By: Latter-Day Publius
If the LGBT movement has done one thing right, it has alerted much of America to the difficulty minority groups experience. One good example of this is Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s recent explanation of his own journey to being out as a gay man. As one of the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President M. Russell Ballard, said:
We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing. Certainly we must do better than we have done in the past so that all members feel they have a spiritual home where their brothers and sisters love them and where they have a place to worship and serve the Lord.
I emphatically agree with President Ballard. More listening is needed, and some of that listening will add nuance to my views and the views of others. The victims of horrible violence against LGBT individuals are indisputably worthy of our love and support, which may be what God Himself had in mind when he showed a sign of His love– a rainbow– in Orlando recently during a commemoration of the horrific Pulse massacre. And other expressions of support for LGBT rights are surely appropriate
Notwithstanding all of this, I am not attending a pride parade or waving a rainbow flag this month. I feel this way because, even after decades of discussion, there are still numerous concerns about the LGBT Movement’s goals that mean I must differentiate listening and learning from them from accepting their goals. Here are some examples.
A. Pride/LGBT movement advocates push for messages that have harmful effects on children, by:
- Ignoring the fact that the vast majority of children who experience gender dysphoria naturally grow out of it. Attorneys at the well-respected law firm Becket Law have collected information on this topic, including scientific studies, accessible here.
- Separating children from the gender diversity that results from having a male and a female parent, whether biologically or adopted. Having two parents of different genders at the head of the family introduces the children to broader understanding of humanity. (See the article the Divine Institution of Marriage for more developed points on pitfalls of same-sex parenting).
B. Pride/LGBT movement advocates ignore scientific methodology by:
- Relying on the studies to study the issue focus on same-sex female couples, to assert that same-sex male couples are just as good parents as heterosexual couples. This ignores that men and women, whatever their sexual orientation, parent differently. The few, few studies that study same-sex parenting of males are limited in scope.
- Relying on studies of female same-sex couples’ parenting that (1) tend to be based on convenience rather than random samples; (2) tend to have small sample sizes; (3) tend to study more affluent demographics than the population as a whole and (4) reward parenting attributes that females typically excel at, while not studying some attributes that males excel at. (See a peer-reviewed paper by Loren Marks. Most literature released after the Marks paper either falls into the same pitfalls or contradicts the consensus view).
- Using self-selected samples to asses LGBTQ outcomes more generally.
C. Pride/LGBT movement advocates push for messages that have incorrect understandings about suicide and happiness:
- Suicide is a complex matter, and no one factor typically causes suicide. So to, without solid evidence, link a rise in suicides to any one policy or plan is unwise. This is especially true when climate and elevation play a role in suicide as well. You can read a good explanation on this point here.
- Many religious and secular individuals correctly teach that happiness need not be dependent on circumstances or dispositions, that single people can be fulfilled without a sexual relationship, and living a life of self-denial can benefit oneself and society. By sending a message that there is no legal distinction between discriminating based on one’s sexual orientation and one’s choice of spouse or partner, LGBT advocates send a message that fulfillment comes primarily from romantic relationships.
- One’s relationship with God or a broader culture can certainly be more powerful than one’s own romantic desires. While fictional, the character Albus Dumbledore highlights the importance of distinguishing between choices and inclinations, both by his words and his story.
D. Pride/LGBT movement advocates push for messages that harm religious freedom:
- If one accepts the above points, it is obvious that churches must have the right to teach the doctrinal foundation for these policies.
- Even if one rejects the points above, they are certainly plausible. As Justice Anthony Kennedy said in Obergefell v. Hodges, people of good faith can disagree on such issues. The Free Speech Clause protects the right of people to advocate for their views.
- But more importantly, religious freedom is designed to protect unpopular views and actions. By pushing issues concerning LGBT issues outside of the bounds of religious freedom (as the Equality Act hints at doing), the LGBT advocates target certain religious beliefs for unfavorable treatment.
- The present or immediate future impacts of present LGBT positions, if adopted, hurt religious freedom. The scope of hiring decisions at religious colleges, universities, hospitals, and non-profits may be limited. Even religious groups and individuals (like me) who support extending non-discrimination laws to protect LGBT individuals need the right to have criteria based in chastity when determining employment. Analogous efforts are underway in areas of accreditation, cooperative areas such as Foster Care and Adoption, housing at religious institutions, and state and federal funding. See this letter for more specific details.
When governments place these sorts of limits on religious institutions, governments chill the ability of those institutions to serve others and teach their religious beliefs. Indeed, some faiths believe that a connection to God allows one to excel more in employment and other endeavors. As President Ballard said in the same talk quoted above:
… I testify that living gospel commandments brings anyone untold blessings, allowing us to become our very best selves—exactly who God wants us to be.
As religious organizations want their members to become their best selves, they need to hire those who are striving to get the untold blessings President Ballard mentioned, so their employees can be examples of the believers.
I end where I began. “We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing.” But that does not imply we need to embrace as correct their solutions for the problems they identify. How to increasingly love and cherish our LGBT brothers and sisters while not blindly accepting their policy positions is one of the challenges of our day. Other pieces have and yet will be written that correctly emphasize the greater need to love and cherish our LGBT brothers and sisters. Here is one excellent example of that. But as it is Pride Month and the Equality Act is pending in the U.S. Senate, it is important to emphasize the importance of at least hesitating before embracing LGBT policy positions, for all the reasons explained above.