Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In defense of Mormons (myself included)

I am not brainwashed. I am capable of forming my own opinions.

And when my opinions align with the opinions of my church I don’t appreciate people telling me that I am “blindly following whatever you're told to do” as I was recently accused of doing.

I was also informed that I do not follow any of Jesus Christ’s teachings and that my personal goal is to take away the rights of blacks and gays.

Thank you for informing me of my personality and goals.

This is not okay.

And what I’m looking for in this post isn’t a bunch of comments saying things like “Oh Becky, you totally follow Christ. You’re a good person.”

I am looking to clear the air.

We’ll begin with me apparently trying to take away the rights of others. I suppose that means that I am at fault for Prop 8 being voted through twice.

Fine. Even though I didn’t vote, donate money or spend time in call centers trying to convince others over the phone… I will take responsibility for that. I am not bothered by this.

Less than 13% of the Californian population is Mormon. That means that if every Mormon voted for Prop 8 and every non-Mormon voted against it, Prop 8 would have failed by 87%.

But it didn’t.

Yes, Mormons had something to do with that. Yes, members of the Mormon church donated their personal time and money to trying to pass a law they believe in.

But surely we can’t take all the credit.

And yet, of the 39% of the rest of the Pro-Prop 8ers, no one seems to be harassed to the same extent that we were and are.

If Mormons stand up and say, “We believe that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God” that is not secret code for “We hate Gays and so does God.”

We do not hate gays. Most of us don’t even dislike gays. Sure, when hordes of screaming homosexuals spray paint rude, profane and frankly bigoty things on our homes and churches we feel uncomfortable and maybe (quite understandably) afraid for our lives.

But I have yet to hear a Mormon say “Gays are evil. Gays are wrong. Gays do not deserve the same rights as us.”

We don’t preach or practice those doctrines.

Most Mormons, myself included, believe that being Gay isn’t something you can control. We don’t even see being Gay as being a sin, since God doesn’t punish you for things you can’t control.

In fact, nearly every Mormon I’ve spoken to about this has expressed grief for the hardships that homosexuals endure. Because, yes, we do believe Sodomy is a sin. And we understand that to be attracted to someone and never be able to act on it may be one of the hardest trials to live through on earth.

But we also believe that people are blessed for living the way that God wants them to.

I know that probably makes Gays angry (and yet I will try not to inform you of how you feel, since I know that I hate being told by others how I feel.). I have had several people yell at me, or to others near me or write nasty things on my blog.

So be it. As long as you’re angry because we pity you or we grieve with you or we wish we could help you understand where we are coming from.

And you’re not angry because, as you seem to believe, we hate you.

Especially me, apparently.

Guess what, Mormons are used to persecution. We know what it’s like for people to pass laws specifically to spite us. We were driven from the United States and were forced to form our own little community in Utah where people would stop burning down our houses and killing our children. We kept moving to places people didn’t want, like a swamp or a desert, hoping –just maybe—that people would leave us alone.

But still you won’t. Our churches are still being burned down.

People are accusing us of being unaccepting, unloving bigots.

Do you know what a bigot is? “A bigot is a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices, especially one exhibiting intolerance, irrationality, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs.”

A bigot is not someone who has different beliefs than you. A bigot is someone who is irrational, intolerant, and obstinately devoted to their own opinions.

I have yet to see those qualities exhibited by the Mormon church or individuals in the case of Gay rights.

And yet, when I go to Salt Lake people on the corner yell at me and hold up a sign that says “Go to Hell, Mormons.”

We are not the bigots in this situation.

And the part about me taking away the rights of blacks… I don’t even know what that could possibly mean. I have no refute because I have never even heard the rumor that Mormons think white people are a cut above the rest of the world or that we deserve more rights.

Which is good, since Travis and I went to several Mormon churches in Africa and there certainly weren’t any whites besides us there.

And one would assume that Africans would not follow the teachings of an anti-black, pro-white church unless they were being forced somehow.

And even then, I think they’d have some problems.

In case I have not made myself clear (although I’m pretty sure that I have), I try every single day to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Examples include, loving, accepting and trying to help those around me, understanding principles before “blindly” following them, and making an effort help others understand what I believe, but not forcing them to follow or agree with me.

The church recently released a statement concerning the Prop 8 ruling.

It is short, I encourage you all to read it and determine if it is in anyway hateful, rude, condescending or even negative at all. Especially if it follows the rules of bigotry, is it exhibiting or encouraging intolerance, irrationality, and animosity toward those of differing beliefs?

If you are a reader who is angry with this post and want to leave me a mean comment, please do. However, I ask that you do not leave an unrelated, sarcastic comment like “How weird that people want rights” or “Bizarre how angry people get when you treat them unfairly.” I have gotten those comments before.

I am actually interested in a legitimate opinion concerning something I’ve written, not in an angry tirade that is mostly unrelated to what I’m talking about.

I hope you all have a very nice day, even (and maybe especially), if you are Gay.

(p.s. We don’t practice polygamy in the Mormon church. Stop accusing us of it.)


Allie Hymas said...

I was recently reading an interview about the church's position on this issue and I thought of something in a new way than I had before. The apostle being interviewed brought up the point that members of the church that express gay tendencies are held to the exact same standard that unmarried heterosexual members of the church are held to, meaning that they are required by the Lord's commandments to abstain from sexual relations. Whether a person is gay or heterosexual, this is indeed a difficult task. However, many of God's commandments are difficult to follow because they go against the desires of the natural man. We know that in many cases the words "easy", "fun", or "pleasant" are not always associated with the right choice. The important thing is that God's commandments are eternal and must be obeyed, or there will be consequences. It is also true however, that God's commandments are the SAME for all of his children and that all of his children have the capacity to choose their actions, regardless of the fact that it may be difficult to obey His laws. Gay people may or may not be able to control the fact that they are attracted to the same gender, but they ARE able to control how they act on that attraction, just as heterosexuals are able to control how they act on their attraction to the opposite gender. I believe that both gays and unmarried heterosexuals will be rewarded with the same blessings and privileges in the eternities based on how they choose to deal with their trials in this life. I think this issue is less about Mormons being intolerant of gays and more about people trying to reason away God's commandments because they are sometimes "hard" to follow.

Jessica D. said...

I think it's really interesting that this is how so many social issues tend to play out. Everyone is mad at everyone else for not believing as they do and feel that they are attacked and must attack back (not you just the rhetoric of both anti-gay marriage and also pro-gay marriage). It's such a quagmire because gay people feel that their fundamental rights to marry are being suppressed unfairly but many of those in the anti-gay marriage camp feel that it is immoral and therefor will never be okay with it. There isn't a middle ground to compromise. It's the prisoner's dilemma everyone pursues their own self-interest and no one wins. But there isn't a compromise to be had.

Robert Hagedorn said...

No matter how we feel about same-sex marriage, the exegesis for the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Genesis makes us uncomfortable. Why? Because the deed Adam and Eve did, according to the evidence in the story, was sodomy--the mystery the bishop of Hippo almost solved 1600 years ago. (He thought the sin was penile/vaginal.) For more information google The First Scandal Adam and Eve. Then click, read, and click again.

Marge Bjork said...

Thanks for saying all of this. I never know what to say, I'm still not sure how to express myself on this subject but I really appreciate other Mormons speaking out intelligently about it. Because it makes me feel a little bit stronger.

MARCIE said...

Well said, Becky. And good comments as well.