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22 August 2008

i’ve been keeping late hours the last couple of weeks, thanks to the olympics and being on vacation with my family. last night my sister J and i spent our evening playing with her girls and watching the olympics (or at least i was ogling the beautiful men on the U.S. track team). which meant bedtime wasn’t until well after midnight.

i climbed into bed about one in the morning but found myself tossing and turning a bit. so i pulled out my computer to read a few of the blog posts i’d not had a chance to read (due to excursions to the park to have a picnic and ride the horsies [i.e., carousel], playing princess dress up, swinging small girls by their ankles, etc.). maybe it was a mistake to try to pass a bit of time that way, because it got my mind whirring. again.

all day yesterday, my frustrations and tension and pain over the church’s position on california’s proposition 8 (which would amend the state constitution to prohibit any marriage but that between a man and a woman) bubbled under the surface. let me be perfectly clear: i find this proposition repugnant in every way. i believe it originates in bigotry. i believe it attempts to deny citizens of the state liberties that the government should protect and preserve, rather than remove. there is no question in my mind that every citizen should have the opportunity to enter into a civil marriage contract with another consenting adult and to therefore receive the protections and privileges governments grant to married couples.

the day i heard the news that the california state supreme court had overturned prop. 22 (passed nearly ten years ago) and therefore declared marriage legal for all california adults regardless of sexual orientation, i celebrated. and the day i learned the church planned to join in the effort to pass prop. 8, i mourned. on the day (coincidentally–coughcough–gay pride day) the letter from church headquarters regarding prop. 8 was read in church, i went to church wearing a rainbow ribbon and with a freshly buzzed head–two visible attempts to declare my disagreement with the church’s actions without being too confrontational.

since then, i’ve continued to display my rainbow ribbon when i go to church. and i’ll keep my hair buzzed through the november election. but it’s not enough. last fast sunday, in the midst of incredible spiritual turmoil at least in part caused by this issue, i bore my testimony about what i believe is the true miracle of christ’s atonement–that it teaches us to look past people’s problems to recognize their beauty; to step outside of ourselves and extend love and compassion and understanding to all people, regardless of their gender or their race or their religion. for me the gospel of christ is a gospel of love and acceptance—one that requires that we stretch ourselves to understand how and why people think differently than we do. for me, the gospel of Christ is not one of imposing our own beliefs on others or of believing our job is to make everyone else like ourselves. but while i think i made that point fairly clearly, i did not specifically mention prop. 8 and gay marriage, in spite of a powerful desire to do so.

then last week a member of my ward called to confirm i’d received an email about the “prop. 8 walk.” i hadn’t, but rather than mentioning that, i immediately spoke up to explain my position. the conversation went something like this:

me: i think i should clarify that i will not only vote no on prop. 8, but i will also do everything i can to make sure it does not pass. and i will certainly not do anything that could be seen as support.

him: so you’re going against the brethren on this. {definitely a statement, not a question.}

me: no, i’m going with my conscience on this.

him: but you’re going against the brethren.

me: no, i’m going with my conscience, which is what i believe god expects of us.

him: hey, i don’t want to argue with you—i’m just kidding around. {trust me, there was no hint of humor in any of this exchange.}

and that’s where the conversation ended. when this man’s committee chairperson—an old friend of mine—called a few days later to ensure that the first caller hadn’t said anything inappropriate, i explained what he had said. my friend apologized. i asked him for clarification on what the “prop. 8 walk” was and clarified my own belief on the issue. because i’ve decided that i can certainly speak up in one-on-one conversations with other church members, even if i haven’t quite figured out how to speak up in institutional church settings.

i still feel that what i’ve done is not enough. and last night that was causing me a great deal of angst. so much that in spite of being very tired, i could not sleep. so when i was still tossing and turning after three in the morning, i called j(wh) and we talked through some of what i was feeling. not only about prop. 8, but about the church more generally. i won’t go into that here. i’m not sure it’s something i want to put out into the ether. we’ll see. but it was good to talk to him, to name my fears to someone else and receive in return unqualified love and concern.

and best of all, when we were about done talking he read me a bedtime story and encouraged me to hope for something that seems nearly impossible–because maybe, just maybe, the horse will sing. another reason i love my j(wh).

37 Comments leave one →
  1. 22 August 2008 7:08 pm

    thank you. thank you. i’ve been told “so you’re going against the brethren” many times, in words and looks. it’s a REALLY hard thing for me to hear.but like you, …no, I am going with my conscience.i think Sunday, a rainbow color ribbon will be in order.i admire your beliefs and your strength.

  2. 22 August 2008 11:16 pm

    My first time posting to your blog. What a doozy, eh?This is one of the hardest issues for me in the church. I don’t know what to do with it. Your readers may not know who I am, but you do. You know me, you know my heart, you know my experiences. So what I am about to say may or may not come as a surprise. You know that I am no Molly Mormon. I have always had an edge. There isn’t a law of this church that I haven’t broken to some extent. I, too, exist somewhat on the fringe. However, I am a fringe member with a tremendous respect for authority. Odd, isn’t it? Almost contradictory.I’ve wondered what I would do in this situation. A letter comes from the First Presidency (I assume those are the “brethren” to which you refer?) asking me to cast a vote that would deny any loving couple the right to marry. I picture Cedar, my best friend from high school, the gayest person anyone will ever know…and perhaps one of the best. If it were my right to marry that were on the line, I know that he wouldn’t hesitate to fight on my behalf.So you see, I don’t take this issue lightly. I can’t just waltz into a polling booth and blithely take someone’s civil rights away. It would break my heart.But this is what I know: This is Christ’s church, organized by His very hand, and the prophet who leads it is his mouthpiece. That is the biggest, greatest, grandest, most beautiful truth I know. And when my testimony and my conscience are at odds, as they are in this case, testimony trumps conscience every single time. Testimony is direct communication from the Spirit, and therefore, God Himself. To me, the idea of “conscience” is a little murkier. I think there are a lot of influences that come together to comprise one’s conscience, and some of them aren’t so pure and undefiled.Anyway, I’m taking up too much space and time. I hope you’re not horrified by what I’ve said. I hope you don’t think that I’m a judgemental, hateful, bigoted, skank. I try not to be. Give me a call sometime and maybe I can explain myself better.Love you.

  3. 23 August 2008 1:13 pm

    Lots of people are struggling with this issue this year. Come and join us if you’re looking for some community support: mormons for marriage

  4. 24 August 2008 10:58 am

    I’m just here to say that I love you too, I agree with you, and that I had a horrible, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach when I got to the end of this post.

  5. 24 August 2008 1:49 pm

    According to Frank Schubert, ‘Yes on 8’ campaign manager, the mobilization of LDS (Mormon) volunteers could save his campaign up to $26 million in costs related to micro-targeting persuadable voters.Micro-Targeting MormonsSo much for campaign finance rules.

  6. 24 August 2008 6:38 pm

    AmyI am sorry.think back to your recommendation interview and ask yourself truthfully if you are supporting people or groups who are opposing the gospel. i know that i am the least of people who can lay claim to righteousness. i am only one of your brothers who loves you dearly. i hope that i come across as one who loves you and cares for you. i know that we have differing views on things of this world, guns and politics are two of the biggest. i have two family members and one family members partner that i love dearly. these three individuals are gay and have done many things during the time i have had to get to know them that have blessed my life greatly. i will not ever be opposite of you in the fact that many if not most of the gay persons in this country could teach us all a thing or two about compassion and tolerance.i encourage you to look within the church and find your appropriate priesthood leader to share your feelings with and seek advice as to what you should do. you have a good friend in randi and many more who are sitting silent afraid they may offend praying for you to seek truth. your dad gets after your brother and i in an effort to prevent arguments and heated discussions when we gather as family. i receive grief from some of these same family members when i step up and call the police when i observe someone who may be intoxicated or otherwise creating a situation that may cause harm to come to any person within this world.the destruction of a clear definition on marriage does not remove so much the rights of others as it destroys the simple idea of the family. yes families will still exist if gay persons receive the legal recognition of law in marriage. loss comes in where the clear line of marriage is gone. the lord made his position clear in relation to Sodom and Gomorrah.i am not an educated person. i have not had or taken the luxury of pursuing higher education as many of my siblings have. i as you may or may not know am struggling with decisions in life. i have been unable to provide for my families simplest of needs these last few months and have been grateful to those of my family and community who have put forth their hand to assist me in making good the simple things that i need. in this time of trial i am finding myself pondering the things of the spirit more frequently. i yearn for simpler times when life made sense and the needs of the day were not in question.i love you dearly and pray your mind will be open as you have read my words. i am not a bigot but a simple man who wants for his children the ability to finish growing up in a world that is simple and makes sense to the soul.i am sorry. i fear that my voicing my personal thoughts may cause a chasm between us. i pray that it has not. for as with randi, i love you dearly and pray that you will recognize my words as those of love and concern. you are a great example to me and though you are my younger sister, i look up to you for your courage. i hope that i am one that you look up to in some way or another.I LOVE YOU!!!Matt

  7. 25 August 2008 1:26 am

    laughtear, Randi, Matt:laughtear has described one of the core (if not the paramount) beliefs of Mormonism as the “free exercise of agency.” I’m really unclear as to how this call to legislate against gay marriage meshes with the idea of exercising agency. It seems to be binding people from their own choices.Another thing that bothers me is that both Randi and Matt describe knowing and having terrific relationships with gay people, yet are willing to be obedient to this call from the first presidency. I’m really bothered by the presumption that the first presidency and the Apostles are infallible in their opinions on moral issues. And setting aside moral issues, infallible on legislative issues.I’ve been reading some of Apostle Mark E. Petersen’s writings on the validity of segregation and the importance of banning inter-racial marriages. The specific title I read is Race Problems – As They Affect The Church, which is horrific in it’s racism. The church and LDS culture seem to have an inability to look back at this political stance and admit that it was a horrific, embarrassing mistake. Which means that it’s impossible to face the possibility that the current political stance is a mistake.Are you the type of people who would have been obedient to a call for a Constitutional Amendment in 1954 to re-instate the legality of segregation and anti-miscegenation laws if it had come from the First Presidency?

  8. 25 August 2008 1:33 am

    Matt:think back to your recommendation interview and ask yourself truthfully if you are supporting people or groups who are opposing the gospel.If you think laughtear isn’t Temple-worthy, I think you should just state it flat out instead coyly hinting and implying.I also find it disturbing that you equate a call to political action with gospel, but that’s whole other thing.

  9. 25 August 2008 6:49 am

    Good Morning! There’s nothing like a good debate to liven up a chore-filled morning! The thing with Free Agency is that you can ALWAYS choose what to do in a given situation (IE: rob the bank or don’t, drink caffeine or don’t, do the dishes at night or in the morning). You can NOT however, choose the consequences. The kids learn that lesson over and over here. If you fall in love with and marry a person of the same gender, you can not enjoy the blessings of having and raising kids. I know there are substitutes for that – I know great people who have chosen that path. I’m SO happy they have found their happiness, but I believe it’s a different happiness. And, while I wouldn’t feel right in telling them my happiness is better, that’s what I believe. Call me what you will, but you don’t get to choose how I feel. Just like I don’t get to choose how you feel. That’s another greatness with Free Agency. We can believe different things and KNOW that our family will ALWAYS love us. We are organized into families for a reason. We don’t have to agree to be family. We don’t have to agree for me to think highly of and love if you’re dating my sister!! :)That being said, I believe that God ordains marriage between and man and a woman. I believe that following that law provides blessings that can ONLY be obtained through following that law. Would I stop loving one of my brothers or sisters if they chose same-sex marriage? NO. Would I be sad that we have different understandings of happiness? YES. Is it my place to judge who is right or wrong? Nope. It’s my place to judge what I will do. I don’t live in a state where I’m being forced to make such a public declaration. If I did, I believe I would vote how I believe. I believe in marriage between man and a woman. Mom and a Dad. He and a She. I do not believe that any one person is not entitled to finding their own happiness (under certain parameters that I mention only to avoid going off on a different tangent at this moment…) I would vote for how I believe. And, if I went door to door, it would be to tell someone else what I believe. NOT to “change their opinion” or anything else. That is my right. Just as it is the right of an opposer to do the same and call me bigoted. I love this Free Agency thing! I love you all (yes, even those who disagree with me – it’s your choice.) I am sad for those who are feeling that inner turmoil. And, sad for those who are furthering that. I love a good debate! Just remember, I am not trying to change your mind, so please don’t talk down to me and try to change mine. Let’s keep this lively and fun!xoxos

  10. 25 August 2008 9:33 am

    sonja:I love your take on free agency, which seems to celebrate the idea of choice over blind obedience.Is it possible to apply that same line of thinking to the ability to get married in the first place? Isn’t telling a group that they can’t get married removing their free agency?

  11. 25 August 2008 10:47 am

    Hi, John!This totally beats matching socks right now! (maybe my mis-matched boys can learn to fold their own socks this afternoon…:)Yes, we could say it is the same thing IF we all agreed on what the word “married” means. It seems that is where the debate lies. (Did I mention I love a good debate??)Is the purpose of a vote to find out how the majority of a community feels about a certain issue? In my home, we believe and live (or try real hard, anyway) the words written in the Family Proclamation. It sounds ideal to some, ridiculous to others. To me, it is a voice of hope. I am responsible for my children and with Jared, my family. My votes in society will reflect that. (That being said, let me also say that I have a problem with people who “vote for the lesser evil.” They aren’t fully exercising that right to vote. They are just manipulating numbers. If you have a problem, are you going to do something about it, or sit and complain?? No, I don’t know who I will vote for in November – another fun debate!!:)Another thought: If I believe in a community of families where kids learn values and morals and life skills at home, alleviating the need for government to step in and fill that need, then isn’t that what I would work for and vote for? Ideal, I know. Realistic? Maybe not right now. But, it’s an ideal I am willing to work towards. I am not naive enough to think that this idea is fool-proof, but I believe in the fundamentals of it.

  12. 25 August 2008 11:22 am

    Sonja’s take on free agency is the correct take on free agency. Any and all of us are allowed to make choices and then take the reward or punishment be it spiritual or physical.The question the church raises with this is not the question you pose. The beef is not about allowing or not allowing a group a choice but getting to the root of what is under fire. Marriage has historically been an institution that included the legal and, in most cases, the spiritual union of a man and woman. Marriage definitions were never about joining same sex couples.This is the problem that most people have with this argument. The problem is not about allowing the gay community to have a choice but in allowing them to change an institution.I don’t have a problem with gays wanting a union recognized by law. I do have a problem with them calling it the same thing that I practice.An example that relates to your interests:A group of dancers come together and learn East Coast Swing and love it. As time goes on they add a few moves with flair and propose that East Coast Swing now incorporates these moves. Suddenly East Coast dancers are up in arms about these crazy new moves. The new moves generate a following of their own. Clubs spring up based on the new style. They are given a new name and recognition of their own. Bingo, West Coast Swing is born.What I am saying is that the concept is similar (a legal union) but different in ways great enough to not allow one to be called the other.Man this would make for some good conversation over sticky rice and mango!Figure out the next great restaurant that we are going to visit next time! You pay!

  13. 25 August 2008 12:37 pm

    I like turtles

  14. 25 August 2008 12:57 pm

  15. 25 August 2008 12:57 pm

    If you think laughtear isn’t Temple-worthy, I think you should just state it flat out instead coyly hinting and implying.I also find it disturbing that you equate a call to political action with gospel, but that’s whole other thing.Matt hinted at no such thing. Only asked one of the questions in the interview. All that go through that interview no exactly the question he poses and must answer it for themselves to their priesthood authority.Knowing my sister the way I do I highly doubt that she hasn’t discussed this with an interviewer.Knowing my sister and brother the way I do I know that there never has been a conversation that they didn’t tell each other exactly what they felt!As an outsider to this process I can see how this may look like a hint or implication. It is no such thing.You are still buying, right?As to gospel and political action, they go hand in hand. All of us have a purpose or reason that drive us to make life better. This comes from each of our unique perspectives. Because of these perspectives we are having this blog discussion now.Each of us has values and principles. Why would we not want to further those that have helped us live a more fulfilled life?

  16. 25 August 2008 12:59 pm

    OK, I can’t believe I just wrote: All that go through that interview no exactly the question he poses and must answer it for themselves to their priesthood authority.What I meant was:All that go through that interview know exactly the question he poses and must answer it for themselves to their priesthood authority.I no when to say know!

  17. 25 August 2008 1:16 pm

    I do have to say that I love turtles too. So many different ways. No John, not that way.Turtle steaks, turtle stew, turtle pot pie, turtle fricasee, turtle fried rice, turtle on the half shell, chocolate turtles, turtl…..I could go on forever about loving turtles.

  18. 25 August 2008 3:19 pm

    I like shoes…lots and lots of shoes, just not turtle shoes.

  19. 25 August 2008 5:04 pm

    sonja:I think there’s definitely some contention about the word marriage. I understand the ideals held in the Proclamation on the Family, even if I don’t agree with them. But Proclamation isn’t taking into account the very real legal rights which go along with civil marriage, some of which don’t come with civil unions.jared:Marriage definitions were also not historically about joining couples of differing races either. Would you have voted against that?Just using a different word doesn’t cut it in this case. There are rights that come with marriage that don’t come with civil unions.If I ask someone to consider whether they’ve broken laws against bestiality, is there really no implication there? If not, why did I bring it up?Political action and the gospel: Is that what Christ’s teachings were about? “Go forth and legislate the behavior which you interpret Me to have taught, for these political actions have the same strength as My teachings?”I also vote my values, but don’t feel that opposing my legislative agenda is the same as opposing the gospel as I believe and live it.

  20. 25 August 2008 7:08 pm

    Amy, you home yet or still in NY?

  21. 25 August 2008 8:29 pm

    While I do love a good debate (thank you, all, for indulging!:), I fear I have strayed from the issue at hand. Can one have a strong belief or knowledge of God and separate that from how God has commanded he act, through His living prophet today? In 3rd Nephi, Chapter 11, we read: 29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. 30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. 31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine. 32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.I believe that the Book of Mormon is Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I believe that Thomas S Monson is our current Prophet and God’s mouthpiece today. This is what I know. I know that God lives. I know that his Son, Jesus Christ paid the price for my sins and died for me, paving the path for me to return to my Heavenly Father again, if I CHOOSE to follow that path. I know that God communicates with us today through his prophets. And, I know that the Adversary is so cunning in his ways that he would have us believe that this is a complex issue. There are other avenues that gay couples could venture down if they were really concerned with equal rights. Changing the definition of marriage would be a gateway to all sorts of issues. I can’t help but feel like there is more at work here.I know it’s a day later now, but I, too am postponing bedtime! I’m still open to this debate (maybe in a different forum), but needed to make sure it was clear how I feel. Love you! G’Night!!

  22. 25 August 2008 8:45 pm

    so i’m still in new york. which translates to late nights, relatively early mornings, busy days, and not much time for writing. i’d really like to try to write some kind of cohesive, thoughtful response to all the comments here, but frankly i don’t have the energy. especially not after another long night of not sleeping because of a mind troubled by this issue. so on three hours of sleep and a long day of busy-ness, i’ll just respond a bit at a time. if it’s not good enough, go find yourself a turtle.first to d’arcy, hera, and BiV: i appreciate your encouraging comments. one of the things that has been a source of strength for me as i’ve struggled with questions about the church is the community of like-minded people i’ve found both in real life and online. and hera, thank you so much for your website. i’ve found it incredibly helpful.randi:i want to say up front that i of course do not think you’re a “judgmental, hateful, bigoted, skank.” maybe a skank, but not judgmental, hateful, and bigoted. :) as you said, i know you and i know your heart; i know you’re not speaking from a place of hatred or prejudice towards homosexuals. the point i want to respond to most here is the one about conscience. i think i’m using the word differently than you. you seem to be referring to that mormon concept “light of Christ” or something similar—an inborn instinct for right and wrong which becomes tarnished by experience and which is therefore not as reliable as a “testimony” or a witness from the spirit. but when i say that i’m not going against the brethren, but rather with my conscience i mean that i am acting based on deeply considered, cherished beliefs—beliefs rooted in the same kind of spiritual witness you talk about in your comment. those beliefs have less to do with homosexuality per se (though i generally do disagree with the church’s position on homosexuality, not just on the question of gay marriage); instead they have to do with compassion, mercy, love, simplicity, and refusing to impose my own beliefs on others simply because i think they’re right. those beliefs originated for me, at least in large part, in the gospel of Christ. and anytime it comes down to choosing between my own deeply held beliefs and the counsel of anyone else, i’ll choose my own beliefs and will be able to honestly face myself, those around me, and my, i do want to make a distinction here. in separate correspondence, you talked about yielding to the guidance of church leaders until you have clear answers of your own. here’s my take on that: i yield to that guidance where the government of the church is concerned (for instance, i do not agitate for the church to give women the priesthood even though i think current practice is sexist and that the temple makes it crystal clear that women will someday hold the priesthood); but i do not feel obliged to yield to that guidance where civil government is concerned. i do not teach my own ideas at church because i understand that is not the place (though as anyone who knows me certainly knows, i’m not afraid to speak up when i believe what i have to say is firmly grounded in widely acknowledge gospel teachings); but i will adamantly speak my mind where civil society is concerned.matt:again, i want to start with reassurance. your words have not created any kind of chasm between us. i know you speak out of concern and love, not out of intent to hurt. i love you and appreciate your willingness to speak honestly. i also know that you’re not speaking out of bigotry; your relationships with your in-laws makes that apparent.a few things that stand out in your comment:it was hurtful that you began with what seemed to me an assertion of my unworthiness because i disagree with the church on this issue. while i agree with jared that you probably did not mean to say i’m not temple-worthy, i also agree with john that your first comment implies that judgment. to me there is a clear implication in citing that particular question that you think i can’t answer that question as i should or else you wouldn’t have asked it. that bothered me. a lot.but i appreciate your concern. and i understand some of the desires that led to what you wrote. i especially understand the desire for a simple world in which life makes sense. but i’d like to propose an alternate simple world. imagine that one of your beautiful sons is gay. imagine the world he’s growing up in—a world in which all of the authority figures in his life (parents, church leaders, extended family, peers, even government leaders) condemn homosexuality as an abominable sin. but there’s nothing he can do to change his sexuality. and so he leads something of a double life—hiding his sexual orientation, trying to fit into a mold being imposed form external authorities, hoping that somehow he can change. in my mind that is not a simple life in which the world makes sense. in fact that world often creates severe depression and leads to suicide. in my mind, a simple life in which the world makes sense would be one in which love is honored and celebrated–all love, not just the love privileged by tradition. i’m not asking the church to change its teachings on homosexuality, though i personally disagree with them. i’m simply asking that in our larger civil society all people be accepted as equal so that the pain a gay mormon experiences is perhaps more limited. to me that sounds like a much simpler world that makes more sense. love is good. hate is bad. what could be simpler than that?a quick word on Sodom and Gomorrah: i have long since dismissed that particular story as anything like adequate grounds for condemnation of homosexuality. the problem i see in that story is more akin to gang rape, not sex between men. and rape is about abuse and power and control; sex is only a tool, not the point of i’m kind of petering out a bit, so i’ll just post a few more thoughts more briefly:jared and Sonja both assert that homosexual relationships are somehow inherently different from their own. i don’t understand why. the only identifiable difference i see is that the two of you can have your own biological children. but other than that, what makes a homosexual relationship qualitatively different? the kind of sexual acts they engage in? i don’t buy that. do they love each other less? how could anyone even begin to assess that? are they less committed? again, completely unmeasurable. and i don’t think the inability to have biological children is a significant difference. there are many heterosexual couples who also cannot have biological children, but i don’t think their relationship is qualitatively different from a couple who can have biological to definition of marriage: the history of marriage is much more colorful than we, sitting in our early 21st century, middle-class American position, imagine. marriage has been everything from the union of souls to a vehicle for inheritance to a guarantee of livelihood to an institution horrifyingly akin to slavery. it’s occurred between only two individuals and between many individuals. the church itself declared that polygamy was the highest order of marriage not that long ago. in fact, brigham young asserted that monogamy would destroy civilization. so i think it’s a little problematic to assert that marriage has always been between a man and a woman from time in memoriam and should therefore never change. john is absolutely correct to point out that in the past miscegenation was strictly not allowed. it wasn’t until 1967 that the u.s. supreme court declared anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional (before that miscegenation was a crime punishable by jail time in many u.s. states). and many of the arguments made against miscegenation were similar to arguments against gay marriage (it’s just not what marriage is; it’s unnatural; it will damage our children; etc., etc.). and the church didn’t give up advising against miscegenation until much later (in fact this year’s aaronic priesthood manual continues to quote president Kimball advising church members against interracial marriage, so it’s not much of a stretch to say the church continues to discourage interracial marriage on some level).and if you’ve made it this far, you deserve a gold star. or maybe a gold turtle. or an encounter with a slightly creepy child-zombie. or a gold turtle zombie. or maybe a new pair of shoes. but not turtle shoes. that would be cruel. i’ll leave with one last thought: i refuse to sanctify tradition for its own sake. i do not believe that because something has always been the way it’s always been (and really what has actually always been the same way?), that’s a good enough reason to not change it. i believe in a radical, revolutionary Christ who bucked “tradition for tradition’s sake” and introduced any number of socially unacceptable practices because they more purely realized the principles he taught. i see no reason we should do any differently.and now here’s your non-turtle golden shoes.

  23. 26 August 2008 10:50 am

    Just a heads up: Mike Huckabee recently gave an interview in which he holds Mitt Romney responsible for implementing gay marriage in Massachusetts. VideoWelcome to the coalition. I wish that more rank and file members of the LDS (Mormon) church would realize: the anti-gay coalition they’ve joined in California is one that includes folks who – given the chance – would vote their church out of existence. Folks like Mike Huckabee and his Evangelical buddies.

  24. 27 August 2008 12:59 pm

    sonja:Your bearing of testimony trump card really only works with other Mormons. :-) The prophets have said some pretty freaky stuff. I’m reading some pretty racist quotes here.Can you be specific about the other avenues that gay couples can explore to obtain equal rights?And can you be specific about the other issues that gay marriage can be a gateway to?To all:I don’t mean to bring up race as some kind of accusation and giant club to beat everyone’s head with. It’s a real issue for me and I’m asking these questions not because I think any of you are racist, but because I’m asking about the basis of your racial tolerance. Was racism previously acceptable, but became unacceptable due to continuing revelation to prophets? Or was it always unacceptable, and all these Apostles and Prophets were wrong back in the day? If infallible people were wrong back then, how do we know they’re right now? And if they weren’t wrong back then, well, I really need to know that you believe that! I see incredible parallels between the historical treatment of blacks in the church and the current treatment of homosexuals.I will admit to being pretty agitated last night, though. :-) Please know that I’m asking these questions because I’m really struggling to understand your reasoning and how you’ve come to your opinions.

  25. 28 August 2008 4:53 am

    Even though I’ve never told anyone my position and thus, never received a, “so you’re against the brethren on this one”, I feel anyone who gives such a statement is definitely one that is quick to judge.”We ask that you do all you can…”Does this mean you have to quit your job and knock on doors 24/7? Or does this mean you have to sell your house and donate the funds?Of course not, because it’s implied that each person’s circumstance is different. So for someone who is vehemently opposed to the proposition, what can they do? asking them to change their mind on the issue, to me, is akin to asking someone to instead of donating $200, to donate their home instead. To each individual, there exists a certain threshold that they are not willing to pass in order to support this proposition. And for each person that threshold is different. (Would you support the proposition if you had to sell your home? Would you support the proposition if you had to abandon your moral standards?)Just because there exists a situation (or set of situations)where you would not support the proposition, does not mean you’re against the brethren. (Because for every individual, there exists such a case.)

  26. 28 August 2008 9:11 pm

    John,You mean I didn’t get out of it all that easy?? Dang! :)I love a good debate, but do not always feel like I articulate my feelings very well. Thank you for being patient.One question, though. Are you trying to understand me, or prove me wrong? :) Really, I suppose I’m fine with either take on your end – this is kind of fun!As for some of that nasty stuff you found, you’re right – what you found is gross. I totally see why you were so agitated when reading it. I don’t feel like that’s the whole story, though. I might suggest not researching the church on anti-mormon websites. I tried getting more information on those quotes so I could more fully understand them before commenting on them. I started my search on Google and was looking for dates, context, entire articles and such. There were a few sites that offered different sections of that same speech by Brigham Young. This particular site sure had an interesting take. While I don’t know that it’s any more true than the one you found, it certainly coincides better with the Brigham Young I’ve learned about.Our last Prophet, Gordon B Hinckley, had this to say had this to say in General Conference a few years ago. I am specifically referring to the last third of the article where he addresses, “Why does the Church become involved in issues that come before the legislature and the electorate?”Happy reading – Hope this helps,S

  27. 28 August 2008 9:59 pm

    Amy, I know what you’re going through. My solution has been to take a 3 month hiatus from attending meetings. But it still pains me to think of all the time and money that are being put into this senseless cause, when instead it could be used in a truly meaningful way, like helping starving children. While I’ve chosen to temporarily remove myself from the cause of my distress, I applaud your ability to go each week to church and take it in the gut. The church needs people like you show up with your buzzed head and rainbow ribbons. It needs people who can go and embrace the best of what the Church has to offer, while rejecting the stuff that stinks of filth. Hang in there. Let’s go out to lunch and commiserate sometime soon.

  28. 28 August 2008 10:51 pm

    markovx, thank you for this:(Would you support the proposition if you had to sell your home? Would you support the proposition if you had to abandon your moral standards?)it frustrates me that others believe i’m taking the position i do out of some kind of rebellion or affiliation with groups opposed to the church; or that i’ve been influenced for evil, either by satan himself or by friends who do not share my beliefs. nothing could be further from the truth. i take the stance i do because of deeply held, deeply cherished moral standards. i respect that others take a different position based on equally cherished moral standards; i hope for the same respect in return, even if they don’t understand my perspective.sonja:a few responses to your two matt, you pose a rhetorical question which implies that you doubt my worthiness. you ask: “Can one have a strong belief or knowledge of God and separate that from how God has commanded he act, through His living prophet today?” the clearly implied answer is “no.” in other words, anyone (including me) who disagrees with the prophet’s request cannot, by definition, have a strong belief in and knowledge of god. i simply must disagree. my belief in and knowledge of god is every bit as strong as anyone else’s. it has simply led me to different conclusions about how i should act on this particular say: “There are other avenues that gay couples could venture down if they were really concerned with equal rights.” i’m less interested in the “other avenues” you mention than in your implied accusation that gay couples aren’t actually interested in equal rights but rather in something else–something much more nefarious and destructive. this line of reasoning sounds far too much like the mark petersen quote john linked to in which he argues that “[the negro] is not just seeking the opportunity of sitting down in a cafe where white people eat. He isn’t just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. It isn’t that he just desires to go the same theater as the white people. From this, and other interviews I have read, it appears that the negro seeks absorbtion with the white race. He will not be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage.”clearly petersen was playing to his audience’s fears–certainly racist fears, one of which (i have absolutely no doubt as to this) was the fear of a black man having sex with a white woman. so i have to wonder what fears are being played to when anyone argues that gays are not actually interested in equality but in something to whether john is actually interested in understanding–well, i can’t speak for him, but i can say that john is one of the most honest people i’ve ever met. if he’s asking you a question, he’s doing so because he wants an answer not because he wants to prove you wrong. but maybe i should just let him speak for himself on that. :)i can also say that john’s honesty extends to his methods of research. he didn’t find the material he linked to on an anti-mormon site. in fact, if you read their about section, you’ll find that is anything but anti-mormon.thanks for the link about the brigham young quote. it’s an interesting–and plausible–explanation. though i still believe brigham was racist. along with most other americans at the time. caroline:thanks for the words of sympathy. i completely agree that the money and effort being spent on prop. 8 would be much better spent making real change in the world for people who are suffering. and we should definitely do lunch. what about tomorrow? i’ll email.

  29. 30 August 2008 10:27 pm

    I’m not much for debates – so I’ll stick with “shoes”. Maybe even a nice pair of turtle skin shoes dyed hot pink. p.s. do you think turtle skin is hot pink under those shells???oh. did I mention I also like pumpkin pie and I didn’t get any for my birthday. Maybe a certain sister would like to visit us sometime and “give/make” me a homemade pie!Oh, and….. let me know when you have that “simple” thing figured out – that sounds like a program for me! love you lots!frazzled in Utahwhy am I frazzled???2 very cute children testing me, their school teachers and the principle…hee, hee, hee R had a full blown fit for her a couple days ago – rolling on the floor, kicking and screaming like he was being beat….she had the asst. principle stand outside the door and watch through the window so she could prove she wasn’t even touching him….remind you of one of the fits he had at the cabin??1 child/adult who is leaving us too soon – boo hoo I’m going to miss him!4 more children who have way too much homework – thank goodness they are so cute!1 husband who needs employment1 house that needs a resolution (two month mediation is killing me)WOW….when I list it out it doesn’t sound so bad ….maybe I’ve just turned a corner to better deal with my life which seems far from simple!Oh my goodness it is 12:25 a.m. ….must sleep! Bon Nuit

  30. 2 September 2008 12:09 am

    Amy,I have this to offer…If Christ came and gave you command to stand in place to support prop 8 and marriage between one man and one woman, how would you respond?If you answer no, then you clearly do not believe in Christ's church or in the authority of the priesthood that you question.If you answer yes, then why do you question the guidance offered to you from the First Presidency regarding prop. 8? 1:38 What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. If you would listen to the command of your Savior and refuse the command of His living Prophet…Why? Isn't God's word good enough that the word of His servants is the same as His?I don't understand your thought. You speak as though you are following the teachings yet your actions and associations do not come close. Let wisdom come forth and put down inteligence in your actions and life will become simple as you seek it.I am sorry that you have mistook the implication that you should ponder that question truthfully as an implication on my part that you are not worthy. Your worthiness is for you and your priesthood leadership to determine and not mine. The implication was for you to be pricked to thought of where you are sitting in life. You speak freely of ill guidance from the bretheren of the church…refer back to D&C 1:38. You speak freely that the priesthood is not held appropriately by women within the church. The things of the Temple are to be held as sacred for discussion within the Temple. What the Lord holds for the future for the women of the church is for the Lord to disclose at His time as He sees fit. As for now, the position that the women of the church hold as members of the greatest womens society that has ever existed in this world should be a great honor to you. The duties of the Relief Society go far beyond the "priveleges" that you might imagine you could hold within the priesthood.As to interacial marriage and the church holding position against it…Society is what it is, you and I are unable to remove the stigmatism that comes with two who choose to marry outside their racial lines. I do not say that it should not be done, simply that there will exist certain problems and concerns that this couple will be faced with. You speak of a simple life and ask why the aronic priesthood manual discourages interacial marriage. Ask yourself whether a person would live a simpler life married within his or her own familial standing or that complicated by marrying one outside those borders. Why? Priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God. Why were certain persons unable to hold the priesthood? Was it old white guy racism? Really, do I need to ask that? The Lord does things on His own schedule and will not be forced by man. The Lord states "What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself;" D&C 1:38 (in part). It is not my place to question the Lord's timing in allowing any man to hold the priesthood regardless of race, age or any other factor. I make this next statement as an outside observer. I mentioned abandoning inteligence for wisdom. Intelligence without wisdom will lead you nowhere. Look at Joseph Smith, a third grade education. Intelligence and knowledge may have been a bit short in his life as to the things of the world. His wisdom was far more important for him to be able to complete that which the Lord commanded him. Joseph made his share of mistakes and felt the wrath of God in so doing. I encourage you to turn to prayer and advice from your priesthood leader as to what you should do in this issue. Do not let yourself be swayed by those who do not understand the ways of the Lord. The simple life you desire is at your finger tips. Allow it to enter your hand and grasp hold for dear life! Remember the tale of the wagon master who interviews several potential wagon drivers. The question posed to each was how fast and close can you drive the wagon to a cliff edge on the mountain road? The first replied I can run the team at full gallop within inches of the edge. The second stated that he could run the team at half gallop but a few feet from the cliff. The third answered that he would hold the team at a walk and stay as far from the cliff as the mountain would allow. Why temp yourseld by walking in life so close the the edge? Step back and change your perspective and see where you are and where you need to be. Only you can make the choices that will change the life you live. You ask for the ability to live a simple life yet you appear to choose the ways that bring pain and anguish.I love you. I pray that you are able to see my words as concern for your well being.Matt

  31. 2 September 2008 10:58 am

    Dude, you do know I’m black, right?

  32. 3 September 2008 8:51 am

    A couple of thoughts: #1: What scares me is that I see so similarities between Matt’s unyielding justification of authority and revelation over conscience and the rationale used by the Lafferty brothers, pious Southern slaveholders, and other historical examples of evil acts commanded by religious leaders (or God). There seem to be so many examples of a modern Nephi or Abraham or Saul. Each is completely convinced that they are merely following the will of God. It’s this sort of thinking that makes it hard for people like me to think of religion as a net positive in this world.#2: I’m a product of a mixed race marriage, banned in a majority of states until the Sixties (thank you, Loving). My dual heritage has been one of the most enriching blessings in my life. I’m learning more and more that when some family members spoke out of concern rooted in deep-seated fear and racism, other family members (on both sides of the Pacific) reached out, defending my folks and extending unconditional love and unhesitating acceptance. Society is racist–we get that. But family should be the first to circle the wagons against social bigotry, and to create a haven for those who are in mixed race relationships. One more thing: Why were certain persons unable to hold the priesthood? Was it old white guy racism? Really, do I need to ask that? The Lord does things on His own schedule and will not be forced by man.Holy. Fucking. Shit. Do people still justify blatant racism like this? I hope my choice of words offended some of you, because I can assure you that what you feel is nothing compared to what someone who has been the target of discrimination feels reading this kind of antiquated bullshit.

  33. 5 September 2008 8:47 am

    this conversation has been good in some ways. but it’s also been painful in some ways. the pain i feel results from people i love judging me as sinful simply because our studies of christ’s teachings have led us to different understandings of how to live those teachings. i have no problem with people disagreeing with the decisions i make, but i hope they recognize that I try to live my beliefs. which is the best i think anyone can do. and which lets me face myself and god with a clear conscience.

  34. 10 September 2008 9:00 am

    Hello. I’m Elise’s sis-in-law and that’s who gave me your blog info. I think it is healthy to have a journal/blog. However in regards to your statement, I think that you are emotionally confused. I like to focus on the facts in their entirety, otherwise we risk being persuaded from that truth. How the Bishops/Brethren in a ward carry out their responsibilities should come from a higher authority (aka the Lord). If you don’t believe that these brethren are divinely inspired then why do you continue in the faith? It is our responsibility to have faith in the Lord and his Latter-day Prophets. If we do not have a testimony in the Prophet, how are we to be obedient in following the Lord’s commandments? I believe that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of the Lord and is divinely inspired to lead us where ever he calls us. If that means walking door to door to educate our friends and neighbors about Prop 8, then I will serve in that capacity. For those who emotionally misinterpret what has been revealed by our Prophet, that is unfortunately ignorant of them. This is NOT an attack on Homosexuality or those whole choose to live that lifestyle. You don’t need to protest your misunderstanding. Simply get down on your knees and pray openly to your Heavenly Father to see if it is not true. The line of communication is there for you to use. I encourage you to use it :)

  35. 10 September 2008 11:10 am

    Anon:I’m curious about your testimony in the Prophet. Can you read the letter from the First Presidency in 1949 and tell me if you faithfully follow it’s teachings? Do you accept it as Divinely inspired?This isn’t an attack, but something I’m curious about. The letter quotes Brigham Young’s statement that black skin is a curse from God and makes it a point to bring this up in the context of all “Negroes.” This is either something that is either believed or not believed. Do you believe it?

  36. 10 September 2008 11:48 am

    anonymous, you say you like to focus on the facts in their entirety or else we “risk being persuaded from that truth” (whatever truth that is; you don’t make that exactly clear). but then you go on to assert that our responsibility is to simply accept whatever is spoken or done by a man in charge without thinking about it. i’m sorry, but i disagree with such an assessment of what god expects of us. i believe god expects us to be thoughtful individuals who carefully consider and examine the words of church leaders and then make our own decisions based on our own understanding of gospel principles. the fact that my own careful, thoughtful examination of this issue has led me to a different conclusion than yours has led you does not imply any of the following (all of which you *do* imply):1. that i’m emotionally confused.2. that i have been persuaded from the truth.3. that i don’t believe church leaders are divinely inspired.4. that i should not continue in the faith.5. that i do not have a testimony of the prophet.6. that i am not obedient.7. that you are more righteous than i simply because you are willing to go out and campaign on behalf of prop. 8, which (no matter how strongly endorsed by the church) is a matter of politics.8. that i am ignorant.9. that i do not pray, either openly or otherwise, to god about my beliefs and choices.and you imply all of that about me anonymously and without anymore knowledge of me than could be gleaned from a single blog post. please do forgive me if i see your input (happy emoticon nothwithstanding) as a little less than credible when it comes to how i manage my spiritual health.i will thank you, however, for exemplifying the kind of judgmental self-righteousness that so often disgusts me in my fellow church-members. it gives my readers a lovely example of why this issue has caused me—and many other mormons who disagree with the church’s position on the issue—undeserved pain.

  37. 18 September 2008 6:19 am

    I am an outsider to this discussion, but I do have something I would like to say.It is not about agency. It is about Faith and Testimony. It is like the principle of tithing. Sure, you have your agency not to obey it, but it was still a commandment from a prophet of God. Tithing can be looked at as something the Lord’s Prophets have told you to do, or as a way for the Church to grow and recruit more people to pay tithing.We may not know why the Lords Prophets have told us to support prop 8, but are we saying we know more than the Prophets do? Look at the Word of Wisdom back in the day it was given. Back then there were no proven medical benefits. Today there are. Who knows what the Prophets are seeing in the future that prop 8 will generate.My personal feeling is that same sex marriage goes against one of the cores of the Lords Gospel. We are commanded to go forth and multiply and replenish the Earth. And by not supporting prop 8, you will be telling the world that we don’t need children. We are setting a precedence for future generations and making that life style OK and glamorous. Bottom line, it is not supported by the gospel of the Lord.BTW, it is a choice, race and your sex are not a choice. They should not have the same protection under law. You can control your sexual desires, you can’t control your race or sex.

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