November 9th, 2008

Increased Polarization: Choose You This Day Whom Ye Will Serve


photo credit: alossix

In the past week, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been the subject of several new websites, initiatives, protests, news reports, and blog posts, nearly all negative. As a result of the Church’s efforts to protect marriage, thousands have signed petitions, demonstrated in front of temples and chapels, and stormed the internet with disparaging comments of hostility and hatred.

But like most clouds, this one has a silver lining. While persecutions may rage and mobs may combine, no unhallowed hand has yet to stop the work from progressing—nor will it. In fact, such displays of opposition and vitriol naturally and tangentially spur a sense of curiosity in many individuals who were previously ignorant or apathetic on the subject.

In this most recent General Conference, Elder Robert D. Hales helped explain this occurrence:

Experience shows that seasons of negative publicity about the Church can help accomplish the Lord’s purposes. In 1983, the First Presidency wrote to Church leaders, “Opposition may be in itself an opportunity. Among the continuing challenges faced by our missionaries is a lack of interest in religious matters and in our message. These criticisms create . . . interest in the Church. . . . This provides an opportunity [for members] to present the truth to those whose attention is thus directed toward us.”

We can take advantage of such opportunities in many ways: a kind letter to the editor, a conversation with a friend, a comment on a blog, or a reassuring word to one who has made a disparaging comment. We can answer with love those who have been influenced by misinformation and prejudice—who are “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12). I assure you that to answer our accusers in this way is never weakness. It is Christian courage in action. (Robert D. Hales, “Christian Courage“)

Polarization is part and parcel of the gospel message itself—those who already do or would otherwise object to the doctrines and commandments of God will ultimately find themselves consciously choosing that side when the time comes. Conversely, those sympathetic to this message and desirous to learn more will—with the help of any media attention—find new opportunities to pursue an investigation of the gospel.

Elder Maxwell noted the polarization effect of the gospel herein described, and the inherent divisiveness created as a result of the opposition it always encounters. On another occasion he spoke of the same subject, referencing the “wheat and tares”-like division that will ultimately result:

There will also be “a great division among the people” (2 Ne. 30:10; see also D&C 63:54). This stressful polarization will, ironically, help in the final shaking of that strange confederacy, the “kingdom of the devil,” in order that the honest in heart, even therein, may receive the truth (2 Ne. 28:19).

This “great division” is what President Brigham Young also saw, saying: “It was revealed to me in the commencement of this Church, that the Church would spread, prosper, grow and extend, and that in proportion to the spread of the Gospel among the nations of the earth, so would the power of Satan rise” (in Journal of Discourses, 13:280). (Neal A. Maxwell, “For I Will Lead You Along“)

In effect, further media attention and social discussion about the Church simply serves to eliminate the neutral ground that currently exists between the two sides. God seems to prefer that we choose sides, one way or another. So, the increased polarization that takes place as a result of the spotlight on the Church is really nothing more than the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the devil signing up new recruits on either side. The Prophet Joseph once spoke about this effect:

Before you joined this Church you stood on neutral ground. When the gospel was preached good and evil were set before you. You could choose either or neither. There were two opposite masters inviting you to serve them. When you joined this Church you enlisted to serve God. When you did that you left the neutral ground, and you never can get back on to it. Should you forsake the Master you enlisted to serve, it will be by the instigations of the evil one, and you will follow his dictation and be his servant. (Joseph Smith, via Quoty)

The call to determine whose side we are on is an urgent and important one. For those who have not yet had the opportunity to decide and affiliate, any publicity of the Church (negative or otherwise) further polarizes the matter by sifting through the wheat in preparation for the ultimate harvest.

Perhaps we should start a campaign to send postcards to those protesting at our temples, thanking them for their missionary efforts? Who’s with me?

47 Responses to “Increased Polarization: Choose You This Day Whom Ye Will Serve”

  1. Phil
    November 9, 2008 at 4:05 pm #

    Thank you for inviting me to visit your site. The information is comprehensive and ranges over many current issues. I shall make it a point to visit again.

    Phil

  2. Rick
    November 9, 2008 at 6:10 pm #

    I agree, Proposition 8 and similar actions helped the “sifting through the wheat” process. I don’t want to be sending postcards to anyone, I’m not sure what good that will do. I think these demonstrations are hurting their cause, as you say. Perhaps raising money for round two would be something to consider.

  3. Connor
    November 9, 2008 at 6:11 pm #

    I don’t want to be sending postcards to anyone, I’m not sure what good that will do.

    I was being facetious. :)

  4. Rick
    November 9, 2008 at 6:17 pm #

    I thought it didn’t sound practical. I think you put that in to see if anybody read your post to the end. :)

  5. Tim Malone
    November 9, 2008 at 6:50 pm #

    Oh, we read Connor’s essays to the end. Those who proposed the postcard campaign have a long way to go in understanding how to influence a prophet to change doctrine – Not going to happen.

    Good will come out of this Connor, even if it is just an increase in dialog between conservative Mormons and the gay community. But your essay is spot-on if you consider some of the comments we have been getting this week – the polarization is profound.

  6. Daniel
    November 9, 2008 at 8:56 pm #

    I’d like to encourage the LDS Church to engage in even more polarising activities.

    Um, as a missionary tool. Yeah, that’s it.

    The gains in conversions would be offset by an increase in requests for name removals, but that would only ensure a more fanatically loyal base, right? Turfing out the lukewarm and all that. Can’t be bad.

  7. kannie
    November 10, 2008 at 12:42 am #

    Very succinctly-put, Connor! Thanks for putting words to the gut feelings I’ve been having… it really has been interesting (though also sad) to observe.

  8. Dustin
    November 10, 2008 at 4:58 am #

    Connor,

    Interesting post. It matches closes with the comments made by a friend in Washington last week when sent him the story of the protesters you covered in a previous blog.

    Good publicity, really… If the majority of California (and certainly the majority of the nation) believes this, it’s good that the church is being somewhat ‘recognized’ by the effort they put into supporting this.

    I listen to Dave Ramsey on a Christian station up here, and frequently I hear blurbs from focus on the family about what they’re doing for it, and they recognize other churches who are also supporting it with them, but they’ve never mentioned the LDS church.

    So, good-bad-and-ugly it’s giving attention to what the church believes, and separating the wheat and tares from inside the church.

    I’m temped to put some comments on the liberal newspapers comments sections thanking them for the attention ;) Also maybe a sideways remark that Thomas Monson doesn’t really have any power in the church – that president is just a title they give to the business licensing aspect of the organization… In truth he’s just a ‘Yes’ man, and if you want to sent a message to the real person in charge – save yourself a stamp and get on your knees and pray!

  9. Blake
    November 10, 2008 at 11:23 am #

    I just found my FHE lesson!

  10. Equality
    November 10, 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    So, it’s a “you’re either with us or you’re with Satan” thing, eh?

  11. Frank Staheli
    November 10, 2008 at 1:37 pm #

    Your quote from Elder Hales:

    Opposition may be in itself an opportunity. Among the continuing challenges faced by our missionaries is a lack of interest in religious matters and in our message. These criticisms create . . . interest in the Church

    Sssssshhhhhh!!!!! Don’t tell everybody!

    ;-)

    But seriously…we were talking in Sunday School yesterday about that due to persecution, the church will “break forth on the right hand and on the left” , and that as its members stand up for truth that it will not be confounded or put to shame.

  12. Cameron
    November 10, 2008 at 2:15 pm #

    The “bad publicity” argument is one I’ve heard fairly often in regards to Prop 8. It’s one I didn’t quite get, and I think you’ve explained why quite well.

  13. Clumpy
    November 10, 2008 at 2:26 pm #

    The Church would never do the only thing that would drive me to discontent: turn against its own principles or justify sin of any kind.

    The Church isn’t working against gays in particular (I’m referring to people in gay relationships rather than those with the inclination), but just making its voice heard when opportunities to stand in favor of morality arise. And if its members take the lead and open their wallets to support the cause (especially with so many activists schilling for the opposite side) who’s to blame them?

  14. Equality
    November 10, 2008 at 4:19 pm #

    If negative publicity is helpful to the LDS church, perhaps the church would like to link to my blog at lds.org. :-)

  15. Daniel. I mean, um, Moroni.
    November 10, 2008 at 6:02 pm #

    Absolutely correct. The church is completely incapable of making stupid moves. It will succeed no matter what.

    Now is the time to start legislation that will stop Sunday trading in a neighboring state. The slogan can be “Change the definition of shopping!”

    After that, we can work on banning coffee.

    It may be unpopular, but together we can drag this country kicking and screaming to godliness and a better understanding of the covenants they can make with their lord and master.

    I don’t foresee any negative consequences. All publicity is good publicity. No unhallowed hand and all that.

  16. Yin
    November 10, 2008 at 6:44 pm #

    Daniel,

    We get it already. You don’t believe in God. You think Mormons are wrong. We get it. Your cynical, sarcastic, and silly comments (and I’m not just speaking about this particular post) do nothing to add to the conversation.

    It is possible to constructively criticize and still be civil and nice about it.

  17. Daniel
    November 10, 2008 at 9:35 pm #

    Hey, I’m going for humour on this post. You should see me when I’m feeling argumentative.

    I’ll wear sarcastic and silly, but I’m not accepting cynical. Cynics believe the worst about people, and that’s not me.

    Plus I add character.

  18. Brandon
    November 11, 2008 at 12:02 am #

    Why is “sifting of the wheat” looked upon by so many as a good thing. Sometimes it seems as if people use that phrase with glee. I hope I am not mischaracterising anyone’s opinions, but I think we should be lamenting the fact that the gospel (and religion in general) seems to be so devisive. I think many LDS believe that we are inclusive, but as has been pointed out on this blog by Connor, that is not entirely the case. Connor further illustrates in this post why the gospel divides people. I am not happy that so many people are losing their faith over this issue. I am even more sad that so many seem to enjoy seeing them leave.

  19. Daniel
    November 11, 2008 at 6:27 am #

    Brandon: have you forgotten? If they want to act divisively, they can find ample justification in scripture.

    Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

    For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

    And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

    He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

    It’s a feature, not a bug.

  20. loquaciousmomma
    November 11, 2008 at 8:07 am #

    Okay you two, first of all, I don’t think anyone is happy that there is a division. At least that is not what I got from it. I got that there was a silver lining to the dark cloud of trouble we are experiencing, and that is the opening of the door to those who might not have otherwise been aware of the Church’s existence. It is a missionary tool. Yes, the wheat and tare phenomenon is ultimately distressing when you realize that these are our brothers and sisters that are being sifted out. The hope comes out when you realize that God is a just, but also merciful God. He has given each person every opportunity to make the right choices. He is not arbitrary or whimsical. He is consistent and determined. Everyone has a chance. That is how I can look at this with acceptance. They are the ones choosing, not God. He wants them to choose correctly, but loves them so much that He will not limit their agency, even to save them.

    As for the scripture Daniel quoted, it is not saying that the division is the goal, but a tool. Basically God is saying that He will demand total loyalty to Him, above all others. There are many people who join our church and are disowned by their families as a result. God is saying that for some, this is the test He wants them to pass to prove that they love Him even more than their families. God does not want division, he wants united families. He is just willing to allow His followers to be put in situations where they must choose Him over their families at times. Often, in the end, their is a reunification of the families and if the disowned person handles the situation in a Christlike manner, there are even members of the family who end up joining the Church themselves.
    This life is not the end, but merely one stop on a long journey.

  21. Connor
    November 11, 2008 at 8:54 am #

    Brandon,

    Why is “sifting of the wheat” looked upon by so many as a good thing.

    I think it goes back to the quote by President Hinckley on that thread you linked to. If we’re to be successful, we need unity. That cannot happen when there are individuals in our midst that are seeking—on whatever scale—to tear down others’ faith and oppose policy and doctrine of the Church.

    It is a good thing, but not a happy thing. I (and I hope others) do not enjoy the fact that people choose to go down different routs, but if they do so choose, then I would rather make that known than have them “infiltrating” our ranks. I liken it to battle: you need to know who you can trust and who is loyal, and any opportunity that will expose a traitor is a good one, for your purge out anybody that is seeking to do you harm and frustrate your objectives.

    loquaciousmomma,

    As for the scripture Daniel quoted, it is not saying that the division is the goal, but a tool.

    Exactly… that’s a great way of putting it.

  22. Equality
    November 11, 2008 at 8:57 am #

    He wants them to choose correctly, but loves them so much that He will not limit their agency, even to save them.

    No, He will leave that to the voters of the state of California.

  23. Connor
    November 11, 2008 at 8:58 am #

    Another good quote:

    I testify that as the forces of evil increase under Lucifer’s leadership and as the forces of good increase under the leadership of Jesus Christ, there will be growing battles between the two until the final confrontation. As the issues become clearer and more obvious, all mankind will eventually be required to align themselves either for the kingdom of God or for the kingdom of the devil. As these conflicts rage, either secretly or openly, the righteous will be tested. God’s wrath will soon shake the nations of the earth and will be poured out on the wicked without measure. (See JS-H 1:45; D&C 1:9.) But God will provide strength for the righteous and the means of escape; and eventually and finally truth will triumph. (See 1 Ne. 22:15-23.) (Ezra Taft Benson, “I Testify”)

  24. Connor
    November 11, 2008 at 8:59 am #

    No, He will leave that to the voters of the state of California.

    Just as you and others are confusing marriage with rights, so too are you confusing agency with freedom.

    Homosexuals still have their agency, though their options are limited due to their choices and external circumstances. Their agency remains intact, though their freedom to marry is denied them.

  25. Equality
    November 11, 2008 at 9:18 am #

    Homosexuals still have their agency, though their options are limited due to their choices and external circumstances.

    Replace “homosexuals” with “Negroes” and this could be a quote from Mark E. Petersen or Ezra Taft Benson from the 1950s or 1960s, when the Brethren were saying that people of black African descent were “limited due to their choices” made during the premortal existence. They had used their agency unwisely and were left to suffer the consequences in this mortal life and the next–segregation and second-class citizenship were divinely decreed. Whatever limitations they suffered under the law were a result of their own actions in opposition to God, or, at least their lack of valiance and poor choice on the eternal question of “who’s on the Lord’s side, who?” that you speak of in your original post.

    As for confusing marriage with rights, I wonder if you would feel that way if, say, everyone but Mormons were allowed to marry.

  26. vontrapp
    November 11, 2008 at 9:40 am #

    Equality, you still fail to recognize what it really is we’re arguing over. It’s not about who is allowed to marry, it’s about what marriage _IS_. It wasn’t the case a century ago that marriage was defined as between a man and a woman of the same race. No, marriage was then defined as between a man and a woman, and the denial of marriage between races was an imposed exception outside the definition of marriage. You cannot compare denying interracial marriage, and denying marriage to a single religion, to the current issue of changing or not changing the fundamental definition of marriage itself.

  27. Mark N.
    November 11, 2008 at 2:26 pm #

    A local LDS member in Sacramento is finding out what some of the costs are for standing up for the gospel:

    Prop. 8 gift gets theater’s leader in a ruckus

  28. Daniel
    November 11, 2008 at 3:23 pm #

    Shorter vontrapp:

    We’re not preventing anyone from marrying. We’re just defining marriage. In a way that prevents those people from marrying. Heh.

  29. James
    November 11, 2008 at 3:52 pm #

    Equality, I love all your hypotheticals. I’ve found most of your comments a bit aimless and desperate…you always seem to be trying to sway readers of this blog to think the LDS church is unfair and discriminatory. Not working.

    Being from San Diego, and having been cursed at many times, flipped off, signs stolen, etc through this whole prop 8 thing, I can’t help but gain a stronger testimony of the importance of marriage and our duty to protect it. If it wasn’t so important to God’s plan, why would Satan be working so hard to make people think the church is hateful, bigoted, and unfair? …The same reason he worked so hard to try to prevent Joseph Smith from restoring the gospel! Because Satan know’s it’s true!

  30. Equality
    November 11, 2008 at 5:10 pm #

    Being from San Diego, and having been cursed at many times, flipped off, signs stolen, etc through this whole prop 8 thing, I can’t help but gain a stronger testimony of the importance of marriage and our duty to protect it. If it wasn’t so important to God’s plan, why would Satan be working so hard to make people think the church is hateful, bigoted, and unfair? …The same reason he worked so hard to try to prevent Joseph Smith from restoring the gospel! Because Satan know’s it’s true!

    This is such a curious line of argument. The more people oppose the Mormons, the more it shows that the Mormons are right because the only reason people would oppose you is if Satan is inspiring them to fight against you because Satan knows it is true. That line of thinking essentially excuses Mormons of all responsibility to act in a manner that does not raise the ire of their neighbors. It gives you carte blanche to act as rudely as you wish–if your behavior elicits a strong negative reaction in the people you offend, well, that just proves you are on the right track because the only reason people would react in opposition to you is that they are inspired by Satan!

    When you see the world (as from this post, apparently Connor does) in stark black-and-white, us-against-them terms, where the Mormons are always right by definition and anyone who disagrees with them is always not only wrong but also a footsoldier in Satan’s army of evil, I think you are on rather dangerous ground.

    I assure you I am not inspired by Satan (or any of his alleged minions, for that matter). And I don’t think Satan really needs to work all that hard to convince people that many Mormons, motivated by their religious beliefs, are working against the civil rights of gays and lesbians–the Mormons so working are doing a fairly persuasive job of that all by themselves.

    As for my aimless desperation, I am not really trying to convince the readers of this blog that the Mormon church is “unfair and discriminatory.” I do think it would be beneficial for some of the folks commenting here to step outside the echo chamber for a spell and actually think about some of the questions I have raised. As someone pointed out earlier–any opposition I am providing is, according to prophetic pronouncement, going to end up being good for the church’s missionary efforts (so perhaps instead of censoring me, Connor should be thanking me for posting here. :-))

    One question nobody has answered is whether the LDS prophets were speaking for God and, therefore, correct, in supporting segregation, interracial marriage, and slavery (on the grounds at the time that they were “moral issues”) or whether they were wrong. If they were right, should members of the church today be working to amend the U.S. Constitution to prohibit once again interracial marriage? If they were wrong, is it possible that the leaders of the church today are wrong? If you as a member of the church think they are wrong, what should you do? How is that course of action similar to or different from what you would have done vis-a-vis the Civil Rights Movement? I recognize that these are difficult questions that require a certain maturity to grapple with. Much easier to just pretend the issues aren’t there.

  31. Connor
    November 11, 2008 at 5:32 pm #

    It looks like the polarization is definitely occurring in Palm Springs…

  32. Juston
    November 11, 2008 at 10:51 pm #

    @ Daniel,

    Is your position that the gay & lesbian community is NOT attempting to redefine marriage?

    In my view, a definition of marriage already exists but it needs to be put into the state constitution for those who don’t want to recognize this definition and are attempting to change it.

  33. Juston
    November 11, 2008 at 10:59 pm #

    Connor,

    Thanks for the link to the Palm Springs news coverage, I sent it to some relatives with a note to the effect “I will not write any commentary, just let you watch it.”

    Toleration, it seems, is asked to be extended to the gay community but they certainly did not tolerate her cross.

  34. Daniel
    November 12, 2008 at 12:38 am #

    Just as you and others are confusing marriage with rights, so too are you confusing agency with freedom.

    Let’s get this straight about ‘marriage’ and ‘rights’.

    1. Gay people in California, until recently, had the right to marry each other.
    2. Now they do not have that right.
    3. This right has therefore been removed, and the LDS Church has been instrumental in stripping this right from them.

    Is your position that the gay & lesbian community is NOT attempting to redefine marriage?

    No, my position is that gay people should be allowed to get married.

    Anyone catch Olbermann’s special comment? Rather moving.

  35. Juston
    November 12, 2008 at 1:25 am #

    @ Daniel,

    Is your position of allowing gay marriage based on being consenting adults? My guess is that you have a point where you wouldn’t allow marriage to be extended to some individuals. The polygamist may want his marriage to multiple wives recognized. Would you feel comfortable allowing a polygamist’s marriage to be recognized?

    My guess is that you would not support it, even if it involved consenting adults. If this is the case, how do you make the argument for gay marriage without allowing the polygamist the same recognition?

  36. Juston
    November 12, 2008 at 1:31 am #

    @ Daniel

    Additionally, who would you exclude (if anyone) from marriage and why?

  37. Equality
    November 12, 2008 at 8:48 am #

    Toleration, it seems, is asked to be extended to the gay community but they certainly did not tolerate her cross.

    Juston, you are painting with an awfully broad brush here. I think it is unfair to tarnish an entire “community” with the actions of a few individuals who acted badly. There have been dozens of protests and peaceful demonstrations at which thousands of gay marriage supporters have gathered without similar incident. The video shows one where a few angry people in an emotionally charged atmosphere acted atrociously. What those individuals did to the lady with the cross was deplorable. They should have allowed her to speak her mind and demonstrate peacefully the way they want to speak their minds and demonstrate peacefully. What is revealed in the video is anomalous–most of the protests and demonstrations have gone off without violence of any sort. And to the extent that there have been altercations, there have been just as many (if not more) acts of violence or words of hate directed at the gay marriage supporters from the so-called Christians who are opposing the right of gays and lesbians to marry.

    For you to condemn the entire “gay community” as intolerant is unfair and incorrect. Would it be fair to say that the “Mormon community” is filled with hateful murderers because one of the men who killed Matthew Shepard was a Mormon? I don’t think so. Condemn individual acts that are worthy of condemnation, but don’t ascribe those individual acts unfairly to everyone associated with the cause.

  38. vontrapp
    November 12, 2008 at 10:18 am #

    Oh brilliant, we can’t paint with a broad brush, but when it comes to mormons supporting prop 8, ALL of us do so with bigotry and hate. Just brilliant.

  39. Equality
    November 12, 2008 at 11:01 am #

    vontrapp.

    You are correct that it is unfair for me to say that ALL Mormons support Prop. 8 out of bigotry or hate. I edited my blog post title from “Mormons Celebrate Bigotry” to “Prop 8 Supporters Celebrate Denial of Rights,” which I think more accurately reflects the photo. I also edited my blog text so that it is clear I am not speaking of all Mormons but only some. And I posted a new blog entry praising Bill Marriott for the statement he made on the Marriott web site. I appreciate the many Mormons who followed their conscience in opposing Prop. 8. It was not easy for them to do. I agree that I was guilty of painting with too broad a brush in my original post at my blog and in some of the comments I have made in the aftermath of the election. Juston’s post helped me see that.

  40. Daniel
    November 12, 2008 at 9:57 pm #

    Juston says: Is your position of allowing gay marriage based on being consenting adults? My guess is that you have a point where you wouldn’t allow marriage to be extended to some individuals. The polygamist may want his marriage to multiple wives recognized. Would you feel comfortable allowing a polygamist’s marriage to be recognized?

    Thanks for the question. First, a comment.

    As a linguist, I realise that the definition of words is not a fixed thing. We’ve seen how the meaning of a word like ‘gay’ has shifted (and is still shifting) from ‘happy’ to ‘slutty’ to ‘homosexual’ to ‘stupid’, just to name one example. This process is not necessarily good or bad; it’s just something that people do when they use language, and language users can’t really prevent it from happening.

    I suppose you could say that the US Constitution isn’t a fixed thing either because it can be amended over time to reflect people’s needs.

    In like manner, the definition of marriage is not a fixed thing. It has changed and will continue to change over time. Good people in ages past lived in a society that couldn’t imagine a relationship between black and white as acceptable. As society changed and it became imaginable, the definition of marriage changed. (Some people are still fighting it, and we rightly abhor them.)

    Perhaps some good people on this blog can’t imagine a gay relationship, or don’t find it acceptable. In ages past, it wasn’t even imaginable. Gay people had to stay in the closet or marry someone they didn’t want to. But now society as a whole is increasingly finding the idea of gay marriage acceptable, and the definition of marriage will again change. Some will hold out for decades, and the rest of us will rightly abhor them.

    In the future, the definition of marriage will change even more.

    Now, as to me, if you’re still curious. I think that marriage should be between human adults who want to get married. You’ve correctly guessed that ability to consent is my guideline. I don’t favour marriage between people and box turtles (who can’t consent), nor between adults and children (same), nor between a man and a cartoon character (same).

    I don’t even have a problem with polygamy as such. If a bunch of adult humans wanted to marry each other of their free will, I’d say fine, even though it would cause the stretching of some legislation. The only reason I generally regard Mormon Fundamentalist polygamy with grimness is because its religious nature makes me suspect that it’s coerced. Tell someone God wants you to marry ‘em, bring in the fear of eternal consequences for disobedience, that’s coercion. I’d object to a traditional marriage under those circumstances; again, for reasons of consent.

    I might change this view; I’m not married to it. (For reasons I’ve discussed.)

    But having said that, back to my point. It doesn’t matter what I think the definition of marriage should be. Future generations will define it differently, in ways that suit them, and this won’t necessarily be good or bad. I might be the old fart holding up the sign: No to marrying cartoons!

    But for now, I’ll work in my own small way to make changes to reflect my values, as you do. I just won’t pretend that my values are eternal values.

  41. Juston
    November 12, 2008 at 10:40 pm #

    Thanks for commenting Daniel. I think that was an honest and thought out post, and was expressing your viewpoint in a way that wasn’t attacking others. Others might learn from and follow this example of opinion expressing.

  42. Daniel
    November 13, 2008 at 3:42 am #

    I’m not going to make this a regular thing, you understand. :)

    Thanks for a thought-provoking question.

  43. loquaciousmomma
    November 13, 2008 at 11:03 pm #

    Daniel,

    I respect your perspective, I must however, take issue with your view of society. While it is true that changes in language and social makeup are a natural part of things, I do not agree that these changes are necessary or even good.

    This is a major part of the label ‘conservative’. We tend to find a place society has been and plant our flag in the sand and attempt to push society back from crossing the line. We usually choose these lines according to our ideology, especially religion.

    The battle over marriage is one of the places we have planted a flag and do not want the line crossed.

    We hold marriage to be a sacred institution between a man, a woman and their creator, with the sanction of the state. We believe marriage to be the bedrock of society, the building block upon which societies must erect all other institutions.

    No matter how much society has insisted that marriage does not have to be tied to child rearing, that is one of the most important roles marriages play. By the very nature of the two bodies that are involved in a gay union, no children are even possible, unless outside help is sought through adoption or insemination.

    By changing marriage to be any two people who love each other, you belittle the role of childbirth and parenting. There are severe consequences of this change, we are already feeling it without gay marriage. The high divorce rate and low percentage of couples that even marry are a direct result of this attitude. We have thrown away the notion of commitment to a family unit above self.

    I will continue to fight this change, and work to restore the sense of duty to God, family, and community before self, when it comes to marriage, especially in my own children.

    This is not a civil rights issue, it is a moral issue, and an issue vital to the survival of our way of life.

  44. vontrapp
    November 14, 2008 at 9:53 am #

    I also respect your perspective of things, daniel, but I too must respectfully disagree on a few points. Mostly what loquaciousmomma said, with a few additions.

    First, you say that language changes, and you cite as example the word gay. I agree with you that language changes and words evolve. While it’s true that the word gay has evolved over time, from meaning happy, to eventually meaning homosexual, the essence of “happy” hasn’t changed such that to be happy is to be homosexual. The label has changed but the underlying ideas have not. We’re not arguing against the change of the meaning of the word marriage, we’re arguing against changing the very essence of the underlying idea of marriage. Certain words evolve, generally these are slang words, and when the etymology stabilizes these words can be adopted into a higher standing than mere slang. Gay is still slang but is rapidly approaching stability in meaning homosexual. Homosexual never was slang and the meaning of homosexual is, I would argue, largely immune to etymological drift. You can’t redefine the word homosexual without redefining what people believe homosexuality is. For example you can say homosexuality is a choice, or not a choice. Now you can’t simply define the word that way, you must build up a belief that the essence of homosexuality is thus. The same thing holds for marriage, you can’t just redefine it and chalk it up to etymological drift. You must of necessity change the very essence of marriage. That I will not stand for (and 52% of Californians).

    Also, coming back to “drawing the line,” you say that you would draw it at consenting adults, with certain definitions of consent and adult. I fully agree with your consent and adult arguments. I would simply move the line to be at consenting adults of opposite sex. Again, it comes down to what marriage is at a fundamental level, and not simply the meaning of a word. You can disagree with me about what marriage fundamentally is, but do not pretend you’re just following word drift, and that I’m somehow illogical to resist that ‘word drift.’

  45. Goldarn
    November 14, 2008 at 3:33 pm #

    “Not confounded and put to shame?”

    That didn’t happen around my area of California. I looked up the people in my stake who had donated, and virtually every one of them (including the most vocal of the leaders) had donated under their wives’ names.

    I brought in up in high priests meeting, and was told (rather angrily) that the general authorities had recommended that, because they didn’t want anyone’s business to suffer because of their donation. I reminded them of all the stories we teach the youth, about standing for something, not working on Sunday, showing faith, and etc. It turns out, from what several Prop 8 supporters told me afterward, that the donations were all that were required to Stand for Something.

    That attitude really rubbed me the wrong way.

  46. Johnna
    November 14, 2008 at 5:30 pm #

    The wheat and the tares?!!

    My question is: who do you think has the right to uproot and burn out the tares?

    Because, you’re saying “good riddance!” You’d like to clean the church of anyone who disagrees with you, who has different politics, or doesn’t measure up as a true saint in your estimation.

    I’m trying to remember from the scriptures: which part of the body of Christ gets has the job of encouraging other members to leave? Perhaps Connor is the Eye who says to the Hand, “I have no need of thee. I’ve decided you are a tare.”

    I’m not as sure as you who the tares are. So I will continue to include and encourage anyone who is drawn to the Christ’s church.

  47. Rique
    November 14, 2008 at 7:45 pm #

    Why not be on the side helping society to a better, higher standard?

    Why do we have to “tolerate” lowering standards, increased coarseness of language, increased pornografication of society, etc.?

    While at school yesterday, (back to law school at age 39) someone blurted out a mother…something and then apologized to me and I said, don’t worry about it…that was a mistake–I should have said ‘apology accepted’ or something. It is OK to let people know that bad behavior is unacceptable. People know right from wrong, at least a little bit. We do not, no, we MUST not lower our standards just because some around us have lowered theirs.

    We MUST not let our society diminish. My Bishop is an uber-liberal who gave me a certain finger as he drove past me. I was out sign-waiving for a congressman. He didn’t know who I was (sunglasses, hat, etc.) but I knew him.

    Stand up for all good things. Support them.

    Get prepared for the coming onslaught.

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