Monday, October 6, 2008

Eat, drink, be merry and........GAY!!!

Well, this is one of those hot button topics. It's controversial--especially around here these days. I probably shouldn't say anything about it but I can't help myself. I didn't watch general conference. I'm not sure it was mentioned there. (General Conference = Huge Latter-Day Saints' bi-annual worldwide services). But a friend of mine recently heard this about the church and discussed it with me at work today.

His brother, who is in the bishopric (clergy), was sent a statement from the church's general authorities, telling him to issue callings to a couple of people in the ward (local congregation), in which they will be making phone calls to people in California, telling them to vote to overturn a supreme court's recent ruling that gay marriage is constitutionally legal. Confusing? I explained it as simply as I could.

I should mention that, at this point, this is hearsay. However, I completely trust the source. What on earth is going on here? What is the big deal? What is a "politically neutral, tax-exempt, religious organization doing getting so heavily involved with politics? And why?

We're taught in the faith that, the prophet is the Lord's mouthpiece here on earth and, therefore, we're supposed to support and sustain them. It's not that we cannot question them. On the contrary; We're taught that we should question them if we need to, with prayer and fasting for a confirmation of The Spirit. But this news immediately jumps out to me as somehow wrong, uncalled for, overreaching.

You see, I don't believe that there is a problem with gays and lesbians marrying--entering into deeply, committed, and monogamous relationships with their soul mates, with whom their in love. Do you? What should be the alternative then? We acknowledge that there certainly are sons and daughters of God who are gay. Shall we send the message then, that we'd prefer people be polygamous, having loose relations with whomever, whenever. Is that not the more dangerous alternative? More STDs, more cancers, more confusion.

In The Church, we're taught that we cannot have eternal happiness and joy and all of God's blessings unless we are sealed in a temple ceremony of marriage. Well then, what is to become of our gay friends, brothers, sisters, parents, children, if they cannot marry the one they love? Do we believe that a gay man will suddenly become physically attracted to females instead? From what I've seen, the answer is most probably not. So then, if they cannot marry whom they love, and they're not going to marry someone of the opposite sex, what will be their end? The God I believe in wouldn't rob them of the joys experienced in a committed, loving relationship/family. The God I believe in loves everyone the same. The God I believe in wants the most for all of his children.

I've thought about this a lot. I really have. I cannot think of a reason why we'd deprive someone equal rights, based on whom they want to love.

Whether you believe our sexual preferences come about by choice or by birth matters not. On this there are many opinions. But the FACT remains: THERE ARE GAY PEOPLE. Who are they? They are your co-workers, your distant relatives, your neighbor, your neighbor's kid, your fellow church member's kid, your sibling, your friend. Most of all, they are people. They are humans and they have the same rights as everyone else. (Or at least they should---working on it).

Some of you may think I'll be struck by lightning in my sleep for thinking/writing this way. I've got news for you. I've been thinking/writing this way for a long time and, so far, so good. Worry about your own relationships. Let everyone else worry about theirs. Is your marriage a source of happiness? Why not hope for EVERYONE to experience that? Someone else's relationship will have no affect on yours, negative or positive. If it does, you're doing something wrong. Yeah, it's you, not them.

As far as sustaining our church leaders go, well, on this one, for now, I think this will one day be looked at in the same way we now look at some of Bruce R. McConkie's or Brigham Young's statements about black people. It was wrong to think that way then. It was human error then. And I believe the big stink being made now, asking people to make campaign calls to overturn a supreme court decision that isn't hurting anyone, is wrong now. I could be wrong. But I'm going to err on the side of living and letting live.

I love you ALL.

22 comments:

Joel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kari said...

Wow, way to put up an emotionally sparked issue! It's kind of odd timing because I just came across an old friends blog last night that had a link to the statement from the LDS church, and her support of it. http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/the-divine-institution-of-marriage

I completely disagree with the church's stance on this, and I realise everyone gets their own opinion, and the following is all an opinion. But for me personally this is one of several issues that I don't want my son taught, and so will keep me from going to church.

I didn't read the whole statement, but from what I did read my biggest problem is their reasoning. It's pretty common for people to say that allowing gay marriage will some how affect all of society in a negative way. For me to think this was a valid claim, you would have to say that heterosexual marriages don't have any negatives on society. Using their standards I take that to mean that heterosexual marriages are somehow less immune to problems. Speaking from experience, that's just not true.

They also comment that the purpose of marriage is to raise a family. I'm not sure what they are telling people who can't or don't have kids, but I don't think that devalues their marriage. And as far as gay couples raising kids and that somehow leading to the kids having problems, I just haven't seen that in my own personal experience. I personally know, very well, two different families who were raised by a gay parent. Now they weren't in a gay marriage, so maybe that means I can't use the argument, but neither of them have any of the issues cited. There are no problems with gender issues or development of moral character. They do both have an extremely high tolerance for other people.

In comparison, I grew up in a typical heterosexual home where I was taught that homosexual was wrong. Yet some how that family was still affected by divorce, plagued by fighting, and ended with all of the children having some sort of traumatising experience. So I have a hard time buying that these types of problems are made worse or somehow only happen to homosexual couples.

I feel that having two loving parents in a committed relationship does have a great impact on the way a child is raised. I just don't think it matters their gender. I think if the church is going to focus on matters that affect families they should spend more time on issues like abusive. And maybe we have a problem in our society still with the way that boys view girls if we have such a high abusive rate. And maybe we have a really big problem with girls having low self-esteem (despite the church's current youth programs) that tends to lead them towards activities that end with problems like teen pregnancy. That is something I might support from the LDS church.

Wade The Rascal said...

Yeah. I haven't read the statement either. I need to find it. Also, it raises the question for me: What is the church's stance on gay parents and adoption? I definitely think that there shouldn't be ANY problem with it, especially if they pass the same background checks anyone else trying to adopt does.

Kari said...

The link in my comment takes you to the official statement. I took from it, that they don't support adoption by gay people.

Wade The Rascal said...

Yeah. OK, I just read it. I find a lot of good in what they're saying. I agree with a lot of it. The thing is, they don't have any suggestions then for what we should do with all of these gay people. What should they do if they want to have a family? What should they do if they want to make their commitments legal? Don't gay people come from "traditional families?" This is a very complex issue. I'm going to think about it some more.

Wade The Rascal said...

Also Kari, I agree that there, in fact, is a continuing problem with abuse in our culture, as well as a problem with the way women are viewed. I actually speak of this somewhat in one of my first entries titled, "Why is everyone so mean?" Click on "older posts."

Joel said...

Based on what I read you have a fundamental difference in your views of homosexuality versus the L.D.S church. There are a lot of answers to the questions you asked. For example this question: "What is a politically neutral, tax-exempt, religious organization doing getting so heavily involved with politics? And why?" Here is my answer: Last time I read the Bible or the Book of Mormon "the church" had been heavily involved in politics for several thousand years. Including many times when they were the government. I know exactly what you are thinking. Government involved with politics is dangerous. Government running politics in Modern America is just insane. I agree. Why is it dangerous? That's easy. What if it's not your religion in charge. Imagine a extreme Muslim sect running the U.S. gov't. That would scare the crap out of every white christian in the country, but i digress.

The point is the church isn't trying to run the show. They are simply trying to influence the overturning or creation of a law, and that is totally okay in my book. In fact I think it's a great thing to do if you are a church. You have to remember all the protections for church vs. state are still there. They are simply trying to mobilize a political base to vote their conscience, and I say go after it. I see absolutely nothing inherently wrong with that. In fact it would seem like they weren't doing their job otherwise. I would feel the same way regardless of which church it was, (well maybe not exactly the same way, but I like to think I would). If they can influence enough voters to get their agenda realized then that is kind of the whole point isn't it?

Anyway back to the L.D.S. Church. Think of Samuel the Lamanite up on the wall yelling at everyone to repent. Was he involved in politics? Do you think he was denouncing homosexuality? Hmmmm. He was a prophet denouncing what he saw as sin, and people hated him for it. Anyway, I know you already have all the answers to the questions you asked, I just think you may not necessarily like the answers.

I myself, as I have told you many times, am torn on the issue of Gay Marriage. In high school I admit I was homophobic. I'm not homophobic in the least now. That's because I know a lot of people who are gay. Many of whom I love and respect. It's funny how when you take the time to get to know someone you aren't scared of them anymore.

On the other hand I have been taught all my life that homosexuality is wrong, and that it represents the degradation of society, and will bring upon us the plagues from the Book of Revelations. Those are real fears for a lot of people. Many religions have similar beliefs (well maybe not the "Revelations" part that's mostly Christianity) and these beliefs effect people's feelings and actions.

If I was a resident of California and I had to vote on gay marriage, how would I vote? The short answer is I don't know.

Wade The Rascal said...

Thanks for posting your comments Joel. You really should start a blog. You write well. Yeah, I guess I may have a fundamental difference here with the LDS Church. I'm thinking it through. While I have NO problem with the Church, or any church, professing their beliefs, I guess I take issue with the lengths at which they sometimes go to influence politics. RARELY have I ever heard the church tell the membership exactly how to vote on an issue. I think they should take the role as parents--teach correct principles and, let us each make our own choices. Because, how is it that I understand this issue so differently from you or other people? I've read the same scriptures. I've gone to church just as much. I was a missionary for just as long. Also, you cite references of the church being heavily involved in politics for thousands of years. Well, how well did that work? The Church made a heretic out of Galileo for suggesting the earth was round, not flat. The Church said slavery was ordained of God for white people. The Church said that white people were supreme to any other race. The Church helped to promote the massacres and atrocities committed by Columbus. So, yeah, the church has been involved. But that doesn't make it a good thing. I'm not promoting homosexuality here, any more than I'm promoting marriage in general. I'm for healthy, loving, committed relationships. Who's involved in them is less important to me I guess. I guess it goes back to one of my earlier entries about people just needing to treat each other with more kindness, understanding, respect, etc...I don't know if I'm right or wrong. I do know that I just don't feel like I can support this political outreaching by the Church. Again, I do respect churches being able to believe whatever they want.

Wade The Rascal said...

Another thing, tax-exempt status has some stipulations. If you're a tax-exempt business, you're not even allowed to have political campaign signs on your property. And I think this goes further than a campaign sign on the church's lawn.

Johnsons said...

Wow, this is a tough one that really hits home for me. Both of my brothers are gay, and they are two af the best people you will ever meet.
I do feel like all people should be treated kindly and with respect no matter what you believe. It always makes me so mad when people are unkind to my brohters, or anybody else for that matter, because of who they are.
Having said that, I think that I agree with Joel on this one. While I agree with Kari that many "traditional" families are completely messed up, and have abuse and other problems in them, I think that is a reflection of the person doing those things, and not the church as a whole. My own opinion is that the church really does puts emphasis on how husbands should treat their wifes and children, and that they will have to answer in the end if they harm them in any way (emotionally, phisically, or sexually). I personally think that the government needs to crack down with more hard time for abusers! Many of them get away with a slap on the wrist, a fine, and counsiling, and they are right back out there to do it again.
Of couse I think that children would be better off with two loving gay parents, rather than in an abusive situation, but I also feel that EVERY child deserves a loving home with a loving mom and a loving dad.
I know this will not always be the case, but I think this is what the church is stiving for, and I think they should take a stance for it.
My heart breaks for gay people, because I personally don't believe that they have chosen to be that way. I think the hardest thing for me about accepting that my brothers were gay, was to think of what they were missing out on. I think so many gay people would make great parents. I know that both of my brothers would, but unfortunatley, I also believe that actions have consequences, and sadly no family is a consequence of that lifestyle. I love my brothers more than anything, and i wish for them that things were different. I wish the world was an easier place for them to live, and that they could experience so many of the joys that I have. Like you I believe that our Heavenly Father is loving and kind. I belive that he is so aware of each one of them, and that as their father, his heart breaks for them more than ours ever could. I believe that this is their trial in this life, and that he will make up for it in the life after. Like you said, I could be way off, but this is just how I feel.

Wade The Rascal said...

Thanks for your comments Amy. It is a difficult topic. While I don't have any family members who are gay, I do have more than a handful of friends who are. As far as homosexuality being a some people's trial during this life--I just don't know if I buy that. I'm not discounting it as a possibility, but it's not the one I'm leaning towards. I think I've based a lot of my political decisions on gay rights on the fact that, the jury is still out on whether or not homosexuality is a choice or a trait people are born with. Since I don't KNOW what the deal is one way or the other, I usually decide that my beliefs about it shouldn't precede a gay person's rights--equal to my own. Some people don't even believe in God, so I feel it would be unfair to write laws for everyone based only on my personal beliefs. Maybe I'm too apologetic.

I also have a hard time believing that God wants me to be able to have joy in a family---a wife and kid(s), but doesn't want other people to be able to have those joys in this life. Like you said, your family is your source of happiness. If someone isn't attracted to the opposite sex and isn't going to become attracted to the opposite sex, why would God withhold the joys that he gives to those who are born heterosexual? I don't know; I'm basically pretty confused on the whole deal. There's SO MUCH gray area on this one to me. I suppose one day we'll find out all of the things we don't know now. Again, I support the church's beliefs about this topic. I'm just not on board for the politics going on with it. I also think, the church's official stances on homosexuality seem to be ever evolving or, ever revealing themselves. Who's to say down the road that they won't decide that getting politically involved on this one isn't a great idea?

OK. This was a good topic for a blog entry. Huge discussion, which is what I had hoped for. Thanks everyone for your contributions. Hopefully I haven't come off as dismissing of any of your opinions. I certainly respect everyone's right to think for themselves and to come up with their own conclusions. And, it's nice to hear from you too, Amy.

Johnsons said...

Just to claify, because I am not very good at expressing my thoughts... When I said I think it is their tiral in life, I was thinking more along the lines of what comes with the life style, and not the life style itself. I think their trial is having to go without some ot the happiness and blessings that come to those who aren't gay. I know that it is not their fault that they are gay, and that is where I feel the lord will be merciful and make it up to them. I think they will be judged for their actions, but I also think that Heavenly Father will take into consideration the things that happened to them that have caused them to have those feelings. I am just glad that I am not the one that has to judge! Sorry to ramble, I just felt like I wasn't very clear with how i put it before. And again I could be way off, just my thoughts.

Johnsons said...

OK, this is the last comment from me on this subject, I promise! I just ran across this link that really made me think of an aspect I hadn't thought of with the whole proposition 8. Maybe you have already seen it, but if not check it out. www.ink.brightcove.com I know this is one extreme case, but I wasn't thinking about how it would directly affect me and my own children. I will definately have to address this issue with my kids, but just like these parents said, I want it to be in my own time, and in my own way, and for sure not when they are in kindergarten!! (wow, can you tell this topic hit to close to home??? I promise I am done. Sorry for using your blog as my own place for venting)

Marissa said...

BTW, I enjoy your blog. I am such a blog stalker.

And I have been debating on whether or not I should post on this subject. I am not really good at the written word so I don’t always write what I mean. I hope everything comes out well.
After working with at-risk youth for over 11 years I have worked with many homosexuals, some who have become very good friends. I believe some people are born gay and others choose it.
Every child of God is sent to this earth with very different challenges. There are children born in 3rd world countries in horrible poverty, children who are horrifically abused, and others born with extreme disabilities. We are not all born in the US with every freedom and ability to grow up, marry, have children, and live a worry free life. It is all part of the plan and we don’t know or understand everything now.

I know the church is taking a stand on this issue because there are some serious consequences if Proposition 8 fails..

1. Children in public schools will have to be taught that same-sex marriage is just as good as traditional marriage.
2. Churches may be sued over their tax exempt status if they refuse to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies in their religious buildings open to the public. Think of what this will mean for temples. If temples refuse to allow same sex marriage ceremonies, they will be forced to close....
3. Religious adoption agencies will be challenged by government agencies to give up their long-held right to place children only in homes with both a mother and a father.
4. Religions that sponsor private schools with married student housing may be required to provide housing for same-sex couples, even if counter to church doctrine, or risk lawsuits over tax exemptions and related benefits.
5. Ministers who preach against same-sex marriages may be sued for hate speech and risk government fines. A recent California court held that municipal employees may not say: "traditional marriage," or "family values" because, after the same-sex marriage case, it is "hate speech".

This proposition has huge ramifications to families, and especially the church and our ability to be able to worship "worship how, where, or what they may."

Wade The Rascal said...

To Amy,
Sorry, I haven't checked my blog for a day or two. Usually I get right to my comment responses. Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts. Sounds like you have as good of insight as anyone on this subject. I don't fully agree but I respect your opinions and thoughts. They're certainly as valuable as mine or anyone else's. It's a tough subject. And, I certainly don't mind you using my blog as your venting place. That's actually partly why I have this blog so, vent all you want.

Wade The Rascal said...

To Marissa,
When will we ever bump into each other. Don't we live close enough? Anyway, thanks for your comments. I love that you work with at-risk youth. What an important job. I'm sure you're great at it too.
I can definitely see the church's position on this--that they don't want their rights infringed upon either. I believe they could probably get around marrying gays/lesbians if they had to. They might have to lose their tax exempt status to do it. I'm not sure. But I would be against forcing religions to change their doctrines and practices.
I don't see what ramifications legalized gay marriages would have on families. I guess it just depends on how strongly you believe that being homosexual is wrong or sinful. (If a person is born that way, how can it be?).
I don't believe there will be a significant number of kids coming over to the gay side, who would otherwise be heterosexual, if they aren't gay in the first place. If tolerance allows people to be who they really are, however, I don't see how we can be against that. I can't imagine living a lie my entire life.
Anyway, agree to agree on most of it. And, agree to disagree on a bit of it. OK?
I love that you enjoy my blog. Leave more comments. I like that it's sort of becoming a discussion site. Well, hopefully I'll see you around. -wade-

KimberRoo said...

Wow Wade! All I can say is, awesome post. Well written and thought out, and it makes me happy that not everyone blindly follows the dogma but instead thinks for themselves, whether choosing to agree or disagree with the church policy in the end.

Wade The Rascal said...

Thanks for the comment Kimber. Yeah, I'm just full of surprises, aren't I?

Swede_Lady said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Wade. As Kari said we were raised that marriage was a wonderful thing between a man and a woman. However, our family was rocked by issues that led me to fear marriage.

I am a single parent and I am continually surprised with the opinions from others about my choice to be so. When I was pregnant an old friend told me I should give up my child for adoption (even went so far as to mention a common friend who couldn't have children). She said my child should be raised in a family with a priesthood holder. I took that comment very hard. I had very traumatic experiences with and held resentment for a few priesthood holders. I would rather have raised my child with a loving father. However, I did make poor choices that did not offer such a fairy tale ending/beginning. I made a choice that I felt was responsible and loving for both myself and my child.

I still have people comment as to what they would do if they were in my position. I have learned and re-learned in my life that making a judgment about how someone else should live is treacherous ground. We all have our ideals, but I believe we can balance how to be true to ourselves and not hurt others at the same time.

Wade The Rascal said...

Thank you for your thoughts Swede lady. This really is a tough topic for a lot of people. I'm glad I posted it. I've had some good response to it, from both sides of the fence. You sound like a very wise lady. No one should be judging you, or telling you what you should do with your child. I know of many wonderful single parents---who have been amazing role-models to me about parenting and raising children. Sure, it might be easier raising a child with a partner but that doesn't mean you cannot do just as well as a single-parent. Continue to think for yourself. You know what's best for you and for your child. I'm proud of you and people like you.

Swede_Lady said...

BTW...I'm Kari's sister :) I haven't figure out the whole blogger settings as of yet so my name doesn't show up.

Marissa said...

I thought I would just post a follow up from the church now that the election is over. This is from ksl.com

LDS Church issues response to Prop. 8 vote
November 5th, 2008 @ 1:03pm
Statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Since Proposition 8 was placed on the ballot in June of this year, the citizens of California have considered the arguments for and against same-sex marriage. After extensive debate between those of different persuasions, voters have chosen to amend the California State Constitution to state that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Voters in Arizona and Florida took the same course and amended their constitutions to establish that marriage will continue to be between a man and a woman.

Such an emotionally charged issue concerning the most personal and cherished aspects of life — family, identity, intimacy and equality — stirs fervent and deep feelings.

Most likely, the election results for these constitutional amendments will not mean an end to the debate over same-sex marriage in this country.

We hope that now and in the future all parties involved in this issue will be well informed and act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different position. No one on any side of the question should be vilified, intimidated, harassed or subject to erroneous information.

It is important to understand that this issue for the Church has always been about the sacred and divine institution of marriage — a union between a man and a woman.

Allegations of bigotry or persecution made against the Church were and are simply wrong. The Church's opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians. Even more, the Church does not object to rights for same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.

Some, however, have mistakenly asserted that churches should not ever be involved in politics when moral issues are involved. In fact, churches and religious organizations are well within their constitutional rights to speak out and be engaged in the many moral and ethical problems facing society. While the Church does not endorse candidates or platforms, it does reserve the right to speak out on important issues.

Before it accepted the invitation to join broad-based coalitions for the amendments, the Church knew that some of its members would choose not to support its position. Voting choices by Latter-day Saints, like all other people, are influenced by their own unique experiences and circumstances. As we move forward from the election, Church members need to be understanding and accepting of each other and work together for a better society.

Even though the democratic process can be demanding and difficult, Latter-day Saints are profoundly grateful for and respect the ideals of a true democracy.

The Church expresses deep appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the many Latter-day Saints and others who supported the coalitions in efforts regarding these amendments.