Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monday, April 13, 2015

"Why Marriage, Why Family"--A Highlight from the 2015 LDS Conference

For those struggling with questions about the Church's emphasis on marriage, and the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman, a thoughtful talk from the recent General Conference might be of help. "Why Marriage, Why Family" by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles begins with a spiritual insight from a great man of another Christian faith:
Above the Great West Door of the renowned Westminster Abbey in London, England, stand the statues of 10 Christian martyrs of the 20th century. Included among them is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a brilliant German theologian born in 1906. Bonhoeffer became a vocal critic of the Nazi dictatorship and its treatment of Jews and others. He was imprisoned for his active opposition and finally executed in a concentration camp. Bonhoeffer was a prolific writer, and some of his best-known pieces are letters that sympathetic guards helped him smuggle out of prison, later published as Letters and Papers from Prison.

One of those letters was to his niece before her wedding. It included these significant insights: “Marriage is more than your love for each other.... In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom. In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man. … So love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God.”  [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge (1953), 42–43.]
I like that expression: "love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God." Marriage is not just about us. It is about our responsibilities to others and before God. It is "a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind." Elder Christofferson goes on to explain why that it is the case. He reviews the work of God and the Plan of Salvation, in which a critical aspect is our role in raising and nurturing children that other sons and daughters of God might also be able to participate in God's plan for us that includes this brief mortal phase where we receive the miraculous gift of physical bodies accompanied by, in many cases, the ability to bear and raise children.

Christofferson explains the divine responsibilities that comes with such gifts:
A family built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for God’s plan to thrive—the setting for the birth of children, who come in purity and innocence from God, and the environment for the learning and preparation they will need for a successful mortal life and eternal life in the world to come. A critical mass of families built on such marriages is vital for societies to survive and flourish. That is why communities and nations generally have encouraged and protected marriage and the family as privileged institutions. It has never been just about the love and happiness of adults.

The social science case for marriage and for families headed by a married man and woman is compelling.19 And so “we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”20 But our claims for the role of marriage and family rest not on social science but on the truth that they are God’s creation. It is He who in the beginning created Adam and Eve in His image, male and female, and joined them as husband and wife to become “one flesh” and to multiply and replenish the earth.21 Each individual carries the divine image, but it is in the matrimonial union of male and female as one that we attain perhaps the most complete meaning of our having been made in the image of God—male and female. Neither we nor any other mortal can alter this divine order of matrimony. It is not a human invention. Such marriage is indeed “from above, from God” and is as much a part of the plan of happiness as the Fall and the Atonement.
I also appreciate Elder Christofferson's recognition of the many exceptions among us who are not experiencing the blessings of being in a happy marriage with the opportunity to raise children:
To declare the fundamental truths relative to marriage and family is not to overlook or diminish the sacrifices and successes of those for whom the ideal is not a present reality. Some of you are denied the blessing of marriage for reasons including a lack of viable prospects, same-sex attraction, physical or mental impairments, or simply a fear of failure that, for the moment at least, overshadows faith. Or you may have married, but that marriage ended, and you are left to manage alone what two together can barely sustain. Some of you who are married cannot bear children despite overwhelming desires and pleading prayers.

Even so, everyone has gifts; everyone has talents; everyone can contribute to the unfolding of the divine plan in each generation. Much that is good, much that is essential—even sometimes all that is necessary for now—can be achieved in less than ideal circumstances. So many of you are doing your very best. And when you who bear the heaviest burdens of mortality stand up in defense of God’s plan to exalt His children, we are all ready to march. With confidence we testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has anticipated and, in the end, will compensate all deprivation and loss for those who turn to Him. No one is predestined to receive less than all that the Father has for His children.
Marriage is a blessing, but also a great challenge. It can test us and try us as it rarely turns out to be all that we hope. For some, it is a blessing never experienced in this life, testing us through its absence or unavailability. But whatever the burdens we face, if we turn to God and rely on the power of the Atonement, the full blessings of God will become available to us, with all the joy and endless potential that He offers. Here in mortality and afterwards, marriage matters. It is not just for our benefit and enjoyment. It is a divine post with great responsibility. May we cherish it and protect it in a world that is increasingly hostile toward one of the great elements of God's plans and one of the roots of human society and civilization.


Unknown said...

Relax, Jeff. Gay marriage is a done deal, and the world will be a better place because of it.

How exactly does government recognition of gay marriages deny civilization the benefits that accrue, and will continue to accrue, from straight marriages? Does Christofferson say?

Is civilization better off when gay couples simply shack up? Does Christofferson say?

Is civilization better off when gay couples raise children together without legal recognition of their families? Does the lack of legal recognition of such families benefit the children who, like it or not, are raised within them?

Neither Jeff nor Christofferson make any effort here to distinguish between marriage as a sacrament and marriage as a legal status. The first might come from God, but the second most assuredly comes from man.

The first might be eternal and unchanging in its definition, but the definition of the second is up to us.

One example of the inanity that flows from confusing the sacramental with the legal is the oft-repeated argument that civil marriage cannot be redefined by us because it comes from God. Well, guess what? It can be redefined, and it has been.

It would be nice if Christofferson would help to clarify the confusion between religious sacrament and civil law that plagues this issue, but instead he perpetuates it.

Religious sacrament and civil law are not the same, of course, as a moment's reflection will reveal. If civil marriage really were the same thing as the religious sacrament of marriage, then we would have a situation where believers must obtain a government license to perform a religious sacrament. Not only that, but they would have to pay a government fee to perform this religious sacrament. And they would have to abide by a host of government regulations of this sacrament (concerning age, consanguinity, and more).

Worst of all, in advocating legal prohibition of gay marriage, people like Christofferson would be advocating increased government regulation of a religious sacrament! He would be calling for an egregious violation of religious freedom!

But of course he's not, because civil marriage and the sacrament of marriage are different things. I'm just giving everyone the reductio ad absurdum.

Christofferson surely understands this distinction between religious sacrament and legal status. He understands that (say) the Metropolitan Community Church has a First Amendment right to perform what it considers to be a sacrament that unites a lesbian couple in the sight of their God (but has no bearing on the couple's legal status).

Christofferson would not presume to tell another church what it may or not do in the way of sacraments (at least I hope not).

The gay marriage issue has nothing to with the sacrament of marriage. The issue is only whether the government's restriction of the legal benefits of civil marriage to straight couples violates the Constitutional right to equal protection of the laws.

I find the rhetoric in this post depressing, starting with the invocation of the Nazis -- pretty crass, given their mass murder of homosexuals. But I do hope at least that the Jews (the straight ones, anyway) will be relieved to know they've been replaced by gay people as the satanic threat to "human society and civilization" and, as is always the case in demonizing the scapegoat du jour, to the welfare of the children.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Orbiting. Well said.

Anonymous said...

I don't feel too invested in the gay marriage debate. But I sometimes wonder why of all the issues facing planet earth and all the people suffering across this globe, why is this the issue that the LDS are so vocal about. I think it has to do with polygamy, that other "counterfeit" lifestyle that has its roots deep in the origins of Mormonism.

Imagine if gay marriage gets the final green light and spreads all over the nation. What is going to happen? The polygamists have been living out their alternative lifestyle in the face of persecution for decades. Over a hundred years. They more closely represent early Mormonism than Salt Lake City Mormonism.

The Church can't disavow the reality of it, but they also want to make it appear that they are in no way, shape, or form connected to polygamy in anyway. The gay marriage campaign, when it is successful, with give the Fundamentalists a strong precedent. They will be vindicated. In their eyes, Wilford Woodruff will be even more wrong than ever. They'll have strength to their argument and their claim.

And the LDS do not want to see this happen. Polygamy is the skeleton in the closet that keeps knocking louder and louder.

I think it is the fear of the old spector of polygamy that is causing the LDS church to fight so hard against "counterfeit" lifestyles and alternative forms of marriage. They don't want it widely circulated that even today, there are good LDS who are sealed to two living women (not civilly married, of course, but sealed). There are men in this church who even today expect to see two wives again waiting for them on the other side.

It is going to be some rocky years ahead for the Church.

Jeff Lindsay said...

I'm feeling pretty relaxed, Orbiting, thanks. But I also believe that marriage is vital for our society, that the unique demands of our biology require special recognition for the union of a man and woman, and that children do best when raised by a father and a mother. It's more than just a matter of personal religions tastes and arbitrary legal definitions.

I'll offer my personal view that marriage is not just a religious construct nor a purely legal one. It is rooted in our biology and in the ancient roots of human society. It predates government. It is in the interest of society to protect it and nourish it, and thus society tends to have and should have legal protections for that essential organization that is the engine of the future and the foundation of civilization.

Religion definitely gets into the act and can introduce various refinements, rites, doctrines, etc., related t the sacrament of marriage, but there are core principles that need protection and nourishment with a legal framework, regardless of one's religious beliefs. Perhaps that's similar to how religion can teach us all about honesty, sharing, tithing, giving, respecting property of others, etc., all of which impacts how we treat property, but there also needs to be core legal protections around property rights. But it's not a good comparison because marriage is much more tied to our innate biology.

Protecting marriage does not ban relationships. If people want to shack up, so be it -- I'm not going to force them apart and have no hate for those of any orientation with lifestyles contrary to what I think is most ideal. But who has the right, after all these centuries, to redefine marriage for all of society? If marriage is redefined to be anything driven by a passionate emotional bond, the special status and special protections needed for children and childbearing are weakened, and the welfare of children is jeopardized. There are legitimate issues in the social science around the needs of children. There is a reason to promote as much as possible the ideal of children raised by a father and a mother.

I recognize my position may increasingly be the minority viewpoint and others will take their own paths elsewhere. I hope it will be possible in the future to still express such minority viewpoints and to discuss these matters sanely--thank you for your well stated comments, by the way--but I fear that tolerance for such traditional views will diminish, based on the hostility that dissent seems to stir up already in some circles.

Unknown said...

I also believe that marriage is vital for our society, that the unique demands of our biology require special recognition for the union of a man and woman, and that children do best when raised by a father and a mother.

Jeff, I'd be more sympathetic to this view if there was any evidence of either of the following:

(1) That gay marriage will somehow weaken the institution overall.

There's just no evidence for this. Marriage certainly has been weakened over the past half century, but by factors having nothing to do with gay rights.

(2) That gay marriage will reduce the number of children "raised by a father and a mother."

This won't happen either. Banning gay marriage will not mean that children currently being raised by gay couples will suddenly find themselves in "traditional" families. These children will continue to be raised by gay parents; the only change will be that more of those gay parents will enjoy the legal and social benefits afforded by civil marriage -- benefits that will trickle down to their children as well. Banning gay marriage does nothing to enhance the welfare of children.

And if (1) and (2) fail, what possible warrant remains for the claim that "the unique demands of our biology require special recognition for the union of a man and woman"?

I fear that tolerance for such traditional views will diminish, based on the hostility that dissent seems to stir up already in some circles.

Probably so. But I think one reason said tolerance will decrease is because experience will show the groundlessness of so many of the arguments against gay marriage. When that happens, continuing opposition will naturally appear less and less reasonable.

Allen Ford said...

We don't know that the world will be a better place because the nation has begun to sanction SSM. One thing we do know, however, is that there are SSM activists who ultimately want to destroy marriage. And that won't be good for the social fabric, and that may eventually happen. Here's one activist's words: "Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there--because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie. The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist."

Unknown said...

Here's another thing we know, Champ: there are extremists on your side as well. I'm sure I could find one and wave some scary quote around as if it were an argument, but I'm trying to be respectable.

Anonymous said...

Here are some great quotes about traditional marriage.

"If we were to do away with polygamy, it would only be one feather in the bird, one ordinance in the Church and kingdom. Do away with that, then we must do away with prophets and Apostles, with revelation and the gifts and graces of the Gospel, and finally give up our religion altogether and turn sectarians and do as the world does, then all would be right. We just can't do that, for God has commanded us to build up His kingdom and to bear our testimony to the nations of the earth, and we are going to do it, come life or come death. He has told us to do thus, and we shall obey Him in days to come as we have in days past."

Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses 13:165

"The one‑wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people."

John Taylor, Millennial Star, Vol. 15, p. 227

"Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire....Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers.... Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord's servants have always practiced it. 'And is that religion popular in heaven?' it is the only popular religion there."

Brigham Young, The Deseret News, August 6, 1862

Allen Ford said...

I support, unlike many SSM activists, the right of states to determine whether they want SSM. What I don't support, however, is activist judges deciding that it is a civil right, robbing/hijacking the 14th Amendment, disregarding its original intent. African Americans in California in 2008 didn't view the issue that way, and of course as a class they are very sensitive to whether something is a civil right. So it is reasonable to view Judge Walker's decision in August 2010 as disenfranchising California blacks who voted heavily for Prop. 8 in November 2008. And the way we make law is extremely important, since it impacts the legal system generally. By making any law in the wrong way, we increase the likelihood that we'll legislate in the wrong way going forward.

Unknown said...

ETBS: I wasn't gonna go there, but since you did.... yeah, you'd think that this particular church, with its, um, colorful track record, would be a bit more circumspect when commenting on "traditional" marriage. I'm not sure the leadership understands just how hypocritical it all seems to outsiders.

Champ: I'm not surprised to see that you share the originalism of Justice Scalia. Tell me -- do you agree with Scalia that the Equal Protection Clause does not apply to women?

Anonymous said...

There are gays that are vocal about NOT legalizing SSM. And they have good arguments. Look it up.

There are children raised by gay fathers and gay mothers who are speaking out about how the gay lifestyle has negatively affected them. Look it up. Also there are gays practicing polygamy.

The LDS church said that gays, if given legal marriage, would not stop there. How right the LDS church was. A cab driver was sued by a gay couple because the cab driver dared asked the gay couple to refrain from making out in the cab. The gay couple won and the cab driver was fined $15,000.00. To disagree with anything these days is a hate crime IF it is directed at gays and Blacks. It is out of hand.

Divorce and promiscuity are very big problems which also destroy the fabric of society, as well as spousal and child abuse, drug use, etc.

Society has become so promiscuous that it is the norm. Really, really sad. Free speech has been lost.

Anonymous said...

"But I also believe that marriage is vital for our society, that the unique demands of our biology require special recognition for the union of a man and woman, and that children do best when raised by a father and a mother. "

I'm not sure how marriage is vital for society. There are certainly many single people who manage to make very real contributions to society without doing it irreparable harm and there are any number of married people who leave a lot of chaos and pain in their wake. Certainly, if this were a larger phenomenon, society would look different but I'm not sure it's clear that it would suffer outside of the narrow religious definitions that are forced on so many.

As for the unique demands of our biology, what individuals' biology demands is really theirs to negotiate. I won't ask how you and your spouse negotiate yours but I'm sure gay spouses negotiate theirs just fine, thank you very much. And if they're not complaining I wonder who has a right to.

Children, meanwhile, do very nicely in loving, supportive homes of many descriptions and variations. There are children who are not growing up in institutions because they've been adopted into gay families. I am grateful for their sake that those families have social and legal status. I suspect there are children of straight marriages who would like as much emotional and financial support from their fathers.

Of course, there are many Americans who don't see the whole point of marriage as procreation. Open your horizons a little! I can only speak from my experience in a straight marriage for nearly 50 years now. We are parents but I am happy to say that being parents was never the sole point, nor was it at every point the highlight of our life together.

For myself, I think infinitely more damage has been done to society in the recent past by the deliberate divisiveness of institutional religions such as the LDS than by loving people making their own personal arrangements and demanding their equal rights.

Anonymous said...

Curiously, progressives are now extending marriage when decades ago they didn’t want it at all. Like the non-marriage they wanted before, the marriage they want now is socially destructive. They seek to bastardize marriage by making it mean something it doesn’t, eroding the institution and the concept of family overall. As before, they are making gains at the expense of the vulnerable.

Pierce said...

Anonymous @1:36 Might I recommend that you start researching how marriage benefits society. There is plenty there.

"what individuals' biology demands is really theirs to negotiate."

Sure, but marriage is a social contract. It is a social recognition of a relationship between (*whomever society decides to recognize*)
The individual is free to believe as they wish, and enter into whatever relationship they want to. But if you're looking to get it recognized by society, then their opinion does matter. And if society determines that the relationships that actually perpetuate society should be protected and fostered, then that's what should be.

Anonymous said...

"Sure, but marriage is a social contract. It is a social recognition of a relationship between (*whomever society decides to recognize*)"

Wake up and smell the coffee, Pierce! Society has shifted and decided to recognize marriages between men and marriages between women.

So I guess we can all relax now and go back to working on things like financial viability & stability for working Americans, upgrading American infrastructure to adequate, providing access to a reasonable level of healthcare and ensuring the inspection & safety of food, right?

Pierce said...

If society has shifted so drastically, then it wouldn't take Judges overruling the democratic process to appease their own interpretation and agenda. Besides, if the states legitimately pass laws that redefine marriage in a legal sense, then so be it. It doesn't mean that religious institutions are required to drop the subject and adopt the views a wayward people.

I would love to move on to those other issues, but it is not people like me who run on and focus on the homosexual agenda and other social policies.

Unknown said...

Pierce, it seems to me that gay marriage has already proved a net plus.

The once-prevalent "gay subculture" of promiscuity, anonymous hookups, etc., seems to be disappearing in societies that provide a respectable alternative. It's quite possible that this is happening because there's now a respectable alternative. It's quite possible that the root of the old personally and socially destructive subculture was precisely the old social rejection, and resulting alienation, of gay people.

But the fight is pretty much over in this country. Continued resistance is your right, but it is also, as the Borg says, futile.

Social pressure is a powerful thing. In a decade or two you might find that your religious thoughts on the "gay agenda" will be received about as warmly as complaints about "uppity Negroes" or "Jewish bankers" are today. You will still have your religious freedom, but people will stop inviting you to their parties.

Anonymous said...

Meanderings, Kolob. Your analogies are abhorrent. Look, those pushing SSM know that there will always be tens of millions who believe the Bible and its clear condemnation of homosexual behavior (in the NT as well as the OT). So they know that these believers can never in good conscience accept codifying such relationships into law as a good thing. The Bible doesn't permit that view. The SSM crowd will get their SSM despite the lack of a clear compelling state interest. In the future they will have to draw lines that are less rationally defensible. The OSM line has always made sense, abstracting away from the biblical. Making marriage a romantic/emotional institution opens it up to many bizarre possibilities. Extreme elements will eventually clamor for more and end up calling "traditional" SSM types haters and bigots.

Unknown said...

Anonymous 11:37, even if it's true that the Bible gives a "clear condemnation of homosexual behavior," so what? Jesus gave a clear condemnation of divorce, yet few believers today think divorce should be illegal.

More broadly: believers regularly distinguish between (1) what the Bible says is wrong, and (2) what the government should ban.

You and I probably both agree with the following state of affairs:

Murder and theft are biblically wrong and illegal.

Covetousness and worshipping other gods are biblically wrong, but not illegal.

So yes, you and I both agree that the biblical realm of morality does not map perfectly onto the secular realm of law. (If it did, we'd be a theocracy.)

On what basis do we decide which of the Bible's many prohibitions should be enforced by secular law? Whatever that basis is, it clearly is not the mere fact of biblical condemnation.

All of which is to say that this statement of yours just does not compute:

[T]here will always be tens of millions who believe the Bible and its clear condemnation of homosexual behavior (in the NT as well as the OT). So ... these believers can never in good conscience accept codifying such relationships into law as a good thing.

The Bible explicitly condemns the worship of other gods, yet people's right to do so is codified into our law, and I'll bet that even you consider that to be a good thing.

Pierce said...


I feel that people get a bit to smug in comparing this issue to civil rights or racism. The comparison is a poor one, in my view. When I think about the "gay agenda," what comes to mind to me are the wedding cake incidents in Colorado and Oregon, where a gay person gets offended and decides to take legal action against the offender by using bullying tactics to override a person's freedom to choose what they will and won't support. It doesn't matter whether you're gay, black, white, or straight, I don't find it acceptable to trample a persons actual rights in order to make push an agenda for perceived rights, political correctness, or hurt feelings.
Behavior and actions are different than race and racist stereotypes.

I actually understand that popular opinion has swung far in the other direction. Religious institutions and moral systems weren't made to simply follow a worldly trend right out the door. Our belief about sexual promiscuity for heterosexuals became antiquated before this, yet we're still talking about it the same way. Even though it's antiquated by worldly standards, I still believe in the principles of marriage and commitment and sex between a married man and woman.

I also vote on public policy according to how I believe, not how others believe. If the government recognizes marriage as a status, then marriage must be legally defined. The people should determine what the people will define marriage as, since it is a social contract and recognition. Therefore, I will vote according to what I think marriage is, and others will do the same even-- if it is a "downhill battle" for either side. To sum it up: I voted for Ron Paul, if that's any indication of how much I care about popular opinion.

Anonymous said...

Pierce, I have a 4yo grandson who would simply put his fingers in his ears and run away. In his own way, he's more articulate.

How can you deny that marriage equality is a civil right? Lawyers can't. That's why marriage equality has swept the nation and will probably soon be a ruling of the Supreme Court.

In your example of businesses being trampled just substitute the word Black and lunch counter and see if that illuminates anything or shakes your conscience loose in some way.

If you need religion to sanction your bigotry I think you only embarrass sincere believers.

And, believe it or not, I'm not the least surprised that you're a Ron Paul supporter.

Pierce said...

Your four year old grandson also probably name calls without even understanding what they are saying as well, which is what I see in your comments. I'll let your accusation of bigotry go because you don't know me, and you have the right to say it--even though you are dead wrong and rude (which supports my point).

But let me explain. Nobody has a "right" to marriage, because marriage isn't a right. For gays or for straights. There are very few things that are actual, inherent rights. You have a right to your life, your property, your speech, your associations, self defense, etc. Do you see where these rights have been enumerated before? These are self-evident and do not come from government. They exist independent of government and pre-date it. Marriage, on the other hand, is a social compact where individuals are seeking for society to endorse their relationship. *A person does not have a right to someone else's endorsement, even though they have a right to choose with whom they will have a relationship.* You believe that rights can be invented out of thin air, or that they are invented by the Supreme Court (you're not alone). I believe that rights are inherent.

"In your example of businesses being trampled just substitute the word Black and lunch counter and see if that illuminates anything or shakes your conscience loose in some way."

I guess it would be a big surprise to you to know that I abhor bigotry and similar behaviors. I also believe that private individuals actually have a right to be bigots, jerks, racists, and dummies--and those rights extend to their own business. I believe a black person can open up a store that only serve blacks. Or a gay-friendly bakery that won't support pro-traditional marriage statements on their cakes (have you seen the video of this? I wonder if you consider the gay owners to be bigots as well). I don't believe that government can institute laws promoting segregation or racism or bigotry (like Jim Crow laws). I personally wouldn't get my cake from the shops in that example because I don't really like their attitude. However, she has the right to be that way, and will reap the natural consequences of losing business, getting a bad rep, getting bad reviews, etc. without the government fining them out of business. That's how freedom works, yet many people want to not be free because free doesn't always mean fair (or their definition of it).

Anonymous said...

Sign of the apocalypse: I, an otherwise active Mormon, agree with Orbiting Kolob in most of what he says. Dangit.

I am influenced by having a transgender son. These kinds of issues came up close and personal, and through careful study I see benefits to society to welcoming more to marriage, particularly since so many heterosexuals seem to be abandoning it in droves.

I'm sure it's open for discussion whether I have been overwhelmed by emotion in changing my views on this aspect of marriage, or am finally seeing clearly.

We adopted our first two children. Is that an example of a counterfeit relationship, as the children did not come by our acts of procreation?

Mark Steele

Anonymous said...

"I guess it would be a big surprise to you to know that I abhor bigotry and similar behaviors."

Yes. Based on the fact that you are using comically fractured logic, bald-faced psychology textbook denial and outmoded literalist religious dogma to insert yourself into other people's private lives in a way that deprives them of their rights and is needlessly cruel; I would say that you're a bigot. Note that while you choose to represent this as name calling it is, in fact, an observation of what's in evidence.

While you may be free to sit in your living room and practice your libertarianism and bigotry all day (hope it makes you happy), you are not free to interfere in the free exercise of other people's lives. That's not my personal whim, mind you. The courts say so. Even if they do that reluctantly and rather late in the game, they have said it because the law says it. And one day the 80 and 90 yo LDS leaders will die and you'll have a prophet (or a newsroom) who will find a way to say it too. It will be exactly like when a generation of racists died (well, most of them) and all men were admitted to the priesthood and, therefore, exaltation.

This LDS fixation on sexuality as sinful and a limited segment of adult sexuality as a target for violation of civil rights is unhealthy and anti-social and needs to be confined to LDS households if you insist on maintaining it and intruding in people's personal lives at all.

Anonymous said...

"I would say that you're a bigot".

You will be called a bigot when you are not extreme enough in your views to satisfy the latest progressive zealotry that wants to move the line further than you would like.

Anonymous said...

"You will be called a bigot when you are not extreme enough in your views to satisfy the latest progressive zealotry that wants to move the line further than you would like."

Not in the least.

It's simple but I'll explain it anyway: every other person is entitled to the same civil rights and courtesies you are. When you attempt to actually interfere with that based on some superficial class you judge them to belong to, you're exhibiting bigotry.

Jeff Lindsay said...

I am disappointed in the way some so-called progressives respond to anyone who disagrees with name-calling. There are reasons besides bigotry to oppose some social changes underway. Empathy and courtesy on both sides is needed.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Mark Steele, thanks for your input. The transgender issue is one that has caught my attention and sympathies as I learned the details of the lives and challenges of two transgender Christian friends of mine, one of whom is LDS. I'm quite pleased with how her Church leaders have handled her unique case (might be able to share more on that sometime), though it is loaded with lessons that need to be considered in many other situations.

See my first post on this topic: Pondering the Complexities of Transgender Issues and my later follow-up, Still Pondering the Complexities of Transgender Issues.

The Proclamation on the Family might not say as much on that topic as some people assume. It's an inspired declaration that merits careful reading.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Orbiting said:
I find the rhetoric in this post depressing, starting with the invocation of the Nazis -- pretty crass, given their mass murder of homosexuals. But I do hope at least that the Jews (the straight ones, anyway) will be relieved to know they've been replaced by gay people as the satanic threat to "human society and civilization" and, as is always the case in demonizing the scapegoat du jour, to the welfare of the children.

It's "pretty crass" to mention the letters of Priest who was killed by the Nazis? Apart from the old "anything a Mormon leader says must be bad" point of view, how do you come up with this?

Then you insinuate that Christofferson is now making homosexuals the targets for extermination, Nazi-style, because he thinks redefining marriage after all these centuries would be harmful to society. Wow, talk about extremist rhetoric.

There's a bit of a difference between not welcoming a significant change in a social and legal concept, and having a bloody extermination. There's a classic demonstration of the lowest denominator in online debates: calling your opponent a Nazi murderer when they are nothing of the kind. Yawn!

There may be fair arguments to be made for redefining marriage to be a union between any two people, or any three or four or five or whatever number of people, or even between any person and his/her/its self (provided the person is genuinely in love with his or her self, of course). But the instinct to respond to critics of those arguments as "Nazis" is unreasonable, absent evidence of actual Nazi-like intent. There may be legitimate reasons for opposing such arguments that have nothing to do with hate or a desire to slaughter.

Anonymous said...

Jess, it is beyond laughable that when you support a church that has put itself in the business of interfering with people's basic rights since the 60s and most recently went to the microphone before the world and their 15million followers to call a segment of the human population "counterfeit" that you want non-Mormons to be "nice".

Your church has used the power of its wealth -- wealth which come in significant part from American taxpayers freighting the bill for the taxes it is exempt from -- to try to curb the legal status and rights of women, Blacks and gay people. In the attempt to do that it has, at times. labeled women, Blacks and gay people as communist, anti-social and now "counterfeit" for simply asserting their rights to the same protections that White men are so fundamentally in control of that they don't even need to assert their rights.

Yes, this represents change. But people who still own an American history of "redefining marriage" are perhaps the last who should dig in their heels when the outcome is already apparent. One might look at the Black middle class that is the heritage of the civil rights struggles of the 60s (that Mormons couldn't find in their hears to accept until the late 70s) and see redeeming possibilities. Particularly where the rate of suicide in young Mormon men is so high.

The facts are not "nice", Jeff. You might contribute your own set of facts to the discussion but I'm sure you're aware that the best legal minds that the church has have yet to come up with any to give serious consideration to. Or you might consider that when you seek to laud the continuing anti-social and un-American rhetoric of the brethren that there will be folks who are not afraid to be blunt in defense of the civil rights of all.

Anonymous said...

"There's a bit of a difference between not welcoming a significant change in a social and legal concept, and having a bloody extermination."

There's also a bit of difference between resisting change and marshaling huge resources of manpower and money to systemically encode discrimination into law.

The statement above should get the LDS Newsroom Several-Months-Short-of-Fifteen Prize for dissembling.

Jeff Lindsay said...
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Jeff Lindsay said...
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Anonymous said...

"When you can no longer engage in civil discourse and, driven by anger, feel justified in any means to achieve your end, that is the end of civil society and the fuel that fires bloody revolutions. "

Excuse me but did you recently dress someone down for conflating the ilk of the Prop 8 campaign with extermination camps? And now you're conflating justifiable anger over a denial of basic civil rights with bloody revolutions?

Pierce said...

There is a difference between being a bigot and believing that people have a right to be bigots. Please try to keep up.

Jeff Lindsay said...

I don't like what I said in haste and agree that it was overheated. Fair to call me out on that. Tried to revise my comment right away but was defeated by Internet trouble. Here is a revision:

"The facts are not 'nice'" so those who disagree with the Church or anyone else don't have to be "nice." They don't have to civil, on-topic, courteous, humane, or whatever. All they have to do is feel anger and then the ends justify the means. They can feel proud of being "blunt."

When you can no longer engage in civil discourse and, driven by anger, feel justified in any means to achieve your end, civil society is at risk. Sometimes the results are extreme and ugly.

Hatred of those who disagree with you is not the path to real social progress. It is the main tool, though, of those who manipulate others to gain power. The Book of Mormon is terribly relevant in this matter.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Anon shouts that the Church has "labeled women, Blacks and gay people as communist, anti-social and now 'counterfeit.'" I totally missed that news conference. When exactly did Sheri Drew tell her fellow LDS women that they were all actually anti-social communists?

Calm down, anon. We disagree, but this kind of inflammatory rhetoric is disappointing.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I'm done but before I leave I do want to say that I haven't "shouted" anything. I have typed at the same volume as anyone else here.

Is there a reason that you wanted to mischaracterize what I've said or the manner in which I've said it?

And, secondly, labeling Black people struggling during the civil rights era of the 60s and feminists during the ERA era of the 70s as communist was pervasive among Mormons. I'm sure you're old enough to remember that. The attempt to defect by asking for a quote from Sheri Dew is more gas lighting.

It's time to look yourself in a mirror and ask if you don't have substantial defenses for the LDS piling on minority groups why you defend such anti-social and un-American activities.

Anonymous said...

Do the rude commenters and gay marriage supporters go on other religions (like Catholics) web sites and do the same as they do on this site and other LDS sites that defend marriage between only a man and woman?

The rude comments and name calling prove many points: no one can have differing opinions of the ones yelling the loudest, in this case gays and their supporters are the ones doing the yelling. Free speech is no longer allowed in this country, neither is thinking independently, nor having conservative religious beliefs. This country is becoming as Canada has become........keep your opinions to yourself or be fired, beat up, be denied an education, and so forth. What a shame that people can't respect a different belief / way of thinking, and resort to name calling because of that different belief. Hypocrites.......respect my way of life or else. The hypocrites don't extend any courtesy to those they attack.

And calling someone hateful or a bigot or any name just because one believes differently is hateful in itself. Hate is a strong word and bandied about without understanding the real meaning of the word.

There are children raised by gays that are telling their stories (not positive) and the media and gay community are trying to silence them. For people (gays) who want tolerance and respect and rights, they sure don't want to give it to others.

Unknown said...

Anon 7:31 asks, Do the rude commenters and gay marriage supporters go on other religions (like Catholics) web sites and do the same as they do on this site and other LDS sites that defend marriage between only a man and woman?

Yes, they do -- for a good example, see here.

It wasn't hard for me to find this Catholic anti-gay-marriage blog post (and the 228 mostly negative comments it generated). In fact it took me about 30 seconds.

Free speech is no longer allowed in this country, neither is thinking independently, nor having conservative religious beliefs.

That must be why Bill O'Reilly and Mike Huckabee and Rush Limbaugh are all in jail. I'm sure the notorious PC police are coming for Thomas Monson any minute now.

Maybe we could stop with the persecution complex already?

Anonymous said...

Nice try orbitational. Yes, before gays lost livelihoods. Now people who publicly disagree with gay marriage lose livelihoods. The pendulum has swung too far. Thought police are out in force.

illuminated said...

States, by judicial fiat, are ruling in favor of SSM all over the country, they are getting more and more legislation in their favor than ever before.

Yet LBGT hate and anger for Christians and anyone who still supports traditional marriage continues to grow.

There is a reason why the LGBT community and its supporters are so angry and hateful - and why getting what they want is never enough. It's because deep down 1) they know what they're doing doesn't make them happy (because wickedness never was happiness) and, 2) they know that they're winning this issue, not by changing hearts and minds, but by the iron hand of the government.

See, they know that they are not changing minds. They know that people are only supporting them because of laws and bullying. The law in Indiana is a good example. You saw all these businesses come out against it, but only because they didn't want to be singled out and boycotted by the LGBT bullies. It's not real support, it's just the admission that they don't want their bottom line affected.

The hateful LGBT supporters know this and it drives them into a mad frenzy. You get people calling for businesses to be burned down, death threats, and other hateful comments toward Christians and Christian businesses. All because they know they aren't winning hearts. They're just winning in the courts.

Orbiting Kolob is a great example of these types of people, he's truly a spectacle to watch. He grows angrier and angrier by the post. He's angry because he knows that in public, people are supporting LGBT causes, but when they go home at night, behind closed doors, they tell their close friends and family members how filthy they feel for being forced to support them.

The LDS Church isn't immune to it either. You're seeing two faces now: The public, "corporate", face which is ready to raise the rainbow flag for Gay rights, and the "Sunday" face, which preaches from the scriptures about the evils of non-male/female sexual relationships. I've seen it first hand, our Stake Presidency had a closed door meeting with us during ward conference where they made it abundantly clear where the church really stood on the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage. They wanted us to know this because they felt some were getting "mixed messages". They wanted us to know that this issue was brought to them from the general authorities to transmit to us at the local level.

Homosexuality simply can't be compared to divorce and infidelity. Its evil has been preached from the beginning of time, from Adam and Eve, through Sodom and Gomorrah, Leviticus, Kings, Samuel, and throughout the New Testament by Jesus' Apostles. It's the bedrock sin, the sin that lies at in direct opposition to the law of the family that God set out from His first children.

So of course Satan is trying so hard with this. This is the nail in the coffin to God's plan, more than anything else. But that should bring the faithful more hope and comfort, knowing that Satan is real and the time of the Savior's return is near.

Anonymous said...


God's plan is the salvation of souls. Mormons have turned it into a "family affair" through the doctrine of exaltation. Where do you go to find the doctrine of eternal family in the Standard Works? Well...there are only two places. D&C 131 and 132. And both of these sections are historically rooted in the practice of polygamy.

See,...if it weren't for Smith's desire to have a lot of "wives" there would be no doctrine of eternal family in the church today. This doctrine sprang out of the practice of polygamy.

Smith got bored talking about mere salvation (everyone is going to get it anyway according to D&C 76, except sons of perdition). He got so bored with it, he decided to focus his attention on the rewards in Heaven. And he decided to define the highest such reward and call it exaltation. Exaltation is the only salvation the Saints seek, said Elder McConkie. And according to the earliest Saints, it was inseparably connected with the plurality of wives and the concept of "eternal increase."

So, rightly did Elder Packer say in Conference that procreation IS the plan of happiness, not just one aspect of it. Even today, in statements like this, you get just a small taste of what Mormonism was really like when it first got rolling.

I find it quite amusing the position the Church is in today. Less than 150 years after defending its own counterfeit lifestyle in the halls of the Supreme Court (and losing), it is now fighting against another "counterfeit" lifestyle in the halls of the Supreme Court (and losing). The hypocrisy is so obvious to those who can step back a bit and really see what is going on.

Unknown said...

Illuminated writes, See, they know that they are not changing minds.

Not true. Poll after poll shows that more and more people are coming to support gay marriage. Note that the voters in Maine approved same-sex marriage in 2012, after having rejected it a few years earlier.

So of course Satan is trying so hard with this.

You're basically saying that I and millions of others are agents of Satan, that we are in league with the very epitome of evil. Maybe that explains some of the anger you see? I'm thick-skinned enough that I don't mind being called satanic, but oddly enough, a lot of other people do mind it.

Has it ever occurred to you that, when you characterize your opponents as satanic agents, you actually deserve the ensuing dislike and social ostracism?

Yes, I understand that your religion requires you to see me and millions of others as pawns of Satan. But still, has it ever occurred to you that this is one reason we think so poorly of your religion?

You get people calling for businesses to be burned down....

True enough -- a very few people. Every movement has its fringe. But thoughtful people don't judge the majority of a group by the actions of its most extreme elements. You know as well as I do how unfair and illogical that is.

Homosexuality['s] evil has been preached from the beginning of time, from Adam and Eve, through Sodom and Gomorrah....

Sorry, but on any reasonable reading the Adam and Eve story says nothing about gay rights. Yes, it establishes heterosexuality as a norm, but that says nothing at all about how the law should treat those who deviate from that norm.

You seem to be assuming a straightforward relation between divine scripture and secular law. But it doesn't work that way. The Ten Commandments tell us that we must worship the one and only Judeo-Christian God, but I trust even you would agree that this tells us nothing about how the law should treat those who worship differently.

The relationship between religious belief and secular law is a complicated topic that needs to be thought through a lot more carefully than you seem to have done. Step one is realizing that we don't live in a Mormon theocracy.

Also, you're misreading the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The "sin of Sodom," as Ezekiel makes clear, was not homosexuality. It was inhospitality and greed. The story uses homosexual rape as the symbol of that inhospitality, just as it uses Lot's offer of his two virgin daughters as a symbol of hospitality. Obviously, the story assumes homosexual rape to be a bad thing, but the sin for which the city is destroyed is the inhospitality that the homosexual rape symbolizes. (This is just Bible Reading 101.)

Another point about S&G: there's a rather big difference between consensual gay sex (which is not in the story) and the homosexual gang rape which is in the story.

illuminated said...

God destroyed an entire city because they practiced homosexuality. The law of Moses commanded people to be stoned to death for practicing it. Elijah fought against it during the time of Jeroboam and his son. Paul taught vehemently against it during the time of his missions.

There's no misinterpretation there. It's been taught as an evil in the Bible from beginning to end. Adam and Eve were chosen, male and female, as the correct way to create a family.

No other sin of Scripture is taught against with as much fervor as the practice of homosexuality. People who practice it or support want to re-interpret scripture to make themselves feel better, but that won't change their anger. Good and evil isn't a social construct. It's a fundamental law that God's universe was created from. No re-interpretation, excuse, law, or poll changes that fact.

And yes, you admit the anger is real and there because what we preach hurts. That's because "the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.". The Holy Ghost can either help someone to humble themselves and accept truth, or it can incite hard-hardheartedness and pride. It's one or the other.

The hate and vitriol has hit a point where Christian lives and livelihood are being threatened. So much anger because we believe different than you. So much anger because the Light of Christ is in you and anger is the only way you feel you can deal with the pain of denying the Spirit.

Anonymous said...

Illuminated, you are wrong. The Book of Mormon says a lot more about neglecting the poor then it does about homosexuality. You are on a real kick here. Do you know any gay people? Would you be comfortable with them reading what you are writing here? Maybe so, but to say that there is no sin spoken against more strongly than homosexuality makes me really wonder if perhaps you have the Standard Works Westboro Baptist Edition.

Anonymous said...

If you want to see what threatened Christian lives really look like, Google ISIS.

By the way, what have your prophets, seers, and revelators had to say about that? Nothing.

They are too busy with something else, aren't they?

illuminated said...

I had 3 very good friends who were gay, two of which were my best friends in school and the third is still a good friend/relative now. All 3 went to prison for child sex abuse.

I am still and would be still (if they weren't in prison) very good friends with them. My personal friendship and love for them has nothing to do with my beliefs on homosexuality.

The whole world's persecution of Christians is getting worse and worse not just among ISIS. The Pizzeria was just one example in thousands around the country where Christians are being attacked, bullied and forced out of business. Just recently a Christian conservative family was raided by a swat team in Wisconsin solely for their political leanings.

This is a sign of the times, it is so clearly obvious what is going on. Jesus gave us warnings of what would happen very he returned. The evil is supposed to outnumber the good in the last days. Even the elect will be deceived.

Choose your side very carefully in this.

Unknown said...

Wow, Illuminated. I have gay friends, too, exactly none of whom have molested any children, much less been convicted of it. What are the odds?

Please be advised that your reading of the S&G story is at odds with that of the prophet Ezekiel, who read it as I do. (FWIW, a lot of my Bible students, accustomed to the pablum of their religious "Bible study," also have trouble understanding the complexities of Genesis 19 and "the sin of thy sister Sodom.")

Anyway, the question of the biblical view of homosexuality is moot until you can explain why biblical pronouncement should determine secular law --- that is, until you explain why you want to subject everyone to your particular version of theocracy. You haven't done so yet, though I'm sure you understand the question perfectly well.

What strikes me most about your recent comments is that your religion has given you such a convenient way of understanding what makes your opponents tick.

In your view, apparently, gay people are not angry because of the way they are treated (and historically have been treated), but because deep down inside they know they're the evil scum that people like you say they are. How nice it must be not to have to bother actually talking to people to learn the truth about how they feel....

Yours is not the only folk psychology out there. Some people would say that you are anti-gay because you have repressed gay desires yourself. Others would attribute your anger to the difficulty experienced by the straight/male/white/whatever when they lose their accustomed privilege and start finding themselves treated like everyone else; loss of privilege feels like persecution.

I reject all of these simpleminded blanket explanations -- I consider them all to be forms of gaslighting -- because I understand that human emotions are generally pretty complex and often quite justified. (For what it's worth, this is something I learned in part from the Bible, a book that I love as much as you do, probably more.)

Anonymous said...

For what it is worth, a pedophile is different than a homosexual and it different from a heterosexual. All three require the same sexual restraint although I would imagine that being a pedophile could be easier, unfortunately, because the objects of their desires are much easier targets.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Orbiting, hospitality? consensual gay sex accords well with the Bible? You've drunk the kool-aid. I guess you're popular.

Unknown said...

Anon, don't hate me just because I know how to read.

Unknown said...

Two main points, Anon:

First, for the purposes of a political debate, it shouldn't matter what you believe the Bible says until you first show that this particular biblical view should become law.

The Bible condemns many things that we have chosen not to legally proscribe: divorce, worshipping other gods, coveting the neighbor's wife, etc. There are a host of biblical sins of this sort that we Americans have rather wisely chosen not to outlaw; perhaps same-sex marriage should be considered in the same way. Why not?

Why do people here refuse to answer this question? It's a perfectly reasonable one, even for the most devout Mormon.

Also, please note that if you do believe the biblical view should map perfectly onto American law, then you're saying America should be a theocracy, which would seem to contradict the LDS commitment to the Constitution and the democratic republic it created.

When the question is "Should this become law?" the answer cannot be simply "Yes, because the Bible condemns it." Again, this is true even for the most devout Mormon. Presumably this is one reason why the Church has taken the trouble to come up with so many non-biblical justifications of its position.

Second, on the question of Genesis 19:

(1) I didn't say the Bible doesn't condemn sex between men. It does. Genesis 19, however, does not.

(2) The men of Sodom threaten the visiting angels with gang rape, which is not at all the same thing as consensual sex between men. It is certainly not the same thing as "homosexuality," any more than straight gang rape is the same thing as "heterosexuality." Homosexual gang rape is best understood as a violent way of asserting dominance -- of putting someone "in their place."

(3) Genesis 19 is clearly mythic rather than historical. The story includes at least two elements of etiological myth (aka origin myth): Lot's wife becoming a pillar of salt, and Lot's daughters shamefully begetting the people Moab and Ammon.

The Israelites didn't like Moab and Ammon, and the story expresses that dislike by portraying them as originating in a pair of weird sexual acts. Also, as I mentioned above, the daughters' actions serve as a kind of poetic justice for their father. This kind of writing was commonplace in the ancient world; the writing of what we today call history was not. Why should we read the Bible as if it were something it is not?

(4) As I've already indicated, Genesis 19 is not actual history, but a literary construct that uses metaphor, symbolism, parallelism, etc. Lot offers up his daughters to be raped; later his daughters end up raping Lot. Lot's offer of his daughters make little sense if we read them literally as the actual historical actions of an actual father, especially one who serves as the "good guy."

The offer makes much more sense as a symbol of Lot's commitment to the ancient virtue of hospitality. The men of Sodom lack this virtue, and this is symbolized by their desire to treat the strangers in just about the worst way imaginable; in parallel fashion, Lot's devotion to hospitality is symbolized by his willingness to shelter the visiting strangers, even at the cost of such a precious thing as his daughter's virginity and quite possibly their lives (think of the Levite's concubine).

Of course, this symbolism only makes sense if we presuppose homosexual gang rape to be a very bad thing; if it were not a bad thing, it wouldn't be a very good symbol for inhospitality, just as a rose wouldn't be a good symbol for a good thing if a rose itself was not a good thing.

This is why I say that Genesis 19 presupposes the evil of homosexual gang rape, but is not about homosexual gang rape (much less about homosexuality per se). What the story is about is inhospitality, with homosexual gang rape serving as a literary vehicle to get its point across.

illuminated said...

Anon: I've read this insane line of reasoning lately from more than one LGBT supporter about homosexual sex supported by the Bible. The argument is going around apparently.

But they conveniently leave out Ezekial 16:50 as part of Sodom's list of sins:

And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.

Their abomination? Homsexuality as explained clearly in Genesis. I may be terrible wrong here, but a lack of hospitality is not usually considered an "abomination". Furthermore, their sin of "abomination" is listed separately and last among the list of their uncharitable sins indicating this is something different. This abomination also comes in the list precisely before the lord says he "took them away" which indicates it was the catalyst for their ultimate destruction.

If God destroyed every city whose people failed to practice "hospitality" and charity, there would be no city left on Earth. This interpretation of Ezekial 19 is such a stretch and so absurd it boggles the mind.

But it just underscores my point. Sinners want their sin to be okay. They want to feel good about they are doing, so trying to pervert scripture to make their acts seem holy and righteous is paramount. They are angry and resentful because they feel guilt for what they are doing.

If they didn't feel guilt, they would have no need to care one bit about what Christians or the Bible thought of them. They would have no need to try to make scripture agree with their lifestyle. But they can't because the distance from the Holy Spirit torments them.

illuminated said...

Even ignoring the fact that God only singled out and destroyed an entire city for this sin, you can't ignore the great lengths the law of Moses went to condemn homosexual acts throughout the Old Testament. Homosexual sex sat next to bestiality in its degree of wickedness and death was always the appropriate punishment.

Leviticus 18:
22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

Leviticus 20

13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Many Old Testament laws were done away with after the establishment of Christ's church in the New Testament, but it's abundantly clear that sins of a sexual nature were still considered just as heinous.

Jude 7-10 is very clear what the big sin of Sodom and Gomorrha was AND why God destroyed them:

7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

Paul was clear on the vile sin of homosexuality in Romans 1:

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

1 Corinthians explains that those who commit sexual sins including those with the same gender cannot inherit the kingdom of God:

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind

1 Timothy 1:

10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

What seems more likely? The Bible is condemning homosexuality based on all these clear references in the Old and New Testaments, or we have it wrong and it is really just talking a lack of "hospitality".

If you believe the latter, the Spirit has left you completely and you have no claim on any interpretation of the Prophets.

Unknown said...

In the ancient cultures of the Middle East, hospitality was a very important, bedrock virtue.

And why in the world would you write that gay-marriage proponents are "trying to pervert scripture to make their acts seem holy and righteous"?

I've seen plenty of people argue that gay sex is not sinful, but I've never seen anyone argue that it's righteous, much less holy. Is that what you think I'm arguing? Or are you just not thinking about the words that your fingers are typing?

If they didn't feel guilt, they would have no need to care one bit about what Christians or the Bible thought of them.

Actually, they have some very good reasons to care what Christians think of them, namely, the anti-gay laws that Christians keep promoting. (I mean, duh.)

illuminated said...

It's clear to me as a Christian that you don't mess with Homosexuality. You don't support it, you don't promote it, you don't accept it, and you certainly don't celebrate it. You don't do anything to make it even look like you feel it's okay or normal.

Every Christian should treat this sin like a vile and deadly plague. Even telling people that it's "okay" to be gay just as long as you don't practice it, is like telling someone to hold a burning coal just as long as you don't get burnt. Or like telling someone it's okay to hang out with someone infected with Ebola just as long as you don't kiss them.

"Watch your thoughts, words, and deeds".

Sinful behavior doesn't start the moment it is committed, it starts in someone's mind. It starts when it becomes normalized for them, when it becomes accepted and "tolerated".

The messaging of sin is just as dangerous as the sin itself, because that is where the roots began to take shape. And to be honest, I don't like the messaging that is being done by LDS members and even some leaders lately.

Telling your own members that actively supporting homosexuality on Facebook or other social media is perfectly fine (as Elder Christofferson said in a recent tv interview) is not the right message.

Telling young boys that other boys who are attracted to them are allowed to sleep in a tent with them, and that being gay is okay is the not the right message.

Actively pushing and publicly supporting legislation which can fine or even put your own members in jail for not wanting to allow gay sexual behavior on your own property is not the right message.

I believe in true equality. I believe that the value of my property and services is worth just as much as the value of your money. So why is it that I have the right to discriminate for any reason as the buyer, but suddenly lose that right as the seller? Why should property have less rights in selling or service form than property in money form? That's not equality.

I believe in what is right, true and correct. I believe in the teachings of the Prophets of the scripture and they taught that this sin is not something to be messed around with, normalized or accepted. Jesus taught us to love everyone, but to inspire them to become better than they are, not to accept and tolerate sin. I stand by the modern leaders of this Church, but they no longer own righteousness if they choose to deviate from it.

Unknown said...

Illuminated, if you're right then we might as well kill all the gay people by stoning them to death.

I propose that you, by virtue of your awesome Christian righteousness, should have the honor of throwing that first stone.

Anonymous said...

I think the point of this talk was that the LDS have a unique understanding of the plan of salvation and our roles and destinies within it--and that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to that plan. THAT is why we promote traditional marriage the way we do--not for tradition's sake or because of our interpretation of an antiquated text.

Unknown said...

Anonymous 3:22 -- I agree. That was the point of the talk. But still unanswered is the question of why promoting traditional marriage requires a ban on gay marriage.

No one is criticizing the Church for promoting traditional marriage, only for striving to deny gay marriage to couples who desire it.

Pierce said...

That was more directed at Illuminated.

You've presented a bit of a conundrum: a person can't very well promote traditional marriage by supporting gay marriage. The bottom line is that when it comes to a vote on what marriage is (which you have to do for legal purposes), you are going to choose to define it traditionally, or you are not. So, like many political issues, people will vote and promote according to their own beliefs, and not according to the beliefs or practices of their opponents. That idea should be respected by any intelligent person.

See if you can guess who I am describing:

A group of people are wanting their definition of marriage to be THE definition of marriage for everyone in society

The answer is: Both proponents of gay marriage and proponents of traditional marriage. You cannot demonize people simply because they are not willing to change what marriage truly is to them because others desire it.

You have made the point that we should not legislate religious beliefs, and that is true for a lot of things, but this is a rare instance where religious belief and secularism intersect. We're not talking about supporting sodomy laws. The question simply is: what is marriage?

Unknown said...

[A] person can't very well promote traditional marriage by supporting gay marriage.

But why not, Pierce? You're right that one cannot promote a traditional definition of marriage by supporting a nontraditional definition, but I would think the Church's concern is with traditional marriage itself. The definition of a thing is not the same as the thing itself. The map is not the territory.

The competing definitions of marriage are indeed mutually exclusive. (As you put it, "you are going to choose to define it traditionally, or you are not.") But this hardly means that extending actual marriage to gay couples has any real impact on actual traditional marriage.

Just because two definitions are mutually exclusive does not mean the exclusivity will carry over into the real world.

Again, the map is not the territory. The linguistic model is not the reality. But the Church -- falling victim to what looks to me like a variant of the fallacy of reification -- appears to be confusing the two.

Whether this is a simple mistake (it's a very common fallacy to which we are all susceptible) or a rhetorical strategy I won't venture to say.

Pierce said...

I see where you're coming from, and I wasn't familiar with that type of fallacy. It's an interesting one. You ask the question: "The definition of a thing is not the same as the thing itself." So then, what is marriage? I feel that the talk in the OP expounds on the definition and uses it as a springboard into our doctrine of commitment, children, and exaltation. So it's not as though we're using "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" as our map/territory. Our feelings and beliefs about marriage extend beyond definition and beyond individual relationships. But definitions are needed for legal purposes. I mentioned previously that marriage is a social compact, where people are seeking a social endorsement of their relationship--so it is up to society to determine what they will and won't endorse as far marriages go. Traditional marriage supporters are part of that society.

"But this hardly means that extending actual marriage to gay couples has any real impact on actual traditional marriage."

I won't really take this head on, as there are many views and debates about this topic, but I do think this is a loaded statement. Extending marriage to gay couples by changing the definition of marriage may not affect my personal marriage, or traditional marriage itself, but it does impact "marriage" and what it means in our society. Jeff articulated some of the implications in his response to you, and there are many more that I don't think most people consider.
Anyway, people who believe in traditional marriage have a vested interest in what society as a whole deems to be marriage.

illuminated said...

Obviously, Jesus and the New Gospel did away with stoning of homosexuals. I honestly hope you're not seriously asking me to do that. I would never advocate killing gays today even if you wanted me to, but that doesn't change the fact that the behavior is still just as evil as it was since Sodom and Gomorrah. The scriptures are clear on it.

Polygamy, on the other hand, is a lifestyle that has been practiced by prophets and devout followers of God since ancient times. The church is not hypocritical for supporting polygamy and denouncing homosexuality (well not so much anymore, sadly) because one sexual relationship was and is perfectly normal and fine, and the other is wickedness.

I don't understand how you can find that difficult to understand.

James Anglin said...
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James Anglin said...

I seriously cannot tell whether that's a sincere statement or deadpan satire.

Anonymous said...

In the wake of Catholic adoption services withdrawing from such in Illinois, Thomas Messner points out: "When civil liability or equal access to government benefits depends on private citizens adopting the ‘official’ state position on controversial moral issues, the potential for infringement of religious liberty and rights of conscience is clear."

Here's what's may be coming down the pike (adapted from elsewhere):

Religious colleges that fail to accommodate gay relationships will lose accreditation. Religious colleges, schools, and nonprofits that fail to embrace SSM will lose their tax-exempt status. (recently alluded to in SCOTUS exchange)

Public and private universities will be forced to withdraw recognition from student groups that subscribe to traditional religious views on sexuality. (already occurring)

No one who embraces traditional religious views on sexuality will be allowed to participate in elite level institutions in government, business, or academia. (already occurring)

Ministers who perform marriages recognized by the State who refuse to marry same-sex couples will be denied permission to perform marriages recognized by the State. (not too far down the road)

Churches that decline to bless same-sex unions will have their tax-exempt status withdrawn. (probable -- they must begin to prepare for it)

Parents do not have a fundamental right to raise their children according to their religious beliefs. Passing on to children traditional religious views on sexuality will be seen as a form of child abuse leading to forfeiture of parental rights.

The last one will take some time, but we may get there sooner than we think.

Mormography said...

We heard alot of this same rhetoric with no fault divorce opponets. It is little a hard to see how what is conceded to be a minuscule addition significantly dilutes this all important "critical mass" of approved families. Like Al Gore saying the Earth would be unihabitable by 2000, I suspose depending on who you ask everyone is right, the planet and society are currently in a hand-basket on the way to hell

More amazing is how the religion despite its charming appearances, is so constantly on the opposite side of humanity. Polygamy, civil rights, and now SSM. Even its recruitment methodology violates modern concepts ethical full disclosure.