Sunday, February 12, 2012

Prop 8: A Fork in the Road For Modern Latter Day Saints

   Recent threads (I'm dating over the last couple of years here, even though some material in this post was originally, as posted on the MADboard, relative to one particular thread) on the Mormon Apologetic & Discussion Board, as well as upon the generally critical board, have engaged in vehement debate upon the well worn subject of the Prop 8 controversy, and the subject itself, the cause célèbre of the last fifteen years or so in the popular culture and secular media, shows little sign of abatement. So, as this has long been something with which I’ve been wont to grapple, I’ve decided to give the subject a preliminary treatment here, in a forum where the nodes at which the gospel and politics meet and interact are the coin of the realm.

   At the outset, I’d just like to provide both a doctrinal and personal philosophical foundation for my position on the details of the issue, and than go over a set of the most common leftist (or, from a Book of Mormon perspective, Korihorist) perspectives, with what I consider to be the salient refutations.

   From the perspective of settled Church doctrine, homosexuality is one of a class of sins or transgressions against the laws and divine rules of conduct that govern the integrity and boundaries of human sexuality. Among all forms of transgression, it is classed, with other of the more serious moral lapses, of various kinds, as an abomination; as a sin of a degree of seriousness such that its continued indulgence, if not repented of in this life, will result in the “second death”, or a complete separation from God and all things “pertaining to righteousness” once the spirit leaves the body in death. It is a gross form of Telestial wickedness, classed with other forms of sexual immorality such as pre-marital sexual relations, adultery, and all forms of sexual perversion or fetishism that fall outside the bounds and conditions set by the Lord.

   From a restored gospel perspective, never, in the history of humankind since Adam, have the commandments and counsel relative to human sexuality in this context been altered, amended or negated. Continued perusal of a lifestyle grounded in behaviors of this kind place one in a position of the living of a Telestial law, with all the implications and consequences attendant to that form and manner of life (whether such a life involves sexual sins or other forms of rebellion against the moral and ethical standards of the gospel).

   Beginning in the sixties, the “sexual revolution” began a long and sustained assault on gospel standards of human sexuality across a broad front, of which the legitimization of homosexuality was, in the beginning, a peripheral concern. The broad based assault (exemplified by Hugh Hefner’s “playboy philosophy”) was on the primarily heterosexual aspects of normative Judeo-Christian sexual ethics as well as focused on the normalization or domestication of a society wide cult of eroticism as a fundamental aspect of a modern, affluent late 20th century western social structure.

   A philosophy of unrestrained hedonism and “self fulfillment” paralleled the rise of the New Left and a spasm of social upheaval across range of social and political issues, many of them focused on the subversion and overturning of both Judeo-Christian social norms as well as classical liberal political and economic philosophy. “Liberation” was the cry from a cacophony of idiosyncratic voices each seeking their “rights” in their own way but all being united in their hostility to what we would understand as gospel standards of behavior in many areas, but for our purposes, in the area of sexual relations.

   The “Gay Liberation” movement (there were a plethora of “movements” arising out of the cultural turmoil of the late sixties through early seventies era, all of which played upon some variant of the theme of “liberation” and “equal rights”) gained organizational and political experience in the late sixties, and blossomed over the next 20 years into a powerful and vocal political presence in American political and cultural life. Its original claimed aspirations, as with so many of the other “rights” movements of the era, was “tolerance” Discrimination against homosexuals in hiring, housing, and other venues of social life were to be opposed and made illegal by statute law, where applicable, in the same since as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made overt discrimination against blacks impermissible. Homosexuals were to be tolerated within the context of the Bill of Rights and other protections of the Constitution even when strong dissent regarding their chosen lifestyle was present in the one extending such toleration.

   By the time the 80s were well underway, however, this original intention (as with many of the movements that proliferated during this period) that been abandoned, first for acceptance of homosexuality and the Gay lifestyle, and then for celebration of that behavior and lifestyle. Militant homosexual groups (like Queer Nation and ACT UP), supported by the cultural and political Left across a broad spectrum of groups and organizations (including much of the mainstream Democratic party and its activist core), embarked in that and primarily the next decade upon the cause of homosexual marriage, a concept virtually unknown in the 80s and that probably would have struck most homosexuals and homosexual activists in the 70s as preposterous.

   While an idiosyncratic movement of its own with its own specific agenda and points to make, the homosexual marriage movement can also be seen as the relative culmination of a half century of sexual radicalism, beginning with the work of Alfred Kinsey and his associates and blossoming in the "sexual revolution" of the late 60, and early 70s, that has sought, in conjunction with other allied concerns, to overthrow the entire conceptual basis of normative sexual ethics and behavioral boundaries for a society of what many on the cultural Left would understand, with leading late 20th century leftist intellectuals such as Michel Foucault or Judith Butler, as a society of "self crafting" involving the liberation of the self from all, what are considered to be artificial and imposed cultural constraints upon sexual identity construction and expression.

   All sexual boundaries, demarcation lines, and conceptual limitations based in any form of normative "morality" are considered to be arbitrary and oppressive, and worse, maintained in the service of the dominant classes or power structures of society. Human sexuality, gender, gender roles, and the possibilities of sexual experience are considered here to be (as no core "self" or underlying individual essence, or consciousness, is thought to exist) is as expansive and varied as the human imagination can conceive it to be.

   Kinsey brought these ideas to a place of intellectual respectability, Hefter popularized them in their prurient, artistic form, and the critical theorists and postmodernists of late 20th century academic world baptized them in the waters of philosophical sophistication.

   Looking over a number of both recent and past threads at the Mormon Apologetics & Discussion Board, a pattern emerges in which we may see that a number of LDS who have moved to the Left, or come to the Church from the Left in other areas, appear to continue moving in this philosophical direction upon ever more fundamental aspects of Church teaching, including those relating to core concepts of morality and the impact of what we might call the morality structure of a people upon the larger culture. It strikes me as odd that anyone who considers him or herself a "faithful" or "practicing" LDS who claim to be "faithful" followers of Christ and his restored gospel, would be on the opposite side of a debate regarding the complete redefinition of the concepts of marriage, family and gender, so fundamental are these to an understanding of who we are, why we are here, and the nature of our potential and destiny as eternal beings as identified in modern revelation and articulated by modern prophets and special witnesses of Christ.

   Not far behind this (of course) are deep confusion regarding the nature of a free, constitutional republic, the original intent and purpose of the Constitution, the meaning of the concept of "rights", and the moral structure of "freedom".

   For most "faithful" Latter Day Saints (given the full connotations of that term in a Church context), one would think it enough that both the scriptures and the living oracles of the Lord have spoken, from time immemorial, in a unified voice against homosexuality (and all forms of sexual deviation from the laws of God regarding human sexuality), and warned that a people who accept and support "abominations" of this kind, when that acceptance and support reach a critical mass of the population are "ripening" in iniquity, and are setting themselves up for the disintegration of their society. The Book of Mormon warns us repeatedly in clear language to be cognizant of various “secret combinations” in the last days and to be mindful of their power and influence, lest they begin to dominate society. This would include, as a matter of course, ideological or political forces seeking the overthrow of the Constitution and the Judeo-Christian foundation of civil society, as well as its economic basis.

   This is all moot, apparently, for some, for whom trendy notions of "oppression" and “social justice” (a code-like term that carries a great deal of baggage unrelated to the euphemistic “rights” talk so common to this and other related subjects) are the definitive shove under the bus for the gospel when it presses too hard against the great and spacious building’s garden gates.

   So I’d just like to offer my perspective and some clarifying observations on the issue, yet again, for consideration in the hope that, at least those sitting on the fence of this issue will be moved to move in a positive direction – toward the Ensign of the church, and away from the “political correctness” of the great and spacious house of mirrors.

   Among the core arguments made by LDS supportive of homosexual marriage, which are not at all at varience with similar arguments made in the secular world, are:

1. There is a “right” to homosexual marriage in the constitution (assuming also an implied right to marry qua marriage for heterosexuals) that is being denied by opponents of homosexual marriage.

2. A continued and stubborn conflation of the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s with the homosexual marriage movement (a movement that only dates from roughly the middle of the 90s as a public concern).

3. Anecdotal claims, perhaps definitive for anyone unfamiliar with the longstanding social science knowledge regarding the Gay subculture, or who has lived in areas, as I have, with a visible and concentrated homosexual subculture, that most homosexuals are in “loving relationships” that precisely parallel heterosexual married relationships and which in x number of cases, are more committed and monogamous than heterosexual ones.

4. A continuing implication, if not outright accusation, that anyone opposing homosexual marriage could not be doing so as a matter of deep, thoroughly considered principle, but only out of ignorance and hatred rooted in unenlightened and unsophisticated bigotry.

   Let’s make a few brief points about the above.

A. From both a gospel and a generalized western Judeo-Christian perspective, “homosexual marriage” is an exercise in oxymoronity that it would be difficult to outdo (“social justice” is a strong runner up) even given our present culture’s continuing paroxysms of linguistic self flagellation we know as “political correctness”. But, as LDS, we may as well go all the way and stick rigorously to the restored gospel in its fullness, which is, after all, the basis upon which all derivative concepts are based.

   Homosexuals cannot “marry” each other in any intelligible sense because the term “marriage” both denotes and connotes only one thing: a union of a man and a woman (the rarely commanded or allowed practice of plural marriage aside for the moment, as in the history of the gospel, from Adam to the present day, it appears to have been a rather rare and isolated phenomena among the Lord’s people, and has been, as in the case of the Nephites, to an overwhelming degree, prohibited) for the purpose of their exhalation in the Celestial Kingdom, the bringing of the Father’s children into mortality, and an eternal posterity in the eternal worlds.

   Homosexuality, aside from its being an “abomination” comparable in all respects to premarital and extramarital sexual immorality in seriousness, frustrates and subverts each and every one of these purposes, both mortal and eternal.

   Homosexual marriage is, then, a self negating concept, even if it can quite easily be subjected to a breaking on the rack of political correctness, such that the meaning of its terms take on different colorations once enough semantic ligaments have been torn and joints pulled out of place.

B. Skin color and other similar characteristics are a matter of DNA, and completely outside the control of the one who inherits them. Homosexual behavior, “Gay” identity, and the dynamics of the “Gay” subculture are choices, values and, in the case of the various Gay personae, mannerisms, modes of speech and dress, and roles played in homosexual relationships and culture, cultivated and practiced self identities. There is nothing about such forms of culture or personal definition to which the constitution speaks or to which majorities within a culture must pay obeisance.

   By any stretch, homosexuals already have, and have long had, the very same inalienable rights that I enjoy. Their sexual orientation provides no compelling argument for any others, and marriage, by definition, being neither a right nor a concept logically and conceptually congruent with homosexuality, is not in any case a conceptual category within which the concept “homosexuality” can make any sense.

3. Anecdotal claims aside, homosexual relationships have long been known to involve severely disproportionate rates of social pathology such as drug and alcohol use and suicide, and feature startlingly aggressive rates and forms of promiscuity and sexual predation (what one could only call, especially in urban areas a hyperpromiscuity).

   The popular attraction within much of the male homosexual subculture for young boys, including boys well underage (the culture of the “chicken hawks”), is well known.

4. Following long established precedent in other areas of Korihorism (and its attendant Kultursmog), the assumption is made that no principled opposition to homosexuality exists. All that exists is philistine ignorance and bigotry. In such an environment, all one really has to do to win a debate is call a name.

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