Sunday, September 28, 2008

Family and the sanctity of marriage

Legal battles are looming in the drive to define what is a family and what unions are allowed to be called marriage. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' stance on this issue is unequivocal, and it can be found here.

It states in part:

"The California Supreme Court recently ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in California. Recognizing the importance of marriage to society, the Church accepted an invitation to participate in ProtectMarriage, a coalition of churches, organizations, and individuals sponsoring a November ballot measure, Proposition 8, that would amend the California state constitution to ensure that only a marriage between a man and a woman would be legally recognized. (Information about the coalition can be found at ProtectMarriage.com.

On June 20, 2008, the First Presidency of the Church distributed a letter about “Preserving Traditional Marriage and Strengthening Families,” announcing the Church’s participation with the coalition. The letter, which was read in Latter-day Saints’ church services in California, asked that Church members “do all [they] can to support the proposed constitutional amendment.”

Members of the Church in Arizona and Florida will also be voting on constitutional amendments regarding marriage in their states, where coalitions similar to California’s are now being formed.

The focus of the Church’s involvement is specifically same-sex marriage and its consequences. The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference.

The Church has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a husband and a wife united in the bonds of matrimony.

The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility towards homosexual men and women. Protecting marriage between a man and a woman does not affect Church members’ Christian obligations of love, kindness and humanity toward all people."

Please take the time to read the entire article. If you do it will become evident that the church's stance is not anti-gay, as some might claim, but rather it is pro-family. It cites several examples of the benefits to having both a father and a mother in the home. It discusses the alarming rate of homes where children are raised by a single parent.

David Blankenhorn in Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem states: "The United States is becoming an increasingly fatherless society. A generation ago, an American child could reasonably expect to grow up with his or her father. Today, an American child can reasonably expect not to. Fatherlessness is now approaching a rough parity with fatherhood as a defining feature of American childhood.

This astonishing fact is reflected in many statistics, but here are the two most important. Tonight, about 40 percent of American children will go to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live. Before they reach the age of eighteen, more than half of our nation's children are likely to spend at least a significant portion of their childhood living apart from their fathers. Never before in this country have so many children been voluntarily abandoned by their fathers. Never before have so many children grown up without knowing what it means to have a father.

Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation. It is the leading cause of declining child well-being in our society. It is also the engine driving our most urgent social problems, from crime to adolescent pregnancy to child sexual abuse to domestic violence against women. Yet, despite its scale and social consequences, fatherlessness is a problem that is frequently ignored or denied. Especially within our elite discourse, it remains largely a problem with no name."

David Popenoe In his book, Life Without Fathers, states: "The decline of fatherhood is one of the most basic, unexpected and extraordinary trends of our time. Its dimensions can be captured in a single statistic: In just three decades, between 1960 and 1990, the percentage of children living apart from their biological fathers more than doubled, from 17 percent to 36 percent. By the turn of the century, nearly 50 percent of American children may be going to sleep each evening without being able to say good night to their dads.

No one predicted this trend; few researchers or government agencies have monitored it; and it is not widely discussed, even today. But the decline of fatherhood is a major force behind many of the most disturbing problems that plague American society: crime; premature sexuality and out-of-wedlock births to teenagers; deteriorating educational achievement; depression, substance abuse and alienation among adolescents; and the growing number of women and children in poverty."

As the definition of marriage changes and is trivialized, the sanctity of human life decreases.

According to Wikipedia, the current population in the United States is 305,275,000. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 45,000,000 legal abortions were performed between 1973 and 2005. That number is an eye popping 15% of the total population.

NPR reports that in recent court battles between religious and same sex groups, that religions are losing. Some of the examples they cited include:

"Adoption services: Catholic Charities in Massachusetts refused to place children with same-sex couples as required by Massachusetts law. After a legislative struggle — during which the Senate president said he could not support a bill "condoning discrimination" — Catholic Charities pulled out of the adoption business in 2006.

Medical services: A Christian gynecologist at North Coast Women's Care Medical Group in Vista, Calif., refused to give his patient in vitro fertilization treatment because she is in a lesbian relationship, and he claimed that doing so would violate his religious beliefs. (The doctor referred the patient to his partner, who agreed to do the treatment.) The woman sued under the state's civil rights act. The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in May 2008, and legal experts believe that the woman's right to medical treatment will trump the doctor's religious beliefs. One justice suggested that the doctors take up a different line of business.

Wedding facilities: Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of New Jersey, a Methodist organization, refused to rent its boardwalk pavilion to a lesbian couple for their civil union ceremony. The couple filed a complaint with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights. The division ruled that the boardwalk property was open for public use, therefore the Methodist group could not discriminate against gay couples using it. In the interim, the state's Department of Environmental Protection revoked a portion of the association's tax benefits. The case is ongoing."

Tell me, what happens when a gay couple decides that they want to be married inside of an LDS chapel, or temple? At the moment, I can't see how such a thing would be allowed. However, legal precedent is being made with frightening forward looking possibilities.

Heavenly Father loves all of his children regardless of the choices they make in life. However, He has given us commandments, that if we follow, will bless our lives.

His commandments are designed and intended to increase our joy and peace.

One of the greatest gifts we have been given on earth are families. As we continue to confuse what defines a family or a marriage, we reject the blessings He wants to give us.

What can we do?

Go to ProtectMarriage.com and sign up.

If you live in California, vote in favor of Prop 8 and encourage others to do likewise.

Arizona and Florida have similar ballot issues this fall. If you live there, vote in favor of them.

Write letters to your governmental legislators telling them that you support the definition of marriage being defined as a union between one man and one woman.

Donate of your means and times to support the ballot initiatives.

7 comments:

Tim Malone said...

That's Proposition 102, right? At first I thought voters in Arizona would have to wade through a lot of reading material on election day but it looks like there are only eight that made it to the ballot. I see from the press reports that the initiative has opposition there just as vocal as that found in California.

Dan and Wendy said...

Hey Tim,

Yeah, it's prop 102 here in Arizona. It will be interesting to see which way the initiative goes

Jay said...

I will try to be respectful because I know your post is sincere. But it is disappointing, at best. It strongly suggests that allowing same-sex marriage will increase the number of fatherless homes and abortions. These are both non sequiturs without any logic or evidence given. If you wish to persuade thoughtful readers, you should demonstrate step by step, logically and with evidence, how same-sex marriage will foster these results. You have not yet done so.

The news stories you have copied from NPR (not traditionally friendly to conservative values) are all incomplete and, on examination, do not support your conclusions.

Catholic Charities in Massachusetts had contracts with the state for adoption services and by accepting public funds subjected itself to all state non-discrimination laws. It cannot cry foul when it is required to comply with those laws, nor should you use this story as an example of state hostility to religion. Catholic Charities' leadership was not unanimous in deciding to withdraw from adoption placement in Massachusetts, a decision taken in large part because Catholic Charities simply did not want exposure to expensive lawsuits for violating state law which it knew it would lose.

The medical clinic in Vista, California which refused to provide intrauterine insemination to a lesbian patient was already subject to California laws which expressly ban discrimination by any business establishment against heterosexuals, homosexuals, married persons or domestic partners. The clinic knew or should have known that it thus had the option to retain a doctor on staff that would provide these services on a non‐discriminatory basis, or else to stop performing such services. Proposition 8 will not affect this law and would not have changed the legal result for this clinic, which would have been liable whether or not same-sex marriage was or was not legal in California. It is misleading for you to use this as an example of consequences of same-sex marriage.

The Methodist Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association of New Jersey which refused to rent its boardwalk pavilion to a lesbian couple for their civil union ceremony had a New Jersey state tax exemption for that pavilion which was granted as a benefit for opening the building to public use. That building had to date been available for marriage ceremonies by people of any faith. The The New Jersey real estate commission ruled that if OGCMA wanted to retain its property tax exemption for this building, then it could not discriminate by refusing to allow the lesbian couple to hold their commitment ceremony there. This is a logical and common-sense result and has nothing to do with state hostility toward religion. The LDS church has never sought to take advantage of a property tax exemption for LDS facilities open to the public in this way.

You have also repeated a popular LDS fear that same-sex marriage laws could become a basis for someone to sue the Church to force it to perform same-sex temple weddings. You offer no evidence for this. The California Supreme Court's written decision specifically said the ruling would not require any clergy to perform same-sex marriages. The 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution also expressly guarantees freedom of religion and would protect the Church against any such effort to force same-sex temple weddings. So far no one has successfully sued the Church to force it to admit non-recommend holders to heterosexual temple weddings, why would this result be any different for same-sex marriages? It is likely that your fears will remain unallayed on this point, but they would simply have no basis in fact or law.

Those who support same-sex marriage ask the Church and other Prop. 8 advocates “How will allowing someone to marry the partner of their choice, regardless of gender, have any negative impact on your 'traditional' marriage?” About 150 years ago, another group of people who advocated radically non-traditional marriage practices defended themselves with exactly the same argument against a hostile public which sought not only to stop them from acting according to their beliefs but also tried to wipe them out as a group. That group of radical advocates of “non-traditional marriage” was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints advocating polygamy. How ironic is it that now many members of that same Church use against others the same arguments that were once made against them.

I am not advocating a vote for or against Proposition 8 or any equivalent in any other state, and again, I respect the sincerity of your position. I simply suggest that you should investigate your evidence more thoroughly before posting it publicly and should support your conclusions with logical arguments.

Curtis said...

Having had to write an essay on homosexual marriage and the constitution, I know how hard it is to find good, persuasive evidence to ban homosexual marriage. You can find articles on either side on just about any argument concerning homsexual marriage and societal implications. Some say homosexual parents lead to homosexual children. Others say homosexual parents have no effect on a child's sexual preference. When it comes down to it, the only evidence we have against it are biblical, and that kind of evidence is often considered insubstantial in today's mulicultural and postmodern world. However, seeing we are free to vote according to our own conscience, and that our consciences are affected by our religious persuasions, we continue to make a stance against homosexual marriage. Clearly, the most compelling argument members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have against homosexual marriage is a religious one. As is the case, we can only persuade others by an appeal to God.

From Romans chapter one we read: "26 For this cause God agave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." And from Leviticus 18:22, we find: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." (These quotes comes from the King James Version of the Bible). If homosexual lust be considered a sin worthy of death, perhaps that explains the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, whose male inhabitants pressed Job to release his male visitors that they may "know" them (Genesis 19:1-25). For a third testimony, I quote our latter-day prophets: "We warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). Why do we argue against homosexual marriage? Because we believe God has commanded us to abstain from it. We believe that by letting others participate in this behavior, we permit the moral and social decays of our society, and moreover, that we put ourselves into the hands of the wrath of God. God has provided a better plan for our happiness-- so much better than the one's we can contrive of for ourselves. Our stance against homosexual marriage is not the closing of doors against individuals-- it is an invitation to consider what we know to be a better way. To learn more about this plan that God has for us, www.mormon.org is a good place to begin. Or ask more from Dan.

GuitarTech said...

Proposition 8 is a ridiculous attack on human dignity. The truth is this: Same-sex couples exist, and will continue to exist whether Prop 8 passes or not. Same-sex couples enjoy virtually all the same rights and privileges afforded to male-female unions - with two 'glaring' exceptions; Rights to Receivership, and Visitation Rights!

That's right folks. Modify the California State Constitution so that 'marriages' can only be between males and females, same-sex unions will continue to occur. Only those loving couples cannot inherit their partners (or their own 'joint') wealth and real estate, and those couples cannot visit each other as one lays dying in the hospital.

Is THAT fair? Does THAT sound like a proper practice for HUMANS? Inheritance and Visitation by spouse or next of kin?

That's the bottom line. Vote NO on Proposition 8. Don't let the prejudices of some stodgy old bureaucrat from the 19th century tell you otherwise. Every 'Pro' 8 campaign ad is rife with lies; No church will have to change a damn thing, No church will lose it's tax standing, No school will change the ways it teaches children.

For once in your life - have the compassion to defend basic human rights and dignity.

Vote NO on Proposition 8.

Dan and Wendy said...

Guitar tech,

your arguments are false and you know it. Schools in Massachussetts and California have already changed how they teach things due to their current laws regarding gay marriage.

Churches have already been forced to change their practices. The Catholic Church can no longer offer adoption services in
Massachussetts in accordance with their previous practice of doing so. The Methodist Church was forced to use their land in a way that they disagreed with, i.e. they were forced to allow a same-sex marriage on their boardwalk.

You should've read my entire post before you posted such an obviously false statement.

Jared said...

I was going to leave a comment, but Jay, you said it best. All I can add is "Amen".