Gay Marriage and Good, Better, Best

Gay Marriage and Good, Better, Best

Since I made my recent post on Gay Marriage I have already been criticized for my sense that heterosexual marriage is more ideal than homosexual relationships on two different blogs. I want to write a post elaborating on my feelings on homosexuality. I don’t know that this post is any less deserving of criticism, but it is a candid exploration of my current thoughts and speculations.

If the only thing that will satisfy you is absolute equality not only in the law, but in the realm of spiritual thoughts, then I can not give that to you. The church is clear that marriage between a man and a woman is God’s ideal. Since I went through the temple for the first time last month, this spiritual principle has taken deep root within me. Performing proxy sealings and being able to hear the promised blessings has made it clear to me that this is the ideal sanctioned by the Lord. I don’t see this ideal changing without direct revelation granted to the leadership of the church. If that happens I would certainly be open to changing my spiritual lens on this matter.

This does NOT mean that I view homosexuality as sinful or deprived in the traditional sense of those words. Members of the church that enter into priesthood or temple covenants are held to a much higher standard and for them sexual transgression outside of wedlock to someone of the opposite gender is one of the worst sins possible because it violates covenants entered into in the house of the lord. This is explicitly because we learn in the temple that the law of Chastity is directly linked to the Melchizedick Priesthood. This is a particular covenant that LDS members make which is equally true for homosexual relationships, adultery and any lack of full and total fidelity and dedication.

This all goes back at its core to my definition of a ‘sin.’ A sin for me is anything that holds us back from achieving our absolute ideal state of perfection in the resurrection. Homosexual relationships are good because they can give one many of the blessings of marriage, but they are not the BEST because in some critical eternal ways, in so far as our current understanding reveals to us, they fall short of perfection.

It is also possible that our focus on exaltation as the only ideal is misguided. I don’t know that being a ministering angel would be a bad thing. I have often wondered if the celestial kingdom needs ministering angels. It seems likely that ministering angels can have loving relationships with each other. Perhaps just as Paul suggests that some will be Eunuchs for the Kingdom of God on Earth’s sake, some will be Eunuchs in eternity for the Kingdom of God. There is a lot we do not know and a lot that is not visible to our understanding. To the best of my knowledge, however, there is a theological emphasis on Heterosexual couples joining together and becoming one eternally. My faith necessitates that I view this as ‘BEST.’

Non-members must act upon their personal conscience and if they are believers in the bible then in the text therein. I have found textual arguments that homosexuality as we know it today would not have been understood by Paul fairly reasonable. Moreover, no restoration text explicitly speaks of homosexuality. At the very least, the very chapters in Romans most often cited against homosexuality are more obviously a critique against those that would judge others and yet fall short of their own moral standards. Paul would not recognize committed homosexual relationships as they were out of the scope of his world.  The relationships you enter into are a matter of your own personal conscience and sense of right and wrong. I am not the one to judge you and I in every way respect your decision making.

Moreover, for those that are not under special covenant and that have same gender attractions it may be better for you to enter into a relationship than to remain lonely apart. You are not bound by my standard of a relationship. Ideally, I would hope that you will also appreciate the value of monogamy and strive to enter into longer term and committed relationships. I appreciate your heartfelt desires for the security that comes from civic recognition of your union. You deserve all of the legal protections that society currently accords to heterosexual couples. I’d certainly rather have you adopt a child than a single mother that can hardly afford to support a child, for instance.  My desire is for the title of marriage to only be accorded to what I view as best, but I also realize that this may violate equal protection and that there may be no way to do this without discrimination.

I do think that granting gay marriage continues an already existing change in our societal perception of what a marriage is. I worry that marriage has become all about self gratification rather than a desire to come together to support a family. It saddens me to see the self-centered focus of modern marriage. Gay and Lesbian couples are not responsible for this and denying them benefits will do little to change things. Conservatives have decided to make a stand here in part because they have already lost the battles over things like no-fault divorce that have significantly weakened the institution of marriage. I sympathize with their fear while feeling their chosen battleground is futile and pointless.

I also want to copy and paste my answer from my Mormon.Org profile on Mormons and homosexuality. I was encouraged that this answer was approved:

What is the Church’s attitude on homosexuality? Why is homosexuality and same-sex marriage important to the Mormon Church?

Sexual relations are incredibly sacred and are ordained only within the covenant of marriage between man and woman. As we are baptized we covenant to observe the law of Chastity which requires abstinence before marriage and full fidelity in marriage.

Marriage is one of the building blocks of eternity. We will be with our family and loved ones in the eternity. Temple marriages bind people for time and eternity. Therefore, it is vital for the church to encourage the sanctity of marriage and to act to protect the institution.

No one knows exactly what are the causes of same sex attraction. There is some evidence of a complicated mix of biological, social and environmental factors. However, we do not believe that attractions are what define who we are. Instead, as Christians our goal is to “putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.” Mosiah 3:19. We may always struggle with temptations and desires and those temptations are not in and of themselves sinful. However, through faith we can eventually become purified and sanctified.

Life is full of difficult challenges for all of us, and my heart goes out to those members that are tempted with this particularly challenging temptation. Members that are suffering with these temptations may be unable to marry and may have to abstain from physical pleasure throughout this life. Yet, God promises that those that endure to the end in faith will be rewarded. They are not defective and God loves them as a son or daughter. Do not hesitate to learn the beauty of the restored gospel because of these feelings or temptations Members are asked to show love and compassion and unfortunately we are imperfect in this regard. We must strive to be more Christ like in that regard.

In regard to Gay Marriage, the church has found it important to speak out against the granting of the title of Marriage to Unions between gay couples. Yet, the church is not anti-gay. The Church has spoken out in favor of a non-discrimination ordinance in Salt Lake City. Members of the church are divided on the issue of Civil Unions though many members in Good Standing including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are ardent supporters. It is my belief that Gay Couples should have all of the same rights as straight couples, but that the title of marriage is something sacred that should be guarded and protected.

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7 thoughts on “Gay Marriage and Good, Better, Best

  1. My desire is for the title of marriage to only be accorded to what I view as best, but I also realize that this may violate equal protection and that there may be no way to do this without discrimination.

    You see lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual, marriage in the LDS temple as the ideal. Why are you then not campaigning to eliminate the right to divorce? Why are you not campaigning to criminalize adultery and out-of-wedlock pregnancy? In practice these things contradict your ideal far more than the existence of the committed gay couple living quietly across the street. You’re willing to drop the “lifelong,” the “monogamous,” and the “temple” parts of marriage when it comes to civil and criminal law but not the “heterosexual” part. You admit that enforcing the heterosexual aspect of your ideal can’t be done without discrimination against a vulnerable and often persecuted minority of citizens, but that doesn’t stop you from barrelling ahead with it. In effect, you’re asking gay people to bear the *entire* burden of upholding your ideal, at great personal cost to them and no cost to you or other heterosexuals. This argument simply ignores the existence and dignity and lives and testimony of gay people.

    Bottom line: you’re all for Prop. 8, despite the proven harm that it does to gay couples and their children. This harm is worth it because, in some symbolic way that has no practical civil benefits to anyone you can identify, you’ve “protected” marriage (from me, presumably).

    I encourage you to read the ruling from Prop. 8 trial. The evidence *eviscerates* the notion that a separate but equal form of civil union has any other basis than the religiously based idea that gay relationships are of less worth and dignity than all others. This kind of discrimination based solely on religious disapprobation is against the law, regardless of popular vote. You should really read the ruling, especially the Findings of Fact section. You can find it here.

    Good luck to you. I offer this argument passionately but with respect.

    • Thanks for your comment MoHo. I agree with you completely that

      I think the issue of divorce is interesting. I might support a movement

      This post also had little to do with Prop 8 as I wrote in the post that I think Judge Walker made the correct decision given the facts presented to him. I think that the Pro Prop-8 side presented a pathetic case and deserved to be demolished. I do think that there are concerns relating to religious freedom etc that were outside the scope of the case and thus not incorporated into the facts.

      I think there is nothing wrong with calling two things that are in some ways different differently. If you want to call one same gender marriage and the other opposite gender marriage I would even support that. I am as I stated only marginally opposed to granting the title of marriage and certainly am persuadable in either direction.

      What bothers me is that instead of trying to build on the common ground and to fight to enhance the rights of homosexual individuals, you are shooting yourself in the foot with such comments. I am a supporter that has contributed to organizations widely supporting the gay community such as the ACLU etc. Yet, I am more conservative in the sense that I favor incremental change rather than radical revolution.

  2. I definitely see you as an ally, not an opponent. I apologize if my previous comment was confrontational. That was not my intent.

    I’m not opposed to incremental change. If you could offer federally recognized civil unions for gay couples that had all of the relevant civil benefits (equal tax treatment, immigration rights, pension benefits, etc.), I certainly would’t say no! It might not be where we want to be eventually, but it would be a lot better than where we are now.

    Again, best of luck to you.

  3. symphonyofdissent, my thoughts on this issue mirror yours on this issue almost perfectly. Thank you so much for crystalizing what I’ve been rolling over in my mind for years.

  4. What bothers me the most about this post is its willingness to rank family situations based on labels rather than content – a willingness that extends far beyond gay marriage. The comments about single mothers and divorce are particularly troubling for me. Why assume that a single mother would be unable to support a child? Even if you didn’t mean to pigeon-hole single parent households, the way that you have phrased your sentences in that paragraph make sound like a lesbian or gay couple would automatically be preferable to any single mother. There are no doubt some gay couples who would be preferable to some single mothers but to categorically state that to me is problematic and symptomatic of a willingness to label one family situation as ideal and others as less so. I have friends with college degrees and well-paying jobs who want to adopt or to be artificially inseminated because they aren’t willing to wait for that perfect someone before having a child they deeply desire. Is that wrong? They have more money and resources than my married parents did when they had two children before the age of 23. Why allow them to have children and deny my friend?

    On a similar note, I would like to know exactly what you would be willing to campaign for in relationship to divorce. The previous comment suggested it would be for the abolition of it. If so, I stand firmly in your way. The day my parents divorced was the BEST day of my life. It saved me. Divorce isn’t necessarily bad and can allow people to leave abusive relationships or even ones that are just joyless.

    I know that each of these cases was a throwaway comment, but I think they are indicative of a larger problem. Each of the groups who stood against Prop 8 has a vision of what a perfect family looks like and are willing to make hierarchies based on that. Gay marriage, of course, draws the most ire.

    • Amanada

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment

      Adoption is based on heuristics and criterion that must be applied broadly. Adoption agencies ( Especially state ones) simply can not usually expend the time and energy to look closely at every single person on a case by case basis. The way the adoption system currently works is based on this kind of categorical thinking typically using some kind of point scale. Usually couples are given priority over single parents. I am not at all implying that single parents can not be good parents or that they should automatically be denied adoption benefits because of it. However, if ALL OTHER FACTORS ARE EQUAL ( A key point that I mentioned explicitly) then adoption agencies will ( And should) prioritize couples over single parents and I think they should be allowed to prioritize heterosexual couples over homosexual couples. This is only true if they do not apply it in a fashion that excludes all homosexual or single adoptees. I don’t think my point is quite as pigeon-holing as you suggest.

      I certainly am not for the abolition of divorce. There are far too many cases where it is the correct outcome. I think that no-fault divorce on the other hand where one partner can choose to end a marriage without cause has led to some awful outcomes. I think marriage termination should either be for a cause or based on some sort of mutual consent. What happens today is that one person can be blindsided with a divorce and have his (usually his) kids taken away from him within an incredibly short time window that just leads to cruel outcomes. Sorry for being unclear in that regard.

  5. I find your thoughts on gay marriage refreshing. It’s nice to know there are faithful mormons out there who don’t see gay marriage as a threat and I hope your church as a while turns that way soon.

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