Controversy, My Old Friend...How I've Missed You

I’ve been spending many of my idle moments thinking about a controversial subject, and I’m about to say something that may earn me a lot of criticism from many people:

I believe “being gay” is a choice.

Now, before the torches and pitchforks come out or the ACLU calls, let me clarify my position.  I fully believe that there is a difference between “being gay” and “experiencing homosexual impulses.”  I believe one can experience homosexual impulses and not be gay.  One cannot choose what impulses they experience, but one can choose how one acts upon those impulses.

That being said, I believe that people are born with a predisposition to experience homosexual impulses (aaaand, here come the torches and pitchforks from the OTHER side…).  I believe it’s similar to having a predisposition for alcoholism, or sugar addiction, or weight gain.  Anyone who has watched The Biggest Loser or has conquered addictions or seen loved ones conquer addictions know that genetic predispositions don’t have to control lives!  It’s all about the CHOICES.

So it is with homosexuality.  There is someone in my life to whom I am very close who has experienced same-gender attraction.  He has made conscious choices to avoid giving in to the impulses he has experienced, most likely, for his entire life.  I would not for a second classify him as “gay.”  He experiences same-gender attraction, yes, but he does not engage in same-gender relationships.  In fact, he will most likely be getting married to a woman in the next couple of years and will have a loving, fulfilling relationship with her.

In a different thread, I was born with the predisposition to be attracted to males. Does this mean I HAD to form a lasting relationship with a man?  No.  Sometimes I think there would be many advantages to being in a relationship with a woman (for instance, it would be really nice to have a second set of knockers for nursing the babies…just sayin’) rather than a man.  I could have chosen that route, but I didn’t.  For someone to say that their choices are completely determined by their genetics undermines our ability as humans and as children of God to use reason and agency.

Now, any choice made by my friend or myself isn’t necessarily the solution that will work for everyone.  However, it’s not my place to judge what choices anyone else makes because it is impossible for me to fully understand the situations of others.  The only Person qualified to make those judgments has much more power, compassion, and knowledge than I do.  All I can do is try my best to be kind to all of God’s children, regardless of their sexual orientation or choices. 

I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about the issue of gay marriage.  I know the leaders of the Church have encouraged us as members to support constitutional amendments that define marriage as being between one man and one woman, but I don’t think I would be a good member of the Church if I didn’t think and pray and figure out what Heavenly Father would want me to do.  I trust that the leadership of the Church receives revelation from God, but I also know that I can receive personal revelation for myself.  That being said, I do know that marriage is sacred and should be between one man and one woman, and this knowledge comes not only from statements from the Church but also from my own personal experiences and dialogue with Heavenly Father.

Now, on the other hand, I believe that every person in this country, regardless of sexual orientation, has the right to be happy with whomever they choose.  It is none of my business whom my neighbor chooses to spend his/her life with—that choice does not infringe on any of my rights, so I have no right to deny him/her that choice.  Advocates of same-sex marriage say that marriage is a civil right; and I agree.

How can one person have two opposing views?  How can I be for the preservation of traditional marriage and for same-sex marriage?  Now you understand why I’ve spent so much time thinking about these subjects.  I’ve felt a lot of turmoil and confusion.  I’ve alternated between feeling like a bigot and a bad Mormon.  I’ve read and thought about countless solutions that would put my mind at ease, but I know it’s only going to get uglier.  The Church has said that they would not prevent legislation from passing that would allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, so that’s one possibility.  Of course, then we’re faced with the issue of two things being “separate but equal”, which, let’s face it, was a huge bust when it was tried before.  I’ve read people suggesting that since our country is such an advocate of “separation of church and state” that we take it one step further and completely separate the civil and religious aspects of marriage—in other words, require all people, regardless of the orientation of the marriage, to have a civil ceremony performed separate from any religious ceremony.  There are so many countries around the world that already do that (The United Kingdom, for example), and even though it would be more of a hassle for people who would desire a religious ceremony (a sealing in the temple for Church members, for example) I think it would be a viable solution.  The country would only recognize the civil unions performed of both heterosexual and homosexual couples (which would eliminate the “separate but equal” problem, since they would literally be the exact same thing), and churches could continue to perform marriages only for those whom they deem appropriate (allowing the Church and other denominations to preserve their definition of marriage being between a man and a woman).  I’m sure this isn’t a perfect solution, but knowing that there IS a potential solution puts my mind at ease.

Ultimately, the most important thing for me to do is simply have faith that everything will turn out fair in the end.  I know it sounds like a cop-out, but this concept brings me peace.  There is so much turmoil and strife in the world right now, and it’s only going to get worse as time goes on.  My knowledge that Heavenly Father loves me, and that He loves all of His children regardless of the choices they make, helps me remember that this life is but a small moment in the timeline of my life, and all I can do is be the best person I can be.  Everything else will figure itself out.


Emily said...

Of course most people will agree with some things that you have said and disagree with others. I feel like one reason that I cannot support same sex marriage is because "Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity." (Proclamation to the Family.) Lately I have really been hit with how much Henri needs his dad and his mom.

Jessica said...

Emily: I totally agree with you on that point. Contrary to progressive belief, I really do believe that women and men have fundamental differences that make them perfect complements of one another, and the combination of their efforts is what potentially creates the ideal home situation. I don't think a man can do a woman's job, and I don't think a woman can do a man's job. Sorry, feminists.

You've proven just how multi-faceted the issue of same-sex marriage can be--I didn't even consider the idea of offspring when I wrote this post. Thank you for your perspective.

Brittany said...

Your post brought me much peace Jessica :) I've been thinking about this a lot since we spoke a while back. Love you, I can't say I honestly have an opinion on the matter. (I tend to ignore uncomfortable subjects) But I do know I can love anybody know matter who or what or why they are the way they are. Thank You for your forward way of thinking, you have a wonderful ability to say everything we are all thinking so beautifully

Love B

Devri said...

Well Jess, you've given me much to think about since I read this post a couple of weeks ago. I agree with you completely about "being gay" being a choice. To say, "I have no choice in the matter" is kind of irresponsible. However, I don't agree with the last part, and I suppose that is okay. I think you can disagree with people's choices without being a bigot. And marriage is available to everyone, so I don't think they're being denied civil rights. They would just need to marry someone of the opposite gender.

I just feel like if we allow gay marriages, it puts us on shaky ground with God. I just keep thinking about the fall of Soddom and Gommorah and the Fall of Rome. Both happened after homosexuality became widespread, popular, and generally embraced by society. And if we allow gay marriages, where are we going to draw the line? How long will it be before siblings and cousins want to be allowed marriage rights? We all say, "Sick! That is so wrong!" now, but isn't that what they said about gay marriage a few decades ago? And wouldn't the arguments for siblings marrying or cousins marrying be the same as those of gay marriage? So, where are we going to draw the line? We have to draw the line somewhere. Morality has to have a place in making laws, otherwise what is the point? Who is to say that murder is bad if not for morality?

I strongly feel that all of God's children deserve the same rights, regardless of their race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. No one should be considered less than another. The only reason rights should be restricted is if a person's own choices restrict them (if they break the law, they should be subject to the consequences, which usually restrict freedom and rights.)

Everyone wants choice without accountability. I worry too much about the consequences of legalizing gay marriage. I don't think it would be good for our society as a whole, and I think it would put us on shaky ground before God.

Will it be the end of the world if it happens? Maybe, maybe not.

You're awesome! You should come see me sometime. I'd come see you, but I don't have a car. Love you!

Devri said...

Sorry about the LONG post. Now the pitchforks will be aimed at me!

Jessica said...

Devri: Thank you for your thought-provoking comment. Like I said before, this issue really is multi-faceted, and you have presented parts that I hadn't thought a lot about.

I agree with you that allowing gay marriage will put us on shaky ground with God. I in no way support gay MARRIAGE. Marriage is between a man and a woman. A civil union, however (and I know to some that difference seems only like semantics), I think should be allowed between any two consenting legal adults. Yes, maybe even between cousins or siblings (from what I understand, the only problem modern society has had with those unions came from the increased risk of genetic mutations in offspring--an increase that is actually pretty negligible)--but that is another issue altogether.

I agree also that morality has a very important place in law-making. However, sometimes those moral lines can be blurred. After all, who has the final say on what is moral or not moral? The government? The people? There is such a widespread view of what is moral in this country that it is IMPOSSIBLE to come to a consensus. In addition, sometimes what is considered immoral for a layman (for example, murder) is completely condoned when performed by the government (capital punishment).

In some cases, same-gender couples HAVE been denied legal rights in regard to their partners (visitation rights in hospitalization, health benefits, etc.) because they haven't been legally united. So for me, the chance to be legally joined to another person IS a civil right.

From what I've read and understood, the Church has supported the legalization of civil unions. I may be totally flattering myself, but I feel it's because for many of the same reasons that I support civil unions.

I've felt so much turmoil and unease over this issue, and after really thinking and praying and writing about my thoughts on it, I finally feel at peace. I also have the faith that Heavenly Father will sort all of this out in the end. All I can do is my best to be kind and show love to all of God's children.

Devri said...

Yup, it's a mess. It's scary how that line keeps getting blurred. I do think you're right that that's probably the only solution, and I didn't think of hospital rights and the like. What are the words you keep using? multi-faceted? (Or is that one word?) What a mess our world is in, huh?

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