Wednesday, March 27, 2013

That one post on gay marriage

I keep thinking I need to post something about this issue, since it's front and center right now.

But I don't know what to post.  We have friends who are gay. We have close friends whose siblings are gay and who are just as confused as I am about the broad split among righteous members of the church on this issue (like she says--not about the morality of it, but about the government's role). We have friends--good, smart people--who firmly believe what Bill O'Reilly said today--that the most compelling argument is on the side FOR gay marriage. It's one thing to talk theories. It's another when there are faces attached to them. And when those faces truly believe they want to be happy, in love, raising makes it hard to look at someone and say, "No. You are bad for society, your love is not healthy, and you can't possibly be as good a parent as a non-gay person." (Don't fight me on this--regardless of what you're actually saying, this is what people are hearing.)

We also have a church that has come down very firmly and unequivocally on the side against gay marriage, even though it's for gay rights in other areas. and and and

I am seeing a lot of one side (pro gay marriage) and not a lot of arguments on the other side. It's not that there aren't any--it's that it seems like nobody is talking about it. So I did some digging to find out what the conversation actually is....

Members of the church who are active and gay have made it very clear that the debate, as presented by the media, is inconsistent and not reflective of all the opinions and experiences out there. The media paints it as either this or that, when reality can fall anywhere in between. The media also paints all humans as beings defined entirely by their sexuality and sexual experiences, and we know there is SO much more to being alive than sex. It's just a tiny, tiny part of our existence, personal identity (hopefully), and life.  You can read stories that don't fall in the mainstream reductionist view of the issue on the Church's website:, and also from Robert Lopez (raised by lesbian moms), Josh Weed (gay and happily married), Jan Swoboda (gay and happily married--a European perspective), Laurie Campbell (lived the lesbian lifestyle and abandoned it),  and Doug Mainwaring (married a woman, left her for the gay lifestyle, and then came back--and why), to name just a few (all of these are worth reading).

Some of the arguments against gay marriage are fairly compelling.  Some are not. ("You can't just redefine a word like that." "Why not? We redefined computer. It used to mean, 'A person who computes.'" In fact, we started redefining the term "marriage" when people started using birth control extensively, and furthered that redefinition when we accepted no-fault divorce. This has been a long evolution; it's not a sudden redefinition--it's more like the culmination of a long process. Although there are compelling arguments why we should get the definition of marriage right, just saying, "You can't redefine a word" is not one of them.)

So, in looking through all of this...stuff...on marriage, I've realized there are a couple of questions that have to be addressed if there is to be any discussion on the matter (which seems to have been outlawed by the media and the pro gay  marriage folks, and that's a little distressing in and of itself).

1. Is the science solid on homosexuality never being a choice?

 For a while, it seemed to be (at least, it has been widely accepted that it is). Now, that conclusion, upon which most of the arguments seem to be based, is being questioned. While it seem unequivocal that some people are born gay, just like some are born with fibro, science (this article also quotes scientific studies) and the social conversation is starting to discover that sexuality can be fluid.

Also, it's worth pointing out, while sexual feelings might not be a choice, sexual activity is, even though the media makes it seem like it is not.

To me, sexuality being fluid and possibly based on choice for some people makes a difference, especially when you bring religion into the discussion.

2. What business does government have in marriage?

Keith Ablow and Jan Swoboda both think government should get out of marriage all together, and that would solve the debate.

Jennifer Morse, on the other hand, offers a well-reasoned explanation of why that's a bad idea. And Ryan Anderson has been one of the outspoken advocates of the government being involved in marriage. Alan Greenblatt points out that marriage, as an institution  has been weakening (unraveling really) for a long time, and this is one reason people are not very opposed to gay marriage--who cares about marriage anyway? Most people don't even seem to recognize why we have marriage except as an expression of love (and then why not let gays marry).  This unraveling has gone so far, in fact, that most people completely reject the idea that there is any purpose to marriage than love.  He also points out that there are lots of cultures, historically, that have embraced homosexual unions, and none of them are around anymore.

3. If marriage is about forming families to raise children (both for the kids' benefit and for the benefit of society, which then doesn't have to pay to raise the children or pay for the bad job they inevitably do without 2 parents in the home), why not let gay couples form families to raise children?

Mark Regnerus claims the families aren't equally beneficial for children. Other people point out that, since homosexual couples obviously can't have babies, a lot of them end up adopting children who obviously already fell outside the ideal of "child raised by its married biological parents". So maybe two dads or two moms isn't ideal (and they find that assertion debatable), but isn't it better than what the kids would otherwise have? And, they point out, isn't it better for those couples who are already raising children to have incentive to stay together, just like heterosexual couples?

4. There are other countries where homosexuality is legal. Why aren't we using them as examples, either way?

It makes me pause that advocates of gay marriage aren't holding up Canada and saying, "See, you people who are against us, it hasn't caused any bad results in Canada." That would be the first thing I would do. So what are people hiding? But, likewise, nobody is saying, "Look what it did to sad." So does that mean it really is a stupid debate that won't cause any changes?

5. (This is a really, really big deal to me): Regardless of what happens with the Supreme Court, I am extremely concerned about the rights of religious organizations. I'm not talking about photographers who are uncomfortable taking pictures of gay marriages and insist on making that public as their reason to turn a job down (instead of just saying, "Sorry, I'm not available that day. Why don't you call so-and-so?"). Personally, would be really offended if people said, "Oh, you're Mormon? I'm not making you a wedding cake." or "I refuse to take white people's engagement photos." or "Sorry, we don't rent our facility to people with children."

What I'm talking about are LDS Family Services adoptions, and Catholic adoption agencies. And religious school dorms. And pastors who contract out to marry people outside of their faith. And people being free to preach that homosexuality is a sin, even not over the pulpit. And the right of actual church buildings to allow and not allow weddings in their sanctuaries. Some of these things have been addressed in ways that protect religion and religious people (like pastors being forced to marry people outside their faith) and some haven't (like catholic adoption agencies being forced to close).

I'm also talking about this: "those who believe men can only marry women and women can only marry men will be treated as bigots, just as racists are treated today. In this future, already working itself out in states and countries with same-sex marriage (and even some that so far have only same-sex civil unions), these bigots will be denied advancement in their professions; their rights to conduct private businesses according to their view of the reality of marriage will be regulated out of existence; their children will be inculcated with a view of marriage that is anathema to them; and in general they can look forward to being told they are in the grip of an “irrational hatred” they must relinquish as an obsolete social pathology. The fact that considered moral views, and not animosity, are at the root of their beliefs, will matter not at all. The fact that, for most people believing what human civilizations have always believed about marriage, this belief is intimately bound up with religious faith and vouchsafed to them by revelation itself, will avail them nothing." (see the next link for the source of this quote).  This seems kind of outlandish, but it's already happening. That's why there has been and continues to be no meaningful discussion on this topic.

6. Why? Why do gay couples want to be married?

There is this: CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: "If you tell a child that somebody has to be their friend, I suppose you can force the child to say, this is my friend, but it changes the definition of what it means to be a friend. And that's it seems to me what supporters of Proposition 8 are saying here. [...] all you're interested in is the label and you insist on changing the definition of the label."

This also addresses that question.

and finally, 7. What will that do to the idea of marriage?

Matthew Franck says both side agree it will do a lot.  I have also read arguments on facebook from very intelligent people that pretty much amount to the idea that gay marriage is actually part of the same path that people got on when birth control became common. We divorced marriage from children at that point, and this is the natural outgrowth of that.  As Franck says, this debate actually started a long, long time ago, even if we didn't realize it: "Marriage in the modern age is a wounded institution, and the advent of same-sex marriage would injure it further. We already have trouble remembering that marriage is about procreation—and that procreation ought to take place within marriage. Same-sex marriage would make remembering this harder. We already have trouble honoring fidelity, exclusivity, and permanence in marriage; same-sex marriage would make this harder too. We already have trouble articulating why our society rejects polygamy, or even incest; same-sex marriage would render us speechless. We already have trouble recalling that marriage unites men and women so that children have both mothers and fathers, preferably the ones nature gave them; same-sex marriage means actively rejecting this idea." People might disagree that same sex marriage would further the breakdown of marriage, but his point is valid that marriage is breaking down and has been for a long time.

So what to post?

Apparently God doesn't seem to think having sex is as inevitable or as big a deal as we humans do, or he wouldn't ask any of us to be celibate outside of certain limits. (And, in fact, he does ask people other than homosexuals to be celibate if they don't find a spouse--like people who just can't find a spouse, people who are handicapped in ways that make finding a suitable partner unlikely, etc). He's not just picking on one group of people, even though the media paints it that way. )

Also, when no-fault divorce was proposed, it seemed like an awfully good idea. And look what a disaster it was. Look what a horrible idea it was for society. Where there should have been reform, we got revision, and it was a BIG mistake that we can't go back on. So the conclusion I've come to is obviously we, in our best efforts to do right and good things, to be compassionate and caring, sometimes can't see the future well enough to make the right choices. So we have to trust God because we can't see the future, and we can't predict the outcomes, but He can. And right now, He is saying traditional marriage is His choice. So, even if there is no argument that advocates of gay marriage can't counter compellingly, perhaps we should trust Him. And treat EVERYONE the way He would treat them--with love, kindness, caring, and patience.

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