UU Mormon

Archive for February 2010

NinjaBoy told me this story about his RE class today:

Once upon a time, the earth had ten suns. They burned the crops so Houyi shot down nine of the suns with his bow.  As a reward he was given a pill that would grant eternal life, but he was supposed to fast for twelve months before taking the pill.  Houyi hid the pill in the rafters, where his wife Chang’e found it and swallowed it.  When Houyi came home, Chang’e started to float and flew up to the moon.  When she got to the moon she spit out the pill and it turned into a jade rabbit.  She built a palace on the moon, and Houyi built a palace on the sun.  Once a year Houyi visits his wife on the full moon.

I don’t know if this is the 100% correct story, but I was impressed that he came up with such a cohesive tale from memory hours later.  It’s like he was listening or something.

There were cookies.  NinjaBoy didn’t try them.  Because the teacher said they were kind of like gingerbread.

Butterfly came to the worship service with me, which was put on by the high schoolers. It was about their take on love, and I think Butterfly particularly enjoyed a skit about how love manifests itself in a typical high school day (ranging from PDAs to donations to Haiti relief), along with music and talks and ending up with “All You Need is Love”.  My favorite bit was where one young man said something to the effect that love is a lot like religion — nobody really knows what they’re doing, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep talking about it.

What I wouldn’t give to hear every religion in the world concede that point.  None of us has all the answers, none of us knows anything with complete certainty, we just need to keep talking and thinking.  What a refreshing idea.

I’ve been a fan of Orson Scott Card for many years.  I’ve enjoyed his books, read his columns and forums, and gotten great recommendations from him (it’s thanks to him I discovered my beloved Firefly).  I’ve tended to steer clear of his political posts though, because they’re so strident, even to the point of arrogance.  It’s always amazed me how indisputably right he believes he is.

One of the things that Card knows he is unquestionably right about is that our society’s viability depends on its basis in the 1950s style nuclear family.

American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.

Part of protecting marriage is making sure that LGBT people understand that they don’t have a valid place in society and must suppress or hide their sexuality.

Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those whoflagrantly [sic] violate society’s regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.

The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity’s ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.

So should gays become accepted in our culture or gain rights to marriage, it would fracture stable families and lead to the collapse of our society.  We would be left to flounder in the same social chaos as, say, Canada.  Or Belgium.

Honestly, I never gave gay marriage much thought before Proposition 8, and my support for gay rights was actually a byproduct of the main issue that I had with that whole fiasco.  See, what upset me, primarily, was that the church leaders invoked their authority as God’s spokesmen to influence a civil election.

Initially I tried to defend the church.  “The prophet didn’t tell people to vote for prop 8,” I said, “He just encouraged them to vote for it and donate their time and money…”  As my husband then pointed out, what’s the difference? He’s the Prophet.  You obey the Prophet.  Every child in Primary knows that much.  It made me uncomfortable to think that there might have been people out there who voted for something they wouldn’t have otherwise, who gave money to a cause they wouldn’t have supported, who went door to door and made phone calls because their church leaders told them to, not because they were inspired to by their political convictions. Especially since I heard church members express ambivalence with phrases like “I don’t see what the harm would be in allowing them to marry, but church leaders say…” and “I know I’m supposed to be against gay marriage…”

A recent column by Card in the Mormon Times talks about a group of young people who were active in the campaign for Proposition 8. He says they were raised to reject bigotry, and many had close friends who were gay. He compares the pain they underwent in supporting prop 8 with that of Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac.

To their friends, these young Latter-day Saints seemed like any other bigots, and friendships ended or were severely damaged. Sometimes harder to bear was the self-questioning, for during their many phone calls to strangers, they ran across vehement supporters of Proposition 8 who were haters and bigots.

What am I doing on the same side of the issue as these pitiable people, these young single Saints asked themselves.

Yet they had faith in the gospel, in the prophets, in the “Proclamation on the Family.” And they acted on that faith, at great personal cost.

I am not wrong to compare them, or some of them at least, with Abraham, who was asked to violate everything he had fought for by sacrificing his son, or with the early church members who were shocked to find that they were expected to practice plural marriage.

These young people sacrificed friendships, some of their values, maybe even their consciences.  For the sake of obedience.

Card finds this praiseworthy.  If it’s true, I find it tragic.  And scary.  Do we really place so much value on obedience that it’s a virtue to do something that we believe is wrong because a certain group of men says it’s God’s will?

When my own state had a mean-spirited marriage amendment on the ballot I was relieved that it didn’t get any attention from the church (probably because they figured it would pass easily, which it did). No statements were read from the pulpit, so I was free to vote my conscience.  Yes, I actually believed that the “right” thing to do would be to vote however the church wanted me to, even if I disagreed with their position.  I don’t think I would have changed my vote; I think I would have still voted my conscience, but I certainly would have felt guilty about it.  And if I had voted the way I had been told to, voted for something I felt was wrong, I certainly would have felt guilty about that too.

I’ve been told by some (probably — hopefully — not representative) church members that if your conscience tells you something that is in opposition to what the Prophet says, then you’re in error and have been deceived by Satan.  So don’t trust what your heart tells you about right and wrong, listen to the Prophet.  And if it turns out that the Prophet tells you to do something that is wrong, he will bear the responsibility for it, not you, so you’re covered.

Think through that line of reasoning for a bit.  And imagine if 5 million people in the United States actually believed it and applied it beyond personal belief issues to political and social action.

Prop 8 has been nearly as controversial and polarizing within the church as without.  The church’s position has caused contention within wards, it has caused shame in church members, it has inspired acts of defiance by local leaders. All of which I find reassuring.  It means people are thinking.  Some may have sacrificed their consciences, but many others — on both sides of the issue — haven’t.

And that’s far more virtuous than obedience for its own sake.