Diverging points of view on traditional marriage

I am grateful to hear the Church call for civility and respect for those with diverging points of view on the subject of traditional marriage.

While I support the Church’s position on traditional marriage, I have members of my extended family and a close, personal friend who disagree with the Church’s position.  In these cases, although we may disagree on this moral issue, there is no loss of love or respect for one another.

Before the Savior’s crucifixion, he spoke to his apostles in the upper room, saying:

34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

(John 13: 34-35)

When my friend first announced his decision to live as a homosexual, I struggled with how I would respond. In the end, I felt strongly that the only course I could pursue with my friend was the path the Savior commanded—love one another.

Several months ago, I spoke with my friend about an email he had received from someone he had previously called his friend. The email he received was filled with unkind words from someone who professed to be a Christian and member of the Church. His words were not consistent with the Savior’s charge to love one another and I was embarrassed for this person. When my friend asked how he should respond to such an email, I told him not to dignify the email with any response.

In the course of this election season, with marriage propositions on the ballot in three states, it is my hope that the traditional marriage debate is defined by unwavering love and respect for one another, regardless of how we choose to define marriage.

19 thoughts on “Diverging points of view on traditional marriage

  1. Brian, this is the message I get from Church leaders as we approach the election season also — we can protect traditional marriage and still love and respect people who may be offended by our definition of traditional marriage. I have always felt that we will be judged partly on how we treat those with whom we disagree.

  2. I hope we can learn to meekly but firmly object, take a stand, or speak out for the standards of the church. We’re going to have to do it a lot in the near future.

  3. Great post. In this season of politics we all need to be reminded that Christ like love is essential if we are interested in being “true” followers of Christ.

  4. It is sad that we have to speak out on such nitty-gritty issues. If a love of Christ burned in the lives of Americans we would never be so far down this path. We have to be bold in our witness of Christ and Him crucified.

  5. “I hope we can learn to meekly but firmly object, take a stand, or speak out for the standards of the church.”

    I think it depends on the situation and individual and promptings of the spirit. Some times, for example, a noncontentious, nonjudgmental silence may be best.

    Elder Hales gave an excellent talk nicely summarized in one sentence: “To my inquiring sister and all who seek to know how we should respond to our accusers, I reply, we love them.”

    http://tinyurl.com/686mbw
    [Note: URL shortened using tinyurl]

  6. Great post, Brian.

    The longer I live the more I realize that most people — including members of the Church — are struggling with some sort of hidden pain. Whether it’s the closeted homosexual, the family dealing with mom’s depression, the father with anger-management issues, the child with ADHD, or whatever the struggle may be, many of of have our “Church face” we put on in public, and the real person only comes out in private.

    May we be sensitive to all these issues, beginning with being careful how we express our feelings in Church classes and meetings. I remember one very uncomfortable elders quorum ten years ago where the instructor went off on a meanspirited “homosexual agenda” discussion, prompting comments about “perversions,” the evils of San Francisco, etc. Like Geoff said, there are ways to be supportive of the Church’s stance on moral issues without being ugly and possibly hurting someone in the room who may be dealing with SSA.

    The same, I would say, goes for not forwarding chain email messages that demonize those with whom we disagree.

  7. The central message of our Lord and Brother
    Is that we respect and love one another
    May we urge kindness to our fellow citizens
    That to wed’s Holy, for the children that it lends

    And regarding those who feel same sex attraction
    We’ll not be cruel or exact a harsh infraction
    But, we’ll not condone or accept the worlds moral slip
    As wrongful behaviors can’t be the price for good friendship

    And, so with our freedom of expression, we now say
    It’s time to voice our conviction and to pray
    There to ask “what’s marriage according to God’s plan?”
    And, “should liberty extend to a lower moral’s span?”

    Then what of tradition and society’s needs
    As the slippery slope grows only more with these seeds
    We will need courage for the social ostracism
    For if gay marriage is passed we’ll know criticism

    Let’s extend love, compassion, and humility
    And do what benefits social stability
    Let’s gather our families and churches together
    And give our best effort to serve our Elder brother

    He would that we walk in faith and in purpose
    And that we do what is right for God and for us
    Shall the churches and states go on a collision course?
    No, we’ll band as religions to become a good force

    Elder Cook October 2008
    Thoughts from segments of a broadcast to Californian Church members addressing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints doctrine of marriage and the Protect Marriage Coalition

  8. I agree with this post. Although I have found that members of the Church are a little confused with the rehtoric used by our leaders. One one hand they ask us to be Christlike and show love and compassion, and on the other hand they innundate their speeches with “spiritual” warfare rehtoric. “We are at war, we are warriors, we are beingi attacked, etc etc etc.”

    I think at best the combination has not been efficient in communicating our members that we are Christians first and foremost. That His plan (which we chose to follow) is that of each individual having the freedom to choose. That the plan we rejected was that of opression and forcing others to follow right precepts. That we are to use LOVE and persuasion… let me repeat that LOVE, to persuade our fellowmen to abide by true principles.

    I am afraid that as long as we continue to use “warfare” terminology, the result will always be a mixed one, since it is very clear that in warfare, one must fight, defeat or be defeated.

    I think we need to stop this language. We need to learn to love and embrace others, while at the same time respecting their agency. So far, in my opinion, the message is sending mixed signals at best.

  9. In practical application what you are calling for is not really happening. There is a lot of “I love you” talk but from what I have seen it comes down to questioning the faith of the folks on the “No” side, making hostile remarks about homosexuals, telling open lies about the impact of prop 8 not passing. etc. The thing that bothers me the most is the misrepresentations / lies about prop 8 coming from the pulpit and Church leaders.

  10. Nobody really KNOWS how Prop 8 is going to impact society; all we can do is speculate. To say that church leaders are openly lying about the impacts of Prop 8 is not really an accurate statement. At worst, they are speculating, and at best, they are prognosticating. Whatever the case, I tend to agree with them. It sounds like you disagree with them. I wonder…are you an active Mormon? If so, how do you reconcile your beliefs about church leaders with gospel truths? Aren’t church leaders one source of revelation? You seem to be quite conflicted.

  11. I am not sure who the last question was addressed to, but I have a response.

    “I wonder…are you an active Mormon?”

    Yes. I am a temple worthy active Mormon, and have been since my baptism.

    “If so, how do you reconcile your beliefs about church leaders with gospel truths?”

    I see Church leaders as human beings not as Gods.

    I have posted this somewhere else:
    Our leaders are not Gods and we MUST NEVER follow them blindly. We have been given a gift, the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is our DUTY to be worthy and to use it to guide our lives. No prophetic command should come before the precious guide of God himself.

    The scriptures teach us in numerous times that prophets are not perfect. Nephi confesses that his father Lehi murmured against God. Jonah was angry when the pepole from Niniveh, whom he was sent to preach repentance, repented and the Lord forgave them… he was hoping they were going to be destroyed.

    I am not going to go into any of the controversies of our very own Church leaders… but sufficeth me to say this: they are not perfect, they have made terrible mistakes.

    This is the time in which we cannot live on borrowed light. We cannot follow blindly. We have been given the gift to light our way, we just need to be worthy of it.

    There is a difference between obedience and blind obedience.

    “Aren’t church leaders one source of revelation? You seem to be quite conflicted.”

    Yes they are, and no I am not conflicted at all.

    I have no conflicts because unlike unrealistic members who like to put leaders on a pedestal and stretch, ommit and create constructions to justify their shortcommings; I have learned to love and respect them for what they are: HUMAN BEINGS, with human errors, with cultural backgrounds, who are trying to do their best to guide people under their stewardship.

    I believe revelation is available to them as long as they are worthy to receive it. I believe in many cases, they have been an obstacle for things to be corrected (in my opinion, the Church’s glacier speed at embracing black people into full membership rights).

    If they give instructions and I don’t receive a testimony from the Holy Ghost that they are true, I do not feel bound by those instructions. Needless to say, we must be worthy of the HG.

    Our leaders are not exempt of being affected by their generational beliefs, traditions of their fathers, the chronological context of their situation, cultural background, recent events and other environmental things. All these factors and other factors may contribute to mistakes (perhaps you need to study the Mountain Meadows Massacre?).

    DC33:16-17

    16 And the Book of Mormon and the holy scriptures are given of me for your instruction; and the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things.
    17 Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom—

    “The time will come when no man nor woman will be able to endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided by the light within himself. If you do not have it, how can you stand?” (Heber C Kimball)

    That time has long arrived.

    I do not believe in blind obedience. I believe our leaders are HUMANS. I believe they are inspired in as much as they fulfill their DUTY as Prophets, Seers, Revelators, or Stewards. I believe in the Gift of the Holy Ghost, that it guides us through this life. I believe we must be worthy of Him, in order to be truly guided.

    I feel sorry many members follow blindly…

  12. Now, now there is no need to jump right in and question the faith of those who disagree with you. First, I do agree with you that a lot of what we are hearing is speculation but do we give far reaching and unlikely speculations a pass for being speculative when we have every reason to believe that the speaker knows better? Further, there are some claims that have been made that are overtly incorrect, or misrepresentations or lies or what every word you would like to use, I’m not picky.

    For example stake leaders in my area have said that there is a direct link between prop 8 and school curriculum in California. This is a false claim no two ways about it. Next, our stake pres. also stated that the pro prop 8 side is being less successful with its fundraising than the anti-prop 8 side, this is also a false claim. Every published report I have seen states exactly the opposite. If you can find one that backs up his claim let me know I would not mind being educated.

    At the special prop 8 broad cast there was the claim that prop 8 not passing would “inevitably” lead to the infringement of our Church’s religious liberties. Some will call that speculation but the comment is forceful enough that I think its safe to call it a misrepresentation. The religious liberties arguments that our Church and others are making are absurd and do not represent the reality of freedom of religious expression and speech as the exist in the US. There are many more such comments that we could address but I don’t think its necessary because in the Church we have a very clear and very high standard of honesty. Misrepresentation, or couching things in ambiguous language or relying on individual interpretations are not in keeping with our standards of honesty. I called it lying. Maybe you find that word objectionable. But in my mind intentional misrepresentations, or partial representations, are forms of lying.

    I am not conflicted at all. I know what honesty and live by the Church’s definition of honesty. Church leaders are the source of revelation but I have no reason to believe that speculations or misrepresentations by Church leaders are revelatory.

  13. Jessie,

    Thanks for your comment about warfare langauge etc. It’s an odd experience to have some speakers at the local level acknowledging that not everyone in the Church supports Prop 8, and calling for compassion, respect etc and then to have Onward Christian Soldiers and Who’s on the Lord’s side Who? as the Hymns that day.

  14. I believe this is an issue where members won’t be disciplined for having private opinions that differ from public statements by the Brethren.

    But it may become, if it hasn’t already, an issue where those who publicly encourage or teach opposition to the Brethren risk being called in for counsel, and then risk church discipline if they continue public opposition.

    As I recently mentioned on MormonMentality, this is the church’s biggest political push since the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) of the 1970′s. And that says something.

    As I think through the arguments, especially those left unvoiced by church leaders, I’m more and more convinced that societal approval of SSM is a very very bad thing, along the lines of things that brought societal catastrophe in the scriptures.

    Societal approval of SSM is a big leap from tolerance of what goes on privately behind closed doors, to open acceptance and embracing.

    This is a paradigm shift at the societal level.

  15. In response to Fluxus saying “For example stake leaders in my area have said that there is a direct link between prop 8 and school curriculum in California. This is a false claim no two ways about it.” I personally know a woman in our ward who has the job of teaching the teachers how to teach about gay and lesbian marriage and sex in the Los Angeles School District. Also,you cannot deny that a kindergarten class was taken to witness a gay marriage of their teachers in San Francisco this past week as an educational experience. These are both examples of just the beginning of what we can expect, and it is not a lie.

    In regards to freedom of speech, it is already a fact that those who are teachers in the Los Angeles School District cannot freely discuss their support of Proposition 8 while at school, while those who oppose it can. I know several teachers in the school district. Their freedom of speech is already being restricted.

    I don’t know where you are coming up with your facts, but they are wrong. And, if these things are already occurring it is certain that it will only get worse.

    You are right, we need to seek our own confirmation through the Holy Ghost, but you still need to remember that you have sustained these Priesthood leaders as being called of God. He will guide His Church through His chosen servants.

  16. If you wish to teach your children about matters of sexuality, you cannot do so in Massachusetts. Just ask Mr. Parker of Lexington who was sent to jail when he insisted on being informed when his children would be exposed to such issues so he could opt them out of that instruction which was counter to his religious beliefs.

    The state courts and the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the states – - so much for parental rights and promulgating traditional Judeo-Christian morality in the schools.

  17. “I believe this is an issue where members won’t be disciplined for having private opinions that differ from public statements by the Brethren.

    But it may become, if it hasn’t already, an issue where those who publicly encourage or teach opposition to the Brethren risk being called in for counsel, and then risk church discipline if they continue public opposition.”

    Wow, now people are using fearmongering against those who differ in opinion on political issues, when clearly the General Authorities themselves have stated this is ok.

    What is next? Receiving threats if you don’t vote for a certain party? I don’t think so.

    DC 134:4

    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 aworship 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 bguilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

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