A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Thursday, March 28, 2013

On Angst

This post will probably offend people on both sides of the gay marriage debate.  Ye have been warned, all ye who enter here.

Don't judge me, but I don't have a position on gay marriage.  I am torn by several factors, and also find myself lacking analogies to explain my thoughts - in short, I have angst on this subject.  Naturally I have no desire to think of myself as a bigot, but I find myself uncomfortable in the pro gay marriage camp.  In case you missed it, the word "bigot" got thrown around a lot on Facebook this week in this debate.  The whole issue has lead me to ask myself this question: "is it possible to be against gay marriage and not be a bigot?"  Some of the commentary implied that the only non-bigoted option was to support gay marriage.

I decided to look it up, and found that dictionary.com defines "bigot" as "a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion."  Many of my friends don't support gay marriage, but I would not use these terms to describe them.  Yet it seems that, for many supporters of gay marriage, to be against gay marriage is to be an intolerant slimeball.

Many of the slogans or pictures implicitly or explicitly classed gay marriage opponents in the same category as those who opposed interracial marriage several decades ago.  Several openly mocked religious people who opposed gay marriage.  I found both of these types of comments offensive.*  To me, the two issues are qualitatively different.  Biracial marriage had existed at other times and in other cultures.  However, as far as I am aware, no culture in the past has recognized a relationship between two people of the same gender as a marriage.**  Gay marriage is a fundamental redefinition of "marriage" - it may be a redefinition that you agree with, but a marriage relationship has (for centuries and millennia) been only between people of opposite genders.  I realize that "it's always been this way" may not be sufficient justification to keep something intact, but...something holds me back from fulling endorsing gay marriage.  I don't know whether it's conscience or culture.

I feel like I lack a good comparison for explaining gay marriage.***  Here's the closest I came up with, and I realize it has many limitations and imperfections.  Mormons believe that God cares about who we have sex with.  To the modern world, that seems crazy - why would God care if we have sex?  I believe it's because he loves us, and chastity is an eternal principle.  The sacred powers of procreation are to be used only in a marriage relationship.  In other words, Mormons don't believe in premarital sex.  The sexual revolution, birth control, and other modern conventions have so permeated our society that premarital sex is pretty much a given for most people, but for me, it is not something I choose to do.  Now, that DOES NOT mean that I shun people who live with their boyfriend or girlfriend, or that I get to force other people to live my beliefs - we live in a pluralistic society and everyone should be able to do what they want.  But what if there was some sort of government endorsement for premarital sex?  Would I want to allow that?  No, because I believe it is a sin.  I'm sorry if that sounds harsh, but that is what I believe.  Again, that doesn't mean I can pass laws endorsing my view of sin, but neither does it mean that you get to pass a law that would force me to accept premarital sex as okay.  Gay marriage strikes me as somewhat analogous to this situation.  I believe gay people should be free to have gay relationships, but I don't know if I can sign on to the idea that the government (of which I am a part) should endorse their union as a "marriage."  I've read several posts by other Mormon liberals who feel that eventually the church will accept gay marriage.  Why do they think this? It's not like the sexual revolution happened and then Mormons said: "oh yeah, premarital sex?  Totally okay."  I don't think the standards of God change based on our cultural norms.

Now, I have to say that when this issue came up in my home state several years ago, I voted against the anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment because I felt it was overly broad and harsh.  I can understand gay people wanting the right to visit their loved ones in the hospital or commit to a relationship.  I can only imagine how hard it is to be gay and Mormon, and my heart hurts for those who feel they have to choose between their religion and their sexuality.  I just don't know if I support gay marriage.  I don't know what I believe and I am admitting that.

Here's what I do believe, in no particular order:
- "Gay" should never be used as a derogatory term or insult.  When used this way in high school it always made me cringe.
- Being gay is not a choice.  Same-sex attraction is not something an individual can choose.
- Employers shouldn't be able to fire you because you are gay, or harass people because of their sexual orientation.
- Gay marriage will not affect my future heterosexual marriage - that will be between me and my husband in our eternal covenant relationship with God.  Gay marriage is not going to destroy marriage.
- Eventually I think gay marriage will happen - the social change has already happened to a large degree.

The thing is, a bigot never realizes they're a bigot.  I could be a bigot, and I could be wrong about any or all of this.  If so, I apologize in advance.

* Note: there are plenty of offensive things said by the anti-gay marriage camp.  I am in no way equating my pain to the pain of discrimination and offensiveness that gay people have faced and continue to face in many cases.
** This is not to suggest that there have not been gay people throughout history - there certainly have been.
*** Another analogy would be polygamy - but the irony of a Mormon relying on cultural definitions of marriage as between two people is self-evident.


  1. I was just thinking over the last few days about the term bigot--what it means, how people use it, how much they think about it. I get the feeling that it's thrown around pretty cavalierly, without much attention to it. Which is sad. I don't think any rational person in this debate could call you a bigot!

  2. Well said Diana - I really liked all the points that you brought up. I feel a lot of angst regarding this issue as well, and I tend to be a little suspicious of people who are whole-heartedly on one side of the issue or the other; it's such a complicated issue, and I often worry that people in both camps aren't thinking it through all the way. I have a difficult time expressing my viewpoints on it as well, but you have some very valid arguments. Whenever I start debating this in my mind, I always come back to my belief that marriage is instituted by God. If it was created by man we could redefine the terms without a problem, but since it was created by God, we perform it on God's terms. I understand that isn't an argument that works for a lot of people, but it kind-of settles it for me. That being said, I agree with you that there are several civil rights associated with marriage that I believe should be extended to gay couples, but my head kind-of swoons when I think of how to tackle that problem without redefining marriage. "Angst" is a good word for it.

  3. I have to say more. It's like you read my mind. This whole conversation puts marriage in a whole new perspective. I never really thought much about it. I have just taken my rights as a married person for granted. Now we have civil unions and the whole question of what a marriage really is. Does it all boil down to who can have sex with who/whom (I'm never really sure how to use whom)? Obviously not many people pay any attention to any laws, civil or religious, concerning that anyway. Again I like all the comments here so far. I feel so much better when I realize I'm not alone. I believe there are many more in our camp. We hear a lot from the few in the totally anti camp, but I don't think they represent the majority of those trying to wrap their heads around the whole thing. BTW I'm a gal that was born and raised as a "Mormon". I have pioneer ancestors that can't be beat. I'd consider myself the same as Molly, an average normal member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There isn't much of the amazing or super about me. I'm also a new Democrat convert. This is new ground for me. I always thought that to be a 'good' member of the church you were, by default, a Republican. To tell the truth I never really debated politics that much. So glad I found this blog. I'm sorry if this went off topic and onto me.

  4. Thanks all for your comments. I still struggle with this issue and I don't know if I can say that I am "for" or "against" one side or the other. But I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

    And Tamera, welcome to the Democratic side!