Friday, November 14, 2008

A Question of Rights

This is a statement of personal opinion. To find the official stance of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints please click here.

To tell the truth, I have been annoyed with the amount of misinformation coming from both sides about Proposition 8. I was thankful that I didn't have to form an opinion on the proposition, because I am not a California (Arizona or Florida) voter. But, now that the protests targeted the LDS community in New York City I felt motivated to seek out the truth and form my opinion, because as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are encouraged to seek out the truth and form our own opinions. We are never taught to blindly follow the crowd even if that crowd is made up of other LDS people.

My husband and I have many gay and lesbian friends and acquaintances. On an individual basis we have found that we can respect each other's opinions, desires, and rights. We respect their desire to be in a committed relationship, and they respect our desire to teach our son that God doesn't approved of the sexual actions of homosexual couples. We have been able to love and care about these same-sex couples, without demeaning our religious beliefs. I recognize that many religious people find our tolerance too accepting, but we have found just as many religious people who share our so-called liberal-mindedness.

The problem is that Proposition 8 is an attempt to combine church and state. For those of us who believe that marriage is ordained by God to be between a man and a woman, opening the definition of marriage infringes on our religious right to define marriage. Now, if the fight was really about equal rights, same-sex couples seeking equal rights would not be opposed to calling it a "civil union" by which the rights that should be granted to all people who love each other are granted. And, it is on that reasoning that I have decided that I am glad Proposition 8 passed, because in its passage, religious rights are protected. After much internal debate I have decided to share the sources that helped me form this opinion.

In the Doctrine and Covenants (a sacred book of scripture) Section 134 defines the church's beliefs about government. In verse 7 it states,

We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy."
The reason the Church leaders encouraged its members to be active participates in supporting Proposition 8 is because if it did not pass it would mean government would be proscribing religious people in their opinions.

Another poignant verse in section 134 is verse 4
We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.
It is for this reason that I cannot be of the opinion that same-sex couples should be denied rights granted by government to committed couples. In "The Divine Institution of Marriage" an official document of the Church, it sates,
The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference.
I would encourage you to read the section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants and "The Divine Institution of Marriage" to gain a better understanding of the Church's standing on the issue. I have found it enlightening and encouraging.

I am grateful for the rights I have been granted by the United States Government. I hope that the government will sustain the vote of the people. I hope that both sides demanding rights will be able to avoid hate and work towards a solution. I believe that marriage is a divine union, that it is sacred, and that it should be protected. I believe that it is my right to think, teach, and practice that belief. I hope that right is never taken from me, and that my opinion is allowed, in just the same way I wish to allow lifestyles that do not fall in that definition. I will admit that I can't call it marriage, but I do firmly believe that government should protect the rights of all couples, just under a different name.


Mindy said...

What helped me the most was listening to Elder Bednar talk about it:
I hope that link takes you to his video. It's in the LDS newsroom if it doesn't come up.
It's upsetting to me that there is one way tolerance on this issue and he talks about that. The church is getting a lot of slack for sticking to God and not bending to man. I think we'll see a lot more of that as time goes by. I fell asleep last night thinking about prop 8, so you're not the only one pondering about it, or wondering how to word things, trying to stay firm in our beliefs, and express our views kindly and lovingly to our friends with alternative lifestyles.

Tracie said...

I linked to your blog from the Kings. Hope that is ok. Wanted to share with you that you are an answer to my prayers. Thanks so much for voicing this and giving the links. I was just talking to Tonya and my DH last night about how I was having a hard time now that we as LDS people are being protested. It makes my heart hurt! Then I saw your title and decided to click over and see if it could be the same thing I have been pondering. I am going to print everything out and pray some more. Thank you for your help! You were definately not alone in feeling like you needed to educate yourself on this and form your own opinion.

Jessica said...

I'm just glad I didn't have to vote on it. Still not sure how I would have voted. I wish people wouldn't single us out as the only ones who supported the proposition though. I really appreciated that one of the Catholic leaders in CA made a statement in support of us and saying that we shouldn't be singled out because we aren't the only church that supported it.

sallysue said...

Thank you.