In Which I Offend Everyone I Know (aka. How To Make Friends and Influence People)

Ordinary Happily Ever After

The same-sex marriage debate has been going on since I was a kid and ever since Prop 8 it has been in the forefront of the political sphere.

I would ask that you please read my entire article before you draw any conclusions about whether or not I fall into the category of people you disagree with.  This blog is read by both liberals and conservatives and as I am not a cookie-cutter anything I imagine that all of you will, at some point, both agree and disagree with me.

I am a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I am not a spokesman for the church and I do not speak officially for it.  I am only a woman with a testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  You can read the church’s official position on same-sex marriage here.  The official website states:

Few topics are as emotionally charged or require more sensitivity than same-sex attraction. This complex matter touches on the things we care about most: our basic humanity, our relationship to family, our identity and potential as children of God, how we treat each other, and what it means to be disciples of Christ.

Where the Church stands:

The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.

In an effort to help explain this position, I would like to share a portion of The Proclamation to the World that was given to us in 1995 by our Prophet Gordon B. Hinkley.

ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

… THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.

A few years ago there was a petition that was brought to the leadership of the church requesting that it we recognize and accept same-sex unions and relationships.  In response to the petition the church issued this statement:

As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.

Further, while the Church is strongly on the record as opposing same-sex marriage, it has openly supported other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment.

The Church’s doctrine is based on love. We believe that our purpose in life is to learn, grow and develop, and that God’s unreserved love enables each of us to reach our potential. None of us is limited by our feelings or inclinations. Ultimately, we are free to act for ourselves.

The Church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social and physical feelings. The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand and behavior on the other. It’s not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation.

There is no question that this is difficult, but Church leaders and members are available to help lift, support and encourage fellow members who wish to follow Church doctrine. Their struggle is our struggle. Those in the Church who are attracted to someone of the same sex but stay faithful to the Church’s teachings can be happy during this life and perform meaningful service in the Church. They can enjoy full fellowship with other Church members, including attending and serving in temples, and ultimately receive all the blessings afforded to those who live the commandments of God.

Obviously, some will disagree with us. We hope that any disagreement will be based on a full understanding of our position and not on distortion or selective interpretation. The Church will continue to speak out to ensure its position is accurately understood.

You can listen to the entire statement here:

I do believe that all human beings – male and female – are children of God and each and every one of us are endowed with gifts and talents.  I believe that gender is an essential characteristic and as such, I am greatly troubled by the continued push by radical feminists to emasculate men and I am equally bothered by the push to put women in situations where they are in far greater danger than men would be, in all in the name of “equality”.

I also believe that the family is the most important social group in the world and the impact that the family dynamic has on the world is far greater than any other organization or group and as such, must be defended.  I do believe that children have a right to be born to a family with a mother and a father and that successful marriages rely on far more than sex.

Due to the physical, psychological, and societal effects; and the wondrous life-giving power that it has; I believe that any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong.  Within the bounds of matrimony, sex is a wonderful way to strengthen your relationship, express love, devotion, and support for your spouse; not to mention the reproductive power that comes with it.

I believe that each person is a son or daughter of God with gifts and talents to share.  Each of us has something to offer society and each of us has our own personal struggles.

Someone’s sexual identity is just a very small part of their human identity!  No one should be judged on it and I find the idea that sexuality must be a defining characteristic offensive.  I have known several homosexual and bisexual people in my life. I have really liked some of them and I have really not liked some of them.  Whether or not I respect and admire someone or whether or not I enjoy someone’s company has absolutely nothing to do with their sexuality and everything to do with their personality.

As a mother of five and a homeschooler living in New Jersey, I live a very different lifestyle than my peers.  When people see my family and hear about our life I have met everything from smiles and vague support to open hostility.  Yes, I live in a world where people are offended that I have as many kids as I do, that I homeschool and **gasp** that I DON’T have a nanny (shocking, I know).  Do I care?  Nope.  I don’t need their permission or approval to live the lifestyle that my family has chosen and that we are compelled to lead.  All I ask is that you respect that we are entitled to make our own decisions and leave my family be.

Similarly, my belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman shouldn’t offend you because you don’t need my permission or approval to live your life.  We can disagree on this subject and still be friends.  You are free to act for yourself.  I am not trying to criminalize anything (in spite of what is making the rounds on Facebook, that was NEVER the on the table).  You are free to enter into whatever agreements and contracts you want, and call yourself by whatever title you want… why does it need to be ok for ME for it to be ok with YOU?

I know that my religious beliefs will have almost zero influence on someone who doesn’t share them but there ARE some logical, common sense questions that need to be addressed.  As I mentioned in a recent post, “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no God.  It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”  Basically, I don’t really care what you do as long as it doesn’t infringe on my rights.

So here is where it gets sticky.  This is where I would like to throw my hands up and say “It’s NOT that easy!”.  I want to ask supporters of same-sex marriage a few questions.

  1. Will the leaders and bishops of my church be forced to perform same-sex marriages under threat of revoking the legal authority to perform marriages at all?  How do you intend to prevent that from happening?  As it is we are already under fire for merely having a different opinion.
  2. Would same-sex couples fall under the umbrella of affirmative action which would then make it much more difficult for heterosexual couples to adopt children or become foster parents?  All things being equal should a child go to the loving and financially stable heterosexual couple or the loving and financially stable homosexual couple?  People will give you anecdotal evidence of a tiny orphan who is forced to live with an abusive heterosexual couple instead of in a loving and stable homosexual couple’s home.  That is not what I’m talking about.  Of course any loving home is better than no home.  What will be the result when the only difference between the couples is that one is same-sex and one is traditional?  If the child ends up going to to traditional couple then there WOULD be discrimination even though there is more than enough evidence show children need both a mother and a father.  How do you plan on handling this legal nightmare?
  3. Will private, religious universities with married student housing be forced to allow same-sex couples to live in their married housing even though they are not living in accordance with the faith?
  4. Will the insurance providers be forced to pay for surrogacy and/or sperm and egg donations in order for same sex couples to have their own children?
  5. Would the businesses and service providers be protected from litigation for not wanting to use their services for same-sex weddings (I can give you the answer to this one, nope.  Photographers, cake decorators and wedding planners are already being sued for this very thing.)
  6. How do you intend to hand custody battles between biological and non-biological relatives in the case of death or divorce?  A Florida judge just approved the listing of THREE parents on a child’s birth certificate.  The more people you need to create a family the more complex things get when/if things go south.  As the estimated 50% divorce rate among heterosexual couples will show, people stop loving each other all the time.  What sounds warm and fuzzy right now will be a nightmare later for the child when he has three or more parents, grandparent and other guardians pulling him in opposite directions.
  7. Is polygamy now on the table as well?  If not, why not?

I realize that some of these questions might seem offensive or you may think I am naive for asking them, but I am long past the time in my life when I can look only at the immediate consequences of an action.  I am perfectly willing to admit that if same-sex marriage were legalized under the federal government that it wouldn’t drastically change my personal life right now.  But what happens 15 years from now when the full effects are coming to light?  Can you promise me that it will neither pick my pocket nor break my leg?  From where I am sitting I don’t see how that is possible.  Those with an agenda will not stop at with the Supreme Court’s ruling.  They will not stop until every single church and organization embraces same-sex marriage and therefore thoroughly stomping out my right to the free exercise of my religion and that is why I will continue to defend traditional marriage.

You see this isn’t about bullying or denying people’s right to love each other.  No one is saying you can’t love whomever you want to and you do have the right to act for yourself.  I think we can all agree that there is absolutely no justification for hatred and abuse.  It’s about protecting the rights of EVERYONE, not just those who agree with you.

As always, keep your comments respectful of other people’s views :)  Hostile comments will be deleted.

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. Megan B says:

    You didn’t offend me :)

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  2. Cari says:

    Amen to all of the above. I have been wondering why Polygamy groups have remained silent through this as it definitely opens the door for them if marriage is redefined. The other questions are very relevant too and deserve answers. Churches should have the right to define marriage not the government.

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  3. Kari says:

    I really liked this post. Some of these questions i have asked myself but there are done i haven’t considered. To me when this is discussed, i hear “why should i Carr it really doesn’t affect me?” But reading your post makes the repercussions so real. Thanks for the post.

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  4. Michelle says:

    You were wrong about only one thing–the fact that I would likely disagree with at least one of your points about same-sex marriage. My husband and I both cheered at every point. We would like to add two questions:
    1. Can you guarantee that religious leaders associated with public universities, the military, and other government-funded institutions will still be allowed to teach their doctrine on the subject of same-sex marriage or the values of traditonal families?
    2. Will my kids, if they attend public school, be mandated to be taught that same-sex relations are appropriate or even encouraged?
    Thank you for this post. You have a way of verbalizing the very thoughts for which I have no words.

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    1. Cari says:

      Those are two great questions. My husband is an attorney and he feels pretty strongly that if they win this, the next step will be to get rid of the tax exempt status for organizations (i.e. churches) that discriminate against same-sex couples (i.e. temple worship, priesthood). That would be a huge blow to all religious organizations. As for your second point, it is already happening. My friend’s 7 year old daughter in KY had an assembly about “different families” and brought home a book about having two mom’s.

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  5. Bill says:

    “Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, when exaggerated, it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the ‘tolerance trap’ so that we are not swallowed up in it. The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequence that is the result of the violation of God’s law of chastity.” Boyd k. Packer, 7 April 2013

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  6. Donna says:

    Ahhh, I have to admit, I’ve missed your political posts. ;)

    I appreciate your thoughts and opinions, and as I’ve said before, I admire your passion and intellect. This is a topic I have wrestled with internally for years– ever since I was in California for Prop 22 (precursor to Prop 8). Oh, it has been a challenging issue, and I’ve been all over the map with my opinions. I’m torn because I want to share my thoughts, but I don’t want to sound condescending or argumentative. But I do love a good robust discussion. I think I’ll just leave a few comments:

    Here in the Netherlands, gay marriage (or you could call it marriage equality) has been legal for almost 12 years. I can tell you that churches here are not legally required to marry same-sex couples. The Dutch culture and government are generally very family supportive, (contrary to popular belief– in fact children in the Netherlands were recently ranked the happiest in the world) and they make an effort with their laws to make sure that all families are supported and given good opportunities to be healthy and functional. Currently there is work being done towards a new law to better define parental rights within what are called “pink families” (where there are 2 sets of parents, one female couple and one male couple). I think it’s very interesting. Nate’s best friend from school is from one of these families, and they are wonderful. Great parents and very loving. Their boys are seemingly very happy and well adjusted. I’m sure they (as a family) have their own challenges just like everyone, and also have to figure out the logistics of having 4 parents, but they are committed, stable, and seem to be a a nice family. I agree that families have a strong impact on society and culture, so I’ve also come to decide that supporting all families is in my best interest. Not just ones that I feel fit my definition of moral. It is true that it can be complex, but heterosexual families can be as well. My husband has had 4 step-parents over the course of his life, and I’m not sure how many step-siblings. He managed to find room in his life for them and adapted his concept of what a family is.

    I’ve typed up paragraph after paragraph to respond to other points, and deleted them all, because I can’t quite get it the way I want to express myself. And for some reason I continue to spend time on this, because I feel really compelled to. I’ve been on both sides of the issue here, studied and read and listened a ton, debated and dissected in my mind and with others– I’ve listened to story after story of pain and hurt, and thought about my own friends and loved ones. I value them. I want to stand up for their value. That doesn’t mean I don’t value you. But you and I already have rights and protections under the law. The viewpoint that asserted it was not OK to extend those same rights to other consenting adults is one that tore me apart for the years that I tried to support it. Ultimately I had to let it go, and reevaluate.

    And we can still be friends, even still. :)

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  7. Actually Donna, I think we disagree on very little on this issue. I absolutely agree that families come in all shapes and sizes and that a child can grow up well rounded and adjusted. My point was not to condemn anyone else’s lifestyle but to voice the fact that we don’t have to agree to get along. We can be friends with and love our gay neighbors because they are awesome people. Their sexuality has nothing to do with whether or not I like someone. Activists keep screaming that my being in support of traditional marriage means I am bigoted and hateful. It’s just not true. I don’t agree with a lot of things people do (smoking, drinking alcohol, wearing clothing that I think is inappropriate) but that doesn’t mean I hate them or think they can’t make those choices.

    The problem I have is the Government getting involved at all. I personally believe (and I started writing this in my post but it didn’t feel right at the time) that the contract of marriage should be between your future spouse and God. You shouldn’t need to get a license, pay a fee, or do anything other than find a minister/bishop/pastor who is willing to marry you. Other than maybe setting a minimum age (to protect children) and giving judges the authority to perform marriage in addition to ordained ministers the government should have absolutely no say in marriage. At all. In my mind my marriage is valid because I was married by someone who had the authority from God to marry us… not because the government said so.

    The problem comes from the federal and state governments thinking they have control over something that they have no business getting involved in. With the way things are being legislated now, instead of giving the people more freedom the government thinks they need to give their stamp of approval. What will inevitably happen is that churches like ours will have their tax-exempt status revoked (not right away but certainly within the next 5-10 years) unless they agree to marry same-sex couples. Church universities will no longer be offered federal student loans or other benefits and church run social services will no longer be allowed to serve as adoption agencies (as it is with the Catholic church in Mass). As it is, the groundwork is being laid to force military chaplains to perform gay marriages against their will since they work for the government.

    http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2012/05/17/obama-wh-demands-military-chaplains-perform-same-sex-marriages/

    The fact of the matter is that this is not an issue of equality, it is an issue of freedom. If we were free to marry whomever we want without governmental interference than this wouldn’t even be an issue at all.

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  8. Donna says:

    I respect you Courtney, and we can absolutely be friends with people even when we don’t agree with everything they do or say. If not, no one would have any friends. :)

    So if I understand you correctly, allowing gay marriage is not a problem, as long as it doesn’t cause any problems or financial burdens for religions, religiously-affiliated organizations, or religious persons? I know it sounds snarky, and I’m really not trying to be– just trying to clarify.

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  9. No worries, you don’t sound snarky :) I just hope my response will clarify and not muddy the waters!

    I don’t expect that I will ever be a supporter of gay marriage. I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and as our government currently operates there is no way to legalize it without creating another protected class. Once that happens it is inevitable that citizens and organizations will no longer be allowed to voice opinions or support causes that are different. Chick-fil-A is an excellent example. Because they (a private business) donated money to an organization that supported traditional marriage they were attacked over and over again even to the point of being banned from some places and no longer being allowed to open new stores in certain cities.

    I can’t say “allowing gay marriage is ok, as long as…” because the “as long as…” part is not going to happen unless the US government became far more libertarian and much less liberal. Like I said, it’s a freedom issue, not an equality issue.

    What I CAN wholeheartedly support is simplifying the tax code, beneficiary laws and contract law to make marital status obsolete in the eyes of the law. If what is wanted is to be able to visit your partner in the hospital, receive better tax benefits, be able to be the beneficiary to a life insurance policy or will without contest, and avoid custody battles than that can all be done without the federal government. If what is wanted is to be free from bullying than I will absolutely support you and fight for your right to be treated like a human being and judged by the content of your character and by nothing else. If what is wanted is to be able to call yourself a “wife” or “husband” or “mother” and “father” than I support your right to call yourself whatever you want and I will go so far as to call you by whatever title you wish. If what is wanted is to close down my church, sue private businesses for discrimination, force me to read books about two moms to my kids in my homeschool, and silence me from voicing my opinion then no. I will never support that.

    With the caveat that I obviously DO believe in the institution of marriage from a religious stand point I pretty much agree with Penn Jillette on the issue. With the exception of a minimum age requirement set by the individual states and authority given to judges (for those who don’t want to get married in a church) the State shouldn’t be involved at all. That is the only way I can see everyone’s rights being protected.

    Jeremy Irons also has some interesting thoughts on the matter about how people can use “marriage” to circumvent other laws. I’m not saying I agree with him, it’s just not as simple of an issue as a lot of people make it out to be.

    The Netherlands was the first country to legalize it and it’s still been less than 15 years. Not even one generation has passed by, so with all due respect; I honestly think it’s a little too early to declare it a success ;)

    While I’m not a supporter of “gay marriage” I do acknowledge and support the right of anyone to love whomever they want and live with whomever they want (provided that person wants them back). That, in and of itself makes me far more “liberal” than a lot of people. My goal is to give maximum freedom to the individual and that cannot be done by handing the ability to define and legalize relationships over to the government.

    By the way Donna, I love your comments You have yet to offend me or be in any way hateful. We might not agree but you make me think and help me better explain and solidify my position. No one can be expected to grow without being challenged and goodness knows I haven’t thought about every single facet of the issues.

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  10. Donna says:

    Geez, you are fast in responding. I am amazed by your brain. :)

    Thanks for the clarification. It’s good to delve in a little further and think more about other people’s views– even though I don’t agree with everything, I’m glad to understand a little more. I think it’s really important that people feel like their opinions and concerns are heard and understood, and it’s good for me to push past the initial knee-jerk response and to try to see where someone else is coming from. In fact, for this issue, that is what changed my mind. I pushed past the fear that I had always been taught to have for *the other* and started reading people’s own stories– it was eye-opening and heart wrenching. I’m not suggesting that that is what you need to do, or that you refuse to see other people’s perspectives– just that I personally did, and that I still have to recognize when I do that to opposing viewpoints. It doesn’t always result in me changing my mind, but yes, being challenged can sometimes be a good exercise.

    Anyway, thanks for engaging. :)

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  11. Kathleen Thomas says:

    I too am a supporter of traditional marriage. I am also a supporter of equal rights. Marriage, however, is not a right. Words have meanings and if same-sex people wish to form a union, then they must come up with their own term. It might sound picky, but the word marriage means between a man and a woman. Maybe the term lebounion could mean the union between two women. Come up with your own term, and draw up legal contracts to cover issues such as visitation, insurance, inheritance, ownership, etc. Hereterosexual couples already do a lot of this. Two men desiring a union need to have their term. If two men or two women wish to establish a domestic situation they should be allowed to do so. My issue is their desire to use my term of union. It seems that for some reason they wish to have my approval. I told my husband that if we lived in a 95% homosexual community I would not want to take their term for union and use it for us. A man and a woman, a woman and a woman, and a man and man are three different and unique relationships, each deserving of their own term. If they feel good about their situation, why do they want my approval, and/or my term (marriage) that I use for my situation.

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    1. Thanks for your input Kathleen. That is a really good point! I hadn’t thought of it in that way before. In a video I linked in one of my comment replies Jeremy Irons points out that activists are chasing “the name” of marriage.

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