The oral arguments this week before the US Supreme Court were interesting. They foreshadow a trend advanced by legal activists intent on taxing and punishing churches opposed to homosexual marriage. It is doubtful they will succeed in a single step (although they may), but their objective is now clear.
The cultural and social trends are headed in the direction advanced by pro-gay legal activism. Those under age 25 are overwhelmingly either indifferent or favor legalizing gay marriage. That includes Latter-day Saints. The LDS leaders know if they can delay the legal trend for another decade-and-a-half then they could accept gay marriage without any significant opposition by its membership. By that time, open acceptance will produce the same “it’s about time” reaction to gay marriage as did the 1978 change in priesthood for black members.
The paper I presented at last year’s Sunstone Symposium (Cutting Down the Tree of Life to Build a Wooden Bridge) is available on this site. It anticipated these trends.
The reason some will embrace all changes made to the church can be summarized as: “Jesus is in control and the leaders follow Him. Therefore, making the change to open acceptance of gay-marriage will be acceptable to Jesus. It is God’s will.”
The reason others will oppose the change can be summarized: “The scriptures unequivocally condemn homosexuality. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Therefore, God cannot accept homosexuality without changing; which is impossible. If the leaders make this change they are not in harmony with God.”
Cultural Latter-day Saints view the topic of gay rights without any concern about God. They doubt God cares one way or another. But they’d like to see the church open to everyone, including homosexuals.
The debate is unlikely to produce consensus among Mormons any more than the US Supreme Court ruling on the present appeal will produce a consensus in the country. We are no longer able to agree and so we look for those in power to provide an answer. We are polarized and intolerant even as we insist we are more tolerant.
If we were actually “tolerant” we would allow one another to defend and attack homosexuality as both uneventful and normal on one side and abhorrent and vile on the other. One side could defend it as the product of love, while the other condemns it as sinful and offensive to God. We would allow everyone to believe as they will, and openly declare what they believe and why they believe it. We would consider what everyone has to say on the subject and allow the ebb and flow of the discussion to continue while we seek for a consensus we may never find. But we don’t do that. We sue. We want the crude ax of legalism to force an outcome because we are unable or unwilling to persuade one another. Institutional Mormons want the leaders to dictate an answer for them, and expect everyone to jump aboard. Getting someone in authority to decide, relieves them of the painful process of reasoning, doubting, struggling and considering opposing views.
Our society is divided against itself, and tearing itself apart.
We have lost the capacity for critical thinking and suspending judgment while carefully considering a subject. Differing views are shouted down. It is painful for us to allow a competing thought to have an open venue for discussion. It threatens our security. When an idea threatens those who want power to enforce “truth,” then the idea is subversive, dangerous and hateful. Important ideas are dismissed as “phobic” and “hate-speech” when they have a legitimate right to be heard and considered.
Are there cultural, social, even biological differences between races? Are we permitted to discuss them? Is it racist? If so, is racism actually improper? Was Jesus racist when he referred to the Greek woman as a “dog” and the Jews as “children?” (Mark 7:24-28.) Was Abraham, the father of the righteous, racist when he instructed his servant to keep Isaac from intermarrying with Canaanites? (Gen. 24:1-4.) Was God the Father racist when He sent His Son only to the lost sheep of Israel? (Matt. 15:22-24.) Do any of these stories in that old book matter any longer?
Does history matter? Do recent inequities matter more than inequities suffered long ago? Are we responsible for the conduct of our ancestors. Does one generation owe another (long dead group of people) anything for the conduct of their progenitors. Are the circumstances of our birth accidental? Did God have the right to divide nations and assign them their circumstances? (Deu. 4:19.) Did God have the right to give some nations more, and others less, of His word? (Alma 29:8.)
What ideas are illegitimate? Which ones should be censored? Why does a secular society ever have “heresies” that cannot be talked about? If there are “heretical” ideas, can the society ever claim it is secular? Is it not just practicing another religion while claiming the opposite?
The trends we see unfolding are part of a false religion designed to control our minds and rob us of freedom. It falsely claims to be advancing the agenda of eliminating evil. Disagreement is not evil. It is essential. Opposing ideas are not vile, nor are they harmful. They are required.
The US elected a “community organizer” to lead it, and now reaps the reward of that ill-advised choice. Community organizing is grounded in stirring up discontent, protest and even violent reactions to mobilize social change. The community organizer does not have the skills to lead. It claims to be able to “lead from behind,” but that is not true leadership. The idea is to cause social exhaustion. Once enough people are upset, a dramatic and foolish solution can be adopted by people weary of dealing with the anger, protest and complaining. This is never a wise way for a society to conduct itself. It collapses thought, censors ideas and harms itself. Ultimately, it opens the door for a desperate population to choose poorly and accept bad solutions to end the chaos.
There is little chance we can make the necessary changes to be more reasonable, thoughtful and open with ideas. We are stricken and bound in chains because our minds are incapable of seeing the lies that imprison us. It is just a small step from where we are to a complete social collapse. To liberate ourselves from that terrible end, we need to repent and return. We do not need fewer ideas, we need more. We do not need less discussion, we need much more. We need to remember Joseph Smith’s description of how souls are saved, “…the things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity–thou must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain imaginations of the human heart! None but fools will trifle with the souls of men. How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations–too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen of God.” (TPJS, p. 137.)