The Mormon Church Can’t Simultaneously Tell Leaders to Both Oppose Gay Marriage and Respect Gay People

On Friday, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a formal declaration of how Mormons should respond to the recent court decision to allow gay marriage in the state and the Supreme Court’s decision to halt those marriages temporarily until further legal action.

The gist of it was that gay marriage is awful, awful, awful, and church leaders should not perform same-sex ceremonies, and church buildings shouldn’t be used for any activities related to gay weddings, and the church has to remain moral in the face of rampant immorality, and good Mormons should oppose gay marriage… but gay people deserve respect.

I guess they don’t see the inherent contradiction between saying gay people deserve “respect” while simultaneously trying to deprive them of their civil rights.

Civil rights for gay people go away at the door

Changes in the civil law do not, indeed cannot, change the moral law that God has established. God expects us to uphold and keep His commandments regardless of divergent opinions or trends in society. His law of chastity is clear: sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife…

While these matters will continue to evolve, we affirm that those who avail themselves of laws or court rulings authorizing same-sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully. The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility — even when we disagree.

It’s a pretty pointless document overall, as if they want brownie points for only being jerks in their hearts and minds but not outwardly so.

Even Mormon blogger Gina Colvin, who lives in New Zealand, cringed at the LDS Church’s statement, in part because they don’t release statements like that often but they did so in this case:

… as someone who lives in such a country [where same-sex marriage is legal] let me give my assurance that its fine — it really is. Its actually better than fine, its really rather nice and it has made our country kinder and more tolerant as a result. So I don’t want our church experience in New Zealand to be contaminated by Utah politics fought out in a climate of nauseating conservatism. It doesn’t fit here. Yes, yes — I know the missive was directed at the church in the US, but its still a statement of religious position and either it is globally relevant, or it isn’t doctrine. Which leads me to wonder how it is that God is so overly concerned with Utah State politics at the expense of the numerous universal concerns that the scriptures would indicate so clearly and repeatedly concern Him?

… Why not address the problems with skyrocketing poverty and inequality? Why not be in indignation over human rights abuses? Or here’s a good one, why not issue a statement on the abuse and exploitations of girls and women? I just don’t think same-sex marriage is worthy of moral outrage. Its not exploitative, its not cruel, it doesn’t create poverty, its not a precursor for war, excessive corporatism, or exploitative economics, its not mean, its not intolerant, its not sexist, its not abusive, its not a social disease and it won’t steal your car or hold you at knife point. Heck, it doesn’t even deny the existence of God. Its simply the legal formalization of a monogamous relationship of choice. And lets face it, its going to happen anyway because its a nonsense to assume that we can completely turn off our sexual orientation, and thus who we end up loving.

Colvin also points out that the missive never explains what gay couples should do with their love for each other and devotion to their children now that God disapproves. I suppose it doesn’t really matter. This document wasn’t really directed toward any gay people. It was just one of those letters certain Mormons read to make them feel better about themselves. (“Sure, I don’t think gay people should have the same rights as me, but I’m not an asshole. Even my Church leaders say so!”)

Part of me is fine with that. The letter just exposes the bigotry of the LDS Church and shows it’s no better or worse on the issue than Catholics or evangelical Christians. You can try to put lipstick on a pig all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that plenty of members of those faiths see right through it — and eventually, they’re going to realize that their best hope lies not in reforming the church but in leaving it altogether.

(Image via Nagel Photography/Shutterstock.com)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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