Don’t worry, be happy

Do you notice a trend in this conversation that has taken place in the last 20 years?

Traditionalists in 1993: “We are worried that the increasing acceptance of and concentration on sexuality in the culture will result in the normalization of behavior that is sinful. It will be increasingly difficult to maintain traditional standards of morality and sexuality in the home because there are prominent counter-examples everywhere. Clearly sinful behavior is becoming ‘normal’ and even being ‘glorified.’ ”

The world: “Don’t be such a prude. This won’t affect you and your family, and aren’t you in favor of freedom? People expressing their sexuality does not affect you.”

Traditionalists in the mid-1990s: “Civil unions are OK in principle, but they could lead to gay marriage, which would decrease the importance of traditional marriage. There is a better solution, which is to allow consenting adults to just write out contracts to leave money to each when they die and to write out other contracts related to their shared belongings. Hospitals could also be petitioned to allow close friends to visit their loved ones. We don’t need to fool around with family law.”

The world: “Shut up you homophobe. And by the way, civil unions will NOT lead to gay marriage, which almost nobody wants.”

Traditionalists in 1995: “The Church has just put out a Proclamation to the World on the Family. It says very clearly that marriage is between ‘man and woman’ and that gender is an eternal character of men and women. Phew. Now, latter-day Saints know exactly where the prophets stand on this issue, and active members of the Church will of course follow the prophet.”

The world: “Whatever. The prophets are also racists. Nobody wants gay marriage anyway. Modern people just want civil unions, which you are obviously a homophobe if you oppose.”

Traditionalists in the 1990s: “Whoa, Hawaii is trying to get gay marriage approved, but the people there don’t want it. They just passed a state constitutional amendment to prohibit it. This is an alarming trend.”

The world: “You are such a bigot. Nobody really wants gay marriage, and it didn’t get approved anyway. But people do want civil unions.”

Traditionalists in 2004: “Hey, the Massachusetts state Supreme Court just passed gay marriage. This is really alarming. I thought nobody wanted gay marriage.”

The world: “Of course the liberal people in Massachusetts want gay marriage, and more power to them. Haven’t you seen all of those people flocking to get married? It is really touching. It is great that they have equality.”

Traditionalists in 2004-2005: “Look, world, I thought you said nobody wanted gay marriage. We have been warning for years that the increasing normalization of sinful behavior would take us here. Nobody really cares about individual people getting married, the problem is a general societal trend. And, by the way, the prophets have clearly said that sex between two people of the same sex is a sin. We love the sinner but don’t love the sin. Christians are told to love everybody, and we do, but Jesus clearly also told people not to sin.”

The world: “Shut up you homophobe. You are a hater.”

Traditionalists (always): “I just said I am a Christian and love everybody.”

The world (always): “You are a hateful hater spewing hateful hate.”

Traditionalists (always): “Christians are told to love everybody, and I will try to love even you.”

The world (always): “I hate you, you bigot.”

Traditionalists in 2005-2008: “We really need to do something about these judges who ignore the will of the people and just pass laws at will, completely ignoring written constitutions. The federal Constitution is silent on the issue of marriage and really leaves that up to the states, which have always decided family law. The 14th amendment has to do with race, not marriage. But these judges could give a hoot about what the actual written documents say. They are filled with their own sense of superiority and feel they should decide right and wrong, ignoring the written law. This is truly alarming.”

The world: “You are concerned about nothing. Nobody is talking about gay marriage in your conservative state. This is only about a few liberal states. But we definitely need more judges who believe Constitutions are living documents that can be bent to our times.”

Traditionalists in 2008: “Hey, Proposition 8 passed in California, thanks in part to the efforts of the LDS Church. Clearly Church members will understand now where the Church stands on this issue.”

The world: “Shut up you arrogant homophobes. We will destroy your temples and your chapels, you scum.”

Traditionalists in 2008: “Who are the haters now?”

The world: “You are. But we hate, hate, hate you, even if you say you love us.”

Traditionalists now: “We told you the courts were filled with people who didn’t care about the written law. We have seen this before. Judges are just inventing law left and right. Now they even overturned Prop. 8 and parts of DOMA, which was signed by Pres. Clinton and was almost unanimously supported by all politicians just 15 years ago.”

The world: “You are haters. We ignore all of your arguments. #equality. Various other vacuous and meaningless slogans. All beginning with #.”

Traditionalists now: “We warned about the slippery slope and the normalization of sinful behavior. Now, polygamy is legal in Utah, and a federal judge, based on nothing but vacuous and meaningless slogans, has unilaterally decided to impose gay marriage in Utah. 125 years ago, Utah was told that marriage is only one man and one woman, or the government would destroy temples. Now, the government has told Utah that marriage is gay and polygamous at the same time. The federal judge has completely ignored the written law. This is truly alarming.”

The world: “You are haters. Isn’t it beautiful that all of these people are getting married by clerks in Salt Lake City? We continue to ignore your arguments and respond to you with sarcasm and general snarkiness because we are superior and pretentious and love everybody (except you).”

Traditionalists now: “This is truly alarming. We have been worried about this for many years now, and many of the things we warned about have come to pass. The Proclamation warns that these types of trends will have truly negative affects on the family and society itself. In every General Conference, prophets and apostles have repeated similar warnings, and in the last two conferences they have said that the Church *will not change* when it comes to these types of moral issues. It seems that the prophets are warning us that we need to be even stronger in supporting the Church on this moral issue. We are worried. The government is forcing photographers to take pictures of gay weddings and even forcing bakers to bake cakes for gay weddings. People, in the name of political correctness, are not allowing people to speak out about traditional values. Even quoting the Bible can get you fired from your job. The society hates religious people. We are worried that society may go overboard and start forcing churches to perform gay marriages in chapels and even temples.”

The world: “You always exaggerate. Nothing bad is going to happen. Nothing bad ever happens. All progress is good. Don’t worry, be happy. But meanwhile, we definitely do hate religious people because they are hateful bigots, and they need to be put in their place. In fact, they really need to shut up about religion in general. Those haters.”

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

63 thoughts on “Don’t worry, be happy

  1. Just remember, Geoff, that the Lord prophesied that in the last days people would be “marrying, and giving in marriage.” It’s just a fulfillment of prophecy.

  2. Just like the Church does in many other countries it needs to separate the temple sealing ordinance from the civil marriage ceremony. The Temple sealing should not be a stand-in/replacement for a civil legal contract. Just like the Church already does in countries which do not recognize the temple sealing as a legal marriage the Church ought to just perform sealings for Church members who are 1) already civilly married, and 2) living worthy of the temple ordinances. Then there is no longer any “marriage” which any outside activist, or gay member, could ask or force the Church to perform. Just like no one can force the Church to perform a baptism for them, no one can force the Church to perform a temple ordinance for them either.

  3. “no one can force the Church to perform a temple ordinance for them either.”

    Just like no one can force a photographer to take pictures of a gay wedding or force a baker to bake a cake for a gay wedding?

    Yeah, just like that.

    It is true today in 2013 that temples continue to remain sacred. I hope that in say, 2016, the people who favored civil unions in the 1990s will not be telling us how “#equality” means gay people must be married in temples. But I will not be surprised when it happens.

  4. What Geoff, aren’t all alike in the sight of God? Does God love them less? Would a loving God demand two Fathers abandon their adopted children in the eternities? You can even see the next line deliver itself… “if that’s your idea of heaven count me out”.

    I don’t buy all that garbage, but it’s clear the pressure will grow 10x fold on the church once we have thousands of “committed” gay couples married and forcing the issue. We sadly might be painting ourself into PR corner by playing nice and not being more direct in our condemnation of sin. But it’s not me on the watch tower so I have hope the Lord’s servants have a plan.

  5. The more immediate risk, in my estimation (and I have no idea whether or when anybody will seek to have a same-sex marriage solemnized in an LDS church or a temple, but the downward trend you describe in this post is not reassuring), is likely to arise in the intersection between the Church and society in less explicitly religious contexts. When anti-discrimination laws start affecting tax exemptions, how long can the church maintain its exemptions when it’s on the wrong side of the culture? (Ask Bob Jones University how that worked out for them–and no, I’m not defending their racial policies, just using this as an example of how a religious institution that runs afoul of anti-discrimination laws is likely to fare.)

    Employment law is another minefield, although there was a strong case (Corp. of the Presiding Bishop v. Amos) that gave churches broad latitude in hiring members in good standing, even for non-religious employment (he was an employee at the Deseret Gym, but was fired when he failed to qualify for a temple recommend, and the courts upheld that firing). The Supreme Court just last year was unanimous in upholding an employment decision by a Lutheran Church school, where she was deemed a minister because she taught some religious subjects as well as secular subjects. But church-related institutions may not fare so well when their hiring/firing decisions run up against anti-discrimination laws when the “persecuted minority” has a loud and politically active cheering section that erupts anytime someone suggests that homosexual acts are sinful. (There just isn’t a National Association of Narcoleptics that goes on the warpath whenever someone suffering from narcolepsy is fired.)

    Zoning laws are another weapon in the hands of those who don’t want a church or temple in their neighborhood–especially one that discriminates against a favored class. If someone thinks that’s not a problem, come to New York some day and let’s take a tour of the White Plains New York temple. (Oh, the reasons the neighbors gave had nothing to do with our doctrine, but disagreements about doctrine can be couched in all sorts of complaints about building size, lighting, traffic, etc., etc.)

    It’s enough to make one wonder whether those cheering are hoping to hinder the Church in its mission. I would hope not, but the arc of history in the past 30 years does suggest that maintaining the Church’s position in U.S. society will become increasing difficult. So why are they cheering?

  6. I won’t be surprised if in a few years they will be suing the church and demanding to be sealed in the temple. Geoff described it so well. Pretty soon they will be teaching kindergaterners about families and how it’s ok for families to be made up of two mommies and children, or two daddies and children, and we’ll be consider bigots by the law if we do not want our children to participate of these lessons. That’s when we will be home schooling our children forcibly, because we won’t have any options. Actually I think something like this already happened in Massachusetts. I guess my family and I will have to opt out of the world at this juncture in order to protect our little ones.

    It reminds me of something President Kimball said that there will be a time when we will really have to teach the gospel intensely in our homes on a daily basis or our children will go wayward in the world, or something like that. I don’t recall the exact words, but basically that’s what he meant,

  7. Geoff, as you know we don’t always agree. But I think it’s useful to have your take on the timeline to better understand where you are coming from and how you see the broader context to current events fitting together. Thanks.

  8. I thought it was interesting as I watched the recent events unfold on Facebook, how many of my liberal friends gushed over gay marriages being performed in SLC, but said nothing about polygamy. It isn’t an issue of equality or freedom, but of creating an elite or special class. Elite classes are able to sue for additional “rights” that take rights and freedoms away from others, such as a person’s religious right or the right to assemble (or not assemble) with others of their choosing.

    As I’ve noted before, scholar Harold Bloom said that Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed because of their homosexuality, but because they sought to impose their lifestyle on others.

    The gap between right and wrong continues to grow into a mighty gulf. I just hope all of my liberal Mormon friends will choose to follow the prophets when the time comes that they are forced to make a choice.

  9. Mark B, excellent comment. Thanks.

    Kareen, Pres Kimball made remarks like that several times. It is a huge problem (but not unexpected, unfortunately) that the world is going to pieces around us. I literally weep for my children sometimes when I look at some of the societal trends. But I take solace in the fact that the “good guys” (followers of Christ) will win in the end.

    Cynthia L, I think you are a great person, but I really, really worry about my liberal friends and their decision not to follow the prophets. I have already seen a huge amount of evidence in my 14 years in the Church of people who have ignored the prophets at their own peril. All I can do is warn and advise in my own way and pray.

    Rame, great comment. I think the time is already here when people need to make a choice (and, yes, there are “conservative Mormons” who are making some bad choices as well in different ways).

  10. Geoff, a niggling point:

    The “good guys” (followers of Christ) will NOT win. We will lose, up until the moment Christ RESCUES us. That’s why I say that we should fight the good fight, but we should NOT expect to prevail before that day; otherwise, if we think that the “good guys” will somehow win on our own steam, the hearts of many will fail them when the evidence of their eyes says it ain’t so.

  11. The children’s book, “Heather Has Two Mommies”, is 13 years old. Published in 2000, according to Aamzon.

  12. Geoff, thank you and best wishes for the new year. I started reading and participating in this blog when Jettboy posted “Rethinking Mormon Involvement in the BSA” in June.

    If Mormon chronicled our times (which he and other prophets did as seers and revelators), he would write:

    “In the 2013th year after the birth of our Lord according to the counting of the Gentiles, it came to pass that those who practiced whoredoms began to gain favor with the more parts of the people. Yeah, corrupt and weak leaders and entertainers sought to entice the youth and the children towards the path of sin and destruction, and wicked chief judges taught that wickedness was righteousness and that righteousness was wickedness.” Book of Mormon doctrine and entire passages of scripture flash before our eyes.

    Political correctness as dictated by the liberals is no longer just political correctness. It has become political and cultural tyranny, anti-christian, Antichrist for short. I am writing from Sodom-Gomorrah formerly known as Seattle-Tacoma, where a male assistant-principal has resigned from his position at a Catholic High School after the school found out he married his homosexual partner over the summer. Catholic students rally to the cause of this excellent educator (who will get positive references to work in another school–public this time), they demonstrate, students from other local Catholic schools join in and talk about Christ’s Gospel of “Love”. Many are writing to Pope Francis to help reinstate the former swim coach and assistant principal. On the news we hear soundbites of Catholic teenagers–who obviously know everything–and no opinions from parents who perhaps put their children in a religious school at least in part for moral reasons. Or do they all put their kids there because academically they will fare better and who cares about traditional morality? The homosexual mayor-elect of Seattle came to the students’ demonstration to support their cause. We already know that the war over the souls of the children of men began in the pre-earth life and has been raging on earth since the days of Cain. This is our battle. I am thinking that some Latter-Day Saints (or the Church?) should formally support an umbrella organization such as the National Organization for Marriage and others who share our views. I would say that the LGBT asked for it, but it is also Satan who asked for it from the beginning! We need to unite and organize our defense.
    Alma 46: 11 And now it came to pass that when Moroni, who was the chief commander of the armies of the Nephites, had heard of these dissensions, he was angry with Amalickiah. 12 And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole. 13 And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land— 14 For thus were all the true believers of Christ, who belonged to the church of God, called by those who did not belong to the church. 15 And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come. How relevant for our times! I will write more later but I must cease for the present. I need to go make more gold plates. No, just busy. Thank you all. Kareen is right about protecting the children.

  13. Nathan, you are obviously a hater because you used the word “niggling.” Anyway, the rest of your point is spot-on.

    Good comments by Book, JB and Laurent.

  14. You hater, Geoff. I hate your “traditional” kind and I hate your “wrong side of history” arguments. But I am filled with charity and compassion and wish you would be, too. Or something like that. :)
    Seriously though, thank you for writing this.

  15. Sometimes we hear that we need to “have a conversation on race in this country”. Sure, why not. We should have a lot of serious ongoing conversations because we are not living under a dictatorship (yet). Thus we need to have a national conversation on the role of religion in this country, especially now and before the other side completely hogs “correctness”. I am not a specialist of the US Constitution and Government as some of you are, having been born and raised in Europe. It’s not in my blood, but beginning to be in my soul at least. I do not see how in America we are going to let Hassidic Jews, Jehovah’s Winesses, Amish, Mennonites and Sikh small minorities (to name a few) live the way they live and at the same time deny Prostestants, Catholics, and Mormons religious rights. Even if faithful Chrsitians become a minority in a materialistic society, we are not small in numbers by any measure. Example: a Sikh student of mine in a public high school was allowed to cover his little bun of hair with a small turban (the teenager kind) and Muslim girl was allowed to wear a head scarf. I have no problem with that, even though I support our school policy of no hats, no bandannas (distraction, gang-related). Students can wear a cross around their neck. I am glad that we have religious students exercising their right to express their beliefs and obey their commandments. But a Christian florist or baker may not deny homosexuals service? A Jehovah’s witness is allowed to not salute the flag, but Christians/Mormons are not allowed to reject what they see as “the disintegration of the family” which “will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”? (See Proclamation). We need to enlist and support lawmakers on our side: See
    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Bill-would-allow-businesses-to-deny-service-to-homosexuals–204788571.html
    To conservative talk show hosts who say “Well, I have gay friends but I oppose gay marriage…” I don’t have gay “friends”. I have some co-workers that I think are gay, I am not sure. I interact with them courteously and they put up with Christian and Mormon co-workers courteously. How could I have a “friend” and not show him/her the way of repentance? If I still had young children, I would not let them go to a gay couple’s wedding, to their child’s birthday party and explain to my children that they can go and be nice, but what the adults are doing is very wrong. I wouldn’t let them go to the Maffia family’s son’s pool party either.

  16. Thanks for the timeline. How would you compare laws about gay marriage to laws about adultery and fornication? I imagine you would say both have an impact on traditional families. Did the decision by states over the last several decades to stop enforcing laws governing sex outside of marriage lead to “the normalization of behavior that is sinful”? Was that impact smaller or larger than what you anticipate with the legalization of same-sex marriage?

  17. Bruce C, interesting. You may or may not be aware that the Church has gone through two large phases in the last 150 years or so. The first phase, lasting from 1847 to about 1920, was the “gathering to Utah” phase when latter-day Saints were actively encouraged to come to Utah to receive temple endowments and build up Zion. The last 100 years or so have been about Mormons building Zion in their own countries, which is why so many temples and MTCs have been built around the world. There are many people who speculate, based on various prophecies, that there will be a time of retrenchment again, somewhat along the lines of what you describe, where Saints will all gather in one place (or many single places) when things get really bad. I have no idea if this will happen at all or in our lifetimes. If you study Mormon history, the prophets will make it pretty clear what course we are supposed to take and how we are supposed to prepare. We use the “watchmen on the tower” analogy and listen to General Conference every six months to see how the prophets and apostles have been inspired to guide us. The messages that have come through lately, in no uncertain terms have been: “the Church will not change on social issues, and continue to follow the Church’s position on these issues no matter what.” As for me and my family, we follow the prophets (and thus the Lord).

    European Saint, have you ever stopped to think what an incredibly stupid phrase “wrong side of history” is? I am sure you have, but to drive home the point, I am pretty sure Hitler in 1940 was certain the British and the Russians were on the wrong side of history. Didn’t work out too well for him, did it?

    Laurent, I think it is important to love the sinner and not love the sin. How people work that out is their own business, but my policy is to try to be courteous and kind to everybody (sometimes I fail).

    Sterflu, family law has a well-established history on a state basis, as well as a history going far, far back into British common law. Drawing the line at “marriage equals a man and a woman” is an extremely easy and common sense demarcation. This has been the traditional view of marriage throughout human history. In a free society, people are certain welcome to create their own relationships, form contracts with each other and live with each other as they will. Different societies have had different laws on adultery and fornication throughout history, and the history of such laws is not comparable to the issue of marriage. While you apparently see the timeline of such issues as similar, I do not see them as similar enough to consider in this post.

  18. Geoff, I completely agree that “it is important to love the sinner and not love the sin. How people work that out is their own business, but my policy is to try to be courteous and kind to everybody (sometimes I fail).” Sometimes I fail too. We should love our enemies, love them that hate us, but stand firm and protect our families. How do we do both? Should Lehi and Jeremiah have stayed home and locked their doors?
    Where do we draw the line? Loving our worldly neighbors who own a lot of things and live for the moment, loving them into a better, simpler lifestyle walking with Jesus, that seems great. I know my four children are 100% heterosexual, but I am worried about the next generation having to deal with same-sex couples and their children. But you’re right, we will have to be courteous. Just like politicians in a debate should be courteous while adhering to two completely different ideologies, right? Of course, we don’t want the hatred that goes on between Muslims and Hindus in India or between Christians and Muslims in Africa currently, but we may not be able to prevent hateful acts here at home, like when people bomb abortion clinics. I don’t advocate that and neither does the Church of course. I have to make sure I write this because Big Brother knows what we do on the web. I remember Church members picketing a newly opened sex shop in Mesquite, Nevada not far from St George, Utah, taking turns 24/7 until the owner finally closed and left. I would like to think that 20 years later we could still get members to do this besides cleaning up flooded areas. Did you know that there is a “Museum of Gay History” in San Francisco? No place for a few Mormons and Christians to demonstrate, I guess. Love your enemies…

  19. Handbook 2 says in part: Those who persist in such ( homosexual) behavior or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline. What does it mean to influence homosexual behavior, and what should be the discipline administered? I don’t understand how some members on the bloggernacle claim to be active TR holders yet danced a jig at last week’s decision.

  20. What’s fascinating to me about this timeline is that I see myself in many of these causes: I think pornography, premarital sex, sexualization (even pornification) of women’s bodies in media everywhere, and de-emphasis on marriage with emphasis on self rather than intergenerational family responsibilities have all been disastrous for society and individuals. I support rolling back all these trends. But I do not see how going back to the days of demonizing gay people helps any of this. Remember the days of Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins–it was the cool thing to not get married. “We don’t need a stupid piece of paper, we commit to each other on our own terms!” That was the trend, and a very very worrying one. Marriage optional, kids optional, who cares what your parents think and if they want grandkids. If gay marriage is happening “like it or not” (as Gavin Newsom infamously said), maybe we can work towards heavily indoctrinating the norm that EVERYONE will eventually commit to a monogamous marriage with the heavy expectation that kids will follow if possible (adoption or natural as the case may be). Maybe we can put the stereotypical decorating/homemaking skills of these couples to work creating a renewed appreciation of domestic life. Maybe now that many people aren’t telling gays you are amoral whether you are monogamous or promiscuous so why even try to be monogamous, might as well throw out morality altogether, we can instead tell gay teens and young adults: “Marriage is there for you, but you’d better behave yourself now to be the kind of person a spouse can rely on for total fidelity.” That may seem VERY not ideal to most Mormons, but to me it seems better to have a culture of monogamy than a culture of promiscuity.

    This probably all sounds crazy to you, but I’m nothing if not an optimist….

  21. IDIAT, I feel the same way about many of my more liberal LDS friends. Sadly, I think you’ll see many of them fall by the wayside as this issue isn’t going away anytime soon. As Oaks said in this last session of GC, some put their politics above their God.

  22. Cynthia L, I appreciate the attempt at optimism. I am optimistic about the long-term (Jesus will work things out) and I am optimistic about my personal life, but pessimistic about society and many of the trends taking place in front of us. I am glad we can agree that many of these societal trends are extremely bad for women. As the father of two teenage girls, I am very aware that the sexualization of culture has also meant the objectification of women in ways that are extremely unhealthy. I think traditional conservatives have probably done a poor job communicating that this is a concern for us and something that we have in common with feminists.

    I simply see nothing on a macro scale that is good about getting away from traditional family lifestyles. Obviously on a micro scale, there will be individual cases where some people will be helped and it will be better than the available alternatives. I grew up in a hippie community and have seen endless attempts to get away from the ideal, which is a monogamous mother and father, and I simply believe that such experiments will end in tragedy for society as a whole and for most (not all) of the people involved. Human beings are simply wired to be happiest and most at peace when they have a mother and a father committed to each other and where there are stable rituals and a stable home life with as little drama as possible. So I see little to celebrate in “monogamous same-sex marriage families.” And, most importantly, regardless of what you and I think about the issue, the prophets have made it clear that it is not something we should celebrate either.

  23. Cynthia L.

    I think we can be opposed to same-sex marriage and stand for traditional values without “going back to the days of demonizing gay people” as you say. I don’t think those in our midst, both in and out of the church, who deal with same-sex attraction need to be demonized or cast out. They need to be loved like everyone else. But love does not always, or even usually mean sanctioning their choices.

  24. Good post. I like how Geoff expounded on what A. Pope summarized so well when “we first endure, then pity, then embrace” the assimilation of unhealthy and sinful behaviors. Perhaps resistance is futile in this social movement which is spreading worldwide. Thankfully, we have prophets that will not budge on this issue and will continue to advocate for opposite-sex marriage (OSM) and families as commandments that “remain in force.”

    The judge’s decision took many people by surprise, myself included, and it feels like an ambush from the movement I always thought Utah would be one of the latter ten states (pun intended) to adopt SSM, and we haven’t yet reached the point where “the voice of the people doth choose inquity” as 28 states still ban SSM. Needless to say, it will be a test for us all to balance the Christmas message of good will/charity to all year-round, as Pres. Monson passionately reminds us, while appearing closed-minded in adamantly following the Church’s counsel.

  25. Michael P, thanks for catching that. Even a relatively sane liberal like Cynthia L cannot stop herself from bringing out the “demonizing gay people” canard that is, frankly, quite annoying and not that far removed from the “you are a hater” argument. Saying you are in favor if traditional marriage does not mean you are demonizing anybody. Sheesh.

    Tiger, good comment.

  26. I enjoy the comments and exchange of ideas. I also feel compelled to “do” more. The National Organization for Marriage (1 man-1 woman marriage) organized a March for Marriage on March 26, 2013. I was looking through the sponsors (see https://www.marriagemarch.org/sponsors/) to see if there were any LDS sponsors. I checked Family Watch International it is based in Gilbert, AZ, and the President, Sharon Slater, is a Latter-Day Saint. http://www.familywatchinternational.org/ I will check it out more, but it looks good to me so far.Under Family Policy Resource Center she has “a collection of some of the very best articles, analysis and research available on critical family issues. A variety of materials is offered, (including Family Watch Policy Briefs which can be printed and distributed) some for a general audience and some for pro-family activists and key policymakers and their staff members or for anyone who wants a more in-depth understanding of these issues: Abortion, Marriage, Homosexuality, Sexual Rights, United Nations” and “Other Issues Affecting the Family”.

  27. Your M-Star posts always make me stop and think, Geoff. When I read this one, I had two thoughts. First, what you’re saying is logical. Second, I must have been living on another planet for the last 30 years. So what gives?

    There’s an entire counter-narrative (starting decades before 1993). It explains, I think, why the gay liberation movement has succeeded. You won’t agree with it, but it might be useful for conservatives to understand it. I know it helps me to understand where you are coming from. I’ll come back in a few and try to consolidate it into a comment here…..

  28. The Conversation Other People Heard:

    Traditionalists in 1963: “Homosexuals are criminal predators who recruit our children, which is why homosexuality is a crime. We must close the places they gather and jail them if they refuse psychiatric treatment for their illness.”
    Gays: “We are not criminals, and not mentally ill. We just want to be left along. We will organize and fight back.”

    Traditionalists in 1973: “We will leave you alone if you remain invisible in society, and we will maintain laws making homosexuality a crime to make sure you do.”
    Gays and a few friends: “Sodomy laws ruin people’s lives. We will work to get them overturned. We will come out of the closet.”

    Traditionalists in 1983: “We were right all along!. AIDS is God’s punishment on you.”
    Gays and new allies: “Gay men in our cities are being devastated by a plague. We will work with lesbians and other to organize, become more visible in society, and take care of each other.”

    Traditionalists in 1993: “We will fight against civil unions and ordinances that prevent businesses from firing gays. We will keep them out of the military. But we aren’t trying to discriminate. My wife loves her gay hairdresser, and I had lunch with a gay guy at work one time.”
    Society: “These laws make no sense. We have lots of gay friends and there is no reason they should be discriminated against. This is all just bigotry.”

    Traditionalists in 2003: “We concede that gays should have some rights, but we’re not quite sure what they should be. Letting them visit each other in the hospital when they get sick would be compassionate. By the way: They want to get married and if they do society will end!”
    Society: “We’re not so sure about gay marriage but the rest of what you’re saying sounds like bigotry to us. Why are you preventing gays from having civil unions? Why should we listen to you at all?”
    Gays and old allies: “Gay marriage exists in quite a few countries now, and nothing bad has happened. We have families and children too, and we want full equality in the eyes of the law.”

    Traditionalists in 2013: “We are being persecuted for our religious beliefs!”
    Society: “No you aren’t. Nobody is forcing your churches to change their doctrines or practices, and never will.”

  29. Mike, I think most readers are aware of the unfortunate history of poor treatment of gays. One of the worst things about such discrimination is that it creates in many people a sense of guilt that causes them to bend backwards and discriminate against others, including people (like myself) who never discriminated against anybody. I would point out that the Church’s official doctrine has always been to treat everybody with love and respect, and to the extent that individual people have broken this doctrine they are under condemnation.

    Your timeline has some crucial errors. It is far from true that “nothing bad has happened” with the legalization of same-sex marriages. Several studies have come out recently pointing out some damaging trends. The effects of such actions will take decades to study in depth, but I am afraid the evidence is more than clear that children do best in homes with a committed mother and father. This is simply the way human beings are wired. As I said above, this does not mean that individual cases may prove exceptions, but as a general rule, it is simply not true that “nothing bad has happened.”

    Regarding your last point, if you cannot see that traditionalists are being persecuted then there is not much we have to talk about. After Prop 8 passed in California, many people were fired from their jobs or harassed when information came out that they voted yes or contributed to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. The environment of hatred for Mormons in LA was truly alarming. Let’s do a thought experiment: what would happen to a member of the faculty of any major university in California if they wore a “Mormons for Prop 8″ t-shirt into class or into the faculty lounge? At the very least, that person’s career would be over. And, yes, we do have reason to fear the churches will be forced to change their doctrines and practices, because it is already happening all over Europe. Here is just one example:

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/denmark-forces-churches-to-perform-same-sex-marriages

    Here is another case in the UK:

    http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/i-am-still-not-getting-what-i-want-gay-couple-suing-church-for-refusing-wed

    There have been many cases in Canada:

    http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/social/hundreds-of-canadians-face-legal-proceedings-for-opposing-same-sex-marriage

    So, frankly, it is quite naive of you to claim that traditionalists are not being persecuted for their beliefs. I am sorry to say that it is likely to get worse before it gets better.

  30. Geoff,
    I’m not sure how many conservatives really understand how violently homosexuals have been treated in the past, but I have rarely seen them acknowledge it much less express any regret. You’re right, for sure, that throughout history the oppressed turn into oppressors when they have the chance. If there were ever proof that humanity has fallen and needs the Atonement, that is it. How sad when blacks are racist against other minorities, gays hate Mormons, or when myriad religious groups attack each other at every turn. At least we’re blessed to live in a nation that has been largely spared tribal warfare for a long time. Call me crazy, but I actually believe that gays and conservative Christians will figure out how to co-exist in the long run and neither side has to “lose” somehow.

    In terms of the cost/benefit analysis of legalizing gay marriage, I’m sure we’ll wind up disagreeing although I’d love to see your evidence. My evidence is in the faces of thousands of couples who no longer have to deal with some very, very difficult legal and financial problems just because they are gay. For example, the separations faced by gay couples who aren’t both U.S. citizens have been just heart-rending. Ditto the problems that gay couples have faced when illness or death occurs. Much of this has been swept away in America since DOMA was struck down. If you want my evidence, listen to stories like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMUk1Qn6hFE

    Please don’t look to me to defend all-things liberal (I’ll leave that to Cynthia L — KIDDING!). Your thought experiment is a very good one. Years ago a wise man said to me “Sometimes there is no one more illiberal than a liberal.” I was at the epicenter of the Prop 8 aftermath, and horrified by some of what I saw. I’ve been ticketed by the PC Police plenty of times. To echo your point, old wrongs don’t make new wrongs right. On that one, I couldn’t agree with you more.

  31. Let’s also look at “the law of unintended consequences” in conjunction with the principle of “if you reward something, you get more of it” or more specifically in social/cultural settings “if you remove the barriers to something, you get more of it” or “if you remove the social stigma of something, you get more of it.”

    Historical examples:

    1. Out-of-wedlock births. Under the banner of compassion to the mother and the child, we removed the social stigma of out-of-wedlock births. In fact, we rewarded it with state welfare. And what has happened? Single parenthood has skyrocketed. This has devastated the African-American community that now has 71% of babies born out of wedlock. Overall, America has like, what, about 40% OoW births?

    2. Divorce. We removed the stigma, and removed barriers by making it easy with ‘no fault divorce’. What has happened since then? Divorce skyrocketed.

    Using those two things as templates, what’s going to happen to the next age cohort that comes to the age of sexual experimentation (about age 16 to 18), when that cohort (group of people of roughly the same age) has spent the ENTIRETY of their conscious lives while connected to media and education (from about age 4) and everything on TV and at school from the time they begin to watch TV through the time they graduate (or reach the age of sexual experimentation), and EVERY message about sex contains the following, either explicitly or via undercurrent:

    “THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH HAVING SEX WITH A PERSON OF THE SAME GENDER” ?

    One of the ‘great lies’ of this age, is that sexual orientation, especially as far as mechanical sex goes, is ONLY and ALWAYS inborn. (Aside: prison sex, and the after-prison bisexual/homosexual behavior of those who engaged in homosexual sex while in prison is one example of how experience affects ‘orientation’, preference, and sexual habits.)

    This is also tied into the concept of “creeping margins”.

    When OoW births became de-stigmatized, not all girls got pregnant. But the
    “marginal case” girls, those who would have said “no” before, and who needed the “threat” of social disaproval to help them say “no”, then said “okay” to sex because that barrier was now gone.

    Then the margin creeps. The next group of girls saw the first wave or first margin of OoW moms get their “compassion” and help and welfare, and then the next group just inside the “new margin” wanted theirs, and found themselves outside the margin.

    So what’s the first “marginal group” of hormone-driven teens? How about those teens who pick up the societal (TV and movies) message that “There’s something wrong with you if you don’t have sex by 18″ ? That’s almost all teens not raised in strict religious homes, who internalize that message. And among that group, there’s going to be a sub-set of teens, who can’t get a date or get laid with the opposite sex.

    So the first “marginal cases” may be thinking along the lines of:
    1) Ya gotta have sex by 16/17/18 or there’s something wrong with you.
    2) No girl (or boy) wants to have sex with me.
    3) There’s nothing wrong with having sex with another boy(girl).
    4) Therefore, …. ________________

    Is it that hard to fill in the blank?

    So, remember, it won’t be all at once, it will be only marginal cases. But the margin will creep year by year. And it will only happen after 10 or so more years, after the current kids who are just now starting to watch TV (or have been watching TV for the past couple years, ever since SSM started being in the news, and in the sit-coms, etc.)

    But there you have it, that is how the incidence of
    1) bisexual sexual behavior,
    2) same-sex sexual behavior, and
    3) mistaken identification of homosexuality via:
    — a) mislabeling, as in: “hey, you ‘liked it’ so you MUST be gay” (wherein the more experienced partner makes sure to push all the right buttons and create [at least the mechanical] sexual response in the inexperienced partner), and
    — b) the psychological imprinting effect that one’s first sexual experience has on the individual. (that’s one reason why its best to have sex only after marriage, since you’re then imprinted only to your spouse, and not someone else from years ago.)

    It’s been a few years since the first US state legalized SSM, and those states have already revised their school curriculums accordingly. Will And Grace, Rosie, Ellen, were/have been on the air for a few years, so we’ll start to see the marginal cases show up in those early SSM states in less than 10 years.

    To Mike and Geoff: of course not all gays recruit, but some do. I have a male heterosexual friend who was hit on by an older man who was an ex-convict, and he (my friend) spilled the beans about post-prison bisexual behavior in the African American community. And I have encountered several people who were “grooomed” or seduced by adults when they were teens/young-adults. Also, a not-insignificant number of children who were sexually abused by a same-sex adult, and who then mistakenly self-identified, as in # 3A above, also can be considered to have been “recruited”.

    Although it doesn’t cover everything i’ve mentioned, this book, and her videos on Youtube, are good starting points:

    “You’re Teaching My Child WHAT?” by Miriam Grossman
    http://www.amazon.com/Youre-Teaching-Child-What-Physician-ebook/dp/B0097DEM96/

  32. Marriage reflects the natural moral and social law evidenced the world over. As the late British social anthropologist Joseph Daniel Unwin noted in his study of world civilizations, any society that devalued the nuclear family soon lost what he called “expansive energy,” which might best be summarized as society’s will to make things better for the next generation. In fact, no society that has loosened sexual morality outside of man-woman marriage has survived.

    Analyzing studies of cultures spanning several thousands of years on several continents, Chairman of Harvard University’s sociology department, Pitirim Sorokin. found that virtually all political revolutions that brought about societal collapse were preceded by a sexual revolution in which marriage and family were devalued by the culture’s acceptance of homosexuality.

    When marriage loses its unique status, women and children most frequently are the direct victims. Giving same-sex relationships or out-of-wedlock heterosexual couples the same special status and benefits as the marital bond would not be the expansion of a right but the destruction of a principle. .

    Where are the pundits warning of societal collapse?

  33. Bookslinger, nearly any heterosexual pairing within a given age range can produce an out of wedlock pregnancy (assuming the couple are not married, of course). Nearly any marriage can produce a divorce. Heterosexuals, however, do not become homosexuals by choice or by accident.

    There is no definitive research on the long term effects of prison sexuality on post-prison sexual expression. However, we know that rape and other sexual trauma can affect sexuality and sexual expression, though not sexual orientation, in long term ways for most victims of sexual assault, male or female, whether the assault was homosexual or heterosexual. This sort of trauma is not remotely descriptive of or applicable to our understanding of normal sexual behavior and orientation in individuals who have not been sexually traumatized or assaulted.

    Simple societal acceptance does not increase the number of homosexual individuals. It may very well increase the number who are willing or able to live *openly*, but this is not a bad thing. It certainly helps to prevent disastrous “mixed-orientation marriages” which result, generally, in deep unhappiness, divorce and the traumatization of the children resulting from such marriages.

  34. MikeInWeHo, love your post summarizing the events of the past five decades. That’s the way I remember them, too.

  35. For the most part, the changes that have effected marriage over the centuries (not just decades), have been trying to mitigate problems that are seen, finding a way that many (if not most) agree upon, hoping it’ll work. More often, these decisions are made based only on our own logic for what we see will be the best solution, even if it might not be in the long run. It wasn’t a concerted (and knowing) effort by most to just be as bad as they could be (though some openly declare themselves at war with marriage altogether, they are few), but a genuine desire to help.

    Take abortion for example. I like the Church’s stance of necessary but rare, where it’s available for those rare emergencies, as women were (and are) dying because of the lack of availability and poor options. It’s the teaching that it should be a last resort that tends to be missing. So, since some feel people can’t be trusted to make the right decision, a decision is forced, one way (no abortions ever) or the other (free contraception for everyone). Either way, it’s become a battle that’s missing the point. Work at fixing the hearts, then the actions will follow.

    This post felt almost like it was setting up and knocking down a straw man. As MikeinWeHo points out, there’s plenty of mistakes, bad feeling, and downright meanness on both sides of the issue. We do ourselves a bit of a disservice when we both paint ourselves as the innocent and those who disagree with us as the evil other. But it got some people to think, and created some conversation, both of which I’m grateful for. Both sides are trying to set up the biggest boogeymen they can, invoking both “the end of civilization as we know it” and “people are dying” as ammunition; pretty heavy stuff that works more to end a conversation than start one.

    For LGBT* individuals, the problem hasn’t been marriage or even acceptance, but compassion. Through disowned family, conversion therapy, pushes in the media, and gay marriage, all have been trying to force everyone to believe and be one way or another, and all have been doing nothing more than provoking more of a push on the other side. I don’t think there would have been such a push for gay marriage if there had not been such a push for conversion therapy (which probably should be in quotes, as it hurt more than it helped). i don’t think we’d have the problem of suicides if families dealt more together with how things are rather than trying to force them how they think it should be.

    I don’t think there are any easy answers, even with God trying to give us help. All of it is going to take time and effort, dodging (and being injured by) salvos from every side. Not an easy task, no matter how minor differences in the eventual aim of everyone.

  36. I think the pundits warning of societal collapse are mainly the ones concerned about the plummeting birth rate. I think the rule of thumb is that a country’s economy will rise and fall in direct relationship to the number of 49 year olds in the population. So with fewer individuals involved in begetting or nurturing children, the fewer future 49-year-olds you will have.

    As for the gay and polygamist (and smoker and rapist) discussion, it might be good to study D&C 46. We are to allow and invite all to our worship services. We are to love all mankind.

    I bring up the rapist thing because of a case that happened in my town a few years ago. A teenage boy in the congregation developed a crush on the Bishop’s daughter. One night he broke into the Bishop’s home and raped the girl he “adored.” The Bishop could not legally bar the boy from worship services, nor could he resign his post as Bishop. However he did arrange for his daughter to attend a different ward, where the boy had no right to follow. And when the Bishop was eventually released, he and his entire family started attending services in the other ward.

    As for me and mine, I will continue to teach my children that they are not to do detrimental things, even in the event that all the protective fences and warning signs have been destroyed by society. I will teach them to love all God’s children, even the ones who tear down the fences and warning signs and stand ready to push people towards “detrimental things”.

    As for Prop 8, it’s nice that the Mormons in California campaigned for what they believed was right. But don’t you think it was more likely all the Blacks and Hispanics showing up to vote for Mr. Obama who read the ballot question regarding Prop 8 and said, “What the???” There surely weren’t enough Mormons in California to actually swing the popular vote.

  37. Lorian, your comment:

    “Simple societal acceptance does not increase the number of homosexual individuals. It may very well increase the number who are willing or able to live *openly*, but this is not a bad thing. It certainly helps to prevent disastrous “mixed-orientation marriages” which result, generally, in deep unhappiness, divorce and the traumatization of the children resulting from such marriages.”

    This comment shows a tremendous amount of ignorance about reality. A lot of research has been done on this subject. About 60 percent of men with same-sex attraction never act on it. Today, there are 2 million heterosexual married men with same-sex attraction, and 29 percent say they have same-sex sexual relations, meaning that 71 percent do not act on their same-sex desires.

    Source: http://www.millennialstar.org/fair-conference-talk-number-one-joshua-johanson-navigating-the-labryrinth-surrounding-homosexual-desire/

    It is basic common sense that if same-sex activity becomes normalized, the 60 percent who never act on their same-sex desires will decrease.

    The reality that most people realize but do not want to accept (for reasons of political correctness) is that sexuality involves a continuum. Many people are “mostly heterosexual” but may be willing to experiment if given an opportunity and if such activity is accepted by society. So it is basic common sense that widespread acceptance of homosexuality will increase the number of people who experiment. To claim otherwise is to live in a fantasy world.

  38. This was interesting, but now it’s starting to feel like we’re arguing outside the barn after the horses have already run away.

    Just one quick reply, Geoff: You might consider being a bit more skeptical when reading un-annoted FAIR talks that provide specific numbers about the prevalence of homosexuality, percentages of homosexuals who are in heterosexual marriages, etc. This is a notoriously difficult area to research because it’s pretty much impossible to establish reliable cohorts. While virtually everyone rejects Kinsey’s numbers these days, beyond that it’s pretty much anybody’s guess how the homo-bi-hetero continuum breaks down in terms of percentages. Your assertion that social acceptance will shift the percentages makes sense to me, but I think you dramatically over-state your case. The notion that fully accepting gay people into society will lead to a surge in their numbers doesn’t seem to have occurred yet, at least.

  39. Mike, I actually think Joshua’s number are pretty reliable. I would love to see a debate between you and him, and if you would like M* to host it, that would be great. I don’t know how to get in touch with him, so I would leave that up to you, but as I say we would happily host that debate.

    I think we need to be open to the fact that sometimes we should argue based on common sense and logic rather than questionable studies that are done with a certain political bias. It is just basic common sense that if we accept a sexual continuum (which you do) that more people will act on certain desires along the continuum than would if such behavior were not socially acceptable. If the society encourages people to experiment, they are more likely to experiment. This is not a debatable assertion. What percentage of people will experiment is certain debatable, but the fact that they are more likely to experiment is not debatable. Cheers, Geoff

  40. Mike,

    I actually completely agree with your basic point, which is that this is very difficult to study so all current studies are suspect.

    However, not being an expert on this subject, I have some thoughts and questions for pondering. And you may be able to shed some light on my vague memories of some of these issues.

    First, while Kinsey’s numbers of ‘suspect’ today, it was my understanding that his “one in ten” number was actually about men that had at one point experimented with homosexuality and not with actually what today we’d call a homosexual and that the homosexual community sort of latched on to such a high number and published it. Is that correct?

    But in reality, isn’t that number more or less still known to be somewhat accurate? That there has been a much larger number of men that experiment with homosexuality than actually go on to choose it as a life style? I honestly didn’t think there was any question about that at all.

    Likewise, I had heard pretty good numbers of 1%-2% for homosexuality for decades even though no really good studies existed yet. There were various reasons offered for that assumption. Then when they actually did start to do studies that had any real meaning they naturally relied on self identity as the basis for whether or not someone was gay. And the 1% to 2% number (that’s really a statistically pretty wide range, I’d think) has fairly consistently been found to be about right. Do you have reason to believe differently that that? Is there a study out there that calls into question that wide range of 1% to 2%?

    Even though I agree with you that the numbers are at best currently approximate guesses, the basic point that there are a large number of men with some level of same sex attraction (at least enough to experiment and sometimes more than that) that go on to self identify as heterosexual seems to me to not be in doubt. Do you have a reason to believe otherwise?

    The twin studies found that identical twins were far far more likely to be both homosexual than two random people select. But even in that case we’re talking about a mere 20% correlation if I remember correctly.

    So while I think the accuracy of the numbers seems very questionable, the basic concept that currently there are men that have a same sex attraction that go on to think of themselves as heterosexual seems more than merely probable to me. And it seems very unlikely to me that at least *some* rise of the number of men that self identify as homosexual *should* take place if society does not frown upon homosexuality when compared to one that does. How could it be otherwise? It seems strange to me that you’d even challenge that. Granted, it might not be a huge surge.

    And if there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, so? Perhaps we can even say this is good because they got to make a choice without any sort of societal bias pushing them towards heterosexuality, so this is a ‘freer choice’ now or something like that. So I’m curious why you’d be arguing that the basic premises is wrong. I’d expect you to be arguing ‘so what?’ to the basic premise. I’d be interested in your further thoughts here.

    And lastly, it seems pretty obvious to me that it takes quite a while to see a ‘shift in numbers’ over something like this. If a man has a same sex attraction (but perhaps also some level of opposite sex attraction), but ended up self identifying as heterosexual and got married, you’d think that would not necessarily result in him deciding to suddenly start to identify as homosexual. On the other hand, a boy in the same position that needs to make a choice has nothing like a marriage to hold together. So let’s assume — just for the sake of argument, not because I necessarily believe it — that Geoff is right and a society that is openly accepting of homosexuality *does* lead to a huge surge in numbers. My expectation would be that you’d have to let two generations pass before you’d really start to see the numbers and that it would not be an overnight affair.

    Futher, I’d hardly expect a shift to be visble precisely because we know so little about the actual numbers right now as you keep pointing out. If it went from 1% to 2% — doubled — in the last ten years (I don’t believe that to be the case, of course) with a +/-1% margin for error, then we’re still just finding that 1% to 2%, aren’t we? It could literally double and we’d not see a blip in the numbers if we aren’t accurate enough at collecting the numbers in the first place. Isn’t that correct?

    So I’m bit suprised you feel so confident in saying “The notion that fully accepting gay people into society will lead to a surge in their numbers *doesn’t seem to have occurred yet, at least*” I mean how could you possibly even know that given the problems of collecting the numbers you already cited? Wouldn’t the only truly accurate thing to say right now be “We just haven’t the foggiest idea if fully accepting gay people into society will lead to a surge in numbers?” Or do you have some reason to believe there has not been a surge that is not related to the poorly reported numbers we keep all talking about?

  41. Like Cynthia I enjoy trying to understand how my conservative friends really understand how the world works. It is especially interesting to see the data you pull from to make sense of the world and the analogies you see as being applicable or not.

    Just one short data note on some of the comments:

    Divorce rates did “skyrocket” following change to divorce laws and subsequent norms in the 1970s. They have since stabilized and now have dropped over the last decade. Also, notable is that domestic violence rates dropped dramatically when divorce laws changed. I think we can all agree that there is such a thing as a good divorce, especially in the case of any kind of abuse. The point being is that in the last 20 years divorce hasn’t gotten worse. It has actually decreased. So have long-term commitments outside of marriage so there is some substitution effect going on.

    The out of wedlock statistics cited in the comments is also an interesting example. It is just under 40% over all in the US. The high rate among african americans is attributed in most studies to the shared correlation with poverty and the incarceration rate of young black men. What is also true is that teenage pregnancy rates across all demographics have plummeted in the last couple of decades. (Arbortion rates have also decreased). Also there is new data out that distinguishes between unwed marriages to cohabiting couples and to truly single mothers. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr051.pdf. Here the numbers are much more encouraging. Roughly half of “out of wedlock” births occur within a two parent household. While it is true that these households are more likely to split up than married households, there are also a large number that go on to enter marriage or remain stable.

    The point here is that the more you look at these types of data around family and sexuality it is hard to find the slippery slope doomsday scenarios that seem to be driving the logic of the post. There is at least as much good news as bad. I for one am willing to trade of higher divorce rates for decreases in domestic rates, for example. When considering children’s welfare I believe that having two parents in a loving relationship is better than one parent but one parent is better than two parents in a violent or otherwise unhealthy relationship. I support marriage commitment as social good but not at the expense of keeping people in marriages that are unhealthy. I support gay marriage for precisely that reason. I think bringing them into the institution of marriage will help everybody.

    While I agree that on the margin the normalization of gay marriage and relationships will increase the incidences of gay sex, even experimental homosexual experiences, I don’t think there is much good data that homosexuality is “contagious” through normalization. There will be people on the margin in bisexuality or whatever that could be influenced one way or another, but it will their choice. I think a 10% decrease in the suicide rate of gay youth is worth paying the price of marginal increases in experimentation even if I thought gay sex is a sin. (And I am not sure we have any real idea what God really thinks about that)

    So yes I have a lot of trouble buying arguments that there is a slipperly slope that is making the world worse. Something might be getting worse but many, many things are actually getting much better than whatever era you want to point to as being “the better place” we have been devolving from. Maybe I am an optimist at heart and I definitely believe in building Zion (or making the world a better place). Personally, I think the world is a better place when gays and lesbians can commit to life long love and support. I don’t worry about homosexuality being contagious for my kids. However, I am much happier knowing that if one of my kids turns out to be gay there is a life they can lead full of marriage, love and fidelity.

  42. Geoff and Bruce,
    I don’t disagree with your comments regarding the numbers, and how they could potentially shift depending on social attitudes. Makes sense to me. The Williams Institute has a nice summary here. Maybe we can use that as our starting point?

    http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/census-lgbt-demographics-studies/how-many-people-are-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender/

    Society can go from no open homosexuality (Iran, Saudi Arabia, et. al.) to some upper-number that is limited by biology. But just how gay could it get? Where would we expect to find the most practicing homosexuals these days, perhaps a country like Sweden? Is Scandinavia being overrun gay experimentation? (I did have a wicked crush for a long time on a tall gay doctor in Stockholm, but I digress….)

    Bottom line for me: Numbers don’t matter. Lives matter. It’s simply not true that societies fall unless homosexuals are suppressed. (For anyone whose history is that biased, well, I have an ark to sell you in the Turkish mountains.)

    What if only 1-2% of the population is exclusively homosexual? Are you really willing to utterly crush their chances for happiness in this life just because your religion teaches that homosexual behaviors are sinful?

  43. Mike, those numbers may be interesting to consider, but again I think a better way of thinking of it is not rigid categories of “gay,” “bisexual” and “heterosexual.”

    It may be better to consider that there is a continuum of sexual desires, with 10 as the most heterosexual and 1 as the most homosexual. (I have no idea what the numbers would be on this continuum, but I think this paradigm makes much more sense). It is simply a fact that some people could never imagine gay sex or hetero sex and that some people may be able to imagine it under certain circumstances while other people may truly have a wide variety of desires. This is why you see men in prison have sex with other men and then practice completely heterosexual sex the rest of their lives. This may also explain why some women may “experiment” with same-sex activity in college and then never do so again the rest of their lives. Are such people “bisexual?” I am pretty sure they do not see themselves as such, so any survey results would be skewed for them.

    The Gospel says happiness is achieved through chastity and fidelity and following the teachings of Jesus Christ. The teachings of the prophets are that people should control their desires and not act on them, except in the case of marriage. Every person on the Earth is given different temptations and different things that need to be controlled. For some people, it is anger, or desire to over-eat. Some people are born blind or crippled or with a desire to become addicted to alcohol or drugs. For all people, the message is the same: come to Christ and he will help you overcome your desires and temptations that cause sin.

    The message to the followers of Christ is also the same when it comes to how we treat others. We should help them, have compassion for them and find ways to help them progress in the eternal plan. We should not encourage them to give in to temptation. From God’s perspective, this does not help them but hinders their eternal progress.

    True happiness is achieved through following the teachings of Christ. This means overcoming temptations. It is not hateful to teach this but instead is the most loving thing you can do.

  44. Geoff, I like the way you put that. And although I agree completely with your point, allow me to play devil’s advocate a bit. I think there’s another dimension to the continuum that includes other desires that, whether by nature, nurture, or a combo of both, are sinful (the desire not to restrict oneself to just one partner, for one example). Why did God endow us with such a vast spectrum of desires but only allow us to indulge one small sliver of it, and only under certain conditions?

  45. At this juncture our paths diverge. You’re right about sexual behavior being on a continuum and the gay-bi-hetero paradigm oversimplifying the situation, but I don’t see the language changing so we’re stuck using those terms as best we can. I understand that your goal would be to minimize homosexual physical activity at almost any cost because it is against your religious beliefs about what is best for society. For me, whenever I encounter someone who believes they know “God’s perspective,” I know there is a severe limit to how much I can really discuss with them. I am probably best described as a univeralist (not in the denominational sense), and from my vantage point no one can make that claim more than anyone else. That’s not to be disrespectful towards a devout Mormon, or Jehovah’s Witness, or Muslim, or anyone who believes they know the only source of ultimate truth. It’s just acknowledging that members of self-contained and self-validating religious groups have a different way of thinking about things than secular people do.

    As for the highest degree of happiness being found only in the LDS church’s understanding of the Gospel, obviously we have nothing to debate there. I’m sure some of your fellow members would enjoy having a go-round on that topic, though. Maybe a BCC vs. M* Extreme Theological Cage Fight?

    BTW: Happy New Year everybody!

  46. ” I understand that your goal would be to minimize homosexual physical activity at almost any cost because it is against your religious beliefs about what is best for society. For me, whenever I encounter someone who believes they know “God’s perspective,” I know there is a severe limit to how much I can really discuss with them.”

    Mike, this is not “my goal.” Personally, I could care less what consenting adults do with their physical activity. However, it is the Church’s goal and has been stated repeatedly and endlessly by modern-day prophets. I do not claim to know “God’s perspective” anymore than you do, but I do claim to follow the prophets.

    I want to make it clear that I consider breaking the law of chastity a “sin” only because the Church does. I also consider being prideful and mean to other people to also be sins. If we were to add up daily sins, it is very possible that I commit more every day than you do, so to make things clear, I am a very great sinner and Jesus is a very great Savior. However, I would not take kindly to people excusing my sins and saying they don’t matter and that I should just forget about them and ignore them. This would not be a kindness to me. When you sin, you need to repent of your sins and try your best to stop sinning. In the same vein, I don’t think it is a kindness to you to pretend that your sins are not really sins either. So, you may like an environment where everybody tells you “do whatever you want, sin a little, sin a lot, God doesn’t care,” but I find that environment incredibly cruel to your long-term progression. People who say that do not care about your happiness — they care about the happiness of the natural man, and the natural man is an enemy to God, so you won’t hear that from me. Maybe some day, in this life or the next, you will be grateful that somebody was willing to stand up and give you a different perspective.

  47. Tossman wrote: “Why did God endow us with such a vast spectrum of desires but only allow us to indulge one small sliver of it, and only under certain conditions?”

    Tossman, first of all, I don’t really know the answer, but I can speculate. If I had to speculate, I would say that not all people have vast spectrum of desires. But all people I know have weaknesses of different kinds. Maybe they are unable to control their anger, or they have problems with over-eating, or maybe they are especially prideful. Or maybe they have some sexual desire that they cannot control. We live in a fallen world where such weaknesses are very common and difficult to control. They are a reminder of our humanity. They are a reminder that we ALL fall short and we all need the atonement to overcome our shortcomings. So, I do not find it at all strange that people have these weaknesses — it is yet another sign that the Gospel is true (imho).

  48. Geoff, While I agree with your comments on overcoming temptation, I also have to nitpick on another comment: “a desire to become addicted to alcohol and drugs.” Truth is, no one desires to become addicted to substances or dreams of being/becoming an addict. The addiction develops over time, which varies with the individual, with repeated, and often deliberate, use until one is caught in the throes of addiction that he/she is powerless to escape from. It’s not a happy place to be. Needless to say (though it often bears repeating), it is far easier to avoid experimentation, lest one finds him/herself trapped, since none of us knows just where we might end up, than having to repent.

    Which leads me to my next point of discussion about sex addiction. Sex addiction (regularly accessing sexually explicit materials and/or acting out despite negative consequences) is exploding worldwide via technology and ease of distribution of materials, affecting both hetero and homosexuals. Many are in denial of and/or don’t know they possess this addiction. I personally know friends–both hetero and gay, both LDS and non-LDS–who are admitted sex addicts. The LDS church does a good job of establishing their 12 Step program to help members deal with sex addiction and tirelessly encouraging members to avoid pornography like the plague it is.

    Speaking as an addictions expert, not just some random Joe in the blogosphere, addiction to sex generally escalates in a shorter time span than other types of addiction. For most sex addicts, pornography is the chief contributor to this development. I postulate that there is a correlation the sex addiction explosion and the rise of the gay community, though I haven’t seen any research on this. Evidently, it is not politically correct to make out any such correlation. That’d be too convenient and sexual addiction is not well understood.

    My gay friends admit to frequenting sex clubs, gay pornography, and having numerous—hundreds to over a thousand—partners. While heteros engage in similar behaviors, the gay community advocates sexual liberalism through sexual expression and identification, and naturally want the heterosexual population to decrease their social stigma by accepting their lifestyle. Keeping the focus on civil rights and equality, they do not want you or I or the media to acknowledge their secret: that their members are at a higher risk for sex addiction and other problems than the heterosexual population. Recognizing this would undermine the validity of their lifestyle.

    We are taught, and we know from experience, that one cannot do wrong and feel right. It is contrary to the Light of Christ each of us is endowed with lest we sin away that light and the ability to feel remorse. Prior to achieving a civil marriage, most gay partners have likely had numerous sexual encounters/exposures, and neither marriage nor social acceptance will eliminate feelings of guilt and/or compulsive behaviors. In such an environment where the law of chastity is scorned and fidelity in relationships are not emphasized, I (imho) expect we will eventually see a type of sorrowing, which Mormon described, among the homosexual as well as heterosexual (but for different reasons) population, wherein they cannot “take happiness in sin.” As you stated, coming to Christ and applying his atonement is the only way out toward a lasting happiness.

  49. Tiger, thank you for your informed comments. You are telling the truth, exposing the lies, and adding strength to our arguments.

  50. Geoff, I was going to write that your narrative of the benevolent traditionalist vs. the hateful world is a caricature. But then I realized that you’re not attempting to present a reporting of historical events, but your own point of view (and many people you must know) of what has happened. And that’s fine – especially when you couple it with Mike’s telling. I think together they can give an informed picture of the way opposing sides of this issue view themselves and the other.

    For my part, I’ve remained mostly sitting on the fence of this issue. Though I’ve been mentally in favor of SSM, I have not vocalized that to anyone outside of my close family. I take the Church’s position seriously, but have struggled to square it with my own lived experience and spiritual impressions. I live among and my children play with the sons and daughters of SS parents. I’ve been in their homes and had in depth conversations with them about education and parenting. They know we are Mormon and that did not stop them from accepting an invitation to attend my daughters baptism. Our association has remained. Its hard to see how their committed family life-style is not exactly what I want for my community. So, I’m admittedly torn and still looking for clarity.

    That being said, I will not hesitate to protect the Church’s right to set their own doctrine and policy. But I have no problem predicting that it won’t come to that.

  51. Thank you for this discussion. This is the first time I’ve seen the argument made that legal acceptance of same sex marriage will increase the incidence of homosexual activity among “marginal” individuals who would otherwise limit themselves to heterosexual activity or celibacy.
    I’m a faithful member of the church who experiences SSA and over the last couple weeks I’ve been tearing myself up inside reading all the coverage and comments about SSM in Utah. The thing that hurts the most is seeing the church community/family that I love react so passionately against something that to me seems positive or neutral at worst. From my perspective based on my own experience, SSA is innate and immutable. While I know that people of faith can be celibate (my personal choice) or sometimes marry the opposite sex and make it work, I would never expect either of those options to be appealing to someone outside our faith who feels the same things I do. So I expect that people with SSA who are not religious will fall in gay love and engage in homosexual activity regardless and it feels to me like the most positive way for them to do that is within a monogamous, committed relationship such as “marriage” or a civil union.
    The most common argument I’ve seen against SSM is that natural families with the influence of a mother and father is the best for the children. This makes sense, and I agree, but in light of general societal and legal acceptance and support for many families outside that “best case” scenario, I have been surprised by the intense emotional opposition to SSM (see for example Trestin Meacham fasting to end SSM in Utah). Because I’ve never seen the same passion against divorce, single parents, adoptions, or other less than ideal situations, I was left with a feeling that there was some much deeper motivation behind the intense opposition to SSM and I’ve ended up feeling like that motivation is animus. That is what tears me up, because over the last couple weeks, I’ve felt more and more like my people, my tribe feels intense animus against people like me, and that hurts.
    So, that’s why I’m super relieved to see this argument made in the comments here that faithful people oppose same sex marriage because they believe that legally sanctioning same sex relationships will lead more people to choose to enter homosexual relationships who might otherwise lead very happy heterosexual lives. It is an argument that based on my personal experience seems so illogical that I never would have thought of it. Seeing the discussion above has opened my eyes that there are many people who experience opposite sex attraction but also experience some degree of same sex attraction and only restrain acting on those feelings because of societal and legal pressure.That is not something people talk about much, especially in polite Mormon circles, so I honestly don’t know anyone in that situation, but I don’t know that they don’t exist. More than anything, I’m relieved to understand that most of my fellow Mormons probably do believe that the marginal cases do exist and it is them who they are trying to help and protect by opposing Same Sex Marriage. So, it could be said that opposition to Same Sex Marriage is not about hate, it’s not about protecting children–it is about maintaining legal and societal pressure that restricts same sex sexual and romantic exploration. I still don’t know if I agree with that, but it is at least something I can understand and an argument that seems to match the passion behind the opposition.

  52. “So, that’s why I’m super relieved to see this argument made in the comments here that faithful people oppose same sex marriage because they believe that legally sanctioning same sex relationships will lead more people to choose to enter homosexual relationships who might otherwise lead very happy heterosexual lives. It is an argument that based on my personal experience seems so illogical that I never would have thought of it. Seeing the discussion above has opened my eyes that there are many people who experience opposite sex attraction but also experience some degree of same sex attraction and only restrain acting on those feelings because of societal and legal pressure.That is not something people talk about much, especially in polite Mormon circles, so I honestly don’t know anyone in that situation, but I don’t know that they don’t exist. More than anything, I’m relieved to understand that most of my fellow Mormons probably do believe that the marginal cases do exist and it is them who they are trying to help and protect by opposing Same Sex Marriage. So, it could be said that opposition to Same Sex Marriage is not about hate, it’s not about protecting children–it is about maintaining legal and societal pressure that restricts same sex sexual and romantic exploration. I still don’t know if I agree with that, but it is at least something I can understand and an argument that seems to match the passion behind the opposition.”

    Derek, I am glad you caught this. Just speaking personally, I grew up in San Francisco and have known people with SSA since high school. I had a gay roommate in college and knew many people with SSA in college and in my younger years. They really ran the gamut from 1 to 10 in terms of SS attractions. Based on my experience, it is very clear to me that there are people who may feel such attractions but simply would not act on them because of societal pressure. Lessening societal pressure increases the likelihood they will act. You are exactly correct that my opposition to SSM has nothing to do with hate. Two adults having consensual sex has exactly zero effect on me or anybody else. It seems obvious to me, however, that Heavenly Father would prefer that people try to control such urges and if society makes such activity more acceptable there will be fewer attempts at self control and more experimentation that might never have taken place.

    So thank you for seeing this argument for what it is, simply an attempt to follow Heavenly Father’s wishes.

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