Recently I got into a conversation with a homosexual individual on Facebook about the same-sex debate. It wasn’t long and I certainly was not able to answer his questions to his satisfaction. I support the traditional family. That is a nice positive statement. It does also mean that I oppose same-sex marriage. I do. And what’s more, the core reasons that I oppose it are due to moral and religious objections (which is why I was unable to answer his questions to his satisfaction).
While I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the conversation (“I don’t like confrontations!” ~T-Rex), I am glad I was able to have it–I learned a few things. These are really obvious when they’re written down like this, but they may be harder to apply than one might think.
- It’s easy to agree with your fellow church members that same-sex marriage is bad. For me it’s more difficult to disagree with a gay person who is currently unable to marry their partner, and who could understandably be frustrated with religious people keeping him from marrying. I think it is important to be able to share your differences respectfully to those who disagree with you.
- When doing so, I think it is important to listen to what they have to say. Show the respect for them that you want them to show for you. That doesn’t mean that you are agreeing with them or compromising your beliefs. It simply means that you are trying to understand them and their position a little better. Hopefully they will extend the same courtesy to you (whether they do or not doesn’t really matter).
- I also think it is important that we be willing and able to explain why we have the stance that we have. As in my case, your reasons may be completely rejected. That’s OK. Again, you should not expect that your powerful words of wisdom will cause the planets to align and convince whomever you are addressing to see the error of their ways and agree to everything you say (willingly or otherwise, depending on what mood your imagination is in). The idea here is to honestly explain why believe and act the way you do.
The core question that came up was this: “Why is the issue of same-sex marriage so important that I would stand against it, affecting homosexual couples who wish to marry?” That is absolutely a fair question.
As I mentioned earlier, the core reasons why I oppose same-sex marriage absolutely ties in with my moral beliefs and religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I believe that there is a body of men who are prophets. I have felt the Spirit confirm this to me multiple times. I have seen how my life and outlook on life have improved as I have followed their counsel over time.
These prophets have been very clear on this issue: that while we should not support same-sex marriage, we also should not be hateful, mean, or discriminatory towards homosexuals. They have also explicitly spelled out that it is no sin to have feelings of same-gender attraction. It is a sin to act on those feelings.
Some of the basic doctrines of the Church are that marriage was instituted by God as the union of a man and a woman, and that gender (as opposed to sexual orientation) is part of our eternal identity. Families are not just constructs for this life-time. Instead they are the building blocks of society both here and in the hereafter. Morality is defined by God and is eternal.
Members of the Church who are gay are not and should not be considered or treated as second-class citizens. Just as single members of the Church are not second-class citizens. We believe that if we are faithful, then any blessing that we are unable to achieve in this lifetime will be ours in the life to come. This includes marriage and family.
These are the main reasons why I do not support same-sex marriage. There are other reasons. I have read a number of arguments opposing SSM, and in general I would say I agree with them. But when the rubber hits the road, this is it.
I can see why this would be totally unacceptable to a gay man who does not believe in religion at all, let alone that there is a body of men who are prophets of God. Again, that’s OK. I can explain what I believe. I absolutely have a right to do that. Anyone who bothers to listen absolutely has the right to decide what to do with that.
I also absolutely have a right to add my voice and my vote to issues that I believe are important. Do my morals and religion affect my opinions? Of course they do! Any set of beliefs or code of conduct that does not affect the person following them is useless and meaningless.
So, in a nutshell, that’s where I stand. I do not hate homosexuals. Indeed, if I claim to oppose SSM primarily because of my belief in the prophets and understanding of Church doctrine, then I shouldn’t. If I do, that’s something I need to work on, isn’t it? Here’s another way to think of it. What was Christ’s reaction to the prostitute? “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.” The Savior, whom I claim to follow as a disciple, did not condemn the prostitute. But He also didn’t condone the behavior.
So far the discussion has centered largely on why I don’t support SSM, but that’s only part of the question, isn’t it? I plan on writing a follow-up on why I actually oppose SSM. Given my current writing frequency, I’ve got a good three months to do it.
As I mentioned before, I have read a number of articles defending the traditional family view. Here are some of them
- The Proclamation on the Family
- The Church’s response to a petition regarding same-sex marriage
- Who I am and Why I Stand Where I Do
- Josh Weed’s Coming Out post (A number of follow-up posts to this have also been very helpful and instructive to me, particularly helping me to understand better what it’s like to be gay and mormon)
- Middle-aged Mormon Man’s take on SSM
Some additional words from the afore-mentioned prophets
- Balancing Truth and Tolerance - Elder Oaks, Feb 2013 Ensign
- Protect the Children - Elder Oaks, Oct 2012 General Conference
- Israel, Israel, God is Calling - Elder Holland, Sep 2012 CES Devotional (Some very important points about making a stand for what you believe in)
- Personal Purity - Elder Holland, Oct 1998 General Conference (This is an abbreviated version of the talk “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments”)
- Cleansing the Inner Vessel - Elder Packer, Oct 2010 General Conference
- Why Stay Morally Clean - Elder Packer, Apr 1972 General Conference
And some more just in case you are still following
- http://mormon.org/faq/stand-on-homosexuality (Take a few minutes to read some of the member-supplied answers)
- http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_politics/California_Proposition_8 (FAIR is an unofficial Mormon Apologetics site)