When Love Requires Respect and Recognition
John Dehlin raises the question what we can do to stop the suicides of our children. Our children commit suicide because we deny them the love and respect that every human being requires to prosper. Unable to reconcile the Mormon idea of goodness and their gender, self-destruction appears to be the only way out.
In light of gender biology, the dogma that homosexuality is sinful can only be sustained by appeals to fear and hate, in this case, the fear of family disintegration. But the gospel is supposed to free us from fear. It is no accident that the first and the last episodes of the gospel contain the admonition to fear not.
When the angel appeared to Mary to reveal that she shall be the mother of God, he begins with the words: â€œFear not!â€ And when Christ appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, He begins with the words â€œFear not!â€
Whether or not gay marriage hurts the institution of the family is an empirical question. That means that we can observe the effects of gay marriage.
In the absence of demonstrated negatives, Proposition 8 harms not only our gay children and neighbors but it undermines religious tolerance, which constitutes in part the foundation of western civilization.
Facts are stubborn things. In a free country, facts will outlast dogma. Unless western civilization collapses, may be, undermined by fundamentalism, religious homophobia is on the verge of joining the ranks of creationism and flat earth geography.
Some people fear that LDS leaders cannot possibly change their mind about homosexuality because it would amount to the surrender of the essence of the Church. The obvious reply is that it was once unthinkable to ordain Africans and their descendents that dogma has gone by the wayside. Likewise, homophobia is not a gospel principle. It is a dogma that requires the force of the government to remain sustainable.
Progress is not inevitable. Force and coercion have been able to suppress facts for generations. However, such suppression comes at a cost. In the case of homophobic denial, the suicide of our children is part of that price.
I do not know whether gender equality will benefit organized Mormonism. It is clear, however, that gender equality is more compatible with love and tolerance. More importantly, our children, gay or straight, will enjoy a healthier upbringing in a society where our love for people who do not hurt others bears the fruits of respect and recognition.
The gospel says that Christ brought us the truth and that the truth shall set us free. I cannot claim to know the truth but everything we know about homosexuality tells us that our love for our gay neighbors and children requires that we respect them.
That means that Christians shall vote no on Proposition 8. Mormons who confess their opposition openly may be heard by a desperate child who might take courage from our testimony. When enough of us do it, it will make a difference to somebody’s child.