Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Motivations

Okay, first off…

It’s obvious I’m not one for regular blog posts. When I started my blogs late last year I was so excited. “At last,” I thought, “a way to inject my opinion into the public's eye.”

Or something like that.

But after a handful of posts it seemed I didn’t have much to inject into anyone’s eye. My attempts to become a major voice in the Moho sphere was more like my ham-handed attempts at learning how to draw or to speak German; and my blog – the drawing desk gathering dust in my garage. The book on the shelf.

This is not to say I haven’t been actively reading your blogs. Everyday I check my my computer and iPhone for your posts with the faithfulness of any stalker, and after a few months of hugging the walls of the cultural hall, jealously watching the rest of you, I’m back for another dance.

I don’t want to talk about Chris Buttars. I’m sure you have your own opinions about him and I can’t bring anything new to the table. I’m sure you also have your thoughts on the large block of legislators who hold the same opinions as Buttars toward homosexuals. To me, these other people, while not afflicted so much as Buttars with diarrhea of the mouth, vote the same way as he; and in mathematical terms: ≈Buttars.

But like I said, I don’t want to talk about Buttars. He’s a symptom. There’s something more fundamental behind it all that I want to write about – Mormonism.

“Wow Chester, what a breakthrough!” you seem to say. “I never would’ve thought that what drives these people’s opinions about the world is rooted in their religion!”

Oh, it’s true.

Alright, enough sarcasm. I know this is fundamental but I think a lot of the dialogue on the net reflects a serious lapse in understanding; or at least (especially for Moho's) an inability to remember what it was like to be unshakably Mormon, if ever a state of being existed for you. As we try to see the path forward for gay rights here in Utah (and the nation) it’s essential to understand not only what the other side believes, but also why they believe it.


Mormons will never give in.

The threefold mission of the Mormon Church is to proclaim the gospel, perfect the saints, and redeem the dead. Two of those three missions are specifically about people who are not or ever were Mormon. Why are Mormons so fixated on “saving” the world? - Because they believe 1000% that they are right. And more to the point – they believe there are no other ways to be fully right. What this means is it’s not OK for them to let you remain a Catholic, Buddhist, atheist, or anything else. At the heart of Mormonism there is no “live and let live” policy. You must be a Mormon to be saved (I mean saved in the best sense…. there are different levels of “saved”).
This is one of the reasons Mormons are so against LGBT: They see it so antithetical to their world view that nothing but total dismissal of it is a sort of apostasy. The way they see it, if it’s OK for me to be gay, then Mormonism is wrong.

Did you catch that? – If it’s OK for me to be gay, then Mormonism is wrong. Of course, to them, Mormonism is 1000% correct; and so there’s no concession.

But this is not all that is driving the Mormons opposition to gay rights. In a very real sense they see themselves as the protectors of society. They have to stand up to the gay movement because, as they see it, if homosexuality is given a place at the table then the machinery that keeps the human race tumbling on through time will cease to function.

Moreover, for Mormons, God seems to have a “had it up to here” gauge in regards to a nation’s wickedness. There’s a prevailing idea in the church that were it not for the prayers and actions of the righteous that God would erase America from the planet. It’s as if God were a social worker and Mormons are the frantic parent trying to make the household seem up to snuff, and they’re always worried that if he really knew how things were he’d take the kids away.

OK, maybe a forced metaphor. But you get the idea.

There are other reasons that aren’t rooted so much in doctrine that make the church members fight like they do. I’ve said in an earlier post that the church has a history of being persecuted, and that modern church members look for opportunities to connect in some small way with their pioneer ancestors (consciously or not) by playing the victim (real or not). Some would say that in the current fight this is only a tactic to try to gain the church sympathy in spite of being unsympathetic.  Normally I would agree with that, but it seems many in the church truly believe they are being victimized!


Mormons will give in.

If you look carefully, you can see that the leaders of the church saw this fight coming from a long way off, and that they were talking about it way before Spencer W. Kimball gave the priesthood to blacks. But despite everything the leadership of the church has done over the years to sandbag against the GLBT movement, change is going to come as it always does.  The only question is how it will come.

If change happens from within the church (highly unlikely in the short-term) then this is why: Men with extreme opinions die and (hopefully) are replaced with men holding less extreme opinions. Over the years the scales tip and change happens. That’s the way of it. I’m sure that behind the fences, the granite, the high rooms with closed doors, behind the monolithic face of it all, and behind the strange and secret order that directs how council is spread and digested amongst the leaders of the church; there exists a group of men with subtly differing opinions. I’m sure there are more than a handful of those men who truly understand how difficult it is for homosexuals in the church. Men blessed with more pragmatism than idealism and a willingness to assert so when they can.

But with gay rights, change in the church is most likely to happen when concessions are made due to pressure from inside and/or outside the church (and most likely coupled with leadership changes). If you’re reading this blog chances are you have your own experience with family members having to deal with you or a loved one coming out to them as well as the accompanying struggle they have as they work out what that means for them and their beliefs.
This is the fight, as it exists within the church. It’s virtually the same fight that we all have gone through (or are going through) as we struggle to resolve our beliefs with our own sexuality.


Therefore…what?

People with the most extreme positions against the gay movement are more than likely people without any close connection to a homosexual. In my opinion, the most effective thing we can do to effect change is to be open about ourselves. As Harvey Milk said:

“...Gay brothers and sisters,...You must come out. Come out...to your parents...I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives. ..come out to your friends...if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors...to your fellow workers...to the people who work where you eat and shop...come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake.”

Along those lines (and albeit for me to argue a conservative stance), too often it’s the most extreme LGBTs that are at the forefront of the fight for gay rights while the vast majority of homosexuals living a comparatively conservative life are hugging the walls…

It’s unfortunate, but the people who have the most to give towards this fight in Utah are usually the ones with the most to loose.

3 comments:

El Genio said...

Welcome back! This post is so true. After watching Milk I made the promise to myself that I will not sit by and let another prop 8 happen. I haven't come out yet, but hopefully i have set things into motion so that it can happen soon.

Andrew S said...

I guess this isn't necessarily the point, but I seem to be really happy with the way you presented things (don't worry; I also enjoyed the actual content of the post). The contrast between a world where the church doesn't give in and a world where it does...very evenhanded. I would like to read more.

J.C. Coleman said...

sir we mormons speak the truth and have you noticed not one natural thing has harmed one of our temples. if you are so sure we're wrong I challenge you to read the book of mormon, doctrine and covenants and the pearl of great price.
I'd like to bear my testimony to you i know my church is true. That Joseph Smith actually saw The Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I also know that ALL of our prophets are true. I believe that each of our prophets from the bible, book of mormon, and pearl of great price are real prophets. That latter day prophets are true to. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.




sir visit www.lds.org