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No legal status? D&C 134:9? Sorry, I'm really struggling with this one.

I saw it here first Dave, thanks. I just put a link up on T&S, but I didn't do a full-blown post because many of us are bored with the SSM arguments.

I will say that, as is often the case, the wording of the statement is puzzling. What does "no legal status" mean to a layperson? I would think that at least some would take it to mean that homosexual sex should still be illegal, contra Lawrence v. Texas.

I should clarify -- it's not that the issue itself is boring -- far from it -- but that the discussions always seem to descend into the same well-worn paths, and are often too vitriolic for my taste.

Greg, yes I think T&S has probably visited that issue enough in recent months. It's such a charged issue that any discussion tends to spiral out of control in short order--one reason I just posted the text without attempting any type of discussion.

greg: my guess is that it refers to the current Prop #3 in Utah. Which would ban conferring legal status on any other sexual relationship between man-woman marriage. si? no?

"... not confer legal status", in this context, appears to be referring specifically to "sexual relationship." In other words, the law should not recognize any sexual relationships other than marriage. I don't think they're saying here that sodomy should be illegal; they are saying that the law should not affirmatively recognize homosexual relationships, or for that matter heterosexual relationships, other than marriage.

Pheo, with respect to D&C 134:9, which states "We do not believe it is 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." -- This statement is not talking about "separation of church and state." Rather, it is talking about "no establishment of a national religion." It is unjust to mingle religious influence with civil government ONLY when doing so favors one church over another or denies others the right to worship. This verse does not in any way imply that the church should not take a public position on moral issues.

You may disagree with the principle, but D&C 134:9 certainly doesn't contradict the First Presidency's statement.

Lyle: You are probably right about the real intent statement, I don't know. But, as Prof. Decoo's posts at T&S have recently emphasized, there are problems when the local political scene in Utah is driving the public messages of the Church. Here, the problem is a lack of clarity.

[typo edited, 10/22]

I pity the LDS staff bureaucrat who had to draft a statement like this and get it approved by members of the FP (and possibly the Q12 as well?). Rather than parsing the actual wording of the statement, the temptation is to read past what it actually says to what we are pretty sure they are really trying to say.

For example, I'm a little unclear about the idea of conferring a legal status on a sexual relationship. Marriage is a legal status between persons, not the legal status of a sexual relationship--there are sexless marriages that obviously don't thereby fail as marriages. While some sexual acts are criminalized (e.g., prostitution or statutory rape) it seems incorrect to talk about legal proscriptions as criminalizing a sexual relationship as opposed to criminalizing defined sexual conduct or acts. One moralizes about relationships but government criminalizes acts. So I think they have mixed incompatible concepts here.

But I think we all know what they were trying to say: on the spaceship to Kolob, it will be strictly boy-girl seating (with a few boy-girl-girl-girl-girl benches for our illustrious pioneer patriarchs).

Looks like nothing more than cutting and pasting from the previous news release and the proclamation on the family.

As one of those libertarian types, my question is how it follows from

Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of the family.

that

The Church accordingly favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that do not confer legal status on any other sexual relationship.

Especially given our own history of having notions of marriage that are outside the mainstream, you'd think that Church wouldn't want to impose our own religious ideas on others as a matter of law (remember the 11th Article of Faith?). Why doesn't the Church just say ". . . accordingly, the Church doesn't recognize any other sexual relationship"?

Am I the only one who doesn't see the connection? Is there some easy answer I just don't know?

D&C 134:9 states: "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."

This verse is explicitly referring to religious influence on government, not vice versa. Hence, the words "religious influence". Not the right words if religion is the passive victim of government.

In the 1830s, this way of thought served the church, as members of other churches used their influence to have government-endorsed persecution against the Mormons (i.e., the extermination order). Now we are doing the same to people who don't share our religious beliefs.

If you can make a case against gay marriage from a civil standpoint, without resorting to scripture, I'd love to hear it. But, as I've said before, until someone can help me understand how gays marrying weakens my family, or causes me and my family hardship in any way, I will not be swayed.

Logan, I think the answer might be found in Elder Oaks's talk relating to abortion. The principle of morally informed political participation would also seem to apply here. Jordan discussed it over at a bird's eye view.

Pheo, "government-endorsed persecution" is a little strong. And I see a difference between "mingl[ing] religious influence with civil government" and simply announcing a public policy position or even encouraging members of a church or organization to support that position. One may agree or disagree with the Church's position on SSM or related issues, but it doesn't bother me that the Church (or any other church) makes its voice heard.

The best general argument I've heard against liberalizing marriage practices is the negative historical example of the Scandinavian countries, where marriage doesn't mean much anymore and family units are often quite fragmented.

Ah, the infamous Oaks pro-choice talk. I'm not sure I really want to get into that discussion again (it was a bit firey at T&S), but I can say that I disagree with the argument Elder Oaks makes. I don't find that his conclusions follow from his premises strongly enough to say that one *must* be pro-life, although he and others are certainly welcome to be pro-life if they choose. I know I'm really asking for it here as far people who disagree with me really disagreeing with me. But I think this is a time when Elder Oaks' worldview, on which his argument is based, is different from mine, and he fails to convince me.

Of course, all that being said, John, you're probably right in that it's a similar reasoning used to justify both the abortion issue and the same sex marriage issue. And I appreciate you pointing that much out to me.

"The best general argument I've heard against liberalizing marriage practices is the negative historical example of the Scandinavian countries, where marriage doesn't mean much anymore and family units are often quite fragmented."

Dave, that is a fair argument, though it would be quite hard to pin the weakening of the family on gay marriage alone. How about increased promiscuity in general? Internet porn? Economic conditions that force too many to have both parents work out of the home, at least if they are to do their patriotic duty to consume more?

Along with the weakening in the families in Scandinavian countries, what effect has this had on their quality of life? Is there more crime there than here? Does this prevent me from valuing my family as much as I should? It sounds like churches are failing to teach the people the moral issues. Or do we want the government to take that role?

Conservatives can't have it both ways: They scream that the government has no business butting into our lives, unless it is butting into the lives of people who we don't like.

There are issues of private morality and issues of public morality. Private morality is a belief that does not hinder anyone else's freedom; public morality deals with the choices that affect others. The government has a duty to legislate public morality. They can require seat belts because people who have traumatic brain injuries are a burden to society. They shouldn't be able to outlaw homosexual sex between consenting adults because there is no public harm. I can make the argument that bigotry toward homosexuals is the cause of much greater suffering worldwide due to the inability of prejudiced politicians to view HIV has a legitimate threat to society and not just to the gays.

My opinion (in case you haven't figured it out) is that gay marriage hurts no one. There is actually a public health benefit to society to encourage monogamy between homosexual partners. If someone gets offended by this to the point that they are not able to carry out their family duties, that is the problem of the bigot.

Pheo, I'm fairly open to a civil union option of some sort as a compromise solution that would be acceptable to at least some on each side of the debate, but before we get there most people at the two extremes have to see their view as unworkable in terms of public policy. Full-blown gay marriage (whether one supports it or opposes it) is simply unworkable in America at the moment, and the more that courts flirt with the idea, the more active opposition to it arises.

Dave, I agree with you that any church should be able to proclaim its stance on political matters. I wonder, though, whether the Church's statement that "[t]he Church accordingly favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that do not confer legal status on any other sexual relationship" precludes a civil union option. Again, we're back to parsing the language of the FP statement, but it seems to me that the Church fears any encroachment on traditional views, both religious and legal, of marriage.

"the union of a man and a woman"

Note that it doesn't say *one* man and *one* woman. :-)

I noticed that, too, Anon. The statement is carefully worded.

This is the first time I have ever looked up the word a in the dictionary. As I suspected, it denotes "a single but unspecified person or thing."

shouldn't it say a man and women? don't we still believe in d&c 132?

Technically, while we speak of polygamy or plural marriage, the Church treats each pairing of a man with a plural wife as a separate marriage, so even plural marriage was between "a man and a woman." Each plural wife participated in one marriage (herself and her husband or some fraction thereof) while the man participated in several marriages, one for each plural wife, but they were all "between a man and a woman." The distinction, relevant to current SSM discussions, is that the women (or "sister wives" as they are so tenderly referred to in Mormon documents of the day) were not married to each other. It wasn't group marriage.

To be even more technical, since legally only the first marriage is valid in the eyes of the state, the subsequent "marriages" might be better referred to as "sealings," which was the doctrinal term generally used to describe the practice during the Nauvoo period.


While my comment was in jest, I'm curious now about other state's amendments. Do they specify that there is only one woman per man/visa versa? I assume that fundamentalist christian forces might be looking to head off a return of polygamy as well, not that I see SLC heading that way anytime soon.

The language of the amendments varies. Here is a breakdown of pending and recent amendments:

"one man and one woman": Arkansas, Michigan, Kentucky, Lousiana, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Oregon

"a man and a woman": Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Utah

One Utah legislator attempted last January to introduce an amendment to the Utah bill using the language "one man and one woman." He said the present language could allow recognition of multiple marriages. It was voted down. Republicans said legal counsel had informed them that "a" is the same as "one" in legal terms.

Vicky Prunty, head of Tapestry Against Polygamy, opposes the amendment because she believes it will make it more difficult to prosecute polygamists. She thinks the amendment's second part will give polygamists a constitutional argument that the state cannot recognize their domestic unions as marriages and, therefore, can't prosecute them, as they prosecuted Tom Green for bigamy using the state common-law marriage statute.

"Along with the weakening in the families in Scandinavian countries, what effect has this had on their quality of life? Is there more crime there than here?"

Yes. If you look at what is happening in Malmo, the crime is so bad that people cannot walk safely in the streets. The crime rate in the U.S. is at a 30 year low, and I read some blurb not long ago about a New York City resident who said she longed for the safety of New York when she was in Sweden. We want to believe that the Scandinavian countries are some social utopia, but a true utopia can never be created without following the Lord's directives, and what they have created is falling apart.

Muslims rule major Swedish city
An exclusive series of translations from the Swedish press, made for Jihad Watch by Ali Dashti, who writes:

Sweden is one of the worst hit countries in Europe of Muslim immigration and Political Correctness. Now, the police themselves have publicly admitted that they no longer control one of Sweden's major cities.

http://goldwater.mideastreality.com/2004/sep/10_16.html

Nice reference. It details the problems in "Eurabia" caused by Muslim immigration and gangs. It does not spell out exactly why gay marriage would attract Muslims to the city. Since you insist on painting the country by a single large city challenge by immigration, I will henceforth assume that the problems of Los Angeles apply to the whole of the USA. (And that city is full of a bunch of hippies, too!)

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