I thought this was a thought provoking shit people say YouTube video. It highlights a lot of stereotypes people have about gay men. My favorits is when the girl is talking to her boyfriend on the phone and says “He’s probably more attracted to you than he is to me.”
Some argue the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was designed to target The Pirate Bay (if you want to read the Wikipedia page, click stop on your browser before the blackout page loads). The truth is, new behavior develops when you suppress behavior, a simple fact that science has demonstrated time and time again. This means that if The Pirate Bay is targeted and shut down, they will find ways around the law; new technology will develop in response. One website argued legislation like this is free advertisement, does not result in a decrease in infringement, and sites are usually back up and running within a short period of time.
What are the consequences if SOPA or PIPA pass? No one really knows what will happen but it probably won’t be good. Everyone should let their senators and reps know if they don’t like SOPA and PIPA. Wikipedia has made it easy to contact your legislators. Just go to their page (link) and enter your zip code for their contact info. For those in Utah, just follow this link; you can call, email, or Tweet. Tie up their phone lines; letting your representatives and senators know you disagree with SOPA and PIPA will be an important step in preventing some pretty crazy legislation from becoming law.
An author at The Student Review, “an independent paper revival,” claims the BYU Honor Code restricts religious freedom. He makes a compelling case, quoting Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Joseph Smith, the LDS Church’s founder. I think I might agree but I would describe the Honor Code more as means BYU uses to control behavior rather than restrict freedom. Interesting points were brought up recently in discussions on Facebook. BYU students sign a contract to follow the Honor Code while pursuing their education at BYU, and the Honor Code (per The Student Review) says you have to be in “good standing” to graduate from the university. Education at BYU is, in some sense, subsidized by LDS church tithes and donations; is it fair that someone enters as a Mormon, uses money donors think is going to the Mormon cause, and graduates as something other than a Mormon? I’m not really sure, but I think the author of the article brings up valid points worth discussing and considering.
The author concludes with a quote from Joseph Smith:
“…the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves”
Regardless of whether I agree, I guess I’ll stand by BYU’s (a private institution) right to enforce rules it sees necessary so I can maintain my freedom to worship how, where, or what I may–or not. Is it too much to ask that BYU/the Church, in their efforts to squelch religious freedom at BYU, not over step their bounds to restrict my freedoms?
H. David Burton signed his name to the letter Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods that Stand and Fall Together for the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter Day Saints. The letter is written to incite “people of good will” to stand against marriage equality. Who are people of good will? I guess they are the people who stand against marriage equality, and it sounds like you’re not a person of good will if you stand behind marriage equality.
The letter also seems to strip gay couples of titles that would make them appear to be similar to straight couples. For example, notice the quotation marks in these sentences:
…Religious employers who provide special health benefits to married employees would be required by law to extend those benefits to same-sex “spouses”…
…So, for example, religious adoption services that place children exclusively with married couples would be required by law to place children with persons of the same sex who are civilly “married”…
Why do I care? They’re just words. Spouse. Marriage. They don’t mean much. Or do they? To me, this is reminiscent of the argument for separate but equal status: it segregates Dan and me from the rest of society–not only can we not get married, we aren’t allowed to refer to ourselves as being married. That’s something only straight, awesome people can do. When conversing with religious people, they sometimes deliberately avoid the use of words like marriage and spouse or husband and stammer for a word they feel is an appropriate middle ground (i.e., is separate but totally equal). It’s like when LDS Church president Gordon B. Hinckley referred to gays and lesbians as “so-called” gays and lesbians.
They’re just words, so I won’t be offended by them.
But other people seem to care about the words used to refer to them so maybe I should care. Remember when Robert Jefress called Mormonism a cult? And said Mormons aren’t Christian (i.e., don’t believe in Christ)? Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with Mormons repudiating his claims. Maybe Jefress was just stammering for words he feels are appropriate to separate his god-fearing religion from Mormonism. Here’s a refresher from Anderson Cooper.
They’re just words, and nothing should offend them.
Are “marriage” and “spouse” really just words? Linda Stay answered the question beautifully in this clip from 8: The Mormon Proposition. Her son married in California (before gay marriage was overturned), and she shared her thoughts about what that marriage did for her son’s relationship.
Words are powerful, especially the word marriage. Denying others the opportunity to use the word is also powerful and is not without its consequences.
What do Michelle and Marcus Bachmann, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ann Coulter, and Fox News have in common? They made it on Lamba Legal’s Shit Homophobic People Say YouTube video. My favorite was Ann Coulter’s description of angry gays: they’re not born gay, they’re just angry at their fathers and out to cause problems for people.
Years ago I participated in an online discussion forum for members of the LDS Church who “struggle” with “same-sex” or “same-gender attraction”. A member of the discussion forum shared an epiphany with the group that went something like this (not an exact quote):
I finally understand. The reason God has asked his prophets [leaders of the LDS Church] to speak out against same-sex marriage is because if same-sex marriage is allowed then God’s children will have fewer families to be born into.
To set the stage a little, not all faithful members of the LDS Church agree with the movement to stop same-sex marriage from becoming legal, and this is particularly true among faithful members of the Church who identify as gay, lesbian, and same-sex or same-gender attracted. I was met with some hostility when I pointed out the epiphany wasn’t logical. I think I was accused of being apostate because I didn’t agree with the logic.
I understand the author was likely speaking of the possibility that if gay marriage becomes legal, then quite possibly some men (gay) and women (lesbian) who would otherwise pursue opposite-sex marriages might pursue same-sex marriages instead. But the argument isn’t really logical because whether or not same-sex marriage is legal, straight couples (at least the ones who can and choose to along with the few accidentals) will continue to have children. In other words, the number of existing straight relationships will probably not increase of decrease when already existing gay relationships are legally recognized. Maybe there’s something I’m not understanding, so please comment if you would like to add to the discussion.
While discussing this on Facebook, someone pointed out the same argument (quoted above). I really like the response a friend made to this argument (minus Katy Perry being spoken of in bad light):
[Kim Kardashian, Sinead O’Connor, and Katy Perry] each publicly married and then publicly divorced in really short time (72 days, 18ish days, and a year or something like that). Those people threaten and destroy the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of families. I’m not sure how you and Dan’s committed relationship affect my relationship with my spouse or theoretical children or the sanctity of my marriage.
Why is this discussion relevant? Dan talked about this in a beautiful post about my family and how relationships are often challenged because of the teaching of principle of tough love. Perhaps “tough love” is destroying families more than my relationship to Dan is destroying families. An anonymous blogger shared his fear that as the Church continues to argue that gay relationships are destroying families, families with a gay member will continue to be destroyed. Perhaps lobbying against certain kinds of families is destroying families. Years ago I participated in a discussion with a family who lost a family member to suicide. The note the family member left suggested he committed suicide due to the Church’s participation in the political process and ensuing discussions that took place within the walls LDS chapels. They were brought to tears when they talked about what it was like when they learned the Church was advocating for Prop. 8 and encouraging members of the Church to get involved. They worried that more gay Mormons would commit suicide. They were also deeply conflicted: they support the leaders of the LDS Church as their spiritual leaders but they also lost a child because of the Church’s involvement.
This discussion is also relevant because Republican presidential candidates are making similar arguments. Freedom to Marry asserted that Perry, Romney, and Gingrich (respectively) “declared that committed couples wanting to marry are part of a war against religion”, adoption agencies would be shut down if they don’t adopt out to same-sex couples, and that it is not possible to comprehend gay families as families so “we want to make it possible to have those things that are most intimately human between friends”. Rick Santorum is the poster child for the Republican party claiming he will forcibly divorce gay married couples.
Maybe the real threats to religious freedom, family, and child birth are not gay couples, but the people fighting against gay couples. In other words, maybe fighting against my freedoms decreases your freedoms: you can still have babies and go to church while Dan and I go to school, pay our bills, and file our (separate-but-equal) tax returns.
Finally, this discussion is relevant because, let’s be honest, the arguments against same-sex marriage aren’t really about adoption rights, the first amendment, or even tradition, as Cary Crall posited in BYU’s Daily Universe (which, of course, was later pulled from the paper). Crall asked what it’s all about and asserted:
The real reason is that a man who most of us believe is a prophet of God told us to support the amendment. We must accept this explanation, along with all its consequences for good or ill on our own relationship with God and his children here on earth. Maybe then we will stop thoughtlessly spouting reasons that are offensive to gays and lesbians and indefensible to those not of our faith.
If it is your belief that God doesn’t want same-sex marriage, come out of the closet and say so. I’m okay with that. You must also realize that even if that is your belief, we live in a pluralistic society; not everyone shares your beliefs and it is not okay to require that everyone uphold your beliefs. If same-sex marriage becomes legal, you can still have babies and go to church.
In a not-so-recent discussion with a friend I was asked about my past (a true-believing Mormon or TBM) and how I got to where I am now (partnered to someone of the same sex). That’s not an easy question to answer but I’ll do my best to answer this question. My assumption is many who read my blog have this same question. And before I answer this question I’d like to openly state that my purpose in explaining these things is not recruit any one to my way of thinking; it’s merely to explain for those who would like to understand. Hopefully it will also explain how other people also get from point A to point B in their own “spiritual journeys”.
To start, I’ll take you down memory lane. Around my 18th birthday is when my spiritual journey started. Growing up in Utah, the religion to which I was exposed was the Mormon church. Due to the passing of a family member, I began to take religion more seriously: Is there life after death? Will I be with my family in the after life? Am I worthy to live with them in the Celestial Kingdom? Those are the questions I asked, and I decided the answers to questions were an emphatic yes and subsequently served a full-time mission for the LDS Church. I was called to the Baltic Mission (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), served two years, and loved almost about everything about it (at the time). More on that later.
In preparation to serve, I went through the temple in Logan Utah. I think this is when my first doubts about religion began. Sitting in the temple ceremony I asked, “What in the world have I gotten myself into?” I felt like I had hopped on the wrong bus and it was taking me somewhere I wasn’t sure I wanted to go. My main concern was the subordination of women to men and the realization that LDS women will probably never be equal in status to LDS men. If I marry a woman in an LDS temple one day, could I ask her to submit to me? And would I be okay with my role as a mediator between her and God — that her relationship with God would be defined not as a direct relationship with God but her relationship to me as I sort of shield her from God. Another concern was the fact that I couldn’t get up and leave without being stigmatized and without embarrassing my family or letting them down.
You see, social pressure is a huge part of Mormonism. I couldn’t acknowledge my true feelings about that experience for fear of being kicked out, both in the literal sense of being kicked out of the temple and in the metaphorical sense of being rejected by Mormons. Actually, I did acknowledge my thoughts to a few close friends shortly after going through the temple for the first time. They asked, “So, what was it like?” and I resisted expected responses like “I felt like I was home” or “I felt so close to heaven”. I said, “I had a testimony of the Church until now.” As another blogger explained, the LDS Church is really good at enforcing social expectations to keep everyone “in the bounds of ‘acceptable’ behavior”. He speculated that the LDS Church provides a place of community (but you have to give up individuality to fit in). So, to fit in, I didn’t talk about those feelings with any one else. I didn’t want to lose friends; good friends are hard to find.
My experience in the Church continued to be one of living up to social expectations. That’s just how it seems to works. As a missionary, I tried to live up to the expectation of being a challenging and testifying missionary. My very first day in the mission field I was challenged by someone from another faith. My testimony about my church was met by the testimony from someone else about her church; she spoke with as much conviction as me. The solution other missionaries seemed to use was to speak down on members of other religions: “He’s such a good person. Too bad he’s Lutheran; he won’t make it to heaven.” As a lay service member of my local congregation (post-mission), I continued to live up to social expectations despite not really feeling all the things I was supposed to be feeling about the Church.
What was I supposed to be feeling? No one really seems to know. It’s not science. You’ll just know when you feel it. Boyd K. Packer claimed it’s just like trying to explain what salt tastes like:
Such an idea came into my mind and I said to the atheist, “Let me ask if you know what salt tastes like.”
“Of course I do,” was his reply.
“When did you taste salt last?”
“I just had dinner on the plane.”
“You just think you know what salt tastes like,” I said.
He insisted, “I know what salt tastes like as well as I know anything.”
“If I gave you a cup of salt and a cup of sugar and let you taste them both, could you tell the salt from the sugar?”
“Now you are getting juvenile,” was his reply. “Of course I could tell the difference. I know what salt tastes like. It is an everyday experience—I know it as well as I know anything.”
“Then,” I said, “assuming that I have never tasted salt, explain to me just what it tastes like.”
After some thought, he ventured, “Well-I-uh, it is not sweet and it is not sour.”
“You’ve told me what it isn’t, not what it is.”
My friend, spiritually speaking, I have tasted salt. I am no more able to convey to you in words how this knowledge has come than you are to tell me what salt tastes like.
And that’s the whole crux of Mormonism: it’s true because you just know it is even though you can’t really explain how or why. But as a Mormon you can’t stop there. You then have the responsibility to share what you know with others (even if you don’t really know). Packer continued:
Oh, if I could teach you this one principle. A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it! Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that “leap of faith,” as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two.
My service in the Church was exactly that: me telling others what I knew to be true before I ever felt or believed it was true. That is the part of the mission experience I didn’t like. As Viktor Frankl contended, it seemed my whole mission experience was “depict[ing]…God as a being who is primarily concerned with being believed in by the greatest possible number of believers, and along the lines of a specified creed at that” (Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning, p. 17). Those experiences didn’t stop there, however. I continued my service in the Church for several years after returning home from missionary service. I continued to tell people I knew things I didn’t really believe hoping to have the promised experiences.
So what do I believe now?
Saying that one religion is true is like saying that one point in the evolutionary history of a species is “true.” religions are cultural institutions and as such are subject to eventual and gradual change as they adapt. Those members of the religion that hold counter-productive views will not spread those beliefs and those that have effective, pro-social views will pass on the traits of their religion. This is how a religion, like a species, evolves (B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, p 128).