03 November 2008

Prop 8 - Chats On Faithfulness And Apostasy

16 Sept

2:07 PM Friend: What's your major beef about Prop 8? After all, it only adds a clause to the state's constitution that says only marriage between a man and a woman is valid- it can't be applied retroactively, and it does not take away the existing rights of same-sex partnerships. (This is me playing Devil's- er, Angel's?- advocate)

2:08 PM me: Why legislate it?
That's my beef. :-)

Friend: Good question.
2:09 PM I got into a heated debate with a conservative friend last night, gay marriage was one of the hot topics, of course.
2:10 PM It seems, in his mind, we shouldn't allow legislation to be so accepting of what conflicts with, as he claims, the "truth" - it's a shaky foundation for an argument though, IMO

2:17 PM me: Very

2:20 PM Friend: But the way I see it, it's unfair to impose our religious convictions on people who don't know or share those same views- we have to find a common solution that doesn't discriminate or take away others' ability to choose for themselves... Why should this be viewed as apostate or heretical though? I'm a bit chagrined at those implications.

2:44 PM me: Because the First Presidency specifically sent a letter to be read in California during sacrament meeting urging members to commit their time and means to passing the proposition.
2:45 PM Defying that "invitation" is going against the brethren. This was NOT a case of "this is the church's position on gay marriage, and we urge you to vote your conscience and make your voice heard." It was "we urge you to act in this particular way."
2:46 PM And whichever way the vote goes, you can bet this will become national, and we will all be asked to do the same.

2:50 PM Friend: It should come as no surprise... haven't we been forewarned that as members of the church, we'd be asked to do hard things?

2:51 PM me: But wrong things?
2:52 PM And whether or not it's "right" or "wrong" to support the proposition, where's the free agency in forcing a block vote?
I don't like it. It seems wrong to me.
2:53 PM (demanding the membership vote a certain way)
2:54 PM I wouldn't even mind as much if the letter had said, "The church has joined a coalition, and we invite those members who wish to support the coalition to do so..." then outlining the means by which they can, followed by a statement reaffirming the free agency and right of political conscience to each member. Apparently, this is a grave enough issue that they purposefully did not do so.

Friend: "You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life.... Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow.... Let's keep our eye on the President of the Church." - [in Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153)

2:55 PM me: Asking PERSONAL action against your political or social views is one thing. Turning and forcing that on the nation is quite another.

30 Sept

3:10 PM Friend: What's so offensive about [a church spokeswoman's] statements?

3:17 PM me: I don't know if they're offensive. Just marginalizing.
Something like "yeah, well, we know some people will disagree, but the majority understand and support it whole-heartedly, and if those who disagree are too vocal, their local leaders will handle them with disciplinary action.
3:18 PM Nice.
That is, assuming the AP quoted remotely correctly.
Which is, I admit, a stretch.
3:19 PM That's why I've looked for anything official from the church besides their "Divine Institution of Marriage" release, but no luck yet.

3:22 PM Friend: Yeah, I wouldn't trust AP blindly... and even IF that's a direct quote, it doesn't necessarily reflect the opinion of church leaders, does it? I mean, the woman may speak on behalf of the church, but even her commentary is liable to misrepresent or be mistaken.
3:23 PM What about this statement that was read last Sunday in sacrament:
"...in this election year, we urge you to register to vote, to study the issues and candidates carefully and prayerfully, and then to vote for and actively support those you believe will most nearly carry out your ideas of good government. The Church affirms its neutrality regarding political parties, platforms, and candidates. The Church also affirms its constitutional right of expression on political and social issues."

3:24 PM me: Means nothing in regards to Prop 8.
In fact, that last line is a very clear insistence that church involvement is official. I don't remember seeing such a statement in similar past letters on election years.

3:25 PM Friend: No, look- how can the leaders encourage members to use their own discretion when voting, yet make any statement that seems to penalize them for following said counsel?
3:26 PM That last line caught me by surprise too, I'll admit. But the way I see it, the church is affirming its own right to express opinions on issues- members should by no means be forced to vote one way or the other...
3:30 PM The more I study this, the less I understand why this issue has become so divisive. This amendment in no way removes the civil rights of same-sex partnerships. It merely prevents these couples from using a name that's traditionally reserved for unions between men and women.
3:36 PM This may also be worth noting: http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/political-neutrality

3:37 PM Are the gays trying to wrest the term from heteros who "own" it?
Or are heteros trying to block gays from an inalienable right to have the same labels applied to them as other people?
Is it really a matter of civil rights?
Is it really a morality issue?
3:38 PM Is it church and state separation?
What are the legal grounds for monopolizing the word "marriage"?

3:43 PM me: Additionally, they URGED members in California to SUPPORT the prop, not to "vote their conscience".

3:44 PM Friend: I admit, I'm a bit chagrined by the fact that they couldn't merely ask members to vote their conscience.


3:46 PM Friend: You could also, quite easily, argue that the adversary is placing fear in the hearts of many members, which compels them to URGE instead of trust...
or to vote blindly
3:47 PM I take it this issue strikes deeper than mere semantics or separation of church and state with you... ?

3:54 PM me: Oh, definitely. I can't dismiss it that easily.

3:57 PM Friend: [...] you do pose some thought-provoking questions... as usual.
As much as I respect your views, I'm really more concerned with the current economic crises than with Prop 8.

4:15 PM me: It's not political for me, it's religious and the implications within church membership and the marginalization of church members who don't see it the way the majority do. It's a toxic environment. This is far more than some political tiff. Then again, maybe it will be healing and lead to growth in the long-run. Or maybe it will cleanse the church to some extent. Who knows? But I don't like it and am trying to deal with it. I keep trying to let go, but it keeps getting thrown back in my face, so I deal with it as I have the energy to do so.

4:28 PM Friend: It could very well be one of many events that are, in effect "sifting the wheat and tares" - not only among people, but among ideals within each of us. My greatest fear is the very real possibility that issues such as this will lead to a greater danger- that is, forsaking the testimonies you do have because you're allowing the resentment you may feel take greater priority- in effect, selling your birthright for a mess of pottage.

4:38 PM me: It's not that simple to me, but I'm not interested in going into that here.
4:41 PM Some things can be shrugged off, others cannot. Those are different for each of us, I guess, and reasonably so. We each have to grow in different ways at different times. And we each may adhere more strictly to different truths at different times. I'm not interested in defending which truths I hold most steady and immovable or what "faith" entails or the merit of "blind steps" in specific application.

4:48 PM Friend: I don't mean to put you on the defensive.

4:55 PM me: Incidentally, the link you included is regarding party platforms/politics, not specific political issues.

4:57 PM Friend: There were two bullets within that link that I thought were pertinent, though:
Expect its members to engage in the political process in an informed and civil manner, respecting the fact that members of the Church come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences and may have differences of opinion in partisan political matters.
AND... "Reserves the right as an institution to address, in a nonpartisan way, issues that it believes have significant community or moral consequences or that directly affect the interests of the Church."
5 minutes

5:02 PM me: AND insist the membership join that battle AND not vocally disagree.

5:03 PM Friend: What?! Where did it say that?

me: It doesn't have to Friend, it's WHAT'S HAPPENING.
5:04 PM That's the point. Official statements only go so far.

5:07 PM Friend: I think, by urging members to support Prop 8, they are reserving the right to address issues that they believe directly affects the interests of the church- that is their intention, anyway. I think it's easy to get on the defensive and take this "urging" and assume that leaders are telling us what to do. Our free agency is a vital part of the plan- taking that away is in direct opposition to that... isn't it? Or am I confusing the issue even further?

5:15 PM me: Most of the stories about excommunications are from people who have long histories of strife with the church. They're not about this issue, though they've culminated because of it.
And I think open defiance of the prop in defense of personal freedom MAY be different in their eyes from open defiance because of support for gay marriage as a principle.
5:17 PM But that's not being made clear at all, and meanwhile, those of us who are more on the personal freedom side of the debate are left in the uncomfortable position of wondering what our open defiance over a matter of semantics might mean for our standing in the church.
5:18 PM But apparently, winning the political war is more important than clarifying that point.
Or it will just take time. But meanwhile...y'know.

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