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"My dear brothers and sisters, let me reemphasize the need for love, compassion, and humility as we move forward in this important cause. This is especially true for families in the ward you attend who face special challenges as a result of this issue."

Earlier, Elder Cook made reference to faithful, temple-worthy church members struggling with the challenge of same-gender attraction.

Thanks for the comment, Justin. I edited the term used by Elder Cook in the post to read "special challenges."

Not only was there no explicit reference to it not being optional, it was made very explicit that it was a duty of every able Latter-day Saint in California to participate. Young Single Adults were asked to devote 4 hours a week (including 3 hours on Saturdays) to the effort. Afterwards my Stake president pointed out that Church headquarters designated a monetary goal for each stake, and then gladly announced that our stake had exceeded the $64,000 quota assigned to us.

The "special challenges" alluded to Latter-day Saints who are homosexuals (or as they liked to say, "suffer from same-gender attraction." It was heavily emphasized that those who support Prop 8 are on God's side, but no explicit claim was made about whose side those who oppose it are on.

Arguments for Prop 8 centered on marriage being "divine" and "ordained of God" and that we need to pass legislation to protect the divinity of marriage. Other arguments were made about protecting the tax-exempt status of the church, protecting our right to teach our doctrines, protecting children from being taught that some children have two daddies, and 'ensuring that families are still welcome in California.' Heavy emphasis was made in the word 'tolerance' being hi-jacked by political correct liberals to mean tolerate sin, and that we shouldn't have to tolerate and allow people to worship and live as they please - but that we should be able to use our religious beliefs to limit the practices, worship, and rights of others.

A short video was also shown which critiqued constitutional republics and promoted mob-rule democracies as a better form of government.

As you can probably tell, I left the fireside/pep rally very brokenhearted and angry. I had a few friends leave early in tears. As such, my review is probably very biased.

I also forgot to add that it was also taught last night that 'real' families are only those which are headed by parents which are capable of bearing children.

Normally, I would not create a new name to go by to make a comment on any LDS related blogs, but because of the story and comments I am going to make, I feel it is necessary for me to attempt to retain my anonymity out in the open. If some people think that I am some random person with a fake story hiding in anonymity so be it. I dont expect what I am about to write to be entirely coherent. I am dealing with some very intense emotions right now so I apologize for this ahead of time. I have been trying to avoid making any comments or even paying attention to the whole proposition, but I feel the need to comment on this blog post.

I am a ysa member living in california who deals with SSA. Throughout my life I have suffered from severe depression and posttraumatic stress disorder alongside my homosexual feelings. I converted as a teenager and it has been a very very difficult road, but for the most part I have been able to manage and have remained faithful throughout my trials. Six months ago after years of struggling to control my depression and ptsd I finally got to a point where I was comfortable with the idea of serving a mission. I felt that it was time. With the help of my medication, my emotions were finally under control and I had stabilized. I started on my mission paperwork and completed everything and was a month away from sending them into Salt Lake. Then the Church announced its support for this amendment and the homophobic rhetoric of average members started appearing in the hallways of my meeting house. I had learned to ignore these comments but now they were starting to affect me. There were even comments from members of my bishopric that were catching me off guard. It sent me over the edge and I had an emotional crash. Beforehand, I knew of the proposition and knew the church was going to get involved and I didnt understand why it was affecting me so much emotionally. Though I wasnt aware of it at the time, my medication had stopped working (and in all honesty, had they not stopped working I would probably be in the MTC right now). The point is, I became incredibly sensitive to the things that were being said. It got to the point where my therapist (who is a member in good standing) supported me in my decision to avoid church because of the negative effect it was having on me emotionally. Even now, knowing that part of my issue with these reactions is entirely chemical, I cant attend church meetings. I cant even attend institute. Institute and church were the center of my life and because of ignorant comments and the intense vigor with which members are trying to get this proposition passed I have lost these things for a while. This next aspect of what has happened I dont bring up lightly, but even my Bishop's reaction has been disheartening and I have a deep love and respect for this man. I went from being on the cusp of turning in my mission papers to being inactive and the only contact he has had with me in the last 3 months had to do with him being concerned that I didnt donate money to the coalition a couple weeks ago. I am emotionally uncapable right now of being a part of this effort because I have become so sensitive to everything. I cant redouble my efforts but I expect to get a number of phone calls encouraging me to spend time and money on this effort. So what is the point I am trying to make? Please consider the feelings of members like me. Please think before you speak or act in a self righteous manner in regards to this issue. I am not asking you to ignore the requests of the First Presidency and the Brethren to get involved. At this point, even though I cant go out and help, I feel that I will vote yes just based on my faith that President Monson is indeed a prophet of God. Instead of simply saying that you love us and have compassion for us, show it by being tactful and thinking before you speak. Show it by acting humble in regards to your obedience to what you have been asked to do instead of flaunting your righteousness and criticizing those who wont get involved. Show it by sticking to the arguments on what gay marriage itself could affect, and not on homosexuality in general. The comments about homosexuals in general are not helpful to the discussion at all. They are largely born of stereotypes, fear, and misunderstanding. I read a comment on one blog (not this one) about the need to keep these things a stigma because homosexuals recruit honest, righteous heterosexuals into committing sodomy and becoming homosexuals themselves. Making our trial a stigma will not make it go away. It just intensifies the pain we feel. Comments like these hurt our feelings and make us feel like outcasts. They make us feel unwanted and unloved. We are taught to love the sinner and condemn the sin. Live by that principle instead of justifying your actions and comments by it. Just please keep these things in mind as you follow the counsel of the Brethren.

Thank you for sharing that ssa ysa in ca. I am deeply touched and am feeling like a spiritual midget. Would you care if I reposted your comment on my own blog?

Ssa ysa in CA,

I wanted to say that what you are experiencing is frustrating, and I honor you for continuing to support the prophet through difficult times. People can be jerks sometimes, but that doesn't make the Church any less true. What is it about the Church and the Savior being perfect but the individual members being extremely imperfect? It seems that is what you are going through.

I strongly support Pro. 8, but I don't support demonizing homosexuals, insulting anybody and underplaying the things that people go through trying to control same-sex attraction. If you listen to the broadcasts, it seems to me that the apostles emphasized several times in emphatic terms that Saints must not be intolerant of people, especially those in your situation.

How would the Savior act? Well, he certainly wouldn't make somebody in your position feel unwanted and uncomfortable. I strive to do that, although I probably fall short.

it seems to me that the apostles emphasized several times in emphatic terms that Saints must not be intolerant of people, especially those in your situation.

I'm guessing you didn't see the broadcast. They weren't too fond about this 'tolerance' thing.

narrator, I think you are grossly misrepresenting the LDS position on at least two points. First, the broadcast criticized the misuse of the term "tolerance" by some, not the practice of tolerance by LDS. Second, your remark earlier which restated LDS opposition to formal gay marriage as being opposed to families without children. Opinions are welcome, but state your own rather then misstating the LDS position. I do appreciate your lengthy summary of items covered in the full broadcast.

ssa, hang in there. As for the mission thing and your decision to skip church for a few months, it's nice your therapist is giving you some guidance, but your bishop and stake president are responsible for making all Mormons who are trying to live LDS standards feel welcome. You really ought to go have a chat with one of them.

Note that Elder Cook specifically advised local leaders and members to lay off those with "special challenges" regarding the whole Prop 8 issue. If Elder Cook is on your side, I'm sure your bishop will be too.

Dave, the definition of Christlike tolerance that I grew up with and see taught in the scriptures was too look past sin and love the person. That doesn't mean that you have to accept the practice, nor does it mean that you you have to be silent of it. However, it does teach that it should not be a wedging issue and that we should allow that person to exercise their agency, especially when their is an existential difference of whether or not it is a sin. When Elder Cook was criticizing 'tolerance' (and he and Elder Ballard do so for considerably longer in the full broadcast), I could not but help imagine the Pharisees saying something similar when they were criticizing Jesus for pallin' around with sinners.

Second, near the end of the broadcast (which is not in the edited version above), Elder Ballard says that the intent of marriage is to make babies for spirits to enter into mortality, and that gay marriage is wrong because it is a union that is incapable of making babies. He also says that real families are only those which are headed by baby-making parents.

I forgot to also add that according to the broadcast, the failure to pass Prop 8 will lead to a gender-less society.

I am obviously using different language (except for the gender-less society and 'ensuring that families are still welcome in California' - those were actually said in those words). However, I think that what I have said is logically accurate.

The scare quotes pretty much make my point, narrator. Elder Cook doesn't criticize toerance, he criticizes "tolerance." Why not just be clear and say Elder Cook advocates tolerance but objects to political rhetoric that misuses the term?

And "wedge issue" is just a misleading way for political liberals to label the position of someone who disagrees with them and does so effectively.

My only worry is that this "support Prop. 8" push will become yet another false idol that people hold up as a distraction from the overall business of the Gospel.

When it all comes down to it, money is cheap, mob enthusiasm is cheaper.

My fear is that the LDS doing this stuff will plunk down some easy money (and yes, it is often easier to sacrifice money than other things), have a "religious field trip" with their buddies from Church canvasing neighborhoods and manning phones. And for that, they will consider their standing in the faith "pretty-good."

This kind of showboating work in the Gospel too often becomes a substitute for the real thing. Getting mad over a pet political issue is, in the end, cheap allegiance. Anyone can do this kind of stuff and enjoy it - get psyched up about it.

But it's much harder to do the more obscure and less glamorous kind of service that keeps our church running.

The more I read about this campaign by the church in California, the more and more it looks like the rash of lapel-pin bumper-sticker style cheap patriotism we all saw and many of us got heartily sick of after September 11. Shallow theatrics and posturing in the place of true discipleship.

Anyway, that's where I fear this is all going. At present, I think the issue is proving to be a distraction from more important, but less visible issues.

Dave,

by 'wedge issue' I meant something that would prevent us from having the caring relationships that Christ demands of us. In the fireside Ballard, Cook, and Clayton characterized homosexuals who want to marry the person they love as selfish Satan-inspired opponents of God. They were characterized as family-hating liberals who do not care about children. They were characterized as dangerous and a threat to society.

When you characterize someone like this, how is it possible to say that you love them? Those characterizations become a wedge separating us from out brothers and sisters.

Again, is Ballard and Cook's definition one that is harmonious with the Christ that was with the sinners, or with the Pharisees who were condemning Christ for eating with them?

While I didn't watch the broadcast since I don't vote in CA, this really disturbs me.

"Heavy emphasis was made in the word 'tolerance' being hi-jacked by political correct liberals to mean tolerate sin, and that we shouldn't have to tolerate and allow people to worship and live as they please - but that we should be able to use our religious beliefs to limit the practices, worship, and rights of others."

That is not the church I grew up in. I was still taught that the articles of faith guided our actions.

#11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

narrator, knock yourself out but just keep in mind that the point of what i said wasnt to chastise anyone or the church itself. i firmly believe that at the very least, an overwhelming majority of the general authorities are tolerant, loving and compassionate in regards to this issue. do i think they really understand the pain that the way they got involved has caused for me and others in my position? probably not entirely, but to a large degree i think they do. i believe their hands were tied in regards to how to handle opposing gay marriage. we joined a really really nasty coalition. ultimately, i think our reasons for opposing gay marriage are entirely different and unique and because its so unique, we cant argue on those grounds. (i am referring to aspects of exaltation and to some degree theosis.) so we have resorted to this "6 points" argument and there are some very serious flaws in all of them. thats not to say that the other side isnt promoting flawed ideas as well, but still its all so polarizing. i have as much trouble with members on the other side who are against the church's involvement. in fact, if there is any one person who has upset me more than anyone else in regards to this whole deal, its that Andrew Callahan guy. what he did to get summoned to a disciplinary council really has nothing to do with opposing gay marriage, and yet members against the church position are treating it like hes being targetted for speaking out on the issue while members for the position act like he did something horribly wrong by simply saying he was against the church issue. look into the content of the letters he wrote and who he wrote them to and you will see how this really has nothing to do with gay marriage. the comments seth made in regard to how it is distracting people from other issues is a true concern for me. it really is happening and as i stated, even my bishop got caught up in it. i agree it is important to follow this counsel as you feel appropriate but i dont think that when they asked us to help pass this legislation they were asking us to ignore everything else. and surely, they werent asking us to become self righteous, but many members have acted like this.

To the ysa in CA,
Do your leaders know of your personal struggle? I'm sorry for how hard it has been for you.

But please know that there are many of us who are supporting prop 8 and deeply care about personal struggles of people like you. Our culture has a ways to go still in figuring out how to reach out, but I hope you can know that that is something that matters to me, even as passionate as I am about prop 8.

Narrator wrote:

"Heavy emphasis was made in the word 'tolerance' being hi-jacked by political correct liberals to mean tolerate sin, and that we shouldn't have to tolerate and allow people to worship and live as they please - but that we should be able to use our religious beliefs to limit the practices, worship, and rights of others."

This sounds ridiculously distorted to me, as in putting words in other people's mouths. That may very well be your opinion of the merits ("logic") of the position advocated, but pretending that that was what was actually said or promoted in general terms is beyond belief.

Mark,

Did you attend the full broadcast? If I hadn't heard them say these things explicitly or implicitly, I wouldn't have believed it myself.

Here's an observation nobody else seems to have made. Where is THOMAS S. MONSON's name on this list of donors? Why hasn't MONSON put any of his own cash on the line, after directing all LDS members to do so? In fact, you can't find any of the LDS First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve listed as donors, whether for or against Proposition 8. The Los Angeles Times has provided a helpful search engine, including not only large donations, but small ones down to $100. Here's a link to that search engine: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-metro-prop-8,0,2463893.htmlstory

Try it for yourself! To make it simple, run a search by just entering "UT" in the state field, and you'll get a full listing of donors from Utah, both for and against Proposition 8. Not one member of the LDS First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve appear. If your money needs to be sacrificed, why not theirs? It's not as if they're trying to avoid appearing to take a particular side on the issue.

Narrator,

I haven't seen the broadcast. I am just saying that without further documentation, your account isn't credible as an objective report of what they *said*.

The red flag in particular is your use of the word "worship". Without documented evidence, I cannot believe that they said that we shouldn't have to tolerate the rights of people to *worship* as they please. I mean, come on.

And can any one believe that they spoke of depriving anyone of their "rights"? No sane opponent of same sex marriage thinks of it as some sort of natural or God-given right.

Like I said, that may very well be your opinion of the inevitable *implications* of what was said. However, that is an argument that you have to make explicitly, not (by all appearances) putting words in their mouth.

Mark, as I said before, I am using my own language that reflects the logic of their arguments.

"The red flag in particular is your use of the word "worship". Without documented evidence, I cannot believe that they said that we shouldn't have to tolerate the rights of people to *worship* as they please. I mean, come on."

If you are gay and you feel that your marriage to the person you love is an act of religious worship, then being told that you can't do that because it goes against someone else's religious belief is having your right to worship as you please restricted.

How is what Elders Cook and Ballard advocated not restricted a homosexual's ability to worship as they please? You could try to argue that they would never consider SSM as worship, but in doing so you would then make the 11th Article of Faith vacuous.

Oddly, Elder Bednar was arguing that SSM might legally restrict our ability to teach our doctrines.

"And can any one believe that they spoke of depriving anyone of their "rights"? No sane opponent of same sex marriage thinks of it as some sort of natural or God-given right."

Same problem with getting to define what is a proper 'right.' - I didn't deny his right to live, he never had that right in the first place. - I didn't deny her right to equal pay, she's a woman and doesn't have that right. - I am not denying a Mormon the right to go to his chapel on Sunday, I don't think Mormons have the right to worship as they please.

It's not like being gay or supporting their agenda gives a special dispensation to misuse words. Calling gay marriage an act of worship doesn't make it so.

Narrator, a sufficiently expansive interpretation of free exercise rights would make every conceivable law *per se* unconstitutional.

For example, should the First Amendment be interpreted to require both government endorsement and non-prosecution of plural marriage? The Supreme Court rejected that interpretation of the First Amendment (advanced by the LDS Church no less) more than a century ago.

Dave,

"Calling gay marriage an act of worship doesn't make it so."

Worshiping through gay marriage does though.

Mark,

The California Supreme Court ruled that the California state constitution does protect SSM as a right of it's citizens. The LDS Church is advocating an amendment to take that right away. It is a legal right - something that our Articles of Faith seems to say we uphold. Whether or not something is a "god-given right" is a theological claim and should not be used to legislate laws.

Narrator,

The California state constitution, article I section 2 reads as follows:

"All political power in inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same, whenever the public good may require it."

In other words, all *legal* rights under the California Constitution are derived from the will of the people of California. If the Supreme Court of California discovers a legal right in the emanations and penumbras of the existing text, the people may clarify their will by amendment. The people - not the court - have the last word.

The idea that somehow Article of Faith 11 requires denying the right of amendment that the California state constitution itself provides for is ridiculous on its face.

Article of Faith 12 that is.

Ok. I agree with you that the Articles of Faith do not preclude us from amending the constitution to take away rights from certain citizens based on religious differences.

This issue can become very ugly, especially if Proposition 8 passes. It may have serious implications on Public Relations for the Church.

Narrator,

Where did the "right" to same sex marriage in the state of California come from? Legislative action? Citizen initiative? On the contrary, it is something a handful of unelected judges made up.

Everybody believes there should be "rights" to all sorts of things. Some people believe there should be a right to plural marriage. Some believe there should be a right to marry at any age, or without regard to consanguinity. Some believe that plants should have legally protected rights.

So why should the claim that someone's "rights" are being impaired be some sort of trump card? There are no end of dubious claims about rights. How are we to decide which rights are legitimate and which aren't, except through the democratic process?

Or are we to say that all rights claims are legitimate simply because their proponents say so? Should I expect a lawsuit on behalf of the relatives of the poor spider I crushed the other day? Do I run the risk that the court of last resort will rule against me? Do spiders, in actual fact, have a right to run wild across my living room floor?

"it is something a handful of unelected judges made up."

darn that constitutional democratic republic we live in. if a supreme court agrees with us they are doing it right, if they disagree with us they are making things up or legislating from the bench.

whatever.

the rest of your comment are just senseless fallacies, and i'm pretty sure you are aware of it.

Fallacy or not, at least in California the people decide.

Calling something by the same name does not make it the same. Marriage can never be legitimate for same sex couples, no matter how much they try to imitate the real thing. Of course, it might make some of them more comfortable with the pretense if we maintain the legal fiction that same sex couples are "married". I don't know, but think it isn't worth the trouble and confusion to find out.

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