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Critique of a uniquely Mormon argument against same-sex marriage

April 16, 2009

I must admit…Adam Greenwood’s shenanigans were marketing genius. Now, I occasionally check out Times and Seasons. I guess you don’t get to be a Big 3 Bloggernacle blog through poor advertising! Even if I’m not liking some of the articles, their Notes from All Over section is always interesting.

Today I crossed an article that did catch my eye…It was an article by Julie Smith thanking Valerie Hudson. Why? Because Valerie wrote a defense of the anti-same-sex marriage movement that apparently didn’t make Julie cringe.

I dunno about you, but if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or not cringe-worthy, *I* seek after these things.

…but if I may first descend to the maturity level of a fourth grader…Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Movement? Did they not realize the acronym hell they would waltz into? It’s almost as bad as the Anti-tax protesters teabagging everything

I will admit that Valerie’s argument was somewhat novel. Maybe that’s because she distances herself from the mainstream arguments against gay marriage by suggesting that the advocates of “traditional marriage” actually get the very purpose, or telos, of marriage wrong. Hudson boldly claims,

By missing the true telos of marriage, these men render themselves utterly incapable of protecting it.  And there’s culpability here: because men, for the most part, do not understand the true purpose of marriage, we will lose it as a societal ideal.

Now, while I’m not so sure if I’m against losing the ideal of marriage (as it is propagated by people who would use it as an exclusionary, dividing institution), isn’t that something? Valerie recognizes that not only are advocates of traditional marriage not using in long-term successful strategies and arguments, but in fact, their strategies will destroy that which they hope to protect.

So, what is the true purpose of marriage?

It’s not about kids. And this is the problem, Hudson proposes. By making it about kids, people can actually open the gate for skewed institutions. For example, the “traditional marriage” that Valerie is so against is an institution that inherently subjugates women. Not to mention that if things are just about kids, then monogamy might not be the best answer.

Valerie suggests that for non-LDS people, it might be easy to get caught up in just the kids. However, for Mormon men and women who know, we have no excuse. We know the true telos of marriage and it is to…

…wait for it…you’ll never guess it…

create ultimate gender equality.

Valerie cites an article by a V.H. Cassler for much of her points…which is actually funny, seeing as it seems V. H. Cassler is none other than Valerie Hudson Cassler. (I’m wondering what that one T&S commenter wondered: why would a journal with such potential do something so strange? Maybe it’s a quirk like The Economist’s convention of eschewing bylines…). But as she says:

In LDS doctrine, we are taught that when God married Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, He established, in the words of Elder Earl C. Tingey, “an absolute equal partnership between a husband and wife.  Eve was to be equal to Adam as a husband and wife are to be equal to each other.” [1] President Gordon B. Hinckley taught that, “God our Eternal Father ordained that men and women should be companions.  That implies equality . . . There is no basis in the gospel for inferiority or superiority between the husband and wife.” [2] Elder L. Tom Perry has told us that “There is not a president and vice president in a family.  We have co-presidents working together eternally for the good of their family . . . They are on equal footing.  They plan and organize the affairs of the family jointly and unanimously as they move forward.” [3] And Elder Bruce C. Hafen, putting the icing on the cake, teaches us that the King James translation in Genesis 3:16 (“and he shall rule over thee”) is a mistranslation.  In Hafen’s words, “over in “rule over” uses the Hebrew bet, which means ruling with, not ruling over.” [4] After her courage in partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—for Mormons believe that Eve was courageous and wise in that decision, not evil or airheaded, and that God was very proud of her for her choice to partake–Eve was told that Adam would rule with her, with Adam’s earning that privilege through fulfilling his family and priesthood obligations.

This was one of the most intriguing parts of the paper, because of its marination in Mormonism. But I was most interested about Elder Hafen’s retranslation/interpretation of Genesis 3:16…Wouldn’t that be convenient?

…If only it weren’t WROOOOOOOOOONG, as Nitsav elaborates.

It’s too bad, because this is the kinda important crux of her argument.

I don’t think this makes it all useless though. After all, if the Joseph Smith Translation is any indication, there’s a rich Mormon tradition of reinterpreting the scriptures for expedience (for equal opportunity: it’s not just Mormons that do this…every denomination does), so need we care about the past’s description of inequality when we can exchange it for our new and unusual kinds?

…and even if I don’t like her argument, Valerie does have a rather triumphant suggestion for church members:

It also matters which men make this argument, and here the LDS have a natural leadership role to play.  Those men who have failed to form an intimate, gender-equal marriage with a woman are simply not convincing advocates on this issue.  Whether this failure stems from confirmed bachelorhood, erroneous religious belief, or serial spousehood, it is very difficult to be persuaded to oppose same-sex marriage by a man who has never personally lived the true telos of marriage.  Likewise, allying with, for example, Islamic authorities who embrace a heterosexual definition of marriage, but advocate hierarchy between husband and wife, is utterly counter-productive at this point in time.  In the end, their vision of marriage is wrong-headed for the same reason as same-sex marriage—it does not promote gender equality and the sequelae of sustainable democracy and peace that attend it.

BUT…What if there weren’t any campaigning and voting against rights and whatnot? What if…novel idea…people just lived their lives…and we could see by the fruits of the joy and happiness in people’s lives who was living well? So the people following the so-called correct “telos” of marriage, if they were right, need not campaign a single step — their marriages and families would simply be so rock solid that no one could argue against them.

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24 Comments
  1. A very interesting argument. Obviously, however, it does not justify using the law to force others to embrace Valerie’s vision of the true telos of marriage. I also have a hard time stomaching the idea that creating gender equality trumps everything else, like the happiness of the individuals involved.

  2. Now that you mention it, I’m thinking of subscribing to T & S now too…

  3. Ah, the perfect equality of Mormon marriage! Where husbands “preside” over their wives. Where husbands can bless their wives and children using the priesthood, but women aren’t allowed to. Where husbands take their wives through the veil of the temple by calling them by their special temple name, while wives aren’t even allowed to know their husbands’ names. Where bishops get “permission” from husbands before offering wives positions in the church, but where wives’ permission is not needed for their husbands. It’s astonishing that more people don’t recognize this as the model of perfect equality that it is.

  4. I told my wife my temple name.

    She appreciated the gesture, but wasn’t too concerned about it one way or the other. She’s always been less concerned with gender-equality issues than I have been.

  5. HERETIC! ;)

  6. Of course, I’ve always been frustrated about this whole gay marriage debate because I agree with neither side and am of the opinion that I personally have come up with the meet-in-the-middle solution that both sides could agree on, if people would cool off a bit, take five, and think about things rationally.

    Or I might just be feeling self-important. That’s possible too.

  7. interesting…have you written about this meet-in-the-middle solution on 9 moons?

  8. Here you go:

    http://www.nine-moons.com/2008/07/13/looking-toward-egypt-why-government-endorsement-cannot-save-marriage/

    I sometimes think I ought to repost it, because I think it’s still just as relevant, and I don’t know if a lot of people really paid attention the first time. But it just seems like bad internet etiquette somehow.

  9. I’ve actually heard the civil-unions-for-all;-marriage-isn’t-from-the-government argument before…I think it’s a reasonable one, even if it doesn’t get much press.

    but I agree that people probably wouldn’t like that idea.

  10. John Hamilton permalink

    Point One: The whole reason people don’t want to recognize gay marriages is because they are being FORCED to. If two people want to be married, and they think that they are, then they are (at least to them and whoever else wants to recognize it). The same argument could be made for polygamous marriages. If we “legalize” gay marriages we MUST “legalize” polygamous marriages. Boy, won’t that be fun!! Click here for my more elaborate comments on The Baron’s article at Waters of Mormon:

    http://www.watersofmormon.org/archive/2009/03/18/the-biggest-gap-left-to-bridge-in-the-church.aspx

    Point Two: The Church’s position on equality in marriage is as it is stated by L. Tom Perry, et. al. Husband and wife are equal, but they do have clearly defined roles which balance each other to make sure authority doesn’t teeter to one side or the other. In some ancient societies they worshipped a “mother goddess” and men were not much more that traveling salesmen with sperm to offer. The Priesthood gives men something to offer, another reason to stick around. Sure, God could give women the Priesthood, and then they could have all power: from the church to the home, from home to the church. All men would be needed for is to drop off the paycheck and implant new babies. We all know women have an innate ability to raise children with the love and caring they need. Men CAN do it if absolutely necessary, but they will generally do a lousy job. Women can and DO have the power of the priesthood when it is absolutely necessary—just look at certain steps in the temple ordinances (I won’t get into that here—don’t even ask). According to Mormon doctrine the Lord’s House is a house of order. Someone needs to preside in different facets of the relationship. My wife is the final word on the finances (and activities in the bed, of course, ahem) [anyone who says their wife is not is lying] and I’m the final word on car repair. These roles of authority could be easily reversed in other marriages. But, like birthing a child, certain roles are naturally apportioned to the wife or husband. The Church recognizes these “child birthing” types of roles and sanctifies them accordingly. Questions of superiority are not involved, or at least should not be.

  11. So in fact, your first point makes it sound strange that the church is against gay marriage, especially considering the stake it has with polygamy. We should be all for the exercise of marriage freedoms (especially since we know the pain of when those freedoms are limited by an unsympathetic majority).

    At the very least, it makes it strange that the church would be an advocate for anything like traditional marriage, considering it hasn’t been TOO long that the church was on the other side as well.

    My issue is this…we have a legal bundle of legal and tax rights granted for couples, right? The vast majority of these rights are not logically dependent on a man and a woman. So, the government is hard-pressed to find a legitimate reason to discriminate on this basis (and in fact, the govt is also hard-pressed to find a legitimate reason to discriminate on just *one* man and *one* woman). That is why, even though as you say, you’d like it if gays weren’t “in people’s faces,” this is an issue gays *should* be in people’s faces about.

    regarding point 2…I seriously hope you did not just suggest that for history, women had most of the power and authority and the priesthood was a way of giving men power they never had. Maybe it’s the case that men have been “traveling salesmen with sperm” because historically, women have been treated like briefcases — just property for the salesman to peddle his wares with?

    The priesthood intensifies and further consolidates the long-standing tradition of a patriarchal society. So now, MEN call out to women with their temple names. Women submit to the husbands. MEN are the priesthood heads of households, etc.,

    We all know women have an innate ability to raise children with the love and caring they need. Men CAN do it if absolutely necessary, but they will generally do a lousy job.

    wow, gender stereotypes! I wonder if after reading a few more comments from you, I can discover even more of your stereotypes that you just take for granted — it’s actually kinda fascinating.

  12. John Hamilton permalink

    Hey, I could care less if gay people want to get married. They do it in other countries and have no serious issues there. I just don’t want to force the majority here (some 70%, I hear) to accept it when they have problems with it. Polygamy is legal in some countries (mostly Islamic), but the Church still doesn’t allow members to have more that one wife there. I seriously doubt the Church would ever reinstate polygamy if it became legal again here in the U.S. It would indeed be weird if the Church was against a more open definition of marriage if they wanted to regain polygamous rights, but they don’t. The Church has nothing against legal unions (G.A.s have stated so), they just don’t want the official label of marriage on them. These legal unions should give couples all the rights, save name only, they need. (Not ideal, I agree, but at the moment it’s probably the best that can be done without forcing people too much.)

    Would it be stereotypical to say men have penises and and women have breasts? That’s what I mean when I talk about emotional temperament. Men TEND to have the emotional temperament that lends itself well to priesthood characteristics. Women TEND to have the emotional temperament to raise children well. Mother’s Day is a much, much, much bigger holiday than Father’s Day, probably in part for this reason. Are there exceptions? Plenty! But, just because I may see the occasional man with breasts, doesn’t discredit my “stereotype.”

    If priesthood is what it should be there is no element of “domination” to it. A man with the priesthood cannot bless himself. It is service-rendering institution. Women bless their families also. The Church, for the sake of order maybe, simply assigns roles. Maybe they’re too strict in this regard, but they have some reasonable points.

    I get the impression you think we’re all a bunch of half-crazed lunatics for believing the way we do. Not all of us, but many, are well-educated, sane and reasonable people who live, love and die just like you. I know you’re just emphasizing your points, but I hope you’re not bitter about something.

  13. It seems to me that if a civil right is a right, it should be a right everywhere, and not only in some places. Or perhaps, let’s say we turn the clock back several years…since a majority of people were against black civil rights, I guess that should never have been forced onto them.

    The church does not have anything against legal unions, but Utah legislature apparently still goes forth and vetoes all the initiatives of the Common Ground Initiative (none of which is for marriage). Many other states have done the same, banning not only gay marriage but any marriage-like union (so no civil unions or partnerships).

    Next, you now get into the difference between sex, gender, and then gender roles. Are you so sure that gender roles are part of emotional temperament? Especially since we see so much problem with assuming things like penis (sex) = male (gender) = rough and tough (gender role) , and then we run into things like Gender Identity Disorder. Not to mention that if we have stereotypes about gender roles, these are a self-repeating cycle.

    I don’t think you’re all a bunch of half-crazed lunatics, and I’m not bitter. I just recognize that the church isn’t for everyone, and it shouldn’t pretend to use its political power to make its way the way for everyone, when its tenets are based on a faith that not everyone takes for granted.

  14. John Hamilton permalink

    I agree, Andrew. The Church should not try to impose its will on everyone. It should try to promote good morals and charitable attributes first and then the “political” types of problems would resolve themselves. But, if the Church perceives something as potentially detrimental to what they think is moral, they should have every right to take a stance. The Church’s stance on abortion, for instance, is a bit stricter than I would like, but I support the Church anyway, and I just might not know everything yet, so I don’t make a big stink about it. The Church will never be all things to all people. We are all on our own roads. We will never avoid conflicts of understanding with the Church or any other person or entity along our own roads.

    You can’t equate the Utah legislature with the Mormon Church. People do that all the time, but when elections come around, the religion of the candidates is almost never brought up. Yes, there are a lot of Mormons in the legislature, that will simply happen when the pool they draw from is mostly Mormon. It does not mean they represent the position of the Church on any particular issue. The G.A.s do not lobby the legislature and do not council the Representatives in it. Except, recently, in an extremely rare instance, the Church officially asked the legislature to remember to have an “element of compassion” when it was considering a rather strict illegal alien enforcement bill. The Church rarely has any such contact with the Utah legislature. I know this first hand. I’ve dealt with Representatives directly in my line of work. There is no “red phone” in the capitol building to the First Presidency’s office. There are many other states that do not support the Common Ground Initiative besides just Utah. You cannot just say Mormons are strangely unique in this area, weather you agree with them or not.

    I’ve known several people with Gender Identity Disorder (if you want to call it a “disorder”). They are the exception, not the rule. There are always exceptions that help define and clarify the rule. You need not throw out all the “rules” for the sake of one exception. You accommodate them. We build ramps for people in wheelchairs. Sometimes these are in inconvenient locations. But we don’t just tear down all the stairways and steps that the vast majority rely on. Same with gender roles. I think, and so do most women I know, that it is romantic to take my wife through the veil of the Temple. It shows honor and respect, much like getting the door for her. She could get the door for me, but I, being a “typical” male would not find it romantic in the same way she does. There may be cases where men just love to get flowers on their birthday. More power to ‘em! That, however, does not override the rule that the vast majority of men would not value such a gift as much as women “typically” do. You can waste your whole life trying not to make even “safe” assumptions, for fear of reading someone wrong. Will you occasionally interpret someone wrong? Of course. But there is value in making safe assumptions at times, always keeping an eye out for the anomalies. Maybe we’re not QUITE as good at that as we ought to be in Utah, but it is not nearly as pervasive as some people think.

    As far as the black civil rights goes, these rights were not forced upon the general population until a majority of their elected officials (thus representing the majority of the people, presumably) passed such rights into law. The Vermont legislature just passed a gay marriage bill. Good for them. They represent the people there. If they don’t, they’ll get booted out and the bill will be rescinded in the next legislature. When the Mormon church urged people to vote for Prop. 8 in California, the people still had to do the voting. It represents the will of the people, and whether I agree or disagree, I’m not going to violate the will of the majority on this issue. Both sides have valid arguments. On some issues, like black slavery and such, it is worth the fight. I think John Brown was a hero. But, in my estimation, this marriage thing is not in the same class.

    If I find myself in disagreement with the Church, I try at least to fully understand their reasoning. If I still don’t fully agree, I don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. I will never be fully reconciled to the Church or God in this life, but the adventure in trying to do so is quite fun and has rewards that “bitter” people will never (I think, anyway) understand. I’m not saying you’re bitter, really. I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t some offense that was behind what seem to be angry responses. I think you’re simply making you’re point with, should we say, “intense clarity?”

  15. Of course you can’t equate the Utah legislature with the Mormon church, but in some ways, this goes back to our conversation the other day, and it’s not like the Utah legislature thing is the only thing. Events regarding proposition 8 in California, for example, are a different example.

    You are right in that G.A.s do not lobby the legislature. But what is apparent is that we have a *culture* where these kinds of laws and positions seem to be ok. So even when the GA say, “We support the idea of civil unions,” the culture of Utah legislature distinctly goes against that and against all of the other ideas of CGI. Yes, other states went against the CGI, but other states also did not generally have a cultural homogeneity created by an organization that has such a unique track record with gay rights (e.g., such active involvement with proposition 8).

    When you talk about the exception and not the rule, and then talk about “throwing out stairs and steps that the majority uses,” you act like making accommodations for minority rights has ANY EFFECT on the majority. When in fact, when people propose accommodations, they never propose tearing down the stairs and steps that the majority uses. Legalizing gay marriage (or even gay civil unions…or if that’s too far, just protection for gays in employment) does not tear down straight marriage, so the analogy doesn’t fit.

    The entire idea behind minority rights is that we need to have exceptions to the rule. But what happens instead is that the majority believes that democratically, they should be able to vote that there is no exception to the rule and they should not have to accommodate exceptions to the rule. This is unfair. It would be like if the majority of an organization could walk, so they consistently voted against wheelchair ramps because they think it would be “too costly” to their organization and might even “hurt the walkers in the long run.” This kind of reasoning seems silly, because it is. And yet, that’s the exact kind of reasoning that has pervaded in these cases AND in social cases, and has required Supreme Court cases to rectify. Democracy has a REMARKABLY poor track record at minority rights, which is why the Founding Fathers originally established checks and balances on the system so that we can have a Judiciary that checks if laws are constitutional or not.

    Consider: black civil rights first came about not with a vote from the legislature, but with action from the Supreme Court to strike down originally restrictive, segregationist laws. Even the Civil Rights Act of 1964 faced challenge in the Supreme Court by a Heart of Atlanta Motel before the Court strengthened its constitutional power.

    What people in California did in Proposition 8 was to rewrite their constitution (which only required a simple majority rather than a supermajority, but that’s how CA operates) so that the Supreme Court could no longer find gay marriage bans unconstitutional, because the gay marriage ban was constitutionalized. But this idea seems insane to the American mindset — our Constitutions *should* be about expanding liberties and preserving rights…and even when we had one amendment that prohibited alcohol, it was quickly repealed with another amendment.

    (continued in next post)

  16. I fully understand the Church’s reasoning, and I recognize that part of it is an extensive theological disagreement. The church is in a position where it cannot officially ever sanction gay marriage of any sort, because it would never fit into its ideas about eternal gender and gender complementarity, or its ideas on celestial marriage, the purpose of celestial marriage, the role of the creation of worlds beyond number, the nature and role of the family, etc.,

    And while you may get from this discussion that you think I left for this reason or that, I can assure you that is not the case. If you think my responses are angry, I wish to assure you that they are not. If I am responding with “intense clarity,” then you perhaps are on the right case, because I can tell you that this kind of issue is one that is extremely important to me. I will say that I also disagree with the people who left and became bitter, because I think that bitterness isn’t good for anyone. I mean, on a personal level, if you remain bitter to an organization you have left, then that means that organization still controls you, and why are you going to do that?

    No, I don’t have that issue. I don’t take offense with the church, because I don’t believe it to be something it’s not. I expect disagreements with it, because I don’t presume it to be some heavenly, holy thing. I expect it to take disagreeable stances, because all human organizations and human things will have to disagree with someone.

    But the question is…when it’s just a human organization, then really, you realize that you don’t need to be tied to it. That is really the difference between a believer and a nonbeliever. The believer is anchored by the expectation that the church, the gospel, etc., are divine or inspired. The nonbeliever is not anchored by such assertions and expectations.

  17. John Hamilton permalink

    Point to Ponder: If a gay couple has all the rights and privileges of a married couple save the “M” word only (marriage), why would they want to fight for the right to be officially addressed by that term? My contention, and the Church’s contention, is so that the gay couple can force the rest of us to accept them as being “normal”—that there is nothing “wrong” with their lifestyle, so to speak. The church’s fear is that next they will be demanding to have the “right” to be married in the temple and so forth (it is conceivable). Personally, I don’t mind if they are officially recognized as be “married,” but I see the Church’s point of concern as valid, too—though I don’t see it as much to be concerned about. (The Church lumps this and other fears into a term like the “degrading” of the definition of marriage.)

    On another note: Andrew, I left the Church for several years also. Not because of any offense, but because, like you, I simply did not believe. I was essentially atheist, but maybe just agnostic. Eventually, though, I reclaimed what is called the Spirit of the gospel and came back. All the reasoning in the world (like we’re doing here) is fun and all, but it will never convince you or anyone of real gospel truth. The Spirit, by its very definition, is indefinable in words, or even emotion. The best feeble attempt I can describe is that it transcends words and emotions. Once you or I have this, there is a peace, a very quite peace, that fills in for all that we don’t yet understand. It doesn’t replace ignorance, but holds our sanity and emotions until we can acquire the understanding. Sometimes this acquisition takes work, and we make mistakes, and sometimes it seems to just be given to us. Like you, I didn’t get “bitter” like some of my siblings. This “bitterness” exasperates me because it is so unreasonable at times. (My brother blames the poor upkeep of the roads in Utah on the “cheap Mormon culture” as if the roads in North Dakota or Michigan are any better.) I enjoy our discussions, but I just wanted you to know my path, where I’m coming from.

  18. This is because separate is not equal, John. And people *clearly* do see the term “marriage” in a different light as “civil union.” If they did not, then no one would have a problem with allowing gay partnerships to use the term “marriage.” However, because people DO view “marriage” with higher regard than terms like “civil unions,” they do not want to give that term to other relationships. This is how we *know* that separate is not equal.

    Now, the thing is, the church is a private entity. So, the church can decide to do whatever it wants to do as a private entity. It was allowed to decide not to give blacks the priesthood for as long as it wanted because it was a private institute. So, the church can still decide not to recognize gay marriages or marry gays in the temple. So, if this is the fear, this is a disingenuous fear to have.

    (The one caveat I could see…where the church might have a problem is in the bounds between public and private. See, churches are in a delicate situation where they have tax-exempt status, something most private organizations do not have. But if public organizations are not allowed to discriminate [whereas private organizations can, because they are funded with private funds], then shouldn’t a discriminatory private agency forsake public funding or public privileges? LDS Family Services already does not accept public funding, so they can choose to accept whatever families they want for adoption and placing services.) My deeper theological disagreement, however, would be the implication that gay marriage or homosexuality are “wrong” or have something “wrong” with them. I understand the LDS ideas for why there is something wrong with them, but it doesn’t reflect my experiences, doesn’t resonate within me, does not bring me peace, and in fact, seems inconsistent with ideas of human dignity, peace, happiness, and fulfillment. But instead of becoming bitter, I simply do not subscribe to such beliefs that I think are hostile, unrealistic, and the product of human tradition rather than divinity.

    Thanks for sharing your personal story. I do not exclude the possibility of conversion to any church; all I note is that now, religion and spirituality in general do not bring me peace, whereas atheism most certainly does, because it doesn’t take for granted unreasonable precepts that don’t match up with the way I see the world actually works or bind me to other unreasonable precepts. So I agree that people should go for peace in their lives, but where I disagree is that I do not believe that any one place or organization has a premium on peace, and I also do not believe that one’s personal peace is indicative of a universal truth. Rather, from seeing that people get peace in such different areas, it makes it more apparent to me that personal peace is more of a subjective thing than anything.

  19. John Hamilton permalink

    Hey, whatever works for you. I can’t argue with your experiences.

    As for the marriage issue: You can’t MAKE someone accept your lifestyle. What the gay community needs to do is work on convincing the majority they are acceptable and “okay” in their chosen lifestyle. So far, as the polls reflect, they haven’t done that. The Catholic church and many others are in the same bandwagon as the Mormons it their rejecting of the “normalness” of the gay lifestyle. The Mormons are not peculiar in this instance. “Separate but equal” does not apply when you are talking about say, murderers and non-murderers. These churches place homosexuality in the same category as murders, for whatever reason. (Insofar as murderers being “sinners”—not saying that they think being gay is as bad.) I’m not saying I agree with them. I do admire they’re willingness to compromise to the extent that they do considering their religious abhorrence to the practice. My personal feeling is that they are missing the boat: The purpose of marriage, as I see it, is to love another person with devotion and sacrifice. This is much the same way Christ loved “His children” in His time. Hence the prevalent “husband and wife” imagery referring to Christ and His people in scripture. I know one gay couple who’s relationship is much happier and solid than a lot of, maybe even most, strait couple’s marriages. Now, I don’t think that can be accomplished in the “San Francisco” style of a “free love” gay lifestyle, and unfortunately that’s how a lot of the religious people see homosexuality to be. A man in the Lutheran church here left his wife and six children to “be himself” and take up the gay lifestyle. This caused a great upheaval in the church and actually split the congregation. Here I think the sin is not in his “gayness” but in betraying the trust of his wife and children, a failure to develop the love he should have continually worked on (a focusing off oneself) that Christ exemplified. So really it is an infidelity issue.

    So it really comes down to a religious issue. If you honesty believe God is going to curse the human race for selling beer on Sunday, or whatever, than your fears are justified and should be accommodated through compromise if it is ethical and possible. I think a happy medium, where suffering will be minimized on BOTH sides, is the Civil Union. Those who choose to recognize such as a “marriage” and those who don’t are free to do so in such a case. Suffering on both sides is kept to a minimum. Not ideal, I know, but it temporarily assuages the impasse.

    God luck with the atheism perspective. Sincerely. I see how it may bring you peace but, in my opinion, it has its own set of problems and is not really the universal answer for finding the ultimate value of our lives. As Captain Picard said in Start Trek, “The seeming order and interdependence of the universe tells me there is something we’re missing, a higher plain of existence we are yet aware of.” Whatever that is, it’s up to each of us to find out. Maybe I’ll meet you someday in Nirvana. Boy, won’t we feel stupid!

  20. What you say about *perception* is very true, and I admit that the gay rights movement as a whole has a big problem on their hands with perception. However, in some manner, the criteria by which we are describing the ethicality of certain behaviors is suspect.

    I mean, murder vs. nonmurder is one ethical standard. Heterosexual vs. homosexual is an entirely different one. Should these standards both be at the same level? I guess that’s the question everyone has to answer for himself.

    …If people dislike the San Francisco “free love” gay lifestyle, it seems actually counterintuitive to ban gay marriage. It basically says to all gays, “We don’t want you to have committed relationships because we won’t give you the legal benefits of doing such.” Wouldn’t the answer be to support the gay people who want to be in a committed, dedicated relationship by supporting gay marriage?

    And of course, it doesn’t have to be marriage. As you say, the happy medium could be civil union. Get marriage out of government and have everyone’s relationships be legally recognized as a civil unions. That way, churches can call marriage whatever they want, the government will stay out, and the government will not be improperly discriminatory.

    As for your last paragraph, the beauty of atheism is that it doesn’t try to be the universal answer for finding the ultimate value in our lives. We have to take this task into our own hands, and ultimately, a prepackaged philosophy won’t do this justice. When we take to a religion, we think that we have things figured out when really don’t.

    Of course, as you say, we’ll find out sooner or later.

  21. John Hamilton permalink

    As far as prepackaged philosophies go, it might not hurt to build upon the observations and conclusions of others, if we can accept their assumptions, research, etc. But, then we’d have to experience everything they did so we’re back to square one. (Arrgh!)

    Yeah, things could just as easily be switched around and we could get government out of the “marriage” business altogether, but we heterosexuals were here first, so puttthhh! (Or at least made the laws first, I guess gays have always been around.)

    Well, Andrew, if God (or the Great Buddha, Allah, Ra, or Whoever) comes down to me in all his glory, with trumpets blaring, and tells me you’re either full of it or the wisest of all his creations, I’ll let you know. Otherwise I guess we’ll have to just muddle through as best we can. I wonder what George Carlin (an avowed and now dead atheist) is thinking right now? Probably NOTHING! Oh, well. sigh…

  22. “but we heterosexuals…made the laws first.”

    I do believe this has been the justification for all kinds of unfair privileges (“but we whites…made the laws first.” or “but we men…made the laws first.”)

    If God or anyone goes to you, good luck with that. I won’t hold my breath for it though ;). As you say, we’ll have to just muddle through as best we can. I’m of the thought that generally every person who dies (because their brain is…you know, stopped) also thinks nothing.

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  2. As it turns out, acceptance of gays and gender equality correlate « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

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