Mormon Discussion

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Mormon Culture v. Doctrine, Part 1: The Pressure for Marriage

Culture or doctrine?

How do we discern between the two?

There are things that I love about church doctrine. It makes sense to me in a way that other religious philosophies don't. There is a logic behind it, an order, that appeals greatly to my sense of...well, logic and order. There are places to turn to to find answers, be it scriptures, books, the Ensign, leaders, blogs, prayer, etc. I find that many of the "mysteries" of God aren't really that mysterious, since He is pretty good about making sure we understand things, especially important things. Church doctrine, in my opinion, makes a lot of sense as a religious philosophy.

The problem I see is that soooo many members confuse church culture and church tradition with church doctrine. There are things that Mormons are "supposed" to do and when members deviate from this ideal, they become something of a black sheep. Are they necessarily breaking any covenant? Violating any rule? No, not in most cases. But, they are treated as sinners of the worst sort when they are open about their deviations.

I speak from a personal experience point of view. Lately, there has been a lot of pressure on me to be married. It's usually unspoken, or if it is spoken, it's covert. Things like, "Oh, no ring? Don't worry, it'll happen someday." As if not being married or engaged at 22 is something to be concerned with. Constant probing into my dating life (or lack thereof) or statements like, "Well, once you have your kids..." set the cultural expectations of what Mormons are supposed to do. And, as a girl, I'm supposed to be focused on family and marriage.

Even women who are older than me, who are single and attend my single's ward, express a disappointment at not being married yet at the "old" age of 29. One woman, who I think has accomplished a lot, has her Master's degree, has traveled quite extensively, and owns her own business. But, when she speaks of her life, it's still not good enough because she isn't married yet and she speaks wistfully of how much better her life would be if she were, because she's getting so old. For me, however, 29 is NOT old whatsoever. Nor would I feel disappointment if I wasn't married by that age. There are things that I want to do that I wouldn't be able to do if I were married. Well, perhaps I would, but not in the same capacity.

After I graduate law school, I'd like to treat myself to a vacation in Europe for a month or so...just me and my best friend. While this may still be a possibility when married, it would be a bit more maneuvering. I'd like to enjoy just being single and living alone for awhile. I think that living alone is an important thing for people do to before they live with a spouse for forever. If only for the reason that you get to come to find out who you really are. I clean up a lot more than I normally would because I live with roommates. Living alone would give me a better sense of who I am in certain areas. I want to have no one to answer to for awhile. I want to establish who I really am before I commit to someone. Too many marriages end because the people that got married grew up and grew apart. I don't want that.

This attitude, however, of not making marriage my top priority, is somehow very dangerous and evil, according to my fellow counterparts. Now, don't get me wrong...I'm not opposed to marriage whatsoever. If it came along, fine. But, if not, I'm not worried about it. I'm not stressing myself out or wasting time feeling unfulfilled. I'm not obsessing over the fact that I haven't had a date in a year or so and I'm not concerned if I don't get married by a certain age. I have made plans for myself that don't include a husband because there is alwys the possibility that I won't have one...some people don't get married because the right person doesn't come along. Currently, I'm single with no prospects in sight, so why plan around something that is sooooo uncertain?

Mormon culture kicks in here. I should be sad and depressed, wasting my time catering to what I think will "get a man." I should plan for a marriage first and then, as a backup, live my life as I currently am. I should spend energy concerned with my lack of dating. This is the message I am given by my fellow church members. The women are the worst--they are constantly reminding me of how great it would be to be married. They talk in RS about the joys of marriage and they have extensive plans for themselves and their as-yet-unkown husband. Since I say things like, "If I get married," rather than "when," which is a valid thing to say since no one can predict the future, I get looks and eyeballs. When I discuss things I want to do with my life and don't mention marriage, I get reminded of that fact. If I say, "I want to graduate law school, work for a firm for awhile, buy a house, and then start a youth center," I am always asked, "Well, when will you have time to get married and be a mom?"

This is partly tied up with doctrine, I understand, because there is that commandment that says we are supposed to multiply and replenish the earth. The Proclomation asserts that family is the most important. Yes, I understand that. I even will take it at face value. But, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with not making marriage a top priority because it's something that you can't conrol at all! How am I supposed to plan on meeting my future husband? I can't say, "Well, I will do X and Y and then Z will result, hence marriage." I can do that with things like law school...if I go in the fall, I will graduate in 3 years, and then I will be able to work as a lawyer. Those are things I can control. Since I am not opposed to marriage, and if I have the chance, I would get married, then why is it so weird that I don't care to stress myself out about it right now? Is it a sin to not be married by 25? I don't think so. That's a silly notion. Is it a sin to plan to do things by yourself? I don't think so, either. Is it wrong not to be upset at 22, 25, or even (gasp!) 29 that I'm not married yet? I highly doubt it.

So why do so many people get caught up in the culture? Why do they focus so strongly on how things are "normally" done and refuse to see that there are alternative (and not wrong!) routes? Why is it such a disappointment to be comfortable not being married? How do we, as individuals, seperate the culture of being Mormon from the religious doctrine and be sure we are using that as our guide in life? The last thing I want to do is rush into something because of social cues and pressures, only to find out that I did the wrong thing or that there was something better for me just around the corner if I'd just waited a bit. And why is it that people are sooo uncomfortable with the idea that there are other routes to life that it can't even be discussed? I can't tell you how many feathers I've ruffled without even meaning to, simply by saying, "Well, I'm not too concerned if I don't get married. I could live a happy life without it."

Is it so unbelievable that a person, a woman, could be happy with her life if the right marriage partner never came along? Must we always look at these people with a sort of sadness because they are somehow less blessed? Perhaps there are blessings that come from being single that married people don't get. Perhaps the freedom and autonomy of being single is a blessing all on their own. Perhaps their partner in the afterworld is SMOKINGLY good looking and can cook a mean fat-free fettucini alfredo. Who knows what blessings come from being single that aren't there for married people and the same for married to single. But is it so unfathomable that someone can be content with his/her life without a husband or wife? Is it so shocking that a person could be okay with being single and trust that the Lord has a plan for them that may or may not include marriage?

Rather than express sympathy or pity for unmarried members, perhaps we should applaud their ability to be happy and be content, expecially when faced with enormous social pressure. Perhaps we should find ways to encourage single members who aren't happy to find what makes them happy in their lives and celebrate that, rather than wasting time and emotions on being sad about something they lack. Perhaps we should all just realize that because that's "how it's done" doesn't mean that's how is has to be done.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Why People Avoid Talking

So, my visiting teachers were over the other day and I was a bit irritated by one of the women's comments. VT1 and I were talking about the Supreme Court and Sandra Day O'Connor and the liberal/conservative split on the Court. Nothing too controversial, just kind of chatting and discussing and asking questions. VT1 asked VT2 what she thought and VT2 said she didn't know. She said she wasn't really sure. VT1 and I were discussing the ramifications of a liberal/conservative shift on things like abortion rights and homosexual rights and women's and minority rights. We weren't arguing, we weren't even disagreeing. We were just discussing. I was saying something about how Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are strict interpreters of the Constitution and that certain ideas (such as the right to privacy) don't exist for them if not spelled out in the Constitution blatantly. VT2 cut in and said, "Hey guys, let's start our lesson and pray. Let's not talk about this stuff because it brings in a spirit of contention."

I was floored...

My question relates to this comment of hers. Since we weren't even disagreeing, how is that we were bringing in a spirit of contention? I feel like this is why so many things aren't ever discussed in the Church that are controversial or even a bit different. VT2 felt so uncomfortable with ideas that weren't exactly cookie-cutters that she felt we were somehow dragging in a contentious spirit. I didn't even understand this.

Do people avoid discussion about issues because they are afraid they might have to think about something from a different angle? I feel like VT2's attitude towards discussing anything even remotely thought-provoking is enough to make people in the Church--and I hate to even say it but it seems to be true--and especially women in the Church, shy away from serious discussion.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Civil Disobedience and the Equal Rights Amendment

I found a website recently that I can't guarantee the authenticity of, but it claims to be a comprehensive look at Mormon doctrine and appears to be written by a Mormon. If it is authentic and also accurate, then I have found some very troubling things, in my opinion.

"Generally speaking, the Church does not support its members in exercising civil disobedience. This position is based on at least three key factors. First, the Church believes that even bad government is preferable to no government (i.e., anarchy). Second, a common tactic by enemies of the Church has been to falsely portray its members as enemies of the state who seek to overthrow the constituted government of the land. These fabrications have led to many incidents of persecution (e.g., murder, rape, false imprisonment, seizure of property, etc.) against the Church and its members. Therefore, the Church is very careful to avoid even the appearance that we are poor citizens. Third, we believe that God has a plan and the human family is working according to a divine timetable. Since we believe the time will come when God will right all wrongs, we do not feel the compulsion to correct all evils in this life." - found here

Why on earth would the Church not support civil disobedience? This is just shocking and irritating to me. So, we should still be under Jim Crow laws? Women as property? This page I got this from says that the Church advocates dealing with issues in courts of law, but the issue there is that, if the law is unjust, then what are the chances that a person fighting against that law will win? Or will even have legal grounds to stand on? Honestly, do we believe that if a balck man in the South had gone to court to argue that he can't sit at a lunch counter, that 1)anyone would have taken his case, 2) that any judge wouldn't have dismissed the case, 3) that he would have legal ground to stand on, and 4) that he would have won? I seriously have my doubts, especially considering the first landmark case that actually did give blacks equality, Brown v. Board of Education, was so adamently opposed by the society that GUARDS had to be present at the school to let the black students in, while governor George Wallace stood screaming, "Segregation now, segregation forever!"

I don't understand why the Church would oppose this. Honestly, is sitting in so bad? Is marching to the voting booth and demanding to be allowed to vote, regardless of sex, that bad? Personally, I think that most reasonable people can realize that the use of non-violent, civil disobedience helped further the civil rights movement along in a way that going through the standard legal and political routes would never have done. It's only been 41 years since the Civil Rights Act of '64 passed. And that was with the help of civil disobedience. Where would we be without the use of civil disobedience? 6 years since? 10? None at all?

Also, since when do we as a Church think it's ok to sit back and do nothing to fight the evils of the world? The last part sounds like a free ticket to sit back and do nothing, since it's all going to be taken care of eventually. I thought we were supposed to work to help people. I thought we were supposed to fight for the right. Aren't we "all enlisted till the conflict is o'er?" Since when do we get to just slack off and say, "Well, that evil of the world we aren't going to worry about because God will fix it in the end." To me, that sounds like an excuse to be apathetic. It sounds like a cop out.

"In the political arena, where competing claims to civil rights are frequently debated, the Church participates indirectly by encouraging members to vote and to foster a society congenial to Christian teaching and righteous living. Occasionally, when public issues implicate important matters of doctrine and morals, the Church publishes recommended positions on disputed issues and encourages members and others to follow their counsel. Thus, the Church has urged restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages, opposed the legalization of gambling and lotteries, favored right-to-work legislation (no closed or union shop), advocated the defeat of the equal rights amendment (ERA), and spoken out against pornography, abortion, and child abuse." - found here

The first part ruffles my political/law side. We don't live in a Christian nation. We live in a religiously tolerant nation. While it does say "congenial," rather than "militantly opposed to anything but," I personally think this is a dangerous statement because some people are insane and can perceive it to mean that.

My issue with the second part of this is the more important one. Advocated from the defeat of the ERA? Just so everyone is up to speed, here is what the ERA states, verbatim:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or
abridged by the United States or by any state on account of
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate
legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

So, basically it gives women full equality under the law. And the Church works against that? Why? I don't eve understand this. Why would anyone, for one, oppose this legislation? This legislation has been reintroduced every session of Congress since 1923. Firstly, I'm a little disappointed in our nation for STILL not having passed this amendment, and secondly, I'm shocked that the Church would advocate for its defeat. This is so incredibly strange and actually baffling to me that I can't even begin to comprehend it. I have no words to describe it. There is so much lip service given to women in the church:

"Nowhere does the doctrine of this Church declare that men are superior to women. Paul said to the Corinthians, “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:11). Each brings his or her own separate and unique strengths to the family and the Church. Women are not just cooks, stewards of our homes, or servants. They are much more. They are the enrichment of humanity." --James E Faust, Ensign, May 1988

"My beloved sisters, I greet you in love and respect, knowing that you are daughters of our Heavenly Father and knowing what each of you has the potential to become.
In behalf of the general officers of the Church, I thank you for the service you render to the Church, to your families, and to the neighborhoods and communities in which you live. I recognize that many of your unselfish and compassionate deeds are unknown, unheralded, and at times unthanked." --Howard Hunter, Ensign, Nov. 1992

"Having looked over all of this, He declared it to be good. He then created man in His own likeness and image. Then as His final creation, the crowning of His glorious work, He created woman. I like to regard Eve as His masterpiece after all that had gone before, the final work before He rested from His labors. I do not regard her as being in second place to Adam. She was placed at his side as an helpmeet. They were together in the Garden, they were expelled together, and they labored together in the world into which they were driven." -- Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1991

My concern here is, is the Church backing up this lip service? In my opinion, no, it isn't. Why would there be opposition from a church that speaks so highly of women to a very important piece of legislation for women? This isn't even a controversial piece of legislation--all it does is afford women equal protection under the law. I find this disturbing and disheartening.

As I said, I can't guarantee the authenticity of the claims on this website, so I plan to do a bit more research and post again on what I find. But, if anyone has any ideas as to whether these are accurate or not, I'd like to know. Also, if anyone has any insights as to why these would be the stances that the Church takes on these issues, I'd love to hear it...

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Spirit World and Choice vs. Sure Knowledge

Lately I've been mulling over work for the dead.

It was my understanding, unless I'm incorrect on this (which very well may be, because I'm often incorrect or misunderstood something), that each person that comes to earth will at some point be afforded a chance to hear the gospel. Whether that means while the person is on the earth, or after that person has died, there will be an opportunity for that particular person to accept or reject the gospel.

So here's where my confusion comes in. We do work for people who have had the opportunity to accept the gospel and rejected it in life. For example, I have a friend who's family members were not members, and in fact, did not even like the church. When they did, my friend's parets died all their work for them, so they could accept it posthumously if they so chose. This, to me, seems a bit silly. If they've already chosen to reject the gospel on earth, then haven't they exhausted their chance?

There is an argument to be said that people usually have numerous chances to accept or reject the gospel and, in fact, many members go through stages of rejection and coming back to church. It's basically not over until the fat lady sings (aka the Second Coming). So, even after you die, you still have time to decide yes or no.

But, my question comes in here--when people who have previously rejected the gospel die and are in the spirit "prison" (which I hate as a term). After you die, isn't it pretty obvious what happens "after you die?" The elusive question that puzzles humans so much on earth is no longer a question at all--you're there! You know! And, if you were explained the Plan of Salvation and heard about the prison and the paradise, isn't it pretty self-evident that it wasn't a crock of bs and in fact, the church is true, because it's happening to you? So, how is it then a "choice" on whether or not to accept the gospel?

"Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." -Alma 32:21

So, in this scripture, we know that faith is hoping for things which aren't seen. Faith is not to have a sure knowledge of something. Knowledge and faith are seperate. Faith can be very strong, no doubt, but it is still not a perfect knowledge. For example, do I have a perfect knowledge of gravity? No. I have never seen gravity. I have never even seen the formula or law that supports gravity. But, do I have faith in gravity? Yes. I have a very strong faith in gravity. I have seen it work in my life. I have seen it work in the lives of others. I have experienced its power (sounds like a testimony, eh?). So, I have faith in gravity. The same idea for atoms. Have I ever seen atoms? No. In fact, unless it's been done within the last 5 years, I remember learning in physics class that no human has ever actually seen an atom. So, if that is still accurate, then no human has a sure knowledge of an atom. But, we can have faith in the atom, due to seeing its work and interactions with things in the world. Again, this is a very strong faith. But, still, faith nonetheless.

So faith is seperate from a sure knowledge of something. Joseph Smith did not need faith in the Lord because he had a sure knowledge of the Lord. The Lord physically appeared to him and Joseph's faith became a sure knowledge. Sure knowledge is a step above faith. Faith requires belief. Faith requires someone to have not ever seen the thing they hope for. Faith requires hope.

With that definition in mind, the distinction of faith and a sure knowledge, we go back to the issue of those in the spirit prison. Since they are dead, they are arguably in a situation where they no longer need faith. You are already dead and there. You know what happens after we die. Everything in the church is really just an answer to "what happens after we die?" We base everything that we do in life on what happens after we die. We want to live with HF and JC in the celestial kingdom, so we pattern our lives after Christ in order to be with him in the next life. We set our sights on what comes next. We do not know for sure that there is a celestial kingdom, or even a JC, since almost no one has seen either one of these things (barring the prophets, etc.). We believe in these things. We hope for these things. But we cannot know these things yet. It is for the next life to come that we know these things.

The choice to believe in these things comes from having faith. It comes from exercising this faith. It comes from choosing whether to follow the church's teachings or not. We choose in this life to prepare for the next life. We have to choose, because we are not sure. We do not know 100%. We choose to believe 100% or to not believe. Because of this lack of knowledge, we have a choice. The same way we make other choices in our life. I am going to law school in the fall. Do I know for a fact I will do well? Do I know I will enjoy it? Do I even know for sure that I really want to be a lawyer? Do I know that in 5-10 years I will still be as passionate about law as I am currently? No. I have a choice because of all these unknowns. I can choose to move forward and continue with law school, believing that I will do well, that I will want to keep doing this, that I will enjoy this career, and that I will always love the law. Or I can choose to not believe those things, to believe something else. To believe that I will hate it and do terribly. To believe I'm wasting a lot of money. I can choose not to go.

But the choice is there because of the unknowns. I have the choice in this life to practice my faith in the Lord and His plan because I don't know yet what happens. But, for those folks that have rejected the gospel in this life and then die and then they look around them and say, "Hey, this is exactly what I was told it would be like by my Mormon friends!" do they have a choice anymore? Or has it become a sure knowledge? Has it moved from a faith in (or a lack of faith in) the Plan of Salvation to a sure knowledge of the Plan of Salvation? And if it has moved from faith to a sure knowledge, then, arguably, they know longer have a choice. When we are confronted with something and have a sure knowledge of it, we can no longer deny it. At least not with any credibility. If I tell someone I have a Corvette, and they don't believe me, once I show them the Corvette and the title in my name, do they have a choice on whether to believe me or not? Not really. It's hard to choose to believe something when it's been plainly shown to you. So, arguably, these people in the spirit prison no longer have a choice. They have to accept it (or else, they are massively in denial...similar to folks who STILL deny the earth is round despite being shown photos of a round earth) because it is no longer a faith issue.

This being said, it causes me to wonder if some people are let off more easily than others. For example, if I am not a member of the church and I reject it here on earth, I get to go do whatever I want. I am not restrained by anything. Then, I die and I end up in the spirit prison. I know have a sure knowledge of what happens after death and I also know that if I accept the gospel, I will be able to live with HF and JC again. So, I do so because I have a sure knowledge of life after death. Say we have another girl, a faithful member, who has to make many sacrifices during this life. She loses her friends in junior high because she won't drink/smoke/do drugs, she is made fun of for her religious affiliation, she is made a spectacle at her workplace because of her refusal to work on Sundays, she loses boyfriends who want to push her further than she is willing to short, she makes many sacrifices in her life. Then, she dies and goes to the Sprit Paradise and knows that her sacrifices have not been in vain. She knows she can go live with her HF and JC again. Either way, both these people are going to the same place. But, the one had to make very few sacrifices whereas the other had to make many. Of course, the one may have not have had the blessings of a reltionship with her HF on earth, whereas the other did, but I know many people who are not members of the church who are very happy and content with their lives. So, a lack of the church in a person's life is not always a recipe for a miserable and awful life.

The apparent lack of choice is the cause of my question. Is it that people in the spirit world have a sure knowledge? If so, then where is their choice? If there is no choice, then is it really the Plan of Salvation, since HF wanted us to all have the choice to follow him, and Satan wanted us to have no choice at all? And if it is a sure knowledge, isn't that then a free pass to do whatever you want in this life, as long as you die before the Second Coming and have a chance to accept it then? (Of course, the drawback is that no one knows when that is, so you might get screwed if you follow that route to the celestial kingdom, but I think the point is still made...)

Of course, this is probably one of those issues that no one will really know the answer to until we die, but I still wonder about it. What happens to those that reject the gospel now and then die? Is there a sure knowledge? If so, then what becomes of choice?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Homosexuality and the Institution of Marriage

As the group moderator, I should follow my own rules and tell a bit about myself first.

I've been a member my whole life, although I've gone through various stages of inactivity/activity. I am not a Molly by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm not terrible either. I am often questioning things I've heard in church and I rarely take things at face-value. I am ver involved in social and political issues and I find myself often contemplating the connection between politics and religion. I'm unmarried, a law student, and I attend a singles' ward.

I've been thinking a lot lately about marriage, with specific regards to homosexual marriage. I speak as someone who has probably more close gay friends than I do straight friends. That being said, I am not going to question to church's stance on homosexuality, because that is a while different topic. Rather, narrowly focusing on just the marriage part, I'm curious about the political ramifications of a homosexual marriage ban.

There are two lines of argument that interest me on this topic and cause me to pause and consider. The first line of argument is that of sustaining the law of the land. This may be a bit heady, but stay with me on this one. We are taught to follow the laws of the land. The 12th Article of Faith reads: "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." The United States Constitution, in the 14th Amendment, reads: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

So the church says we are to uphold the laws of the land and one of the governing laws of the US is that no state may make any law that abridges the rights of a citizen. "Rights" are a tricky concept, to say the least. Historically, using substantive due process law, basically, rights are that which is not clearly prohibited by law. If there is no law against something, then you have the right to do it. There is no law, for a blatant example, that says you may not talk badly about George Bush, therefore, citizens have the right to do so. Substantive due process law basically says anything not expressly prohibited is an inherent and implicit right, because not all rights need to be specifically spelled out in order to exist.

So, historically there has been no law against marriage. Without a law, using the substantive due process idea, then there is an implied right to be married. So, if the US Const says that there can be no law abridging the rights of citizens, and we are church members are told in the AoF to sustain the law of the land, there appears to be a illogical, glaring contradiction for church members to be in support of homosexual marriage bans. To do so would be to abridge the rights of citizens, which would be to not sustain the law of the land, which goes against the 12th AoF.

Of course, there is the church's teaching that homosexuality is wrong. Without discussing this and simply taking it as is at this time, that appears to me to be a moot point. Yes, the church says that homosexuality is wrong. Therefore, the argument I've heard goes, to support gay marriage is to support homosexuality. This, however, I feel is a flawed logic, because it runs parallel to saying that supporting the KKK's right to march and rally because a person supports free speech means that the person supports the message of the KKK. There is clearly a difference between supporting someone's right to do someting versus supporting the message they are proposing. Do I agree with the KKK? Absolutely not. But that in no way means I can't support their right to free speech. So it is with church members who are uncomfortable with homosexuality and condoning it. Do you have to support homosexuality to support a homosexual's right to marry? Not necessarily. By supporting homosexual marriage, there is support to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which we are told to do in the 12th AoF.

Along similar lines we come to the second line of argument, which also centers around freedom in the US. It is, in my opinion, a fair assertion that every time we as a government and a society limit the rights of other groups besides our own, we inherently limit ourselves. There is a famous poem on the wall of the Holocaust Museum in Washington that reads:

When they came for the gypsies, I did not speak, for I am not a
When they came for the Jews, I did not speak, because I wasn’t a Jew.
When they came for the Catholics, I did not speak, for I am not a Catholic.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak

For us all, as American citizens, by limiting others rights, we limit ourselves. When we do not fight for others, we lose people who will fight for us. Beyond that, every limitation we impose on another group is a limitation we impose on ourselves. If we put prior restraint in place in a paper that speaks slanderously about a particular group, then not only is that particular paper limited, but all papers are limited, because the use of prior restraint in the press is legal and therefore every paper everywhere is able to be priorly restrained.

So, when we limit other groups' rights, we limit our own, even if we do not see it right away. As the poem illustrates, some of us will not be affected until there is no one else to affect. And, since Mormons are a group that at one time has been the subject of persecution, and limitation I may add, at the hands of the government, with regards to marriage (polygamy), then we of all people should understand the extreme importance of not limiting our rights by limiting others. The government cracked down on polygamy and told Mormons that we couldn't do that anymore. They limited our right to polygamous marriage by establishing a rule of law that says we may not marry more than one person. Church doctrine teaches us that polygamy was not bad (nor is it bad in the correct context) but that it was time for the doctrine of it to leave the earth. Arguably, though, part of the reason it was time to leave the earth was that the pioneers practicing it were going to be run out of the country by a crazed mob if it wasn't stopped, especially if the government stepped in and limited our rights. At no time has the church ever ruled out the potential for polygamy to return to the earth (or at no time that I am aware of). Therefore, there is a potential for it to happen again. If, however, we as a society and a government, start interfering even more with the insitution of marriage and limiting people's right to do so, it is conceivable that eventually, even if Heavenly Father commands polygamy again, we will live in a society that has intruded on so many other groups right to marriage that there is no one left to intrude on but us. And since we did not fight for others, there will be no one left to fight for us.

In my opinion, regardless of one's views on homosexuality as a practice/lifestyle, there is no good argument for the support of homosexual marriage bans. I feel, in order to support the law of the land and to prevent future abridgement of our own rights, there is nothing that the reasonable Mormon can do but support homosexual marriage. By doing so, we follow our own teachings, as outlined in the AoF, and we also protect our own rights in the long run.

What This Is and The Rules

I've decided to start this forum of sorts because there is not many good places to turn to, in my opinion, for questions regarding Mormon doctrine that is critical or controversial. I think that a lot of people are afraid to discuss things that rock the boat, so to speak, because they are worried about potential backlash for their ideas or questions. I wanted somewhere to air my own thoughts, as well as to hear what others had to say about the topics in question.

The rules to this are simple.
1. Be respectful. This is intended to be a forum for people to air their concerns. This includes unpopular ideas that don't always agree with everyone. While everyone is entitled to disagree, everyone is also entitled to be respected.
2. Feel free to submit a question for discussion to me, but please do not do it in the comments section, thereby creating a mass conglomeration of various topics under one heading. I'd like to have this be archivable, which means one topic, one at a time. If you have a topic you want to discuss, shoot it to me at with the heading "Mormon Discussion Topic" and I will post it for discussion. I'd just like to keep things on topic and also orderly, so later, people can find what they want or newcomers to the forum can easily search topics they want to look at/discuss.
3. Please come to the table having thought about your response/discussion. This forum is intended to be an very in-depth, critical look at Mormon doctrine and how it relates to other areas of life. Please, no "canned answers" that we can all hear on Sunday: "Read the scriptures," "pray," etc. We all know this for the most part. Instead of saying, "read the scriptures," please do a bit of legwork and direct the group to which scriptures you think pertain to the topic. Research a bit and find talks from the Ensign, etc, that are relevant. This is a forum in which to learn and think in a way that we may not have thought before. Therefore, it requires a bit of time to analyze and consider.
4. While I will answer some basic questions about Mormons/LDS/BoM/etc, this is not meant to be an investigator's website. Its intention is to be a website for in-depth analysis of Mormon doctrine, which means, if you are 100% clueless about basic Mormon doctrine, you may be confused and you may not understand what is being talked about. This is not the forum in which to get basic answers. That forum is or, both of which are good resources for those investigating the church, researching, or generally just looking for answers on what Mormons are and/or do. This is a more advanced discussion area, in that you should have some groundwork about the doctrines already under your belt in order to understand the questions/topics being discussed. This, however, does not bar someone from asking to have a particular doctrine/topic explained a bit more in depth. If more information is needed, then feel free to ask.
5. This is not meant to be a forum to bash the church, its leaders, or LDS people. The remarks/comments/discussions are not intended to be offensive or harmful. This is a questioning forum. It is a safe place to disagree with things in the church and then find out what other people think about it. Please do not comment on the church in a fashion that bad mouths it or tries to insult it. While disagreeing or questioning is perfectly acceptable, and encouraged to act as a topic of discussion, it is not meant to be a forum to talk about how much Mormons suck, the church sucks, etc. This is related to rule #1, regarding respect. That goes for the church and its leaders, too.

Also, when you first comment, please make a short note about who you are and how long you've been a member. Please also let us know if you are active, mildly active, mildly inactive, inactive, etc. I find that this brief background information lets everyone understand other's perspectives better.

This is also meant to be a place to have fun, so please, have fun!