The other morning, I wrote a status on facebook that led to a wonderful discussion. Here's what it said....
"K, so I need to say this. I just hope it doesn't come out wrong....
So many, including me, were happy to see an African-American in the white house. It said so much about where we, as U.S. citizens, have come with the discrimination thing; though, I have to honestly admit, I wasn't too thrilled with who that African-American was. Does it seem strange--a whole lot of steps backward--that so many are freaking out and would rather have ANYONE in the white house but a MORMON?"
Thank you to all who commented. It's been great!
One friend commented, and I asked for more input from her. She wrote more and then posed this question....
"Okay, so we're all being very highminded & appalled by bigotry based on the way someone is born & the lifestyle choices they make... What would everyone's reaction be to a homosexual candidate (because it follows logically in the discussion)?"
I have to say, I was happy to see this question come up because it's not something that we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are asked about very often. We are judged for it, but very rarely does someone come forward and ask for clarification, and it's definitely not one of those that I, as a member of the Church, am going to climb up on my soapbox, uninvited, and start spouting off about, so thank you, Stephanie, for bringing this question up. I'm happy to explain at least my take on the subject of homosexuality. I will also, though, assert that these are my personal feelings and don't necessarily mirror those of my entire religious community.
Not all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the same. It is unfair to lump us all into one group and say, "Mormons are this way." We are all at different places in our growth and learning; we all have different experiences in our lives that lead us to where we are. The great desire for all members, though, I believe, is to grow to be more like Jesus Christ in charity and love of others. We all want to do what's right, but in many cases that definition of "what is right" is cloudy. From what I understand, if a member of the church is truly living his/her beliefs, the motivation behind every action will be "to do what the Savior would do" and bless the lives of others. That is the bottom line.
I believe many of the LDS faith are not so much bigoted against those of same-gender attraction as we are ignorant and maybe even apathetic because we don't know how we feel; we don't have the experience to know just how to judge the situations we sometimes find ourselves in. My hope is that over time, we will all have opportunities to have experiences that will help us come to some solid decisions about all people. It is clear that we are all human beings--all children of God, and as such, we should be kind and respectful to all people.
I was raised in Portland, Oregon. Portland is a very liberal city, and it's not always been easy to live a conservative religion amongst so much liberalism. I believe that through this experience, I have learned to accept others as individuals and learn to love them but not always like what they do--a lot how I feel about my own children at times. I'm sure there are many who feel the same about me, and I'm perfectly okay with that. To be honest, growing up, I had very few LDS friends, but enjoyed the chance of getting to know many of different backgrounds. My children now experience a similar situation.
First, I have to explain that as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I take the ten commandments very seriously. I try to live them everyday of my life. They are the backbone of my beliefs. Am I perfect at them? No, but I try my darnedest.
One of the biggest is the one about chastity--the adultery one. Yes, I live that. Yes, I always have. In other words, when I got married at 23, I was a virgin. I have only ever had one partner and if he outlives me, I only ever will. This, to the rest of the world, probably seems freakish and weird, but it goes along with God's top ten, so I live it. Did I have opportunities to go against it? Yes, many times, but my answer was "no" in my attempt to fear God and obey Him with the faith that the blessings would be great, and they have been.
That being said, if someone is living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as we know it, no matter what gender one is attracted to, one wouldn't act on his/her sexuality until marriage. The fact of the attraction is not a bad thing, it's the act of breaking that commandment that is. So, whether I'm attracted to men or women doesn't matter, it's the act of sex before marriage wherein God's law is broken.
Another basic belief, one of an eternal nature, is the understanding that God has given EVERYONE his/her ability to choose. We, in the church, often refer to it as "agency." Each of us has the ability to choose for ourselves the route we will take in this life. We are not to choose for others or coerce them to do what we choose for them. We, as individuals, will only be judged for our own choices. We will stand before God alone, so what any other person chooses to do has little or no bearing on how I'm judged by God unless I somehow coerced or influenced him/her to do that thing. Coersion is not part of God's plan in any way, shape or form. Therefore, it is not my place to take anyone's right to choose away. That would also be against God's law. It seems that this is where we, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are thought to be bigots.
One thing I've learned as a mother, though, is that if my children are doing something that only effects him/her, I need to leave that problem as his/her responsibility. He/she must deal with it and its consequences, but if whatever they're doing is effecting someone else and causing a problem for someone else, it's in all of our best interest to address the problem head on.
As far as the topic of marriage goes, we believe that the purpose of marriage is to create families. As one of our basic tenets, family is of utmost importance and one of its purposes is to create life and provide bodies for spirits so they can have experiences here on earth and learn and grow, but that, again, is a choice. Another misconception about members of the LDS church is that we have a ton of kids. Okay, my husband and I do, but that was a personal choice. Some choose not to have children and some choose to have one or two; others, choose to have seven. It's not something that's dictated by Church leadership. It's all part of our choosing.
As we view marriage, we understand that two men cannot create a body together; neither can two women. It doesn't fit with God's plan as we know it to be.
Because of our belief of the nature of family, it follows that we would try to protect that. It is our fear of God that makes us want to defend His plan.
Most women will understand and agree with me when I say that men are hard to live with. No question. Men, I'm sure would say the same thing about women. We're so different in nature, but that's how it's supposed to be. Living with a woman, for most women, would be easy. We think similarly. Men are continually trying to figure women out and women, men. There's a reason for that. It's all part of a plan. It gives balance to a family.
I know there are many who won't understand what I'm sharing here. It's like I'm from a foreign world because, in a way, I am. I live by a different code than most of the world, but it works for me. No, more than "works for me," it makes me happy and satisfied with life.
I guess what I would hope is that, even if you don't like what I do, you'd learn to treat me with the same courtesy as you would any human being and know that I will do the same for you. I may not agree with what you choose to do, and I may live differently, but my hope is that we, who reside on this ever-turning planet, would learn to just look deeper at the fact that we are all human beings trying to do our best with what we've been given and what we know to be right and best for ourselves and our families.