By any standard, I am still in the bloom and pluck of life, being only 35 years of age currently. My physical health is outstanding, my hair is not going prematurely gray, and by contemporary American standards I am fit and within my recommended weight limit. Financially I am fine (although “secure” is probably not the appropriate word). I have a brilliant, loving wife and special children. Truly, there is much to be thankful for.
And yet…I have sobering moments of reflection in which I survey the climate and landscape and resist shudders of despair. By nature I am not overly pessimistic; I truly believe that over time, the good guys eventually win. I look forward, with an eye of faith, to the time when righteousness will cover the earth as the waves cover the sea.
The current moral climate in America (and by extension, to the rest of the industrialized world) gives me tremendous cause for concern, even momentary moments of alarm.
You see, gentle reader, I cannot accept the sanguinity that goes along with what passes as “progress” in recent years. We are led to believe by punditry and elitists that the gay lifestyle does not merit any form of discrimination; that, forsooth, the lifestyle is beyond any form of reproach or criticism no matter how gently proffered; that traditional marriage norms unjustly and grossly violate the “rights” of gay people to marry; that it is “hateful” to even suggest that gay sexual behavior does not lead to happy spiritual outcomes. In short, if you don’t drink the Pride Kool-Aid, you, sir, are a bigot.
As a student of history, I cannot accept the premise that every “progress” is actually a step in the “right” direction. Proponents of homosexual behavior testify that those of us that stand for traditional values are on the “wrong side of history”. I would like to meekly suggest that they actually wait for some history to develop before they issue pontifications and histrionic projections about the forces of historical validation.
The real question that we should seek to ponder upon is this: does the gay lifestyle lead to happiness? My answer is this: no, it does not. It may very well lead to quiet, cozy divans of carnal security. It may satiate the flesh for a season. But as Latter Day Saints we know that “wickedness never was happiness” and it is absolute folly for us to pretend otherwise.
My intent here is not to censure or judge ANY homosexual man or woman. If you are gay or lesbian and not LDS, then all I can do is invite you to consider the message of the Church and gospel. I can tell you that sexual purity has its own rewards. If you are Mormon and self-identify as gay or lesbian, then you should know that the Church, institutionally speaking, has no overt or covert desire to cause you harm. Like Christians in all places, Latter Day Saints do not perfectly reflect the pure love of Christ. But by golly, a whole lot of us are trying. And our hearts do reach out to our brothers and sisters who struggle with same sex attraction.
I was struck by the recent gay Pride march in Salt Lake City. Actually, the pictures of the event struck me. Let me tell you why. To march, as active believing Mormons, with people in solidarity is perhaps noble. To do so while selectively misquoting Jesus (“Jesus said love everyone”; touché, but what about “keep my commandments”?) while the person right next to you is carrying a gay marriage flag is downright insidious, in my view.
You may think my last paragraph rather harsh. I certainly don’t deny anyone the right to freedom of political expression. What strikes me in this case is the fact that I am pretty sure that very, very few of the Mormons that were in the Pride march will actually vote for a Mormon who happens to be running for office this year. Please don’t misunderstand: I am NOT suggesting that a vote for Romney is a litmus test that “faithful Mormons” must pass. What I am suggesting is that, as Mormons, we are a terribly fractured lot in these early decades of the 21st century, and I don’t see things improving anytime soon.
The current moral climate is rapidly approaching a type of moral nihilism. Instead of an immoral world, we are approaching an amoral one. If you dare to stand up for traditional values, you are ironically branded as an intolerant oaf. Apparently, freedom of opinion in contemporary American only extends to those who have the “correct” opinions. It is “bigotry” to suggest that there are moral principles.
Yet the great irony, referred to subtly above, is that those who raise a hue and cry over people standing up for traditional values are seeking to impose their moral vision on the rest of us. Accuse me of intolerance while you yourself are practicing it. Apparently, the hypocrisy is lost on them. And they are supposed to be the smart folks!
We are told that we live in a world of nuance, shades of gray, of situational ethics. There are no eternal standards; morality is in the eye of the beholder. And here we are, we believing Mormons, actually daring to go around and proclaim “the truth”. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks said at a CES devotional address on 11 September 2011, “We believe in truth, including the existence of God and the right and wrong established by His commandments…we know that the existence of God and the existence of absolute truth are fundamental to life on this earth, whether they are believed or not” (emphasis mine).
As faithful, believing Mormons, we reject the notion that some things in life can only be measured or apprehended by nuance or some kind of social sleight of hand. And so we sincerely hold fast to principles of righteousness found in the scriptures. We are seeking to love God with all our heart.
Elder Oaks has given us a charge: “In this circumstance, all of us – and especially you of the rising generation – have a duty to stand up and speak up to affirm that God exists and that there are absolute truths His commandments establish” (emphasis mine). To love our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters without also loving God and His truth is not really love. It would be a transmogrification of love into something totally selfish, even devilish. And that, sir, would truly be hateful.