Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gay Marriage and My Heart

Full disclosure:  I am Mormon and very active in my faith.  I am a registered republican, but have been known to cross party lines.  I have lived in Utah my entire life.

I mention those things because they may color my opinions.  I try to be well read.  I love sharing ideas and learning from others.  I like to challenge the status quo and ask why.

And I have struggled with the issue of gay marriage.

For years, when I was young, it was a cultural thing.  Everyone around me said it was wrong so it was wrong.  The people around me were good people; I could trust their judgment.  This was before the internet.  Before I started watching the news and participating in the political process.  Before I looked beyond my own little Happy Valley.  Before I really studied my own religion and developed my own religious beliefs.

As I have grown I have been exposed to different ideas and different people.  The internet has made our world smaller.  Sitting in my living room I can read the words and thoughts of people from any walk of life.  And I do.

And I still struggle.

My religion teaches that marriage is ordained of God and is a union between a man and a woman.  I believe this.  I wish that was enough.  I wish I could just say that's it and take a stand and be done with it.

But I can't.  My heart is torn.  I know too many good people who are gay or lesbian, people doing good things, living good lives.  People who love with all their heart, no matter who they love.  People I want my children to know and associate with.

My religion does not teach that being gay is a sin.  Many people think we do, but it's not the case.  My religion does teach that sexual relations outside of marriage are a sin.  Therefore, since a gay person cannot marry within our faith, a gay sexual relationship is considered a sin.

Sin or not, I don't believe it's my place to judge another person.  That would be pretty hypocritical.  I sin a lot.  I don't want others judging me for it.  Plus, it's just not the job of man to judge.  No matter how much we think we know about a situation, we don't know everything.  Only God does.  Only God should judge us.

I judge situations.  I judge actions.  I judge choices.  But only in regards to myself.  I judge whether a decision is right for me.  I judge whether I feel better about myself and the choices I make when I am with a certain person.  But I try not to ever write a person off for who they are or how they choose to live.

All of that said, I still struggle.

Religiously speaking, I still believe marriage is between a man and a woman.  That is my personal choice.

But I don't believe in choosing someone else's path.  I don't believe in forcing others to live the way I want.  I think legislating social issues is a dangerous thing.

I am a politically active person, but I don't want to have to take a stand on this.  I'm just still so torn.


I welcome discussion and even passionate dialogue on this topic.  However, hateful or abusive comments will be removed.


Foreverhja said...

This is something I have struggled with as well. In high school, some of my best friends were gay, and they were my friends, and I loved them anyway. I have a really hard time with legislature that takes away other people's rights to choose for themselves. I personally have no problem with other people choosing to be gay and live their lives that way, and to even marry. The issue I have is that their rights also infringe on my right, and the right of my chosen religion, to not allow gay marriages in our churches and temples. It's hard, but I think that President Obama making his stand yesterday, will turn this upcoming election into forcing us all to make a choice, for, or against. I think that's what it's all going to boil down to and all other issues are going to be ignored. It's frustrating.

Unknown said...

I struggle with this topic too. My sister's a lesbian and I know some really great gay people. One friend of mine has seven children with her wife, all were foster children first before they were able to adopt. There's no question in my mind that they're better off with them than they would be without them. Of course it would be even better if they had been able to be raised by a loving mom and dad, but since they weren't available, a loving mom and mom are the next best thing. So I find it very difficult to vote against such a marriage, when that marriage is keeping a loving family together.

Margy said...

Thanks for this post. I'm reading it as I'm waiting for a plane to fly to DC for my cousin Julie's wedding to her girlfriend Sherri. I love them both. I want only good things for them. I believe in freedom of conscience, but not just for conservative, religious people--it must be for everyone or it's no freedom at all. I don't believe their marriage precludes anyone from choosing the celestial marriage latter-day saints believe in.

It is heart wrenching to see us all divide over this.

Rubye Jack said...

Since I'm not religious, gay marriage presents no problem for me. I can understand a particular religion not wanting to allow gay marriage within their congregation or church or temple. My problem is when people try to put their beliefs on to others. If a gay couple wants to get married and their religion doesn't allow it, then perhaps they may want to re-examine why they live within that religion. They are always free to give it up.

I find it hard to understand really why others should care what gay people do. My assumption is they feel threatened in some way or why would they be scared. The thing is there is no need to feel threatened. I think this is an argument that should stay within churches and that the government should allow gay marriage. It's really kind of silly not to and I think we will look back in a few years and wonder what the problem was.

Also, perhaps God is really not as rigid as we tend to think he is. Is it possible that what we are told is sin, is not really sin and that the definition and/or meaning has been lost in translations and interpretations over the years.

As you know Robin, I don't "get" religion but I certainly respect your open mind and tolerance for those who think differently from you.

Bonnie said...

I know people who struggle with SSA and some who don't struggle with it all, but who live it. My heart goes out to them to live in a world that is so divided over their private lives. That said, I also know that I trust God, and I believe that his prophets speak truth when they say that this is such a fundamental issue that heaven and the eternities are in some ways structured around gender. Some things aren't easy, and Jesus himself said that we would be better off to go through life blind and halt than to allow things of eternal consequence to trip us up.

As to the issue of why it becomes a legislative issue, there is good reason. We all know wonderful, kind people, people who are better Christians and citizens than perhaps we are, who would be so happy married and such contributors to society. However those are not the people controlling the public agenda. Once upon a time, gay rights advocates wanted the freedom to marry and be left alone and we wouldn't listen. Now the most radical of them control the national conversation and they want much more. Members of our own faith are subject to hate crimes prosecution for preaching from the pulpit that homosexual activity is a sin, our bishops and stake presidents are subject to prosecution for denying temple recommends to those who would be married in temples, and our church would be attacked in courts for its stance on homosexuality - all if gay marriage becomes legal. That is not what our good LGBT friends want, but that is what we will all get. Unfortunately, the wingnuts are controlling the conversation nationally. We need to step forward and insist that the debate be about something besides the extremes.

MaggieJo said...

I know good people too, family even, who are gay. I think most people do now days. But I see SSA as a fallen part of our nature. Just like dishonesty, impatience, selfishness, violent tendencies, etc. And for that reason, laws should be made to guard against the morals issues that affect others and society. There should be applause and encouragement to fight those temptations, just like we applaud a recovering alcoholic. I'm not eloquent so that didn't come out like it does in my head. But what it comes down to when I can't find the logic or the words to back up my beliefs, I follow a prophet, who has a much better vantage point then I do.

Missy said...

My religion believes it is a sin.

However, my church teaches that a sin is a sin is a sin.

Good people sin. We are humans. Whether we sin by choosing to be gay or we sin by stealing or we sin by lying, it is all still sin. It is not my place to judge those that sin; that is God's job.

Just because a person sins doesn't mean that I think they are less then me or dirty or wrong; i just know that they are choosing to sin.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Glenn said...

Well said Robin. I also struggle with this very issue. I love my Religion and feel like I am a better person for living it, but I struggle with this one issue. I have had long discussions about this very topic with a former missionary companion who is now living an openly gay lifestyle. I love him and love the connections and interactions we have and I hurt for him that he can't experience the same legal benefits I have.

As for "choosing" to be gay, if you believe this, you probably have spent much time with people who are gay. You choose to act on feelings but you don't choose whether or not you have those feelings. Before I was married I will admit that I felt physical urges for my beautiful wife that I chose to control until after marriage. However, I couldn't completely stop myself from having those urges, just whether or not I acted on them. After nearly 20 years of marriage I still feel those things when I look at my wife and I am grateful for them!!

I am so glad that I will never have to be the one who judges people from their time here on earth. All I know is that I try to accept everyone for who they are and try to find the value that each can offer to help me improve as a person.

Anne said...

I agree with you. I also believe marriage is for a man and a woman yet I believe every person has the freedom to choose the kind of life he wants to live. Just as torn as you are, I don't think it's my place to decide on such issues. And I never will.

Jennifer - Treading Water in the Kiddie Pool said...

I think the important thing, and what is obvious in your post, is that you are taking the time to think and form your own views, rather than just accepting what you have been told. Wherever you end up, you are at least examining your path.

Marcy said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts so eloquently. I support same-sex marriage, and I am proud of President Obama for finally coming out in support of it (although I believe he believed in it for a long time, and it saddens me that he had to make a political calculation not to admit it until now, and that admitting it now is probably a political calculation as well). Two people who love each other should not be discriminated against and prevented from enjoying the same rights that other Americans enjoy. I understand that people may not support this for religious reasons, and I respect their choice, but that is different from our secular government discriminating against people for their orientation.

Anonymous said...

What's good is that you are actively trying to resolve your opinion on the matter, as opposed to just blindly accept what you have been told your whole life.

What I like about your piece here is the fact that we do not reserve the right to judge others, or make choices for them.

Good luck with your thoughts.

Visiting from SITS Sharefest :) said...

I absolutely do not believe in Gay marriage, but I'm also torn. Great post. visiting from SITS.

Suz said...

Thanks for sharing. My brother is gay and I love him! His work took him to TX. He has done some real soul searching. He wants to be part of our LDS faith but feels unaccepted. So he has took up him self to find Christ and develop a personal relationship through prayer and scripture study. He has a very strong testimony of Christ. I truly believe Christ loves him and that HIS ever reaching arms are forever stretched out to him. Christ is love.

I too believe that marriage is to be between a man and woman. This something I have chosen to believe. My God given agency to do so. Notice I say, "MY," Our faith and beliefs should be personal. In that the government/politics shouldn't be involved if we are truly a nation that  declares freedom of religion with separation of church and state.

Not long ago, I was taking care of a patient who was blatantly gay. I cared for this patient just as I would anyone, lovingly. A young student volunteer made the comment," If my brother told me he was gay, I'd beat him!" I turned to this returned missionary of LDS faith and said, " My brother is gay, and I LOVE HIM AND SO DOES CHRIST!"

Mercy through Christ's atonement is for all who seek him. My brother has searched for Christ and has felt his love. He prays and reads scripture more than most proclaimed "devout Christians.

I don't have strong ties to politics. I work full-time to help support our family of 4 children. I struggle to get out of bed each day and pray for strength to do so. I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water just trying to live a Christ like life and teach my children the same.

I think it sad, that so much time, money and anger is involved in the gay marriage issue, on BOTH parts.
I have my sins and continually pray to come to know MY SAVIOR through his love.

Katy said...

I think it's important to remember that the reason society instituted marriage was to protect the children that would be born to the man and woman when they took up sexual relations. We needed to protect children in order to protect future society, so we made a man and woman promise they would stay together if they decided to be sexual. Gay partnerships don't result in children so we don't require the same commitment from them. Unfortunately, most of the heterosexual community no longer keep these commitments anyway. It's the children who are the real victims here to our sexual revolution. All of the social advantages given to married people through taxes and insurance and what not, are all incentives to promote the stability of families because that promotes the stability of society. For society, it is not about homosexuality being a sin but about how we need to produce and protect children in order to continue society. They can have their own commitments to each other, but marriage between a man and a woman is protected because of the children that could be produced.

alexis said...

I'm glad we can all be honest about what's going on with this conversation in our church. It's a really important conversation, and it's been swept under the rug as being too vulgar or ungenteel for too long. Before I started blogging, I believed marriage was between one man and one woman, that was it, end of story. But involving myself in social media led me to befriend many different people I'd otherwise have no connection to, and these relationships have changed my life significantly, along with my views on SSA. That being said, I admire your willingness to admit your shortcomings as far as being torn on the issue, because I feel the same way. While I would like to think that if same-sex marriage was legalized that there would be no negative repercussions for the church (regarding temple marriages and civil suits filed by those pursuing same-sex temple marriage), I'm not that naive. However, at the same time, I do believe there must be some measure of compromise that can be reached that would protect both same-sex couple wanting to marry as well as the church's ability to perform legal marriages between heterosexual couples exclusively. It's finding that balance that is problematic, and like someone commented earlier, it will never happen as long as radicals from both sides of the issue are dominating the public discourse. It doesn't have to be all or nothing in either direction, and I just hope the government realizes that soon.

So to clarify, I don't think SSA is a sin, I don't want to live in a world where a person can't legally marry the person they love, and I also want the church that I belong to to have the legal right to marry whomever they deem as worthy to enter into the covenant as it is defined by that church.

I also want a dog that talks, doesn't shed, and uses the toilet instead of crapping all over my carpet.

Denise said...

I agree with your point of not wanting to choose another's path. We can never know what another individual is going through. Live and let live.

Laura said...

I'm Baptist & in the Bible it does say a "man shall not lie with another man nor a woman with another woman", but it also says "judge not lest you be judged", which means God will judge you the way you judge others.

I have family members & friends who are gay/lesbian, but when I look at a person, I don't look at what their sexual orientation is. A person's sex life is their business.

Even though I personally don't believe gay marriage is right, I also believe gay bashing & bullying is wrong. God loves us all no matter what. Because when it comes right down to it, everybody sins.

Stopping by from SITS! Thanks for visiting my blog!

Kristiina said...

I'm the minority here. I fully support same-sex marriage.

I recently had a friend commit suicide because he was so torn out about being gay and also being a faithful member of the LDS church.

Going to his funeral was the most depressing thing in my life. Everyone was shocked by his suicide. Everyone who had ever known him or met him called him Christlike. At the funeral people kept talking about how they could "forgive" his sin of suicide but no one could even talk about his being gay.

Research has shown that being homosexual is not a choice, that their are genetic traits to it. I cannot fathom expecting someone to go without love for their entire life because the physical expression of that love is a "sin".

I quit being LDS when I was a kid because I was upset that no one followed the part of the word of wisdom that talks about only eating meat in times of famine and my bishop was making fun of me for being vegetarian. I haven't been a part of things for a long time. But I finally decided to get my name removed after that funeral.

Anyways, that was my struggle.

Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. I look forward to getting to know you better.

Miz Dinah said...

I have several gay friends who are married (I live in Canada). I'm happy they are allowed to marry someone who makes them so happy. I'm happy I also have the choice not to marry, even though I've been happily together with my common-law husband for 19 years. Religion should be separated from the law. In the eyes of the law, a person should be allowed to marry another person. A religion should be allowed to uphold their belief that gay marriage is not allowed in their religion. But it should not affect the legal right to marry outside of those religious boundaries. To each their own. :)

Suzanne said...

I very much support gay rights and I'm so heartened to read this post. Thank you for sharing.

Yvonne Chase said...

No struggle here. I do not believe in gay marriage. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Gay marriage is unnatural. No one is born gay. Its a choice. Two men can't reproduce. Men and women's bodies were created for each other. The penis was designed to fit nicely into the vagina and the anus is for pushing out toxins. Nothing enters that hole. Sorry to be so graphic but...

I get beyond upset when people want to equate gay rights to civil rights and drag Dr Martin Luther Kings name into the conversation. I was born black. This is not a choice. I was born a woman. That is not a choice. Gay is a choice no matter how you look at it.

One more thing, the NOH8 campaign is a deceptive lie. Disagreeing with you doesn't mean I don't love you. I love a lot of people I disagree with. I have a lot of gay friends and they all know how I feel about this matter and we all still love each other.

One of them is my masseuse. I go to his place anytime I'm knotted up and he loosens me up, we eat, talk about his relationships etc, laugh and connect then give each other a great big hug and say I love you before parting ways.

Another one is a personal trainer friend of mine. We had a spirited conversation one day about his gay lifestyle. He told me he was a born again Christian and I said how can that be? We talked about it with lots of love and respect and at the end of it all, we gave each other a tight hug, a kiss and a big I love you. That's how mature adults do it.

The gay mafia seems to be shoving their lifestyle down everyone's throat and if you dare disagree with them, you have hell to pay. Remember Carrie Prajean? What Perez Hilton did to her was wrong.

We've forgotten about right and wrong. If you want the benefits of marriage, do it according to Gods design otherwise you can't have the benefits.

Amy @ Long Drive Journey said...

I read an article about this. It basically said that if you do believe that gay marriage is a sin, and you have a Christian brother or sister who is choosing to deny his or her feelings for his or her faith, it's important to think about how hard that must be. If God has called them to do something that is SO hard for them, we should have compassion. It was a great article that didn't answer the question, but it made me think.

The New Nuclear Family said...

I realize I'm late this blog entry, but I wanted to say that I am a Lesbian and I am so pleasantly surprised at the comments here. I, of course, fully support gay marriage, however I understand that it conflicts with Biblical teaching and a lot of people live their lives according to that teaching. I just want to say, that marriage is about so much more than a certificate...our lives are so impacted. If you are moms, then you can understand what it's like to love a child, hold them when their sick, dance with them, and how it feels when they light up just because you are in the room. As amazing as that is, now imagine not being able to adopt that child, knowing that if your spouse were to pass away, there's a chance that precious baby could go to someone else. We will do our best to have all paperwork in place when my girlfriend adopts, however it just feels sad that we can't legally be a family. I understand religious beliefs and really appreciate that most of you are saying you don't want to choose someone else's path. We (my little family) don't want any special treatment, we simply want the legal protection that other families have. I just wanted to give you a little bit of my perspective. Thank you for the post.

Unknown said...

I want to thank you for visiting my blog. Stop by whenever you have time for some of my other "short" stories. I know it gets pretty time-consuming out here trying to keep up with so many blogs and with my stories being a little longer than a typical blog, one has to be ready to relax and curl up with a cup of tea to really enjoy. As for your post here, I'm glad that you have made your own observations and were able to open your heart and mind on the matter of gay people in general. For some reason, I have always been accepting of others differences. I understand your struggle with what you believe in your heart and how those feelings might contradict what the Bible teaches. I honestly believe that gay marriage is a matter that is much too petty for God. It seems more of a human prejudice to me; and certainly too petty for a loving God to pass judgment on or to outlaw. God made all of us, so I find it hard to believe at the same time that He decided that only some of us would be allowed the privilege of marriage. If you look at it that way, it would mean that God gave everyone sexual desires but at the same time forbids some of us from acting on those desires because He forbids them to marry. That would make God mean and unreasonable, which is completely contradictory to all that I have been taught God is. When you have some time, I would invite you to read my blog titled “I Did Not Choose To Be Straight, maybe it will help you along in your understanding… and eventually your embracing that marriage is a right that everyone should enjoy. Peace and Blessings to you.

Sum of their Stories said...

How refreshing to hear someone of faith being so open in expressing fears/doubts/concerns. Most comment I've read online, in the papers and on TV has been so narrow, closed and condemning. I am neither gay or of strong religious beliefs. I know many lovely people who are gay, I know many lovely people who have strong beliefs. I really admire your openness to discuss your thoughts in such a non judgemental, open way. I respect your views and concerns, they differ from my own however I appreciate how you are feeling.
I actually only popped over from the SITS Saturday link up from your health problems post and wandered over to this one - you know how it is. I may wander back and add my thoughts there too!

Edna Guerrero said...

WOW!!! I am in the same boat as you. I am an active LDS member & I am Republican but don't always agree with both. I do agree with what you have said. I am torn as well. Being homosexual is not a sin. It's the act. However, I will not judge anyone on the road they have taken. Like you, I have MANY friends that are homosexual who I absolutely love and adore. I don't see them as "Oh the gay people" I see them as loving, awesome (some humble) friends. It's a tough topic to write about as it can bring so much anger or contention among people. Thank you for expressing you thoughts on this! I found you through SITS and started looking around your blog. Life is great!