Saturday, July 03, 2004

War and Marriage

I need to begin with the caveat that I have not informed myself well enough on either of these topics. That said, I mean by "War" the W. Bush attitude toward war, especially Iraq, Afghanistan, "Terror" (a really manipulative/effective twist on the desensitized term "terrorism"), and 9/11 & by "Marriage" I mean the religious or ethical or social reasons for opposing homosexual "marriage" (or the alternative civil unions that I don't hear about any more these days).

My main concern here is about a Latter-day Saint with these two beliefs:

(1)Bush entered the US into the war in Iraq under false pretenses and has endangered the nation and brought about the death of 600 or 800 US troops for post-9/11 overcompensation, or vengeance, or cheap Iraqi post-war democratic/capitalist oil.

(2) Marriage is ordained of God between a man and a woman. That's fine. But in general, I am not sure I can distinguish between the non-doctrinal Republican tendencies of probably most Mormons and the conservative morals that the church probably shares with most American conservatives, including the ecclesiastically-antagonistic Southern Baptist Convention or the Religious Right. This doesn't trickle down to things like R-rated movies or gay teletubbies for me, but with the issue of homosexual marriage, if forced to choose pro or contra a law that allows for gay Marriage, I would vote against it.

The obvious problem here, is that the presidential candidate that would most likely have similar beliefs (or at least beliefs that cause a similar effect) about gay marriage is Bush. Considering the judicial filibuster during Bush's presidential term, my BYU Constitutional Law professor (a hyperconservative) declares that the next president will nominate a lionshare of federal judges who will be called upon to decide the legal questions of gay marriage. So the one man who would possibly represent and nominate judges that would represent my belief about gay marraige is the man whom I believe is responsible for killing 800 young Americans so far and uncounted Iraqi soldiers and civilians.

This isn't an effort to proselytize others to my acknowledgedly simplistic politics. All I can say is that the war in Iraq has broken my heart and that I cannot ignore my conclusion about gay marriage.

Which matters more? An admittedly symbolic attempt to preserve a small degree of sanctity in marriage given its importance in my religion, or an unguaranteed effort to support a president who might not take our nation to war in what I see as an unjustified cause.

According to a little modification of the classic hierarchy of sins, it should be no contest. Fornication is one definite step below murder, and since Bush probably isn't surely called and elected and second comforted as we understand those terms, he can't do any worse than. That ultimately holds my decision (I will probably vote Kerry), but I want to open this up to comment: on this dilemma, on either of these issues alone, or on how much of a jerk I sound like...


At 7/03/2004 04:01:00 AM,

I'm going to actually post something on this topic, though it might be rambling and incoherent due to the hour. Please bear with me.

First, let me say a few things about myself so that those of you who don't know me can get some background on what I have to say. I'm pretty sure I'm the only non-mormon in this blog, so I bring a little different perspective on some things. (In fact I'm not much into the idea or organized religion but that is another topic on its own) I'm tired of people being politically incorrect and getting offended by insignificant things. That makes me sound like a negative person, but I'm really not. Anyway, back to my response...

I have a few questions to propose regarding the gay marriage issue. First, what difference does it make if a gay couple has a piece of paper from the state saying that they are married? If you believe the way you say, then the union is not one ordained by God but instead is a man-made covenant, and isn't really that big a concern anyway.

Second, and this a more important question for me, is why political figures are invloved in this issue in the first place. This hardly seems to be an issue worthy of all the time and money that has been put into it, and I think that passing a law regarding it is just absurd. In my opinion, passing a law banning gay marriage simply represents the passing of a law based on the beliefs of a percentage of the population, which amounts to personal opinions. I hate to pick on your example of sex outside of marriage, but this debate is kind of like trying to pass a law that bans premarital sex.

I just wanted to say something since most of the things I see or hear about these days are just plain stupid. It's almost as if people make it their job to complain and find problems with insignificant things, which, apparantly is the sole purpose of the ACLU, a good idea gone bad because of a lack of common sense.

OK, I'm done rambling. If this all sounded jumbled or incomplete, that's because it is. I'm extremely tired. I swear the next thing I write will be intelligent. :)

At 7/03/2004 07:17:00 AM,

It's 3:47 A.M. What is J.D. doing responding to a blog at this time of the morning?... I just wanted to get a thought out there that came as an immediate response to Jason's post; perhaps I'll sleep on it and flesh it out a bit more tomorrow.
I sympathize with your dilemma of being pulled in two different ways on the Bush issue. I do think, however, that your thinking on the matter is overly-simplistic. I think it is impossible to invoke a Utilitarian schema to decide which candidate will cause for more lives to be lost in "war" without fully considering what "war" means. There are thousands of wars, being fought on thousands of fronts everyday, with thousands of life hanging in the balance-- military wars just happen to be the ones that get the most media attention because they are the most easy to cover. Environmental wars, education wars, healthcare wars-- all of these have lives at stake. Decisions on healthcare potentially have not 800 lives, but 800,000 lives hanging in their balance. Decisions on the environment have potential millions or tens of millions of lives at stake.
And then, there is the war involving the family.
Though I'm no lover of Bush when it comes to Environmental wars, I think that it's clear that the war on the family has the more at stake in it than simply a choice between "Thou shalt not kill" or "Thou shalt not commit adultury." Families are about far more than sex. Though chastity is certainly part of the issue, it is, in my understanding, definitely not the heart of the issue. The heart of the issue is the institution of the family itself, and everything that it means to humankind. The Proclamation to the World on the Family states, in some of the frankest, darkest language I have ever seen from the First Presidency, that the dissolution of the family will bring upon nations the clamaties fortold by ancient and modern prophets.
This sounds to me like a world more of trouble than 800 lost lives in an unjust military campaign. It sounds to me like "Book of Moroni" type mass genocides and societal destruction on a grand scale that make 800 lives seem like a grain of sand in a desert. The family is the lynch pin that holds it all together. Though I do not fully understand it, it seems clear to me that in both time and eternity it is a central institution. Without any disrespect to Jason, for whom I have the utmost love, and respect, both spiritually and intellectually, I think that letting 800 lives outweigh the issue of the family is at best short-sighted, and at worse, to completely miss the forest for the trees.

At 7/04/2004 11:27:00 PM,

Jason: this is quite the can of worms you've opened up here. More in a moment...
Rich: Yes, you are the only person not a mormon (for now); I thought you would add a good perspective to our discussions.

The problem here is tricky, but I think that it almost goes beyond the two issues you talked about. Both rich and JD make thoughtful points in their respective posts, but I'm not going to take the bait. The issue jason raises is more complicated than that. If i understand him right, he's asking how we can vote for politicians that choose policies that we find morally wrong.

It's a problem b/c unless you're the one running for office, there's a big chance that you're gonna disagree with some stances of both candidates. Is it intellectually or morally dishonest to vote for someone who disagrees with some of your fundamental beliefs? For example, can a pro-life mormon/catholic/athiest vote for a pro-choice democrat?

I'll be bold and take a position here. (this is rare guys) This is a utilitarian world, and I'm a utilitarian girl....there's no other way out of this dilemma. My position is this: you have to choose the issues that you find more essential to our national well-being and vote accordingly. While this is by no means a simple process, (social/economic/political decisions will overlap and promises will dissappear after November)I think it's all we got.

Yeah, I know all the flaws with utilitarianism, but you've got to be utilitarian (pragmatic) about utilitarianism. In this pluriverse, it's all we've got. I'll be happy for any of you to give me another view, b/c I've been sitting in front of this screen for too long scratching my head...

At 7/06/2004 11:50:00 PM,

Congratulations, Jason. You're a moderate. I can tell because, in a bipartisan system, moderates rarely find politicians that represent all of their view points. It often ends in a coin toss for me. You surely over-simplified, but who can blame you. The only alternative is to assign points to each issue and award them to the candidate who agrees with you on each one.

Rich, you bring up the point that is, I feel, at the core of this. Why should laws be passed regulating the issue of gay marriage? I could just say that my opinion translated into my vote is my democratic right. But, let's go beyond that. Do the actions of others - even if I do not witness or participate in them - affect me? What fundamental right is the government protecting with the legalization of an anti-gay marriage amendment? I don't have a great answer for that, but here's a thought: If my neighbor starts up a meth lab in his basement - even if I don't have to breathe in the fumes and even if my neighbor doesn't back his/her car into my house while high - does it affect me? Do I have the right to call on government to prevent it? What right would they be protecting in that case?

Let me know if this is a false analogy. It's the closest one I can think of.

At 7/11/2004 06:56:00 PM,


I see what you're getting at with your example but I don't think that it is entirely correct. Whether or not you have the responsibility to report what is going on next door is up to you. Like you said, it is not directly affecting you so it becomes a matter of your comfort level as to whether or not you owuld do something about it.

However, you ask what right they would be protecting. Although the actions of your neighbor are not affecting you directly, they are affecting him. The laws in this country not only protect you from the actions of others, but they also protect you from your own actions. It is this reason that we have things like mental hospitals, drug treatment centers, and even laws against suicide or assisted suicide in terminally ill patients. It becomes a matter of preserving and valuing not only the lives of others but also your own.

That's why I think your analogy doesn't fit in this case. The marriage of a gay couple doesn't affect you, and it certainly doesn't harm their well being so I can't find any reason why the government should step in to do anything about it.

Hope that is a little clearer than my previous post. Peace Out.


At 7/24/2004 06:35:00 PM,


The analogy is admittedly imperfect. However, I feel your examples support, rather than refute, what I meant to get at. The laws against suicide, drug abuse, etc. are meant to preserve democratically upheld values. However, laws against gay marriage also claim to uphold certain values. So, as yet, we have not discredited the proposed new amendment. We would need to determine which values are “correct”.

Whether or not the marriage of a gay couple harms their well-being is the issue that is not yet certain. We cannot say that it does not harm individuals simply because participation therein is voluntary. We cannot assume that it is right because it satisfies one’s desires. Such is the case with drug abuse and suicide.

If moral law prohibits such a union, then that value prevails. However, if moral law makes no such restriction, then citizens have the right to private discretion. And this is where I’m stuck. How is moral law determined? Majority rule? If so, then let’s put it to a vote. In the courts? What if the courts are divided? Will it come down to the top nine judges? If otherwise, then how? In any case, I don’t see how the government avoid getting involved.


At 8/09/2004 12:33:00 AM,

Mark -

I'm not exactly sure when you replied so sorry if this is a late response. I see what you are trying to say but I oviously have a different view on the matter. :)
I think that this conversation would be better in person, as this blog thing makes it hard to convey complete thoughts and to have a discussion. One day maybe.




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