September 7th, 2008

On Claims of Alienation


photo credit: sofilou.ch

While there are many solid (although misguided) arguments to be made against opposing same-sex marriage, there is one that I have heard repeatedly and shows profound ignorance regarding the purpose and mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Two examples of the same line of thought will suffice to demonstrate the argument:

But what is really surprising to me is that the California branches of the church would have forgotten how extremely alienating their activism on this issue was for certain members of the church, and for certain segments of the larger California population. (via)

Also, by taking such a public stand on this ballot initiative, the church marginalizes not only its homosexual members, but also many, like me, who have come to a different opinion regarding this matter. (via)

At their core, these arguments assert that the LDS Church’s position in favor of Proposition 8 (and thus against same-sex marriage) is based in hatred and will ultimately serve to make both current and potential members feel unwelcome. Underlying such claims is a belief that the Church should be open and inviting to all, regardless of belief, lifestyle, political persuasion, or action. Such notions are, unfortunately, slightly misguided.

The Church is indeed inviting and welcome, modeling the Lord by extending its open arms to those who might wish to worship with us (those earnestly seeking the kingdom). However, the members of the church, though striving towards perfection and Christlike lives, do at times have attitudes and behavior that is contradictory to this goal and perhaps leads others to feel less welcome at our worship meetings than they otherwise should.

But I believe that the invitation to worship contains certain caveats that help control the direction of meetings and discussion. We welcome those who wish to unite their voices with our own in worship of Jesus Christ, who wish to learn more about our faith, who wish to make covenants and progress towards eternal life, and who wish to follow Christ in word and in deed. Thus, we welcome all who are striving to obey God’s commandments. I cannot imagine that it would be appropriate, however, to welcome in those who openly and loudly oppose our beliefs, deride our decisions, belittle our ordinances, or mock our covenants.

Would we welcome in the frat boys to our sacrament meeting who roll in a kegger to share with the Sunday School? Do we invite in those who would stand up and protest during a Bishop’s remarks? Or how about inviting a woman to teach a primary class that openly shares stories of her rampant fornication and turbulent lifestyle?

Clearly, there must be and indeed are limits as to how inviting the Church can be. Those who wish to accept our invitation should be respectful of the beliefs and practices of those they are joining, willing to recognize established authority, and open to instruction and guidance from men called of God and sustained by the Church membership.

To claim, then, that the efforts by Church leadership and its members to defend traditional morality and make their voices heard might alienate others is, at least to me, perfectly acceptable. First, it should be noted that those who might be alienated are responsible for their own feelings and actions. While we may make mistakes or take a stance with which others disagree, they choose whether or not they will be offended. Second, all must understand that Church leaders have been called not to make us feel warm and fuzzy, but to call us to repentance and make known God’s will. After all, it was Jesus himself who publicly recognized that the word of God is divisive.

Third, we as Latter-day Saints are to be united in carrying forth God’s message throughout the world. By accommodating those who staunchly disagree with us on important issues, our voice becomes diluted. By assimilating opposing forces into our fold, those who would otherwise take up our group’s standard in battle often silence themselves so as not to offend their fellow Mormons who disagree. Our voice, instead of only being diluted, becomes muffled and self-censored. Such an occurrence runs contrary to prophetic counsel:

The men of the priesthood, with the daughters of God who are our companions and allies, are all part of the army of the Lord. We must be united. An army that is disorganized will not be victorious. It is imperative that we close ranks, that we march together as one. We cannot have division among us and expect victory. We cannot have disloyalty and expect unity. We cannot be unclean and expect the help of Almighty. (Gordon B. Hinckley, via Quoty)

Those who disagree with Church leadership (who in this example support gay marriage and oppose Proposition 8) would justifiably argue that as individuals we all have differing opinions and perspectives, and thus the organization of the Church should be understanding and accommodating of that fact. They would also reject the notion that we must be completely united, for they would feel in that case that they are not being true to themselves. Then-Elder Benson spoke forcefully of these circumstances:

Sometimes we hear someone refer to a division in the Church. In reality, the Church is not divided. It simply means that there are some who, for the time being at least, are members of the Church but not in harmony with it. These people have a temporary membership and influence in the Church; but unless they repent, they will be missing when the final membership records are recorded.

It is well that our people understand this principle, so they will not be misled by those apostates within the Church who have not yet repented or been cut off. But there is a cleansing coming. The Lord says that his vengeance shall be poured out “upon the inhabitants of the earth…. And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord; First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me….” (D&C 112:24-26.) I look forward to that cleansing; its need within the Church is becoming increasingly apparent. (Ezra Taft Benson, via Quoty)

On another occasion, while discussing some fundamental principles on following the prophet, he also said:

As a prophet reveals the truth it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words, but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him. When the prophet points out the sins of the world, the worldly either want to close the mouth of the prophet, or else act as if the prophet didn’t exist, rather than repent of their sins. Popularity is never a test of truth. Many a prophet has been killed or cast out.

As we come closer to the Lord’s second coming, you can expect that as the people of the world become more wicked, the prophet will be less popular with them. (Ezra Taft Benson, via Quoty)

Our modern prophet has likewise counseled us to have “the courage to hold fast to our standards despite the derision of the world.” As President Hinckley noted (along with J. Reuben Clark and Neal A. Maxwell), that opposition is often felt from within our own ranks.

More anciently, this principle was spoken of by Samuel the Lamanite when crying repentance to his own people:

…if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.

But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.

Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him. (Helaman 13:26-28)

Prophetic instruction, by its very nature, alienates those who disagree and resist the call to change. Prideful individuals who fundamentally disagree with what they’re being told will no doubt feel less welcome, for it is human nature to want to associate with those who make you feel good about what you’re currently doing and who you currently are. It takes a humble person to put aside one’s own opinion and accept the advice and counsel of men we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators.

Those who still disagree with what’s being asked of us have a proscribed method for resolving their concerns. It involves not writing letters to the editor or blog posts that openly oppose what your leaders have counseled, but seeking understanding through sincere and private prayer:

Put difficult questions in the back of your minds and go about your lives. Ponder and pray quietly and persistently about them. The answer may not come as a lightning bolt. It may come as a little inspiration here and a little there, “line upon line, precept upon precept” (D&C 98:12). Some answers will come from reading the scriptures, some from hearing speakers. And, occasionally, when it is important, some will come by very direct and powerful inspiration. (Boyd K. Packer, via Quoty)

Our call should continually be an inviting and loving one, extending to others the same compassion and charity that the Savior himself would show. But individuals who openly challenge and publicly oppose certain doctrines, principles, counsel, and commandments must realize that the Church as an institution cannot associate with them. To have the united voice necessary to welcome Zion we must gradually leave behind those who would remain in Babylon, and eventually (and completely) separate the wheat from the tares. When that day comes, you can expect to hear the tares complain about feeling alienated.

69 Responses to “On Claims of Alienation”

  1. Tim Malone
    September 7, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

    Thank you Connor. Well thought and well expressed. Like you, I have been amazed how otherwise intelligent and sincere people who profess to be members of the Lord’s Church and kingdom in these latter days, could come out in such open rebellion against the counsel of living prophets and not see it as such.

    I think I can understand it from those who have left the church or are in the process of doing so, but not from those who still claim the affinity that should unite their hearts, through the spirit, with the words of the prophets and apostles on this matter. It is sad to see but understadable in light of the quotes you have shared.

  2. Brandon
    September 7, 2008 at 5:08 pm #

    Connor, I haven’t seen anywhere that the church leadership has received a revelation that would require the membership to support prop 8. I completly disagree with the insinuation that any LDS who opposes the initiative is somehow in open rebellion against God. That is quite arrogant in my opinion.

    First of all, if everything the church leader’s say is in fact the complete will of god, than we have some serious problems because our leaders have said some stupid things on occasion.

    Secondly, it is perfectly acceptable to oppose the initiative for political reasons (as I do). I have not made up my mind about the morality or consequences of same sex marriage, but have decided that the government should not be making decisions about what relationships do in fact constitute a marriage (or which deserve special privelages). How is my position less valid than yours in the sight of God?

    The church has chosen a political position. Since I don’t go to church to be told my political positions I see no reason why I should be compelled to take the same position as Thomas Monson. He is entitled to his opinion about politics and I to mine.

    Prideful individuals who fundamentally disagree with what they’re being told will no doubt feel less welcome, for it is human nature to want to associate with those who make you feel good about what you’re currently doing and who you currently are.

    Could not the same argument (prideful individuals) be made about the members of the church who are uncomfortable hearing any kind of political dissent within the church?

  3. Tim Malone
    September 7, 2008 at 5:57 pm #

    Sorry Brandon, that was me that used that phrase, not Connor. I retract it as it was a little harsh, wasn’t it? I don’t know how it is in your stake, but in mine, the Stake President has made it clear that this is a call from the prophet – to get involved in supporting this proposition. From the June 29th First Presidency letter, we read that it is a moral issue, not just President Monson’s political opinion:

    “The Church’s teachings and position on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan for His children. Children are entitled to be born within this bond of marriage.

    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.”

  4. Brandon
    September 7, 2008 at 7:45 pm #

    Tim,
    While Connor did not use that exact phrase, he insinuated as much by his use of quotes and his own supporting opinion statements. He of course, is welcome to that opinion, I just disagree.

    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.

    The church is asking its members to take a political position (not a moral or theological postion). If the church was encouraging the members of the church to go out and teach the world about why same-sex marriage is bad, that would be fine. But the church is asking me to support a political innitiative that would enshrine their definition of morality into law. I don’t think that my definition of morality needs to be enshrined into law in this case. I think marriage is a religious instituion and therefore should not be decided by the government. The government should not distinguish between indivduals or groups of people in my opinion. The constitutional ammendment does just the opposite as far as I am concerned.

  5. Captain Moroni
    September 7, 2008 at 9:12 pm #

    D&C 134:4 says that those who let “their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others” are not in synch with God. In 1 Cor. 10:29, Paul also questions the right of others to impose their morals on him. Why are we LDS disobeying these verses?
    Jesus said to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God, that which is God’s. The religious aspect of marriage belongs to the Church. We set standards for temple worthiness etc… The secular/legal aspects of marriage belong to Caesar (government). These include tax laws, inheritance laws, child custody laws, alimony, etc…. Why are we ignoring scripture by imposing on Caesar’s realm?
    LDS prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, in Doctrines of Salvation, states that If he

    “writes something which is out of harmony with the [scriptures], then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it.”

    He also said, “If I ever say anything contrary to the scriptures, the scriptures prevail.”
    We LDS must recognize that scripture overrules the unsustained words of anyone, even the prophets. The scriptures clearly teach that we are wrong in supporting Prop. 8
    If anyone can explain how we are NOT in violation of those verses, I’d L-O-V-E to hear it. Our site – lds4gaymarriage.org – has been up for years and we have yet to hear anyone even try.

  6. Connor
    September 7, 2008 at 9:15 pm #

    Connor, I haven’t seen anywhere that the church leadership has received a revelation that would require the membership to support prop 8.

    Prophetic instruction doesn’t require a “thus saith the Lord” to be just as valid. Can you say with surety that Pres. Monson is acting of his own accord and without the Lord’s guidance? I think it’s safer to err on the side of caution and assume that the Lord’s mouthpiece is acting as such.

    Consider the following semi-lengthy quote (I’ll be sharing a few more in this comment) from John A. Widstoe on the prophetic role of revelation:

    “For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D. & C. 21:4, 5). In this commandment there is no limitation upon the prophet, as to subject, time, or place.

    Such official prophetic utterances to the Church are usually made in the great general conferences of the Church, or in signed statements circulated among the people. The phrase “Thus sayeth the Lord” may at times be used; but is not necessary. When the prophet speaks to the people in an official gathering or over his signature, he speaks as the Lord directs him. If a new doctrine or practice be involved in the revelation, it is presented to the people for acceptance, in recognition of the free agency of the Church itself, but once accepted, it is thereafter binding upon every member.

    Though the prophet may step out of his official role in dealing with the daily affairs of life, he can never divest himself of the spirit and influence which belong to the sacred office which the Lord has placed upon him. The faith and readiness to do the work of the Lord which fitted him for his high office, shape his life in harmony with the eternal principles and purposes of the gospel. Though often humble by the world’s measure, in gifts and ability, he lives under inspired guidance, which makes him great among men, and therefore, his unofficial expressions carry greater weight than the opinions of other men of equal or greater gifts and experience but without the power of the prophetic office. It would be wisdom on all occasions and with respect to all subjects in any field of human activity, to hearken to the prophet’s voice. There is safety and ultimate happiness in following the counsel that may be received from the prophet.

    Men are called to the prophetic office because of their humility and their willingness to be in the hands of the Lord as clay in the hands of the potter. Yet a man called to the prophetic office is almost without exception of high native endowment, often with large experience in life, and possessed of wisdom and sound judgment. That is, the prophet, though but a man, is an able man, rising in ability above the multitude. An examination of sacred history from Adam to the present will show that able men, in the words of Jethro, men “such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness” (Exodus 18:21), have been called to the prophetic office. The unofficial views and expressions of such a man with respect to any vital subject, should command respectful attention. Wise men seek the counsel of those wiser or abler than themselves. (John A. Widtsoe, via Quoty)

    I consider the signed statement as coming from the Lord. But even if you or others wish to argue that it’s this man’s single opinion, then I consider that opinion far more visionary than my own.

    I completly disagree with the insinuation that any LDS who opposes the initiative is somehow in open rebellion against God. That is quite arrogant in my opinion.

    I’m not couching my argument solely in view that such Latter-day Saints are opposition Prop 8—rather, I’m arguing that they’re opposing a prophet of God. They have the agency to do that if they wish; I’m simply pointing it out for what I think it really is.

    First of all, if everything the church leader’s say is in fact the complete will of god, than we have some serious problems because our leaders have said some stupid things on occasion.

    While some previous prophets have indeed opined on interesting doctrinal angles, far less common is a direct commandment or counsel given to the Saints that was later shown to be incorrect or wrong.

    While you may wish to cite a few examples, I think doing so places an extremely difficult burden upon the self-proclaimed follower of God. That is, how is that person able to discern when a prophet of God is speaking on God’s behalf? This is no matter of personal inspiration; either the prophet is speaking God’s will or he isn’t. If you feel he isn’t and your friend feels that he is, one of you is wrong.

    So evidently this opens the door to a slippery slope, where the individual thinks themselves able to determine what counsel is constituted of divine revelation, and what is merely one man’s opinion. I’m not sure such a stance enables us to have faith in God and the men He has called to lead His people.

    Secondly, it is perfectly acceptable to oppose the initiative for political reasons (as I do). … How is my position less valid than yours in the sight of God?

    Indeed, as an individual you are entitled to your personal political views and are given the opportunity to vote as you please. Nobody is denying you that. What I argue, though, is that it would be silly for a self-proclaimed Saint to ignore God’s personal request to support a specific moral provision. Likewise, if the man we sustain as prophet and seer encourages us to take up the fight and support a specific moral provision, a Latter-day Saint would have a hard time claiming that the request did not come from the Lord.

    Since I don’t go to church to be told my political positions I see no reason why I should be compelled to take the same position as Thomas Monson. He is entitled to his opinion about politics and I to mine.

    What are political positions? They are nothing more than the way in which we feel men are to be governed. So in essence we have two options as Latter-day Saints: the way we feel men should be governed, and the way God says we should be governed. Inasmuch as we’ve been left to self-govern and determine the best policy and practice, we are justified in pursuing the course we think best (so long as it’s in harmony with other principles and established law). But when God instructs us on a specific way that governance should be carried out, I don’t see how it’s spiritually safe (nor wise) to discount that instruction and pursue a course we think to be better.

    Consider the following quotes:

    You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life… Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow… Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church. (Harold B. Lee, via Quoty)

    Those who would remove prophets from politics would take God out of government. (Ezra Taft Benson, via Quoty)

    Some of the leading men in Kirtland were much opposed to Joseph the Prophet, meddling with temporal affairs… .

    In a public meeting of the Saints, I said, “Ye Elders of Israel…. will some of you draw the line of demarcation, between the spiritual and temporal in the Kingdom of God, so that I may understand it?” Not one of them could do it….

    I defy any man on earth to point out the path a Prophet of God should walk in, or point out his duty, and just how far he must go, in dictating temporal or spiritual things. Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected, and ever will be. (Brigham Young, via Quoty)

    I have never been very particular to determine when [Church leaders] were speaking as prophets of God and when they were speaking as men. It has never occurred to me that I had the ability to determine that. It has been the rule of my life to find out if I could, by listening closely to what they said and by asking the Lord to help me interpret it, what they had in mind for the Latter-day Saints to do and then do it. I am happy to say, not boastfully but gratefully, that I have never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional or political life. (Marion G. Romney, via Quoty)

    Could not the same argument (prideful individuals) be made about the members of the church who are uncomfortable hearing any kind of political dissent within the church?

    Political dissent crosses the line in church when it openly and vocally contradicts what the prophet and president of the church has asked us to do. For this reason (as I note above), some feel alienated. But how can the church move forward its mission if those who claim membership are constantly opposing its programs and principles?

    The church is asking its members to take a political position (not a moral or theological postion).

    Politics is not an isolated field of human interaction, void of any other influencing sphere. What I mean by that is that you cannot argue that morality does not play a part in politics. If there was a referendum on whether to legalize pedophilia, then you might clearly understand that in that case, the political decision has to do with the morality of the underlying issue.

    So it is with this proposition. To argue that allowing two individuals of the same gender to marry has nothing to do with morality seems a bit erroneous to me. Political decisions often deal with morality.

    But the church is asking me to support a political innitiative that would enshrine their definition of morality into law.

    And the homosexual community is asking you to institute their definition of morality into law. This is is the hinge upon which democracies swing: what is proper morality, and who has the power to write theirs into the books? In this case, it’s one or the other. Either society accepts same-sex marriage (and thus gives its stamp of approval of homosexuality in general as well as same-sex familial relationships), or it rejects the idea and defends traditional morality. One way of the other, morality is written into law.

    Consider Elder Oaks’ words on the matter:

    “Don’t legislate morality.” I suppose persons who mouth that familiar slogan think they are saying something profound. In fact, if that is an argument at all, it is so superficial that an educated person should be ashamed to use it. As should be evident to every thinking person, a high proportion of all legislation has a moral base. That is true of all of the criminal law, most of the laws regulating family relations, businesses, and commercial transactions, many of the laws governing property, and a host of others. (Dallin H. Oaks, via Quoty)

    The signs of warning have been given in our day, as they were in Noah’s. Like it happened then, the world today points its finger in scorn, laughing at how allegedly hypocritical and foolhardy the Saints are acting. Yet Elder Maxwell explained the role reversal that happened then and will happen in the future:

    It has been asked, and well it might be, how many of us would have jeered, or at least been privately amused, by the sight of Noah building his ark: Presumably, the laughter and heedlessness continued until it began to rain—and kept raining! How wet some people must have been before Noah’s ark suddenly seemed the only sane act in an insane, bewildering situation! To ponder signs without becoming paranoid, to be aware without frantically matching current events with expectations, using energy that should be spent in other ways, these are our tasks. (Neal A. Maxwell, via Quoty)

    As I’ve explained in other blog posts on this subject, I believe that we should pay more attention to the role of seer in the prophets we sustain. Just as President Hinckley announced in 1995 before giving the Proclamation on the Family that he and other prophets felt the need to “warn and forewarn”, so too do I believe that Pres. Monson can see the results of marriage, freedom of religion, and society in general if Proposition 8 does not pass.

  7. kannie
    September 7, 2008 at 9:17 pm #

    Brandon, Elder Oaks gave a talk years ago when I also subscribed to the idea that “you can’t legislate morality,” which seems to be what you’re saying. (And let me tell you, it was a shock to me!)

    His point was that virtually all laws make some moral judgment or other. To quote:

    Similarly, some reach the pro-choice position by saying we should not legislate morality. Those who take this position should realize that the law of crimes legislates nothing but morality. Should we repeal all laws with a moral basis so our government will not punish any choices some persons consider immoral? Such an action would wipe out virtually all of the laws against crimes.

    While I think something like a speed limit, for example, is probably not quite at the same scale of significance as recognizing the fundamental unit of eternity (and codifying it, since the government has seen fit to get involved in the first place, and now we as a society seem to have gotten confused), it is, likewise, a moral judgment requiring me to be responsible and considerate of those with whom I share the road. Or something like that (I’m not a huge fan of speed limits, so I might not make the best case for them ;-).

    At any rate, the church has taken a position that is only seen as political, since the moral issue of “what’s a marriage” has become politicized.

    To examine larger Constitutional issues for a moment, equal protection under the law does not guarantee equal treatment. Otherwise, I should qualify for a loan to purchase a Mercedes, just as my neighbor does, regardless of my personal conduct, credit score, etc. Instead, my choices matter, and they affect how I will be treated and what other choices are available to me.

    One more problem in this issue, to my understanding: Those who cannot distinguish between acknowledging a moral stand given by the Lord, and a personal attack motivated by hatred, pre-convict Prop 8 advocates (and those of similar legislation) of hate. It’s quite wrong to do, and IMHO, that pre-conviction is what keeps people from getting along better.

  8. kannie
    September 7, 2008 at 9:22 pm #

    Captain,

    Why are we ignoring scripture by imposing on Caesar’s realm?

    The church is not imposing any law.

    The church is advocating that citizens – the people from whom governmental power derives – act through the prescribed legal processes.

    But they’re not dictating anything. Like the Lord’s way, we are given choices, given the preferred path, and left free to choose.

  9. Captain Moroni
    September 7, 2008 at 9:30 pm #

    Cm – Why are we ignoring scripture by imposing on Caesar’s realm?

    K – The church is not imposing any law.

    CM – Agreed, we are not imposing a law. We are imposing on the realm of Caesar. Caesar is the one who defines the secular aspects of marriage. We have no business here any more than the government has the right to tell the Church that it mustn’t preach against SSM. They need to remain seperate as Christ stated.

    ***

    K – The church is advocating that citizens – the people from whom governmental power derives – act through the prescribed legal processes.

    CM – In direct contradiction to D&C 134:4. That verse condemns those who allow their religious opinions to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others. CA gays have the RIGHT to marry. Our efforts to infringe upon that right is clearly prompted by our religious opinions regarding homosexuality and the nature of the family. Scripture comdemns this. The prophets have stated that scripture overrules their own words. Pres. Monson or anyone else can’t advocate Prop.8 without violating scripture. That’s the bottom line.

  10. Connor
    September 7, 2008 at 9:40 pm #

    Why are we LDS disobeying these verses?

    That entirely depends on what right and liberties you are speaking of. As the dissenting judges in the CA Supreme Court noted, the Court created a constitutional right out of thin air (or, rather, out of progressive laws previously instituted). At hand is this exact issue: do Californians have the right to marry? If not, then it can be legislated as Californians please. If so, then no human law can morally be passed that would contradict a natural right.

    Why are we ignoring scripture by imposing on Caesar’s realm?

    How is using the electoral process to determine a political (and moral) issue “imposing” on “Ceasar’s realm”? You may feel that since the Church has marshaled its forces to get involved in this debate that church is imposing on the state, but I see no problem with a religious institution encouraging its members to vote (something everybody is able to do) and encourage others to do the same. Would you likewise argue, then, that homosexuals are imposing on Caesar’s realm by wanting to defeat Prop 8? Please.

    We LDS must recognize that scripture overrules the unsustained words of anyone, even the prophets.

    And who, pray tell, is the final arbiter of which prophetic words are “unsustained”? Feel free to discern as such for yourself, but beware when trying to convince others. Going around claiming certain counsel is “unsustained” (or, put more succinctly, contrary to God’s will) is, as the scriptures note, the high road to apostasy. As for me and my house, we’ll follow the prophet.

    The scriptures clearly teach that we are wrong in supporting Prop. 8.

    Clearly. Right.

    If anyone can explain how we are NOT in violation of those verses, I’d L-O-V-E to hear it.

    The verses you cite in defense of your argument have been widely circulated among rebellious Latter-day Saints, especially on websites organized specifically to oppose Proposition 8. You and others that share your beliefs cling to these scriptures to apparently advocate a libertinistic “live and let live” policy, free from any influence of religion or religious individuals.

    That’s not my America. Nor is it in accordance with my understanding of how God would have us participate in government and defend morality and the freedom of religion.

  11. kannie
    September 7, 2008 at 9:49 pm #

    CM –

    That verse condemns those who allow their religious opinions to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others. CA gays have the RIGHT to marry.

    First, I’d like to make a distinction between a right and a privilege. (This distinction never makes me very popular.) One is inherent in my being; the other, I must (commonly) ask for. For example, the right to my own life, I don’t have to ask for; but I must ask (the government) for license to marry, drive, open a business, serve food in public, etc.

    Second, I’d like to quote something else: D&C 134:1

    1 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

    We are accountable for what the law is, how we follow it, and how it’s administered. Therefore, I’d say we have a vested interest in ensuring we’re in general compliance with both the letter and spirit of what we know to be right – and as I mentioned previously, virtually all law codifies some moral standard, whether identifiable in a religious organization or not. For example, that we preach murder to be wrong does not invalidate the legal prohibition of it.

    Third:

    Pres. Monson or anyone else can’t advocate Prop.8 without violating scripture.

    What of the promise we have that the Lord will remove a prophet from his place before allowing him to lead us falsely? Or Brigham Young’s prioritization of the living prophet over all the scripture that had yet been revealed? I do not see that Pres. Monson’s actions are in conflict with scriptural teachings. Taking a stand that does not deprive someone of their God-given rights does not violate that scripture, IMHO.

  12. Brandon
    September 8, 2008 at 12:20 am #

    Prophetic instruction doesn’t require a “thus saith the Lord” to be just as valid. Can you say with surety that Pres. Monson is acting of his own accord and without the Lord’s guidance?

    No, I can’t and as you pointed out, neither can you.

    I think it’s safer to err on the side of caution and assume that the Lord’s mouthpiece is acting as such.

    My problem with assuming that he is speaking as the lord’s mouthpiece comes from my study of the more exotic and bizzare beliefs and positions that have been taught in the church. Past prophets taught with no less conviction that blacks were in fact black due to their disloyalty in the pre-existence. They have also taught that opposite sex-monogamy was and would continue to be the primary cause of the downfall and disintegration of our society.

    When discussing those teachings I have often been told that those weren’t the official doctrines of the church, even though the were pronounced by prophets of the church in general conference. So how am I to know that this current instruction is actually coming from God (rhetorical)?

    Ultimately, I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of the church dominating the lives of its members so fully that they feel compelled to support a political initiative they may disagree with lest they be considered wicked or be derided by other LDS on blogs for not “following the prophet”.

  13. Captain Moroni
    September 8, 2008 at 6:48 am #

    CM – Why are we LDS disobeying these verses?

    C – That entirely depends on what right and liberties you are speaking of. As the dissenting judges in the CA Supreme Court noted, the Court created a constitutional right out of thin air (or, rather, out of progressive laws previously instituted). At hand is this exact issue: do Californians have the right to marry? If not, then it can be legislated as Californians please. If so, then no human law can morally be passed that would contradict a natural right.

    CM – First off, we LDS believe in being subject to kings, rulers, magistrates (judges), etc… We may not like their rulings, but unless they infringe upon our natural rights, God requires us to obey them. The CA Court said that CA’s constitution’s requirement of equal protections really means equal. By doing so, they affirmed a right not made out of thin air, but a right of equality denied to gays.
    They have this right and scripture says that we can’t take it away based upon our religious opinions.

    *****

    CM – Why are we ignoring scripture by imposing on Caesar’s realm?

    C – How is using the electoral process to determine a political (and moral) issue “imposing” on “Ceasar’s realm”? You may feel that since the Church has marshaled its forces to get involved in this debate that church is imposing on the state, but I see no problem with a religious institution encouraging its members to vote (something everybody is able to do) and encourage others to do the same. Would you likewise argue, then, that homosexuals are imposing on Caesar’s realm by wanting to defeat Prop 8? Please.

    Cm – No, because the secular benefits of marriage should be determined by the state and gays have the constitutional right to petition government for an address of grieviences. The Church is trying to tell the government to restrict equality in accordance with Church doctrine, so yes, the Church IS imposing on the realm of Caesar. The Church should follow the scriptures and stay out of Caesar’s realm and obey D&C 134:4 and quit using our doctrine as an excuse to infringe upon the rights of others.

    ***

    CM – We LDS must recognize that scripture overrules the unsustained words of anyone, even the prophets.

    C – And who, pray tell, is the final arbiter of which prophetic words are “unsustained”? Feel free to discern as such for yourself, but beware when trying to convince others. Going around claiming certain counsel is “unsustained” (or, put more succinctly, contrary to God’s will) is, as the scriptures note, the high road to apostasy. As for me and my house, we’ll follow the prophet.

    CM – Sustained means voted on by the Church via Common Consent (as required by the D&C) to become officially binding upon the Saints. This was done when D&C sections 137 and 138 were added thereby making them officially binding rather than being mere opinion or policy. Unless/until the words of the prophet are sustained accordingly, they are overruled by extant scripture as is the case here,

    ***

    CK – The scriptures clearly teach that we are wrong in supporting Prop. 8.

    Clearly. Right.

    If anyone can explain how we are NOT in violation of those verses, I’d L-O-V-E to hear it.

    C – The verses you cite in defense of your argument have been widely circulated among rebellious Latter-day Saints, especially on websites organized specifically to oppose Proposition 8. You and others that share your beliefs cling to these scriptures to apparently advocate a libertinistic “live and let live” policy, free from any influence of religion or religious individuals.

    CK – No, we cling to them because they are the sustained words of God. We lean on the arm of God and not the arm of flesh. We are in no way advocating that the church abandon its standards, but rather that the Church adhere to those standards as outlined ni scripture. Again, there is no explanation of why Prop. 8 is not an example of ignoring D&C 134:4.

    ***

    C – That’s not my America. Nor is it in accordance with my understanding of how God would have us participate in government and defend morality and the freedom of religion.

    CK – We are to use Kindness, gentleness, meekness, and love unfeigned to persuade people to live the Gospel. President Benson said that the law equals force. We are forcing gays to comply with our definition of marriage. Force is of Satan, not God.

  14. Captain Moroni
    September 8, 2008 at 7:41 am #

    CM -That verse condemns those who allow their religious opinions to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others. CA gays have the RIGHT to marry.

    K – First, I’d like to make a distinction between a right and a privilege. (This distinction never makes me very popular.) One is inherent in my being; the other, I must (commonly) ask for. For example, the right to my own life, I don’t have to ask for; but I must ask (the government) for license to marry, drive, open a business, serve food in public, etc.

    CM – I agree, but the verse says “rights or liberties”. Rights are natural…the right to pursue happiness, to self defense, to free speech, etc… “Liberties” are those priviledges granted by government. A drivers License, business license, a marriage license, etc… gays have been granted the “liberties” of marriage and scripture forbids us from using our beliefs as the motivation for denying people such liberties.

    K – Second, I’d like to quote something else: D&C 134:1

    1 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

    We are accountable for what the law is, how we follow it, and how it’s administered. Therefore, I’d say we have a vested interest in ensuring we’re in general compliance with both the letter and spirit of what we know to be right …

    CM – That’s what the Taliban believes as well – ensuring we’re in general compliance with both the letter and spirit of what they know to be right. 134:4 makes sure that we don’t turn into the LDS-Taliban. We are to respect the rights of others and not infringe upon them because we believe that they are exercising them wrongly per our religious opinions.

    K – ….and as I mentioned previously, virtually all law codifies some moral standard, whether identifiable in a religious organization or not. For example, that we preach murder to be wrong does not invalidate the legal prohibition of it.

    CM – I agree. There are 2 types of morality – objective and subjective. Objective morality prohibits people from harming the person, property, or rights of others. This is why it is moral to outlaw murder, rape, theft, fraud, etc… SUBjective morality involves our own “religious opinions”. It’s wrong to shop on Sunday, drink Lipton tea, and wear bikinis per OUR religious opinions/SUBjective morality. It is wrong for LDS to impose our “religious opinions”/SUBjective morality on others. 134:4 confirms this.

    ****

    K – Third:
    CM – Pres. Monson or anyone else can’t advocate Prop.8 without violating scripture.

    K – What of the promise we have that the Lord will remove a prophet from his place before allowing him to lead us falsely?

    CM – 1st off, that isn’t to be found in scripture. it was pres. Woodruff’s opinion. If he meant that the prophets would never be wrong, then HE is wrong. They’ve made mistakes. President Joseph Fielding Smith recognized this when he said that if he ever says or writes anything contrary to the scriptures, the scriptures prevail and his own words are to be ignored. Harold B Lee said that only the scriptures are the measuring sticks against which doctrine shall be measured. These men knew that they were not infallible. If they are capable of making mistakes, then making some errors are within the guidelines of Pres. Woodruff’s statement.

    K – Or Brigham Young’s prioritization of the living prophet over all the scripture that had yet been revealed?

    CM – BY was correct. inspiration given to living prophets IS better than inspiration given to old ones on the matter. The issue is whether the Lord gave inspiration to support Prop.8. Here’s what president Lee said about receiving revelations contrary to scripture –

    “If anyone, regardless of his position in the Church, were to advance a doctrine that is not substantiated by the standard Church works, meaning the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion. The only one authorized to bring forth any new doctrine is the President of the Church, who, when he does, will declare it as a revelation from God, and it will be so accepted by the Council of the Twelve and sustained by the body of the Church. And if any man speak a doctrine which contradicts what is in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false and you are not bound to accept it as truth. “(Harold B. Lee, The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 544.)

    Supporting Prop 8 is clearly contrary to scripture and therefore to overrule it, we need a revelation (as was done regarding the priesthood and polygamy) which is to be sustained by the Church. No revelation, inspiration, prompting or anything has been claimed to have been received in regard to this. Nothing was sustained by the 12 and nothing was sustained by the Church. Without these, president Lee’s statement – “If anyone, regardless of his position in the Church, were to advance a doctrine that is not substantiated by the standard Church works, meaning the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion. ” applies to our support of prop. 8. Since it is opposition to scripture, it is to be rejected.

    K – I do not see that Pres. Monson’s actions are in conflict with scriptural teachings.

    Cm – Then please, As we’ve been asking for YEARS, how are we NOT “letting our religious opinions prompt us to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others”?

    K – Taking a stand that does not deprive someone of their God-given rights does not violate that scripture, IMHO.

    CM – The scriptures talk about rights AND liberties. Liberties are different than rights. They are given by governments. We can’t use our religion as an excuse to take away these rights. Should we use our religious opinions to shut down a Starbucks because we think coffee is evil? Can we impose Blue Laws outlawing stores being open on Sunday?

  15. Connor
    September 8, 2008 at 7:56 am #

    Brandon,

    My problem with assuming that he is speaking as the lord’s mouthpiece comes from my study of the more exotic and bizzare beliefs and positions that have been taught in the church.

    As I said in my previous comment, it does not matter what private beliefs or doctrines prophets have taught, but what commandments and counsel they have given the Saints to implement in their own lives. This is less common, and in my opinion, hardly worth being the catalyst for initial rejection of all successive prophetic counsel.

    Ultimately, I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of the church dominating the lives of its members so fully…

    Substitute “God” for “the church”. I feel perfectly content in letting God control every aspect of my life that he wishes. In fact, I’m eager to allow Him to do so, since previous experience has demonstrated to me that I am the most blessed and inspired when I am following what He wants me to do. Kicking against the pricks may make me feel independent, but it hardly affords me the spiritual progression and development I need to become closer to God.

    Captain Moroni,

    You know, you don’t exactly live up to the moniker you’ve chosen for yourself. The man that rose the title of liberty in defense of family, marriage, and religion would hardly have found it appropriate to so completely neuter his position by not wanting to infringe upon others’ supposed rights.

    Please feel free to maintain your private belief that Thomas S. Monson has apostatized in that he is asking the Saints to do something that contradicts the scriptures. But I will not tolerate further discussion of such a notion on this blog. Take your tripe elsewhere, please.

  16. Captain Moroni
    September 8, 2008 at 8:52 am #

    C – Captain Moroni,

    You know, you don’t exactly live up to the moniker you’ve chosen for yourself. The man that rose the title of liberty in defense of family, marriage, and religion would hardly have found it appropriate to so completely neuter his position by not wanting to infringe upon others’ supposed rights.

    CM – “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children..” (Alma 46:12). He was fighting against those who would harm these things. We are likewise defending the rights of others. We’re fighting for the same rights government gives to the spouses and kids of straights. Fighting for the peace of others…to be left alone and not singled out for discrimination…fighting for their religion to be treated equal by government. I think that the moniker is appropriate.

    ***

    C – Please feel free to maintain your private belief that Thomas S. Monson has apostatized in that he is asking the Saints to do something that contradicts the scriptures. But I will not tolerate further discussion of such a notion on this blog. Take your tripe elsewhere, please.

    CM – I have NEVER claimed that he has apostasized. I’m just asking questions. If he or anyone can show how we are NOT violating the scriptures, I’ll take down our site immediately. So far, neither you nor anyone has shown how we are in compliance with the scriptures. If you want to ban me for asking questions you can’t answer, fine, this is your blog and are free to do as you please. Sweping the problem under the rug doesn’t make it go away though.

  17. Connor
    September 8, 2008 at 9:06 am #

    I have NEVER claimed that he has apostasized. I’m just asking questions. If he or anyone can show how we are NOT violating the scriptures, I’ll take down our site immediately.

    You make the same mistake that the FLDS and other splinter groups do: namely, that a modern prophet is bound in every way to previous revelation. In essence, you are denying a living God that can give new commandments as he pleases. In another time and place, you might ally yourself with those who would ridicule Christ for fulfilling and removing the law of Moses.

    Like the two verses you cited, you would also cling to the quote you shared above about rejecting any word that contradicts the scriptures. In affirming your position here you deny numerous other quotes that speak to the ability and responsibility of current and modern prophets to reveal new things, some of which may supersede (or according to some, even contradict) previous revelation.

    And of course you use a tactic common among those who attack the LDS faith, namely that of selectively quoting a passage to fit your stance. The next sentence, which you obviously left out, reads:

    If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted.

    Additionally, it should be noted that the context of that quote was addressing specifically the situation of personally authored books (by a church leader), and not officially signed statements from the First Presidency, nor talks given over the pulpit.

    You’re obviously having to stretch to justify your position.

  18. Mark N.
    September 8, 2008 at 10:26 am #

    Substitute “God” for “the church”.

    No problem.

    It’s when my fellow saints appear to be all too happy to substitute “government” for “God” that I get a bit worried.

  19. Captain Moroni
    September 8, 2008 at 11:13 am #

    CM – I have NEVER claimed that he has apostasized. I’m just asking questions. If he or anyone can show how we are NOT violating the scriptures, I’ll take down our site immediately.

    C – You make the same mistake that the FLDS and other splinter groups do: namely, that a modern prophet is bound in every way to previous revelation. In essence, you are denying a living God that can give new commandments as he pleases.

    CK – Hardly. My point is that all people are bound by the scriptures and previously sustained revelations. If the prophet receives a revelation that contramands previously given scripture/revelations, then the prophet makes it known to the 12 who sustain it and then to the church to sustain it. That is the only way short of being visited by deity. Pres. kimball just didn’t send a memo out allowing Blacks to receive the priesthood. It had to be sustained by the Church. All things are done in order…My house is a house of order….No one is allowed to play fast and loose with the scriptures.

    ***

    C – Like the two verses you cited, you would also cling to the quote you shared above about rejecting any word that contradicts the scriptures. In affirming your position here you deny numerous other quotes that speak to the ability and responsibility of current and modern prophets to reveal new things, some of which may supersede (or according to some, even contradict) previous revelation.

    CM – See above. I have no problem with revelations that supersede previous revelation. I welcome it, just as I welcomed the revelation on the priesthood. We just need to have it sustained by the 12 and the church to make it official.

    ****

    C – And of course you use a tactic common among those who attack the LDS faith, namely that of selectively quoting a passage to fit your stance. The next sentence, which you obviously left out, reads:

    “If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted.”

    CM – OK, then it depends on whether the statements are “in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord”. Our support of Prop. 8 is NOT. It is in direct contradicition of D&C 134:4 and therefore must be rejected.

    ****

    C – Additionally, it should be noted that the context of that quote was addressing specifically the situation of personally authored books (by a church leader), and not officially signed statements from the First Presidency, nor talks given over the pulpit.

    You’re obviously having to stretch to justify your position.

    Cm – Hardly. Someone else pointed out some of the statements made over the pulpit at Conference during polygamy days about monogamy being corrupt. This clearly shows that not all things said over the pulpit at Conference is doctrinal. All statements, including those of the prophet.

    Brigham Young said over the pulpit in the tabernacle that both the moon and sun are inhabitted. Clearly the prophets aren’t infallable, even when preaching doctrine.

    Even statements by the first presidency aren’t scripture. 25 years ago, the first presidency issued a statement saying that oral sex was a violation of temple covenants. Why aren’t young couples and converts told of this now? Ask your bishop how many couples has he warned against oral sex.

  20. Frank Staheli
    September 8, 2008 at 12:08 pm #

    Connor,

    I wrote here that we should never shun those who are different than we are, including if they are different in that they are homosexual. You say in the last paragraph of the article

    Our call should continually be an inviting and loving one, extending to others the same compassion and charity that the Savior himself would show. But individuals who openly challenge and publicly oppose certain doctrines, principles, counsel, and commandments must realize that the Church as an institution cannot associate with them.

    I’m assuming (hoping) that by referring to the “institution” of the church that you are NOT advocating that members of the church should not associate with homosexuals and others who “openly challenge and publicly oppose”.

    If my assumption is correct, then I entirely agree with the premise of your article. We should stand by our principles always, but we should always show compassion as well, including to those who, by their actions, disqualify themselves for membership in the LDS Church.

  21. Jeff T
    September 8, 2008 at 12:55 pm #

    Captain Moroni,

    President Benson said:

    Let us … consider the origin of those freedoms we have come to know are human rights. There are only two possible sources. Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, tradition, and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights.

    Only God can give rights. If the California government has chosen to fabricate for themselves an authority to declare same-sex marriage a human right, it has done so in violation of God’s laws, for only God can declare something to be a human right. And He has not done so with same-sex marriage. In fact, it seems that He has done the opposite.

    Therefore, despite what the California government may say, there is no such right to marry in the eyes of God, unless God says so. Therefore, the prophet’s counsel to support Proposition 8 does not conflict with written scripture that says,

    We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby … the individual rights of its members, as citizens, [are] denied.

    They do not conflict, since no such right to marry exists in the eyes of God. A lonely California government has decided to try to invent one in defiance of this principle. If you claim that the decrees of the California government are binding upon God and His servants, I would ask where they get such tremendous authority?

    You said that if someone can show you how President Monson’s counsel does not contradict written scripture, you would take your site down. Is this sufficient?

  22. kannie
    September 8, 2008 at 1:09 pm #

    CM –

    Boy, leaping from maintaining (more or less) a Judeo-Christian moral foundation in our country, to the Taliban? I don’t see Christian activists rounding up prostitutes for execution. I don’t see Jews plotting to massacre schools or fly planes into buildings. And I don’t see atheists strapping bombs to their children. The occasional lone lunatics who take extreme action are condemned by the community at large; not supported – tacitly or expressly – by it.

    Please leave the exaggerations at home; they’re not very flattering.

  23. Connor
    September 8, 2008 at 1:16 pm #

    Captain,

    Brigham Young said over the pulpit in the tabernacle that both the moon and sun are inhabitted. Clearly the prophets aren’t infallable, even when preaching doctrine.

    You’re too predictable, brother. Try coming up with some examples that haven’t been hashed out repeatedly in other circles. Regardless, as I said to Brandon, teaching or claiming something (a belief) is entirely different from explicitly telling the Saints to do something (an action).

    Jeff responded with what I was planning on commenting to you next. The entire premise of your argument is founded on the errant assumption that marriage is a fundamental and natural right. If the CA government next claimed that homosexuals had a right to enter our temples, do you think it would be inappropriate for the LDS Church to oppose the bill and encourage its members to defeat it?

    Frank,

    I’m assuming (hoping) that by referring to the “institution” of the church that you are NOT advocating that members of the church should not associate with homosexuals and others who “openly challenge and publicly oppose”.

    Indeed. As individuals I think we’re to show compassion and charity (as noted in the post), and openly extend the arms of invitation to all. As an organization, though, I believe that the Church cannot knowingly affiliate those who openly and vocally disagree with their mission, goals, and procedures, and still successfully carry out its work. Hence the reason why it’s not entirely uncommon to see individuals excommunicated (booted out of the organization) for openly and publicly advocating views that contradict established doctrine and practice.

  24. Brandon
    September 8, 2008 at 2:26 pm #

    Connor, dismissing CM’s reference to moon inhabitants as being predictable does not in any way refute the point he was making.

    You claim that beliefs are different than actions. Technically yes, but can’t we agree that beliefs motivate actions? For example, if the LDS leaders preach that blacks are an inferior race, being punished for their lack of valor in the pre-existence, would that not motivate an action (such as withholding the priesthood from someone based upon their race)? These may be tired arguments to you, but I am sincere in my desire to understand them.

    I think doctrines and so-called commandments go hand in hand. The commandments are given based upon doctrines. I don’t understand why you can so easily dismiss the weird doctrines that were taught, while not holding these current written memos to the same standard. Namely, that the LDS are not supposed to accept anything as the absolute will of the lord unless the prophet claims it is a revelation and it is put to the church for a sustaining vote. While the prophet is called to lead the church, he is not a dictator. We are all supposed to receive spiritual confirmation of his instructions prior to accepting it as doctrine.

    Since no such thing has yet occurred in regards to prop. 8, I feel comfortable believing that the church leaders are pursuing an agenda that is largely their own interpretation of God’s will. If you think that the church should not associate with people like me who ask questions and insist that the established method be followed, that is fine. I think I am the one who is being true to the established method of revelation as I have understood it.

  25. Captain Moroni
    September 8, 2008 at 3:39 pm #

    J – President Benson said:

    Let us … consider the origin of those freedoms we have come to know are human rights. There are only two possible sources. Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, tradition, and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights.

    Only God can give rights. If the California government has chosen to fabricate for themselves an authority to declare same-sex marriage a human right, it has done so in violation of God’s laws, for only God can declare something to be a human right. And He has not done so with same-sex marriage. In fact, it seems that He has done the opposite.

    CM – 2 points. #1. D&C 134:4 prohibits us from using our religious opinions as an excuse to infringe upon the rights and LIBERTIES of others. If rights can only be given by God, then LIBERTIES are given by Caesar. IOW we cannot take away the liberties of others just because our religious opinons state that they are wrong. #2 – Which religion gets to determine God’s will regarding rights? Is marriage a right or is it a liberty? If the Muslims take over and claim that we have no right to only allow LDS in the temple, are they infringing upon our God given rights. They won’t think so because Allah claims that Islam is his religion and all others are false and worthy of death.

    ******

    J – Therefore, despite what the California government may say, there is no such right to marry in the eyes of God, unless God says so. Therefore, the prophet’s counsel to support Proposition 8 does not conflict with written scripture that says,

    We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby … the individual rights of its members, as citizens, [are] denied.

    CM – Sorry, but the Lord gave us the US Constitution to outline our rights and tells us who gets to limit the behaviors of others and under what conditions. The Constitution allows the states to determine their own constitutions. California did this. Their constitution says that all are to be treated equally. Those California Supreme Court justices, whose job it is to interpret the CA constitution, said that “equal” really does men “equal”. These justices are acting according to their role as outlined in the CA constitution which operates under the US Constitution that was given to us via the inspiration of God. Nephi saw the Lord’s coming and the fulfillment of the Law of Moses yet he said that they will keep the Law of Moses until it is fulfilled. We are given the US Constitution as our civil Law of Moses and we have to abide by it until Christ comes again and establishes His law as the law of the land.

    ***

    J – They do not conflict, since no such right to marry exists in the eyes of God. A lonely California government has decided to try to invent one in defiance of this principle.

    CM – Oh, so the CA Supreme Court has to recognize YOUR version of rights? Sorry, they are working within their constitutionally outlined responsibilities. What you are advocating is a complete dissolution of the separation of Church and State and imposing a theocracy through the ballot box. This is SO in violation of the scriptures.

    *****

    J – If you claim that the decrees of the California government are binding upon God and His servants, I would ask where they get such tremendous authority?

    CM – No, God doesn’t have to recognize them. Neither does His Church. Only other governmental entities are required to recognize them.

    ****

    J – You said that if someone can show you how President Monson’s counsel does not contradict written scripture, you would take your site down. Is this sufficient?

    CM – Hardly. Allowing the church to run roughshod over the God-given Constitution is in direct conflict with the scriptures. D&C 98 says that the righteous have no need to break the law. 134:4 says that we can’t overturn the liberties of others granted to them by Caesar. Sorry, that broad brush you tried to use makes no sense per scripture.

  26. Jeff T
    September 8, 2008 at 3:46 pm #

    Captain Moroni,

    I do not believe you understand the Constitution or constitutional law. Nowhere does the Constitution forbid a church from inviting its members from taking a political stand. Also, the D&C only forbids the church from inviting a member from taking a stand that negates the rights of an individual. The prophet does not see same-sex marriage as a right, thus he does not feel he is violating scripture.

    You are speaking out against a prophet of God, and are thus on dangerous ground.

  27. Captain Moroni
    September 8, 2008 at 3:48 pm #

    K – Boy, leaping from maintaining (more or less) a Judeo-Christian moral foundation in our country, to the Taliban? I don’t see Christian activists rounding up prostitutes for execution. I don’t see Jews plotting to massacre schools or fly planes into buildings. And I don’t see atheists strapping bombs to their children. The occasional lone lunatics who take extreme action are condemned by the community at large; not supported – tacitly or expressly – by it.

    Cm – Sure, we aren’t so extreme, but the principle is the same. Evangelicals are always trying to get Bible reading in schools, the 10 Commandments on Courthouse lawns, etc…Some have used the ballot to outlaw dancing and shopping on Sundays. Since we LDS have been on the short end of the stick when other religionists imposed their beliefs on us, I think it’s hypocritical to do it to others, especially when it’s condemned in scripture.

    K – Please leave the exaggerations at home; they’re not very flattering.

    CM – Sure, it was an exaggeration…but the principle remains valid… so does the posibility of the exaggeration becoming more and more real. I can see small town Utah city governments outlawing shopping on Sundays, bikinis in the city pool, etc…

  28. Captain Moroni
    September 8, 2008 at 4:06 pm #

    CM – Brigham Young said over the pulpit in the tabernacle that both the moon and sun are inhabitted. Clearly the prophets aren’t infallable, even when preaching doctrine.

    C – You’re too predictable, brother. Try coming up with some examples that haven’t been hashed out repeatedly in other circles. Regardless, as I said to Brandon, teaching or claiming something (a belief) is entirely different from explicitly telling the Saints to do something (an action).

    CM – The principle simply shows that the prophets are fallible men. They make mistakes in their pronouncements and in their directives. 25 years ago, the prophet changed the mission term of Elders to be 18 months. That directive backfired big time when the number of converts plunged and areas of missions were shut down. That was a big boner that was quickly abandoned.

    ****

    C – Jeff responded with what I was planning on commenting to you next. The entire premise of your argument is founded on the errant assumption that marriage is a fundamental and natural right.

    CM – No, it’s based on the assumption that God says that we are to be subject to Magistrates. CA has a right, under the divinely inspired US Constitution, to establish laws granting rights/liberties. We may not like the liberties granted, but we are required to abide by them and scripture prohibits us from infringing upon these liberties given others.

    ****

    C – If the CA government next claimed that homosexuals had a right to enter our temples, do you think it would be inappropriate for the LDS Church to oppose the bill and encourage its members to defeat it?

    Cm – We would be right to oppose it because it infringes upon our religious beliefs and practices and are therefore harmed. No one is objectively harmed by granting gays equality. We ARE objectiely harming gays by our infringing upon their rights and liberties in violation of scripture. As a White man, was my voting rights harmed by allowing women and Blacks the right to vote?

  29. Captain Moroni
    September 8, 2008 at 4:09 pm #

    B – Since no such thing has yet occurred in regards to prop. 8, I feel comfortable believing that the church leaders are pursuing an agenda that is largely their own interpretation of God’s will. If you think that the church should not associate with people like me who ask questions and insist that the established method be followed, that is fine. I think I am the one who is being true to the established method of revelation as I have understood it.

    Cm – Well said.

  30. Captain Moroni
    September 8, 2008 at 4:20 pm #

    J – I do not believe you understand the Constitution or constitutional law. Nowhere does the Constitution forbid a church from inviting its members from taking a political stand. Also, the D&C only forbids the church from inviting a member from taking a stand that negates the rights of an individual. The prophet does not see same-sex marriage as a right, thus he does not feel he is violating scripture.

    CM – The verse also forbids infringing upon the liberties of others. Those are different than rights. Those are not given by God, but by Caesar. At the very least, Caesar granted CA gays the liberty to marry and we are in violation of scripture by our attempts to infringe upon this liberty.

    J – You are speaking out against a prophet of God, and are thus on dangerous ground.

    Cm – How is asking for an explanation dangerous? The scriptures say that we are to have a ready reply for our beliefs. I’m just asking for that reply about this. Thoise who tell the truth and are candid do not fear questions. Those that have no righteous answer do and try to obfuscate the issue over “what the definition of ‘is” is”, etc… and using sophistry to hide their sins.

  31. Jeff T
    September 8, 2008 at 5:06 pm #

    Captain Moroni,

    you are being very disingenuous if you claim you are merely asking for an “explanation,” since you have set up an entire website dedicated to opposing President Monson’s counsel. I do not think your motives are pure, as you say they are. I’m not trying to accuse you of anything—I just do not get the impression that you are on an honest search for truth, but rather that you want God’s prophet to approve of your understanding of proper government. Where your understanding of proper government differs from God’s servants, I’ll side with God’s servants, if for no other reason than because they are smarter, have more authority, and speak for God.

    I’ve noticed you’ve changed your rhetoric, and now claim that same-sex marriage is not a right, but a liberty. Yet, you treat these “liberties” as though they are rights.

  32. Captain Moroni
    September 8, 2008 at 8:27 pm #

    J – you are being very disingenuous if you claim you are merely asking for an “explanation,” since you have set up an entire website dedicated to opposing President Monson’s counsel. I do not think your motives are pure, as you say they are. I’m not trying to accuse you of anything—I just do not get the impression that you are on an honest search for truth, but rather that you want God’s prophet to approve of your understanding of proper government.

    CM -No, I’m just trying to resolve how to reconcile the scriptures with the actions. All I keep hearing is, “The prophet can do anything”., but other prophets have said that they themselves can be wrong and if they can be wrong, so can GBH & TSM. The prophets have stated that the only measuring stick by which we measure the statements of others is the scriptures and if one’s statements conflict with scripture, scripture prevails.

    I’m just trying to reconcile the prohibition against infringing upon the rights and upon the liberties of others with our position. We know that gays have AT LEAST the liberty to marry, if not the RIGHT. I have yet to hear any explanation / reconciliation that even comes close to being reasonable.

    ****

    J – Where your understanding of proper government differs from God’s servants, I’ll side with God’s servants, if for no other reason than because they are smarter, have more authority, and speak for God.

    CM – Maybe they do on this, maybe they don’t. The scriptures sure do so I’m siding with measuring stick of scripture as the prophets have stated.

    ****

    J – I’ve noticed you’ve changed your rhetoric, and now claim that same-sex marriage is not a right, but a liberty. Yet, you treat these “liberties” as though they are rights.

    CM – Otheres here have said that it is not a right for gays to marry. I’m just saying that if that were true, then it is STILL a LIBERTY. The scriptures prohibit infringing upon liberties, yet here we are doing just that. I personally believe that it’s a right. The US Supreme Court, in overturning bans on inter-racial marriage, said that marriage is a right and part of our pursuit of happiness. Whether it is a right or a liberty, we are forbidden from infringing upon it. Why are we? I’m just looking for a reasonable explanation. Almost 10 years now.

  33. Connor
    September 8, 2008 at 8:31 pm #

    I’m just looking for a reasonable explanation. Almost 10 years now.

    And many more years will pass, as you refuse to understand the opposing argument and instead wish to stick your fingers in your ears.

    You’re talking in circles. If you have something new to say, then please do. Otherwise, move along.

  34. Captain Moroni
    September 8, 2008 at 9:49 pm #

    CM – I’m just looking for a reasonable explanation. Almost 10 years now.

    C – And many more years will pass, as you refuse to understand the opposing argument and instead wish to stick your fingers in your ears.

    CM – No one has yet been able to explain why we are infringing upon the LIBERTIES of gays. The scriptures say we can’t. The prophets have taught that if they say anything contrary to scripture that scriptures prevail. There’s the conumdrum. You simply feel that it is OK that the prophet ignores the scriptures despite what others have said. This sounds more like ark steadying (doing something forbidden in scripture because you feel that if you don’t do it, bad things will happen). Uzzah did it and it appears you are doing it as well. There is no explanation that is consistant with the scriptures and the order of sustaining superseding doctrines as outlined by the Brethren. You can wiggle all you want, but it is clear. it is logical and reasoned. if you don’t believe me, ask a non LDS friend/family member the following –
    1. LDS scripture says we can’t infringe upon the liberties of others.
    2. Gays in CA have the liberty to marry.
    3. We are oppoing this liberty in contradiction to scripture.
    4. The prophets have stated that their own words are subserviant to the scriptures.
    5. Only by sustaining something via Common Consent and followig the procedure we’ve always used for sustaining a revelation that supersedes the scriptures can they be superseded. That has not been done nor even discussed as far as one can tell. No mention of any revelation has been heard.
    6. How can this conundrum be resolved logically?

    Ask your home teacher, bishop, stake pres., whoever for a logical explanation consistant with the above facts. No weaseling, no “depending on what the definition of ‘is’ is”. Just a logical explanation that even a non-member can understand. It can’t be done. There’s my challenge to you.

  35. Connor
    September 8, 2008 at 10:14 pm #

    It can’t be done. There’s my challenge to you.

    Gays don’t have liberties. Individuals have liberties. Your persistence in conflating rights and liberties (and then switching the two around) shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what’s what.

    You continue to claim that “the prophets” have taught that the scriptures should prevail if they preach anything contrary. Yet your entire argument is based on one prophet referring specifically to published works—not signed statements coming directly from the office of the president. You are trying to apply something out of context to support your argument, and then pluralizing the source to try to add more gravitas. It won’t work.

    Additionally, and as I’ve said before (and as I’ll say just this one last time, since I’m done responding to you), your entire argument is based upon the false premise that the scriptures are being rejected by the prophet asking the CA Saints to vote in favor of Prop. 8. You cling for life to the assumption that “Caesar” has granted a right, and therefore Latter-day Saints are all bound to bow down to Caesar and obey and support whatever rights are granted. In this, you are wrong. Nonetheless, it is apparently that nothing we say (nor nothing we have repeatedly said) will convince you otherwise. So I’ll abstain from dragging it out any further, as it would only be a waste of my time.

    You can wiggle all you want, but it is clear. it is logical and reasoned.

    And to quote the blunt Brigham Young, here’s your option:

    You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the thread that binds you to the prophet of God and sink yourselves to hell. (Brigham Young, via Quoty)

    Ouch.

    I do not accept your challenge, for it is based on a false premise—one you apparently cannot understand, for in doing so you would have to (as you yourself said) shut your website down, and thus stop preaching your pro-gay marriage doctrine. Thanks for dropping by, but I’m done reading your comments. There are plenty of other blogs that will no doubt welcome your poorly-applied single verse and out-of-context quote from a prophet in support of your stance. Cheers.

  36. Daniel
    September 8, 2008 at 10:31 pm #

    Welcome to another edition of ‘Fallacy of the Day’.

    Can you spot the fallacy on which Connor’s entire post relies?

    Here’s a list.

    .
    .
    .

    If you guessed ‘Appeal to Authority‘, you’re absolutely correct!

    If someone claims to get messages from supernatural beings, this does not necessarily mean that their political views are correct. In some more-sensible places, such a claim might even invalidate that person’s fork privileges.

  37. brandon
    September 8, 2008 at 11:46 pm #

    Connor,
    I hope you will take this as friendly feedback. While I think CM has been a little overeager with his posting, you must understand that you have published a position that is highly devisive and rather accusatory of any LDS that does not agree with your interpretation of the situation. I can therefore understand why some people would be compelled to try to rebute your arguments.

    You see no problem in dismissing him and others (perhaps myself?) because they don’t subscribe to the “I will follow everything the prophet says, no matter what” philosophy. I know that I am not coming at this issue from a position of strength when it comes to the religious aspects (given the doubts I have expressed openly). However, I do believe that some of the points CM raised were good points. He came to a similar conclusion as I have, although through a different path.

    You know that my opposition is based primarily on a political philosophy. Your argument seems to have been that since the prophet is asking us to support this initiative, we should therefore disregard any political objections we might have because the request is coming from the lord. I disagree that the Lord has asked us to disregard our political convictions. Of course, I have already outlined why I think that LDS are not obligated to support Prop 8.

    I did find one aspect of the conversation particularly interesting. Jeff provided the following quote and commentary (to which you seemed to agree):

    President Benson said:

    Let us … consider the origin of those freedoms we have come to know are human rights. There are only two possible sources. Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, tradition, and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights.

    I cannot say for certain whether rights come from God or the political system. But for arguments sake I will say they come from God. Even so, we live in a secular, constitutional republic. Doesn’t that mean that the government has a right to enumerate the rights and liberties that it grants to its citizens (in the constitution), irrespective of whether those rights line up exaclty as one particular sect believes they should? Rights may be given by God, but in our political system that is not important. Since God is not physically present, it is up to us to determine what rights and liberties should be given. I support the LDS church’s right to make their opinion known. However I reject the argument that says that the government does not have a right to extend rights to its citizens.

    Only God can give rights. If the California government has chosen to fabricate for themselves an authority to declare same-sex marriage a human right, it has done so in violation of God’s laws, for only God can declare something to be a human right.

    I just don’t quite follow that logic (unless we were in deed living in a theocracy).

    You can wiggle all you want, but it is clear. it is logical and reasoned.

    And to quote the blunt Brigham Young, here’s your option:

    You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the thread that binds you to the prophet of God and sink yourselves to hell. (Brigham Young, via Quoty)

    Ouch.

    Now, was that quote Brigham’s personal opinion or a doctrine? JK!

  38. Daniel
    September 9, 2008 at 12:13 am #

    Brandon may be kidding, but I take this point a bit more seriously. Mormon doctrine being the slippery substance that it is, one would think that a little humility would be in order when interpreting pronouncements. But the LDS Church is at heart a top-down authoritarian structure, so I shouldn’t be surprised when authoritarian Mormons use quotes to beat non-authoritarian Mormons over the cranium. The old accusations come out. Picking and choosing. Lukewarm. Et cetera.

    I feel for liberal Mormons, I really do. Used to be one. It’s annoying to have so few Harold B. Lee’s to counter the many Bruce R. McConkie’s, and the BRM’s are the ones that tend to get believed. Eventually you need to realise that it’s hard to win the quoting game because the game wasn’t made with you in mind. It was designed to support structures of obedience and control. And it relies on the rather obvious fallacy of Appeal to Authority.

    The only way out, heretical though it be, is to step back and ask: If someone claims to get messages from supernatural beings, does that necessarily make them an authority on political matters? on moral matters? on anything? Particularly when, in some quarters, such a claim would be enough to get your fork privileges revoked.

    Do we get human rights from a supernatural being? If you only accept material evidence and not metaphysical twaddle, then it’s easy to see the question for the silliness that it is. Human rights come from humans! We decide what rights people should have based on what’s good for people. Doesn’t that make more sense?

  39. Carissa
    September 9, 2008 at 12:01 pm #

    No one has yet been able to explain why we are infringing upon the LIBERTIES of gays

    A gay individual has all the same civil liberties as any other individual- it’s dishonest to make it sound otherwise.

  40. Carissa
    September 9, 2008 at 12:20 pm #

    Human rights come from humans! We decide what rights people should have based on what’s good for people

    So if “we” (humans) decide it’s not “good for people” to create family units with their same gender, you won’t complain right?

  41. Jeff T
    September 9, 2008 at 1:49 pm #

    Brandon,

    In response to your comment, I certainly believe that the Constitution was based upon a Judeo-Christian moral framework. The founders of our nation believed that God has given us certain rights, and it was the government’s role to protect those rights. It was not the government’s role to invent rights, or to grant them, but only to protect the ones God has already granted us.

    Theocracy? I don’t think so. But a moral framework based upon a particular theological worldview? Certainly.

  42. Brandon
    September 9, 2008 at 4:04 pm #

    If only God can create or give rights, than who represents God in the government? I believe this is why there was a separation of church and state. Otherwise, the majority religion could enforce their morals (and perceived rights or lack of rights) on the minority. I understand your point about the judeo/christian heritage of the framers, but I don’t find your logic that the government has granted rights in violation of God’s law to be very persuasive. Besides, it is only your interpretation of God’s law that has been violated. What about other people that believe God has granted marriage as a basic human right to straights and gays? Why is your opinion about God’s will more relevant than their opinion? I don’t find religious opinions to be a very good basis for making this type of decision as a nation.

  43. Connor
    September 9, 2008 at 4:08 pm #

    I believe this is why there was a separation of church and state.

    The supposed “separation of church and state” never existed before Thomas Jefferson wrote a private letter to the Danbury Baptists. It was never a structure of law, and certainly not implemented by the Founders.

  44. Brandon
    September 9, 2008 at 5:06 pm #

    That may be the case, but how does that impact my position? Assuming there is no formal separation of church and state, how do we decide which version of God’s will we should base our laws upon? My entire point is that appealing to God’s authority/will is not very persuasive since it is only your version or interpretation of God’s will. You did not address how we (the government) should deal with other citizens whose God has granted different rights than your God?

  45. Carissa
    September 9, 2008 at 5:49 pm #

    how do we decide which version of God’s will we should base our laws upon?

    How do we decide who’s version of ANYTHING (healthcare, education, taxes, traffic laws) we base our laws upon, religiously motivated or not? Every voter has a voice and a responsibility- it comes down to that.

  46. Daniel
    September 9, 2008 at 5:58 pm #

    Carissa @ 40,

    Oh, I’ll still complain! :)

    But I’ll also realise that you’ve got one view on what rights people should have, I’ve got another, and I’ll work to promote my view. What I won’t do is make the mistake of thinking that a supernatural being agrees with me.

    Brandon’s right: appealing to religious belief is pants, both on political matters and moral matters. It only works on people who espouse the specific version of religion you do.

    I forgot about the other fallacy Connor’s promoting: ‘argumentum ad baculum’, or argument from threat. You’re going to hell, ergo my argument is correct. Leave it to Brigham to threaten people who think differently with hell. That’s funny — didn’t he know that hell was a sectarian notion? Maybe the doctrine was still evolving.

  47. Jeff T
    September 9, 2008 at 6:37 pm #

    Daniel,

    Although it’s not an important facet of this discussion, hell is a very important reality in LDS doctrine: the waiting place for the wicked, prior to resurrection. As vivid and terrible as the scriptures describe it to be. People mistakenly think LDS doctrine does away with it, but for the wicked who knowingly rebel against God, it’s still there and just as bad as we ever thought it was, even if it’s longevity is abbreviated.

    But anyways, “Appeal to Authority” isn’t a real fallacy in Latter-day Saint thought, since we believe prophetic revelation is a more reliable source of truth than reason itself. Or, that is, we use appeal to authority in matters of revelation, despite it being labeled a logical fallacy by philosophers. I have no qualms with that, because I believe God does speak to man, and often chooses certain men to be His spokesmen. These divine communications of truth were not discovered through reason, but through extra-rational processes (as opposed to irrational processes. Thus, any reference to them will certainly be an extra-rational argument, even though we may couch such appeals in the language of logic.

  48. brandon
    September 9, 2008 at 10:44 pm #

    How do we decide who’s version of ANYTHING (healthcare, education, taxes, traffic laws) we base our laws upon, religiously motivated or not? Every voter has a voice and a responsibility- it comes down to that.

    Let me answer your question by asking you another question….

    The point isn’t that people shouldn’t have a voice or even that they shouldn’t be religiously motivated. The point is that religion seems like a poor way to try to convince others that your version of morality is correct. As Daniel mentioned, appealing to religious authority to support your claims only seems to work with other people of the same religious persuasion. Earlier posters were quite adamant that the governement has no right to grant rights or liberties to its citizens because only God can do that. Since I am unsure if God even exists, I am unpersuaded by their argument. So I look for another explanation of where rights come from. I can’t prove that there isn’t a God and that he doesn’t grant fundemantal human rights. But, for the purposes of government I think it best to find rational, logical reasons to support any rights that I believe should be granted to humans.

    To reiterate, the whole conversation got to this point because Connor and others have insisted that the government has overstepped its bounds by granting rights to the citizens, a task which only their God is allowed to do. Furthermore, they have insinuated that any LDS who does not support prop. 8 is essentially an apostate evil-doer on the fast track to hell. They have left no room for anyone to disagree, regardless if they have a very well reasoned and supported position, as I believe I have.

    To Jeff’s point, I have to agree with you that we are basically talking past each other. I and others are appealing to reason, and you are appealing to “extra-reason” (not quite sure what that means). I agree that without a belief in God, or revelation it is very difficult to understand the points or arguments you are making. Often, I find that the arguments depend upon the truthfullness of your God claim, wheras I am trying to make arguments that rely on observed reality. I don’t claim to be particularly good at it yet, but I find it much more fullfilling than depending on instructions from a mysterious being who has never revealed himself to me.

  49. Connor
    September 9, 2008 at 11:36 pm #

    The point is that religion seems like a poor way to try to convince others that your version of morality is correct.

    Isn’t morality simply a judgment regarding a specific set of behaviors? In that case, I don’t see how you can have morality without some form of religious belief. The whole good vs. evil mantra dissolves without any appeal to natural law. You might argue that it’s bad to kill somebody (and would think your point to be quite obvious, since it causes that person harm), but from whence do you derive such a judgment? Why is it bad to harm others? Clearly there is a shared morality common among most people that dictates what is good versus what is not. This is natural law, and the basis of true liberties (not the pseudo-versions that government might attempt to grant).

    As Daniel mentioned, appealing to religious authority to support your claims only seems to work with other people of the same religious persuasion.

    There are plenty of non-religious arguments on why same-sex marriage should not be tolerated by society. It is not within the purview of the topic of this post to re-hash them all out. But it would be silly of you to demand that I or others give non-religious arguments on why the LDS Church should be inclusive of everybody, regardless of their position on this matter (which is, if you’ll recall, the original subject of this post).

    So I look for another explanation of where rights come from.

    Andrew P. Napolitano explains it pretty well in the first chapter of his book A Nation of Sheep (you can read the first few pages here). Basically, you either believe that God has given individuals natural rights they inherently possess by nature of their life, or that government is the creator, administrator, and final arbiter of all rights. There’s really no other option.

    To reiterate, the whole conversation got to this point because Connor and others have insisted that the government has overstepped its bounds by granting rights to the citizens, a task which only their God is allowed to do.

    Others have previously provided examples clarifying why marriage is not a fundamental right. A thirteen-year-old cannot obtain a drivers license, nor can a self-proprietorship receive the same tax incentives as an S-corp. Individuals may associate with whomever they wish, but it is incorrect to assert that it is a fundamental and inherent right for any given type of union to be sanctioned by law (the erroneous CA Supreme Court ruling nothwithstanding). Keep in mind that the Court stated that the right of same-sex couples to marry is a constitutional one, despite the fact that nowhere in the Constitution do we find such language or provision.

    Furthermore, they have insinuated that any LDS who does not support prop. 8 is essentially an apostate evil-doer on the fast track to hell.

    Inasmuch as an individual rejects prophetic instruction, asserts his/her own intelligence as superior (or perhaps more in harmony with God’s true will), or thinks that s/he can pick and choose which instruction/counsel/commandments s/he will follow, then yes, I do believe that you can define such a course of action as the pathway to apostasy. The historical record makes this clear.

    They have left no room for anyone to disagree, regardless if they have a very well reasoned and supported position, as I believe I have.

    I have little doubt that Saul initially thought that kicking against the pricks was a well reasoned and supported action. He later learned, though, that despite the grandstanding, one’s supposedly well-reasoned position means little when it’s not what God says is correct.

    I and others are appealing to reason…

    Critics of Christianity have always attempted to pit logic and reason against faith. Few of them ever seem to understand that the two principles of action are not mutually exclusive. You may feel that your argument is more reasoned and logically superior than mine, perhaps, but I may think the same thing of my argument. To each his own, I guess.

    I agree that without a belief in God, or revelation it is very difficult to understand the points or arguments you are making.

    Since those who do not believe in God cannot conceive of natural rights (as coming from a divine source, or even the more abstract version, “nature”), most are, by default, positivists who are left only to assert that government is the author and creator of all human rights. What a sad, scary stance to take. Such logic spurred the quote: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” If government is the author of your rights, then it can take them away, despite Jefferson’s citation of inalienable rights. Positivism rejects Jefferson’s attribution of divine providence, and asserts supreme government control. Have fun with that.

    Often, I find that the arguments depend upon the truthfullness of your God claim, wheras I am trying to make arguments that rely on observed reality.

    The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator. (Alma 30:44)

    I like that kind of observed reality.

  50. brandon
    September 10, 2008 at 12:48 am #

    Connor, first of all, thanks for the reply. I come to your blog because I enjoy reading your thoughts about different issues. You made some interesting points in your reply that I don’t yet have ansers for (i.e. Why is it bad to harm others?). But just because I don’t have an answer for it doesn’t make the religious explanation the correct one.

    Isn’t morality simply a judgment regarding a specific set of behaviors? In that case, I don’t see how you can have morality without some form of religious belief.

    Why do you have to have a religious belief to have morality? You just said that morality is a judgement regarding behaviors. Anyone can have a judgement about behaviors, no religion required.

    Clearly there is a shared morality common among most people that dictates what is good versus what is not. This is natural law, and the basis of true liberties

    That sounds acceptable to me. This argument seems to support the idea that God is not required to create rights or liberties, but rather they come about by the agreed upon will of the people.

    There are plenty of non-religious arguments on why same-sex marriage should not be tolerated by society. It is not within the purview of the topic of this post to re-hash them all out. But it would be silly of you to demand that I or others give non-religious arguments on why the LDS Church should be inclusive of everybody, regardless of their position on this matter (which is, if you’ll recall, the original subject of this post).

    Aha, but I was simply addressing the idea that only God can grant rights. You are correct, you are free to use religious reasoning to justify exclusion of non-prop8 supporters. When it comes to the human rights issue, I think non-religious arguments are more relevant (since we are discussing government and not religion).

    Others have previously provided examples clarifying why marriage is not a fundamental right. A thirteen-year-old cannot obtain a drivers license, nor can a self-proprietorship receive the same tax incentives as an S-corp. Individuals may associate with whomever they wish, but it is incorrect to assert that it is a fundamental and inherent right for any given type of union to be sanctioned by law (the erroneous CA Supreme Court ruling nothwithstanding). Keep in mind that the Court stated that the right of same-sex couples to marry is a constitutional one, despite the fact that nowhere in the Constitution do we find such language or provision.

    Of course I am familiar with those arguments having read nearly all of your most recent posts. I agree that it would be pointless to rehash all of the old arguments, so I won’t.

    Inasmuch as an individual rejects prophetic instruction, asserts his/her own intelligence as superior (or perhaps more in harmony with God’s true will), or thinks that s/he can pick and choose which instruction/counsel/commandments s/he will follow, then yes, I do believe that you can define such a course of action as the pathway to apostasy. The historical record makes this clear.

    I think I agree with you on this one. I disagree that these characteristics inherintly apply to any LDS who don’t support prop. 8, but agree that anyone who does not strictly conform to the authoritarian hierachy is on a path out of the religion.

    I have little doubt that Saul initially thought that kicking against the pricks was a well reasoned and supported action. He later learned, though, that despite the grandstanding, one’s supposedly well-reasoned position means little when it’s not what God says is correct.

    I have no evidence that Saul actually received any kind of a visitation from God, so you’ll hopefully excuse me if I don’t feel that this proves the supposed weakness of reason/logic.

    Critics of Christianity have always attempted to pit logic and reason against faith. Few of them ever seem to understand that the two principles of action are not mutually exclusive. You may feel that your argument is more reasoned and logically superior than mine, perhaps, but I may think the same thing of my argument. To each his own, I guess.

    It is interesting that you say that. I am actually not so full of confidence in my thinking skills that I assume my opinions are better thought out than anyone else’s. However, I have noticed that when I ask questions that deserve a rational explanation, I often receive answers that rely on a belief in God. I guess I do think it is better to base my opinions on the things that I believe I can verify than on those I can’t.

    Since those who do not believe in God cannot conceive of natural rights (as coming from a divine source, or even the more abstract version, “nature”), most are, by default, positivists who are left only to assert that government is the author and creator of all human rights. What a sad, scary stance to take. Such logic spurred the quote: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” If government is the author of your rights, then it can take them away, despite Jefferson’s citation of inalienable rights. Positivism rejects Jefferson’s attribution of divine providence, and asserts supreme government control. Have fun with that.

    In my study of libertarianism (which both of us seem to be attracted to) I have not seen anything that requires the basic rights to be given by God. In fact the philosophy simply says we as individuals fully own ourselves. This in and of itself is the source of all of our human rights. Once again, no God or religion is required to believe in this version of human rights.

    Often, I find that the arguments depend upon the truthfullness of your God claim, wheras I am trying to make arguments that rely on observed reality.

    The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator. (Alma 30:44)

    I like that kind of observed reality.

    I like considering the wonderful reality of the natural universe as well. It is indeed amazing. I hope to understand it as much as I can.

  51. Daniel
    September 10, 2008 at 12:53 am #

    Connor: Is it possible that you are mistaken?

  52. kannie
    September 10, 2008 at 12:37 pm #

    Brandon –

    However, I have noticed that when I ask questions that deserve a rational explanation, I often receive answers that rely on a belief in God. I guess I do think it is better to base my opinions on the things that I believe I can verify than on those I can’t.

    Things that you can verify? Like cause and effect? Principles of physics? Laws of gravity, inertia, etc.? What makes those laws that way? I believe that God organizes things and is, put simply, the Cause behind those logical laws. What is your rational, non-God explanation for those laws? Nature? Either way, things exist that just *are* a certain way – and something beyond what we observe is at work to form those laws.

    Jefferson’s phrasing of inalienable rights shows explicitly that he believed they come from a Creator – a Creator whose authority supersedes government’s. Whether that’s God or Nature, our rights still don’t come from government.

    So… whatever the cause of natural laws, they exist, and we are free to believe what we will about the cause, or even the lack thereof. That means that I am free to believe God is the source, and you are free to believe otherwise. But since we don’t empirically *know* the source, my opinion (God) is equally as valid as yours, correct? What is more rational about believing that nothing is the source of natural, observable law?

    And in response to this:

    In fact the philosophy simply says we as individuals fully own ourselves.

    If you own yourself, do what you will. And let me do as I will. Why worry about being accountable to the state or asking for their blessing – or forcing others to agree with your stand? [Insert social contract theory of government here…]

  53. Daniel
    September 10, 2008 at 4:23 pm #

    Hello, kannie.

    That means that I am free to believe God is the source, and you are free to believe otherwise. But since we don’t empirically *know* the source, my opinion (God) is equally as valid as yours, correct?

    No, this is not correct. If we don’t know the explanation for something, it is not valid to make up any kind of explanation we like with no supporting evidence. Claims are valid when they have evidence to support them. You are claiming that a supernatural being gives rights to people, but you do not offer evidence for this claim. Brandon makes no such claim, and therefore does not need to support it with evidence. His stand would therefore be more rational.

    Remember Occam’s Razor: In general, the simpler explanation is better, all else being equal. Brandon’s idea makes fewer assumptions; Occam’s Razor suggests that it is to be preferred.

    Put another way: You ask how natural laws could come from nothing, and must therefore come from a supernatural being (which could be Jehovah, Zeus, the Magical Wishing Ferret, etc.). I could then ask you how a supernatural being could come from nothing. Infinite regress follows.

  54. Daniel
    September 10, 2008 at 4:42 pm #

    While I’m here:

    Isn’t morality simply a judgment regarding a specific set of behaviors? In that case, I don’t see how you can have morality without some form of religious belief.

    I know many religious believers think that atheists are basically immoral people, but I seldom see it expressed so brazenly as this.

    I shouldn’t have to point this out, but it is possible to live morally without religion. Atheists pay taxes, obey laws, mow their lawns. We raise kids, and teach them to work with others in an ethical way. Atheists are under-represented in prisons. I only get one life, and I try to be good to other people because they only get one life too.

    You may be thinking to yourself: That’s the Golden Rule! You do have religious beliefs! But this only shows the extent to which religion has co-opted normal human values and claimed them for itself.

  55. kannie
    September 10, 2008 at 11:11 pm #

    Hello, Daniel :-)

    I’ll try to separate my thoughts, as they’re getting tangled.

    1) re: Assuming God/whatever is less rational than assuming nothing:
    Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does thought :-). The idea that there was “nothing,” and then there was “something,” is ludicrous to me. Since matter is neither created nor destroyed, it existed in some form before, and it will continue to exist in some form hereafter. It’s just reorganized. Something caused the movement (h/t: law of inertia). That we are unable to scientifically observe what was before, and what caused the change (movement), does not alter my position that there was *something* that caused it. I believe it was/is God. And that He’s existed from eternity to eternity. And that He’s much more advanced than we are – so we just might not be able to comprehend Him yet. (In fact, I’ll just say we aren’t.) I’m still learning – aren’t we all? :-)

    In essence, applying Occam’s Razor, it is actually more rational for me to believe that things are a continuous pattern of cause/effect/existence – to and from infinity, including God. Or nature, or aliens, or ferrets, or whatever. The more I learn, the more I see continuity, connectedness, and patterns.

    2) re: Values coming from God –
    Let’s play “no God” for a minute. Our “normal human values” are just inherent (somehow) in our being (which just exists, since we think, therefore we are… we think;-). Then everyone has these “normal human values,” with a few variations. What makes one person’s variation of “normal” better? Shouldn’t we all have a say in our collective government? Regardless, perhaps, of where we might think our “normal human values” come from?

    [Yes, we disagree on primacy, if that’s a functionally descriptive word… I believe that principles have always existed, and on this earth, what we call religion was there at the beginning… then it got watered-down into “normal human values” and the exercise of it became a largely political issue.]

    3) Closing up… You say, “[c]laims are valid when they have evidence to support them. ” I have evidence, to my encouragement and satisfaction, but since you are restricting your acceptable means of observation to scientific measurement through current technology, you probably wouldn’t consider it valid. And if you don’t accept my evidence, even as it goes for myself, (since that’s what we’re talking about – individuals acting in accord with their values/conscience/what-have-you), you shouldn’t accept my claim, either.

    We’re at an impasse, at which point I suppose we should just leave each other to our respective, spontaneously-generated-from-nothing-but-inherent-in-our-beings moral compasses. ;-)

  56. Daniel
    September 12, 2008 at 5:50 pm #

    Usually at this point in the conversation people “agree to disagree” because they realise that they’re coming from very different sets of assumptions. And assumptions are hard to recognise. We usually only see them when they’re shown to be wrong. Even then, nature is so complex that even if an assumption we have is wrong, it’s easy to blame some other factor for the failure of our wonderful idea. Or stop thinking entirely, or what have you. I’ve done it, we’ve all done it.

    BUT: I think if we use sound principles, we can make these kinds of mistakes less and less. So I like to advocate reason.

    The principles of reason are not very controversial, and I think two are relevant here: expect evidence for claims, and don’t rely on supernatural explanations when natural explanations will do.

    Most people don’t use these two guidelines very well, and that’s a shame. They seem to be unaware of what good evidence looks like — anecdotes are fine for them — and if they’re religious, they seem to want to attribute everything to their favourite supernatural being.

    I think one of the worst patterns in American politics lately is the rise of limbic-brain politics. People vote for candidates, not by what they’ve done or what they say, but by how people feel about them. Does this person tickle my amygdala or not. Palin! Don’t get me started on Palin. She’d be a great newsreader, but a decision-maker? So far, she’s shown herself to be woefully deficient on background knowledge, and she and McCain have repeatedly lied on earmarks and the Bridge to Nowhere. But will that change anyone’s mind if they’ve decided to vote for her? Nah. They vote based on how they feel. It’s like these people are totems that we hold up to represent us when going into battle or something.

    So I think the refusal to reason has caused some of the biggest disasters in US history, and will yet. I know the people on this blog are more thoughtful than most, and they have access to more information. But I have noticed a definite tendency here to cling to religious conservative ideas, even when such ideas are (whatever their other virtues) not well-supported by evidence and are tethered to a supernatural worldview. And these ideas are incredibly resilient when challenged by reason. So it goes.

    I don’t know the right kind of political philosophy to have. It’s like asking which church is true. (In fact, I find it useful to think of political philosophies like religions, and not in a good way.) I have my preferences — I hate guns, and I’m against the death penalty, to name two — but if someone could show me empirical evidence that they were better for people if we had them, I’d suck it up and change my mind.

    I don’t mean to attack you, kannie. I’m sorry if it seemed that way on the other thread. I ask everyone for evidence, not just you. Just browse my comments on other threads. Egad, I’m a bore. I never stop.

    But if I could encourage you to try (as a mental exercise) using these two principles:

    – provide empirical evidence for claims, and
    – stick to natural explanations, not supernatural

    and if you must hold an idea that goes against this, at least try not to get too attached to it. It could wind up wrong, and then you waste time on it.

    Your ideas will be so much better grounded in reality, and that’s not a bad thing. And you’re more likely to have people agree with you when you make claims that are better evidenced, which makes life a bit easier as well.

    Oh, and point it out if you notice me making these mistakes. I’m not immune. And I’ll thank you for telling me.

  57. Jeff T
    September 12, 2008 at 10:41 pm #

    Well, Daniel, I think one of the problems in the world is that people rely to much on natural explanations and neglect supernatural possibilities. Also, I believe in judging things by inherent moral value, not by results; thus, I’m not always going to try to produce evidence that one policy produces results, while another doesn’t. Thus, I don’t agree with your criteria.

  58. Brandon
    September 12, 2008 at 11:58 pm #

    Jeff,
    Is there any reason in particular that you think supernatural explanations are neglected? If anything, it seems to me that they are far from neglected. In fact, most of human existence has been spent believing superstitions and supernatural explanations for phenomena which are easily explained by natural explanations. I am very interested to know which examples you would point to where natural explanations are accepted or considered to the detriment of the supernatural (or why you think the supernatural are superior)?

  59. Daniel
    September 13, 2008 at 4:17 am #

    Wow, so not only do you think that things have an ‘inherent moral value’, but you also think that you can perceive that moral value more or less unambiguously! That must make moral judgments very simple for you.

    Wait a minute. Let’s unpack the implications of your statement. And I know you haven’t said the following things explicitly, but they follow from your view. Since the moral value of a thing is intrinsic to that thing, if someone disagrees with your moral perception, that means they’re either unable to accurately perceive moral value, or they actually can see the moral value in things, but they choose to ignore it. In other words, anyone who disagrees with you on moral issues is either morally defective or evil. Well, that certainly explains a few things around here!

    Anyway, back to the point. Disagree with my criteria if you like, but you’ll be turning your back on centuries of Enlightenment thought. Is that what you’re intending? If so, welcome to the new Dark Ages. (Hey, they didn’t have any separation of church and state then either. Some people would love it.)

    All I’m doing is summarising the scientific method, probably not very well. You may not like the conclusions that the scientific method gives us, but that’s reality (or as close an approximation as we’re going to get).

    I’m interested in any answers to Brandon’s question as well. I can’t think of a single scientific theory that improves when we add supernatural beings.

  60. Clumpy
    September 14, 2008 at 6:13 pm #

    An interesting idea regarding this conversation:

    If, as Daniel claims, somebody with no religious affiliation can still believe in and subscribe to a particular morality (a fact I happen to agree with, to a point), is it possible that one’s beliefs regarding rights could stem from that morality and belief on what is best for people rather than coming from some outside source? For example, if I believe that people are happiest and do the best for themselves when government doesn’t intervene in most things, could I logically extend that to the Bill of Rights or some similar rights-based belief system without prescribing the source of the rights either to man or God?

  61. kannie
    September 14, 2008 at 7:03 pm #

    Clumpy – Interesting point, indeed! Self-interest (and perceived self-interest) are, IMO, one and the same with the biological imperative to survive (sorry if I’m misunderstanding something more complex here).

    Toward the rest of the discussion (namely, questioning why a “supernatural” explanation would ever be acceptable); it still necessitates – for me, at least – “why?”

    What motivates us – or anything – to survive? Take an atom. Or a cell. A cell, to my knowledge, hasn’t scientifically been observed to have much of an opinion. But put cells together (or up against other friendly or foreign cells or environments), and they begin working together or in opposition; there’s something keeping it going, in a very reductionist statement… and suddenly, there’s a (very strong!) opinion about self-preservation. My whole point is, what is behind that drive? Or any drive?

    Additionally, I don’t see a division between what Daniel calls “natural” and “supernatural.” Instead, I think it’s a continuum. If we observe a true law, it will be true everywhere; so when we learn something “natural,” we are actually learning about how what some call “supernatural” works, as well.

    To limit our knowledge to previous descriptive activity and say, “there simply cannot be a ‘why’,” is an incorrect approach, IMO. Even science itself doesn’t limit itself to what it can observe. For example, there’s a part of science that simply calls what keeps certain particles together, the “Strong Force.” (Wikipedia article here.) We don’t know what it is, or why it works, or how it works, or where it came from, or pretty much anything else about it. We just know it’s there, and it does work. And then science sees it working, and says, “there must be something more” and keeps looking and dissecting. So… to limit others to a particular understanding of things that don’t even limit themselves seems kind of… limited, doesn’t it? :-)

    In summary, I don’t want to limit the acquisition of knowledge. (Could that be a self-interest showing? :-) ) And I don’t think that all knowledge can be measured yet, just as not all feelings can be adequately expressed.

  62. Daniel
    September 15, 2008 at 1:22 am #

    Kannie: Evolutionary theory does a good job of answering your question. If some organism did not have a drive to exist (eat, reproduce, etc.), it would die out. That’s why all the ones we see now have those drives — they’re the only ones left.

    The ‘strong force’ analogy is not very apt. We may not understand strong force, but we are able to observe its effects through natural means, and thus show that it exists. When we try to observe supernatural things, we find there’s nothing there. A good example is prayer studies. These experiments find that prayer has no reproducible effect, every time.

    Before we can study supernatural things, we have to first show that something supernatural is happening. No one has shown this. It’s all natural.

    Clumpy: I suppose it is a little strange to say that rights come from somewhere, as though they travel or something. I’d say that rights are the result of social contracts between people, but I’m not well-versed in this area.

  63. Clumpy
    September 15, 2008 at 8:31 pm #

    Well, my point was basically that you could believe that taking rights from people is wrong based on the morality of the act itself, rather than because rights come from somewhere in particular.

    Plus, I think the idea that “rights are granted by God” basically means that He tells us it’s wrong to take them.

  64. kannie
    September 15, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    Daniel:

    We may not understand strong force, but we are able to observe its effects through natural means, and thus show that it exists.

    What if everything is an “effect?” :-) That’s actually how the God idea works in my mind… :-)

    I do recall conflicting studies on whether prayer helps, actually… but whichever study we’re talking about, it didn’t hurt anything. ;-)

    So… given our two different approaches, we still agree that there are certain values that seem to be common. And that our Constitution outlines several rights, having a Creator (whatever you’d like to interpret that to be) as their source. And from earlier in the discussion, marriage is a privilege, not a right. Therefore, societal standards – whether they’re derived from random evolutionary “normal human values,” or spring from another source that many consider “super”natural – determine the parameters for obtaining/exercising that privilege.

    Does that work so far?

  65. Daniel
    September 17, 2008 at 5:29 pm #

    I do recall conflicting studies on whether prayer helps, actually… but whichever study we’re talking about, it didn’t hurt anything.

    Actually, when people knew they were being prayed for, they suffered significantly higher complications.

    So… given our two different approaches, we still agree that there are certain values that seem to be common.

    Sure.

    And that our Constitution outlines several rights, having a Creator (whatever you’d like to interpret that to be) as their source.

    No, it does not. Where does the Constitution talk about a god or a creator?

    And from earlier in the discussion, marriage is a privilege, not a right.

    No, dessert is a privilege. Voting is a right. Marriage is a contract, or if you like, a covenant.

    Therefore, societal standards – whether they’re derived from random evolutionary “normal human values,” or spring from another source that many consider “super”natural – determine the parameters for obtaining/exercising that privilege.

    Good so far, kannie, but I think I see where you’re going. People determine the rules for their society, so if people want to restrict marriage for gay people, as reflects their social order, then what’s the problem?

    The problem is that if we want to abridge someone’s right of contract, then I say we should have a good reason. No one is presenting satisfactory reasons.

    Sometimes I hear people say that if people in other countries want to make women cover themselves in black clothing or have their genitals removed, then who are we to upset their social order? I’m getting the same feeling here. Don’t turn into a relativist on me! You’re better than that! :)

  66. kannie
    September 18, 2008 at 11:24 am #

    Actually, when people knew they were being prayed for, they suffered significantly higher complications.

    Dang, if that isn’t a bummer… it’s also not a double-blind study (insofar as that’s possible with prayer). “OK – you get real medicine; the others are getting placebos.” :-) [Just had to point that out ;-) ]

    Aside from that, oh, how embarrassing! The “Creator” parts are in the Declaration of Independence. *egg on face* But *ahem* moving on… thanks for catching that. :-) The point, however, is that the government provided in the Constitution is designed to protect the natural rights of man.

    .Sometimes I hear people say… who are we to upset their social order?

    You mean, like the majority of the voices on this site? ;-) After a recent post, I’ve started pondering again whether it’s right to officially intervene abroad to stop things like feeding people into shredders. My feelings still say yes, but that puts me very much in the minority, (which doesn’t necessarily make me wrong ;-) ), and since I can’t officially defend it yet, I have to just be quiet and ponder some more, for the moment…

    As for potential relativism – what makes some “normal human values” right, is that they DO come from a Creator (“Nature’s God,” in the Declaration… and government’s purpose is to protect those rights). However, the right to one’s behavior does not necessitate special societal recognition of that behavior. And if, as I believe, the Creator’s had something to say about what a marriage is, then it’s not really up to us to change.

    …[I]f we want to abridge someone’s right of contract, then I say we should have a good reason.

    I don’t believe that it is abridging anyone’s right of contract. Homosexuals can still make up wills, powers of attorney, etc., that empower the other individual to act a certain way with regard to the first individual. They still have the right to establish a union/commitment/covenant/contract with each other, as well. There is also the option to try to set up a distinct entity with its own set of rights. Why must we change the legal definition of marriage?

    The biggest reason to change it seems to be, in essence, limiting freedom of religion and expression. Rather than just wanting rights peculiar to a committed couple (hospital visits, etc.), which seem reasonable, and which many faiths do not oppose; gay rights advocates are targeting religious groups and individuals with accusations of “hate” and seeking to actually prevent them from expressing their opinions or exercising their religion. To hear them speak, anyone who opposes changing the legal definition of the term “marriage” is doing so only out of “hate.” In Canada, churches are not allowed to preach against homosexual behavior, since it’s “hate speech.” And to see the effects of this in the US, already, check out this NPR article. Where churches do not condone violence or unkindess toward homosexuals, they should be allowed to maintain their differences of opinion. The only reason for demanding the same legal term is to shut down differences of opinion.

  67. Didge
    September 22, 2008 at 8:00 pm #

    There has been throughout these comments much appeal to the Constitution as the grantor of the rights and liberties of American citizens. For those who so believe, I would encourage you to read the Constitution for a better understanding of its purpose.

    All power and liberties inherently belong to the people. The Constitution is laid out to specify which powers “we the people” will relinquish to the government “in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…” etc. We give up certain liberties (that are inherently ours) so that we can live together in peace. Some falsely believe that if a right isn’t spelled out in the Constitution, then you don’t have that right. If this were true, then we would have very few rights and liberties as Americans. There is very little of liberties and rights mentioned in the Constitution. Instead, the Constitution was written to expressly say which powers are granted to government, and it is expressly written that whatever power is not enumerated therein is NOT granted.

    Of course, the Bill of Rights does expressly mention rights and liberties that we as Americans inalienably possess, and these are listed for the purpose of securing those liberties against those who wish to take them from us. But, again, because a right is not expressly secured does not mean we do not possess it.

    So please, when appealing to the Constitution to support your views or to denounce those of another, keep this in mind.

  68. ji
    September 30, 2008 at 8:28 pm #

    I don’t live in California, so the President of the Church hasn’t asked me to do anything. But if I did live in California, then I would have a choice to make: Do I accept and follow the request of the President of the Church and provide my time and means to supporting the proposition in the political realm, or not? But my choice is mine, and for me — I have no interest in how other Latter-day Saints respond, and I’m content to allow them to decide how they will without demonizing them if they choose differently from me.

    I try to apply this approach in all aspects of my life. When my priesthood leader asks ME to do something (even me as part of a larger whole), then my concern is how I and my family will respond.

    The Saints in California, in my view, would be better served by individually and quietly heeding or not heeding the request from the President of the Church, rather than commanding that other Saints must or should not respond in any particular way. There’s too much noise here for my comfort. Those who want to respond affirmatively to the request, please do so, quietly and humbly — and those who find the request problematic or choose not to obey, please so do, quietly and humbly. No Latter-day Saint needs to point a finger at any other Latter-day Saint. I can knock on doors and share literature without condemning other Latter-day Saints who stay home, or I can stay home without condemning other Latter-day Saints who go out.

  69. Connor
    March 10, 2009 at 10:47 pm #

    I was recently pointed to this excellent article by Orson Scott Card that deals with the issue presented in this post. A snippet:

    The Church has plenty of room for individuals who are struggling to overcome their temptation toward homosexual behavior. But for the protection of the Saints and the good of the persons themselves, the Church has no room for those who, instead of repenting of homosexuality, wish it to become an acceptable behavior in the society of the Saints. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing, preaching meekness while attempting to devour the flock.

    The repentant homosexual must be met with forgiveness. Even hypocritical homosexuals must be treated individually with compassion. But the collective behavior of the hypocrites of homosexuality must be met with our most forceful arguments and our complete intolerance of their lies. To act otherwise is to give more respect to the opinions of men than to the judgments of God.

Leave a Reply

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private.