Fallout: Marriage, SCOTUS, Freedom, and Tolerance

Yes, I wanted to wait until a lot of the fervor had died down before I tackled this issue. I learned very quickly through social media that emotions were running high on all sides, and that tends to shut down an environment that encourages listening, thought, and respectful dialogue.

Marriage

It has now been decreed, in a decision as split as the Supreme Court can be, that marriage as it has been understood for centuries no longer applies in the United States. Even without a religious background, I am pretty sure that I would still be very unsettled by this turn in society. I went into my misgivings last summer in an eight-part series, and yes, I expect you to click through and read the posts rather than go back through all of that here. The only thing I wish to point out is that I’m not convinced the evidence is conclusive, nor am I convinced that those who are using science as a rationale are as up to date with current studies as they would claim to be.

As I mentioned, there has been a lot said and written in the weeks since that decision. One of the best viewpoints on how I feel about the religious side of the issue was written by someone else in her blog post, “Someday We Will Understand.” (Sorry, this blog has been discontinued. It’s a shame — the blogger had some good insights to share.) I don’t completely understand whether the “born that way” claim has any credence or not. I don’t know why Heavenly Father would saddle some people with such heavy burdens and not others. I don’t know if there are any sure “cures.”

What I do know is that I serve a God of love who cannot lie, and He has said many times through prophets ancient and modern that any sexual activity outside of the bounds of the legal and lawful marriage of a man and a woman are sinful. Homosexuality IS specifically included in both the Old and New Testaments, as well as modern scriptures. The claim that the Savior never spoke to homosexuality is untenable, because He always upheld ancient prophets, and John specifically tells us that the world could not hold all the books that would have to be written to record all that Jesus said and taught. We can only go to the scriptures to prove what he did say, not what he did not say — we don’t have all the information.

Does holding sexual immorality in any form to be a sin mean that I hate those who commit those sins? No!

I have lived more of my adult life as a single than I have as a married woman. Living the Lord’s law of chastity was harder post-divorce than it ever was before I had ever married. I know the sense of despair and loneliness that can eat someone from the inside out. I know the feelings of shame and worthlessness because I can’t “be like” everyone else in my church. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I also experienced same-sex attraction, because there was always the hope for me, no matter how dark things seemed and how far away the release looked, that my circumstances would change, and they have. Even so, I can speak from my experiences that the expectations that my church places on homosexual singles are the same ones they hold for heterosexual singles. I can also freely testify that I was never left completely alone because I had made up my mind to seek God, and to learn and grow. Because of those choices, I was always blessed with friends, inspiration, uplifting thoughts, and whatever else I needed to make it. I am a stronger and better woman because of my experiences. I can tell anyone that my life experiences witnesses that God’s promises of compensatory blessings are true and real.

Another life experience left me accused of “judging,” trying to “force” someone to repent, and otherwise being a “hypocrite” because of information that I possessed. I would have given anything to have not been there, but I learned that while I do strike out in anger, I work really, really hard to withhold judgement. The things that I was being accused of were actually happening in the other person’s head and not mine. My attempts to use doctrine and teachings to help were pretty much failures.

Even the experience of being on the “other side” taught me a lot. I learned that I stand with the prophets, because I have found through my own experience and through the witness of the Holy Ghost that God’s words are true and can be completely trusted. If God asks us to refrain from actions and behaviors, then He knows what He is doing and He is trying to give us something even better than what we think we want.

So, while I can’t explain marriage, homosexuality, or other related issues completely from a scientific, social, or religious viewpoint, I believe with all my heart that God’s prophets, ancient and modern, are right.

“Our Moral Environment”

SCOTUS

I wish I had more time to truly review each of the written decisions as well as review other historical cases. I have read quite a few secondary sources, and I am concerned that the system of checks and balances that has been part of the basic fabric of the United States since the inception of my country is now in serious danger. I am concerned that the court now seems to have a record of reversing its own decisions. I’m also concerned that interpretation of the Constitution itself is no longer reliable. I am left to wonder if this decision has pitted stated rights of the Constitution against rights that are now assumed to be implied.

Does this mean I hate the five justices who formed the majority? Have I decided I no longer have to be a law-abiding citizen of the United States? Not in the least!

What I take away from this is that, now more than ever, we need an active, respectful sharing of ideas in the political arena. We need to be willing to share our thoughts and ideas, and should have the right to expect that we will not be met with cruelty or ridicule — on any side of any issue!

Of course, this means that those who choose to enter the political fray need to commit themselves to higher standards of behavior than to what we are generally accustomed. In the end, it boils down to do I just want to be right, or do I want to be part of the solution?

While the best article on politics that I found following the decision is aimed at those who support the idea of marriage as a union of a man and a woman, the principles hold for anyone who wishes to express their patriotism through the political process: 10 Things You Can Do.

Freedom

My biggest concern is that there seems to be a shift in the American connotation of “freedom.” The modern definition seems to imply entitlement. Entitlement is a weak word, because it’s nature in its modern usage is that simply existing gives me rights to have things that I have not worked for and have not earned. Plenty of research on the damage to the human psyche of such systems exists. There may be short-term benefit, but used exclusively and extensively, the damage is inestimable.

When I think of freedom, I think of the period in the Book of Mormon where King Mosiah was aging and needed to have a successor named. None of his sons would do it, and he was concerned that some of the family history could lead to wars and factions among the people if one son were named over the others. After a lot of thought and prayer, he took a system of laws and judges to the people, telling them that they would be free. His definition of freedom involved giving everyone equal status under the law — you keep the law and you are free, you violate the law, and you are punished. Each person, regardless of station in life, had a chance to grow according to individual abilities, commitment, and perseverance. King Mosiah’s people were excited!

Freedom should be the absence of government interference — giving the least amount of restriction needed to keep the country vibrant and healthy. Unfortunately, this requires a populace that is committed to values such as virtue and honor.

Tolerance

Tolerance is now being popularly used as a verbal weapon to coerce well-meaning people to abandon moral convictions under the guise of loving someone. As I teacher, I see the damage that this philosophy does to children. This style of parenting is called “free range parenting,” and it’s actually a form of neglect. Parents, believing that they will harm a child and that their child will not know they love them, pretty much allow that child to do whatever they want. To be extremely blunt, the result is usually a child who cannot and will not conform to rules, and cannot understand why people are so mean to him or her. The child cannot function correctly even in a school setting, and it is unlikely that they will learn to function well in society.

True love means looking out for the best, long-term interests of an individual. Is it better to “go along” with the idea that sexual urges and desires are uncontrollable, that leaders of the church are misguided and out of date, and that religious codes are too arbitrary and restrictive? Should someone who has felt the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the power of repentance and redemption deny that to someone else with a wink, a nod, and call it freedom of choice? Is it intolerant to simply disagree? Are differences of thought and opinion now criminal unless they align with the mainstream?

Another wonderful blog post I recently read deals with these ideas inside the bounds of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The writer points out that well-meaning heterosexuals sometimes misguidedly think they are showing support to their homosexual brothers and sisters by encouraging them to walk outside the covenants they have made to find “happiness.” The Book of Mormon clearly states that wickedness never was happiness! He suggests that we truly show love and support by encouraging any of our brothers and sister, but especially those struggling with same sex attraction, to keep the commandments. We need to give them a safe place to go and vent when they are struggling. We need to live honorable examples before them, and we need to help them live honorably in an incredibly tough life circumstance. We need to help them find the blessings of obedience that we experience in our own lives. We need to treat our gay brothers and sisters just like any other brother or sister in the gospel, because that’s exactly who “they” are. (Supporting Gay Marriage or Supporting Gay Members)

 

So, there you have it. My reactions to the Supreme Court decision, my feelings about those who identify as homosexuals and/or experience same sex attraction, my thoughts about involvement in the political process, and what tolerance, love and support really mean.