LDS Church becoming more and more Orwellian on gay issues

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.

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2 Responses

  1. visitor says:

    The age-based demographic are clear and the disposition to marriage equality had been moving into older demographics steadily. Meanwhile, just as the civil dominoes began falling when MA legalized marriage equality, the ecclesiastical ones are also turning and will begin to pick up speed. The LDS isn’t by any means standing alone but the number of denominations standing with them and the fervor with which they dig in will wane over time. I have even seen evangelical churches looking for ways to backpedal recently in the US.

    I am also very confident that the new LDS landmark legal accommodation in UT will not stand a legal challenge when the right one presents itself. Equal protection is equal protection. Freedom and democracy are not conditional commodities.

  2. Alan says:

    Pew research center has a handy chart on where various faiths stand on same-sex marriage. I’m not sure I agree about the dominoes, though, due to the gendered factor — the patriarchy part of heteropatriarchy. Some faiths, like Catholicism, Islam, and maybe Baptists and Orthodox Jews won’t budge for a long time, and while Mormon leaders won’t say as much, they probably do take cues from the Vatican.

    In terms of the religious liberties provision in Utah, well actually, I think it’s legally solid footing because religions have always been exempt from civil rights. From the Family Medical Leave Act, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and even the Americans with Disabilities Act. You’ll find a “religious exemption” in each one of those, although it is rather disgraceful how the Church cites this an example of carrying on the tradition of exemption. It becomes a question of public rather than legal pressure to change the culture.

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