Saturday, October 11, 2008

www.creedthoughts.gov.www\creedthoughts

For whatever reason, I have always placed a lot of importance on being able to define myself, rather than being defined by others. Although I would like to think that other people's opinion of me means very little--and for the most part that is true--I have a pretty strong internal need to feel justified in what I'm doing.


I've been going through somewhat of an existential crisis lately with my opinion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although I still feel passionately about trying to live a good life, and I still believe that the Church holds a uniquely important role in distributing critical ordinances, I take serious issue with its recent official stance in favor of California's Proposition 8. I didn't really want to have to do my dirty laundry in public, but I don't think it would be enough to simply say that I disagree; there are some fundamental untruths being told that I want to distance myself from.


First, the Church reports that it "has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a husband and a wife united in the bonds of matrimony." Although I do not take issue with this standard, it does not necessarily follow that this standard need necessarily lead to supporting a law against sexual immorality. Furthermore, the Church does not, as far as I am aware, support legal bans on other violations of its sexual code (although I personally think that adultery should be tried as a breach of contract). And lastly, how does banning same-sex unions prevent any violation of this sexual standard? Are we to believe that there are droves of celibate homosexuals who are waiting to have sex until after they get married? For those who have married since the CA Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, are they going to return to their celibate lifestyle if Prop 8 passes?


I would really like to know who wrote this "The Divine Institution of Marriage" document. Here are just a few of the things which are fallacious, disrespectful, and extremely poorly written about the treatise.


"The sacred nature of marriage is closely linked to the power of procreation"

It is true that the sacred, religiously valuable part of marriage has to do with procreation. The societally beneficial part of marriage (monogamy as a tool to curb STDs, a public health problem, just to name one), however--something this document often conflates with Mormon dogma--has absolutely nothing to do with procreation.


"Marriage is not primarily a contract between individuals to ratify their affections and provide for mutual obligations."

The writers of this cannot even bring themselves to use the word "love"; it would be totally unacceptable to believe that homosexuals could feel the same way about others as they might feel about their spouses. Moreover, even if I buy that marriage is "primarily" about raising children in a Christian-friendly manner, the very wording here implies that there are other reasons for marrying. Surely, ratification of "affections" or mutual benefits are at least marginally important, are they not? Am I to believe that a union based on these motives is intrinsically bad, just because no biological children can come from it? If so, let’s unmarry anyone who either cannot or will not reproduce naturally, reserving this sacred title for those people who create and then raise their own progeny.


"throughout the ages governments of all types have recognized and affirmed marriage as an essential institution in preserving social stability and perpetuating life itself"

Either the writers are being willfully deceptive about marriage's history (examples of marriage as a political tool, for example, are not hard to find) or they are dangerously naive. In any case, historical examples, especially those which are so vague as to details or consequences, seem to me to be disingenuous. After all, governments of all types have also recognized and affirmed slavery, brutality, corporal and capital punishment, needless wars, and demagoguery as essential institutions and practices to preserve social stability. If the Roman Empire jumped off a cliff would you?


"It is true that some couples who marry will not have children, either by choice or because of infertility, but the special status of marriage is nonetheless closely linked to the inherent powers and responsibilities of procreation"

This makes sense because it makes sense. Hey look over there! If I use the word "nevertheless" it will make it sound like I have a rational, well-thought out position without actually having to have one. Genius!


"This is not only because of the substantial personal resources that two parents can bring to bear on raising a child, but because of the differing strengths that a father and a mother, by virtue of their gender, bring to the task"

I do not believe that all males or all females have certain characteristics simply because of their gender. Even if there were magical characteristic inherent in every man or every woman that is unique to people of that gender, surely there are indices that are infinitely more important in deciding who would make the best parent. Also, it is a difficult argument to make that a woman’s talents cannot be at least partially (and probably tolerably) reproduced by a man. Furthermore, since all people are different, chances are good that neither partner in a marriage will have all of the “personal resources” that these writers would need necessary to raising good children.


"Marriage is fundamentally an unselfish act: ... Societal recognition of same-sex marriage cannot be justified simply on the grounds that it provides self-fulfillment to its partners"

No action or belief is automatically altruistic. A heterosexual marriage is not fundamentally unselfish (even when children are involved, as this document is implying), nor is a homosexual marriage automatically a merely selfish desire for self-fulfillment.


"the all-important question of public policy must be: what environment is best for the child and for the rising generation?"

Is it really our right to define what the best environment for children should be? If I teach my children incorrect things, is the CA constitution going to step in and decide that another family might provide a better environment for my children to learn, and take them away?


"Traditional marriage provides a solid and well-established social identity to children. It increases the likelihood that they will be able to form a clear gender identity, with sexuality closely linked to both love and procreation."

Wow. I don't even know where to start.


"These developments will create serious clashes between the agenda of the secular school system and the right of parents to teach their children traditional standards of morality."

My telling you something does not take away your right to tell your children something else.


I’m realizing now that writing this post has only agitated me further. Although I would love to continue, picking apart wanton lies from the pro-prop 8 campaign, expounding on the history of marriage, homosexuality, or the politics of marriage, I don’t want to spew any more venom here than I already have, lest I isolate anyone still reading (my family reads this blog too). My purpose in writing this was to distance myself from what I feel to be an unacceptable politicization of my religion, not attack or defend the Proposition 8 movement. I suppose that I should probably define what I still do believe in another post, for those who are interested, but for now I want to leave it at this.


By the way, for those of you who are interested, I actually do not support gay marriage, per se. I personally believe that marriage is a religious sacrament, not a political designation. As such, the government should, in my opinion, not recognize any marriages, my own included, but should instead give everyone equal civil unions. If I want to go to a church and designate my union as a marriage in a religious ceremony, that’s my right. If homosexuals want to either find a denomination that will call their unions “marriages”, or if they want to start a new church that will do so, their being married takes nothing away from my being married any more than your being baptized takes anything away from my being baptized. For you Catholics out there, you probably believe that my baptism is moot before God; I’m OK with that. The reason for all of these culture wars is that religion insists on claiming special rights for itself, even at the expense of trying to legislate religious definitions, and those shafted by the religious establishments are trying to gain redress through the power of the government. If anyone wants to try and explain to me how defining marriage isn’t a violation of the establishment clause, I’d love to hear it. Also, I would be willing to post any rebuttals any of you might want to write, if you would prefer to write something longer than will fit in the comments section.

11 comments:

Katherine said...

"I personally believe that marriage is a religious sacrament, not a political designation. As such, the government should, in my opinion, not recognize any marriages, my own included, but should instead give everyone equal civil unions."

I hadn't thought about it in exactly those terms before, but it makes sense and I think I agree.

I guess this is my (unsurprising) dirty laundry: I'm trying to find a balance--a place where I can disagree with what the Church is doing without getting agitated to the point of complete alienation. Thus far, I have not succeeded--I'm not certain it's possible--and I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to deal with that.

Petra said...

I agree with your position on the government's role in marriage just about 100%. No, wait, 110%! And I think that, in addition to all the fallacious reasoning in the document, the very fact of the Mormon church using political means to prevent others from engaging in non-standard marriage practices is just too deliciously ironic for words. I would call it a lack of a sense of history, except that I suspect, deep down, history is what's driving this. If gay marriage gets legalized, what next? Polygamy.

And let me say, however much it bothers you, I'm sure you've got nothing on me with this issue: I'm a California voter.

daine said...

I don't know what you'd have to complain about, Petra; I would give anything to have a vote on Prop 8. Also, although the purpose of this post was to distance myself, rather than debate, I would love love love to rip into someone, especially at church, about Prop 8.

Petra said...

I'm complaining not so much because I have a vote--though, to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how I'm going to use it yet; I may just abstain on that proposition--but because I have to hear about it in church all the time. And get recruited into Prop 8 walks. And get emails on the ward list offering me a list of talking points I can discuss with my neighbors. And get a special 3rd hour of church devoted to it. And hear all the horror stories of what's going on in other California wards. And hear the stories of the pressure my poor (liberal) stake president is under from the higher-ups as to why our stake hasn't given enough money. And basically just have my faith in the institution shattered, at a time when it was weak to begin with.

Robert B said...

I would pay money to be there to watch you rip into someone at church about Prop 8.

direfloyd said...

I know better than to debate you daine =)

Good points my friend. I'm not sure you should get so riled up, the prop will just get turned down by the courts even if it passes in CA just like the last time it did. Although, there probably could be a post about that too.

John said...

Prop 8 would enact an amendment to the California constitution, so the courts will have no direct way to nullify it if it passes.

As usual Daine, your post is the poo. I have a lot of thoughts on this issue but I'm at work now and can't take the time to write a full response.

More from me later.

Garth Aamodt D.C. said...

You make some great points and I agree with many. You're a natural "contrarian", my friend. I think you were left on Dan and Marcia's doorsep by Aliens from a parallel universe. That's why I love you, as I've always believed in that other Spock, with the little goatee beard in that one parallel universe episode of Star Trek. The real Daine must have been switched out at birth and now probably is the contrarian for that world, trying to talk the people of that planet into his weird conservative views.

I wonder though if you don't over think these issues a bit. I believe you're arguing the trees while ignoring the forest. In my opinion gay "marriage" is not really an issue about marriage. That's the window dressing. Gays already have easy and full access to everything provided by marriage via simple steps like wills, beneficiary designations, contracts, trusts, etc. I honestly can't think of a single thing that gays don't already have--short of the use of the word "marriage" itself. And that's the rub. They don't really have any complaint about hospital visitation, inheritance, etc. They already have all that. (Think Leona Helmsly's cat getting $3 Million? Anything is possible with a visit to legalzoom.com.)

The real issue is should we change the meaning of words, to remove the real or perceived stigma of NOT being able to call it "marriage". The phrase "gay union" is not enough. Only "marriage" will do. Yet words have meaning. The current social agenda is to redefine words to grant equalization of all life styles, choices and decisions, and thereby bring all life choices to a level playing field while ignoring consequences. Consequences are things to be ignored and at least pretended to be ignored in today's laissez-faire world. In a perfect world, wouldn't all choices have the same rosey outcomes? No wars! No poverty! Just happiness and warm fuzzies.

Therefore the liberal agenda is only secondarily about "marriage rights". It's primarily about social change. An example: the most correct term for abortion promoters should be "pro-abortion". Yet it is anathema to liberals. Instead we're told to call it "pro-choice". And further, it's required to pretend that the abortion "choice" is equally valid to adoption or birth. It's just a choice. Not better or worse than keeping the child alive. Abortion is therefore not murder, but only a choice. It's not a baby but only "fetal tissue", like any other anoying tumor. And who could possibly be opposed to "choice". (Though of course the baby doesn't get to vote, nor the grandparents or father. Isn't that the opposite of real choice?) We've allowed the redefining of "abortion" to now be called just a "choice". No society would tolerate infanticide, if we used that term. So we just make up a better, less accurate, less offensive term. And then invoke the "it's above my pay grade" to pretend and know right from wrong. Voila, problem solved.

In that sense, if marriage for 6000 years meant a man and a woman, with the possible new family able to repeat the cycle, then the liberal agenda would redefine it to infer that a gay union, with no possibility of repeating the cycle is "just as equal" to traditional marriage. It's just a choice. Neither better nor worse. Let's pretend they're equal by focusing on "love" alone. And if a lonely farmer "loves" his sheep, would that a marriage make?

The issues of societal impact are ignored, since we would try and pretend that there are no differences in the outcomes. If that's what one believes, they should of course support gay marriage. If however, one sees the value in keeping words meaning what they have always meant, then it makes a difference. And are the societal dffects good or bad? Or must we really shut our eyes and pretend there are no effects? Here is where religion steps in to do the poliically incorrect thing and dare rub our noses in what that darn inconvenient Bible says.

I would invite you to watch Evan Sayet's discussion at this youtube site. Then see if you feel the same way about the meaning of words and the attempt to "equalize" our society.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaE98w1KZ-c It's 45 minutes long, but for a sharp mind like yours I think you will be intrigued. I think it's very perceptive and well worth investing 45 minutes.

Sorry to take up so much of your blog. Write me back at bishopaamodt@comcast.net if you want to keep your blog clear.

Love Ya,

Garth

Greg and Alyssa said...

hahaha, my dad mentioned that you had expressed some views similar to mine so I looked for your blog to check it out (this is Alyssa Aamodt) and when I do I find a rebuttal from him about the same length of the one he left on my blog, although my argument was not nearly as well articulated as yours. Just to warn you, I think the back and forth between he and I went on at similar lengths about four times.

Anyway, thanks for expressing your thoughts on this. Among my friends this side of the issue is a lonely place to be and I am similarly having a really hard time reconciling myself to a post-pro-prop-8-campaign LDS church. The inane rhetoric of the religious right on this topic (and the blatant misrepresentations and fallacies it puts forth) make me sick on a daily basis. Not to mention the accusations that I don't believe in the prophet and should be immediately ejected from the church for expressing my doubts on this issue. Ugh. Anyway, great points, I agree with every word.

ke said...

Stop being too productive to blog please.

Carl said...

I think the church's stance, or the letter that you referred to, is like most other things the church does: right message, wrong delivery (just take a look at most church movies).

I think maybe the church's stance has as much to do with its moral position as it does with other issues. it seems they have a lot to lose in legal battles, temple recognition, tax exempt status if the prop. doesn't pass.

Personally, I'd be okay with a law that allows them certain rights, but am not okay with redefining marriage (for selfish reasons, I suppose). Also, I feel like even if I accept their right to act how they'd like, I don't feel like gay couples (in general, not specifically) would be happy until I agreed with or accepted what they do.

I really like the debate going. I'll I've heard is from my sister in laws who live there, and I don't even know if they've read the wording of it.