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Wickedness Never Was Happiness…at Wheat and Tares

May 16, 2012

I’m back in the swing of writing posts at Wheat & Tares again with my latest: Wickedness Never Was Happiness – Gay Relationships and Mormonism. This post is primarily my reaction to a recent post I read from a non-LDS Christian, entitled “Same-sex marriage makes a lot of sense.”

I’ll spoil the article for any of you who don’t have time to click through to it: the author doesn’t support gay marriage, but he believes that prevalent attitudes of many Americans (even Christians) means that they will be unable to oppose the “logic” for gay marriage.

What was striking about his post was the connection I felt could be made to Mormonism:

…If God exists for our happiness and self-fulfillment, validating our sovereign right to choose our identity, then opposition to same-sex marriage (or abortion) is just irrational prejudice.

Given the broader worldview that many Americans (including Christians) embrace—or at least assume, same-sex marriage is a right to which anyone is legally entitled. After all, traditional marriages in our society are largely treated as contractual rather than covenantal, means of mutual self-fulfillment more than serving a larger purpose ordained by God. The state of the traditional family is so precarious that one wonders how same-sex marriage can appreciably deprave it…

…How would someone who believes that sin is unhappiness and salvation is having “your best life now” make a good argument against same-sex marriage? There is simply no way of defending traditional marriage within the narrative logic that apparently most Christians—much less non-Christians—presuppose regardless of their position on this issue.

Compare with a few Mormon scriptural ideas:

10 Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.

11 And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.

and

24 But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.

25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.

27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.

Anyway, with the post, I was looking for something in particular. I was looking for those who believe that Mormonism can still oppose gay relationship to give substantive Mormon theological backing for this. In other words, address the sad state of affairs that I painted in What Every Faithful Same-Sex Attracted Member Must Know. Because it seems to me that companionship is big. Celibacy is not a valid choice in Mormonism. So, the admonition of gays to be celibate just doesn’t work in Mormonism.

…anyway, in response to our latest new permablogger to Wheat and Tares, Bonnie, I wrote the following…which I feel hits some of the thoughts that have percolated in my head for a while about the role and value of relationships and family:

…when I hear the idea of the “central opposition of the sexes,” I sometimes feel that this overstates the differences of the sexes and understates the differences that we have to each other as individuals. Maybe this will sound naïve, but I like viewing marriage and family as being ways to grow with one another by having to deal — and love — people with very different ways of experiencing the world. So to me, difference is importance…and learning to love, to understand, and to live with people who are profoundly different than I am is of great value.

But it seems to me that difference is not just between man and woman, and neither may the most critical difference to be reconciled be between man and woman.

So, I feel we are called to form various kinds of relationships, and love and serve many different people. I feel that’s why we have wards in addition to nuclear families…just like our family of orientation or our family of procreation…we don’t really choose our fellow ward members, but we are still tasked to grow with them.

But let me move back to describing my position on the more intimate companionship and friendship within marriage…one of my biggest questions is: what is it that causes me to be willing to give someone else a chance? To be willing to love and to appreciate their difference?

Because, I know that I am not that great of a person. I can annoy pretty easily with people, and so I won’t engage and learn from them. I suspect that many people are like this.

In one sense, I can *choose* to engage, despite my day-to-day annoyances. In other words, to be active in the church is to choose to engage with fellow imperfect people, even though they are imperfect.

But I think that attraction is a way that biology has primed us to do this as well. It causes us to allow ourselves to be vulnerable with someone and to accept their weaknesses as well…but we can’t rely upon that sense of having “fallen in love” to persist forever…we have to learn to love beyond and greater than that.

So…for me, I can see that possibility as happening both with straight and gay relationships…

So, to me, the important thing is the striving to accept difference…difference that is infinite and eternal and cannot be subsumed into the box. Difference that is The Other. But here’s the thing about infinity…there are many cardinalities of infinity. So, it’s not like gender difference is the only place where the Other’s infinite difference may be found. Because every person is a different person, every person is a source of infinite, un-boxable difference. We can learn to deal with difference from anyone. But since we are not perfect people, and we won’t voluntarily love everyone, biology gives us a jumpstart with several individuals by causing us to be attracted to them and causing us to be willing to pursue the Other.

So…for me, I would have to be shown how Male and Female are a source of Other-ness that is qualitatively and quantitatively (or, since we’re dealing with infinities, I guess I should say cardinally?) different than all other sources and how that negates or nullifies the value in pursuing any sort of relationship.

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2 Comments
  1. John Gustav-Wrathall permalink

    It seems to me like the argument is starting to wind down if Christian ministers are having to argue that, in order to consistently deny the logic of gay relationships, we must all, gay and straight, be a good deal unhappier.

  2. Well, if happiness isn’t the main point, then that’s not a major concern, I guess….

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