Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gay Marriage

This is a message I wrote to a friend of mine with whom I had been debating prop 8.

Hey [name], sorry for the delay, I spent the weekend at my fiancee’s grandparents’ cabin with no internet or cell coverage… glorious. I actually spent a lot of time thinking about the facebook thread we had going and realized something: my goal should be to understand your point of view. We are not going to convince each other of anything, but we can try to understand each other. So, in that light, I’d like to share my point of view with you, just for your understanding.

First, I believe in God. In fact, I know God is real, and he is my father. I know that he loves all His children. He doesn’t pick favorites, but he has particular compassion for those who are ridiculed, abused, misunderstood, etc., because his only “begotten son” was treated that way. Jesus Christ suffered not only for our sins, but also, in a very personal way, he felt our heartaches, loneliness, depression, and isolation.

Because God loves us, he has given us guidelines that will lead us to the greatest happiness, and his plan for us centers on families. In fact, He intends for our family relationships to last forever, even after this life. In short, the purpose of life is family. Understandably then, many of the guidelines He has given us revolve around the formation of families and the rearing of children. One of these guidelines is that marriage is between a man and a woman. Others include the sacred nature of the sexual experience, which is to be reserved for expression between a husband and wife who are completely committed to each other. Additionally, children have a right to be born within the bonds of matrimony and to be reared by a father and mother who love each other, and love their children. Of course, these ideals are unrealized for many families, even many of those who believe in them, but that does not diminish their value or validity.

I’m trying not to be too long winded, so I think I’ll skip to the thought that might have come to your mind two paragraphs ago… “This guy is a dyed-in-the-wool product of his religion.” The fact is, I know of God’s existence, his love, and his plan through personal communication with Him – my own, independent experience. I pray, and He answers. He speaks to my spirit in a way that is difficult to describe, but impossible to truthfully deny. Sometimes it has been with specific words, but usually it’s with feelings and promptings that I have come to recognize. To borrow an analogy, it’s like trying to explain the taste of salt. When you taste salt, you know it is salt. You don’t “think” it is salt, or want it so badly that you convince yourself that it is salt, you just know it is salt, even though you can’t quite describe it to someone who has never tasted it. God is real; he cares about us, and he has a plan for us. I know it because, spiritually speaking, I have tasted salt… and I taste it often.

That’s pretty much it, but I want you to understand how this translates into the topic at hand. Again, I’m not trying to convince you of anything, just explaining my point of view.

Given the framework above, here are some of the “societal” reasons why I believe Mormons supported prop 8.

- Schools/Children. If same-sex marriage is legalized, then schools will undoubtedly be obligated to contain curriculum about homosexuality. At what age do we introduce stories with same-sex parents? Immediately, of course, because all marriages are equally valid. So now Goldilocks will encounter Mama Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear. Instantly parents are obligated to start some degree of sex education long before it would be appropriate (except, sadly, for a “good touch/bad touch” lesson for the kid’s protection). So then what happens to the kid who blurts out, “My mom said it’s not good for two boys to get married.” It will be handled the same as if the kid said, “My mom said it’s not good to be Mexican.” It becomes unacceptable to believe in a particular theology, and freedom of religion is restrained in the area of sexuality.

- Churches. Will churches be obligated to perform same-sex marriages? This seems unlikely, but certainly conceivable. You can see why this thought would spread quickly and strengthen pro-8 opinions, despite its unlikelihood.

- Pandora’s Box. If we redefine “marriage,” and thus, “family,” then the new definitions are not final. What about three people who fall in love? It would be unconstitutional to deny them marriage because their love does not follow the “traditional” 1:1 ratio.

Anyway, I hope this helps you understand how Mormons can support prop 8 and still claim not to be haters. We believe that everyone in the world is a beloved child of a compassionate Father. Countless gays (and their loved ones) have suffered at the hands of uncompassionate tormentors. That is not right, and I firmly believe that 1) Jesus Christ has felt their pain, and 2) Abusers and tormentors will stand accountable to God for their mistreatment of His children. I also believe that God has given us guidelines that will lead us to eternal happiness in eternal families if we follow them, and sometimes (often) those guidelines go against our natural inclinations and desires. Nevertheless, I trust and follow God to the best of my ability, and I personally believe in the principles taught in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

I was going to reread your posts, and anything else you’d like to post, but I see the original post is gone. I’d love to read a message explaining your “personal framework” and point of view, if you want to write one. If it’s easier to explain your point of view by referring to mine, that’s fine, but I’m more interested in your personal thoughts than your reaction to mine, because I know we disagree.

~ Brett

p.s. responses to posts that I remember:

From you: I would be interested in knowing where you found those quotes, and the one you posted originally. There are thousands of anti-Mormon websites, and many of them seem to care little for honest research. Perhaps you already know, most the men you named were born in the 1800s. You named one person who is alive, but the quote you attributed to him actually came from Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008). I am not totally discounting your quotes. Maybe they are all real. I’m just pointing out why I ask for references, especially when LDS leaders are quoted, and double especially when the quotes are short and unfamiliar. If you have references (titles/dates of addresses, etc.), you can check them at lds.org.

From [other name]: Lots of good info, especially about the medical situation. I’ll look into that. I would respond about one thing – when names of prop 8 contributors were published, their houses were attacked and jobs were lost. Some of my friends hired private security to protect their home. I think you can understand why they’d try to prevent that by un-publishing their names. But Mormons are not shy about the principles stated in The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

p.p.s. [Name], you’re one of the very best. I mean that. I hope we can disagree and still respect each other’s views, and be friends. I’d still risk my life in the face of [high school bully] for you if I had the chance! :)

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