10.12.2008

Yes for Marriage (for everyone)

Speaking of all the negative feedback I got on the earlier entry about romance, the last time I got so much negative feedback was a couple years ago when the First Presidency released a statement encouraging members to politically oppose gay marriage. Because I feel so strongly about this subject I began writing as many posts as I could in support of gay marriage and against the Church's opposition to it. I got a lot of negative feedback. Which surprised me. But election time is coming up, and a couple states (I know California and Arizona, perhaps others) have measures about gay marriage again and the church has issued statements and included articles in the most recent ensign encouraging members to oppose gay marriage again. I thought it would be an appropriate time to re-post some of the things I had written before.

It is not that I think that by posting this I will influence anything. Or anyone. I imagine anyone who be persuaded by what I am posted already agrees with me. But it is worth a shot:

We keep hearing that the institution of marriage is suffering, but how so? While it is true divorce rates are higher than many years ago, divorce rates are actually decreasing. The percentage of marriages ending in divorce peaked in 1980 at 41 percent, and have slowly declined resting at 31 percent since 2002. While it is true people are marrying later in life, still 90% are expected to marry in their lifetimes. Besides, studies show marrying later in life slightly decreases likelihood of divorce, so is this even bad?
Aside from this, how in the world would homosexual marriage affect this in anyway? How would preventing homosexual marriages benefit society or marriage? It is not as if preventing homosexual marriage would somehow influence homosexuals to enter into heterosexual relationships, and even if it did, that is not something desirable since most homosexuals attempting heterosexual marriage almost all end with a poor outcome.
What do those opposed to same sex marriage expect of homosexuals? Two options: remain celibate and so unfulfilled for an entire life, or marry heterosexually and remain unfulfilled for an entire life. For what purpose? So people can have in their minds a concept called marriage that does not allow people with attractions different than their own to also call their monogamous lifetime relationships marriage? That is requiring an enormous sacrifice of people just to feel comfortable knowing that the name you attach to your relationship is not also allowed to be attached to those in homosexual relationships.
Imagine being told you had to either had to enter a homosexual relationship and marry someone of your same gender, or remain celibate your entire life. Imagine how awful a scenario that would be for you. But is it any different for homosexuals being told to marry someone their body is not innately attracted?
Of course this raises the issue of if homosexuality is a conscious choice of individuals or a part of a person’s biology they are not able to control. The evidence is overwhelming in favor of the biological position. (as well as a few environmental factors, more so for female homosexuality than male) even BYU biology professor William Bradshaw acknowledges the overwhelming data in favor of homosexuality being a biological trait. These are some of the reasons I am opposed to the marriage protection amendment and feel we should all oppose the church’s support of it.
One might say: “Homosexuality is a choice. Not to say that there may not be biological tendencies toward it, just like a person may be genetically predisposed toward alcoholism or other things. They may be. But it is still a choice.” I would respond: While I agree that engaging in homosexual acts is a choice, I think it is unfair to compare the urge towards homosexuality with alcoholism or any similar vice. Our sexuality is a very fundamental desire within us. So is our desire to pair exclusively with a partner and can be very important for a person's psychological well-being. Studies indicate that in men sexuality is not a sliding scale as it often is in women; it tends to be either one way or the other. Straight or gay, as illustrated by a study published in the New York Times, July fifth of 2005. If homosexual men were 60% gay and 40% straight, or if homosexual men felt some compulsion to other men, but could also be attracted to and satisfied by females then perhaps I could agree with this point. But if one takes seriously the claims of that study and if one reads homosexuals describe their homosexuality this is not the case. Some homosexual men describe their experiences with women as being repulsive (especially after having been with another man, probably similar to what many men feel towards other men). I once dated a girl who had dated a homosexual. He described kissing her as being like kissing his sister. Also studies indicate that people who are 'cured' of their homosexuality through therapy almost always revert back to homosexuality within a short period of time. So I believe saying a person should be compelled to be in a relationship that is sexually repulsive, like kissing a sister, is far different than saying a person should live their lives without large amounts of alcohol.

A person also might argue “so when will it stop, if you allow people to marry those of their same gender, what comes next? People marrying animals or children?” I feel this is also an unfair comparison. A person who is attracted to animals or children is still capable of having fulfilling romantic relationships with a person their same age and species.

I hope in one hundred years we look back at the church's teachings on same sex marriage the same way we look back now at the church's teachings on interracial marriage:
"Shall I tell you of the law of God in regards to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty under the law of God is death on the spot. This will always be so" (Brigham Young, Journal Of Discourses 10:110)

That quote by Brigham Young may be pretty shocking to our modern ears, but it is important to put it in the proper historical context. Even as late as the 1920's forty-two states still banned inter-racial marriage. In Brigham young's day inter-racial marriage was probably as offensive to many people as same-sex marriage is to religious people today. This is an example of something common, a cultural value being placed in a religious framework and given a moral implication.
I think the great value that comes from studying history and other cultures is learning about things, that to us seem inherently evil or sacred can be products of our cultural expectations. For example something as offensive as sexual relations between a teenage male and a prepubescent male is actually an important daily ritual in one New Guinea society.
It is nearly impossible to step outside of one's own cultural framework and see things objectively. Studying history and cultures gives us an opportunity to see values very different than our own and, if we allow ourselves to be open, cause us to question the merits of our own traditions.
I could well be wrong on this point, but I cannot help but feel our church's opposition to same-sex marriage is not very much different than it’s former opposition to interracial marriage. It can take a long time for new ideas to spread from the intellectuals and bohemians to mainstream society, and frequently religious institutions are the very last to embrace such reforms. Slowly our church is coming to accept what science is showing and gratefully no longer urging homosexuals to marry heterosexually in an effort to overcome their homosexuality. Our children will grow up in a society where these ideas are common, how many steps away from this is allowing same-sex marriage?
What do I mean when I say I believe the church should and may one day allow same sex marriages? Do I mean the church should allow temple marriages of same-sex couples? Perhaps, but not necessarily. Not necessarily even sanction same-sex marriages within their chapels, but at the very least, allow people in committed same-sex relationships full fellowship within the church.
I realize that marriage is a fundamental part of church doctrine and to allow same-sex couples to marry would seemingly be denying them of the blessings taught about eternal progression, but with the church's recent shift in policy, no longer encouraging homosexuals to marry heterosexually, in acknowledgement of the enormous divorce rates when such marriages are attempted, homosexuals are already being denied enormous blessings on this earth. Something I believe is far too difficult a thing to ask of most people, and is unnecessarily alienates the homosexual population from our church.

There is a historical precedent for god allowing people to live lesser laws when the higher laws are not able to be achieved. For example the laws of Moses instead of Christ's new covenants, or the law of tithing instead of the law of consecration.
So why not allow homosexuals to live a sort of lesser law? Grant them permission to marry one another while on this earth, and retain the blessings of church membership, and if it is the case that after this life they then have heterosexual attractions, well, church doctrine allows for them to be sealed to someone of the opposite sex for eternity after death.
Although marriage for eternity is a key part our doctrine, it is not always necessary for this life. A person can even be sealed for time only within the temple. Many may see this as sacrilegious, but why not allow a homosexual, for time only, temple sealing?
Members may also feel at conflict because of the first presidencies recent statements in opposition to gay marriage. Feeling that as a church member it is their responsibility to follow this council. In (some year i can't remember) the first presidency issued a statement in opposition to an amendment which would require citizens to join unions, but later rescinded this statement because of popular opposition by church members. Illustrating first presidency statements are not necessarily inspired, and do not claim to be, but are often merely the opinion of the first presidency.

I realize the proclamation on the family may seem like an insurmountable challenge to this notion. In 1875 the church published the Proclamation on the Economy (note this is not speaking of the united order but of secular governments) that is no longer something sustained by the church (though I wish it was!) To Illustrated that even something like a proclamation signed by the twelve and first presidency can fall into disuse.

Arizona:

Arizona - Vote No On Proposition 102 - Again!

California:


14 comments:

meg said...

i totally disagree with you. psych. i agree with you. one hundred percent. i wonder what juber thinks about all of this?

crystal said...

a few years ago i had a very strong reaction to some things you said about gay marriage! it is weird how emotional people (myself included) get concerning this topic. let the record show that i'm fully supportive of equal rights in gay/straight/tranny marriage. i'm also fully supportive of greater openness in talking about this subject, especially here in utah where people get so worked up!

chris almond said...

yeh, it is a pretty emotional topic. but i guess for understandable reasons. i am happy the record is showing your support!

Vincent said...

Yes, but the words homosexual and heterosexual did not exist before 1892.

I don't doubt that same sex attraction and practice is biologically based for a proportion of human beings, and may play a role in adolescence too.

Marriage however is domestication, whose biological justification is the rearing of children.

It's doubtless beneficial to society that sex of all kinds should be contained in monogamous relationships to inhibit the spread of disease.

My point really is that culturally the idea of gay marriage is a new thing, very shortlived so far in human history.

Those who call it "unnatural" are right in the sense that it hasn't arisen organically over millennia, but been claimed as a right by activists with an agenda. To this extent I can understand the emotional antipathy to it; especially from parents, whose desire for grandchildren is probably more Darwinian than religious.

If I were an elder with any political power, I would tend to drag my feet on the issue, not from any sense of revulsion but from greater respect for "the old ways". I would encourage gays to make permanent commitment to one another, for mutual benefit and society's too. But I would be most reluctant to call it marriage as if it were a simple choice.

maxeverything said...

I'm really glad you posted about this again. I think I had negative reaction to your post a few years ago, though I may not have commented... I can't remember. But, I totally agree with you now.

chris almond said...

vincent, may I suggest two book that may alter your perspective on the history of marriage?
one
The Way We Never Were.
two
Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage

Both Stephanie Coontz . who just happens to be a teacher at my school, though I did not know it when I read her books. Both books were incredibly informative to me, and altered my perspective of what is considered 'traditional' marriage a great deal. What we think of as 'traditional' marriage existed from about 1940's ish to 1960s-ish.

Vincent said...

What "we" think of as traditional marriage?

Oh no, include me out. I know about traditions long before that nuclear family stuff. Marriages arranged, concerned with property, someone to help the farmer on the remote moors, the manipulation of alliances, the desire for children, particularly sons ...

Family of multiple generations living in one house together with employees, servants, illegitimate adopted nephews & nieces, waifs, strays, orphans and foundlings ...

Vincent said...

But please tell me why I should read your teacher's books!

Anonymous said...

You are wrong. Marriage is only between a man and a woman. You were taught that in primary.

chris almond said...

@anonymous
Was your comment a joke or for real?
Why would what I learned in primary have any bearing whatsoever on what I believe now?
I was also taught in primary that world is only 6000 years old. That the Native Americans descended from Hebrews (disproved by DNA). And many more untrue things. I guess I can't put too much trust in what I learned in primary.

chris almond said...

@ vincent.
I think i misread your first comments.

chris almond said...

@
anonymous
Why do you comment anonymously?

chris almond said...

@max.
it makes me so happy to hear you now agree with me!!!

carie said...

HI chris. i like how you compare interracial marriage of the early 20th century to gay marriage now.

Since Gay Marriage is this centuries civil rights issue, do you ever imagine that you are that fat girl from Hairspay marching with her black friends on the streets of Baltimore fighting for equal rights?

That's right.

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