Saturday, October 4, 2008

Church, State, and Gay Marriage: Part 1

If you don't know what California is up to these days, you should. The world is progressing, and this issue is likely to spread to each state.

I plan to revisit this topic often up until November 4th. It's worth discussion, and not because gay people might get a chance to marry, but because we need to take these opportunities to understand and learn some compassion - deep breath, I didn't say "acceptance" - compassion. Too many people actually push others away in their zeal when the end goal is to bring more into "the fold."

And even if that's not your particular goal, nothing good ever came from hatred, disgust, and fear.

California's Proposition 8 calls for an amendment to the state constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. I made my opinion rather clear in my recent Associated Content article, but let me reiterate that I haven't cast my vote yet.

Churches who may otherwise spit at each other (many churches consider the LDS church a cult) have allied in light of this proposition. They have asked their members to go door to door, pass out flyers, post signs and/or make phone calls to get others to vote yes. The arguments they use transcend religion but are, quite frankly, stupid. To avoid beating a dead horse any more than I may, I'll just invite you to visit my article to see what, exactly, makes them stupid (thanks).

Some choose to stay away from such scripts and carnal arguments and wish to simply proclaim what is the fundamental belief of most Christian people - that God deems homosexuality a sin.

For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the argument may go deeper than their own individual feelings toward the matter - "Because the Prophet said to." But first, I want to discuss "Because God said it's a sin."

Only the Old Testament seems to speak directly against homosexual acts with verses such as Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination (Leviticus 18:22). It's hard for many people to accept Old Testament dogma, however, when it's so oft surrounded with other doctrine found unacceptable or at least unrealistic to modern day society. For example, no one cares how many steps you take on the Sabbath anymore. The New Testament seems to only hint at an anti-homosexuality stance and is likewise up for interpretation.

"Because God said homosexuality is a sin" isn't good enough. As a belief, it's fine, but it certainly won't work to convince atheists and agnostics. Even for many believers it won't work for the reasons stated above: personal interpretations abound, as do rejections of some Old Testament doctrine in light of New Testament doctrine. There are also those who think the government shouldn't say who can get together, as long as it’s between consenting adults. Our government hasn't yet and should never tell a church what to do or believe. It's the whole "separation of Church and State" bit.

A person can believe homosexuality is a sin - that's their right. Just don't think that "Because God said so" will convert anyone.

And besides, let he who is without sin throw the first stone, anyone?

I say we leave this whole "sin" thing alone.

The next argument is exclusively LDS, but because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is playing such a large part in the effort to pass Proposition 8, I think it merits some space here.

Because the Prophet told me I should support the amendment.

While there are Latter-day Saints who recoil and become grossed out at the idea of homosexuality, there are some who don't necessarily think it'll be the end of the world if gay couples married. These same people intend, however, to vote otherwise because the Prophet asked them to.

Allow me to explain.

LDS scripture states, in short, that when the Prophet speaks, it is as if God Himself were speaking. So when President Thomas S. Monson, speaking as Prophet, tells the membership to vote in support of Proposition 8, the faithful sweep their own personal convictions aside, suck it up, and do what the Prophet asks them to because God's ways aren't our ways, and neither our understanding His.

As a belief and a reason to vote, this should be respected and it should be enough - as should dissenting opinions. It's when fear mongering emails pop up in an effort to get its readers to vote accordingly that I want to pull all of my hair out (and I have a lot of hair, people. Show some mercy).

Religious doctrine teaches that we are not supposed to or can know everything, but that reasoning tires after a while. People want to understand. They want their head to agree with their heart and vice versa. It's not fun to defend a belief that seems insane or discriminatory to the majority with little to back it up, and so facts are made up and "what if" situations are conjured based on...nothing, but it's done because it will work as a means to a righteous end.

Others will buy the arguments because they "sound" good and they "sound" right. Let's face it, we like to be scared. "The End Times are near," and the world - America especially - is on a downward spiral, as they say. Because the written word holds so much innate authority and there's so much to do, people will blindly invest their trust in what merely sounds good. But they shouldn't. We shouldn't.

But we do. I know I have.

I just have to wonder if maybe, just maybe, we try to convince ourselves that the information we read is right because we're unable to reconcile our gut instinct with proposed truth.

That makes sense to me.


Noe said...

One of the reasons I don't go to church anymore, or proscribe to any organized religion is the simple fact that they try to tell me how to think, and how to feel-while at the same time spouting the concept of free will. It bugs me. After having read your article, and other blog entries of yours on this issue I have a pretty good idea as to how you'll vote on this one next month-but I'm also quite intrigued as to how you'll voice your reaction when the voting is done.

Lisa Jenkins said...

So am I, haha :)