The Presbyterian Church voted today to alter its stance on marriage:
Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives.
This is the kind of definition that attempts to blend the old with the new, kind of like how the LDS Church has taken steps to publicly support LGBT rights, but not marriage/same-sex intimacy.
The difference is that whereas the Presbyterian Church now actually welcomes gay couples into its fold, the LDS Church is maintaining a rather uncomfortable Orwellian situation where people are free to support same-sex marriage or coupledoms as “good” until they actually want to BE in one, when all of a sudden, it’s bad, sinful, etc.
There is also the Orwellian dilemma of Mormons having general permission from their leaders to support gay marriage, women’s ordination or whatever on social media so long as that support doesn’t appear like a strategic campaign to undermine the Church. According to Q12-member Christofferson, the Church functions by “persuasion, not coercion” (which is why one is free to hold opposing views), but he left unsaid that the shepherds are the ones to do the persuading, and the sheep must remain sheep or else risk coercion from the Church. I’m pretty sure that in a situation in which shepherds are trying to lead “from behind,” sheep will be punished who just happen to be out front and other sheep are following.
Obviously, the Church wants to be in a comfortable position when the US Supreme Court this summer overturns the remaining state bans on same-sex marriage. But I think things will become more and more uncomfortable/unstable for the Church.
While the Presbyterian Church can have a conversation and put it to a vote after which there are “winners” and “losers” (some of the losers leave, while others stay because, as one put it, “the conversation is important”), the LDS Church’s idea of a “conversation” is rather stilted (see the above persuasion/coercion doublespeak). Maintenance of the hierarchy means that any anti-gay things said by living apostles pretty much have to be upheld until, I don’t know, at least 10 years after they die. I’ve written before on how I’d hope someone like Dallin Oaks would take his decades of working on gay issues, reflect on the gaps/problems in his paradigm, and now work to alter his own position so as to not put the Church on a path of having to maintain his heterosexism.
But someone like Oaks is a reflection of a church with a heteropatriarchal theology that will be hard to work through for everyone involved. Another difference between the Presbyterian Church and why they can support gay marriage and the LDS Church can’t, is the former also ordains women so that ecclesiastical power is not tied to a single gender, thus not requiring compulsory heterosexuality to maintain it.