Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's a question of Love...

I just posted this on my FaceBook page. The video at the bottom touched me in a manner which I haven't felt in a while, and which I have missed. I beleive it to be the Spirit of God manifesting truth to me, others may view it differently, but however you see it, the feelings it inspires, leave me in no doubt where I need to stand on the issue.

I have some pretty strong opinions on Politics, Freedom and Religion. Generally I don't like to impose these on others, although I do share them elsewhere online from time to time. Recently however I have felt impressed with the need to share a little of these opinions here, on my facebook page. Responses have been mixed, ranging from peaceful and enthusiastic agreement to peaceful and vigorous disagreement.

I don't share this opinion as an attack on anyone else's beliefs or rights, but simply because I feel that I need to make my voice heard, rather than sitting by in silence and in so doing giving the impression that I support those with whom I associate or have associated in the past.

This morning during religious services, I was told that my current opinion places me in direct opposition to the Church with which I attend. A Church which claims to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and yet fails to live it fully. I don't believe that Christ ever taught that we should accept and embrace sin, however that sin is defined. Rather as in the example given in the New Testament of the woman who had been caught in adultery and was about to be stoned, he set a great example. At no point did he claim to embrace her choices, nor inflict injury upon her because of them Rather he protected her right to live, and allowed her to continue on her way. While the scriptures aren't specific, I like to think that perhaps he offered a kind embrace, some gentle words of encouragement, that she could overcome challenges which she faced and then the freedom to continue on her way.

I don't begin to claim that I understand any of the reasons behind those that live a lifestyle different from my own. For many, I am positive that it is not a choice they have consciously made. Whatever the reason, these people are fellow children of God, fellow brothers and sisters, fellow humans who seek only the same rights as I do for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As I listened to the message of pride, hate and intolerance in Church this morning, I was filled with an uneasy feeling that what I was hearing was wrong. It was not the Spirit of the God whom I worship. I've been struggling a little since that time, however in watching a video this afternoon on the blog of a good friend of mine, I felt a spirit that contained love, peace, happiness, and has helped me to believe that there is still good in the world.

Like I said, I don't mean to offend any who may read this. I'm not attacking your beliefs or asking you to accept mine. As the heading on the blog I copied this from included - I believe from the video clip itself...

It's a question of love for one another and human beings and for people who want to solidify that love in permanence and commitment.


  1. Well put, excellent. Thanks for the link.

  2. Committed gay relationships may be about love, but gay marriage is about acceptance and normalization.

    It has never been a question of civil rights because government-sanctioned marriage (of any stripe)is simply not a civil right. Heck, driving a car isn't even a civil right, it's a privelage- an institution sanctioned and regulated by the state.

    Further, I balk at anything with the words "Keith Olberman" and "love" in the same sentence. Have you ever watched the dude?

    And by the way, I sure am feeling all the love right now from the anti-8 people throwing fits and tagging LDS temples and church buildings. And all the comments on anti-8 blogs are just full o love. I'm really feeling it, brother!

    Now, I certainly don't mean to belittle your passion on this subject. Nor do I at all condone the actions and words of those who have insulted you for your beliefs. I respect your beliefs because they are passionate and informed. You don't take this lightly and I get that. It's why I follow your blog and take the time to comment.

    I do take issue on several levels with one statement from your post:

    "A Church which claims to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and yet fails to live it fully."

    The "church" as an institution that teaches the gospel of Jesus Christ isn't responsible for the "church" as a body who fails to live it fully.

    Second, you're painting your fellow LDS with quite a broad brush, don't you think? Do they really all fail to live the gospel? Does the church's position on one thing- gay marriage- negate the rest of the truth taught fervently in its scriptures and by its leaders?

    Does the church's position on gay marriage really make no sense at all to you? Would the redefinition of the term and official governmental sanction of the institution really not have any potential cultural and religious implications that could impact the goals of the LDS Church?

    Does opposing same-sex marriage really mean you don't love homosexuals? Can you really not love somebody and while refusing to accept and officially sanction the nature of their relationship? Can you really not hate the sin but love the sinner?

    Yes, there are hateful people out there- yes, even some in your particular ward. I would have taken just as much offense at what you were told as you did. I'm with you on that.

    But to me, this was never, ever a question of love, or emotion at all. It's a question of government principle, law, democracy, and the legislative process. My opinion? Keep it divorced from emotion. Justice is blind, remember? Morals and feelings and love simply don't play into it.

  3. YES!! When I saw the email alert that you had commented, I was pretty sure it was going to be an opposing view and as crazy as it sounds, I was excited to read it. I credit my being more informed on subjects to your honest and critical responses in the past. I'm seeing a good couple of questions in your comments and hope to be able to spend some more time digesting them and further refining my views.

    Worthy opponents on this issue (although I don't really see you as an opponent) have been hard to come by lately - at least those that actually know what they're talking about!


  4. D. Sirmize,

    If I may start with your last statement:

    But to me, this was never, ever a question of love, or emotion at all. It's a question of government principle, law, democracy, and the legislative process. My opinion? Keep it divorced from emotion. Justice is blind, remember? Morals and feelings and love simply don't play into it.

    I couldn't agree more - inspite of my post. I had a tangle online last week with a gentleman who was violently opposed to gay marriage on moral grounds, yet spent most of his time upset with me for not defending the rights of polygamists (First I have no problem with polygamy between consenting adults and would defend that equally as strongly as I do gay marriage and second, like you said, this isn't about morals.)

    My reponse to him, which went over like a lead balloon, was that morals are relative to the culture in which they exist. If I take my wife on a date, with her head uncovered, and wearing a knee length skirt as we walk down through the Gateway holding hands it's perfectly acceptable, but if I were to do the same thing in Iran or another very Islamic country, it would probably be seen as immoral. As a specific culture, we are going to change and adapt as things change. I see gay marriage as one thing which can and will likely change in US culture as time goes on.

    Looking at Prop 8 purely from a leglislative/democratic point of view... It was proposed, voted on in a democratic election and it passed. I have no problem with that at all. It's just not yet time for this change to be made. I believe the next step is to work in a respectful manner towards changing this in the future through democratic means. The system works, sometimes it just takes time, and perhaps it may never change, but that doesn't mean the system is broken.

    My problem now, and it would appear yours as well is with those who don't support this approach on both sides of the issue. The tagging and protests around LDS temples and buildings is going to do more harm than good for those in favor of Gay Marriage and as far as I am concerned is unacceptable and regrettable. It doesn't show love as you pointed out, but rather immaturity and lack of understanding and respect for others. While not as bad, the smug and prideful attitude of those who supported Prop 8 is equally dissapointing. Had Prop 8 failed, I am sure the sacrament meeting I attended on Sunday would have been filled with prophesies of Armageddon and how evil the rest of the world is. Actually we had that lesson 4 weeks ago though - and I recall it included several references to Obama being the anti-christ :) What is wrong with people?!?

    But, back to your comments and questions. Admittedly I don't watch Keith Olberman very much. My impression of him is that he is like the liberal version of Rush Limbaugh, but as I said I haven't watched enough of him to make an honest assessment. His comments were very emotionally charged, but at the same time I thought he did raise some excellent points.

    The biggest for me, was the fact that history has many marriage where a man has sought to overcome his homosexual tendencies and tried to live as best he could, a normal married life with a wife and kids. I know several men who have tried it. Some have been able to pull it off with difficult, but for many others, it ends badly for all involved. I can't imagine being the spouse of someone who has not attraction for me, and married me to try and please God.

    I think a common misconception is that homosexuality is a choice, or a rebellious act that someone chooses, and while that may be the case in a few limited instances, my belief is that it is far more than that. I don't think we understand what it is at all.

    I would agree that marriage is a privilege and not a right. I would also argue that I don't necessarily think it should be sanctioned or controlled by the government in any case. But as a privilege, I think that it should be available for all who enter into a committed relationship.

    I would agree too that gay marriage is about acceptance and normalization. As I said before, we don't understand what it is. I don't agree with the life style, but then I'm not attracted to men either. I struggle to comprehend that God would inflict someone with an attraction to the same sex if it was unnatural and wrong, but again that comes down to a lack of understanding and knowledge on my part. At the end of the day, these people are our bothers and sisters and fellow Americans, and even if they are different, they should be accepted as fellow Americans and be entitle to benefits and privileges extended to the rest of us.

    Onto my statement....

    "A Church which claims to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and yet fails to live it fully."

    First, I think I owe you and pretty much all LDS members an apology for throwing out a statement so broad and irresponsible as to imply that the Church and it's members were all failing to live in a specific way, so please accept my apology as that was not my intention. My beef is with those who take the very arrogant approach to others not of the faith, and treat them as I would expect the pharisees of old treated the gentiles.

    In the area I live, the mentality is very different from the Church I grew up in. In speaking with others, it's different from other places too. The mentality is one of blind obedience and following the rules unquestioningly. I used to believe that was the way God wanted us to live, which is a big part of the problem I am having with this - dealing with baggage from prior assumptions, proven wrong. I have actually been told by a number of people in this area that it is not "Free Agency" but merely agency, and that with said agency, I and other members are obligated to follow any leader without question regardless of what they ask, and that to question it, is to offend God. I think enough bishops and other leaders have been found guilty of heinous crimes to render this point mute, but I'm a lone voice in my ward. That is not to say I don't believe a leader should be respected and listened to, nor should he be critisized and torn down, but blindly following is never a good thing.

    As you know, I'm struggling with the whole church thing, but as I said to my wife a week or two back, it would be easy to walk away, if there weren't people who were honestly trying to live as best they good, and were genuine about it, and the teachings that I would like my kids to be raised with - although to be fair, what it being taught isn't exactly what those teachings should be.

    My issue isn't the Church's position on gay marriage, it's more the implementation of that position. I don't have a problem with a Church teaching that homosexuality is wrong. If it's a doctrinal principle, then it is what it is. My problem is the hierarchy of the Church attempting to influence the democratic process, through donation of resources, encouragement of members outside of California to influence it, and then the way in which specific local leaders have applied it to how they run the local congregations.

    While my statement did reflect that perhaps this one issue negated other teachings, that was not my intention. I think there is a lot of truth taught within the Church and within any religious organization. But I think as members of those organizations, we need to examine for ourselves, whether what has been taught is true, or merely someones personal feelings on how they think things should be. All to often I think the second part comes into play and we need to be very careful of it. Case and point, my last bishop who issued a commandment that XBox and other video games were no longer to be played by members of the ward, or my current Stake President who would no allow the young woman to wear capri's or shorts at summer camp, to "See if they would be obedient to his counsel".

    The Church's position on gay marriage makes sense to me. It is clear in the Proclamation on the Family, and I wouldn't expect them to change that. But that doesn't mean they should require the entire world to subscribe to that proclamation, any more than they should be lobbying to outlaw tea, coffee and anthing else members choose not to partake of.

    Had Prop 8 failed, and were gay marriage to become legally recognized, I personally can't see too much impact on the Church, not to say there wouldn't be any, but I don't think it would be as catastrophic as we would be led to believe. While this may be a bigger issue than smoking, drinking or anything like that, it is still something which the Church should not be required by law to accept. I don't think the government has any place telling a religion how it should be run, but with that, I don't think the Church should be trying to involve itself in political matters either.

    I realize it's a fine line between teaching against homosexuality and encouraging members to campaign and donate money for prop 8, but I think there is still a line. I think everyone would have been better served, had the Church taken the traditional approach of encouraging it's members to study the issues and vote on them and maintaining it's policy of not getting involved politically. It's a dirty business and while I don't agree with the protests and that kind of thing, it was a risk the Church accepted when it got involved.

    You asked some interesting questions too, and I'm not sure if I have the answers, but here is what you asked:

    Does opposing same-sex marriage really mean you don't love homosexuals? Can you really not love somebody and while refusing to accept and officially sanction the nature of their relationship? Can you really not hate the sin but love the sinner?

    For me personally, I used to be very against homosexuality. I remember getting chewed out by a sister missionary while on mission, because I made some comment about going out gay bashing when I got home. Admittedly I wouldn't have, but I had been raised in such a way as to think that homosexuals were sub human and not worthy of my respect, the same with blacks and to a certain degree, women as well. I'm hopeful I've changed, but it's one of the things that I struggling with, when trying figure out what I believe and what teaching I have learned which come from God, and which come from people with biggoted agendas.

    The problem was, then I met a couple of homosexual people, and they were just good people. Very caring, very genuine and it was hard for me to feel any negativity towards them. They weren't the flambouyant, promiscuous deviants I had been raised to think they were and so my entire way of thinking about them got turned on its head. It was about the same time I was exposed to a signifcant population of Zulu's and got to see them for the wonderful people they are as well. It's the whole Santa Claus thing, when you realize that not all you've been taught is right and true, and wonder what else you've been lied to about.

    It may be possible to oppose same sex marriage, which still feeling a sense of love for homosexuals, but I can't comprehend it. My thoughts on gay marriage changed as my feelings towards members of the gay community changed. I have kids, so learning to love them, while they do things I would rather they didn't, does make some sense to me, but at the same time if one of them ended up gay, and my not understanding what homosexuality was, I would probably struggle with it. At the same time however, I wouldn't want them live a life of misery, or be deprived of the rights and privileges I have as well.

    Either way you look at it, it's a tough topic. I don't feel animosity towards people who oppose gay marriage, but unfortunately those whom I generally associate with, who do oppose it, generally don't know why they are opposing it, only because someone told them that they needed to, and to compensate for a lack of knowledge on the subject, they well up with hate, and are convinced that anyone who is for it must be a servant of Satan.

    It's very unfortunate.