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Mormon Homophobia: The Oaks/Wickman “Interview” in Redux 20 August 2006

Posted by Todd in Democratic Theory, Ethics, Gay Rights, Homosexuality, Inequality & Stratification, Mormonism/LDS Church.

[Summary of thoughts from Mormon Homophobia: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.]

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.

My responses:

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).



1. Equality - 21 August 2006

Brilliant, Todd. All four parts. When I first read the interview I envisioned doing a similar blog post–dissecting the drivel piece by piece. You have said exactly what I was thinking as I was reading it, and a whole lot more. On the distinction between straight singles and gays in the church, I would sum it up thus: the church pities straight singles and scorns gays. I would not want to be either pitied or scorned, but I think it worse to be scorned. Both groups in the church are marginalized, but gays (ahem, I mean, “those afflicted with same-gender attraction”) to a greater degree.

2. Todd - 21 August 2006

I think the difference is more in the effects, which I’m havinig a hard time articulating. It’s more than just that singles can get married. There’s a completely different dynamic when it’s “i can’t act on my desire until I get married” to “my desire is an abomination.”

This was a difficult exercise for me, mainly because of ongoing discussions with me family. Every time something like this comes out from the church, I have to rehash everything with my parents. It’s really exhuasting.

3. Mayan Elephant - 21 August 2006


thanks again for taking the time to do this. i think you know how much i appreciate you. at least i hope you do. you were a great mission companion and remain a dear friend. your comments on this thread couldnt have been more timely. thanks bro.

i am also very sorry that you had to read this. i think the lunacy and bigotry of oaks and his boys rivals anything this country has experienced. in fact, given the quality of contemporary information that contrasts his positions, along with the obvious and known consequences of adhering to his council, he may have taken homosexual-hatred to a new height.

i wish you didnt have to see it or read it, but more, i wish he had never said it.

and shame shame shame on every person that defends the hatred and divisive tone that oaks presents, especially as it relates to parents and children.

4. Todd - 21 August 2006

Thanks CK. The feelings are mutual, rest assured.

5. Mayan Elephant - 21 August 2006

and just for fun and conversation. if homosexuality is like stealing, not that i agree with that, im just using oaks own stupidity and filth, if being homosexual is like stealing is it also like lying? or is it only like some of the ten commandment violations but not all of them? because, oaks did go on to blame brigham young for the polygamy mess, rather than the real source – joseph smith, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum.

if stealing and lying and homo-ing are all on the same plane, then maybe oaks does know how homosexuals feel, but just doesnt care, the liar.

from oaks the liar:

“They followed the example of Brigham Young, who expressed his profound negative feelings when he first had this principle revealed to him. The Mormons of the 19th century who practiced plural marriage, male and female, did so because they felt it was a duty put upon them by God.

When that duty was lifted, they were directed to conform to the law of the land, which forbad polygamy and which had been held constitutional. When they were told to refrain from plural marriage, there were probably some who were unhappy, but I think the majority were greatly relieved and glad to get back into the mainstream of western civilization, which had been marriage between a man and a woman.”

one, it was not by’s example, they were following da praised man himself, joseph smith.
also, there was no dissatisfaction by young, he loved it. including getting some eliza snow.
also, the majority did not include the prophet at the time, who continued to pluralize in the sl temple.

lemme guess, he wasnt lying – he was speaking as a man. no, he was not lying, he was correlating. no no no, he was not lying, he was just implying that if you want the whole story you should read sunstone, not lds.org. no, wait, he wasnt lying, he was just being a heterosexual.

6. TomThumb - 22 August 2006

Gee, I wonder what happens when you replace “heterosexual” with “homosexual” in the “interview”? You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.

7. Todd - 22 August 2006

Thanks for posting that Tom!

8. hellmut - 23 August 2006

I love the revised interview.

9. diana s. - 30 August 2006

jesus christ!

10. Star - 25 April 2007

Todd, Thanks for your helpful insights. I read your “redux” commentary, which I loved. I read through part one and some of part two as well, before my b.s. meter (how can that few people say that much b.s. in those few words!) blasted through the mercury! I couldn’t take it!
I am a lesbian and have been out for almost 10 years (that is, since the revolving door on my closet stopped revolving and stayed open and yes, I agree, the only reason being gay is a struggle is because society and the church make it one. If they believe in continuing revelation, where is their courage to ask the hard questions?). I had a very wise bishop who went through the Proclamation on the Family with me, word by word and then said, “There is nothing in here that says you can’t be gay.” So, there you have it. Yes, all butterflies are insects, but no, not all insects are butterflies. All bears are mammals, but not all mammals are bears. Yes all heterosexual marriages are marriages, but not all marriages (or viable partnerships for that matter) have to be heterosexual. It’s just a simple question of inclusive vs. exclusive reasoning!

11. Star - 25 April 2007

I was shocked that my comment came up immediately! What, no censorship?!!! I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced that kind of “free speech”before! Yea!!!

12. Todd - 25 April 2007

Hey star,
Thanks for popping in and feel free to read and post more. I do have to say that your wise bishop, in my opinion, has to willfully refuse to see what is right in front of his face to say that there’s nothing in the Proclamation that says you can’t be gay. It says explicitly that the genders are eternal and existed before birth and that marriages are mothers and fathers. I’m a proponent of resistant readings, but it is a mindboggling stretch to say the proclamation isn’t anti-gay. In historical fact, the Proclamation was produced to support the church’s funding of anti-gay ballot initiatives around the country and has since been used to raise money for more such campaigns. It has been cited by Elder Nelson at “ecumenical” political meetings with explicity anti-gay politics. And is cited in general conference talks to support the church’s anti-gay positions.

13. Star - 26 April 2007

Thanks for your response. True, the use is anti-gay and I don’t like it any more than you do. My point is that there is an obviously un-educated hole in their reasoning. It is absurd to assume that just because one kind of marriage is a marriage other kinds cannot be. My bishop’s point, as a man whose bishop did surgeries to “define” babies that were borned intersexed, is that gender is not as specific as some would like to think it is, and that sexuality is not either. I am just glad there is someone out there that is willing to think outside the box. Too bad the rest of them aren’t there yet.
Also, I’m curious, how was the Proclamation used to fund anti-gay ballot initiatives, what’s the story on that? My understanding was that it was produced to go to some family conference things in Switzerland that were trying to prevent underaged girls from being taken to wife. Of course that was presented to me by the Public Affairs Dept. of the church…

14. posnie - 27 October 2008

How sweet for me that my own blog auto-generated a link to yours!
I’m really enjoying your writing.
-David (http://strikefour.wordpress.com)

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