11 October 2008

RAGE: unresolved turmoil - more Prop 8

I either want to die, or I want Prop 8 to die. Sometimes both.

I spent hours agonizing in August about this issue; even with my supposed decision, I read and read and read about people's lives and families being destroyed and I watch videos that make my skin crawl because of their blatant lies and political rhetoric, (which if the misinformed Mormons who are answering the "call" and filling my inbox with emails about voting "yes" would take a moment and read up on, they would understand my point...) and I balk and vacilate with indecision and questioning. Aporia bubbling under the surface of my confusing existence.

I love my church. I love my testimony. 34 million dollars. Political involvement by a strictly non-political entity rationalized away as "a moral issue." How do I stand? Where do I root myself? How, how, how? Why?

I am now party to the atrocious sin of hypocrisy. I say that I have decided -albeit grudgingly- with my testimonial roots that are important above all else and show me the way to walk...

and then I get another vote yes on 8 email. And I can sit no longer. I lash out. But in the other direction I just linked myself with... GAH. I hate everything.

Below is what I responded... to my ill-informed friend and everyone else in his address book. (Fair warning: Don't send political-based rants to me without BCC your address book. I am very adept at copy/paste and "reply all").

Note: This email was a conglomeration from all over. A post by Max Power. Carol Lynn Pearson's most recent newsletter (which is saved in my email and I'm not linking that...), tenets from mormonsformarriage.com, with my own ranting and raving thrown in...

I refuse to let this one go by unnoticed.

I sit here and watch this go on and on and do nothing. It boggles my mind that we as a church can recite the 13 Articles of Faith, but we don't seem to actually believe number 11: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."Isn't this AofF about agency? About choosing? About the right inherent in it? You don't have to like gay marriage. You don't have to accept it as part of your beliefs. But you do have to respect the freedom of choice that God gave all his children in this life. I do not agree with gay marriage. I do not support gay marriage. But I refuse to support the restriction on man's free will and God-given right to CHOOSE. That just seems too much like Satan's idea of life to me.I am ASTOUNDED that our "politically-neutral" church is making such an effort to spread lies and hate among its people in order to garner support for this cause. It's just incredible. Half of the junk swirling around this issue is inherently false and if we as members took 30 minutes to do our homework we'd know that.

I appreciate the sense of duty and activism regarding this issue, but this is killing people we love and I cannot stand for that. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to feel? I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am active and faithful and hold a temple recommend. I know the church is true, and as much as I wish it wasn't sometimes so that this wouldn't be so hard, here I am. Do any of you even understand what it is like to have the same faith that is the source of joy and peace overwhelming you with anxiety and sorrow? No, I don't think so. I'm being asked to support a cause which will only compound those feelings among people who are gay. This type of rhetoric in my opinion further encourages hate and discrimination. The Church officially discourages these types of behaviors and I wholeheartedly agree with them, but something has to be said for the seemingly "green light" that has been given of late for homophobia and fear tactics.

Carol Lynn Pearson, a dear friend of mine (and also an active member of the church) recently wrote: "I received an email from a woman in Utah and, with her permission, share part of it here: 'I was intrigued by what you said about the California matter [constitutional amendment to insure against gay marriage] and bringing more love to the earth. I'm in agony over the suicide death two months ago of my youngest son, Marshall, age 25, a gay student who was a senior in chemical engineering at the U of U. He knew all about spreading love, but didn't feel enough in return to keep him going. Laws such as this one they are proposing give us a lot of room to evaluate our values. I put my son's statue of Buddha out in my flower box as a way to honor what he would have done.

"He always put statues out to watch over the flowers in the apartments he rented on the Avenues of Salt Lake City. On my refrigerator I have a package of flower seeds marked, in his writing: 5/1. That was the day he was going to plant them. He didn't make it that long, so I'll plant them for him--next spring. My two daughters and I will each plant some of his seeds and watch them bloom in Utah and Virginia.'"

That email broke my heart, as did the conversation I had recently with a woman who told me that a few years ago in her neighborhood in Bountiful, Utah, there were suicides of three LDS gay young men. And the conversation I had the other day with a woman in my own ward who told me her two gay nephews had both taken their lives. I am outraged that Marshall could not plant his flower seeds, outraged that his community did not offer to him the fertile soil he needed in which to grow and to bloom. And deeply saddened that so many other gay men and women have fallen and had no one to pick them up and carry them a ways, fallen from injuries we ourselves have inflicted upon them."

In a discussion with a friend I brought up the fact that this summer may be one of the hardest ever for Gay Mormon Californians, and she got upset because she does not agree with people blaming large institutions for causing the actions of others (ie, suicides). Her argument was that they still have their agency and they make the choice. What I find stunning is she did not feel that the Church going after the institution of gay marriage and placing blame there for the destruction of the family was the same thing. But if you think about it, it is. One group blaming another for the deterioration/impact on another. "Gay Marriage will destroy the traditional family! Prop 8 is a must-have to protect marriage between a man and a woman!" Yes indeed, we would not want to jeopardize the sanctity of Brittney Spear's 55-hour-just-for-fun wedding. I am astonished how selective and choosy Mormons seem to be on issues such as this. Have you even thought about what your support of this issue means? Have you considered the implications? Do we really want the government to be able to define what is and what isn't a morally justifiable lifestyle? The primary responsibility of government is to defend and protect our inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the primary role of the Constitution is to limit what the government can or cannot do. Constitutions are not places to delineate what citizens can or cannot do. If two consenting adults wish to marry, do we really want to grant the government the power to prohibit them from doing so? Moral issues such as this are best discussed on a personal level, and not legislated by the government; if the government gets into the business of defining morality, what becomes of individual agency and responsibility. And who, exactly, will define what is moral and what is not?

Have you fulfilled the admonition in D&C 9:8?

# We are not to follow the prophets blindly:

* Elder Boyd K. Packer said, "We are following the admonition of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 'I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.' We should not, according to the scriptures, need to be commanded in all things." (See D&C 58:26.)

* "With all their inspiration and greatness, prophets are yet mortal men with imperfections common to mankind in general. They have their opinions and prejudices and are left to work out their own problems without inspiration in many instances." - Bruce R. McConkie

* "If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it. If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted." - (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 3:203–204 ISBN

* "The greatest fear I have is that the people of this Church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord." - Brigham Young

* "When churches or church leaders choose to enter the public sector to engage in debate on a matter of public policy, they should be admitted to the debate and they should expect to participate in it on the same basis as all other participants. In other words, if churches or church leaders choose to oppose or favor a particular piece of legislation, their opinions should be received on the same basis as the aopinions offered by other knowledgeable organizations or persons, and they should be considered on their merits. By the same token, churches and church leaders should expect the same broad latitude of discussion of their views that conventionally applies to everyone else's participation in public policy debates. A church can claim access to higher authority on moral questions, but its opinions on the application of those moral questions to specific legislation will inevitably be challenged by and measured against secular-based legislative or political judgments." Dallin H. Oaks, "Religious Values and Public Policy," Ensign, Oct 1992, 60 [1]

# We are to be champions of equal rights for all:

* Joseph Smith declared in a statement published in the June 1, 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons (vol. 3, no. 15, p. 808) that he and other members of the First Presidency were "friends of equal rights and privileges to all men."

* President John Taylor said, "When the people shall have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States the Elders of Israel will be found holding it up to the nations of the earth and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men". (Journal of Discourses, 21:8)

* Hugh B. Brown of the First Presidency said in October 1963 General Conference, "We believe that all men are the children of the same God, and that it is a moral evil for any person or group of persons to deny any human being the right to gainful employment, to full educational opportunity, and to every privilege of citizenship….We call upon all men, everywhere, both within and outside the Church, to commit themselves to the establishment of full civil equality for all of God's children."

* On December 15, 1969, the First Presidency issued an official statement on civil rights. Latter-day Saints were told, "Each citizen must have equal opportunities and protections under the law with reference to civil rights."

Again, I do not agree with or support homosexual activity, but neither do I believe in the perpetuation of homophobia, or restricting the ability of other people to choose either. So where do I fall? Who do I support? This is a very, very difficult issue that makes my stomach twist in knots and my throat feel dry and I am unsure how to proceed. I just pray that the latter-day saint body will stop and THINK and listen and ponder before they act blindly in crushing so many people. It will touch all of us….sooner or later. If not in our own families, in our ward and stake families there are people grappling with this issue. Some have been cast out from homes - from parents, from siblings, from the very people who are supposed to love them the most, to deal with these issues on their own. We can be shepherds to these Children of God by showing an outpouring of love.


So now I don't know what to do. Or if I really stand where I say I stand. Or if I'm going to hell for being a hypocrite.

I just know that I hate prop 8. And I'm kind of glad that I don't live in California anymore, because then I might take a gun with me on November 4th and either shoot everyone else... or myself... and none of us want that...right?


bale said...

That is so tragic. The suicides of these individuals must have affected so many people but leaders still don't or won't make a determined effort to reach others in the same situation. People in their fervor to protect marriage (not even Temple Marriage, mind you, but civil marriage) are yet unaware of what they communicate to SSA saints.

Sarah said...

Scott commented the other day that if our views on Prop 8 are going to keep us out of the celestial kingdom, then we probably don't want to hang out for eternity with the people that DO make it there. We'd rather be in Hell for hypocrisy with people like you.:)

I started at the beginning of your blog today like you asked me too. It has been difficult for me, knowing what hard times you have gone through. I am grateful, though, to understand your journey.

It appears that we are dealing with much the same frustrations with prop 8 vs. faith in the church. What a tough thing for us. God bless us to survive it, with our faith still intact!