Sunday, October 12, 2008

Preparation H

Well, that's what my roommate Evan is calling Proposition 8, the amendment to the California State Constitution that would define marriage as between a man and a woman, effectively ending the current state of legalized gay marriage there.

Now, I'm a faithful, somewhat liberal, gay Californian Latter Day Saint living in Utah. Not that that fact lends my thoughts on this matter any more validity than anyone else's. Just that I want people to know where I'm coming from. I am aware that the word "gay" connotes entire lifestyle choices to many readers here, so I will clarify: I am attracted almost solely to other men, but I also believe the Church when it says that to act on homosexual desires is wrong. Many would call me naive in my attempts to remain faithful to my religion, but I am insulted by the notion that people (particularly homosexuals in this instance) are incapable of controlling their impulses and living by a higher moral law. I am very tolerant of others' making the choices from which I intend to abstain. I also know many people sneer at the idea of tolerance because a degree of disapproval inheres therein, but I can think of no other word for how I feel about it. I try to live by a double standard when it comes to ethics and morals: I am very permissive with others, while trying to maintain a behavioral stricture for myself.

I struggled with the Prop 8 issue the moment I heard about the letter from the First Presidency to the members in California. I was disappointed that this issue received so much more attention than other recent moves from the church intended to reach out to its homosexual population, such as the pamphlet entitled "God Loveth His Children," which can be read in the church website. I also wish the government would stay out of the marriage issue altogether, and was saddened to see that the Church was supporting a constitutional amendment that would only serve to further enmesh the legal apparatus with the issue of marriage. I also have many friends (a brother and a best friend included) who are living active gay lifestyles. I love these guys. My best friend is dating a wonderful guy right now, and I would love to see them happy together forever. I also have a very strong sense of live-and-let-live morality; do whatever you want, as long as your actions don't impinge upon my own liberties. And the issue of gay marriage feels like one of those times when it couldn't hurt the church to allow the gays to change the label of something they already have.

A few feeble reasons have been presented. The case of the Catholic Church choosing to discontinue their adoption agency in Massachusetts after the judicial decree that they place children with gay couples is evidence that maybe at least some of the Church leaders' warnings are not merely slippery-slope scare tactics, but rooted in verifiable past experience. The Church's claim that marriage is ordained of God could be expressing a claim that marriage is not a societal contract between people, but rather something older, immutable, and God-given.

Still, these are claims that pale in comparison with the apparent (or perceived?) effects on the homosexual people of disallowing marriage between two members of the same sex. Furthermore, these claims are not ones that could be made to persuade someone in any secular light. To me, the obvious choice is to allow gay marriage.

However, I am cognizant of the fact that I have not attained the longest view on any earthly matters. I do have a testimony of a living prophet (and that testimony has been reinforced recently due to my soul-searching on this issue). It is strange to me that the church is taking such a strong stance on what appears to be a political issue. My political views are sharply contrasted with the commandments I've been given from the church. But I have to remember the watchtower metaphor: the man up in the tower shouts warnings and instruction to the people below, and the wise heed his words because they know he knows something they don't.

For me, it all boils down to this quote from President Harold B. Lee:

"The power of Satan will increase; we see it in evidence on every hand. …

"Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet, 'as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; … as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.' (D&C 21:4–5.) There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory.' (D&C 21:6.)" (in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 152; or Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, 126).

The promises made in that quote are powerful, and they're what I truly want out of this life. I really do believe these words from one of our latter-day prophets.

I do worry that people will read a quote like this and become myrmidons. That sort of unquestioned loyalty is what leads to the worst of inhumane atrocities. So let me be clear that I would never obey a commandment with which I disagree. But I will appeal directly to God to ascertain that a new commandment is indeed from Him. That's what our leaders have counseled us to do (indeed, it's the counsel that led to the first vision in the first place): to appeal directly to the source of all wisdom. One can receive a second witness of the prophet's words through the Holy Ghost.

That's the invitation I'll be making to my friends who are pondering what to do and on which side of the line to pitch their tents. The invitation to not just go out and vote based solely on political ideologies or visceral reactions to sensational pleas and anecdotes. Nor do I want people to vacantly follow the instruction of any leader or activist. I would have people take all of those things into account and ask God in humble prayer (being willing to have a change of heart if the answer is contrary to the one expected) what their responsibilities are vis-a-vis Proposition 8. If you happen to get a different answer from mine, I will support you in your decision, knowing that you (like I am) are choosing to act on your conscience in the best way you know how.

When I did that, I received an answer that I can't rightly defend to other people using the usual logic and rhetoric. But when people ask me how I can possibly defend such a notion, I can view it as an opportunity to bear my testimony of a living prophet, whose purpose is to be the mouthpiece for God and help set a common course for people in a time when so many divergent paths are viewed as the right one.

In fine, I don't urge you to vote yes on 8, but I urge you to turn the question directly to your God and act accordingly. Whatever decision you make, I love and respect you, and I hope the best for you and for all of us.


[edit: Thanks for all the comments! I've left a response to each down at comment number 23 or so. I appreciate the discussion!]


Heidi said...

Your comments on this subject are the best I've heard and I'm glad you shared them with me. I really do admire your personal strength and fine example. Thanks Robbie!

Chris said...

Excellent post.

Samantha said...

And that, my friend, is exactly what I've told those who have asked me. We think alike on this--and regardless of what you feel the Spirit says to you (for or against Prop 8), I'm comfortable knowing you're following what you believe is true.

So am I.


Samantha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
O-Mo said...

Your comments are the easiest for me to deal with and hear. I find your voiced perspective refreshing.

But it's a political issue, and you must, in my opinion, have a sociopolitical defense for a legislative decision.

For what is the person to do who has prayed about it and has received confirmation that Proposition 8 is not the right course of action and that a "No" vote is necessary? Does this not fly in the face of church directive? Does this not contradict the "brethren"? Isn't such an answer decreed to be false or indefensible within the church under doctrinal evaluation simply because it contradicts the First Presidency?

Is it really possible for their answer and one who receives a "Yes" answer to both be in touch with the Spirit? Or is one side or the other misinterpreting their feelings and misapplying their understanding?

It's easy for those who believe God, himself, has told them to support the proposition to say to those who believe the opposite that they "respect" their decision, but for the person who got a "No" answer, what are they to do with that? Deny both their convictions and their "inspiration" because it's out of line with the brethren? Act on it anyway in defiance of their watchmen on the tower? It's not so simple when you've received that "no" answer, it seems to me.

But maybe that's moot. Maybe nobody who prays about it really receives a "no" answer--they just are stubbornly clinging to their personal opinions...

Gordon said...

Thanks, Robbie

ecelaya said...

Well said Robbie. Eloquent and also honest. I admire your faith and strength. You are a leader among your peers and I am glad they have someone such as you to look to. I have many friends who are struggling with the decision to vote just as you did. I am grateful for your endorsment of President Monson.

diversityoflife said...

I like what you've got to say, Robbie.

o-mo makes a good point, but I think that's the essence of tolerance. We have to live by what we know and believe, and let others similarly exercise their agency. We choose between two conclusions every time we see someone act in a way we view as wrong:

1) We decide that they are willfully rejecting the truth, that they're sinners.

2) We allow that this world is confusing, and that finding truth is difficult. We have to live by the best knowledge we have, and so do others. God gives knowledge line upon line, precept upon precept. We can't all be in the same place. When we disagree with someone else, it may be that we are both seeking truth, but we aren't in the same place. The only solution is to walk forward.

Could someone get an opposite impression and still be earnestly seeking truth? I think so. Listening to the Spirit isn't easy. How such a person deals with the "No" answer is another question. How does one disagree with a prophet? I guess that's up for whoever gets that answer to decide. I would hope that such a person wouldn't give up all of the wonderful blessings of the Church over this one issue, but if it did, I'd encourage such a person to keep seeking truth and acting on the best truth he can find.

David said...

I dunno Robbie. One of these days we should have a religious heart to heart. I feel like I could learn a thing or two from you about overcoming cognitive dissonance.

Jonathan CW said...

Great work, Robbie.

As a politically liberal, but quite doctrinally conservative, Mormon, I understand the struggle of accepting the prophet's guidance on this. Like you, I do accept the prophet's stance.

As a Massachusetts native and resident, I can tell you exactly how much years of gay marriage has affected my life, my family, my religious freedom, and the growth of the Church: NOT AT ALL.

The anecdotal evidence people put forth is by and large dishonest crap. It is true that Catholic Charities stopped working on adoptions in Boston, but to say gay marriage is the reason is ridiculous; the Catholic church in Boston has lots of other problems, most of its own doing, that led to that. Latter-day Saint Family Services still does straight-couples-only adoptions in Massachusetts, with no legal problems.

So why do I believe in Proposition 8? Because I believe in a living prophet. And that may be the least popular reason of all.

Meg said...

Thank you for your feelings. I am so thankful as well for a living prophet who helps give us much needed direction in a world where there is so much cloudiness going around. The reason I definately support Prop 8 is because it does come from them and they are Prophets, SEERS and revelators. They KNOW why this is such a crucial matter or else they would have never taken a stand against this. I am thankful that the church chooses their battles and so when it really counts, we trust in the outcome.
Robbie, I am proud of you keeping the gospel in your life and staying strong through the spirit even though you are attracted to the same sex. I have had many friends walk away from the very thing they used to believe because they chose not to restrain. I am single and I am straight, but I have to restrain just the same and choose to because I want to be worthy to be anything and everything that the Lord wants me to be. To all you singles out there, straight or with gay tendencies way to exercise restraint! BRAVO!

Vero Awesome said...

Rabs, you have this way of totally agreeing with me but in a way more eloquent way. My opinion on this isue probably would've been voiced more along the lines of "live and let live" or "mind your own freaking business". But I also don't win over a lot of people, nor do I try to, with that sort of pragmatism.

I think that's really what it boils down to, that you and I are pragmatists. We believe that certain choices are ethically right for certain people, which would not be right for others. Living la vida mariposa is not for you, but I've certainly met some for who I couldn't imagine a different life. My uncle is one who I feel could've been so much happier if he hadn't spent his life fighting his feelings and overcompensating to hide who he really is. I watched him become one of the loneliest people I've ever seen.

I guess the question we all have to ask ourselves is, who is it really hurting? The theoretical adopted child raised by gay parents (who could possibly be more loving and sensitive than the alcoholic Denny's waitress and paroled drug addict who created him but didn't want him?)?, kids who watch gay couples in their community living "normal", respectable married lives?

The examples we see in the media (see Queer as Folk, The L Word, Sex and the City, etc) which show a seedy-underbelly, loose morality, pejorated view of how homosexuals live make it seem like they could never fit in with a conservative society, without polluting our suburbs with dildos and bright pink pleather. But seriously, I ask you to consider the people you actually know.

Could you see them as the world's best gay "soccer mom", "drama dad", or PTA director? I sure as hell could.

Jason said...

My question is, what implies that by disagreeing on this political issue I am not following the Prophet. Does God think Prop 8 is a good idea? All I can really infer from the First Presidency statement is that God thinks it's OK for the leaders of his Church to tell everyone that they think it's a good idea and to "ask" the members to put some effort into it.

I believe the members of the First Presidency are prophets. I believe in the principle that a part of God's plan is that a man and a woman join together in marriage. I believe that passing a constitutional amendment to legally define marriage is not the best way to "preserve the sacred institution of marriage." President Monson believes that it is. Contradiction? Not in my mind.

Apparently not in Pres. Monson's mind either as he stated with regards to the same-sex marriage issue in an interview with Deseret News "If it's something political, there is room for opinion here and there on either side.",5143,695250131,00.html?pg=2

Rebecca said...

I sure liked your post, my friend. You have quite the gift for communicating well through the written word. You make a lot of good points and bring up some good questions (like the ones o-mo brought up). I really liked the quote you have from President Kimball...that is strong with powerful promises and it seems very applicable to today.

Eddie said...

Aaron said...

I'm always appreciative of your perspective Robbie, thanks. said...

Can I say that I completely respect and honor you. A long time ago when we were in institute classes together, I began to notice that you always gave the most insightful and well worded answers. You would be the one to bring discussion back into the correct perspective and I admired you for that. I had no idea you were gay and honestly, you are currently the only person that I know of that is open and yet lives a higher moral law. It was so refreshing to hear a person has so much faith to live like that and then it was even more refreshing to see that person sharing with others their wise perspective. Your blog had a big impact on me and reminded me how important it is that we heed the prophets voice. Thank you for your blog and I only wish I was more well-spoken so I could better express my gratitude for you and your courage.

jbrown23 said...

I enjoy your honesty and faithfulness, Robbie. I have thought recently about how people can be inherently gay when before I always believed it to be a choice. People like yourself make it much easier for people like me (who don't understand what it is like to be homosexual) to understand you.

I commend you also on your testimony which has strengthened my own. :)

I was in a Doctrine and Covenants class at BYU recently and my professor was speaking about Section 28 and how revelation for the Church and world always comes through a prophet. There was a quote and I'm not sure who it was from or who it was too, I think President Lee and President Romney. I believe President Lee told Romney that if he followed the prophet in all things (even if erroneous) he would still be okay, but that the Lord would never allow the prophet to lead the Church astray.

I sometimes have problems understanding the revelation that I receive. I know though that two people cannot receive opposite and equally true answers on such questions. I'm not a know-it-all but if someone gets a no answer in opposition to a correct yes (or vice versa, since I haven't prayed about it and haven't received n answer) then one of those is either a revelation from another source or like you said a desire not to take the answer given.

Thanks for your comment.

Nicole said...

Robbie, that was really well done. I'm not terribly surprised, but it's still nice to read your thoughts. I have the same problems a lot of times logically defending some of the things which I believe are right. Reading your post helps me see that I don't really have to. Hope life is treating you well.

Matt Dominguez said...

My thoughts on this issue are pretty much the same as yours. While I might think that the arguments that have been given by the church are a little more than "feeble", I would agree that they still have definitely not been enough to convince me of their truth on a purely intellectual level. However, on a spiritual level, I have gained an ever growing testimony that what the prophet is asking is right, and it is something that I should follow despite my lack of understanding of the reasons behind it. Just like it would be impossible for me to completely justify my testimony of the gospel on a purely intellectual level I cannot completely justify my reasons for this.

I believe that it is situations like these that are the true tests of our faith. And I do not believe that it is blind faith that leads me to these conclusions. Trials of faith are not always trials that just test our emotional ability to follow the Lord despite temptation or persecution, but they are also sometimes trials that test our intellectual abilities.

If I may refer to the example of the Trial of Abraham when the Lord asked him to sacrifice his only son to him, now apart from the obvious emotional difficulty of killing your only child, there is also an intellectual trial here. God had promised to Abraham that he would have seed in number like the sands of the sea, and that it would be through Isaac that that holy people would descend. Now if Isaac were killed there would not seem to be any way for that prophecy to be fulfilled, thus this commandment also seemed intellectually to make no sense and in fact fly in the face of previous revelations given. Now we all know how the story of that trial ended, but Abraham did not until after he decided to obey the commandment despite the great emotional and intellectual difficulty.
And it also needs to be understood that God did not give Abraham this commandment right from the start, it was after a whole lifetime of following his directions and seeing the results and seeing firsthand the many truths of his gospel, many aspects of which I am sure he did not understand at first. After all the many spiritual experiences and revelations and knowledge he had gained of the truth of Gods words Abraham was able to make that leap of faith, because he had already built an incredibly strong foundation to leap from.

So at times like these we all need to look at the many other parts of the Gospel that we know to be true and say to ourselves that if we truly believe the gospel is true we must acknowledge that all of it is true and not just the parts that seem right to us. If this were something that had come from a local authority or a seventy or even from a single apostle there would certainly be room for argument. But this came down straight from the prophet himself and if we believe in the church then we believe the fundamental doctrine that he is God's mouthpiece and thus it is coming from God himself. And I have personally had enough experiences in the church to know that even though I don't understand something now I will someday, and that is sufficient for me.

Jokey Smurf said...

Hey, I have a response to all 19 or so of you. But I'm tired and I have school in the morning and I just finished my paper for my ethics class. So you'll kindly excuse me if I put it off until tomorrow. Maybe after school, my biology test, I make dinner, watch the debates, and go to Melanie's birthday. Okay, maybe Friday.... But I appreciate all the wonderful feedback and discussion.

Cyd said...

Very well said (I was linked here by a friend). I very much appreciate your perspective and clarity! I'll be coming back to review the discussion here, and possibly use as a reference for a blog post of my own!

Anonymous said...

Robbie, Jason England here. Thank you for your comments on this subject. Arwen forwarded me the email you sent. It's been a long time we should catch up. I'm an Army helicopter pilot assigned to Ft. Bragg, NC. I miss the west coast dearly. I'm married about to have my fourth kid. Boy, boy, girl, boy. Anyway shoot me an email and let me know what you're up to.


Jokey Smurf said...

Oh jeez. So many comments.

Heidi, Chris, Samantha: Thanks :)

My sociopolitical "defense" (I guess, if I'm being accused of something) is that I choose to be a member of an institution (my religion) that I believe has more sway over my life than other institutions, such as political movements or government. Anyone is free to decide that logical, political, or social justifications for their legislation trump other reasons, but I choose to follow my religion over any of those things. Not that I always think of them as mutually exclusive, but if ever I do, religion will win out for me.

I understand your concerns when it comes to people receiving different answers from God. I don't have any answers as to why this might be, but I have some ideas.

When I was 17, an old man from church called me to check on my progress toward getting my Eagle Scout Award. I had long since decided I wasn't going to get it. He asked me to pray about it. I did, and found that I was justified in not getting the award. But the question I asked God in that prayer was "Do I really have to get my Eagle?" And I got a no answer. I believe that maybe if people approached this question more from a place of "Lord, please help me to understand and obey the words of the prophet," or "Please help me to obey Thy will," they might get a different answer. I can't say for sure. And it's never my place to judge, so if you truly feel you got a "no," then by all means, vote no. I will never fault anyone for doing the best they know. After all, that's what I'm doing myself, and I can understand others' being upset with me.

I really appreciate the tone you've used here, and I hope you are at peace with this issue in some form or other.

Gordon: 4011 6123 11137501773

Elizabeth: Thank you for your kind words. There are few people I respect as much as you, and it lifts my spirit to hear that from you.

Diversity: Who are you? I like the way you think and write. Thanks for the input!

David: Cognitive dissonance? I don't sense any here. My "trick," if you will, is that my political opinions, well, and MOST of my opinions, are prima facie principles, with the doctrine of the church as I understand it as the overriding principle. Even those principles are prima facie when my understanding of them doesn't mesh(note the indeterminacy of translation theory present in this argument to shield myself from accusations that I'm claiming the gospel is inconsistent; I'm not ashamed to borrow a bit from the subjective as well as the objective moralist camps). Anyway, I'd be glad to discuss in depth some time; this is the deeper-level reasoning that I enjoy but don't expect my average reader to.

Jon: If I ever need a brain transplant, I'm coming after you. Thanks for so often being the same person as me. Still, I get a little nervous about your calling the anecdotal evidence "crap," since I learned of that story from Elder Cook during the fireside they held for all of us Californians.

Meg: You always have such a way of making living the gospel sound easy, if not totally pleasant. I commend you for your enthusiasm. Thanks!

Ronnie: Even if I concede the point on eloquence this time, I bow to your humor. you version is definitely funnier than mine.

Jason: I'm not sure how much of what the "brethren" asked of us you were aware of when you wrote your response here. I definitely see the loopholes in the wording of the original letter (they didn't say we have to vote, only that we have to encourage others to!), but the more recent statements allow for no such interpretation. If your point is that one can disagree in principle with what the prophet says, but still choose to obey, then I'm right with you. If your point is that we can disagree with a direct commandment from the prophet to the point of not obeying that commandment, then you've lost me. That's far too dangerous a path for me to follow. Sorry, I'm not entirely sure which way you meant, but you are one person with whom I'd love to discuss this more thoroughly.

Rebecca: Thanks! I love that quote, too. I even have it saved on my phone so I can pull it out in conversation, which seems to be happening all too often these days.

Eddie: Yeah, you busted me. This whole idea of blogging about this issue is in direct response to a command from Elder Ballard to do so. I was much more nervous about the blogging part of this than about voting or phone calls or anything, merely because it's very exposed. But I feel that I have an uncommon perspective on this issue, and a voice that needs to be heard, and I will answer the prophet's call, even if it means uncomfortable social situations now that basically my whole ward has read this post :) Also, who are you? It's impossible to tell whether your elliptical post was an indictment or expose of my impetus for writing, an answer to Jason's seeming unawareness of the fireside you linked to, or just a friendly addition of information to the debate at hand. At any rate, thanks. There's nothing in that fireside that I don't think everyone should be allowed to see.

Aaron: I love you, man. Glad you're back.

Stephanie! Thanks for what you said there! I looked at your blog, and you guys seem so happy! What a beautiful family you have. I remember a certain stake president once saying that your family came from "good breeding stock," and it looks like he's right :) Question: did you marry into the same last name?

Jarom: I'm grateful to get such positive feedback from someone I have known so briefly. Wise words there.

Nicole: Thanks, and life is wonderful right now!

Matt: Gee, I never knew you were so smart! Ha, just kidding. I LOVE this post. You obviously have done a lot of thinking. I remember the days when you were still congratulating yourself on having a gay friend, and you have come a long way since then. Come freakin' visit me.

Cyd: Thanks, and you bring up an important point. Anyone should feel free to link to this post or copy it. I would have felt dumb saying that before, but now that people have expressed a desire to do so, please go for it. I only posted it in the first place so it might be helpful to people.

Finally, Monkey: You dork. you didn't leave your e-mail address anywhere. Survey says: BUZZZZZ! I love you, man. It's been like ten years. I have to know about your life.

Anyway, friends and neighbors, I appreciate the compliments, the gibes and criticisms, the comments and e-mails, the discussion, and especially the tone that has been adopted here. I really do love you all.


Eddie said...


I don't know you. I've probably never met you, and vice-versa. Adam Chipman, who is an old mission friend of mine, sent me a link to this blog post. I read the whole post and then asked him if there was anything specific he wanted me to take away from it. He said that there wasn't anything specific, just that it was interesting. Your blog post did make me want to add my own comments, but after awhile I realized I wasn't really sure if I wanted to say anything at all, let alone what I would say if I did say something. So I decided to just let the link suffice, because I figured it was relevant (and perfectly so) to the topic at hand.

I think what originally made me want to post something was your statements "And the issue of gay marriage feels like one of those times when it couldn't hurt the church to allow the gays to change the label of something they already have." and "It is strange to me that the church is taking such a strong stance on what appears to be a political issue." (This last statement taken by itself makes it sound like it is merely a political issue to you). In response to the former statement, I was thinking about how God is the one who defined marriage in the first place and so who are we to re-define it? To the second statement, I was thinking about how it isn't merely a political issue at all... but it's very much a moral issue. (See response to first statement). However, I guess I decided not to post these thoughts originally because 1) I didn't feel like writing all the arguments to support my claim(s) and 2) I decided pretty much most of what I was thinking had either been said by you or someone else, or at least the previous comments had come close enough to what I was going to say--that I ended up leaving well enough alone... till now, I guess.

Your brother in the gospel, Eddie

Eddie said...

I promise I wasn't trying to "bust you", nor did I see it that way or even think of that. :D


Robert Anthony Pierce II said...

Eddie: Thanks, bud :) I didn't think you were, but I didn't want to reply inappropriately. And as for the "merely" a political issue issue, I think the important word in that sentence to me is "appears." I know it's a moral issue, but it's hard for me to defend moral issues these days, when everyone is coming at it from the perspective of politics. Anyway, you seem like a good guy. Thanks again for your input.

Eddie said...

Hi again. Yes, I do agree with you that it is very hard to defend moral positions because once you mention religion, or God, your argument is not considered serious and they say that you must come up with some other "socio-political" defense. I hear you loud and clear on that. Maybe that's partly why I didn't want to say anything the first time...

You seem like a good guy too. :) I'm glad you're supporting proposition 8.


P.S. I too enjoy that quote from Presiden Kimball. It's powerful!

Jason said...

Robbie, could you give me some places to check out the more recent statements of the Church with regards to voting on Prop 8. I watched a number of videos on the Church's Prop 8 website but found nothing to answer my original question. Wiggling through loopholes in the wording isn't my intention as I'm more interested in the nature of the statement. I assume here that they are saying "We ask that you vote for Prop 8." With that in mind...

When you rephrased my point you did it in two very interesting ways:

"(1)If your point is that one can disagree in principle with what the prophet says, but still choose to obey, then I'm right with you. (2)If your point is that we can disagree with a direct commandment from the prophet to the point of not obeying that commandment, then you've lost me."

1. I see this situation as more AGREEING with the Prophet in principle but choosing not to "obey" (we'll get to that in a sec) because it is not appropriate in this context. What context you ask? The context of maintaining marriage as a sacred bond between husband and wife in a secular constitutional democratic state. If California were not a secular constitutional state and/or I did not have strong belief in the importance and morality of constitutional institutions and limitations my context would very probably be one in which voting for Prop 8 would be appropriate.

2. This rephrasing brings us back to my original question: is voting for Prop 8 a "direct commandment." The Harold B. Lee quote says, "We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet." Is that what the Church's support of Prop 8 is? Does God think Prop 8 is how we should vote? None of the statements I've read or heard from the Church lead me to believe that voting yes is either a commandment or what God wills for everyone in California. So I see it not as an issue of obedience but of accepting counsel and applying it where applicable.

Jokey Smurf said...

Jason: at the bottom o this comment are all the imperatives, petitions, and expressed hopes I from the broadcast.

I agree with you, I believe, about constitutional limitations. However, I believe that this amendment is reactionary (I don't mean the political term that is the opposite of "radical," but rather that it's a reaction) to an abuse of constitutional power. I believe that the judicial branch has somehow gained the upper hand in the system of checks and balances, and activist judges and judicial legislation, while an argument can definitely be made for them in civil rights cases, are destroying our system of government. The only way I can see of counteracting those judges is to go back to the constitution. Now, I think a more direct approach would be to include further checks and balances over the judges; I by no means believe that the California constitution is without its flaws. But if changing the constitution is the simplest way to react to an imbalance of power, then I can support it. It's not ideal, because those judges in our nation continue to go mostly unchecked. I'm saddened that judges seem to be able to do whatever they want with a law, even when the law is voted on by the majority of people. Even the phrase "separation of church and state," (a notion I largely oppose) doesn't exist anywhere in our nation's legislature, but was made law by the Supreme Court in 1878, and reinforced in the 1940s.

Anyway, here's that stuff from the Apostles (and one Seventy) at the fireside that was held two weeks ago and to which all members of the Church who are registered to vote in California were invited. Note that Bishops in other areas have been asked to not call upon non-Californians for assistance in call centers or other efforts. Now, on to the commands, and please let me know what you make of them and whether anything you read here influences your stance:

Elder Ballard: I ask you to let this hour that we're together be as though we were sitting in my living room having a confidential talk about this serious concern.

(Mentions that they've been asked by the first presidency to address us on these issues)

Quoting Pres. Monson: "be strong. The philosophies of men surround us. The face of sin today often wears the mask of tolerance. Do not be deceived; behind that facade is heartache, unhappiness, and pain. You know what is right and what is wrong, and no disguise, however appealing, can change that. The character of transgression remains the same. If your so-called friends urge you to do anything you know to be wrong, you be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone. Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow."

Ballard: I ask you to heed the words of President Monson. We need to stand up for that which is right.

Ballard: We encourage members to join in the communications. Many of you will text message, blog, make phone calls, walk your neighborhoods, or just talk to friends, associates, and neighbors.

Ballard: As you do this, please do so in a sensitive manner.

Ballard: Let us be strong in defending our position, yet we we approach others, please let us understand the need for understanding, honesty, and civility. We must act in the spirit described by Elder Robert D. Hales in his conference address on Sunday morning. and proceed with love, kindness, and humanity towards all people. We ask you to prayerfully consider your involvement in this effort and remember that strong stable families headed by a father and a mother are the anchors of civilized society.

Quote from Proclamation on the Family: "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."

Ballard: Please remember the importance you play in teaching these important concepts today and for the benefit of future generations.

Elder Cook: Please understand that the central message of our Savior is to love all of our brothers and sisters. Remember there are good people who disagree with the church's teachings on marriage. Others are unsure of where they stand. Be respectful of their opinions as you share your message.

Quoting Jesus: "Love thy neighbor." "Let your light so shine before men."

Cook: We have the privilege and obligation of letting our voice be heard on important matters.

Quoting first presidency in 1994: "We encourage members to appeal to legislatures, judges, and other government officials to preserve the purposes and sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman and to reject all efforts that give legal authorization or other official approval or support to marriages between persons of the same gender."

Quoting first presidency letter: "We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage. "

Cook (not necessarily a commandment, but relevant): We take great confidence that our loving Heavenly Father has inspired the First Presidency to raise a prophetic voice in defense of marriage between a man and a woman. We ask the Lord's blessings to be upon you as you attempt to protect our Father in Heaven's plan for his children."

Ballard: This evening I'm asking you to use these skills that you uniquely know how to [podcast, twitter, blog, update profiles, text message, write on walls] for the benefit of building the kingdom of God and for good uses.

Cook: It is my hope that you will engage. It is my hope that you will "go viral."

Ballard: You can engage, share meaningful stories in the words that your friends and neighbors will understand.Blog, post videos, and join the conversations through these new media tools.

Ballard: You must take the time to prepare, please study he scriptures and carefully review the materials we of the coalition provide. Then prayerfully seek the guidance of our Heavenly Father as you participate. Please remember that you're a member of the Savior's church and we need to reflect in all we do the savior's love.

Ballard: Be respectful of all their opinions as you share your message. Be especially careful in the workplace and in other settings where discussions of social issues might result in inappropriate tension or conflict. Let's simply have a respectful conversation with our friends and our neighbors and our fellow employees. No, Let's work together, brothers and sisters, to share these messages and protect that which is most sacred to our Father in Heaven.

Elder Whitney Clayton: We invite you to consider helping the efforts that I'll mention.

Clayton: We have asked that at least thirty people in each ward and branch in California be asked to donate at least four hours each week between now and the election.

Clayton: We invite you tonight to consider the following as your time and circumstances allow.

Clayton: Register to vote this week.

Clayton: Contact your family and friends living temporarily out of state, and make sure that they are registered to vote, that they understand the importance of voting in favor of proposition 8, and that they have ordered an absentee ballot.

Clayton: [for young adults] Contact your Bishop and get the name and number of your Proposition 8 coordinator for your ward. Call that person and volunteer to donate whatever time you can, Tuesday evenings and Thursday evenings from six until nine p.m., or any other hours you may be available. [Same thing except contact your institute representative]

Clayton: Set aside Saturdays between now and the election from nine in the morning until two in the afternoon to participate in calling,walking, and other assignments.

Clayton: The weekend before the election.... we invite you to set aside as much of your time as possible for the One Hundred Hour program. Details for this program will be forthcoming.

Clayton (special request to young adults, regarding online resources provided by church): We hope that as Elder Ballard has suggested, you will post these materials on your own blogs, social media sites, and elsewhere.

Cook: There have been some very specific requests that are made of you this evening.... and so we go to the membership of the church after the call of the first presidency to ask you to give your best to this most significant effort to support in every way possible the sacred institution of marriage as we know it to be.

Ballard: One of the things I would suggest to all of you is to think through who you know that feels about marriage as you do, that are not members of the church, and ask them to join you in this great effort.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your viewpoint Robbie. Your words were picked well. I now have a little more understanding regarding same-sex attraction in the church. I personally don't think I need to pray about how I should vote for Prop 8. I don't think I would or should get a different opinion than the first presidency. From my reading of what the first presidency wrote concerning is clear I am voting yes. Thank you so much on your insight, it really opened my eyes and made me think quite a bit.

Nathan said...

Good to hear from you. Thanks for the post.

Ben said...

I'm glad you found a way to let your feelings out on this issue.I may have decided to leave the church, but i definitely believe in being true to my wife. We did have a few problems in the past with my own gay tendancies, and that is why we separated for a time. But now we have found a way to live happily together. You are absolutely right, robbie. Gay men can keep it in their pants. they can stay true to their partners and they should be allowed to live the way they see fit.