Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Few Thoughts, Some Not Enjoyable

Whether we realize it or not, by opening the field to gay marriage, we are opening a Pandora's box whose contents are more vile and vicious than we could ever fully anticipate right now.

Wrote one columnist, Allison Hantschel, "What the Supreme Court in California did two weeks ago was merely affirm what Americans have always known: that under the law in this land, we are all of us safe, all of us equal, all of us protected - all of us, or none of us is."

As soon as gay marriages are legitimized the world over, will we get to turn our attention to the next-most-important-fight-for-individual-rights hoping to redefine the concept of marriage?

Who will it be? Fathers who father children by their daughters? Child pornographers who think kids are cute? Insert-anything-worse-here-as-long-as-it's-consensual, etc.? Why not open the field of marriage wide open to all who have a personal fetish (perversion, really) and could benefit from the tax (and other) benefits associated with being recognized by the State? Until we are willing to consider all possible views of marriage as legitimate, Allison Hantschel's hopeful statement cannot be fully realized.

But at what cost do we accept and legitimize each personal interpretation of marriage? Does society have a moral fabric? Should it? Who sets the standards? What's right and what's wrong? Are right and wrong different today than they were yesterday? Are there no certainties or absolutes in this world?

If your stomach is turning a little at any of what I've written, I apologize for painting such an ugly picture. My mind tries to look as far down a line of logic as possible to consider the most likely outcome. The sad truth is that what seems appalling and repugnant today often passes as mainstream tomorrow.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but there are forces and organizations, perhaps merely individuals at this point, who would destroy all that is dear and good and right in the world, and they would do it in the name of so-called rights, they would do it under the banner of the United States' Constitution, they would do it in the name of God.

Furthermore, the people who would do these sorts of things will also stop at nothing to smear the good names of all who try to oppose them. Is the reason why we have such a large silent majority because we are afraid of being publicly smeared as bigots or chauvinists or supremacists?

In 1995, the now late President Gordon B. Hinckley read a statement entitled, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, which provides a solid rock upon which we can build our definition of marriage and family in a context which uplifts and edifies. I quote in part:

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

Time forbids me to write much more than I have. Let me finish by saying that I do not hate homosexuals. I believe that all of us are children of a loving Heavenly Father, that we were created in His image, that we are accountable to Him for our actions, that He has commanded us to be chaste and pure and virtuous, that though we have challenges in this life--temptations to act against His will for us--He has provided us grace (spiritual strength) through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ whereby we can avoid sin, repent when we do sin, and ultimately become clean and pure.


Katie said...

Thanks for posting this. Well spoken/written.

jesse said...

oh, nate.

i don't know where to start or even if i should. i did so enjoy our theological debates back in high school. but the terms of the debate have shifted, namely my foundation, and i'm not sure if they can be reignited. but we'll see.

see, something i learned long ago about engaging someone in a disagreement is the concept of a criterion. as you probably know, a criterion is a principle or standard by which something may be judged or decided. it is pretty important for folks to agree upon a criterion, or criteria, before they continue with a discussion...to find a common ground from which they can make claims and warrants, a value system to appeal to in order to persuade the other person of their ideas.

i've been reading your blog for a while and considered engaging you on some of your more opinionated posts. but i've refrained because it's felt hopeless. it seems like we would both be speaking such different languages (i think we have less in common now than we did in high school since i now happily identify as an unbeliever). i've worried that since we don't seem to share many, if any, criteria for judgement, it would be futile to disagree with you.

but for a few reasons i feel compelled to reply to this post. one is that as a fellow philosopher i have to take issue with your logic. i guess i did find a common criterion - logic. two is that though our friendship currently only exists in our memories, i still have a strong memory of you as a kind-hearted and caring person. and, three is that, although it's easy for me to find the same arguments you are making all over the place, it hurts more to hear them from you. and simultaneously i have a glimmer of hope that you will hear me with open ears. plus, this post hits closer to home than some of the others, since i'm a big ol' queer myself (if you didn't already know, surprise!)

since i don't take your scriptures as anything other than interesting theological texts, i will address the other claim you make: the slippery slope argument, that the legitimation of gay marriage will lead to wholehearted acceptance of child molestation/abuse, etc. but your logic falls through the cracks with this statement: "insert-anything-worse-here-as-long-as-it's-consensual" correct me if i'm wrong, but i take this to imply that you believe that the aforementioned atrocities are consensual (you referenced the guy who locked his daughter in a basement and raped and abused her and child pornography). it seems obvious to me, so perhaps i'm misreading your meaning, but child pornography is not consensual (hence, the age of consent). rape is not consensual. locking someone in a basement for 24 years? not consensual.

analogizing gay marriage to these horrific crimes is not only just bad logic, it's hurtful and destructive. comparing me and my friends to people who abuse others nonconsensually would be like me comparing you and your family and friends to the FLDS folks in Texas (guys old enough to be the fathers of their underage wives). but growing up in idaho, and being friends with you, i know the difference between LDS and folks that have branched off from y'all. well, actually i think your comparison is worse because we don't even have a nominal similarity to rapists, pedophiles, etc.

what's particularly dangerous about persuasive and illogical rhetoric like this is that most folks who agree with you and read this won't catch that slip(ery slope). you speak to their shared disgust and revulsion of consensual relationships between folks of the same gender and incite even more hatred by comparing them to horrific non-consensual acts.

as for your paragraph of rhetorical questions, i'd love to hear your answers to them. so much depends, again, on your criteria for judgement - should the state have standards of equality separate from the church? whose right and wrong? what exactly is a "moral fabric"? is it important to you that there are (moral) absolutes in this world? why?

you quote the scriptures: "We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God." i would love to hear a polemic from you against spousal or child abuse, or how it turns your stomach to imagine a husband cheating on his wife, how you don't hate philanderers but if they repent they will become pure. but i rarely, if ever, hear religious folks spending as much time and energy expounding upon the horrors of these other, very rampant, sins. (as a side note, i don't believe in compulsory monogamy either, but that's another conversation)

which is why i call into question your claim that you don't hate "homosexuals." i'm not saying that you do hate the gays because the verifiability of emotions is an oxymoron. you are the expert on your own feelings. but what i want to question is the role that that statement plays in your (and many others') argument against homo love. why do y'all feel so compelled to say it? why did i feel so compelled to say "love the sinner, hate the sin" back-in-the-day when i felt similarly? i'm not really sure, but it feels like an intense contradiction which attempts to cover over all of the hatred incited by your preceding words which construct a world where gay folks are disgusting, comparable to rapists and pedophiles, and secretly planning to take over the world in the name of all that is holy.

i've done my best to keep the terms of this response civil and respectful. though this can prove trying at times when it feels like my very existence is nauseating to you and yours. but even when it's trying and perhaps a bit too personal, i do love a good debate, and you, my dear, are a worthy opponent.

hope you are well,
jesse vernon

p.s. thought you'd find these interesting: