How to be homophobes, by Linda and Richard Eyre
Unfortunately, my Google News feed on the word “Mormon” regularly pulls up articles on Mormontimes.com. I rarely read anything on Mormontimes.com; I’m not a fan of propaganda. But I saw one on same-sex marriage and figured I’d take a look. I should have known better…
The article, Use Spiritual Message to Share Same-Sex Marriage Beliefs, is by Linda and Richard Eyre, who apparently are important because they started valuesparenting.com and have written some books.The Eyres get one thing correct: Trying to explain why the LDS Church opposes same-sex marriage based on logic (they say “political arguments”) or reason (they use “historical arguments”) doesn’t work,
You can talk till you are blue in the face about how marriage has always been between a man and a woman, or about how we should honor the California popular vote, or about how kids could become gender-confused, and you will just sound more narrow and prejudiced and homophobic than ever to your opponent.
Yep. That’s right. Mormons will sound more “narrow[-minded]” and “homophobic” the more they try to justify their bigotry. Why? Because it’s still bigotry.
This is pretty simple to understand in mathematical terms:
justifying bigotry = bigotry^10
I am, of course, just making that up. But that’s how it seems. When you try to justify your bigotry, you really just come across as a bigger bigot.
So, what do the Eyres suggest instead?
We’ve taken to just saying, “Let me just spend a minute telling you about a spiritual belief that I think will explain our position.” Then we say something like this:
Mormons have a highly family-centric theology, believing that God is literally our Spiritual Father and that we lived as spirit persons with our heavenly parents before coming to this earth. Marriage and procreation provide the physical bodies that allow additional spiritual siblings to come from the spiritual pre-life into mortality. And we believe that families can continue to be together in the hereafter.
In this context, marriage between a man and a woman, and having children together, lies at the center of God’s plan and is a core purpose and reason for this earth and our life on it. Hopefully, understanding that Mormons have these beliefs makes it easier for you to see why we want to protect the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and for you to understand that our church is not anti-gay but pro-marriage.
We always try to mention that we view all people as our brothers and sisters and we add our personal belief that we favor full-rights-giving civil unions, and that it is the divine and eternally purposed concept of marriage that we are trying to protect.
Making a spiritual statement like this usually ends the debate. It doesn’t win the debate or convert or even interest people in our beliefs, but it raises the conversation to a level where at least people can agree to disagree. Whether someone is intrigued by the belief, or whether he or she thinks we are crazy, it’s hard to go back to a political argument after you’ve made a spiritual statement, and in the context of what we believe about the purpose and plan of mortality and eternity others can at best respect us, and at worst at least grasp why we have to try to protect traditional marriage.
The second paragraph is important and useful – Mormons oppose homosexuality because they are supernatural-gender-essentialists: they believe gender is spiritual, not just biological (never mind the socio-cultural, of course). That does factor into their homophobia because you can’t change genders; god willed that spirits be male and female, and they must be correspondingly masculine and feminine, or the whole Plan of Salvation falls apart. Okay. Got it.
But, and this is the important part, the leap of logic in paragraph three is apparently invisible to the Eyres. The Eyres say that their belief in supernatural-gender-essentialism justifies their opposition to same-sex marriage. That is a non sequitur, pending qualification. If they had said, “Our belief in supernatural-gender-essentialism precludes Mormons from performing marriages between same-sex couples in Mormon ceremonies,” I’d have no qualms with the statement (their still bigots, but it’s their religion and they can do what they want in their bigoted religion). But that’s not what they said. They said, “Our belief in supernatural-gender-essentialism forces us to prevent any same-sex couples of any religious/irreligious persuasion getting married.” How? That is a non sequitur. Just because the Eyre’s are bigots and the leadership of the LDS Church is bigoted, in thought and in practice, doesn’t mean they have to force their bigotry on the broader society. Ergo, the Eyres’s statement and claim falls flat.
If I met the Eyres and struck up a conversation with them; and if the topic of same-sex marriage came up; and if they used this “spiritual statement” to defend their bigotry; it would not end the debate with me. I’d tell them they belong to a bigoted religion, with a bigoted theology, and, even so, that does not mean they have to try to force their bigotry on people who don’t share their worldview.