How to be homophobes, by Linda and Richard Eyre

Homosexuality

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.

(Note: Don’t they kind of remind you of these two?)

110 thoughts on “How to be homophobes, by Linda and Richard Eyre

  1. Seth@101 — that is dangerously close to being a personal attack. Holly, also, you make a valid point, but it’s not helpful to call Seth’s comments “snotty insistence”. You can see where that leads…

  2. Chino, you are right about one thing – I have been escalating my own rhetoric here and I probably need to cool it a few notches.

    Kaileo, I’ve been taking a practical approach (whether it is practical is still in debate). And I realize that it hasn’t exactly been sensitive or validating of the hurt people are feeling. What you went through with your family stinks. I have no reservations in saying that. I even mentioned it yesterday while I was tallying up tithing donation (I’m currently financial clerk) with a member of my bishopric. I mentioned your story of being booted from the house and he agreed with me that that was waay out of line. I’m sure many other Mormons would agree – but many might not. Many might agree with the disown-the-gay-son approach. And that’s a real problem with our culture that needs to be fixed.

    But just to explain (not justify) my position – part of the reason I take a somewhat callous approach in online debate is precisely because I care quite a bit about people, and am very sensitive to their discomfort. I was always running out of the room as a kid during scenes in movies where characters ended up in socially awkward situations, and I still can’t watch socially awkward scenes from even stuff like… Back to the Future, for instance. I empathize too much with the characters on the screen, and I end up having to leave.

    But as a result, I’ve often been pretty easy to manipulate by others through appeal to emotion – in real life. I’ve been burned by it on several occasions too.

    This has, over the years, made me really touchy about emotional manipulation. For instance, nothing I see on TV (including sex, violence, and even payday loan commercials) pisses me off even half as much as those ridiculously teary-faced close-ups they do on the evening news of someone who had a tragedy. It feels like a violation of the person on the screen, and it is a total assault on my senses. I hate it. And I realize the emotional appeal is obscuring other issues as well.

    I hated the “Mormon Proposition” movie trailer for this very reason. It was such a shameless, emotion-laden attempt at manipulation, I felt honestly a little dirty after watching it (and the dirty feeling had nothing to do with being part of the Mormon-church).

    In short, I feel like a lot of people out there are trying to manipulate a quick response through stories of suicides, teary confessionals, and such. And that the objective facts are being concealed. I don’t like being pushed around. I don’t like being manipulated. And the more people up the ante on the emotions homefront, the more I feel like they are trying to pull a fast one on me.

    Kind of like a girl I knew as a youth in our stake who would get up to bear her testimony and “manufacture” a bunch of tears so that we would all think she was “spiritual.” I didn’t like being emotionally manipulated by “faithful” people, and I certainly don’t care for it from the DAMU either.

    This is why when everyone is breaking out the high-pitched emotional rhetoric, I always go “shields at maximum” so to speak. I even went into this mode the day after September 11, actually. All the foaming at the mouth patriotism and ballads frankly disturbed me. I got just a bit cynical in response (ask my mom – she was pretty pissed at me at the time). But my worries about the rally-around-America-fest were also pretty legitimate, and many of them were born out in the ensuing years.

    So Kaileo, it’s not that I don’t care. It’s that I don’t let myself care too much. Because I know people are trying to take advantage of me and others. And I happen to be susceptible to it.

    And incidentally, you have been very gracious in this conversation. So thank you.

  3. In short, I feel like a lot of people out there are trying to manipulate a quick response through stories of suicides, teary confessionals, and such. And that the objective facts are being concealed. I dont like being pushed around.

    What “objective facts” are you looking for, Seth? And if they were presented to you, how do you know you wouldn’t dismiss them with a turn of phrase? Certainly, I think individuals suicides are amplified by the gay establishment to support the cause. I’ll be the first to point this out. There’s a politics to it. But what tends to happen in conservative communities is if someone committed suicide and their suicide note talks about homosexuality, but the person was known to have depression or be bipolar, then the family and community blames it on the mental illness and dismisses the question of homosexuality. They say: “Oh, but this homosexual over here hasn’t committed suicide; they’re happy enough and have less mental illness, so therefore it was the mental illness and not the homosexuality.” So, even if an “objective fact” was demonstrated — which, to me, came in the words of the suicide note — people still refuse to face it.

  4. What amazes me is how the gay activists complain about freedom of expression but they always condemn and label those who have another beliefs, what a bunch of hypos…So far I haven’t read a good response without using the terms bigot, homophobic, etc. Be creative…don’t be narrow minded…

  5. What amazes me is how the conservative religious activists complain about how their religious rights are being violated, but they think nothing of violating the civil rights of gays.
    Gay complain about freedom of expression? Since when? Sounds like a straw man argument there. So much for the “hypo” claim.
    And as far as the terms “bigot” or “homophobic” are concerned, if the shoe fits, then a fabulous gay fashion designer is certainly going to put that shoe on you! (LOL) The question that religious should be asking themselves is, “What behavior or words of mine would cause them to call me a bigot? What can I learn from that?”

  6. Hello SweetPea! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the kinship between LDS and the Roman Catholic Church. The Eyres have done a few speaking engagements that have been sponsored by the Catholic Church. Plus, the two churches seem to be showing a unified front against gay marriage and gay adoption. Or have you already touched on this topic and I missed it??

    Loved the article! Especially the Justifying Bigotry = Bigotry ^10 .. lol!

    Tyff

  7. Richard and Linda dont realize that they probably have a member of their own family who is gay and will NEVER tell them because they know what they think about the whole idea. So keep giving talks about how wrong it is to be gay R +L! You are destroying the self worth of someone very dear to you. All because you do not choose the road of UNCONDITIONAL love and acceptance. The moment you open your yapper to talk about Gods law or spiritual law you are NOT loving and accepting your loved one UNCONDITIONALLY. The sad part is by the time they figure this out their loved one will probably be dead. (From suicide) This is usually when mormons realize what they were doing was slowing erasing that person from life. Typical oblivious mormons. Their religion is more important than loving the individual.

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