g Mormons for gay marriage: It's all about the foundation - Believe and Know

Mormons for gay marriage: It's all about the foundation

30 April 2015

Not long ago, I published a post entitled Why it's not okay for Mormons to support gay marriage legalization. Not surprisingly, only a few minutes had passed before some members began responding, informing me that I was in error, and telling me why.

Now, I have this naive, off-the-wall, belief that when it comes down to it, most people actually aren't crazy. I believe the majority of humanity to be logical, reasonable human beings-- that we will usually generally arrive at the same conclusion if we're given the same premises, the same foundation. 

So, I cringe when I hear people saying someone they disagree with is "stupid" or "crazy" or "not thinking straight." From what I've seen, our disagreements are not a problem of faulty thought processes, but of having different foundations. And we spend far too much time arguing about our differing conclusions when we should be discussing those differing foundations. 

For that reason, you will never hear me argue that gay marriage advocates are airheads with no ability to reason. After reading and re-reading the arguments they sent me after my last post, I can honestly say their logic is sound and makes sense... but only if you reject the truths and principles (the foundation) that we have been taught ever since Primary.

Here are the principles/truths that make up my foundation for this issue:

  1. We have covenanted to follow God
    At baptism when we joined the Church, we made a covenant with God that we would "serve him and keep his commandments... at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death" (Mosiah 18:10).
  2. Church leaders speak for God
    God has commanded us to obey to the words of our Prophet and Apostles "as if from [His] own mouth, in all patience and faith" (D&C 21:5). By extension, what is spoken by the Church leaders when they teach us qualifies as Scripture and as commandment from Jesus Christ. As the hymn teaches, we "listen to a prophet's voice, and hear the word of God" (Hymn 21).
  3. They have instructed us to defend traditional marriage
    The leadership of the Church "unequivocally affirms that marriage should remain the lawful union of a man and a woman." Further, they have commanded us to defend it, even through legislation and the political process.
That's my foundation for this issue. All Church members should recognize it. The Apostle Paul called it, "the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Eph 2:20). If you build on that foundation, here's the conclusion you inevitably arrive at for this issue:

I have a covenant duty as a disciple of Christ and as a member of His Church to defend traditional marriage as He has commanded through His Prophet and Apostles.

I think most everyone would agree that there is no way to accept those that foundation (those three principles) as absolutely true without arriving at that same conclusion. On the other hand, I freely acknowledge that if any of those premises are not completely true, then the entire conclusion crumbles. 

So, gay marriage proponents in the Church must attack that foundation. It's simply the only recourse left to them to justify their position. There is no way to actively oppose the Church and its efforts in this issue otherwise. 

To illustrate, here the most common arguments I have heard from their side to date. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are the main themes that they have made to try and justify their position:

  1. When the Prophet and Apostles speak against gay marriage (or encourage us to get politically involved in defending traditional marriage), they are not actually acting as prophets, seers, and revelators on that issue, so we're not under the same obligation to obey.
  2. The Prophet didn't say "Thus saith the Lord" when He instructed us to defend marriage, so it's not actually revelation or from God [and all the times we are told he doesn't have to say "Thus saith the Lord" are wrong].
  3. Blacks were denied the Priesthood. Polygamy was discontinued. So, history shows that Church leaders don't really speak for the Lord all the times they say they do.
  4. The Church leaders are just expressing their opinions and clinging to their old prejudices. The Church is behind the times, clinging to false tradition because it just doesn't know any better yet.
  5. Gay marriage is OK. We just haven't received the revelation that gay marriage is OK yet because the majority of members aren't ready for it.
  6. We have to apply social pressure to the leadership of the Church in order for them to be ready to receive the revelation the gay marriage is OK.
  7. A phrase in recent interview with Elder Christofferson [which I'll address in another post] can be sort of interpreted to mean that it's fine to support gay marriage despite the Church.
Mormon Gay marriage proponents:

I hope I have accurately summarized the arguments you sent me, and correctly portrayed what you have expressed to be your foundation-- the real point where you and I disagree.

I find it notable that in almost all the arguments you use to attack my foundation, you skip straight past the Scriptures, skirt around the teachings of modern-day prophets, and instead go straight into questionable quotes from Journal of Discourses and speculative theories on Church history, while harping on the issues of the priesthood ban and polygamy again and again to make your points.

In that sense, your arguments are strongly nostalgic of my mission, where I faced countless anti-Mormons who told me the same stories you tell, recite the the same JD quotes you parrot, and hammer at the same arguments you drive. All of this, to accomplish the same goal you are striving for now: to justify a position against the Church and its leaders by knocking down the foundation of Apostles and Prophets who speak for God. In other words, to turn the Church from "the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth" (D&C 1:30) into just another good organization led by men.

Now, I grant that the leaders of the Church are not perfect men. I even acknowledge that perhaps their personal theories might accidentally slip into a Conference talk from time to time. You could probably take some words from any single General Authority and make a compelling case for why those words may not technically be Scripture per se. Fair points.

But would God allow all of His spokesmen to preach in unison from His pulpit, to spend His tithe dollars on, and to drag His Church into severe political disfavor and to rally His entire Kingdom to stand behind the standard of mere opinion or personal prejudice?

That's where you and I really disagree. I believe that answer is no. The brethren have told us that answer is no. I believe the Lord has promised that answer is no. 

This blog post is as much for me as for anyone else. I will confess that I personally don't fully understand why God wants us to be so actively involved in what seems to be a losing moral battle with society over an issue that is so complicated and so sensitive that it is hard to draw a clear line with mortal reasoning. I can't fully wrap my head around that right now.

But here's the key: I'm OK with not knowing that complete answer just yet. For the time being, it is sufficient for me just to know that the answer does in fact exist, and that I will understand it completely one day.

But what I do believe and know today is that this is the 100% true Church, led 100% by Jesus Christ, through men who are 100% Apostles and Prophets, called 100% by God.

I understand that many of you don't fully believe that right now-- especially regarding the issue of gay marriage. We all acknowledge that "same-sex attraction is a sensitive issue that requires kindness, compassion and understanding."
Everyone is at different points along the path, with different strengths and weaknesses in testimony, and we have to be careful about that. 

Also, it's fine to have concerns, and to admit when things don't make sense yet. I know the media likes to make it look like the Church excommunicates anyone who has doubts about doctrines or social issues and labels them as apostates. But if you look at the handbook and actually talk to a Bishop or Stake President, you will find that the Church's standard for what constitutes all-out apostasy is pretty darn high. 

You who simply disagree with the Church about gay marriage likely won't be excommunicated. You probably won't face a disciplinary council, or have your temple recommend revoked (Just look at Senator Harry Reid, who, despite being squarely against the Church on this issue, nevertheless has a strong enough testimony to share it with others and recently baptized another Senator).

But know this: if we willfully and continually reject the warnings from the Lord's Prophet and Apostles (on this or any other issue), we are ultimately rejecting Jesus Christ. And He is the "sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall" (Hel. 5:12). 

If we reject that foundation, we are left with one alternative. And the alternative foundation is only sure of one thing-- inevitable collapse, "and great must be the fall thereof" (2 Ne. 28:18).

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