Thursday, August 14, 2008

First impressions

Yesterday's news release by the LDS church titled The Divine Institution of Marriage is an interesting and unexpected turn of events. I'll have to read it more closely and ponder it a while before I decide if I will blog more about it. But, there is one thing that jumped out while I read it.

This latest news release includes the following statement:
"The focus of the Church’s involvement is specifically same-sex marriage and its consequences. The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference."
This seems to suggest that the LDS church is willing to 'accept' civil unions for same sex couples. However, the General Handbook of Instructions (2006 edition), which is the authoritative source for formal church policy states
"Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. The Church accordingly opposes same-gender marriages and any efforts to legalize such marriages. Church members are encouraged "to appeal to legislators, judges, and other government officials to preserve the purposes and sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and to reject all efforts to give legal authorization or other official approval or support to marriages between persons of the same gender." [emphasis added]
"Church Handbook of Instructions", book 1 p.187
Which suggests to me that the LDS church opposes any and all efforts to grant legal rights to same sex couples. So, is this a change of policy? Will we be receiving a letter from the First Presidency with this new policy superseding the 2006 edition of the general handbook of instructions? Until then, does this latest news release supersede the general handbook of instructions?

Same Sex Marriage vs Civil Unions vs Domestic Partnerships - A rose by any other name would smell so sweet. Has it all come down to terminology and nomenclature? How silly is that?

I don't buy the argument that calling it 'marriage' will impose "restrictions on religious freedom." How does the terminology or nomenclature have any effect the examples included in the news release?
  • Tax exemptions and benefits be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not embrace same-sex unions
  • Forcing religious organizations to allow marriage celebrations or receptions in religious facilities that are otherwise open to the public
  • Asserting pressure on religious schools and universities to provide married housing for same-sex couples
  • Student religious organizations are being told by some universities that they may lose their campus recognition and benefits if they exclude same-sex couples from club membership
I agree that these are serious possible ramifications which need to be addressed; however, do these issues become moot if we use terms like "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships" and only become issues if we call it "marriage"? I'm sorry, I just don't buy that argument.

And, in the LDS church, don't we already have certain religion motivated restrictions on heterosexual marriage - which is allowed under the law? For example, my family are not members of the church, neither are my wifes. When we were married in the Oakland temple, there were no family members in attendance - and there are no legal recourses available to force the church to allow non-members to attend a temple wedding ceremony. Why would allowing two men or two women to marry suddenly change the first amendment to the US constitution? This just seems like a red herring to me.


A.J. said...

I didn't understand the part about SSM leading to kids having gender confusion? Aren't most homosexuals raised in households with a mom and dad? Anyway I don't feel confused about my gender. I'm a woman I like being a woman so much so that I really like other women. Sorry if this rambling. I really am going to have to reread the letter and pray about it. -A.J.

[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

It is pretty much the reddest herring of all, and is the crux of the church's argument. That they don't realise that, or don't care is baffling to me.

Beck said...

I read it as a change of policy. The Church is being pushed to justify something here. Their argument is being fine-tuned to be based on their religious freedom issues verses issues of "protecting the family". It's all legal double-talk.

The same thing happened with the ERA movement. At first it was for the "sanctity of womanhood", but reverted to perceived constitutional ramifications of such a decision.

Whether you feel it's a red herring or not, at least it's saying they are worried about and focused on their rights being lost as a religious institution verses professing the "evils" of homosexuality.


MohoInTx said...

I loved it. It gave me more of an insight on their perspective. I don't necessarily agree with it all, but I think most of it is understandable.

Anonymous said...

of course it's a change of policy. the church craves social recognition and approval (the old polygamy thing), and as society ever so slowly accepts gay marriage so will the church. though maybe not in my lifetime...

suzannpappan said...

I too, am baffled.
Prop 8 and the Church aggrssive opposition to it (I.E. SP's asking/?suggesting?/donation amounts in formal meetings with members) is very disturbing to me. I understand the basic tenet of supporting belief but I have a huge issue with separation of Church and State. I am glad I don't have to live in CA and vote on this.
On the other hand, the Church getting so involved in the issue politically has upset me greatly.
Do I believe in this instance that the Lord is leading this decision for the Church.
No, I don't.
Many women were excommunicated because of a stand and voice on ERA, women's issue's and speaking against the Church policy. Some were justified. Other's I think were a huge mistake.
Will it happen again. Lord... I hope not.