How To Support A Same-Sex Marriage Ban Without Coming Across As A Tool

I know I said that I avoided this subject, but well, whatever.  The Mormon blogosphere has been quite abuzz lately over the California Amendment.  With the Church’s urging of people to express their views online it seems that both sides have come out in full force.  Unfortunately, however, the tone that a lot of these conversations take can be very damaging for gay members of the Church.  Discussions too often come down to mudslinging, name-calling, and personal attacks.

This morning, I read a post on a friend’s blog where she supported the ban on same-sex marriage (she doesn’t know that I am gay).  My issue was not over the fact that she didn’t support same-sex marriage, but that her writing was so cold and close-minded.  In my relatively short experience, being open-minded is a virtue and doesn’t involve what you believe, but how you respond when faced with things that you don’t believe.

I know a lot of members of the Church want to show their support of the prophet and speak out for their beliefs and I applaud their efforts.  What I warn, however, is that if you aren’t careful, you can alienate the members of the Church who are gay and striving to live the commandments or even those members who aren’t gay, but are struggling to resolve their faith and personal political views.

Here are some suggestions for when you are writing your blog post or having your conversation at church:

  1. Vinegar just ticks people off.
    Suggesting that people who support same-sex marriage or are unsure of their position are “stupid” or “apostate” isn’t productive.  I assume you are writing a post or comment because you are trying to change someone’s mind or sway their opinion.  Personal attacks never change someone’s mind, but usually solidify it further in their opposition to you.  I had a roommate of another faith who moved out after my sexuality became too much for him to handle.  Now, every time he talks to me he preaches to me about how I need to come to Jesus (he doesn’t believe the LDS Church is Christian).  I found myself reacting so strongly against him that I eventually decided that he was impeding my progress in the gospel and I had to stop contact with him.  I know his intent was to convert me to the “true Jesus”, but his heavy-handedness  was starting to push me further away from God.  If he truly wanted to convert me, he should have tried being more understanding and loving.
  2. Talk about what you know.
    The strongest and most understandable argument for supporting a same-sex marriage ban is that the Lord has a prophet on the earth and that that prophet Thomas S. Monson.  As the Lord’s mouthpiece, he has counseled us to support such an amendment.  State your testimony of his calling and guidance.  If you try to talk science or politics of which you only have a vague familiarity, your arguments starts to lose validity because a lot of gay Mormons know the studies, science, and theories probably better than you.  We can tell if you are talking about something you are completely ignorant of.  It can be like hearing protestant churches talking about what Mormons believe, even though it is obvious that their information came from completely inaccurate sources.  Please, please don’t base your entire knowledge of homosexuals on “that one guy in high school who I’m pretty sure is living with some guy in DC now”.  “I know not save the Lord hath commanded me” (Moses 5:6) is a valid argument.  Your testimony of prophets is your best bet.  Stick with it, unless you really know what you are doing.
  3. Listen.
    I posted some comments on several blogs that had very active discussions about same-sex marriage.  They mostly pointed out the existence of gay Mormons and urged people to think about them as they made their statements.  My comments were largely ignored (interestingly, I was only acknowledged by the person making the most ignorant statements about homosexuality).  I was rather annoyed.  It was pretty clear that I was probably the only one in the discussion who was gay, but people were so busy arguing with each other, that the one person that this issue actually affected personally was disregarded – by both sides.  I briefly came to the conclusion that gays were just pawns in a Mormon political battle.  While I admit now that part of my frustration was due to a bruised ego, realize that these are people and not just principles that you are arguing over.
  4. Imagine that everyone in the room is gay.
    It is possible, even likely, that someone in the Church meeting where you are expressing your opinion is gay or that a gay Mormon will be reading your blog.  You may be concrete in your views, but they may still have questions.  This doesn’t mean that they don’t have faith or a testimony -  they are just still unsure of some things.  Is your statement going to help or hurt their faith?  Imagine that your father/brother/husband is gay.  Could you say the exact same thing to their face without feeling uncomfortable?  No?  Then maybe you should sit back and revise -  not necessarily the end result, but the path to getting there.

The point of all this is that there are real people that are caught in the middle of this debate.  This isn’t an “us” vs. “them” debate because some of “us” are also some of “them” and while it may be easier if they were just “weeded out”, we need to remember that we aren’t the weeders.  The Lord does the weeding.  We are the caretakers.  Everyone is responsible for their own actions, but if we, through our actions or words, make it easier for one of the Lord’s beloveds to leave (regardless of the issue) or serve as a barrier to entry into the Kingdom, we will be held accountable for that.  Doctrine is doctrine, but as Joseph Smith taught:

“No power or influence can be or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness, and meekness, and by love unfeigned.

By kindness, and by pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile-

Reproving betimes with sharpness when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase in love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy.”
D&C 121:41-43. (emphasis added)

25 thoughts on “How To Support A Same-Sex Marriage Ban Without Coming Across As A Tool

  1. April Durham

    I think I may be a tool. Since I posted my blog about Polygamy and Gay marriage, there have been a slight jump in readers, but a huge decline in comments and participation! Strange…. did I make a good point? Or did they dismiss the post as idiocracy? Dunno. But every time I feel like the church hates Gays, I read your blog and it makes me feel better. (No, I’m not gay, just outspoken.)

  2. satheba

    I read your comments on mormonmatters and I thought they were very good (and insightful!). I am more of a lurker on that site because I usually don’t have the time to post my comments in a timely manner. Once I get the chance other people have already said what I would have said anyway. This has been a difficult issue for me to figure out where I stand on and of course I know I am not alone. I truly do try to put myself in the position of not only a gay person but a gay mormon. I love and support the LDS church and the presidency and want to believe that they are trying to do the right thing. I’m also sympathetic to the cause because I have family and friends who are gay. I live in Nor-Cal and own a business in a very artistic industry and many of our clients are gay. I guess because it’s not something that seems very threatening to me, I want to be supportive. I am just having a hard time figuring out how I can support the presidency in doing what they believe to be right and not feel like I am sacrificing my own personal system of integrity as well. You have some really good ideas. Some that could do a lot of people good to take to mind!! Great blog!

  3. Silver

    Cliff,
    Very late and not time to elaborate. Just wanted to say thank you. I have a deep inner struggle surrounding the issue of gay marriage, have been unable to come to a firm conclusion on my feelings. I have a Sister who has been with female partners for many years. I just want to thank you for your beautiful sensitivity and especially the scripture you quoted from Section 121. How I wish the lay membership would stay in touch with those teachings when treating such sensitive issues! I’ve been hurt so many times by indescriminate comments in church meetings.
    Beautiful message.
    Silver

  4. tracy m

    Thank you Cliff, for posting these thoughts. As a Mormon with gay family members, this whole issue is charged with emotion and personal conflict for me, and I appreciate hearing your point of view. I struggle with wanting to run from the chapel when I hear the amazingly uncharitable and unkind words some members sling so casually. Thank you for sharing. All the best to you on your journey.

  5. pjj

    Stupid question, I know, but as someone who’s opposed to California’s Prop 8, I suddenly realized that I don’t know the appropriate terminology anymore. I realize that the church now seems to use “Same Sex Attraction”. Is that borrowed from the religious right? They seem to use “homosexuality” too, but I’ve heard gay folks say that sometimes too.

    So, can you help me with the political, social and religious connotations of:
    Same Sex Attraction
    Same Sex Marriage
    Homosexual
    Gay

    Did I miss any, at least any that aren’t mean or obscene? :)

  6. William

    1. Vinegar just ticks people off.
    ”Suggesting that people who support same-sex marriage or are unsure of their position are “stupid” or “apostate” isn’t productive” I must agree that name calling is not the right thing to do but calling sin for what it is, is scriptural and right. I will not adhere to “politically correct speech” just to appease someone’s feelings. We are warned in Isaiah 5:20 that God is very displeased with people who apply good words to evil things: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
    Drunkards are not “chronic alcoholics,” fornication is not “pre-marital sex,” and sodomites are not “gay.”
    2. Talk about what you know.
    The strongest and most understandable argument for supporting a same-sex marriage ban is that the Lord has a prophet on the earth and that the prophet is Thomas S. Monson. If you believe the statement that you just wrote then all subsequent support and discussion of the benefits and the joys of homosexuality is useless. Either accept Thomas S. Monson as the mouthpiece of the Lord or deny him and his message. You also take the stance that only homosexuals have the capacity to read and understand critical evaluations of homosexuality. I’m just as competent, capable and endowed to comment on studies and articles as any homosexual. You don’t need to be an alcoholic to see what it causes, you don’t need to be a parent of six children to know how to properly raise a child, you don’t need to rob a bank to know that you shouldn’t do it and you don’t need to have an abortion to know that it’s wrong. So let all who feel competent express their opinions and comments with as much authority as others
    3. Listen.
    Go back to your first premise that Thomas S. Monson does speak for the Lord. Why then do you need to continue to listen to arguments opposed to the Lord’s will? How long do you have to consider and evaluate options and other opinions when the Lord has made it perfectly clear that homosexuality is wrong, should be avoided and it is a grievous sin which should be repented of not embraced. At what point do you stand back and say no more, the discussion is over, the Lord has spoken. I have listened to the prophet and I don’t need to listen to others’ opinions.
    4. Imagine that everyone in the room is gay.
    It is possible, even likely, that someone in the Church meeting where you are expressing your opinion is gay or that a gay Mormon will be reading your blog. I sit in church every week and know that along with myself there are people struggling with all sorts of sin. The difference with the issue of homosexuality is that people with these other less grievious sins do not propose the ideas that their sin is natural, innate, can’t be controlled and is only an expression of love. It’s hard for people to hear the truth and for many it has always been a stumbling block, but the truth is what it is. Imagine that your father/brother/husband is gay. Could you say the exact same thing to their face without feeling uncomfortable? Absolutely
    You state that the point of all this is that there are real people that are caught in the middle of this debate. This isn’t an “us” vs. “them” debate because some of “us” are also some of “them” and while it may be easier if they were just “weeded out”, we need to remember that we aren’t the weeders. I reject your idea that individuals actively engaged in the lifestyle of homosexuality is “one of us”. If you are engaged in this practice and performing acts of homosexuality Alma told his son that the devil had led him away (see Alma 39:11). Unchastely is “most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost” (Alma 39:5). The Lord via his representative does the weeding.
    It is our duty to call sin what it is, to remove sin (weed out) from the church and our lives via repentance. It is made perfectly clear via the prophets that those who publicly or through the actions of their life refuse to follow God’s commands they need to repent or to disassociate themselves from the church.
    1991: The First Presidency of the LDS Church stated on NOV-14:
    “Sexual relations are proper only between husband and wife appropriately expressed within the bonds of marriage. Any other sexual contact, including fornication, adultery, and homosexuality and lesbian [sic] behavior, is sinful. Those who persist in such practices or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline….” yes we have the obligation and the right to use our weed eaters.

  7. Cliff Post author

    Holy Traffic Spike, Batman. Welcome to everyone from By Common Consent. In order to provide a smoother dialogue, I’ve turned off comments moderation (but don’t make me pull this car over!)

    Thanks to everyone for their kind words.

    #7 The most common term used in the church is Same Sex Attraction. This is the term most often used by gay members of the Church. I have my own opinions on the term, but I admit my views are a little nonstandard in this regard.

    #8 Please read this post again. At no point do I advocate sin as defined by the scriptures or the prophets or call for the institutionalization of same-sex marriage. I am simply trying to reflect the words of Gordon B. Hinkley when speaking of same-sex marriage:

    “Nevertheless, and I emphasize this, I wish to say that our opposition to attempts to legalize same-sex marriage should never be interpreted as justification for hatred, intolerance, or abuse of those who profess homosexual tendencies, either individually or as a group. As I said from this pulpit one year ago, our hearts reach out to those who refer to themselves as gays and lesbians. We love and honor them as sons and daughters of God. They are welcome in the Church. It is expected, however, that they follow the same God-given rules of conduct that apply to everyone else, whether single or married.” (Ensign November 1999, emphasis added).

    Please read God Loveth His Children to learn the Church’s stance on gay members of the Church (Note: Nowhere in it does it use the word “sodomite”.)

  8. William

    That is fine that most gay people associated with the church use the term SSA, but I am not gay, SSA and not one of them. I can only call sin for what it is as defined by the scriptures and the prophets. Gay and SSA are terms that sinners have devised to call “evil good, and good evil”. I will not fall for their politically correct speech.

    You say that you don’t advocate sin as defined by the scriptures or the prophets or call for the institutionalization of same-sex marriage, but that is what your whole argument is about.
    #1- Don’t call us names, and only call us by the words we define ourselves
    #2- Don’t talk about us because only those who are like us know what it is like and can intelligently discuss this issue.
    #3- You have to listen to us and we can’t be ignored because “gays” are are just pawns in a Mormon political battle
    #4- Imaging everyone is “gay” because we are just like you

    All these arguments have to lead to the same conclusion that you are advocating homosexuality as something you espouse, do, and want. I will not adhere to those premises but will treat those who battle with this sin like I treat the guy who smokes, drinks, or cheats on his wife. I will be respectful of them but will not listen to their arguments about “normalcy” and civil rights.

  9. Silus Grok

    “Sodomites”, are you kidding me?

    If you’re talking about anal sex, William, not all gays have anal sex … and not all the folks having anal sex are gay. If you’re talking about the city of Sodom, then you’re missing the point of the story, entirely. See 2 Nephi 13. The sin of Sodom is persecution of the poor (and related atrocities).

  10. Scott

    @William

    Read the premise to the entire post (or just the title) again. It’s about how to oppose “without coming off as a tool.”

    None of the advice has anything to do with rightness, wrongness, or political correctness. It has to do with whether or not what you say makes you looks like a tool to the general population.

    If a person is comfortable with looking like a tool, then super good for them. If not, the post contains a few suggestions.

  11. Cliff Post author

    @NBS – Sorry I had to delete your first comment. Taking exception (even strong exception) to what someone says is fine. Attacking someone personally is kinda uncool. Please revise your comment.

  12. Tez

    Please keep your superstition out of marriage. I won’t tell you not to “believe” anything, but separation of church and state suggests that your (and all religious) beliefs have no say in whom I love.
    Peace,
    Tez

  13. Inthedoghouse

    I am impressed with the different comments that have been made on this post, and how civilly the people have communicated on a sensitive topic.
    I am just an “old dog” and have been frightened with what I have seen in the church concerning this issue and our youth.
    I too agree that the only way to state my position on the issue of same-sex marriage is, that I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God, and what he says goes.
    What is frightening to me is the division I have seen in the church over this issue. It is a literal vision of the dividing of the wheat from the tares. When a prophet of God issues a statement of belief, and asks us to respond to that belief there should be no question.
    I feel that what is actually happening here goes way beyond the issue of same-sex marriage. I believe it is an issue of bedrock testimony. It is one where we will see who believes in the foundational principle of revelation and latter day leadership in reference to priesthood keyholders.
    Does that make sense? It is way more significant than if homosexuality is a sin or not…it is a matter of if we as a church are willing to follow our prophet when we are called upon to do so.
    I must say that I am humbled at your choice to follow in the face of adversity. I can only hope that others may be instructed by your example .
    Thank you for your willingness to share.

  14. D. Rolling Kearney

    RE: Tez’s comment: “Please keep your superstition out of marriage. I won’t tell you not to “believe” anything, but separation of church and state suggests that your (and all religious) beliefs have no say in whom I love.”

    First of all, referring to a person’s religious belief as “superstition” is just as offensive and “discriminatory” as anti-homosexual terms. Just a thought.

    Another thought: Separation of church and state was meant to keep the government from proscribing a religion to its people, and to keep any specific religion from having too much influence on the affairs government. In no way does the “separation of church and state” keep religious voters from voting according to their religious beliefs. Sorry.

    Also, “love” is fine. It’s the “sex” part that we have a problem with. I love a lot of people who are the same gender as myself, but we don’t have sex.

  15. Bruce

    lol …. read your blogs….. Unbelievable. Are Mormons really so fragile minded that they let self appointed prophets tell them what they should think, feel and do?

    Silly Mormons….. Your “prophets” are the same people that convinced you to allow them to marry your 14 year old daughters as their 6th wife a 150 years ago. How’s that for family values and protecting the family. Ironic that a group of people that practiced a family lifestyle that was so socially reprehensible they were evicted from 5 US states and then exiled to the desert would be so quick to tell other people how to live…..You guys are ridiculous

  16. Gwennaëlle

    “In my relatively short experience, being open-minded is a virtue and doesn’t involve what you believe, but how you respond when faced with things that you don’t believe.”

    Amen!

  17. robot

    Regardless of the voting outcome, the process has been enlightening to those who have been effected. In spite of what may be said by LDS church leaders regarding “make nice with the homosexual sinners” their very public involvement in the politics and considerable financial support of this proposition makes one thing perfectly clear: Homosexuals are NOT welcome in the Mormon church. I hope that gays will learn this lesson once and for all.

  18. Pingback: Last Chance for Niblet Nominations at Mormon Matters

  19. Pingback: 2008 Niblets: Rock the Vote Here! at Mormon Matters

Comments are closed.