    The millions of people who’ve come here on H1B visas, doctors, scientists, IT professionals, etc., may also be filling the “voids” created by millions of aborted babies. So combined, illegal immigrants working menial jobs, and the professional H1B’s cover the spectrum of jobs that would have been held by the 40 million aborted babies, had they been born and grown up.

    I don’t know how to prove my theory, but it’s interesting to think on. It may fit in somewhere under “freakonomics” or “law of unintended consequences.”

  18. Post

    (13) Nick, you can argue gay marriage in a vacuum. I believe the LDS Church does NOT. It’s true that in a vacuum that gay marriage has nothing to do with anti-discrimination lawsuits per se, but if you buy the argument that by allowing gay marriage, you therefor progress a de facto civil right, you can then clear the way for anti-dicrimination lawsuits to arise. I think that to argue against gay marriage in a vaccuum is difficult to do. If you argue against it as a domino effect, that’s where the rationality arises. Does it mean we shouldn’t still DO something to protect gays against inequal measures in the law–I think its possible to hammer this out by mitigating the cultural chess game politics.

    (14) Carlos – European Social liberals have less children than Muslim conservatives. That’s the demographic problem plain and simple. AND, educating the masses in the grand liberal West doesn’t cut it. 80% of children inherit their parents political views. You do the math.

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