Monday, November 24, 2008

Romney's View

One of the blogs I read is Everyday Romneys. It is a very fun read. Jessica does most of the posts and they are pretty entertaining! The last two posts were done by her husband Ryan on a very serious topic. They were so eloquently written and so succinctly summed up MY feelings on a the particular subject that I asked if I could copy them here. Ryan gave me the okay, so here is what he wrote:


I have run across various opinions on proposition 8 which was recently voted upon in CA. I had a period of indifference on the subject due to my status as a Washingtonian. As I have observed reactions from those who are of my faith and those who are not I have become more thoughtful about the subject and formed my own opinion.

To those not of my faith,

It is the inherent function of government to establish a common morality. From Hammurabi's code until the most recent congressional session, societies attempt to define what is in their common good. Few question laws prohibiting murder, theft, rape, tax evasion, etc. because they are so widely agreed upon. However, we become uncomfortable as our government attempts to legislate for or against behaviors and activities that we are not so readily in agreement with. It is then, that some erroneously begin to posit that governments have no right to legislate morality. They fail to recognize that ALL of our laws in one way or another establish a common morality. Proposition 8 is no different.

So when it comes down to it, proposition 8 is a question of morality. Couching the discussion in terms of civil rights pushes the moral questions away from homosexuality toward bigotry. Suddenly, the proposition is recast as the "Am I a bigot?" proposition. The argument is boldly made that anyone who is for proposition 8 must hate gay people. This more bellicose and less genuine argument is an easier one to win. Rather than debate the opposition, we need only yell bigot.

I guess this is where I want to interject that I am no bigot. I do not hate people based on their sexual orientation. I think there is a profound reason why when asked which is the "great" commandment Christ taught "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." This is foundational to all of God's laws. Unfortunately there are misguided souls who spew hate and terror at abortion clinics and at gay pride events in an attempt to further their misconceptions of Christianity. This contradicts Christ's teachings. There ought not be such unkindness, harshness, or antipathy for any of us who fail daily to meet the high bar that Christianity sets.

We love people around us despite easily identifying points of disagreement with them. Most often we find this in our own families. Even when these disagreements are rooted in deep characteristic components of personality. And so it is with defining marriage. I can disagree with the definition my neighbor chooses to accept regardless of why he does so. I can even do this without hating him for it. It seems disingenuous to accuse me of hating an entire population most of whom I don't even know simply based upon the fact that I am not in favor of revamping marriage.

To those who share my faith,

I was introduced to this talk from Neal A. Maxwell, an apostle and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ. Though given 30 years ago, it is surprisingly current. It communicates my feelings on proposition 8 succinctly.

Discipleship includes good citizenship; and in this connection, if you are careful students of the statements of the modern prophets, you will have noticed that with rare exceptions–especially when the First Presidency has spoken out–the concerns expressed have been over moral issues, not issues between political parties. The declarations are about principles, not people, and causes, not candidates. On occasions, at other levels in the Church, a few have not been so discreet, so wise, or so inspired.

But make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters; in the months and years ahead, events will require of each member that he or she decide whether or not he or she will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions (see 1 Kings 18:21).

President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had "never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional, or political life" (CR, April 1941, p. 123). This is a hard doctrine, but it is a particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ.

We are now entering a period of incredible ironies. Let us cite but one of these ironies which is yet in its subtle stages: we shall see in our time a maximum if indirect effort made to establish irreligion as the state religion. It is actually a new form of paganism that uses the carefully preserved and cultivated freedoms of Western civilization to shrink freedom even as it rejects the value essence of our rich Judeo-Christian heritage. . . .

Brothers and sisters, irreligion as the state religion would be the worst of all combinations. Its orthodoxy would be insistent and its inquisitors inevitable. Its paid ministry would be numerous beyond belief. Its Caesars would be insufferably condescending. Its majorities–when faced with clear alternatives–would make the Barabbas choice, as did a mob centuries ago when Pilate confronted them with the need to decide.

Your discipleship may see the time come when religious convictions are heavily discounted. M. J. Sobran also observed, "A religious conviction is now a second-class conviction, expected to step deferentially to the back of the secular bus, and not to get uppity about it" (Human Life Review, Summer 1978, p. 58). This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain of people's opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions. Resistance to abortion will soon be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened.

In its mildest form, irreligion will merely be condescending toward those who hold to traditional Judeo-Christian values. In its more harsh forms, as is always the case with those whose dogmatism is blinding, the secular church will do what it can to reduce the influence of those who still worry over standards such as those in the Ten Commandments. It is always such an easy step from dogmatism to unfair play–especially so when the dogmatists believe themselves to be dealing with primitive people who do not know what is best for them. It is the secular bureaucrat's burden, you see.

Am I saying that the voting rights of the people of religion are in danger? Of course not! Am I saying, "It's back to the catacombs?" No! But there is occurring a discounting of religiously-based opinions. There may even be a covert and subtle disqualification of some for certain offices in some situations, in an ironic "irreligious test" for office.

However, if people are not permitted to advocate, to assert, and to bring to bear, in every legitimate way, the opinions and views they hold that grow out of their religious convictions, what manner of men and women would they be, anyway? Our founding fathers did not wish to have a state church established nor to have a particular religion favored by government. They wanted religion to be free to make its own way. But neither did they intend to have irreligion made into a favored state church. Notice the terrible irony if this trend were to continue. When the secular church goes after its heretics, where are the sanctuaries? To what landfalls and Plymouth Rocks can future pilgrims go? . .

It may well be, as our time comes to "suffer shame for his name" (Acts 5:41), that some of this special stress will grow out of that portion of discipleship which involves citizenship. Remember that, as Nephi and Jacob said, we must learn to endure "the crosses of the world" (2 Nephi 9:18) and yet to despise "the shame of [it]" (Jacob 1:8). To go on clinging to the iron rod in spite of the mockery and scorn that flow at us from the multitudes in that great and spacious building seen by Father Lehi, which is the "pride of the world," is to disregard the shame of the world (1 Nephi 8:26–27, 33; 11:35–36). Parenthetically, why–really why–do the disbelievers … watch so intently what the believers are doing? Surely there must be other things for the scorners to do–unless, deep within their seeming disinterest, there is interest.

If the challenge of the secular church becomes very real, let us, as in all other human relationships, be principled but pleasant. Let us be perceptive without being pompous. Let us have integrity and not write checks with our tongues which our conduct cannot cash.

Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes will be lost. Even these, however, must leave a record so that the choices before the people are clear and let others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel. There will also be times, happily, when a minor defeat seems probable, that others will step forward, having been rallied to righteousness by what we do. We will know the joy, on occasion, of having awakened a slumbering majority of the decent people of all races and creeds–a majority which was, till then, unconscious of itself.

Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves "summer is nigh" (Matthew 24:32). Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat.

(Neal A. Maxwell, "Meeting the Challenges of Today," BYU Devotional, October 10, 1978)

~By Ryan

I didn't mean to publish that previous post yet. I had published it with a future date intending to add some more to the post before it was posted on the blog. But I couldn't get back to it in time so I kept delaying the posting by a few more days to allow myself some imaginary open window of time to get back to the post and finish it. Well, I finally forgot to extend the deadline and so the post was published prematurely. After finishing my initial pass on the post I was nagged by the fact that it was incomplete. I had only hit the periphery, but the heart of the issue was missing.

I unknowingly avoided the core issue because I was afraid of being perceived by those who didn't agree as harsh, intolerant and ignorant. But, as I mulled over the post I realized that the obvious elephant in the room that wasn't being directly addressed was homosexual sex. Namely, is it a correct/good/moral behavior?

The problem with discussing this question in isolation is that it targets a single behavior and elicits harsh accusations from its antagonists and defensive anger from its supporters. So the discussion quickly devolves into a squabble of hyperbole and exaggeration. It paints those who partake in the behavior as bad if the answer is affirmative and good if the answer is negative. What is omitted is the glaring fact that we all struggle with maintaining morality regardless of our position on this single issue.

We all have strengths and we all have struggles. Yet oddly, they don't seem to be measured out uniformly. Some are gifted athletes, while others struggle for mediocrity and still others are missing limbs or vital organs. Likewise some struggle with depression while others seem to be predisposed to an eternally rosy disposition. It doesn't matter who we are or what we may seem to everyone else, we all have our own areas where we shine and where we stumble. What makes life even more complex is that our areas of strength and weakness are checkered and patchy and wonderfully mixed up.

My personal positions on what is and is not moral are derived from an amalgam of personal experience and the Christian doctrines to which I ascribe. I believe homosexual sex is immoral. It is immoral like lying and fornication and covetousness and ingratitude and addiction and lust are all immoral. Oh the list of possible immoralities is too vast to capture. My own list of favorites is too long to capture as well and frankly too personal to share with the World Wide Web.

So the fact that someone seems predisposed towards homosexuality does not disqualify it as an "immorality" to me. Nothing would be immoral if the litmus test was whether or not there was a natural inclination towards it. I am naturally inclined to a myriad of things that I have learned through sad experiences are not good. The fact that some people are genetically inclined to become alcoholics does not mean that alcoholism is correct/good/moral.

This is a difficult pill to swallow because abiding by its precepts necessitates discomfort and suffering by those inclined towards it. Is this fair? No, it isn't fair. I feel deep sympathy for those who struggle with this. I am genuinely sorry for their plight. I have read about real people whose bodies can't tolerate sunlight and are forced to live their entire lives outcast from the sun. I know children who suffer from severe physical disorders like cerebral palsy and Down's syndrome. My heart aches for their suffering in much the same way.
I can not argue that we all suffer equally in life. This has not been my experience. However, we all do suffer from our own maladies and predispositions and discomforts. One benefit of our suffering is that it can breed a greater capacity for empathy for others that suffer along side us.

My position on the morality of homosexual sex informs my position on the morality of gay marriage. I understand that my views are not shared with everyone. There are those who choose a different set of morals. I respect their opinions even if I cannot embrace them. I would not vote to change the laws to legalize today’s illicit drugs even though it would alleviate the suffering of some segments of the population at the expense of other segments. It would expand their freedom to practice their own set of morals. I would oppose it. As a citizen, I have my 1 vote on what I think is moral and what I think is not.

Likewise, I would choose to cast my 1 vote in favor of not changing our traditional views of marriage to incorporate gay marriage. I do not understand why civil unions cannot be constructed to afford those who enter into long term homosexual relationships the same protections and benefits that traditional marriage offers. I want to keep the lines between my morality on this issue clear and precise. Some argue that this makes the issue one of mere semantics and ideals, and I guess for me that is precisely what this issue is about.

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