Warning: Political rant coming up. I usually avoid this stuff as much as possible, since I think that everyone has a right to their own opinions and ideas. However, this one is bothering me.
Living in the Mormon capital of the world is interesting to me. Yes, I am LDS. But that doesn't make it any less weird. Strange things happen, and people protest for odd reasons.
The current issue is the passing of Proposition 8 in CA. In case you live under a rock, Prop 8 was a state constitutional amendment that says marriage is between a man and a woman. It was passed. People are upset that the LDS church spoke out and asked its members to support the passage of the amendment in any way they could, especially through the donation of money to the volunteers who were spreading the word about it. LDS members donated something like 70% of the money raised by the campaign, and thus we are being branded as evil and spreading hate. I have several issues with the arguments presented by the people protesting at the temples.
First of all, go here. It's the Church's response to all this hub-bub. For members, it's good to know when people ask us. For non-members, it is good to understand the other side of the issue.
1) The Church did nothing more than ask its members to stand up for what they believe in. It didn't tell them to give their time and money. They don't tell us to do anything. They don't force us to do anything. It is ultimately our choice, and some members chose to support it and some didn't. What is wrong with this?
2) One of the protesters on the news said something along the lines of "the church can enforce it's moral beliefs on its members, but has no right to force those beliefs on the rest of us." True. I agree. However, we were not the only ones voting. President Monson didn't go to California, put Gov. Arnold in a headlock, and make him sign the amendment. (Isn't that a funny mental image though?) It's called "the voice of the people" and the voice was overwhelmingly in support of marriage being between a man and a woman, otherwise, it would not have passed.
3) I think people have an idea already of what is right and what is wrong in their own minds and hearts, according to their own life. No amount of money donated to a campaign from any group is going to change your personal beliefs. So getting mad at an entire organization for supporting their beliefs is a little ridiculous.
I have a few other concerns that I would like to bring up, then I will shut up and not say anything else about this.
1) One of the concerns I have heard is that if an amendment were to be passed that said that marriage is between any two people of any gender arrangement, then our Church may be forced through legal actions to either perform those marriages, or stop performing marriages all-together (at least in this country). That would possibly mean the loss of our temples. Given the choice of losing our temples or performing marriages we believe to be fundamentally wrong, the church will close the temples. This is wrong. This is forcing us to do something, when we haven't forced anyone to do anything.
I think the ultimate answer to all of this is quite simple. Marriage needs to have two facets- the legally binding, governmental side (or civil union) that provides all the rights and privileges of marriage, and the religious side (or marriage) that provides any rights or privileges that your faith provides it. You can choose if you want either one or both. You could be married in the eyes of your church but not in the eyes of the law or unioned in the eyes of the law but not married from your church. There are plenty of applications for both scenarios. We already kind of have this, since you can get married in front of a judge instead of a priest, but I think it needs to be better defined. Then, same sex civil unions would be legal and they would be granted all the same rights as married heterogeneous couples have now. BUT, the religions could decide who to marry on their own. It might make a few more steps, but we already have to pick up our marriage licenses and then file them separately from the rest of our wedding ceremony, so it wouldn't be too big of a deal. And if you read the statement at the beginning, then you know that this would be acceptable from our standpoint and probably many other religions.
2) What really gets me is this: the Church has asked for respect and consideration for our viewpoint, while giving out respect for others viewpoints. Yet we never get it. We don't go protest same-sex marriages or when other churches have women preachers. Because you know what, everyone has a right to their own beliefs on right and wrong. But there are constantly protests at our functions- at our conferences, at our temples, in downtown Salt Lake anytime someone thinks we did something wrong. It gets really frustrating and is kind of sad. People accuse us of hate, when we have done nothing but offer love and respect.
Like I said before, I try to avoid this kind of stuff, but I felt a burning need to speak out on this. But now I am done.