“Evolving” Attitudes on Marriage Equality

By: Bored in Vernal
February 24, 2011

“It is my strong belief that the government has to treat all citizens equally. I come from that, in part, out of personal experience. When you’re a black guy named Barack Obama, you know what it’s like to be on the outside. And so my concern is continually to make sure that the rights that are conferred by the state are equal for all people.”

President Barack Obama has often acknowledged that his views on marriage equality are “evolving.” In an interview with the Advocate last December, he signaled that he and his lawyers were reviewing “a range of options” regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Since early 2004, Mr. Obama has opposed DOMA, but the Department of Justice has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of duly-enacted statutes. Now the Obama administration has directed the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA in court,, in effect stating that there’s no reasonable defense of this discriminatory law.

Weighing in on Obama’s “effort to erode America” are Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Scott Brown, John Boehner, and NOM (we have not yet begun to fight!)

Those who approve of the decision include Attorney General Martha Coakley, Eliot Engel, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, who now intends to introduce legislation to repeal DOMA.

What I wonder as I contemplate the effects that Obama’s statement will have on the gay marriage debate as well as on America’s legal system as a whole, is whether the LDS Church will find itself evolving on this issue as well. During the Proposition 8 legislation in California in 2008, the Church committed itself to political action against gay marriage, donating vast amounts of time and money to defend a “traditional” definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. Did this action permanently place the Church on one side of the debate, or is there still room for developing ideology?

More and more mainstream church members have been speaking their conscience in favor of gay marriage. Two recent examples are Brent Beal’s blog post Heroic Aspirations, and Mel Selcho’s short video which went viral last week and was featured on Andrew Sullivan. Can the support of a growing number of Church members influence a shift in policy? It has before. Wine used to be used in the temple, now it could keep you out. Polygamy used to be essential for the highest reward, now it will get you excommunicated. Blacks used to be denied the blessings of the priesthood and the temple, now they aren’t. All of these can be seen as the result of societal pressures — the temperance movement, the Edmunds-Tucker act, and the civil rights movement. Are we at the cusp of another possible change in the Church as a result of societal pressures, and what would it take to effect that change? How would members react if the Church were to soften its position on gay marriage? I can only see a net positive, given more inclusiveness. Of course, there could be a negative effect due to older or more conservative members not wanting to change their views. But I think that if the Church ceased to fight against equal rights, even conservative members would follow right along.

There are some issues the Church would have to face were our leaders to decide to evolve. The Church has taught that the law of chastity forbids sexual relationships outside marriage. When there was no homosexual marriage, this denied a homosexual couple any sexual relations if they wanted to be considered to be keeping the law of chastity. When a homosexual couple can now claim that they were chaste before marriage, and faithful within a legally recognized marriage, how are they considered in the eyes of the Church? Can they have a temple recommend? Can they have callings?  Can they baptize their children? As homosexuality becomes recognized in society as innate, acceptable, and legal, will the Church continue to teach that same-sex activity is sinful?

In the gay marriage debate, another specter which hangs over the Church is that of polygamy. If the government no longer specifically defines marriage as between a man and a women, this opens up various alternatives. Would marriage still be defined as between two people of any sex, or would other situations then be legal? Multiple prophets in our church have taught that polygamy is the ideal. It is still a foundational and doctrinal part of our religion, represented in our canonized scripture as necessary for the highest reward. We gave it up just to follow the laws of the land, and NOT because the doctrine changed. And even the “Manifesto” never said that polygamy was “wrong”, it was merely a recounting of a vision of what would happen to the church if it didn’t give up the practice because it conflicted with the law of the land. If it no longer conflicts with the law of the land, should polygamy be reinstated as established by Joseph Smith? I actually see this as causing more turmoil among the Latter-day Saints than allowing married homosexuals equal status within the Church.

One of the more interesting discussions that I think we can have here is how you as a member of the Church react to evolution of doctrine. Does it bother you that  some of the things that were taught in the early Church are unrecognizable today? How do you explain the shift? Is continuing revelation a flexible enough principle to allow for changing doctrine without causing believing members to lose their faith?

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182 Responses to “Evolving” Attitudes on Marriage Equality

  1. Heather on February 24, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    It seems to me that the changes are simply explained by admitting that religion is a man-made entity. Accepting this has been difficult for me. But Occam’s razor seems to be the best explanation.

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  2. jimbob on February 24, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    “Now the Obama administration has directed the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA in court,, in effect stating that there’s no reasonable defense of this discriminatory law.”

    It always scares me when the executive says he will not enforce a law the legislative has passed. I understand the impetus in this particular case–really I do–but this turns the balance of power in the Constitution on its head. And that might be a cure worse than the disease.

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  3. Will on February 24, 2011 at 4:24 PM

    “More and more mainstream church members”

    Except the ones that count!

    As for Obama and his total disregard for the law ignoring DOMA, he should be impeached.

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  4. Chris H. on February 24, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    Before the right wing [edited] get carried away…Obama is not defending the law at the appellate level as Constitutional. That is different than not enforcing a criminal law.

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  5. Will on February 24, 2011 at 5:10 PM

    Chris,

    First, you need to be moderated. Secondly, the Obama administration justice department announced it would NOT defend the DOMA. That would be tantamount to Bush announcing he would not defend Roe v Wade. It is a total disregard for the law and the guy needs to be impeached.

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  6. Henry on February 24, 2011 at 5:12 PM

    This was posted in a northern California newspaper opinion section.

    Gay marriage doesn’t satisfy life’s purpose

    People pushing gay marriage keep saying this is a religious issue. That is not true. Everyone needs to answer the question of “What is the purpose of life?” Leaving religion out of the answer, as well as the Bible and personal opinions, there is only one answer that can be given that will satisfy the laws of NATURE. That answer is: “Reproduce yourself and your species.”

    Can two female or two male marriage partners conform to this law? No! So, this is not a religious issue alone. It is an issue that defies the laws of nature. The animal, bird, fish, insect, and plant kingdoms all live this law. They reproduce themselves as per nature’s laws.

    If any of these kingdoms failed to live this law, their kingdom would become extinct in a short period of time. If the plant kingdom failed to live this law, there would be no food for man or animals to eat. We would soon become a dead planet.

    Only man wants to defy this law of nature. In so doing, they become destroyers of, rather than contributors to, the human race.
    .

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  7. Jared on February 24, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    This post is to mainstream Mormon thought what President Obama’s decision on DOMA is to the US Constitution-completely inconsistent.

    I suggest the following video be viewed by those interested in mainstream Mormon thought on morality.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aCSRbVLQsA

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  8. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    It was the right move, by Obama.

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  9. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    jimbob,

    It always scares me when the executive says he will not enforce a law the legislative has passed.

    Reagan did it too. But he’s Republican. He’s allowed to.

    I understand the impetus in this particular case–really I do–but this turns the balance of power in the Constitution on its head. And that might be a cure worse than the disease.

    no it doesn’t. The executive branch has a right to say if it finds a law unconstitutional. The executive branch has a right to argue in court that a particular law is unconstitutional. I don’t know why you think this scares you. It seems you know very little of the system of government you supposedly approve of. Maybe you ought to study up a bit more on the checks and balances between the three branches of government. You might be disturbed to find that the executive branch has the right to do what you find scary.

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  10. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    Jared,

    I suggest the following video be viewed by those interested in mainstream Mormon thought on morality.

    how is this an attack on “religious freedom?”

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  11. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 5:29 PM

    Will,

    First, you need to be moderated. Secondly, the Obama administration justice department announced it would NOT defend the DOMA. That would be tantamount to Bush announcing he would not defend Roe v Wade. It is a total disregard for the law and the guy needs to be impeached.

    Quick! Call church headquarters! They must be notified at once!

    BTW, how’s it going on calling the church legal department over my blog? Should I add another post with some cuss words on the first page?

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  12. Henry on February 24, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    Dan:
    The blog is for all opinions. I assume no one would be moderated unless you are discourteous or disrespectful.

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  13. FireTag on February 24, 2011 at 5:39 PM

    Chris:

    Before the left-wing [SELF-MODERATED] get carried away, Will has a point about your need to use intimidating language as if it makes your argument stronger. Unless you really ARE planning a coup (thereby proving that the [SELF-MODERATED] conspiracy theorists were actually the sane ones :D ), do you really advocate that laws passed by Congress or rulings of the Courts become reversed as soon as the next Republican gets elected?

    As to the OP, the Community of Christ position for 40 years or so has been that “monogamy is the basic principle upon which married life is built.” Monogamy — not gender. We’ve consistently applied that to polygamy, and I hope we’ll figure out it ought to apply to gay marriage as well before it tears the church into further schism.

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  14. Mike S on February 24, 2011 at 5:51 PM

    Before we talk about impeaching Obama or any other similar statements, I just want to clarify a few things about the government, since there already appear to be some misconceptions.

    We are set up with a system of checks and balances on purpose. There are three branches: legislative – makes laws, judicial – determined constitutionality of laws, executive – enforces laws. These can go back and forth. The executive can choose to NOT enforce laws it feels are unconstitutional. The judicial can declare laws unconstitutional. All three branches have mechanisms in place to “stop” other branches where they disagree. It is a part of our constitution.

    This is NOT a new thing with Obama, but is something the executive branch has always done. There has been controversy about the executive branch NOT enforcing immigration laws. There has been controversy about the executive branch NOT enforcing laws against abortion protesters. Ironically, the president who seems to have done this the most (ie. NOT enforce laws) is actually President Bush. For example: In a report to be issued today, the ABA task force said that Bush has lodged more challenges to provisions of laws than all previous presidents combined. So before anyone talks about whether a president HAS to enforce the laws, they should look at historical precedent and how the checks and balances system is set up.

    With regards to DOMA, it has been challenged since it was first passed. Traditionally, the Justice Department defends lawsuits against federal laws. In this particular case, they have said that they are NOT going to defend it any more as the administration feels it is unconstitutional. In fact, Congressman Barr, who originally sponsored DOMA, has changed his own mind as well and has subsequently said it should be repealed as it violates the principles of federalism (or rights of states within a federal government).

    Just like Bush and Clinton before him (and every other president), Obama can choose to NOT enforce whatever law he feels is unconstitutional. If Congress feels strong enough about this, there are ways they can take up the defence of DOMA in the various lawsuits against it. However, it appears that there are actually going to be motions in Congress to actually REPEAL DOMA altogether.

    Again, there are a lot of feelings about this issue. Rhetoric doesn’t accomplish much. A reasoned argument with actual facts to back it up will do much more.

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  15. hawkgrrrl on February 24, 2011 at 5:57 PM

    Henry: “Only man wants to defy this law of nature. In so doing, they become destroyers of, rather than contributors to, the human race.” I realize you are quoting an editorial that’s spouting ignorance, but let’s not perpetuate it. Comparing SSM to the animal kingdom fails on several points: 1) animals don’t marry and not all species even mate for life, 2) animals do engage in homosexual behaviors, and 3) animals are not subject to human motivations and morality.

    Back to the OP, I would personally have significantly less trouble accepting SSM than polygamy. It’s easy to see why since SSM has no impact to me personally, but polygamy has implications for all of us, at least as described in the OP (as the “ideal” which I clearly don’t accept).

    I guess at the end of the day, I think anything that invites people to come to Christ (within the church) is what we should be doing. Right now, we make it nearly impossible for a portion of people to do so within the church. So if we believe the church is necessary, and if homosexuality is in fact innate, then there’s a conundrum.

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  16. philomytha on February 24, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    If it no longer conflicts with the law of the land, should polygamy be reinstated as established by Joseph Smith? I actually see this as causing more turmoil among the Latter-day Saints than allowing married homosexuals equal status within the Church.

    Long, long ago when I read on lds.org that the church was supporting the federal marriage amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman, my first thought was “But we don’t believe that!”

    But of course they don’t want polygamy to come back. They don’t want it to even be discussed as a possibility. They want everyone to just forget it ever existed.

    I’m convinced that that’s the real issue. You allow gay marriage and bigamy laws don’t have a leg to stand on. Next thing you know, the church’s embarrassing skeletons are front page news again and maybe there are even people in the church who want to practice it.

    The church’s arguments against gay marriage don’t make a lot of sense to me (they eventually come down to: we want to practice our religion so you can’t practice yours). But looking at it as building a hedge around polygamy to keep it from haunting them again, then I can understand why they’re so adamant about gay marriage.

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  17. Mike S on February 24, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    There is a lot of rhetoric already on this post, but it’s actually quite mild. Here are some other examples talking about a “different” type of marriage:

    “This law of [marriage] laid the foundation for prostitution and the evils and diseases of the most revolting nature and character under which modern Christendom groans,…”

    “…[this marriage] system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people.”

    “It is a fact worthy of note that the shortest lived nations of which we have record have [had this type of marriage]. Rome…was a … nation and the numerous evils attending that system early laid the foundation for that ruin which eventually overtook her.”

    The people who said these quotes were Orson Pratt, John Taylor and Brigham Young respectively. The “evil” type of marriage they were talking about was heterosexual monogamy.

    So, not matter how strong anyone feels against a type of marriage that is different from their own, the prophets and apostles have you trumped and felt even worse about YOUR marriage.

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  18. Retief on February 24, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    It doesn’t bother me that doctrines and practices change. If we don’t keep kosher we have to recognize that practices can and will evolve. The kernel of the gospel is true and eternal but lots of the practices we currently require are true and temporal. And some are just foolish traditions of our fathers. If we believe that God will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God then we must expect change. I just wish we could lead the way for once instead of having to wait for the body of the church to be dragged along. The big problem with our theology and homosexuality is the teaching that we have to go the the highest degree of glory as men and women together. I would say as couples, but that ignores the polygamy exception. What it is about coupledom that makes it a requirement nobody knows. But we do know that whatever it is that works for a man and a woman also works just as well for a man and women. it may be that it will be revealed that it also works for any committed couple, or not. We’ll find out.

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  19. Mike S on February 24, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    Back to the OP: Rather than a debate on the merits/evilness of homosexuality (which has been hashed out numerous times), how about any thoughts on the very real issue likely facing the Church:

    Assuming that current societal trends hold and gay marriage is a reality in the next 5-10 years in the United States, if you were in charge of the Church’s policy, how would you respond?

    The doctrine will likely never change, but what would you do on a practical basis. What if you had a member of your ward who was legally marriage to someone of the same-sex to whom they were 100% faithful, and who also had a firm testimony of the Church?

    - Would you let him/her have a calling?
    - Would you let him/her speak or pray?
    - Would you let him/her have a temple recommend?
    - Would you let him/her confirm their child?

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  20. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    those are excellent questions Mike in #19. If I were a bishop under those circumstances, I would follow the guidelines of the church. But I would also instruct my stake president and so on up the ladder that if the policy no longer seems to make sense, that we might consider alternative policies.

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  21. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    Henry,

    #12,

    The blog is for all opinions. I assume no one would be moderated unless you are discourteous or disrespectful.

    My blockquote failed on me. The first paragraph was Will’s quote, not mine. The second paragraph and third paragraph are mine. So it should read like this:

    Will,

    First, you need to be moderated. Secondly, the Obama administration justice department announced it would NOT defend the DOMA. That would be tantamount to Bush announcing he would not defend Roe v Wade. It is a total disregard for the law and the guy needs to be impeached.

    Quick! Call church headquarters! They must be notified at once!

    BTW, how’s it going on calling the church legal department over my blog? Should I add another post with some cuss words on the first page?

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  22. Last Lemming on February 24, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    It always scares me when the executive says he will not enforce a law the legislative has passed.

    Rather than argue, as Mike S has, that there is no constitutional problem with not enforcing the law, I would point out that Obama has not said he would not enforce the law–he simply won’t defend it in court. In the meantime, the law remains fully in force–the federal government will continue not to recognize same-sex marriages. And the law will be defended in court by people who actually believe in it.

    Mike S also states:

    However, it appears that there are actually going to be motions in Congress to actually REPEAL DOMA altogether.

    Perhaps, but it is purely for show. A repeal cannot pass the Democratic Senate, much less the Republican House. If they were serious, they would have tried when they had 60 Democratic senators and a majority of Democratic House members. But they didn’t.

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  23. Chris H. on February 24, 2011 at 6:31 PM

    I apologize for calling Will and his ilk s%&*heads. I actually have more respect for poop than that. Firetag, I think I would have a lot more respect for many of our early Presidents if they had ignored the very Constitutional fugitive slave provision (Constitutional beacuse it was actually in the Constitution). DOMA (signed by a Democratic President…so your other point is irrevalant) is not slavery, but it is clearly in conflict with the full faith and credit clause of Article IV of the Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. DOMA is not.

    I respond to people like Will the way I do because they are not looking for civil discussion. Talking about the Constitution with a Bircher is like talking race with a member of the Klan.

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  24. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    Last Lemming,

    Indeed, those in Congress who are setting up repeal attempts are simply adding to the cultural wars to rally the base more than actually wanting to repeal it.

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  25. Jeff Spector on February 24, 2011 at 6:42 PM

    “The doctrine will likely never change…”

    Actually in a way it has. If the original doctrine was that homosexual relations were wrong period, it has evolved as BIV said to “the same standard applies to Homo and heterosexual relations. NO sexual relations outside of marriage to a legally and lawfully wedded husband or wife.”

    So, if SSM became legal throughout the US, What does the Church do then? While they won’t be required to perform the marriages or seal SS spouses in the Temple, they have to deal with the legally and lawfully part.

    And they would have a hard time going back to the old line.

    As Tevve said, “What do I tell your Mother? Another dream? What does President Monson or his successor tell the Church?

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  26. Jeff Spector on February 24, 2011 at 6:44 PM

    “I respond to people like Will the way I do because they are not looking for civil discussion.”

    Then ignore them and for heaven’s sake, mind your own self. Because it appears you aren’t looking for a civil discussion either.

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  27. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    Jeff,

    The church does currently have to deal with nations that have legalized same sex marriage. I have no idea what they have to deal with in those countries, (like Argentina), but it sure doesn’t seem to me that God has come down to burn the country to hell. So the church must somehow go on on its normal daily routine.

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  28. Thomas on February 24, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    Is continuing revelation a flexible enough principle to allow for changing doctrine without causing believing members to lose their faith?

    Absolutely. However, the more “flexibly” the principle is used, to endow with the mantle of revelation changes from policies that were previously established by revelation, the more some members will draw the conclusion that the Church operates more or less like any other church, muddling through as best it can. And some of those members will find it impossible to square that conclusion with their previous conception of a Church guided by a unique kind of special revelation.

    Re: the President taking a dive on DOMA, it’ll be interesting to see how that squares with the Constitutional requirement that the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

    The argument that the Executive has discretion to decline to defend federal legislation against constitutional challenges is part of an expansive view of presidential power, and is related to the similar contention that the President is permitted to decline to enforce statutes he believes are unconstitutional.

    We last heard about this when there was a big fuss about George W. Bush issuing (as did his predecessors) “signing statements” when signing leglslation. That was supposed to be part of the Rise of the Imperial Presidency and the End of the Rule of Law.

    Whereas the DOMA dive will doubtless be portrayed as the epitome of constitutional righteousness, to which none but kooks could ever object.

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  29. Chris H. on February 24, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    Jeff,

    Like it matters. in the name of civility, W&T will cuddle and encourage Will. Kudos to you. Civility is not a value in and of itself.

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  30. Bored in Vernal on February 24, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    I, too, see the Church’s doctrine on homosexuality as having changed already. Years ago, GAs preached that it was a sin even to have homosexual thoughts and feelings. Now the teachings have softened to exclude actions which flout the Law of Chastity. I believe that legal same-sex marriages will challenge the Church’s position even further.

    I can’t help but believe we will see further change along these lines. As disconcerting as it is, I’ve seen too much change in response to social trends over the 30+ years I’ve been a member. This has occurred in many arenas, from temple ordinances to birth control practices.

    I wonder how people like Jared will react as the Church begins to allow more participation by its gay members. Will this be welcomed, as was the lifting on the priesthood ban? Or will these conservatives continue to cling to outdated statements by former authorities?

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  31. Will on February 24, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    On a serious second thought, I think it is good Obama is pushing his radical agenda. So his challenge to DOMA will eventually be good. These liberal policies, have , and will be painful for while and we will have some significant long term problems, but it will ultimately lead to a course correction. The more liberalism gets implemented, the more the people will see how horrible it is and the more they will demand changes. To quote my old Mission President, “high failure is better than low success”.

    We saw this with ObamaCare. The nation rejected it and the good guys got put in the US house in the last election; and, took State houses across the nation. The good fruits of this are seen in the Mid-West—Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and further east in New Jersey. These now Republican controlled states will dismantle the damage done by the liberals that have run these states. We see it happening before our eyes with the complete dismantling of Unions in Wisconsin.

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  32. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    wow, the tea you guys drink on the right is sure messing with your brains, Will.

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  33. Will on February 24, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    “I, too, see the Church’s doctrine on homosexuality as having changed already”

    Nonsense.

    They will continue to show compassion to the sinner, but will never accept the sin. There is no way the Lord or his church will accept same sex marriage. This is chiefly due to the fact that if they accept same sex marriage, they will accept sex between two members of the same sex. By accepting marriage, they accept the immoral and degenerative practices associated with homosexuals. It is filthy. It is unnatural. It is immoral. It is disgusting. It will never be accepted by God.

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  34. Mike S on February 24, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    Re: These liberal policies, have, and will be painful for while and we will have some significant long term problems, but it will ultimately lead to a course correction.

    There are many things that were “liberal” at the time (meaning different from the status quo) but which ultimately changed. Women now vote. Blacks can be free, can vote, and can even now have the priesthood. Etc. I don’t know that these changes are going to lead to a “course correction”, but I kind of doubt it.

    The thing that these have in common is that they are all EXPANDING individual rights. They empower previously disenfranchised people. I think our society is continuing in that direction.

    I contrast this with the healthcare bill. This was NOT about empowering people. At the end of the day, it was about who is going to pay for health care in this country. It’s a completely different concept.

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  35. Jared on February 24, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    #10 Dan asked: how is this an attack on “religious freedom?”

    Good question. I think the following statement from Elder Oaks gives an answer:

    “Moral relativism leads to a loss of respect for religion and even to anger against religion and the guilt that is seen to flow from it. As it diminishes religion, it encourages the proliferation of rights that claim ascendency over the free exercise of religion.”

    Pres Obama’s decision furthers the cause of moral relativism.

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  36. Mike S on February 24, 2011 at 7:56 PM

    Re: It is filthy. It is unnatural. It is immoral. It is disgusting. It will never be accepted by God.

    Perhaps. But when people make dogmatic statements about what will “never” be accepted by God, maybe some quotes from a prophet might make you think differently:

    You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind

    Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.

    These are from Brigham Young – a prophet. They changed.

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  37. AdamF on February 24, 2011 at 7:59 PM

    Chris H – “Civility is not a value in and of itself.”

    Aw really? But what about GBH and “standing for something?”

    Regardless, I think that’s a “strawperson” argument there… Jeff wasn’t calling for civility purely for civility’s sake. Duuuuuuuh.

    ;)

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  38. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    Jared,

    Good question. I think the following statement from Elder Oaks gives an answer:

    “Moral relativism leads to a loss of respect for religion and even to anger against religion and the guilt that is seen to flow from it. As it diminishes religion, it encourages the proliferation of rights that claim ascendency over the free exercise of religion.”

    Pres Obama’s decision furthers the cause of moral relativism.

    How does President Obama’s decision further the cause of moral relativism? What is the “cause of moral relativism?” What is the “proliferation of rights that claim ascendency over the free exercise of religion?” and how does a state protecting the rights of gays from secular institutions disrupt the free exercise of religion?

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  39. Will on February 24, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    Mike,

    Brigham Young was cleary wrong. Sex between two members of the same sex is different. I say never to this; and, to a whole host of other activity. I say the church will never approve of a man having sex with a dog. I say the church will never approve of a man raping a woman. I say the church will never approve a woman cheating on her husband, or vise-versa. Would you say God would approve the examples I just cited?

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  40. Mike S on February 24, 2011 at 8:07 PM

    When I hear arguments about “religious freedom”, I wonder where the consistency lies.

    At one point in our Church’s history, “religious freedom” meant letting us define our own marriage how WE wanted, even though it was vastly different from and abhorrent to the rest of the country. It meant letting each person decide what “marriage” meant to him or her. If someone wanted to be a polygamist, it was their “freedom” to do so as it didn’t hurt someone else’s marriage in another part of the country.

    Now, “religious freedom” means us deciding what someone else can or cannot call marriage. It means denying someone else the same right to define their own marriage that we fought for in our own church.

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  41. Mike S on February 24, 2011 at 8:08 PM

    Will,

    I have no idea what sex with a dog or rape has to do with this discussion. You’ve lost me.

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  42. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 8:10 PM

    Will,

    Brigham Young was cleary wrong. Sex between two members of the same sex is different. I say never to this;

    Are you suggesting you are smarter than Brigham Young? Are you saying you are closer to God than Brigham Young? Was Brigham Young clearly wrong while you are clearly right?

    I say the church will never approve of a man having sex with a dog. I say the church will never approve of a man raping a woman. I say the church will never approve a woman cheating on her husband, or vise-versa. Would you say God would approve the examples I just cited?

    Those have nothing to do with consensual sex between adults.

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  43. Will on February 24, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    So if I fought for a man to marry a dog, would you join that fight?

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  44. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    sorry the cheating is consensual

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  45. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    Will,

    I don’t give a damn if you want to marry a dog.

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  46. Will on February 24, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    Mike,

    There are things that are just not appropriate and never will be. That is my point. There are absolutes.

    Dan,

    Adultery is between two consenting adults, does that make it right?

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  47. hawkgrrrl on February 24, 2011 at 8:15 PM

    Will – quit being so obtuse. It’s clear that two consenting adults might do things you consider immoral, but an adult victimizing a helpless dog is animal cruelty. The dog (like the unwilling woman in your rape example) did not consent. No one here (and no one sensible) is lobbying for either of those things.

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  48. Will on February 24, 2011 at 8:15 PM

    “I don’t give a damn if you want to marry a dog.”

    But God does and that is my point.

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  49. Will on February 24, 2011 at 8:17 PM

    Hawk,

    Fair enough. Ok, Change that to Adultery. It is consensual. Does that make it right?

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  50. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    Will,

    There are very few absolutes in life.

    As for adultery, it is accepted that adultery is worthy of a legal divorce. Religions are free to act in whatever way they choose with their own members regarding this.

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  51. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    Will,

    But God does and that is my point.

    God also cares that you show love for all but I don’t see you showing this very well. Again, I could care less, but don’t be so self-righteous.

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  52. Jared on February 24, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    #36 Mike S–

    There is no doubt God alters who are the chosen and cursed peoples. Take the Gentiles for example, the people we’re identified with. When the times of the Gentiles comes to an end we will go from the chosen to the cursed.

    10 And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.

    (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 16:10)

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  53. Will on February 24, 2011 at 8:22 PM

    As for adultery, it is accepted that adultery is worthy of a legal divorce. Religions are free to act in whatever way they choose with their own members regarding this.
    Exactly.
    So if these faiths can make these decisions about adultery, then why can’t they about same sex marriage. I claim they should be able to make this decision.

    You might respond, but Adultery harms others. Not necessary true, some people have open marriages. It is consensual. So in this case, should churches accept adultery because some demand it as their civil right?

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  54. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    Will,

    So if these faiths can make these decisions about adultery, then why can’t they about same sex marriage. I claim they should be able to make this decision.

    not sure why you don’t seem to understand this, but no religion is forced NOT to do whatever they want with their members regarding homosexuality.

    So in this case, should churches accept adultery because some demand it as their civil right?

    Who says churches are forced to accept anything?

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  55. Will on February 24, 2011 at 8:25 PM

    Dan,

    By your logic, you don’t care about those that want open marriages. You are a bigot, because your church condems this. Unless, of course, you think open marriage should be allowed in the church.

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  56. Chris H. on February 24, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    adamf,

    Standing for something was a mind numbingly dull and unoriginal book.

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  57. Will on February 24, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    Dan,

    The whole point of OP is to push the church into accepting same sex marriage. I say if they are going to push that, then it is fair to push open marriage.

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  58. Mike S on February 24, 2011 at 8:28 PM

    I agree that there are very few absolutes. There are many things in religious history that I find as abhorrent as some of the things that Will apparently doesn’t like

    - Lot impregnated his two daughters. I find this strange and would consider it incest.

    - Joseph Smith married 14-year-old girls. I find this strange and would consider it statutory rape.

    - JS also married an apostle’s wife while the apostle was away on a mission for the Church. He tried to keep all of these “hidden” from Emma. I also find this strange as well and would consider it adultery.

    But what I consider strange isn’t important. Who am I to judge?
    -

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  59. AdamF on February 24, 2011 at 8:30 PM

    Chris – Heh, fair enough. So if it was dull, that must really mean civility is stupid by itself. Or something.

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  60. hawkgrrrl on February 24, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Is adultery right? Not in my opinion. But it’s finally a question from you on this topic that has a glimmer of relevance. I don’t think that all gay relationships are equal, just as not all straight ones are. There are some that are pure lust, some that are based on deep affection, and everything in between.

    I think your question is really about moral relativism, and your distaste for it. Your view is that morality is absolute: something is right or it’s wrong. The only problem I see with moral absolutism is when a moral absolutist fails to understand the rationale for those moral tenets. When an absolutist can’t speak intelligently about why something is wrong (“God says” doesn’t pass the requirement), we get convoluted comparisons like equating marrying a dog with SSM. But there are absolutists who can articulate their rationale intelligently and persuasively. I wish we had more of those here, because that’s when the conversation gets interesting.

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  61. Chris H. on February 24, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    Adam,

    You lost me.

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  62. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 8:35 PM

    Will,

    By your logic, you don’t care about those that want open marriages. You are a bigot, because your church condems this. Unless, of course, you think open marriage should be allowed in the church.

    Are you really this dumb in real life?

    1. In our secular nation (yes, we’re NOT a religious nation), the government is the sole arbiter for the legal status of a marriage within the boundary of this secular state.

    2. Religions are free in this secular nation to marry whoever they want under religious marriages that have no legal binding within certain limits (thanks to bigots in the past who did not allow polygamy, for instance). Our temple sealings, for instance, have no legal binding in the United States of America, or any other secular nation on this planet. When two people get a temple sealing, they also sign the legal document that is sent to the state indicating their desire to be considered legally wed. However, the temple sealing and the civil marriage have no other relation one to another.

    3. In the secular nation we live in, I believe people should be free to have open marriages if they so desire. I frankly don’t care. It has little to no effect on me, my family, my religion, or my life. Allowing that in a secular environment does not equal to allowing it in my church.

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  63. Will on February 24, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    Hawk,

    Ok, let’s put your logic back on you. You claim adultery is wrong. You monogamyphobe, you . Now dare you judge these people? They just want the right to have a wife and a girlfriend. And who are you to say they are wrong. And don’t say, because God said.

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  64. AdamF on February 24, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    Chris H – Yeah, I feel nervous talking to you, so I don’t speak (TYPE!) clearly enough.

    Here’s what I’m getting at. Jeff told you to be more civil. Rather than say “thanks for the feedback Jeff” you chose the common response of “civility by itself is pointless” in order to justify your abrasiveness. Fair enough. However, none of us here are telling you to be “civil” just for the “sake of being civil.” We’re telling you to be civil (READ: not swearing at people) purely because your message/wit/intelligence/opinions get lost in the profane. It’s a similar process for many online… their noble intent gets lost, and no one is the better for it.

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  65. Will on February 24, 2011 at 8:44 PM

    Dan,

    Again, this is a discussion about same sex being approved by the CHURCH. I say they have the right to stick to their beliefs.

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  66. Dan on February 24, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    Will,

    No one is questioning whether or not the church has a right to stick to their beliefs or “evolve” them. That’s not the question.

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  67. hawkgrrrl on February 24, 2011 at 8:50 PM

    “You claim adultery is wrong. You monogamyphobe, you . Now dare you judge these people? They just want the right to have a wife and a girlfriend. And who are you to say they are wrong. And don’t say, because God said.” Easy. Adultery is wrong because it entails the following: 1) one party benefits at the expense of other parties, 2) it involves lying to cover up(not true if it’s an open marriage arrangement, but you said adultery), 3) it obscures paternity which is a disadvantage to some of the potential offspring, and 4) it’s a breach of contract, a broken vow of marriage.

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  68. Chris H. on February 24, 2011 at 8:53 PM

    Thanks for the feedback Adam.

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  69. AdamF on February 24, 2011 at 8:55 PM

    Lol nice.

    Thanks for playing with this a little too. Sometimes I am more interested in all this process stuff rather than debating the content of the OPs. I’m sure it annoys a few people, but I can’t help it.

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  70. Will on February 24, 2011 at 9:09 PM

    Hawk,

    Ok, what if the wife is ok with the husband having a girl-friend. Or, in a case that I personally know of, a husband arranges a boyfriend for his wife? Does that make it Ok? One party does not benefit at the expense of the other if it is consensual. It is not a broken vow or breech of contract if it is agreed upon by both parties. There is no lying to cover anything up; and, they may feel it teaches their children to have open communication. So if this is the situation and in your logic relating to same sex marriage, the church should allow this type of relationship, right?

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  71. Mike S on February 24, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    What the Church allows and what the country allows are entirely different issues.

    For many years, blacks had the right to marry whomever they wished, to vote, to own property, etc. Yet the Church banned them from the temple. It is legal in the country to drink a glass of wine with dinner. In the Church, this could keep you out of the temple. In many states, two consenting unmarried adults are free to have sex. This could get you excommunicated.

    So, what the Church accepts and what the country allows its citizens to do are VERY different. With regards to DOMA, the country is saying that it is unconstitutional for it to deny marriage between two people of the same sex. Just like in the examples above, this does NOT force the Church to accept it or not. It does NOT make it moral or immoral. It is merely whether the country discriminates against a class of people based on their sexual preference, along with the privileges that accompany marriage in the United States.

    Most people above are conflating the two arguments with what the COUNTRY should/should not allow and what “God will accept”.

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  72. hawkgrrrl on February 24, 2011 at 9:31 PM

    “One party does not benefit at the expense of the other if it is consensual.” That doesn’t always hold true. People can voluntarily enter into contracts to their detriment. They can have poor judgment. People do it all the time. But you are right that it doesn’t make it a broken vow.

    “they may feel it teaches their children to have open communication.” That doesn’t change the fact that it can have negative impacts to their offspring. Their feelings may be self-serving or delusional.

    “So if this is the situation and in your logic relating to same sex marriage, the church should allow this type of relationship, right?” Of course not. The church has the right (as do all churches) to define morality for itself. They should not be (and are not) compelled to define morality differently. The point fails in that you haven’t created a scenario in which there are no issues with adultery. And the church’s official moral stance =/= absolute morality, at least not always, as demonstrated above. Human understanding of morality is flawed, including among church members, church leaders, and all the rest of humanity. But that doesn’t mean that there is no right and wrong. Yet some things are more wrong or more right than others (because of the impacts they have).

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  73. Will on February 24, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    MIke,

    “As homosexuality becomes recognized in society as innate, acceptable, and legal, will the Church continue to teach that same-sex activity is sinful”

    As seen, one of the objectives of this post is to promote sex between two men as normal AND to make that evolve in the Church.

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  74. Will on February 24, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    Hawk,

    It is not a breach of contract either. If a landlord for instance agrees to reduce the rent for a tenant and the tenant then pays less, it is not a breach of contract, but a renegotiation of an existing contract. Being in the landlord business, it happens all the time. Likewise, if a couple agrees to be faithful to one another at the altar, then agrees to have an open relationship it is not a breach of that original contract, but a renegotiation of the contract.

    “That doesn’t change the fact that it can have negative impacts to their offspring. Their feelings may be self-serving or delusional.” Agreed. Likewise, I would same for same sex marriage if they adopt kids. If you call me judgmental for that statement, then I would put it right back on you for your statement.

    “The church has the right (as do all churches) to define morality for itself”

    Agreed, but isn’t that saying ‘God Said’

    “The point fails in that you haven’t created a scenario in which there are no issues with adultery”

    I am not defending adultery, but using it as juxtaposition to same sex marriage. They are both wrong. They are both absolutely wrong. In my opinion, the Lord and his church will keep this belief in perpetuity.

    That doesn’t change the fact that it can have negative impacts to their offspring. Their feelings may be self-serving or delusional.

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  75. Jeff Spector on February 24, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    I think it is a bit pointless to use Blacks as an example for this discussion. the decision to give Blacks the Priesthood was a off-on decision, not a gradual movement toward it.

    As BIV said, the Church has changed it tone and stance toward gays over the past 5 to 10 years. The question is when do they say enough, we move no further, or give in entirely and receive a revelation.

    Do they tear off their beard and uncover their heads? Sorry, another line from Fiddler on the Roof.

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  76. Mike S on February 24, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    Jeff:

    I may stand corrected, but I do think it was gradual. According to various biographies, different church leaders discussed the issue for several decades prior to 1978 (as far back as 1940). There was an investigation as to whether the priesthood ban was a “doctrine” or a “policy”, and therefore what it would take to change it.

    And even in actions it was somewhat gradual. Initially, even a drop of Negro blood was enough to disqualify a man from the priesthood. The situation in Brazil complicated matters. Things were not as clear-cut as they appeared, and it was sometimes difficult to determine race.

    Some “blacks” were determined to be of a different lineage, so around the Pacific, they were given the priesthood. In 1963, Hugh Brown stated that they were doing a survey looking at admitting Negroes to the priesthood. The Church changed its policy from making a potential priesthood holder prove he had no black blood to just one where obvious cases were kept out.

    Pressure mounted from society. Work is held back in Africa and Brazil. Protests are held at BYU. The Church received bad press.

    Finally, the revelation was received in 1978 answering a question that was starting to be asked 30-40 years before and which was becoming a real sticking point. So, it’s NOT an on-off decision. It was NOT a revelation received in a vacuum, any more than the decision to stop polygamy was just done because “God changed His mind”.

    These revelations were either received as a result of societal pressure, or else received coincidently during those times. It may take a while for things to come around, but at some point, the Church is going to have to come up with some sort of accommodation with regards to SSM in a similar fashion.

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  77. Mike S on February 24, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    Will:

    Suppose you are a bishop. A devout member of your ward meets with you. He has been chaste before and after his mission. After much soul-searching, he gets legally married to another man. He is 100% faithful to his partner. He is following the admonition to only have sexual relations to the person to whom he is legally and lawfully married.

    He tells you he absolutely believes in the Restoration, BofM, God, Christ, etc. He feels the Holy Ghost. He is a full tithe payer. He follows the WofW. He approaches you in sincerity asking how he fits in your ward. Hyperbole aside, and knowing that what you say will likely affect his relationship with the Church for the rest of mortality:

    - What would you tell him?
    - Would you give him a calling?
    - Would you give him a temple recommend?

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  78. FireTag on February 24, 2011 at 11:02 PM

    Mike S.: Re 76

    A prophet will be drawn to seek prophetic solutions most obviously by some immediate crisis – how Old Testament Israel can survive in a world where it is caught geographically between regional powers like Egypt, Syria, or Persia; or how the early Christians must respond to the growing political infighting within the declining Roman Empire (with its resulting persecution of Christianity). He will also be influenced by the ferment of ideas emanating from the larger culture and will be drawn to explore the possibilities inherent in those ideas. Similarly, a chess master will not look for combinations at random, but will be drawn to look for them out of the immediate problems to be solved on the game board.

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  79. jimbob on February 25, 2011 at 12:06 AM

    “It seems you know very little of the system of government you supposedly approve of.”

    Dan gets personal and ugly early. Quel surprise.

    “The executive branch has a right to say if it finds a law unconstitutional. The executive branch has a right to argue in court that a particular law is unconstitutional.”

    No, it doesn’t. It might do so anyway, and no one may call the executive on it, but there’s no “right” to fail to carry out laws passed by Congress. In fact, the federal Constitution reads precisely to the contrary: the executive shall “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Our entire system of government is built on it.

    “Reagan did it too. But he’s Republican. He’s allowed to.”

    I assume this is misplaced sarcasm. If so, let me be clear: my point doesn’t change based on who the executive is. It saddens me that yours seems to.

    “Maybe you ought to study up a bit more on the checks and balances between the three branches of government.”

    Thanks, Dan, for that tip (and the condescending tone with which it was rendered). I’ll have to tell my wife that the hundreds of hours I spent neglecting her while doing just that were all in vain. I’m sure she’ll be confused at first, but once I explain to her that some pompous stranger on the internet who doesn’t know me said so, I’m sure she’ll get it.

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  80. Retief on February 25, 2011 at 1:53 AM

    Firetag is quite right. Any reading of the Doctrine and Covenants makes it pretty clear that what was being revealed was being driven in large part by what Joseph Smith was asking and thinking about. Prophets have to think things out in their minds just like the rest of us.

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  81. Henry on February 25, 2011 at 5:03 AM

    Mike S re 76
    You know the answer to that.

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  82. hawkgrrrl on February 25, 2011 at 5:19 AM

    Will: “Likewise, I would same for same sex marriage if they adopt kids.” (that there are negative consequences to their offspring). I am not certain if there are or are not unique negative consequences due to having only one gender as a parent, but I certainly think that’s a valid question. Religions that only have a male deity could be said to have the same issues: overrepresentation of one viewpoint vs. another. This creates unique consequences for a child of either gender.

    “Agreed, but isn’t that saying ‘God Said’” (to the notion that churches have the right to define morality for themselves). No, it’s not like saying ‘God said.’ All organizations have the same right. The Girl Scouts of America can do the same thing.

    “I am not defending adultery, but using it as juxtaposition to same sex marriage. They are both wrong. They are both absolutely wrong. In my opinion, the Lord and his church will keep this belief in perpetuity.” Simply lumping them both into the category of “absolutely wrong” is not a very articulate or thoughtful argument. And there is one to be had here. You’re just not having it when you resort to pronouncements like these instead of providing your rationale. I certainly think that there is room for disagreement on some of these points. To me, that’s a discussion worth engaging in.

    “That doesn’t change the fact that it can have negative impacts to their offspring. Their feelings may be self-serving or delusional.” That’s why I chose those words. We should always be on our guard for beliefs we espouse that are self-serving.

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  83. Will on February 25, 2011 at 6:44 AM

    Mike

    He is not chaste if he is having sex with another man. With that said:

    - What would you tell him?
    To repent

    - Would you give him a calling?
    No

    - Would you give him a temple recommend?
    No

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  84. Will on February 25, 2011 at 6:55 AM

    Hawk,

    Per your last commentary ( I can’t see numbering on my I phone)

    And I have the right to say it is wrong as does the Lord and his Church. They have proclaimed boldly it is wrong. And we as members are free to chose if we will heed their counsel or not, however, we will never be free of the consequences of our choices.

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  85. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 7:01 AM

    jimbob,

    No, it doesn’t. It might do so anyway, and no one may call the executive on it, but there’s no “right” to fail to carry out laws passed by Congress. In fact, the federal Constitution reads precisely to the contrary: the executive shall “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Our entire system of government is built on it.

    like I said, you don’t know the Constitution well. The Obama administration will still “execute the law faithfully”, or in other words, they will still deny gays federal benefits, as per DOMA, but if DOMA is challenged in court, they will not defend it, because it is indefensible. Do you see what I mean by you not understanding the way our government works? You think that if a president says “I now find that this law is indefensible and I will instruct the DOJ to not defend it in court” equals to a president saying “I will no longer enforce this law.” Do you get it yet?

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  86. salt h2o on February 25, 2011 at 7:26 AM

    Point 1:
    Anyone else notice that one Democrats ‘evolution’ is a Republican’s ‘flip flop’?

    Point 2:
    “Crap, the economy is still in the tank, I’m botching up foregin affairs, I won’t cut spending….HEY LOOK OVER THERE!!! GAY MARRIAGE!!!”

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  87. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 7:42 AM

    salt,

    Point 2:
    “Crap, the economy is still in the tank, I’m botching up foregin affairs, I won’t cut spending….HEY LOOK OVER THERE!!! GAY MARRIAGE!!!”

    crap, the economy is still in the tank….HEY LOOK OVER THERE!!! PLANNED PARENTHOOD!!! ABORTION!

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  88. Will on February 25, 2011 at 7:50 AM

    “crap, the economy is still in the tank”

    It will us a while to overcome the massive debt stemming from all the social programs implemented by the left. The reality is we may not be able to solve these economic problems as the left has done a good job at creating too many takers. Too many firmly attached to the government nipple.

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  89. Jeff Spector on February 25, 2011 at 7:55 AM

    Mike S.

    “I may stand corrected, but I do think it was gradual.”

    Yes, I do agree with you there. From both an attitudinal POV for making the change and the definitions of who was “Black.” I guess I meant, for example, they didn’t give the men the Aaronic Priesthood and then extend the MP to them.

    I think the position on Gays has been more inclusive in recent years. But the big changes, if they come, will be equal to the Blacks/Priesthood thing.

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  90. Jeff Spector on February 25, 2011 at 7:58 AM

    will,

    Two wars started by Republicans and the massive bailout of the economy, also started by a republican.

    $1 Trillion plus $1 Trillion equals two Trillion. there is a large portion of your debt right there. Not to mention tax cuts to the wealthy.

    Stop blaming poor and unfortunate people for the problem. It’s not their fault.

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  91. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 8:01 AM

    Jeff,

    Didn’t you know? It’s okay for a Republican to run up the deficits. Saint Reagan tripled our national debt, and now he’s our “greatest president” or some ridiculous crap.

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  92. Will on February 25, 2011 at 8:06 AM

    Jeff,

    Get your facts straight. Entitlements consume the loins share of the budget and are reaching the point where they will surpass our nations total income. Just entitlements. They are the problem. Period.

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  93. Chris H. on February 25, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    Facts do not matter. Ezra Taft Benson would be upset about programs for the poor. He would also be very pissed about a black president. It is all about the ideology. Will is consistent on that.

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  94. Will on February 25, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    Chris

    “Facts do not matter.”
    They do

    “Ezra Taft Benson would be upset about [Goverment] programs for the poor.”

    As is President Monson and they are all right, as the government programs don’t help the poor, but make them dependant and our nation broke. It is a lose, lose situation. The church programs, on the other hand, to help the poor work because they require personal responsibility and accountability.

    “He would also be very pissed about a black president.”

    Replace black with socialist and I am fine with that statement.

    “It is all about the ideology.”
    Applied ideology, yep.

    “Will is consistent on that.”
    Yep

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  95. Tom O. on February 25, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    Re: the contentions over whether SSM violates Churches’ rights to freedom of religion…

    I think the more proper framing of that issue is to say that the tone and tenor of SSM advocates and others within the context of this debate (especially as it relates to criticism of the Church over it’s promotion of Prop 8) seems to say that, while the Church has a right to define and carry out its practices (more on that topic below), the Church does not (or should not) have the right to exercise its freedom of speech on the issue.

    This seems to me to be the real issue. Those who hate the Church’s involvement in Prop 8 are denying the Church’s right to have–and express–an opinion on SSM. That’s fundamentally what Prop 8 was; the Church expressing its opinion. The Church didn’t have a vote, it only had a voice.

    Now, you might not like that opinion, you may disagree with the opinion, you may have not shared that opinion; however, it’s wrong to deny the Church it’s right to free expression. To me, when it comes to SSM, the right to free speech is the more relevant shield for the Church to use than the right to free exercise of religion.

    I’ve read a great deal of platitudes about how nobody is going to force the Church to do this, or practice that, when it comes to SSM. I would point your eyes to Europe, where hate crimes legislation is being used as a club against churches with conservative views of homosexuality or homosexual practice. I assure you, the trend in this country is pointing the same direction; this is the true threat.

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  96. Chris H. on February 25, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    WIll,

    Give me evidence of your Pres. Monson point.

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  97. Will on February 25, 2011 at 8:49 AM

    I heard it with my own ears at a leadership conference. He said something to the effect ‘the government programs pay people to be poor”. I don’t know, and have not looked for this statement from him in written form so take it in that spirit. Also note, he was NOT the president of the church at the time. Along these lines, if you want to take his name out of this and stick with the concept I am fine with that as well.

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  98. Jared on February 25, 2011 at 8:54 AM

    #30 BiV asked: I wonder how people like Jared will react as the Church begins to allow more participation by its gay members. Will this be welcomed, as was the lifting on the priesthood ban? Or will these conservatives continue to cling to outdated statements by former authorities?
    ____________________________

    I’m anti-gay or anti-black, so how the prophets evolve “line upon line…” in dealing with blood & sins of this generation is where you’ll find my support. Pres. Monson and company are the Lord’s prophets, I sustain them as such.

    If you’re interested,I invite you to read my thoughts on the priesthood ban.

    http://www.ldsaliveinchrist.com/2009/12/the-priesthood-ban-for-dummies/

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  99. Jared on February 25, 2011 at 9:06 AM

    #98 Should read, I’m not anti-gay or anti-black…

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  100. Mike S on February 25, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    SSM aside, what if DOMA is appealed with regards to polygamy? What if it was suddenly LEGAL to have a polygamous marriage?

    1) Polygamy was instituted by Joseph Smith. It is as much a part of our doctrine as the Word of Wisdom or the Book of Mormon.

    2) Multiple prophets and apostles in OUR DISPENSATION have denounced monogamy and have taught that polygamy is the ONLY way to get back to the highest level of the Celestial kingdom. For just a sampling of quotes, see comment #17 above.

    3) Looking at the language from OD#1, the underlying doctrine regarding polygamy was NEVER changed. It is merely a declaration to follow the current laws of the country.

    Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise…. I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.

    So, given that polygamy is STILL our canonized doctrine and given that the only reason officially given for not practicing it is to follow the laws of the country, what if those laws are changed?

    Does anyone here feel that we should follow polygamy as instituted by Joseph Smith and as espoused by multiple prophets and apostles if it once again becomes legal?

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  101. Jeff Spector on February 25, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    Willy-boy,

    “Get your facts straight. Entitlements consume the loins share of the budget and are reaching the point where they will surpass our nations total income. Just entitlements. They are the problem. Period.

    Fully understand that and I think that entitlements are too high and need to be worked on. But, mainly from the waste, abuse, political glad handing and the poor economy largely brought about from the recklessness of financial institutions and the government that protects them.

    Not to mention the lack of taxes on high, high wage earners, like the financial people who not only rip us off but get paid to do so with outrageous bonuses and pay. And all the while, the government we elected not only encourages them, but makes it easy for them to do so. And then rewards them with huge tax cuts on top of it.

    Entitlements would go down if the government did not allow jobs to leave the US and reward major corporations for doing so. And, at least not offer incentives them to keep jobs here. That would have one of the most positive effects on our economy and reduce entitlements.

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  102. SLK in SF on February 25, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    Too many firmly attached to the government nipple.

    The most egregious examples being of course Big Oil, Big Money, and Big Guns. (Big Pharma and Big Agribusiness are up there too.)

    And yet it’s somehow “moral” to take from those who have little so that those who already have much can get more.

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  103. Jeff Spector on February 25, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    will,

    “He said something to the effect ‘the government programs pay people to be poor”.”

    what’s interesting is that there was a time when the church discouraged its members from seeking any kind of government assistance instead relying on church welfare.

    That has changed. Bishops, I believe, are counseled to have their members avail themselves of government assistance and then use Church resources to make up for any other needs.

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  104. Will on February 25, 2011 at 9:32 AM

    Mike,

    I am totally with you. Remember that journal I told you about my great-great grandfather with his interviews with Emma. I think see too had a problem with polygamy and I think rightly so. He was an honest guy. In one chapter he talks about how he took on a polygamist wife (my great-great grandmother) and how harshly his wife took the news. She freaked. She wanted to kill my great-great grandmother. It is an odd practice and I don’t understand it. I know it was practiced in the Old Testament. I know the Old Testament is God’s dealings with a polygamist family, but it is still odd to me. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. I don’t know that I fully accept it.

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  105. Tom O. on February 25, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    “Does anyone here feel that we should follow polygamy as instituted by Joseph Smith and as espoused by multiple prophets and apostles if it once again becomes legal?”

    –Only if those holding the keys of that practice authorized it.

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  106. Chris H. on February 25, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    Jeff,

    Will’s critique of welfare fails to take into account the massive overhaul of welfare passed in 1996. That is what applied ideology gets you when you are clueless about actual policy.

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  107. Mike S on February 25, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    A huge problem is defense spending. According to this chart, for example, things went out-of-control in 2002. And this doesn’t include the few trillion costs for Iraq and Afghanistan, which are NOT included in “official” defense spending but are in separate funding bills.

    We could have paid for “Obama’s” healthcare bill 3x over (ie. providing healthcare for 10 years, three time) for just the cost of “Bush’s” wars. Ironically, despite the trillions Bush spent to bring “democracy to the Middle East”, Facebook and Twitter did a better job, and even MADE money while doing it. :-)

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  108. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    Will,

    I heard it with my own ears at a leadership conference. He said something to the effect ‘the government programs pay people to be poor”. I don’t know, and have not looked for this statement from him in written form so take it in that spirit.

    in other words, worthless crap.

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  109. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    Mike,

    Ironically, despite the trillions Bush spent to bring “democracy to the Middle East”, Facebook and Twitter did a better job, and even MADE money while doing it.

    Well said. And Facebook and Twitter are free.

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  110. Mike S on February 25, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    Will: I know the Old Testament is God’s dealings with a polygamist family, but it is still odd to me. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. I don’t know that I fully accept it.

    We actually agree on something! :-)

    I don’t understand polygamy either. I have a huge issue with many of the early members of the church who practiced it. I still think polygamy is abhorrent, and have no desire to practice it myself, but would give someone else in the US the right to practice it if they felt so inclined (barring underage marriage, etc).

    I suppose this is where we differ. In a similar fashion, I don’t really understand same-sex attraction and have no desire for SSM for myself, but just because that is my opinion, I would still give someone in the US the right to SSM marriage if they felt inclined (again taking out underage issues, etc)

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  111. jimbob on February 25, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    “You think that if a president says ‘I now find that this law is indefensible and I will instruct the DOJ to not defend it in court’ equals to a president saying ‘I will no longer enforce this law.’ Do you get it yet?”

    No, I don’t, because you’re not using small enough words, Dan. (Again, your tone is doing serious disservice to you argument. It may be a good time for you to take a breath, stop responding to everyone on everything, and really examine if this type of ad hominem, insulting rhetoric is conveying what you want it to. I can only speak for myself, but I’ve stopped caring whether you are right or wrong, and now just want to see you get egg in your face. I suspect I’m not the only one. I can tell you from sad experience that that’s a very bad place for you to be as an advocate.)

    As to your larger point (above), I think you’re making a distinction without a difference. It’s like a babysitter tasked with keeping the kids safe proclaiming to a parent that while she didn’t stop the 7-year old from beating up the 3-year old, she still did her job, because she didn’t hit the 3-year old herself.

    That said, if you can cite me a case (just one) that even implies what you’re saying is true under American jurisprudence, I’ll drop the matter. Until then, I’m going to have to assume you’re just making this stuff up, and covering up for it with mindless insults.

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  112. Will on February 25, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    “in other words, worthless crap”

    I don’t think it was worthless crap, I tend to agree with him.

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  113. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    jimbob,

    I’ll refrain from the condescension. As per your example, that’s still not correct. It’s as if the babysitter informs the parent that she no longer thinks it is correct for her as the babysitter to stop the 7 year old from hitting the 3 year old, but still goes in to stop the 7 year old from hitting the 3 year old.

    I’m not sure what kind of case you’re looking for. Maybe this one

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=CASE&court=US&vol=461&page=574

    In it, the Reagan administration did not agree with the IRS position and did not defend it in court.

    Like I said, it’s okay for Reagan to do it. Not for Obama.

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  114. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 10:11 AM

    Will,

    It is worthless crap because you demand from us to trust your word at it, with no other evidence. Thus it is worthless crap.

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  115. Jared on February 25, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    A couple of thoughts to add to this discussion.

    I am thinking less and less about the party a politician belongs to. Both parties put us in the financial crisis we’re in. A republican who doesn’t conserve is like a monogamous who doesn’t monog.

    I support those who are working towards reestablishing constitutional principles. I don’t have a great deal of hope that will be successful because the American people are moving away from God, it takes a Godly people to live the principles of the American Constitutional.

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  116. Will on February 25, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    “A huge problem is defense spending.”

    I agree. We are spending huge sums of money building up armaments when the real enemy is within. The taker mentality; the entitlement mentality; the notion you are entitled to someone else’s money. The notion you can pay a small portion into retirement and then expect a check for 40 years. The notion you are entitled to free health care. The notion someone else can pay the bill. It is broken. We have run out of other people’s money. We are paying the consequences of bad policy. People need to plan for their own health care and their own retirement.

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  117. Will on February 25, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    “It is worthless crap because you demand from us to trust your word at it, with no other evidence. Thus it is worthless crap.”

    I don’t care if you believe me and you don’t either. You don’t care what church leaders say, so what does it matter?

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  118. blj on February 25, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Jared in #35.

    Joseph Smith furthered the cause of moral relativism long before Barack Obama put his hand to that plow. See his take on polygamy below, especially the last sentence. You can find it in the Official History of the Church, Vol. 5, p.134-136

    Joseph Smith to Miss Nancy Rigdon, 11 April 1842

    “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. _That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another_.”

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  119. Jeff Spector on February 25, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    “I support those who are working toward reestablishing constitutional principles.’

    That is hard one to argue against. The difficulty arises when it is a question of who makes the interpretation of those principles. that is still part of the fundamental disagreement all around.

    The Constitution was designed to be an “open canon” much as Joseph Smith envisioned for The Church. For a certain segment, it is not true for the country or the Church.

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  120. Jared on February 25, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    #118 blj–

    Whatever God reveals is moral. Moral relativism is the work of men as they dewindle in unbelief.

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  121. Jared on February 25, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    #119 Jeff–

    I agree with you. But they are at least moving in the correct direction, whereas, others seem willing to abandon the constitution.

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  122. Chris H. on February 25, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    Some off the most powerful arguments against moral relativism are secular ones. Divine-command approaches to morality share much with relativism in that both undermine universal morality. It is not prrinciple but the mood of God. Now, I do not accept such a view of God.

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  123. Tom O. on February 25, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Jeff @ 119:

    Agreed, but the process by which the canon was to be added upon is the Amendment process.

    Judges expanding the meaning of the text beyond what is reasonable is part of the problem, not the solution. One reason for this is that is leads the political branches to abdicate their responsibility, “passing the buck”, so to speak, to the courts.

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  124. Thomas on February 25, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    Now, “religious freedom” means us deciding what someone else can or cannot call marriage. It means denying someone else the same right to define their own marriage that we fought for in our own church.

    “Someone else” can call a gravy boat a “marriage,” if he wants to. But that’s misframing the question. The question is what society as a whole will call “marriage.”

    A polygamist is fully entitled to call his relationship with his plural wives “marriages.” But that does not mean that society is required to agree with him, and give his definition legal sanction.

    Again, if two women want to have a ceremony pronouncing them to be married, nobody’s stopping them. There is some sleight-of-hand going on in the framing of this issue.

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  125. Jeff Spector on February 25, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    “whereas, others seem willing to abandon the constitution.”

    I don’t see that happening. what I see is the difference in opinion of what the Constitution might mean and how to a much different world than existed when it was created. As with the gospel, the finidmental principles do not change, the application does.

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  126. Jeff Spector on February 25, 2011 at 12:08 PM

    “Judges expanding the meaning of the text beyond what is reasonable is part of the problem, not the solution.”

    I agree with this completely. However, what this statement typically means is that THEIR judges do this, but not OUR judges.

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  127. jimbob on February 25, 2011 at 12:09 PM

    Here is a good overview of the issue, Dan. Pp. 115-19 frame the issue nicely.

    http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1086&context=wmborj

    None of this is to say that every president since the second Roosevelt hasn’t tried (and largely succeeded) on doing what you’re advocating. I’d only mention that your interpretation puts you in the same camp of people like John Woo, who has made similar arguments about the executive’s expansive ability to interpret the constitution as it sees fit, i.e. that the executive’s interpretation is as persuasive and meaningful as the judiciary’s. That should scare you: I’m moderately conservative, and even I don’t want to be in the same camp as Woo. I think his arguments–and the arguments you make here–are arguments of convenience only, brought out only for the purposes of supporting the issue de jour. Unfortunately for me, I think any time a president does what you seem to be advocating–right or left–he does significant harm to the plain reading of Marbury v. Madison. That disturbs me, because I very much like the plain reading of Marbury v. Madison, and fear *any* executive who does not.

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  128. Mike S on February 25, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    #120 Jared: Whatever God reveals is moral. Moral relativism is the work of men as they dwindle in unbelief.

    Reveals to whom? As members of the LDS Church, we claim this is through our prophet. But we are only around 6 million citizens of the US. But in the US society in which we live, there are likely tens of millions (if not more) who think the “Mormons” are a bunch of quacks and that our prophet does NOT speak for God.

    So, basing a law of the country upon a particular religious leader’s point-of-view is problematic. Additionally, it is the reason people left Europe and came over here in the first place.

    And I’m not sure what you mean by “moral relativism”. As quoted above (#118), even Joseph Smith taught That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. Joseph Smith smoked cigars, drank wine and beer, married young girls and other men’s wives, didn’t wear his garments “day and night”, etc. It takes a tremendous amount of “moral relativism” to consider him a member of the same church to which we belong today, let alone a revered prophet.

    Things change. It has always been so. It will always be so.

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  129. Thomas on February 25, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    Dan,

    It’s not correct that the Reagan administration did not defend the IRS’s position in Bob Jones v. U.S.. The Solicitor General’s office did, in fact, defend the IRS interpretation that Bob Jones University was not entitled to tax-exempt status, because of its policy prohibiting interracial dating and marriage.

    (There’s an LDS connection: Solicitor General Rex E. Lee recused himself, and turned the defense of the law over to subordinates, because he had represented the Church in a similar challenge to the Church’s tax-exempt status, and wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict.)

    The truth is that the question of whether the Executive may constitutionally decline to defend a law against a constitutional challenge is still unsettled. It has never been directly addressed by a Supreme Court case. One case marginally on point is INS v. Chada, but it involved a special circumstance, where for technical reasons the courts allowed Congress to appear in defense of a law, in a separation-of-powers case where the interests of Congress and the Executive were directly in conflict. That case is often cited as impliedly suggesting that — at least sometimes — the Executive is excused from defending a law. But there is no clear holding that this is the case, and it is uncertain that such a rule would apply in all circumstances (as opposed to cases involving conflicts between legislative and executive prerogatives, as was the case in Chada.

    This has been the subject of extensive speculative commentary in law reviews. People don’t write law review articles about subjects where the law is settled and spelled out in elementary black and white. So it probably is not wise to go on a tear accusing others of not understanding the Constitution, because they don’t agree with your position on this issue. Plenty of people who’ve studied the Constitution and precedents far more than either of us, come down on both sides of the question.

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  130. Tom O. on February 25, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    Jeff @ 126:

    I have had the exact same thoughts, but for some reason the best answer I can come up with, from a practical perspective, is:

    Don’t hate the playah, hate the game.

    That is, if conservative judges engage in the same kind of judicial activism that conservatives, more generally, rail against, it’s because the alternative — unilateral disarmament — is an even less palatable option. Left-leaning and statist judges have abused the judicial power to legislate from the bench; conservative judges can cede the field, or try to undo some of the more egregious overreaches.

    In other words, to borrow from the Piano Man, “We didn’t start the fire”.

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  131. Thomas on February 25, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    Jimbob,

    You’re right that the “decline to defend” concept is part of the expansive understanding of executive power — that is, it’s part and parcel with the whole issue of the unitary executive and signing statements and war powers and whatnot that had liberals screeching in the early aughts that we were on a glide path to dictatorship. (They’ve gone strangely quiet now that their guy is continuing to do the exact same thing.)

    That said, Marbury v. Madison doesn’t stand for the position that the judiciary is the only branch entitled to weigh a law’s constitutionality. Marbury has been wrested far beyond its actual holding, which is simply that when a case is brought before a federal court under a particular statute, and the court cannot enforce the statute without violating a provision of the Constitution, the federal court must decline to apply the statute. The evolution of the Supreme Court’s roving commission to issue declaratory judgments striking down unconstitutional legislation is not found in Marbury, and is a later innovation. The idea that the Supreme Court, and only the Supreme Court, can take steps to prevent the enforcement of unconstitutional legislation, is not found in Marbury.

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  132. Jared on February 25, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    #128 Mike S. Reply-Part 1

    “Reveals to whom?” Mike asked,

    You caught me in an assumption. I should have made it clear I was referring to the Jeddah-Christian acceptance of the 10 commandments. Jeddah-Christian morality has been the standard of our country for the majority of people for most of our history.

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  133. Thomas on February 25, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    I agree with this completely. However, what this statement typically means is that THEIR judges do this, but not OUR judges.

    One side advocates fidelity to the original meaning of the text. The other side declares itself unbound by the original meaning. All things being equal, which side will tend to adhere more closely to the text’s original meaning?

    The “everybody does it” argument gets no traction. There are no conservative “penumbras and emanations.” We don’t get to just make stuff up. There has never been, and will never be, a conservative equivalent of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. (Not even Lochner, the 1920s case closest to it, was so thoroughly untethered from any actual Constitutional language.)

    Take the Citizens United case which has everybody so irked. Corporations have been treated as legal persons under the common law about as long as corporations have existed. The one Supreme Court case that addressed the issue, the Southern Pacific case back in the 1880s or so, treated it as a given, and disposed of it with (IIRC) less than one paragraph).

    “Everybody cheats” is more often than not the self-justification of someone who wants to cheat. Everybody doesn’t, and nobody should. Or at least everybody should at least try not to cheat.

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  134. Mike S on February 25, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    Just out of curiosity:

    Knowing the history of our Church, if polygamy were made perfectly legal tomorrow, what are YOUR thoughts on the following (and NO passing the buck by saying “whatever so-and-so above me says”):

    - Would you be in favor of adding another wife to your family to fulfill D&C 132?

    - Would you be in favor of becoming a plural wife if you were a single woman?

    - Would you be in favor of your 16-year-old daughter (legal age in Utah with parental consent) becoming a third wife to a 56-year-old Church leader?

    - Would you let President Monson “have” your current wife as his own if he asked (or would you willingly go if a woman)?

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  135. don't know mo on February 25, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    Mike S for president =)

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  136. Mike S on February 25, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    #132: Jared

    I still ask the same question. There are devout Christian leaders who accept SSM, emphasizing the loving and accepting attributes of God. There are other devout Christian leaders (including our own church) who denounce SSM.

    So, I still ask the same question: is there someone who the country can agree upon as “Speaking for God”? Until we can all agree on who is going to “speak for God” when making the laws of the country, how are we even going to come close to deciding what God wants? (Again – as a secular country and NOT as individuals or members of a particular church)

    Or perhaps we do as the founders intended and leave “God” out of it. Perhaps we make laws that protect the minorities among us and respect each other.

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  137. Tom O. on February 25, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Thomas @ 131:

    It may not be found in Marbury, but The U. S. Supreme Court has declared that they alone (surprise, surprise) have the power to rule on whether or not a particular act of government is constitutional. (See City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997), which interestingly enough was a ruling based upon the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.)

    A legislator may weigh their feelings on constitutionality when they vote for/against a piece of legislation, an executive may do the same when considering whether to sign/veto; but when it comes to affirmative action (pardon the pun) to declare and protect constitutional rights, the Court has made that off-limits to all but the black-robed ones on Mount Olympus.

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  138. Mike S on February 25, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    #135. Sorry. I hate politics.

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  139. Tom O. on February 25, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    Mike S. @ 136:

    I don’t see banning/legalizing SMM as trying to pass God-approved legislation, for the very point you mention. I consider it a matter of letting the people (you know, those whom the government is supposed to be of, by and for) either directly (Prop 8 ) or indirectly through their elected representatives (not through unelected judges) make that decision for themselves.

    And those who are pro-SSM or ambivalent should recognize that if they achieve their goal through judicial action, and not through the representative process, SSM will not be perceived as having legitimacy and the nation will continued to be divided (and those divisions will deepen) into the foreseeable future.

    Go slow, bring people along, implement it democratically and gradually, and allow for differences of conscience. It may not be as psychically satisfying as shoving SSM down those mouthbreathers’ throats , but if the movement would act like grownups and respect their fellow citizens of different opinions maybe the country will be a better place for it.

    The left hasn’t learned the long-term lessons from the abortion battles (which they are now losing).

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  140. Thomas on February 25, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    Or perhaps we do as the founders intended and leave “God” out of it.

    The Founders intended to prohibit an establishment of religion. They most certainly did not intend that God be left out completely.

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  141. Mike S on February 25, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    Tom O:

    I agree with you completely. Unfortunately, in this age of talking faces on TV and rhetoric all over the internet, rationality seems to be in short supply. And that even includes this comment stream, which started off with a suggestion that Obama should be impeached. (comment #3)

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  142. Jacob S on February 25, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    “The “everybody does it” argument gets no traction. There are no conservative “penumbras and emanations.” We don’t get to just make stuff up.”

    That’s a pretty rosy picture of the conservative judiciary. Both sides, of course, play the same game. Conservatives use the penumbra when it suits them, and they come up with “creative” interpretations of Constitutional provisions like the interstate commerce clause.

    And there is no “original intent.” The Constitution was created by a group of diverse men that had to compromise and fudge and disagree and the like. You can’t cherry pick one or two framers and call their opinions of the document “original intent.”

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  143. Tom O. on February 25, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    Jacob @ 142:

    I certainly think this is a correct view of the framers of the Constitution; however, I have a hard time (for a number of reasons) that those framers would be quite surprised that Article I, Section 8 (the interstate commerce clause for the benefit of those following along :) ) of their document could justify something like the national government prohibiting a farmer from growing and consuming his own wheat (Wickard v. Filburn) or establishing “gun safe school zones” (U. S. v. Morrison).

    I just can’t rationally accept that these men would craft such a finely balanced and carefully worded document, and then grant their new creation unlimited and unchecked power through the ability to regulate commerce among the states.

    Most appeals to the commerce clause to justify federal legislation are made in either ignorance or bad faith.

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  144. Jared on February 25, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    # 128 Mike S—Part 2
    Mike said:. Joseph Smith smoked cigars, drank wine and beer, married young girls and other men’s wives, didn’t wear his garments “day and night”, etc. It takes a tremendous amount of “moral relativism” to consider him a member of the same church to which we belong today, let alone a revered prophet.

    You brought up many points, far too many for me to attempt to offer my opinion on in any detail, but I would like to offer something on this topic.

    When I first became aware of some of the history you mention, I was overwhelmed. I think anyone who wouldn’t be isn’t willing to face facts. As I looked into the details, I soon learned that what at first seemed like Joseph was a fallen prophet, actually turned out to be something far different. I might add, by this time, 1971, I had received enough manifestation of the spirit I couldn’t doubt that Joseph was God’s prophet, but could he have fallen, was my concern.

    Approaching young women for marriage, Fanny Alger and Mary Elizabeth Lightner, for example were very troubling to me; clear evidences of one of two things: lust or revelation. As I learned more about this issue I came across a talk given my Sister Lightner. She gave it at BYU in 1905, she was 87 years old. According to her, the answer was revelation. She told Joseph she wouldn’t think of marrying a married man unless an angel revealed it to her; she testified the angel came. The link is below.

    With this and other historical accounts I turned up, it put the issue of Joseph being a fallen prophet to rest for me.

    The Lord has told us He will have a tried people. I believe Him, I think the Lord has allowed the history of the church to be a stumbling block as a trial for those in our day. Heber C Kimball, prophesied of a time like we now live in. It is the second link below in another comment.

    This is how I have personally dealt with the stumbling block of church history and doctrine. I’ve studied them in depth, starting in the early 1970′s, long before the internet and apologists . But best of all, everything Joseph Smith said would happen to those who used his revelations to find God has happened to me. I have no doubt Joseph was and is a prophet.

    http://www2.ldsfreedom.org/node/12

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  145. blj on February 25, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    Jeff #120

    Actually it sounds to me like God might be the ultimate moral relativist. It’s too easy to give God (or in this case, his earthly representative) a pass on the “it’s not okay to marry a bunch of women, except in the circumstance in which I find myself” –but then hold everyone else to a higher standard. Don’t you think?

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  146. Jacob S on February 25, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    I totally agree that Congress can and has overstepped the bounds of certain sections, but I also don’t think that Congress or “liberals” or whoever treats the Constitution as some meaningless document to be nodded at and then ignored. When you look at the document as a whole, our government demonstrates a high amount of fidelity to its principles with the occasional overstep (like with the Commerce Clause from time to time, although that is a clause with a huge amount of wriggle room), than the other way around.

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  147. Jared on February 25, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    #142 continued

    Heber C Kimball prophecy:

    I just copied a small part as related by President Lee.

    Elder Kimball said:

    This Church has before it many close places through which it will have to pass before the work of God is crowned with victory. To meet the difficulties that are coming, it will be necessary for you to have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves. The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess this personal knowledge or witness will fall. If you have not got the testimony, live right and call upon the Lord and cease not till you obtain it. If you do not you will not stand. Harold B. Lee, BYU, June 28, 1955.

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  148. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    Will,

    #117,

    I don’t care if you believe me and you don’t either. You don’t care what church leaders say, so what does it matter?

    I care what church leaders say. Show me where he said it. And this “oh, i heard it in some meeting somewhere” does not count.

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  149. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    jimbob,

    #127,

    Once again, disagreeing with a certain law, and instructing the Justice department not to defend that law in a court proceeding is NOT THE SAME as not “faithfully executing the law” as set by Congress. On the issue of DOMA, the Obama administration will continue discriminating against homosexual couples, as per the law. They just will not defend it in court. FAR DIFFERENT than what Woo suggests a president can do which is, as you note, to simply disregard the law completely. What Reagan did and what Obama is doing is still following the law, just not defending it in a court proceeding.

    Finally, I am tired of being nice on this so if you proceed further down this, because I feel I have explained it quite clearly, then I shall resort to French taunts toward your elderberry smelling father and your hamster mother.

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  150. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 1:38 PM

    Thomas,

    The issue here is not the unresolved nature of whether a president can decline to defend a law in court. Jimbob is stating that Obama (and earlier Reagan) were disregarding the law completely. There is no evidence that in either case the law was disregarded. That’s why I’m quite frustrated that jimbob is still pursuing that path. Anyone who claims Obama is disregarding the law is not understanding what is actually going on.

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  151. Jared on February 25, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    #136 Mike S said: is there someone who the country can agree upon as “Speaking for God”? Until we can all agree on who is going to “speak for God” when making the laws of the country, how are we even going to come close to deciding what God wants?
    _______________________

    America has living prophets as a result of the restoration. The vast majority will not receive it.

    28 And when the times of the Gentiles is come in, a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel;
    29 But they receive it not; for they perceive not the light, and they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men.
    30 And in that generation shall the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 45:28 – 30)

    In our day, many are rejecting every form of the Jeddah-Christian tradition. The Book of Mormon prophets tells us what eventually follows (2 Nephi 1:11).

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  152. Jacob S on February 25, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    Here is a link, by the way, to a letter from the DOJ to Sen. Hatch in 1996 (then chairman of the judiciary committee) which illustrates some of the many times the DOJ has declined to defend a law in court. This is certainly not unprecedented, and is not in any way the same thing as Yoo and the unitary executive stuff. In situations like this Congress will typically send a lawyer to defend the law in federal court, though with split houses it’s not clear if the House (controlled by Republicans) is allowed to send representation without the Senate (controlled by Dems) being on board.

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  153. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    Jared,

    #151,

    Why hasn’t God yet destroyed Amsterdam? Or Argentina…they recently legalized gay marriage.

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  154. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Jacob,

    #152,

    Thank you for sharing that list. It truly is amazing how little some people really understand their own government.

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  155. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    Jared,

    #151,

    Also, with regard to the scripture you quote, it seems you assume that God’s light is to discriminate against homosexuals. And that we turn away from God when we no longer discriminate against homosexuals. What do you think God is talking about in that scripture?

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  156. Mike S on February 25, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    #151 Jared

    I absolutely understand what you are saying and won’t argue with your interpretation. I have been taught this my whole life.

    For the sake of this post, however, my point is that you are basing what the country should do on an LDS-interpretation of LDS-scriptures. Bluntly, this frightens the majority of the country. It would be like Tom Cruise telling a lawmaker what the “right” law is based on his interpretation of Ron Hubbard’s writings. Or on David Koresh’s interpretation of Seventh-day Adventist writings.

    We do live in a religious society. We are all entitled to our opinions of right and wrong. But even within the LDS Church, we can’t all agree on what is right or wrong. Therefore, it is difficult to appeal to “speaking for God” when it comes to political matters.

    It is my opinion, therefore, that my opinion doesn’t really matter. The goal of our government should be to protect the minority and help keep order. If people want SSM and it can’t be proven to harm any other citizens, it should be allowed. If we want to reinstate polygamy and it can’t be proven to harm any other citizens, it should be allowed.

    I think it is more important to use politics to protect minority groups and make our country as free as possible, and to use religion to promote morality.

    But again, that’s just my opinion.

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  157. Jared on February 25, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    #154 DAn–

    Legalizing gay marriage isn’t the issue that will lead to the events of the last days.

    28 The earth was corrupt before God, and it was filled with violence.

    29 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth.

    30 And God said unto Noah: The end of all flesh is come before me, for the earth is filled with violence, and behold I will destroy all flesh from off the earth.

    (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 8:28 – 30)

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  158. Jared on February 25, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    #155 Dan–

    As far a I can tell, the church would never have entered into the political arena with the gay community if they had left marriage as it has always been defined-between a man an woman.

    But their not content with having gay unions with all the legal rights of marriage, they demand more.

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  159. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    Jared,

    I see that you’re quoting the scripture that describes the world in the days of Noah, because another scripture indicates the Last Days will be like those in the days of Noah, with the wicked being the violent ones. This is slightly off topic, but I do want to address this. Um, who is advocating violence in the world today? Are any Mormons advocating violence toward other people of the world? Has our prophet supported violent action against other people? If the answer is yes to any of those, would not Mormons be wicked along with everyone else who advocated violence in the Last Days, as per what occurred in the days of Noah?

    as for your #158, has the church ever advocated against any other rights that the gay community has advocated for? If you state that the church would never have sought a battle with the gay community if the gay community would have just been fine with being discriminated against vis a vis marriage, that would imply the church had not previously fought against the gay community on any issue. From my recollection, this is not the first time the church took up a fight against the gay community.

    In any case, I am still curious to gather from you your understanding of what light God is talking about in D&C 45. What is this light the Gentiles will reject, and what makes you think it is related in any way shape or form to gay rights?

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  160. Jared on February 25, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Dan,

    This post is about marriage, but when I provide D&C 45 it wasn’t my intention to say the light that would be rejected dealt directly with marriage in any form.

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  161. Jared on February 25, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    I’m leaving for Friday date night with my girl friend, aka, my wife. :-)

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  162. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    then why would you provide that scripture when it doesn’t even relate to the post? Unless you’re trying to frighten us with the pain of God’s wrath…

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  163. Douglas on February 25, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    #77 – (Re: TR to a man living “faithfully” in a SSM?)

    Answer: Not no, but hell no…Church doctrine and practices are not dictated by the laws of the land. Unless some “revelation” comes that living in a homosexual “marriage” meets with the Lord’s approval, said young man is still liable to Church discipline for “lying with another man, as with a woman”. It’s like asking did the Church suspend adherence to the Word of Wisdom following the passage of the 21st Amendment (repealing the 18th that enabled the Volstead Act), of quirky coincidence the “clincing” state was Utah…
    A more relevant question might have been, suppose two young homosexuals wanted to have an LDS bishop perform their marriage (in a state recognizing gay marriage) in the LDS building, and were refused. Would they have grounds to sue, and should and/or the Church be in danger of having its tax-exempt status removed? Do keep in mind that IMHO though I don’t agree with the theology and practices of Bob Jones U, the IRS and the Reagan Administration were way out of line in threatening denial of their tax-exempt status simply because BJU forbad interracial dating. If it was consistent with their religious practices, then they had every right to institute said policy. Of course, being Libertarian, I would simply advocate the abolishment of the Federal Income tax altogether (replacing it with nothing as proposed by the late Harry Browne) and questions as this would be instantly rendered moot.

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  164. Dan on February 25, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    Douglas,

    A more relevant question might have been, suppose two young homosexuals wanted to have an LDS bishop perform their marriage (in a state recognizing gay marriage) in the LDS building, and were refused. Would they have grounds to sue, and should and/or the Church be in danger of having its tax-exempt status removed?

    Can a bishop currently deny services to anyone he wants to in the LDS church building? Or can, for instance, a rock band request to perform inside the church building and then sue when they are rightly denied? In other words, this is not a concern because a bishop can deny services in a religious building. In other words, a bishop is perfectly allowed to discriminate against whomever he wants.

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  165. Thomas on February 25, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    they come up with “creative” interpretations of Constitutional provisions like the interstate commerce clause.

    The “creative interpretation” of the Interstate Commerce Clause is the interpretation that it gives Congress the power to (wait for it!) “regulate interstate commerce.” It’s the other side that got “creative,” turning the Commerce Clause into a general federal police power.

    How more creative can you get than the Wickard v. Filburn decision, the start of all this mischief? That’s the one where a farmer growing grain on one side of his farm, and feeding it to his chickens on another, was found to involve “interstate commerce.” Because, you see, if the farmer had not grown his own grain, then he would have had to buy it on the open market, which affects the national price of grain, which affects interstate commerce.

    The “creative” conservative re-evaluation of Commerce Clause jurisprudence, is simply restoring it to what it actually means: Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce.

    Conservatives use the penumbra when it suits them

    Cite a case where a textualist justice (Thomas, Scalia, Alito, Roberts, or Rehnquist) ever cited the “penumbras and emanations” doctrine, other than to make fun of it.

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  166. Thomas on February 25, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    Dan,

    Jimbob is stating that Obama (and earlier Reagan) were disregarding the law completely. There is no evidence that in either case the law was disregarded. That’s why I’m quite frustrated that jimbob is still pursuing that path. Anyone who claims Obama is disregarding the law is not understanding what is actually going on.

    Jimbob is overstating his case, as was Will in suggesting that Obama should be impeached. The truth is that this is a gray area of Constitutional law, as is the case of “signing statements.” Declining to defend DOMA represents a (relatively) aggressive assertion of executive prerogative, as were the previous assertions of Presidential war powers from the Truman administration onward. But where the law isn’t clearly spelled out and settled, it’s not right to say the President is “disregarding” the law.

    Not that it stopped people from doing just that over and over again over the past decade.

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  167. mcarp on February 25, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    I’ll admit I haven’t read all the comments, but here’s my thoughts.

    1. The LDS church’s views will evolve much more slowly than President Obama’s views will evolve.

    2. The church authorities and/or PR spokespeople will use this as evidence that the world is getting corrupt. (i.e., the Dalin Oaks talk referenced earlier).

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  168. Mike S on February 25, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    Thanks all for the conversation today, especially those with whom I disagree. I always like to hear different viewpoints. And in reality, this discussion has actually been more reasonable (for the most part) than I expected.

    Now, off to the Linkin Park concert tonight :-)

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  169. Thomas on February 25, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    Jacob,

    And there is no “original intent.” The Constitution was created by a group of diverse men that had to compromise and fudge and disagree and the like.

    No. Which is why the better reference is to original meaning. After all, all those diverse fudgers did finally get together and compromise and turn out a text, whose words had an objective meaning. To the extent the original meaning of those words can be discerned, that is what has legitimate governing force.

    It’s one thing to acknowledge (as we must) that some Constitutional language is more ambiguous than other provisions. It’s another thing to say “and therefore,” we are liberated from any duty at all to apply the original meaning, insofar as it can be discerned.

    The liberal school of Constitutional interpretation is basically to say that the Constitution protects broad values like “liberty” and “privacy” — and so anything we can characterize as falling within the scope of those values, is Constitutionally protected. Uh-uh. The Constitution protects liberty and privacy by means of certain specific language. If that language can reasonably be seen as encompassing a set of facts that isn’t specifically addressed in the Constitution, wonderful. That’s what the law is all about — applying general principles to specific facts. What’s not proper, is to go up one level of generality from the language of the text, and apply that inferred principle to specific cases that don’t fall within the ambit of the text.

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  170. Jeff Spector on February 25, 2011 at 11:17 PM

    Thomas,

    “One side advocates fidelity to the original meaning of the text. The other side declares itself unbound by the original meaning.”

    This is an overblown statement if there ever was one. since, like the bible the words of the constitution and the “intent” of the framers is up for debate, this is just not true. If we take this as literal as you mean it, then the original Consitiution did not include the Bill of Rights. So, are you in fact advocating not having the Bill of Rights because it was not included in the “original” constitution.

    If one adheres to this so-called strict interpretation of the Constitution, then some of the amendments should be null and void simply because the framers did not intent for those things, like equal protection, women’s right to vote and free slaves to be part of the law of the land.

    And the framers must have intended for Presidents to serve as long as they liked because that was not addressed either, even though George Washington would only serve two terms.

    The “everybody does it” argument gets no traction. ”

    And why not, it is true.

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  171. Thomas on February 26, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    o, are you in fact advocating not having the Bill of Rights because it was not included in the “original” constitution.

    One of the things that gives me hope that one day every tongue will confess I’m Right, is that the people who disagree with me, tend to do so based on the most spectacular misunderstandings of what I’m arguing.

    You seem to think that the textualist interpretation of the Constitution is somehow inconsistent with the amendment process. Why? The amendment process is spelled out, right there, in the Constitutional text that textualists try to be faithful to. The amendments (from the Bill of Rights on) were duly enacted according to the procedure contained in the Constitution itself. That’s all we threecorner hat-wearing kooks want: If the Constitution says something, follow it. If you don’t like it, amend the Constitution. Don’t just read things in or out of the Constitution, that aren’t or are there, just because we don’t like it. A “living Constitution,” whose meaning is infinitely flexible, is no Constitution at all.

    since, like the bible the words of the constitution and the “intent” of the framers is up for debate, this is just not true

    In one sense, everything is up for debate, in the sense that anybody can claim any old meaning he wants for any text. But if someone were to interpret 4th Nephi (for example) as standing for the proposition that God hates ducks, you’d think he was either dishonest or a fool. Because there’s simply no reasonable, honest way of interpreting the text to arrive at that conclusion.

    The “living Constitution” school of interpretation is like that. Its advocates pretty much acknowledge that in the case of the most well-known examples of that doctrine’s use, like Roe v. Wade, the justices knew from the beginning what result they wanted: They were going to declare abortion a Constitutional right. They worked backwards from there to cobble together an argument from the actual text of the Constitution. That is the opposite of what a judge ought to do, and the men who thus betrayed their obligation to do impartial justice are, in my humble opinion, surely sitting somewhere in Lawyer Purgatory, where they will have to draft responses to Requests for Admissions for ten million years as penance for their sins.

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  172. Jeff Spector on February 26, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    Thomas,

    “You seem to think that the textualist interpretation of the Constitution is somehow inconsistent with the amendment process.”

    Actually I don’t. I just want to know how far back you want to go to interpret the framer’s “original intent.” Because the Bill of Rights was not there when the original constitution was ratified and signed.

    Which of the amendments do you consider illegitimate because they are not in keeping with the framer’s original intent? Equal protection? women’s rights? Freeing of the slaves.

    Just how far do you take this “framer’s original intent?”

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  173. Thomas on February 26, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    I just want to know how far back you want to go to interpret the framer’s “original intent.

    A few posts back, I explained that textualists don’t use the term “original intent.” The better term is “original meaning.”

    And you really do seem to be under the misimpression that even the term “original intent” means that the only thing Constitutional originalists pay attention to is the original, unamended Constitution. No. Originalism means fidelity to the original Constitution, including the Constitutional amendment process. Amending the Constitution is the proper, Constitutional means for keeping the Constitution updated to changing times.

    Thus, in answer to your question, “Which of the amendments do you consider illegitimate because they are not in keeping with the framer’s original intent? Equal protection? women’s rights? Freeing of the slaves”, the answer is none of the above. And no textualist or originalist would disagree. The amendments are all legitimate, because they were all enacted with the consent of the citizenry, according to the Constitution’s own amendment procedure.

    That’s what “original intent” means. It absolutely does not mean that the Constitution must be frozen in amber in 1787. It’s not just the guys in wigs and knee breeches whose original intent matters — it’s the original intent of the framers of every portion of the Constitution. Including the amendments.

    What originalists/textualists object to, is taking Constitutional texts (either the original Constitution, or the amendments), and projecting onto them a meaning that is known to be different from the meaning the text had when originally enacted.

    The only reason a Constitutional text has any governing legitimacy, is that at a given point in time, the people, through their representatives, consented to enact a certain set of words, which had an objective meaning at the time they were enacted. To govern according to a different understanding of those words, is to govern according to a meaning that has never been founded in an expression of popular consent.

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  174. Jeff Spector on February 26, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    Thomas,

    I understand what you are saying and probably agree with what you written here. the problem I have is it just isn’t true of certain groups. That do not exhibit that much flexibility with regard to the Constitution and its original meaning, as you have expressed it.

    Ror example, you’ve stated that Roe v Wade was decided from the decision back. Well, I suspect you have no proof of that, only because it conflicts with your own philosophy. Just as there is a very broad interpretation of the second amendment, The Roe decision took on a very broad interpretation of the nineth and fourteenth amendments. You may no like it, but it is just as valid for a Supreme Court to us that as they have with the second amendment.

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  175. Thomas on February 26, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    Jeff, the difference between the abortion decisions, and the Second Amendment decisions, is that there is Constitutional text that says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    There is not a Constitutional text that says “the right of the people to have abortions shall not be infringed.” Nor is there any reference to “privacy.”

    The weakness of Roe’s Constitutional reasoning is not a matter of partisan opinion. Just about everyone who writes on the subject any more, acknowledges that the reasoning was a charade. More properly, the reasoning just isn’t there:

    What is frightening about Roe is that this super-protected right is not inferable from the language of the Constitution, the framers’ thinking respecting the specific problem in issue, any general value derivable from the provisions they included, or the nation’s governmental structure.”

    – Prof. John Hart Ely

    “One of the most curious things about Roe is that, behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.

    – Laurence Tribe

    These guys aren’t conservatives.

    Roe is based on an earlier “privacy” case, Griswold v. Connecticut, where a right to use birth control was found based on this gem:

    Specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance

    Anyone who has ever graded an undergraduate essay exam will recognize this instantly as Grade A bullspittle — the kind of filibustering you do when you don’t have anything substantive to say, and are praying that the TA will give you at least a couple of points for effort.

    What the man was saying was that you don’t have to constrain yourself to what the Constitution actually says. The actual text has “penumbras,” you see — fuzzy aura-like force-fields that surround the actual words, which only judges can see. And judges can make decisions based on those fuzzy penumbras, not just what the law actually says.

    If I tried to make that argument in a normal court, the judge would either laugh or yell at me, depending on his temperament.

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  176. Chris H. on February 26, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    Larrty Tribe does support Roe. Conservatives like to say that even liberals think that Roe is bad. As somebody who is very familiar with liberal approaches to constitutional law, I am unaware of any who actually feel this way. While the Tribe quote hints that this is the case…I have read his entire book on aborttion. Most of the criticisms from pro-choice scholars tends to be of Blackmun’s opinion writing style, a style many have found lacking.

    As a moral argument, I find Roe compelling. I think it propertly places abortion within a medical context.

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  177. Will on February 26, 2011 at 10:18 PM

    mcarp

    “The church authorities and/or PR spokespeople will use this as evidence that the world is getting corrupt. (i.e., the Dalin Oaks talk referenced earlier).”

    And they would be right.

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  178. Jeff Spector on February 27, 2011 at 8:07 AM

    Thomas,

    ““the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

    I think you forgot the modifier her that IS the object of the disagreement on the intent of the amendment, namely, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”

    I do not know of any individual gun owner who is part of a well-regulated militia, who is not issued a weapon, if necessary by that militia, namely the National Guard, police departments or other STATE-run agencies.

    Also, I can find if I was inclined, which I am not, a dozen other opinions on Roe which would contradict those you wrote. What does that prove?

    The point was that any supreme court, comprised of any group of judges, will find the precedents that match their decisions. Whether or not they conform with the framer’s original meaning.

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  179. Jacob S on February 27, 2011 at 8:42 PM

    Thomas,

    “No. Which is why the better reference is to original meaning. After all, all those diverse fudgers did finally get together and compromise and turn out a text, whose words had an objective meaning. To the extent the original meaning of those words can be discerned, that is what has legitimate governing force.”

    There is no difference between original intent and original meaning. In both cases you are trying to find a single objective interpretation to something that never had one. The framers surely agreed to a single text, but as you are well aware most of the text itself has varying degrees of ambiguity and the framers themselves never agreed to a single interpretation.

    I agree that the text, the words themselves, have to be touchstone of Constitutional interpretation. They do have to mean something. I guess the difference we might have is that I think we do a pretty decent job, with the Constitution as a whole, of giving them meaning. When the government abuses the Fourth Amendment we have a clear understanding of how and why. When Congress clearly abuses the commerce clause, like in the Morales example you gave above, the Supreme Court can coherently knock that legislation down. I don’t think we’re so off base. Where we have differences I think they are legitimate differences of interpretation, not instances where the Constitution has been ignored completely.

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  180. Thomas on February 28, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    Chris H. — Harry Blackmun was not an unusually poor writer, nor were his gold-plated law clerks. When that kind of elite talent turns out a poorly-written legal opinion, the chances are good that the problem isn’t just that Harry Blackmun had a case of writer’s block one day; it’s that you just can’t put enough lipstick on that particular pig.

    As a moral argument, I find Roe compelling. I think it propertly places abortion within a medical context.

    Great, but judges aren’t supposed to be making “moral” arguments. They’re supposed to be making legal ones, and they do violence to the principle of self-government when they act beyond that capacity.

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  181. Thomas on February 28, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    Jeff,

    I think you forgot the modifier here…

    Not hardly. Addressed it at length earlier.

    I’m genuinely curious: How, grammatically, do you interpret “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed” as limiting the right to bear arms to the militia?

    If I wrote “My wallet being empty, I could not pay for lunch,” you would understand me to mean that because my wallet was empty, therefore I could not pay for lunch.

    Just like “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents.” It’s a clause that explains the background and purpose of the substantive declaration that follows.

    Under the basic framework of English grammar, the phrase “A well regulated Militia being necessary for the security of a free State….” ought to be understood as an explanatory, prefatory clause, not as a substantive modifier. (The addition of too many commas — by the printer, not the Framers themselves — makes the phrase grammatically flawed, but doesn’t change the underlying meaning.)

    And as it happens, that grammatical construction is consistent with (1) the fact that the term “People” in the Bill of Rights always refers to individual, not governmental, rights; (2) the generally accepted understanding of what the right to bear arms meant at the time, informed by Blackstone, who was pretty much the legal authority of the day; and (3) the writings of the major founders. This is a case of creating ambiguity where none reasonably exists — and then turning a blind eye to the ample external evidence, with none contrary, that would suffice to resolve any remaining ambiguity.

    In any event, it’s one thing to have a disagreement about what a purportedly ambiguous Constitutional text actually means. It’s another to invent rights out of “penumbras and emanations,” when there isn’t any text there at all.

    Case in point is the whole substantive due process doctrine. The Constitutional text says that you can’t be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. That is, the state can deprive you of life, liberty, or property, but only if you have “due process,” which has been (more or less) reasonably elaborated to mean a fair hearing and chance to defend yourself. Liberal legal theorists then read into that text a doctrine that some liberties are so important, government can’t deprive you of them at all, hearing or no hearing. I simply don’t see how you can possibly derive that meaning from the actual text.

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  182. Thomas on February 28, 2011 at 1:05 PM

    The point was that any supreme court, comprised of any group of judges, will find the precedents that match their decisions.

    I am probably coming across here as boosterish and partisan. Hurray for our side and all that. I don’t mean to be. To the extent textualists and originalists are influenced by subjective biases (and being human, it surely happens), they’re not living up to their principles, and ought to be criticized.

    That said, this puts me in mind of how to many people, the only sin they recognize is hypocrisy. They are literally gleeful when a person who makes a show of trying to live morally, is caught in a cheap Indio motel room with a hooker and a goat or whatever. The fact that people often don’t live up to their high ideals, is evidence — to them — that the ideals are unachievable. And so they are excused from even trying.

    Same thing here. The argument is basically that all judges are biased and subjective, so nobody needs to even try not to be.

    My impression, though, is that a person who at least tries to live up to an ideal — though he will sometimes fail — will generally fall short less, than someone who just says “screw it.” The substantive due process doctrine is inherently more susceptible to bias and subjectivity than a more textualist approach. And as a matter of fact, you do sometimes see conservative judges ruling against nominally conservative causes. I just ran through some punitive-damages decisions, where the conservative justices — who or course are supposed to be corporate stooges — declined to reduce punitive-damages awards against corporations. Because the Constitution just doesn’t support such a decision.

    A conservative equivalent of Roe, would be a Supreme Court decision outlawing abortion. That would never happen, because the Constitutional justification for a decision just isn’t there, any more than it was for Roe.

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