‘In’ But Not ‘Of’ the World

9 November 2008

I read all of your comments, but I don’t have time to respond to all of them.

A number of the comments have focused on how if same-sex marriage becomes normalized that children will learn about it in school, and point to evidence of individual educators in Massachusetts using legalized same-sex marriage to justify advancing a pro-gay agenda. Given the trajectory of gay rights and the increasing permissiveness of the media, I find it unlikely that children will be protected from learning about same-sex relationships by any law.

In fact, just because some parents find an activity morally objectionable does not mean that it is a good idea to make it illegal — especially when it involves taking away others’ rights.  There are many perfectly legal things in the world that children need their parents to teach them are wrong.  The obvious example of the failure to legally enforce a moral view of the majority is the constitutional amendment known as “prohibition”.  By any account, prohibition was an abject failure in eliminating alcohol use and abuse.

Indeed, there are many perfectly legal yet (to some) “morally objectionable” things in the world we live in.  Tobacco, alcohol, and pornography are legal for adults and widely accessible to children.  (In my Utah junior high school, I routinely encountered all three.)  Any child can turn on the TV or browse the Internet and hear profanity.  The “F-Bomb” is perfectly legal to say (if not broadcast.)

Making same-sex marriage illegal will not change the fact that millions of people belong to families with same-sex parents, and children are likely to hear about or meet these people, whether the parents are married or bound in a civil union.  If parents believe that same-sex marriage or same-sex relationships are immoral, then it is their duty to teach this to their children, just as Mormons have long taught their children that profanity, coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, pornography, fornication, and other perfectly legal things in the world are wrong.

When I visited potential colleges, one of my hosts thought it would be a good time to offer the visiting high school seniors beer and pornography.  The other guests in my room, football recruits, indulged with gusto.  My parents and church had taught me that these things were wrong, and, for the first time in my life actually pressured by friends to indulge, was prepared for it and politely declined.

It is not hard to teach a second grader that some children have two mommies.  In fact, if they live in many places, they will learn this from their peers without any assistance from the schools.  It is also not hard to teach a second grader that “some people believe it is OK for two women to get married, but our family does not believe that.”  One does it the same way one teaches a second grader that “some people believe it is OK to drink tea, or eat pork, or watch R-rated movies; our family does not.”  I read books about children drinking iced tea when I was a child, but I knew that it was something our family and church believed was wrong.

Finally, in a shout-out to my own parents, I think they did an exceptional job in raising me even if we disagree on the LDS Church’s stance on Proposition 8.  They taught me not only a set of particular guidelines for personal behavior as dictated by the LDS Church, but also how to think for myself and judge for myself what is right and wrong, based on the most fundamental principle of the Gospel: “love one another”.

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Jesus on homosexuality

9 November 2008

Let us consider what Jesus had to say in the Bible New Testament about homosexuality:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

That’s not an error. Jesus had nothing to say about homosexuality in the Bible. [Editor: I do not subscribe to the opinion that the words of the God of the Old Testament are unquestionably also those of Jesus.] He did have a lot to say about love and charity though. I’m advocating that followers of Jesus focus on what he thought was important enough to talk about, and allow all others the privilege of worshipping almighty God — including celebrating marriage before him — according to the dictates of their own conscience.

Some of you will already wish to comment, arguing that Jesus’ discussion of marriage in Matthew 19 describes how he created them “male and female” and that they are “one flesh”, and by inference marriage must not be anything but. Just because one interpretation of the Bible describes one definition of marriage still does not justify abridging the rights of the government or other religions to define marriage as they wish. (One might also apply the same logic to question whether Jesus would have endorsed polygamy; he said “wife”, not “wives”.)

Moreover, invoking Matthew 19 begs raises the question: “If you really want to protect marriage, why not spend your time and money working to ban divorce, which Jesus taught should only be permitted in cases of adultery?”


Doctrine & Covenants on Influence of Religions

8 November 2008

We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; …

We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.

Doctrine and Covenants 134:4,9

Have the Mormons’ religious opinions prompted them to infringe on the rights and liberties of others? Unquestionably. Last month, a Californian could marry anyone he or she chose; today, no.

Has the LDS Church mingled religious influence with civil government, fostering its and other conservative churches’ definition of marriage, while proscribing the spiritual privileges of Unitarian and other liberal churches to solemnize their members’ same-sex unions as lawful marriage, and denying the individual rights of these churches’ members to marry whomever they choose? Undoubtedly.

Thanks to “LDS Hypocrisy” for pointing this section out in a comment.