With the election drawing near, the forces against the YES on Prop 8 campaign are becoming more fierce, more clever, and more deceptive. Beginning this last weekend, a group of people began to picket outside of the Oakland Temple. A news article by SFGate.com details the encounter. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is coming under increased attacks from the opposition. The news article provides access to a website where people are tracking the amount of donations given by individuals who are members of the Church. While this is public information, one of the goals of the site is to provide a list of people that can be intimidated and mocked instead of engaged in rational debate.
The website also contains a large list of websites in opposition to the Church's involvement in the preservation of marriage. There are also many websites that cleverly use the scriptures and the Church's doctrine in a twisted manner to show the Church's alleged hypocrisy in this matter. The best website which demonstrates this false use of scripture is www.lds4gaymarriage.org. I believe this to be an excellent example of how the scriptures can be misused. A textbook example of the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. There are many warnings against this type of issue within the scriptures themselves. Here, here, here and here.
Here is the groups argument:
We feel that promoting Proposition 8 violates the scriptures. For those in favor of Proposition 8 please tell us why, how and where we are wrong in our step by step analysis. We always welcome your thoughts and constructive criticism.
A Brief Summary As To Why Promoting
California's Proposition 8 Is Contrary To Scripture
California's Proposition 8 Is Contrary To Scripture
2. Gays in California currently have the right and/or liberty to marry.
3. By supporting Proposition 8, we are attempting to infringe upon this right/liberty, in contradiction to scripture, because our religious opinions regarding marriage and homosexuality prompted us to instinctively do so, just like Uzzah who instinctively tried to steady the ark contrary to extant scripture.
4. The prophets have also stated that their own words are overruled by scripture and that we are to ignore anyone's teachings, including their own, if those teachings contradict scripture. Scripture trumps the words of all men. Consider these two quotes from Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee.
Unless a statement is raised to the status of scripture as Harold B. Lee outlined above, it can't overrule previously given scripture.
5. Since D&C 134:4 and 1 Cor. 10:29 overrule contradicting statements made by ANYONE, even the prophets, according to the prophets, and since no efforts to overturn them via the historic guidelines of Common Consent have even been discussed, D&C 134:4 and 1 Cor. 10:29 remain the prevailing and governing statements.
6. Since D&C 134:4 and 1 Cor. 10:29 remain the prevailing/governing statements and condemn those who use their religion as an excuse/reason to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others, our efforts to infringe upon the existing rights and/or liberties of gays, prompted by our religious opinions, are therefore wrongheaded, contrary to the clear meaning of scripture, and thereby violates OFFICIAL LDS Doctrine. It's that simple.Number 2 is factually accurate; under California Law, people with homosexual tendencies can be legally recognized as "married". Number 4 is accurate and is they way people can know if a teaching of any leader is accurate. Number 5 is accurate as well; unless the members of the Church give their common consent to an addition to the scriptures that contradicts the two scriptures mentioned, such teaching is invalid.
This invalidation of scripture or previous teachings has been done in the past. For example, when the gospel superseded the law of Moses. Christians are not bound to follow certain aspects of the law as contained in the Old Testament. Another example is when the practice of plural marriage was discontinued by the 1st Manifesto.
Numbers 1, 3, and 6 are all inaccurate because this group has not correctly interpreted the scriptures for which they base their reasoning. Here is what D&C 134:4 actually says:
We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.
Again, here is what the group says:
1. LDS scripture (D&C 134:4) says we can't use our religious opinions to justify infringing upon the rights and liberties of others.
I submit that this group has interpreted this scripture incorrectly. Since the entire argument for this group is based on the interpretation of this single scripture to support their position, it is critical to examine each phrase in full:
We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, ...
This means that any person, who practices any religion, is accountable to God only, in how they practice. Continuing:
...unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others;...
In other words, there is a rational limit to what a person's religious liberty will allow. If I believe in human sacrifice as my religious belief, I will have to infringe upon another humans right to live. At that moment, I become accountable to a human law, that says homicide is illegal, regardless of my religious beliefs. The purpose of this verse is to declare the limits of which government can interfere in the religious beliefs of individuals. In other words, if my religious views do not infringe upon the rights and liberties of other people, the government CANNOT become involved in any way.
The first amendment of the Constitution says "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...". The government can make laws against homicide however, and if committing homicide is part of your religion, your right to freely exercise that religion can be limited.
This group views this scripture as a limit on what individuals can do, when it is actually a limit on what government can do.
...but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion;...
Again, this verse states that government should not interfere with how people choose to worship. There are no limits however, placed upon the individual in voting according to their religious beliefs. As a human being, and believer in a set of core moral values, I have the right to advocate my position, persuade others to my position, and vote according to my moral values. I believe that incest is wrong, and that there should be laws that prevent a blood brother and sister from marrying one another.
This position comes from my religious beliefs. I feel society would be better off if such unions did not exist. I believe this is a moral issue that happens to limit the liberty of two consenting adults who are blood siblings.
I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. This position comes from my religious beliefs. I feel society would be better off if society defined marriage in this way. I believe this is a moral issue that happens to limit the liberty of two consenting adults who are of the same gender.
I believe that men and women should not commit adultery. This position comes from my religious beliefs. I feel society would be better off if adultery was never made a legal act. I believe this is a moral issue that happens to limit the liberty of two consenting adults who desire to have sexual relations while breaking their marital vows.
I do not believe it is right for the state to institute Christianity as a state religion, to force people to be baptized, pray, or dictate how I worship God. I will no longer be ashamed of my positions. The purpose of the oft repeated phrase "separation of church and state" was to limit government intrusion into religion. THE CONSTITUTION STRICTLY FORBIDS THE GOVERNMENT TO PREVENT PEOPLE FROM EXERCISING THEIR RELIGION FREELY. My religious beliefs teach my that incest, same gender "marriage", and adultery are wrong, and I have the right to express my views in the way I vote. I will not be intimidated, I will not be thwarted in my efforts. God has given me the right as an individual to express my views and no government will ever prevent me from voting my conscience. I close with words from Gordon B. Hinckley:
“Why does the Church become involved in issues that come before the legislature and the electorate?”
I hasten to add that we deal only with those legislative matters which are of a strictly moral nature or which directly affect the welfare of the Church. We have opposed gambling and liquor and will continue to do so. We regard it as not only our right but our duty to oppose those forces which we feel undermine the moral fiber of society. Much of our effort, a very great deal of it, is in association with others whose interests are similar. We have worked with Jewish groups, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, and those of no particular religious affiliation, in coalitions formed to advocate positions on vital moral issues. Such is currently the case in California, where Latter-day Saints are working as part of a coalition to safeguard traditional marriage from forces in our society which are attempting to redefine that sacred institution. God-sanctioned marriage between a man and a woman has been the basis of civilization for thousands of years. There is no justification to redefine what marriage is. Such is not our right, and those who try will find themselves answerable to God.
Some portray legalization of so-called same-sex marriage as a civil right. This is not a matter of civil rights; it is a matter of morality. Others question our constitutional right as a church to raise our voice on an issue that is of critical importance to the future of the family. We believe that defending this sacred institution by working to preserve traditional marriage lies clearly within our religious and constitutional prerogatives. Indeed, we are compelled by our doctrine to speak out.
Nevertheless, and I emphasize this, I wish to say that our opposition to attempts to legalize same-sex marriage should never be interpreted as justification for hatred, intolerance, or abuse of those who profess homosexual tendencies, either individually or as a group. As I said from this pulpit one year ago, our hearts reach out to those who refer to themselves as gays and lesbians. We love and honor them as sons and daughters of God. They are welcome in the Church. It is expected, however, that they follow the same God-given rules of conduct that apply to everyone else, whether single or married. (To view the entire talk click here).The Lord, the scriptures, the prophets, the Constitution speak out against government intrusion into forcing religion upon people. The Lord, the scriptures, and the prophets declare that we must vote for moral values, and the Constitution protects that right.