June 25th, 2008

Affirmation, California, and the LDS Church


photo credit: Diogioscuro

The internet has been aflame in the past couple of days with the news of a new letter from the First Presidency of the LDS church that is to be read in all California congregations this Sunday (PDF download of letter). The focus and conclusion of the letter reads:

We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.

Prophetic political involvement is not easily accepted by some—especially (and obviously) those who have an opposing viewpoint. People who consider themselves wiser than prophets, seers, and revelators have declared (and surely many more will likewise declare) their opposition to the letter and its intended purpose.

Take Affirmation, for example. Three days after Thomas S. Monson was named as the president of the Church, the gay/lesbian group requested a meeting to begin opening up a dialogue. Fast forward a couple months to when the California Supreme Court issued its ruling, reversing the result of Proposition 22, passed in 2000. Affirmation offered their counsel to God’s servants, asking them to keep their mouths shut.

Their letter to the prophet asks that Church leaders not “use their energies and their funds” in the fight against the ruling. Perhaps not ironically, the First Presidency’s letter contains strikingly similar wording, encouraging individual members to use their own means (funds) and time (energies).

Now that the letter has been issued, Affirmation is throwing a fit. In a statement issued by their Executive Committee, the Executive Director states:

We are deeply dismayed that the Church ignored our request that they not meddle in California politics. This initiative will hurt so many people. Without marriage, a couple who have been together 30 years could be torn apart at the doorway to the emergency room.

Is the example the director provides the best he can do in illustrating why gays should be afforded the same marital rights under the law? I’m all in favor of allowing an individual to determine who can be admitted to the ER should anything happen, but such an infrequent experience hardly lends emotional and logical support to their request to marry. Civil unions and their legal recognition is one thing; redefining marriage is altogether different.

The statement continues, showing the authors’ fundamental misunderstanding of Constitutional rights:

As Mormons, we believe that respect for civil law and acknowledgment of individual freedoms is sacred. The California law affects civil marriage; it has no effect on any religious institution or religious official. To seek to revoke these basic protections in the name of God denies the fundamental freedoms on which our country was built. Constitutional law has always been about protecting civil and religious freedoms, not the denial of those freedoms.

Individual freedoms are subject to the whim of government policy. Without the Bill of Rights, the freedom of religion would not exist as we know it. While we may have the right to practice our religion as we see fit, and the agency to do as we please regardless of the law, freedoms are subject to the dictates and provisions of established authority. The authors, like the California Supreme Court judges who turned down Prop. 22, mistake marriage for a fundamental (and Constitutional) right entitled to all. Being a government-sponsored entity, marriage is subject to the dictates of government (and its employers, the people). Thus, its definition is determined not by some arbitrary reference to “freedom”, but instead by the vote of the people.

Ideally, government should have no role in marriage whatsoever. People should be able to live with whom they please, and churches wishing to give religious sanction to such a union should be permitted to do so. Historically, government became involved in the marriage business primarily to subsidize and encourage marital and family relationships where the propagation of posterity would be of benefit to society. The majority of voters feel that homosexual relationships do not afford such a positive atmosphere for raising a moral and virtuous people, and thus they have repeatedly rejected it at the polls.

Affirmation also published this letter by one Jeffrey S. Nielsen, an advocate of same-sex marriage who claims to be a member of the Church. His words are likewise inaccurate, wherein he states that abolishing same-sex marriage through a constitutional amendment would be “legalized discrimination”. Nielsen fails to understand the role of government, apparently thinking that some form of homogeneous equality should be enjoyed by all. He feels that by disallowing homosexuals to marry, that they are being unduly discriminated against. But is the discrimination unjust when government decides to deny certain rights and rewards based upon one’s decision to enter a homosexual union? If I decide to purchase a vehicle that is not “street legal”, is the government discriminating against me when it refuses to allow me a license? If I desire to construct an edifice and ignore the city’s building codes, is it unjust discrimination when the government refuses to allow me to rent it out? Actions necessarily imply consequences, and to label an undesired result discrimination shows a lack of understanding regarding government’s role and responsibility.

Some advocates of same-sex marriage claim that it’s just “a matter of time” until the Church “wakes up”, pointing to its 1978 revelation regarding blacks and the priesthood as support for the hope that one day its policy regarding homosexuality will likewise change. To such people I say: don’t hold your breath.

Being from California myself, I have an idea of how fierce the debate will be in the coming months. Both sides are preparing for an all-out battle, and the war is just now in its infancy. The will of the people was summarily reversed by the Court, and now the people are preparing to fight back with the ultimate and only remaining weapon available to them: a constitutional amendment.

The Church has chosen sides, drawn a line, and issued a rallying cry. Prophets, seers, and revelators have asked for your support in passing the amendment and assuring that marriage remains a heterosexual union. Critics will rage, homosexuals will complain, and people the world over will watch with curiosity and concern as the events unfold.

Which side will you join?

Recently, President Eyring spoke of prophetic counsel and how it should be received. His words directly apply to the letter he just signed:

Another fallacy is to believe that the choice to accept or not accept the counsel of prophets is no more than deciding whether to accept good advice and gain its benefits or to stay where we are. But the choice not to take prophetic counsel changes the very ground upon which we stand. That ground becomes more dangerous. The failure to take prophetic counsel lessens our power to take inspired counsel in the future. The best time to have decided to help Noah build the ark was the first time he asked. Each time he asked after that, each failure to respond would have lessened sensitivity to the Spirit. And so each time his request would have seemed more foolish, until the rain came. And then it was too late. (Henry B. Eyring, via Quoty)

To Affirmation and other opponents of the amendment, the First Presidency’s letter does indeed seem foolish, as Eyring noted. Like Noah’s contemporaries, however, those rejecting and opposing our prophet’s clarion call will eventually come to realize their error, and as Pres. Eyring wrote, for some it will be too late.

63 Responses to “Affirmation, California, and the LDS Church”

  1. Chris
    June 25, 2008 at 7:18 pm #

    You nailed it. If we lose in California in November we only lose the battle not the war. All I know is that in the end God wins the war. I plan to be firmly behind him when he does.

  2. Rickety
    June 25, 2008 at 8:11 pm #

    Connor,

    An excellent post. For those of us living outside of California do you have any recommendations of where to send monetary support?

    Rick

  3. Tam
    June 25, 2008 at 8:14 pm #

    I’m not in CA but I thought I would try to do my part. Go here and you can voice your opinion about the Marriage Protection Amendment! The chruch very rarely gets involved in politics but on this they never waiver. Protecting Marriage and the Family is so important it’s not only the central unit of society but the central unit of eternity;)

  4. Connor
    June 25, 2008 at 8:17 pm #

    Being a government-sponsored entity, marriage is subject to the dictates of government (and its employers, the people). Thus, its definition is determined not by some arbitrary reference to “freedom”, but instead by the vote of the people.

    Discussing the definition of marriage as it relates to government, Elders Wickman and Oaks said the following in this interview on same-gender attraction:

    ELDER WICKMAN: For openers, marriage is neither a matter of politics, nor is it a matter of social policy. Marriage is defined by the Lord Himself. It’s the one institution that is ceremoniously performed by priesthood authority in the temple [and] transcends this world. It is of such profound importance… such a core doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of the very purpose of the creation of this earth. One hardly can get past the first page of Genesis without seeing that very clearly. It is not an institution to be tampered with by mankind, and certainly not to be tampered with by those who are doing so simply for their own purposes. There is no such thing in the Lord’s eyes as something called same-gender marriage. Homosexual behavior is and will always remain before the Lord an abominable sin. Calling it something else by virtue of some political definition does not change that reality.

    ELDER OAKS: Another way to say that same thing is that the Parliament in Canada and the Congress in Washington do not have the authority to revoke the commandments of God, or to modify or amend them in any way.

    Put differently, natural rights are those which are God-given and upon which proper government must be based. Any attempt through government to rescind God’s definition of a right is incorrect.

  5. Brian Stucki
    June 25, 2008 at 8:18 pm #

    The first time this was voted on, I was serving my mission in downtown San Francisco. Church Headquarters instructed all of the Elders in our mission to focus solely on talking to people about the vote. It was an very strengthening time. The opposition we had was 10x stronger than when we were simply trying to share the Gospel in full.

    If it’s anything like last time, there will likely be a weekend or two that the Stake Presidents in the San Francisco area will ask all members to go door to door and talk about the issue. I’m planning to head to the bay area during that time to add support.

  6. Connor
    June 25, 2008 at 8:24 pm #

    For those of us living outside of California do you have any recommendations of where to send monetary support?

    Geoff B. mentioned the following in a comment on this thread:

    The Alliance Defense Fund

    http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/issues/TraditionalFamily/samesexmarriage.aspx?cid=4558&referral=I0608FB

    And the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy

    http://www.marriagedebate.com/

    Personally, I’m going to wait to see how the Church suggests its members become involved. Though the counsel will be specifically for the saints in CA, it’s likely that it will include ways for others to get involved as well. My mother is fairly well connected, so I’ll have her keep me informed on what’s being passed down the ranks in CA to see how we foreigners can help.

  7. Obi wan liberali
    June 25, 2008 at 9:24 pm #

    On what basis should the LDS Church remain a tax exempt entity? My contributions to groups that seek to expand gay rights aren’t exempt, but so many Mormons donate to a corporation/church that seeks to deprive gay people of their rights.

    They are entitled to their opinion, but if they wish to enter the political fray, they should be taxed. That’s my opinion. I don’t expect it is shared by the faithful Mormons who relish in their tax exempt donations going to depriving human beings of equal treatment under the law.

  8. Connor
    June 25, 2008 at 9:30 pm #

    On what basis should the LDS Church remain a tax exempt entity?

    So speaking out on moral issues and encouraging civic involvement in said issues merits, in your mind, a forfeiture of a church’s tax exempt status?

    They are entitled to their opinion, but if they wish to enter the political fray, they should be taxed.

    How do you define “enter the political fray”? What isn’t politics? You may try to draw a line between church and state, and that is fine. But trying to draw a line between politics and religion, when both are based upon principle, is a foolish quest. Refusing to allow a church to sound off on political issues—not candidates, but issues—is tantamount to government-sponsored censorship.

  9. Obi wan liberali
    June 25, 2008 at 10:43 pm #

    No, I don’t wish to deprive them of the right to opine, only the right to claim an exemption as a “charitable organization” when they clearly are not.

  10. Connor
    June 25, 2008 at 10:46 pm #

    …only the right to claim an exemption as a “charitable organization” when they clearly are not.

    Are you serious? The LDS Church, not an organization which exemplifies charity? Tell me, then, how do you define charity?

  11. Leo
    June 25, 2008 at 11:33 pm #

    I wholeheartedly agree that celestial marriage is ordained by God, and is only to be defined as God has defined it: one man and one (at least for now, maybe more in the future) woman.

    In Europe however, the civil ceremony and the legal status of the relationship is independent of the religious ceremony performed by priesthood leaders.

    Some of the comments here seem to blur that line—the line between the divinely ordained order of marriage recognized by God, and the civil, legal marriage recognized by man-made institutions (government).

    Is it not worthwhile to acknowledge the distinction? No one is forcing temple sealers to allow gay couples at the temple altars!! From what I can see, the God-ordained institution of marriage is not at all at risk!

    I can understand more valid arguments about things such as concerns over the rearing of children by gay couples, but the argument that God is the one who defines marriage and will have it no other way does not lend itself well to this motion, because a standard, run-of-the-mill, civil, “death-till-we-part” straight marriage is just as INVALID BEFORE GOD as a gay marriage!!!

    As long as we allow marriages that God does not acknowledge, does it really matter what we let people call it? Just because a “death-till-we-part” marriage is called a “marriage” doesn’t mean it meets, let alone redefines, the standards God has established. Likewise, I don’t see how changing the nomenclature from “civil-union” to “marriage” is going to disrupt the Holy Order of God’s establishment of celestial marriage.

    Am I completely off base here, or I am missing something? Is this motion trying to eliminate homosexuality among the populace? If nothing else, giving gays an incentive to marry will take them out of the drug-induced promiscuous gay party culture, and put them in a quiet stable relationship in a more healthy environment, where they can actually be productive in society. Discouraging them from “settling down” will just further drive them underground and fuel the degenerate, society-decaying behaviors and lifestyles and practices that seem to be what we’re trying to eliminate.

    So someone, please, tell me why I’m wrong about all this, because I really don’t get it.

  12. Daniel
    June 26, 2008 at 4:13 am #

    Ideally, government should have no role in marriage whatsoever.

    I quite agree. That ‘wall of separation between church and state’ is looking better and better all the time, isn’t it?

    You know what this reminds me of? Galileo.

    Galileo?

    Galileo.

    For the Catholic Church, it was such a big deal that the sun went around the earth. They burned Bruno at the stake, and put Galileo under house arrest for espousing the Copernican model. And yet, the earth moved.

    And now it doesn’t seem such a big deal. Today we wonder what the fuss was about. Religious dogma (which, being non-empirical, was wrong once again) had to give way, the Church decided that maybe the whole earth-thing was a non-core belief, and life went on.

    I feel embarrassed for Monson et al because they’re just going to have to backtrack that much farther when gay marriage turns out not to be the nation-destroying plague they’re envisioning. I also feel bad for liberal Mormons who rightly deplore this hateful edict from their leadership.

  13. Jocelyn
    June 26, 2008 at 6:36 am #

    Thanks for that, Connor. It is so true that you have to decide where you stand 100%. You are either 100% following the prophet and thus the Lord, or you are following the other side…

    A couple of great quotes on this that I read recently from the recent general conference:

    It is important to understand that natural laws were not determined on the basis of popularity. They were established and rest on the rock of reality.

    There are also moral verities that did not originate with man.

    (Elder Kenneth Johnson, “Restoring Faith in the Family,” May 2008 Ensign, 16)

    &

    To those who have strayed because of doctrinal concerns, we cannot apologize for the truth. We cannot deny doctrine given to us by the Lord Himself. On this principle we cannot compromise.

    I understand that sometimes people disagree with doctrine. They even go so far as to call it foolish. But I echo words of the Apostle Paul, who said that sometimes spiritual things can appear as foolishness to men. Nevertheless, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men.”

    (Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Concern for the One,” May 2008 Ensign, 19-20)

    Amen and amen!!!

  14. Connor
    June 26, 2008 at 7:41 am #

    Leo,

    Some of the comments here seem to blur that line—the line between the divinely ordained order of marriage recognized by God, and the civil, legal marriage recognized by man-made institutions (government).

    Can government ignore the law of gravity, and legislate accordingly? Can they morally authorize you to steal my possessions for no justified reason? Natural law states that man’s laws, to be moral and of force, must be based upon fundamental truths ordained of our Creator.

    Elder Kenneth Johnson’s quote that Jocelyn shared elaborates on this quite well.

    So, ultimately, there is no difference between God’s definition of marriage and that which should be instituted by men. Inasmuch as men try to make marriage anything different, they are moving away from natural law and claiming their wisdom to be greater than His. This path is a dangerous one to take.

    No one is forcing temple sealers to allow gay couples at the temple altars!! From what I can see, the God-ordained institution of marriage is not at all at risk!

    When the Proclamation was given in 1995, the family was not so aggressively under attack as it is today. The firm statement of family was given by prophets, seers, and revelators, I believe, to prepare for the onslaught and give the Saints a weapon of doctrine with which to combat the sophistries of men.

    I believe that our called and sustained leaders today are likewise seers. You may feel that temples and religious leaders today are not under attack, nor at risk for being forced to marry homosexuals, but do you know what will happen in ten years. Do you know what certain unintended consequences will be if this amendment is not passed?

    I don’t. But I’m confident that seers do, and that is one reason I support and follow them.

    …a standard, run-of-the-mill, civil, “death-till-we-part” straight marriage is just as INVALID BEFORE GOD as a gay marriage!!!

    This is incorrect. Civil marriages between a man and woman allow for temple work to be done after death, thus providing a sealing ordinance for the couple that married. That same opportunity is not afforded so-called “civil unions” (and homosexual marriages).

    As long as we allow marriages that God does not acknowledge, does it really matter what we let people call it?

    God seems to think so:

    What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    If nothing else, giving gays an incentive to marry will take them out of the drug-induced promiscuous gay party culture, and put them in a quiet stable relationship in a more healthy environment, where they can actually be productive in society.

    Do you have evidence for this assertion? Similar claims might be made for heterosexuals, though with rampant divorce, adultery, and cohabitation, I can’t see a radical difference with homosexuals.

    Discouraging them from “settling down” will just further drive them underground and fuel the degenerate, society-decaying behaviors and lifestyles and practices that seem to be what we’re trying to eliminate.

    Is government endorsement of their cohabitation necessary for them to “settle down”?

    This is not a battle against homosexuality per se, but one of society’s acceptance and recognition of marital unions among homosexuals. Homosexuality, like theft, drunkenness, profanity, and fornication, is a sin, and individual ministry and repentance is the best way to change sinful behavior. An all-out campaign to get an amendment passed is not to eradicate the sin, but to ensure that man’s law remains based upon natural law, and that the union of homosexuals remains seen as an aberration, not the society-accepted norm.

    Daniel,

    Religious dogma (which, being non-empirical, was wrong once again) had to give way, the Church decided that maybe the whole earth-thing was a non-core belief, and life went on.

    Well the Book of Mormon says that the earth revolves around the sun. So there! :)

    I feel embarrassed for Monson et al because they’re just going to have to backtrack that much farther when gay marriage turns out not to be the nation-destroying plague they’re envisioning.

    As I said in the post to those who expect a change in doctrine regarding homosexuals: don’t hold your breath. I’d bet all my marbles that it will never, ever happen.

  15. Ben Shalom
    June 26, 2008 at 8:02 am #

    Back when I was a member of Affirmation, a fervent belief was that the Church will eventually change its policy regarding same-gender attraction. (For some reason, they had pinned their hopes on Elder Dallin H. Oaks.) Once I left Affirmation, I realized that their hope will be utterly in vain.

    While it is true that the Church has changed its policies in issues some might consider to be significant (plural marriage and priesthood to all men), in reality these changes has little to no effect on the social fabric of humanity. Changing policies with regard to same-gender attraction and/or same-gender marriage would be disastrous.

    All of this reminds me of:
    “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21, see also 2 Nephi 15:20-21).

    Also pertinent is the admonition to not steady the ark, which many seem to want to do.

  16. Robert
    June 26, 2008 at 8:35 am #

    This letter to California reminds me a little of Jonah. Jonah was commanded to preach some unpopular things to the people of Nineveh, but when he finally did, he said “In forty days, the city will be overthrown.” How exactly would the city have been overthrown? An earthquake? The killing off of everybody by civil war? Who knows?

    The people repented in sackcloth and ashes, and God decided not to destroy the city, so we’ll never know what would have happened otherwise.

    Here, the church is clearly concerned that the sanctity of marriage is in jeopardy, and perhaps there is a real reason to fear that family institutions will be “overthrown” to some degree unless the constitutional amendment is successful, even though it’s hard perhaps to comprehend how exactly it could happen. But if the church can help to convince enough Californians to support the amendment, as “political” as that position may be, it may yet be that the family institution can be preserved.

    It doesn’t matter that many people don’t see how same-gender marriage could have a detrimental effect on families and marriage; the Lord can see afar off.

  17. Rickety
    June 26, 2008 at 2:41 pm #

    In no way will the Church lose its tax-exempt status. On many of these moral issues individuals who happen to be members of the Church join together, raising their own funds in their own organizations. Church property is not used for this purpose nor are Church funds. As a Mormon I have the same political rights as someone who belongs to no religion. One of those rights is to try to change laws through the political process.

    Mormons have been through similar situations before and we are getting quite good at it.

    Rick

  18. Daniel
    June 26, 2008 at 5:45 pm #

    Connor follows this comment:

    Natural law states that man’s laws, to be moral and of force, must be based upon fundamental truths ordained of our Creator.

    with this comment:

    Do you have evidence for this assertion? Similar claims might be made for heterosexuals, though with rampant divorce, adultery, and cohabitation, I can’t see a radical difference with homosexuals.

    What you do not seem to realise is that you stray into evidence-free territory so very often that it ill behooves you to be asking anyone for evidence on anything, ever again. Especially after a comment like that first one.

    Robert: It doesn’t matter that many people don’t see how same-gender marriage could have a detrimental effect on families and marriage; the Lord can see afar off.

    Okay, I think it’s time to get specific.

    Everyone who thinks gay marriage will be the destruction of society: I want you to make some non-trivial, specific, measurable predictions as to what you think will happen as a result of gay marriage. And I haven’t got forever to wait around for you dopes to be wrong, so let’s keep it to one year. What specific, measurable detrimental things will happen if gay marriage continues in California? Higher incidence of earthquakes? Murder rates up? Straight marriage ends? What, exactly?

    Time to record it for posterity. If you’re right in a year, you can crow about it. I think you’ll be wrong.

  19. Ben Shalom
    June 26, 2008 at 6:45 pm #

    Connor et al.: check out this article that Tim linked to over at The Millennial Star, which shows how same-gender marriage can endanger religious freedom (and it’s in the Los Angeles Times and not some far-right rag):
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-stern17-2008jun17,0,5628051.story

  20. Daniel
    June 26, 2008 at 7:08 pm #

    @ Ben Shalom —

    Shorter Marc Stern:

    The rights of equality for gay people need to be balanced by the rights of religious people to discriminate against them.

  21. jason
    June 26, 2008 at 7:11 pm #

    Connor,
    Jessica and I would like to plan our family vacation around this, would you let us know if you have any idea when they will be requesting support of individuals to go door to door?

  22. m&m
    June 27, 2008 at 12:26 am #

    Connor,
    Just wanted to say thanks for this post. I was in CA during Prop. 22…what an interesting time to really have to make some choices about what to do and where to stand. It was interesting to see how people reacted and acted.

    I find it so striking that the First Presidency message was one about the importance of following the prophets, especially when their counsel is repeated. We can have confidence in what they are asking people to do.

    I liked how you emphasized the word seer in this post as well. That is a role that I think is critically important here.

    Please do keep us updated as your mom gives you updates.

  23. Robert
    June 27, 2008 at 6:36 am #

    Daniel,

    I didn’t say I could see afar off.

    Besides, the point is that maybe we won’t have to find out because the amendment will pass.

    On the other hand, here’s a good question. I read on a separate blog the claim of a guy in Massachusetts who says that when that state was on the verge of making same-sex marriage legal, the 1st Presidency didn’t send out any letters to wards and congregations in that state to encourage them to fight it. Any theories out there as to why California and not Massachusetts?

  24. Daniel
    June 27, 2008 at 5:38 pm #

    Good observation, Robert.

    The reason I’ve asked for predictions is that, for a theory to be valid, it needs to have some kind of predictive capacity. Before the fact, not after. It’s very easy to come up with ad hoc explanations after the fact. If every animal in the San Diego Zoo gets a virus and dies, you just know some people will say, “Ah! That was the Lord’s vengeance for gay marriage.” But that’s not satisfactory. It could be God, but it could be Thor, or the FSM. It could be God’s retribution for something else, and you’d be getting it wrong.

    I’m kind of surprised no one wants to make a specific prediction. Commenters here have been all ‘death and destruction, end of society’, so it should be easy to make at least a few simple predictions as to how that will eventuate. But no one wants to, which makes me think you don’t believe your own hype.

    It’s not so bad that some people don’t like gay people and worry about accepting them. That’s up to you. What I find inexcusable is that 1) there’s a whole set of organisations that are organising efforts to discriminate against a group of people, and 2) they’re churches, so they claim (falsely, I think) that this discrimination is required by the Ruler of the Universe. It makes good religious people feel worried and threatened, and this kind of pressure turns good people into unreasoning oppressors.

    Reread the comments on these threads. You’ll see people who are really afraid that their way of life will be destroyed, wondering if there’s still time to forestall the judgment of an angry god. I find it outrageous that religions would use their money and influence to exacerbate people’s fears in this way.

    I still want specific predictions as to what calamities will happen by this time next year if gay marriage continues. Any takers?

  25. Jeff T
    June 27, 2008 at 6:04 pm #

    One thing I’m sure you know about our religion, Daniel, is that we believe we have a prophet on the earth who is a spokesman for God. Do you know what that means? It means that WE are not God’s spokesman. We won’t make specific predictions because God hasn’t told us exactly what will happen. Maybe the prophet knows, but if so, he hasn’t relayed that information.

    This is what we know: “We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”

    That is all we know. Don’t ask us to speak for God when we do not have that authority. However, there are men who do have that authority, but they only say what God has authorized them to say about the subject.

  26. Connor
    June 27, 2008 at 6:20 pm #

    Daniel,

    The reason I’ve asked for predictions is that, for a theory to be valid, it needs to have some kind of predictive capacity.

    What’s the theory to which you refer? I and others are simply saying that we believe same-sex marriage is wrong in God’s eyes, and through His prophet we have been counseled to uphold marriage between a man and a woman—in this specific instance, by supporting a constitutional amendment.

    So where’s the theory? And where’s the alleged predictions of calamities you are suggesting that we are making?

    Commenters here have been all ‘death and destruction, end of society’…

    Please give an example, for I have yet to see any such attitude taken in the comments on this thread.

    What I find inexcusable is that 1) there’s a whole set of organisations that are organising efforts to discriminate against a group of people…

    Discrimination? By no means are homosexuals being prohibited from enjoying their lives together. You fall into the same erroneous line of thinking as Jeffrey Nielsen, as cited in this post. The claim that government must treat everybody as equals is absurd.

    …they claim (falsely, I think) that this discrimination is required by the Ruler of the Universe.

    What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. Being an atheist, I don’t expect you to believe that policy. But Christians do, and most of them will vote accordingly.

    It makes good religious people feel worried and threatened, and this kind of pressure turns good people into unreasoning oppressors.

    This assumes that it is oppressive to not grant legal protection to a desired relationship. Again, there is no law against cohabitation, and the intertwining of one’s life with another individual, regardless of sex. I would hardly call it oppression to refuse to grant legal sanction and a piece of pretty paper to an individual.

    I still want specific predictions as to what calamities will happen by this time next year if gay marriage continues. Any takers?

    What an asinine question, Daniel. Should God decide to punish people, He may do so through any number of means, at any number of times. Your demand for a prediction of an easily recognizable, cataclysmic event cannot be satisfied by God’s followers who do not know His will, nor, as Jeff pointed out, speak on His behalf.

    As for me, I’ll have faith in the prophet, perseverance to carry out his counsel, patience to await any type of results, and the conviction that in the end, God will always be right.

  27. Daniel
    June 28, 2008 at 2:11 am #

    Connor, comments like these do appear on your blog (see here, here, and here (may be satire)). Please stop playing silly games.

    What an asinine question, Daniel. Should God decide to punish people, He may do so through any number of means, at any number of times. Your demand for a prediction of an easily recognizable, cataclysmic event cannot be satisfied by God’s followers who do not know His will, nor, as Jeff pointed out, speak on His behalf.

    Oh, so you don’t know God’s will, nor do you speak for God? Does that mean you’re going to stop telling people what he thinks about gay marriage? No? Oh.

    If a comet hit San Francisco tomorrow, would any believer say, “Well, we don’t really know God’s will in this regard.”? Darn right they wouldn’t.

    It’s not an asinine question at all. Religious folk are great at divining God’s will in retrospect, but terrible beforehand, and that is because they’re inventing post hoc explanations as they go.

    Don’t you find it odd that even with the benefit of prophets, seers, and revelators, you are unable to make any but the most vague predictions about the future? But that’s the difference between the scientific and the magical worldview. If you buy a magical worldview, then everything’s mysterious. I mean, even simple weather prediction would be beyond the grasp of anyone using revelation alone. Yet this flawed system has your highest allegiance and you use it to make some of life’s most important choices.

    Scientific ideas advance testable hypotheses that allow you to make predictions about the future. This is just a normal part of what I do every day in my work as a scientist. But you find the task impossible and pointless, and you avoid it when people like me call you on it. This says volumes.

  28. Connor
    June 28, 2008 at 8:13 am #

    Oh, so you don’t know God’s will, nor do you speak for God? Does that mean you’re going to stop telling people what he thinks about gay marriage? No? Oh.

    Allow me to rephrase. Inasmuch as He has revealed His will to the prophet, yes, we know His will. But we do not know His will in every matter.

    If a comet hit San Francisco tomorrow, would any believer say, “Well, we don’t really know God’s will in this regard.”? Darn right they wouldn’t.

    You’re lumping “believers” together quite broadly. I, for one, did not claim that Hurricane Katrina was God’s doing, nor the recent earthquake in China, nor any so-called natural disaster of recent import. It very well may have been His doing, but unless that is explicitly communicated through the prophet, I’m certainly out of line to believe that the disasters are punishments for that specific people.

    Yet this flawed system has your highest allegiance and you use it to make some of life’s most important choices.

    Flawed system? What rubbish! Simply because your demand for a one-year time-line cannot be satisfied, you call into question the validity of faith and revelation as a whole. Additionally, you claim that faith is based on things which cannot be known or seen (“magic”), which is entirely incorrect.

    You surely are aware that even science-based predictions can be totally inaccurate at times. Don’t put science so high up on a pedestal, for it is null without God. In this vein, I agree with James E. Faust:

    Many believe that the transcendent answers to life’s questions lie in the test tube, in the laboratories, in the equations, and in the telescopes. This theocracy of science leaves out the ultimate answer to the overarching question, “Why?” Knowing cause and effect is fascinating but does not explain why we are here, where we came from, and where we are going.

    As it relates to the opposition against same-sex marriage, the answer to the “Why?” is one we often heard from our parents: “Because I said so”. At such times, it’s best to be obedient, realizing that Dad knows best.

    This says volumes.

    Oh, please. I could likewise ask questions appealing to scientific wisdom that at this stage in man’s enlightenment would be impossible to answer, perhaps saying volumes themselves. And what does that prove? Nothing, other than the fact that sometimes it’s entirely appropriate to say “I don’t know yet”. Must you be so arrogant in your attack on faith and belief?

  29. Amore Vero
    June 28, 2008 at 6:33 pm #

    I am amazed how everyone is so up in arms about Gay Marriage when the real death blow to families & societies occurred back when they passed no fault divorce laws, allowing one spouse to abuse & abandon the other & the children for any reason. No one seems to bat an eye at the far worse evil of Divorce which almost everyone has tolerated & now embraced as sad but ok to do. Homosexuality is just a symptom of the disintegration of marriages & families, which disintegration alone is bringing on the holocausts & fatal calamities foretold.

    Gay marriage is just another type of the ‘legal but unlawful’ marriages (according to God) that we see in the world today. But It is not near as destructive & evil as most divorces & most remarriages after those divorces or polygmous marriages, which are also all ‘often legal but unlawful’ marriages. All of which are just different versions of immorality & adultery.

  30. Connor
    June 28, 2008 at 6:47 pm #

    I am amazed how everyone is so up in arms about Gay Marriage when the real death blow to families & societies occurred back when they passed no fault divorce laws, allowing one spouse to abuse & abandon the other & the children for any reason.

    Some friends and I were actually discussing this very thing yesterday, analyzing how one of the factors behind government involvement in marriage was the escalating divorce problem. Government was brought into the picture because (among other reasons) people needed to divide up their assets. I agree: the ease and prevalence of divorce has substantially hurt our society.

  31. Daniel
    June 29, 2008 at 11:02 pm #

    Shall we begin?

    Allow me to rephrase. Inasmuch as He has revealed His will to the prophet, yes, we know His will. But we do not know His will in every matter.

    Someone once said, “God is very mysterious. The only thing we can understand about him is that he shares our opinions.”

    Flawed system? What rubbish! Simply because your demand for a one-year time-line cannot be satisfied, you call into question the validity of faith and revelation as a whole.

    No, I reject faith and revelation because they don’t provide good explanations, they don’t make accurate predictions, and they make counter-factual claims which you must nonetheless keep believing to stay in the system. You’re welcome to show me counter-examples, if you wish.

    Is it the time constraint you don’t like? How much scope do you need? Three years? Five? With a non-empirical belief system, I doubt you could make accurate predictions over any length of time.

    You surely are aware that even science-based predictions can be totally inaccurate at times.

    Scientists are wrong sometimes. That’s okay, because other scientists will show them. No one scientist is considered the ultimate authority. But scientists are good at updating or abandoning theories as the facts warrant. Religious belief is hard to update because it’s based on faith. It’s a worry when religious belief changes. For science, it’s a great thing.

    I’ve heard it said: “Science gives questions that can’t be answered. Religion gives answers that can’t be questioned.” I think there’s something to that.

    Don’t put science so high up on a pedestal, for it is null without God.

    Untrue. In fact, scientists don’t use supernatural explanations because they aren’t helpful and don’t work. There’s a story about Pierre-Simon Laplace. He showed Napoleon his model of celestial mechanics, and Napoleon asked what part God had in it. Laplace replied, “I have no need of that hypothesis.” A good motto.

    In this blog post, I tell a story about why science is impossible if supernatural beings exist.

    In this vein, I agree with James E. Faust:

    Many believe that the transcendent answers to life’s questions lie in the test tube, in the laboratories, in the equations, and in the telescopes. This theocracy of science leaves out the ultimate answer to the overarching question, “Why?” Knowing cause and effect is fascinating but does not explain why we are here, where we came from, and where we are going.

    But religion doesn’t give good explanations for ‘why’. It just gives you stories that you can’t verify. Good stories, though.

    As it relates to the opposition against same-sex marriage, the answer to the “Why?” is one we often heard from our parents: “Because I said so”. At such times, it’s best to be obedient, realizing that Dad knows best.

    I don’t have a problem with that, if that’s what you want to do. The problem is that you and the Church are trying to influence policy so that people who don’t share your beliefs will have to play by your rules. That’s a problem.

    Must you be so arrogant in your attack on faith and belief?

    It’s not arrogant to expect people to provide evidence for their claims.

    Remember also that scientists realise that they don’t know everything, and are good at updating or abandoning old knowledge. You could say that we’re humble enough to realise when our ideas are wrong and change them. Religious believers think that their own personal belief system comes from God, and is perfect. That’s arrogance.

    And on a personal level, Connor, I have to say that I’ve been a reader here for a few years now, and I’ve never seen you change your mind as a result of someone else’s comment. Have you, and I missed it? I’ve been waiting for it, but it never seems to happen. You just argue back harder. I changed my mind on something once. I found it cleansing.

    @ Amore: I’ve been thinking about the divorce thing. I don’t know. I think divorce threatens bad relationships. My guess is that people go through it for reasons based on the relationship itself and not the ease or difficulty of the process.

    Maybe bad parenting is worse for kids than divorce proper. Certainly chaos is bad for kids, but caring parents (though separated) can do a lot to stabilise the situation.

    Let me finish up by saying how much I enjoy these discussions. I love getting stuck into the Big Issues, and you’re a good bunch of people to do it with.

  32. Kevin Henderson
    June 30, 2008 at 5:24 pm #

    Daniel:

    Let me give this a shot (first time poster to Connor’s blog – this is great Connor):

    Once gay marriage becomes a Constitutional right under the EP (equal protection) clause – which the CA state ruling is a stepping stone to a Federal ruling on the US constitution; there’s one prediction, a Federal case will be filed relying on the CA precedent asking the same substantive question under the US Constitution rather than a state constitution within the next year – then the next step will be to come after the Church as illegally discriminating against homosexuals on the basis of sexual orientation. If EP requires that same-sex marriages be recognized as opposite-sex marriages are, then the Church’s marriage ceremonies can be challenged in an effort to open the temple up to same-sex couples for marriage, or shut down the Church’s ability to officiate marriages.

    Having said that, one previous poster is correct in that the sealing and a civil marriage are two different things, so the Church could be forced to no longer provide the civil marriage at the same time as the sealing ordinance. However, by analogy, a creative lawyer (yes, they do exist) will argue that the Church is violating the EP clause guarantee to provide marriage to same-sex couples in a “marriage-like” ceremony. If that argument wins, well, you can imagine the problems for a doctrine that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

    Would the world end if the amendment isn’t passed? No (at least probably not within a year – prediction number 2). But this decision could start a chain of events that could be disastrous for the CHurch’s ability to officiate weddings.

  33. Daniel
    July 2, 2008 at 8:22 pm #

    A prediction! O frabjous day! Well done, Kevin Henderson. The consequences aren’t earth-shaking, as you point out, but it’ll do.

    I’d be against such an action, personally. I think churches should be as discriminatory or non-discriminatory as they want to be. Not because I approve of that kind of thing, but because I am a fierce advocate of the separation of church and state, even if it has some consequences I don’t like.

    I’ll take you up on your prediction. I think if anyone does try such a lawsuit, it’ll fail. No court will want to touch it with a bargepole. Imagine the courts trying to dabble in theology. There’d be such a poopstorm.

    The Equal Protection Clause is only supposed to limit the actions of government, and when the courts have stepped outside of that, it’s been either businesses or schools and not churches (except for 1st Amendment cases, of course). I could be wrong on that. Someone correct me.

    So will it happen by (fiscal) year’s end? Can’t wait to find out.

  34. Kevin
    July 3, 2008 at 6:17 am #

    You may have misinterpreted my prediction. My prediction was a general challenge to not recognizing same-sex marriage in federal court. Then I predicted that if that happens, you’ll see lawsuits filed against groups like the Church. With the speed of federal litigation (and it will have to end up in the Supreme Court) that could take years. I’m just saying within the next year, we’ll see a challenge in Federal Court to states denying marriage to same-sex couples.

    You are correct. The Bill of Rights is binding only on the Federal Government, though most provisions of it have been incorporated through the 14th Amendment onto the states as well. That’s how a challenge will come to the Church. The challenge won’t be to stop the Church from conducting the sealing ordinance, it will be to stop the STATES from allowing the Church to officiate weddings since they discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. Again, not earth shattering (we could just do it like civil law countries where you get married legally, separately from the Church sealing, but still, how anti-climactic to go into a judges chamber where they spout some mumbo-jumbo about death do you part and THEN go to the temple…sad day).

    The creative attorney’s that challenge Church sealings on the analogy that it is like a marriage, I agree, will fail. My prediction was just that it would be tried and would be disastrous if it succeeded. But again, I don’t think it would…unless Obama gets elected and gets to appoint 2+ justices to the S.C. (which is highly likely), swinging it to a left majority. If that happens, I make no predictions on to how it comes out. The left side of the court is too unpredictable!

  35. Kevin
    July 3, 2008 at 6:35 am #

    I just re-read that and perhaps I should clarify again. Here is the official prediction: “Within the next year, someone (who will be financed by some group) will challenge the non-recognition of gay marriage in a Federal Court. This challenge will drag on for years, eventually ending up in the Supreme Court, resulting in a ruling which, based on the poorly written decision in Lawrence v. Texas, will more than likely come down on the side of same-sex marriage. Once same-sex marriage is declared a fundamental right under the Griswold v. Conn. right to privacy logic, then, and only then, will challenges move on to private groups like the Church.” From that point on, see above. Hope that makes it clear.

  36. Connor
    July 16, 2008 at 1:49 pm #

    The LDS Church has posted the amicus brief it filed, along with other religious institutions, last September. It makes for some interesting reading. I was also surprised to find Kenneth Starr listed as the leading attorney. I was wondering what he was up to these days…

  37. Amy
    July 16, 2008 at 11:11 pm #

    How can LDS members from out of state help to support the proposed constitutional ban on sam-sex marriage? The reason I ask is because I am from California but currently living out of state and hope to return to my beautiful California hopefully with gay marriage being illegal there then.

  38. Amy
    July 16, 2008 at 11:23 pm #

    Ok nevermind I just NOW read the rest of the comments.

  39. Brandon
    July 17, 2008 at 12:35 am #

    Am I the only LDS bothered by the church’s participation in this ammendment? After everything the church went through with polygamy, I would think they would have no interest in telling any other group what kind of relationships between consenting adults should be legally recognized. Is this homosexual ammendment not the very same thing that was done to the church in the 1800’s? Polygamy was considered sexually deviant by the majority of Americans and they forced their will on the minority (mormons) through the government. Now the church, considering homosexuality to be sexually deviant, wants to use the government to force its will upon the minority (gays). I am not particularly thrilled with the idea of gay marraige (though that comes from a lifetime of being told homosexuality is a sin), but because I want the government to leave private relationships alone I don’t want to have anything to do with this thing. In this case, I wish the church would do unto others as we would’ve had them do unto us.

  40. Jeff T
    July 17, 2008 at 12:47 am #

    Brandon,

    If you are a Latter-day Saint, then you know that we believe our church is headed by spokesmen of God. If you believe these men are prophets and apostles,then let’s trust them and what they say.

    Personally, I think God’s spokesmen are better judges of what is good or bad for the church than we are. Weren’t you saying in another comment that we should leave judging to those in authority? Well, these men have not only authority, but direct communication with God.

  41. Carissa
    July 17, 2008 at 9:17 am #

    Brandon- No you are not the only one as I’m sure you know. But, I don’t believe that this move is an attempt to outlaw sexual deviancy. It is about preserving the family. In the case of polygamy, the family unit was not necessarily threatened (although it was structured differently- children still had a mother and a father).

    Now the church… wants to use the government to force its will upon the minority (gays)

    The church is acting to preserve the definition of marriage. Why do people change the language around to make it sound like they are doing anything else? This is not about forcing others to live our standards. There are also many non LDS people who would like to see marriage stay what it is. We’re talking about re-defining the basic unit of society here, not about prohibiting sexual deviance.

  42. Brandon
    July 17, 2008 at 10:20 am #

    Carissa,
    I understand the concern for preserving the family, but I have yet to hear a convincing explanation of how homosexuals calling themselves married would somehow affect my family. My brother was trying to tell me that gay marriage would affect me because my son would have to learn about gays in school. How is that different than the current education system? I had to learn about gays, we all did. They exist and are a part of our society. The responsibility to teach our children right and wrong still belongs to us as parents.

    I think this absolutely is about sexual deviancy. The main argument I hear from LDS is that gay marriage isn’t fair to the children, who deserve a mother and a father (which I agree with). Yet I fail to see much of a distinction between two loving fathers and one single mother (by way of divorce or illegitimacy), other than that the two fathers are considered sexual deviants. My impression is that most people fear that the homosexuals are going to screw up their children by being gay. Maybe, but I haven’t seen any hard evidence to back that up.

    I think this is one of those cases where people are being motivated more by religion than they are by reason. If this were not an issue with religious connotations, I think Connor and others would be arguing against it on the basis that the government should not be interfering in the lives of its citizens. But, the church has opined and everyone is falling in line because it is what God wants. I just hope God doesn’t change his mind later, like he did with the priesthood and polygamy.

  43. Jeff T
    July 17, 2008 at 10:29 am #

    Brandon,

    Do you think it is a good thing to follow God’s counsel?

  44. Brandon
    July 17, 2008 at 10:49 am #

    I’m not exactly a very faithful person right now, but I do try to follow God’s counsel in my personal life. But to me, this issue is political.

  45. Jeff T
    July 17, 2008 at 11:00 am #

    Thanks for the clarification! Question: Why how do you distinguish between following God’s counsel in your personal life, but not your public life? I’m curious to know more.

  46. Carissa
    July 17, 2008 at 11:44 am #

    I have yet to hear a convincing explanation of how homosexuals calling themselves married would somehow affect my family

    I don’t think of it so much in terms of how it would affect my family right now, but how it would affect future generations coming to the earth and the way the family operates, in general. I believe there are consequences that may not be immediately obvious to us now and I don’t have to claim to know exactly what they will be in order to have that opinion. The reasoning for my position is certainly influenced by prophetic counsel so I can understand why those who don’t trust or believe the counsel to be from God may not agree. We all have a right and a duty to vote our conscience. Hopefully we can respect each others’ opinions.

  47. Connor
    July 17, 2008 at 11:52 am #

    After everything the church went through with polygamy, I would think they would have no interest in telling any other group what kind of relationships between consenting adults should be legally recognized.

    The constitutional amendment at hand as absolutely nothing to do with denying consenting adults the freedom to be in a relationship. If the amendment passes, homosexuals can remain together in civil unions without any problem. This contrasts the outlawing of polygamy, where not only was the union not granted legal sanction, but polygamous relationships were outlawed as well.

    Polygamy was considered sexually deviant by the majority of Americans and they forced their will on the minority (mormons) through the government. Now the church, considering homosexuality to be sexually deviant, wants to use the government to force its will upon the minority (gays).

    The Church has always, always had an interest in assuring that the government recognizing marriage being between a man and a woman. You’ll note that the Church never promotes marriage as being between “one man and one woman” (as some other Christian faiths do), allowing for polygamy to be included in the definition when God has commanded it.

    As Carissa noted, this isn’t about sexual deviance. Homosexuality itself is not the subject of this proposition. Instead, the Church (along with others) is fighting to preserve the definition of marriage itself, as a social institution recognized by the government. Read the amicus brief posted in this comment to understand more of the Church’s reasons for being in this battle.

    In this case, I wish the church would do unto others as we would’ve had them do unto us.

    Since you argue, then, that the Church should be permissive of homosexual marriage, I wonder how you might defend any line being drawn at all? What, for example, is to prevent a man from marrying his couch? Or a newt? Or a cybernetic automaton? Regardless of the ideals we may share about the government having a limited (if not non-existent) role in marriage, the fact remains that it is very much involved right now. The question then becomes, how is it best and most appropriately involved? As I argued in the post, and as the amicus brief more eloquently explains, one of the reasons for government’s involvement in the marriage business is to encourage, promote, and defend the basic unit of society. Homosexual marriage, I believe, falls outside of this definition, and thus is not entitled to be called marriage, nor granted some of the same legal protections.

    My parents attended a meeting the other night with some of the leading religious leaders in the area, discussing the Prop. 8 measure and what is at stake. A lawyer spoke to the group, making the case that this fight for the preservation of heterosexual marriage is a freedom of religion issue. As a defense for his argument he cited numerous cases of other countries where religious institutions were persecuted by law for refusing to bend to social policy. In countries were homosexual marriage was legal and socially acceptable, churches that would openly preach against it and refuse to marry homosexuals were sometimes persecuted through law, whether it be a revocation of legal protection, investigation of their finances, jail time or financial penalties, etc.

    I would agree, and I believe as Carissa said in the previous comment: we may not feel the immediate and full effects of homosexual marriage (if it passes in CA), but there will certainly and eventually be negative effects down the road that will demonstrate the foresight of those we sustain as seers.

    As per the church being involved at all, I think we should remember the following line from the Proclamation:

    We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

    The church is simply doing its part in this promotion. So should we.

  48. Carissa
    July 17, 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    I didn’t think about that… when polygamy was outlawed, those who had practiced it were hunted down, there were raids and arrests for unlawful cohabitation. That is certainly not what the LDS church wants to do to homosexual relationships. I suspect that the polygamists would have been content to not have their plural marriages legally recognized, so long as they could still be free to live what they believed.

  49. Brandon
    July 17, 2008 at 12:25 pm #

    Connor,
    I respect yours and others involvement in this issue. I simply believe that your insistance that the issue is not about sexual deviancy is incorrect.

    Since you argue, then, that the Church should be permissive of homosexual marriage, I wonder how you might defend any line being drawn at all? What, for example, is to prevent a man from marrying his couch? Or a newt? Or a cybernetic automaton?

    This is not a real argument. A homosexual marriage/relationship is between two consenting adults. The examples you gave do not meet the same criteria. Either way, I wouldn’t care if someone wanted to marry a newt (except, how does a newt consent to the relationship?). This argument also implies that homosexual relationships are subhuman (due to sexual deviency?). My experience in life leads me to believe that is false.

    It has been argued here that the persecution of polygamy was different because polygamy wasn’t a redefinition of marriage (because it involved men and women). I may be wrong, but I am pretty sure that all of the people who were fighting against it thought it WAS a redefinition of marriage and a sexual perversion. This seems to be very similar to what is going on today with gay marriage. I am definetly opposed to the government forcing the church to accept gay marriage. I just don’t want to force gays to get (or not get) married the way I want them to.

    As per the church being involved at all, I think we should remember the following line from the Proclamation:

    We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

    The church is simply doing its part in this promotion. So should we.

    I just think this should be done through individual ministry and not through legislation, which by its nature imposses my will and world view upon my fellow citizens. I would ask each of us to imagine that the tables have been turned upon us. How would we feel if the majority of our nation believed that marriage between a man and women was immoral and wrong and therefore attepmpted to ban straight marriage? We would be outraged. Why? Because we don’t want other people trying to tell us our business. To answer Jeff’s question about how I draw a line between personal and political. I just try to imagine if the same thing was done to me, how would I feel. Since I don’t want anyone else trying to define marriage to me, I don’t feel I need to force my definition on them.

  50. Jeff T
    July 17, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    So if God asks you to do something that you believe will impose your will on someone else, you will tell God, “no thanks”?

  51. Jeff T
    July 17, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    Isn’t that trusting your wisdom over God’s? Putting your trust in the arm of the flesh, rather than in divine wisdom?

  52. Brandon
    July 17, 2008 at 1:50 pm #

    Jeff,
    Yes and Yes. Unfortunately, God and I don’t seem to be able to open up very clear lines of communication. I am trying, and I am sure he is too, but we seem to be missing each other somehow.
    I would be interested to hear what examples you might think of where following God would require me to impose my will upon someone else.
    As ar as trusting God’s wisdom…I want to believe, but I have a hard doing so because so many of his instructions (through prophets) seem illogical, contradictory and nonsensical to me.

  53. Jeff T
    July 17, 2008 at 2:10 pm #

    I can’t think of any examples; personally, I don’t think that this present issue is one either. I asked the question because you believe it is.

    A brief scan of Christian history will show that human reason is fallible. We are not perfect. This is why God sends messengers to the earth, to inform us of His will. The Great Apostasy is largely the result of Saints who forsook reliance on divine revelation in favor of reason and philosophy. One of the blessings of the Restoration is that revelation through prophets is once again on the earth; revelation can now serve as a corrective for human reason again.

    Many scholars have shown that all reason is based upon unprovable premises. Most rational arguments, for example, take the form of a syllogism: if a, then b. b. therefore a. This logical argument presumes that the premise “if a, then b” is true. To use logic to prove that requires a new premise, etc. Eventually, something is going to have to be taken on faith. Reason rests on faith.

    Faith, in essence, is trust, but my fav definition of faith is fidelity. Who is more trustworthy, worthy of our faith, than the Author of our Salvation? As Nephi said, “Let us be faithful to Him.”

  54. Jeff T
    July 17, 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    In the early days of the church, some left the church because God’s commandment to enter into polygamy seemed illogical to them. Joseph Smith, more than anyone, struggled to understand this commandment. God’s commandment to Abraham to sacrifice his son still doesn’t make sense to many people today. God’s revelations and instructions have never been required to be consistent with mortal reason.

    That is one of the great beauties of the Gospel: it requires us to humble ourselves and receive instructions from a wiser, higher moral authority than ourselves. This humbling process is always difficult. I wish you luck, Brandon!

  55. Brandon
    July 17, 2008 at 3:10 pm #

    (Sorry if I am taking this thread in a different direction)
    Jeff,
    I agree that human reason is fallible. However, if God did indeed create me, than he gave me a mind to use and reason with. I understand the role faith must play in everyone’s life. But, I struggle to believe that an all powerful God would not have devised a more reliable communication system between himself and us. Since God does not speak to me, it is difficult to believe that he is speaking to others. I have often questioned why God would communicate his will through prophets and not directly to us? Why do you think that is?

  56. Jeff T
    July 17, 2008 at 3:47 pm #

    I honestly don’t know all the reason God does what he does; but here are a couple possible ways to look at it. One of the challenges of personal revelation is that it is often incommunicable; how am I to know that your personal revelation from God is true, if I claim to have revelation to the contrary? It leads us to a kind of relativism, “to each his own.” God sends a spokesman to the earth and gives them revelation by which we can compare our own personal revelations. Revelations from the prophet can act as a measuring stick for our own.

    Also, though each of us can receive personal revelation for our own lives, none of us have authority to receive or give instructions for the church as a whole. God’s kingdom is one of order.

    Recently, an Apostle explained:

    When it comes to learning and knowing the truth of the gospel—our personal testimonies—we each have a direct relationship with God, our Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, through the powerful witness of the Holy Ghost. This is what our critics fail to understand. It puzzles them that we can be united in following our leaders and yet independent in knowing for ourselves.

    Perhaps the puzzle some feel can be explained by the reality that each of us has two different channels to God. We have a channel of governance through our prophet and other leaders. … We also have a channel of personal testimony, which is direct to God.

    That is the best I can provide today. I hope it helps!

  57. Brandon
    July 17, 2008 at 3:51 pm #

    A quick call back to a point you made, Connor:

    The constitutional amendment at hand has absolutely nothing to do with denying consenting adults the freedom to be in a relationship. If the amendment passes, homosexuals can remain together in civil unions without any problem. This contrasts the outlawing of polygamy, where not only was the union not granted legal sanction, but polygamous relationships were outlawed as well.

    One problem I see with this argument is that homosexual relationships have not always been legal. Wasn’t it only a couple years ago that the Supreme court overturned a texas law against sodomy?
    While the sequence of events have been different, I see huge similarities between the persecution of LDS over polygamy and the persecution of gays over their sexual behavior.
    So, this amendment is not designed to deprive gays their right to engage in any private relationship they choose…It still fits into a pattern similar to that which was used against the LDS. Namely, using the governement to enforce the norms of one group upon another.

  58. Brandon
    July 17, 2008 at 4:04 pm #

    Thanks for your reply Jeff. While I am not so concerned with how he communicates to his church, I have found it very difficult to identify the “Holy Ghost”. I would prefer it if he would communicate to me in a more reliable form, since my emotions seem to be very unreliable to me (I’ve been told I’m dead inside). So far, he hasn’t chosen to follow my wishes and he seems intent on doing things his way. Go figure!

  59. Jeff T
    July 17, 2008 at 4:39 pm #

    Brandon,

    Sorry for the long reply, but I hope this helps:

    One frequent misunderstanding is that Holy Ghost communicates through our emotions. Emotions, indeed, can be very unreliable. I can actually find very little in the scriptures about the Holy Ghost communicating through emotions; we often experience Joy when we receive communications from the Holy Ghost, but the Joy is a “fruit” or a result of the communication, not necessarily the communication itself. This misconception is usually attached to the Lord’s instruction to Oliver Cowdery: “If it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” This scripture has led some critics of the church to believe we operate under the epistemology of indigestion, and that we rely entirely on emotional sensations for our experience of the Spirit.

    A favorite scripture comes to mind, that helps clarify this misunderstanding:

    And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.

    Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy

    Thus, when I sense that I ought to be kind to someone, I can know that is the Spirit. If I sense as though I ought to attend church, listen to the prophet, etc., that is the Spirit. The challenge is that we most often use the word “feel” to describe these moral invitations from the Spirit, which is the same word we use to describe emotions. Thus, we too often conflate the two. That is, we know the presence of the Spirit not by physical sensations, but by His invitations to do good. Brigham Young reported a message he received from Joseph Smith after his death, in which he was instructed to teach the saints that

    They can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other spirits—it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts, and their whole desire will be to do good.

    In conclusion, it is clear that revelation via the Holy Spirit is much more than merely a physical or emotional sensation, but it changes our very desires and habits of thought. We think differently when we experience the Holy Ghost, and it is often in our thoughts that new understandings of the world are opened to us. The “sudden strokes of ideas … presented to our minds” are the cognitive components of revelation, and we can recognize their divine source by the accompanying changes in our hearts and our desires.

  60. Carissa
    July 17, 2008 at 5:47 pm #

    I would prefer it if he would communicate to me in a more reliable form, since my emotions seem to be very unreliable to me

    Boy, so do I! I think it’s fair to say that ALL of us can have trouble at times with identifying the still small voice. Jeff posted some great thoughts on that. It’s something that must be learned and it comes easier to some more than others. There have been times when I felt like I wasn’t “getting any reception” even when I was trying to receive it, but as I look back I can’t help but feel He wanted me to work out some of my own answers and learn some things that way- take some leaps of faith I guess you could say. Hanging in there and continuing to at least hope and desire for his guidance proved to be the best course for me. God bless you in your struggle.

  61. Mark N.
    July 18, 2008 at 11:46 am #

    For what it’s worth, here’s where the citizens of California stand on the matter for the moment:

    http://www.sacbee.com/111/story/1091832.html

    Fifty-one percent of respondents said they oppose the proposed ban; 42 percent support it; and 7 percent are undecided.

    While voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 22, the statute that banned gay marriage in 2000, the new poll suggests a “reluctance by Californians to tinker with the constitution,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll.

    “Older voters, especially, are more reticent about changing the constitution where younger folks are more in favor of allowing same-sex marriage,” DiCamillo.

    The highest percentage of respondents who opposed Proposition 8 in the poll were 18- to 29-year-olds (55 percent) and 50- to 64-year-olds (57 percent).

    The latter demographic, DiCamillo said, “are people who grew up in the ’60s and early ’70s and they may be a little more tolerant to differences in lifestyles.”

  62. aly
    October 12, 2008 at 10:51 pm #

    Thank You- Thank You- Thank You! I came across your article tonight and Amen Brother! I couldn’t agree more. I actually put a link to this article on my blog- Let me know if you have any problems with that. Thanks again

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