I am reposting this in response to all the fractious contention regarding things going on with same sex marriage  recently.

I am of the deepest opinion that we have to stand for what we believe. We must. But if we don’t do it with compassion (from both sides), it is worthless. That doesn’t mean concession, friends, just compassion. Kindness never made anyone weaker.

And also, we all should try and remember that just because someone disagrees with something we are doing or supporting does not mean they are automatically judging or not being compassionate.

Luckily, I have wonderful friends on both sides of the aisle who have helped me to learn that! So, here it is–my opinionated opinion on gay marriage:

Forgive me, dear readers. My opinionated sassy pants are on today in honor of my friend, Mrs. Smith, who lives in Hawaii.

I have a friend who has had a spiritual awakening over the last several months.

My friend has been involved in the hearings which took place in what could only be described as a modern day kangaroo court. Already decided on the course of their actions, the representatives of Hawaii made a farce of the democratic process, but it also taught my friend a lot.

She saw the other side of the debate.

She learned to love the individuals that before, were too easily considered just by the epithet of “the enemy.” She sang and hugged and cried with the “rainbow leis.” She made new friends who had previously been merely a nameless threat to her religious freedom. She was kind and humble and brave.

She also received a lot of heat from those who were angry with her, furious that she might somehow betray the cause simply by hearing and attempting to understand the other side and showing compassion.

By being human.

In Hawaii, same sex civil unions are recognized and the state offers equal benefits for these unions as they do for marriages. There has been a problem, however. The same sex unions were not able to qualify for federal benefits that married people receive.

So, this last week, they decided to pass a law to legalize the marriage of two people of the same sex.

For me, this is not a political issue, though. I care about people, not politics. Politics are a necessary evil, I guess. When I think of politics, I think of Elder Holland’s words: ” a whole bunch of idiots acting like moral pygmies.” This, for me, is about sacred rites and sacred places.

Where I Was Married

Where I Was Married

I have friends who are gay. I have friends who are united in a same sex relationship. We are really, truly friends. I love them. I have relatives who are gay. I love them. They love me. Our biggest relationship challenges (aside from my obnoxious personality!) stem from the fact that in many ways our lifestyles and beliefs are just morally offensive to each other.

However, we are mature enough to overcome that and we build on common beliefs and the faith that we have in our love toward each other. It isn’t always easy, but with maturity and grace and understanding, it can be done. The Hawaiians call it aloha.

So, I understand why people who are in same sex relationships want equal benefits as people who are married. Mormons, as a general rule, really don’t want anyone to experience discrimination or persecution. It’s wrong. We know that, from sad experience.

So, what’s my problem, then? And why can’t this Mormon church just get over it?

Well, I hope I can explain it…

We are spiritual people and we have spiritual, sacred rites and places as an integral part of our lives as we go through our journey in this mortal sphere. In many ways, our LDS religion more closely resembles older native religions–it is connected with the land, our ancestors, deity, and our daily lives. In a paper published at Columbia, titled, “Sacred Beliefs and Beliefs of Sacredness” the author states:

In the context of sacred sites and sacred places the prohibition on behavior that exist and define the relationship between the god or the gods and the people. Gods can protect and assist, but they can also punish and destroy, and therefore, there is always some degree of danger in offending a deity…

Marriage in my religion is a sacred, holy rite. It is believed to be accompanied by the supernatural…to literally be presided over by deity. It is a Big Deal. It is our religious belief that our deity has decreed the rite of marriage as sacred and only between a man and a woman. The place where we are married is to be considered sacred and holy.

This Is Literal To Us.

This Is Literal To Us.

The Hawaiians have holy, sacred places. So do the Native Americans and the Maori peoples. When visiting these holy places, there are certain requirements that need to be adhered to by all who visit. In fact, to take a stone from wahi pana, or the sacred places, would be to disturb the spirits and to desecrate it. To break the boundaries and enter the off limits areas of these sacred places are not only offensive, but punishable by a fine.

The holiest place in my religion is the temple. It is similar to the wahi pana for the Hawaiians. It is where we can commune with our ancestors and deity. It is where we are married. It is extremely sacred. In the Columbia paper referred to previously, the author states:

A church, for example, can be deconsecrated, by carrying out of certain rituals, so that it becomes a secular site, an ordinary building that can then be used for any purpose. Thus the sacredness of the church is not something that is inherent in the place itself. Ritual leaders can create a sacred place, then uncreate it.

That just isn’t so for my religion. When we decide to build a temple, we only build temples on holy ground. We believe that God Himself reveals where the temples are to be built and that the place is holy. Once a temple is dedicated for holiness, we cannot de-consecrate it. It is not a secular site. The building itself is sacred. It is inherent in the stones and wood and land themselves. Even the flowers and decor are carefully chosen and placed. Everything in it is sacred. We treat it with the utmost care because it is holy.

A Doorknob on the Salt Lake Temple.

A Doorknob on the Salt Lake Temple.

In our sacred place, as in the Hawaiian’s wahi pana, there are requirements one must go through in order not to disturb the sacredness of the site. For example, we are to refrain from negative thoughts while in the holy place, we are to remove our street shoes, we are to make sure we are following certain dietary and moral requirements before entering inside.

Remember the Columbia paper?  Remember this:

In the context of sacred sites and sacred places the prohibition on behavior that exist and define the relationship between the god or the gods and the people. Gods can protect and assist, but they can also punish and destroy, and therefore, there is always some degree of danger in offending a deity…

A Mormon marriage is sacred, holy and attended to by the spirits of our ancestors and by Deity. Our sacred places where that happens deserve to be respected, as do all other sacred places. Therein lies the problem with this whole legislative political mess.

The same-sex marriage bill of Hawaii is scary because it has a great possibility to infringe upon our religious freedom and disturb our sacred places:

While SB1 protects religious clergy from liability for refusing to solemnize a same sex marriage, the legislation offers no exemption to non-clergy members, such as judges, Hochberg said.

SB1 also fails to protect religious organizations from liability if they decline requests to use their properties for same sex celebrations, Hochberg said, because to qualify for the protection, a church must “not make its facilities or grounds available to the general public for solemnization of any marriage celebration for a profit.”

“How will the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission determine whether the church qualifies? Will a financial audit of the church be necessary?” Hochberg asked. “The language is simply not clear. We do not know. It will ultimately be sorted out by the courts. And that leaves churches vulnerable and at risk.”

It is scary to us. It is an infringement upon our freedom to even come close to allowing our holy places to be disturbed in this way.

This is not just our opinion.

It is what we believe our God has decreed. And we believe that if what He has decreed is not followed, He will be offended.

And, it doesn’t have to lead to inequality. It just has to lead to something other than calling it “marriage.”

We believe sincerely in our God and that when He is offended, he can be angry. We believe that if our sacred rite and place are not respected, He will send calamities on the earth, like in the Old Testament. And these things will hurt everyone in the world.

Like in Raiders of the Lost Ark at the end, only worse.

It’s not an allegory or a story to us, either. It’s real to us. Maybe that seems silly and backward to some people, but it is our faith.

So, sometimes we get scared. For everyone.

Being scared isn’t the answer, though. Learning to love each other and build on common beliefs is part of the answer, I think. Trying to create a dialogue where we can understand each other is probably part of the answer.

For example, if it is benefits that are the problem, maybe we could just agree to allow for equal benefits? That sounds like a good compromise to me.

“Marriage” has been a word with sacred meaning in many religions for thousands of years.

If it is changed in this manner, it’s like taking the sacred word “Ad-nai”  of the Hebrews and making a law that it must be written down on paper without being disposed of properly.

Or taking the word “aloha,” with all it means to the Hawaiian people and saying it means something else.

Or taking the symbol for “Aum” and saying it means something non-supernatural.

It is disturbing the sacredness of our beliefs.

In the end, I find this law professor’s quote compelling–this law professor who is very much a proponent of same-sex marriage, but against the SB1 bill in Hawaii:

The gain for human liberty will be severely compromised if same-sex couples now force religious dissenters to violate their conscience in the same way that those dissenters, when they had the power to do so, used to force same-sex couples to hide their sexuality.

We need to find a way to value all human liberty, without contention and hatred. I think that may have to involve some compromise.

But I am not sure how to do that.

I am just a mom.

A mom who doesn’t really get the complexities of the issue because I am really too busy trying to survive each day recovering from being dead and brought back to life again, and raising children, and getting through life with my family close and loving each other and my friends taken care of and trying to pursue joy and thanksgiving.

I don’t have tons of time to delve into this because, unfortunately, it seems to be full of contention, and I don’t like that. I don’t have time for it, and it gives me a headache.

But I am a mom who wishes we could all find the humanness in each other. A mom who is proud of her friend for seeing both sides of the argument and having the courage to express her love for “the enemy”, openly, and without fear of the backlash she would receive from others and to humbly admit her mistakes freely.

A mom who is proud to know beautiful women who are in same sex relationships who have been gracious enough to accept my friendship. A mom who loves my relatives who identify themselves as homosexual.

A mom who, in spite of everything, believes there is still a great deal of good in this world.

A mom who hopes that maybe her explanation can help others to understand us a little more and with understanding, lessen the contention and bring a little more aloha to the debate.