Thursday, October 30, 2014

By Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage, Is the U.S. "Choosing Iniquity"?

My scripture study today was Mosiah 29 (in the Book of Mormon).I can't resist commenting on verse 27 of this chapter, because of the frequency with which it is quoted (in conservative Mormon circles) against the legalization of same-sex marriage.

First of all, I believe this verse is true, and the entire chapter, actually, is a very interesting (and in some ways challenging and surprising) piece of political philosophy. (Political theology?) One of the most interesting concepts in this chapter, IMHO, is the idea that democracy encourages each individual to take responsibility for his or her own actions in a way that other forms of government can't.

The history of Nazi Germany is one demonstration of the "great destruction" wrought when "the voice of the people doth choose iniquity." (Though of course, Hitler came to power in a parliamentary system with only 33% of the vote.) It's also a classic demonstration of the notion in verse 21 that "ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood." There are plenty of other examples, but that one springs readily to mind.

If verse 27 is true, and if majority support for legal same-sex marriage constitutes "the voice of the people [choosing] iniquity" we should see "great destruction" falling on Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, France, the Low Countries, the U.K., Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, and of course the states in the U.S. and Mexico where it has been legalized. These are all democratic nations where same-sex marriage has been legally recognized through democratic and constitutional means.

Is it possible that the legalization of same-sex marriage in these democratic nations is a demonstration of the truth of Mosiah 29:26, that "it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right"?

You could argue that same-sex marriage has not been legal long enough to bring these countries under the judgments of God... But we can already see the fruit of legal same-sex marriage in the lives of gay couples, their families, their neighborhoods and communities, and it is good. We're seeing more stability, more commitment, more security both for adults and children. We are able to work at our jobs and receive the same benefits and protections for our families as other (heterosexual) workers. We're seeing the social safety net helping to protect many vulnerable who previously were not protected. We're seeing individuals who were once pariahs and outcasts integrated into their families and communities. These all seem like blessings of God being poured out in consequence of righteous choices rather than "great destruction" being visited in consequence of iniquity.

Let's also acknowledge that the predicted "destruction" of the family simply isn't happening. Gay individuals and gay families are being protected under the law -- not at the expense of but alongside heterosexual individuals and families. Heterosexuals are still getting married and having kids, as they have from time immemorial and as they will continue to do. Gay people will continue to be born into many of these families. But gay couples will now be able to get married, strengthen and support one another, support their parents, and adopt and care for kids whose heterosexual parents are not able to do so -- strengthening the social safety net for everybody.

And we will all be blessed, unless we -- like the voters of the Weimar Republic in the 1930s -- choose some genuine form of iniquity (like genocidal hatred of Jews) and bring destruction on ourselves.


Armando Bravo said...

Very valuable thinking and experience, John. Go ahead.

Mark said...

I am not Mormon, but I liek your arguement and observations. It can be applied to a lot of other faith thinking as well. It seems peoples main fear is change, and they will misinterpret their faith in order to sooth their fear.