Gay Marriage

by
May 28, 2009

In case you’ve been living in a cave on the moon for the past few years, here is a news update:  gay rights advocates and social conservatives have lately been sparring over the issue of same-sex marriage in America.  It’s also no secret that most Mormons support a traditional (heterosexual) definition of marriage.

It’s been a hard political position to take.  I’ve wondered myself how to deal with the charges of bigotry laid against us, and how to adequately defend my stance.

The gay rights community has set up the debate as a matter of civil rights.  This is misleading, particularly in the California Proposition 8 campaign.  All legal rights have been granted same-sex couples for years.  If it were just a matter of ensuring hospital visitation rights or filing an extra tax-exemption for a domestic partnership, I would be in favor of providing these civil rights, but they are already available.  The real battle is over the marriage license; the right to call each other “husband” or “wife.”

Marriage is not, in and of itself, a civil right.  Government has a long history of restricting marriages involving siblings, cousins, minors, and bigamists in addition to homosexuals.  There is good reason for government to support only heterosexual marriages.

What is being fought for is not civil rights, but legitimacy.  Society is being asked to ratify homosexual behavior, and Mormons cannot sanction the behavior in good conscience.  Mormons view homosexual behavior as unwise and sinful.  It is one thing to tolerate sin in a community, and another for society to endorse the sin officially.

Mormons are not trying to outlaw homosexuality.  We are not hoping to deny anyone their legal rights.  And we certainly do not support violence or discrimination toward gays or lesbians.  Our aim is simply to support the traditional definition of marriage as the ideal way to organize society in families, and keep it as a matter of prudent public policy.

I recognize that this article will likely set off some powder kegs of emotion.  Let’s discuss the issue, but before you comment, I’d like you to take a few deep breaths, read our comment policy, and keep your tone as polite as you can.  I won’t respond to name-calling or insults (against me or my Church).

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42 Responses to “Gay Marriage”

  1. Darrell

    Great article. I like how you pointed out that government (aka. the people of a nation) have always had the power to restrict and govern marriage unions.

    I would also like to point out that in the vast majority of cases, voters have overwhelmingly voted to keep marriage between a man and a woman. (http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/11/02/ballot.samesex.marriage/index.html). Despite what the media says, you are actually in the minority if you believe gay marriage is ok.

    I believe that when the family fails, the nation fails. I believe that homosexuality is a sin, and I cannot endorse it as a part of my community. I can tolerate it, but never endorse it.

  2. sunlize

    I will comment more later, but I’d just like to say that there are many faithful, commandment-abiding, temple-going Mormons who support gay marriage. We’re definitely a minority group within the LDS Church but we do exist. Other members may be supportive of gay rights but feel that they are obligated to ‘follow the prophet’ in terms of their actions. Since this site is titled “What Do Mormons Believe?” I would have appreciated a disclaimer of sorts that this is a contentious issue both within and outside of the Church.

  3. Willie

    There is a disclaimer at the bottom of the page. While members of the Church may find they disagree with a doctrinal principle, Thaddeus did link to this official church interview which covers the topic in some depth.

  4. Darrell, thanks for your comments. I think you’re right; no state that legalized gay marriage did so by vote of the people. It came down as a judge’s ruling.

    Sunlize, thanks for pointing that out. You’re right that members of the Church are not obligated to take the same political stance as Church leaders. There is a broad spectrum of opinion in the Church, and even with my stance I still sympathize with the gay community; I don’t want to disenfranchise anyone of basic human rights.

    It is a tenet of the Church that homosexual actions are just about as sinful and spiritually damaging as premarital sex and extramarital affairs, so at least all members should have this point in common. Whether that translates into restraining relationships outside the Church is, I think, a matter of personal conscience.

  5. Bruce Johns

    Well, I would disagree with Darrell somewhat.
    Homosexuality is not a sin. Homosexual sex is a sin. I person might be biologically predisposed to a lot of things that are sinful. As long as you don’t participate in that, everything is fine.
    We all have our cross to bear. That’s what we’re here to overcome.

    My opinion only…mileage may vary.

  6. Steven

    Apologies beforehand for an excessively lengthy reply.

    It seems your argument for excluding same-sex couples from marriage is based on two arguments. First, government has a compelling interest in the propagation of society and therefore, marriage, being a financially burdensome affair for the state, should be limited to partnerships that have the ability to produce children (so that those children may grow to be productive, tax paying members of society). Second, society shouldn’t be asked to ratify a behavior that, in the opinion held by the LDS church (and others), is sinful.

    Let’s set religious argument aside for a few paragraphs. In order for the exclusion argument to stand on the assertion that government can and should limit marriage to child producing couples, it must be accepted by the argument’s adherents that there cannot and does not exist any OTHER reason for marriage to exist. Therefore, in the absence of children, it is in society’s BEST INTEREST to deny marriage on the basis that the “marriage subsidy” is meant to support the raising of children. Further, persons who adhere to this line of reasoning cannot rationally justify their support for “separate but equal” civil unions, domestic partnerships, or any other state recognized union, as these arrangements create a financial burden on the state. This philosophy forces the adherent into an all-or-nothing position.

    While this is a favorite argument among marital exclusionists, this argument brings us to conclusions that are not easy for the religious right to swallow. If the state recognizes and provides financial incentives for marriage based on the state’s interest in marriages producing children, any state recognition of marriage in the absence of children is unjustifiably costly to the state. Marriages should not be granted UNTIL a child has been conceived. This will ensure that benefits provided by the state as incentives for child rearing are not granted until the qualifying circumstance has been realized.

    To your second argument, it is unconstitutional for the government to legislate with a religious slant. Therefore, any argument calling upon religious principles (calling an action sinful, for example), is a dead argument. Further, I don’t think any rational person would argue that because law allows, or provides, for the practice of activities that are contrary to the views of a religion, or group of religions, that such allowances are tantamount to societal endorsement of such practices. With your reasoning, society endorses alcoholism, tobacco, pornography, gambling, divorce, and so on.

    In short, 1) while a religion should and does have every right to preach against homosexual practices, arguments for or against public policy that call upon religion or religious belief have no place in our legal framework and, 2) marriage has not and cannot be defined to limit it to persons who have the possibility of producing children. ONE of the purposes of marriage is to create the framework for producing and rearing children, but until same-sex marriage debate entered the public consciousness, society at large never viewed marriage as the means to the SINGULAR end of producing children. Marriage can and does serve other meaningful and beneficial purposes that cannot be defined solely in a religious mind set, or limited to one gender or another.

  7. Thaddeus

    Steven, thank you for your response. I’m glad you keep a cool head and a well-reasoned response. I also hope you don’t see my words as attacks. I try to be as respectful as possible.

    When I wrote this, I was fully aware of the discrepancy between offering civil unions with legal benefits and subsidized child-rearing as the reason for government adopting marriage.

    I agree with you that child-rearing is not the sole reason for marriage, but I included the link to emphasize that it is a large component of the reason. If gay marriage is to be ratified, benefits to the public should be enumerated, especially if costs are taken into account.

    I don’t advocate forming public policy based solely on religious principles. Our government derives its authority from the people, and public policy ought to be closely linked to public will. We are to vote our consciences. That is all I’m saying.

    With your reasoning, society endorses alcoholism, tobacco, pornography, gambling, divorce, and so on.

    Society tolerates these indulgences. Responsible government should never actively promote them or give them favored status. Homosexual behavior is legal, but should not be enthroned.

    Marriage can and does serve other meaningful and beneficial purposes that cannot be defined solely in a religious mind set, or limited to one gender or another.

    This is really the crux of the issue, I think. What purpose does marriage serve? Some view it as a stamp of approval from society on a couples’ love. Others see the stamp coming from God. Others leave love out of it and see it more of an economic relationship. Some just want citizenship. To most Mormons it is the basis and foundation for a happy, healthy family.

    Steven, what purpose does marriage serve for you?

  8. Steven

    Thaddeus,

    I do not see your words as attacks – I never have. Healthy debate and argument are essential to a healthy civilization. I very highly respect you and your opinion.

    We’ve not had enough deep conversation for you to understand that just because I argue a point doesn’t mean I fully agree with the position I am arguing for. This is partly because something inside me won’t let an argument in an open forum go unchallenged, and partly because I want to come to an honest conclusion, having navigated the fires of debate. I can honestly, truly, say that I have not fully decided where I stand on this issue.

    Society tolerates these indulgences. Responsible government should never actively promote them or give them favored status.

    With this I agree. I was illustrating that your argument is poorly constructed. An argument and its implications cannot be viewed and accepted (or rejected) individually. If you truly believe that legalizing gay marriage is the equivalent of endorsing gay marriage, than you must truly believe that legalizing alcohol is the equivalent of endorsing alcoholism. Are you honestly willing to accept that?

    I do not believe an individual’s view of the purpose of marriage is the crux of the issue. The facts are these: marriage exists as a legal construct. As a legal construct, its application is subject to the bounds, limits and guidelines of the constitution of the United States. Since the constitution does not define marriage, the application of marriage must be derived from other provisions from within the constitution. Within this framework, there are exceedingly strong arguments for granting marriage to same-sex couples. I won’t list them here – you can spend 30 seconds on Google.

    I’m going to shamelessly sidestep the question of whether or not gay marriage benefits society (even though I think I could mount a decent defense on this front). I think the question is moot when viewed in the light of constitutional law. One of the great and horrible consequences of having an imperfect government (because you know that in this world, there is no other kind), is that what should and should not be legal by virtue of what is “moral” does not always coincide with what should and should not be legal by virtue of the legal construct in which we operate. It just so happens (thankfully) that most of the time, the law and what is generally considered “moral” are the same thing. One might argue that in order to maintain an ordered society, our belief in the rule of law must supersede our belief in what is morally right. Mormons believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law,” but seldom understand what that truly requires of us philosophically.

    This, I think, is why same-sex marriages tend to be enacted through court action. I admit that I mentally choke on these words as I type them, but nonetheless: the general population is blinded by their individual “moral” beliefs. This brings me back to the assertion that what is legal, and therefore should be protected by law, should not necessarily be what the majority thinks is “moral”.

    I would remind you that the courts have often defined or shaped public policy contrary to the “moral” standing of the general populace at the time (see “Civil Rights”, during the 1900s). These rulings were wisely based on the rule of law, and blind to the moral convictions of the majority.

    By the way, not all states with legal same-sex marriages have done so through court action. Vermont was the first to enact such protections legislatively, and will soon be followed by New Hampshire and New York.

  9. Thaddeus

    Steven,

    I highly respect your opinions, too. It’s interesting to have an online discussion with someone I actually know. Adds dimension and depth.

    If you truly believe that legalizing gay marriage is the equivalent of endorsing gay marriage, than you must truly believe that legalizing alcohol is the equivalent of endorsing alcoholism. Are you honestly willing to accept that?

    I think you’re missing my point. Legalizing gay marriage legitimizes gay sex. It’d be more like the government giving away whiskey shots free or reducing taxes on breweries. Alcohol is legal, but because of it’s moral ambiguity shouldn’t be granted special status.

    If the matter is to be decided by Constitutional law, then forming an opinion on the matter is moot. The legality of choosing whatever spouse you like will be decided in spite of what We the People say. I can certainly see your point, though, that the majority should not have power to suppress the rights of minorities. I’m not convinced that it applies in this scenario, but I’m not a Constitutional scholar. I still believe that government has had, and will continue to have, the responsible power to limit spousal selection.

    And lest I violate my own comment policy, I want to return to my purpose. I’m not trying to prove that I’m right. I wrote this article to show what I believe (and I hope it represents most other Mormons’ views — if not, let’s hear it). By defending my position, I only want to show that it is defensible, and that a pro-traditional marriage worldview is not necessarily motivated by hatred.

    As with everything we teach on this site, we invite our readers to investigate all sides of the issue and counsel with the Lord in prayer to help them know for themselves what is right.

  10. bfrancisco

    This is an issue that I have thought about a great deal, as many people have. I have read the comments and debate with great interest. There are a few things that I would like to say and I hope that others, especially members of our Church, will take to heart and really think about. I would like to echo what Thaddeus said at that end of his last comment, I would invite you to investigate the issue and then pray to know what is right.

    Once a year in General Conference and then once every other year when I meet with my ecclesiastical leader to declare that I am worthy to go to the temple, I have the opportunity to acknowledge publicly that I believe that the current prophet, Thomas S. Monson in this case, is God’s prophet on the earth and that I believe that Jesus Christ leads and directs His church through this prophet. I also sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. By giving this public affirmation, I strongly feel that REGARDLESS of the matter, I am saying that I will support them in any and all decisions, because they are conveying God’s will for the Church as a whole (see D&C 1:38; D&C 21:1-6). Isn’t this what I should do, if I believe that they are prophets, seers, and revelators? This doesn’t mean that from time to time I don’t have different opinions initially, but what it does mean is that when these differences arise, I have the obligation to search, ponder, and pray until I understand why the prophet or apostles are teaching what they are teaching and then conform my will and opinions to the will of God.

  11. A comment from Steven a while back:

    “it is unconstitutional for the government to legislate with a religious slant. Therefore, any argument calling upon religious principles (calling an action sinful, for example), is a dead argument.”

    This is one statement that I find commonly overemphasized. The constitution says nothing about legislating “with a religious slant”, and the only connection involved in the constitution is in the 1st amendment, and I feel obligated to point out that it only says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. It takes quite the stretch to take that statement and say that nobody can legislate with a religious slant. In fact, a less abstract interpretation of the 1st amendment actually endorses using one’s religious principles to guide rational policy making as it is encompassed as part of the free exercise of religion. Whether or not you think people should legislate with a religious slant, declaring such an action unconstitutional is very much more a “dead argument” than “calling upon religious principles”.

  12. Steven

    Steve:

    I guess I should have blasted “religiously motivated” laws as unconstitutional, instead of using the phrase “religious slant”. I hate to borrow directly from Wikipedia, but I think it’s well worded.

    “The establishment clause has generally been interpreted to prohibit 1) the establishment of a national religion by Congress, or 2) the preference of one religion over another or the support of a religious idea with no identifiable secular purpose.” (emphasis added).

    This interpretation is where I’m coming from: any law that is founded on religious ideas with no secular purpose is unconstitutional. I do not find this an abstract conclusion in the slightest – in fact I believe the interpretation to be quite pure and literal. Accordingly, the law has not an ounce of understanding of what “sin” is. “Sin” is religious concept. The law does not consider murder, for example, a “sin”. Producing public policy based purely on what is thought to be “sinful” is unconstitutional. This is an area where I believe many members of the church are in conflict, holding irrational views. If you agree with the above interpretation of the first amendment, you must also understand why arguments founded on religious principles or ideals have no place in the debate of public policy.

    As far as the law is concerned, marriage is a legal construct and not a union defined by religious ideals. Insofar as religious ideals and secular purpose align, by all means, regulate accordingly. But when religious ideals without sufficient secular purpose are presented, they have no place in the debate. It is my opinion that excluding gays from state recognized marriage is a purely religious idea without sufficient secular justification (or at least without sufficient secular justification to outweigh the pro gay marriage arguments). If a court can be convinced that this is the case (assuming there is no specific US constitutional provision banning gay marriage), the court is justified, nay, obligated and bound, to issue a ruling so saying. Since marriage is defined by law, it needs to stand up to the same constitutional standards of law.

    I do not judge or blast any person for “voting their conscience”. The citizenry can be as religiously motivated as they please in the voting booth. If an appropriately passed amendment to the US constitution banned gay marriage, I’d be disappointed, but would argue that since the law of the land had been duly and unquestionably amended, the rule of law required banning gay marriage. Since such a provision does not exist in the US constitution, I’m trying to illustrate why people shouldn’t cry foul when a court rules in favor of gay marriages, and why such rulings are not only justified, but inevitable.

  13. Steven

    Thaddeus:

    Gay sex is already legitimate. Gay couples already live happy lives together, and much of society (depending on where you live) is okay with that. I think I understand what you are trying to say, though: because marriage is incentivized, legalizing gay marriage would force the government to provide incentives for gay couples to get married, in effect “giving away whiskey shots” that otherwise should be reserved for the child producing, straight folk. This isn’t a new or separate argument to be considered in its own right – this is a repackaging of your existing argument that you should have guessed, by now, I don’t fully agree with ;).

    I’m afraid I may have overstepped my bounds, though. I’ve thought about what I’ve said, and while I think I still agree with what I’ve written, I’ve realized that this particular forum may not have been the place for such debate, especially since the purpose of this blog isn’t necessarily to debate the issues, but to state and discuss the position and beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On this topic, the church is very clear. For the purposes of this site, there really should be very little to discuss. If you feel I’ve hijacked the topic or overstepped a boundary, I sincerely apologize.

  14. Dave

    Stephen,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your comments. I’ve certainly appreciated the intelligence and respect with which you’ve approached the topic. I don’t have much to add to the discussion, except in response to your last point about sin:

    Accordingly, the law has not an ounce of understanding of what “sin” is. “Sin” is religious concept. The law does not consider murder, for example, a “sin”. Producing public policy based purely on what is thought to be “sinful” is unconstitutional.

    I tend to think that drawing a line between calling something “morally wrong” (ok to legislate) and calling something “sinful” (not ok to legislate) is splitting a particularly thin hair. It almost seems like a matter of solely semantic preference between people who believe in God and people who don’t.

    Also, in a culture whose morals are informed by a belief in a higher power, it’s going to be extremely hard to convince people that their morals have “no identifiable secular purpose.”

  15. Let me begin my comment by saying I am StePHen, with the eternal and true spelling of the name, not SteVen with the (hmph) *other* spelling. So, Dave, thank you for the complement, but I think your comments should be directed elsewhere. :)

    I agree with what Dave said, and continue by saying that the very existence of law is based off of a fundamental assumption of what is good and what is not good. Our nation is founded on this concept. Discussion of any policy centers around basic concepts of right and wrong. Even by arguing that you think religion shouldn’t be part of the equation, you admit morality. The whole idea of “should” necessitates the belief on the part of the arguer that something is somehow “good”, never mind how it became so. You must realize that by arguing that religion has no place in politics you are arguing that expressing personal beliefs of basic right and wrong is inappropriate in certain situations, which I find very hard to defend. You are also arguing that religious definitions of right and wrong are inferior politically to secular definitions of right and wrong, and I challenge you to devise a good meaning for that last idea.

  16. Steven,

    Your argument depends on the assumption that marriage is a basic human civil right. Why do you believe that?

  17. Bus

    Having been around longer than the rest of you, what I find interesting is that in the early 80′s when gays started coming “out of the closet” there was a major debate about whether gayness was a natural or a learned condition. Although no conclusion was ever scientifically reached, suddenly the accepted truth was that all gay people are naturally disposed to their appetites and desires. That makes the argument equating their struggle comparable to the civil rights movement more tenable….but I’m still struggling with the basic tenet of the argument. If it is a learned behavior then it’s a choice which makes the argument closer to that of an alcoholic or kleptomaniac.

  18. ceejay

    “In order for the exclusion argument to stand on the assertion that government can and should limit marriage to child producing couples, it must be accepted by the argument’s adherents that there cannot and does not exist any OTHER reason for marriage to exist.”

    Sometimes OTHER reasons exist, certainly, but these reasons alone don’t always sufficiently add up to actually justifying the cost of marriage.

    “If the state recognizes and provides financial incentives for marriage based on the state’s interest in marriages producing children, any state recognition of marriage in the absence of children is unjustifiably costly to the state. Marriages should not be granted UNTIL a child has been conceived.”

    The problem here is the difference between principle and just a particular circumstance. A heterosexual couple can, in principle, procreate. A homosexual couple, in every circumstance, cannot procreate. We create laws in our society based on principles of our reality and less on particulars. I hope this makes sense.

  19. Steven

    Dave,

    I don’t believe at all that separating morality from the notion of sin is splitting a thin hair. One of philosophy’s purposes is to reach an understanding of morality, and much, if not most, of defensible philosophical thinking defines morality without the concept of God. I think, also, our lives are filled with such distinctions. What the LDS Church considers sinful is not necessarily what the Catholic Church considers sinful (wine, anyone?). The concept of sin is by no means universal. And while “secular morality” is not universal either, it is infinitely more so than “sin”. I maintain that sin and righteousness, and morality, are two, distinct concepts that happen to share the same space a lot of the time.

    I agree that my position is a hard sell in this crowd. I don’t think I can sway the opinion of anyone here, but I believe one comes to better conclusions if he is forced to publicly defend his. I hope that you, and others here as well, feel that this discussion serves that purpose. If I have not convinced you to take my side, than I hope you’ve at least understood it.

  20. Steven

    Bus,

    Learned behavior presupposes the existence of a teacher, or some mechanism for teaching that behavior. I think it is fairly well accepted that straight, religious, “good” families still produce gay children, and gay couples raising children still produce straight kids.

    There is no reason why we shouldn’t believe gay people have been part of the human race since the “beginning” – some of Christianity’s (Judaism’s) oldest literature speaks of the existence of gay folk, at least indirectly. Where, when, and how did the alleged teaching of homosexuality take place, and how is it perpetuated?

    Having asked this, I am very slow to compare the gay-rights movement to the civil rights struggles the African American community endured. I think on the surface we find some interesting commonalities, but I’m inclined to believe the comparisons end there.

  21. Steven

    Thad,

    I don’t think I’ve made the argument that marriage is a basic human civil right. My arguments were based on the legal construct of marriage. As it exists (a construct of secular law), I believe it cannot be limited by gender. Marriage in and of itself is not a human right. So far as marriage is a secular institution, it is a right generously (but prejudicially) granted by government.

  22. Steven

    ceejay,

    So far as government grants marriage without children, it recognizes these reasons as sufficient to extend the marriage subsidy. My argument is that if the government recognizes that these other reasons exists, and willingly grants benefits because of these reasons, it cannot choose to grant or withhold these benefits based on gender.

    Society in general also acknowledges that other reasons exist. The principle of that matter is that the law doesn’t really care whether or not a couple produces children. I argued that in the absence of children, the government shouldn’t grant marriage to illustrate the futility of relying on the possibility of procreation as the foundation for the current legal construct of marriage. If the law cared about procreation, it would need to go to the extreme of limiting marriage to couples with a child (doing so would be FAR less costly to the government). If the law didn’t care about whether or not a couple could procreate, it couldn’t limit marriage to opposite gender couples. I think in the world of law, these would be the two most rational positions.

    In the world of religion, however, I am a firm advocate for the rights of churches to deny their institution of marriage to whomever they please. The LDS church should not be forced to recognize, perform or in any way condone same sex couples.

    In the end, marriage has always been a religious institution. If it is brought into the realm of public policy and law, this debate is inevitable, and I think in the end, the pro-gay supporters will win.

    My questions for you (ceejay) are:

    What are these “OTHER” reasons for marriage that you think exist? Are these reasons embedded in sexual identity? That is to say, are these “other” reasons for marriage dependent on the partnership being made of a man and a woman exclusively?

  23. Steven

    I recognized I’ve spammed this topic with, now, 5 consecutive posts. I apologize and thank you for your patience, but there were several posts to respond to, and doing so in a single, long post seemed cumbersome.

    StePHe (a deliberate misspelling, since “steve” doesn’t reflect the “true” spelling – how would it be pronounded? Steef? :) ).

    I guess a good portion of my response to you can be found in my response to Dave (June 15th 1:48 pm). Just a few more notes:

    I think my position is very defendable. I think history (and current events) has shown that a government based on religion is unstable, unsafe, and unsustainable.

    What is good and what is not good is not what is sinful and what is righteous. Our government’s framework for what is “good” is more or less established by the US constitution. I wholeheartedly believe that this framework is superior to any religious notion of right and wrong. If it were not so, rule of law would not exist, mayhem would ensue, and our nation would be wholly ungovernable.

    You’re free to vote your religious conscience. Do so! But understand that unless the laws you enact are rational and defendable outside the realm of religion, and inside the realm of constitutional law, the system will eventually correct itself and strike them down.

  24. Thaddeus

    The choice/genetics debate creates a false dichotomy. There is more than one kind of decision and more than one biological response.

    Choice:

    1) The direct selection: Mary chooses to vacation in Mexico.
    2) The indirect selection: Garth chooses to rob a convenience store, which impels him to flee to Mexico to avoid arrest.

    Genetics:

    1) Fatalistic biology: Hugh is born with Down Syndrome.
    2) Adaptable biology: Wayne is born with an inherited predisposition to high blood pressure, which can be mitigated with exercise and a careful diet.

    If homosexual attraction is a choice, then it is likely an indirect selection in which the attraction is a consequence or outcome of other decisions, including consideration of external environmental factors. A “teacher” is not required, since the attraction could be a natural result of a conglomeration of choices.

    If it is in the genes, I see it as highly-adaptable. As Steven noted, homosexual attraction has likely been around forever and thousands, if not millions, have successfully integrated into heterosexual society. This is not to argue that all gays should be forced to remain in their closets, but that each has the capacity to adapt and change.

    Incidentally, the Church does not care what brought it on. Same-gender attraction is not sinful. It’s the sexual intercourse itself that is unwise. And it is always a choice whether to give in to lust or to abstain.

    Some might counter that denying one’s sexuality is akin to “living a lie,” but the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about denying the natural man; overcoming mortality’s trials through faith, and becoming a saint. Everyone has a cross to bear. This one might seem too heavy to lift, but that is only the case when you lift alone. Jesus Christ lifted one much heavier, and He has promised to make our own burdens light if we turn to Him.

  25. Steven

    I, for one, do not believe that denying one’s sexuality in the name of religion is “living a lie.” I admire those who are examples of such devotion. Homosexuals are not the only group of people to be asked to do so. The Catholic Church has long asked its priesthood to live a life of celibacy. If the decision to live a life contrary to his or her desires for compatible companionship truly affords the person more joy and happiness, then I am glad for their choice and support them wholeheartedly.

  26. Dave

    Steven,

    I still disagree with your position that our collective morality is nonreligious (whether or not it ever could be is debatable, but I don’t think it is). Our system of laws is built upon the constitution, which was written by men whose morality was very informed by belief in God, or based on a system of English common laws which are likewise informed by religion. The basic idea that all men are created equal, for instance, which underlies many of our most moral laws, is a very religious idea. It’s very unscientific and not at all universal. In any case, I don’t see any inherent advantage of philosophy without a God over philosophy with a God. In fact, maybe the worst atrocities of the twentieth century (Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot) suggest the opposite.

  27. Thaddeus

    It is important for the government and science and everything else that requires objectivity to remain neutral in regard to the existence and nature of God. I agree that there needs to be a separation of church and state. But I don’t think the government is required to operate in the world under the assumption that there is no God.

    An atheist government oppresses the religious.

    Government policies and scientific theories must officially leave the answer to the questions of God’s existence and nature “unknown.”

    And while Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, I don’t think the founding fathers envisioned a government entirely uninformed by religion. In a republic, representatives are to make decisions informed by the desires of their constituents along with their own personal convictions. Popular desires and personal convictions are usually inseparably and heavily influenced by religious faith (or, as the case may be, irreligious atheism).

    I admit that it introduces some bias, but it is inevitable. Representatives are human, and the right to govern comes from the people (also humans). No one ever claimed the Republic would be perfect.

    Maybe someday we will have the calm, dispassionate leadership of neutral robots, guided only by logical analysis.

  28. Steven

    Dave,

    Interesting that you would bring up the atrocities of the twentieth century as evidence that philosophy absent of God is a recipe for mass murder, genocide, oppression and dictatorship. I think history has shown over and over again, and will continue to show, that mass murder, genocide, oppression and dictatorship happen more often in the name of God and religion (or at least use these ideas as justification) than for any other reason.

    It’s true that many of the men who had a hand in the creation of the constitution had a belief in a higher power. The wording of the constitution does not necessarily reflect these beliefs. The statement that “all men are created equal” is from the Declaration of Independence. Also, the word “God” or “god” does not appear in the constitution. In fact, virtually all “official” references in our government to God were put in place very much after the fact (the vast majority taking place in the 1900s).

    Further, I think you’d have an interesting challenge indeed to show English common law was formed around the basis of religion. It would be much easier to show that the formation of the British Parliament, and its governing rules, to be decidedly ANTI established religion, being a departure from rule under God’s chosen king.

    “All men created equal” is not an exclusively religious idea by any means. Again, I think you’ll find the opposite to be true. Judaism and Christianity are no strangers to the idea of racial entitlement and racial inferiority. Until recent history, religion, specifically Christianity, has been used as much as a justification for racial repression as it was a device for “salvation”. Many religions still operate in such a way. Unfortunately, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not free from this history, but that topic is not a matter for discussion here (and probably is not one I’d ever touch anyway).

    The origins of the idea of all men being created equal might be attributed to Thomas Hobbes (refer to the opening paragraph of Chapter 13 of The Leviathan). Interestingly enough, religion was absent in the formation and construction of Hobbes’s framework of morality and political governance.

    Hobbes spends a good deal of space in the The Leviathan discussing Christianity, but it’s amusingly unclear if he was trying to illustrate how his philosophical framework is compatible with Christianity, or if he was just trying undermine the religious belief of his readers [“Hobbes’s Moral and Political Philosophy”, Feb. 2002, ed. Sharon A. Lloyd and Susanne Sreedhar, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hobbes-moral/.

    In any case, Hobbes argued that members of a sovereign nation were obligated to submit to the established government, and the establishment was, more or less, superior to God and religion.

    Contrary to popular belief among many religious circles, the Constitution was formed much more around the political and social framework of Hobbes and philosophers who expanded on his works (most notably John Locke) than it was around religion.

    The funny thing is, I think you would find much of Hobbes’s work unpalatable for many reasons, not the least of which he advocated that the state have the power and authority to govern in matters of religion, effectively placing the state above God.

  29. Thaddeus

    history has shown over and over again…that mass murder, genocide, oppression and dictatorship happen more often in the name of God and religion…than for any other reason

    I don’t know if we want to open this can of worms, but we’ve dealt with that assertion here.

  30. Dave

    Steven,

    The purpose of my bringing up the atrocities of the twentieth century was to illustrate my belief that atheistic moral philosophy doesn’t have any inherent advantage over morality that is informed by a belief in God.

    Also, regardless of where the term “all men are created equal” came from, by the time the Declaration of Independence was penned, the idea seems pretty religious:
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

    I don’t want to join the debate over whether our country is explicitly Christian or not. I only provide it as an illustration of an apparently religious belief informing the political and moral ideals of this country. And I still hold that while it’s clear that our society is explicitly opposed to a state-sponsored religion, it would be hard to try to take our society’s morality and try to extract and discard the parts that are informed by any kind of belief in God. And, as I mentioned before, even if you could, I doubt that it would be any more moral than before.

  31. Steven

    Dave,

    I misread your post regarding the atrocities of the 20th century. My understanding wasn’t that you were trying to show that there is no advantage to one philosophy over another. I believed you were stating that a philosophy uninformed by a belief in a higher power was a morally inferior philosophy. I was wrong in my understanding, and I apologize.

    I stand by my other remarks, however, particularly regarding your skewed view of the historical statement in question. I believe that your conclusions, based on the sentence in question, are the result of a logical fallacy. This “truth” appears in a list of “truths”, albeit a list of only two truths, the other “truth” being that men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Assuming A and B are true, A being a statement of philosophy that may or may not be a religious idea, B being a religious idea, it does not follow that A must be a religious idea, simply because B is. Your argument would have been better served by focusing on the second truth in this list of truths, rather than dragging us through this lengthy tangent discussion. (I accept blame for continuing the lengthy tangent discussion).

    In the end, for the purposes of this discussion, the general populace’s philosophy can be as informed by religion as much as we may please. This does not change the foundation of this government (the constitution), which is decidedly NOT informed by the belief in a higher power (at the very least, you have failed to provide defendable evidence supporting your position that it is so informed). Precedent has, and will continue to be (if we want to maintain the stability of the state), that laws that lack secular purpose or justification are unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

    Therefore, we really have gone off on a useless tangent and I apologize for taking us there. If there are secular reasons why same-sex couples should not be granted state recognized marriages, there is where the debate lies. If there aren’t secular reasons why same-sex couples should not be married, there really is no debate. Having placed this issue firmly in the realm of secular discussion and reasoning (being a matter of constitutional law and public policy), I do not feel there really is any reason for me to continue the debate in a religious thread. If you or anyone else wants to discuss the secular reasoning for or against gay marriage, we can move the discussion elsewhere. Thaddeus knows my e-mail address.

    I do, however, want to correct two faulty assumptions (or implications) of yours:

    1) While I am advocating that we strip legislation that is based purely on religious thinking and lack justifiable secular purposes, I recognize that some laws exist that may have been religiously motivated originally but still have justifiable secular purposes. I support these laws.

    2) I stand with Thaddeus in that government need not (and truly should not) be atheistic. I also take slight offense that you imply that my moral philosophy, as laid out in this thread, is atheistic in nature. Just because I’m trying to separate morality as is legislated by the state from morality as is taught by religion doesn’t mean that I, or the philosophy that I am advocating, deny the existence of God. A moral philosophy uninformed by a belief in God is not a philosophy that denies the existence of God, even if that philosophy does not match your particular understanding or belief of who God is or what He teaches.

  32. Nina

    Why do you care so much about other peoples’ lives? Gay people don’t try and tell you who you can or can’t marry, they don’t even care. Why do you care if someone wants to marry and start a family with the person they love? Times are changing, you and your church needs to realize that, and get over the fact that things don’t always happen the way you want them to.

  33. Thaddeus

    Nina, please read the opening post carefully to understand our position on this issue.

    I do agree with you on that last thing: Things don’t always happen the way you want them to. They weren’t meant to. It’s the purpose of life.

    Thanks for visiting!

  34. Bus

    You bring up an important point regarding Christian theology. Christ told his apostles to go unto all the world and preach to every nation, tongue, and kindred. When people find the true gospel their first instinct is to tell their family and friends about what they know. It generally isn’t done in an attempt to screw with other people’s lives it resembles more the passing on of a treasured gift. People who have discovered happiness want others to be happy as well, just as misery loves company.
    When it comes to public policy, the church feels responsible, much like the prophets of old, to warn people against sin. The church generally stays out of political events unless they deal with moral issues. They will get involved to try and steer the public policy to a position as close to gospel principles as possible.

  35. Chuck

    I would like to point out, that even though you say “marriage in and of itself is not a right” and that is is “a battle of legitimacy”, the mormon belief system isn’t the oldest religion out there, and cannot claim to be anything more than just another interpretation on the subject of marriage. The main reason I say that, is because the concept of “marriage” has long been in existence before ANY religions were invented, including yours, so it is arrogant to say that because of what you believe, others should be dictated to follow an idea of marriage which you did not invent in the first place.

    Quick example: Someone long ago invents the car. People can travel in any direction they want, and everyone is good, until one day a person comes along and says “These cars are very special, and should only be used to travel in this direction” when you want to go a different way. Why should I feel inclined to listen to that person, someone who had nothing to do with the inception of the car in the first place? Would you listen to that person? Is your name really Thaddeus?

  36. Dave

    Chuck,

    It sounds like you’re arguing that marriage as a social, religious, or political institution has (since time immemorial) been a thing that applied to any two people, whether gay or straight, and that only recently have some people wanted to restrict it (make it smaller) to apply to only straight people.  Is that what you’re saying?

    Because don’t get me wrong, I like your point about who has the right to change things and historical precedent and all that.  I just think it supports the exact opposite opinion as the one you’re getting at.

  37. Jack

    I am glad to hear someone who doesn’t believe it is an abomination. However, why are they not aloud to have they’re rights just like everyone else? The bible shuns adultery more than homosexuality, so you are saying that they should not prevented from being legally married, (really just a handy piece of paper that has been proven to keep couples together, so you are also encouraging remarriage, which the bible shuns as well i think…) and therefor promoting adultery. I do not understand your logic, I’m sorry. Especially if you are saying you don’t think gays are evil.

  38. Kristi

    This is a semantics issue. We can seek to change the definition of a word but then what does the word really mean? In this world of “google”, “wikipedia” and dozens of other creative terms added to the dictionary each year I wonder why a new word hasn’t been created to respectfully describe the union between same gender couples. All “rights” rest on the power of the definition of one word?

  39. Melvin

    I disagree with anyone. Men are not equal to the eyes of God. I am not equal to you or anyone here on earth. I am different than you. We are not the same culture, customs, ideas, level, class, and race.  That’s it.  I am not like anyone here on earth.

  40. Melvin

    I do not care. It is fine. I think gay marriage is okay. It is their freedom of choice.

  41. Melvin

    I am hard of hearing, homosexual who used to be Mormon, where I used to be among distinguished family where some of them are military forces of my native land that is not United States. I am still proud of my background. I am just here in United States for a while.

  42. Kassie

    Hello everyone! It has been a long while since I have posted to anything (raising 9 children takes a lot of my time!) I have a thought. Isn’t part of the issue of the LDS church with gay marriage the fact that an LDS person would not be able to enter the temple? Since we believe marriage is eternal and grants the opportunity to enter the Celestial Kingdom our beliefs differ greatly from other Christians on this issue. For non LDS members this is not an issue for them as they believe marriage is only until “death do us part.”

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