Posts On Gay Marriage

In the wake of California’s decision to re-define marriage for trendy political expediency, two of the blogs I list on my blogroll have put up serious posts on the topic.  I’ve chimed in at #18 and #21 here, and then at #192 here

Clearly, I’m addressing this issue as someone who, because of his religious beliefs, finds gay relationships to be an undesirable alternative to the traditional nuclear family unit as enshrined by God through prophets (though much sociological research supports this).  It is no more and no less harmful to that institution than infidelity, pornography, divorce, or zero population growth.  However, nobody involved in any of these lifestyles or situations is to be scorned or treated rudely because of it; to paraphrase Dr. King, we all deserve to be judged by the content of our character.

After all this sound and fury, it occurs to me that we might look at our treatment of homosexuals as a justice/mercy conflict.  How do we balance our need to stand up for the family and morality, as well as to extend love to all those who differ from us? 

When justice and mercy collide, mercy should win.  But what would that look like here?  Extending heartfelt friendship and support is laudable, but accommodation is not.  Do we introduce gay men living next door to our children as a couple?  Do we have them over for dinner?  Would we go to their wedding (in California)?  I honestly don’t know that there is a cut and dried standard for such scenarios (though my instinct would be to say no to the last one).  I can only say for sure that any such interaction would probably occur after an understanding exists between us and our gay friends that we do not approve of any sex outside of straight marriage, and that we would discourage anything that might harm that institution.  Such conversations might be dead ends for some associations.  But at some point we have to stick to our guns and say, so be it.

That would seem to be the ideal position at this point: gay people knowing that religious conservatives oppose their relationships, but genuinely welcome them as decent human beings in every respect, and our gay neighbors not assuming that we’re secretly boiling with intolerant indignation, looking down our noses at them.  After all, isn’t this the same standard we’d endorse for fellowshipping anyone who lived outside of our values, be they cohabitating heterosexuals, abortion advocates, or any such neighbor?

Such understandings may not be perfect, but they might be the best we can do.  I ponder if the Savior would follow such an approach, and I feel good about it.  On this issue as with so many others, the best improvement we could make in our discourse would be to accept that those who disagree with us are acting out of good will.

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8 comments on “Posts On Gay Marriage

  1. That would seem to be the ideal position at this point: gay people knowing that religious conservatives oppose their relationships, but genuinely welcome them as decent human beings in every respect, and our gay neighbors not assuming that we’re secretly boiling with intolerant indignation, looking down our noses at them.

    I truly wonder just how genuine the welcome from religious conservatives can be. You don’t wish to be secretely boiling with intolerant indignation, but at the same time won’ty introduce gay couples as couples? You’d question a simple statement of fact? Youy say you don’t want to look your nose but you only deign to talk to them after it making iot clear that you disapprove?

    Do you know what cognitive dissonance means?

    I would truly like to hear an explanation of exactly why legally recognising gay marriage damages the general institution of marriage any more than, say divorce – which is at least as prevalent among christians in the US as it is among any other group, but gets complained about far less (you don’t often hear of evangelical christians campaigning to overturn the legalisation of divorce…).

  2. This states my position better than any other post I’ve read. There is a line we can walk that includes disapproval of an activity but acceptance of those who carry out that activity. I walk it with my five-year-old, my twenty-year-old, my kids between them, my wife, my fellow worshipers at church, my political leaders – and myself. Every single one of us acts differently than someone else would have us act – and often in ways that should be known.

    The key, I believe, is meekness and mercy. Whatever I say should be said with meekness (kind and gentle generosity) and mercy (not imposing harm when one has the power to inflict it) should be extended whenever possible. My gay friends know I do not approve of their lifestyle, and I know they don’t believe my religion, but we all know we love each other as brothers and sisters.

  3. BTW, I hope you don’t mind if I add this link to my own blog. It won’t send traffic your way, but I really like what you’ve done.

  4. Lee, you may wonder about the genuineness of our concern for expressing sincere love while refusing to condone a lifetsyle choice we know to be against God’s will, but there’s a difference between “wondering” and making up your mind. “By their fruits ye shall know them,” and all this hand-wringing that socially conservative Christians are doing to spare the feelings of their gay friends and neighbors would appear to be pretty strong evidence of good will. It doesn’t make much sense otherwise.

    One could say that comments such as yours prove my point, that too many people assume they know the intent of those who disagree with them and then choose to be offended, but I want to be constructive. In my post, I admit that I don’t know how to balance justice and mercy in every circumstance on this issue; put yourself in my shoes and offer me some suggestions for how to fellowship those with an aspect of their lives that I cannot sanction.

    I wrote a post about illegal immigration that referenced cognitive dissonance (https://gentlyhewstone.wordpress.com/2008/03/24/loyalty-despite-perceived-conflict-avoiding-cognitive-dissonance/), but this issue isn’t about mutually exclusive positions, it’s about the difficult job of applying two priorities–the need to be charitable and the need to be true to revelaed doctrine–in the real world. Also, I didn’t say that gay marriage is worse than other anti-traditional family situations; in fact, quite the opposite. The growth of the gay marriage movement is part of a range of developments in Western civilization that threaten the family.

    How does it threaten the family? You may not like this, but first and foremost the answer is: because God said so. How do I know God said that? It’s at the end of a chain of knowledge that goes back to this fact: The Book of Mormon is true. If that’s so, then the LDS Church is led by a prophet today, who has in no uncertain terms explained that sex must be confined to the bonds of heterosexual marriage.

    However, much research and practical experience back up this position. At this level, our positions may be debatable, but I see mine reflected by this article about Colorado’s governor eliminating gender-segregated bathrooms in public, to the infinite danger of all females, and in the name of appeasment to political correctness: http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=65690.

  5. Thanks for the reply, GHS.

    You said:

    One could say that comments such as yours prove my point, that too many people assume they know the intent of those who disagree with them and then choose to be offended, but I want to be constructive.

    You’re making an assumption yourself, here, and it’s defensive in tone. You’re assuming an assumption on my part, when in fact my earlier question was raised by your own words and the apparent contradictions between them. If you can’t accurately put across what you really think when you are writing (with the advantage of thinking time and the opportunity for maiking revisions before posting) then how well do you think you are going to do when talking to these people you want to love/disapprove of?

    You did not actually answer my main point – how does legally recognising the rights of gays to cohabitation with whomever they choose, their rights to pass along death benefits, insurance, be buried with the people they love, etc. – how does that harm marriage? Let’s make it more obvious – what does the hypothetical gay couple next door do to your marriage?

    I am aware that, in your view, God says gays shouldn’t marry – fine, it’s your legal right to self-justify with any story you wish to accept. But, again, how does another’s sin damage your, or anyone else’s, marriage? I can accept that you may be concerned that they aren’t following God’s laws, but why should you be allowed to enforce your religious views by secular law? As a Mormon, you are breaking many of God’s laws in the eyes of Protestant Christians – how would you like it if they pushed through legislation stripping Mormons of legal rights?

  6. Lee,

    The gist of the post as I read it is that, from our religious / moral standpoint, a gay couple living together is no different than a straight, unmarried couple living together – and that we should treat each the same way. We should genuinely love each couple, even though we do not approve of their sexual activities outside of marriage. The only way that either situation “harms marriage” is by redefining it – and it’s hard to argue that changing its very definition doesn’t do actual harm to it.

    Silly analogy: Take baseball, change the ball, change the pitching motion, change the distance between the bases and you have created softball. Perhaps you haven’t “harmed baseball” as a separate institution – but you certainly shouldn’t feel the need to insist that it really is baseball. It’s not; it’s softball.

    I support civil unions fully and completely – and have no problem if they include EVERY civil benefit of marriage. I just don’t understand the need to call it “marriage”.

    I think you are conflating what others have said and not reading closely enough what is being said here, but I might be wrong about that.

  7. Howdy – been a while since I checked back.

    Silly analogy: Take baseball, change the ball, change the pitching motion, change the distance between the bases and you have created softball. Perhaps you haven’t “harmed baseball” as a separate institution – but you certainly shouldn’t feel the need to insist that it really is baseball. It’s not; it’s softball.

    Erm, yes – that’s a silly analogy. No one is suggesting changing anyone else’s marriage in the slightest.

    I think you would find it harder to argue that changing the legal definition of marriage does, in fact, harm it. Inclusivity is supposed to be harmful how? In exactly what ways would the fact that other people use the word marriage in a different way to you affect your marriage negatively? Marriage is a word that already means different things to different people – not everyone sees it a ‘relationship ordained by God’ or similar. Why should one group have their personal, religious definition enshrined in Law over any other?

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