Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

Zimbabwe Pres: “Gays Are Lower Than Pigs”

Zimbabwe – President Robert Mugabe is heading up a massive project to re-write the country’s constitution and says, “Absolutely

Zimbabwe President Mugabe says "Gays are lower than pigs"

 Not!” to calls for LGBT protections.

The new constitution is part of a power-share deal the country has made, and western human-rights advocates are strongly making their feelings known in the African Country. But President Mugabe isn’t bending, “Gays are lower than pigs” and says all calls for lgbt rights are “insanity.”

Interesting how most of Africa is strongly anti-LGBT rights, with the exception of South Africa, which was once known as one of the strongest prejudicial and bigoted countries in the world. Currently however, South Africa is the only country in Africa which has adopted full same-sex rights and marriage.

NJ Gay Marriage Battle Back In Court

From Philly.com:

N.J. – The gay couples who sued New Jersey for the right to marry once before are heading back to court.

Six couples plan to file a motion Thursday claiming that the state is still discriminating against them even though it offers civil unions to same-sex couples.

A suit from the couples, plus one other, resulted in a 2006 state Supreme Court decision that came one vote short of requiring the state to legalize gay matrimony then.

After an effort to get lawmakers to legalize it fizzled out this year, the couples and lawyers from Lambda Legal are heading back to court.

The seventh couple isn’t part of the motion because one of the partners died.

Opponents say there’s no constitutional right for gay couples to wed.

Portugal To Legalize Gay Marriage

This past Friday, the Portugal parliament passed a bill which would legalize same-sex marriage in the country. Heavy protest broke out in the country, which is predominantly Catholic and anger was stoked by the local Bishop, Dom Jose Policarpo who said in a statement to the AP, “Millenary culture deems marriage as a contract between a man and a woman. Changing this understanding of what is a family can have extremely grave consequences in the future.”

Members of the Portugal LGBT Community Celebrate The Parliament's Decision

The bill currently would provide the local LGBT community with all benefits and protections as heterosexual marriages, with the exception of adoption which would remain illegal for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

The final step in the process is a ratification by the conservative President Anibal Cavaco Silva. If and when the President approves this bill, Portugal will be join those countries more enlightened than the world’s strongest super-power, the United States. Currently, Spain, Belgiam, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, South Africa and Canada are the only countries to fully understand human decency.

New Jersey Senate Votes No On Gay Marriage

New Jersey State Senate

New Jersey Senate votes no on gay marriage. With a 20-14 vote.

The vote came after a vigorous debate on the Senate floor, and Senators from both sides of the issue weighed in heavily. One of the most poignant moments came when one

Pro-Gay Marriage supporters rallied outside of the NJ Senate Chambers for hours before the vote.

senator read a letter from one of his constituents, a straight young man who was raised (along with his brothers and sisters) by his gay older brother. The story was read with tears streaming down the Senators face, and many in the Senate chamber from both sides of the issues struggled to keep their emotions in check.

The vote brings to an end a year long debate in the Garden State which truly began after a bipartisan/citizen comittee unanimously stated early in 2009 that New Jersey’s Civil Union law does NOT provide equal protections under the law for lgbt citizens, that marriage provides to heterosexual couples. Many LGBT activists, like Jamie McGonnigal have been pushing for this bill for a long time, but not just for himself. “I want it to pass because we need to keep the ball rolling,” McGonnigal said, “so that one day that young gay kid growing up in Wisconsin will realize he can have the same life his parents had.”

The main argument against the bill seems to be extremist conservatives claiming that this should be a popular vote. But their arguments lacked any substance as no other civil-rights issue in our country has been put to a popular vote, including the 1960’s civil rights movement.

Many have claimed that the vote managed to highlight just how moronic many on the anti-human rights side can be, with one Senator who was against the bill even spent time mentioning how much the “gays” improve property values.

Spirits fortunately are not dampened, as universally Equality is recognized as the next and natural step for our great nation. We cannot be held back for long, for as was stated today “”Just because this is not a racial injustice, it does not mean it is not a civil injustice.”

Listen to/Watch Some of the Senate Speeches HERE

True Mormons

Good morning everybody! One of our readers sent me a letter yesterday, which he wrote following Prop 8 in California for the now infamous “LDS Apology” website. This reader, and others like him define to me what Mormonism is truely all about, and I’m thrilled to have his permission to share this with you.

If you have a story you’d like to tell, let me know! You can contact me directly at ethingtoneric@hotmail.com.

Cheers!
Eric Ethington

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If It Is a Good Seed

One man’s journey pulling his Mormon faith from the closet.

I have said more than once throughout my life that I am glad that I am not gay because I would not know how to reconcile the gospel with my orientation.  Because I am not gay I never felt the need to address these contradictions, in the words of my Bishop, “putting my uneasiness on the shelf.”  This changed when my wife of thirteen years came out to me.

Bloody Knuckles

“To those who say that this practice or any other evil is incurable, I respond: “How can you say the door cannot be opened until your knuckles are bloody, till your head is bruised, till your muscles are sore?”

-Spencer W. Kimble

I was married thirteen and half years.  My wife and I have 4 beautiful children.  I met my wife when I came home from my mission and she was leaving on hers.  I waited for her.  We were married five months after she returned home.  We shared common values.  We were both committed to the church and each other.

When I asked her to marry me I did so because I believed God told me too.  I still believe God told me too.  I will never regret that decision.    I remember going to the Manti Temple I had been praying and had fasted to know if I should marry her.  I went to the prayer circle.  During the prayer I felt the distinct impression that I would have to be crazy not to marry her.  I also knew at that moment that we would have struggles I did not understand at that moment.

We were married when my wife had one year left at BYU and I had two.  We prayed together and on our own.  We had family home evening and studied our scriptures.  We always attended church.  We also went to the temple often.  We always struggled in our marriage.  Although we were very committed to each other and constantly talked for hours we always had huge struggles in our marriage.  My wife says she knew I was passionately devoted to her, and she went into marriage hoping that my passion and love would help her one day to feel the same.  I could tell that see did not yearn for me.  I continually felt like a failure, but did not want to ever acknowledge my fears.  I guess I have been of the fake it till you make it ilk for a long time.  My wife felt like a failure for not feeling the passion for me that I felt for her.  We hated ourselves for our perceived ineffectiveness.  We both felt blamed by the other person.  My wife even felt degraded by every part of our physical relationship, even kissing and holding hands, but still did everything she knew how to do to try and over come these issues.  I felt like a complete failure.  I knew she did not love me.  I wanted her to want me and to need me.  I settled for her appreciating me.  I thought about suicide many times during those years.  Many times I prayed all night asking:  How things will ever work out?  What can I do more?  Why did you want us to get married? I can not tell you how many times I prayed all night about these issues or that we stayed up all night talking trying to work things out.  Some times I would just walk all night.

I think of the words of Alma:

“But behold, as the seed sweelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good: for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow.  And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith?  Yea, it this strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed: for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.”

How long before a good seed would start to grow?  I knew nothing else to do to help it to grow.

We did have many good times together, but our struggles were always troubling us.  We both went to counselors at different times in our marriage, hoping to get help.  Though we always worked at talking we would go long periods of time when one or both of us would stop trying to have a physical relationship.

When we had been married for about 12 years we experienced one of these periods that lasted just over 18 months.   My wife had shared with me that she did not know why but she had absolutely no sexual desire at all.  I believed it was wrong for me to ask for intimacy when it would be only one sided.  I eventually started sleeping on the couch because it was too much for me to lay next to her in bed.  During all this time we attended church, had family prayer, family home evening, went to the temple together, and spent long hours together talking.

At this time I felt hugely guilty for my sexual desire.  I believed that anyway that I could express them would be evil or sin.  I believed it was wrong to approach my wife with them, it was definitely wrong to go to anyone else, and I believed it was wrong to masturbate.  I started feeling insane with my sexual desire.  I even prayed for sexual desire to be taken away.  This seemed to only make them increase.  During this time I went to stake priesthood meeting the theme was internet porn.  This was a temptation for me and I knew to resist these temptations, but I was on the verge of tears because I wanted them to tell me how to get rid of this insane desire.  I hoped in vain for some guidance.  Maddingly, none came.  I was sitting next to my elder’s quorum president during this meeting.   I think I really worried him.  The very next Sunday he taught a lesson on forgiveness, how no matter what we have done God loves us and we can be forgiven, some how this message did not really address my issues.

Finally, I just remembered the words of a close friend I had taught with years before, Charles.  Charles had been raised in the church, and served a mission.  After years in the church his wife he had married in the temple left him.  This spurned a trial of his faith that had lasted for years.  At one point he chose to start drinking coffee.  After that he never really felt comfortable attending, but he said he still asked himself everyday if God was Mormon?  When he shared with me about his struggle with the word of wisdom I said something to the effect that the word of wisdom was not my issue, but I had others.  He asked what they were.  I said my sexual desire.  He said remember God gave you that desire.  When I remembered these words I decided to stop trying to make these feelings go away.  It was like turning off a light.  Not that my desire went away it just came down to a level I could deal with.  I could function.  I was no longer going crazy. I could even sleep next to my wife.

Soon after I came to this realization, my wife shared with me that she had come to understand that she was gay.  I had never seen such happiness and self-acceptance in her eyes.  I could not help but be happy for her.  I also, selfishly, felt relief to think that I was not a failure.    I felt the spirit confirm to me that homosexuality was not a malignancy or a mistake. I knew in my heart that God created her homosexual.  This knowledge is where my journey began. To see her happiness I knew it is how God made life to be.  We are made to be happy.  We are not made to live in misery.

We attempted to resume our physical relationship in a limited way.  She believed that when she felt enough physical desire she could come to me and we could have a sexual experience.  Yes, she has been able to have a sexual experience with me.  Just as I am sure even though I am not attracted to men if I was sexual with a man I’m sure I could climax, but it would always feel wrong, bad, even degrading.   It became obvious that this was happening with her.  We both came to the conclusion separately that we could no longer pursue a physical relationship with each other, amazingly this one step started to bring us closer together.  I guess at this point we threw out the bad seed.  We knew we would never have a romantic relationship.  I now understand that because our physical relationship was one sided it was also degrading and abusive to my wife and ultimately to both of us, therefore it only drove us apart.  I believe ending our romantic relationship made it possible for me to make changes so our communication could become effective and caring.  We planted a new seed.  We began building a different relationship as only friends so we could be better partners as parents.  This seed is rooted in the understanding that God created my wife as a homosexual and she is not going to change.  This seed started growing immediately.  It has continued to this day, and we enjoy the fruit of that seed today and I am grateful for what our relationship has become.

Mourn With Those Who Mourn

Our local Bishop has been supportive to my wife since she came out to him.  He is a very kind man.  He gave my wife a pamphlet entitled “God Loves His Children”.  In this pamphlet it encourages members that struggle with “same sex attraction” to only share their orientation with their bishop and maybe a close family member.  I struggled with this council.  I believe it is given in the spirit of protecting homosexual members.  Still, we are asking members of the church to keep secret what Elder Wickman describes as a “core characteristic”.  Are we not taught that it is the devil that operates in secret?

Sitting in church I have heard many members say things I know are not intended to hurt anyone, but they come across to me as hurtful to homosexual members.  One of the problems I believe is that the speakers of these statements do not know that there are homosexuals in the room.

On many occasions I would sit in church seeing all the married couples in the ward, and realizing that they all think that my wife and I have the same type of relationship they do.  Not that I think our relationship is anything to be ashamed of.  In fact I believe our relationship is something very beautiful.  It hurts to realize that I am being dishonest with everyone there.

It also hurts to know that not one of these people has any idea of who I am.  How can any of these people mourn with me when I mourn?

How much more pronounced is this experience for the gay member sitting hoping that no one finds out who they really are because they may be hated?

Why do we come together to worship?

Why do we have a ward family?

I think Alma described it well, when he spoke about being willing to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.  How can a homosexual member receive any of the benefits from having a faith community, a ward family?

The brethren are very warm when they speak to homosexual members.  They tell us there is no sin in the feelings of “same sex attraction”.  They also say that these inclinations should be controlled and subdued and never given in to.  So in essence these feelings that are not sin are temptations.

What does this feel like to some one who only shares these feelings with the bishop and maybe a close family member as if it is a confession of a serious sin?  How does it feel when these feelings are always there?

In fact my wife shared with me the more she felt the spirit the stronger these feeling were.

How does this member feel like part of the ward much less a child of God?

Pioneering

We in the church have a resonance with the symbolism of pioneers.  I have ancestors who crossed the plains.  I recently had a friend make an interesting comparison.  His comparison started with blacks in the church.  For a long time there were many racially bigoted members of the church.  Many of whom used the church position concerning blacks and the priesthood as an excuse to hold on to their bigotry.   In fact, I remember as a child being taught “doctrines” that explained this position.  These ranged from blacks have descended from Cain and have his curse to blacks sat on the fence in the pre-mortal life.  As I grew older I learned that these had been all taught by general authorities even in conference.  I later found that these “doctrines” came straight from the play book of the KKK.  This friend said that any black member of the church particularly before 1978 was a pioneer, and that homosexual members are pioneers as well.

The first part of his comparison I believe is true.  I think a pioneer is someone that goes first and blazes a trail so that others see which way to go.  I think as black members attended church white members not only got to know them, but also saw they were black. It is easy to be bigoted when you have never met any one different than yourself.  When you get to know a black man as your brother it is harder to treat him with disdain.  Therefore that the presence of a black person in church would break down boundaries and mark the trail works.

The second part of my friend’s comparison, I believe, does not work.  If the church asks homosexual members not to be public about their orientation and they continue to sit in wards unknown to their ward brothers and sisters, what barriers can be challenged, what change can be made, how is the trail marked?

How can we affect change?  I believe this is a question of great importance.  The brethren tell us they are called bigoted and homophobic because of their stance on homosexual behavior.  They may be right, but I believe that this is not the reason that the institution is prejudiced. I believe the institution of the church is prejudiced for other reasons.  One is how homosexual members can never feel secure with their ward family.  I also believe that because of this secrecy the potential for a member to enter into an abusive relationship without understanding the risks is great.  Without openness about homosexuality many members enter heterosexual marriages like my wife, not understanding that their sexual orientation will hinder, even cripple, their ability to make a sexual relationship work.  They then will spend years feeling guilty for not feeling what they cannot feel.  Others feel ashamed to admit to themselves or their spouses that they have feelings when they feel condemned by those feelings.  Still some straight spouses never understand when their gay spouse shares with them about their orientation.  In these causes many straight spouses become abusive, or condemning.

Marriages like mine are no longer advocated by the church for a cure of homosexuality.  This is great because they are not cures for homosexuality, and because they are abusive situations.  Would any of us want our daughters to enter a sexual relationship with someone they had no sexual attraction for, is this not sexual abuse?  How many young homosexuals asked to focus so much on our heterosexual roles never ask the question am I gay until they have been in an abusive relationship for more than 13 years?

We as a church institution and culture need to find out how we can change these things or we will continue as a people to be prejudiced.

A Good Name

“Always use the proper name for things.  Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.

-Albus Dumbledore

In 1995 Elder Oaks explained that we should not use the words gay, lesbian, or homosexual to describe a person.

“We should note that the words homosexual, lesbian, and gay are adjectives to describe particular thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. We should refrain from using these words as nouns to identify particular conditions or specific persons. Our religious doctrine dictates this usage. It is wrong to use these words to denote a condition, because this implies that a person is consigned by birth to a circumstance in which he or she has no choice in respect to the critically important matter of sexual behavior.”

I take issue with his logic.  If we are to take his logic at face value it would also say that since I am a heterosexual male therefore I have no choice but have sex with women.  This I believe is preposterous.   Yes, for some reason my body desires women.  This does not imply that I have no choice in my behavior.  It does imply that my desire for women is different than say my desire for chocolate or a Big Mac.

The same is true for those who are homosexual.  Their desire for someone of the same sex is very different than desire for chocolate or a Big Mac.  Sexual desire is something that does not go a way and it is biological in nature.

To use a word like same-sex attraction implies other things.  First of all it is like calling a black person colored.  It is not openly derogatory, but it is not equivalent to the term we use for the majority.  Like black and white are equivalent terms.  Homosexual and heterosexual are equivalent terms.  To use a nonequivalent term such as same-sex attraction is not only diminutive in nature it implies pathology.  We are saying there is something wrong with you.  You are not as good.  You have a problem we do not have.  It also implies that your sexual desires are not as real as mine.  It implies that homosexual desires are more like a desire for chocolate or a Big Mac and should be easy to live without.  It dismisses the issue and relegates these feelings to a symptom of a problem like alcohol, gambling, or pornography is a symptom to the problem of addiction.  In fact many have directly said homosexuality is an addiction and should be treated as such.   The problem with calling it an addiction is in order to be addicted to something you need to have partaken of it.  Homosexuals are attracted to people of the same sex long before they have had any sexual relations, just as I was attracted to women long before I had ever had any sexual relations with a woman.

Homosexuality or same-sex attraction is not like the temptations we have to lie, cheat, steel, or speed on the freeway.  The feelings of homosexuality are substantially different than the temptations mentioned, and they are equivalent to heterosexual feelings.

To continually call these feeling “same-sex attraction” encourages heterosexuals to ignore this issue.  We do not see that there are homosexual members in every unit of the church.  They are not there, otherwise how could so many hurtful things be said in our ward meetings.  Also, it creates fear of the homosexual.  If we never use the word it becomes something to be afraid of, I believe Dumbledore’s words here implicitly.  We do fear that which we are afraid to say.  How do I hear the word homosexual at church or among my ward family?  People talk about the homosexual agenda, or that homosexuals are destroying the family.  These phrases are laced with fear of the other.

Not calling a spade a spade here perpetuates bigotry.  It also I believe it is a way we can call good evil and evil good.

If we asked a random church member if homosexuals are good or bad, what do you think most would say?

Do we even consider that we could be sitting next to a homosexual member in Sunday school?

Do we consider the same homosexual member may be living the church teachings better than ourselves?

Why do homosexual members sit in fear and in pain in our wards?

Why do so many of our homosexual brothers and sisters attempt and commit suicide?

Might it have something to do with how we treat them?

Could it have something to do with the language we use that implies they are not there?

Upon This Rock I Shall Build My Church

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

– Galileo Galilei

“I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.”

-Brigham Young

My journey brought me to an exploration of our doctrine when sitting in church one Sunday our bishop read the following letter:

In March 2000 California voters overwhelmingly approved a state law providing that “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The California Supreme Court recently reversed this vote of the people. On November 4, 2008, Californians will vote on a proposed amendment to the California state constitution that will now restore the March 2000 definition of marriage approved by the voters.

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.

A broad-based coalition of churches and other organizations placed the proposed amendment on the ballot. The Church will participate with this coalition in seeking its passage. Local Church leaders will provide information about how you may become involved in this important cause.

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.

This letter prompted lots of thought on my part.  It further increased my wife’s feelings of alienation when she attended church.

I made it a matter of prayer and I felt an over whelming prompting to not only not to support prop. 8, but to fight against it.  I wrote several letters and submitted them to the web site signingforsomething.org this was the first of four letters.

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

When the church was under fire for practicing polygamy we used this article of faith to support our position, apparently believing that marriage was part of worshiping Almighty God.

We as a church teach that originally marriage started with Adam and Eve as a covenant between husband and wife and God. This commitment not only has to do with fidelity for time and eternity but living the Gospel as well. This ordinance is necessarily performed by one holding authority from God. Throughout the ages what has been called marriage has included more and more things. Plural wives, commitments of fidelity for time only, and commitments for time performed by individuals that practiced priest craft, commitments that had nothing to with God performed by a government representative, even arrangements that had nothing to do with sexual fidelity at all. Many of these at one time or another have been taught by the church as not as desirable as the original definition. We as a church have never tried to make it illegal for these marriages to be performed. Why do we single out this group of people to be not worthy of the privilege to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience? Why are they unworthy to worship how, where, or what they may?

It is interesting to me the language of the letter read in many sacrament meetings.
“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.”
Yes marriage between a man and a woman is ordained by God. This does not say marriage between two people of the same sex should be beaten and killed legally. Also yes, the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan for His children. Same sex marriage is forming families. Many strong stable families are in tact because same sex relationships have persisted long term. Many of these couples have raised good children, in fact just as many of these children are heterosexual as those raised by mixed sex couples. Lastly, if children are entitled to be born within this bond of marriage, then same sex marriage will allow many children that are currently being raised in same sex partnerships to be raised by married people.

I believe children being raised in a committed legally binding marriage relationship are more likely to seek monogamous relationships than those being raised by parents just living together.

I am an active member of the church. I have a testimony of the scriptures and of continuing revelation. I have had personal revelation that confirms these things to me. I also have asked God if I should support the letter read in my sacrament meeting. I have received my answer. I pray continually that the leaders of the church will receive a revelation concerning homosexuality. I read over and over what is published on the church web site concerning homosexuality. We are taught that the feelings of homosexuality are not sins. If this is true why do we seek to persecute those outside the church who have a different belief about behavior, particularly those seeking to promote committed legally binding monogamous relationships? Same-sex-marriage may not be the same as eternal temple marriage, but it is far preferable to promiscuity or even living in sin. I would say in many cases it is far preferable to the pain caused to those involved in heterosexual marriages when one partner is gay. This I believe is similar to the church’s position that marriage performed by some one in government or those practicing priest craft are not the same as eternal marriage performed in the temple, but they are far preferable to promiscuity or living in sin. Is this not why we do nothing to discourage these types of marriages much less try to make them illegal?

I have been told more than once that this is flirting with apostasy.  A few people were much more direct and just said that I was an apostate.  I disagree.

I believe we are a church based on revelation not on the leader.  We disagree with the Catholics on the interpretation of Christ’s words “upon this rock I will build my church” The Catholics believe he was refereeing to the Man Peter “the Pope”.  This has very distinct theological implications.  This implies anything said or done by the current leader comes from God.

We interpret the Rock that Christ referred too as not the man but revelation.  This implies that the leader has the authority to receive revelation and yes has a responsibility to make policy, but revelation and policy are two very distinct and different things.  As we look throughout history the leaders of the church have said and done things that have been a result of culture not revelation.  This does not make them any less of a prophet.  It just means they are people too.  We could list a plethora of examples here, but I will just point out a few.  Abraham kept slaves and even slept with one.  Paul said women should veil their faces and not speak in church.  Brigham Young said “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race?  If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.”  I believe that these are all examples when prophets were speaking from their culture and not from revelation.  The other thing I believe is that progress on any of these issues such as slavery, women’s rights, or civil rights would not have been made if people from within a culture did not speak out loudly and courageously.

I think if we look more specifically, the example of blacks being withheld temple blessings and the priesthood we can see some important things.  In 1978 the brethren brought forth a revelation indicating that all worthy members could attend the temple and all worthy men could hold the priesthood.  We know this was revelation because all the brethren reported it as such.  Please note that although previously many general authorities had made very vocal statements about why black members where not to have the full blessings of the church not one said their explanation was revelation or even the policy itself was a revelation.  This policy of the church was not clearly established in the scriptures or in revelation.

There are very few major issues in the church that we can not point to clear directives in the scriptures or a clear revelation to point the way, particularly when we look at behavioral requirements.  In fact the only one I can think of is the church’s stand on homosexuality and gay marriage.  Remember the rock is revelation not the brethren.

Most members that I talk with are not willing to even consider that homosexuality is part of God’s plan.  They seem to be afraid that if this were true it would falsify the gospel.  I first say the Lord will yet reveal many great and important things.  We do not always comprehend the things of God.  Also remember the words of Joseph Smith “Our Heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and [more] boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive.”  So please do not cast out this fruit with unbelief.  Alma taught us how to know if it is a good seed.

First let us look to the scriptures.  At one time I assumed that the Lord’s will was clearly established in the scriptures on the matter of homosexuality and by extension gay marriage, but let us look.

Let us point out that Christ never teaches against homosexuality.  Also, Book of Mormon prophets, Doctrine and Covenants, or The Pearl of Great Price never teach against homosexuality.  Homosexuality is not forbidden in the Ten Commandments.

The most famous place we look to condemn homosexuality is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.  After all was not gay sex named after this place?  I believe there are two very important points here. One, the story never tells us what the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is.  The text never even implies that the sin is homosexuality.  We make this assumption because of the meaning our society has placed on the word sodomy.  There is no implication at all that consensual adult homosexual sex was being practiced in this community.  Second, what is talked about in this story is gang rape, and gang rape is very different than consenting sexual activity.

Outside of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and references to it there are only two other sources that condemn homosexuality.  The two places in all of the scriptures that actually preach against homosexuality are the writings of Paul and the Book of Leviticus.

Leviticus actually calls homosexuality an abomination.  This sounds pretty harsh.  It is important to note that all other references to abominations are ceremonial performances not moral sin such as pork and shell fish.  When I read the Book of Leviticus, outside of a few times one of the Ten Commandments is quoted, the only thing I see that we accept as doctrine today is the condemnation of homosexuality.

Paul also condemned homosexuality.  He actually taught that if we did not have enough faith in Christ we would be plagued with homosexuality.  This seems to contradict with “the feelings of homosexuality are not sin” which is what the brethren teach today.  It seems Paul’s teachings on sexuality in general are also in direct opposition to the brethrens’ teaching of today.  Paul taught that you serve the Lord better if you remain celibate.  He also taught that the only reason for marriage is if you were unable to control you sexual impulses.   It seems that today we are taught that marriage helps you serve the Lord better, given that you are required to be married to serve as a bishop or any leadership calling higher.  Also, rather than the only reason to marry is if you can’t control your sexual desire, we are taught marriage is essential to exaltation. Given that the brethren disagree with Paul on our core beliefs on sexuality, why would we choose to use him to support our position?  The brethren rarely do.  The brethren almost exclusively quote the Proclamation.

Seeing that there is no clear support in the scriptures for our position on homosexuality the second place to look is modern revelation.  Like I pointed out before what the brethren typically quote is the Proclamation.   It seems that there must be some difference with the Proclamation than say declaration 2 because the brethren never call the proclamation a revelation.

President Packer at the world wide training on the family did say the Proclamation was the best source to look to about homosexuality.  So our best source is not the scriptures, it is not a revelation; it is the Proclamation on the Family.

So let us look at what the proclamation says about homosexuality and gay marriage.

The first line reads:

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God is repeated several more times. We can infer that this is important.  Note that it never says that any other type of marriage is condemned by God.  Do we assume that whatever families that are not specifically mentioned as ordained that we should hunt and kill?  Do we work to make it illegal for single parents to raise children?

The next line from the Proclamation we see used to defend the church’s position on homosexuality is this:

Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

I ask what this says about homosexuality.  Gender is how masculine or feminine you are.  Gender is not something directly affected by orientation. There are very masculine men that are gay and very feminine men that are straight.  This may say something about Trans-gendered individuals, but what?  Does it say that if your eternal spiritual gender conflicts with your physical gender you should change the physical to match the eternal?

Also similar to the first line:

We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

So where does God “commanded that the powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman….”  I do believe the brethren believe that God implied this some how, but unless this here is the Lord’s words himself I am unaware where he Commands this.

Again very similar to the first line:

Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.

And again stating that this is essential to his plan does not speak to anything else being eliminated or not part of his plan.

I find this line very interesting:

Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

In European countries that had seen for many years a decline of traditional marriage and a rising rate of divorce found both these statistics turn around once gay marriage was legalized.  Therefore we see indications that gay marriage itself can have a positive effect on all families’ even traditional families.

Similarly I believe the last line of the proclamation calls us to protect all families and in no way justifies attacking one type of family:

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.

As we see given that the proclamation is the best source to teach us about homosexuality and gay marriage it really does not teach us that that homosexuality is wrong or justifies attacking gay marriage.

On my journey I discovered that these policies that the brethren are defending concerning homosexuality and gay marriage are not scriptural or given in revelation, but rather they are culturally based like slavery, misogyny, and racial bigotry.   Also like slavery, misogyny, and racial bigotry unless we in the culture figure out how to stand up, speak out, and change what is wrong they will continue even among the Lords chosen leaders.

Wickedness Never Was Happiness

“I give you a strong caution. Be wary of the word tolerance…. we are not required to tolerate anything that leads to unhappiness…. Tolerance is often demanded but seldom returned. Beware of tolerance. It is a very unstable virtue.”

-Boyd K. Packer

Many members of the church are familiar with the story of Stewart Mathis.  Stewart’s story has been told in many places one being the book “In Quiet Desperation.”  Stewart was an active member of the church in CA.  Stewart was gay.  He lived the gospel.  He was living a celibate life.  He struggled to continue his activity in the church because of the pain church activity caused because he was gay.  He never gave up his membership or his activity.  He shot himself on the steps of his stake center.  Stewart’s story is a very painful one.  Unfortunately, Stewart’s experience is not unique.  Over the last few years I have met quite a few gay members of the church.  I also have read many experiences of gay members of the church. The book “No More Goodbyes” by Carol Lynn Pearson is a beautiful book that shares many of these stories.

Every homosexual member I have met that is working to get rid of this part of them has Stewart Mathis’s pain in common.   These people struggle with self-hatred everyday.  They typically share that they have struggles with suicide.  In fact three times more gay men in the church commit suicide than straight men.  I believe this statistic is probably not telling the whole story.  This is talking about self-reporting gay men.  How many of those being counted as straight just never reported they were gay.

I have also met many homosexuals that have left the church and are now in same sex relationships.  In my experience when I speak with these people they talk about having the same struggles with misery when they were in the church.  Yet, they radiate joy when I talk to them.  They have all struck me now as very happy people.

I have always been taught that living the gospel brings happiness in this life and eternal life in the life to come.  I can not believe that God would require his children to exchange happiness in order to experience misery in this life to gain eternal life.

What about living in the church causes this misery for our homosexual members?  I think some of it has to do with what I have already referred to.  Sitting in wards afraid that your brothers and sisters around you will find out who you really are, must exact a huge price.  Also, constantly having a “core characteristic” as Elder Wickman describes gender-orientation, continually referred to as pathology or a malignancy of character by calling it same-sex-attraction.  This also must exact a huge price.  I believe that when the church seems to ignore the homophobia within the church, and then devotes an unbelievable amount of time and energy mobilizing our members to donate millions of dollars to make it illegal for nonmember homosexuals to call their monogamist relationships marriage, it must send an almost undeniable message to the heart of every homosexual member.  In Stewart Mathis’s case the churches fight for Prop. 22 in CA was the last straw before he shot himself.

I do believe that all of these things are huge factors, but I believe the true source can be found directly in a doctrine that when examined is contradictory.  The church’s doctrine seems to have come a long why.  It was only in the 1970’s when our leaders were saying homosexuality was a choice and that it was chosen because of sin.  In the 1980 we heard things like homosexuality can be cured by treating selfishness.  In the 1990’s we started hearing that the feelings of homosexuality are not sin.  Just recently in the Oaks/Wickman interview published on lds.org.  Elder Oak’s acknowledged that we do not know why someone is gay.

To say that the feelings of homosexuality are not sin seems like a world of difference from homosexuals are all sinful. What does it really mean?  We are taught that the feelings of homosexuality are not sin.  We are also taught that those same feelings are all temptations that should be resisted at all cost, and never be given in to.  We are taught those feelings are completely out of harmony with God’s plan.  We are taught that only through heterosexual marriage can we receive the highest degree of glory.  We are taught that homosexual members should treat these feelings as if they are serious sin, and only share them with a bishop and maybe a close family member.  We are taught that homosexual members should not spend much time with or have close relationships with people of the same sex.  We are taught that homosexual members should not associate with those who talk openly about homosexuality.  We are taught that homosexual member can only be exalted by pretending to be heterosexual and some day in this life or the next to become heterosexual.  When these feelings never go away; when these feelings come from the body that God gave you; when these feelings are apply described as core characteristic by Elder Wickman; what are our gay brothers and sisters going to feel.  How can they not eventually feel that the church’s current policy may sound more loving, but in essence it is no different than just to say if you are gay you are going to hell?  I believe that regardless of the loving comments of the brethren it is this façade that is the root of the misery of our homosexual brothers and sisters.  I believe that there is not a homosexual person alive that can get up day after day believing this doctrine and not eventually struggle with self-hatred.  This is not God’s plan because God does love his children, all of his children. So it is really our theology that is not only at the root of the pain homosexual members feel, but also at the root of all the cultural and institutional bigotry I have discussed.

When my wife shared with me she was gay I saw a seed planted in my life. As my wife and I have learned how to honor and accept ourselves and each other many things changed in our home and in our hearts.  Now that we are divorced that seed has become the best thing in our home.  Because we now can fully love ourselves, what neither of us could do before, the spirit is stronger in our home and our hearts.  Because we can fully love ourselves we are better friends than ever before.  Because we can fully love ourselves we are better parents than we have ever been.  Because we can fully love ourselves our children are happier than ever before.  Our children get along better with each other and have better friendships than they ever had.  Our children are now doing better in school than they ever have.  Now we are divorced our family in every way I can think of is closer, happier, and more spiritual.  I believe that planting this good seed and refusing to tolerate all the things that lead to unhappiness in our lives has made all the difference.

New Jersey Gay Marriage Vote Will Happen!!

In a shocking release just moments ago, New Jersey Senate President Richard Codey announced that he will push the New Jersey Gay Marriage Vote to this Thursday, the 7th.

This is a huge boon to equal marriage supporters, if passed it still falls under current NJ Governor Corzine who has pledged to sign the bill into law. From http://www.nj.com:

“Given the intensely personal nature of this issue, I think the people of this state deserve the right to a formal debate on the Senate floor,” said Codey, in a statement.

Many legislators have refused to say publicly where they stand on the matter and how they would vote. Legislators who are in favor of the measure have said support for the bill won’t be known until the votes are tallied.

Time Running Out For NJ Gay Marriage

Time is running out for Gay Marriage in New Jersey. With only a few days left before an Anti-Human Rights Conservative takes over as Governor.

NJ Governor Jon Corzine

Say what you want about Governor Jon Corzine, but he has his head screwed on right when it comes to LGBT rights. He’s promised to sign LGBT marriage into law if the New Jersey state senate passes the law before he leaves office on January 19th. Unfortunately, that vote was supposed to take place back in December. It’s been postponed and postponed by the extremist right who are bowing to pressure from the small handful of religious leaders in the state who are opposed to equal treatment.

Early in 2009, Corzine organized a bipartisan legislative/citizen panel to review the state’s current laws which allow for civil unions among gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered residents to decide if equal protections were being provided. The panel came back with a unanimous vote saying, “No,” civil unions are not the equivelant of marriage. Since then, NJ Legislators have gained huge support in passing equal marriage into law.

But in the November election, Governor Corzine was ousted by Republican Chris Christie. Christie has promised to veto any bill allowing gay marriage that comes to his desk. This gave the remaining far-righters in the Senate the out they needed, all they have to do is delay the vote until Jan 19th and the problem will go away.

Governor-elect Chris Christie

A group of 150 religious leaders in the state sent a massive petition to the Legislature this past week, asking the Senate to vote for the bill now. But with time running out, the clock may be ticking down the last hope of equality in the state for the next several years.