Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Mormon woman's questions about supporting Proposition 8

I've remained more or less silent on this issue as I have done some studying and pondering about it. For anyone who is not Mormon, it just seems like some religious fanaticism or someone cramming their spiritual beliefs down your throat and trying to blur the boundaries between church and state. But for Mormons, it's something different than that.

I was very surprised and caught off-guard with a letter that was read during church one week. It was official from the leaders of the church, encouraging us to donate means to helping protect the family. Some years ago, a proclamation was issued by the church on the family and the church's views of the family. But the LDS church has always believed in agency, or the ability of people on this earth to choose for themselves how they want to live. Yes, they may break laws instituted by the nations in which they reside, and then they are bound to the consequences of breaking those laws. The LDS Articles of Faith declare some basic tenants of faith held by members of the church. I find #12 to be of particular interest here in looking more closely at Proposition 8, as it relates to laws.

You see, my initial reaction of shock to the letter encouraging support of Proposition 8 came because it seemed like such a statement as to say, "This is what members of the church believe." I know lovely people of different backgrounds-- cultures, ethnicities, races, religions, socio-economic status, sexual orientations-- and I think they should all be able to make whatever decisions they want in their life, accepting the consequences (for better or worse) that come with those decisions. Isn't that what agency is about? So why would I support Proposition 8?

A lovely, sweet woman at church wanted to organize a "calling party" at her house, where we would bring our cell phones and start dialing to talk with people in California about why they should vote yes. I rolled my eyes (inside, because if I were to actually do that, it would be rude!). She started to reference this article in her reasoning as to why our getting involved in any way is important. Well, what she was saying caught my interest (genuinely), and I decided I wanted to read the article.

So I later looked up the article and read it with interest. The part that really struck me started in the section of "Tolerance, Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom" where the author wrote:

"The prospect of same-sex marriage has already spawned legal collisions with the rights of free speech and of action based on religious beliefs. For example, advocates and government officials in certain states already are challenging the long-held right of religious adoption agencies to follow their religious beliefs and only place children in homes with both a mother and a father. As a result, Catholic Charities in Boston has stopped offering adoption services.

"Other advocates of same-sex marriage are suggesting that tax exemptions and benefits be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not embrace same-sex unions. [17] Public accommodation laws are already being used as leverage in an attempt to force religious organizations to allow marriage celebrations or receptions in religious facilities that are otherwise open to the public. Accrediting organizations in some instances are asserting pressure on religious schools and universities to provide married housing for same-sex couples. Student religious organizations are being told by some universities that they may lose their campus recognition and benefits if they exclude same-sex couples from club membership. [18] "

So religious organizations will be forced to act in accordance with practices/views/etc of people outside their organizations or risk lawsuits, fines, loss of rights, loss of accreditation? I have a problem with THAT. I mean, wasn't this country founded on the premise of religious freedom?

However, as I've learned more about other aspects of the arguments against allowing gay people to marry and how there are flaws in those arguments (for example, children CAN be pulled out of health courses due to religious beliefs by their parents, so no one can FORCE them to be taught something a parent does not want them to be taught), if what I'm reading is correct, who is to say that there isn't a flaw in this line of reasoning as well? So why am I to believe that these things that "could/would" happen actually "could" or "would" happen?

Yes, people are told to take a stand for what they believe, and I believe both sides are doing just that. Yes, religious people often believe that they must take action when their religious freedoms are being threatened. Yes, LDS people are taught to share beliefs/convictions with others through word and deed. But is trying to cram something down someone's throat helpful or harmful to "the cause" you believe in (this goes for both sides)? I know not everyone is cramming, but I also know I feel crammed! All the way up here in Washington state.

Why should I support this proposition? I'm conflicted thinking about the different sides of the issue and hearing valid points on both sides. I'm just glad I don't live in California (or Arizona or Florida for that matter). I know I'm not alone in feeling this way.

So, fellow Mormons, is this something you are backing on faith alone that the church leaders will not lead you astray? Is this something you've decided to trust is necessary? Or do you really believe it is necessary, and why? I'm not asking to mock. I'm asking to understand. Because if I am supposed to support this proposition (which it sure sounds like I am), I want to make sure that I'm supporting it from an informed perspective where I can really get behind the cause. Even after reading the article, I'm not sure how (and if) I can. And if I can't, is that okay? How am I supposed to know that it's okay to disagree with this issue if I can't bring myself to agree with it?

And to anyone and everyone else out there, what are your thoughts?

16 comments:

BeatlesDiva said...

All I can say is that I'm so happy this isn't something I have to vote on. I am one that has stood up for gay rights for many years, and yes I think that they should have the same rights as everyone else, but then I'm also a firm believer in what the LDS church says.

I'm with you, I have mixed emotions about the whole thing, but I'm sure that Heavenly Father will let things be as they are suppose to be. He will not led us astray.

Richard and McKenna said...
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Richard and McKenna said...
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KITE KAMP GIRL said...

Can I point out something here? If an adoption agency accepts federal and state funds, then they have to follow federal and state discrimination laws. If they do not want to follow those laws, then they can't accept federal or state funds. That is where the issue is. This way they can't be forced to place children in gay/homesexual homes. This is coming from an adoptee who knows what this will mean.

Richard and McKenna said...

Hey this is Richard, and I think that it is so good that you are looking into this and doing the research-- if everyone approached things like this the way that you are, we would have a much more educated and firm group of people.

I am kind of like you on Gay marriage. I dont really care much-- this isnt something like abortion where it is the right of the womans desire for privacy that over-rides the privacy and right to life that the child has-- gay marriage is between two consenting adults who are doing what they want to do in a way that they want to do it, that isn't hurting anyone but themselves. I had gay friends in high school and I think that being gay is about as bad as fornicating-- and lots of people do that, and I am still friends with them.
Anyways-- that being said, I also got the news on the Proposition 8 and here at BYU-Idaho we were actually asked to make cold calls to citizens of california-- much like your friend was suggesting.

SO-- here is my current train of thought, and why I support this other than following the guidance of a prophet of God who has the ability to see into the future and knows the ramifications of different actions and the consequences that will befall the wicked.

1. When states elected to redefine marriage-- that was wrong, and it should not have been done. Proposition 8 is an attempt to rectify the wrong that was done.

-- people can do what they want to do, but to redefine marriage legally is going farther than "doing what you want to do" and enforcing definitions on the rest of the society.

So Prop 8 is not as much pushing something new onto anyone else as it is trying to resist having new, different and unwanted concepts and definitions pushed on our children, religions, schools, businesses and society because some people have decided to redefine a definition-- they voiced their opinions by legally redefining marriage, I am voicing my opinion to go back to the original definition of marriage.

2. But that whole argument above is just details really-- what is really important is because they wrongfully CHANGED the LEGAL definition of marriage, their are CHANGED LEGAL consequences that naturally follow-- proposition 8 will work to counter these from being forced upon us. These consequences are as follows.

"if marriage between a man and a woman is as equally legal as marriage between two homosexuals-- then there should be an equal representation of gay's in all literature, images, etc. for children of ALL ages." see this as the smallest of beginings of what is to come: //link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1815820715/bctid1822459319

"if homosexual marriage is as legal as marriage between a man and a woman, than any church that refuses its marriage services to a gay couple is subject to being sued by the law for a form of hate crime and sexual discrimination."

-- if you believe this is over the top, then you REALLY need to do some research, there are millions upon millions of dollars that have been exchanged over organizations who deny services or employment to a LARGE number of minority groups-- in some cases the people were legally FORCED to hire or give service to a minority group member even though they were less qualified; or they would have to pay the penalty of the law for discrimination.

I can guarantee you-- if marriage is not changed back to the definition of a man and a woman, the consequences will be tremendous-- you can't even imagine all the different ways it will be pushed upon you and your children, on television, in schools, in businesses, in all forms of media etc. etc. etc.

I do not want my child coming home after being taught at school about homosexual couples and being told that it is totally normal to be gay-- for him to start wondering at a very young and impressionable age if he is "gay" or not-- I do not want his friend down the street to be confused about the same thing, I do not want him to be forced to be taught about this, I do not want the church to be sued for hate speech because it is teaching that homosexuality is an abomination and a wicked and sinful act. I do not want my bishop to be sued for refusing service a gay marriage because they are gay and the church authorities wont allow it. I do not want this to happen at the temple either under the grounds of possibly being sued if we dont allow them in to be married.

Anyways, there is a lot more too it, but the other thing is that I am worried about the people who live in the cities that will be destroyed like sodom and gommorah at the Lords coming, and I dont want that to happen to those people in those cities. Maybe that is why the prophet has come out about this. anyways-- let me know what you think.

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you for taking such an open-minded and thoughtful approach to this issue. I personally am opposed to this proposal, but your post has several reasonable arguments in favor. The challenge in this debate is sifting through what it actually would and would not do.

Gays exist, and gay couples will continue to exist regardless of whether this bill passes. Gay couples can continue to have marriage ceremonies, buy houses together, and devote themselves to one another, even if this proposal becomes law. They could even continue to adopt children as they can now, since adoptions by single adults and unmarried couples are allowed in California. In other words, all the "public" effects of homosexuality -- those that have an influence on society -- will be unaffected because they do not depend on whether a couple has a state-recognized marriage or not. This bill affects things like taxation, inheritance, hospital visitation rights, insurance, and everything else that goes along with having a state-recognized marriage. Thus, this proposal would be quite detrimental to those couples who are directly affected but would have negligible effect on the society at large.

Sara said...

Personally I would NEVER do something like this on "faith" alone. In fact, something like this is enough for me to lose my faith altogether. Not in God, because I choose to believe he's good and nice. If he's so mean that he would actually want us to be so cruel, then I'm really not all that interested in going to heaven. I want a nice God or no God, really.

Yes On Prop 8 said...

http://whatsthebigdealaboutprop8.blogspot.com/

That's my blog address. :-)

emily said...

good post.

as lds members we are also asked to be active in our communities to influence public policy for good. i don't see this as an equal rights issue. it's a definition issue. it's a public policy issue.

there is a good discussion here that may be helpful:
http://prop8discussion.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/legislation-and-social-issues/

Yes On Prop 8 said...

"I think perhaps what you are feeling is the pressing urgent nature of [the First Presidency's] statements. Because this is a short-term endeavor, that is perhaps why you feel suffocated, but that is why we are being admonished with a sense of urgency.

You don't have to take it on faith alone. However, if you have a testimony that President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God and the mouthpiece of God, then you can know what the First Presidency says is from Heavenly Father. We don't have to pray about every single thing that we hear in General Conference. All we need to pray about is if these people are prophets & apostles of God. They are not perfect, but in those settings, they are delivering His message. "Whether by my voice or the voice of My servants it is the same."

We will always have agency. God will not withhold from giving commandments through His prophets because He doesn't want our agency taken away. When we are given any sort of commandment whether it's the Ten Commandments or a commandment to support Prop 8, we will always have a choice whether or not we want to follow. Your agency is not being taken away. Someone inviting you to do phone calls is an invitation. No one can force you to do ANYTHING.

Look past the here and now and all of the details of laws, codes, etc. What it comes down to is that Heavenly Father created man and woman as separate and different but equal partners and that anything other than this is not marriage. He also created His plan that we would form family units of a father, a mother, and children, and this is the unit through which we are organized in the eternities. This is an eternal matter. God defined marriage; we as His children do not have any place to define it. He is all knowing, loving and merciful, but He nor His servants will ever ask us to be cruel. By supporting Prop 8, we are in no way persecuting others. We must absolutely love people with all of our hearts but this does not mean embracing lifestyles that clearly go against God's ETERNAL plan for His children. We can love people without loving what they do, and truly loving others mean inviting them, not forcing them, to a better way: His way."

The Leithead Family said...
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The Leithead Family said...

I posted a reply: http://leitheadfamily.blogspot.com/2008/10/californias-proposition-8.html

~Erin.

Carolyn said...

After reading the church's defense of their support, I was 100% convinced that supporting Proposition 8 was a good idea. But if their evidence isn't enough for you, then you will have to go on faith. Because God absolutely knows better than we do. What's the point of having a modern prophet if he isn't going to tell us things we couldn't figure out on our own? He's going to let us in on God's plan! That should be exciting! And it is, until that plan contradicts with our own reasoning.

But God has said that His thoughts and His ways are higher than ours and that our wisdom is like foolishness to Him. Elder Oaks' talk (http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-851-10,00.html) addresses this issue of so-called "blind obedience" and the need to respond with obedience when the Lord calls.

Laurie said...

This is a BLATANT rip off of what a friend of mine said on the topic, but every time he talks about it, I always, always agree:

He had posted a video of peoples' "YES on Prop 8" signs being torn down. One of his friends commented, "No on 8, stop the hate."

My friend's response:

"It's all about love, Jay. It's about love for families. It's about love for brides with grooms. It's about love for children who deserve both mommies and daddies. It's about love for orphans who otherwise will no longer be able to find homes through catholic charities or LDS family services. It's about love for our country founded by a freedom ... Read Morereligion which will now be compromised because morality is dropping in the polls. It's about love for my God.

So much is at stake here and it's getting passed off as hate.

"By law, Gays registered as domestic partners have every right in California that married couples have. They lose no rights.
The anything the gay community might lose is pride. Pride is the main ingredient for hate. Who's freedom of speech is being violated in this video?"

Richard Wadsworth said...

I didn't really care how my gay friends wanted to define their relationships-- it didnt seem like a big deal to me, and it didn't appear to be something that would effect me at all... I was ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY WRONG --- already, they are starting to teach homosexuality to KINDERGARDEN CHILDREN(kindergarden age children are very impressionable) in some states because of the legality of homosexual marriage-- Our society will continue to be pushed more and more unless we try to go back and fix where their was a WRONG which was committed-- and that was where they redefined marriage-- we need to go back and define marriage as between a man and a woman again-- like it used to be-- if we don't, our society will slide much further. I do not hate gays-- I love gay people, I had gay friends in high school-- I don't hate them at all, I just don't my children to be forced to learn about it in school-- THAT IS ALL! Unless prop 8 passes, then my kids will end up being taught homosexuality in school.

I think that my gay friends should be able to do whatever they want to do-- I just dont want my kids to be taught homosexuality in school. And that is just the begining unless people will start supporting things like prop 8.

Richard Wadsworth said...

I dont think the Lord and his apostles want to take away the right for gays to do what they want to do-- I think that they just have enough foresight to see that unless safeguards are set, homosexuality being taught in school is just the beginning, and we will soon see things that have even more of a negative effect on society-- I know God didn't encourage the apostles to push prop 8 out of a lack of kindness. I think it is out of consideration for our society, and for our children, and for what is to come.
He is not pushing to make homosexuality illegal-- I think that is an important note.