Nuance In The Mormon ChurchPosted by Kenna on December 10th, 2012 – 8 Comments – Posted in Bible, Church and State, gay rights, Mormon, politics, religion, Uncategorized
I grew up in a small town with a lot of bible-believing religions in it, including a pretty big group of Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Evangelicals. I had a lot of LDS friends growing up and it wasn’t until college that I started to realize that Mormons weren’t as common as I’d thought. The Mormons I know are pretty chill and wonderful people. They’d never abandon a gay family member and they’re usually game for any of my odd questions about Mormonism. And they like The Book of Mormon: The Musical.
In college, though, I ran into more and more people that thought all Mormons were anti gay and extremely secretive. Then Prop 8 happened and I didn’t know what was happening anymore. A couple Mormon friends and I put together a FAQ about this new website and the Mormon perspective on homosexuality. You’ll probably find the answers to be conservative, but give it a read anyway. There’s things here that you probably haven’t heard before and many news sites a
ren’t reporting on. You should always get your information from the source.
“Why are Mormons so secretive?”
They’re not secretive, they’re just uncommon. You probably just don’t know any. The next time you get some Mormon missionaries at your door, ask away. Also, the Mormon Churches (but not the temples. Temples are members-only.) are always open to the public, so feel free to drop in and get some of those questions answered. Pro-tip: don’t open with “what’s up with Magic Underwear?” or “I heard that during the temple marriage ceremonies that …” Those sorts of things either a) aren’t true or b) super holy things that aren’t proper to discuss with non-members. Do ask about polygamy though. Always ask about the polygamy. They’re very eager for that rumor to be settled down.
“Are Mormons polygamous?”
Nope. Not since the wild, wild, west days. They can tell you all about it though. (Fun side fact: one of my ancestors was Ann Eliza Webb, so I could also tell you all about it, but that’s for another time.)
“Are Mormons anti-gay?”
To Mormons, being gay isn’t a choice. You’re born that way. It can’t be helped. Homosexual urges are normal and sin-free, but acting on them is a sin because any sort of sex outside of marriage is a sin.
“Are Mormons anti-gay marriage?”
Mormons across the board are anti-gay marriage in a Mormon temple. If secular people or non-mormon people want to get gay-married outside of a Mormon temple, that’s their choice and most Mormons don’t really care. But if you want a Mormon wedding at the local temple, God says that proper Mormon weddings are between a man and a women.
“Can Mormons have gay relationships outside of marriage?”
Mormons shouldn’t have sex outside of marriage. Even though the book of Mormon doesn’t specifically talk about homosexual relations, the Book of Mormon is very clear about chastity before marriage and about fidelity to your wife.
“Mormons sound really conservative.”
Yes. Yes they are. But not as conservative as you’d might think. In the US, Mormons are about 20% Democrat and most of the rest characterize themselves as “moderate conservatives,” and don’t really identify with Glenn Beck. There’s a chunk that are very right-wing, ultra conservative, but for the most part, Mormons are moderate conservatives.
“But what about Prop 8?”
Prop 8 has been a headache for Mormons everywhere. As a group, they’re trying to move on and they don’t really like to talk about it. While a lot of Mormons support the *idea* of Prop 8, they were pretty baffled why the Church went full force into California. The Church generally isn’t particularly politically active. Because of their Church’s history, Mormons are pretty big believers in the separation of church and state. Even though the membership is pretty conservative, the Church tries to stay politically neutral.
Some of the more liberal membership flipped a lid, some of the more conservative were hard core into it. Most were a bit surprised, but ultimately were OK with it and went on with life. Within the Mormon community, the debate around Prop 8 and the new website, characterize the difference between so-called “Utah Mormons” and other Mormons.
“What’s a Utah Mormon?”
It’s a very conservative and slightly fanatical type of Mormon. It’s not an official term for an official group of Mormons. It’s just in-group jargon to refer to Mormons that are extra conservative and a little bit holier-than-thou. You don’t have to have ever lived in Utah to be considered a ‘Utah Mormon’. Also not all Mormons in Utah are “Utah Mormons”. It’s just jargon. The character “Elder Kevin Price” in the Book of Mormon Musical is a good example of a Utah Mormon.
As my friend says in their characteristically diplomatic way: “The best way to describe them is a little bit judgmental, naive, and hypocritical.”
“So what’s the deal with the website?”
Prop 8 was a public relations nightmare for the Church, but the website is only partly about reaching out to the public at large. Another reason for the website is to give Mormons a resource to go to when they have questions about their gay son or daughter, or if they have questions about their own homosexuality. But most importantly, it’s an attempt to get the “Utah Mormons” to chill out, because they’re not loving everyone like they should. The message of the website is: We’re all God’s children, so stop ostracizing people. Especially your kids. Seriously.
“Now can I ask about the Magic Underwear?”
Sure. It’s not as weird as it sounds. Mormons call them garments. The garments are a symbol of the covenants Mormons make with God in the Temple. These covenants are basic things that any good Christian should be following anyway. (chastity, etc) They are no different than other religious article of clothing. Priests have their collars, Jews have their yarmulke, other religions have their clothing. The clothes are there to remind us who we are. Mormons just wear them on the inside.