Most of us are familiar with Proposition 8, the upcoming ballot initiative to amend the California state constitution to specifically outlaw same-sex marriage. In the last several months, California’s court system has declared laws banning same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, so the only recourse for “defenders” of marriage is to amend the constitution.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, or Mormons) has encouraged its members to get involved in the effort to amend the constitution. In a letter read in congregations across California, the church’s First Presidency announced that it would “participate … in seeking [the amendment’s] passage.” It also pleaded with its members to “do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.”
Obviously, the church is well within its rights to support what it considers a “moral” issue, but it’s not surprising that members have begun to publicly demonize both homosexuals and proponents of same-sex marriage. Take, for instance, this article in Meridian Magazine, a publication aimed at Mormon families.
Some background is probably necessary. The Bible describes a “war in heaven,” wherein “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. … And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:7-9).
In Mormonism, this war in heaven came about before we were born, when we lived as spirits with God the Father. Two plans were presented for the salvation of humanity: God’s plan, which involved freedom of choice, and Satan’s plan, which would have taken away our freedom to choose and would have forced all humans to be saved (see Moses 4:1-4 and Doctrine and Covenants 29:36). One-third of the spirits followed Satan and were cast out to become “the devil and his angels” (D&C 29:37). In Mormon theology, this was the great battle between God and Satan, and our being here on earth tells us that we were among the two-thirds who followed God.
The article in question, in a bit of glorious hyperbole, compares the ballot initiative in California to this great battle in heaven. The author tells us that “this war has not ended, that only the battlefield has changed. That battlefield is now [you guessed it] California[,] and the parallels between that premortal conflict and the battle over the definition of marriage are striking.”
Ironically, he reminds us that “Satan rebelled against [God], and sought to destroy the agency of man” (while he’s urging us to restrict the choice of gay Californians). “Satan,” he says, “must have used very effective arguments to turn a third of the hosts of heaven away from the Father despite pure knowledge of God’s will.” These arguments, he tells us, are being used just as effectively by the devil to trick people into supporting Proposition 8. Let’s go through them, as he sees them:
1. Equality of outcome, which “always be the beginning point for those opposed to any part of God’s plan.” And here’s the slick lie that Prop 8’s proponents are using to fool people:
Gays and lesbians are people, too. They have the same emotions as anyone else. It is only fair that they be given equal rights. They should not be second-class citizens.
Do you see any “equality of outcome” in this statement? I don’t. What I see is equality of opportunity and equal access to choice. So, point one fails rather miserably.
2. Sympathy. In heaven, Satan apparently played on our emotions in telling us, “Under the Father’s plan, some of your friends will never return.” Similarly, we are told that “emotion is evoked by specific situations, in this case having two women in their 80s be the first same-sex marriage in California.” Since when are sympathy and empathy and desire for other people’s happiness wrong? Oh, right. They’re wrong when such things oppose God.
3. Hate. He’s right that on both sides, “the opposition [is being] shamed, vilified, and demonized.” But how can people who claim that gay-rights advocates are allied with Satan object to being called “Christian extremists, anti-gay, right-wing radicals, old-fashioned, hung-up, homophobes, bigots, stupid, intolerant, mean-spirited, knuckle-draggers”? Pot, meet kettle.
4. Change. Just as Satan apparently told us that God’s “old ways” haven’t worked out, we are being told by the forces of darkness that “it’s time for a change.” This argument seems to rest on the idea that change is never good, but traditions and rules must never change. It reminds me of the argument in Britain a few years ago that hunters had the right to have dogs chase and rip to pieces foxes in the name of tradition. Not all tradition is worth perpetuating. If it’s time to change marriage, let it be done based on sound arguments, not on some bull-headed resistance to change in general.
5. Guarantee. In our premortal existence, Satan promised us all a place in heaven with no possibility of damnation. All it would cost was our freedom. In the battle for same-sex marriage, the guarantee that “same-sex marriage will not harm anyone. Heterosexual marriage will not be hurt. Nothing will change except all people will have every right that anyone else has.” Of course, rather than actually argue what it will or won’t change, the author prefers to demonize his opponents.
The article concludes with some amazing rhetoric:
The stakes are critical. If same-sex marriage advocates can dilute and hollow out the central part of the Creator’s plan, the whole structure collapses — the family, the nation, and in time civilization itself. The time has come for those of us who believe that God, not man, created marriage (fortunately still a majority) to take a stand and defend it.
He may well be right that the stakes are critical, but a serious issue deserves serious discussion, not this kind of garbage. Of course, I’m an ex-Mormon, so I’m already one of Satan’s minions. Were I still a resident of California, I would be voting against Proposition 8, but because I am not, I will do what I can and stand up against this kind of overblown hatred.