Saturday, November 08, 2008

Disturbing!


This is really hard for me...



I have been silent on Prop. 8 on this blog. Though I've passionately read other comments and the debate at large, I've chosen to not make it a part of this forum.





I have not used this blog for diving into political matters, but as I saw reports of protests last night around Temple Square, my heart is aching and I feel torn apart inside and I can't remain SILENT any longer!


I identify with both sides of this issue as an active member of the Church and as a gay man.


"Latter-day Saint Church leaders say their members were part of a coalition and called it disturbing that they were singled out for speaking up as part of a free election and are disturbed at being singled out for speaking up in the democratic process." -- KSL.com


"Members of the Church in California and millions of others from every faith, ethnicity and political affiliation who voted for Proposition 8 exercised the most sacrosanct and individual rights in the United States -- that of free expression and voting.

"While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process." -- LDS Church statement.






It is sad to see that it has come to this in my home town on my turf with my church and my culture. I do find it disturbing! I find it disturbing that the Church finds it disturbing that they are being singled out. What do they expect when they were the most organized and powerful influence in the "Yes on 8" drive? Did they expect no ill affects or no backlash? I find this very naive, two-faced and shameful.

I found it pleasing to see that civility did prevail and voices were heard and free speech was exercised peacefully. I'm glad there weren't any significant altercations. This debate can occur with civility and respect. I appreciate that it was done in that spirit and in so doing, I think the SLC gay community and its supporters did themselves a great load of good! More of this is needed and I applaud it.

I am not a protester. I am not really political. Yet, I find myself aching for what the Church I love is doing here and how they, the Brethren, don't see the hurt they are causing, nor the storm they are stirring up - obviously I don't see the bigger picture that they see and my vision is blurred and fogged over by my personal bias here. The troops are being assembled and riled up - and rightfully so. Some may say - bring on the fight! Others may say - this is part of the Signs of the Times and the Last Days! I say - where is the compassion?



I find it hurtful, painful, disingenuous, mean-spirited, all in the name of "moral right" and "religious freedom". I do not dispute the "right" of the Church to do what they did, but I question the wisdom and motivation to do so. Where is the love, the Christ-like attitudes of compassion, the attempt to understand each other and reach out in common good? Where is the Church that I love? I am embarrassed today. I am ashamed. I am disturbed. I am saddened.




But the real disturbance I'm feeling is that I feel powerless to do anything about it. What am I to do? How do I show love and compassion and understanding? Am I just a spineless sympathiser?


I want to be counted among the protesters. I feel for them. I see ME in their eyes and in their pain and hurt and mistrust. I want to be counted among the believers, the followers of the Church. Yet, how do I do both? Can I do both? Is it right to be on both sides? Why am I torn? I never would have been torn in the past. I probably wouldn't have given it much thought (as I'm sure most members of the Church last night didn't even pay attention to it or if they did - they shrugged it off as no big deal - a little skirmish by a few hooligans and rebel-rousing perverts). But, now I ache. I am in physical pain inside.



I confirm my belief that I see nothing wrong with gay marriage. I am intrigued and enamored by committed gay relationships, and I find Cog's and John GW's and MohoHawaii's and Chris and Jed's (among others) commitments to each other and to their families as holy, defensible, and worthy of praise and adulation. I see no "sin" in it. If I were in a situation for a different relationship, I would desire no more than to have the commitment of love that these friends have demonstrated. So, where does that put me? On the dark side?


I am not losing my faith. I have faith that this, too, shall shake out for good. I have faith in WHO is in charge ultimately. But, my faith in the leadership is shaken. My core is split. My foundation isn't as firm.



And my voice, short of this spineless blog, regrettably remains silent. But, for how long? If this continues to grow and pull at my core, I feel the time will come when I will need to "rise up and be counted" and I will not be able to remain silent anymore... And that makes me shake the most.

* NOTE: Photos of protest from Deseretnews.com.

17 comments:

Beck said...

As a footnote to my own post here, I receive this "letter to the editor" and was intrigued with another viewpoint coming from Canada looking on at what is happening here...

"...The majority of Canadians are very tolerant and the general consensus was that had the gay & lesbian community chosen a unique term to describe their desired unions such a position would have received a very high level of support. However, this minority in our society chose to steal the definition of traditional “marriage” – the union between a man and a woman – apply it to themselves and force it upon the entire population. They forced a false terminology for their unions while denying the rights of those who have for centuries used the true definition of marriage to describe their unions!

"As Canadians followed the tactics of the gay, lesbian and bisexual groups in your State we observed that which we had experienced in Canada – a totally false, selfish demand for rights while showing no respect for the religious, cultural and historical rights of the their fellow citizens - the same strong arm, threatening, bulling tactics that were used in Canada.

"The majority of Canadians were supportive of the more truly democratic process that the California Constitution allows and supportive of the rights of the voting population to express their views and have the majority position followed. This is a true democratic outcome. The fact that The LDS church stood up for their beliefs is admirable and the reaction of the g.l.b.s community to bully, complain and appeal the peoples’ decision is typical of their disrespect for the rights of others and the terms and conditions of their State’s constitution."-- Darrell Clarkson Alberta, Canada

So if this is just the use of term, what's the big deal, right? Obviously, it isn't just terminology - it is an issue of "same, but equal" which doesn't sound like anything but discrimination.

And is to "bully, complain, and appeal" anything more than exercising one's rights of free speech? And with free speech, isn't there always someone that disagrees? As such, does that necessarily mean that it represents a "disrespect for others' rights"?

Tolerance is a very difficult subject to get my mind around. Where does it start and stop? When is tolerance being forced to accept that which you don't support or embrace? When is tolerance not allowed to express a counter point of view?

Abelard Enigma said...

"While those who disagree with our position on Proposition 8 have the right to make their feelings known, it is wrong to target the church and its sacred places of worship for being part of the democratic process." -- LDS Church statement.

Why is it wrong? The LDS church exercised its constitutional right to enter the political fray on a highly controversial issue. Now those who are opposed to the churches position are exercising their constitutional right by protesting. Politics is dirty business; you can't expect to stick your hand in and not get dirty.

Personally, I find it disingenuous to complain about the protests. Wasn't that, effectively, what the LDS church was doing when it mobilized the members in California to help pass prop 8? They didn't follow the same process; but, it was a protest none the less. Do they really expect the opposition to just roll over?

... had the gay & lesbian community chosen a unique term to describe their desired unions such a position would have received a very high level of support.

So it all comes down to what words we use? Are we really that immature that all of this fighting is because the GLBT community chose to use words like 'marriage'? Sorry, I don't buy it.

We also need to remind ourselves that the official position of the LDS church regarding same sex unions is to "reject all efforts to give legal authorization or other official approval or support." That is what it states in the general handbook of instructions; and, there has been no addendum to amend that statement. So, to try to say it's all because of a word is just back peddling.

Sorry, I get very emotional about this.

Scott said...

obviously I don't see the bigger picture that they see and my vision is blurred and fogged over by my personal bias here.

Actually, I'm not completely convinced that it's not the brethren who don't see the bigger picture because of personal bias. <stands alone as everyone else edges away to avoid the lightning bolt>

Tolerance is a very difficult subject to get my mind around. Where does it start and stop? When is tolerance being forced to accept that which you don't support or embrace? When is tolerance not allowed to express a counter point of view?

Tolerance isn't being forced to accept anything, per se... My dictionary says that to tolerate is "to allow without prohibiting or opposing". If I believe that gay marriage is wrong, I don't have to accept gay marriage to be tolerant, I simply cannot prohibit or oppose it. If I do, I've demonstrated a lack of tolerance. Intolerance implies action. Tolerance implies passivity. But it doesn't have to be passive acceptance. It can be passive non-acceptance. I don't think that expressing opposition verbally even constitutes intolerance. It's only when the opposition becomes an active opposing that it becomes intolerance.

One thing that a lot of people have forgotten in this whole folderol is that intolerance isn't necessarily wrong. We shouldn't tolerate murder, or theft, or any of a number of other things that we (as a society) have declared illegal.

The Church believes that it is right to be intolerant of gay marriage, but they will claim that their intolerance of gay marriage does not translate to an intolerance of gay people. Whether it's really possible to make that distinction, I'm not sure.

The protesters don't think so, and they do think that it's right to fight back against that intolerance--that "prohibition" of or "opposition" toward something that is very important to them.

The Church, then, turns right back around and believes that by opposing the Church's right to express its views in the political arena, the protesters are being intolerant.

It could be that everyone is right, and that there's a whole lot of intolerance going around. The question is, whose intolerance is justified and proper, and whose isn't?

Beck said...

ABE: It is more than a word. It is vindictive and painful. I am feeling very upset today, very concerned for the direction this has taken, very saddened that the Church administration pushed it this far with such vigor and gusto to squash this foe. When it turned ugly and turned to making up fake reasons and consequences, they lost all integrity - and so I ask - where is the compassion, not just the passion? Where is the love for all? How is the image and role of the Church to overcome this?

I'm tired of being an apologist for the Church. I'm saddened that I'm in this position, yet, eager to find a way to play this role as one who is not happy and finds these developments very "disturbing".

SCOTT: If lightning is going to strike you, I'll get struck as well, for I'm not standing right next to you!

Thank you for your eloquent comment on the definition of "tolerance". I wish I could have said it as well as you did.

I like the notion that tolerance does not mean to embrace, but also doesn't mean to prohibit. This was a prohibition!

Hidden said...

Beck,

I feel your pain and your anguish. Welcome to the ranks of the Torn.

And Scott, you are far from alone where you stand ready to receive your reward, be it lightning or a badge for supporting truth.

Silver said...

I have deep emotional ties and empathy for both sides of this conflict. I can't see how prohibition is ever the answer. I think people need to be free to make their choice without being coerced, pressured and shamed into a roll they didn't choose.

I ache for the church, the Brethren, but I also ache deeply for my gay brothers and sisters. I hate the temper of this collision in values. I fear the wrath and hatred of both sides of this debate.

Is there not enough tolerance and compassion to bridge this chasm? Can you legislate morality or your own version of it? Will laws really change the frequency or the prominence of same sex marriage? Will same sex unions stem the growth of the species and endanger the planet? Of course not, not matter what label you apply to them.

I didn't choose same sex union. I chose a traditional marriage and family, but how could I ever embrace the discrimination and persecution of those who choose otherwise when I am myself attracted to my own sex and when I very nearly chose the gay lifestyle myself? These questions baffle and confuse me. They threaten my definitions of tolerance and decency.

As the debate intensifies so does my anguish at just remaining silent and locked inside myself. Thank God my wife now knows, but I am reaching the time where I have to be known to others for who I truly am.

The church and our families need to know that there are good, wholesome and faithful gay, men living within their own homes and neighborhoods. They need to know and confront that fact; that "Gay" does not indeed equate with all of their preconceptions, biases, judgments, assumptions and fears.

The more I observe this confusion, the more conviction I feel that my time has come to really be honest about who I am. I'm on the verge as I posted earlier (below on "11") of getting very real and open with those I love.

I think I could have a new calling; as a missionary who teaches tolerance, understanding and compassion from a position of deep personal conviction.

Damon In CO said...

Beck,

You said it how I am feeling it now. Earlier today I got into a conversation with a friend of mine from NY who is a member of the Church...we discussed Prop 8 and the protests going on.

It was a bad conversation, to say the least. It started with her saying the Church was protecting it's right not to have to perform gay marriages in California. Which was ridiculous and I explained it to her.

I didn't change her mind because she's been taught to fall lock-step with the Brethren and she finds the protests outrageous.

I made a comment about "my" church. And she said, "really? It's not really your Church anymore, let's be honest." And that hurt, it really did. Maybe because it's true, I don't know. I've been mentally chewing on that thought all day.

I think the core question on the Prop 8 issue is does an entity, person or group of people have the right to vote on another groups civil rights?

They don't have that right. There is nothing that grants or guarantees that right. It may be the will of the people in California to deny marriage to a group of people, but it isn't their right to do it. It never should have been voted on.

Can you imagine if civil rights for african americans had been put to a vote in the south in the 1950's?! African american civil rights wouldn't exist today if it had been put to popular vote!

I agree strongly with what ABE said...when you play in politics you get dirty.

I can't fault protesters because they have a right, given in the constitution, to freedom of speech and expression.

I can fault the Church because they participated in the voting process to decide the civil rights of a group of people. This right is not granted anywhere.

I hate what is happening now. But, I don't think it will get better. If prop 8 stands it is only a matter of time before it is challenged again with a proposition to repeal it.

~Damon

robert said...

I think the Church must ask the question: Does this effort on behalf of "morality" bring anyone closer to Christ? Isn't that the whole point of the Church in the first place. Can one be coerced into Christianity? Seems unlikely to me. And what do the young LDS missionaries in California do with all of this? How do they know who will answer the door? Sucks to be them.

Scott said...

Does this effort on behalf of "morality" bring anyone closer to Christ?

Some people seem to think so. I actually saw a comment on a blog post yesterday... Let me look it up... Okay. Heres' the direct quote:

"Anything that will help those who identify themselves as homosexual, come unto Christ, is something I will be voting for."

?????

She (I assume it's a she--this was on the "Feminist Mormon Housewives" blog) actually believes that taking the right to marry away from gay people is going to bring them unto Christ? I can't imagine any possible scenario where a gay person, hoping to get married and discovering that he's no longer able to do so, says "Oh... well, I guess I'll get religion, then."

<sigh>

(My word verification is "trializ", as in "This whole Prop 8 thing is a good demonstration of what a trial iz.")

J G-W said...

This morning in Sacrament meeting, a member of our bishopric bore his testimony, and cited the recent protests as evidence that persecution of the true church was rising as a precursor to the end times.

I'm sure that's how many faithful LDS will view these protests... They won't look much below the surface.

Philip said...

I agree with you Beck. This fight is not about who gets to use the word marriage.

The day I got married I was welcomed into the family. There was no question I was part of my wife's family and she was part of mine.

I may be wrong but I don't think families react to the partners of civil unions in the same way.

Maybe the fight is about many thinking gays are inferior and don't deserve "becoming part of the family".

Regards,
Philip

Beck said...

HIDDEN: So how do we keep the seams from popping?

SILVER said: "...The more I observe this confusion, the more conviction I feel that my time has come to really be honest about who I am. I'm on the verge as I posted earlier (below on "11") of getting very real and open with those I love."

My prayers and thoughts are with you, my friend, as you come to this major step in your life. I look forward to learning from you as you take this journey.

DAMON: It is still YOUR church! Don't let anyone's comment isolate you from it.

I read an editorial this weekend about the idea that if we don't fully support the Prophet on this battle front, then we are NO longer part of the Church. I find this "all or nothing" approach of thinking as being quite ridiculous and inappropriate, even humorous. Am I missing something here or isn't there room for all of us working out our thoughts and feelings toward politics, or any other subject for that matter? When did it become so black and white? Or have I just become muddled in the gray?

Beck said...

ROBERT asks: "Does this effort on behalf of "morality" bring anyone closer to Christ? Isn't that the whole point of the Church in the first place. Can one be coerced into Christianity?"

Obviously, not, but for some, this doesn't seem so obvious.

I keep asking, why this issue only? Where is the protest of quicky divorces and quicky marriages in Las Vegas that "destroy the sanctity of marriage"? Where is the protest on numerous other social ills? Why are other social ills left within the realm of religious teaching, but this issue is raised to the level of political and legal coersion? Is it simply because homosexuality is such an easy target, and easy to stir up the masses against it?

Where is the principle of agency? I do not buy into the concept that gay marriage will rob the Church and individuals of their religious beliefs and agency, but will rob gay individuals of their agency. Isn't agency really the sacred principle here being violated? Is gay marriage really equated with moral laws against murder, viloence, abuse, corruption? Sadly, I guess so.

Beck said...

JOHN: In my ward, it was Fast and Testimony Meeting yesterday and a sister got up and turned her "testimony" into a rant on Prop. 8 and that these are the last days and that this is a critical step as we are being separated from the rest of the world in preparation for the Second Coming...

I just rolled my eyes, sunk my head in shame. But, when I went home, I was able to have a discussion with my kids about this and I think good will come of this as I discuss more openly to them about it. Unfortunately, as I found out, it places their Dad contradicting what they are being taught in Seminary... More on that later.

Thanks for your inspired approach of being strong in your commitments, both to your immediate family and to your faith. You didn't think it would get easier for you, right?

Beck said...

PHILIP: Denying the word "marriage" to same-sexu unions equates to nothing less than inferiority. What I can't get my mind around is how granting them the use of the word "marriage" for their committed relationship and family unit somehow debases or diminishes or changes in any way my committed relationship and family unit. What am I missing here?

J G-W said...

Nothing worth having is ever easy.

Philip said...

Beck: "What I can't get my mind around is how granting them the use of the word "marriage" for their committed relationship and family unit somehow debases or diminishes or changes in any way my committed relationship and family unit. What am I missing here?"

Don't know for sure.

Maybe it's all about that film that plays in the minds of many people when they think of gay people.

The film that use to play in my mind long ago and probably the minds of most gay people before they come out.

Maybe the people opposed to gay marriage don't want those films playing in their head when they think of marriage and that's what happens when they think of gay marriage.

Thinking those thoughts probably leaves them feeling their marriage has been debased or diminished or changed in some way.

In other words, it's all in their heads.

Regards,
Philip