Friday, March 20, 2009

My Final Thoughts on Prop 8 aka Gay Marriage

Friends are beginning to want to debate Prop 8 with me more and more these days as they discover my blog. People sense I’m angry, but wonder where I really stand on the issue. Rather than send long emails that say similar things to everyone, I thought I’d lay it out here and address the bullet points most often brought to me. Hopefully, this will be my final word on the matter and I’m not really interested in debating it any further, not because I’m narrow minded but because it’s exhausting and I’m not going to change and neither are you so let’s just move on. I completely admit everything I state here is my opinion. I’m not an expert on anything.

My guess is the Church will cling to this issue until they’re the last ones standing. By then, most people/states/governments will have grown to accept gay marriage leaving us as the last to come around. This is what I mean by a “black eye”, a principle that we cling to beyond a logical breaking point, only to regret later. Now, you may say we don’t regret polygamy or not giving blacks the priesthood until 1978, but I would argue we would all rather not have those still so glaringly in our history. Earlier adoption and conformity of those issues would have saved us many many headaches from a PR perspective. You can’t deny today’s church has tried desperately to distance themselves from those “black eyes”.

To answer my friend Jason’s questions directly: Yes, I wish the Church had not spoken out so aggressively (let’s be honest, they led the charge) on the issue. For whatever reason abortion, marijuana, cloning, you name it has not provoked the Church to action like this in the past, but gay marriage has and I believe the motives were financially based. I believe the Church is claiming spiritual reasoning, when really they are afraid of being sued and losing their license as a charitable organization if they aren’t in step once it’s passed. That, to me, is like using God and Godliness as reasons to start a war and we’re living with the repercussions from that twisted logic now (W, anyone?). It’s playing to one’s spiritual sensitivity to progress your own secular agenda. Just be honest and say “our reasons are politically motivated and we could use your help if your interested” instead of promoting it as a moral obligation. It isn’t like one day in ‘78 it was bad to be black and the next day it was ok. Those decisions (I can’t really call it a revelation because it clearly wasn’t) are motivated by other forces. My feeling is the church was finally ready for blacks, not that blacks were finally ready for the church. I think we’ll eventually make similar moves with gays.

And, I get that we aren’t the only Christian church fighting this fight, so it will make for a sea change in culture for everyone. However, we are putting ourselves out there as the leaders of the pack and, therefore, opening ourselves up to the most criticism.

I don’t see why the church can’t allow marriage to happen legally, but not allow it in our churches. We do it with baptism. Another church’s baptism is not recognized as being “legal” to us. We also discriminate when it comes to the temple. You have to obey a strict set of rules for entrance and most members can’t even do it. We perform civil marriages for members all the time that aren’t worthy or ready for the temple, so what’s the difference? You might say it’s because this couple is gay, well wouldn’t it also stand to reason that the couple who isn’t gay and wasn’t worthy for the temple has some stuff in their closet too? Is homo immorality worse than hetero immorality? It shouldn’t be.

I think eventually, and I’m talking a long time from now, we may reach this level of acceptance. While I personally wouldn’t care if gay couples could attain full fellowship and get sealed in the temple, I get that they probably never will or not for a while, much like women getting the priesthood. It just isn’t how it’s done ‘round these parts. What I don’t get is any one of us would say that if gay members or non members wanted to attend church and fellowship with us on Sunday that we would welcome them with open arms. So, why is it different if it’s a married couple? Don’t we welcome anyone and everyone and then maintain the temple recommend and worthiness interviews as the great equalizers? Remember the sign in front of the building – “Visitors Welcome”.

Of course, all of this is assuming gays actually WANT to become Mormon and be married in our church, which isn’t likely to happen. If you were gay, would you want to be Mormon and feel like an outcast all the time and have no one to identify with? Anyone seeing a ton of blacks in our churches these days? There aren’t many and it’s because of our very late adoption of them as equals. We pose very little attraction for blacks (this breaks my heart, btw) and we wouldn’t with gays either. You can say “but the truth is attraction enough”, but my response is, when you make the truth as unappetizing as we do/did for blacks, they’ll find their own truth somewhere else.

So, if anyone has an example of a gay Mormon married couple wanting to actually attend church, please let it be heard because my guess is they don’t exist. So the arguments that “if it’s approved we will have to perform gay marriages at church” falls flat because there isn’t even a demand for that as long as gays are not deemed worthy or treated as equals. And if the demand increased, then who cares if we do marry them when we say we would welcome them otherwise? Marriage is different than baptism.

Another one I get is, “if it’s passed then gay marriage will have to by law be taught during Sex Ed class in schools and I don’t want my kids subjected to that”. Tell me how that is different than learning about any other culture out there or even Evolution? If you think that learning about gay marriage is going to turn your kid gay, then you’re just a complete fool. Besides, the class isn’t going to be on “Gay Marriage”. The class (or chapter even, no child takes an entire semester of “Sex Ed” or “Marriage”, it’s more of a section) is going to be on marriage and should address all kinds of marriages. At most, they might learn about the history of gay’s fight for equality, but that shouldn’t be different than the civil rights era. It’s a part of our nation’s history now.

The one issue I won’t get into is “but the bible/prophet said so and that’s the same as God’s word”. If that’s true, God and I will have to agree to disagree on this one. The God I believe in doesn’t feel this way. His “followers” who perpetuate this attitude are just gravely confused.

The final argument I get is “if we don’t stop it now, it will eventually be an issue in all states, including yours” to which I respond “bring it on!” Believe me, I would like nothing more than to represent the Church how I see fit by marching with these people, donating my time and resources, protesting, calling people out, whatever it takes to give everyone their basic human rights. This is going to pass eventually. Understand that now and let it sink in. Pretty soon, probably in the next 10 years, gay marriages will be performed nationwide. You may think you want to be the last regime fighting against it, but, as a fellow member of your church, I don’t want to be at church with you if you are because I’m already tired of apologizing for our other “black eyes” and I don’t need another. It’s probably already too late, unfortunately. The damage has been done and our history of apologizing isn’t strong.

And finally, understand that gays aren’t sinful aliens that need to be exterminated. They’re human beings looking for the same thing as everyone else, to love and to be loved, they’re just geared differently. Some people have fetishes for opposite races, foreigners, tall, short, fat, athletic, blondes, whatever and it feels natural to all of us. This is no different. We don’t like being discriminated against for being Mormon, let’s not do the same thing to others.


Ryan said...

Like they say in Michigan, Jon, if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes.

Unfortunately when the weather does change, ETB fundamental #3 (the living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet) allows for the church to claim they were right in both cases. Appeal for apology: denied.

Joking aside, I admire your courage to stand up for your convictions in such a public forum. You're now a bigger man than I am in more ways than one.

El Genio said...

Given our own history of persecution we should have known better. It is so sad.

Denise said...

Great post, Jon. I don't even agree with everything you wrote but I loved reading it and it made tons of sense. I love your description of polygamy and blacks in the priesthood as "black eyes." That sums it up perfectly.