This is an opinion. It is only an opinion. It’s mine. It is subject to change. It might be right. It might be wrong. But right or wrong is largely irrelevant. It’s my opinion. And it does not represent the view of anyone but me. It is the result of years of consideration, and experiences, and interactions, and many moments of confusion when what I felt internally did not align with what I comprehended externally. I am not writing it to convince those who disagree with me to change their minds, or to say they are wrong. I am writing to let those who may share my opinion know that they are not alone. Wherever you may fall on this particular topic, if you elect to comment, please be respectful of others.
Also, for those of my readers who may be under 18, this post will reference some situations for which you may not be emotionally and mentally prepared. Please consider carefully before reading.
To my homosexual friends: I want you to know, if/when you decide to get married, I won’t tolerate your marriage… I can’t. I’m sorry if that is what you want from me, but tolerance isn’t coming, and I think you should know.
I also think you should know this:
I support gay marriage. And I’m a Mormon.
Think those are tough statements to reconcile? You should try living in my head sometime. It’s pretty wild. Don’t plan on getting much sleep during your stay.
Impossible, you say? Heretical? A threat to my faith? Peril to my soul? A slippery slope? Nope. It really isn’t. I’ve made peace with myself on this one. My faith is stronger at this stage of my life than it ever has been. I feel confident that Jesus has already paid for my broken soul, for the mistakes I’ve already made, and for those I will make or am currently making (even this opinion if it turns out I’m way wrong).
So let’s get down to it, shall we?
Here’s the thing: call it “civil union” and most people are like, “Oh, okay… that’s cool. Not my bag, but whatever.” Use the “m” word, however, and suddenly everyone is all aghast like, “Whoa! Don’t you dare! God invented marriage and He is going to be massively offended and open up a serious can of wrath on you if you go messing with it.” Except that he didn’t actually invent “marriage.” Like most words, “marriage” is made up. By people. To describe things they experience. These particular people happened to speak some Anglo-French English precursor language during the 14th century (way after Adam and Eve). So, yeah, call it marriage if you’d like, and enjoy the legal and emotional benefits of committing your life to the one you love. Or you could call it pinochle. Or you can make up your own word like hofisdigglar. But I think if we are going to grant the same legal rights and privileges to two people making the same commitment to each other, then we might as well call a spade a spade and be done with it. [Or I suppose we could split hairs and have separate (but equal!) schools, facilities, and drinking fountains for the married and the unionized.]
As a Mormon, I also happen to believe this document to be inspired of God. It’s a good read. I recommend it.
Personally, I do not fully understand the life experience of others whose lives differ from mine as it pertains to the subject of gender identity and sexual orientation or any other topic really (which I believe covers every other person, living or dead). Or why some of us were born into this world one way, and others another (I theorize it has something to do with deeply personalized, unique life-experience course learning objectives). I can’t. Just as nobody else can fully understand my life experience… about gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other topic (the only exception being Jesus, of course. He totally gets it – but don’t ask me how – and I cannot wait for Him to explain it all because I know He’ll be really nice about it and not make me feel bad for not getting it immediately).
I was raised during a time when it was common to hear that homosexuality is a choice. And for a time I believed it. Weird that it was only the homosexuals that got to choose, isn’t it? I know I certainly didn’t have a choice in my sexual orientation. I was born heterosexual to a fault. It didn’t take until the delicate and dramatic years when I hit puberty to know it, either. Nope. No consideration, no confusion, no conscious thought about the topic at all, in fact. And no outside circumstance or person was going to change or influence it. I loved boys from day one of preschool (maybe prior to that; my memory is hazy about breakfast yesterday, let alone that far back). I knew long before hormones in all their glory struck my idyllic little life and propelled me onto the emotional roller coaster of my teenaged and adult years. Heck, I still remember the day my dad was compelled to sit me down to have the “birds and the bees” talk when I was about five (awkward). And that wasn’t even spurred by the now legendary Adam Wilder bum-matching scandal of 1984*. So, I really do not have the faintest idea what same sex attraction feels like. I am not homophobic; I just don’t get it; I never have. I’ve been asked out by girls before; it never disgusted me or worried me or made me question or rethink my sexual orientation. Instead, I have always politely declined and felt complimented that I was such a universally attractive individual. It has never caused me any more (or less) discomfort than turning down a date from guys I was not interested in dating.
I’ve read the verses in the scriptures pertaining to “them that defile themselves with mankind” (1 Tim 1:10). I’ve read the commandment that “Thou shalt not lie with mankind…it is an abomination” (Lev 18:22). And who could forget the classic “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly…” (Rom 1:26-27)?
And you know what? I agree. And I bet my gay friends do, too. Because I’ve seen what those scriptures look like in practice, and what a society looks like where that happens. It is ugly. It is offensive. And I have little doubt that God is repulsed by such behavior. It destroys individuals. It destroys souls. It destroys families. And it destroys societies. It makes a mockery of religion. It makes a mockery of God’s gift of life. It makes a mockery of love.
There is a practice in Afghanistan called bacha bazi. It is widespread throughout the country, and although officials downplay it and participants hide it, it continues to occur with frightening regularity. Not everyone participates; many are disgusted by it, but everyone suffers for it. It is one more thing that is tearing that society apart. If you have the stomach for it, there is a Frontline documentary called The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan, which portrays and explains it well. But Afghanistan’s experience is not limited to this extreme form of pedophilia; there is also a commonly held belief that essentially says “women are for procreation and men are for recreation.” Men marry women who bear them children, but reserve their affections for other men. Question these same men on the topic of homosexuality and they will tell you that it is a sin worthy of death. Lest you think they are condemning themselves, they are not (at least not in their own minds). Because for them, the sin of homosexuality means falling in love with another of the same sex, not in using their bodies to satisfy lustful urges. Seems a little backwards, doesn’t it? Ironically, they consider loving another of the same sex to be disgusting and worthy of condemnation and death, but sex with another of the same gender is acceptable because it lacks the emotion of love.
It is easy for me to apply such practices as those common in Afghanistan to the scriptures above which seem to describe them with accuracy. And I could see how those same practices could have plagued Sodom and Gomorra. I’ve witnessed the reality of it. I’ve seen the boys and young men who accompany local leaders everywhere they go. I’ve seen the absence of feeling toward wives and the children they bear. I’ve seen an entire society largely absent of love; it is at war with itself and on a path to ultimate ruin. There are those within the society who recognize the danger. There are those who are working hard to overcome and change the destructiveness of some cultural practices. There are many, many people who do not engage in these practices, but there are still many that do. And there are those in denial about both the practices and their destructive effect. And virtually everyone suffers one way or another. [But hey, their divorce rate is lower than ours, so families are happily intact, as God intended, and we should seek to emulate them, right?]
Having witnessed the above, it is not easy for me to apply those same scriptures to people who are seeking to commit their lives to one another. I simply can’t do it. I don’t believe for a moment that heterosexuals have a monopoly on unconditional love, nor do I believe that homosexuals have a monopoly on lust and abhorrent sexual behavior. I just don’t. Which brings me back to my support of gay marriage. I think all people are capable of love, and I can think of no better place to learn to exercise love than in a marriage and family.
There is a lot of talk about tolerance these days. It’s rapidly becoming one of my least favorite words, and may end up on the “should” list. Now, I readily admit that I use the KJV of the Bible, so the translations may be different in other editions, but my scriptures do not say “Tolerate thy neighbor, as thyself”. My version uses the word love. It’s probably just a minor distinction, and may even be a typo because my version also has sinner spelled with 3 “n”s, but the last time I checked, words mean things.
And until I get word that it’s a typo or that a correction has been released (as the spelling of sinner has been), I’m going to stick with the whole “love” thing over tolerance. I love my gay friends. And if they want to commit themselves to one another and experience the joys and pains and growth that accompany love and marriage for a lifetime, then it won’t be my vote that stands in their way.
And if loving (and marrying) another human – which also happens to result in the natural consequence of being unable to procreate and fulfill the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth – is the “worst” thing someone ever does in their lifetime… then I’m going to be impressed, try a little harder myself to do better, and leave it to Jesus to sit down and issue whatever correction is required, if it is, in fact, required.
Like I said, maybe I am wrong on this one, but my brain simply cannot put the two realities I’ve witnessed in the same category together. One so clearly driven by lust and the desire to possess and use another, and the other so clearly driven by a desire to love and take care of another. Sure, if I were to “choose” to love another of the same sex, it would be a choice… but it wouldn’t be the rational or natural choice for me because well, heterosexual little me would definitely be violating my nature. And if a child who has never reached sexual maturity knows from the beginning that they are heterosexual, then I believe another may know they are homosexual. Puberty merely complicates the matter and adds all kinds of powers and forces that can be difficult to master for anyone. It is the misuse and abuse of those powers and forces that leads to destructive outcomes (see Afghanistan).
I know what it feels like to love someone and not be married to them… but at least marriage is still possible for me (however improbable it may be). I can only imagine how devastating it would be to have no hope at all. People aren’t meant to traverse this life alone; we need each other to become our best selves.
So my homosexual friends: I want you to know, if/when you decide to get married, I won’t tolerate your marriage…
I will celebrate it, just as I know you’d celebrate mine.
*The “scandal” was actually the interruption of a perfectly innocent (if deeply flawed) scientific experiment. We were testing the hypothesis that boys’ bottoms were bigger than girls. We did not take the time establish a control group, and the sample size was far too small to yield conclusive results. We failed to take into consideration factors such as age, race, diet, height, or weight. Sadly, the results were never recorded, and it is not possible to replicate the data.