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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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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Pew Forum Question Does Violence to Mormon Belief

A recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life study, in which over 35,000 Americans were interviewed, had an interesting result. According to this Time article, the Pew Forum study found that

70% of respondents agreed with the statement “Many religions can lead to eternal life.” Even more remarkable was the fact that 57% of Evangelical Christians were willing to accept that theirs might not be the only path to salvation.

Agreement was also made here by 83% of Protestant Christians and 79% of Catholics.

The Time article goes on to say,

In fact, of the dozens of denominations covered by the Pew survey, it was only Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses who answered in the majority that their own faith was the only way to eternal life.

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Billy Joel: “She’ll Promise You More Than the Garden of Eden”

This post is adapted from a presentation I gave for the Psychology of Gender course I taught last year at BYU. Though it might not be clear at first, I conclude with some uniquely LDS themes.

Billy Joel is the master lyricist of the love song.

His love songs reflect a wide spectrum of feelings and attitudes about romantic relationships. We’re all familiar with “The Longest Time,” the prototypical song from the I’m-so-excited-to-be-back-in-love-again-and-I-don’t-care-what-happens genre. For his second wife, supermodel Christie Brinkley, there’s the upbeat 80s icon, “Uptown Girl.” And, of course, there are the touching tributes, “She’s Got a Way” and “Just the Way You Are,” that have been sung by men on many occasions to swoon their wives and girlfriends. Continue reading

Mormon Folk Beliefs!

On March 27 (3-5 p.m.) at the University of Utah, I am giving a presentation at the Society of Mormon Philosophy and Theology, entitled “Toward a Latter-day Saint Theology of Possibilities.” Information about the conference can be found here.

In this presentation I will talk about how “folk beliefs” are unavoidable among Latter-day Saints. Because we do not have an exhaustive theological system or creed, we out of necessity maintain certain beliefs and possibilities that are not the Church’s official position (this is not to say, of course, that they might not be true). Continue reading