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?

Gay Marriage, why it is moral for Christians to protect this interest

I know we have gone over this before, but given that some may not be clear on what is a critical issue I think it may be worth posting on this, since it has been the subject of lots of threadjacks.

Many here have pointed out that it is acceptable to ban gay marriage on moral grounds because all law is based on some morality.  I disagree.

I am a positivist as far as the law is concerned.  We arbitrarily make laws for all kinds of reasons.  Most of these involve giving some economic or political advantage to one group over another.  The law is a tool in the general competition in values. Its doesn’t have a lot to do with morality to favor the meat industry over the corn industry, for example.

However, morality and fairness come into play when we apply laws and infringe on critical human interests, and this is one of the bedrock moral foundations of American law.  Laws should be fair and just when they protect and disadvantage interests.  When it comes to critical human interests, privacy, expression, religion, liberty the law protects these against infringement by the majority.

Continue reading

What’s Next in 2010

Time Magazine has an interesting article on the lasting effects of the LDS church’s involvment in Propostion 8 and what they will do in 2010 when the ammendment is attempted to be repealed.

Read it here

And since we’re talking about same sex marriage again;  I felt vindicated by this Moth Podcast about the awkward experience of seeing two gay twins making out with each other at a wedding.

Save Marriage Now

This sermon has everything you need to know about saving marriage in our contemporary culture.  It also has nothing to say about the debate on same-sex marriage.

It is quite simply a very powerful message about Jesus’ own thoughts on marriage.  It even addresses what Jesus thought of polygamy.  A topic I didn’t even know he specifically spoke about.

Take the time to listen to this sermon.  It will strengthen your marriage and improve our society.

Direct link here.

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.

The Church Wants You to Contribute

I was really surprised by this post over at Nine Moons.

It’s understandable to me that a church would suggest to its congregants that they pay attention to a particular political issue or even be involved in the political process. But it starts raising flags with me (and perhaps many other people) when official church representatives, acting in their capacity for the church, show up at members homes and tell them, to the dollar, how much they should contribute to a political campaign. Even more surprising that the church may be using tithing record to determine what each member can afford.

I can’t imagine this is going to work out well for the LDS church. Particularly if the mainstream press catches wind of it. I’d be interested to know how high up the chain this idea goes in the Mormon hierarchy. If it’s just a Stake President who got a little over ambitious with the suggestion that members participate in the passing of Proposition 8, it will raise some eyebrows. But if it’s discovered that this “game plan” came from Salt Lake City it will not mean good news for the LDS church.

On the one hand, the LDS church is taking a definite side on perhaps the most controversial issue in the country right now. I can’t really blame them for that and churches will always take their lumps on moral issues that may be unpopular in the rest of the culture. But it heightens the press for the second issue. Church leaders making individual appointments to tell members how much they should give to a political issue is outside the church experience most people are familiar with (even if it is voluntary). It will come off as way too aggressive and way too controlling to most people.

I expect some bad press for the LDS church on this one. If you know an LDS missionary you might be able to guess what they’ll be discussing with contacts in the coming months.