Marriage, Equality, and Pride

By now the news has surely spread that the Supreme Court of the United States has announced that same-sex marriages must be allowed in all 50 states.   Gay marriage is now legal across the entire United States.   My Twitter feed has been a constant stream of posts about this subject, most of them in favor and celebrating this long-awaited decision.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about the subject, and it mostly stems from the separation I see between legality and morality.   Personally, I believe that marriage is ordained of God and He has decreed that it is between one man and one woman and that it can and should, when sealed with the proper authority, be eternal.   That is God’s goal for all of His children – to be united in one eternal family and as individual families.   Family is the whole purpose of existence — we are born into families and grow up in families and seek to create families of our own when we reach an age.

Marriage between a man and a woman who have been married by the Priesthood authority of God and who are faithful in keeping the commandments of God will last beyond the grave.   There are certain laws that govern eternal marriage and eternal happiness.   Lasting happiness and joy only come when we are obedient to the commandments of God.   And there are no double standards with God — all of His children are asked and expected to keep the same commandments to the best of their ability.  But, knowing that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”, the Atonement of Christ was provided to allow all of us to repent and return to live with our Father again.

This brings me to that word which has been so often used in the debates and discussions around same-sex marriage – Equality.   Many have claimed that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is discriminatory and not being fair because of its stance on this issue.  But, the Church’s stance on marriage has been consistent.   Marriage is between a man and a woman, and any sexual relation outside of this marriage is sin.   True, this stance condemns any homosexual relationship, but it also does not condone any heterosexual relationship outside of marriage – no affairs, no premarital sex, nothing.   The commandment is the same for everybody – isn’t that equal?

And this weekend, in Seattle at least, is a massive LBGT event that has appropriated another word which I used to like – Pride.   It is one thing to have pride in what you do, in who you are, in where you come from, etc.  but it is another thing to declare, loudly and brazenly, that everyone who disagrees with you is wrong.  It seems that these Pride events are less about asking for acceptance of a lifestyle that is not the norm and more about getting in your face with over-the-top exhibitions of that lifestyle.   They seem to embrace all of the outlandish, extreme stereotypes and flaunt them – almost as if they are offending the religious conservative members of society simply because they can.

And in writing about this, I was reminded of something I was talking about in Sunday School last week, where I taught a lesson on Matthew 23 and how Jesus spoke of the scribes and Pharisees of his day and how we can avoid hypocrisy in our lives.   I referenced a General Conference address given by President Ezra Taft Benson in April of 1989 – Beware of Pride.  He said, “In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride—it is always considered a sin. Therefore, no matter how the world uses the term, we must understand how God uses the term so we can understand the language of holy writ and profit thereby.“

But toward the end of his address, President Benson also stated, “Our degree of pride determines how we treat our God and our brothers and sisters. Christ wants to lift us to where He is. Do we desire to do the same for others?”  That needs to be our guiding principle in life — What is our desire for those around us?  Even if they disagree with us, or with our closely-held religious beliefs, we can and should desire to accept them, love them and help them become the eternally happy children of God that they intrinsically are.

This is indeed an historic day, a major Supreme Court decision was handed down that will affect politics in this country for generations to come.   There will be both support and backlash among our family, friends, and acquaintances, but we need to remember civility in all of our communications.

The bottom line is — My dissent is not discrimination and my acceptance of your newly declared legal rights is not approval of your actions.

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