The Life of Bon: What I've Learned from the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What I've Learned from the Same-Sex Marriage Debate


There's been a lot of commotion in Utah lately over gay marriage.

Here's the gist if you missed out:  On December 20 a judge in Utah overturned Utah's ban on gay marriage saying it was unconstitutional.  Then a whole lotta people married their same sex partners.  Then the court put a hold on same sex marriage.  Then the people who got married were told their marriages might not be recognized.  Then the attorney general said they would be recognized.  It has been a lot of back and forth and a lot of uncertainty.

Utah is a very conservative state.  It is highly influenced by the Mormon church and culture.  The Mormon church believes marriage is between a man and a woman. (The church's most recent statement can be found here.)  At the same time, there are many people in Utah who desperately want the rights to marry someone of their same sex and resent Utah for withholding these rights.

To be honest with you, the whole debacle is very confusing to me.  I am a Mormon and believe in Mormon doctrine.  But then what happens when some doctrine seems to counteract other doctrine?  These are all things I believe:

- God loves all His children.
- God put us on Earth to be tested.
- God also put us on Earth to find joy. (One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon states, "Men are that they might have joy.")
- One of our greatest gifts from God is our agency- the ability to make our own choices.
- Marriage is between a man a woman.
- We are to live Christlike lives which means showing charity, kindness and compassion toward our fellow men.
- One of my favorite teachings of Christ: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Currently, my facebook wall is awash with passionate rants and raves from both sides of the argument.  Many people that I love and respect believe to their very core that we should never allow same sex marriage.  Many people that I love and respect believe the exact opposite.  I have Mormon friends on both sides; I have non Mormon friends on both sides.  I expected that there would be a little tension over the issue, but I have been absolutely appalled by some things that have been said by both sides.  I have been  embarrassed for people, shocked that people would say things that are so insensitive or cruel.  After a friend of mine blatantly attacked the Mormon church and its beliefs I typed out a biting reply and stared at it for ten minutes before I finally decided to delete it.  I didn't want to feel hatred or bitterness which is what I was feeling in that moment.  I have stayed quiet mostly because I do not know the answers.

This is what I do know.  In our search for correct doctrine and what God wants for marriage, we may have forgotten completely what God wants in the way of kindness, compassion, and joy.  I have heard incredibly ignorant and hateful remarks toward people with same sex attraction.  I have seen people blatantly attacking my religion and choice of beliefs.

What we all need is more understanding.  I had a student with same sex attraction say to me once, "Churches are awful places.  In "church" they teach you to hate gays."  Well.  I have spent a lot of time in "church."  Pretty much every Sunday, in fact.  I've never once heard anyone say to "hate gays".  The boy was clearly misinformed.  He heard something about a church or a religion and believed it point blank without ever having stepped a foot in the actual church.  Likewise I have many friends with very passionate beliefs for traditional marriage. I have an acquaintance who is very passionate about the subject- she will go off for hours on how gays should not be allowed to marry or adopt or enjoy the rights that heterosexuals enjoy without batting an eye.  She doesn't know any one who is gay.  Pretty easy to make a lot of decisions for people when you don't know anyone personally involved, right?

In many ways I feel like I am right in the middle of this argument which puts me in the unfortunate position of being offended by nearly everything that is said by either side.  On one hand I am fiercely defending what religious leaders have said on the subject and what I believe God intended for marriage.  On the other hand I am fiercely defending agency and the right to choose our own paths.  And with what little time or energy is left I find myself pleading, "Where is the Christlike love in any of this?"

On Sunday Greg and I invited my two brothers, sister in law, and niece over for dinner.  It was a small group, just enough to barely fit around our little table.  My brother asked what we thought about the recent debates and he expressed frustration at people who had said insensitive or unkind things about the issues.  He said he had walked out of lunch at work one day because the conversation had turned nasty.  We talked about it much longer than we should have with many of us with differing views on the point and in the end we came to no conclusions.  But it felt good to be able to discuss a difficult topic in a safe environment and feel love and kindness during the discussion instead of resentment or hatred.  My brother commented that it was the most civilized, kind conversation he had ever been a part of on the topic.

I don't know the answer to what God intends for people with same sex attraction, and I may never know the answer.  I have thought about it a little more in the days since, however, and these are things I do know:

-It is not our place to judge.

-God understands everything much better than we do.  At some point we will be blessed with more knowledge, but for right now we are asked at least these two things: 1) faith and 2) charity.

-This life is a test.  I believe our reaction to things like the gay marriage debate are part of our test.  How kind can we treat each other?  Can we be respectful towards others' beliefs and desires no matter how much we personally disagree with them? (This goes for both sides.)

-Sometimes it is best to just be quiet.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite things that have ever been said on the topic, and I think about it many times when I am frustrated by not knowing the answers. This was a comment my friend, Sally, left on a post on the same topic that I wrote nearly two years ago:

The New Testament is rife with stories that try to explain that God doesn't judge us all the same. The story about the talents - he gives some 10, some 5, and some 1...the story about the workers in the field that are called at different hours of the day...

I think the most important thing that we need to do is just show love and kindness. God does not ask us to be judgmental or cruel. He asks us to love one another. If we all had Christ-like love, I believe that God would bless us with the knowledge of why some things are.


Amen, Sal.

(P.S. This is one of the most genuine and heartfelt posts I have ever read on what it is like to be a gay Mormon.  Chad is a friend of mine from BYU- the "Mormon University".)

78 comments:

  1. I am a non denominational christian and I too have friends in the church on both sides of the argument and honestly I don't know where I fall. It is such a difficult topic and one that I never share my opinion on, mostly because I don't have a firm one. But sometimes that makes me feel worse about it. I don't really fit into either group and that confuses me just as much.

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  2. I left the Church a few years ago, but I still have a deep love and appreciation for it. Some of the most kind, wonderful people I have met are Church members. No one at a Mormon church ever told me to hate gay people, but still disagree with the Church's teachings on homosexuality. It's a big part of why I left. I think that honestly the Bible says a lot of complicated, down-right strange things about sexuality. Like many Mormons, I have friends and family members that are gay. I think that if there is a God, He would like me to treat these people the same way I would anyone else: with kindness and compassion. To me, this includes defending their right to marry. I'm not saying that the Church has to allow gay temple marriages, but gay couples should be able to have marriages that are recognized by the state and give them benefits. Thank you for posting such a respectful post. I love your blog, and I'm always interested in what you have to say.

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    1. I appreciate your kindness towards the church. I have many friends who have left, but like you keep the love and appreciation for the doctrine and many of the members. I agree completely that gay couples should have all the legal benefits of being in a committed relationship, for me the difficulty comes in whether or not we define it as "marriage."

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  3. I'm mostly quiet because I had a lot of gay friends growing up in CA and I don't want to be hurtful. But I do support the church at the same time, even if I don't understand because I feel like it's my responsibility to search for understanding and I just don't have the time or need to do that right now. I do think that the government should just stop issuing marriage licenses all together. Civil unions should be all they can give. And then leave marriage to the individual churches. If I get baptized in the Mormon church, the Catholics don't have to honor that. Same should go for marriages. That's my plan anyway :)

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    1. I agree about the separation of church and state. Thanks for your comments, Kim. I always love what you have to say.

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  4. Very well said Bonnie. The church should be known as a place of love and grace while also standing firm on scripture. It's sad to see so many people be nasty when trying to stand firm....it's equally as sinful.

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    1. I agree Bonnie! Thanks for your comments... you are always so kind to comment on my posts.

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  5. Interesting. My entire community is filled with LGBTQ men and women. Nearly always has been as that's what happens when you grow up in theatre in the tri-state area. It's hard for me to even imagine a human being judging another human being on who they love and how they show that love. It's just as normal for me to see two men or two women get married as it is for me to see one man and one woman. I'm sharing all of this mainly just to share another point of view. It makes me think how somewhat recently interracial marriages were seen as sin and crime and forbidden, and now.. it's totally normal. I hope that's the case for same-sex love. Regardless, kindness and respect should always come first, and I hope we see that happening soon.

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    1. Yes, I am sure you have a very different feel for the debate. It's interesting how the region where we live changes how we view certain subjects. I agree that kindness and respect should always come first.

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  6. "In many ways I feel like I am right in the middle of this argument which puts me in the unfortunate position of being offended by nearly everything that is said by either side."

    That's EXACTLY how I've been feeling! Every single comment I hear or read makes me sad and angry, no matter what it's point of view. I wish so badly that every one could be kind and show respect to everyone else when they talk about these things.

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    1. Glad I'm not alone! I feel like I am constantly defending both sides.

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  7. Bonnie, well said on the most difficult issue of our time. Love and respect is what Christ is all about; we are also given the gift of agency just as Adam and Eve were given agency in The Garden. Eve was very wise, she had to disobey one commandment to carry out a higher commandment. "Go be happy and multiply and replenish the Earth." We too are given higher and difficult choices for this life. The Lord did say, the greatest of all commandments is to love one another. "The greatest of all these commandments is to thy neighbor as they self." One can never go wrong if we keep that in mind. Our Gay brothers and sisters are wonderful, children of God, with agency, and we all need to respect that, but we don't have to agree. We can truly love someone but not necessarily go along with what they choose to do. I love my children with all my heart, but their choices would not always work for me. Heavenly Father loves all his children unconditionally, This is our test, and we will be held accountable for that choice. We also need to follow our heart, and what we know to be true for our own happiness on this Earth. May God walk with all men and may we love unconditionally.

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    1. Marcia thanks so much for your comment! What a delight for me to see your comment on here. I love the way your presented the issue and am very interested in the idea of having to "disobey one commandment to carry out a higher commandment." This is something I will definitely be thinking about- your comment is extremely insightful and presented with so much love and respect. I sure do miss my junior days of coming to hang out in your office :)

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  8. Wonderful post! For me, same sex marriage doesn't need to be a religious dilemma. I used to go back and forth on the issue somehow trying to come to terms with the fact that my heart tells me to support same-sex marriage and equality with the fact that my religion clearly seems to take an alternate view. Eventually this is what I decided, as a Christian, I read the Bible as an interpretive text embedded in a certain historical time and space. While many aspects of it certianly transcend time, the authors of the Bible could not completely remove themselves from their cultural and geo-political situation. Hence the reason why many Christians have deviated away from a rigid interpretation of the text and now get tattoos and cut the hair at their temples. There is no way for me to really know where God stands on this issue… but to me, like you said, the most important message is to be kind, to love your neighbour, show compassion, etc. So many people belonging to various religious institutions find it so easy to interpret the word of God in a way that is most convenient for them. Hence, if you aren't gay yourself, it's quite a convenient sin to take a strong stance against. Anyways, all this to say, I've decided to leave this one to God. In the meantime I think we should all try to focus more on our own sins and attempting to live a more Christ-like life from a personal perspective. I really can't imagine God expecting anything more of us. Thanks so much for this insightful post. It's a complicated subject with many different, yet equally valid, viewpoints.

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    1. "I think we should all try to focus more on our own sins and attempting to live a more Christ-like life from a personal perspective"- Agree completely!

      Very interesting point about the historical context of the Bible. The bible has also been changed so many times with translations, councils, etc (Nicene Creed) that it is difficult to determine what is God's word and what doctrines have been changed by man.

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  9. Very, very well written, insightful and respectful post on a topic that is probably very tricky to write about. Well done, Bonnie. jenn from much to my delight

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  10. Wonderful post, Bonnie. I am passionately in favour of same-sex marriage as I strongly believe that love is love, and who doesn't need more love in their life?! More love, less hate, I say. I, like you, wish that no matter what our stance on this issue, and so many other issues, people would be kind and sensitive. Insulting and belittling the beliefs of others (whatever they are) in an argument just makes that person sound like a dick! xx

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    1. Totally agreed. Thanks for your comment Laura!

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  11. I really didn't know what to expect when I started reading, but I have to say that you stated your opinion very respectfully. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people (on both sides of the issue) that do not. It is so trying to see people be so blatantly disrespectful towards a group of people (whether it be towards Christians, or people who are gay). As I have gotten older, my opinion has changed. I grew up in a very conservative area, and it wasn't until I went out on my own for college that I began to see that quite honestly, love is love and it is not my place to judge anyone on who they love. I don't believe that the government has the right to tell people who they can and cannot marry (however, a church does have that right to choose who they will marry). I also think that there are some churches out there that do preach hate. My brother-in-law is gay and when he came out in high school, he faced a lot of discrimination from the church that his family went to (and has since stopped going to because of that). I guess my whole point is, that if more people could show the kindness when they explain their feelings on the issue that you have (and so far all of the commenters have), then I think the world would be a much better place. Just my two cents!

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    1. "I don't believe that the government has the right to tell people who they can and cannot marry (however, a church does have that right to choose who they will marry)." I think this is part of the main debate. Exactly what is the role of government? I appreciate about your brother-in-law... I do realize that there some "religions" that may preach this kind of discrimination, it is just so hard to imagine.

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    2. I guess to clarify, the government's ruling in some states that still ban same-sex marriage is based off of religious writings/teachings, in a country where there is a separation of church and state. Therefore, their rulings are violating the principals that this country was founded upon. The government has a lot of roles, withholding civil rights from people because of religious reasons, shouldn't be one of them. Just my thoughts.

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  12. Really, human opinions don't matter. If we believe in God, and that the Bible is His word, His feelings on the subject are very clear. That sounds harsh in the current climate of being non-judgmental. Yes, express ourselves kindly and treat all people kindly, but know there is right and wrong, IF we choose to believe our Creator.

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    1. Thank you for your comment and perspective on the issue. I really appreciate that we are able to hear so many sides of the issue in a respectful manner.

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    2. I am INCREDIBLY grateful that our country does not support the idea that "human opinions do not matter". Could you imagine if America was forced to live the religious beliefs of our political system? That's called communism, and would mean that America is not a free country.

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  13. Great post, Bonnie! As one half of a same sex couple, and having grown up in Idaho, I've been around a lot of religious people, mormon and otherwise, for a good deal of my life. I've had the opposite experience to you on FB throughout this struggle for us to legally marry, I've been pleasantly surprised at how loving and supporting most of the people I knew from school and my Idaho life were on the subject, religious and otherwise. The thing that I feel like gets lost in the debate is that we aren't fighting for marriage in the religious sense - only legally. My thoughts are with Beth and Kimberley - the government shouldn't be able to tell me who I can and can't marry. But the church, and my religious friends and colleagues? They don't have to agree with me, to rectify it with their beliefs, if they don't want to, and I'm not pushing to get married in a church that doesn't want me there. Kimberley's suggestion of the government only giving civil unions to straight and gay couples, and the churches making them marriages that exist within their churches, is genius - we simply want to be legally equal, and respected by the people we know as more than just 'gay people'. :)

    Laura xo

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment Laura- I was hoping to hear the perspective of those in same sex relationships. What a relief that you have felt an outpouring of love at this time- this is how it should be. I know many religious people are afraid that it will come to the point that if gay marriage is legal that the law will force individual religions to allow the gay marriages in their church. I don't see this as a real threat and can't imagine it coming to that point, although many believe it will.

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  14. "This is what I do know. In our search for correct doctrine and what God wants for marriage, we may have forgotten completely what God wants in the way of kindness, compassion, and joy." To me, this part of your post says it all. Whether a person is for or against same sex marriage, the only actions they can control are their own. I have heard so many people claim to be religious (any religion) and yet say incredibly hateful things. If a person is [in your eyes] sinning, are you supposed to hate them? Or show them love anyway? I believe we should show them love and kindness. After all, how often do we sin, and yet God has not turned from us.
    On a different note, you use the term "same sex attraction." It's not a phrase I have heard before. Does that come from Mormon doctrine, or is it just something that's used in that area of the country? (I'm from CT).

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    1. I'm not sure! I hadn't thought the term "same sex attraction" or "same sex marriage" to be unusual so I suppose it may be regional? Or from Mormon culture? I have no idea to be honest with you because I have heard it so often. How funny.

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  15. Jesus died on the cross to love all sinners and all sins are equal in the eye of God. If you approve or disapprove same sex marriage that is a "personal" decision. None the less..when Jesus walked the earth he gathered his followers from those who were sinful, those who would be seen as outcast at that time (tax collectors) and called them to a greater purpose. I believe what God has written in the bible to be true and absolute and I will, with God's help, try and live a Christ like life...which means I will hate sin like God does...but love every single sinner like God does. After all, if he can love me after all my sins why can I not do the same.

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    1. Beautiful perspective.

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  16. I went back and forth about whether or not to read this post, but I'm so glad I did. The whole thing was so respectful and well-written, and I just love the way you approached this. I know where I stand on the issue, but I (for the most part) keep it to myself because I don't want to get involved in a debate. It's all about being respectful if you choose to state your own opinion, though. Great post!

    And thank you for linking to your friend's post.. also a truly great post.

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    1. Thank you, I appreciate this. And yes, my friend did a wonderful job with his post.

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  17. Very well said. As a Christian I find myself in very similar territory as you. And I'm constantly saying, why can't we all just be nice to one another, and get over it. I have never been able to put my feelings into words, as eloquently you as you have here.

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    1. I agree. I feel like it is inevitable that all states will legalize gay marriage so I just want them to do it and let's all move on.

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  18. This is a balanced, respectful post. However, I want to bring your attention to two points you might not have considered.

    1) Your church is not the only church. I think it's great that your church doesn't teach hate, but sadly, many churches do. Your student easily could have attended a church that is very hateful against gau people. My twin brother and I went to church camp for many years. One summer that I didn't attend, but he did, the guest preacher spent the entire week on a sermon series about how gay people can't be Christians, how they're all going to hell, about how they're destroying our country. That is hate.

    2) I realize that people on both sides of an argument can use angry words, but it's unfair to judge them equally. One group is trying to deny civil rights to another group, based on religious beliefs, in a country that has separation of Church and State. The other group is literally treated like second-class citizens under the laws of many states in this country. They have a right to be angry. If the suffragists weren't angry in the early 1900s, how much longer would it have taken for women to get the right to vote?

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    1. In response to your comments:

      1) Thank you for pointing this out. I do agree that I was narrow in my coverage of this as I was talking about my specific religion. It is hard for me, though, to fathom a "religion" that honestly preaches such things. Very sad.

      2) I agree with your point about anger being a fuel for change. Our country ideally has a separation of church and state, but I feel like in many ways this is more in way than in deed. If this were truly so than the government would have no say on moral issues (pornography, prostitution, abortion, gay marriage) and perhaps that is the way it should be. To me this makes much more sense then to have the two interfused.

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    2. As to the "separation of church and state" issue, the Lemon Test is the most cited (and easy to understand) test for whether a law infringes upon religion or promotes it (as neither is allowed):

      1) The government's action must have a secular legislative purpose; (Purpose Prong)
      2) The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion; (Effect Prong)
      3) The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion. (Entanglement Prong)

      Therefore, when looking at laws on "pornography, prostitution, abortion, gay marriage" we must consider each proposed law individually and ask these questions. I see what you are saying about "moral" issues and in a way, yes, they are morally issues. But they are also greater social issues that don't have anything to do with religion. For example, murder is punishable not because the Bible says it is a sin, but because as a society we've determined that murder is wrong.

      There are interesting debates over the issue, but I think we can all agree that a rationale atheist would also agree that murder isn't good for society -- that's why we have laws against it. We've also determined as a society, that certain murders aren't "as bad" as others. Therefore, we have degrees of murder and certain defenses available in some situations. Again, these laws -- while certainly touching on moral issues -- don't stem necessarily from any religious text or religious group in particular. They are overarching societal beliefs about a what condemn and what we do not.

      So for each murder law, we can go through all three prongs of the Lemon test and easily determine that having those laws (while perhaps having some moral implications) does not mean that the government is promoting religions, nor infringing upon the practice of it.

      Sorry -- that was just the lawyer part gushing out of me! Opps! :)

      -Kate
      www.theflorkens.com

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    3. Kate, I love legalease! That's an awesome litmus test that I'm totally going to bring up next time I debate same-sex marriage or abortion with my conservative Christian friends who think our laws should be based on Christian morals.

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  19. I just wanted to say kudos to you for speaking your mind. It's hard to just have an opinion without others assuming it has to be biased or directed with their views in mind. I often like to post certain articles on my Facebook timeline, but make sure I stay mum about my beliefs. I want to see what others say. Maybe that sounds a bit callous, almost as if I'm searching for trouble, but the human psyche is such an amazing thing that my curiosity fuels my need to "just know". I just want to know what others are thinking. I don't always agree with others point of view, but I've learned to respect it (as long as it is about hurting people/animals...etc.). It is difficult to say something without someone else responding. I've learned there will always be an "us vs. them" mentality. It's just the way things are. Personally, I believe along the lines you do. I was raised that the only one who has the last say is our Heavenly Father (I am a member of the Church). Regardless, of me being a member, my family taught me morals and I've always had the belief that my morals and religious beliefs are two separate issues. I don't do something because God told me to, because I'll go to Heaven and receive eternal blessings, but because it IS the right thing to do. The right thing to me, is to stop judging others and to "Let Go and Let God". Sorry about my long speech. Keep being you, because being oneself is a wonderful thing. :)

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    1. I don't think it seems callous, I think it seems safe. A lot of times I am not ready to comment on things yet and there is certainly nothing wrong with staying mum on a passionate subject. Love the idea of "let go and let God." Something for us to all think about.

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  20. I am sure that you know where I stand on this issue. For other readers who may not know, I am a Mormon and I am also a staunch supporter of gay rights, marriage included. Mostly I am surrounded by LGBTQ people who also currently or previously identify as LDS.

    Honestly, I am at the point where I have a hard time understanding why people are against gay marriage. It makes me sad when I see religious people staunchly against it (although I can see why that's the case), but with no religious background, it just makes no sense.

    I think you were wise to not engage in a Facebook debate. ;) Although I am certainly opinionated about a handful of things that are important to me, rare is the day when I will engage someone in an argument/discussion about it. I like adding my two cents on rational discussions like this one, but if and when things turn into a full out debate, I keep my mouth shut. I've decided I'm not changing anyone's mind, nor is anyone else changing mine, so I'd rather keep the peace.

    Plus, it's super awesome when people question my testimony/status of my temple recommend. Or not.

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    1. I would love to sit down one day and have a discussion with you on this. How do your loved ones react to your stance on the issue? I agree.. if you take God out of the argument and there is no religious background then there is no reason to deny the rights. And I think you bring up a great point... at this point I don't know that anyone is changing anyone's mind around here.

      And the temple recommend thing.... sheesh.

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    2. Yes, let's! You should come with me to a USGA meeting one of these days. Some of them are sort of silly get-to-know you things that I don't really find interesting, but the LGBT panels are the best.

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  21. It's fine to believe whatever you believe Bonnie, and it's fine to be in the bubble of Utah Mormonism.

    Church is not the same everywhere, however. Even within Salt Lake City, every church building and the people within it are not judge-free, perfect, loving people. So for those who say that church is a bad place, I don't think they're 'misinformed.' They've had different experiences than you. Don't discredit them and defend your church...it's a brick and mortar building and it doesn't take offense.

    Belief is fine. Even if it's belief against gay marriage (or marriage against a rapist and his prey, or shellfish, or men with long hair, or whatever else the bible says is abhorrent) What's not fine is for the government to push for one system of beliefs to own everyone else's. That's the problem here (as usual): the government. And regulating the personal freedom of people who have absolutely no obligation to believe the bible, or the book of mormon, or the quran, or the back of a macaroni box.

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    1. Great point, Patricia. I think the distinction that I would make is that it is the people who are not judge free, not perfect, not loving people. They are not that way because the church is telling them to be that way; they're that way because they are human. I suppose my issue is when people see the flaws of a certain person and blame the religion for it. You are right, though, every person's church experience varies greatly and I certainly have empathy for someone who has felt hurt or malice in the name of "religion".

      As per your second point I guess the whole debate comes down to the issue of what is the role of government? Is it to protect life? To teach morals? To push beliefs? I think that is why our country is so confused on this issue... we are not sure what exactly the purpose of our government should be.

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  22. i live in MN and we were in the somewhat of the same situation last year. In the elections 2 years (2012) the conservatives tried to pass an amendment that marriage is only between 1 man and 1 woman and it failed, badly. As a result the courts ruled very soon after that gay marriage is legal and it became so last August and many homosexual couples married.

    Now, i'm a conservative Christian and i very much believe that homosexuality is a sin as stated multiple times throughout the Bible. But like you i also believe many of the things you listed in your post to be true...aka, love others, its not our place to judge, etc, etc....

    So here is what i've been mulling over recently. First off, too many people use the word "Judge" wrongly. We *are* called to make judgements, for example the word judge does means: form an opinion or conclusion about something. All people, regardless of creed, religion, culture make Judgments....AS WE SHOULD. You can make a "judgement call" and decide that you do not believe homosexuality is biblical or moral or whatever and that is your right. You are not judging others with that belief ("giving a verdict on someone") People make and form convictions, its human nature. That being said...we are not called to "pass judgment (condemnation) on others (another definition of judge: give a verdict on someone. There is a difference here. As an individual i can form judgements about what i believe is right or wrong, but that doesn't mean i have the authority to pass an ultimatum. America is an interesting place because as citizen we are given the right to vote and speak our opinions on what we want our government to look like. So in our voting and political rights everyone is within their rights to voice their opinion. But then depending on public opinion and the majority your opinion may be deemed "wrong". From there it is not right to condemn others if they are simply following laws. People are so quick to say "government should push beliefs on us". But the truth is, the way democracy *should* and hopefully *does* work is that that there is no "big government bad guy" pushing anything on us but actually the majority of citizens are deciding and voting on what they want their country to look like.

    I'm not sure all this make sense....just thoughts that have been mulling over in my head. With that said i'm also convinced that social media makes a TERRIBLE forum to discuss anything of weightiness or political importance. Debates and sharing opinions is a wonderful thing but face to face seems a better forum. Sometimes it is best just to be quite...

    i like what 1 Thess 4 says "and aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,

    and Titus 3: Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people....But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned

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    1. holy moly...i just reread this and there are a lot of typos...please forgive me :) i hope you get the gist of what i was saying....

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    2. First off, don't worry at all about the typos. I read the writing of 17 year olds for a living... I have seen it all! Very interesting point your brought up about the power of judgment and our role in judging. Of course we are required to make certain judgments throughout our entire life, but Matthew 7:1 states "Judge not lest ye be judged." To me this means to not tell people the way they should be living their life or look down on them if they choose a different path than you do. A very difficult topic. Love the scriptures you quoted. They are beautiful.

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  23. I couldn't agree with this more. I live in Seattle which is relatively liberal; however, my boyfriends family is Mormon so I really see both sides of this issue and have followed the Utah battle somewhat closely. I really do think that the issue isn't about religion or the church vs. the 'non-church' - I think it's about acceptance and love and kindness, regardless of what side you fall on. I have a lot of opinions but I'm not going to express one that will hurt someone else, it's not my place to condemn someone for their choices. I strongly believe in the agency to choose our own paths.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thank you for sharing this perspective. I love how many different view points we are getting on the subject.

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  24. This topic inspires so many emotions in me. I'll spare you most of them :) I just wanted to throw out there that it bugs me that people put so much focus on protecting marriage from the gays but yet we say nothing about all of the straight people going out and getting marriages that crumble within a year or five years. There are gay couples out there that have been lovingly monogamous for 10,15, 30 years with no legal or religious bond holding them together. But they don't deserve to marry. Yet the couple who is drunk in Las Vegas (or Kim Kardashian for Pete's sake) deserve to the right to marry whomever they wish.

    Seems a little twisted right?

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    1. EXCELLENT comment Whitney. I agree with you completely. A big part of the argument I have heard is that we need to protect the sanctity of marriage and I can't help but think "what sanctity?!" Maybe we should focus our efforts on extramarital affairs, pornography, alcoholism... these are the things that really seem to me to be destroying the family.

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    2. Exactly. Marriage is no longer sacred in the first place! I mean it is in your personal should you make an effort to do so but the respect for it is already lost on society!

      But I agree there are way bigger things out there ruining marriage then monogamous homosexual couples!

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  25. "This is what I do know. In our search for correct doctrine and what God wants for marriage, we may have forgotten completely what God wants in the way of kindness, compassion, and joy."

    honestly...the best thing i've read today!

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  26. Great piece, Bonnie....the opinions and debate rage on. Only thing I might comment on is that sometimes in this life we all have to make some kind of judgements and stand for what we believe. I think the LDS church has done this very effectively while showing love and respect for all of God's children. You have a gift for writing!! Love you!!

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    1. Thank you Wendy! I am always flattered when you comment on my blog!

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  27. I have students who are gay or support gay marriage and my tightest cousin is gay and getting married this fall. Sometimes I feel like I HAVE to choose a side and alienate people. I don't. Thank you for your thought "Sometimes it's best to keep quiet." Because that's usually what I do and I don't like being a fence-sitter. But if God is watching our reactions, I'd rather feel fence-sitting love for both sides than frustration, anger and bitterness for choosing one side or another too early.

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    1. Thank you, Danica, for this comment. You stated it perfectly. We don't have to "choose" a side sometimes the kindness and love is the only side we need.

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  28. As a lawyer, a Christian and a girl raised in Texas who married a Buddhist, I feel like I have been staring down this issue for YEARS! I do understand (and yes, even respect) the viewpoint that some have against same-sex marriage. However, it is simply not constitutional. The more I learned about the law, the more that fact became abundantly clear to me. For better or for worse, the government has attached benefits, laws, and designations to the word "marriage." And yes, to me, it is just a word... a label. You could call it "camel" for all I care. The word has legal significance.

    I'm Christian and my husband is Buddhist. We're married. Certainly, the Catholic church would have refused to marry us -- as is their right. Many churches could have refused to marry us -- as would be their right. But a Justice of the Peace, an officer of the state, (i.e., the government) could not have refused. Why? Because my husband's religion isn't a basis for denying a marriage license. And in my own opinion, neither should sex be a reason.

    I've studied many of the religious texts that condemn homosexuality, and frankly, I am not convinced. Yes, the Bible says that it is a sin. But it also says that my husband sins when he sleeps in the same bed with me while I'm on my period... and that my mother sinned for getting re-married after a divorce... I think that many Christians find it easy to "pick" the sins they protest. There are so, so, so many translation so the Bible and I'm not convinced that entire messages can't be corrupted with those translations. For example, Ruth 1:16-17 were our wedding vows and there are vastly different translations:

    New International Version
    "Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me."

    New Living Translation
    "Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!"

    Now -- one of those implies that "only death" should separate. But the other implies that "even death" separating them would merit severe punishment. I know that is an off the wall example of how simple translation differences can result in opposite results, but it was the first one that came to my mind. There is also evidence to suggest that the ancient words ultimately translated into "homosexual" or the like have root meanings that more closely resemble a forced, pedophilia type relationship between a rich man and a slave boy. But now I'm getting off topic...

    To sum up --last year, the pastor at my nondenominational church gave a sermon on the topic. I loved the way he framed the issue. He said that we each have a t-shirt on that declares our "weaknesses" our "sins" our "troubles" our "worries" and our "insecurities"... but most of us get to wear that shirt inside out so that the rest of the world doesn't get to read it. But gay people have to wear that shirt normally and everyone gets to read it and know the details of their lives. The rest of us are lucky enough to keep those details private between us and God. He advised everyone to consider what their own t-shirts would say before we balked at the ones that others wore.

    Thank you for approaching this topic as you did. It was respectful and kind. And as someone who doesn't always see that in these types of conversations, I commend you.

    -Kate
    www.theflorkens.com

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    1. I love the t-shirt discussion. So very true!

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    2. Kate this reply is amazing and so thoughtful. You are dead on with the interpretations of the bible- there are so many and it has been translated so many times that it is difficult to know for sure what Jesus and the apostles were saying. God's word has definitely been muddied.

      Excellent point about the T-shirt discussion. Maybe we would all be more sensitive if everyone could read our struggles so clearly.

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  29. I feel like we have such similar views. To be totally honest, one of the unspoken reasons why I decided to leave youth ministry is because I'm not sure I 100% agree with the Lutheran stance on homosexuality and same sex marriage. I felt like I couldn't talk about it and what I really felt. I go back and forth all of the time, and there are valid (and Biblical) points to both sides of the argument. But ultimately, we are all God's children and all need his love and grace no matter who we are, what we've done, or who we're attracted to.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Emmy. It is very hard coming from a deeply religious background to make heads or tails out of the debate. If I didn't believe in God or the bible it certainly would be a no brainer, but it's trying to decide where God stands on the issue that makes it so tough. The only thing I know for sure is that, like you said, God stands on the side of love and grace.

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  30. If you suddenly have a very charismatic 78-year-old woman commenting you can thank me. She and I had a wonderful chat over coffee (that lasted 7 hours, the coffee..not the chat) concerning this post. She's a devout Christian (I'm a little newer of a believer than she is but mainly because I'm less than half of her age) and was very happy when I read her the last few paragraphs of this post. In this lifetime, we may never get to hear Jesus' actually giving us praise but I tell ya, hearing Carole cheer you on is as close as most of us are gonna get. Keep it up Bon!

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    1. This is the best comment I've ever gotten! I am honored that you would be discussing the post over coffee. And Carole's praise is more than all I need right now. Thank you! :)

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  31. Ok I am a christian I believe the bible teaches us that marriage is between a man and a woman, I also believe that it is not my place to judge people, if you haven't done so before you can read my thoughts on same sex marriage here: http://jo-annemotherandnanna.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/marriage-is-about-love-not-gender.html

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    1. Thank you for sharing this Jo-Anne.

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  32. Yeah I find I'm happiest when I just stay quiet - to each his own opinion. I don't affiliate myself with any religion because of the conflicting choices of statements that arise within it. I'm happy being spiritual on my own terms and respect all to make their own choices. I feel they should have the same right to express their loves for their partners as heterosexuals. Especially, since when they lose their partners they grieve the same as we all do. If we think about the vastness of the universe, being that we're only apart of one out of many, and the greatness that exists beyond just us and our opinions, in the grand scheme of things, what does it boil down to? What does it matter? Best of luck forming your opinion because there will never be an answer, an answer doesn't exist when the opinion of others doesn't allow there to be one. Life is what we make of it Bonnie, have a great one! -Iva

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    1. Love this perspective... there is so much out there besides just us. When you really consider how small we are in the vastness of the universe it does seem pretty obvious.

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  33. God is love. Whenever I am unsure of what He wants from me, I just look for the love. I always find God there, waiting to lead me where I need to go.

    Bonnie, thank you for taking the time to write this. I admit my first thought when I saw the topic was, Oh man, here we go...But shame on me for doubting your grace and thoughtfulness.

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    1. Thank you, Sarah. That is a very kind and thoughtful comment.

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  34. This is awesome! I'm so happy that you are honest about it, and make no judgement. Like you said, it's easy for people to shun gays if they don't even know any. When you personally know them, you find much compassion, which is based on their soul, not their sexual orientation.

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    1. Yes. Exactly. I think it is the personally knowing someone that makes a world of difference.

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  35. My name is Sophia from usa,i never believe in spell until i contacted this great man of spirit called DR ABIZA.Me and my husband have been married for three years and we had a baby boy,before we got married we dated for two years and we love each other so much.But i never knew that he was having an affair with one of my closest friend and they have been seen each other for about four months.One day he came home and raise up an unnecessary argument with me and we had a quarrel so he threaten to live the house which he did the following day and he left me and the kid to be with my so called friend,so in the course of my distress i was reading some pages on the internet on how to get back a lost husband,then i saw a testimony by Jessica on how DR ABIZA help her to get back her ex boy friend,so i also contacted the DR via the email address provided by Jessica and he told me that my friend cast a spell on my husband that made him to leave me and the kid to be with her.To cut the story short,DR ABIZA also told me what to do which i did and my friend hated my husband so much that she never wanted to see him again and after three days my husband came back to me begging for my forgiveness.Today am happy with my husband again.If you are having any problem like this you can email him through this address:{DRABIZASPELLTEMPLE20@HOTMAIL.COM},and you can count on him for a great help.

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