Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thoughts on Marriage - What They Mean, What They Don't Mean...

"Stuff I think about" post number 2...

Over a year has passed since same-sex marriage was legalized all across the United States.  I wrote a post about the new opportunities that we'd have as a church and as a nation, to simply reach out and embrace those who might choose that route and just show more respect.  I certainly had my own reasons to celebrate.  I wasn't mourning like some thought I should be.  I was genuinely happy.

Every once in a while, however, this topic circles around and haunts me.  I have to keep re-evaluating where I stand, what God has told me, and how to keep that in my view while I adapt to the changing political climate and have more and more friends and acquaintances pairing off in same-sex relationships and/or deciding to marry.  I am very close to letting go of this topic and just living, finding out what God would have me do with my personal life and the relationships I have.  But even so, I've had the opportunity to narrow things down and find out what's really bothering me.  Maybe things have changed, or maybe the same thing has been bothering me all along.

It's not a secret that people have different views on marriage, more specifically, among members of the Church (and I realize marriage has already been redefined legally...so read this in past tense if you wish).  Most of the time, it seems like people are coming from all sorts of different angles.  We rarely disagree on the exact same thing...it's more like we're not even talking about the same thing when we think we are.  In other words, a voice that is opposed to same-sex marriage isn't always the exact opposite as a voice that is for it.  I was prepared to deal with these kind of differences among different faiths and with those who had decided to choose that path, but I wasn't prepared to deal with it among other faithful members (it brought a whole new perspective to Elder Oaks' talk "Loving Others and Living with Differences"...I really thought he was talking about different churches).  Since I am caught in the middle, I do sometimes wonder what the larger LGBT Mormon community and their allies think of me and others like me.  Do they really understand me?  What on earth would possess a gay guy to stand behind traditional marriage?  It's not like I don't know what it's like to be gay, or that I'm like some average straight homophobe who thinks gays are ruining society.

There are many compelling, logical and sensible reasons to advocate for same-sex marriage.  And do you know what?  I understand them.  I don't disagree with them.  If I had my way, I'd be right on board with all of it.  In fact, I was to begin with.

My stance doesn't mean I want to force my morals on others (and I don't think that's what the Church wants to do either).  It doesn't mean I'm anti-agency.  It doesn't mean I want to keep others from finding happiness (jealousy aside).  It doesn't mean I want to deny marriage rights to LGB individuals (well...we've always had the right to marry, just not to each other...of the same sex...sometimes I think it would be cool to marry a lesbian or a transgender man...anyway...).  It doesn't mean I'm for inequality...there's just disagreement about what equality is (I mean really...why would I say that about myself?)  It's not because I want to marry a woman, nor does it mean that I want to remain single for the rest of my life.  It doesn't mean that I won't attend a same-sex wedding and do the best I can to stand by any friends who choose that (and let's acknowledge how difficult that would be...it's not like there's a big part of me that doesn't want that).

The prime reason, for me, is faith...Faith that I have a Heavenly Father who can see the big picture and who has prophets on the earth who can see some of that big picture...more than I can.  Of course they're not perfect.  They don't claim to be.  Yet I see a distinction between cultural mishaps about homosexuality and pure doctrine that (may) affect the world as a whole.  Sure, I don't have to worry about disciplinary action if I were to advocate for same-sex marriage.  That's great.  But does it really change anything?  I've looked into books and articles to study more on this topic, but the important part is my faith.  That's it.  That's all.  No need to attach anything political to it.

This is why it hurts to see the terms "marriage equality," or "Mormons for marriage (redefined)" from fellow Latter-day Saints.  I feel like it automatically paints me as a hateful enemy, a gay rebel (as opposed to an "ally"), when really I was just trying to follow the prophet as well as the things I have prayed about.  Satan works on me all the time to get me to believe those lies.  I hope this illustrates how difficult it can be for some of us, and the same probably goes for some other well-meaning members of the Church.

Just like my gayness sometimes puts me in a difficult position with other members of the Church, my feelings about marriage puts me in a difficult position with the larger LGBT community and their allies.  There are times when I want to be accepted more fully in the LGBT community, not just for my personal lifestyle choices (well...in discussing this topic I could still be in a same-sex relationship for all I care.  Ironic, huh?), but also with the understand that I've received some different answers about marriage and it's overall purpose.  I don't know everything, but I just have faith.

Anyway, I hope this may clear up any misconceptions and provide more understanding as to where I come from.  It's not to say that those who don't share my feelings are wrong.  I don't mean to judge.  I just wanted to share how this topic reflects on me, and what it puts me through sometimes, or as I've learned recently, what I put myself through.

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