In Need of Correction

A recent comment on the “Jesus was a Polygamist?” post justified the reason I keep the comments open there. It was everything I would hope a teenage girl in Utah would say in response. It was the good laugh I was looking for.

But I think it brings up another issue.  If you heard someone say these things in your Sunday School class or Bible study, how would you respond?  Would you start correcting the number of misstatements?  Would you let her go on about her way in blissful ignorance?  Some of this information is just her own unfamiliarity with the subject. Other parts of it are clearly things that some oneelse is feeding her.

And for the record, I don’t think this is just about “the problem with Mormonism”.  It’s fair to surmise that some Evangelical teenager is capable of making a similarly uniformed comment.

Here is the comment in question:

LDSgirl

I personely love this picture. I never thought of polygamy when I saw it. I always thought of how Jesus loved the youth and children. Now the rose… if you do your research you’ll notice that the rose in the painting is yellow/gold. With the young women values the color of gold represents virtue and yellow represents good works. Also I don’t see loving looks on their faces, but yearning looks, looks yearning for knowledge. The womens’ postures are either representing their love of the lord, like how Mary Magdeline and her sister loved the lord, and how he is our older brother, or the artist just put them that way not thinking of the can of worms it would open up. With the polygamy thing and Brigham Young, wasn’t it Brigham Young that stopped polygamy. Also polygamy with the early saints was just a way to help the women because this is the early to mid 1800s we’re talking about when women had pretty much no rights so they couldn’t own land, get a job, and do many other things women can do today. In the 1800s women couldn’t really survive without a husband, and their husbands were killed just because of their religion, just because they were mormon. So just drop the mormon polygamy thing already. Those were special circumstances and now women can provide for themselves without a husband, so there is no need.

Perhaps you can craft a response to her in the comment section below.

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142 thoughts on “In Need of Correction

  1. I wouldn’t correct them in Sunday School the same way I’d correct them on a blog, no. Totally different forums with different etiquette.

  2. Oh, and you kept that thread open because it is beautiful, you’re proudest achievement, possibly even the reason you were put on this earth. And that goes for all of us.

  3. Although she makes a few statements here. . .I’m with her on the painting I think is in question. . .I never thought ot polygamy when I saw it until someone mentioned that’s what they thought. I like the painting. I think many of you are reading way too much into it.

  4. Seeing this phrase

    With the polygamy thing and Brigham Young, wasn’t it Brigham Young that stopped polygamy.

    still makes me laugh with glee.

    My Sunday School teachers were pretty open-minded people…I don’t remember any gross historical misstatements like hers, but I don’t think anyone would have hesitated to pipe up if there had been one (and it wouldn’t have been discouraged). We were obnoxious like that.

  5. Dear PaulW,

    Please direct all Polygamy Jesus discussion to that most holy of threads. We need to keep all the fun in one place.

  6. Right, this needs to be a serious thread where we address LDSgirl’s comments constructively and compassionately, and we don’t swear or call people names.

  7. I’d acknowledge what she did get right.

    Polygamy in Utah did have the advantage of providing for a lot of women who didn’t have equivalent prospects of home stability elsewhere in American society at the time. That’s a legitimate point.

    But care of the women was not the only point. I would note that many viewed it as a sacred calling by God and did not view it at all as necessary for “taking care of the women.”

    I would not declare it to be due to horny men, because I find that claim to be one-sided and reductionist of the complex interplay of societal and religious factors in the issue (not to mention that it would simply upset people, and be a classic example of information overload).

    I would also point out that the practice was discontinued in the first decade of the 20th century (yes, that’s not precisely accurate, but it’s good enough), long after Brigham Young was dead. That’s just a plain historical correction.

    And yes – I would say all that in Gospel Doctrine class.

    A lot of it rides on how you say it, as much as what you are saying.

  8. Ditto what Seth said. When I’ve taught adults, I’ve usually found that there is someone in class who will speak up to correct any gross errors of fact (such as Brigham Young stopping polygamy — LOL!). If no one did, I would.

    Some other things I might led slide, or say something like, “Some historians say that …” or that sort of thing in a way that is meant not to embarrass anyone.

    I’m working on a lesson today on the Word of Wisdom. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in the class were to say something like “There’s no way that Joseph Smith could have known those dangers of alcohol and tobacco.” To which I might say something like, “Well, certainly, doctors then didn’t know as much then as they do today. But there were temperance organizations among the Saints even before the revelation, so neither was the concept a completely new one.” And as part of the lesson, I will say something to the effect that “The Word of Wisdom wasn’t faithfully followed, even by many church leaders, until decades later.” I probably wouldn’t talk about Joseph Smith drinking wine in jail unless someone in the class brought it up.

  9. I might bring up wine in the jail just to illustrate that the Lord didn’t originally give it “by way of commandment.”

  10. Tim, my original response to LDS Girl was perfect. Know ye not that you can’t improve on perfection?

    I don’t believe there is a solid, faith-promoting, pro-LDS answer to why the LDS church initiated the practice of polygamy when it did in the way that it did (which is what a Sunday school class would want). All possibilities (including the “it existed to provide for needy women” response) run into wild inconsistencies. You can fall back on “God commanded it and we don’t know why,” which is a valid answer in certain contexts, but that line tends to be intellectually unsatisfying.

  11. I usually simply bring up how the need to unify people in covenant bonds was always at the front of Joseph’s spiritual agenda. I usually mention polygamy in the context of sealing work for the dead, the building up of Zion, the Law of Consecration, and stuff like that.

    How deeply Joseph felt the need to bind people to one another before God.

    I think that usually starts people on the right track here.

    Say whatever you want – there was more than one man’s sex drive and ego at work here.

  12. I don’t believe there is a solid, faith-promoting, pro-LDS answer to why the LDS church initiated the practice of polygamy when it did in the way that it did (which is what a Sunday school class would want).

    isn’t the truth the most faith promoting answer?

    I think it would serve LDS well to dispel this notion that it was founded as a way to provide for widows. It’s the first step towards healthy inoculation.

  13. I think I’ve given an answer that is faith-promoting.

    I saw an interesting book at the bookstore today:

    The “Religious Case Against Belief.” It seems that its thesis is that much of world religion today is more about defending belief-systems than it is about actual religion.

    Maybe that general observation has some merit. Perhaps we Mormons and Evangelicals are more likely to miss true religion when caught up in boundary disputes and defensive and aggressive maneuvering.

    Why not just let Joseph Smith be Joseph Smith and take the portal he gave us to God at face-value?

  14. Jack: depends on what you’re trying to promote faith in.

    Tim: “isn’t the truth the most faith promoting answer?” It sure is. Though, determining what is the truth is difficult here. What is the truth about what Joseph Smith was thinking? Emma? Brigham? Eliza Snow? We (sort of) know what they did, but it’s harder to know why they did it.

    Seth: I agree that Joseph’s “need to bind” is central here. Well said.

  15. Seth: “Why not just let Joseph Smith be Joseph Smith and take the portal he gave us to God at face-value?”

    I don’t know what this means in practice.

  16. BrianJ–I would think it means that what Joseph Smith did or didn’t do, what he was or wasn’t thinking, isn’t that relevant to whether the church is what it claims to be. If you believe that he was a prophet, if you believe that he obtained the BoM as he claimed, and translated it as he claimed, if you believe that the church today is God’s true church, then whether or not he had multiple wives, and whether or not his polygamy was from God or not is kind of irrelevant. Especially in this day and age where polygamy is not practiced by the church.

  17. “isn’t that relevant to whether the church is what it claims to be.”

    Actually Katy, that’s not at all what I meant.

    I’m saying that Mormons, Evangelicals, atheists, whoever tend to have entrenched theological paradigms and systems of belief that they are trying to protect.

    You can totally believe in Joseph Smith’s revelations and not support the modern LDS Church or its paradigm at all. I mean, I came close to that position myself a year ago. Neither does the question of whether Joseph was crazy, misguided, or a liar have much to do with the RELIGION I’m trying to uncover here.

    I’m totally willing to hop on board a religion founded by a charlatan – as long as what he ended up revealing was in fact God and the universe.

    What I was saying Brian, was that we have tied up too much of our church boundaries in a certain image of Joseph Smith and it was completely unnecessary. Thus whenever someone suggests even something to superficial and trivial as Joseph drinking wine in prison, it suddenly becomes this huge threat that we have to answer.

    Let Joseph be mystic, liar, snake oil salesman, womanizer, or whatever…

    It has little bearing on true religion or my quest to find it.

  18. “Polygamy in Utah did have the advantage of providing for a lot of women who didn’t have equivalent prospects of home stability elsewhere in American society at the time. That’s a legitimate point.”

    I don’t think this is accurate. There were almost always more men than women in Utah, especially during frontier times.

    I think the best answer to the polygamy issue is that God wanted to shake things up completely. Break people away from old ways of thinking, including the sappy romantic notions of love and marriage.

    As to the truth, the truth is the rise and fall of polygamy among the Mormons is a fascinating and little understood phenomena, partly because we don’t talk about it anymore and let myths perpetuate. Its hard to simply state the underlying reasons for anything that happened regarding it, except that it was absolutely clear that if the church did not abandon it in an very open, the church would have been essentially destroyed by the government.

  19. Seth–that’s what I was saying too. That it doesn’t come down to whether or not Joseph practiced polygamy, but whether he brought forth something that was true.

  20. what’s for certain is that polygamy wasn’t instituted to take care of widows. We know that part is inaccurate, so that bit of folk-history needs to be corrected.

  21. Tim that is neither certain nor correct.
    What we do know is that it wasn’t SOLELY instituted to take care of widows. It probably wasn’t even the an appreciable ammount. And as such, it should not be used as the “sole” excuse. However, to go further and say that none of polygamy’s introduction was to take care of the widows is untrue and unevidenced.

    You are supplying assumptions as facts. You can’t blithely apply standard male/female ratios. You have to look at age distributions, wealth distributions. If the population had more males but by average they were much younger than the widows, you don’t take sociological factors into account while judging past Mormons.

  22. Actually Jared, I don’t think the male to female ratio really matters all that much on this question.

    I recall actually hearing that the male and female populations in 1800s Utah were fairly equally balanced. So I guess someone is going to have to provide some citations before we pursue this line any further.

    Not that it ultimately matters, of course.

  23. I think the best answer to the polygamy issue is that God wanted to shake things up completely. Break people away from old ways of thinking, including the sappy romantic notions of love and marriage.

    In the early 1800’s? I doubt it.

  24. I won’t second guess why the Lord does what he does since its within his power to fry my ass.

    But I concede that the explanation may not work because polygamy ultimately failed to do anything of the sort. Mormons are totally stuck on sappy notions of romance and marriage.

    However the Lord has failed to straighten people out
    in the past.

    Maybe he just wanted to mess with the Mormons. That is what I might end up doing. (Which is probably why he won’t be handing me the reins to my own world anytime soon)

  25. Jared C.

    I won’t second guess why the Lord does what he does since its within his power to fry my ass.

    Mormons are totally stuck on sappy notions of romance and marriage.

    Those are by far the best comments I’ve read so far this week.

  26. I don’t agree with the comment you were responding to necessarily Kullervo, but, if anything, 1800s Americans were even MORE stuck on “sappy romanticism” than we are.

    Ever read Civil War love letters?

    You’ll get a seizure from sugar overdose.

  27. I think the best answer to the polygamy issue is that God wanted to shake things up completely. Break people away from old ways of thinking, including the sappy romantic notions of love and marriage.

    God initiated polygamy because He wanted marriage to not involve love and romance?

    I’m really not seeing the logic in that.

  28. Seth: “Thus whenever someone suggests even something to superficial and trivial as Joseph drinking wine in prison, it suddenly becomes this huge threat that we have to answer.” That makes sense. Thanks for explaining.

    Jared: you lost me for the same reason Jack mentions.

    All: suppose that Mormons were complete failures at implementing polygamy the way God wanted them to. In that case, whatever result we see historically (“raise up seed,” care for widows, test the saints, etc.) cannot be used to identify what the Lord had in mind. And I don’t know of any indication that the Lord was ever generally pleased with the results of polygamy.

  29. Love and romance don’t really make strong, lasting marriages on average. Cold hard duty makes for more stable matches.

  30. Okay, I see Jared’s point: duty is probably the most important part of a good marriage (and the best definition of “true love”), and trumps romance any day—except Valentine’s Day, of course. But if that’s the message God wanted to get across, I can think of lots of better methods than implementing polygamy.

  31. Brian J.
    And I can think of a lot better ways to take over a city other than by slaughtering every man woman and child, but that’s the reasoning the word of gaahhhhd gives for the destruction of cities commanded by the ultimately loving trinitarian God.

    Just because I don’t understand the reasoning doesn’t make it invalid.

  32. Brian,

    Sure there are probably better ways to downplay romance in marriage over duty, but none as fun for the whole family as polygamy was.

  33. I can think of a lot better ways to take over a city other than by slaughtering every man woman and child.

    Like marching around a city seven times, and then screaming at the top of your lungs and waiting for the walls to fall down. Clearly, this method makes much more sense than just marching in and killing everything in sight.

  34. psychochemiker: I can’t tell what to make of your comment. Is it a rebuttal to what I wrote? Is it a swipe at Evangelicals and their trinitarian doctrine? Is it an attempt to stand polygamy up next to Bible ApprovedTM slaughter so that Evangelicals will be afraid to sling mud?

    “Just because I don’t understand the reasoning doesn’t make it invalid.” Agreed—and apparently applicable to what I wrote. {wink}

  35. tom,

    I think Joshua had the people of Jericho slaughtered AFTER the walls came down. Correct me if my memory is faulty here…

  36. Haha. Good point. I was just being cheeky, but marching around and yelling still doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  37. Well, it does if it is then followed by the miraculous crumbling of said walls. There’s a difference between stuff that takes a leap of faith but then works out and stuff that continues to make no sense after the fact.

  38. There’s a difference between stuff that takes a leap of faith but then works out and stuff that continues to make no sense after the fact.

    Zactly. Five points for Kullervo, plus a chance to play in the bonus round.

  39. Hi BrianJ.
    My forte is offending as many people as I can in a single comment. You, inerrant literalist Evangelicals, pagans, I’m an equal opportunity offender.

    You had written that the reasoning given by X was not a valid reason because you could think of a better way of doing it.

    The problem (as I see it) with your argument is the implied arrogance in the statement. (Not against YOU as a person or individual) but rather against the arrogance of “unless I understand an argument, it’s not valid.” Just because you don’t know all the facts and can’t understand the argument doesn’t mean the arguments invalid, but just that you aren’t in a state to truly evaluate the truthfulness of the argument.

    For instance, if you asked me why an apple appears red, and I answered H Psi = E Psi, and you say, my argument is invalid, I’d simply set you down as someone incapable of understanding the argument. If all facts were known, (e.i., if you were an omniscient being) you would know that apples contain a molecule that observes the complimentary colors of red, and reflects red, and the molecules that absorb the comlimentary colors have energy levels that can be described by the time-independent schroedinger equation.

    I think God knows much more than us. And assuming that WE as limited humans have to follow HIS logic is just as much arrogance as the Evangelicals always accuse us of having.

    I could understand if you said, “I’m not convinced by that argument”, because that’s certainly a true statment. But saying, or implying, it’s invalid just because it goes over your head is incredibly arrogant. Not that I’m throwing stones.

    Does that make any sense at all?

  40. I think God knows much more than us. And assuming that WE as limited humans have to follow HIS logic is just as much arrogance as the Evangelicals always accuse us of having.

    I think you meant to say this the other way around.

    Also, please stop using my religion as a perjorative all the time. My paganism bears virtually zero significance on the discussion here (except in rare instances like where we discuss divinity and sexuality, where I think my personal spiritual viewpoint is germane for once), and I rarely bring it up in serious conversation. The only reason you even know I am a pagan is that you accused me of being an Evangelical and everyone called you on your mistaken assumption. I was an active, believing Mormon for a really long time, and I have done some serious investigation into most major branches of Christianity. Those things about me have a whole lot more to do with my opinions on the discussion topics than my irrelevant paganism.

    Furthermore, please stop referring to “pagans” as if you meant more than just me. I’m the only one here that you know about.

    Finally, stop calling me an apostate. That’s just an ad hominem polemic.

  41. And yet, Kullervo, Ad hominem poletic seems to be YOUR forte. I’ll never use it if you’ll never use it, but the moment you start calling all Mormons bigotted because they don’t hold the same beliefs you do about “gay marriage” is the moment I start making comments about apostate pagans. I know it’s a childish “he started it” but hey, as Jack pointed out, I whine. Maybe that’s only because I can’t have real wine, but that’s beside the point. It’s hysterically funny when you complain about being referred to as an apostate pagan when you call Mormons bigotted. Pet, meet kettle. If you’ll admit that calling Mormons bigotted is merely ad hominem hate speech I’ll admit calling you an apostate pagan is also. If you cease doing that I’ll cease doing that also. But I won’t hear of any unfair, “You must make concessions and I’ll do whatever tf I want because I’m the morally superior Kullervo.”

  42. Oh, and BTW, Kullervo was totally right, I did mean it the other way around, and I hate it when I hear anyone, Christian, non-Christian, or Mormon who says

    “That can’t be true, I don’t understand it.”
    It’s almost as good as the return missionary learning about Biblical studies: “That can’t be true, I’VE NEVER HEARD it before.” The judge of truth isn’t whether any individual human understands it or has heard it before, the judge of truth is whether God says it is true or not.

  43. And yet, Kullervo, Ad hominem poletic seems to be YOUR forte.

    I don’t make ad hominem arguments. I either argue the point substantively, or I decide I don’t feel like it because I’m feeling lazy or you’re not worth the bother but I still want to voice my dissent somehow and so I decide to call you names instead. Or I get pissed off and I argue substantively and call you names on the side, because I am mad. I don’t try to argue by calling you names. Maybe you should look up what “ad hominem” actually means, dildo. Also, “poletic” is not a word.

    I’ll never use it if you’ll never use it, but the moment you start calling all Mormons bigotted because they don’t hold the same beliefs you do about “gay marriage” is the moment I start making comments about apostate pagans.

    I never said all Mormons were bigoted. Ever. Show me where I said that.

    It’s hysterically funny when you complain about being referred to as an apostate pagan when you call Mormons bigotted.

    I HAVE NOT CALLED ALL MORMONS BIGOTED AND FOR GOD’S SAKE LEARN HOW TO SPELL.

    If you’ll admit that calling Mormons bigotted is merely ad hominem hate speech I’ll admit calling you an apostate pagan is also.

    Uh, no. First, I never said Mormons were bigoted. I said that all Mormons who support the organization share culpability for Proposition 8. And I think Proposition 8 is evil.

    And what’s with “hate speech.” Do you even know what that is? Hint: saying things you don’t agree with is not the same thing as hate speech. I’m not trying to get you to admit that “pagan apostate” is hate speech, and I don’t even care if you agree it’s an ad hominem attack. I just want you to stop referring to me by the name of my religion as if it’s a bad thing.

    But I won’t hear of any unfair, “You must make concessions and I’ll do whatever tf I want because I’m the morally superior Kullervo.”

    What? Psychochemiker, you are an asshole. And honestly, you’re acting like a pretty shitty Mormon.

  44. Kullervo ~ I appreciate a good round of name-calling as much as the next person, but I think you’ve been over-the-top lately, especially on Proposition 8. It may interest you to know that in 2004 I voted in favor of the gay marriage ban in Utah. In November of last year, I said on my blog that I probably would have supported Proposition 8. It’s been eight months and I’m pretty certain that I would support gay marriage rights today (well, I’m in favor of “civil unions for all,” but I agree with Whitney that option probably isn’t going to happen). I don’t think my opinion ever would have changed had gay marriage advocates just sat back and called me an assh#le.

    You have a lot of good things to say on the subject, and I don’t believe the people you’ve been deriding here are beyond reaching.

    Anyways, if you’re going to call me any names for writing this, please know that I’m partial to “stupid c#nt.”

    Psychochemiker ~ I’m glad that you’re posting here. I really am. Let me give you some advice for surviving here:

    (1) Don’t bother bringing up what Kullervo believes unless you’re going to actually engage it. I have a degree in classics so I know a hell of a lot about paganism (at least its Hellenistic components) and I haven’t even bothered to do so thus far.

    (2) This is an LDS-evangelical discussion blog, not a paganism discussion blog, so Kullervo’s at something of an advantage because he can poke holes in what everyone else believes without having to give account for and defend what he believes. That’s just the way it works.

    (3) Try to avoid calling people “anti-Mormons.” Most of the people who post here aren’t, and you come off as overly sensitive and defensive when you do. Even when you see a genuine anti-Mormon, it’s better to just engage what they say and leave labels out of it.

    If Kullervo calls you names, you don’t have to engage him. Just tell him to piss off or something.

    Thus ends my attempt at peacekeeping. Carry on.

  45. I appreciate a good round of name-calling as much as the next person, but I think you’ve been over-the-top lately, especially on Proposition 8. It may interest you to know that in 2004 I voted in favor of the gay marriage ban in Utah. In November of last year, I said on my blog that I probably would have supported Proposition 8. It’s been eight months and I’m pretty certain that I would support gay marriage rights today (well, I’m in favor of “civil unions for all,” but I agree with Whitney that option probably isn’t going to happen). I don’t think my opinion ever would have changed had gay marriage advocates just sat back and called me an assh#le.

    For the record, the names I call psychochemiker have nothing to do with his position on Proposition 8.

    Also, I want to point out that as troubled as I am by the Church’s involvement in Prop 8 (troubled enough to finally resign membership), what really makes the steam come out of my ears is when Mormons turn around and act like gay people are just totally out of line for being angry about it and lashing out. Like I said, it’s like the big kid shoves the little kid’s face in the toilet and takes his pants and throws them on the roof, and then when the little kid is pissed off and tries to hit him, the big kid is flabbergasted and acts like the little kid is just totally out of line. Mormons are not getting persecuted by gays for their beliefs. Mormons are persecuting gays, and gays are fighting back, for better or for worse. But is like Mormons can not or will not acknowledge the magnitude of what they have done, and the amount of pain that it has inflicted. They refuse to acknowledge that if someone exercised their political muscle to deny them their own marriage rights, that they would completely go apeshit, as would anyone. Instead Mormons sanctimoniously claim that they are being persecuted for their beliefs, which is complete and total bullshit. They are being retaliated against because they have exercised their collective political muscle to do something serious, massive, and hurtful and with major consequences to gays.

    So you say you would have supported Prop 8 personally? Meh. I think you would have been wrong to do so. But that’s not what we’re talking about. The Mormon Church as an institution threw huge amounts of money and time (or at least ordered and directed said throwing) into Prop 8, and then the organization’s members have the audacity to cry foul when gay people–away from whom they have just taken marriage–are seriously pissed off. And the hypocritical irony is that the Mormon Church actually went to war in the 1900’s against the federal government when the federal government tried to deny polygamous marriage to Mormons.

    I think Proposition 8 was wrong. But the behavior of many Mormons in the aftermath, here and elsewhere, absolutely sickens me.

  46. psychochemiker: “You had written that the reasoning given by X was not a valid reason because you could think of a better way of doing it.”

    Wrong. I never made that argument, never implied it, never hinted at it. Never even considered sitting next to it—let alone shaking it’s hand or asking it out on a date.

    I’m having to guess a bit about what you’re referring to, but I assume it was my comment to Jared:

    Okay, I see Jared’s point: duty…trumps romance any day—except Valentine’s Day, of course. But if that’s the message God wanted to get across, I can think of lots of better methods than implementing polygamy.

    My argument was a rebuttal to Jared’s reasoning, not to God’s. I have no way to address God’s reasoning for polygamy in the 1800’s (accepting for now that it was his idea) because as far as I can tell he never lays out his reasons. But Jared was trying to illustrate possible good reasons for implementing it (i.e., possible worthwhile goals God may have had in mind), and I was pointing out that duty, while a valuable goal, is better achieved in other ways. Thus, duty is not the most likely reason God commanded polygamy—assuming that God typically employs only the best of methods to reach his goals.

    “I could understand if you said, “I’m not convinced by that argument”, because that’s certainly a true statment. But saying, or implying, it’s invalid just because it goes over your head is incredibly arrogant. Not that I’m throwing stones.”

    I hope you see the irony.

  47. Kullervo: “The Mormon Church as an institution threw huge amounts of money and time (or at least ordered and directed said throwing) into Prop 8, and then the organization’s members have the audacity to cry foul when gay people–away from whom they have just taken marriage–are seriously pissed off.”

    I was against Prop 8 before I was for it. Or something like that.

    No really, Prop 8 was a mess because there were some aspects of the CA situation that bothered me just on a political-legal side: whether it had been about gay marriage or anything else—sales tax, health care, residential speed limits. My feeling was that the court overstepped its authority when it mandated the marriages and that years before voters and legislators had made it pretty clear that they didn’t want gay marriages in the state. So I was (somewhat) pro-8 because I felt it was a way to push back at the courts and say, “Your job is to interpret the laws the we make, however crappy and stupid they are.”

    And that really was my only reason to be pro-8. I was and am opposed to the previous laws in CA that restricted marriage in the first place, and I’m supportive of any civil union/domestic partnership legislation I see that will narrow or close the inequality gap between gays and straights.

    Seeing that I am supportive of gay rights, I am bothered when someone assumes that because I am a Mormon I am also anti-gay, or tells me that I must leave my church because it did something they disagree with, etc. I don’t feel “persecuted”—that’s just silly—but I am annoyed but the stupidity of picking fights with people who support your cause. I also feel ashamed when people on my side of this issue (yes, the pro-gay rights side) target individuals on the other side for harassment. Call it retaliation if you want; I eschew violence and that’s what this is.

    “But the behavior of many Mormons in the aftermath, here and elsewhere, absolutely sickens me.”

    I’m a Mormon: what kind of behavior would you find acceptable?

  48. “Your job is to interpret the laws the we make, however crappy and stupid they are.”

    But not all laws are equal. Constitutions trump statutes every single time, and the courts most definitely get to interpret constitutions. I’m not up on all the details of the court decision and what the court’s basis for deciding in favor of gay marriage was, but I am pretty certain they did not just say “You know what? That law is crappy and stupid. Let’s flex our judicial muscle to scrap it.”

    Maybe that’s what they did in practice, but at the very least they had to find a compelling constitutional ground to do so. You might not like the way the court interprets the constitution, but that’s tough for you, because it’s their job.

    Seeing that I am supportive of gay rights, I am bothered when someone assumes that because I am a Mormon I am also anti-gay, or tells me that I must leave my church because it did something they disagree with, etc. I don’t feel “persecuted”—that’s just silly—but I am annoyed but the stupidity of picking fights with people who support your cause.

    But by sustaining the Church, supporting the Church, and paying tithing to the Church, you are not supporting their cause; you are actually undermining it. Your mere mental reservation about the issue doesn’t help the people whose marriage rights are being taken away, and your loyalty and support towards the Church helps the Church to hurt them.

    I’m a Mormon: what kind of behavior would you find acceptable?

    I said “many Mormons.” And I was referring specifically and clearly to the ones who have said stupid things like “they are attacking us for our beliefs” and “they are persecuting us.” Which you have not done. I think you have to man up and accept that by supporting the Church you are supporting what the Church does–you have to own that. But nothing you do sickens me. For the record.

  49. Well to be fair, Prop 8 is downright equitable compared to the legislation in most of the states. Most Americans are prejudiced against gay people’s rights to be married. Mormons are just a vocal part of that group. Evangelicals are another.

    So if we are going to be fair, it should be said that Evangelicals and Mormons are “bigotted” on this particular issue.

    It is just so much more ironic when Mormons vocally attack alternative marriage rights. While California’s laws are relatively fair, prop 8 aside, Utah’s law on this subject is generally oppressive.

    Its a clear case of majority rule and its clear that Mormons (just like most people) are all to happy to jump on the bandwagon when it doesn’t effect their core beliefs.

  50. BrianJ said:

    “Thus, duty is not the most likely reason God commanded polygamy—assuming that God typically employs only the best of methods to reach his goals.”

    You can assume that God may use the best methods, but only if you assume that we can’t possibly understand them and cannot at all evaluate what the “best” method is.

    There is no telling why God does anything. And if you believe in the God of the bible, there is no telling why he does anything that he does. The only way to make sense of it is to say that his ways are too mysterious to figure out. That is why arguments from reason for or against Christianity (including Mormonism) don’t really work, since God isn’t “reasonable” by any human definition.

  51. Kullervo: I read all the opinions from the CA court, including the 4 dissenting which also “found compelling constitutional ground to” dissent. I’m not anywhere close to an expert to debate the court’s decision, but it was—as I said—something that didn’t feel right. I know it’s the court’s job to interpret the law, and in this case I think that 5 members of the court made a decision, then proof-texted the law to support their decision; i.e., I don’t think they faithfully interpreted the law at all. If I think a court gets something wrong, shouldn’t I support legislation that forces them back to what is right? (“right” and “wrong” being used in terms of legal interpretation, etc. and not on the specific issue of gay marriage.)

    “But by sustaining the Church….” Nah, I don’t buy it. I support the USA too, but I don’t support everything the USA does. Both are big “institutions” and do lots that I directly support and some that I don’t. I’m not ready to abandon either.

    “But nothing you do sickens me. For the record.” Good, ’cause I eat babies and poison puppies and most people are really bothered by that.

  52. I think that 5 members of the court made a decision, then proof-texted the law to support their decision.

    This happens all the time. Nothing new, and there is absolutely no way to prevent courts from doing this without doing away with judicial review altogether.

    If I think a court gets something wrong, shouldn’t I support legislation that forces them back to what is right?

    Absolutely! But that’s not what you were talking about. You said “I felt it was a way to push back at the courts and say, ‘Your job is to interpret the laws the we make, however crappy and stupid they are.'” Lashing out punitively at the court because you are pissed that it is doing the job it is supposed to do in the way that it is guaranteed to do is a far cry from making a legislative course-correction to correct what you think is a judicial error.

    In the latter you say “hmm, the court’s interpretation of the law leads to results that I am not happy with, so let’s change the law so the court follows the policies we want in the future.” That is exactly what the democratic process and the legislative branch are supposed to do. On the other hand, you were talking about something more like “How dare the court strike down my pet law! I’ll show them! Ha!” That is just petulant.

    I support the USA too, but I don’t support everything the USA does.

    Not the same thing at all. The Church is an organization of voluntary membership and voluntary contribution, where you voluntarily voice your support and loyalty. You’re a US national if you live here, whether you like it or not, and you pay taxes by law, whether you like it or not, and you don’t raise your hand to sustain your leadership, ever. And people who do not like what the US does have no problem voicing their open dissent, and actively working within the system to change it (even if just by voting).

    What are you doing to change the Church’s stance on gay marriage?

    Good, ’cause I eat babies and poison puppies and most people are really bothered by that.

    Dude, I listen to Slayer. You are going to have to work a lot harder than that to bother me.

  53. Jared: sometimes the text actually says what God’s reasons were, so we aren’t always guessing. When it doesn’t, we can make all kinds of guesses—God instituted polygamy because:

    a) he wanted to “raise up seed”
    b) he wanted to care for widows
    c) he wanted to promote duty in marriage
    d) he likes the sound of the word (in American English only, which is why he waited until the 1800’s)
    e) it’s the only way we will ever develop cold fusion technology
    f) he lost a bet

    All of those guesses are valid…as guesses. But I thought (correct me if I’m wrong) that we were discussing the most plausible reasons. You suggested “c” and I pointed out that a major weakness of that guess is that it assumes a God who favors troublesome methods. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t God’s reason, of course, and I never insisted it wasn’t. Just that it is unlikely if we’re talking about a God who makes smart plans. If, on the other hand, we’re talking about a God that makes plans that are so zany we’ll never be able to guess his motives, then I wholeheartedly support guess “e.”

  54. Kullervo: you’re right and I was being sloppy. It’s silly to say to a court, “Your job is to interpret the laws we make, however crappy and stupid they are” if I just believe that the court got the interpretation wrong, and the correct response is a “legislative course-correction”. And that is how I view prop 8.

    My reason for saying “Your job is to interpret the laws we make, however crappy and stupid they are” in this case is that I don’t think the court got the interpretation wrong: I think the court didn’t even try to interpret. Thus, the court does need to be reminded of their job because they weren’t doing it: they didn’t like the law and chose to ignore it. My attitude may still be petulant, but it’s not exactly the same as saying “How dare the court strike down my pet law! I’ll show them! Ha!” as you accuse.

    “What are you doing to change the Church’s stance on gay marriage?”

    Talking…with friends, family, people in my ward. Explaining my position and seeing if I can persuade them to agree. And frankly, I’m not so certain I know what is the Church’s stance on gay marriage—I know it was pro-8, but so was I…. It didn’t say a word about recent events in Iowa or CT (or was it NH?), so I’m not sure what the thinking is. I’m interested to see how the Church responds to domestic partnership movements in Utah, as that may clarify whether I truly disagree or not.

  55. It seemed like you were justifying support for Prop 8 as an act of anti-judicialism, rather than on its merits. Courts do their fair share of stupid things for various reasons, and so the legislature’s ability to change the law or go completely over the court’s head to change the Constitution is an important check. But it should be about changing a bad policy, not being pissed that the court did what it is unquestionably able and permitted to do. It’s checks and balances.

  56. Kullervo, what should I do to change my church on this issue that I haven’t already done?

    Resign my membership like you did?

    As if that would make any difference to anyone.

    I agree with what Jack said when she intervened in the spat you were having with psychochemiker. But the argument with him did illustrate one thing. You have less sway with Mormons after you’ve “apostatized.” It’s just a fact of the group.

    Now, I’m sure you’re perfectly OK with that reality. But it’s not my path. I’d still like to actually have some say in this Church, and I’m not going to have that by storming out of Sacrament Meeting, handing in a manifesto to my bishop, and calling calling Thomas S. Monson an “asshole.”

    Even if I did feel the need to do all those things, which I don’t, it wouldn’t help. The rest of the Church would simply wave it off and tell me “don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out.”

    I just don’t think that 1960s reactionary protest models have even one ounce of influence on the LDS leadership, or the LDS Church in general. The media likes such protest models, because they’re good TV drama. But they’re ultimately rather pointless in the modern American context.

    I feel that sitting right were I’m at, I’ll probably have far more influence in this Church than you’ll ever have outside it. So don’t talk to me about “what have you done on the issue.” It’s not like I’ve heard of you doing anything particularly effectual either.

  57. And anyway, if it comes to prioritizing things. I actually happen to care far, far more about mortgage reform and new credit card legislation than I do about whether gays get government approval of something they’re already doing.

    Much, much more important issue.

  58. Fair enough.

    I’m not actually expecting believing Mormons to resign over Prop 8. I was already planning on resigning anyway, after all.

    I do think that things like Prop 8–or anything that the Church does that you don’t agree with–should make you at least be willing to think long and hard about the liabilities of having a faith that is defined solely by membership in an organization.

    But if you really believe that Mormonism is true, I think that trying to work from inside the system is probably the best path. Calling Thomas Monson an asshole is probably something I would have done, but i’ll admit that i have a tendency to blow my top, go from zero to ten, and alienate people. Just ask the missionaries on my mission about that one zone conference

    At the same time, pledging loyalty and support to an organization means that on some level you have to own the things that the organization does, even if it does things you don’t like. Being culpable by association os part of the risk you take when you decide to stay in an organization like that: you do provide money and support after all.

    Working carefully from within to make change happen is probably the only way change is going to happen, so if you want to have your cake and eat it too, that’s probably your best route. But in the meantime it means you can’t cry foul when people take it personally and get mad at you because the organization you pledge all your time, talents, and posessions to pissed all over them.

  59. I would just like to note the calm, respectful, and compelling dialogue taking place.

    Well done, gentlemen.

    And well done Jack for setting the course :).

  60. I don’t know Seth, Luther’s reformation of the Catholic church only worked after everyone in Northern Europe left the church. Englad started rethinking how it treated colonies after the Yanks said “good day sir” to the King.

    Not saying that Prop 8 is cause to leave or that anyone should leave the LDS church. Just pointing out that mass resignation does work at times. Nobody comes back afterwards though.

  61. Kullervo ~ All I’m asking is that you ease up on PC. Yeah, he’s made some missteps since he’s been here, but I’ve spoken with him in private quite a few times and he’s planning on helping me move in when I move later this year. He isn’t such a bad guy. Besides, I don’t think he’s been at interfaith dialogue for years and years like the rest of us have, so he has things to learn. I for one am thankful to God I’ve changed handles so many times that it’s nigh impossible to dig up the things I said on the Internet 4-5 years ago and before that. People probably wouldn’t see me as the queen of ecumenism if they could read what I said back then.

    You don’t have to follow my request, but there it is.

    Question on your gay marriage position: Do you think all state bans on gay marriage are evil? Or do you think Proposition 8 in particular was evil because it sought to break up existing gay families?

    Tim ~ I’m not commenting again on that non-member wedding thread at Seth’s blog due to the dead horse that keeps twitching, but your comment there was a 10.

  62. Question on your gay marriage position: Do you think all state bans on gay marriage are evil? Or do you think Proposition 8 in particular was evil because it sought to break up existing gay families?

    There are magnitudes of evil.

  63. I disagree with Kullervo about judicial fiat that overrides a referendum and it is no secret that I supported Prop. 8. and still do. Judicial action is a blunt instrument that does not allow the kinds of legislative negotiation and recognition of competing interests in a bill that carves out exceptions — at least given the California court’s decision.

    The problem with the California position is that it comes out of an Equal Protection analysis that easily can be extended to deny religious organizations rights and the ability to obtain state licensing for services like Catholic and LDS social services and adoption agencies. I don’t for 1 second believe that religious organization ought to take a back seat in providing such services to the interests of gays in something they had anyway.

    California’s is somewhat different than the legal stance in other states. California has applied it Equal Protection analysis very broadly — so broadly as to override the free exercise of religion regarding state licensing for services. The Iowa court, for all of its back-patting for being so much more right-thinking than the 30 states that have banned gay marriage, carved out protections for religious belief and practices and related services in its opinion. Further, it was not overturning a referendum but merely a challenge to the state’s non-recognition of gay marriages.

    Further, as Seth said, in California passage of Proposition 8 did nothing more than change the name of what gays already enjoyed under very broad civil unions statutes that gave every right that marriage could give except the name and social approval. I just don’t see it as the role of courts to manufacture social approval for gay marriage.

    Further, what are gays getting with marriage? In some states there may be rights added that they didn’t already enjoy, unlike California. However, one thing is sure, the laws haven’t stopped them from conjoining and having gay sex and gay relations — like many heteros who could marry but just don’t see the point of it.

    And I also disagree with Kullervo regarding whether his paganism is irrelevant. Just what is the moral demand of a pagan or nature religion? I have to admit that it seems that good and evil are whatever you want them to be — and many in such movements deny that there is good and evil at all. It is perfectly rational for a Christian to argue that gay sex is a sin, government ought not promote sinful conduct, therefore gay marriage ought not promote gay marriage if it will lead to government promotion of what I believe is sinful conduct. Otherwise, how could we justify outlawing prostitution (with a nod toward sin city Nevada)? I doubt that a pagan could justify outlawing prostitution — but it seems perfectly rational and justified to me.

  64. BTW I also agree with the view that the CA supreme court simply came up with rights out of thin air — though there is some basis in prior decisions of the courts that marriage is a basic right. However, it isn’t a basic right to marry just anyone you happen to love — like your niece, your sister or uncle. The CA court’s rationale was really laughable to the extent it held that there is a right to marry anyone you happen to love. It was an awful decision as far as jurisprudence goes.

    However, I have long supported civil unions. I don’t see gay unions as basic to the survival of a civil society as hetero unions because of the basic issues of procreation. The state has a much greater interest in fostering and protection hetero unions than gay union, but that doesn’t mean that it has no interest at all. I happen to believe that committed relationships is morally superior to helter kelter screwing of everyone and anything. To the extent that civil unions would foster less promiscuity the State has an interest in protecting and fostering committed and exclusive gay relationships. That argues in favor of civil unions it seems to me.

    I also don’t want anything I say to be construed as an excuse to not love gay people or to recognize them as worthy of respect and love. Like all of us, I have my own sins to deal with and I’m not anyone’s judge.

  65. Blake–

    1. I know some gay people who want to wait until marriage to have sex. Just because you have decided that they don’t have the same types of morals or ideals as you doesn’t make you right.

    2. It’s clear that you know nothing about paganism, and you’re just making an ass of yourself by assuming that you do and making asinine comments.

    3. What do gays get with marriage? What do STRAIGHT people get with marriage? The recognition of your relationship as something that is important and joined and bigger. A relationship that is important enough to you to add legal constraints to it. A relationship where you have shared with the world that you are committed, that you are one with another person.

    4. To compare gay marriage to incestuous marriage is ridiculous. There are OTHER LAWS IN PLACE that limit that, and the current law of a man marrying a woman ISN’T THAT LAW.

    5. Do you mean to come off like such a condescending ass, or is it pure accident?

  66. Katyjane: Wow, who hurt you? The only one coming off as a condescending ass here is you.

    1. Do you always attack people who disagree with you? FYI, an equal protection argument about everyone getting to marry whomever they wish trumps all other considerations.

    2. You know gay people who desire to wait for marriage to have sex? Really? Good for you. I doubt it. But of course it is possible. What possible motive could they have?

    4. FYI, I have studied quite a bit about pagan and new age movement beliefs. It so happens one of my good friends is a pagan priestess. Do you always speak so condescendingly when in fact it is rather obvious that you are the one without a clue?

    5. Could you give some basis for moral restrain for pagans other than a pragmatic “whatever works” view?

    6. Everything you say gays gain with marriage they can gain with civil unions.

    Are you able to carry on a civil dialogue?

    Earth to Kullervo: Time to wake up pal. Of course, your two prior posts were the most intelligent things you’ve said so far.

  67. KJ: Of course I’m willing to cut you a ton of slack because because you’re dealing with potty training. That could make anyone crazy and fry brains. I’ll chock your pisssy response to the fact that you are involved in a pissing contest — but I always refuse to get involved in such a contest with a person who obviously has a very full bladder and and endless supply of really smelly piss.

  68. Blake: meet katyjane, kullervo’s wife.

    “Proposition 8 did nothing more than change the name of what gays already enjoyed…”

    “Everything you say gays gain with marriage they can gain with civil unions.”

    Suppose that what gay couples want is for their government to treat them the same as it treats straight couples; can’t get that with civil unions. I think opponents of gay marriage need to at least acknowledge that fact in the debate instead of trying to brush it aside and say there’s no difference.

    “You know gay people who desire to wait for marriage to have sex? … What possible motive could they have?”

    I’m wondering if you’re serious.

  69. BrianJ: Actually, it is fairly clear that you are just mistaken that gays aren’t treated by the government exactly the same under civil unions as they would be treated if they were “married”. Can you name just one aspect of a marriage — except the name — which gays don’t enjoy with civil unions in say CA? Here is my challenge — name just one right or privilege that gays don’t have with civil unions in CA that they would have with marriage — except the name. Just one mind you. If you can find one, you disagree with the CA Sup. Ct. which held that in light of the fact that civil unions are equivalent to marriage except the name, they must be called the same thing by government. It isn’t a good argument legally, but the fact that they are treated exactly the same by government is still true.

    Yes, I am serious. What possible motive could gays have for waiting for marriage to have sex? I am perfectly honest in saying I don’t know any who have waited to be married to have sex — or who believe that marriage is even relevant to that issue. I cannot think of any reason that marriage beyond the rights granted by civil unions matters to them except the goal of having the government declare that gay relations are as socially essential as hertero marriages — which they ain’t. Could you give me some reason or argument that gays would wait until married to have sexual relations?

  70. BrianJ: BTW I was fully aware that Katyjane is Kullervo’s wife. Maybe she took umbrage because I disagreed with her husband? Man, I would hope she would let him fight his own battles except for his obvious problem with narcolepsy.

  71. Why would gay people want to wait until marriage? Maybe because Christian gay people could ostensibly think–as you do–that sex should be between a married couple.

    And for what it’s worth, Kullervo is perfectly capable of fighting his own battles. But when you say something ridiculous or mean or condescending, I’m going to call you on it. You can call me ‘pissy’ or whatever name you want. I’m still going to call you on it when you’re being an ass.

    Also, when people talk to me the way that you talk to me, or talk in general the way that you have written, I am not inclined to listen to them or give them the time of day. I hope that in your personal missionary efforts you come across as less of a pompous jerk, because the taste you leave in my mouth of Mormonism isn’t favorable. It’s people like you that remind me why I never want to be LDS again.

    It’s people like Katie, Seth, Brian, and Jared that make me miss being a part of a group of incredible people.

  72. Also, Blake, why do you have a bag full of hate for Kullervo?

    I’ve decided that while it’s really easy for people like you to rile me up and get me upset, because of the language that you use, you’re not worth it.

  73. Katyjane: Back down. I didn’t say anything mean or condescending.

    Frankly, your over the top reaction reminds me of a temper tantrum. Are you capable of any reasoning beyond insults and names? Grow up!

  74. Condesending: “I doubt that a pagan could justify outlawing prostitution — but it seems perfectly rational and justified to me.”

    Rude/mean/condescending/assholic: “Wow, who hurt you? The only one coming off as a condescending ass here is you.”

    Condescending/smug/sarcastic: “Really? Good for you. I doubt it.”

    Condescending: “…when in fact it is rather obvious that you are the one without a clue? “

    Mean and condescending: “Are you able to carry on a civil dialogue?”

    Mean and condescending: “Of course, your two prior posts were the most intelligent things you’ve said so far.”

    Condescending: “Of course I’m willing to cut you a ton of slack because because you’re dealing with potty training.”

    Mean: “a person who obviously has a very full bladder and and endless supply of really smelly piss.”

    Mean and condescending: our over the top reaction reminds me of a temper tantrum. Are you capable of any reasoning beyond insults and names? Grow up!

    Blake, you’re right. You didn’t say anything mean or condescending. /sarcasm

    OK, back on track. If you think that there is no difference between civil unions and marriage, then why the objection to calling it ‘marriage’? Clearly you think there is a distinction. So, the ball’s back in your court–why not call it marriage?

    BrianJ–look at all the italics! The cult is going strong…

  75. Blake said: “I doubt that a pagan could justify outlawing prostitution — but it seems perfectly rational and justified to me.”

    This makes no sense really. You have to assume something like at least one of he following:

    (1) pagans somehow can’t believe in any of the many reasons to outlaw prostitution,

    (2) that the only reason to outlaw prostitution is based on some religious tenant, that pagan religion could not have.

    or

    (3) That religion is the only rational basis for morality.

    None of these assumptions is supportable. It seems you have quite a naive view of moral theory for a student of philosophy.

    “Everything you say gays gain with marriage they can gain with civil unions.”

    Maybe, just like everything black folks could gain from integrated schools they can get with segregated ones, what is the problem?

  76. Katyjane: I’m not going to respond to your tantrum.

    First let me point out that no gay is denied a religious marriage by the state not recognizing a religious ceremony. No state or law has ever (nor could it) deny the right to any congregation (christian or otherwise) to perform ceremonies that congregation regards as marriage. If you really have friends (which I doubt) who are waiting to have sex because they want to be married in the eyes of God first (because they regard themselves as christians) then they can go to any number of denominations to get married — it just won’t be recognize by the state. But if they are truly concerned about recognition of their marriage before God because they believe such a ceremony could be sanctioned by God, then they ought to go to any of a number of liberal churches that will do that form them.

    Second, why do I care about the marriage/civil unions issue? Well, why do you? You’re the one who wants to change the law — so why is it an issue for you?

    I care because I believe the real reason for the desire to be “married” as opposed to having a ceremony that is legally recognized as a civil union is simple social engineering — they want the government to socially legitimize their relationship. I just don’t see that a the role of either the courts or the place of government to tell me or others how I should value (or not) gay sexual relations. I don’t want government involved in such things.

    Why do I care about marriage/civil marriage if there is nothing additional given to gays?

    Jared C. Pagans are a very varied group without any real organizing beliefs beyond fairly vague love for nature (often personified or mythologized as personal) and the view spirituality is quite distinct from belonging to any particular religious community. There simply is no “pagan ethic” to guide ethical decisions beyond “be nice and keep your promises (unless it’s better not to).” If you don’t believe me, read Kullervo’s posts about his thoughts on sexual “ethics” on his blog.

    There is no basis in Pagan beliefs for outlawing prostitution. If you disagree with me, the burden is on you to show some basis for such an ethic within such a vague and broad “belief” system.

    Now let me admit that pagans “could” adopt an ethic that rejects prostitution, but it won’t be in virtue of any view of ethics that is derived from pagan beliefs — and that was my point.

    JaredC says: “Maybe like . . . segregation.”

    Hardly. It’s not like gays go to a different justice of the peace now is it? The comparison just doesn’t work because government doesn’t treat gays any differently at all.

    In fact, I have argued that governments shouldn’t pretend to do anything more than civil unions EVER. Government only has civil authority and in my view even the attempt to perform a “civil marriage” is government entanglement in religion that violates the First Amendment. We have government acting like a religion performing religious rites and attempting to do a ceremony that is equivalent to a religious ceremony every time there is an oxymoronic “civil marriage” performed. So I say let’s limit government to civil marriage for both gays and heteros alike and leave the religious rites to religions.

    But here is the single-most important fact: I challenged you to give me just one right or privilege not enjoyed by gays in civil unions that they would have if they were married. You haven’t done that . . . and you can’t. I believe that the real fight is over social legitimacy of gay relationships as morally equivalent to heterosexual relationships. As I said, above, I don’t believe that is a proper role of government.

  77. Blake, I will say that sometimes you kind of come off as a bully. I understand we all get snippy from time to time, but sometimes it seems to me that you are snippy more often than not. It could be just my perception. But I actually do want to hear what you have to say, because I am frankly struggling with my testimony and know you are a prominent mind in Mormonism. Just a little bit more kindness would make it easier for me to really consider your point of view.

    Coincidentally enough, my daughter is watching Ni Hao Kai-Lan right now–and just as I finished typing this, Ye Ye gave Kai-Lan a medal for saying the nicest things to her friends. May we all be worthy of such a medal. 😉

    Back on the topic, might I suggest that a major reason some of us don’t know gay people who have waited until marriage to have sex is because in most cases–wait for it–gay marriage doesn’t exist?

    A personal anecdote from several years ago: my best friend from high school is gay. I expressed concern one day over the promiscuity prevalent in homosexual culture. He said to me, “Well, the churches won’t have us. Are you really surprised?”

    It gave me some serious food for thought.

  78. Katie L. Good point. We don’t know what gay promiscuity would look like if (more) churches accepted gay sex as normative or simply acceptable.

    You’re right, I can seem like a bully. However, my view is that here all I did was disagree with Kullervo and Katyjane went off like a pissed of rhinoceros.

    Getting beyond that — the problem is that LDS commitments regard heterosexual premarital and outside-marriage sex as frowned upon by God. Many heterosexuals cannot quite seem to find a life-partner. Would we say that sex is OK for them? Why wouldn’t civil unions be enough in your view?

  79. So I say let’s limit government to civil marriage for both gays and heteros alike and leave the religious rites to religions.

    Blake, FTR, this is exactly my position as well.

  80. Blake: “Actually, it is fairly clear that you are just mistaken that gays aren’t treated by the government exactly the same under civil unions as they would be treated if they were “married”.”

    LOL! I’m not mistaken at all, but what is actually clear is that you contradict yourself—and make my point even as you try to undermine it—in the very next sentence:

    “Can you name just one aspect of a marriage — except the name — which gays don’t enjoy with civil unions in say CA?”

    Well, let’s see…. Can you name two things that have different names and yet are exactly the same? Oh, I know: identical twins. We’ll name one of them “Mary” and the other “Civi”—the only thing different between them is their names—and of course we love them both the same. Except that you, Blake, do not love them both the same: you bestow your praises on Mary (remember, she’s the “socially essential” one) and begrudge Civi her seat at the table. Not only that, but you insist that Civi refer to her sister as the “socially essential” one and to herself as the “nonessential.”

    “Here is my challenge….”

    Wait, wait: let’s first look at the challenge I issued:

    …opponents of gay marriage need to at least acknowledge that [civil unions are not exactly the same as marriage] instead of trying to brush it aside and say there’s no difference.

    From your reply, I see that you met my challenge. Good work, and thanks for acknowledging that civil unions will never, ever be exactly equal to marriages.

    “Yes, I am serious. What possible motive could gays have for waiting for marriage to have sex?”

    I still don’t think you’re serious. Almost anyone could come up with a bunch of reasons—and you’re much brighter and imaginative than “almost anyone.” Anyway, here are some reasons a gay/lesbian person might wait until marriage:

    1) Sex creates emotional vulnerability: wait until marriage to protect yourself and/or the one you love from this danger
    2) Mistaken notion that a Nobel Prize will be awarded to the first gay couple to do so
    3) Make your wedding night more special
    4) It’s a sin to have sex outside of marriage
    5) Had relationships in the past that were based on sex; wants to make sure this one had a more solid foundation
    6) Wants to earn a place in history as the first homosexual to ever show any sexual restraint

  81. “Can you name just one aspect of a marriage — except the name — which gays don’t enjoy with civil unions in say CA?”

    This is as naive a view as “separate but equal”. Until the law is that all marriages are civil unions the argument that marriage and civil unions can be the same just doesn’t work.

    Plus, California is one of the very few states that gives these rights to gay people.

  82. BrianJ: You still haven’t identified a single right or privilege enjoyed by marriage that is not conferred by civil unions. Until you do, your arguments are simply beside the point.

    BrianJ says: “Can you name two things that have different names and yet are exactly the same?”

    Ehh? Yeah, how about the evening star and the morning star. I would have thought such a notion was rather obvious. Moreover, you simply miss the point that the equality of civil unions and marriage was precisely the basis for the California Supreme Court’s ruling.

    Your though experiment about an identical twin who is treated differently is interesting bu quite beside the point. As I argued, homosexual relationships are not as essential to the perpetuation of society as heterosexual relations. Further, it demonstrates precisely what I have argued — the real goal is social engineering and having the government anoint homosexual relations as morally normative. That isn’t an appropriate role of government.

    Finally, your list is nonsensical because each and every “benefit” you point to could be accomplished by waiting for a civil ceremony. All that the government can ever do without violating the First Amendment is civil ceremonies. So you cannot ask for anything more than a civil union. Further, your list is laughable in terms of the real world. Really, first Nobel Prize. Yeah, and maybe there should be a law allowing us to marry bunnies because they will be the Easter Bunny. And you ask me if I’m serious?

    Jared C. Your “argument” about separate but equal doesn’t work because from the perspective of governmental rights and actual government practices thee is no difference at all between the two. “Separate but equal” was rejected only because it was a facade in terms of the public schools for blacks and whites couldn’t be equalized as long as they were separated. But there is no separate city hall in which the civil ceremonies are performed, or different ceremony or words or justice of the peace. The governmental perspective, there just is no difference — and you certainly haven’t identified any.

    However, from the perspective of the religion/government interface issue, the whole purpose of granting civil unions is to grant equal benefits, rights and privileges while still making a distinction between civil ceremonies and religious marriages. I believe that there is also an important moral distinction between heterosexual sex and homosexual sex. In case you haven’t notice, that latter cannot conceive. I don’t believe it is the role of government to do the social moral engineering to promote the view that gay sex is normative.

    However, I agree that my argument applies only in states where civil unions with equal rights and privileges are granted to gay marriage — like CA. That is why I have been an advocate of “civil ceremonies” across the board for all state-sponsored ceremonies.

  83. Blake, if you think there is no difference between marriage and civil union, then why do you oppose calling a homosexual civil union a marriage?

    Also, regarding As I argued, homosexual relationships are not as essential to the perpetuation of society as heterosexual relations. , gay people can adopt children and raise them, thus perpetuating society through the same means as infertile couples. Or do you also think that perhaps people should be tested for fertility prior to marriage? Or that people who do not want kids should not be allowed to marry?

  84. Katyjane: Obviously I think there is a difference between a civil union and a marriage – just not in terms of the rights and privileges and protections provided the the State. Civil unions provide everything in terms of governmental rights and protections that marriages do — as the California and Connecticut courts both held. What is different is what we call it and how society regards it.

    There are two reasons I believe there is an essential difference between homosexual relationships and heterosexual relationships: (1) the State has a greater interest in fostering heterosexual relationships because stable relationships with both a mother and a father as role models are preferable and in the best interest of children (tho not always achievable) and (2) the State only has authority to perform civil ceremonies.

    Let me elaborate in reverse order. Marriage is a ceremony that was adopted from religious rites and mimicked by the State (at least in the US). I contend that the government has authority only to perform civil ceremonies — and nothing more. So civil unions are all that a government ought ever to do rather than mimicking the religious rites from which marriage was taken.

    It seems to me that what is really at issue has nothing to do with depriving gay people of rights and privileges — at least to the extent that they aren’t satisfied with civil unions. What is at issue is a social engineering attempt to require the government to promote homosexual and heterosexual relations as exactly the same and to condone and promote them both as morally equal. That is what I object to. I don’t believe it is the proper role of government to engage in such social engineering.

    You are of course correct that in many states gays and lesbians can adopt (not in all). To that extent, the state has an interest in protecting the children of such homosexual relationships — but let’s be clear that it is the interest of the children and not of the adoptive parents that is the interest of the State to protect and promote.

    With respect to fertility, it is obvious on its face that gay couples cannot conceive — at least not without medical intervention. Further, children will never be the result of joining sperm and gamete of any particular homosexual couple. It still requires one female and at least one male to produce children. I believe that the most that the State can do is to presume that heterosexual couples can be fertile and can give life. Given our technology, many who are unable to have children at marriage may later be able to conceive. We just cannot make that call easily.

    I believe that the State ought to foster normative marriage as essential to our society. Having kids is essential. Having both a mother and a father as role models is preferable. Given that a normative family with both a father and a mother is in the best interest of children (tho admittedly not always achievable) the State has a greater interest in promoting and protecting heterosexual relationships as normative and preferred. For that reason, there is a basis for the state to distinguish between heterosexual civil unions and homosexual civil unions.

    BTW Katyjane, thank you for the soft tone. I’ll do my best to do better too.

  85. Blake, why do you think that a mother and a father is preferable to a mother and a mother? I think we could definitely agree that two parents is preferable (as being a single parent is HARD and I admire anyone who does it), but why does the gender of the parents matter?

  86. All things being equal, I prefer mother and father to mother and mother or father and father.

    All things being equal, that is…

    I think there’s a benefit to having both influences in the household. I don’t hold to that postmodern crap about the sexes being interchangeable.

    I may not be able to pin down, define, or spell out the differences for you. But they are different.

  87. Katyjane: I believe it is preferable to have role models that can be followed and to see how people who have different ways of being male and female negotiate their agreements and disagreements. I think it is important to have both a father and mother because it is about 94% likely that the children will be hetero (or have the ability to choose) and having role models of hetero relations is extremely important.

    Plus, remember that I am Mormon and I believe that the greatest happiness is found in functional hetero relationships that are eternal.

  88. Seth ~ I may not be able to pin down, define, or spell out the differences for you. But they are different.

    That’s just it though. If you can’t pin down, define, or spell out the differences, why should the State have regard for them? Aren’t you essentially asking the State to endorse a religious belief?

    BTW, I’m enjoying reading this discussion. Thanks everyone who is participating for giving me interesting food for thought.

  89. Whoa, hold the phone.

    Let’s keep things sorted out here. I’m not talking about why government should favor one or the other. I’m talking why theologically, I favor one over the other.

    As for the government, they ought to protect unions where people freely place themselves in relational vulnerability to another for some social benefit – no matter what flavor.

    Government may, as Blake says, have some interest in treating heterosexual unions differently because they have the potential to spontaneously produce kids. But I’ll let him carry that argument.

  90. Sorry, Seth. I think I inadvertently jumbled yours and Blake’s argument together.

    I can understand the government needing to show some special interest in heterosexual unions because they can produce children on their own, but I can’t see the government endorsing them because mother-father is better than mother-mother or father-father. I think that’s unprovable.

    Besides, as far as I can tell, most of the participants on this thread are practicing some form of a religion where God has only seen fit to give His children divine exemplars from one gender. Who are we to say earthly children need earthly exemplars from both genders?

  91. Blake: “You still haven’t identified a single right or privilege enjoyed by marriage that is not conferred by civil unions.”

    Sure I (and you) have: the privilege of the state referring to your union as a “marriage”—or, looking at it another way, the state viewing your union the same as it views the unions of others. The latter could be accomplished if all gays were fighting for was for their government to stop anointing certain unions as morally superior.

    Your real argument isn’t that there is no difference, it’s that there is a very real difference between homo- and heterosexual unions and the state should view them differently—even that the state must promote one but doesn’t really need the other. No one can buy both of your arguments at once because they are conflicting arguments. I just don’t understand why you won’t acknowledge this name issue when (apparently) it’s not the real battle you’re waging.

    “…the real goal is social engineering and having the government anoint homosexual relations as morally normative.”

    Right, but since government seems to be quite content anointing heterosexual relations as morally normative, gays want the same (mis)treatment. The better conclusion is that government should drop the marriage business altogether and only issue civil unions, but that’s not what you’re saying: you’re defending the “marriage=good”, “civil union=not so good” dichotomy, while at the same time you argue that only civil unions are legitimate for a government to recognize.

    “Finally, your list is nonsensical because each and every “benefit” you point to could be accomplished by waiting for a civil ceremony.”

    True. I mistakenly thought you meant “marriage” in your question in a broader, looser sense of “a formal ceremony/arrangement.”

    “Further, your list is laughable in terms of the real world. Really, first Nobel Prize. Yeah, and maybe there should be a law allowing us to marry bunnies because they will be the Easter Bunny. And you ask me if I’m serious?”

    Well, to be clear: some of my list was meant as a joke. But it’s not very funny when a joke has to be explained.

  92. Katie: You really didn’t receive all the gold stars you deserved for this comment:

    Back on the topic, might I suggest that a major reason some of us don’t know gay people who have waited until marriage to have sex is because in most cases–wait for it–gay marriage doesn’t exist?

    A personal anecdote from several years ago: my best friend from high school is gay. I expressed concern one day over the promiscuity prevalent in homosexual culture. He said to me, “Well, the churches won’t have us. Are you really surprised?”

    Seriously: homosexual rights/morality/marriage/etc. have been debated as long as I’ve been blogging, and that’s the smartest thing anyone has written. Ever. Period.

  93. BrianJ: You haven’t identified any legal rights or privileges or protections that are given in marriage that aren’t given in civil unions. Social and moral legitimacy, which is what you are identifying as the benefit of gay marriage over civil unions, isn’t something that government ought to be involved in. However, as I said the State has a natural interest in the viability and fostering of heterosexual marriages to protect children as the natural result of such unions — planned or unplanned. There is no such natural issue from gay relations.

    Your assertion that one can’t buy both arguments is a steadfast refusal to see the distinction between the legal rights and protections given by government legitimately and the additional social legitimacy that is sought by gay marriage. Let me give an example that might help (and it might not). If I enter into a contract with you, it doesn’t matter whether I call it a covenant, codicil or agreement, they are all just a contract from the law’s perspective. But from a religious perspective a covenant is much more than a contract because: (1) it involves God as a party; (2) it is about a person’s heart and soul and is non-fungible whereas mere legal agreements are about mere things. In the civil law it doesn’t matter what I call it, but in the religious sense there is an essential difference.

    “Gay marriage” is like that. Civil unions give all of the rights and privileges that the government grants in marriage. It is all that a government can or ought to legitimately do. However, there is an additional concern that the state has — it has a vital interest in promoting heterosexual marriages to promote and protect children in a way that it doesn’t have with gay relationships.

    BrianJ: “The better conclusion is that government should drop the marriage business altogether and only issue civil unions, but that’s not what you’re saying.”

    Well, umm, yes it is what ‘m saying. Now for the words you want to put into my mouth — here is what I’m really saying (you see, I get to say what I am saying and not you): the government doesn’t get to judge homosexual relationships as good or evil (that is a religious judgment), but it does get to judge essential or non-essential to civilization, or preferable or not-preferable for interests of children.

    Maybe I didn’t get the joke because I am humor imparied (that was a joke).

    Jack: Are you suggesting that just one parent is what government ought to promote as its preferable model? I believe that your demand of proof is just nonsensical — it’s like waiting for proof that having a parent rather than no parents at all makes a difference. How are you going to test it? I frankly don’t believe most of the studies that have been done regarding the welfare of children raised by singles or by gays because of the biases of those doing the studies. But I just can’t believe that you accept that having just a mommy (or a set of mommies) is as good or as preferable as having both a mommy and daddy.

    I believe that there is evidence that a role-model of female-male interaction is very important to successful marriage — but that begs the question in favor of heterosexual relationships. However, as I said, since about 85-90% of children will be clearly heterosexual and another 4-8% will be bi or have a choice about their preference, don’t you think that having role models of male-female, husband-wife relationships is very important? Anyway, the government does because it spends literally billions on marriage counseling and divorce courts to protect children. The State has an incredible interest in promoting heterosexual relationships.

  94. “I expressed concern one day over the promiscuity prevalent in homosexual culture. He said to me, “Well, the churches won’t have us. Are you really surprised?”

    I guess not. But at the same time, I am.

    I expect people to have an internal moral compass – regardless of whether it was handed to them by their pastor or not.

  95. Katie: You really didn’t receive all the gold stars you deserved for this comment

    Thank you, Brian. I love gold stars.

  96. I expect people to have an internal moral compass – regardless of whether it was handed to them by their pastor or not.

    I grew up in Utah, and most of the homosexuals I know are ex-Mormons. So I don’t know if this applies everywhere, but there’s definitely a feeling of “eff you, Church” in Utah gay culture, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn it contributed in some way to the promiscuity.

    Here’s what I mean. In most of the cases I’ve seen, when a gay person finally decides they can’t fight the battle anymore and comes out, it means losing their membership in the church, breaking their parents’ hearts, and ultimately shredding the values they were raised with. I think there’s a sense of, “Well, if it’s true, then I’m going to hell anyway, so why not do what I want?”

  97. Blake ~ You’re correct, proving that one model of parenting is always or even usually superior to another is nonsensical. That’s why I don’t believe the government should endorse any of them, at least not on those grounds. I don’t care if there’s one parent, two parents, five parents, or what genders they are, all I care for is that they can love and provide for the children under their roof.

    Given the number of heterosexual marriages which end in divorce or become otherwise abusive and screwed up, I really don’t think heterosexuals are doing such a great job providing their children with healthy examples of what loving, heterosexual relationships should be like to the extent that the state ought to endorse them and give them preference over other relationships. I grew up under heterosexual parenting of dubious quality though, so I’m a tough nut to crack on this one.

    And no, I’m not really finding the “most people are heterosexual” argument to be very convincing. Seems to me that by the same logic, the gay and bisexual children also need healthy, adult examples of their sexuality to emulate. If the state only endorses heterosexual unions, where does that leave them?

    Like I said, you may have a point with the propagation of the human race being dependent on heterosexuality and therefore in the state’s best interest to endorse. Do I believe heterosexual relationships are superior to homosexual ones from a religious standpoint? Absolutely. But other than the biology, I’m just not seeing any objective reasons why the state should endorse my religious viewpoint over others.

  98. Blake,

    Do you oppose state constitutional amendments defining marriage as exclusively heterosexual as they have in Utah?

    Opposition would seem the only consistent position. i.e. the government should not be getting involved in the definition of marriage, only in defining civil unions.

    The Utah amendment actually prohibits civil unions on equal standing as marriage.

    Is this wrong/immoral/misguided in your view?

  99. Jared C. I support civil unions across the board. If the State of Utah were willing to define what is otherwise marriage by the State as a mere civil ceremony for all, with only religious organizations performing whatever marriage beyond that that will be recognized by the State, then I would support changing any contrary laws. However, where there is only marriage by the state I believe that there is a justified distinction because the State has a greater interest in heterosexual relations than in homosexual relations.

    Jack: Yeah, heterosexual marriage is in a difficult position — all the more reason for the State to protect it. The havoc wrecked upon children by divorce is heartbreaking and setting us up for the cycle to be repeated with great frequency. However, it seems to me that heterosexual marriage is largely on its way out and has become a mere individual preference to be indulged only after children have been reared. It is a sad and civilization-breaking trend. We’re in for real trouble socially as a result in my view. Even many conservative churches in my view have failed to provide any reason for marriage as a sacred rite (the result of rejecting ritual) and rarely speak of sexual ethics. At the very least, studies show across the board that conservative evangelicals fare little better than non-churched with respect to pre-marital and extra-marital sexual conduct.

    However, I believe and will do what I can to promote the view that mother-father relationships are preferable for children and to be sought and achieved wherever possible. While I know it’s not PC and my heart goes out to single and gay parents, the fact remains that the child who lives with only a mother, or only a father (or only a set of one kind) is missing out on something vastly important. I don’t want to place any greater burden than already exists for single parents, and Lord knows they are marvelous, the fact remains that only a mother and a father working in love together can teach about working relationship among very different creatures. It is the magic of opposition in all things. My wife has been my greatest teacher largely because she is just so mysteriously different from me. I could never learn these lessons from my best male friends because we see eye to eye on things that my wife sees very differently — and interestingly.

    Maybe I view it this way because I have marvelous parents who have been married for more than 50 years. They’ve had their challenges, but watching them work together and work it through and negotiate and fulminate and make up has made all the difference. I’m not a no-divorce at all costs kinda guy, but I am a give it all you’ve got to make it work kinda guy.

  100. Kullervo- I think a lot of others on the island believe the same way as Blake.

    Blake~ “However, where there is only marriage by the state I believe that there is a justified distinction because the State has a greater interest in heterosexual relations than in homosexual relations.”

    Here is where your position appears to be a facade to some other position.

    Utah Constitution Amendment 3 reads as follows:

    1. Marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman.
    2. No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent legal effect.

    By supporting this law you are saying that you are only for the state recognizing equivalent civil unions for gay couples if the state already recognizes those unions. Otherwise you don’t support them.

    Further, you seem to say that unless there is no marriage sanctioned by the state (i.e. only civil unions), whatsoever, you will not accept gay civil unions.

    You may not have been aware of the extent of Utah’s laws on the subject.

    If you support the Utah constitution on this point you support denying gays the legal equivalent of marriage rights.

  101. But other than the biology, I’m just not seeing any objective reasons why the state should endorse my religious viewpoint over others.

    That darn Biology. It always seems to get in the way of acknowledging true and meaningful gender differences. What with its “form equals function” mandates and what-not. It’s such a bother.

  102. Jared C. You may or may not be aware that I am attorney specializing in Constitutional Litigation in Utah, among other things. I am quite aware (I’m sure I could learn more) about Utah’s laws. I have been working for civil unions in Utah — but as you recognize, the Constitution of the state doesn’t allow that. I have been working to change that — but I believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman just as the constitution says in clause 1. I have been working for repeal of clause 2 to make room for civil unions (and so has the governor’s office). I am unwilling to support gay marriage but have been working with legislators regarding clause 2.

    I assume you’re willing to withdraw the accusation of a facade now?

    I’m sure that you’re also aware that the Church has said that it doesn’t oppose civil unions.

  103. Blake ~ Am I reading you right that you’re acknowledging that you advocate for the father-mother model mostly due to your religious beliefs and personal experiences? There’s nothing wrong with that; I just think convincing the state to endorse that view can be tricky.

    I’m not going to rehash my sob story here; I didn’t have it nearly as bad as some kids did. I told my parents I would leave when I turned 18 though, and I think they were stunned when I actually did it. It was a bit of a wake-up call for them and they subsequently became better parents while I was away at college. Our relationship got a lot better after that. My mother died last year, but my father and I get along okay and I think he tries to make up for his mistakes by being a good grandpa to my daughter.

    I also have a gay bio uncle who’s been HIV positive since the 80s and been with the same partner (not-HIV-positive) for almost as long. They’ve been living together in a civil union in England for years. My uncle’s partner is both a physician and an ordained clergyman of the Church of England. They’ve always impressed me with how much they love each other and how they’re sticking with each other even though they know how things are going to end. They’ve never brought children into their union because of my uncle’s terminal status, but I really don’t doubt that they could have been good parents if they had.

    There was also a woman at my old Presbyterian church who was in her late 20s, unmarried, and took a baby into her home who had been abandoned by her drug-addict bio mom. It was meant to be a temporary living arrangement, but long story short, my friend became the permanent mom. It’s been almost ten years and she’s still not married, but that is one happy little girl living with her. I really think she needed that baby as much as the baby needed her.

    So yeah, I think people from all walks of life can make really awesome parents, and heterosexual partners can make really crappy ones. I do have one concern where homosexual parenting is concerned, and that is establishing that both parties are responsible to the children they jointly agree to create when only one can have a biological connection to them. I’ve read some divorce cases wherein one of the homosexual partners tried to shirk responsibility for the kids after the split due to lack of biological connection, and that’s a problem. (See here for example.)

    Tim ~ I must have taken too many meds this morning, because I’m totally not catching the point of your comment.

  104. Blake said:

    I’m sure that you’re also aware that the Church has said that it doesn’t oppose civil unions.

    In fairness, though, it should be indicated that the Church doesn’t oppose some types of civil unions.

    At least to judge by the statements of Dallin Oaks here, it would likely oppose California-style or Washington state-style civil unions, as they provide a package of rights tantamount to marriage. But it probably wouldn’t oppose things such as the automatic right of survivorship that might accrue from a civil union.

    So I think your statement is a bit misleading.

    That said, although I haven’t made up my mind yet, I’m inclined to agree with the position that you and Seth R. have taken: Get the state out of the marriage business.

  105. Jack, about a month ago it occurred to me that soon we will be hearing a very loud voice in our culture declaring gender differences to be nothing more than a matter of religious opinion. Then I see you saying that very thing from a Christian perspective. As you noted the only problem with the argument is biological differences.

    I was (attempting) to point out that biological differences are profound. Despite the culture’s desire to push them aside, biological differences will, quite obnoxiously, continue to remain and thwart our desire to live above and beyond them. Biologically speaking, men and women are distinctly different. Biologically speaking, they were made for one another. We have the ability to deny that just as we have the ability to walk on our knees and insist that our feet are completely unnecessary. Biology insist that feet and genitals are formed to meet a specific function.

    To deny that very important biological fact will bring our culture much harm. It not only fails to acknowledge the beauty of masculinity and femininity, it introduces us to profound dysfunction. (yes yes, I know how small minded this all makes me. I’m as voracious and stupid as a T-Rex)

    I am all for orphaned children being cared for by anyone available and capable of giving them love and nurturing. But to compare the worst of two-parent heterosexual parenting to the best of non-2-parent heterosexual parenting is quite obviously not comparing the best one side has to offer against the best the other side has to offer.

    Men and women are different. Their differences are profound and important. Men have much to share and teach women and children. Women have much to share and teach men and children. We diminish ourselves when we fail to recognize that.

    Quite sadly, I think the jury has already made up it’s mind on this matter. Even if I were to show uncontroversial, scientific proof that children are best raised by a mother and a father it would go just as ignored as our biology.

    ————————————————————-

    As to Katy’s comment about the church not accepting homosexuals so they have no where else to turn than promiscuity and debauchery, I think that’s just passing the buck. The church has certainly abandoned homosexuals on a number of important levels. But it is not responsible for the irresponsibility of individuals. I know of a guy who came out of the closet after attending a church that was “welcoming and accepting” of homosexuality. He had over 5 sexual partners from that church in his first year there.

    Chastity isn’t only practiced in the confines of a church any more than promiscuity and adultery are practiced exclusively outside of one. Lisa Kudrow, not exactly an Evangelical spokesmodel, was a virgin on her wedding night.

  106. Tim ~ It’s not that I don’t personally believe in gender differences; I’m more of an agnostic on the issue. I’m wary of gender essentialism because it has so often gone hand-in-hand with male supremacy in some form or another. I’m aware that the fact that people have almost unanimously abused gender essentialism doesn’t make it bad in itself, but it would be irresponsible to ignore the conclusions it almost always leads to.

    People keep asserting to me that men and women are different (outside of biology); I hear it from Mormons and I hear it from evangelicals. But no one has yet been able to delineate what these differences are in a way that’s meaningful, relevant, and values women as equals, and I can assure you that I read a ton of material from both the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood and Christians for Biblical Equality, so I’m pretty well acquainted with all the conservative evangelical perspectives on the issue.

    No, I’m not in favor of gender obliteration. I believe in what the Bible counsels on men looking like men, women looking like women and heterosexual relationships. I can’t give good reasons for it, but I’m willing to take some things on faith, and that remains my desire for what I want to see in the body of Christ.

    However, I have a hard time seeing what reason the state has to encourage that religious vision as the standard for all people. I think it’s dangerous to take our cues on this “two heterosexual parents” thing from biology. If biology actually gave a damn about children having two heterosexual parents, it wouldn’t give some people bodies which get sick and die prematurely and naturally, leaving the children without a parent. The fact is that biology doesn’t care how we raise our kids though; it only cares for what it takes to create them.

    And yeah, I agree that it’s unfair to compare bad heterosexual parenting with good homosexual parenting, but haven’t we already established that it’s impossible to show that good heterosexual parenting > good homosexual parenting from a secular standpoint? Unfortunately, I think that’s what people would need to do if they want to argue that the state should favor heterosexual unions, which is why I’m not agreeing with that argument.

  107. If biology actually gave a damn about children having two heterosexual parents, it wouldn’t give some people bodies which get sick and die prematurely and naturally, leaving the children without a parent.

    again you are arguing from failure rather than ideal.

    but haven’t we already established that it’s impossible to show that good heterosexual parenting > good homosexual parenting from a secular standpoint?

    No, not in the slightest. These issues come up quite a bit in the foster care world, and despite the desire for just about every social worker to deny it, the prevalent research shows that kids do best with a mommy and a daddy. I don’t think I could show you anything that would quell all objections and without some point of controversy (on anything much less this issue). But your premise is not actually true. You’re throwing in the towel way too early.

    And again, just because kids do best with a mommy and daddy doesn’t mean that orphans shouldn’t be cared for by anyone willing and available.

  108. Eric: What the Church says is that it doesn’t oppose civil unions as long as such laws don’t infringe on the rights of religious organizations or practice of religion by individuals. In CA, the civil union laws have already been held to override the free exercise of religion of an individual with respect to state licensing — and that is a big problem.

    I prefer a legislative approach rather than a blunt-instrument judicial approach. The legislative approach can (and sometimes does) carve out exceptions where rights of individuals and organizations to the free exercise of religion, use of church property and so forth is protected — as it ought to be. The problem with making homosexual marriage a basic civil right (as both CA and Iowa have done under their state constitutions) is that it trumps all other concerns and makes it so that religions who disagree are in real jeopardy where their licensing is only statutory and therefore subject to the civil rights interest.

  109. Jack: “Am I reading you right that you’re acknowledging that you advocate for the father-mother model mostly due to your religious beliefs and personal experiences? There’s nothing wrong with that; I just think convincing the state to endorse that view can be tricky.”

    No, not solely. It is based also on my experience as a father and parent in a mommy and daddy relationship. Tim is correct that it is a good deal of research showing that kids thrive best in a mommy and a daddy environment. However, all such studies are subject to controversy and questions because of the inherently political and PC nature of the issues. However, I am also committed to it based on the fact that eternal families are God’s plan.

  110. Jack: I’m curious. Why are your beliefs inherently irrelevant to your political stance? It seems like your beliefs just make no difference to how you approach issues regarding homosexuality and parenting, but they are determinative regarding your stance of gender essentialism and issues related to gender equality and social justice. Why the disconnect?

  111. Tim ~ again you are arguing from failure rather than ideal.

    I’m just arguing from nature, Tim, same as you are, and I don’t believe nature declares things to be failures and successes. We do.

    the prevalent research shows that kids do best with a mommy and a daddy.

    I would love to learn more about this.

    Blake ~ I’m curious. Why are your beliefs inherently irrelevant to your political stance? It seems like your beliefs just make no difference to how you approach issues regarding homosexuality and parenting, but they are determinative regarding your stance of gender essentialism and issues related to gender equality and social justice. Why the disconnect?

    I’m not sure I see where there’s a disconnect. I’m a strong believer in right and wrong, but I’m also a believer in the right of other people to be wrong just so long as their wrong choices don’t actively harm others. On gender equality and social justice, I only expect the government to ensure that women have the same opportunities and choices in this country that men do.

  112. Jack: What I mean is that you believe that your religious beliefs regarding gender and equality are legitimate to consider and drive your political beliefs, but your religious beliefs about homosexuality are not relevant to political beliefs. I think that most people don’t see that beliefs about things like gender beliefs and equality are exactly like religious beliefs — they have no further grounding than a deeply held conviction. But that means that you privilege beliefs when they are widely shared and refuse to allow your less widely shared religious beliefs to ground your political stance. But popularity shouldn’t be the basis for a stance in life it seems to me. Otherwise, it is just mob and cultural imperialism.

  113. Why are your beliefs inherently irrelevant to your political stance? and What I mean is that you believe that your religious beliefs regarding gender and equality are legitimate to consider and drive your political beliefs, but your religious beliefs about homosexuality are not relevant to political beliefs.

    I can’t answer this question for Jack, but I can answer this question for me.

    Gender equality and marriage equality are similar in that there are those who would, for religious reasons, limit the rights and opportunities of both women and homosexuals.

    I don’t want my opportunities to be limited based on someone else’s religious beliefs. By the same token, it is neither fair nor just for other people’s opportunities to be limited based on my religious beliefs.

    This has everything to do with social justice and nothing to do with religion. If a woman wants to self-limit her opportunities through her free choices–such as choosing to stay home instead of entering the workforce (as I do with my daughter)–that is her choice. But she should never be compelled to do so by law.

    If a church doesn’t want to honor a same-sex union for religious reasons, that is its right. But a gay person should never be denied access to rights and privileges by law.

    From where I’m sitting, it’s a completely coherent and consistent position.

  114. As to Katy’s comment about the church not accepting homosexuals so they have no where else to turn than promiscuity and debauchery, I think that’s just passing the buck. The church has certainly abandoned homosexuals on a number of important levels. But it is not responsible for the irresponsibility of individuals.

    I agree. Each person is ultimately responsible for his or her actions, regardless of external circumstances. And I know a number of homosexuals who have been able to steer clear of the problematic promiscuity that often prevails in their culture.

    But the Christian church turning its back on gays hasn’t made it any easier for them to maintain their moral grounding, and my friend’s point was that we shouldn’t be surprised by the outcome.

    (Having said that, the church is in a pickle. I think it’s tough to make an argument that homosexuality is okay with God, so I’m not quite sure what the right thing for the church to do/say/teach is.)

  115. Blake ~ Katie answered pretty well, but to clarify, I think it’s more a matter of my personal beliefs on religion and gender equality and my expectations of the government in regards to gender equality happen to coincide. One isn’t driving the other; they just sound a lot alike. If I were a complementarian evangelical who accepted that God intends for men to lead the church and forbids women from becoming pastors and elders (and I was for a short time), I would still expect the government to offer women equal rights and protections for secular pursuits.

    And I really do allow for all kinds of choices in this department. If women want to be stay-at-home moms and participate in patriarchal religious systems and marriages, I support their right to make those choices.

  116. Katyjane,

    why do you think that a mother and a father is preferable to a mother and a mother? I think we could definitely agree that two parents is preferable (as being a single parent is HARD and I admire anyone who does it), but why does the gender of the parents matter?

    The scientific jury is still out on this one. With respect to heterosexual parenting, there are specifically identified benefits imparted by both fathers and mothers, i.e. each plays a role. I don’t even think it matters whether it’s a “traditional” role. Just so long as children have a good role model of both genders.

    There just aren’t enough data yet to say whether same sex parenting provides these same benefits, or whether same sex parenting may have a negative effect on children (with respect to crime, teen pregnancy, promiscuity, etc.).

  117. So, along with nature (Biology), let’s consider the nurture side. As a mother, I realize that I have shortcomings and cannot provide my kids with everything that they need, emotionally, spiritually, etc. As a responsible parent, I provide to my kids other means of learning what I cannot teach. If I was a single mom, or if I was a part of a lesbian relationship where we had children, I would want my kids to have good, strong, male role models. So, I would enlist the help of friends, family, church organizations, etc, to be those role models. Sure, kids don’t get everything that they need from outside sources, but neither do they get everything they need from internal sources.

    Back to Biology–consider the possibility that homosexuality is Nature’s way of providing population control. Studies have shown that the more children a woman has, the more likely the subsequent children are to be homosexual.

    Or, consider the possibility that homosexuality is a trait that you are born with. I think that denying people marriage, denying people the ability to raise kids because of something they were born with, isn’t fair. Further, I think that the fact that we don’t prevent people from having kids when they have issues that they are likely to pass on to their kids–say, addiction issues, certain types of hereditary diseases, but we do prevent people from having/raising kids when they have something that they are unlikely to pass on to their kids (kids raised in a home with gay parents are no more likely to be gay than kids raised in a home with straight parents) really doesn’t make sense.

  118. I’m starting to anticipate the day when no one is allowed to get pregnant through natural coitus so that it’s equal for everyone to have a baby.

  119. I’m starting to anticipate the day when no one is allowed to get pregnant through natural coitus so that it’s equal for everyone to have a baby.

    Totally, Tim. I mean, fair is fair.

  120. Katyjane: I’m more than willing to back your position on nurture factors as long as they make me the baby czar who chooses who does and who does not get to have babies. Frankly, I’m pretty sure that only grandparents are actually qualified to be parents by experience so only they will get to have babies on my system.

    . . . and thus ended the human civilization.

  121. Oooh! Oooh! If we’re appointing Baby Czars, can I get on the shortlist? I have always longed for world domination.

  122. Wait… wasn’t lack of reproduction through coitus part of the futuristic world in Demolition Man?

    You are all fired for reminding me of that crappy movie. Get off this blog right now (even you, Tim), I just fired you.

  123. Blake,

    That clears things up, to me your previous statement seemed to indicate a blanket acceptance of the Utah law. Your clarification makes sense of your position.

  124. I wasn’t saying that people should be prevented from having kids. They most certainly shouldn’t. Including… homosexuals.

    But please don’t limit parenthood to grandparents, because then my kids are screwed.

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