Friday, May 16, 2008

Forgive this Political Monologue

Seldom do I decide to offer up my opinions on political issues - I try not to discuss things about which I am not well-informed. However, when the politics involve moral issues, I tend to get a little more interested. When I found myself thinking about this issue throughout the day, I decided to put in my two cents.

On my way to work this morning, I read in the Wall Street Journal about the California Supreme Court's decision to allow same-sex marriages. To me this is yet another blow to the sanctity of marriage and family. I know that here in liberal California, my opinions on moral issues are often in the minority. And among the liberal-minded, my opinions may seem very narrow-minded and conservative. One of the things that I have come to love in recent years is the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and everyone seems to have a different one. With that in mind, please don't think I'm trying to prove you wrong or persuade you to my way of thinking if your opinion differs from mine. I'm simply trying to share my thought processes and explain why I feel the way I do.

My initial response to this new Supreme Court decision was that it was good that everyone would have the same opportunity to be married and enjoy that state of life. However, right after that initial response, my thought was, "no, the LDS church is against it, so it can't be good." The LDS church makes official stands on political issues and encourages members to vote a certain way even more seldom than I talk about politics. Almost never. So, when the church gets involved, I pay attention and it signals to me that it's an important issue. Later in the day, I was reading Molly's blog post on this very issue. Molly and I disagree, but her post and my initial thoughts on the issue got me thinking about it all day. I went back and forth all day about whether I wanted to blog about this. In the end, I decided that this is my blog and I want to share my opinions.

I do not believe that people should be treated unequally based on their sexual orientation. Nor do I believe that people should be denied of any civil rights based on their sexual orientation. Now, that may make you wonder how I can be in favor of denying the right of marriage to same-sex couples. Well, let's take a look at what marriage is and what it means. The sacred institution of marriage was ordained of God from the very beginning with Adam and Eve. Marriage predates what we know as civil rights by thousands of years. And as an institution introduced by God with specific instructions on its administration, we should hardly be so presumptuous as to decide that we can change it around to fit our needs/wants. Jesus Christ explained it very plainly in Matthew 19:4-6:

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

God created men and women and instituted marriage here on the earth as being between a man and a woman. Like it or not, we have no business making changes to God's commandments. And the fact that it was introduced by God from the very beginning trumps the fact that we may consider marriage a civil right. Marriage was founded on religious principles and you can't take that aspect out of it to consider it a mere "civil" right.

I could go on and on, but this post is getting long already. I would however, like to offer a few thoughts on why I believe that this is an important issue to the LDS church and to us as members of the church. As I mentioned earlier, I believe that allowing same-sex marriages further undermines its significance and sanctity. Undoubtedly, with California setting a precedent, other states will follow suit and same-sex marriages will become more prevalent in our society. As we try to teach our children about the importance of marriage and how it was ordained of God from the beginning, what sort of message are we sending when we decide that we can change it around to fit our needs? God introduced marriage to Adam and Eve, and thus the entire human race, with specific purposes in mind. If we decide that we're going to change things around on our own, then essentially we're putting our own purposes ahead of God's and I would venture to say that's probably not a wise thing to do. When we try to undermine God's authority and wisdom, it only leads to problems. I believe the LDS church has chosen to take a stand on this issue because families are such a key part of God's plan for us and to preserve the family and it's importance we must protect the sanctity of marriage as God has defined it. Please do not misunderstand - I am in no way, shape, or form an official spokesman (or woman) for the church - that is simply my opinion and not any sort of official statement from the church.

I would like to conclude with an official statement from the church however:

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children....

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife....

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity....

We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets....

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

And that is why the LDS church takes such a strong stance on same-sex marriages.

Of course, you are free to agree or disagree - I do not take offense when someone has different opinions than I do. And I realize that mine is probably the minority opinion here in California. But, hopefully I've at least explained my opinion and thinking well enough so that you can better understand where I'm coming from. Recently getting married myself, I still have so much to learn about the importance and sanctity of marriage. But, I can see already that marriage was created by God with wise purposes in mind and I don't plan to mess with that.


Ashley C. said...

I'm sorry, but I can't help myself. All the reasons you stated for banning same sex marriage were based solely on your own personal religious belief, which I respect. But we live in a nation full of different religions, belief systems, and morals. And while we all (myself includes) would love for everyone in the world to have the same exact opinions as ourselves, we need to realize that people need to have the freedom to make their own moral decisions. And if you ban gay marriage, where do you stop? Should premarital sex be illegal? Should coffee be illegal because the LDS church says it shouldn't be consumed? I know these sound ridiculous, but it's really not so different. And as I remember from my church days, the whole reasons for sending people to the Earth was so that they could "choose" whether they wanted to follow god or not. You can't make the decisions for everyone else.

Leah said...

Well said Jenni. I can't believe the CA Supreme court would go against what the voters have said. They voted that marriage was to between a man and a woman. The family is being bombarded from every direction. Children are much better off beings raised in a family with a mother and a father.

Andrea said...

I liked what you wrote Jenni. We have to stand strong for our values. If we don't sooner or later those loud voices against the laws will change them. We've read about it time and time again how it leads to the downfall of society.

Jenni said...

Ashley - I'm sorry, but I also can't help myself. Thank you for reemphasizing exactly what I said at the beginning of my blog - that this post represents my own personal opinion which, incidentally, is based on my own personal religious beliefs. As I said, I'm not trying to convince, persuade, or disprove anyone else. I'm just explaining where I'm coming from.

However, I would like to give a little more credibility to my opinion than you seem to think it deserves, being based solely on my own personal religious beliefs. My opinion does not match only that of the LDS church. In fact, based on our recent elections here in California, it appears that my opinion that marriage should only exist between a man and a woman is actually shared by a majority of Californians. If and when my opinion becomes the minority opinion, then by all means the law should be changed.

Thanks for sharing your opinions and ideas. Hearing other people's opinions helps me to keep an open mind and to see things from a different perspective. In our world of differing beliefs, ideas, feelings and opinions, understanding where someone else is coming from is always a good thing.

Hilary said...

I also think it's unfortunate for the court to disregard the opinions of the CA voters. They let us vote about it, but it's like they're not listening. I guess since it's a civil rights/constitutional issue, and not about what marriage means, then they have the final word.

It seems that God is being pulled out of all the laws that were once created with religious inspiration. Just because some wish to conserve those values, it's now "narrow-minded". Boo.

Molly said...

Hi Jenni! You perfectly explained why you are against same-sex marriage. But that doesn't mean that we should force other people to follow our beliefs.

Just because many Muslims and Jews believe they should not eat pork does not mean that they should outlaw eating pork, right? And some Islamic sects believe in veiling women. But I'm sure you would agree with me that no woman should be forced to veil herself if she does not agree with the practice. How then can we justify forcing gay people to abide by our beliefs. It's not our place to tell other people what they can and can't do when their actions aren't hurting anyone.

I think standing up for our beliefs and being an example is important. But I simply don't agree that we can force our beliefs on others. And in my opinion, the whole argument that the majority of the people voted against gay marriage just confirms that there are too many people who think they have the right to force their religious beliefs on other people. Thanks for listening to my views on it. :)

LJ said...

Yo! Hi peeps. So I'm sort of team Carter, and sort of team Jespersen. Hopefully I can explain my thoughts clearly. I in no way mean to be offensive and apologize in advance if anyone reads my thoughts that way. Just my thoughts, and who am I any how? No better or worse than anyone else.

A same-sex marriage doesn't have the same history behind it as a hetero-sexual marriage. It's a new (as far as I can tell brand new, but let me know if this is a mistake) type of union. Take a car and a horse and buggy. Both have the same purpose, to get you from here to there, but again, not quite the same thing.

At the same time I understand that regardless of this issue, some people are very horribly and wrongfully prejudiced against gay people. I know that people believe allowing same sex marriages is the way to cure prejudice and resentment against the homo-sexual community, I don't know if I agree with that 100%.

I am all for gay rights, religious rights, etc. I think "civil union" is the most unromantic name I have ever heard of. Sort of like "common law marriage." As Gavin Newsom pointed out, you don't see heterosexual couples saying "Hey let's go get a civil union." They're really not the same, clearly. So what's my solution? I have no idea. I can tell you that if I were invited to a same-sex marriage I would absolutely attend, without reservation. I wish there were a different option presented that I could embrace whole-heartedly. I'll post this on Molly's blog as well. :)

Kristina & Ivan said...

I think the real issue here is that the voters of California were failed by the political process. The majority of voters decided they did not want same-sex marriage in their state, and yet the opinion of ONE judge counts for more than those hundreds of thousands of people. The ratio is off. And it seems unfair to the majority in California.

Jenni said...

Molly - I love you and I love your comment and I will tell you why. I agree 100%. You (and your sister, basically) make the same argument that we cannot force our opinions on other people and that everyone should be free to choose their actions as long as it's not hurting anyone else. I agree wholeheartedly.

Obviously it would be silly to outlaw the eating of port because many Jews and Muslims, for religious reasons, don't eat it. And clearly, it would not be fair to make all women veil their faces just because it is a religious practice in some circles. Well, there are also people who believe, for religious reasons, that it is okay in the right circumstances to kill other people. So, should we now get rid of the law banning murder so that those people are free to exercise their religious beliefs? Obviously not. Now, my point is not to compare murder to same-sex marriages. Even I am not so ludicrous. My point is that lines have to be drawn at certain points. Yes, people should be free to choose - it is essential to our Heavenly Father's plan. But, if everyone were free to run around doing whatever they wanted in the name of not limiting civil rights, I'm sure you would agree that chaos and injury would ensue.

And that brings me back to your comment. I believe the exact quote was "It's not our place to tell other people what they can and can't do when their actions aren't hurting anyone." Very well said. Here, however, is where things get dicey and, I think, where we get to the root of our diffence in opinion. Clearly, my eating pork or not drinking coffee is not hurting anyone else. However, what sort of effect will the legalization of same-sex marriages have on our society? What will that do to the family as a unit? How will that change the way people interact with each other in relationships of love? Can it, in fact, be a damaging practice? I can't answer that. Neither can you. This is a new issue for us and none of us know how this might change our society.

Fortunately we have prophets who have a little more insight than your or I and have some idea of how this will all turn out.
You and I both know that the church stays out of politics except on very rare occasions. If the church feels strongly enough about this issue to give us specific guidelines on it, then I'm led to believe that the prophet knows something we don't. I have no choice but to think that the prophet can see where this issue will take our society and the damaging effects it will have on the family and that is why the church has taken such a strong stance on it.

We have no right to dictate other's actions as long as they are not hurting others. I just don't believe that allowing same-sex marriages is not going to be problematic for our society and the family.

I hope I'm not being offensive. That is definitely not my intent. Molly, I like you and I like hearing your opinions. Thanks for sharing!

Hilary said...

I think any prophesy made isn't realized until later in time, and not usually during the event. People now say it's unfair to assume same-sex marriages result in broken families, but perhaps decades from now, society may see some interesting changes.

Molly said...

Do you know what's funny, Jenni? (And before I even read your comment back to me) I do enjoy debating topics with my friends whom I respect (that means you!). But sadly I'm not as, um, diplomatic with people who annoy me. Hahaha. I just get super annoyed with them and totally write off their opinions. Isn't that horrible? Ok. On to reading your response.

First (and this is mainly for me), let me say that I'm not going to claim to be perfect. In admitting that, I am not going to kid myself into thinking I am following the prophets 100%. I know my views aren't in alignment with the proclamation on the family. And sure, it bothers me a little bit to recognize that, but I am comfortable with my opinion and also still very comfortable in my relationship with the gospel.

I totally get what you're saying, and I think the fundamental difference between how we see it is that I don't think allowing gay marriages is going to hurt anyone. I am all for allowing civil rights as long at no one is getting hurt. And you believe that allowing gay marriages is going to hurt people. How? I'm not sure. And you aren't sure either. And that's ok with me. But I think that is the bottom line to our disagreement--you think it will hurt people and I think it won't. Wouldn't you agree? Ha! Let's agree about our disagreement.

Jenni said...


Jessica, Ian and Halle said...

Well, isn't this whole thing just a sign of the times. And I will also say, you can't just pick and choose which of the gospel dostrine teachings will work for you. It doesn't quite work that way. Get off the fence. You can still wave to those on the other side of it. Saying that I mean you can still be open minded and Christ-like without trying to agree with a practice or society's way of doing things because the way things are headed is anything but right. No one is saying that we should force our religious beliefs on others. The situation is what it is and we are living in the last days; and if you believe in Christ and that he is our Savior than you must also believe that he is coming again. I think the point we have reached in our collapsing society just shows that that time will be here sooner than later.