Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Constitutional Rights and Religious Reactions to DOMA

[Dear God, I've been fighting off a crash all day, but I have something to say and I really need to be able to concentrate because I think it's worth saying. So please help me do this quickly and clearly and then I promise I'll go lay down and rest and watch Stargate like a good little girl. Thank You, Me]

There are strong emotions all around after the Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act today. As I have freely admitted, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. For those not Mormons, please, keep reading. This is not a place of bashing, but I hope it is one where hurt or anxious feelings are soothed.

Particularly in California, Mormons are seen as the hated force behind Proposition 8, the vote where the majority agreed that marriage, by definition, is between a man and a woman. What has been clouded is the fact that Mormons were far from the majority in that effort. They have also been mis-represented as doing so to attack the LGBT portion of our society. For Mormons, mis-representation is hardly a new thing and one that our mature members recognize as almost routine. But that is hardly the point. Rather, it is a concern to protect our most sacred beliefs - that the family unit is crucial to fulfilling our Heavenly Father's plan on earth.

This is not only a mortal affair, but an eternal one. The family is meant to continue throughout forever. And to achieve these highest blessings possible, the promises must be made in the proper place (the temple) and by the proper authority (one with the legitimate priesthood of God who has been authorized to 'seal on earth and have it be sealed in heaven'. See :Matt. 16:19Hel. 10:7, and The Guide to the Scriptures - Seal, Sealing). I cannot and do not attempt to speak for God. I can only understand and follow His revealed word as best I can in my honest desires to be true to Him and the church I believe He has formed for His children to be able to have all parts necessary to return to Him. And the crowning point of those needed steps is to be married in God's temple for time and eternity, which marriage is between man and woman. His definition, not ours.

So what about those who chose a different lifestyle? Some will argue it is not actually a choice at all. I believe in some it is and they use the claim 'they were born that way' to side-step responsibility. Some I think are more naturally inclined towards a different way of life. This is the area where the discussion tends to get heated and people feeling attacked on both sides tend to say things that only intensify the antagonism. Again, this is not the place for that.

Religiously speaking, I feel sadness when I think of those living the alternate lifestyles as I see it ultimately having a negative impact on their eternal future and I would want everyone to have the best possible. I would also consider reminding those who claim that 'God made me this way' as an excuse that all people have their weaknesses, temptations, their thorns of the flesh to test and prove them as did Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 wherein God answered:
 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 10:13 we are promised:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
I cannot claim to know how God will succor those in this particular situation, but I can say that He helps me every day carry the burdens and sorrows of my own life. His power, His love is real and dependable to all who will steadfastly seek it.

There are, of course, those who will think being considered according to religious views which do not legitimize their positions as distasteful if not insulting. This is where today's title comes into play.

America was primarily peopled by those who sought a refuge where they could fully worship their God the way they believed they were supposed to. Our very first amendment in the Bill of Rights is supposed to guarantee the 'free exercise' of religion. To have the government make rulings on what is to us a religious matter is distressing in the least. To have a religious matter co-opted and secularized places it in the realm that leaves it open for further legal interference. Which directly counters first amendment rights. There is a reason the religious right gets anxious about this subject.

Unfortunately, I think the instinctive anxiety clouds the recognition of why there is so much concern. Admittedly, there is also a portion of the population who are narrow-minded bigots, but to apply that title to all who stand by man-woman marriage merely places the attacker in the same category. Sorry if it hurts to read it, but it is true none-the-less. Bigotry is simply intolerance of any other belief system outside your own and is used as an excuse to attack verbally, politically, physically any who do not comply. As I said, some fall into that category on the religious front, but some are merely seeking to participate in the conversation.

What I'm hoping is that considering what this means to us, both the religious and the alternative life-style people will recognize what our concern truly is. Maybe then there will be less reaction and more honest conversation.

I, personally, think all people should be treated with respect and love. Our scriptures teach that all are welcomed, that the gospel message of Christ and His sacrifice and offers of repentance and forgiveness are available to everyone. And everyone needs it. Each for their own personal situations, but everyone will need to apply the Atonement appropriately to survive this life and return cleansed and refreshed for whatever lies beyond mortality. And as the Declaration of Independence states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Religion should not stand in the way of civil rights just as those who do not believe should not be allowed to inhibit the 'free exercise' of religion. It goes both ways.

One final note for those who may still be inclined to condemn The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for voicing our position regardless of public criticism. There are two Responses I would have you read closely - that to today's DOMA ruling and that on the Boy Scout policy regarding gay membership. If you pay attention, the concern expressed in the first is with the process of a government which ignores a legal, public vote rather than any railing attack. It also simply reaffirms our beliefs in man-woman marriage. In the second, you will see that our church welcomes the gay membership ruling under the same terms that we welcome gays in general. Those terms are simply that so long as one lives according to the commandments of God, their particular leanings are no basis for condemnation or exclusion. And those commandments are the same for them as they are for us - that sexual relations are to be shared only between a man and a woman lawfully married. Pre-marital sex is a no-no for everyone. So agrees the majority of religious moral standards. It is, therefore, no more of an inhibitor than any other would face.

I hope this is understandable and received in the spirit in which it was intended. Now, if you all don't mind (my years in Texas are threatening to show through...), I'm going to lay down and rest. My body does not function in certain normal manners and I happen to be having trouble of late. Until the doctors understand what they know happens but not exactly why, let alone what to do about it, that will kinda be the story of my life... With love and best wishes to all - Till next time. :)

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