“Why Marriage, Why Family”–A Highlight from the 2015 LDS Conference

For those struggling with questions about the Church’s emphasis on marriage, and the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman, a thoughtful talk from the recent General Conference might be of help. “Why Marriage, Why Family” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles begins with a spiritual insight from a great man of another Christian faith:

Above the Great West Door of the renowned Westminster Abbey in London, England, stand the statues of 10 Christian martyrs of the 20th century. Included among them is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a brilliant German theologian born in 1906. Bonhoeffer became a vocal critic of the Nazi dictatorship and its
treatment of Jews and others. He was imprisoned for his active
opposition and finally executed in a concentration camp. Bonhoeffer was a
prolific writer, and some of his best-known pieces are letters that
sympathetic guards helped him smuggle out of prison, later published as Letters and Papers from Prison.

One of those letters was to his niece before her wedding. It included these
significant insights: “Marriage is more than your love for each other….
In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage
you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to
come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom. In your
love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you
are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind.
Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than
something personal—it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown,
and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage,
and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the
sight of God and man. … So love comes from you, but marriage from
above, from God.”  [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge (1953), 42–43.]

I like that expression: “love comes from you, but marriage from
above, from God.” Marriage is not just about us. It is about our responsibilities to others and before God. It is “a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind.” Elder Christofferson goes on to explain why that it is the case. He reviews the work of God and the Plan of Salvation, in which a critical aspect is our role in raising and nurturing children that other sons and daughters of God might also be able to participate in God’s plan for us that includes this brief mortal phase where we receive the miraculous gift of physical bodies accompanied by, in many cases, the ability to bear and raise children.

Christofferson explains the divine responsibilities that comes with such gifts:

A family
built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for
God’s plan to thrive—the setting for the birth of children, who come in
purity and innocence from God, and the environment for the learning and
preparation they will need for a successful mortal life and eternal life
in the world to come. A critical mass of families built on such
marriages is vital for societies to survive and flourish. That is why
communities and nations generally have encouraged and protected marriage
and the family as privileged institutions. It has never been just about
the love and happiness of adults.

The social science case for marriage and for families headed by a married man and woman is compelling.19
And so “we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon
individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient
and modern prophets.”20
But our claims for the role of marriage and family rest not on social
science but on the truth that they are God’s creation. It is He who in
the beginning created Adam and Eve in His image, male and female, and
joined them as husband and wife to become “one flesh” and to multiply
and replenish the earth.21
Each individual carries the divine image, but it is in the matrimonial
union of male and female as one that we attain perhaps the most complete
meaning of our having been made in the image of God—male and female.
Neither we nor any other mortal can alter this divine order of
matrimony. It is not a human invention. Such marriage is indeed “from
above, from God” and is as much a part of the plan of happiness as the
Fall and the Atonement.

I also appreciate Elder Christofferson’s recognition of the many exceptions among us who are not experiencing the blessings of being in a happy marriage with the opportunity to raise children:

declare the fundamental truths relative to marriage and family is not
to overlook or diminish the sacrifices and successes of those for whom
the ideal is not a present reality. Some of you are denied the blessing
of marriage for reasons including a lack of viable prospects, same-sex
attraction, physical or mental impairments, or simply a fear of failure
that, for the moment at least, overshadows faith. Or you may have
married, but that marriage ended, and you are left to manage alone what
two together can barely sustain. Some of you who are married cannot bear
children despite overwhelming desires and pleading prayers.

so, everyone has gifts; everyone has talents; everyone can contribute
to the unfolding of the divine plan in each generation. Much that is
good, much that is essential—even sometimes all that is necessary for
now—can be achieved in less than ideal circumstances. So many of you are
doing your very best. And when you who bear the heaviest burdens of
mortality stand up in defense of God’s plan to exalt His children, we
are all ready to march. With confidence we testify that the Atonement of
Jesus Christ has anticipated and, in the end, will compensate all
deprivation and loss for those who turn to Him. No one is predestined to
receive less than all that the Father has for His children.

Marriage is a blessing, but also a great challenge. It can test us and try us as it rarely turns out to be all that we hope. For some, it is a blessing never experienced in this life, testing us through its absence or unavailability. But whatever the burdens we face, if we turn to God and rely on the power of the Atonement, the full blessings of God will become available to us, with all the joy and endless potential that He offers. Here in mortality and afterwards, marriage matters. It is not just for our benefit and enjoyment. It is a divine post with great responsibility. May we cherish it and protect it in a world that is increasingly hostile toward one of the great elements of God’s plans and one of the roots of human society and civilization.

Author: Jeff Lindsay

68 thoughts on ““Why Marriage, Why Family”–A Highlight from the 2015 LDS Conference

  1. Relax, Jeff. Gay marriage is a done deal, and the world will be a better place because of it.

    How exactly does government recognition of gay marriages deny civilization the benefits that accrue, and will continue to accrue, from straight marriages? Does Christofferson say?

    Is civilization better off when gay couples simply shack up? Does Christofferson say?

    Is civilization better off when gay couples raise children together without legal recognition of their families? Does the lack of legal recognition of such families benefit the children who, like it or not, are raised within them?

    Neither Jeff nor Christofferson make any effort here to distinguish between marriage as a sacrament and marriage as a legal status. The first might come from God, but the second most assuredly comes from man.

    The first might be eternal and unchanging in its definition, but the definition of the second is up to us.

    One example of the inanity that flows from confusing the sacramental with the legal is the oft-repeated argument that civil marriage cannot be redefined by us because it comes from God. Well, guess what? It can be redefined, and it has been.

    It would be nice if Christofferson would help to clarify the confusion between religious sacrament and civil law that plagues this issue, but instead he perpetuates it.

    Religious sacrament and civil law are not the same, of course, as a moment's reflection will reveal. If civil marriage really were the same thing as the religious sacrament of marriage, then we would have a situation where believers must obtain a government license to perform a religious sacrament. Not only that, but they would have to pay a government fee to perform this religious sacrament. And they would have to abide by a host of government regulations of this sacrament (concerning age, consanguinity, and more).

    Worst of all, in advocating legal prohibition of gay marriage, people like Christofferson would be advocating increased government regulation of a religious sacrament! He would be calling for an egregious violation of religious freedom!

    But of course he's not, because civil marriage and the sacrament of marriage are different things. I'm just giving everyone the reductio ad absurdum.

    Christofferson surely understands this distinction between religious sacrament and legal status. He understands that (say) the Metropolitan Community Church has a First Amendment right to perform what it considers to be a sacrament that unites a lesbian couple in the sight of their God (but has no bearing on the couple's legal status).

    Christofferson would not presume to tell another church what it may or not do in the way of sacraments (at least I hope not).

    The gay marriage issue has nothing to with the sacrament of marriage. The issue is only whether the government's restriction of the legal benefits of civil marriage to straight couples violates the Constitutional right to equal protection of the laws.

    I find the rhetoric in this post depressing, starting with the invocation of the Nazis — pretty crass, given their mass murder of homosexuals. But I do hope at least that the Jews (the straight ones, anyway) will be relieved to know they've been replaced by gay people as the satanic threat to "human society and civilization" and, as is always the case in demonizing the scapegoat du jour, to the welfare of the children.

  2. I don't feel too invested in the gay marriage debate. But I sometimes wonder why of all the issues facing planet earth and all the people suffering across this globe, why is this the issue that the LDS are so vocal about. I think it has to do with polygamy, that other "counterfeit" lifestyle that has its roots deep in the origins of Mormonism.

    Imagine if gay marriage gets the final green light and spreads all over the nation. What is going to happen? The polygamists have been living out their alternative lifestyle in the face of persecution for decades. Over a hundred years. They more closely represent early Mormonism than Salt Lake City Mormonism.

    The Church can't disavow the reality of it, but they also want to make it appear that they are in no way, shape, or form connected to polygamy in anyway. The gay marriage campaign, when it is successful, with give the Fundamentalists a strong precedent. They will be vindicated. In their eyes, Wilford Woodruff will be even more wrong than ever. They'll have strength to their argument and their claim.

    And the LDS do not want to see this happen. Polygamy is the skeleton in the closet that keeps knocking louder and louder.

    I think it is the fear of the old spector of polygamy that is causing the LDS church to fight so hard against "counterfeit" lifestyles and alternative forms of marriage. They don't want it widely circulated that even today, there are good LDS who are sealed to two living women (not civilly married, of course, but sealed). There are men in this church who even today expect to see two wives again waiting for them on the other side.

    It is going to be some rocky years ahead for the Church.

  3. I'm feeling pretty relaxed, Orbiting, thanks. But I also believe that marriage is vital for our society, that the unique demands of our biology require special recognition for the union of a man and woman, and that children do best when raised by a father and a mother. It's more than just a matter of personal religions tastes and arbitrary legal definitions.

    I'll offer my personal view that marriage is not just a religious construct nor a purely legal one. It is rooted in our biology and in the ancient roots of human society. It predates government. It is in the interest of society to protect it and nourish it, and thus society tends to have and should have legal protections for that essential organization that is the engine of the future and the foundation of civilization.

    Religion definitely gets into the act and can introduce various refinements, rites, doctrines, etc., related t the sacrament of marriage, but there are core principles that need protection and nourishment with a legal framework, regardless of one's religious beliefs. Perhaps that's similar to how religion can teach us all about honesty, sharing, tithing, giving, respecting property of others, etc., all of which impacts how we treat property, but there also needs to be core legal protections around property rights. But it's not a good comparison because marriage is much more tied to our innate biology.

    Protecting marriage does not ban relationships. If people want to shack up, so be it — I'm not going to force them apart and have no hate for those of any orientation with lifestyles contrary to what I think is most ideal. But who has the right, after all these centuries, to redefine marriage for all of society? If marriage is redefined to be anything driven by a passionate emotional bond, the special status and special protections needed for children and childbearing are weakened, and the welfare of children is jeopardized. There are legitimate issues in the social science around the needs of children. There is a reason to promote as much as possible the ideal of children raised by a father and a mother.

    I recognize my position may increasingly be the minority viewpoint and others will take their own paths elsewhere. I hope it will be possible in the future to still express such minority viewpoints and to discuss these matters sanely–thank you for your well stated comments, by the way–but I fear that tolerance for such traditional views will diminish, based on the hostility that dissent seems to stir up already in some circles.

  4. I also believe that marriage is vital for our society, that the unique demands of our biology require special recognition for the union of a man and woman, and that children do best when raised by a father and a mother.

    Jeff, I'd be more sympathetic to this view if there was any evidence of either of the following:

    (1) That gay marriage will somehow weaken the institution overall.

    There's just no evidence for this. Marriage certainly has been weakened over the past half century, but by factors having nothing to do with gay rights.

    (2) That gay marriage will reduce the number of children "raised by a father and a mother."

    This won't happen either. Banning gay marriage will not mean that children currently being raised by gay couples will suddenly find themselves in "traditional" families. These children will continue to be raised by gay parents; the only change will be that more of those gay parents will enjoy the legal and social benefits afforded by civil marriage — benefits that will trickle down to their children as well. Banning gay marriage does nothing to enhance the welfare of children.

    And if (1) and (2) fail, what possible warrant remains for the claim that "the unique demands of our biology require special recognition for the union of a man and woman"?

    I fear that tolerance for such traditional views will diminish, based on the hostility that dissent seems to stir up already in some circles.

    Probably so. But I think one reason said tolerance will decrease is because experience will show the groundlessness of so many of the arguments against gay marriage. When that happens, continuing opposition will naturally appear less and less reasonable.

  5. We don't know that the world will be a better place because the nation has begun to sanction SSM. One thing we do know, however, is that there are SSM activists who ultimately want to destroy marriage. And that won't be good for the social fabric, and that may eventually happen. Here's one activist's words: "Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there–because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie. The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist."

  6. Here's another thing we know, Champ: there are extremists on your side as well. I'm sure I could find one and wave some scary quote around as if it were an argument, but I'm trying to be respectable.

  7. Here are some great quotes about traditional marriage.

    "If we were to do away with polygamy, it would only be one feather in the bird, one ordinance in the Church and kingdom. Do away with that, then we must do away with prophets and Apostles, with revelation and the gifts and graces of the Gospel, and finally give up our religion altogether and turn sectarians and do as the world does, then all would be right. We just can't do that, for God has commanded us to build up His kingdom and to bear our testimony to the nations of the earth, and we are going to do it, come life or come death. He has told us to do thus, and we shall obey Him in days to come as we have in days past."

    Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses 13:165

    "The one‑wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people."

    John Taylor, Millennial Star, Vol. 15, p. 227

    "Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman empire….Rome became the mistress of the world, and introduced this order of monogamy wherever her sway was acknowledged. Thus this monogamic order of marriage, so esteemed by modern Christians as a holy sacrament and divine institution, is nothing but a system established by a set of robbers…. Why do we believe in and practice polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord's servants have always practiced it. 'And is that religion popular in heaven?' it is the only popular religion there."

    Brigham Young, The Deseret News, August 6, 1862

  8. I support, unlike many SSM activists, the right of states to determine whether they want SSM. What I don't support, however, is activist judges deciding that it is a civil right, robbing/hijacking the 14th Amendment, disregarding its original intent. African Americans in California in 2008 didn't view the issue that way, and of course as a class they are very sensitive to whether something is a civil right. So it is reasonable to view Judge Walker's decision in August 2010 as disenfranchising California blacks who voted heavily for Prop. 8 in November 2008. And the way we make law is extremely important, since it impacts the legal system generally. By making any law in the wrong way, we increase the likelihood that we'll legislate in the wrong way going forward.

  9. ETBS: I wasn't gonna go there, but since you did…. yeah, you'd think that this particular church, with its, um, colorful track record, would be a bit more circumspect when commenting on "traditional" marriage. I'm not sure the leadership understands just how hypocritical it all seems to outsiders.

    Champ: I'm not surprised to see that you share the originalism of Justice Scalia. Tell me — do you agree with Scalia that the Equal Protection Clause does not apply to women?

  10. There are gays that are vocal about NOT legalizing SSM. And they have good arguments. Look it up.

    There are children raised by gay fathers and gay mothers who are speaking out about how the gay lifestyle has negatively affected them. Look it up. Also there are gays practicing polygamy.

    The LDS church said that gays, if given legal marriage, would not stop there. How right the LDS church was. A cab driver was sued by a gay couple because the cab driver dared asked the gay couple to refrain from making out in the cab. The gay couple won and the cab driver was fined $15,000.00. To disagree with anything these days is a hate crime IF it is directed at gays and Blacks. It is out of hand.

    Divorce and promiscuity are very big problems which also destroy the fabric of society, as well as spousal and child abuse, drug use, etc.

    Society has become so promiscuous that it is the norm. Really, really sad. Free speech has been lost.

  11. "But I also believe that marriage is vital for our society, that the unique demands of our biology require special recognition for the union of a man and woman, and that children do best when raised by a father and a mother. "

    I'm not sure how marriage is vital for society. There are certainly many single people who manage to make very real contributions to society without doing it irreparable harm and there are any number of married people who leave a lot of chaos and pain in their wake. Certainly, if this were a larger phenomenon, society would look different but I'm not sure it's clear that it would suffer outside of the narrow religious definitions that are forced on so many.

    As for the unique demands of our biology, what individuals' biology demands is really theirs to negotiate. I won't ask how you and your spouse negotiate yours but I'm sure gay spouses negotiate theirs just fine, thank you very much. And if they're not complaining I wonder who has a right to.

    Children, meanwhile, do very nicely in loving, supportive homes of many descriptions and variations. There are children who are not growing up in institutions because they've been adopted into gay families. I am grateful for their sake that those families have social and legal status. I suspect there are children of straight marriages who would like as much emotional and financial support from their fathers.

    Of course, there are many Americans who don't see the whole point of marriage as procreation. Open your horizons a little! I can only speak from my experience in a straight marriage for nearly 50 years now. We are parents but I am happy to say that being parents was never the sole point, nor was it at every point the highlight of our life together.

    For myself, I think infinitely more damage has been done to society in the recent past by the deliberate divisiveness of institutional religions such as the LDS than by loving people making their own personal arrangements and demanding their equal rights.

  12. Curiously, progressives are now extending marriage when decades ago they didn’t want it at all. Like the non-marriage they wanted before, the marriage they want now is socially destructive. They seek to bastardize marriage by making it mean something it doesn’t, eroding the institution and the concept of family overall. As before, they are making gains at the expense of the vulnerable.

  13. Anonymous @1:36 Might I recommend that you start researching how marriage benefits society. There is plenty there.

    "what individuals' biology demands is really theirs to negotiate."

    Sure, but marriage is a social contract. It is a social recognition of a relationship between (*whomever society decides to recognize*)
    The individual is free to believe as they wish, and enter into whatever relationship they want to. But if you're looking to get it recognized by society, then their opinion does matter. And if society determines that the relationships that actually perpetuate society should be protected and fostered, then that's what should be.

  14. "Sure, but marriage is a social contract. It is a social recognition of a relationship between (*whomever society decides to recognize*)"

    Wake up and smell the coffee, Pierce! Society has shifted and decided to recognize marriages between men and marriages between women.

    So I guess we can all relax now and go back to working on things like financial viability & stability for working Americans, upgrading American infrastructure to adequate, providing access to a reasonable level of healthcare and ensuring the inspection & safety of food, right?

  15. If society has shifted so drastically, then it wouldn't take Judges overruling the democratic process to appease their own interpretation and agenda. Besides, if the states legitimately pass laws that redefine marriage in a legal sense, then so be it. It doesn't mean that religious institutions are required to drop the subject and adopt the views a wayward people.

    I would love to move on to those other issues, but it is not people like me who run on and focus on the homosexual agenda and other social policies.

  16. Pierce, it seems to me that gay marriage has already proved a net plus.

    The once-prevalent "gay subculture" of promiscuity, anonymous hookups, etc., seems to be disappearing in societies that provide a respectable alternative. It's quite possible that this is happening because there's now a respectable alternative. It's quite possible that the root of the old personally and socially destructive subculture was precisely the old social rejection, and resulting alienation, of gay people.

    But the fight is pretty much over in this country. Continued resistance is your right, but it is also, as the Borg says, futile.

    Social pressure is a powerful thing. In a decade or two you might find that your religious thoughts on the "gay agenda" will be received about as warmly as complaints about "uppity Negroes" or "Jewish bankers" are today. You will still have your religious freedom, but people will stop inviting you to their parties.

  17. Meanderings, Kolob. Your analogies are abhorrent. Look, those pushing SSM know that there will always be tens of millions who believe the Bible and its clear condemnation of homosexual behavior (in the NT as well as the OT). So they know that these believers can never in good conscience accept codifying such relationships into law as a good thing. The Bible doesn't permit that view. The SSM crowd will get their SSM despite the lack of a clear compelling state interest. In the future they will have to draw lines that are less rationally defensible. The OSM line has always made sense, abstracting away from the biblical. Making marriage a romantic/emotional institution opens it up to many bizarre possibilities. Extreme elements will eventually clamor for more and end up calling "traditional" SSM types haters and bigots.

  18. Anonymous 11:37, even if it's true that the Bible gives a "clear condemnation of homosexual behavior," so what? Jesus gave a clear condemnation of divorce, yet few believers today think divorce should be illegal.

    More broadly: believers regularly distinguish between (1) what the Bible says is wrong, and (2) what the government should ban.

    You and I probably both agree with the following state of affairs:

    Murder and theft are biblically wrong and illegal.

    Covetousness and worshipping other gods are biblically wrong, but not illegal.

    So yes, you and I both agree that the biblical realm of morality does not map perfectly onto the secular realm of law. (If it did, we'd be a theocracy.)

    On what basis do we decide which of the Bible's many prohibitions should be enforced by secular law? Whatever that basis is, it clearly is not the mere fact of biblical condemnation.

    All of which is to say that this statement of yours just does not compute:

    [T]here will always be tens of millions who believe the Bible and its clear condemnation of homosexual behavior (in the NT as well as the OT). So … these believers can never in good conscience accept codifying such relationships into law as a good thing.

    The Bible explicitly condemns the worship of other gods, yet people's right to do so is codified into our law, and I'll bet that even you consider that to be a good thing.

  19. Orbiting,

    I feel that people get a bit to smug in comparing this issue to civil rights or racism. The comparison is a poor one, in my view. When I think about the "gay agenda," what comes to mind to me are the wedding cake incidents in Colorado and Oregon, where a gay person gets offended and decides to take legal action against the offender by using bullying tactics to override a person's freedom to choose what they will and won't support. It doesn't matter whether you're gay, black, white, or straight, I don't find it acceptable to trample a persons actual rights in order to make push an agenda for perceived rights, political correctness, or hurt feelings.
    Behavior and actions are different than race and racist stereotypes.

    I actually understand that popular opinion has swung far in the other direction. Religious institutions and moral systems weren't made to simply follow a worldly trend right out the door. Our belief about sexual promiscuity for heterosexuals became antiquated before this, yet we're still talking about it the same way. Even though it's antiquated by worldly standards, I still believe in the principles of marriage and commitment and sex between a married man and woman.

    I also vote on public policy according to how I believe, not how others believe. If the government recognizes marriage as a status, then marriage must be legally defined. The people should determine what the people will define marriage as, since it is a social contract and recognition. Therefore, I will vote according to what I think marriage is, and others will do the same even– if it is a "downhill battle" for either side. To sum it up: I voted for Ron Paul, if that's any indication of how much I care about popular opinion.

  20. Pierce, I have a 4yo grandson who would simply put his fingers in his ears and run away. In his own way, he's more articulate.

    How can you deny that marriage equality is a civil right? Lawyers can't. That's why marriage equality has swept the nation and will probably soon be a ruling of the Supreme Court.

    In your example of businesses being trampled just substitute the word Black and lunch counter and see if that illuminates anything or shakes your conscience loose in some way.

    If you need religion to sanction your bigotry I think you only embarrass sincere believers.

    And, believe it or not, I'm not the least surprised that you're a Ron Paul supporter.

  21. Your four year old grandson also probably name calls without even understanding what they are saying as well, which is what I see in your comments. I'll let your accusation of bigotry go because you don't know me, and you have the right to say it–even though you are dead wrong and rude (which supports my point).

    But let me explain. Nobody has a "right" to marriage, because marriage isn't a right. For gays or for straights. There are very few things that are actual, inherent rights. You have a right to your life, your property, your speech, your associations, self defense, etc. Do you see where these rights have been enumerated before? These are self-evident and do not come from government. They exist independent of government and pre-date it. Marriage, on the other hand, is a social compact where individuals are seeking for society to endorse their relationship. *A person does not have a right to someone else's endorsement, even though they have a right to choose with whom they will have a relationship.* You believe that rights can be invented out of thin air, or that they are invented by the Supreme Court (you're not alone). I believe that rights are inherent.

    "In your example of businesses being trampled just substitute the word Black and lunch counter and see if that illuminates anything or shakes your conscience loose in some way."

    I guess it would be a big surprise to you to know that I abhor bigotry and similar behaviors. I also believe that private individuals actually have a right to be bigots, jerks, racists, and dummies–and those rights extend to their own business. I believe a black person can open up a store that only serve blacks. Or a gay-friendly bakery that won't support pro-traditional marriage statements on their cakes (have you seen the video of this? I wonder if you consider the gay owners to be bigots as well). I don't believe that government can institute laws promoting segregation or racism or bigotry (like Jim Crow laws). I personally wouldn't get my cake from the shops in that example because I don't really like their attitude. However, she has the right to be that way, and will reap the natural consequences of losing business, getting a bad rep, getting bad reviews, etc. without the government fining them out of business. That's how freedom works, yet many people want to not be free because free doesn't always mean fair (or their definition of it).

  22. Sign of the apocalypse: I, an otherwise active Mormon, agree with Orbiting Kolob in most of what he says. Dangit.

    I am influenced by having a transgender son. These kinds of issues came up close and personal, and through careful study I see benefits to society to welcoming more to marriage, particularly since so many heterosexuals seem to be abandoning it in droves.

    I'm sure it's open for discussion whether I have been overwhelmed by emotion in changing my views on this aspect of marriage, or am finally seeing clearly.

    We adopted our first two children. Is that an example of a counterfeit relationship, as the children did not come by our acts of procreation?

    Mark Steele

  23. "I guess it would be a big surprise to you to know that I abhor bigotry and similar behaviors."

    Yes. Based on the fact that you are using comically fractured logic, bald-faced psychology textbook denial and outmoded literalist religious dogma to insert yourself into other people's private lives in a way that deprives them of their rights and is needlessly cruel; I would say that you're a bigot. Note that while you choose to represent this as name calling it is, in fact, an observation of what's in evidence.

    While you may be free to sit in your living room and practice your libertarianism and bigotry all day (hope it makes you happy), you are not free to interfere in the free exercise of other people's lives. That's not my personal whim, mind you. The courts say so. Even if they do that reluctantly and rather late in the game, they have said it because the law says it. And one day the 80 and 90 yo LDS leaders will die and you'll have a prophet (or a newsroom) who will find a way to say it too. It will be exactly like when a generation of racists died (well, most of them) and all men were admitted to the priesthood and, therefore, exaltation.

    This LDS fixation on sexuality as sinful and a limited segment of adult sexuality as a target for violation of civil rights is unhealthy and anti-social and needs to be confined to LDS households if you insist on maintaining it and intruding in people's personal lives at all.

  24. "I would say that you're a bigot".

    You will be called a bigot when you are not extreme enough in your views to satisfy the latest progressive zealotry that wants to move the line further than you would like.

  25. "You will be called a bigot when you are not extreme enough in your views to satisfy the latest progressive zealotry that wants to move the line further than you would like."

    Not in the least.

    It's simple but I'll explain it anyway: every other person is entitled to the same civil rights and courtesies you are. When you attempt to actually interfere with that based on some superficial class you judge them to belong to, you're exhibiting bigotry.

  26. I am disappointed in the way some so-called progressives respond to anyone who disagrees with name-calling. There are reasons besides bigotry to oppose some social changes underway. Empathy and courtesy on both sides is needed.

  27. Mark Steele, thanks for your input. The transgender issue is one that has caught my attention and sympathies as I learned the details of the lives and challenges of two transgender Christian friends of mine, one of whom is LDS. I'm quite pleased with how her Church leaders have handled her unique case (might be able to share more on that sometime), though it is loaded with lessons that need to be considered in many other situations.

    See my first post on this topic: Pondering the Complexities of Transgender Issues and my later follow-up, Still Pondering the Complexities of Transgender Issues.

    The Proclamation on the Family might not say as much on that topic as some people assume. It's an inspired declaration that merits careful reading.

  28. Orbiting said:
    I find the rhetoric in this post depressing, starting with the invocation of the Nazis — pretty crass, given their mass murder of homosexuals. But I do hope at least that the Jews (the straight ones, anyway) will be relieved to know they've been replaced by gay people as the satanic threat to "human society and civilization" and, as is always the case in demonizing the scapegoat du jour, to the welfare of the children.

    It's "pretty crass" to mention the letters of Priest who was killed by the Nazis? Apart from the old "anything a Mormon leader says must be bad" point of view, how do you come up with this?

    Then you insinuate that Christofferson is now making homosexuals the targets for extermination, Nazi-style, because he thinks redefining marriage after all these centuries would be harmful to society. Wow, talk about extremist rhetoric.

    There's a bit of a difference between not welcoming a significant change in a social and legal concept, and having a bloody extermination. There's a classic demonstration of the lowest denominator in online debates: calling your opponent a Nazi murderer when they are nothing of the kind. Yawn!

    There may be fair arguments to be made for redefining marriage to be a union between any two people, or any three or four or five or whatever number of people, or even between any person and his/her/its self (provided the person is genuinely in love with his or her self, of course). But the instinct to respond to critics of those arguments as "Nazis" is unreasonable, absent evidence of actual Nazi-like intent. There may be legitimate reasons for opposing such arguments that have nothing to do with hate or a desire to slaughter.

  29. Jess, it is beyond laughable that when you support a church that has put itself in the business of interfering with people's basic rights since the 60s and most recently went to the microphone before the world and their 15million followers to call a segment of the human population "counterfeit" that you want non-Mormons to be "nice".

    Your church has used the power of its wealth — wealth which come in significant part from American taxpayers freighting the bill for the taxes it is exempt from — to try to curb the legal status and rights of women, Blacks and gay people. In the attempt to do that it has, at times. labeled women, Blacks and gay people as communist, anti-social and now "counterfeit" for simply asserting their rights to the same protections that White men are so fundamentally in control of that they don't even need to assert their rights.

    Yes, this represents change. But people who still own an American history of "redefining marriage" are perhaps the last who should dig in their heels when the outcome is already apparent. One might look at the Black middle class that is the heritage of the civil rights struggles of the 60s (that Mormons couldn't find in their hears to accept until the late 70s) and see redeeming possibilities. Particularly where the rate of suicide in young Mormon men is so high.

    The facts are not "nice", Jeff. You might contribute your own set of facts to the discussion but I'm sure you're aware that the best legal minds that the church has have yet to come up with any to give serious consideration to. Or you might consider that when you seek to laud the continuing anti-social and un-American rhetoric of the brethren that there will be folks who are not afraid to be blunt in defense of the civil rights of all.

  30. "There's a bit of a difference between not welcoming a significant change in a social and legal concept, and having a bloody extermination."

    There's also a bit of difference between resisting change and marshaling huge resources of manpower and money to systemically encode discrimination into law.

    The statement above should get the LDS Newsroom Several-Months-Short-of-Fifteen Prize for dissembling.

  31. "When you can no longer engage in civil discourse and, driven by anger, feel justified in any means to achieve your end, that is the end of civil society and the fuel that fires bloody revolutions. "

    Excuse me but did you recently dress someone down for conflating the ilk of the Prop 8 campaign with extermination camps? And now you're conflating justifiable anger over a denial of basic civil rights with bloody revolutions?

  32. Anon,
    There is a difference between being a bigot and believing that people have a right to be bigots. Please try to keep up.

  33. I don't like what I said in haste and agree that it was overheated. Fair to call me out on that. Tried to revise my comment right away but was defeated by Internet trouble. Here is a revision:

    "The facts are not 'nice'" so those who disagree with the Church or anyone else don't have to be "nice." They don't have to civil, on-topic, courteous, humane, or whatever. All they have to do is feel anger and then the ends justify the means. They can feel proud of being "blunt."

    When you can no longer engage in civil discourse and, driven by anger, feel justified in any means to achieve your end, civil society is at risk. Sometimes the results are extreme and ugly.

    Hatred of those who disagree with you is not the path to real social progress. It is the main tool, though, of those who manipulate others to gain power. The Book of Mormon is terribly relevant in this matter.