Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rebutting Hafen - Part 2

By Madame Curie

A continuation of Rebutting Hafen, Part 1. Please read Part 1 first, since this jumps right in where I left off:
The third misconception is that most Americans favor same-gender marriage, which means the Church is outside the mainstream in opposing it.
41. What do public policies have to do with doctrine? See comments 20, 22, 27.
For example, last June Time magazine carried a story that described the aftermath of California’s Proposition 8 campaign as a “vicious backlash from gay-rights activists, some of whom accused Mormons of bigotry and blind religious obedience.”
42. This reference is misquoted. The actual date is from June 22, 2009, and the title of the article was, “The Church and Gay Marriage: Are Mormons Misunderstood?” Here is the full statement:
Even as Mormons have become more prominent, they have struggled to overcome lingering prejudices and misrepresentations about the sources of their beliefs. Polls suggest that up to half of Americans would be uncomfortable with a Mormon President. And though the Prop 8 victory was a high-water mark for Mormon political advocacy, it also sparked a vicious backlash from gay-rights activists, some of whom accused Mormons of bigotry and blind religious obedience.
Polls go both ways; if you can use them to support Prop 8, then you should also be able to conclude that no Mormon should ever be president.
This statement ignores the fact that aggressive intimidation has long been a primary political tactic of these activists against any group that opposed them — including their intimidation of professional associations in the early 1970s.
43. Intimidation can take many forms. Here are some additional quotes from the Time Magazine article cited above:
Prop 8 constituted a kind of perfect political storm of theology, demographics and organization. At the Alameda Meeting House last June (as at other Mormon churches statewide), a letter from Monson and his counselors advised believers to "do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time"… Alaina Stewart, a church member, was asked to employ a list of "who in the ward we thought could contribute. We'd call and say, 'We're asking you to give such and such an amount,'" she says.
Personally, I would find it “intimidating” to have the Prophet tell me to work for a political cause. Most Mormons would feel that the Prophet was speaking for God, and therefore, that their eternal salvation was on the line. I would also find it “intimidating” if my RS president called and asked me to contribute money to a cause I did not personally support. How do you answer that under such circumstances?
A senior church official had promised Mormons who disagreed on Prop 8 that "we love them and bear them no ill will"… But the general authorities in Salt Lake City increased the pressure. A broadcast to all churches outlined the pro-8 ground campaign, with titles like "Thirty People in Each Ward" and "More than Four Hours per Week." Craig Teuscher, the Alameda ward's regional stake president, reiterated in church the seriousness of Monson's request to congregants.
I would find it “intimidating” to have such numbers-based broadcasts be a regular part of my worship.
Says Stewart: "The Prophet's telling us to stand up. When he speaks, you're realizing that there may be things that I don't see." Asks Gayle Teuscher, the stake president's wife: "If I believe that the Prophet is a true prophet of God and disregard his counsel, what does that say about my belief in God?" Sunstone's Carter says most Mormons who explained their stance for his publication "said, 'The Prophet has a longer view than we do' or 'It was revealed to me.'" Clark Pingree, a Bay Area Mormon gay activist, says that of the various Mormon pro-8 rationales, the Prophet-made-me-do-it line was "the most infuriating, because people say, 'I'm showing my faith by voting against what I know in my heart.' It's a force field you will never penetrate."
It seems as though others felt that way, too.
The Time writer went on to say that “Gay marriage…belongs to a class of behaviors increasingly tolerated in the broader society.”
44. This is misquoted. It was not the author who said this, but Christopher Bigelow, author of Sugar Beet (an LDS e-zine similar to The Onion):
Not everyone is as upbeat. Christopher Bigelow, a publisher and satirist (he edited the Sugar Beet, a kind of LDS Onion), says, "In the 20th century, we were allowed to grow and even gain a measure of respect." But Bigelow sees that as a mere "doughnut hole" in a darker dynamic. Gay marriage, he says, belongs to a class of behaviors increasingly tolerated in the broader society that the church must nonetheless oppose. He dips into an old but potent vocabulary: "As civilization keeps moving from standards we think God wants people to hold, it's inevitable that we expect persecution."
Furthermore, his comments in the larger context concern the Mormon “persecution complex” idea, which Hafen also seems to be supporting in his choice of words and misquotes.
It is true that six American states now permit same-gender marriage. But 40 states have already passed laws opposing such marriages. And the most recent national polls reinforce that large majority opinion, despite some modest recent gains by the activists. For example, last June a CBS News/New York Times poll asked whether U.S. adults favored gay marriage, gay civil unions without marriage, or no legal recognition for same-gender couples. Only 33% preferred gay marriage; 30% favored civil unions; and 32% would give no legal recognition. When civil unions were not offered as an alternative, the percentage favoring same-gender marriage was higher. A recent USA Today/Gallup Poll also asked whether allowing people of the same gender to marry will improve society, have no effect, or will harm society. Only 13% thought gay marriage would make society better, while 48% thought it would make society worse, and 35% thought it would have no effect.
45. What do public policies have to do with doctrine? See comments 20, 22, 27, 41.

46. This CBS poll was not last June, but this June (2009). Similar polls were conducted over the same time periods and gave markedly different results. For example, a poll by CNN in May, 2009 revealed that 45% of 1,010 adults favored gay marriage and 54% did not (1% were unsure). That USA Today poll cited above also found that 40% of respondents favored same-sex marriage and 57% did not.

47. I am sort of at a loss as to how public opinion can really indicate whether society is harmed by same-sex marriage. I would leave those kinds of questions to the sociologists and psychologists, and not to random people I call on the phone. The only thing this parameter indicates to me is the percentage of respondents who had negative feelings about homosexuals.
These poll numbers hardly put the Church on the public fringe with its view that same-gender marriage is not a good idea.
48. What do public policies have to do with doctrine? See comments 20, 22, 27, 41, 45.
The fourth misconception is that there are no rational, non-religious reasons for opposing same-gender marriage. The Time magazine writer said the only “rational side” to the Church’s efforts in California was its fear of losing its tax-exempt status. He acknowledged no serious sociological or other argument for limiting marriage to a man and a woman. That description of the marriage debate is so limited that it invites a response. I therefore briefly offer a non-religious case against same-gender marriage. First, the American public has always distinguished between what the law tolerates and what the law should endorse - a clear line between “passive toleration” and “active support” of homosexual conduct. To tolerate behavior is to move it, legally, from being prohibited to being permitted, which we did in deciding not to prosecute homosexual behavior as criminal.
49. The original article being cited does not discuss the criminality of homosexual behavior – it discusses anti-discrimination laws, with the idea that anti-discrimination is “passive tolerance”:
"That is the great American question," said Suzanne Goldberg, a lawyer with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a gay-rights group that helped prepare the legal case in Colorado. "How do we insure constitutional equality and, at the same time, recognize individual freedom? I think that the answer is basically that while people are free to pick and choose their friends, the question is a different one when we are talking about commercial interactions or transactions. There, it is for the Government to insure equal opportunity for all people."

Nobody is being compelled to accept any particular opinion about homosexuality, Ms. Goldberg maintains. "Anti-discrimination laws are not about an endorsement of a particular group of people, or a race or religion or a gender," she said. "They aim at promoting equality in society." Homosexuals are asking, as Paul Gewirtz, a professor of constitutional law at Yale put it, "not to be treated worse than other people are treated" -- they are not asking to be treated better…

Clearly, the Colorado courts and others have not been convinced by this reasoning. They have, in essence, been maintaining that homosexuals should simply not be treated any less favorably than other people. "Does that constitute approval?" Mr. Gewirtz asked. "There is no doubt that it places the government behind the proposition that it is unfair to treat gays worse than other people. But it's certainly not approval in the sense that society is saying, 'We like people to be gay,' or, 'We're going to spend some of our money to support and encourage homosexuality.' "
50. Hafen implies that the loss of criminal laws against homosexuals was a concession, which implies he would be in favor of their continuation. See comment 19, above.
The New York Times, a few years ago, reported a “powerful consensus” in the social science research that children do best when they live with their own mom and dad. The research clearly shows that, by every measure of child well-being - such as health, emotional stability, education, and avoiding crime, drugs, and abuse - children do far better in a two-parent, married heterosexual family.
51. The article being cited here had NOTHING TO DO with heterosexual vs. homosexual living arrangements. It compared welfare reform: specifically, highly urban families with a single parent vs. those with two parents in the home. A commentary on welfare reform and improving the number of two-parent households cannot be used to indicate that “children do far better in a two-parent, married, heterosexual family.” They are comparing apples to oranges.

Furthermore, the citation is twisted from what was initially shown:
In the partisan minefield of American welfare policy, a powerful consensus has emerged in recent years among social scientists, as well as state and federal policy makers. It sees single-parent families as the dismal foundries that produced decades of child poverty, delinquency and crime. And it views the rise of such families, which began in the early 1960's and continued until about five years ago, as a singularly important indicator of social pathology. From a child's point of view, according to a growing body of social research, the most supportive household is one with two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.

Yet, in many of the two-adult households that have been cobbled together by necessity in Milwaukee and across the country in the wake of the welfare overhaul, a primary ingredient for child development - stability - often goes missing. "You just can't say that these are low-conflict families and they are not likely to be any time soon," said Ramona Bell, who counsels families for Community Advocates.
The commentary concerned domestic violence and welfare issues – NOT gay marriage.

52. When you search for information regarding children of same-sex couples, the consensus is that:

A number of professional medical organizations -- including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychiatric Association -- have issued statements claiming that a parent's sexual orientation is irrelevant to his or her ability to raise a child. For the most part, the organizations are relying on a relatively small but conclusive body of research -- approximately 67 studies -- looking at children of gay parents and compiled by the American Psychological Association. In study after study, children in same-sex parent families turned out the same, for better or for worse, as children in heterosexual families. Moreover, a 2001 meta-analysis of those studies found that the sexual orientation of a parent is irrelevant to the development of a child's mental health and social development and to the quality of a parent-child relationship.

Researchers looked at information gleaned from 15 studies on more than 500 children, evaluating possible stigma, teasing and social isolation, adjustment and self-esteem, opposite gender role models, sexual orientation, and strengths. Studies from 1981 to 1994, including 260 children reared by either heterosexual mothers or same-sex mothers after divorce, found no differences in intelligence, type or prevalence of psychiatric disorders, self-esteem, well-being, peer relationships, couple relationships, or parental stress. "Some studies showed that single heterosexual parents' children have more difficulties than children who have parents of the same sex," Perrin says. "They did better in discipline, self-esteem, and had less psychosocial difficulties at home and at school." Another study of 37 children of 27 divorced lesbian mothers and a similar number of children of heterosexual mothers found no differences in behavior, adjustment, gender identity, and peer relationships.
From the American Academy of Pediatrics:
"More than 25 years of research have documented that there is no relationship between parents' sexual orientation and any measure of a child's emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment. These data have demonstrated no risk to children as a result of growing up in a family with 1 or more gay parents. Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents. The rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage can further strengthen these families."
The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, National Association of Social Workers, Canadian Psychological Association, and Australian Psychological Society have all made statements to the effect that:
"Statements by the leading associations of experts in this area reflect professional consensus that children raised by lesbian or gay parents do not differ in any important respects from those raised by heterosexual parents. No credible empirical research suggests otherwise. Allowing same-sex couples to legally marry will not have any detrimental effect on children raised in heterosexual households, but it will benefit children being raised by same-sex couples."
From Wikipedia:
The American Psychiatric Association, the National Association of Social Workers, Child Welfare League of America, the American Bar Association, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychoanalytic Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians; in the United Kingdom, the Royal College of Psychiatrists; and in Canada, the Canadian Psychological Association support adoption and parenting by same-sex couples, citing social prejudice as harming the psychological health of lesbians and gays while noting there is no empiric evidence that their parenting causes harm. The American Medical Association has issued a similar position supporting same-sex adoption, stating that while there is little evidence against LGBT parenting, lack of formal recognition can cause health-care disparities for children of same-sex parents.

That ideal child-rearing environment is not always possible because of deaths, unavoidable divorces, and births outside wedlock.
53. Actually, the NYT article cited above would indicate that children might do better with a single parent in the case of high-conflict relationships. Based on later comments, it would seem that Hafen would disagree that those fall into the case of “unavoidable divorce”. How does one define divorce as “unavoidable,” anyway? Divorce can always be “avoided,” even to the detriment of both parties.

54. The NYT article cited above not address the issue of whether parents married before or after having children together. In fact, several of the examples given are of parents who married after the children were a few years old.
The problem dates further back, because we have shifted, in America, from being a culture of marriage toward becoming a culture of divorce. Americans have more than doubled the divorce rate. We have the highest divorce rate in the world. We’ve also more than quintupled the rate of unwed births since the 1960s.
55. Divorce has nothing to do with same-sex marriage. These couples are not asking for the right to divorce – they are asking for the right to marry. Wouldn’t we want to have more stable, two-parent households, rather than less?
Nearly 40% of all children born in the U.S. today are now born out of wedlock.
56. This citation is correct, and is a preliminary result from the CDC of births in 2007. , but it remains unclear what its relevance is to same-sex marriage.
The new culture of divorce began with no-fault divorce in California in the late 1960s. That concept essentially gave any married individual the right to just walk away from a marriage as a matter of personal freedom, regardless of fault or social consequences.
57. See comment 54, above. Divorce has nothing to do with same-sex marriage.

58. Discussions of the social ramifications of no-fault divorce are unrelated to the topic of same-sex marriage. Therefore, I will not go into great detail on them. However, history appears to indicate that there were protective purposes for their development. From Wikipedia:
Prior to the no-fault divorce revolution, a divorce could be obtained only through a showing of fault of one of the parties in a marriage. This was something more than not loving one another; it meant that one spouse had to plead that the other had committed adultery, abandonment, felony, or other similarly culpable acts. However, the other spouse could plead a variety of defenses, like recrimination (essentially an accusation of "so did you"). A judge could find that the respondent had not committed the alleged act or the judge could accept the defense of recrimination and find both spouses at fault for the dysfunctional nature of their marriage. Either way, the judge could refuse to dissolve the marriage, although it was also possible for the judge to grant one or both parties a divorce.
For example, in the De Burgh vs. De Burgh trial of 1952, the trial judge found both spouses guilty of cruelty against each other which had been provoked by the acts of the other. Therefore, both spouses were guilty of recrimination and neither was entitled to a divorce. Furthermore:
[A]dvocates for no-fault divorce argued that the law should be changed to provide a straightforward procedure for ending a marriage, rather than, in their view, forcing a couple who couldn't get along to choose between living together in "marital hell" or lying under oath in open court… "No-fault" divorce was pioneered in the United States by the state of California when Governor Ronald Reagan signed into law the Family Law Act of 1969 on September 4, 1969 (effective January 1, 1970). The Act abolished California's common law action for divorce and replaced it with the proceeding for dissolution of marriage on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. The grounds of irreconcilable differences were accepted as true, based on the assertions of one of the parties to the marriage, and thus the Family Law Act of 1969 eliminated the showing-of-fault requirements to obtain a divorce both for spouses seeking a divorce by mutual consent, and in cases where only one of the parties to the marriage wants a divorce.
59. I am shocked that a church leader would criticize ANYTHING related to Ronald Reagan! Wasn't he the first non-Mormon prophet?
When the law upholds an individual’s right to END a marriage, regardless of social consequences (as happened with no-fault divorce), that same legal principle can be used to justify the individual’s right to START a marriage, regardless of social consequences (as happens with same-gender marriage).
60. I do not follow this logic. By Hafen’s rationale, murder (ending a life) should immediately be legal, since procreation (starting a life) is, regardless of its social consequences.
Gay rights do not claim to satisfy society’s enormous interest in its children.
61. The references provided in comment 51 would indicate that gay rights do much to “satisfy society’s enormous interest in its children”. If gay couples were permitted to marry and adopt, the number of unwanted children in the US would dramatically decrease.
On the contrary, in a key early Supreme Court opinion in 1986, Justice Harry Blackmun argued that the Constitution should protect gay sexual rights “not because they contribute to the general public welfare but because they form so central a part of an individual’s life,” including one’s “right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.”
61. Some context is necessary. This case, Bowers vs. Hardwick, concerned the constitutionality of sodomy laws (criminal liability for homosexual acts). This is not something one would typically consider to fall under the category of “gay rights”. From the US Supreme Court Media OYEZ site:
Facts of the Case: Michael Hardwick was observed by a Georgia police officer while engaging in the act of consensual homosexual sodomy with another adult in the bedroom of his home. After being charged with violating a Georgia statute that criminalized sodomy, Hardwick challenged the statute's constitutionality in Federal District Court. Following a ruling that Hardwick failed to state a claim, the court dismissed. On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that Georgia's statute was unconstitutional. Georgia's Attorney General, Michael J. Bowers, appealed to the Supreme Court and was granted certiorari.

Question: Does the Constitution confer a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in consensual sodomy, thereby invalidating the laws of many states which make such conduct illegal?

Conclusion: No. The divided Court found that there was no constitutional protection for acts of sodomy, and that states could outlaw those practices. Justice Byron White argued that the Court has acted to protect rights not easily identifiable in the Constitution only when those rights are "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" (Palko v. Connecticut, 1937) or when they are "deeply rooted in the Nation's history and tradition" (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965). The Court held that the right to commit sodomy did not meet either of these standards. White feared that guaranteeing a right to sodomy would be the product of "judge-made constitutional law" and send the Court down the road of illegitimacy.
62. Clearly, Hafen is in favor of reinstituting anti-sodomy laws. See comments 19 and 50, above.
The Court’s 2003 majority opinion striking down state criminal laws against same-gender sexual conduct accepted Justice Blackmun’s view, basing its rationale on the personal “autonomy” or freedom rights of consenting adults, not on any benefit of that conduct to society.
63. Another instance where Hafen implies the need to criminalize homosexual behavior. See comments 19, 50, and 61, above.

64. I do not see how sex between two consenting adults should be subject to law. If adultery is not prosecuted – and adultery has a very clear harm on individual and society - sodomy between consenting adults certainly should not be. Here are OYEZ’s summary of the case:
Facts of the Case: Responding to a reported weapons disturbance in a private residence, Houston police entered John Lawrence's apartment and saw him and another adult man, Tyron Garner, engaging in a private, consensual sexual act. Lawrence and Garner were arrested and convicted of deviate sexual intercourse in violation of a Texas statute forbidding two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct. In affirming, the State Court of Appeals held that the statute was not unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, with Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), controlling.

Question: Do the criminal convictions of John Lawrence and Tyron Garner under the Texas "Homosexual Conduct" law, which criminalizes sexual intimacy by same-sex couples, but not identical behavior by different-sex couples, violate the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection of laws? Do their criminal convictions for adult consensual sexual intimacy in the home violate their vital interests in liberty and privacy protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? Should Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), be overruled?

Conclusion: No, yes, and yes. In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the Court held that the Texas statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct violates the Due Process Clause. After explaining what it deemed the doubtful and overstated premises of Bowers, the Court reasoned that the case turned on whether Lawrence and Garner were free as adults to engage in the private conduct in the exercise of their liberty under the Due Process Clause. "Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government," wrote Justice Kennedy. "The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual," continued Justice Kennedy. Accordingly, the Court overruled Bowers. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, with whom Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Thomas joined, filed dissents.

Now this contrast between adult rights and the rights of society and children introduces the most persuasive example I have seen of the secular case against same-gender marriage.
65. Numerous studies have indicated that there is no detriment to having children raised by same-sex couples. See comment 51, above. Hafen has set up a straw-man argument.
France, which is not exactly the most conservative country in the world, rejected gay marriage in 2006, because its parliament concluded that these marriages run counter to the best interests of children and the future society. France was not ready, as a matter of conscious public policy choice, to throw out its babies with the bathwater of gay activism. They concluded that marriage should serve a child’s right to optimal personal development, rather than primarily serving adult interests that trump children’s interests. But, they concluded, France could “no longer systematically place [the] aspirations of adults ahead” of children’s needs and rights. And if they allowed individual control of family forms to persist, France would “exhaust all possibility of expression of society’s stake in marriage”…

Specifically, the French report focused on children’s need for identity and stability. Insofar as possible, it said, each child has the right to know and be cared for by — and be bonded to — his or her biological parents. Biological bonding combined with legal bonding inherently creates the most lasting and stable adult-child relationships, which provides the emotional and legal security required for optimal child development... The French report said that to accept a public policy that consciously places children with homosexual adults increases the risks to children who are already at risk because they feel identity confusion and abandonment by their biological parents.
66. Some countries criminally enforce genital mutilation of women and deny them rights. I am sure that those countries also believe that it is for the good of society. Does that mean we should do the same? Since when have Americans – or the Mormon Church - ever considered the precedents of other countries in terms of making their own legal, constitutional, or moral decisions? In particular the European countries, which are frequently lambasted by the right wing as immoral, socialist, and godless?

67. Numerous studies have indicated that there is no detriment to having children raised by same-sex couples. See comments 51, 64, above. Just because one country claims otherwise does not change the research.

68. This decision was based on the conclusions of the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child, which laid out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children, including:
The Convention acknowledges that every child has certain basic rights, including the right to life, his or her own name and identity, to be raised by his or her parents within a family or cultural grouping and have a relationship with both parents, even if they are separated. The Convention obliges states to allow parents to exercise their parental responsibilities.
This provision was interpreted by the French to implicate same-sex couples should not be permitted to adopt. Other countries who have signed the document do not consider adoption by same-sex couples to be in violation of this convention. Interestingly, the USA is one of only two UN members not to adopt the resolution (the other is Somalia), so regardless it really could not be considered in examining American law.
This view takes marriage away from the private, adults-only world of gay and lesbian lifestyles and returns it to its original place as society’s primary social institution.
69. This definition of “gay and lesbian lifestyles” is just untrue. Homosexuals who are fighting for same-sex marriage or adoption rights are NOT doing so out of a desire to ruin the “traditional concept of marriage”. They WANT children. They WANT families. They WANT to be united with one another in every aspect of their lives – how can this be private, adults-only, or selfish?

70. The argument that same-sex marriages are “adults-only” because they cannot procreate is ridiculous. Should we limit marriage to only heterosexual couples that display an ability and willingness to procreate? Should we be discontinuing marriages when the woman reaches menopause? You can’t apply these sorts of statements to one segment of society and not to others.
I feel especially tender toward you who honor your covenants and wholeheartedly desire the blessings of temple marriage and family life; and who have tried repeatedly — but not successfully yet — to diminish your same-gender feelings. I know people who feel that way.
70. This statement is very condescending. It reminds me of statements such as “I am not racist. I know many blacks” O-o You are not simply a child of God.
You are a son or a daughter of God, with all the masculine or feminine connotations of those words. That is your true, eternal identity.
71. Again, homosexuality has NOTHING to do with gender-identity issues. See comment 31.


  1. How do you answer that under such circumstances?

    I'll tell you. You say "no."

    It's like this--a few years ago, my husband was in Priesthood listening to the EQ president relate a call for volunteers for a specific activity. Nobody raised their hand. So the EQ President, in a move I've experienced in Relief Society, threatened to have the bishop himself call us to ask for our service.

    The EQ President then fixed his gaze on my husband and said "Eric, what would you say if the Bishop called you to ask for your help?"

    My husband's answer?

    "I would say no."

    God! Just to be a fly on that wall! I LOVED THAT.

    That said, saying no to Prop 8 was undoubtedly one of the hardest things I ever had to do. The pressure was immense.

  2. Masterful article. I smiled at Elder Hafen's feeling 'tender' toward those struggling with homosexuality
    in the LDS church. Ask my son about tenderness as he dealt with bishops/mission president/seminary leader who told him that homosexuality was next to murder in LDS theology, a sin guarantied to separate you from God.

    Thanks again for your important contribution in the
    name of civil and social justice.

  3. Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I spent hours on this document. I may need to print it out for future reference.

    agnostic - I admire Eric! I would have loved to have seen that one! I, unfortunately, am a wuss :) I seem much more assertive online, don't I?

  4. Madame Curie:

    Really thorough analysis. I WAS under the assumption that Haven was one of your Apostles or at least a Quorum of Seventy President, so thanks for clearing that up without minimizing the "officialness" of the linkage in LDS press releases for those of us on the outside.

    Since you have taken Madame Curie as your id, I presume you'll understand the following point.

    Light waves are a direct consequence of the 4 Maxwell Equations. If light waves did not exist, at least one of those equations would have to be modified.

    Mormon theology about the family is a direct consequence of "Mormon cosmology". If, as you and I agree, that the theology of the family, as applied to homosexuality is in error and doing a great deal of damage, something about Mormon cosmology is also in error.

    Where does Mormon cosmology go wrong? (He says quickly before Andrew jumps in and says "theism".) :D


  5. oh Firetag, I would *never* answer your question in such a way :D

    For example, let's take your Maxwell example. Of course, as you point out, if light waves didn't exist, then that would really throw a wrench in it all. But what if instead light waves did exist, but we lacked a proper way to discern its properties?

    I think this could be the case for the church (and I think it's a fairer approach that blaming theism :D). Instead of blaming light/God/whatever, what if we blamed humanity's inadequacy in discerning God?

    So, then I guess the place where the cosmology goes wrong is in getting off track from a cosmology of acceptance/love/etc., "Families can be together forever" is a doctrine steeped in love, acceptance, etc., But adding too much onto that, and restraining and limiting, strays from this ideal.

    Another issue could be humility. As pride increases, then chance for doctrinal error increases (and I think this holds true not just for members of the church, but for non-members, ex-members, etc.,) So, when I see speeches like Elder Hafen's, one of the things I overwhelmingly see is an arrogant position with respect to science, history, church doctrine. Whereas, the church ALTERNATIVELY has tried to be VERY humble on matters -- it has no comment on capital punishment, no official position on x or y. A or B is nonessential. When the church has humble positions, I think it's more able to discern what brings happiness. When not, then it is less able.

  6. FireTag and Andrew - Sorry that Andrew got his say in first, but I was never very good with the "think fast" game. Course, I always sucked at basketball as a whole, so whatever.

    When I was in PChem, we have to derive Maxwell's equations from PV = nRT. During the derivation process, alot can go wrong. You can make a minor error in an integral or differential at any step, and end up with a totally incorrect answer.

    I think this analysis applies. Mormons place immense trust in their metaphysicists not to make any algebraic mistakes. We are often led to assume that they such genius that they are able to recognize a problem in the current iteration that was due to fifteen assumptions ago.

    When we are given the most basic principle (PV = nRT, or "God is love") and asked to work it out ourselves, we generally come to different conclusions, but ones that are more satisfactory to us. They have more meaning. My thirteen pages of derivation for my thesis were of far greater worth to me than someone else's final analysis in Science Magazine. The same applies for religious principles.

    I like the adage, "I give them correct principles, and they govern themselves." Its a shame we (and I speak we as a collective Mormon we here) are no longer encouraged to feel this way.

  7. I admire the internal consistency of Mormon theology, as I do the internal consistency of Catholicism.

    Which makes me suspect that the problem lies very close to the fundamental assumptions. Perhaps the interpretation of the First Vision or the experience of the Brother of Jared as implying that the Divine Spirit HAS human form instead of just taking it on to relate to humanity.

    How different would Judaism have turned out if Moses had assumed that the burning bush was God's eternal form?

    I think ALL of the sexual, gender, and racial issues that have bedeviled Mormonism's relationship with the rest of society tie to that assumption.


  8. FireTag- You raise a good point. Sometimes I think God merely reveals Him/Herself to man in the form that will be best understood by the individual receiving the revelation.

    Of course, I am also an avowed heretic of the Mormon church, so there you go.

  9. Well, the plot thickens.

    Our conferences are more legislative than are yours.

    Legislation will come to the floor of our April, 2010, world conference that would be a "sense of the church" resolution (non-binding) that the First Presidency should interpret the laws of the church to authorize our ministers to perform same sex marriages as sacraments in those jurisdictions where such marriages are legal. (We already accept such marriages performed under civil authority where that is the law.)

    The complication is not just the conservative members in North America. In several of the countries in which the church is established, the discussion of such a position by any of our local leaders is itself illegal.

    So the Presidency has been placed between a rock and a hard place. It openly expresses fears of exposing third world membership to persecution, and knows the potential for rifting within the North American church because of the Anglican experience.


  10. FireTag - Interesting. How have other churches dealt with this issue internationally, or is it a first?