Friday, October 24, 2008

You Call Yourselves What?!

Disclaimer: This is directed at only a select group of people. I am not speaking to all who are for this proposition.

Those attacking those of my faith (and other faiths) for standing up for their beliefs shocks me - not because it is surprising, but because it's uncalled for. It's un-American. I would never condone such things.

But it's happening within our church as well.

Too many times I've read of homosexual or Anti-8 LDS people who are afraid or just don't want to attend church anymore. Many are considering their membership.

Some, knowing how this proposition has divided many of our wards and stakes, have concluded that this call from the Prophet also serves to separate the wheat from the tares, to prune the tree, so to speak.

How dare you!

There are many within our branches, stakes, and wards who suffer silently as they listen each week to entire lessons devoted entirely to promoting this proposition. Others, frankly, are afraid to openly express their opposition with the Church's involvement, that they're against Prop 8. For them, silence is the extent of their support as a member.

We say we aren't against gay people, just them getting married.

Forgive the explitive, but that's bullshit.

It's easy for you to deadpan the expression, that you "love the sinner but hate the sin," because you're probably straight. You've no idea how personally this effort hits home for some. There are far too many LDS members (and Christians in general) who seem to have selective hearing when it comes to the First Presidency's call for us to be loving to these members we are indirectly or directly attacking. Their call did not end at "do what you can to support this measure." We are to be loving, too.

I haven't heard much love, though. Some of what I've heard is atrocious.

If we can't reign in our own members and local leaders, those who pride themselves in their obedience to following the Prophet, then I say we shouldn't even be involved. Shame on those of you who speak insensitively and yet call yourself humble sheep. You're nothing but wolves.

You're not following the Prophet. You're hiding behind his call, foaming at the mouth for spiritual justification to your homophobia. There is no reason for some of the things occuring within our membership - the seemingly benign chats in the foyer between meetings, at friends' houses, at home, etc. There have been reports of ward leaders calling for a public display of support within church meetings. Are you kidding me?

We fool ourselves into thinking that every LDS member must be Pro-8, but they are not.

These are the same who call themselves martyrs for the Prophet's call. Maybe some of you are, but you had to know such involvement in a heated political battle was entering the lion's den. I think many of you find some sort of glory in the persecution you feel.

I don't care about your persecution.

In a related note, on October 21, 2008, Yes on 8 parents instituted a state wide "sick out" after discovering the California Teacher's Association donated $1 million to the No on 8 cause.

A sick out? Seriously?

I wonder how the conversations went at home. I can hope most of these conversations were done in love, but it sickens me because I'm not sure even that works.

"We're keeping you home because the schools want gay marriage, and that's against God's will. We have to make sure they don't go against God and destroy marriage as He has instituted it."

You have no idea how that easily that can translate into "God hates gay people."

I'll venture to say most children won't understand. They just hear how gay people are going against God, how selfish they are (seriously), how a same-sex marriage would somehow destroy traditional marriage, etc.

What would you gather from that?

Gay people are not antithetical to God. They are God's sons and daughters. He made them. He loves them. You ought to respect them and tip toe around them when speaking of something of such a sensitive nature. You have no idea what they are dealing with, especially those within the coalition of churches speaking out so strongly against gay marriage.

You have no place. None.

I only hope no one is creating or feeding any homophobic monsters and we don't have more Matthew Shepard's in our future.

These are your brothers' and sisters'. They deserve your respect. They deserve more love and deference than they are given.

We are probably more ignorant to the gay LDS population than we know - you know why? They're scared to death, especially now, of your judgments and ill-placed zeal.

Even if a homosexual Mormon agrees that acting upon their desires is sinful, they feel this proposition more acutely than we know.

I beg of all my readers to read this blog entry from Soy Made Me Gay. Clint is an active, celibate, gay LDS man. Please read The Last Thing You'll See Me Write About Prop 8 for his views.

I ask you to then please read the following article, Prop 8 Divides the Mormon Faithful before you comment. Here's an excerpt:

The thought of going to church in her southern California LDS ward makes Carol Oldham cry. She can't face one more sermon against same-sex marriage. She can't tolerate the glares at the rainbow pin on her lapel. Oldham, a lifelong Mormon, is troubled by her church's zeal in supporting a California ballot initiative that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. She feels the church is bringing politics into her sanctuary. "It has tainted everything for me," Oldham said, choking up during a telephone interview. "I am afraid to go here and hear people say mean things about gay people. I am in mourning. I don't know how long I can last."

For Mormons, California's Prop 8 battle turns personal describes the underhandedness of some within of No on 8, none of which I condone - but it also determines that even the Yes side isn't without fault.

I challenge any straight person reading to seriously consider a celibate life. That means no dating, no kissing, no holding hands. Nothing.

After you really consider that, come tell me and our gay brothers and sisters they're too sensitive and/or overreacting, that they should just suck it up and "have faith."

I am not asking for your blessing of a "gay lifestyle," just some freaking compassion.

Please.

20 comments:

Amanda said...

That article you referenced - it showed up in the Salt Lake Tribune, too. I blogged about it today. Such horrible things are happening, and though I don't believe in the LDS church, it is awful to hear how its members are being divided.

Chedner said...

I challenge any straight person reading to seriously consider a celibate life. That means no dating, no kissing, no holding hands. Nothing.

Celibacy is the tip of the iceberg, rather superficial even. It is innate human nature to find a lifelong partner with whom to found and raise a family. It is an instinct, a need, a desire (and even taught to be the purpose of life within the LDS Church). To remain a member in good standing (as a homosexual unable to marry heterosexually), one must quelch [sic] that which is a core characteristic in being human.

Such is difficult enough were it to stop there; however (and I'm speaking from personal experience), in the deficit of an unfulfilled, basic human need, there is no support but an atmosphere of shame, silence, and fear.

Still, it goes even further in that the detrimental behavior in which many gays participate in order to heal the pain caused by both an unfulfilled need and an absent healthy atmosphere is not only being blamed on homosexuality, itself, but used to "prove" that homosexuals are unfit, ungodly humans and parents. (The latter being a population of gays who have either broken away from or have never participated in detrimental behavior.)

If I were to print out and take a yellow highlighter to the what is presented at http://www.eqi.org/eabuse1.htm and http://www.eqi.org/invalid.htm, highlighting phrases and actions taken by the Church – including statements made within the most recent pamphlet, God Loveth His Children – during my years seeking help from the Church, there would be some very yellow pages, to say the least.

I don't say this to disparage the LDS Church or any of its members -- or to challenge any belief -- but to say an emphatic AMEN to your I am not asking for your blessing of a "gay lifestyle," just some freaking compassion. Please.

I mean $8,000,000+ and who knows how many hours of time and other resources have been spent by members of the LDS Church to make sure their stance on marriage is legally validated... not one dime -- NOT A FREAKING PENNY -- was spent to validate my decision as a celibate gay Mormon as I did everything I could to uphold and respect the Church's definition of marriage. Not a single cent was spent to help me sustain a life I was barely able to live as I struggled -- on my own -- to find a purpose in life.

And the largest portion of time and attention given was not to validate my life or to help me find purpose in life but to say that I was "too sensitive and... overreacting, that [I] should just suck it up and 'have faith.'"

To put it bluntly, no support was given me within the Church; I was on my own, and I was dying -- literally. I could find, see, feel no purpose in life.

And the Church is trying to not just legally challenge but also socially disparage that which has been bringing me comfort, support, validation, and purpose in life.


If marriage truly should only be between a man and a woman, fine. But it's counterproductive throwing money and other resources into defending such a definition when you are not spending any such money or resources creating a healthy, feasible, and productive atmosphere for those who cannot meet those expectations of marriage.

And it's beyond detrimental to villanize and disparage that which is creating healthy, feasible, and productive atmospheres.

It is... grr...

Anyway, sorry to vent on your blog.

Lisa said...

Thank you for saying it better than I ever could, Chedner.

I hope more people read your post.

My heart goes out to you. Vent away; it's cool.

Natalie said...

Thank you for saying it so strongly! I think that in some instances, expletives are called for. :)

I really, really, really can't wait for November 5th. I live in Philly, way away from Prop. 8, and I know that all of this has strained some relations in my own ward. I wonder if the Brethren ever saw it coming.

Lisa said...

I imagine they had to. At least I hope they did.

Even then, though, you have to squirm a bit. The general Church membership was hardly ready for this, it seems. But sometimes things have to happen despite our readiness. I hope people learn a few lessons from this. I really do.

I look forward to November 5th, too, but unfortunately we know it's not the last we'll see of this. I imagine, in due time, this will go to the U.S. Supreme Court in the fight to overturn DOMA and extend ALL rights to homosexual married couples.

That would only be right.

The Faithful Dissident said...

I also love Soy Made Me Gay. Clint's story is a real inspiration and I'm a regular reader of his blog.

I also want to recommend another blog by an active, gay, faithful LDS member who has felt compelled to take a different path than Clint, and yet retains a strong testimony and desire to live the Gospel in every way that he can -- even after he is excommunicated, which is likely to happen after he marries his same sex fiance. I'm touched by his story, his pain, and his compassion for his fellow man, gay and straight, as well as his loyalty to the Church -- which can't be easy for a member in his position

You can read his blog at http://www.gayldsactor.blogspot.com/

Tom said...

"I challenge any straight person reading to seriously consider a celibate life. That means no dating, no kissing, no holding hands. Nothing."

Here's a good way to imagine what it's like to be gay and to try to cover it up and live a lie: just for today, change your handedness. If you are right-handed, do everything you would normally do with your right hand -- write, throw a ball, brush your teeth, sew...whatever -- with your left hand. If you're left-handed, try being right-handed for the day.

Does it feel natural? Comfortable? Does it feel correct? Now imagine having to do it for the rest of your life.

Just like sexuality, science doesn't know exactly what causes us to be right- or left-handed. Like sexuality, the current consensus is that it's a combination of genetic factors and hormone levels in utero, reinforced by societal norms.

Like sexuality, one handedness represents the vast majority, the other a tiny minority. Just as a homosexual person can, through tremendous force of will, "choose" not to act on their sexual nature,we can "choose" which hand we use to perform everyday tasks.

And, like homosexuality, left-handers have been persecuted in the past for their differences. Left-handedness used to be see as a sign of witchcraft or demonic possession, and lefties were sometimes killed because of it. As recently as the lasts century, parents and/or teachers would sometimes physically force a left-handed child to behave as a right hander. (My ex-father-in-law [an active LDS member who opposes Prop 8!] had his left hand tied to his desk as a child in an effort to "retrain" him.)

So, next time you think about sexuality as a "choice," think about how much of a "choice" it was for you to be left- or right-handed.

Lisa said...

Ah! Yes!

A friend of mine was on the radio the other day about this topic, and while waiting for his turn, another man came on and admonished those who compare homosexuality with diseases or other other illnesses.

He instead used the example you did: left handed vs. right handed.

It was like a revelation. I wondered why I hadn't heard it before.

Thanks for writing that. I hope people read it (and I might blog on it later - may just steal your comment here to quote :)

Tom said...

Quote me all you like!

Amanda said...

My father in law was "retrained" to be right-handed. He grew up in a Catholic orphanage until he was 12, and they had pretty bad methods for "retraining." Today, he can't write with his left hand. He writes with his right hand, but he's never been able to write neat or comfortably. He's learned to make due with his type of scribble.

The left handed right handed debate seems so frivolous to the younger generation, but not too long ago, many churches thought left handedness was a sin or a sign of evil. Imagine a future where sexuality, as a topic, may sink to the same trivialness with which we now view handedness. I think that would be wonderful.

Anonymous said...

There was a statement from Elder Clayton our high councillor read yesterday stating that the church and the protect marriage coalition to not promote the sit out. Just so you know.

Lisa said...

Yep - I tried sneaking that into my post today, but it wasn't working. I tend to be rather wordy and have to be careful to stick to one topic per entry.

Our bishop came into Relief Society yesterday telling us the sick out wasn't sanctioned by either the Coalition or the Church.

I was glad to hear that. I'd be interested to hear who actually follows through with that counsel (for irony's sake), but I am glad they spoke out against it.

Thanks for bringing that up :)

Anonymous said...

You said this in your post:

These are the same who call themselves martyrs for the Prophet's call. Maybe some of you are, but you had to know such involvement in a heated political battle was entering the lion's den. I think many of you find some sort of glory in the persecution you feel.

I don't care about your persecution.


So how do we judge whose persecution is more important? I read that statement (aside from the glorying in it part) to be more like a statement of "my persecution is better than your persecution" kind of like kids say their dads are better than their friends dad.

I'm not attacking you and I admit I may have misinterpreted it, but that's how it came off to me.

Lisa said...

That's cool - no offense!

From what I can gather, far too many of those against gay marriage don't and can't even begin to understand the anguish the gay community is going through. I only can to the extent of my ability, given that I'm not gay and I'm married.

I can't stand those who wallow in their persecution all the while not seeing what it is they are doing to people who have endured it all their life. There is a reason gay people hide "in the closet," especially religious gay people.

I just say we should worry more about other people's anguish that we've caused through our ignorance and insensitivity than our own which we *have* chosen.

Christianity asks us to glory in persecution. Being Christian IS a choice, and if we glory in it, then we should shut up about it. Homosexuality is not a choice (not bi-sexuality. homosexuality). Granted, they can "choose" to act on their desires, but I'm certainly not going to judge them if they do because I'm not so sure I'd have the strength to not do it myself.

I'm trying to fight for the many people I've befriended, read about, and met with who say this is the first ray of light they've seen in a while. We say we're all for equality, but it's hard to take that seriously when we're so high up on our soapboxes preaching against the sin of homosexuality.

People matter. I just want us to stop bellyaching and try to be compassionate for a spell. Maybe then we'll forget about our own so-called persecution.

That's all :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification. I agree with you that some people glory in their persecution, but I'm not sure by choosing Christianity, you automatically choose persecution. It's your actions that largely dictate the level of persecution you may get. Some people are antagonistic and receive a lot of what most of us would term persecution.

It's a threadjack, so I won't really continue further, but one of the reasons I admire Joseph Smith, despite all his faults, is that he stuck to his story in the face of all that persecution. That's a big part of my testimony of him as a prophet. The fact that he would endure so much because of what he believed.

Although most of the homosexual people I know have left the church or are members in name only, the ones I do know who strive to be active and live the gospel principles are a lot more like Joseph Smith than some of the people who glory in persecution. Sorry, that was a big time run on sentence.

Amanda said...

Lisa, you said something in one of your comments above that I wanted to address - you said homosexuality was not a choice, but implied that bisexuality is. As a bisexual myself, I can tell you it certainly isn't a choice. I may have a greater degree of freedom in who I choose as a partner (well, in my case, chose, since I've been married almost 9 years now), but the feelings and attractions that come along with bisexuality are no more controllable than with any other type of sexuality. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about bisexuality - that we somehow have a choice to be either gay or straight - and it simply isn't true. If the person I fell in love with happened to be a woman, I would be labeled as "gay." Since I happened to fall in love with a man, I'm seen as "straight." Really, I'm neither. I have equal attraction to both genders. I have ever since early childhood. This is the way I was born, and my choice of partner - my husband, in this case - doesn't define my sexuality or change it in any way.

Lisa said...

Ohhhh, Amanda. Nononono.

All I was trying to express was that it would be easier (and it would) to be a bisexual Mormon. You could choose to be with one of the opposite sex. It would be difficult if you fell in love with someone of the same sex, but ultimately all hope of marriage and appearing "normal" is not lost.

I know bisexuality isn't a choice. I'm glad you brought this up because I really don't want anyone else to misconstrue that.

Nonono.

Just that it would be easier to be a bisexual Mormon than a homosexual Mormon. At least you gotta shot at living a "righteous" life if that's how you perceived it. It wouldn't be near as bad, you know?

Eek! Haha, glad I can clarify.

Amanda said...

Oh good, I'm glad to hear that. I figured I was misunderstanding you, because it seemed like such an out-of-character thing for you to say! (not that I know you too well, considering I just stumbled upon your blog a week or two ago...) But yes, I agree, it would be much easier to be a bisexual Mormon than a homosexual one. At the same time, though, if people knew of your sexuality, they'd pin you as the poster boy (or girl) for "proving" one can "overcome" homosexuality. Grr.

Brandon Olson said...

Lisa,

It's upsetting to me to hear that you and many other members of the LDS faith do not sustain the prophet and the leaders of the church. When the prophet asks us to support an issue, we should. It is his calling to give us guidance and direction, to warn us when something will endanger our spiritual lives. That is his role as a prophet. It is our role to listen and obey.

While I don't agree with your stance on Prop 8, I will say that it is sad to hear of wards being divided. That should never happen. The gospel is about love and acceptance. None of us are perfect. Members should never shun other members because of their views, though they be misguided. The Savior wants us to be united. I just pray that you and the many others out there who disagree with the prophet will soon see the fault of your ways and align yourselves with the prophets counsel.

Lisa said...

Brandon,

First - thanks for stopping by and commenting. Really. Glad to have you along.

Second...we're going to have to just agree to disagree on this one. This is the first issue in the 9 years I've been a part of the church where I've had to relent (and I've been a very, very good member. Molly Mormon, here, for all but a few years of my time in the Church) I have many issues with this and, well, my heart and my brain both tell me this prop isn't right.

That said, if you happen to be right in the end, shame on me. I just can't in good conscience actively support a prop that serves to promote prejudice and even hate speak. There's not a lot of loving getting passed around, and certainly not nearly enough understanding.

I understand the role of the Prophet. However, I can't help but see some similarities to that of the Civil Rights movement. The Church itself will not be asked to solemnize gay marriage. If it is, then you'll see me fighting like mad for the church.

A member of the seventy, if you'll read one of those articles (I think its the first?) basically said it was ok to disagree. Yes, I know. "You'll miss out on the blessings if you choose to vote no..."

But I've never been one to be bribed, and that's what comments like that feel like. I have found absolutely no peace in thinking to vote yes. None, and I won't let fear be my motivator.