The pillar of this post revolves around a Times Magazine article titled “Freedom Fight” from the April 13, 2015 edition. After the Supreme Court decision of last week, it is more important than ever to understand the reservations of religious communities. A breakdown of public reason occurs when LGBT advocates dismiss religious arguments as bigoted or discriminatory. True believers deserve to have their arguments and reservations heard.
Rod Dreher, senior editor at the American Conservative clarifies the difference between race and sexual expression. Dreher claims that liberals see homosexuality as “entirely analogous to race. Abrahamic religion does not see it that way. Sexual expression has moral meaning that race does not” (32).
The LGBT movement neglects to nuance their arguments. Everything is summed up as “=”. In a desire to be inclusive, they fail to articulate the difference between the “right to marry” and “sexual liberty”. Few consider even opening this conversation because ultimately, we are all “hypocrites” in some domain and the debate on morality remains unresolved. To advance, these reservations need to be overcome. Once they are, the LGBT movement will experience its schism between the two camps of liberties (marriage v. sexual).
The choice of a martial spouse is the most important earthly decision we can make. This choice dictates who we are and how we continue to evolve. Ideally, we also spend the most time with this person. To deny someone the ability to choose their closest confidant is wrong and a denial of a basic liberty. I will call this the “liberty to marry”.
The liberty to marry means many things, but it is not a wild card to justify all things. Specifically, the liberty to marry does not justify “sexual liberty” and its promotion under the guise of freedom of expression or speech. Even though the State’s role is not to promote monogamous relationships and family raising, these activities do lead to a better society. They have positive externalities for both the family members and outsiders in the community. The energies of the couple are channeled to achieve “higher ideals” and as one unit they seek and obtain “higher pleasures”. These Millian ideals from Utilitarianism should also find resonance from the true believers.
In contrast, the promotion of sexual liberties has a corrosive effect on society. Sexual liberties encroach on and violate the liberties of greater society, including those of children. The State and parents have an equal interest in promoting public reason in children. Initially, one could argue that the pedagogy of sexual liberty should also be given due weight in our educational curriculum. I argue that this would infringe on the possible development and practice of higher liberties and should absolutely be excluded from schools. A child’s brain is not fully developed and cannot adequately contextualize this information. Also even though the mission of the educational system is to train students to be citizens that practice public reason, they are also proponents for reaching “higher pleasures” over “lower pleasures”.
The purpose of our schools is to teach students how to exercise public reason (see Newman’s book from the previous article). Even though public reason requires us to consider all arguments, some ideas and practices have a “crowding out” effect than inhibit the training process as a whole. Just as students are indirectly prohibited from engaging in classroom debate inebriated, they should also be encouraged to find more noble topics to debate and explore. This growth ultimately establishes the foundation for our civic society and is directly correlated to the vibrancy of our democracy.
“A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”
Various religious communities also cause a surge in sexual liberty, when they fail to make distinctions between classes of same-sex relationships. A blank condemnation of all LGBT individuals silences the “good” ones and emboldens the “bad” ones. True believers have radicalized the LGBT community and have created the image they find so repulsive. I believe that efforts would have been better spent reading the passages of the holy books and acknowledging how sexual liberty condemnations also apply to heterosexuals.
One of the true believers’ most damning proclamations is that the Holy Spirit abandons individuals that “choose a divergent life path”. It does not consider the lifelong effects of an unhappy marriage on the heterosexual spouse or the unrealized potential of the suppressed individual. This disconnect can bring the individual closer to God, but it will probably bring them to realm of a plethora of vices first.
When LGBT members are pushed to the margins, they live unbalanced lives. Left unchecked, sexual liberties find new expression. Without a moral foundation and a link to “greater society”, the outcome is an unsustainable oscillation between extremes. Religious communities indirectly create sexual liberty through absolute suppression, and then directly combat it once it emerges.
One of the saddest examples of a religious community suppressing LGBT individuals is the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Their stonewall attitude towards gays is not only unethical, but dangerous to church members who are in both groups. Instead of letting the Holy Spirit manifest itself through the LGBT individuals, the church pushes them towards infertile ground. This greatly increases the chance that the Holy Spirit can never take root.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has a website with stories about homosexuality. Here they use homosexuality and sexual liberty synonymously. “Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God” is a story told by Christopher Yuan. It is a story of extremes, but is not one that could exclusively happen to homosexuals. His despair is not unique to his sexuality; it is inherit to his human condition. Without a basic life structure and ideals to reach “higher pleasures”, despair and iniquity lure him away to a place where misery seeks company.
Not all churches adopt the same stance towards the liberty to marry. However, we must also question why these churches take a given stance. It is possible that Churches make decisions based on political conveniences versus from actual revelation.
According to the Time Magazine article “The Battle of Indiana”, the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints approach the same-sex marriage debate in a pragmatic way. They have offered support for legislation that might protect LGBT rights in areas such as housing and employment. While this demonstrates tolerance, these compromises also empower the judicial system to react when these freedoms [of the religious community and LGBT individuals] come into conflict (35). Now the LDS are better positioned to protect the constitutional rights of the traditional family and church in the future (Mormon News Room).
My friend Spencer discusses his ordeal in the article “I’m Spencer, I’m a student, I’m Gay, and I’m a Normon”. Throughout his piece, he discusses the fear “rationalizing” and providing a worldly induced answer. However, Spencer has agency, a gift given by the Father. Spencer has spent much of his life reflecting on his sexuality. LGBT members are not just advocates of their movement, they are also the ones who have thought or prayed on this issue the most.
For true believers, and for greater society, it is important that we all achieve our full potential. Spencer describes the acceptance of his sexuality as bringing him closer to God and making him complete, even though it may have distanced him further from the culture of the church. Arguably, the culture itself is an earthly fabrication, even though it has a fundamental role in bringing us closer to the primary goal, living an earthly life as God intended through an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit.
The gift of agency allows us all to live this life according to our own will. We can choose to do good or evil (see the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 2 and Alma 12 and 13). What these passages do not account for is that we all born with different endowments, even though we may share in the same end goal. Some individuals might best be able to reach this goal, and consequentially able to help others in society to do the same, by living lives according to their most fundamental endowments, instead of suppressing them.
According to the Book of Mormon, this agency allows us to seek revelation when seeking answers. As a precaution, through our desire for knowledge, we should not become pompous. The book is sealed for the learned man (2 Nephi 27).
The debate on same-sex marriage often finds itself reduced to a debate about lust and reproduction. Throughout the 20th century, the institution of marriage has evolved. It began to have other aims beyond reproduction. This is mentioned in Obergefell et al. v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health, et al. at the end of this post.
LGBT members should seek revelation on the issue. The first conclusion is that same-sex marriage might lead to the fulfillment of two individuals. Although ideal, this does not address the goal of reproduction. The LGBT group is thrust into the passages of 2 Nephi 28, Alma 20, and Alma 39. However, these passages do not recognize that same-sex marriages can also help mitigate the damages created by failed heterosexual relations. Many existing children without homes would greatly benefit from adoption into stable same-sex relationships. Clearly, the idealized family units cannot adequately absorb this surplus on its own.
The goal of chastity for LGBT individuals until marriage was also an impossibility before the right to marry. Without an ideal, there was nothing to aim for. Chasity is attainable for two heterosexual persons as they wait until age 21 or 22 to get married. An end goal exists. Prior to the right to marry, there was no equivalent ideal for LGBT individuals. The other option of life-long chastity is not a viable option. It creates an excessive burden on certain members while simultaneously sexualizing them through continuous repression.
The Mormon News Room does state that the rules of chastity and morality apply also to heterosexuals. The justification is that sexual relations has one goal: procreation. Even though this may be true, a few major variables have shifted during the last fifty years:
- Life expectancy
- Education requirements for a meaningful life
- Cost of Living
- The possibility of procreation by “unnatural” processes
The increased life expectancy, education requirements, and cost of living make it “unwise” to procreate at an early age. Young couples with children can place an excessive burden on their families, neighbors, and society. Early procreation can make us “less developed” parents, undermining our ability to reach our own full potential while simultaneously helping our children do the same.
These variables may be worldly, but their existence transcends to the spiritual sphere. Two hundred years ago, asking a youth to remain chaste in their family’s home until marriage at age 17 does not carry the same implications as requesting that a 40-year-old do this today.
Inability to acknowledge these real changes in our society have very real consequences. The lack of a real answer beyond “suppression” or complete sexual transmutation towards more productive activities leads people to choose the other extreme. The results materialize as negative externalities for greater society.
Obergefell et al. v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health, et al.
The Supreme Court majority decisions last week highlights the desire for some LGBT members to seek marriage not just for its privileges, but also for its responsibilities. They argue that this ideal, marriage, is the “only real path to this profound commitment” to one another (4). Here is the case text.
The decision also discusses the evolution of marriage as an institution. Their treatment of the role of women and the ideal of an amorous marriage has also changed drastically. Both of these phenomena may not have prevented procreation, but possibly have reduced the birthrate. If we extrapolate the argument of some true believers, intimacy as a means of self-fulfillment is not legitimate for heterosexuals either. Only intimacy that leads to procreation or its attempt should be tolerable in the eyes of some true believers.
The majority in this case also discuss some of the high ideals that can be achieved through marriage. One of these is loyalty. Loyalty takes on a new meaning when it is also enforced by one’s family and community. Refuting an argument from true believers, LGBT couples can also serve as examples to greater society when they form integral units and live noble ideals.
Most of the disagreements between the Supreme Court justices is the role of democracy in protecting rights. The majority believes that the debate has gone on for long enough and that “democracy is the appropriate process for change, so long as that process does not abridge fundamental rights” (24). Using Schuette v. BAMN, 572 U.S. ___ (2014), the “right of citizens to debate so they can learn and decide and then, through the political process, act in concert to try to shape the course of their own times” is an essential component of public reason (15-16).
Some of the dissenters argue that the debate was cut short, and the majority’s decision essentially usurped power from the people. The burden to prove the LGBT case was to rest on these individuals to demonstrate to greater society their real intentions. Chief Justice Roberts in his dissent finds that although marriage as an institution has changed, “the core meaning of marriage has endured” (8). He finds the decision of the majority “indefensible as a matter of constitutional law” (10) and worries about the precedent of establishing the Court as a supra-legislative chamber (13).
Chief Justice Roberts makes the plea that public reason is the solution, not the Supreme Court. Justice Scalia’s dissent also discusses the unrepresentative nature of the Supreme Court and its violation as acting as a supra-legislative body (6). Roberts states: “The Court’s accumulation of power does not occur in a vacuum. It comes at the expense of the people.” Roberts argues that any decision is not everlasting, since it can be debated again. This is the advantage of public reason. Even good laws need to be adamantly defended by coherent arguments and justifications. This also keeps them “good laws” by making them continuously visit their justification. By closing the debate, Roberts laments that advocates for same-sex marriage lost forever the opportunity to “win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause [through public reason]”, a goal that was almost secured (27).
The dissenters also discuss the idea of a “right” which today we perceive as something that needs to be given to us versus the “right” of not having something taken away. In agreement with the majority’s decisions, the right to marry prevents the majority from taking away the possible “stability and certainty” that would have resulted from a recognized marriage (28).
In his dissent, Justice Thomas discusses the fundamental shift in our understanding of liberty from “negative” to “positive” terms (6). In negative terms, liberty is the freedom from something, versus the freedom to do something (9). In the debate, this translates to “[the] freedom from governmental action, not an entitlement to governmental benefits” (13). As a constitutional matter, liberty is even more narrowly defined as the “freedom from physical restraint and imprisonment” (13).
Lastly, Justice Thomas discusses the role of dignity as that being given by God. No government can take away one’s dignity, as the majority proclaims (17). The Constitution was meant to protect dignity, not to provide it.
Justice Thomas also introduces the last major point I want to discuss. The brief for General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists et al. as Amici Curiae 5 states that marriage is not simply a governmental institution, but also a religious one. “Today’s decision might change the former, by it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples” (15).
Chief Justice Roberts also worries that “if the majority” is also to justify same-sex marriage, it will be harder to deny polygamists an equal right. He conceptualizes the jump to polygamy as shorter than that to same-sex marriage (20). As dangerous as this may be, the association between homosexuality and polygamy is insulting. What is not clearly stated is that heterosexuals established the precedent, some of which belong to the camp of “true believers” (21).
 This was the last item I received from my Grandmother Daly before she passed on. Naturally, I took this as a sign to write about this article, instead of just discussing it among close confidants.
 If it were relevant, I would discuss why organizations like the Human Rights Commission will end up prejudicing the LGBT cause.
 Due to time constraints, I limit myself to this bold statement without listing sources.