Church Instructions on Same-Sex Marriage

Recently the LDS Church released a statement offering instructions and guidance on Same-Sex Marriage. It is really excellent and I highly recommend it. There have been the obvious patch of critical and supportive reactions. I really liked this article.

There are a number of really good points in it. I’d like to highlight just a couple.

Just as those who promote same-sex marriage are entitled to civility, the same is true for those who oppose it. The Church insists on its leaders’ and members’ constitutionally protected right to express and advocate religious convictions on marriage, family, and morality free from retaliation or retribution. The Church is also entitled to maintain its standards of moral conduct and good standing for members.

The first point is civility. We are expected to be civil and respectful. We should also expect the same in return (even if we don’t get it).

The second point is expression of religion. I really like the point that we have a right to express and advocate our religious convictions. Many SSM advocates insist that since our position against SSM is based on religion that any involvement we have is (or should be) nullified. It doesn’t count, because it’s a religious conviction that others don’t follow.

So our convictions don’t count because they’re based on religious ideals. But their convictions are just fine because…?

This country was founded by people with religious convictions. The first bill of rights guarantees the right to express our religion. That includes efforts to shape the law (or, more precisely, to keep the law from being re-shaped). We have the right to promote those measures that we believe are healthy for society even if those ideas are religiously based.

Do What We Can

“Now,” said Peter, as they finished their meal, “Aslan and the girls are somewhere close. We don’t know when he will act. In his time, now doubt, not ours. In the meantime he would like us to do what we can on our own.”

Prince Caspian

I’ve heard a couple very troubling responses to the ruling on Utah’s marriage amendment and wanted to write a couple thoughts on that. These are responses from those who, like myself, oppose same-sex marriage.

Response One: “Well, it was inevitable anyway.”

This is precisely the argument that SSM advocates are pushing very hard, and frankly, I do not believe it. Even my old computer game is smart enough to advise the player to make it seem like your opponent is being routed. That encourages your troops, discourages the enemy, and makes an actual route much more likely.

There are countless examples of groups, communities, nations, and empires who believed something to be inevitable and were found to be quite wrong. Do I really need to list some? Think for a minute and see how many examples you can come up with off the top of your head.

Now, let us assume that it really inevitable. That no matter what I or anyone else does, same-sex marriage is made legal not only in Utah, but across the country.

Therefore what?

Does that mean that we should not let our voices be heard? Does that mean our opinions have no weight? Does that mean that right really is wrong, and wrong really is right and I should just shut up and get with the program? For myself, I want it to be known where I stand. I want to do my part to help in the causes that I feel are important, even if I fail. I think that the very act of standing up for what is right and true is how I can learn to become more like the Savior, regardless of the outcome. And this is one area that I feel is very important.

Do what is right. Let the consequence follow.

Response Two: “Well, I just hope the Savior comes soon”

So do I, and so do all faithful Christians, but again, therefore what? Are you saying that we should do nothing? Just lie back and count on the Savior to clean up the mess when He gets here? Is this how we learn and progress? Is this what the Savior would have us do? Is this what the Savior would do?

I don’t think it is. I think there are many important tasks and efforts that the Savior wants us to accomplish (or at least work on) while we are down here. The LDS religion is an active religion. We believe that we are here to learn and to grow and to help each other. We absolutely rely on the atonement of Christ in all of these things, but that does not mean that there is nothing required of us. Actually, the opposite is true. We have had many exhortations for us to “go about doing good.” Shouldn’t we be doing that?

WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

D&C 58:26-29

As a final thought, consider this quote (and check out some similar quotes):

No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united Cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

The Bishop’s Storehouse

Today I gave a lesson to our deacon’s quorum (12-14 year old boys) about how the Church helps the poor and needy. I shared with them something that I felt should be recorded, and that is when I was the one that was poor and needy.

A few years ago I had an awesome job working for a new startup that showed a lot of promise. In addition, both my dad and brother worked there. Ever since hearing about how my great-grandfather spent a couple years working with his dad, I wanted to have the same experience, and I loved it.

Until the time came that the awesome new startup couldn’t make payroll. This was in October of 2009. So: the holidays are coming up and sorry, no payroll, but don’t worry, money is just around the corner. Well, money continued to be around the corner for another month and a half, and sometime in mid-November, we decided to ask to be laid off.

At this time, my calling in the ward was the assistant clerk over finances, so I was familiar with the fact that if I got in a real bind, then I could go to the bishop and ask if the ward could help out (In the LDS Church, a ward is a local congregation and the bishop is the person in charge, similar to the pastor). As financial clerk, I had helped a number of times to prepare checks to pay for various utility bills for others in need. I think it was late October or early November that I took an occasion to let the bishop know that I was currently not getting paid, and while we did have a little savings and thought we’d be OK, I might be asking for help somewhere down the road.

His response was, “I’d like to meet with you right away.”

Somewhat surprised, I went ahead and met with him and explained that I wasn’t getting paid and it was likely the company would fail. The bishop let me know that in cases like these, I was expected to do everything I could to take care of myself and my family, including trimming down expenses as much as possible, etc. After that, the responsibility to help went to my family–parents and brothers and sisters. After those had been explored and used, the ward could also help in various ways.

He then proceeded to discuss with me my current expenses in some detail. We went through those, and he didn’t find anything that could be trimmed. From there, we discussed in rough terms whether anyone in my family could be approached for help. Given the fact that both Dad and my brother were in the same situation as myself (and they both are typically sources of financial help to other family members), it was pretty apparent that my family was not in a good position to assist. In addition, my wife’s family was not able to assist due to a business venture they were invested in at the time.

But I did have a little money saved up, so why was the bishop working through this with me now? He explained that he thought the wisest approach would be for me to use that money only for bills, rather than waiting to ask for help when all the savings were gone. We would use the bishop’s storehouse for food and other basic necessities that were needed. Handling food was a lot easier than handling bills.

Having said that, the bishop taught me a further lesson about the bishop’s storehouse; that it was not simply food for the poor. In D&C 82:18-19 it reads:

18 And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church—
19 Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.

The bishop explained that the storehouse included all the talents and skills of the members in the ward, and we were to use those to assist others. For the help that I would be receiving, I would be expected to assist others. He made note of some skills that I had and we discussed some specific things I would do.

I love that. I love that we all have different skills and abilities, and that we are to use them to help others. We help others and receive help from others. It’s a similar concept to (or you could argue it’s the same concept as) spiritual gifts. There’s a fairly standard mormon gospel lesson on spiritual gifts – the 5 second version is that we all have at least one spiritual gift; we can (and should seek to) increase ours and gain others, and they are for the benefit of others so that we can all rely on each other. Same thing with the Bishop’s Storehouse. But temporal. Someone may need help with their computers. I can help with that. My car may break down. I can’t do much about that. But my neighbor can.

A couple days later the Relief Society president came and helped us with a form that was essentially an expanded version of a shopping list. It contained the items that we could get from the storehouse. She discussed with us what we needed for the week, signed the form and left it with us.

We took that form to the storehouse and filled our carts with what we needed. The checkout process consisted of a worker verifying our items with the form. We found that it wasn’t unusual to be told we weren’t taking enough and a few more things would end up in our cart. The most extreme case of this happened right before Thanksgiving. We explained that we were eating with my wife’s parents so we didn’t really need much, but the storehouse workers insisted that everyone left that day with a Thanksgiving feast. So we took home a turkey, yams, potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc. along with our other items. That year we discovered that our kids really enjoy cranberry sauce.

This was how we lived through November and December 2009. Each week we met with the Relief Society President to handle that week’s form. When the Relief Society President was released and a new one called, we helped her on how the form should be filled out (again, in the LDS faith almost all callings–including the bishop–are temporary and regularly get shuffled). Then we went to the storehouse and got our items. Usually food, formula, and diapers, but once in a while we needed something else. In particular, our kids outgrew their pajamas, so one week we got blanket sleepers for them (They didn’t have enough of our 6 month old boy’s size, so one of the pairs that we got for him was girly–I’m sure it scarred him for life). We didn’t do any other shopping at all. Period.

I did some odd service around the ward, although at the time there wasn’t that much for me to do (a fact the bishop lamented). But I also kept busy job hunting. I found a part-time contract job that paid us a little bit and helped out. My wife already had an at-home part time job which also helped. By Christmas I had a job lined up, and went back to work a few days before the new year. Between the part time jobs and our savings, we just barely had enough to handle our bills and mortgage until I started getting a regular paycheck again.

And what about Christmas? Interestingly enough, that year my wife had been particularly driven to get all the Christmas shopping done really early. I remember mentioning to her several times, “Honey, we don’t have to decide or get this right away, we have lots of time” and she just replied that she really wanted to get it done and taken care of. She finished getting Christmas shopping done in September, and so we had a wonderful Christmas with our extended families. In fact I had to make extra sure the bishop and Relief Society president knew that we were good for Christmas and did not need to be Sub-For-Santa recipients.

So that is our experience. It honestly was not that difficult; I’ve seen others have to struggle much more with financial difficulties than we’ve ever thought of having to. We fell squarely into the safety net of our savings, odd jobs, inspiration, and the Bishop’s Storehouse. We may run into difficulties again and may need help from others. In the meantime we can help others as much as we can. And for that I am truly grateful.

Lessons Learned From Dating

I recently ran across an interesting blog article about dating which has some good ideas to it. I particularly enjoyed this person’s comments. They reminded me of my own dating experiences. As this week is a celebration of the Proclamation on the Family, I thought I’d pontificate on the topic a little.

I’ve always wanted to have a family. I’ve always wanted to be a dad. I honestly don’t remember not wanting a family. This has always been an important goal for me.

I’ve also always been fairly socially backwards. I’m a geek. In my early twenties I was enjoying life pretty well. I was home from my mission attending BYU. I enjoyed sitting in my bat cave of a bedroom (living at home) and playing on my computer. Or working on model trains. Or playing legos.

…you get the idea.

There was one problem that kept coming up. I was lonely. I wasn’t that much of a loner–I had my group of friends and we got together and did fun things. I wasn’t entirely introverted, to my knowledge.

But I was still lonely. I knew I wanted to get married. I wanted to cuddle with someone. I wanted to experience physical relationships (there, I said it). I wanted to have kids and show them how to build model trains and play legos with them. I knew that where I was currently at (single, going to college) was a transitional period to help me get to where I both needed and wanted to be eventually.

I didn’t want to date.

I didn’t mind dating per-se, but I quickly found out that it was a lot of work. And frankly, for me it was rather hard work. I attended the local singles ward (congregation) and had plenty of friends, but…

Well, some guys are handsome. Some are really big and buff even if they aren’t handsome. Some guys naturally know how to talk to women. Some guys naturally know how to talk. I didn’t fit into any of those categories. Even on the talking front.

That sounds funny, but honestly, I often struggled with just talking, and never more than when I was trying to strike up and/or keep up a conversation with a woman who I thought I’d like to date. I was pretty darn good at quoting movies (still am), but most people don’t really count that as talking.

Now people that knew me then would say, “Oh, you weren’t that bad.” Those that knew me well say, “Yeah, that’s about right.” Whether that description really is accurate, it is how I viewed myself, particularly at that time.

In any case, it was hard for me to get a date. First off, I quickly found that everyone’s schedule filled up really fast. If I didn’t have a social engagement of some kind set up by Monday, then everyone was already doing something else. And I really didn’t want to think about what that seemed to imply.

If someone accepted my typically awkward invite, then I had to figure out what in the world we were going to do together for four whole hours. Movie and a date worked for a while, but then I was sure I couldn’t or shouldn’t keep doing that, so then I was trying to figure out other fun things, and for some reason, I never could think of something that I thought was interesting/fun and that I thought my date would enjoy. There never seemed to be enjoyable date activities on the weekend in my college town…

Suffice it to say that I often would only make a token effort to get a date (or no effort at all), and just spend the weekend in my room (which was still fun, although lonely). I still had fun dates and met some nice women, but on the whole I found the whole experience to be stressful and occasionally depressing.

Looking back, I can see how… downright silly I was, and how much I was over-thinking things, and making life a lot more difficult for myself than I really needed to. But at the time I really couldn’t see that.

I did try to make an effort. Sometimes. But it would be so much more convenient if she would just magically appear in my life and sweep me off my feet. Sadly, I rather wished for this kind of a scenario to happen… a lot…

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a woman sweeping a man off his feet. But in my case I think God knew that there were some things I really needed to learn regardless of who, when, or how I found my bride-to-be. Like how to talk.

It took work on my part. And I mean work. Conscious effort. A lot of it. I had at least a couple rather serious “We love you son, but you really need to be more social” talks from my parents. I had lots of sisters with no shortage of advice (using the term loosely–“You’re not going on a date wearing that”).

Now those are all things that I could (and to some extent did) get offended at. Why are you getting after me? I am trying. The woman I marry will love me for who I am, why do I need to act like I’m someone else? No, I’m not going to wear that, it’s really not my style.

I had to realize that the advice I was being given was being given with good intentions (even if the delivery was sometimes lacking). They weren’t getting after me, they were trying to help me get to where I myself was trying to get to. Yes, of course the woman of my dreams will love me for who I am. And of course I should not try to be someone else. The other side of that, however, is simply that I do need to try to be my best self, and whether single or married, I should be putting forth an effort to improve myself in various ways (This is a rather major theme in the LDS faith). And dressing up a little bit for a date is not a bad idea.

I had to keep at it. When I said it took a lot of work I meant it. Not a lot of work for two weeks or 4 months. I was single for a good number of years. And I had to keep on trying to meet new people, put myself out there. Talk. Get out of my comfort zone. Do it again. And again. And again. And again.

Over time, I like to think I got better at it. I got to where what used to be outside of my comfort zone wasn’t really outside of my comfort zone anymore. In fact, dating began to be more fun and less of a chore. I met a lot of people and had a number of (sometimes very) different experiences. Some of those experiences weren’t good, but most of them were. Sometimes I dated someone for a long time, often it was only a date or two.

I actually got to the point where I didn’t mind being single that much. And I think that was important. I even enjoyed it. I enjoyed being where I was at. And that didn’t mean I wasn’t trying to find a special someone–in fact, it was the opposite. I knew where I wanted to go and I was working on getting there rather than spending my time bemoaning the fact that I wasn’t there yet.

Surprisingly enough, continued steps toward your goals tends to get you there. There’s one more thing that I learned, at least about my search for my future bride. I had often heard people talking about their internal and/or eternal struggles trying to figure out if this particular person was “the one.” Just to add some context, in the LDS temple, couples are married for time and all eternity, so yeah, it is kind of a big deal.

I was fully expecting to have similar struggles, but it wasn’t like that at all. Instead, dating Rosanne was like meeting my long lost friend. “Hey, there you are! I’ve been looking for you.” She was and is my best friend. She does love me for who I am (I knew I was in love when I was tempted to quote something during Sunday School but restrained myself,  and she turned to me and quoted the very line I was thinking of). But we both work to improve ourselves and help each other be the best that we can.

Was it a lot of work for me? Yes it was. Again, this is my own experience I’m talking about. For many people, social skills are not the bane of their existence.

Did I have to actually listen to my parents’ advice and counsel? Yep. They were the ones constantly steering me towards trying to enjoy where I was at and not get too worked up or melodramatic. Without consciously acting on that advice, I do not think I would have been the kind of person that my wife (or anyone) would want to spend their life with.

Was it worth it? Every second.

Do we cuddle? You bet. And the other stuff too. And it’s awesome. And worth waiting and working for. But more than that–we enjoy doing lots of things together. We enjoy games, working on projects, going places, reading books, watching movies.

Is our marriage and family complete peace and bliss? Of course it isn’t. It’s still work, and lots of it. And patience, and lots of it.

But I’m not lonely.

And I play legos with my kids.

A Basic Internet Search

I read a less-than-friendly comment about the LDS faith on a youtube video (these things do happen occasionally). The individual expressed surprise that people believed all this stuff about our faith when a basic internet search would show that it is all a big lie.

So, all I have to do in order to know the falsehood of my faith is a basic internet search.

I don’t doubt that a quick search will return all kinds of information about my faith from all kinds of sources. There’s one small problem, and it’s one that gets passed over time and time again.

I don’t believe in this church because I searched the internet and found no compelling arguments against it, and every doctrine taught was perfectly in line with all the current popular ideologies. I believe in this Church and practice its teachings because I have felt the power of the Holy Spirit confirm the truth of it to me.

Yes, you can search the internet if you want. I’d appreciate it if your searching would include lds.org and mormon.org–you may want to check out fairlds.org. But even those won’t give you what I have found to be compelling evidence. That evidence comes from God. Because God talks to man.

And that includes you.

Does He speak with words? Not usually. Is there a reason why not? Yes there is. Want to know why? Excellent! Go check out those sites I mentioned.

But while the internet is great for spreading both information and misinformation, what we Mormons really want people to do is find out by asking God Himself. And we’re sure that if you are really interested in finding out, He will confirm the truth to you.

That’s been my experience.

I have felt it in a way that I can’t really describe, but it is distinct and special and at times very powerful.

I have prayed and had those prayers answered in many ways.

I have looked back on my life so far and have seen how living the Gospel has blessed my life.

I have seen how living the Gospel has blessed the lives of others.

For myself, I find these evidences a little more compelling than a quick search on the internet. Or even a thorough search on the internet.

The Richest Man

We took our family on a trip with my parents recently to visit my sister and her family and attend the baptism of their oldest child. It was a very enjoyable visit and I was really glad to get to spend some time with them and my parents.

While we were there, my dad got up and bore his testimony (that Sunday was a fast and testimony meeting). He talked about how the fruits of the gospel have become much more apparent to him as he has gotten older, and one of the ways in which that is so was in his family. He talked about keeping a photo of his family on his desk at work and often thinking to himself, “I am the richest man I know,” because of the treasure of family that was his–children and grandchildren.

I am so grateful for the parents that I have. They have worked and struggled and prayed and taught and showed a good example to me and my siblings all of my life. I love them, and I love the relationship that I have with them. They taught us to love and live the gospel. They taught us to work hard and be self-sufficient as much as possible. They taught us to serve others and accept service when we need to. They taught us to study hard and get good educations. They taught us to be together as family and to enjoy each other’s company.

My dad’s comments made me think about the picture I have in my office dad

 

This was a Father’s Day gift from my wife last year, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. To me it is a reminder of the great treasure that my family is. Anytime I’m having a hard time at work (for whatever reason), I can look up and see my kids, cheering me on.

And that’s what they do. They love me. Despite my shortcomings and regular idiocy, they still love me. They love to be with me, to do things with me, to watch me, to have me explain things to them, play games with them, talk to them, anything. Everything.

Looking at this always give me a sense of joy and encouragement. I have three kids who love me with their whole hearts and are rooting for me. Happy for me. Loving me.

Being a dad is truly a treasure.

Opposing Same-sex Marriage

So I support traditional marriage. Why do I oppose same-sex marriage? What’s the big deal? And if I’m supposed to love my neighbor, including homosexuals, then how is it OK to tell them how to live?

In 1997, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement concerning the family and its importance to God’s plan. This statement concludes with this warning:

“WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

So, on one hand, the leaders of my Church feel that this is an important enough issue (preserving the family) that we should be actively engaged in it. And I do believe in the leaders of my Church.1

On top of that, so far it seems apparent that same-sex marriage is contributing to the erosion of the family. I believe that same-sex marriage decreases the focus of marriage from the family to simply “two people in love.” And yes, I’ve heard the arguments about old or infertile people marrying, and in my opinion, those kinds of unions can (and do) exist without changing the definition of marriage. Marriage by definition is still focused on family (including children) as the ideal. Once we decide that it’s really just any two people that want to extend a commitment to each other, well, that’s changing the definition.

This brings up another interesting trick that’s being played on those who support the traditional family, and that is simply the idea that it’s up to us to prove that same-sex marriage is bad for society. If traditional marriage is the status quo, then why isn’t the burden of proof on those who desire same-sex marriage to prove that what they want will not harm society?

So far what I’m seeing is a continuing erosion of morality, family, and religion. And same-sex marriage is pushing those bounds even further. What’s more, it doesn’t seem to be stopping with same-sex marriage. Our country has been here before. Initially the idea was that civil unions would be the answer and that would be fine. Now it isn’t anymore, and we have to have same-sex marriage. And even as that is being pushed, calls are being made to further erode the idea of marriage, and/or to simply do away with it altogether (at least from a legal stand point).

I’m sorry, but to me, this is not progress. This is not how our nation, communities, and homes can be healed (and what is the definition of home without a family, anyway?). We need families. We need morality, and we need religion. I believe these things are fundamental in a society that believes in responsibility, work, and serving others. Those are the ideals that can build  (and repair) our society. And I firmly believe that family is the best place to learn those things. I also believe that religion is an important support for the family in this regard.

This is why I oppose same-sex marriage.

This does mean that I (and those who support traditional marriage) are indeed “telling people how to live.” We are forcing our ideals upon others. What a horrible, evil thing to do!

But…

Isn’t that exactly what law is supposed to do? Isn’t that exactly why we have governments? Not to dictate every moment of our lives, but to establish order. To debate and decide upon rules, regulations and ideals that will help us to live together as a society (Where the line should exist between “dictating every moment” and “establishing order” is a different topic). In forming such laws and regulations, we should discuss our ideas and beliefs. And yes, our morals will definitely affect that. And they should.

So if the chance to vote on same-sex marriage comes up, then I will vote against it. If I have an opportunity to discuss it with others, I will take it. That is true for lots of things both moral and otherwise. That does not mean that I hate homosexuals. It does mean that marriage and family are very important to me and that I feel the need to do what I can to protect and strengthen them.


Footnotes
  1. Of course this makes me one of the mindless “sheeple” who just does whatever my Church leaders tell me to. In my Church, we are expected to follow the prophets, but more importantly to gain our own independent witness of the things we are told to do. Essentially, we are to seek confirmation from God that what they are telling us is correct. See Elder Oaks talk, Two Lines of Communication. Another answer to this is simply, “Yes, I am trying to follow a Shepherd.” []

Why I Support the Traditional Family

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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

Some additional words from the afore-mentioned prophets

And some more just in case you are still following

LDS Online Resources

Wow, it has been a little while. Well, before I start playing catch-up, I wanted to get this down…

Last week I did a presentation in Church on some of the resources the Church has made available. I had a half-an-hour (my fist practice took 3 times that long). It actually ended up going pretty well, given how nervous I was.

I put together a list of the stuff I covered (read: mentioned) as well as some thing I wish I could have covered. Here it is (The organization follows the outline of the presentation):

[Edit] And the menu and site structure for lds.org has just been changed. A lot. So I’ve gone through and tried to update my links below.

Site Directory
LDS Account ldsaccount.lds.org Online account for Church websites
LDS.org lds.org Main website
Magazines lds.org/magazine Links to each of the Church magazines
Mobile Apps mobile.lds.org

Official apps for Apple, Android, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry

Describes what apps are available for mobile devices
Getting Started tech.lds.org/wiki/LDS.org_getting_started_guides Guides for many of the Church tools and resources
     
Media Content
Media Library lds.org/media-library Video, Audio, and Picture resources, many downloadable
Mormon Channel mormonchannel.org

Mobile Apps: mormonchannel.org/mobile

The Church’s online radio.
Bible Videos lds.org/bible-videos

Mobile App for Apple, Android

Free videos of the events of the bible
LDS Music lds.org/churchmusic

Mobile app for Apple

Songs from hymnbook and children’s songbook. Can view and play the music with many other features
     
Official Social Accounts
Facebook lds.org/media-library/accessing-media-facebook Scroll down to see a list of Church Facebook pages
Youtube lds.org/media-library/accessing-media-youtube Scroll down to see a list of Church Youtube channels
Twitter lds.org/media-library/accessing-media-twitter Scroll down to see a list of Church Twitter channels
     
Resources for Children
Friend Magazine lds.org/friend Children’s magazine, with games and activities
Primary Manuals lds.org/manual/primary Church Primary manuals, incl. Faith in God
     
Resources for Youth
Youth Site youth.lds.org Main site for Youth – Other resources linked here:

  • For the Strength of Youth
  • Duty to God
  • Personal Progress
  • Seminary
  • FamilySearch Youth
Youth App Mobile App for Apple and Android Videos and images geared towards youth
Scripture Mastery Mobile App for Apple Tools to help memorize scripture mastery scriptures
     
Adults and Families
FHE lds.org/topics/family-home-evening Family Home Evening Resources
Addiction Recovery Program addictionrecovery.lds.org 12 step program for addiction recovery
Gardening www.lds.org/topics/gardening  
Combating Pornography www.lds.org/topics/pornography Includes information for prevention as well as dealing with addiction and helps for others affected
Provident Living providentliving.org Self-reliance and welfare resources
Self-Reliance providentliving.org/self-reliance This sub-site of Provident Living replaces much of the previous Family Well-being sub-site. Resources for:

  • Employment
  • Finances
  • Food Storage
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Gardening
  • Physical Health
  • Education
Internet and Family Safety tech.lds.org/wiki/Family_Safety Community-driven site containing information on safe technology usage for families
Ward Directory lds.org/directory Directory information. Web site allows editing and setting permissions.
Calendar lds.org/church-calendar Calendar for the ward and Church building. Individual rooms can be scheduled by members.
LDS Tools Mobile App for most platforms incl.

Apple, Android, Windows Mobile

Provides access to the directory, calendar, and ward callings.
Gospel Library Mobile app for most platforms incl.

Apple, Android, Windows Mobile

Scriptures, talks, articles, manuals, etc. Integrates with Notes and Journal (can mark passages, add notes)
Notes and Journal lds.org/study-tools/folders Holds marked passages and notes from Gospel Library and other articles/resources on lds.org
     
Service Opportunities
Volunteer and Contribute lds.org/service/volunteer-and-contribute or lds.org/topics/service Provides links and ideas for helping with some of the Church’s efforts
Vineyard vineyard.lds.org 5-minute tasks to help the Church
LDSTech ldstech.org Provide assistance with Church software development
FamilySearch Indexing familysearch.org/volunteer/indexing

Mobile app for Apple and Android

Help index genealogical records (arbitrators needed!)

Mobile Apps are very different from desktop program

JustServe justserve.org Links volunteers with charitable causes. Just starting out.
     
Sharing the Gospel
Sharing Online lds.org/church/share or

lds.org/church/share/profile-creation

Lots of ideas and suggestions
Missionary Service lds.org/callings/missionary Includes information for senior and service missions
Mormon.org mormon.org Site for investigators, but content is from members
     
Other
Locations and Schedules lds.org/locations Helps you find LDS Buildings and Schedules anywhere in the world
FamilySearch new.familysearch.org Family History
Disabilities lds.org/disability Information for working with people with disabilities
Church News lds.org/church/news  
History history.lds.org Resources and information on Church History
Joseph Smith Papers josephsmithpapers.org Attempting to compile and annotate all known documents written by or scribed for Joseph Smith
Lesson Schedules lds.org/lesson New tool allowing classes to post their lesson schedules online
Newsletter lds.org/member-news New tool for online ward news
LDS Jobs ldsjobs.org Employment resources
Plan of Salvation www.lds.org/topics/plan-of-salvation  

Happy Easter

Well, this is about a day later than what I was trying for…

Even so, I wanted to express my grattitude this Easter for Jesus Christ, for His suffering for us and resurrection. I’m especially grateful for the knowledge that this life is not all that there is. Death is not the end, it is only another step in a long progression. We will see and meet family and loved ones again after this life. This is the gospel–the good news.

This knowledge comes from the witness of the Holy Spirit. One of the great tenants of my faith is that God lives, and that He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. We can go to him in prayer and receive answers from Him. We each have the ability to receive inspiration and knowledge from God. That is how I have come to the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. That He suffered for the sins of all mankind, was crucified, and rose from the grave. His gift to us is two-fold. One is the ability for us to repent and be forgiven of our sins. The other is that we will also live again. The fall of Adam brought both physical and spiritual death. The sacrifice and resurrection of Christ answers both of these.

That Easter morn, a grave that burst
Proclaimed to man that “Last and First”
Had ris’n again
And conquered pain.

This morn renews for us that day
When Jesus cast the bonds away,
Took living breath
And conquered death.

Thus we in gratitude recall
And give our love and pledge our all,
Shed grateful tear
And conquer fear.

~That Easter Morn, Marion D. Hanks
LDS Hymns 198