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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Quick Question

...that just might turn into our longest thread yet. Is it Christian to petition against gay marriage?


At 6/01/2006 7:36 AM, Blogger Tom said...

There's a short answer and a long answer. I've written thousands of words on this question over the past couple of days, so I'll send you to a couple of those discussions rather than rewrite everything I've written.

The short answer is this: It can be Christian. It depends on what's in your heart.

Another related question is this: is it bigoted to campaign against gay marriage? Answer: It can be. It depends on what's in your heart.

A specific question: is it wrong (i.e. against God's will) for the Church to urge its members to campaign against gay marriage? I'm not very good at ascertaining God's will, but everything the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve say in General Conference leads me to believe that they are men of God, and are capable of leading the Church according to God's will.

But you probably don't want testimony as much as you want reason. Well, if it's true that our ultimate happiness depends on our participating in a successful man/woman marriage, then things that make our participation in a man/woman marriage less likely are bad for us. Hence, the Law of Chastity-- things like pre-marital, extra-marital, and homosexual sex, as well as intimate extra-marital and homosexual relationships (with or without sex) are detrimental to us. If the Church has a God-given mandate to help His children attain eternal life, then it is definitely Christian (i.e. consistent with Christlike love) to try and help people avoid those things that will make their participation in a successful man/woman marriage less likely.

People can argue that campaigning against gay marriage or using the constitution to ban gay marriage or whatever isn't the best way to go about helping people, or that it isn't the wisest course of action, or whatever, but these actions aren't motivated by bigotry, at least on the part of some people.

I think some people are motivated by bigotry. A lot of what I hear from leaders of the Religious Right (Pat Robertson and the like) is pretty hateful. But if you listen to what the leaders of the Church say in General Conference, you won't hear one negative word about homosexual people, and it's rare that you hear anything specific about homosexuality at all. What you will hear is a strong urging to be kind and tolerant to those around us who have different faiths and different ways of life. So, while it does seem that some (many? most?) opponents of gay marriage demonize and scapegoat gays, our Church is certainly not guilty of this.

At 6/01/2006 7:45 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Here's a related discussion I had elsewhere:


At 6/01/2006 7:53 AM, Blogger Tom said...

There's a very well-thought out, well-reasoned response here:

At 6/01/2006 10:38 AM, Blogger Tyler said...

Thanks for sending me those links Tommy. It's nice to hear that other people are concerned/confused by the issue.

I still can't shake the feeling though that it runs contrarily to free agency and the first amendment to impose religious doctrines upon a society which deliberately dichotomizes politics and religion. The simple fact remains that these people, regardless of their moral decisions (or indecisions,) are still our brothers and sisters, and still deserve our love and respect. Not our venom. (The petition that my sister sent me seemed so urgent, so naive. Where do we think the liberal media's condemnation of religionists comes from? Remember how irritating it was when John Kerry would scoff about redneck, Christian middle-America? His argument, especially in lieu of our current topic, is not completely without basis. Good thing we don't give a rats ass what John Kerry thinks.)

I'm not in any way advocating homosexuality. I think that when people play games with nature they're probably biting off more than they can chew. Plus it's just gross to me.

But I remember what the adversaries entire plan focused upon: our loss of agency. It's scary stuff to be toying with peoples freedom to choose. Kinda fascist and totalitarian.

But on the other hand, if the General Authorities of the church are talking about it, perhaps they see the shackles this issue might put on our way of life. Certainly they know something that we don't.

After much consideration, I think gays should be allowed to marry.

But my political affiliations have mutated a little bit lately. I've decided to be an anarchist. Not bad anarchy- good anarchy. Any good anarchist is just a seeker of freedom, not destruction.

At 6/01/2006 11:10 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Well, to be fair, a marriage ammendment would not infringe on anybody's agency to do whatever they want. All it would mean would be that they couldn't get government sanction of their relationships, which is the status quo. This wouldn't be an affirmative step to change anything and make things worse for homosexuals, it would be a preventative measure to keep the courts from making a change in marriage law, which would be an affirmative legitimization of homosexual relationships.

As for First Amendment concerns, it is absolutely not against either the spirit or the letter of the First Amendment to make laws based on religious sentiments of the people. The law should be blind to people's motivations for wanting certain policies. Whether poeple want a gay marriage ban because they think God wants it or because an alien came to them and told them that there should be a gay marriage ban is irrelevant. The Establishment Clause is only about Government not making laws concerning the establishment or free practice of religion, not about keeping the people's religious sentiments out of the lawmaking process. Although, I do think it's generally wise to avoid imposing our religious practices on others. I don't think a gay marriage ban would do this. Again, it would just be a preemtive measure to maintain the status quo and would in no way prevent people from having intimate relationships with whomever they please.

One more thing, there are more than religious concerns at play here. The Dave's Mormon Inquiry link outliines some social policy arguments against gay marriage. The crux of it seems to be that we don't want to follow the path that Europe has taken or else we'll end up like Europe: population decline, economic stagnancy, breakdown of family.

At 6/01/2006 11:13 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Oh, and I wholeheartedly agree, as does Church leadership, that we should love and respect homosexuals. Just like we love and respect other people who aren't living all of the commandments (i.e. everybody). But that doesn't mean we have to legitimize their every choice.

At 6/01/2006 12:03 PM, Blogger Tyler said...

To accept and to legitimize are two very different things. What percentage of the U.S. population is homosexual? Couldn't be more than 2 or 3 percent, right? Will 2 or 3 percent of our society receiving equal rights to their heterosexual neighbors really cause some sort of economic slump? Certainly not. Especially when, (not to perpetuate a stereotype, but,) all of the homosexuals that I am personally acquainted with are very hard-working, motivated people. And they feel very sincerely that they should be treated equally. It's another civil rights movement, and there are esentially two sides to choose: pro-equality or anti-equality. Obviously that oversimplifies the issue, but at the same time, I don't see any good reason why gay people should not be allowed to marry. I don't see how it would be so detrimental to our everyday lives so as to warrant an ideological assault on the gay community.

And I disagree with you Tom- I do think it is a violation of freedom that they are allowed to have intimate relationships with whomever they choose but without government representation. That's a direct injustice. And it's not illegal to be a homosexual.

I'm starting to wonder which industries would be most affected by gay marriage. The insurance companies...

At 6/01/2006 12:14 PM, Blogger Tyler said...

Though America WAS founded upon sticking to essential values...when we allow our society to evolve, how can we be sure we're not going to DEvolve?

At 6/01/2006 12:28 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Equality and non-discrimination are the strongest arguments for government sanctioning of gay marriage. I find those arguments persuasive. I have conflicting values pulling me in different directions here.

But I still can't see this as a freedom issue. It's absolutely not an agency issue. People are currently free to pair off and sleep with whomever they want without government-appropriated consequence. They are free. Denying government sanction is not denying freedom. It would change nothing for homosexuals.

At 6/01/2006 12:54 PM, Blogger Tyler said...

What are the governments role in your marriage Tom? What does the government give you that it doesn't give a young, single guy? You get tax-deductibles, your insurance costs go down, etc. They have a lot to gain from this, both morally and economically. And it isn't fair that young heterosexual men are able to receive those benefits, while young homosexual men are not. It's inequality, it's civil disregard. It's not just.

At 6/01/2006 1:14 PM, Blogger Tom said...

I can't argue that it's fair. And I can't argue in a way that doesn't invoke religious views that aren't universally shared that gays shouldn't be allowed to marry. The position that I've been staking out in my discussions on the issue is that it's not bigoted or unchristian to not want the government to sanction same sex marriages, that such a position can be consistent with Christian principles of love and tolerance, and, specifically, that the leaders of the LDS Church are not demonizing, spiting, or scapegoating gays.

At 6/01/2006 1:18 PM, Blogger Tom said...

And, by the way, the reason that the government has a stake in my marriage is that my marriage produces offspring, which are vital for the growth and prosperity of any nation. Population decline is a huge huge huge problem in Europe. Our society needs children, so the government incentivizes childbearing and things that lead to childbearing. The government has no interest in homosexual marriages because they don't add to the population. The only reason to sanction gay marriages is equality concerns. That's an important reason, to be sure.

At 6/01/2006 2:11 PM, Blogger Tyler said...

Wow! Thank you for that. That last post helped me understand a little better. Well played.

At 6/01/2006 2:32 PM, Blogger Tyler said...

And Tom, I admire the passion with which you debate.

At 6/01/2006 10:33 PM, Blogger Standard Chuck said...

I think one of the issues you are forgetting is the economic and societial values of entering into a civil marriage. There is a website that addresses these matters at this website.

At 6/01/2006 10:35 PM, Blogger Standard Chuck said...

I think that we need to really examine the idea of separating the institutions of religious and societal marriage. One should be a religious covenant while the other is a civil institution. If thus achieved (rather naive in my opinion to think it was so simple), there could be an easier solution to the quandry of supporting homosexual unions.

At 6/01/2006 11:44 PM, Blogger Tyler said...

Excellent link Chuck. It was trying to be as objective as possible, and it effortlessly indicated that homosexuals should be afforded the right to marry. Especially that quote about inter-racial marriages being the end of all marital sanctity. Ha! It seems either way that marriage is precisely what you make it, and if the sacred nature of YOUR marriage is somehow affected by the fact that two women or two men have the same opportunity, then that's just sad.

And the Bible comment...I believe what the Bible says, and I do believe that homosexuality is wrong, (against nature,)...but under the current laws which we value and seem so intent on sticking to, under the constitution of the united states, as an organization supposedly seperate from the Bible, our government has a responsibility to ensure the equal rights of its people. This is not being done. "Endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, namely life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." I'm not married, but I'm thinking about going out and finding me a wife simply because of those 1,082 benefits our government sees fit to bestow upon my mother and father; too bad for my friends Derek and Greg.

Black people should not be allowed to use the same bathroom as me, and when the hell did *I* say that women should be allowed to vote? Like we want some ignorant woman having a voice in important men's business like politics. The laws of the land do not apply to my kitchen.

I live in a four-plex, and the people beneath us are a married couple from Wyoming. I'm not sure how to go about helping the situation, but the dude beats his wife. We've all heard it happening. He yells insanely at his children, then he drives away fast enough to peel out in his big, loud mustang. (Extra-loud, testosterone-centered mustang with the muffler removed, of course. Gotta overcompensate for ethical shortcomings somehow.) Now I'm supposed to believe that THIS ugly-hearted bastard, in all his glorious numbskullery, should be allowed marriage, and not somebody's gay interior-decorator brother, Cecil let's call him? Not a convincing argument.

Let's all move to some commune in Montana and start a militia. We'll make our own vigilante laws, and any trespassers will be shot on sight. I'll meet me some nice redneck woman named Margie who has no teeth because of her meth habit, and together we will formulate a brilliant scheme to distribute amphetamines to high schoolers in Boise, Idaho and make a huge profit, (thereby helping our brothers and sisters throughout the commune to buy more guns and amphetamines and Michelob Dry.) At least throughout any legal hassles we might have, at least through thick and thin, Margie and I will know that we at least have the government supporting our marriage while those faggots down the street still have to pay higher insurance rates. God bless the good old U.S. of A.

It makes me feel a little bit preachy, but this is a very volatile issue in my mind right now. Where's the love?


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