not in Primary anymore

so i hear you’re a mormon against same-sex marriage

By Hannah Wheelwright

Hi there. I hear that you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and you oppose same-sex marriage. I want to share some things with you and hear what you think. To begin with though, I’m going to need you to put aside, just while you read this, your reason to oppose same-sex marriage because of what the General Authorities have said about it. I know that’s a big ask, but let’s talk about some facts and logic, and then at the end we can talk about the General Authorities again. Sound good? Okay.

I hear a lot of the same arguments being repeated about same-sex marriage in the Mormon sphere, and I think most, if not all of them, have valid rebuttals. I’m going to separate it out into the moral and legal aspects of the argument. I will edit this post if new claims are made so that it can be a comprehensive listing.

*FYI- This article is mostly geared towards American Mormons.

MORAL:

1. Claim: Marriage has been defined as being between a man and a woman since the dawn of time. It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

Response: “Traditional marriage” has taken on many different forms throughout history.

traditional marriage

2. Claim: The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin.

Response:  Religious leaders have interpreted the six references to homosexuality in the Bible to mean that homosexuality is a sin. In reality, none of those references are to a committed, loving, consensual same-sex relationship. They instead refer to male rape, prostitution, or are unclear. Thus to establish an entire argument against homosexual relations based on such flimsy references is weak, especially considering all the other laws given in the same passages (no eating shellfish, no wearing cloths woven from different threads, etc) that we do not follow now. For an in-depth study of the six references, see this excellent video- the specific discussion of the references begins at 16:20.

For a similar study that is easily readable, see this site.

3. Claim: Same-sex couples, if allowed to marry, would have to be allowed to adopt children and that is bad.

Response: I disagree. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Currently, every state except for Utah and Mississippi allows a single person to adopt children regardless of that person’s sexual orientation, so a single gay person can already adopt a child in many states. If the sexual orientation of an adoptive parent is really a problem, states should be addressing that specifically.
  • Studies have been done to determine if children who were adopted by same sex couples have been negatively affected, and they have not. Here’s an anecdotal example:
  • Considering all the children that are born to single mothers or to families with an abusive parent- if our problem is that same-sex couples would not be good parents and we feel that we have a legal basis to prohibit them from becoming parents based on some societal good, why are we not legislating parenthood? Who is to say that a stable same-sex couple who are eager to give a child all the love and opportunities in the world would be worse parents than an abusive mother and negligent father or any other kind of unstable, harmful home with heterosexual parents?

4. Claim: Homosexuals are pedophiles, so we should not be making it easier for them to be around children.

Response: Not all homosexuals are pedophiles, just like not all heterosexuals are pedophiles. It is an outrageous generalization to say that all homosexuals are pedophiles.

5. Claim: Legalizing same-sex marriage implies acceptance of the act of gay sex, which is immoral.

Response: If gay sex (anal sex) is immoral, churches (including the LDS Church) would need to come out and tell heterosexual couples to stop having anal sex. However, regardless of churches and individuals decisions (if you don’t like gay sex, don’t have it. If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t marry someone of the same sex), it is not within the legal rights of the government to legislate private behavior, including sexual behavior. So regardless of your personal religious or social beliefs, you cannot legislate someone else’s private acts that do not harm anyone else. See the Supreme Court case Lawrence vs. Texas.
EDIT: This argument also does not take into consideration lesbians, who are also gay but do not practice anal sex, and gay men who are not interested in anal sex.

6. Claim: Being gay is not a sin, but acting on same-sex attraction is a sin, so we should not condone same-sex marriage.

Response: Mormons also believe that drinking alcohol, having pre-marital sex, and buying things on Sunday are also “sins.” Why then do we not legislate those as well? Interestingly, though pre-marital sex is considered an extremely grave sin, by not allowing them to get married, anti-same-sex marriage Mormons encourage same-sex couples to commit this sin.

LEGAL:

1. Claim: The government already legislates marriage (anti-polygamy laws, age of consent, etc), so there is no reason why it cannot continue to legislate it by banning same-sex marriage.

Response: Many state governments used that same argument to ban interracial marriage until the Supreme Court case Loving vs. Virginia made such laws illegal. Monogamous marriage between consenting adults has been the standard in the U.S. ever since.

2. Claim: If we allow gays to get married, what will stop people from marrying their hamster?

Response: Short answer- the fact is that as long as marriage is recognized as a union between consenting adults, there is no reason to suppose that people will want to marry their hamsters and sue under the law.
Long answer-

“This is the classic slippery slope argument, and there are multiple problems with it.  First off, this makes the assumption that homosexuality is a sexual perversion on par with bestiality or necrophilia. Homosexuality is a sexual orientation, and despite what they might have thought in the 50s, we all (should) now understand that homosexuality is not a choice

Secondly, homosexual marriage, like heterosexual marriage, is a commitment between two willing adults.  A marriage between an animal and a human can never be defined in this manner as an animal’s will is unknowable.  Homosexual marriages are no more a precedent for marrying your dog (seriously, who thinks of this stuff?) than hetero marriage…

Thirdly… seriously, who wants to marry their dog?  Is that contingent of America really big enough to be considered a concern? …Male or female, humans are humans.  The leap from homosexual marriage to bestiality isn’t a slippery slope, it’s a jump over the Grand Canyon.”

3. Claim: Same-sex marriage is a novelty- no one was asking for this 40 years ago! – and we don’t know how it would affect things, so we shouldn’t be rushing to legalize it.

Response: Same-sex marriage is only a novelty in the sense that black people not being owned, or women voting is a novelty. Just because it only recently became socially and politically acceptable (not to mention legal) does not mean that it is some silly new thing that can be discredited for being “a novel conception” (as in argued in this amicus brief that the LDS Church and other religious organizations submitted to the Supreme Court as part of the case Hollingsworth vs. Perry, which relates specifically to the Prop 8 battle but which may well determine the legality of same-sex marriage for the entire country).

As for not rushing into things- what rush? Nine states plus D.C. have already legalized same-sex marriage.  That’s almost a fifth of the states in the United States. Gay couples and single gay persons have already been adopting children. What is there to still be figured out, and is it so much of a concern that we should be stopping people from marrying while we “figure it out”?

4. Claim: Marriage is about children, not about validating adult relationships.

Response: If this was the case, we would not allow infertile couples or old people to get married. 

5. Claim: Okay so maybe we should allow them to be recognized by the state- but how about civil unions?

Response: Civil unions are essentially a separate-but-equal argument. If the only reason you don’t want to allow same-sex couples to get married is because of marriage having some religious or social value, how do you justify this given the principle of separation of church and state in the U.S.?

6. Claim: If same-sex marriage was legal, we’d have to let them get married in our temples.

Response: Heterosexual couples who are not Mormon are already not allowed to get married in our temples, thus demonstrating how the Church can already control who enters its walls. Temples are private property that the owners can control at their pleasure. The Supreme Court has already ruled that federal discrimination laws do not apply to religious organizations.

—–

So, those are all the arguments I’ve heard against same-sex marriage. The last remaining one is “the General Authorities have taken a stand against it.” If you choose to hold on to that reason, that’s fine- but as you advocate against same-sex marriage, make it clear that that is your reason. Please do not pretend that you have any other logical or rational basis to stop loving, consensual same-sex couples from receiving marriage licenses from the United States government.

26 Responses to “so i hear you’re a mormon against same-sex marriage”

  1. Ally

    This is awesome.
    But also, I’ve always wondered why the Church has never come out and said what kinds of sex are okay. I doubt I’d ever listen to them, but I still have always thought it was odd. (Probably because other churches in the past have preached that only certain kinds of sex are allowed.)

    Reply
  2. Nickel

    Ally, a while ago, and I don’t have dates here, but for some time during the 1970s and/or 1980s, couples were asked to refrain from oral sex.

    Reply
  3. Curious

    What about continuing to procreate in the eternities? How does that work for a homosexual couple?

    Reply
    • Derrick Clements

      And for that matter, how does it work for a heterosexual couple?

      Curious, does the ability to procreate in the eternities play a significant role in determining how we think about families in this life? To me, the doctrine of eternal families means I need to care about the relationships I have, foster them, not give up on them easily, and see in them divine potential. But the “mechanics” of it all has never been revealed. The speculation that eternal families = eternal sex as we understand it now is unfounded in official doctrine. We just don’t know how it will be, in many ways, so using a partially-formed conception of the afterlife to determine how we will act now seems like asking for trouble.

      Reply
    • Vitamin K

      In that case then why would a loving “God” create children that are not attracted to members of the opposite sex? What does “He” expect these people to do for eternity anyway? Be eternally frustrated by being forced into a “norm” just so that they can reach the highest degree of glory?

      Yeah, that sucks.

      Reply
  4. Sill DePlacito

    The Proclamation to the World says it all.
    The Proclamation To The World is Brilliant.
    If an individual believes it is an inspired document, it is valuable and inspirational when studied and understood.
    If an individual believes that it is not an inspired document, it is not valuable or inspirational so the individual is left to what the world devises for individuals.

    Reply
  5. Frank Pellett

    To me, the idea that infertile/aged would not be allowed to marry is as spurious as the other slippery slope argument of bestiality. Female-male pairings have the potential to produce children. Same-gender pairings do not. The idea of making any law requiring proof of fertility is facetious, at best.

    Also, the usage of 2-3000 year old text to declare that marriage has/has not been one way or another “throughout history” is just silly, by both sides. The least someone could do is take a sample of the various couplings accepted in cultures throughout the world now or a sampling of the socially accepted couplings (including ages) in North America over the last 400 years.

    Last, I -really- don’t like the rationale that families with same-gendered parents are “better than” some other non-dual-gender arrangement. It makes it seem like a competition, where if you can’t have two genders, at least you can have two people. If that were the case, why not hire single people to fill in as a second parent in single parent households? You’d have the benefits of raising children in a two parent family, at a nominal price.

    Reply
  6. Austin

    Of course, the argument of animal marriages is just ridiculous. Animals can’t enter into contracts. But the argument presented here is that anti-gay marriage advocates arbitrarily define marriage as one man plus one woman, but in reality marriage should be between “consenting adults.” If that is the standard, then what rational basis is there to disallow polygamy? That is, anti-gay marriage advocates arbitrarily define marriage as one man and one woman, but if you have a problem with that, why arbitrarily define marriage as between two people?

    Don’t think I’m putting forth a slippery-slope argument. I just don’t see a logical difference between the number two and the number three or more. I don’t really think public sentiment would be strong enough to put polygamy marriage on the books in the foreseeable future.

    Reply
  7. Todd

    I still want to know what your reason for disagreeing with the General Authorities is.

    Reply
  8. vicvic

    This is an excellent rebuttal against common (and weak) arguments against marriage equality. I still will never understand how a same-sex marriage will negatively affect that of a heterosexual couple, so why should it matter?

    Just speaking as a Canadian… I love that Rick Mercer clip you included in there too. Hilarious!

    Reply
  9. Brennan

    Hannah, this is a good article, it just has flawed arguments. First of all, I want to know how you interpreted the Bible the way you did. In fact, Paul writes how “men and men working that which is unseemly” (Romans 1:27) is unnatural and sinful. There are other verses in Paul’s writings and in the Old Testament that state that men doing that together is sinful. It sounds like you are making up loopholes in the Bible. General Authorities recently have clearly stated how homosexual behavior is sinful, while being gay necessarily isn’t so long as you live by the law of chasity. Also, the animal marriage argument is way too out there. It’s a bit ridiculous to compare animal to human relationships to human relationships in the way you did. Doesn’t make sense.
    That being said, I agree that there is a bit too much homophobia in the Church, and that all people are equal as children of God. I do not support gay marriage, because there have been instances in the past that have placed their rights above religious rights. do your research, and you’ll find them. I believe that current laws allowing gay marriage leave too many doors open and could lead to lawsuits against churches who don’t comply, therefore tying down their beliefs and defeating their purpose. That’s not tolerance. But I will say, I do not judge anyone for their beliefs and I respect all people’s choices, and I try to love all as brothers and sisters in Christ. I think we all, especially myself, have a lot of work to do. Thank you for expressing your opinion and taking the time to read mine.

    Reply
    • hannahwheelwright

      Brennan:
      1. Thanks for reading this and commenting! It’s good to hear other perspectives.
      2. I stated at the beginning of the article that you would need to set aside leaning on or referring to the General Authorities’ comments. Otherwise, you can always pull that trump card. This article attempts to address most of the factual and sociological reasons why opposing same sex marriage is wrong. I do not address at all how to deal with General Authorities’ statements on the matter for that reason.
      3. I’m glad you think the animal marriage argument is out there. So do it. But many people still use it, and that’s why I included it.
      4. You say that current laws could lead to lawsuits. I disagree. I believe I already stated it above, but I’ll say it again: the LDS Church owns all of its temples, making them private property. Thus no one can trespass on that property without the approval of the Church. You cannot walk into someone’s home and demand that you be allowed to be married there- it’s not your property. So LGBT persons already cannot sue to be married in temples or meetinghouses. Similarly, no Mormon can successfully sue the Church if their bishop will not give them a temple recommend, allowing them to be sealed in the temple. These circumstances are not new. Gay marriage legislation will not change them.
      5. Do your own research. I did mine. If you can show specific examples, I’d be happy to discuss them with you.

      Reply
  10. Shelby Hornback

    Hey look, I’m reading your other stuff! Trying to educate myself about feminism and all that jazz.

    Anyway, I actually agree with a lot of this, and I’m fine with gay marriage. It doesn’t really affect me at all, and our own church teaches the importance of agency. I don’t necessarily agree with gay marriage, but people should have the choice to do it nonetheless.

    However, as a member of the LDS faith who believes that “the Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly,” I don’t really see how you can discredit the argument that homosexuality is condemned in the Bible. Even if you want to throw out all the Old Testament stuff (because let’s be honest, there’s some weird shiz going on in the Old Testament), Paul still teaches that homosexuality is a sin multiple times. And he’s pretty clear about it.

    I also think there’s something to be said about the fact that men and women are literally made for each other. I mean, that’s just biology. Or anatomy. Why would God create us this way if he didn’t intend for men and women to be together. And along those same lines, we’re commanded to multiply and replenish the earth. Same-sex couples can’t really do that.

    Just to remind you, I AM ok with same sex marriage. I just don’t completely agree with all of your arguments for it.

    Reply
    • hannahwheelwright

      Glad you’re reading more here! I’m also glad you’re okay with gay marriage. I’d encourage you to actually watch the video that analyzes every reference to homosexuality in the Bible. It’s a very good historical and textual analysis.

      As for your point about anatomy- for one thing, not everyone feels like their body reflects their gender, re: transgender individuals. But besides that, your comment doesn’t really make sense since being gay is not a choice. It’s not like you’re born, see that you are a woman, and decide to be attracted to men so that your anatomy will match. The Church’s mormonsandgays.com website affirms that being gay is not a choice. Also, for gay men- anal sex can be seen as anatomically compatible.

      As for multiplying and replenishing the earth- same sex couples can still produce children, just not through each other. Sperm banks, artificial insemination, and adoption all make it possible for anyone to be a parent as long as they aren’t infertile- which brings up my next point. Your comment about us being commanded to multiply and replenish the earth seems to imply that anyone who does not do that is breaking a commandment. Does that mean that infertile couples are sinning? Why would God make people infertile if He has commanded them to multiple and replenish the earth?

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

      Reply
  11. snarsher

    Why is the Bible seen as more true or more relevant than modern revelation? If you don’t have a testimony of a living prophet today, then yes, I can see that one’s only evidence for what ought to be doctrine would be the Bible (and to be honest I am not a great Bible scholar and couldn’t tell you specifically what it says regarding same-sex marriage/attraction). But if I consider myself to be an active believer in the Mormon faith than I have to take the revelation given by the Prophet and General Authorities as scripture.

    Reply
  12. Jacob

    Hannah, I really appreciated reading this article. You are flat out right that many of the arguments haphazardly thrown out there just aren’t very good. I have been struggling with this issue, trying to find out how I really feel about the whole issue from a political standpoint. Anyway, here is an argument I have come across that you haven’t addressed. I’d love to hear your response to it.

    1) Threat to Freedom of Religion and Speech. You pointed out that since temples are private property, and we already discriminate who can be married there, that we shouldn’t worry about gays feeling discriminated against that they can’t marry in the temple. Agreed. That isn’t much of a worry in my opinion. The worry is possible legislation prohibiting preaching that homosexuality is a sin under the pretense of discrimination. What happens when homosexuality becomes so “normal” in mainstream society that anyone declaring it to be a sin could be subject to lawsuits or other legal sanctions? Could a bishop be sued for refusing to marry a couple because they are gay? The counterargument to this that I have heard is that gays don’t want to discriminate against people who think that their lifestyle is wrong, and that there isn’t a lgbt agenda heading in this direction. OK, but let’s examine this a little closer. Let’s use the comparison often used by proponents of gay marriage – the civil rights movement for African Americans. They compare this movement for gay marriage to the black civil rights movement. Well, consider this scenario. What would happen if a bishop today stood at the pulpit and preached that it was a sin to be black? What would happen if a bishop refused to perform a civil mariage because the couple was black? What would happen if the church refused employment to someone because they were black? I think we all know that this would not be tolerated by our government or society. Well, the church doesn’t preach that it is a sin to be black (nor has it ever), but it does preach that it is a sin to act on homosexual urges. If gay marriage is legalized, then 30 years down the road, the freedom and right for a church to speak openly against homosexual sex could be restricted. This is an argument that I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on.

    Reply
    • hannahwheelwright

      Hi Jacob! I’m glad you commented. I’ve been wanting to jump in on your status on this topic but hesitated, so I’m happy to reply to you here 🙂

      You raise a great point, and it’s one I need to add into the article. There are two pieces to it- whether bishops could be sued for preaching that homosexuality is a sin, and whether the church could be sued for refusing employment to someone who is gay.

      First: the government is not allowed to legislate thoughts and opinions (see: the ongoing existence of the KKK- http://www.kkk.com/ ). See also the Supreme Court case Snyder v. Phelps- people are still allowed to express their opinion even if it is vulgar and obscene and awful to other people. So your statement “The worry is possible legislation prohibiting preaching that homosexuality is a sin under the pretense of discrimination.” – that’s not going to happen anytime soon. If it did, it would be struck down by the courts in accordance with the precedent set by Snyder v. Phelps (among other previous cases). So no bishops or anyone else can ever be successfully sued just for preaching that homosexuality is a sin. This is in line not only with first amendment rights, but with the principle of separation of church and state.

      Second: the church cannot be sued for refusing employment to someone who is gay because the Supreme Court has long upheld what is called the “ministerial exception,” which means that churches have the right to hire and fire people according to their own rules and whims. The idea is that you chose to be part of that religious organization, so it it discriminates against you according to its predetermined set of rules, then the government can’t protect you- not just because you chose to be part of it, but because again of the separation of church and state. We recently saw the Supreme Court’s commitment to the ministerial exception in the Hosanna Tabor vs. EEOC case. I think you would like the very last paragraph of the majority’s opinion:

      “The interest of society in the enforcement of employment discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important. But so too is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith, and carry out their mission. When a minister who has been fired sues her church alleging that her termination was discriminatory, the First Amendment has struck the balance for us. The church must be free to choose those who will guide it on its way.”

      So as you can see, the church cannot be sued for anything related to its hiring or firing practice, even if other groups might think those practices are discriminatory. Your suggestion that “If gay marriage is legalized, then 30 years down the road, the freedom and right for a church to speak openly against homosexual sex could be restricted.” is unfounded given current legal standards. I see that you don’t like the racial discrimination/sexual orientation discrimination comparison, but I do think it is apt here- just because we outlawed racial discrimination does not mean that people can’t think black people are lesser (see again the KKK), and it didn’t mean that the church could be sued for some of its leaders claiming that black people were less valiant in the pre-existence.

      Reply
      • Jacob Burdis

        Thanks, that is insightful. We are both speculating in the unknown. You arguments do show that right now we are safe from lawsuits, however I’m not convinced that this will always be the case. It certainly is a possibility that in the future, the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion could come in to question. Thanks again!

  13. Young Mormon Feminists

    […] clarify my epiphany: This video, while delightful, as well fellow blogger Hannah Wheelwright’s gay marriage post, represent the old approach: same-sex marriage is awesome and fair and perfectly fine for kids and […]

    Reply

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