Sunday, January 11, 2009

In Which SeagullJaap Gives Up on Something

So over the past couple of months, I have been pondering and reflective on certain actions that my Church has made- namely its involvement in the Proposition 8 campaign. And in all honesty, I have been somewhat, as John the Revelator says, "lukewarm." I haven't really supported the Church's view but I haven't been exactly too supportive of the LGBT communities' point of view either. I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. And last night, I finally came to a divine realization of what I need to do. I need to finally take a stand, even if most of my friends disagree with it. Many of my friends call me wishy-washy, a theological impossibility proposer, and all kinds of other things. And perhaps even in this stance, I will seem absurd. To many I will be just another lukewarm individual. But I proclaim, here and now, that I have my own stance- separate from both my Church and the LGBT community.

But I finally came to this realization: I disagree with what the Church did. Immensely. I do not think that Proposition 8 was a divinely inspired mandate from God. I don't see their logic or their rationale for becoming involved. But, this said, I am now ready to renounce all my questioning on it, because, frankly, I am tired of it. I am tired of trying to hash out a logical explanation for why the Church did what it did. So, in this sense, I officially declare here and now that I dissent from my leaders on this issue. When the prophet has spoken, the thinking is not done. As much as I would like to say that I will agree with my leaders on everything 100%, I cannot, I will not. I must stand up for that which I believe to be right. And call me what you may, apostate, a devil-child, a spawn of Satan, deceived by another Spirit, I will stand steadfast in my belief that I dissent.

So what does this mean for my testimony, my faith in the Gospel, my trust for my leaders? I think initially with Proposition 8, I stood by them fast and true, in my transition from a doubter in the fundamental claims of the Church to one who was discovering the miraculous power of the Gospel that we find in the Church. But as I came to evaluate the situation, I became more and more doubtful of our leaders real motivation for this. I had such doubts. And finally, I came to the realization that I did not and that I do not agree- I did not meet eye-to-eye with them on this issue and that I probably never will. I am not saying I support people to participate in gay sex or anything of the sort, but what I am saying is, I have finally realized that to me, I just don't care. The Proposition 8 campaign is irrelevant.

This campaign doesn't change the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embraces the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just because of this political move, I am not going to leave the Church. I believe the Gospel is true. I believe the Gospel is found in the Church. And I think I finally realized that the more I poke and prod at this particular issue, the more I realize how much I will never understand. My weeks of prayers and communications with God have taught me that perhaps I am not meant to understand right now. God gives me comfort and feelings of joy. And while I have such doubts about the divinity of this call for the Saints to preserve traditional marriage, I will still listen to my leaders and seek for myself the conformation I seek.

And for some, that won't be good enough. Some believe we are asked to walk by a faith, expressing no intellectual thought or prayer in our decisions. I personally think, often, this belittles the God that I know and love so deeply. God asks me to think things out, struggle, and ponder before I ask him for conformation. And perhaps the best part of this is the reason he does this. God doesn't give easy answers but he always gives loving answers. Even if he calls men to repentance or for us to change our ways, it is always through a loving voice. His arm is forever extended.

And for some, again, I will seem apostate. And others will attack me. Others will ask how can I consider myself to be a Mormon if I disagree on this issue. A friend of mine often reminds me, that this is my Church just as much as it is yours. So, no matter what you think- I have a firm testimony of the Gospel.

This campaign hurt me. I saw members of the Church behaving in a way that was very unbecoming of the Church. And one the reasons I finally came to the realization that I must ultimately dissent. And here I take my stand. That I disagree with my Church. And that is that.

I love my fellow men and I must, in my way, love them. I want to proclaim the Gospel, or the good news, of Peace and Love, calling men to come unto the ever merciful Lord. And I think I have finally realized that this is the best news of all.


Michelle said...

While I ended up on the other side of this issue I respect your opinion. We MUST have room in the church for doubt. Keep writing. It's good stuff.

Catherine Agnes said...

Jacob: I am pleased to see you take a stance although you know I disagree with it. I will reiterate once more: always loving; sometimes loving with a whip. =)

I'm sorry if I've deepened your pain over this issue by continually fanning the flame.

My stance and your stance on this issue remind me a little of Belnaps BOM lesson about Alma and Amulek: the one always comforting, the other always warning. :) Both approaches are good, and you are good.

Thanks for discussing this fascinating issue with me for the past few months. I have one more blog post to make about it that I think you won't find hurtful.

Just lift where you are; I know that you will lift with kindness and I may lift with force. We each lift where we are.

Seagulljaap said...

You are kind. I am grateful that some people don't view as some apostate lunatic. I respect people's opinion, I just ask them to evaluate themselves continuously in an effort. And thank you for reading my blog, I love to write and hope to use it somehow in the future. Also, you keep up the writing too. I find myself enthralled! Send my love to your oldest child- what a kid!

You didn't really cause me to just give up, if anything you led me to this stance. I think the reason I need to shut out the debate is not because you have fanned the flames towards more hurt, I feel like you have actually fanned the flames for positive change for me. I think here, like I mentioned earlier tonight, we are fighting right and right. We come to this realization as we meet to, in our one way, work out our doubts and our convictions. Faith is a kind of doubt, as I have proposed. To have faith we must doubt the world around us and preconceived notions of how the world works. And perhaps now that I am taking a respite from my Prop 8 angst, I can focus on other things like Adam-God, gender roles, etc.

PolarBeccaBear said...

We went over this at my Institute class a while ago...
I took the same stand as you, only my reasoning is different.
I don't think that by taking a stand and disagreeing with the move means that you are disagreeing with the church.
You are disagreeing with a man that represents the church; there's a difference.

I love the prophet dearly, but I think that he made a mistake in making ANY sort of move to tell members how to behave in regards to a political issue that, yes, is based on ethics/morals, but is more important to society as a whole, in general, rather than the church's own society.

But in the end, I guess, it's how the actual, singular members became involved, because they are the ones to represent the church even more so, in some strange way.

I didn't ever feel bad about my stand.
I am not Jesus. It's not my right to literally judge homosexuals and their partnering habits.
I can only chose to avoid those things in my own life.
Choice and accountability, yo.

Don't feel bad about disagreeing.
It's your God-given right to.


Erik said...

Great post Jacob.

To me the most interesting part of hotly contested debates like this one is what happens in the aftermath. From fiends living in various parts of California I hear of missionaries being stopped on the streets and thanked by all kinds of people, especially people of ethnic minority races. I hear of strong friendships established between people of various congregations. The recent fighter jet crash in San Diego led to hundreds of frantic "are you alright?" calls between newly formed friendships still being maintained after the campaign.

Personally, I have a new found comfort in talking to gay friends about issues important to them. I have a much greater understanding of what motivates them and what scares them. And I think of them less in terms of "us" and "them". Many barriers have fallen.

From my point of view more good has come from this than bad. I think I would feel the same way if the proposition had failed. I hope the "other side" has gained greater understanding of their opposition too.

As for members of the LDS church who disagreed with the church's stand; I still love you. There are so many issues where we still seek understanding. We are not clones and we will never all think alike. I just hope we can all seek charity and friendship along the road to shared understanding of the really critical issues.

Anthony E. Larson said...

This may or may not be helpful to you, but you may wish to read my take on Prop 8:

Seagulljaap said...

Interesting to see who comes out of the woodwork, as it were, when I post this. Thank you all for your comments. I hope you visit frequently and offer unique insights.

PolarBeccaBear- I would love to hear your Prop 8 story.

Erik- I can see the positive, in some regards, but I ultimately think is not going to be a positive for Mormonism on any count. I will blog about that soon. And thanks for dropping by, and thank you for your shear reason.

Anthony- Great post. I never thought of it that way. Visit often!

daine said...

I approve, and not just because I personally agree with you. It seems that there are quite a few people who read your blog who disagree with your stance, so I applaud your courage to post what many consider unforgivable blasphemy (although not necessarily the people who posted here).

I also think that good in the long-run will only come from our Prop 8 actions if they were right. It's a very narrow view to look at anecdotes or even statistics to see whether good will come of our foray into politics. If the Church really was inspired to fight against gay marriage by any means necessary, let whatever consequences come which may and I will endure them in the name of faith. If, however, the Church over-stepped its proper bounds by meddling in politics unnecessarily and for the wrong reasons, then we may have hurt the progress of the Church. "No unhallowed hand" can stop the work, but our collective anointed hand, if it is used unrighteously, just might be able to derail the progress of the progression of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Heaven forgive us all if our small-mindedness and fear has interfered with God's work.

Petra said...

I think for every bit of anecdotal evidence of how this campaign helped the church there's a piece of evidence for how it hurt, and so that, as Daine said, we can't really see the effects until we have much more of a long-run perspective. (Speaking as someone who disagrees with the Church's actions and who lives in California, I can say that I've seen far more negative consequences than positive, if only because I've been more attuned to them.)

And good for you for deciding on your stance, particularly in a place where it's not a popular one.