I love this blog post. There is this widespread assumption that Mormons are naïve people who really have no understanding of the “real” world. I know this to be patently false, but this author articulates why, much better than I can. Awhile back I read a blog by a woman who felt like she needed to unload an angry diatribe against Ann Romney soon after she delivered what I thought was an optimistic and uplifting speech. The angry woman stated that Ann Romney (and Mitt by extension) cannot claim to understand her (a lower-middle class mom and teacher) because they never REALLY had to struggle the way normal people do.
I take issue with her assumption that to understand, empathize with, or be able to help “average” Americans, one must actually BE average or below average income earners to even apply for the job, so to speak. That wealth automatically disqualifies one from understanding. I.e. one has to actually BE a drug addict to know what they go through, empathize with their plight, or know how to really help them. If this were true, then we would have no effective rehab facilities. Drug addicts after all, cannot help themselves out of the destructive cycle; someone has to give them a hand up. Now don’t go taking my example to the extreme. Obviously the average working American is not a drug addict in need of rehab. I only use that to illustrate the fallacy in this woman’s argument.
One of the quintessential Mormon experiences that virtually all young men and many young women undertake is full-time missionary service. It is the great equalizer. While Americans may feel to thank the South Park people for enlightening them on what a mission looks like, in reality a mission is anything but superficial song and dance. It’s brutal. Kids that come from wealthy families aren’t given special treatment. They live and breathe the same air as their poverty-stricken neighbors. They depend on the same water and food sources as the natives. For my husband, this was primarily in Entebbe, Uganda. For me it was in Belem, Brazil. We are tossed into the heart of whichever community we are assigned to teach in.
So when I hear that Mitt Romney put all of his energy into his full-time missionary service, I know what that means. Missionaries all answer to the same rigid set of rules, and follow the same daily routine during a mission. There is variety from nation to nation, of course. But the core of the work doesn’t vary much. What is unusual about Romney is that not only did he serve well, but he had to take over the reins of leadership completely. At one point on his mission, there was a car wreck that killed the wife of the president. Understandably, the man became incapacitated with grief and returned home. Not only did Mitt take over everything and keep it together — he lifted the morale of his peers, and actually motivated them so much that their effectiveness increased over what it had previously been.
But I digress; let’s get back to the original post. This blogger puts into words what he learned on his mission. And in the telling of his story, he obliterates any stereotype that paints Mormons as naïve. His experience is not exceptional. The same lessons play out in the lives of missionaries and Mormons all over the world. He illustrates how a person can empathize, understand, and help another person who is suffering without actually BEING the one suffering the personal crisis.
Well my friends, a number of you will differ from me on this post, as we’ve debated it much in the past, both in the ’08 election and in this one. But I think I’ve come to my final conclusion, which is a relief to me. Now I can release it into cyberspace, and move on.
Thank you, Steven, for being the springboard to my making a final conclusion. Some of you wouldn’t know this but I began to fol
low the SSM issue back in the early ’90’s, when I was taking a debate class at West Valley College. It was the subject of my final debate, and my interest in the matter has since never waned. At the time I went to one of the meetings in the Bay area where a domestic partnership registry was being proposed by local officials. It was clear back then that it was only the beginning of what has become a decades-long culture war.
I’ve concluded after many years of debating this issue that I am in favor of a federal domestic partnership law, giving LGBT couples the same rights as traditional couples. Naturally this wouldn’t be sufficient for most SSM activists, but it seems the only way I can come up with for the matter to be resolved to make the most people happy on both sides.
If I could have my way, the government would step out of the marriage business all together, and let the churches keep marriage in their domain entirely. But it is beyond realistic expectations that this would ever happen. At least there we could be left to hold our religious beliefs on the subject and teach them to our children in peace. Naturally many of my friends would argue that I am still at liberty to do so in peace, but I agree to disagree with you.
Marriage is the most sacred of covenants we can enter into as mortals. It is among many other things, the means for tying both mothers and fathers to their children. They fare best in life when they are tightly bound to a loving father and mother, who are married and faithful to each other. Just because we often fail to keep this unit in tact as imperfect mortals, it doesn’t mean we should toss out that ideal. Children are at the core of marital bonds, and they deserve to be born into that kind of union.
As it stands, the SSM lobby has successfully branded marriage traditionalists as bigots, motivated only by some inexplicable animus towards the LGBT population. I happen to know that I’ve never hated a living person in my life (well, except maybe my 7th grade math teacher, but I digress). This is an unfair and false label for the vast majority of those who oppose SSM policy and changing definitions.
Most of our nation does not agree that SSM unions should be called a marriage, due to long held traditions. But it seems in 21st Century America, this opinion can no longer be respected or tolerated in the wake of “progress,” by those who are screaming for tolerance, but only when it agrees with their viewpoint. While I respect and always have respected my gay friends’ rights to live and love as they please, I can no longer be seen by the” thinking” crowd as anything but a bigot.
Religious freedom — the foundational pursuit of our original colonists and American forefathers — is gravely threatened in this climate, regardless of insidious arguments to the contrary. It seems we must expect to be compelled eventually to keep all religious expressions a private affair, or face the mockery and derision of the politically correct. The SSM bloc won’t be satisfied with a federal domestic partnership law, or equal rights.
In my native California, they’ve enjoyed equal rights under the law for some time. And yes, I recognize that this isn’t seen as enough by my activist friends, because the federal government doesn’t recognize them, due to DOMA legislation. I get it. But the campaign against traditional marriage law and its supporters will not stop until the original God-given ideal is dismantled. Expunged and replaced by omnipotent secularism, the antecedent to moral relativism.
Now don’t be concerned at my diatribe, I’ve ruminated over it for awhile now. I fully expect that in my lifetime, SSM marriage will be recognized on a federal level. This won’t ruin my life, or diminish my own marriage in any way. However lawsuits will ensue at a rate vastly higher than we have seen to this point. Other religious institutions like the Boston Catholic Charities who did much service for the common good will be shut down as well. But they will continue to do service through the private sector, and at greater personal expense.
Public expressions of the religious will continue to be driven from the public square. But in the end, the private arenas will open up, and they will be able to move forward with their respective missions. The religious who retain their traditional marriage ideals will be derided all the more, when the law stands behind the SSM lobby. But worldly acclaim and honor have never been among the priorities of those who honestly try to be disciples of Jesus. And even humility by compulsion yields much good.
Children will be denied access to either their father or their mother, and will suffer among other things, from the lack of whichever parent is missing. But they will overcome that deprivation by a variety of means, due to the natural resilience that God puts into the spirit of each one. None of us comes from a perfect home. Each of us takes the good that we have inherited, and builds on that good moving forward. Children of SSM families and their parent figures will do the same. I support the happiness of these families as much as I do any other. I pray to God that they would feel to support my family in the same way.