Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Just a Thought

It's about gay marriage and equality. Yes, it's become a rather heated topic as of late but I'm going to take a stab at it too. It's time to put an end to all the silly debates. So I want to bring out the actual facts of the debate here. Let's begin.

It seems to be the only argument people can come up with against gay marriage is that it is offensive to their religious institution in some form or another. The funny thing is, a lot of religious people are arguing against others who are not so religious. And even people who are religious are arguing against other religions! It gets to the point of being a little bit ridiculous. It's like a physicist and a chemist trying to argue about the speed of light. Neither of them speak a similar language, and even though they are arguing about the same topic, all they would be doing is speaking *past* each other because they have no common ground. Differing religions might have some common grounds but using the principles of one religion isn't going to convince someone of another religion to start acting differently.

Let me give you an example: the Jewish people do not eat pork. Why is that? Because it specifically says in the Bible (more or less) that eating pork is disgusting and should not happen. But for the most part, I bet my readers eat pork. Why is that? Probably because we are not Jewish, and do not believe in that assessment. If a Jewish person came up to you and started arguing about how sinful you were because you consumed pork, you would throw out their argument as ludicrous because, you don't believe what they believe!

So why is it that members of the LDS church, who overwhelmingly supported and propagated the passing of Proposition 8 in California, can try to impose their views on others? The majority of the population in California is *not* LDS. So they can obviously try and make law their views and throw them onto other people right? Well maybe in this context, but if a Californian tried to outlaw a Mormon belief (let's pretend reading the Book of Mormon), the LDS church would be up in arms about their religious freedoms being trampled on! They would not stand for it!

I borrowed this from a friend's status on facebook: "Money quote from Rev. Barry Lynn, head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State:
' ... Opponents of same-sex marriage have been unable to muster any arguments other than it offends their theology. We have a secular government, and dogma should not and cannot be transformed into law.'

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's return to the religious reasons why gay marriage and equality is wrong.

It is going to cause beastiality--really? This is quite possibly the dumbest argument against gay marriage that has ever existed. I hate to break it to you, but marriage is between consenting *adults*. It is not between one consenting adult and one animal ok? There is no basis for a logical argument here.

It will ruin the sanctity of marriage--also really? I'm pretty sure that heterosexuals have already done a pretty bang up job at ruining the sanctity of marriage. Did you know that about 50% of children born were born by accident? So half the population running around are born because mommy and daddy (or a whole slew of variations between the two genders) made a mistake. But besides that, we already have the wonderful political figures of today shouting, "My affair makes me more American!" Or we have the lovely Kardashian woman gaining millions upon millions of dollars from her marriage and subsequent divorce days later. And let's not forget Britney Spears' just for fun few minute marriage with a divorce.

It's in the Bible and for Mormons the Book of Mormon--not true. From the book, "Thou Shalt Question" by M.J. Prometheus it says:
"Sometimes people cite 2 Nephi 13:9 which states 'their sin to be even as Sodom,' as a reference to homosexuality. It is a common misconception within the church and some other Christian faiths that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexuality, but this is unsupported by both scripture and prophets. The sins of Sodom are listed in the Old Testament itself and include pride and ignoring the poor (Ezekial 16:49-50 and Zephaniah 2:9-10), idolatry (Deuteronomy 32:32-38), adultery and lying (Jeremiah 23:14), but not once is homosexuality listed. In General Conference Apostle Parley P. Pratt said the sin of Sodom was fornication (April 10, 1853, JD Vol. 1). President John Taylor said the same (October 19, 1884, JD Vol. 25). Apostle Orson Pratt said the sin of Sodom was rejecting the prophets (January 2, 1859, JD Vol. 7). Apostle Heber C. Kimball said the same (July 12, 1857, JD Vol. 5). Apostle Wilford Woodruff said the same (January 1, 1871, JD Vol 14 and June 12, 1881, JD Vol. 22). Joseph Smith himself said, 'The judgments of God have rested upon people, cities and nations, in various ages of the world, which was the case with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, that were destroyed for rejecting the Prophets." (January 22, 1843, HC Vol. 5, p. 257.) Much of the confusion among Latter-day saints might be due to footnote b in 2 Nephi 13:9, which points the reader to 'Homosexuality' in the Topical Guide. We would do well to remember that the footnotes and chapter headings in the LDS editions of the scriptures are not considered church doctrine; they were composed largely by Apostle Bruce R. McConkie as a useful study guide and nothing more. McConkie and a few others did believe the sin of Sodom was homosexuality, but as suggested by an abundance of Bible verses (which are doctrinal) and quotes from modern prophets including Joseph Smith (which are also doctrinal), McConkie was wrong."

Porn and masturbation make you gay--uh...yes, and that is why every male on the planet is gay. Give me a break! If porn and masturbation made a person gay, the majority of the world's population would be a flaming homosexual. Let's use some logic here people!

The prophets are inspired by God and are not subjected to their own prejudicial thoughts--let me show you how that's not true. From Apostle Mark E. Peterson, "Race Problems - As They Affect The Church," Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level, BYU, August 27, 1954.
"The reason that one would lose his blessings by marrying a Negro is due to the restriction placed upon them. 'No person having the least particle of Negro blood can hold the Priesthood' (Brigham Young).
"The discussion on civil rights, especially over the last 20 years, has drawn some very sharp lines. It has blinded the thinking of some of our own people, I believe. They have allowed their politician affiliations to color their thinking to some extent, and then, of course, they have been persuaded by some of the arguments that have been put forth. We who teach in the Church certainly must have our feet on the ground and not to be led astray by the philosophies of men on this subject.
"We must not allow our feelings to carry us away, nor must we feel so sorry for Negroes that we will open our arms and embrace them with everything we have. Remember the little statement that we used to say about sin, 'First we pity, then endure, then embrace'...
"If that negro is willing when he hears of the gospel to accept it, he may have many of the blessings of the gospel. In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing, if the negro accepts that gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get celestial glory."
Um...ouch! These quotes sound a tiny bit familiar with all the rants about LDS members having their feet planted and not being moved. But hey, the prophets can't be controlled by their own prejudicial thoughts, that's why African Americans still don't have the priesthood right?
And don't even get me started on how church leaders have changed their minds about polygamy (Joseph Smith had *many* wives and even took them from other married men), how women should be treated (In the Bible women are property and can be bought, sold, traded, etc), and when we should eat meat (In D&C 89 it actually says we should only eat meat in winter and times of famine, but who's listening right?).

They should call it a "Civil Union" and not marriage--Have you been through the temple? Did you know that the word "marriage" is not actually used once in the marriage ceremony? People are *sealed* to each other, not just married. So why get in such a huff about protecting that word? And besides, to me, giving homosexuals and heterosexuals different words is awfully similar to how we used to treat African Americans. We had a "separate but equal" idea where African Americans could go to the same places as whites and do the same things, just as long as they weren't in the same room, or touching, or even looking at each other. So really, no one is equal.

Well gay people are just misguided and off the path of Christ--You are not and cannot tell me where I am going to end up in the eternities. You do not have a say in the final judgement. To my knowledge, that is up to Jesus Christ and God the Father.

I think it's interesting, some LDS people think they can pass such swift judgments under the guise of "love" and "concern", but what they're actually doing is judging someone without knowing all the facts. They say, "It's because I love you that I have to tell you this really hard thing..." and then proceed to spew forth why you are so evil, terrible, and will never be happy.

I would never go around telling people how wrong and misguided they are. That is far too hurtful and offensive. I'd rather leave judgments like that up to my Father in Heaven and Christ who both know me perfectly and know the desires of my heart.

Again, borrowing from "Thou Shalt Question":
"...At ever moment in LDS history when a doctrine threatened the church, it was changed. It took far more time than it should have--the general population often figured out what was ethical long before the prophets did--but it always happened without exception, and it happened despite prior promises from presidents of the church that it would never happen. What makes the doctrine of homosexuality any different?
"Some might say, 'But homosexuality is a violation of the very plan of salvation!' I seriously doubt that. Polygamy was also considered absolutely indispensable to the plan of salvation and a critical component of our lives *here on earth*, yet we don't practice that one anymore--at least, not until we get to the celestial kingdom. It may be that the doctrines of God are unchanging, but as we have already seen, the doctrines of men change all the time.
"'But homosexuality is unnatural!'" There is no evidence to support that, but even if it is, so what? Birth control is also unnatural, as is modern medicine, clothing, cars, and the internet. Do you use any of those things? What does the unnaturalness of something have to do with it being right or wrong?
"'But homosexuality is a choice!'" Nonsense. If that were true, then our heterosexuality would also be a choice. Does your sexual orientation feel like a choice? Would you purposely choose an orientation that people hated, run the risk of being disowned by family members, of hurting those you love most, of struggling with severe self-loathing and the loathing of much of society and of your own religion? How would you feel if you were told that you must either change your orientation or never, ever have a physical relationship with someone you loved? Would you still stick with your 'choice'?"

For now, that is what I have to say on the subject. If you would like to know more about homosexuality as well as many other doctrines that have undergone huge shifts in the LDS church, I would highly recommend the book "Thou Shalt Question". Although I may not have covered every single contingency that exists out there against gay marriage and equality, I have covered a vast majority of them.

Also, if you would like to get into a debate about whether or not there is biological evidence supporting homosexuality, I would be happy to point out the more than one-hundred studies about the biological origins of homosexuality. Oh and of course, everyone's an expert in this topic, except me because I'm gay, even though I'm getting a master's degree in psychology and every neuroscience and psychology professor that I've ever come in contact with (yup even at BYU!) agrees that homosexuality has biological origins.

Finally, I want to leave you with a personal statement about the psychological damage that can be done to a person. This isn't some make-believe person, this is what I hear on a daily basis.

Love the sinner hate the sin? Well, guess that already labels me a sinner with all the prejudiced views thereof. Can you imagine for a moment what it feels like to hear from your best friend that they won't come to your wedding because it's wrong? Or when a bishop (supposedly delivering the word of God) tells you you're going to hell? Or when you pray night and day to be "normal" only to never be changed? To hear from friends, family, and strangers all over the Internet and in real life that your love is sick, disgusting, unwanted, and wrong? To be accused of destroying the fabric of society? To be harassed, teased, tormented, and potentially bullied that it feels like the only way out is to blot out your own existence?

Ya, I didn't think it felt very good either. The New Testament and the Book of Mormon share a whole lot more stories of love, support, and respect than condemnation and hellfire. Maybe we can all take a page from those books.