Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yes to Proposition 8

I've been thinking a lot about the difference between opinions and truth lately.

The Bible says, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9). And I, for one, am so grateful. I'm glad the God I trust is smarter than us all.

I can plan and theorize and formulate and wonder. In fact, God wants me to do that. But I must be willing to give those ideas up when God speaks to me, even if I don't understand His plan. He has all knowledge and wisdom and power. And His plan is always better.

Sometimes, God wants me to study things out in my mind and come to a conclusion through logic and reason. But more often than He speaks to my mind, He speaks to my spirit. He wants me to accept a spiritual confirmation and exercise my faith. He is asking me to offer obedience to a plan that might fly in the face of contemporary thought. And when I receive that spiritual confirmation, I can proceed with confidence, even in the face of great opposition.

Today we have a prophet who speaks for God. His name is Thomas S. Monson and through him, our all-wise and all-loving Heavenly Father disseminates essential knowledge and counsel particular to our time and circumstances. When President Monson speaks, we do not have to wonder which course of action is best. We should pray for confirmation and then accept on faith that God's plan is always better. When my Father commands, I will give up whatever half-formed notions I've constructed and obey Him. "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (1Corinthians 3:19).

And so it is because of the spiritual confirmation I have received, more than anything I've reasoned out, that I support Proposition 8.

I feel a great deal of anguish for those people who will be left with sorrow, confusion, and doubt if this amendment is passed. Still, I think it is important and will do a great deal of good. This must be what Nephi felt like, commanded to slay Laban, knowing it was the right thing to do, but struggling with the ramifications. Or perhaps what the Israelites felt like, commanded to look at the serpent of brass and live yet wondering why their prophet Moses would suggest something that was so similar to idolatry. It was right because God commanded it and sometimes that needs to be good enough.

I, along with God's prophet, urge anyone with the vote in California (and Florida and Arizona) to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. If you can't vote on this issue in your state, you can still talk to friends and family who will, donate to the initiative here, or speak up on the internet. If you are grateful to live in an age where God speaks to man again, don't disregard His counsel! It comes from someone smarter than us all.

And if you can't accept my testimony and spiritual knowledge as a sound enough support, click here for an excellent and reasonable defense of the issue.

15 comments:

Jay and Natalie said...

I am so glad you wrote this. And I love that article you linked to. It's absolutely wonderful and provides a wonderful, moral, Christian stance to the situation. I read it a long while back and blogged about it at http://jaydnatalie.blogspot.com/2008/09/family.html along with a primary song I absolutely love. I, too, am so thankful for a living prophet today to lead us with the words of God. And I am happy for the good people who stand for what they truly believe in. A wicked as this world may seem, we should take comfort in knowing that there are still good people in it. Family is ordained of God and to define it as anything other than it is cannot be accepted.

Thank you for this post. I love reading about you and your family!

*MARY* said...

I just came from someone else's blog with the same topic of discussion. She went into detail about what prop 8 really means. You may like it

http://heidiashworth.blogspot.com/

R&R Nielsen said...

Thanks so much for the comment on my blog! I am LDS myself and have had a hard time defending my stance on this issue to my non-LDS friends and family. I'm happy you enjoyed my blog, I appreciated yours as well!

Drew said...

Good points! But even more important than modern revelation is the God-given right we have to personal revelation, which only confirms what modern Prophets teach. Hurrah for standing for the truth! Even against popular beliefs and social lies.

Rachel Keyser said...

Thanks for donating! Every little bit helps!

Serendipity said...

Brigham Young once said:

“The greatest fear I have is that the people of this Church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord.”

Just a couple of years ago, I was Primary President in my ward. I had been the chorister and was helping the children learn the song "Follow the Prophet."

If you had told me then how I would feel now, I would not believe you. But when I pray about following the prophet and agreeing with proposition 8, I feel confused and in turmoil. When I pray about marriage equality (against prop 8), I feel the love of God for people that only want to build up their own loving families, and the only way they can do that is with someone of their own gender.

I am straight, so I don't understand their attraction exactly, but I know it is real. It is a real deep, emotional attachment that means much more than just physical intimacy and selfishness.

I am struggling with this conflict within myself between "following the prophet" and praying to know that what they are saying right now does not feel true. I have come to accept peace that God has a higher purpose that we cannot yet foresee, and that in time, we will all understand why this conflict amongst the members of the church had to happen.

Kris and Sarah said...

Thank you, Thank you for commenting! I feel like this is so important. We really need to band together as Latter Day Saints and as Americans! Our freedoms are at stake here and it's time to fight. The family is too important to waver.

Your baby is soooo cute! He would be awesome to photograph! What a sweetie!! :) p.s. I love your blog!

Paula said...

I love your blog--it is brimming with thoughtful insights and recognition of the hand of the Lord in our lives.
This is such a confusing time in which to live--we really need both the guidance of living prophets and the personal guidance of the Spirit in our lives. I am grateful for both.

Katherine said...

Dear Carolyn,

Here it comes! *drumroll*

When I read your blog (and particularly the comments on it) I get the sense that I'm an alien from a completely different world. Three caveats: first, I don't pray anymore, so take what I say as you will. I am probably not one of the "good people" left, if I understand Jay and Natalie's meaning (which I probably don't, to be honest). (Are people really split into good and evil camps by how they vote on a marriage proposition?!? I prefer to divide them by whether or not they drive gas-guzzling SUVs and/or Hummers. Kidding! Well, sort of.) Second, all I have is my own 23 or so years of experience. I don't know how love and sex go, really, for anyone else. Third, I don't live a moral life (or even close) by Mormon standards. I have had and plan to continue having sex outside of marriage (with a man and a woman, for that matter), for example, and I wonder and doubt if I'll ever marry a member of any gender. I don't even know how to write you letters half the time. I keep starting sentences and going, oh, wait, never mind. I applied to work in a coffe--oh, wait, never mind. I started dating this g--whoops, never mind about that either. Well, I was dating this boy, and--well, it just didn't work out since--er, I'm treasurer of Queer Coali--damm--I mean, drat. Work is good! Love, Katie.

By the way, the way men make almost all (all?) the doctrine in the LDS Church bothers me. Are they really chosen by God? "When President Monson speaks, we do not have to wonder which course of action is best. We should pray for confirmation and then accept on faith that God's plan is always better." Why, if the LDS prophets are conveying God's plans more clearly than anyone else, did the LDS church not welcome African-American men into full-fledged communion until 1978, whereas the Quakers were helping them escape from slavery as early as the 1860s? Why would God deny equal rights to blacks in what is supposed to be the true church and cause them unnecessary pain for an extra 110 years when other religions, supposedly less true, got the truth over a century earlier?

Anyway, never mind. When you fell in love, most of the people close to you in your life stood behind you and celebrated you (as well they should!). The LDS church even teaches, as I understand it from what little I've read, that your relationship is not only an obvious source of joy, but, if you handle it right, also the way to eternal life in the highest level of heaven.

When I liked someone sexually and consciously for the first time, I looked it up in my Catechism (which you'd so kindly taped together for me! which I'll never forget) and found that it was "intrinsically disordered." Whoops. Do you think less of me and/or believe that I'm going to a lower level of heaven because I will never enter a conventional or temple marriage? Is it possible to be truly Mormon and think otherwise? Will we remain friends, or am I a negative influence because of my sexual activity? When I sign "Love" on your letters, sometimes, I wonder if I even have the right, if I even know what love is. I would never wish this kind of isolation and self-doubt on anyone. Moreover, I've had an easy life compared to some of my queer acquaintances--I've never been kicked out of my house, for example.

How, exactly, will same-sex marriage hurt children and straight families? I don't know a queer person who doesn't want the best for his/her/hir straight friends, including their relationships, marriages, and children. I mean, I do know one or two queer people who are angry and bitter at marriage in general. There is a lot of anger in the queer movement and I won't pretend otherwise. That said, the vast majority of queer people I know bear no real ill will toward any kind of family at all and merely wish they were more welcome in their own families of origin.

Some LDS arguments worry me because they equate homosexuality with other negative evils as a matter of course, without proving the relationships between them. Same-sex attraction does not necessarily equal sexual licentiousness (not that I think sex with several partners is necessarily evil, by the way). Some queer people have sex with many partners and some don't. Queer also does not necessarily equal selfish. Again, some queer people and relationships are and some aren't. Some of the kindest and some of the most selfish people I've known have been lesbians.

Places like Wheaton (and I'm guessing Provo as well) work, in my experience, anyway, because the people who don't feel like they belong there run away screaming, leaving those who do fit well to stay and dwell in the perception that their religion can work for all.

Do relationships other than those between one biological female and one biological male naturally produce children? They don't. I get that. I even get the logic behind limiting marriage to relationships with the potential to produce children from the sex involved. I don't believe, however, that that means those in same-sex relationships are doing something inherently wrong. I don't think one can make the leap from "can't produce children naturally" to "will destroy the institution of the family," either. I don't know what same-sex relationships contribute, but I don't know what we'd be losing if we lost all our queer people, either. The queer people I've met raising children, too, seem to be doing it just fine.

What does this mean for gay marriage? I don't know. I've seen really unhealthy marriages and really honest, kind and understanding straight and queer sexual relationships outside of marriage. I've also seen really great traditional and straight marriages and really unhealthy queer relationships. Any religion I'd follow would have to somehow account for that in its doctrine. I would certainly never vote for something that makes queer relationships harder than they already are. (The suicide for gays and lesbians is estimated to be three times that of straight people, for example.)

I guess I believe people have to follow their own hearts as far as sex goes. If a sexual relationship is a consensual one in which both parties are honest about their intentions, then any wrong or right beyond that is outside my concern, and if it's not, I don't care what genders they are or whether they're married or not. As far as marriage, I'd want civil unions for all couples, with the same benefits regardless of gender, and I'd want marriage to be left to religions and other private organizations to restrict or not as they see fit.

Wow! I guess that's enough. I could go on for years. Anyway, I still want to be friends with you even if you donate your entire family income to Proposition 8. I am all about going with one's conscience and my experience certainly can't trump yours. You've always lived your beliefs, and even though I don't share them, that's still such a rare and special thing in these times. The best to you and your family.

Sincerely,
Katie

Carolyn said...

Katie,

It will probably surprise you that I feel exactly the same as you do about marriages and civil unions. I feel very strongly that, although there is a right a wrong, everyone should be able to choose the path they feel will bring them the most happiness. If the government wants to muck around in relationships, they can civilly unite everyone that wants it. But I believe that to marry two women or two men is a mockery before God of that most sacred ordinance.

It may also surprise you to find that I have struggled with those same issues that you bring up. In pondering this issue, it was good people like you that I thought of. Although you may no longer be a person of faith, I have always known you to be a person of conscience. I have always valued your friendship and will always be happy when you are happy with the choices you have made.

The very real issue here is that Californians are now faced with a proposition in which they must legislate morality. To vote "yes" on Prop 8 is to legislate that there is something special and sacred about the compatibility of men and women. To vote "no" is to legislate that there is not, that in the name of tolerance, all people must accept that there is no difference between homosexual and heterosexual relations. There is no middle ground on this issue anymore and I am compelled to stand with my faith in this matter.

I cannot lie. I know you would be happier if you chose to live a moral life. But I will love you no matter what you chose and will be happy when you are happy and sad when you are sad.

Carolyn

Katherine said...

It doesn't surprise me entirely that we agree about civil unions because of a discussion we had many years ago about whether pornography should be legal. I know you consider these issues seriously.

I don't believe I would be happier living a moral life by LDS standards. If I did there's a good chance I'd still be Catholic.

I don't think the morality of a life is entirely judged by one's sexual partners and family. I have too many lesbian friends doing too much good in the world to believe that. I look at morality as contributions to the human community, whether through child-rearing or environmentalism or social justice work or charity work or treating others kindly or excelling in a career or what have you.

I'm not saying you should vote on no on Proposition 8 or stop saying that gay and/or extramarital sex is wrong. I don't know. I can't stand here and say that it isn't without a doubt. I am, also, of course, completely responsible for my actions, sexual and otherwise, and some of them have not been moral even by my own standards. I am saying, though, that as far as I know you haven't had the experience of leaving your church or of liking women, and that it changes things in ways you probably won't ever have to experience, and so I'd be careful about calling other lives moral or immoral or telling others how to be happy when your life from the outside seems like it has been much easier (I'm sure it's not from the inside and that I don't really understand yours either).

I don't mean to say that you haven't considered all of this and that it doesn't hurt you too. It makes me sad that we're so divided on this issue, but life is like that, I guess. I don't want to be the bad influence or the voice of the opposition or what have you and I can't say you're wrong with any certainty at all.

Love and all the best to you and Scott and Soren.

Carolyn said...

Katie,

I've been thinking about that last comment I posted for a long time and regretting that there isn't a way to edit comments. Because what I would say instead is, "You may not be happier now, but I believe you would be more at peace if you lived the standards set by God." And, obviously, I believe that those standards are found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As to what you say about not understanding your life and the choices you have made, you are right. And you were also right about this: it is not my place to judge whether or not you are a moral person. A moral life is much more than adhering to standard sexuality. Everyone makes mistakes and no one lives the perfect life. Although I don't think all your choices have been correct (or mine!), I still think you are a moral person. So I wish I could take back what I said that indicated otherwise.

But I will still stand for truth and continue to praise the wisdom of God's plan, in which everything unfair in this life is rectified in the end.

There was a fantastic talk in the LDS General Conference this past month that comes to mind with this discussion. One of the general authorities of our church, Elder Corbridge said: "The Lord’s way is not hard. Life is hard, not the gospel. 'There is an opposition in all things,' everywhere, for everyone. Life is hard for all of us, but life is also simple. We have only two choices. We can either follow the Lord and be endowed with His power and have peace, light, strength, knowledge, confidence, love, and joy, or we can go some other way, any other way, whatever other way, and go it alone—without His support, without His power, without guidance, in darkness, turmoil, doubt, grief, and despair. And I ask, which way is easier?"

So, yes, I do think that my life is easier than yours. That is in part because I have been very blessed with family, prosperity, freedom, and security. But it is also in part because I am not without guidance.

Sue said...

Love your even-handed prop 8 comments here and also want to thank you for the kind comment you made about my Prop 8 post ("Prop. 8. It's Impact? Great.") which had been posted without a link on a blog not my own. My blog address is actually www.grannysuesnews.blogspot.com. It seems we are kindred spirits on this issue.

Carolyn said...

Serendipity,

I am really grateful for the comment you left here a little over a week ago. Pondering what you said and going back to read your blog has led me on a spiritual journey that has strengthened my testimony and increased my empathy.

You haven't changed my mind but you have deepened my understanding. I can see a larger portion of God's plan, now. In spite of the confusion and pain felt in response to this issue, I still am compelled to proclaim "How great, oh God, thy wisdom and love!"

God does not want us to be divided on this issue, or on any issue. In listening to the past conference talks, that has been made manifest to me over and over. God wants us to be unified. So I know that He would not whisper to His children courses of action that would bring them in opposition to each other.

In the end, I could think of no reason God would give two faithful church-members contrary answers. But I could think of a reason he would hold back an answer from a daughter in a particularly rough situation: compassion.

Katherine said...

Look at me, posting to an entry close to three months old! Maybe no one will see my comment back here. Mwahaha.

Thank you for responding to my comment. I'm sorry I didn't respond earlier. I have continued reading your blog, though, and I've thought a LOT about your writing. I’m predictably upset about Proposition 8.

You assume that I have rejected God’s guidance, that you haven’t, and, moreover, that you are happier in part because of that. I think of Patrick Califia's Speaking Sex to Power: The Politics of Queer Sex (quoted, to be fair, way out of context, since he’s actually addressing the false belief of the able-bodied that they aren’t disabled because they took better care of themselves): "We have mistaken privilege for virtue. Again." It might be easier to think that queer people suffer either because we’ve fallen and/or chosen to fall away from God or because we have an inexplicable and unfair condition God will rectify (something like what I believe your church taught about dark skin until 1978), and not because people treat us like sinners and work against our relationships, but it does make me angry.

I keep imagining that I'll get all my friends together in one place and have a big party, so that when the topic turns to homosexuality it won't be my romantic and sex life on trial but rather several people’s. (How kind I am. Human shield! Human shield!) My sexual history is somewhere between imperfect and a disaster that I joke exists to serve as a warning to others, but it’s still private and precious to me, even if you feel you must call what I have done wrong to stand with God or for truth.

The best to you and Scott and Soren.