Thursday, December 11, 2008


Jon Stewart just comes across as very logical and well thought out. To me gay marriage is logical. Two people love each other and as consenting adults should be able to marry. The argument that if we change the definition of marriage then we'll have to allow polygamy or any other arrangement doesn't hold water. I'm sure when interracial marriages were first legalized, people used the same argument. Our law works on a case by case basis, legalizing one thing doesn't mean all other things are legal too.

Concerning polygamy, I certainly don't want it legalized. I also don't think that it's even doctrine of the Church that it will come back either. Polygamy was already restored once, nothing says it will be restored again. Back in the 1800s when polygamy was made illegal the Church was persecuted and members practicing it were hunted down. Those members evaded capture and continued to break the law. Earlier the Church had left the United States in order to pursue their own freedom of religion. Everything points to the Church being an ally for gay men and women and our fight for equality. Historically we Mormons have practiced "alternative lifestyles". And as Jon Stewart said, religion is certainly more of a choice than being gay. Religion and particularly Mormonism should be sympathetic to our cause.

Here's why I think logic evades the situation. First, LDS members today don't relate to the members who practiced polygamy (oftentimes their own progenitors). On my mission the polygamy issue would come up regularly. We were taught to say that that was over 100 years ago and that we don't do that anymore. Basically saying, "It was different back then, but we've changed." It was treated like it was a little dirty secret that we needed to downplay. Stories of how difficult it was for members to have their religion say one thing and their country say another haven't been passed down. We don't read them in Sunday School, we don't hear those stories in Conference. It's been erased. Members today don't relate because they don't even know those issues.

Second, as members of the Church, sex and sexuality is sacred. It is also secret. We don't feel comfortable talking about it even while using the upmost respect. Many people suffer in silence because they can't breach the taboo subject. Sexual development and sexuality have *major* roles in human development. Its influence can be felt in every facet of our lives. Most LDS people define gay men and women by what they see as the only difference: with whom they like to have sex. (We're much more complex than that!) But sex and sexuality are taboo subjects. So gay people are taboo subjects. Members feel that if they openly accept gay people then they are in support of the sin. You cannot hate a sin and love a sinner in this case because in the Church's eyes the sin defines the sinner. Loving the sinner implies that you love the sin. I've never heard in real terms how one can hate a sin without hating the sinner.

Last, religions should be happy that a population of "promiscuos" and "immoral" citizens want to give up their old ways and settle down into life-long and stable relationships or marriages. It should be like welcoming the prodigal son back into the fold. This isn't so because in the eyes of most religious people, a gay relationship is not permisible or equal. It would allow gay parents to teach children that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. Afterall, the child's two dads or two moms raised him well, kept him fed, and taught him right from wrong. Many of us want to adopt and there are so many children out there without parents. But most religious people will say it is better for a child to grow up on the street than to be raised by gay parents. Sick.

In short (too late!), history isn't enough to make LDS members and gay people become allies. It's only going to start by gay people making and continuing to be friends with their LDS neighbors. Two of my nephews know I'm gay now. I'm sure they are much more okay with it than their parents or my parents (just like racism). Each generation will be more sympathetic because each generation will have more experience with their gay brothers and sisters. Most of us are normal, good and moral people. I'm proud to be both LDS and gay.

1 comment:

Scott said...

I think we need to be careful not to make snap judgments based on a visceral or gut reaction to something that's different than we're used to, or based on the examples of a small group of people.

I'm not arguing for or against polygamy. I'm not sure I even have an opinion on the subject one way or another. But I'm open to the idea that a union of greater than two consenting adults might be entitled to some or all of the civil rights and protections that married couples enjoy.

Obviously the modern examples of polygamy that we occasionally see splashed across the headlines, with underage girls as unwilling partners in relationships that they are unprepared for, are demonstrably wrong and should not receive legal sanction. But I wonder if the instinct that rebels against the thought of a legal polygamous marriage between consenting adults is the same instinct that lets the majority of the population vote against same-sex marriage?

I appreciate your observations on the taboos against any discussion of sex or sexuality in the Church (and even to some extent in American society). I agree that human sexuality is an important characteristic and that an atmosphere that is more accepting of the discussion of sexuality is a better one for healthy sexual development in general. Sarah and I have tried to be much more open about sex and sexuality with our kids than our parents ever were with us, and I believe that we've already seen the benefits of this approach in the ease with which our kids accepted the idea of having a gay dad.

Thanks, too, for your observations re: adoption. Until we reach the point when there are more heterosexual couples both able and willing to raise adopted children than there are actual children waiting to be adopted, there is absolutely no legitimate reason to prevent gay couples from adopting. (There's no legitimate reason in any case, but even if we're operating on the faulty premise that straight couples are inherently better parents than gay couples we can't deny gay couples the right to adopt until we've got a shortage of adoptable kids).