Marriage is more than a “right”

Something is wrong, here. It’s suddenly become very normal to talk about marriage as a “right” and a “freedom” and that seems to me a rather impoverished way of talking about marriage. And yet, though one side (those opposed to gay marriage) often disagrees on marriage being a “right”, neither side can seem to get past this issue.

The “right” to be self-fulfilled

Let me try to articulate what I’m talking about: by talking about marriage as a freedom and a right, people are essentially drawing on a narrative like the very one I grew up with: when I marry, I want someone to whom I am physically and sexually attracted; I want someone who treats me well (in part because of their attraction to me) and who helps me reach my full potential as a person (can take me to the temple, etc); I want someone who cares for me like I care for them, who I can keep secrets with and who will share my life with me. I want… I want… I want…

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Responding to the Call of the Other

For a while, I rode the city transit bus to the university. One day, I was sitting next to an empty seat on the bus, and reading a chapter out of my physics textbook. A man got on the bus, and was looking for a seat. I shifted my legs onto the seat next to me, and buried myself in the book. The man found another seat, and I enjoyed sitting next to an empty seat for the rest of the trip.

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Marriage, part 5: Defending marriage, defending charity

This is the final post in a five-part series on marriage, in case that wasn’t obvious in the title.

Thus far I have tried to make a case for difference in marriage, arguing that without confronting the fundamental differences symbolized by the sexual unity of male and female, we are less able to understand fully what it means to be charitable. In this final post, I will argue that defending marriage – and by association, charity – requires we defend difference.

Thus far, Latter-day Saints have put a lot of money and rhetoric into defending marriage, in particular against gay marriage. Perhaps the most notable example of this was the church’s recent campaign for Prop 8 in California. Though Prop 8 passed, we have seen since its passage that this “victory” for marriage cost more than just a lot of money. For the Latter-day Saint church in particular, the victory bordered on a public relations nightmare, with a lot of hate generated against the organization and its membership. Even worse, perhaps, was the division it caused within the membership.

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Marriage, part 4: The sin of Sodom

This post is the fourth in a five-part series of posts about – you guessed it – marriage.

To sum up my argument so far, I began this series of posts discussing differences and why we ought to value them. I then discussed that teaching children to value difference in others begins in the home, where two parents of different descent love each other for their differences (not to say, also, their similarities). Previous to this post, I argued that married couples engage in what I called a ritual of difference, wherein they realize a full expression of the infinity of their relationship – made up in part of their differences – and are better situated to have charity for one another, as well as for others. I would like to turn now to the sin of Sodom and draw all three posts together. Continue reading

Marriage, part 3: Ritual of difference

This post is a continuation of a five-part series on Marriage. Access part one here; access part two here.

In the last post, I argued that teaching our children charity was facilitated by the love parents share in the face of differences. In being one body (one flesh), as Paul taught, we must embrace our differences – otherwise, where were the hearing?

In this post, I want to address a particular difference (or set of differences) which many married couples experience on a regular basis. I’m talking in particular about “knowing” one another in the biblical sense (e.g., “Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived…“). I am not trying to be coy about using the word “sex.” For my purposes, I feel that knowing is the most appropriate word.

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Marriage, part 2: Teaching our children charity

This post is a follow-up from “Marriage, part 1: Why difference matters.” Three more related posts will follow.

In the previous post, I argued that differences were actually essential for a spirit of charity to thrive in marriage. In seeking out and embracing these differences, we learn to love that which is other than us – and by love, I mean in part to appreciate and embrace the unique contribution made by those differences.

Charity, as Paul says, “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” (1 Cor 13:6). The truth is, we (husbands and wives) are different, and to have charity, we must rejoice in those differences. Doing so has the benefit of uniting us, as I discussed before. In this post, I’d like to discuss another benefit through a semi-narrative.

Imagine two people perpetually in conflict with one another. Let us say their conflicts are sometimes not particularly contentious, but do (as they must) get heated every once in a while. Now, in spite of how those conflicts play out (i.e., whether they are resolved or not), imagine that these two people also love each other with complete fidelity – that they are desperately faithful to one another. We might even see their love for one another manifested during conflicts.

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Marriage, part 1: Why difference matters

This is the first in a five-part series on marriage, wherein I discuss charity in marriage, why the gay community should favor marriage between a man and a woman, and why Latter-day Saints are not positioned well to defend against gay marriage.

In all three scriptural accounts of the physical creation, Adam is created of the dust of the earth, while Eve was created of Adam (Genesis 2:7, 21-22; Moses 3:7, 21-22; Abraham 5:7, 15-16). Adam, upon seeing woman for the first time, notes the significance of this division when he calls woman bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. What is striking to me is what Adam says next: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (v. 24 in Genesis and Moses, emphasis mine). Were they not already one flesh before God removed the rib from Adam’s side?

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Why Mormons Should Be the Most Environmentally Friendly People on Earth

We had an excellent Sunday School lesson today in my ward about the Creation, which focused primarily on our stewardship for the earth and for all of God’s creations.

Here are some great quotes (most of which were distributed from my ward’s gospel doctrine teacher) that illustrate just a taste of why, I believe, Latter-day Saints should be the most environmentally friendly people on earth. Continue reading

In Defense of Elder Hafen: Brief Response to FMH

Elder Hafen recently gave (at an Evergreen conference) what I consider to be a wonderful speech concerning same-sex attraction and gay marriage. It is linked on the LDS Newsroom. This speech is probably the most well-balanced and well-informed article on same-sex marriage by an LDS general authority.

Then, to my dismay, I came across this post at FMH, in which ECS criticizes Hafen’s speech, in particular his use of references. But the FMH post itself is misleading and needs to be critiqued.

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LDSApology.org: Climate of reconciliation or of accusation?

There is currently a petition to the First Presidency to apologize on behalf of the Church for “official statements, rhetoric, policy and practice” that “have been injurious to gays and lesbians and their families and friends.”

First, I should say that in many ways I respect this petition. There clearly is a self-conscious attempt to address reconciliation without demanding the Church change its moral position on homosexuality or its political position on gay marriage. There has been a genuine effort, I think, to actually try to make inroads with the Church. I especially like the line, “We believe that people of good will may have differing views about homosexuality, while maintaining amicable relationships.” Yes–let’s hope this is true.

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To Be on Facebook But Not of Facebook: A Mormon Dilemma

Imagine inviting all of your friends over for your birthday party.

And by friends, I mean just about everyone you knew in high school, your college friends, people from your ward(s), people from work, relatives, ex-boyfriends/girlfriends. In other words, this is a BIG party.

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Fit for What?

I believe that one of the common problems of our modern era is that our relationships with our bodies have become abstracted.  This abstracted relationship manifests itself in a lot of ways, but I’d like to focus in on our modern concept of physical fitness.  I’m implicating fitness as an abstracted relationship because we talk about fitness without much discussion of what exactly our bodies should be fit for.

As far as I can see, the implied answers to these questions are  rather unsatisfying.  Fit to inspire envy.  Fit to turn heads.  Fit to be admired, liked, loved.  Perhaps secondarily we hear in the chatter around fitness some answers along the lines of fit to keep living, fit to live longer, or fit to feel good.  Whatever degree of merit these answers deserve, I submit that they all likely fall short of better answers that we might come up with.

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Mormon Blogs and the Search for Truth

I love to ponder, learn, share, and discuss.  I love when people challenge my beliefs in a way that stretches me to seek more deeply for understanding and helps me gain a greater vision of the possibilities and the truth.

I have always been this way and I know it is part of why I discovered the gospel of Jesus Christ and joined His Church.  If I did not desire truth and was not willing to change my mind about things, even things I deeply clung to, I would not be a member of the Church and I would not have the life I live today.

So, I appreciate when people share ideas and challenge each others’ understanding.  I think it is so valuable and so important.  I believe it to be necessary to truly become a Zion people.

Yet, there are some dangers that we need to keep in mind and be aware of:

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Meditations on Time, Part 2: Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future

This is the second of a series of short posts entitled “Meditations on Time.” In this series I will explore some of my thoughts and experiences concerning time and the gospel.

In my previous post, I talked about my childhood fear of living forever. As a young boy, I thought that living forever would be boring and even frightening. I concluded that I would simply live in the present and not worry too much about it.

What I’m aiming to do in this series is to discuss why this childhood view — simply live in the present — is problematic.

I know it’s a couple days after Christmas, but I would like to briefly talk about Ebenezer Scrooge’s resolution at the end of A Christmas Carol. After being shown his tombstone by the Ghost of Christmas Future, Scrooge pleas:

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.

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Please Don’t Hate (H8) Me Because I’m Mormon

Since the passage of Proposition 8 in California, there have been several protests aimed at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These protests are of course understandable. California Latter-day Saints did, after all, play a formidable role in donations and phone calling in support of the measure. This participation was formally encouraged by the general leaders of the Church in Salt Lake City. Considering how big of a deal this is for so many same-sex couples and others in support of same-sex marriage, these protests are inevitable and I welcome this exercise of free speech.

What I disagree with, however, is the “stop the hate (H8)” rhetoric. As if everyone in favor of Prop 8 is hateful and bigoted. Especially Mormons. This message is coming off to be awfully disingenuous and overly dramatic, and also sidesteps the major issues that need to be debated. Just because someone is not in favor of gay marriage does not mean they are hateful. Nor does it mean they are bigoted. They simply disagree with you, in terms of what should count for marriage.

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Instrumental Reasoning (or Why Prayer Works)

How often have you heard someone testify from the pulpit that prayer works, that priesthood blessings work, that the gospel works? Well, I heard one of those again today and (as always) it made me cringe. By now I’ve probably proved myself someone who gets a little too caught up in the way people say things and I plead guilty here. I really believe that the sister in my ward who said that the gospel works meant to say much more than her words alone conveyed. But, since this is a blog and not sacrament meeting, I think I might indulge myself in a bit of nitpicking.

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The Kingdom of God Is Among Us

Whenever I hear people talk about the kingdom of God, it seems like it’s always referred to in the future tense. Lately, I’ve begun to wonder if the kingdom of God isn’t already all around us.

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Why I Love the Theory of Evolution

If I exposed my ignorance the last time I discussed evolution, I am sure to do no better with this post. Since writing (not very well) about why I hate evolution, I’ve thought a lot about the reasons why I love evolution. I hope to adequately articulate one reason here. Continue reading

Fold Your Arms and Be Reverent!

Now that I have kids in primary, I find myself falling into the same trap that I’ve ridiculed in the past: when I want my kids to be quiet in church, I don’t say “be quiet!” Instead, I say, “be reverent,” as though the two were the same thing. Often times, being reverent means, in part, being quiet. After reading a story in the newspaper about an autistic boy who was kicked out of church, and the judge that upheld it, I began to think more about what it might mean for my own kids to be reverent. Continue reading

Quilting and Hope

If you grew up in an LDS family, it’s quite possible that you have at least one grandma, aunt, or immediate family member who made you a quilt and was perhaps even considered a quilting “fanatic” in your family. It can be very easy to take such handmade quilts for granted. Taking some time to ponder the meaning invested in such gifts, however, may help us to appreciate them more. Continue reading