Monday, July 28, 2008

Prop 8

Where do I start. It's been over a month since they read the letter in Sacrament Meeting encouraging members to support Proposition 8. A week before they read the letter, I had already read a copy of it, and even before that, I expected a letter of some sort. I remember all too well the Prop 22 days. I was only 17 at the time, but I remember clearly a couple Sundays when things got pretty nasty. I propose right now that we suspend Testimony Sunday until after November.

But anyway, I guess I am writing this to just vocalize my thoughts and feelings about the whole thing. My first reaction to the letter being read was sadness. I was surprised at how emotional I got as they read the letter. For the first time in my life, I felt like the church and belief system that I had always lived and loved, was now working against me. I remember sitting there next to my room mate, Pete, and just feeling sick to my stomach. I was surprised at how much it hurt. I suddenly felt like an outsider being attacked. But instead of an enemy, it was the faith that had brought me so much joy and peace, was suddenly overwhelming me with anxiety and sorrow. To give the bishop credit, he read it tactfully, and sat down without adding anything else. I went home that day with a lot on my mind.

A couple weeks passed, and I, perhaps naively, hoped that that was the last of it that I would have to hear. I suspected that in a family ward more would be said/done on the subject, but I kind of hoped that in a singles ward, where people are occupied with so many other things, that that would be the last of Prop 8. It was mentioned here and there again in passing, but nothing much was ever discussed on the subject.

Then yesterday in Sacrament Meeting the High Councilor and his wife were both asked to speak on the subject. To give them credit, they did it in a very tactful, and roundabout way. Perhaps the Bishop/Stake President asked them to tread lightly knowing that there are a number of people in the ward who are gay or struggle with SSA, SGA, or however they define themselves. But despite even the best intentions, I was hurt. I felt like I was being attacked. I'm being asked to support a cause which will only cause more pain and sorrow among people who are gay. This type of rhetoric in my opinion only further encourages hate and discrimination. I know the Church officially discourages these types of behaviors, but something has to be said for how the members act and why they apparently feel that it is okay to treat others in the hateful and disrespecful ways that they sometimes do.

During their talks, I again felt surprised at how hurt I was and how sad I was. The speakers really were trying to be tactful, but the underlying message was still there. When Sacrament Meeting ended, I made a beeline for the door. I didn't make it far before a couple of people in the ward stopped me to ask me how I was doing. I put my sunglasses on to hide my eyes which were starting to tear up. I ended the conversations with them as soon as possible, and then headed out the door. By the time I got to my car I was pretty shaken up. I really was having a hard time with this. I went home and went back to bed. I felt sick.

After a good long nap yesteday, I woke up feeling a lot better. I know that nothing was meant to be offensive, but I guess I just wish the Church would just let the issue be. I have no doubt that the vast majority of the members of the Church would support the amendment regardless, so why must they be so vocal in their support of it?

Today seemed like it was going to be better until I got an email from the ward indicating that tonight's FHE was going to be given by the Bishop and that it would be a special presntation on Prop 8. Ugh. OK, not that I always go to FHE anyway, but suddenly the anxiety was coming back. I just wish they wouldn't turn this into a "moral issue." What about every other moral issue that the Church remains silent on. Oh well, in a few months it will all be over. And if Californians vote how I hope they do, things might be a little different in a few months.

6 comments:

MoHoHawaii said...

You know, the letter made me sad, too, and I don't even go to church anymore. There are no words of hope or compassion in that letter. It was an icy declaration of war. I kind of saw it as a shark attack-- you get a hint of cold-blooded predation just before it lunges at you. It's funny that this affects me even though I'm not involved in the church on a day to day basis.

I liked your post. I wish you well.

Beck said...

Your post was very touching and I thank you for articulating the situation so very well. It makes me glad that currently I'm not living in California.

Though not specifically mentioned, the subject comes up in Utah as well (see my latest post). The idea that the Church feels so compelled to be so vocal about it when the majority are already won bothers me as well. Where is the outrage on so many other "moral" issues? Why this particular issue?

I've concluded, however, that as long as I stay silent, I really have no say in the matter or right to complain about the insensitivity or ignorance of others - well-meaning, well-intentioned, but ignorant just the same.

Good luck with the next few months... I can only imagine what is yet to come. :(

Michemily said...

I'm sorry that the letter has saddened you so much. I guess the easiest way to look at it is to see it as any other sin. I tend to bes selfish in thinking my time is more important than other peoples' time. If there were a law that spoke out against people such as myself and the Church were to send a letter out about it and everyone knew they were talking to me, I would be upset too. But that doesn't justify me not trying to stop acting selfishly. All the best to you.

Michael said...

michemily-

Did you seriously just compare being gay to being selfish? It's that type of insensitive remark that causes so much pain and suffering to those of us who experience same-sex attractions.

Homosexual activity may indeed be similar to 'any other sin,' but why then does the church not take the same stance that it does towards all those other sins? (i.e. Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves).

"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." Believe it or not, there are many good Christians who don't believe it is selfish or sinful to completely dedicate their lives to someone they truly love, even if they're the same gender. Should we really be trying to legally restrict them from worshiping God according to the dictates of their own conscience?

Michemily said...

Thanks for your comment. No, I don't believe that being gay is a sin anymore than being a brunette is a sin. It is the acts that are a problem, like you said. Yes, people should be allowed to worship as they may, but that doesn't necessarily mean they should. If one person says he's worshiping by sacrificing women, should that be supported? I was also surprised to see the Church getting involved, but for a different reason: it seemed very out of their role in a nation that so strongly supports separation of church and state. However, I don't think that gays getting married is going to make them any happier. How can people who are legally sinning be happier? Maybe it seems that justifying it with something similar to traditional marriage would help, but I don't think so. I realize the whole thing is complicated and that perhaps you don't agree. Don't leave the Church or lose your faith because of it. Do what you can to have a happy life focusing on something else, just as someone else would with an addiction.

Original Mohomie said...

Beck and others, if you really are interested in the church's reasons for getting involved in Prop 8, their official statement is found at http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/the-divine-institution-of-marriage

Whether or not you believe the given reasons are valid is up to you, of course.

Michael, I don't think michemily was trying to be insensitive. I think some people just haven't had a lot of experience with how their language can come across when they're trying to present principles they believe will bring peace. It seems she was sincerely trying to be supportive however she can.

Michemily, for many gay mormons, there is a keen sensitivity to being associated with "sinners" just because of inclinations, or having what seems like a very natural and even beautiful attraction compared with "addictions".

It also can be hard to perceive homosexual (or homoromantic?) relationships as "sin" when they feel so rich, so animating, so motivating to be a better person, so full of love and inspiring to share that love. So while the church does speak out against same-sex partnerships of a romantic or sexual nature as contrary to the plan of salvation, it can be difficult to see it as something wicked that could never bring happiness when it is, in many people's case, the one thing that seems to have brought more happiness to their life (even more "fruits of the Spirit") than anything they can remember except perhaps their family and the gospel.

So yes, in a way it's simple, but in another way, it's very, very difficult to reconcile.

Derrick, your post seems very heartfelt. I hope you're able navigate this well. I've been stressed enough by the whole thing and my reservations about the proposition and the rhetoric flying around about it (on both sides), and I don't even live in California.