Monday, November 10, 2008

Titles...don't matter?

First of all, I know it's no huge number, but to all those who have decided to "follow" my blog: THANK YOU. It really means a lot. :D

Secondly, I'm bringing out the horse again. I know he looks rather bruised, bloodied, and just beat up (and frankly I'm surprised PETA isn't knocking down my door), but...

There's something that's bothered me, and I'm curious for other thoughts.

An online friend of mine mentioned there's no date for this particular interview between PR and Elders Oaks and Wickham, but the fact that it remains still on the official Church site implies that its held as doctrine. Because the interview is familiar, I wonder if it came out around 2000 when Proposition 22 came on the ballots. That feels slightly narcissistic of me to say, of course California isn't the end-all-be-all of the subject, but even 2004's Proposition 3 in Utah didn't garner this much coverage (Prop 3 called for civil unions in Utah - apparently the Church strongly fought against its passing. Needless to say, it didn't pass).

There have been signs of a "softening" if you will to the subject of same-sex partnerships being legally recognized and solemnized by the government.

First, there's this tidbit here. You can find the entire interview here:

"ELDER OAKS: Another point to be made about this is made in a question. If a couple who are cohabiting, happy, and committed to one another want to have their relationship called a marriage, why do they want that? Considering what they say they have, why do they want to add to it the legal status of marriage that has been honored and experienced for thousands of years? What is it that is desired by those who advocate same-gender marriage? If that could be articulated on some basis other than discrimination, which is not a very good argument, it would be easier to answer the question that you have asked, and I think it would reveal the soundness of what we’ve already heard."

Why do they want that - because marriage is a much more powerful word with a much more powerful meaning than is "domestic partnership" or "civil union" - and, if things get escalated to a federal level, than they want marriage because then they can have all the benefits allocated to anyone else who is married.

"There are certain indicia of marriage — certain legal and social consequences and certain legitimacy — which if given to some relationship other than marriage between a man and a woman tend to degrade if not destroy the institution that’s been honored over so many thousands of years.

As opposed to the likes of Britney Spears or "open" marriages (which, if I'm correct, is legal in some states), etc?

"In addition, if people want to legalize a particular relationship, we need to be careful if that kind of relationship has been disapproved for millennia. Suddenly there’s a call to legalize it so they can feel better about themselves. That argument proves a little too much. Suppose a person is making a living in some illegal behavior, but feels uneasy about it. (He may be a professional thief or he may be selling a service that is illegal, or whatever it may be.) Do we go out and legalize his behavior because he’s being discriminated against in his occupational choices or because he doesn’t feel well about what he’s doing and he wants a ‘feel good’ example, or he wants his behavior legitimized in the eyes of society or his family? I think the answer is that we do not legalize behavior for those reasons unless they are very persuasive reasons brought forward to make a change in the current situation."

I don't know that the relationship has been disapproved so much as...well, lets be honest. Straight people find gay sex icky. A gay couple tends to look odd to our eyes, and this is probably due more to our not seeing it so often. It's also disapproved because various churches find it abominable (some more than others) and we tend to hate that which is different.

I really don't like how so many tend to compare homosexuality with criminal acts or diseases. I do believe there are some people out there partaking in homosexual acts when they are not, necessarily, homosexual; there are some experimenting, some who can choose (like one commenter said: these are the bisexual members of our society). And forget that, there's no universal consensus that homosexuality is a sin or "immoral." Stealing, murder, rape, etc. It's pretty well recognized those aren't okay - mostly because they infringe upon the rights of others. I know we like to think this will infringe upon our rights, but they thought the same thing about legalizing interracial marriage, too.

But, lets not forget that there are the people who the thought of a heterosexual relationship causes them to wince, the idea to them is icky, it's just not even a smidgen of who they are or what they can imagine. Being heterosexual to them is like most of us imaginging being homosexual. This is 100% who they are sexually. If we are going to demand so much sacrifice of them, we need to give them the respect they deserve in their sacrifice. We aren't.

They can't even hold hands with someone, kiss, that sort of thing. None of that. This isn't a matter of marriage to our church as it is a demand of complete celibacy.

"PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Would you extend the same argument against same-gender marriage to civil unions or some kind of benefits short of marriage?

"ELDER WICKMAN: One way to think of marriage is as a bundle of rights associated with what it means for two people to be married. What the First Presidency has done is express its support of marriage and for that bundle of rights belonging to a man and a woman. The First Presidency hasn’t expressed itself concerning any specific right. It really doesn’t matter what you call it. If you have some legally sanctioned relationship with the bundle of legal rights traditionally belonging to marriage and governing authority has slapped a label on it, whether it is civil union or domestic partnership or whatever label it’s given, it is nonetheless tantamount to marriage. That is something to which our doctrine simply requires us to speak out and say, “That is not right. That’s not appropriate.”

And here, folks, is the kicker for me. We could do as so many have offered to make all unions "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships" and leave it to the churches to bless or deny as they will as "marriages" but this statement implies the Church would fight that just as hard. This states that Proposition 8 wasn't merely a matter of definition of marriage, but the rights and all involved in marriage.

I like to think my marriage would be a marriage without those rights. I would have married Eric if we would have lost rights. It's just not a huge deal to me. But our government gives rights to married couples because marriage brings stability and security to our most fundamental unit: the family.

And, as we know, families come in various packages. A lot of children live with their grandparents. A lot live with just their mom or dad. Some live with aunts, some live with their friends' parents.

Oh noes! Are we going to have to introduce legislation to ensure the definition of "family" now, too?

This bothers me. I wish it didn't, and I'd love nothing more than to be proven wrong on this, that this is just some outdated thing and we've gone beyond this, but it's still on the official site. It's packaged with
all the other stuff Proposition 8 related.

Just interesting.


the narrator said...

i believe this occurred in august 2006

laura said...

Since most of the people following your blog tend to agree with you, I figure I can provide the counter-argument to make for more interesting discussion. =) My daughter just went to sleep so this could get kind of long.

First off - For the most part, I thought the elders did a good job addressing the issue. In fact - I was surprised that they discussed the issue so openly and in depth. I thought the questions were the same questions I would have asked of them (i.e. What do you do if your child says he's gay?)

I actually can understand why the church would have opposed civil unions and/or the rights associated with marriage. It is the same reason I believe they opposed the ERA. It's not that the legislation itself was bad, but perhaps they saw the potential it had to turn into something else. We never go from A-Z in one quick motion. Rather it is a series of small steps that eventually get us into trouble. We start out going from A-B, B-C and eventually we end up somewhere very far from the place we wanted to be. At least that's the way it works in my own life.

"I really don't like how so many tend to compare homosexuality with criminal acts or diseases."

I agree with you here. It's really an unfair stretch to compare the two.

"there are some experimenting, some who can choose"

Here I must disagree. I would argue that everyone can choose. I am sure you have heard this argument before, but you are suggesting that we have no ability to choose for ourselves. We are all victims of our desires and lack free agency to make decisions. Granted it may be extremely difficult, the Lord has told us that he will not give us more than we can bear. In other words, if we truly believe the scriptures to be the word of God, then we cannot ascribe to the theory that "God makes people that way." It is an easy out - a way to relinquish all responsibility for one's actions.

"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man. But every man is temptetd, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed." (Jas. 1:12-16) Satan's plan was to take away our ability to choose, but the Lord has given us free agency as one of His most precious gifts. We just can't say that we don't have a choice in the matter.

"This is 100% who they are."

I think you are mistaken here. No one charachteristic should define us. I think we are more than the choices we make. In the interview, Oaks said "I encourage you, as you struggle with these challenges, not to think of yourself as a ‘something’ or ‘another." There are so many other charachteristics that make-up a person. You assume that a person cannot find joy in his/her life without being in a relationship. While my marriage does bring me a great deal of happiness, it is not my sole purpose for existence. I am also a daughter, a sister, a mother, a friend, and most importantly- a child of God. When Christ met the aldulterous woman his response was not, “I forgive you, because you couldn’t help yourself – that’s just who you are”; it was, “I forgive you,” and, “go your way and sin no more.” This implies that the woman had the capacity not to adulterate; she was more than the choice she had made.

"This isn't a matter of marriage to our church as it is a demand of complete celibacy."

I think if you replaced the phrase "the church" with the words "Heavenly Father" this sentence would carry a whole new meaning. The church doesn't make us do anything. Our leaders ask us to live our lives in accordance with the scriptures and God's laws. They can't change God's law any more than I can.

I think it's great that you are seeking out the truth. It is often difficult to reconcile our beliefs with what's going on in the world, (especially when we know so many people who identify themselves as gay and are by no means evil people). The decent person within wants me to empathize with their cause as much as is humanly possible. But I just can't do it at the expense of gospel doctrine.

Anyway - maybe this helped to provide you with a different perspective. If not, I apologize for taking us so much space! =)

Lisa said...

It might surprise you to learn I actually kinda want the counter arguments. I want support from like-minded people (it's sooooo nice to now I'm not alone. You've no idea), but yeah. If people can be cool about it, I want to hear the other side. Otherwise I'm just preaching to the choir and so are they. It's nice, but after a while...

I'm open to being wrong. It might not seem like it sometimes, but I am.

As far as the interview goes: Yeah, they did do a good job in going in-depth. I didn't appreciate the tone in some places, and a part of me giggles that it was done by Church PR instead of elsewhere, but they did good.

As far as the word "choose" - perhaps "preference" would do? I just hesitate to use that because it's not really as strong. It's a matter of attraction. You cannot "choose" who you are attracted to.

I agree with you though: no one characteristic should define us. That's part of why I am where I am. I'm not just a mom (though some would scream at me for using that, it doesn't feel like much most days).

I think my biggest problem, and others' too, is that while we will decry the sin, we don't really offer the love to the "sinner," we don't exactly offer the kind of support these people need. It's almost as if we say "well, you just gotta fight it. Good luck." I hope a reader or two will tell their stories to help me with this.

They say it's the same thing as expecting a straight person to not engage in premarital sex. I say it's different. It's 100% celibacy. It's "if you so much as hold hands with a member of the same sex who you're attracted to, there's cause for disfellowship, at the very least."

This is...we're asking so much. Sosososososo much. I don't know that we're giving much in return. I think that's why some leave. They don't feel understood, they don't feel supported. They hear weekly about celestial marriages, people asking them why they're not dating, let alone married, etc. The pressure is immense. They need support. They need love. They need to not feel like they're hiding and hoping nobody discovers them. They need to know we'll welcome them with open arms and befriend them. I'm always plugging this guy, but seriously. Clint is an active, openly gay LDS man. His blog, Soy Made Me Gay is *amazing*

As far as replacing "the church" with "Heavenly Father" I soooo agree. We should do that more often. BUT, to the church, the two are...interchangable, if I may. If the Church is "true" and "perfect" in following the commandments of God, if the words of our prophets are akin to the words of God, then it's the same thing.

When we are told "do this or you'll be excommunicated/denied temple blessings" it can feel like force. Where is the choice when you're given "heaven versus hell"?

The decent person within wants me to empathize with their cause as much as is humanly possible. But I just can't do it at the expense of gospel doctrine.

You're absolutely right. This is the tricky balancing act - we want to be compassionate, but not at the expense of justice, right? That is often the criticism of "liberals"

When it comes to people not of our faith, though, I say it's not our place to extend justice, but love.

Anyway, thanks for all of this. I don't want to chase people away who disagree with me. My tone might be strong, but I do welcome respectful opposing opinions :) Thanks.

Amanda said...

I do get tired sometimes of people saying that a person does have a choice in their attraction. They only apply this to homosexuals. Homosexuals can "choose" to struggle to become straight and become attracted to the opposite sex. Only straight people say this, and to them, I say - can you "choose" to become homosexual? Can you suddenly choose to renounce everything you know about your sexuality and force yourself to become attracted to someone of the same gender? No, of course not. The argument is equally ridiculous in reverse. If you are not homosexual - fully, truly homosexual - you cannot say "those people can choose." You simply cannot. You have no experience, no PERSONAL experience, to tell you this. And those who have personal experience and who can choose - that's called bisexuality, not homosexuality. And in some ways, that's easier, but that's a topic for a different time.

Chedner said...

It's almost as if we say "well, you just gotta fight it. Good luck." I hope a reader or two will tell their stories to help me with this.

A typical meeting with a Priesthood leader (Pl) during my seven years of seeking for counsel and guidance within the Church:

Me: I don't know what to do. I hate myself. I hate life... I'm ready to end it all.

Pl: Are you praying regularly?

Me: Yes.

Pl: Are you reading your scriptures regularly?

Me: Yes.

Pl: Are you attending Church every week.

Me: I at least go to take the Sacrament... the other meetings are... tough to attend sometimes.

Pl: That's understandable; the Sacrament is the most important.

Are you looking at pornography?

Me: No.

Pl: Do you masturbate?

Me: No.

Pl: Have you had a Priesthood blessing recently?

Me: Yes.

Pl: How is your testimony?

Me: [bearing my testimony]

Pl: ... are you taking anti-depressants?

Me: Yes.

Pl: Maybe you should talk to your doctor about raising the dosage.

Me: I hate how the anti-depressants are making me feel.

Pl: Well, you just need the right combination and dosage; it'll help you stop focusing on your attractions. What activities are you involved in?

Me: I can't get out of bed most of the time. I see no purpose in life.

Pl: Let's have you meet with your doctor.

I went to my Priesthood leaders to help me find a reason and purpose in life. (As I so dramatically wrote in in my journal: "God, I pray for a reason for me. Otherwise, let my organs cease, let my breath run out, and let my soul fade away. I seek not ‘freedom’ nor ‘happiness’ but the damnation that is mine anyway.")

I went to my Priesthood leaders to help me know how to ignore the love that was burning throughout every part of me. (Again, as I so dramatically wrote in my journal: "This is no thorn in my side; my bowels have been thrashed out, my lungs scarred with breathlessness... yet my heart, they did not break the beat.")

Instead, I was given drugs so that I would feel nothing.

laura said...

I agree with you that we as members could do so much more in welcoming others who struggle with this. Sometimes I feel like members don't discuss it b/c they think bringing it up will cause someome to become gay. Maybe next general conference, eh? Thanks for your perspective. I'll check out that link.