Manufactured Prejudice

June 3, 2014

Will fancy fonts and word clouds convince the youth?

On a recent post at BCC, a commenter stated that in his stake at a recent meeting with a Q&A session with a general authority, two of the seven questions asked were how to get youth to accept the church’s stance on homosexuality. [1]  This is a question that I have wondered about myself as a mother of teens who likewise don’t agree that homosexuality is the dire threat the church portrays. They have been consistently taught in school that being gay is innate and acceptable, that gay kids should be treated with respect, and that bullying will not be tolerated and is morally wrong. [2]  As a result of the world in which they live, they do not inherently feel homosexuality is shameful, and they have friends in school who openly self-identify as gay.  This is a pretty big change from the era in which I was raised and an even bigger change from when my parents were raised.

From that comment thread, BJJLawKate said:

“The phrasing of the question itself is so revealing–it reveals that the speaker is hyperfocused on getting the youth to just accept the teachings and to stop questioning and thinking about this complex issue. . . Why do we discount their questions without truly examining the issues? Why are we so focused on them just accepting our views? . . . We teach them that they can pray, but apparently only for confirmation of an established doctrine. At least, that is how it seems. Shouldn’t we teach them that they can pray for insight and understanding? Shouldn’t we teach them, by our responses, that their viewpoints have value, that they are worth listening to–and seriously considering? . . . Our youth are smart. This sentiment may not be said to their faces, but they know that that is the underlying motive (“get them to accept”) by how we answer their questions.”

The Nature of Prejudice

You had me at Fox News.

Several years ago I went through a corporate training to help us expose the nature of our deeply held beliefs, our prejudices and biases.  An activity in the training illustrated the difficulty of creating a negative bias against something about which we have no prejudice.  We were partnered with another person at random and asked to identify an aspect of the person’s appearance or clothing that was neutral to us.  We then had to manufacture reasons that we disliked it.  It was possible to say negative things, but because we didn’t believe them, we were not capable of being convincing.  Many people doing this activity laughed aloud at how hollow their words sounded as they pretended to dislike something that didn’t bother them at all.

If young people today don’t have a natural bias against homosexuality like prior generations did, how do we get them to embrace the church’s stance that was created with that cultural bias to back it?  Rather than examine whether we should attempt this (personally I don’t think we should), I’d like to set that concern aside and ask how it could be done, realistically.

The Church’s Stance

First of all, what is the church’s current stance on homosexuality?  It has shifted over time, and there seem to be some alternate views.  Here’s the church’s current stance in a nutshell:

  • Some people are born gay. [3]
  • All people need to follow the law of chastity which prohibits sex outside of marriage. [4]
  • Gay people can remain celibate for life or marry heterosexuals. [5]
  • The church is against gay marriage because of a belief that children are entitled to parents of two different genders. [6]

What is prejudice?

Where are the straight people rainbows? Unfair!

Prejudice is a pre-judgment; having an opinion about someone, something or a group of people prior to and therefore not based on experience.  The difficulty with a stance on homosexuality is that it is nearly impossible to separate a stance on homosexuality (behavior) without it being a stance on homosexuals (people), at least for those people whose rights and status are in question.

The word is often used to refer to preconceived, usually unfavorable, judgments toward people or a person because of gender, political opinion, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, language, nationality or other personal characteristics. In this case, it refers to a positive or negative evaluation of another person based on their perceived group membership. Prejudice can also refer to unfounded beliefs and may include “any unreasonable attitude that is unusually resistant to rational influence”.  [7]

One popular theory is that prejudice is a normal part of cognitive development in which groups of people are categorized.  Theories abound as to the basis for categorization: authoritarian thinking, in-group / out-group categorization, or hierarchical categorization when resources are limited.  There are similarities between these theories.  For example, people who are strongly authoritarian see the world as more rigid; social order helps them make sense of their world. [8]

Since the 1970s, prejudice has been seen as a byproduct of  in-group / out-group thinking.  For heterosexuals, homosexual feelings are unfamiliar, “other.”  Some heterosexual individuals may not be able to imagine engaging in homosexual acts without revulsion. [9]  A third form of categorization is based on perceived competition for limited resources mythologizes some groups as more deserving of those resources; this model sounds similar to the LDS statement “we preach the ideal,” meaning that some types of families are considered more valid than others [10].  This is related to our belief that marriage is child-centric, and that human children need a parent of each sex for ideal development.

Gay Marriage as a Threat

There are four categories to the types of threat that outgroups are seen to pose:

  • Realistic Threats.  This is actual competition for limited resources.  For example, if the government only issued one million marriage licenses per year and gay marriage would take some of these limited licenses from heterosexual couples, that would be a “realistic threat.”  Likewise, if heterosexual couples were being turned down for adoptions that were instead going to homosexual couples, that would constitute a “realistic threat.”
  • Symbolic Threats.  This is when two groups have different values that are incompatible and cannot co-exist. Some Christians view gay marriage as a symbolic threat; they feel they are compromising their values if they uphold laws that require equal recognition and treatment for gay marriages which they believe are sanctioned by God; therefore, their desire to adhere to the law may conflict with what they consider to be a “higher law” or God’s law.
  • Intergroup Anxiety.  This means that interactions between members of the two groups feel uncomfortable and uneasy because of perceptions of incompatibility between the groups; historical interactions may have been fraught with tension, creating discomfort.  Christian Crandall and Amy Eshleman explained the justification-suppression model which states that people face a conflict between a desire to express prejudice while maintaining a positive self-concept.  This requires justification of the dislike for the outgroup to preserve the self-concept of the person acting in prejudice.
  • Negative Stereotypes.  Perceptions based on fear or anger that the individuals of an outgroup all possess some negative or threatening qualities, such as violent behavior or dishonesty.  This can also bolster the self-concept of the person expressing prejudice by making the prejudice feel justified.

The war of the tee shirt slogans

In general, gay marriage is seen by LDS people as a symbolic threat.  There is no clear cut competition for limited resources involved, although there has been some angst expressed over adoption policies; these threats have generally been couched in terms of not wanting to be required to perform marriages or adoptions that put children in the care of a homosexual couple.  Gay marriage is viewed as an untested social experiment with possible unforeseen consequences.  The simple fact is that young people are less invested in existing social structures than older people are, so this argument is a tough sell with millenials.  And it’s about the best argument we have.

Reducing Prejudice

Prejudice is reduced through contact.  As in the case of my own children, contact with openly gay friends from a young age who are protected from bullying has resulted in them identifying with homosexuals and not seeing them as an outgroup, but as an integral part of a multi-cultural society.  Historically, the only reason it was easy to see homosexuals as an outgroup was because they were often shamed into hiding their identity.  While everyone knew some gay people, they may not have known that those people were gay.

There are six conditions necessary for contact with an outgroup to fully eliminate prejudice, and while not all six of these have happened equally, there is progress across all of them:  1) mutual interdependence between the ingroup and outgroup, 2) common goals, 3) equal status, 4) frequent opportunities for informal contact, 5) multiple contacts between groups, and 6) social norms of equality must exist.  LDS people with gay family members quickly discover that the church’s stance on homosexuality is problematic because they know a gay person intimately on an equal footing and have lived in mutual interdependence with them. Most LDS families are unwilling to blame the family member for their inherent sexual orientation and are unwilling to consider that person as outcast forever.  A recent Salt Lake Tribune article even talks about E. Christofferson of the Q12 who has an openly gay brother.

The only way to counter the erosion of prejudice within Mormonism is to isolate our young people from knowing gay people, to maintain unequal status between gay people and straight people, and to point to and even exaggerate conflicting goals.  But these tactics are on borrowed time if young people are in public schools where norms are shifting to more acceptance or if they happen to have a gay sibling.

Contact with openly gay people breaks down prejudice in the following ways:

  • Enhanced knowledge.  Rather than relying on inaccurate accounts or stereotypes, they have first hand experience.
  • Reduced anxiety.  They are comfortable around gay people because of their experience.
  • Increased empathy.  They have relationships with gay people and have listened to their concerns.

Isn’t this incest?

In answer to the original question, how do we get young people to accept the church’s stance on homosexuality, they only solution is really to do what we’ve been doing already with the existing poor results.  I’m reminded of the lyrics to the Rogers & Hammerstein song from South Pacific “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught.”

We can’t manufacture prejudice where society has already removed it unless we cease to participate in society altogether, which would be a serious impediment to missionary work.  Millenials as a generation already feel a natural disconnect with religion and suspicion of the morals of preceding generations.  Trying to create a prejudice that society no longer fosters will only further erode trust in organized religion.

What do you suggest as an answer to the question?

Discuss.

____________________________________________________________________________

[1] I wasn’t clear from the phrasing whether the congregation asked the questions or the visiting authorities did.  However, the comment indicated that no clear, convincing solution was provided.

[2] They’ve attended school in both Arizona and Singapore.  Arizona is a deeply red state; I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that many of the teachers are carrying guns.  And in Singapore homosexuality is still technically illegal, but the country is fully committed to multi-culturalism, and the American school my kids attended was very American in terms of its values.  Is it possible that Utah is still insulated enough to maintain an anti-gay environment?  Perhaps.  But that’s not the case elsewhere if so, and the majority of US church members live outside of Utah.

[3] This has only been part of the official stance since the mid 90s, and there may not be general consensus among the Q15.  If you are gay, this means that while there is some acknowledgment that your identity and sexual orientation is (perhaps) innate, there have been plenty of statements to the contrary, that it’s a choice, and that you are sinful for choosing it.  What your local lay clergy or fellow saints may say is a crap shoot.

[4] Although policing of homosexual behavior has been stronger than for heterosexuals.  For example, gay couples at BYU are not permitted to hold hands, although holding hands does not violate the law of chastity.  Anything other than openly hetero-normative behavior is not allowed at BYU.  This is a double standard obvious to most millenials.

[5] Thus being gay is seen as a disability or inherent disadvantage, a trial one must bear for life.  This narrative is one that millenials consistently reject.  Lady Gaga beats old white dudes for message clarity:  “I was born this way, and God makes no mistakes.”  Plus you can’t dance to the Proclamation on the Family.

[6] Although obviously, sometimes parents are single due to divorce or death of a spouse; there is a bit of a double standard in allowing for these exceptions but not homosexuality.  Gay parents have disproportionately adopted children who otherwise would not have been adopted, so the question remains whether the church’s stance is that gay adoption is inferior to perpetual foster care.  In the church’s eyes, though, you are seen as an unfit parent unless you marry an opposite sex heterosexual partner.

[7] While not all discussion about homosexuality is irrational, many arguments against it are.  For example, my millenial son was presented with an article in a BYU class that equated homosexuality with bestiality or marrying a rock.  Presenting arguments like this as anything other than laughable undermines the church’s stance with millenials who know that homosexuality exists among other species, nobody is asking to marry a rock, and that it’s insulting to equate a gay person with a dog.

[8] Theodor Adorno believed prejudice stemmed from an authoritarian personality. Adorno described authoritarians as “rigid thinkers who obeyed authority, saw the world as black and white, and enforced strict adherence to social rules and hierarchies.”  Adorno believed people with authoritarian personalities were the most likely to be prejudiced against groups of lower status.  Plous, S. “The Psychology of Prejudice.” Understanding Prejudice.org. Web. 07 Apr. 2011

[9] Revulsion makes rational discussion less likely.  Being raised in an environment without shame toward homosexuality, something people of my generation can’t say, millenials don’t find homosexual sex particularly shameful or revolting.  Their parents having sex is another matter.

[10] Something like man+woman biological parents > man+woman adoptive parents > single female biological parent (heterosexual) > single male biological parent (heterosexual) > single female adoptive parent (heterosexual) > single male adoptive parent (heterosexual) > dead > gay adoptive parents > pedophile adoption.  According to some people, maybe dead should move up the hierarchy in that list.  These assumptions are based on a belief that being gay is being less than, being unfit, being invalid.  Millenials simply don’t believe that.

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43 Responses to Manufactured Prejudice

  1. Hedgehog on June 3, 2014 at 7:04 AM

    “as a mother of teens who likewise don’t agree that homosexuality is the dire threat the church portrays.”
    Yup. Me too.
    My kids are also acutely aware of how difficult the churches stance makes things for those who are gay, and are not impressed. My younger teen was musing on the churches previously held attitudes towards race, and completely unexpectedly to me, burst out ‘and now they’re doing the same thing to homosexual people’, and glared at me. They’re not happy about it.

    They’re also not happy about the overly authoritarian stance all round. Recently attended a youth fireside that turned out to be about modesty (they’re all based on FtSoY). A couple of church video clips were shown (both of them all-girl emphasis). The result… a furious daughter spitting feathers about judgmental attitudes over what girls may or may not choose to wear. And a baffled son, who said he felt somewhat marginalised by such heavy emphasis on female dress, although he tried to contribute constructively to the discussion. The first clip was the well-known prom dress project clip (prom is not a thing here…), and the other girls talking about the importance of virtue. Hmmmm. How about a clip with boys talking about the importance of male virtue too (and I so hate that word being used as a euphemism for chaste!!!!)? Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is they notice the church stance on a lot of things, and they make up their own minds about what they think.

    I agree with Kate in the quote you used: “Our youth are smart. This sentiment may not be said to their faces, but they know that that is the underlying motive (“get them to accept”) by how we answer their questions.” They aren’t playing that game.

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  2. howard on June 3, 2014 at 7:56 AM

    It’s tribal, us vs them, in group vs out group and while I agree “We can’t [easily] manufacture prejudice where society has already removed it” war after war has shown that it can be easily switched from one group to another via propaganda. The truth is some people are far more tribal than others, more warmongering than others. It’s based in fear and may be more genetic than learned.

    I think a second issue is what I like to call “secular enlightenment”. We know that the spirit is poured out upon everyone and when society as a group moves toward kindness and love I see this as secular enlightenment. We saw this with the civil rights movement even though it reached a point of violence it has settled in to acceptance, kindness and even love. Something similar is going on now with LBGTs and has in the past with women’s issues.

    The problem this presents for the church is the church is HIGHLY tribal even deliberately so and it is led via a seniority system of yes men caretaker mamagers who’s average age is 4 generations older than the generation now marring and those leaders still harbor the prejudice of their own coming of age. This leaves the church’s bias 4 generations behind that of secular enlightenment. This hatred de-legitimizes the church/brethren in a “who cares, they’re irrelevant” litmus test kind of a way with many of the youth. It’s my parent’s (or grandparents) church, they don’t own it because it doesn’t ring or feel true to them because it is a living contradiction, a living hypocrisy to them! They know and like gays and they know gays pose no threat and as a result they inherently know The Emperor Wears No Clothes, the church is B.S.

    The solution to this problem WOULD BE revelation if revelation were actually taking place but as we know that’s pretty rare these days. The church’s solution? Younger missionaries and younger marriages. Let’s lock ‘em in earlier. But is this a good solution? People outside the church are marring older they are more mature and making more mature life choices and mate choices and they aren’t marring just so they can have sex. Let’s not forget that brains are still forming until age 25, is marriage at 20 really a good idea?

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  3. New Iconoclast on June 3, 2014 at 8:38 AM

    Hedgehog quotes Hawk: ““as a mother of teens who likewise don’t agree that homosexuality is the dire threat the church portrays.
    Yup. Me too.”

    Me three. One of the things that concerns me is that my kids, especially my two younger ones with their less-fully-formed brains, will be so turned off by the Church’s stance on gay marriage that they will turn away; that it could become their “anti-Gospel hobby horse.”

    Hawk also says, The church is against gay marriage because of a belief that children are entitled to parents of two different genders. I agree with her first three bullet points about the Church’s current stance on same-sex attraction, but I think this one is incomplete. I’d add that the Church’s stance also seems to be based on the notion of unforeseen consequences, or perhaps more properly, the notion of prophetically-foreseen consequences of the type that the secular world gives no credence (the Family Proc hints at this; “we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets”). In addition, I think that the idea that marriage is meant to be eternal, and a same-sex marriage can’t be since gender is eternal but same-sex attraction is assumed to be some kind of genetic fault of mortality, drives a lot of the Church’s attitude toward SSM.

    That would, of course, raise a lot of questions about the Church’s attitudes about marriage in general, and how we stress eternal sealing while still paying a great deal of attention to legal marriage, when the two are not always the same thing.

    When it comes right down to brass tacks, even if we had a policy not to baptize gays and lesbians in legal same-sex marriages, and made post-baptism same-sex marriage a disciplinary offense (not advocating that; just saying “even if”), I can’t see why the Church would care what non-members do about same-sex marriage unless the main concern is bringing down upon the Earth the judgments of God.

    Which, if I understand correctly, is probably going to happen anyway, right? Aren’t we better off “teaching correct principles and letting people govern themselves,” than attempting to coerce them? Do we even get any moral brownie points if people refrain from immoral behavior because it’s illegal, as opposed to refraining from it by their own free will and choice?

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  4. New Iconoclast on June 3, 2014 at 8:39 AM

    Fudgebuckets. Someone feel free to fix my messed-up italicization.

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  5. howard on June 3, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    The church’s default solution is “sin” avoidance at any cost. This means we have leadership who largely lack meaningful actual personal experience with the “sins” they are dispensing advice about to even know what the hell they are talking about and in the absence of actual revelation we get B.S. advice like. Homosexuality is curable. Really? Homosexuals should marry as if they are heterosexuals and it will go away. Really? How many lives have they ruined, make miserable, cut short or misdirected with this B.S advice?

    To illustrate this further it is fairly common for heterosexuals to feel revulsion when they encounter some homosexual acts. So what does this initial revulsion mean? Is revulsion a sign from God that those acts are sinful? Or is revulsion just an indication that we are from a sexual tribe? Interestingly as we actually get to know gays in a non-judgmental way the revulsion lessens or leaves.

    Porn is another example, the brethren conflate and smear porn as a some greatly over exaggerated evil thereby causing some LDS wives to catastrophize their husband’s (even occasional) use to the point of divorce! What kind of B.S. advice is this, tearing a family apart? And not all porn is the same so let’s not conflate tight clothes or a topless shot with the violent over-the-top stuff. Does typical porn use really justify divorce and all the damage it does to family? No! Are there problems with porn use of course but lets correctly define them and leave out the catastrophizing. After years of blogging about porn issues the church’s reason’s for opposing porn are finally becoming more believably fact based and less histrionic.

    This is one of the big dangers of turning our thinking over to the brethren and just believing. The point is our inexperienced yes men elderly seniority based brethren need to transcend their own generation’s bias and ignorance and seek continuing revelation if they want to avoid the irrelevance that is now upon them.

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  6. howard on June 3, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    “we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets”

    I totally agree that the disintegration of the family is a very serious threat to society. We are already seeing this disintegration. But gay marriage at only 1-2% of all marriages in societies who’ve approved it for many years isn’t presenting a threat. If heterosexual marriage is good for society’s stability so is gay marriage in place of gay singles. Having two parents is better than having one regardless of gender. LDS polygamy produced children with multiple mommies some of whom must have been lesbians by the way. Was there something inherently wrong with this arrangement?

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  7. Jeff Spector on June 3, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    I’ve grown up around gay people my whole life. Certainly, as a younger person, I was less tolerant and adopted the standard view that was around me. However, I have associated with all kinds of people through work, outside activities and other things. I generally hold no ill will toward any one group of people. We’ve had gay folks in our home and my son had his gay friend to Church a few times.

    I wouldn’t claim to know all the ins and outs of biology and how people are created with certain challenges physically, mentally and emotionally. I had one of those myself at birth. It used to be called a birth defect because it was outside of the norm. but, it is naturally occurring.

    I think the church position has been clarified to the point where it come down to the law of Chastity. There are plenty of people in the church that do not marry, for one reason or another.

    I just wonder what happens in the Church when same-sex marriage is legal everywhere but the most backward places?

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  8. New Iconoclast on June 3, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    I think the church position has been clarified to the point where it come down to the law of Chasity[sic].

    So the husband/wife (i.e., male/female) part of the law of chastity is as important as the legal marriage part? Legally married gays and lesbians are behaving unchastely?

    That’s an interesting take, but since we’ve always defined “chastity” as “abstinence except within the bonds of matrimony,” and even in the temple it’s defined in such a way as to (technically) permit a same-sex marriage, it will take more than just an assertion to redefine it.

    I don’t know what the answer to that conundrum is, but it certainly isn’t that easy.

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  9. howard on June 3, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    Conservative bastions revere exclusion and as a bi product offer the camouflaged appearance of legitimate cover to bigotry and hatred. Black bias is already passe. Given prejudice is easily switched from one group to another some of the tithe paying closet biased LDS base may subconsciously resent the loss of women and gays as targets.

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  10. Jeff Spector on June 3, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    “So the husband/wife (i.e., male/female) part of the law of chastity is as important as the legal marriage part? Legally married gays and lesbians are behaving unchastely?”

    Hence, the problem that approaches

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  11. howard on June 3, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Btw, LDS love their prejudice so much they even create their own folk gospel prejudice’s like the one against Diet Coke or the one against green tea or beer and the one against those who’s belief in the unbelievable is insufficient.

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  12. Jeff Spector on June 3, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    And poor Diet Coke has suffered as a result…..

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  13. howard on June 3, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    And poor Diet Coke has suffered as a result…

    I think Diet Coke has done okay without LDSs Jeff. It was just an example, the point is as a church we tend toward contaminating our thinking with prejudice and we harbor a lot of prejudice in our practice and belief and as a result appeal to more biased people and they are attached to those biases and prefer to keep them rather than give them up.

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  14. IDIAT on June 3, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    An observation: Parents who don’t support the church’s stance on gays and gay marriage will, in all likelihood, not have children who support the church’s stance on gays and gay marriage. The better question might be how to convince adult members the church’s stance on homosexuality is correct.

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  15. Kristine A on June 3, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    I’ve had a really hard time with the rhetoric, I’m borderline Millennial . . . and I am really, really tired of Elder Oaks’ and Elder Perry’s messages this past year up here in Rexburg. Elder Oaks gave an example of the influence of Satan in our lives as those who say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Heaven forbid we express happiness to others for their beliefs and traditions. Elder Perry’s regional address here last month literally was about how he was from the “Greatest Generation” and each generation since then has embraced sin until we see where we are now, the youngsters among us aren’t offended at sin!” Also what does that say about the generations before him, how and why was his generation the “peak”? Yes that is a bias problem.

    I’m really tired of all this bagging on Millennials. Yes, they are less patriotic because they have never lived through a war that directly affected their lives and forced tribalism on them. They feel more connected to global humanity than American exceptionalism. They feel the benefit in their own lives of being accepted for who they are, how multiculturalism and pluralism have advantages. I find this generation incredibly moral – they want to do and be good. Because of technology this generation is more aware of the global suffering around us than ever before, I think, and when they look at their lives they are more able to recognize their own privilege. As a result I think they are much more apt to want to fight human trafficking and other global humanitarian problems than any other generation.

    I’m still trying to figure out how legal gay marriage in any way impedes my ability to worship my God. So we get married civilly before we perform a temple sealing later, added benefit – more goodwill amongst split-member extended families. Killed two birds with one stone, bam.

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  16. Kristine A on June 3, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    I’m taking a class on campus at BYUI (metalinguistics) and we read Elder Holland’s “A Prayer for the Children” this week. Had a hard time with this quote, “Prophets do not apologize for requesting conformity… As Elder Maxwell once said, “There didn’t seem to be any problem with conformity the day the Red Sea opened.”

    Oookay, but when you demand conformity, you are rejecting individuals. You are welcome here only if you are like “THIS”. So either hide or change who you are. We are smart enough, and spiritually mature enough to know that our Father asks for obedience, but we are loved for who we are and how he created us.

    in regards to [10], it’s alive and well, although in practice the order may be different these days. As someone who had an adoption fall apart, I had to request a new VT route when a grandmother opined month after month how inferior adoptive parents are compared to her pregnant, single 15 year old granddaughter with family helping her raise the baby. It’s one of the reasons LDS Adoption services is nigh impossible to adopt from, all the grandmas keeping the babies at home. Which, is fine – but let’s make it a matter of prayer without putting down anyone else, shall we?

    Also, I told my husband that if the church believes stable families strengthen society, why do we not want homosexuals who choose not to believe or practice like us to remain in non-contractual relationships? Wouldn’t we want their families to be as stable as possible? I get that those families aren’t living our standards, but if they exercise their agency to do so I’d rather give them incentive to create a stable unit in my neighborhood and community. And my husband almost died.

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  17. howard on June 3, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    #15 Kristine A,
    Very well stated! Loved this: They feel more connected to global humanity than American exceptionalism…this generation is more aware of the global suffering around us than ever before, I think, and when they look at their lives they are more able to recognize their own privilege.

    Nice, placing global citizenship above being privileged nationalists. I think Jesus would agree. Given the “evil empire” has finally been tamed by the righteous what prevents LDS from agreeing?

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  18. howard on June 3, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    IDIAT wrote: The better question might be how to convince adult members the church’s stance on homosexuality is correct.

    Is it correct IDIAT? Which of the many stances they’ve taken is correct? All? Just this last stance? Please explain how it/they are correct.

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  19. Jeff Spector on June 3, 2014 at 1:47 PM

    Rather than convolute the issue, why not just teach the correct principles on chastity and leave it at that.

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  20. Kristine A on June 3, 2014 at 2:03 PM

    The reason why it’s getting convoluted is because this is this hill we seem to be intent to make our last stand on.

    I’d LOVE it if the church just taught a principle and trusted us to govern ourselves, but that’s not what they’re doing is it?

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  21. Kristine A on June 3, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    PS I can tell you what they are doing in Primary to teach the children the principles. For all of May we had 3 year olds standing up every week, having the teacher whisper “marriage between a man and woman is ordained of God”, the child repeats it, and then we chant it back to the child.

    In week 2 sharing time girls are given a mixing bowl/spoon+stuffed animal to represent the role they play, and boys got a tie/wallet/football to represent the role they play. Not my favorite sharing time…..

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  22. New Iconoclast on June 3, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    Kristine says: they have never lived through a war that directly affected their lives and forced tribalism on them.

    I agree about the “directly affected their lives,” in that they’ve never been drafted or had to live with gas rationing or “meatless, wheatless, and sweetless days,” but most of them have friends who have enlisted and probably served overseas in the longest and (probably) least-justified war in American history. My generation, OTOH (I was born in 1965) really never did have a war. I was 7 when we stopped drafting, 8 when we pulled out of Vietnam, and long out of uniform when we had our 100-hour adventure in Kuwait in 1991.

    However, those Millennials . . .

    The oldest Millennials were the first in uniform after 9/11, and they are the cohort still being sucked into the armed forces now. Interestingly enough, what you say about them is true for part of them. The other part comprise some of the most rigidly dogmatic, black and white thinkers (on the left and on the right) that the country has ever produced. The Vietnam and Cold War eras didn’t produce many jingoists and flag-wavers that surpass the current crop of “my country right or wrong” types between the ages of 20 and 35. The constant drumbeat of fear, and a generation that has not only become accustomed to but has learned to justify things like scope-n-grope at airports, has helped to divide Millennials into the Skeptics/Seekers and the Rigid Thinkers.

    The wheat and tares really are separating in the Millennial generation.

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  23. Roger on June 3, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    Somebody please tell me that the experience Kristine A. recounted from Primary is just an aberration confined to Rexburg and environs.

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  24. howard on June 3, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    It was borrowed from Hitler’s youth training along with the song Follow the Prophet..

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  25. Kristine A on June 3, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    Here is the link to the official sharing time outline:

    https://www.lds.org/manual/2014-outline-for-sharing-time-families-are-forever/april-the-family-is-central-to-gods-plan?lang=eng

    The theme from the month is the quotation from the family proclamation that we quote/chant back to each other each week. I believe local leaders have flexibility if they want to use this scripture/theme/chanting pattern.

    Also on that page under week two you will see a picture of an example of things to bring (complete with mixing bowl for the mom) for teaching that sharing time.

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  26. Kristine A on June 3, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    NewIcon#22, yes there seems to be more partisanship at this time . . . I’m not sure I can accredit it to Millenials. I think the book American Grace: How Religion Unites and Divides us credits the generation after the “Hippie Love Child” to retrenching into ideological extremes after their parents’ experiences weren’t satisfying, at the liberalization of the MIllenials is a response to the over-ideologies of their parents. Or something like that, like there’s a pendulum that each successive generation responds to not wanting to be like their parents.

    I think the political polarization (http://xkcd.com/1127/) you’re speaking of is true, and by in large the bulk of the boomer ideologues are the ones in congress and voting right now. I’m hopeful there will be a movement of moderates in the Millennials.

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  27. Nate on June 3, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    Nice post Hawk. I think prejudice is certainly part of the problem. But I think doctrine or modern interpretation of our doctrine is the real problem, just as it was with blacks and the priesthood.

    (Inborn) homosexuality represents a real threat to our modern interpretation of LDS doctrine. As much as the faithful would like to accept gays and renounce their prejudice, they simply cannot. Doing so would introduce a huge paradox into their religious worldview, a paradox they have no idea how to deal with.

    The paradox is encapsulated by President Packer’s rhetorical question: “Why would God do such a thing? He is our Father!”

    Currently, there does not exist, within our corrolated doctrine, an adequate way to respond to this question. That is the real problem.

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  28. howard on June 3, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    The paradox is encapsulated by President Packer’s rhetorical question This isn’t the only Packer quote that will need to be buried with him when he goes.

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  29. Angela C on June 3, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    Kristine A – that sharing time is gross. I’m about 3 generations too late to appreciate that, and I’m 46.

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  30. Kt on June 3, 2014 at 7:09 PM

    New Iconoclast brought up two interesting points…. ” I think that the idea that marriage is meant to be eternal, and a same-sex marriage can’t be since gender is eternal but same-sex attraction is assumed to be some kind of genetic fault of mortality, drives a lot of the Church’s attitude toward SSM.”
    I agree. Here’s what I’m wondering… Is the proclamation revelation or no? If nit, then that would help this. If it is, then only revelation can overturn.
    Second, now that the church has released an essay distancing them from the literal belief that men become actual Gods, it seems this would bring some wiggle room on gender being eternal, and same sex marriage being eternal as well. Because if we aren’t actually populating other planets, what does it matter?

    NI point 2: “I can’t see why the Church would care what non-members do about same-sex marriage unless the main concern is bringing down upon the Earth the judgments of God.”

    That’s what I can’t figure out either…. If it’s not literally going to effect you, and you truly believe in a God, and it’s judgment, then why do you care what anyone else does?!

    I’m not old enough yo have teen children, but my husband was BIC, his two reasons fir no longer attending: 1. Polygamy/polyandry, 2. The church’s treatment of homosexuality. And to be honest, he’s not the type of guy I ever would’ve thought would care that much about homosexuals being denied love, but he does.

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  31. MoHoHawaii on June 3, 2014 at 7:31 PM

    1/ Interesting post and comment thread. I have noticed this trend in my own extended Mormon family, where virtually everyone younger than 35 is for gay marriage. Perhaps this is because they have all grown up with an openly gay family member for the past 30 years (me), or maybe it’s because they’ve all had gay friends of their own.

    2/ I have to quibble with the idea that “the church is against gay marriage because of a belief that children are entitled to parents of two different genders.” This is of *very* recent vintage and has its origin in politics, not theology. Also, for the record, it’s an argument about adoption policy and child custody laws, not marriage.

    The *real* reason why the church is against gay marriage has to do with the maintenance of gender roles for straight people. The Proclamation on the Family doesn’t mention gay families– it simply prescribes and reinforces gender roles universally. If families headed by same-sex couples were allowed, what possible justification could remain for the exclusion of women from presiding in family and church governance? Basically, none.

    (Incidentally, if you do a survey of global attitudes toward homosexuality you see a direct correlation between patriarchy and persecution of gay people. For example, homosexuality is a capital offense in Saudi Arabia, a nation with very few rights for women.)

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  32. Angela C on June 3, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    MoHo: Good to see you around these parts again! Yes, you are right that the church’s stance, at least as currently articulated is of a recent vintage, although perhaps it is new wine in old bottles.

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  33. John Gustav-Wrathall on June 4, 2014 at 5:07 AM

    Interesting piece… I think it’s a legitimate question to consider the impact of social prejudice on religious beliefs. It’s also a challenge to sort out what is popular belief versus what is doctrine. Case in point: commenters who are not sure whether the Proclamation on the Family is doctrine or not.

    Still, I think the fundamental doctrinal problem has to do with a few verses in D&C section 132 that discuss the eternal sealing of a man and a woman. The Proclamation on the Family basically builds a hedge around that doctrine.

    The Church is in a tight spot– not just in relation to the larger society, but in relation to its own membership and youth. Maybe, lacking a new revelation on this subject, it will be best to simply acknowledge the nature of the doctrinal problem openly, and admit that we don’t have satisfactory answers. Using stinky arguments to uphold the doctrine is obviously only making things worse.

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  34. ajd.ender on June 4, 2014 at 6:39 AM

    Regarding the primary lesson, I refused to teach the second and third versus of the song in the sharing time outline because of its stereotypical gender roles. Unfortunately, no one asked why I didn’t teach it in music time. But, then again, no one here in Edinburgh taught the lesson that Kristine referred to, thank goodness.

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  35. New Iconoclast on June 4, 2014 at 8:29 AM

    Re. the Primary lesson, it simply makes me grateful that I no longer have children in Primary. Good grief. Hawk’s word, “gross,” sums it up nicely, and I’m 49.

    As for the reason for the Church’s opposition to SSM, I think there might be a number of reasons, but I don’t know ultimately that it matters. FWIW, as you-all might have gathered from my earlier comment, I’d agree with MoHo (#31) that the “parents of two genders” idea is recent, and I’d add that it’s probably an attempt to hitch the wagon to social science research that purports to show better outcomes in such families – a notion on which the jury is decidedly still out. It bears mentioning that an awful lot had been done to destroy the two-parent, married Mom and Dad family before anyone ever started thinking seriously about SSM, which has seriously muddled the research waters and the policy alternatives.

    All of that said, my overly simplistic viewpoint is that the Church leadership, isolated and largely circulating among people with the same worldview, failed to see or to believe that the pendulum of public opinion was swinging toward tolerance of SSM. Caught unaware by ballot initiatives in several states, they were forced to either surrender, in effect, or to try to influence legislation. The latter course is, IMHO, deeply flawed and essentially coercive. I do not recall a Scriptural instance in which the Savior lobbied the Roman government to make legal changes to outlaw unrighteousness, and it seems to me that the nature of Christian virtue is not to prevent immorality by making it illegal, but to change hearts and minds to make it unthinkable or unpalatable. The Church failed to effectively “teach correct principles,” and then lobbied the secular government to do its dirty work. Now it’s trying to play catch-up.

    Going one step farther, if the majority of the people choose unrighteousness in their hearts, controlling the law isn’t going to be anything but a stopgap measure. It’s a battle for hearts and minds, not for statutes, and we’d better be fighting it with the Spirit, not with mixing bowls and political campaigns.

    King Mosiah said, wisely, “And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.”

    I don’t think we’re going to avoid that, if that’s what’s going to happen, by defeating the Prop 8s in the voting booth. If that’s what’s going to happen, then bring on the apocalypse; it was inevitable anyway.

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  36. Daniel Smith on June 4, 2014 at 10:16 AM

    I’m curious how MoHoHawaii came to the conclusion that homosexuals are essentially collateral damage in a fight for maintaining normative gender roles. I’ve heard very good arguments that the opposite is the case i.e. female gender roles have been retrenched to exclude effeminate or homosexual men.

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  37. MB on June 4, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    I have family members who voted for prohibition. It wasn’t effective legislation. I have other family members who, in the 1930s and 40s believed that living the Word of Wisdom was a commandment and refused to either encourage, facilitate or take up smoking, even though there was no scientific evidence at that time that smoking was deleterious to health, and many considered it glamorous and attractive and there was even some belief that it was helpful.

    From that I have learned that legislating morality is not effective, though being able to vote on it is a privilege. And I have learned that in regards to some things you may just have to choose what you choose to believe is best and take your stand on faith in that decision until the evidence is clearer.

    Which course of action my family members who remember the 1930s and 40s say was hard for them as children and teenagers when what they chose to believe was considered stupid and naive. Harder now, I believe.

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  38. Katie A. on June 4, 2014 at 12:35 PM

    My sharing time totally did the same activity as Kristine A.’s, and I felt like I was dying inside the whole time. I started making a quick exit every time a certain gender stereotyping song comes up. After one of those instances, I went home and had a blow-out argument with my mother after I expressed my opinion that enforcing gender stereotypes has a negative effect. For some reason, my opinion that husbands and wives should counsel together about career decisions rather than just automatically placing the husband’s career first is “man-hating” and “bitter”.

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  39. howard on June 4, 2014 at 1:24 PM

    Indoctrination of 3 year olds!

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  40. Angela C on June 4, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    Bitter, bitter, now where have I heard that term used before . . . oh yeah, when the Israelites felt their bondage was bitter, one reason they eat bitter herbs at passover. Bitter’s a word I love to see associated with women complaining about inequality. Good one.

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  41. Jeff Spector on June 4, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    “Bitter’s a word I love to see associated with women complaining about inequality. Good one.”

    See it makes “power grab” so much better…. :)

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  42. Katie A. on June 4, 2014 at 4:04 PM

    I guess my confusion arises from continually being told that husbands and wives are equal lol. I don’t understand how husband’s career automatically over wife’s career without discussion is equality. If husbands and wives aren’t equal, then why do we always insist that they are? It can’t be both, folks!

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  43. Angela C on June 4, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    Oh, I’m with you Katie! There should be no default trump card in marriage. Equal partnership or why are we there? I wonder at times about those who lament the fact that women now have the ability to support ourselves should we divorce as if it’s a bad thing for women to be able to be independent if necessary.

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