Mormon Homophobia: The Oaks/Wickman “Interview” in Redux 20 August 2006Posted by Todd in Democratic Theory, Ethics, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, Inequality & Stratification, Mormonism/LDS Church.
After mulling over the arguments presented by Oaks and Wickman, I think they basically boil down to this:
1) You should love homosexuals because they are struggling with a temptation; but you should always make it clear that homosexuality is evil. Your love of them must always be accompanied by stern insistence on their sinful nature. Because God said so.
2) Parents who choose to defend their children have forsaken the Lord. It is acceptable for parents to bar their children from coming home if they are in a homosexual relationship.
3) Homosexuality may or may not be biological, but regardless, it shouldn’t be acted upon.
4) If same-sex marriage were allowed, it would change the definition of marriage, which is bad, really really really bad. Society might crumble and everything! God told us what marriage is, and it isn’t that.
5) Mormons practiced polygamy, but didn’t like it, and were glad when they came to their senses and went back to One-Man-One-Woman marriage. So there’s no contradiction in Mormons being against same-sex marriage.
1) Religious beliefs are irrelevant in the public sphere, where in a pluralistic society you must make rational, substantiated arguments demonstrating harm in order to abridge individual rights or to privilege an entire class of people over another (in this case, heterosexuals). You are entitled to religious beliefs and practice, but in the public sphere they are not sufficient justification for enacting law, and other people who disagree are free to respond and critique your beliefs. And so on the whole, this propaganda piece might serve well to help believing members feel better about their own homophobia, and to think they are being ethical and loving without regard to the actual consequences of their behavior, but is irrelevant in a debate in a democratic society with a pluralism of religions. In the end, Oaks and Whitman add nothing new to the debate and instead rehash old and tired arguments that, although powerful among the majority of Americans, hold no rational water.
2) Their appeals to history and tradition are rhetorical and not supported by the any data known to me. In order to make them, they have to pretend that marriage has remained unchanged in any culture for as long as we have recorded history.
3) They make ethical propositions which make sense from within mormonism, but which in fact are deeply harmful to people they purport to love. They divide families and teach people to hate themselves. These kinds of social pressures have been amply demonstrated to be the cause of most of the psychological and emotional adjustment problems experienced by gay men and women prior to “coming out.” They think they are advocating love and compassion, but the consequences of their proposals would be a continuation of the status quo which is deeply harmful to gay men and women in their midst.
4) Finally, they are continually at best disingenuous and at worst outright liars about mormon beliefs and history, as they refuse responsibility for the grossly negligent and unethical practices of the church vis-a-vis homosexuality in the past (e.g., reparative therapy) and they fudge the facts on gay members’ participation in the church (e.g., in missionary service).