- Almost ten years ago I attended an anti-gay-marriage rally at the Hawai'i state capitol. Thousands of Mormons, Catholics, and other conservative Christians showed up to say that the supporters of gay marriage were nothing more than a vocal minority. Across the street from us, a couple dozen representatives of that vocal minority showed up to protest the protest. It hurt me to watch the people on my side of the street--the representatives of Christianity--throw insults, profanities, and rocks at the people across the street. Last night, while the Equality Riders of Soulforce led the crowd in singing "I Am A Child of God," a small group of (I presume) BYU students stood behind us shouting, "Soulforce go home!" I was glad to be on the right side this time.
- I am aware of the faults in the ethos-based logic necessary for the implied argument of the above thought. The fact that some people who believe homosexual behavior is a sin happen to be pricks does not mean that all people with that belief are, nor does it mean the belief is wrong. Likewise, singing "I Am A Child of God" does not make Soulforce's beliefs true.
- I was a bit embarrassed today to read Saule Cogneur's criticism of the faulty logic and silly crowd mentality at the rally because yesterday I was sitting right behind him and I was one of those people laughing at the unfunny jokes and mindlessly cheering at "I've been excommunicated three times" and "Five of us got arrested today" and "My son is not gender confused." I was embarrassed because really I agree with Saule. None of those things deserved cheers (except perhaps "gender confused," and that only if the GA who originally said it really was euphemizing "gay," which we don't know for sure but I suspect was the case). I'm not sure why I felt the need to go along with the crowd. I think what it comes down to is that, in a group composed of liberal people and ridiculously liberal people, I feel a need to impress the ridiculously liberal people by showing that I am one of them. Which is ridiculous.
- I went last night because I wanted to hear what Soulforce had to say and because I wanted to show my support in general for gay rights. I was unsure of how much I supported their particular stance, though. BYU, after all, is a private institution and has the right to demand certain behavior of its students. My problems with BYU's--and more broadly, the Mormon church's--treatment of homosexuality is not so much in the organizational policies but in the behavior of a large number of individuals. I am annoyed, for example, by the witch-hunt tactics used by the Honor Code Office to track down gay students and punish them. I am annoyed by the general unChristian attitude that many Mormons have toward homosexuals. However, I am not waiting for the Church to change its doctrine on homosexuality. I know what is right for me and what is wrong for me; I don't need anyone else to tell me what I should or shouldn't do and I know that every individual is capable of making his or her own moral choices. (This is, to be honest, a moot point for me personally because what I feel is right for me in regards to homosexual relationships happens to be what the Church says is right for me.)
- All that said, the speeches last night made me question my neutral stance on BYU's and the Church's policies. It is devastating and infuriating to see repeatedly how Mormon culture produces gay people who feel that suicide is their best option, parents of gay people who tell them they would be better off dead, and peers who tell them they are no better than terrorists. Yes, there is an important distinction between Mormon culture and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but at what point does the organization and its doctrine take responsibility for the culture it produces? The fact is that it is just as hard to hate the sin without hating the sinner as it is to believe it's a sin once you learn to love the so-called sinner. Gordon B. Hinckley has a responsibility to stand by the doctrine he believes has come from God; I do not doubt that. What I, personally, would like to see is (a) evidence that he has actually asked God about this and not just assumed that what has been taught for centuries must be true; and (b) a greater effort on the part of the Church's leaders to teach the members not to act hatefully toward homosexuals. This past General Conference, I think, was at least a start in the direction of the latter.
- I'm rambling. I'm sure I had more to say but I have no idea what it was. I'll stop now.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Various and Sometimes Conflicting Thoughts on Soulforce
You may have heard that Soulforce came to BYU yesterday. Foxy and I took S-Boogie to the rally at Kiwanis Park. When we arrived there weren't very many people so we felt a little silly laying out our big blanket and getting out our picnic food, but later as things got started and the crowd surrounded us and we became a nexus of sorts for a gathering of friends and friends of friends, I felt pretty cool. I'm not sure how to reconcile all the thoughts I've had since then, so I'll just spew them out at you: