Friday, November 7, 2008

Reaping what you sow

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Galatians 6:7 [emphasis added]
  • Protesting at LDS temples across California and elsewhere
  • Calls for protest rally's at LDS chapels
  • Calls for boycotting Mormon owned businesses
  • Calls for boycotting Utah businesses and ski resorts
  • Families no longer on speaking terms
  • People leaving the LDS church
  • Threats to 'out' closeted gays in the Mormon church
It's all happening. The GLBT community is pissed - and, right or wrong, much of their anger is directed towards the LDS church - whom they consider the driving force in handing them a defeat. Tuesday, November 4, 2008 marks the day when the LDS church gained a powerful enemy.

Mind you, there has always been some enmity between the LDS church and the GLBT community at large. But, the churches distinction between attraction and behavior and it's message of 'hate the sin, love the sinner' tempered much of the anger - especially when compared to the rhetoric and actions of other Christians against the GLBT communty.

Like it or not - whether we accept it or not - the GLBT community is a force to be reckoned with. Many businesses already recognize this. They are not offering heath benefits to same sex couples out of the goodness of their hearts - they are doing it because they do not want to incur the wrath of the GLBT community. The business world recognizes that the GLBT community is not a bunch of effeminate men carrying placards and throwing a fit in the streets. It is doctors, lawyers, CEO's, and other people in positions of authority and power. To ignore the GLBT community is bad business. To be labeled a 'gay hater' could lead to business death.

A religion, of course, is not the same as a business; but, like a business, it is an institution run by men - who can and do make mistakes. Many of the success factors in business can also be a success factors in a religious setting. Missionary work is, in effect, the business of selling God.

Will the protests and angry rhetoric against the LDS church die down? Probably. Emotions are high right now. The GLBT community needs to vent their frustration - and the LDS church is on the receiving end. But, we should not fool ourselves into thinking that, eventually, the GLBT community will forgive and forget. The dragon has turned - and it has focused it's gaze directly on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. The rallying at LDS temples will eventually stop - the protesting will eventually die down. But the anger at the LDS church is here to stay. And, eventually, that anger will turn away from rally's, boycotts, and protests - which are largely exercises in futility. Civil rights has come a long way since the 60's. Effective ways of achieving their goals have been fine tuned over the years. And now, those years of experience and practice will be put to use in finding ways to really hurt the LDS church and prevent it from being as powerful of a political force in future battles.

Is all of this anger directed towards the LDS church justified? Will history record the actions of the LDS church and its members in California as our modern day Mountain Meadows massacre? That will be the question of the ages.

In the latest press release from the LDS church, it recognizes that this election is merely the latest skirmish and does not mark "an end to the debate over same-sex marriage in this country." They state
We hope that now and in the future all parties involved in this issue will be well informed and act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different position. No one on any side of the question should be vilified, intimidated, harassed or subject to erroneous information.
But, is this too little and too late? Has the membership of the LDS church even been practicing what the LDS church preaches? Some facts are indisputable
  • There was some overzealousness on the part of some of the members and local church leaders in California.

    • Organizing efforts to take to the streets (i.e. political actions) during church meetings

    • Members being made to feel that "if you aren't with us then you are against us"

    • Local leaders directly asking for donations to - some even tracking those donations using public records.

  • Misrepresentations, half truths, and even outright lies were being spread around

    • Spreading of ridiculous rumors, such as the church would be forced to close all of its temples in California if proposition 8 failed.

    • Talks and lessons in church addressing how the evil gays are seeking to destroy the institution of marriage, and even society itself.

  • Even some of the general authorities of the church were guilty

    • Speaking to a group of young adults, and also distributed as a video on, Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the LDS church, said
      You're going to have the possibility of the inevitable clashes between religious liberty and free speech; and, if your religious doctrine is such that you believe marriage between a man and a woman is the only definition of marriage then that smacks up against free speech; because if marriage is defined in a more broad way between members of the same gender - then you can't talk about that. [emphasis added]
In the end, will the hurt the LDS church? In the big picture, probably not. The LDS church itself is also a force to be reckoned with in its own right. It has proven this in California. Also, Mormon culture thrives on persecution. Being attacked by the evil gays can be seen as a badge of honor. While it will undoubtedly drive some away from the church, it may also attract those who hold similar views.

But one thing is clear, there are individuals who have been deeply scarred by the actions of the LDS membership in California. Their lives having been forever altered, and not in a good way. Some of these scars may never heal.

While I am choosing to remain active in the church in the aftermath of proposition 8, I may never be able to look at my church and local leaders in the same way. My sense of awe has been diminished. For the first time in 34 years, since joining the church back when I was a teenager, the thought has entered my mind that irreconcilable differences could, one day, result in the church and I to parting ways - and that scares the hell out of me!


Amanda said...

I've got to admit that for me, this is the final straw. Though I was inactive, I am now resigning altogether. I used to have respect for the church, but I can't respect it anymore. Not for myself. The chord has been snapped.

Mel said...

I think it will make it harder, in the future, for a Mitt Romney-type candidacy for president.

It is very apparent that publicly taking stances different from the official church stance can get you labeled an apostate, get your family mocked and shunned, and so forth. Everyone does it? No. Does the majority stop people from doing it? No, they allow it, and thus they perpetuate the conflict and ill-feelings.

I hope the boasting and glorying in persecution over this goes away in a couple-three weeks. But I kind of doubt it will. It makes it hard to be a Mormon in CA.

Beck said...

"...While I am choosing to remain active in the church in the aftermath of proposition 8, I may never be able to look at my church and local leaders in the same way. My sense of awe has been diminished..."

You may or you don't? I, for one, having watched Elder Ballard and Elder Bednar in their efforts made me question the wisdom of their actions. Does that make me an apostate? I'm just glad I wasn't in CA to see it first hand.

"...For the first time in 34 years, since joining the church back when I was a teenager, the thought has entered my mind that irreconcilable differences could, one day, result in the church and I to parting ways - and that scares the hell out of me!"

That scares the hell out of me as well... Is this one of those big decision-making weeding outs? And am I going to one day have to make a choice that places me with the black sheep and goats of the family?

As much as they may feel it was justified, I feel the Church will be paying for this stance for years to come, even if standing for this stance is considered the "right" thing to do.

MoHoHawaii said...

In the end, will it the hurt the LDS church? In the big picture, probably not.

I think the Church hurt itself.

I have a number of nieces and nephews who are now in their 20s and active in the Church. None of them support the Church's anti-gay stance. It might be that they have all grown up with me, an openly gay man, as their uncle. I'm going to guess that it has more to do with attitudes of their peers. Voters between 18 and 29 overwhelmingly (2-to-1) rejected Prop 8. I know my nephews and nieces are uncomfortable with what happened in CA. When I see them for Christmas this year I'm going to ask.

Bottom line, the Church is in danger of losing its youth over politics. Yet another reason why the Church's over-the-top zeal on this issue was ill advised.

IMHO. :-)

Beck said...

MOHO: Your comments lead me to think, as I've postulated before, that this will take another generation of Brethren, and a rising generation of new leaders to correct the mistakes made by this generation.

Z i n j said...

For me it is sadness. It means more great souls sinking deeper... unable to resolve the internal conflict that rages. I know others like MohoHawaii have left the church and have found some measure of peace and resolution. For many of us..this is not an option. We will continue to brave the storm among the Saints. We hope for a new generation of leaders. They now seem to be of the same mold. Good men. even great men not knowing perhaps what hurt they bring. With sadness comes hope. With hope comes a future.

Kalvin said...

I have two mormon friends who are also resigning as I did years ago. Mormons deserve it. Every last drop.

Scot said...

"the GLBT community is a force to be reckoned with."

I'm not saying you're wrong but I wish I felt that substantial :-). I've been feeling kind of helpless in my ability to defend our home lately.

Anyway, I always appreciate your posts, Abe. Your perspective from within the church is always interesting to me. Thanks.

J G-W said...

A bit melodramatic, if you ask me. The Church did contribute a hugely disproportionate amount of money to the campaign. 2% of the population in CA and in the US at large accounting for 50% of the funding of the pro Prop 8 campaign. And the Church is really super disciplined and organized in everything it does, whether responding to a hurricane in New Orleans, or organizing to take rights away from gay people. For those reasons, the Church has become the focus of anger from the GLBT community right now -- and has also probably lost the respect of many people for a long time to come. But you make it sound like total war is brewing. I don't see that happening.

Time will pass, tempers will die down. The GLBT community will hopefully focus on educating, persuading, and building effective coalitions. Individual gay men and lesbians will continue to come out to family, friends, loved ones and co-workers. We'll continue to tell our stories.

We won't (I hope) focus a lot of negative energy on the Church, which consists mostly of humble, well-meaning people who are just trying to live their faith by obeying Church leaders. We will continue to talk to our Church member family and friends, and help them to understand what we are really going through, and encourage them to talk to friends and leaders in the Church. Progress is being made... Let's not forget that, even at a moment that feels as upsetting and divisive as this.

Abelard Enigma said...

A bit melodramatic, if you ask me

Oh John, you sure know how to tell it like it is :)

Perhaps I was being a bit melodramatic; however, I think that there are long term effects of the LDS church's involvement in the prop 8 battle. Maybe not an all out war, but, the actions of LDS church in regards to homosexuality will be more closely scrutinized.

Also, the passage of proposition 8 has resulted in a certain smugness among some LDS members - and it's just irritating.

GeckoMan said...

"For the first time in 34 years, since joining the church back when I was a teenager, the thought has entered my mind that irreconcilable differences could, one day, result in the church and I to parting ways - and that scares the hell out of me!"

Well Abe, you've nailed it on the head for me. When we compared notes over a year ago, realizing that we joined the church the same year, and have shared similar chronology in our individual paths, I wouldn't have guessed that either of us would consider this as an option. I too am embarrassed and upset by the church's narrow sensibility and hardline tactics. I too am wondering how I'll respond in the future, as this battle comes to play out in ever closer circles to my home and family.

Having just read Scott's testimony, delivered last Sunday in his F&T meeting, I'm thinking maybe I too should respond in like manner and start writing my script. Eventually I feel this must happen in many of our lives and wards, to stand up and witness our adherance to a loving Father of all men and women, who regardless of their orientation, supports His children in their efforts to practice true faith, hope and charity.

J G-W said...

I didn't say I don't enjoy your melodramatics! What would the Queerosphere be without them?

Well, thanks for doing your part to take the smugness down a notch.

Grant Haws said...

For me the Church's involvement in Proposition 8, took it from being culturally and doctrinally homophobic, into an actual aggressor against those who differed for them. They took their political neutrality and smashed it to pieces. I went from feeling like an outsider to feeling personally attacked. And yes, they've awoken a sleeping giant. And the Church has planted themselves smack dab in the middle of it. When I saw the statement from Salt Lake complaining about being picked on, I literally laughed. This statement after spending countless dollars to restrict the rights of others? Yes, they deserve to reap what they've sown.

Anonymous said...

1) I'm one of those in the 18-35 group (I'm 23). I support proposition 8. So even within the younger generation the vote is divided.

2) What about the issues of teaching same sex marriage in schools? Wasn't that a big reason for such strong support among voters?

3) From what I understand, the percentage of LBGT in the U.S. varies from 2% to 10%-which isn't large. I am not sure that we could classify this as "awaking a sleeping giant". Plus, if we could classify it as a giant, I'm not sure it would be a sleeping one. LBGT communities have been very active in the last ten years.

4) What about civil unions? Don't they provide the same benefits as marriage? Simply without the title? Maybe you address it in another post. Sorry if I missed that.

I just had a few questions after reading your post. Keep trucking through. By small and simple things, great things are brought to pass. Just keep faith that all will be worked out in time... possibly not until the next life. But the Lord doesn't forget his children-any of them :)

Abelard Enigma said...

Anonymous, I appreciate your comments.

1) I have children in the 18-35 group. In fact, I have a daughter who lives in California and was very involved, along with her husband, in the campaign to help pass prop 8, including hitting the streets, handing out yard signs, etc. I know there are high emotions right now; but, I personally hold no animosity towards those who support prop 8.

2) I think the teaching of same sex marriage in schools was blown way out of proportion. Children are going to hear about gay marriage regardless if it is part of the curriculum. That's why we shouldn't rely on schools to teach morals and values - those need to be taught in the home. I would also submit that the passage of prop 8 will actually increase the likelihood of same sex marriage being taught since California is now in the unique position where it was once legal and now it is not - which is historically significant.

3) Political clout isn't necessarily proportional to population density. The LDS church has proven that (with Mormon's representing only 2% of the population of California). Also, I was not the one who used the term "sleeping giant". The GLBT community is politically active; but, up until recently, it hasn't been focused on the Mormon church.

Is it fair that they are focusing more on the Mormon's than they are on other groups, such as the black community? While the black community represents a much higher percentage of the population than Mormon's - the Mormon's contributed as much as 70% of the financial contributions to the Yes on 8 campaign as well as countless hours of their time. Yes, this was done by individuals - not directly by the church; but, they were doing so under the direction of LDS church leaders; in fact, much of the donated 'time' was organized in church meetings.

Prop 8 passed by a very narrow margin. Had the LDS church maintained its normal position of political neutrality then prop 8 would likely have failed to pass. Some members would have, undoubtedly, donated of their time and means to help it pass - but not in the mass numbers as we witnessed.

4) No, civil unions are not the same as marriage. It is estimated that a 'marriage' provides more than 1,400 legal benefits, of which only a few of these are addressed in civil unions. Here is a sampling of legal benefits not typlically addressed in a civil union:

1. Joint parental rights of children
2. Joint adoption
3. Status as "next-of-kin" for hospital visits and medical decisions
4. Right to make a decision about the disposal of loved ones remains
5. Immigration and residency for partners from other countries
6. Crime victims recovery benefits
7. Domestic violence protection orders
8. Judicial protections and immunity
9. Automatic inheritance in the absence of a will
10. Public safety officers death benefits
11. Spousal veterans benefits
12. Social Security
13. Medicare
14. Joint filing of tax returns
15. Wrongful death benefits for surviving partner and children
16. Bereavement or sick leave to care for partner or children
17. Child support
18. Joint Insurance Plans
19. Tax credits including: Child tax credit, Hope and lifetime learning credits
20. Deferred Compensation for pension and IRAs
21. Estate and gift tax benefits
22. Welfare and public assistance
23. Joint housing for elderly
24. Credit protection
25. Medical care for survivors and dependents of certain veterans

I just had a few questions after reading your post.

Feel free to ask them - by private email if you feel more comfortable. Questions allow me to consider different possibilities that I may not previously thought about - and I'm not afraid to admit when I'm wrong.

Just keep faith that all will be worked out in time.

My faith in God is not the problem. It's my faith in God's people that is being challenged.

Scott said...

2) What about the issues of teaching same sex marriage in schools? Wasn't that a big reason for such strong support among voters?

I believe, like Abelard, that this has been blown hugely out of proportion by the opponents of same-sex marriage.

If there is no legal difference between the marriage between a man and a woman and the marriage between two men or two women, there is absolutely no reason to differentiate between them in education. It seems reasonable, therefore, to assume that children will not be taught "about same-sex marriage", but simply "about marriage".

That is, the current "When a man and a woman love each other..." would become "When two people love each other...". There would not be any reason to explicitly state "When a man and a woman, or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman love each other..."

The definition of marriage that would be taught in the schools would simply be "a formalized committed relationship between two people based on mutual feelings of love that is given certain rights and legal protections".

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

This is anonymous again. Thanks so much for replying to my comments. Truly.

Sorry for the sleeping giant comment, I read through the comments after reading the post and must have gone through it a little too quickly. oops.

I will definitely email with some more questions.