Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Follow-up: Figuring out a few things.

My post: Figuring out a few things (in which I came out of the pseudo-closet), got some really mixed comments. I'm not surprised--my viewpoint is certainly NOT the traditional or majority view in the LDS church. Most of the negative comments focused on The Family: A Proclamation to the World, a document written by the leaders of the church in 1995. I wanted to make a few points to clear up exactly why I've arrived at the decision I have.

1) People confuse the Family Proclamation as doctrine. It is not doctrine. It was not and has not been canonized. The Church does not have any doctrine on LGBT matters. Similarly, the church never had doctrine on how black people should be treated, either. What the church has is policy. And there is a big difference between doctrine and policy.

Doctrine rarely changes, nor should it, as we view it as the word of God. Policy, however, is the words of our human leaders, and it DOES change. Fairly frequently. Our leaders are human and fallible. We need to remember that, and allow them to be fallible and to grow and change, just as we do.

2) I'm not asking for doctrine to change. I'm not asking for the Family Proclamation to change. "Marriage between a man and a woman is essential to [God's] eternal plan." That's what it states. And I believe that wholeheartedly. It IS essential to God's plan. It's how we bring children into this world. And I'm not saying that should change. I respect the church's right to base its religious recognition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The issue of gay marriage, for me, is a public policy issue, not a religious one. The public policy issue is that right now same-gender couples are not allowed to have the same legal protections for their spouses as straight couples do. And I have a problem with that.

The church will always have the right to recognize marriage however they choose to, as well it should. The religious definition of marriage is one thing--the state's definition is another. And the 12th Article of Faith states that we believe in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. 9 states and D.C. have legalized same-sex marriage. For the gay people who DO choose to marry, shouldn't we do the Christlike thing, and allow them to be protected under the law, even if we don't agree with their personal choice?

No one is going to force the LDS church to perform gay marriages, nor should they, and I'm not debating that.

To close, a quote from Mitch Mayne, an openly gay man and an active member of the church: "We'd do alot better as disciples of our Savior if we paid a little more attention to our own salvation, and a little less to everyone else's."

Addendum:

There's a lot of talk about the Family Proclamation, so I wanted to point something out. I mentioned above that the Proclamation says that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to God's plan. It is. Absolutely. But it does NOT say that marriage between a man and a woman is the only way. It says "The family is ordained of God." It is. Absolutely. It does NOT say, "The family is ordained of God, unless it consists of a same-gender couple."

Nowhere, not ONCE, in the entire document, does it say anything about homosexual/transgender people or couples.

It says that ALL human beings are created in the image of God. It doesn't say, "All human beings are created in the image of God, unless they're LGBT."

It says that gender is an essential characteristic of individual eternal identity and purpose. Not gender unless you identify with a different gender than you were born with. Not gender unless you're gay.

So, yes. I did study the Family Proclamation. Extensively. I prayed about it. And no where, not once, does it say anything about LGBT children of God. Regardless of whether you believe it's doctrinal or not, there is nothing about gay/transgender people.

NOTE: BEFORE commenting, please read this post. Thanks.

23 comments:

  1. Hi Laura,

    Of course you are right that the ProcFam is not doctrine. In fact, when Boyd K Packer tried to name it that in the recent General Conference, it was struck from the written record. I've had some extensive talks with my own bishop about it, because it is so obviously incomplete. It does not at all describe the Plan of Salvation for God's gay children, and as children of God there is certainly a plan for them as well. Next, it does not declare women full and equal partners.

    I think those two points will need to be cleared up before it is added to the canon.

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  2. Love this post (as well as the previous one), Laura! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I agree completely with all that you said, and I admire your courage and the stance you've taken. My family has taken quite a bit of flack from "active, worthy" members of the church (as well as our local leaders) because we love and support our 14 year old son who came out as gay to us this year. I know it's hard to hear people say those things, and very hurtful. Please know you have a friend in me. You're awesome and strong, and I appreciate you so much!

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  3. I had a sinking feeling in my stomach when the Proclamation on the Family first came out. I am glad I am not the only one who sees it this way. Thanks for posting.

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  4. Thanks for your courage. You realize what you're doing, right? You're leaving the ninety-nine to get the one. You can't get much more Christlike than that. After all, our Savior's mortal ministry was chiefly concerned with those who were the outcasts of His day. I don't recall him berating the leper, chastising the prostitute, or castigating the money changers. I do recall, however, that He had some pretty harsh words for those who did.

    Love your heart.

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  5. Perfect - your point #2 is exactly my argument for supporting same-sex marriage and how I explained my vote to approve 74 here in Washington state to my bishop when he confronted me about it (but that's another story). Thank you for articulating it so clearly and succinctly.

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  6. Good post! I agree! It is not easy to be open about being a supporter for equal public policy when people often mix their religious views in it and question your faith because of it. I commend your openness and thoughtfulness, it urges peole to look a little deeper into the issues that are critical for our neighbors we are supposed to be loving unconditionally.

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  7. There is a big difference between supporting a gay individual and supporting their choice to live an actively gay lifestyle. Supporting and loving a gay individual is Christlike. Supporting their choice to engage in a same-sex relationship is a bit murky. If the individual in question professes to believe that homosexuality is wrong, then supporting them in living a homosexual lifestyle would also be wrong. If the individual does not believe that there is anything wrong with homosexuality, then they should do what they wish in private, with or without my support.

    Marriage as a social contract is for others to recognize that we have made a commitment to a single individual. If it didn't need to be recognized by society, there wouldn't be a need for a marriage license and a ceremony. The push for gay marriage, then, is not about the rights of gay people under the law. It's about their desire for society to recognize and accept their choice of lifestyle. A large portion of society believes that an active gay lifestyle is a sin, so that approval seems unlikely.

    Finally, I think it is a reach to say that the Proclamation on the Family is not scripture or cannon. It is doctrinal that, when the speaker is speaking under the influence of the Holy Ghost, what they are saying is scripture. So to argue that the Proclamation is not scripture is to say that you don't believe it was influenced by the Holy Ghost, and that the First Presidency was collectively speaking as men and not Apostles and Prophets when they signed their names to it.

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    1. I have added a portion to the end of my post to discuss the Family Proclamation.

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  8. Good post, Laura. This is not just public policy and the state's definition of marriage -- other religions recognize and perform gay marriages.
    D&C 134:4 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

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    1. Yes! The Proclamation on Government and Religion is canon and doctrine and commands that we dare not ever perpetrate our religiosity onto the greater population. D&C 134 is my favorite all time scripture, besides King Benjamin's Proclamation. The Proclamation on the Family, no matter how doctrinal it is, can never be forced upon the mass of the people, thereby forcing all people to become Mormons against their will. The Church needs to be absolutely inundated with the reading and study of D%C 134, because virtually mo one knows about it, certainly not the anti-Government Conservatives.

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  9. Laura, thanks so much. I love knowing there are people like you out there and *in* the church. I pray for more of the likes of you every day.

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  10. I really love this post. Well put.

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  11. A gal I dated at BYU came out about 10 years afterwards. I can't help but think it if she had forced herself to get married to me, it could have been another marriage that split up. Yes, I get troubled that LDS members get all "we know everything" about the Plan of Salvation, yet so little is known about this subject.

    On another subject: I also do pipeline safety advocacy, and have met one burn survivor of the San Bruno CA gas pipeline explosion & fire. He's had like 11 operations, his mother was told at one point in his treatment that he only had a 25% chance of survival. His girlfriend was killed in that fire. They were just watching Thursday Night Football when that happened.

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  12. It is wonderful to discover your blog Laura. The thing that disturbs me most about the Proclamation, is not anything about the contents of the Proclamation. It is right wing members feeling this adversarial need to utilize the Proclamation as a tool to legitimize their out and out bigotry. There is nothing in the Proclamation that gives them any legitimacy or any moral authority to trot this document out as a tool of hatred, of denigration, of alienation, dichotomy, ostracizing, prejudice, oppression, defamation, exclusivity, and holier than thou diatribes. There is absolutely nothing that is stated negatively in the Proclamation. There is no thou shalt not. Only, this is good, this is good and this is good. It never says that these are the only things, just that they are good things. Anyone jumping to a conclusion that because of this, then this negative thing must also be true, had better watch out. I find personal comfort in the Proclamation, as it says gender (not Sex) is divine. Try as one might, gender is not a sexualized concept, it is the concept of identity. My identity is divine, and I know it to be female, thus I am a transgender woman. If God had wanted it known that sex was the part that is to be considered divine, then the word "sex" and not "gender" would have been used. Anyway, my bottom line is that I openly and directly call out anyone and everyone who trots out the proclamation for the purpose of bringing about an anti LGBT discussion, or a hetero-supremacy discussion. I call it out for the bigotry it is, ignorant, malevolent or otherwise, the effects are the same...fostering and empowering the genocide against LGBT people, that has killed my sister. No bigot has a right to do what they are doing. For Shame!

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  13. Amen sister!!! From a feminist, lesbian, Mormon sister, thank you for your bravery and good heart! We need more souls like you. Too much hurt has been done by the church toward its LGBT members. So much of the church's fear of LGBT issues stems from our highly gendered structure. This not only addresses LGBT rights (politically and eternally) but also the mere idea of gender and gender roles in the church. Leave fear behind, seek love and truth! - all my love and support to you, thank you for your pure, Christlike heart :)

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  14. You go girl. If it wasn't alright to question Joseph Smith would have never restored the gospel as we have it today. It takes questioning, thinking, pondering people to be brilliant and change the world! Thanks for posting this. You are awesome and courageous!

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  15. Good for you for having the courage to state your beliefs! I haven't been as bold as you in stating my opinions and yet I've still received backlash from church members. Its really frustrating and sad. I agree 100% with what you've said though and hopefully peoples hearts will open up the more we share. A message of love and equality can't be wrong.

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  16. Thanks for your post. We need more members to openly talk about this. Hugs!!

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