What Do You Do With a Problem Like Freedom?

I saw this amusing video where confused college students willingly walk into proud and unaware declarations of hypocrisy concerning religious freedom.  Videos like this prove little about the actual merits of an argument because it’s not hard to find someone who supports a position while simultaneously not having thought it through very deeply.  It could be that there are thoughtful people with great reasons for holding a viewpoint, but you can be sure the producer of the video isn’t going to put them in the montage for one reason; they aren’t funny.

Nonetheless, you should watch this video because it’s funny and it supports my point of view.

I was talking through these issues with a gay friend of mine who agrees with me that florists, photographers and bakers shouldn’t be required to provide services for events that conflict with their religious values. Continue reading

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Grace for Gays?

To me, the rejection of the Christianity of gay people is similar to the rejection of the Christianity of Mormons.  Traditional Christians reject Mormons Christians for their rejection of orthodox formulations of Christian doctrine/dogma, they reject gay Christians for rejection of traditional behavioral norms.

Being new to traditional Christianity, I have some serious questions about how the Christian community currently rejects/embrace Christians who live non-traditional lifestyles such as gay marriage. If you have some time, let me know your best thoughts on these:

(1) What is the most compelling Christian theological justification for classifying sin such as homosexuality as more or less abominable in the eyes of God?

(2) Is requiring heterosexual practice in order to accept a person into a Christian fold any different in principle than requiring circumcision?

Be afraid. . . be very afraid.

I saw this video the other day, and I have to say that it struck a deep chord. At first it made me very happy that BYU was finally allow some open social outlet for gay students to socialize.  Then it hit me how big a challenge it will be for Mormons and Evangelicals to deal with the fact of homosexuality.

Listening to these kids stories about how they discovered that they were gay in the context of being active, faithful mormons made me realize, perhaps for the first time, how ridiculously awful it would be to be a 12 year old mormon kid discovering that you were gay.  I remember how religious I was at that age, how devoted, finding out that I was gay would have been the ultimate betrayal and would have ended my spirituality or my connection to the Church.  And the nature of the reaction of my friends and family would be the test of whether Christianity was bunk or not. Perhaps the reason that when I was young, I never saw or heard anything like what I hear in the videos. Because it was not in front of me, it was really easy not to realize the crucible that the believing Mormon gay child is in. If I had, it would have been hard to stay Mormon or Christian at all.

Seeing the kids in the video, still very much engaged in Mormonism on a sincere level, It made my heart hurt. I don’t know really how I would be able to deal with it. My brother, who knew gay friends at BYU, and struggles with depression, told me with all sincerity that he would have certainly killed himself if he was gay. The straight majority in the church simply does not recognize the gravity of the situation.   These kids cannot be both gay and Mormon without seriously twisting something that is part of them.

The fact that homosexuality exists as a natural phenomena among those that are close to God within the faith throws a very powerful curve ball at both Mormons and Evangelicals. Unlike with heterosexuality, which is channeled and controlled, homosexuality must be eliminated, or certain deeply held tenants must be abandoned.

When it comes to Evangelicals or Mormons I don’t know who has the bigger problem. For Mormons, being gay shatters the careful conception of what the pinnacle of life on earth is all about (covenants, eternal marriage, pro-creation). In my experience, People don’t talk about being gay in Mormon Church, it is not accepted, most of what is said about it is by the vocal minority who is firmly anti-gay.    Evangelicals might have an easier time.  I think it may be easier to “sin” and talk about it, and even being an active sexual “sinner” and still feel connected to Evangelicals christianity.  Partly because Mormons may kick you out if you are at all open and unrepentant about it.  However Evangelicals seem to play a lot bigger part in anti-gay activism, because of the sheer size of the group in comparison with Mormonism, and the de-centralized nature, there are a lot more vocal bigots in Evangelicalism.

The problem is that both groups can be deeply un-Christian about how they approach the problem.  The black mark this leaves on Mormonism and Evangelicalism, in the eyes a gay person who embraces their sexuality, or to anybody else who holds their sexuality dear is difficult to overstate.   An institutional stance that is anything short of deeply empathetic and loving makes a church seem like a absurd charade of the love that Jesus spoke of.

The reason why homophobia may be intractable is that Mormons and Evangelicals should be afraid on an institutional level.  The fact of natural homosexuality requires institutional change if either group is to remain followers of Jesus.  It’s hard for me to see how either group provides a satisfying answer to the person who feels God in and through their experiences of sexuality AND openly embraces a “alternative lifestyle”.   Which means, no matter how spiritually compelling either Mormonism or Evangelicalism is, they are going to appear to be very limited or broken for anybody who understands that God wants some people to be gay AND close to Him.   Just as they have to tweak their theology to account for the unfathomable size and complexity of the universe, they are going to have to change in order to get in line with this reality.  Of course this very sort of change may cause foundations to crumble.

I never quite saw this fact before this video. Hearing and seeing the human problem is necessary to make non-gay realize it.  My guess is that more open, honest and loving discussions of homosexuality within Mormonism and Evangelicalism will mean dramatic changes within both, or simply a larger exodus from a faith that has lost touch with the real world.

At this point, if my child was gay, I would actively try to de-convert them from both Evangelicalism and Mormonism because, at least to this child, neither seem to be carrying the torch of Christian love and understanding.

Believers, what can be done?

Martyrs On a Gay Spring Day in April

I was reading a report that gay groups in large are planning on protesting outside of General Conference this April.  Some of these groups are known to be “out there” even by gay pride parade standards.  Clearly knowing anything about Mormon culture would tell you that this won’t work in convincing Mormons to change their minds.  Mormons have a deep seated “seige mentatlity” and already feel like martyrs.  Any large scale protest only heightens that martyr syndrome.  Further, any outlandish, public displays of sodomy and sex acts will only convince Mormons that “it’s us against the world.”

What’s ironic about this situation is the homosexual community feels like martyrs in this situation.  They are the ones who feel they’ve been persecuted and have a grievance against the world.  I imagine they are thinking is that holding a large protest in Salt Lake City will bring media attention to the LDS church’s role in passing Proposition 8.  It may not convince any Mormons to change their mind, but it might convince other people to change their mind about Mormons.

I don’t think the general homosexual population should be judge by those who go over the top any more than I think the Evangelical community should be judged by street preachers at General Conference.  But those gay men who like to “show off” their perversity in public got me to ask the question “what are they thinking?”  I can’t imagine that they rationally think that dressing up in a giant phallic costume will convince people that homosexuals are normal, mild mannered people who shouldn’t be feared.  It communicates the opposite.  To some degree, I think it’s an expression of anger toward the rest of society.  It’s like they are saying “We’re going to force our lifestyle on you for rejecting us. So take it, take it, take it (middle fingers [an apropos phallic symbol]  hoisted high in the sky).”

How both groups handle the situation and the press coverage will be interesting to see.  Either way I think the LDS church will be driven further from its mission to the gay community and the gay community will be driven further from its mission the the LDS church.  I think this offers a tremendous opportunity for Mormons to shock and suprise the protestors themselves with radical kindness;  the kind that turns its cheek when struck, but I think the opportunity will be missed.  It’s too great an opportunity to feel persecuted (and therefore the church is true).

As a side note, let me clearly state; protestors showing up at General Conference is NOT persecution.  To call it such dishonors any Mormon ever killed or hurt because of their faith.

In Defense of Mormons and Marriage

LDS might be glad to hear that Evangelical commentator and leader, Charles Colson, came to the defense of the LDS church and the status quo of marriage in a recent Breakpoint commentary.  You can listen to what he had to say here

Or read it for yourself here

The offending advertisement was this one

It’s About Sex not Love

I recently posted a response to Runtu’s take on Same-Sex Marriage.  I thought I’d clean it up and post it here. I don’t really seeing anybody making positive secular arguments for the status quo of marriage.

As a caveat, I think same-sex marriage is likely an inevitability in the United States. I think that civil unions for everyone might be an eventual solution to the problem. I also recognize that a good number of my readers are lawyers so I expect to be ripped a new one for one reason or another.  Take it easy on my legal ignorance and take the opportunity to illuminate me on where I might have it wrong.

Marriage is about property rights, but the question is “why do married people need their property rights defined?”. My impression is that government started issuing marriage licenses in an effort stabilize families for the protection of children.  Men and women who cohabitate together with a sexual relationship produce children as a natural by-product.  To ensure that children are given a stable environment in which to thrive marriage licenses were drawn up. This protected the property of one or both parties and meant it would remain with the newly created family if either died.  The financial benefits of marriage were delivered so that cohabitating couples would feel encouraged to join into marriage and give the stabilizing benefits to their children.

IF the benefits of marriage were created to protect children then they need not necessarily be passed on to cohabitating men and women who do not produce children.  But that’s where the equal protection of the law comes in.  All men must be allowed to marry any woman and all women must be allowed to marry any man. This ensures everyone has the same rights because (generally) the natural by product of cohabitation between men and women is children.

IF marriage is just about joining property with someone you choose to join property with (for love, sex, business, coercion, or any other reason), then marriage should not only be extended to same sex couples, but also non-sexual friendships, cousins, siblings, parent-child relationships and perhaps to multiple partners as well.  None of these relationships affect your marriage any more than same-sex marriage do.  If that’s the litmus test we are using than you really should be in favor of no restrictions on marriage whatsoever.  Any restrictions you come up with will ultimately be shown to be arbitrary with no more weight than you think they are “icky”.

The very fact that marriages must be sexually consummated to be valid suggests to me at least that the government thinks it’s about the creation of children and not just property law.

As dissatisfying as the argument comes across gay men have the same rights as straight men; neither are allowed to marry men.  The same goes for straigh and gay women.  I think Victorian romanticism has strongly injected itself into our thoughts on marriage.  Marriage has been around much much longer than our belief that it should be about love.  It’s about sex (that may produce children), not love.