Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Big, Gay Doubt




The issue of gay marriage is certainly in the forefront of all of our thoughts lately, with it spattered across Facebook, CNN and Fox. I'm about to reveal my feelings on the issue, which can only be controversial in my diverse group of friends. I'm not doing this because I feel like the world needs to know my opinion on the matter (I'm positive that you don't). I'm doing it because it has raised questions inside of me having to do with faith, organized religion, compassion, and the pure love of Christ, and I'm sure that it has for many of you as well. I'm not looking for an argument on the issue of gay marriage to follow here, but rather a discourse about faith and obedience, and their place in a church. This is my blog, so I'm the boss, so let's try to play nice, okay? Let us all speak kind words to each other. Your unkind words won't be published here.

I support gay marriage. I have people who I love who feel that their happiness depends on their relationships being seen as valid in society, and I completely understand where they are coming from. I feel that all people deserve to be treated with kindness and equality. I believe that gay parents make just as good of parents as anyone else. I actually feel that gay and other adoptive parents may have a little advantage in the parenting area because they wanted their children so badly, and struggled so hard to get them into their families. I don't feel like it's up to me, or my church, to decide what kinds of love are more important than others. I love all kinds of love, and I think any decision our country makes to bring more love into it is a good one, especially in these troubled times.

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I'm a Mormon, and they support my actions towards gays in their official statement which says, "Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let's not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender." 

They have also said, "We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason.  Such actions simply have no place in our society."

Works for me! This puts my actions directly in line with the teachings of my church. Where I am a little off line is in my attitude towards gay marriage. The church has said, "We firmly support the divinely appointed definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman because it is the single most important institution for strengthening children, families and society." I agree that strong, committed marriages strengthen children, families and society. I just don't see why a gay marriage can't provide this strength as well as a straight one can. Two parents, any two parents, who love their kids and teach them to be kind are qualified to lead the next generation, right? But the church has asked us to support traditional marriage, and to oppose gay marriage in cases like Prop. 8 in California.

Here's the question that I've been asking myself: Is the Church wrong in this case? Are we going to look back in 20 years and see this as a simple Civil Rights issue that the LDS church missed the mark on? If this turns out to be case, I will still be a devout Mormon. I have a received a witness of my faith too many times in my life to throw the baby out with the bath water. I will be understanding that, while the gospel of Christ is perfect, all men, all organizations, and all religious institutions make mistakes sometimes, and I will promptly forgive my church for this misunderstanding and continue on in my faith. I will have acted as they've directed me to and I won''t have any regrets because of it.

Here's the second question: Is the Church right in this case? Are we going to look back in 20 years and see that legalizing gay marriage really has eroded the foundation of families and that our country is in worse shape than ever because of it? If this is the case I will feel sufficiently humbled and chastised for my lack of faith and disobedience. I'll have some serious reflecting to do about my willingness to follow the prophet in these tumultuous last days because, even though I may not have erred in action, I will have been deficient in the feelings of my heart.

My quick perusal of Facebook tells me that I'm not the only member of the LDS church who is questioning their stance and supporting gay marriage. In fact, I seem to be in the majority. Does this mean we're all having some kind of mini apostasy here? Are we standing up for what's right in the face of authority, or are we allowing the opinions of the world to carefully creep in and damage our faith? In the separation of the wheat from the chaff, are we the wheat right now, or are we the chaff? I really couldn't tell you...

14 comments:

  1. I agree with many of your sentiments. I find I ask myself that last question of yours all too often. I'm not 100% on this, (please tell me if you have a reference to the contrary) but I don't think the Church has ever specifically asked us to oppose gay marriage. They have asked us to support traditional marriage and to some it may seem like there is no difference, but there is a difference to me. You cite Prop 8 as an example. The Mormons became the face of Prop 8, (admittedly for good reason) but they didn't get involved until it was already on the ballot. The LDS church was approached by a christian coalition of churches whose goal was to add language to the constitution that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Of course the LDS church said yes to helping, that language is in the proclamation to the family and they are always willing to work with other churches to improve inter-faith relations. Essentially they were still just asking members to support traditional marriage.

    I was relieved when I read this statement from the Church "Before it accepted the invitation to join broad-based coalitions for the amendment, the Church knew that some of its members would choose not to support its position. Voting choices by Latter-day Saints, like all other people, are influenced by their own unique experiences and circumstances."

    My reason for pointing out this trivial difference is that although the Church encourages support for traditional marriage, it has not asked it's members to oppose marriage equality. Again, one might say it's the same thing, but I don't believe it is and I personally feel like it can be entirely in keeping with the life of a devout mormon to politically support marriage equality.

    I have yet to verify this, and I should probably ask my parents, but a women in my ward was telling me about the church's political stance on equal rights for women. They were fairly conservative about them because they were concerned it would take women out of the home. Here we are many years later and it's long forgotten, but the church in general maintains it's position about the primary roles and responsibilities of men and women. I imagine this political issue might be very similar.

    Love you Tie xx

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  2. Well written, Tiecen. I, myself, do not support gay marriage. I feel the church's stance comes from their divine, and perfect knowledge that we were put on this earth by God to fulfill a purpose, and return in glory. Doing temple sealings for the dead strengthened my understanding of the importance for a family, and through God, there can only be children sealed to a mother and father. While I understand not everyone believes our faith, I cannot deny it and it's teachings are true. Even if people don't believe in our Heavenly Father, 100% of us will meet and be judged by Him, regardless.

    That being said, I believe that we love the person. I have gay family members, and I love them as much as I love anyone else. But I cannot support something which I know is against the very foundation of Everything God created. To marry the opposite sex, and to multiply and replenish the earth. In His name.

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  3. Loni, the requested action in Church's official stance has been a comfort to me, as well. As I said before, I feel like I've been free to keep my actions in line with church teachings, since they haven't asked us to openly oppose Gay marriage. On the contrary, I think it's pretty clear that they don't wan't us to take any action against homosexuality, but to just support traditional marriage. I lived in CA during Prop. 8, and there was a message from the First Presidency that was read in the wards in our area asking us to get out and vote in favor of Prop. 8 in order to protect traditional marriage. This is the only action I've ever been asked to take. I really like your example of Women's Rights. It does put a new perspective on things. I openly support my church and its leaders. On the issue of Gay marriage, my actions are supportive of both sides, but my heart is not fully on board with he teachings of the Church. I'm blessed with the knowledge that Heavenly Father loves me anyway, and that all things will be revealed in His time.

    The church has a whole website full of its official positions on same sex attraction and gay marriage. The LGBT coalition has praised the website and I find that reading the information there calms my troubled mind when this issue starts to pick at me a little. http://www.mormonsandgays.org

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  4. Liz, you're ideas about loving the sinner but not the sin are exactly what the Church is asking from all of us. When I read your words regarding Temple Marriage and sealing of families, they absolutely ring true, and I think to myself, "Yeah! Traditional marriage is the best thing for our families!"

    But then I consider the families that have Gay parents, who live a good life, and who may even want to be sealed if that option was open to them, and I think, "If they were in a monogamous marriage, and keeping all of the commandments required to enter the temple, why not? In what specific ways would their sealing be inferior to a traditional one if they were willing to keep traditional covenants? Couples who are unable to procreate get sealed to their adoptive children all the time. So, what's the difference?"

    I can't answer these questions, so I go back and forth a little, but not much. Mostly, I just put the issue aside, enjoy the blessings of my religion and faith, and wait for the time when I receive a more full understanding.

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  5. Anonymous7:03 AM

    In my mind and heart comes teachings from the scriptures that God's Laws are Eternal & unchanging. No matter what we do on this Earth we cannot change God's Laws. I believe that God & Christ guide this Church and so I will support the stance of the First Presidency 100%. Sorry I don't have any scriptural references. Its early :) I don't know if this helps, but I just felt it would be good to share. This is Alicia by the way :)

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  6. Thank you, Alicia. You're very brave to express your support openly, today of all days. I envy your doubt-free stance and unwavering obedience. DId you read Loni's comment? I think she has a really good point about Women's Rights. The Church's opinion was not popular regarding that issue, but it has turned out to be spot-on!

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  7. From Molly-

    I loved your post! If you're a member of the church and haven't had this issue nag on your thoughts you must be living with blinders on!

    I completely sympathize with your feelings of wanting the happiness of those you love to be complete, no matter their choices, or how they may differ from our own. However, it is our choices that bring us happiness and something I've learned is that I can only insure my own happiness. Sure I can contribute to others happiness by the choices I make or the laws I vote for, but in the end others happiness in their hands.

    So I think a good question to ask is, "Will fully supporting equal marriage truly bring happiness to those who seek it, and will making that choice bring me the happiness I seek for myself?"

    Over the ears I've learned that there are times when I have to emotionally say to myself, "I love that person, and will never walk away from them, but I have to make my moral decisions consistent with the profound assurance I've been given of what is right and what is wrong." In the end this is what has brought me the greatest happiness, even though it hasn't been easy.

    Like you, I have found peace, joy and hope in watching and reading the stances, and stories found on the church's official site about same sex attraction. For me, that peace, and hope have always been my sign that something is right, and in the end it all works out.

    Love you!!!

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  8. Molly- Thanks for your comment. I knew that a lot of people feel something similar to what I do on this issue, which is why I was willing to post about it. I totally agree with you about watching out for the happiness of yourself and your immediate family. I just don't see how gays marrying could endanger our happiness. This is where trusting the general authorities comes in. Which is something I'm still working on. :)

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  9. Anonymous2:51 PM

    Hey Girl It's Alicia again. I've really been thinking about this all afternoon and I just kept going back to the doctrine that I have learned in many religion classes that I took at Rick's College and then at BYU. I don't profess to be an expert in any way but when you look at the logic of the doctrine it might make more sense.
    God's work and glory has always been to bring to pass the immortality and Eternal Life of man. Now Eternal Life has multiple meanings, it means living forever, it also means the life that God has. God's life is Eternal Life. And He desires all of His children to inherit the Life that He has. I feel that Eternal Life consists of the ability to have a never ending amount of children, and that is how we are blessed with the Life that God lives. I truly feel that this World is patterned after Heaven, or the Celestial world. I don't think that God would create a world that wasn't similar to His own. Thus, I feel that the reason why marriage between a Man and a Woman is sanctioned by God is because it is the only vehicle by which we are able to have Eternal Life and continue to have posterity with no end.
    So in bringing this back to the issue of Same-sex unions, the ability to procreate is not possible in a same-sex union. This is a fact of Nature. So, to me it seams that in the Eternities the ability to procreate will only be given to a Man & Woman who are sealed together under the Sealing Covenant. I don't feel that there will be a type of adoption in the Celestial World. I think that the power of being able to procreate in the Eternities will only be given to those with the Sealing Covenant.
    So, to try and sum it up. On our Earth Same-sex couples cannot procreate. Biologically it is impossible, so this leads me to think that in the Eternities Same-sex couples could not have the life that God has which is Eternal Life. This is because they cannot procreate. So by allowing a Same-sex union in the Temple, you would be stopping the Eternal progression of those two people. And God's work and glory is to facilitate the Eternal progression of His children.
    I know this is a lot of stuff to think about, and I welcome any correction in my understanding of the doctrine. But, I just think that a same-sex union actually stops God from performing His main purpose in bringing His Children to live Eternally with Him.
    In saying all of this I agree that we need to love everyone and leave the judgement to God alone. But, maybe by just looking at the Doctrine and not adding in the emotions to the situation can help you decide whether to fully agree with the stance of the First Presidency.

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  10. Tie:
    I am glad you are asking questions and opened up this conversation. I love discussion and "picking people's brains". And there's no brain funner for this auntie to pick than yours!

    Anyway, this is my short answer to your topic. I have (and continued) to ask these same questions. It has brought me to my knees seeking deeper wisdom and light. I search the scriptures and take these questions to the temple. And I don't know the answers, but I have felt the Spirit telling me to keep going.

    So enough about what I don't know. This is what I do know. Heavenly Father and Jesus Chirst has the right to say what a family is. Because, this earth was made for that institution and they are the authors of the Plan of Happiness, and They know how it works best. I know the prophet speaks Their words. I know my life has been blessed with light when I follow the counsel that comes from the prophet, even when I don't understand all the ins and outs of it. (Scripture study with small children was a real hard one for me to wrap my head around too!...but I did it and it sure helped!)And I know that I can't lose the things that I do know because of the things I don't know. It's a trust thing for me. Nephi said, "I know that he( The Savior) loveth his children, nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." I kind of feel like that. And I trust the Savior. I know you do too. Thru prayer and study I have come to know this is divine doctrine. Thru your questions and love, I hope you can have a confidence in that too.

    I love you!

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  11. This discussion is totally why I no longer hold to the religion of my past. I choose to think for myself. You know my feelings on this subject and many others... and. I love that you are aware that the world holds as many views on life as there are people in it.

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  12. Alicia- What you said makes complete sense! I know that our faith believes that creation will be a part of eternal progression, and it makes sense that it would be something that takes place between a man and a woman. This also answers the question regarding infertile couples, who I can only assume would have their physical limitations lifted from them in the hereafter. Well done! :)

    KJ- I love you too! I feel lucky to have some of the same assurances that you have had. That Heavenly Father loves me, that the CHurch is a good place for me, and that I am capable of choosing the right. Still, this issue tugs at my heart strings and overextends my trust in some ways. I really feel that that is one of the purposes of life thug, to be tested, to struggle, to problem solve, and to come to an answer by relying on Heavenly Father. Sometimes, for me at least, this process can take quite a while. I don't feel rushed, and I don't worry too much about it. I just plug away at things one concern at a time until I become perfect, which is just around the corner. I'm sure of it!

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  13. Arlene- I feel very blessed to belong to a religion that allows me to think for myself. The messages I hear through the gospel are always ones of love, patience and compassion. I'm not sure if I have fallen completely in line with the teachings of my church on this issue, and I feel no immediate pressure to do so. I'm just floating along, asking the big questions, and considering the answers. I love you, and you're very brave to have changed your life in lots of ways that weren't working for you in the past, to find a niche that is working for you now. I know that every day you continue to strive for self improvement and happiness, which is all that Heavenly Father asks of us in this life anyway. So, whether you believe He's there or not, I know He loves you and that you make Him proud. And you're pretty much perfect.

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  14. I agree with you no matter what religion we should all get along and love each other. I've been judged a lot because I've been misunderstood, and I think everone has been in this situation. I have a couple of very close friends who are gay. And I don't think twice about going out and having a good time with them. Good article.

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