Two Sides – Same Coin

Yesterday I reposted something on Facebook that I knew would catch the attention of a few specific people. What I reposted can be accessed by clicking here. It’s a piece written by Spencer Hall for the KSL website (ksl.com) and relates to recent changes made in “Handbook 1” (Administrative Handbook).

At the top of the article you can find a video clip of the news agency reporting on the matter. According to that video,  these changes relate to children of same-sex couples and state that

  1. There can be no baby blessing.
  2. No baptism until age 18.
  3. No longer live with a gay parent in a gay relationship.
  4. Must disavow same-sex relationships.
  5. Any adults who are in a same-sex marriage or otherwise in a same-sex relationship are at risk of “punishment” based on grounds of apostacy (rejection, being renounced).

There is also a quote by Eric Hawkins, a Church spokesman, that basically reiterates that while the Church is and has been officially “against” anything same-sex, these changes to the Handbook aren’t in any way a rebuttal of “the law of the land” and that the Church recognizes that people are free to think or feel differently. There are apparently many parallels between how the Church views and treats polygamous situations.

Later in the video we find a quote by Troy Williams, the Executive Director of Equality Utah who said, “In America all churches have the religious liberty to welcome or exclude whomever they desire. We know that children of same-sex parents are treasures of infinite worth. In our universe, all God’s children have a place in the choir.”

The article below the video restates what the video did (which I’ve numbered above), plus shows “snip-its” of what appears to be the Handbook 1 modifications. I appreciated that this resource seemed to state the changes flatly. There was no, “OMG they’re devils!” The most emotional part of it was the quote by the Equality Utah Director – but I expected that and, frankly, I agree with his sentiment. All people ARE infinite treasures and should be treated as such.

I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed this morning and, as I expected there would be, there were a few posts related to the stuff I’d reposted. I’m assuming these had something to do with the strong opinion I expressed on my own Facebook page. One of those posts was to discuss the “9 Facebook Myths” about the Mormon Church’s policy on gays. (Click here to see it.) The very first thing that I noticed is that it came from a Latter Day Saints website. On one hand, I think all sides have to be heard and if anyone should have a voice on their behavior it’s the one behaving. On the other hand, you can ask a pedophile about pedophilia and the answer you’ll get is likely to be anything but objective. So, there’s that. But for the sake of showing the alternate side of the coin, let’s also look at the LDS page posted.

Two things in relation to the two changes are noted before tackling the myths. Those two notes are:

  1. Change to the definition of apostasy – Entering a gay relationship / marriage is apostasy.
  2. For children of gays to be baptized, they must first reach adult age and be cool with the Mormon definition of eternal marriage.

Now onto the Facebook myths, as well as my take on them.

  1. The Changes Punish Children.
    1. The challenge to this supposed myth is that children are allowed to attend all services, etc… But that’s kind of sugar coating it. The rebuttal to this myth states, “All people can receive all the ordinances of salvation and exaltation.” But that’s awfully misleading. The truth is that all people can, including children of gay people, so long as you formally cut yourself from those who are officially banned. Saying that “all” people can receive “all” the good stuff is a simplistic kind of dishonesty. Most of the discussion for this myth seems really concerned with divorced families – an interesting take on why rules need to be implemented for children of gays. This, too, seemed to be thinly-veiled ridiculousness.
  2. Gay People Are Treated Worse Than Other Sinners.
    1. Kudos to the Mormons for recognizing that gay marriages are legal marriages and adjusting some of their perspective in regard to gay relationships equating fornication. That’s at least SOMETHING. But it’s not enough for the rest of us. Time and time again the whole, “love the sinner hate the sin” crap has proven to be impossible and impractical for religious people to actually and successfully live. It simply doesn’t work. I don’t feel that the Mormons treat gays as worse than another sinner, but that’s not the issue. The issue is that gayness, which is 100% natural and inherent throughout Creation, is viewed as sin. For the purpose of this post, though, I side with the Mormons. My kind aren’t treated any worse than anyone else they hate.
  3. Violation of the Church’s 2nd Article of Faith
    1. “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.” This is an area I think the Mormons stand out from the bulk of Christianity and this is an area that, superficially, I agree with them. In the same way I don’t think a person of my generation is uniquely and personally paying for, say, the alcoholism of his great-great-great-grandfather, I don’t think any of us are suffering because Adam listened to Eve. The Mormons are definitely right on rejecting that doctrine. The thing I definitely disagree on though, insofar as this supposed myth is concerned, is that it says that children of gays are protected from repercussions by requiring they wait … blah blah blah. What’s it’s requiring is that these children eventually choose the Church and its Handbook over the parents and family who love them.
  4. Children Are Required to Reject Their Parents
    1. This supposed myth obviously relates directly to the prior one. The rebuttal here is that the individuals in question aren’t required to say anything to their parents in regard to rejecting that part of who they are. This practically screams “crazy-ass loophole.” So we gay people are supposed to be okay with our children seeing us as broken – because they aren’t forced to communicate that to us? “Children must simply recognize the Church’s teachings on sin.” Are you kidding me? The rebuttal for this “myth” also indicates that there’s a disconnect of sorts with those who have a problem “loving the sinner but hating the sin” and then states that these same people often believe that sexuality is the primary factor in personal identity. I, for one, see hating the sin but loving the sinner as total bullcrap AND also don’t see sexuality as a primary factor in personal identity. Kind of like an earlier myth, this rebuttal goes off on a side note and steers away from the original issue. If it doesn’t strike someone as somehow “off” to suggest “your kids are allowed to join our club wherein they’ll have to disavow who you (their parents) are, but it’s okay because they don’t have to tell you they agreed to believe you’re broken” then you yourself may well be “off.” It actually makes all of this sound a bit cultish – which is usually something I defend Mormonism on.
  5. Newborns As Apostates
    1. The first thing in this myth’s rebuttal that seems to glare at me is, “The new policy recategorizes same-sex marriage as apostasy instead of fornication.” This is to say, “You used to be a sinner, but now you just have to get out. (And we still think you’re a sinner.)” My question is, how is this an improvement of any kind? If you really think something is a sin that some folks are struggling with, how is altogether kicking them out a good thing? How does that help that poor old sinner? Beyond this, I think I agree with the rest of the rebuttal to this myth. I’ve known of a number of families where one parent adheres to one religion and the other belongs to another. It can lead to drama within the family and even divorce. I think it’s a matter for families of split-religious identity to sort out, though, and not something the Church should be governing.
  6. Church is Depriving Itself of Gay Members
    1. The last sentence of this rebuttal is really all that anyone needs to read. The Church carries the understanding that It is correct because It knows and understands the God of the universe better than anyone else and so people who are in disagreement are the issue. The Church isn’t depriving Itself, people are.
  7. This Hurts Me Personally
    1. This myth, and one or two others so far, are ones I’m not at all familiar with. I’ve not seen this / these on Facebook anywhere or even elsewhere online – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. The majority of this rebuttal is sentiment I agree with. Emotions are CRAZY things and have so much destructive potential when not properly governed or caged. I’ve written about it a dozen times here on Sthapati Samanvayam. I do agree that emotion shouldn’t govern or influence policy or standards. However, one area I can see people saying this and it being a legit thing to say is, for example, lets say I (a gay person) have a child who wants to become a Mormon. As the loving parent of my child, I can and would support virtually any decision my child makes – including joining any religion of his or her choosing, regardless of my opinion of that religion. But it WOULD pain me on a very personal level to know that something my child wanted to pursue, which carries much potential for good (as Mormonism does), would require them to jump through hoops that would ultimately lead to them “agreeing” to doctrines that say their loving and supportive parent (me!) is a doomed sinner they have to disavow. Any person facing that kind of thing would naturally feel conflicted and, as a parent, knowing my child would need to endure that kind of bullshit to join a religion would be personally painful. Absolutely.
  8. The Church Lost and Should Move On
    1. Whoa. This myth is another that I haven’t seen anywhere online, but the rebuttal is really something else. The first thing that caught my attention is that the rebuttal says that the Supreme Court doesn’t dictate how churches should behave – but a rebuttal of an earlier myth indicated that the church is trying to go by the law of the land. Which is it? Does the law of the land matter and need regarded, or no? I also disagree greatly with the statement that implied the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage is just a “popular trend.” Aside from those two glaring pieces of idiocy, I agree with this rebuttal. Churches shouldn’t be “forced” to participate in marriages they don’t agree with, and the rebuttal points out that the decision to list gays and gay marriage under apostasy is a means to protect the church from being made to do things that go against what it believes. The funny thing is, nobody is flocking to anti-gay churches (like the Mormon Church) to force them to sanction gay marriage. This is all ENTIRELY unnecessary. The religious organizations that affirm gay relationships are known by gays and are where gays are going to get married – for those who want married in a church. Because gays, above many other groups, are keenly aware of the Separation of Church and State we tend to let those who don’t want us not have us. We don’t want your religious hate dictating whether we have the right to marry or visit our spouses in hospitals and we don’t want you to marry us. It’s really that cut and dry. The Church is separate from the State – and should be – and so the Mormon Church already has the protection is thinks it’s now securing.
  9. These Changes are Eternal Doctrine
    1. This is probably the most confusing to any non-religious person or any person entirely unfamiliar with Mormonism. This rebuttal almost made me say, “OF COURSE” out loud. After all the fuss and mess created and 9.5 myths dissected, there’s gotta be a way to weasel out. So, let’s play a game that’s probably 50% semantics and close by saying that things could change as additional revelation becomes available – and advise people to, in the meantime, just do what you’re told.

One thing I admire about the Mormon Church is that, regardless of what their beliefs are or aren’t, they’re generally peaceful about them. On the record and off the record, the Mormons I know (and the Mormonism I know) are generally really good about practicing the whole “live and let live” idea. They’re totally fine with staying in their own bubble and agreeing to disagree – which is something I respect and value greatly.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namah | Aum Shanti

 

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