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So Halstead decided that Polytheists weren’t fun, it was time to go after people who had never heard of him, the Mormons. This is in response to the Mormon Church coming out and saying that children of LGBT parents cannot be baptized until they are 18, leave home, and “disavow” their LGBT parent(s).

Carrying on from Halstead

2. The Mormon church leadership has an outdated conception of “family.”

The fact that the Mormon leadership did not at first consider the situation of children of divorced parents shows how out of touch they are with the reality of contemporary families. But even the “clarification” reveals their ignorance of how complex and fluid custodial arrangements can be. The limitation of the policy to children whose “primary residence” is with the same-sex couple is not, in fact, much of a clarification at all. In a society where over half of marriages end in divorce, and shared physical custody arrangements are becoming increasingly common, determining what is a child’s “primary residence” may be very difficult in many cases.

Oh boy.

Just from reading Halstead’s post up to this point (without having read the Mormon stuff he’s linked too) I think Halstead has forgotten some of the stuff he’s relayed. The Mormon Church has considered the situation of children of divorced parents and said “no, sorry, not allowed.”

You can dress it up in fluid dynamics of the Judicual Custodial System, a system which is labyrinthine in nature and Lovecraftian in intent, but the truth is there is not going to be any way to clarify this situation properly. As Halstead says, “primary residence” could be difficult to determine, hence why the basically blanket statement.

But the fact that the Mormon church’s definition of “family” is different from say Halstead or the Legal system’s definition, does this automatically invalidate the Mormon position? In this case, the Mormons are not changing the definition of the word to suit their own interests, they just may be holding to an older status of what a family is/was.

Except that they’re completely acknowledging custodial issues here. Where they’re saying primary residence, I suspect they were trying to say “whoever the primary parent is.” If it is the straight Mormon parent, kid’s good to go because there’s not likely to be protracted battles of the child’s religious practices. If it is the GLBT parent, then the kid is likely to get shit from that parent for practicing a “homophobic faith” and the parent could even attempt to interfere with Mormon religious practices they didn’t like.

I am a lawyer and this is an issue I have litigated in the context of the interpretation of insurance policies. Even the courts have difficulty interpreting insurance policies which bar coverage for “residents” in cases where the physical custody of a child is split between the two parents. In these cases, the child may have a bedroom at each parent’s house. They may keep clothing and other personal belongings at both houses. They may spend roughly the same amount of time at each residence. They may use one mailing address for child’s school and the other for the child’s doctor.

Halstead’s a lawyer.

Huh.

On the one hand, I so very much want to make some lawyer jokes here. I mean, we’re talking about a profession I eschewed going into for moral reasons when I was publicly and privately living as a Neutral Evil individual rather than a Neutral Lawful one like I am today. For those not in the rpg area, Neutral Evil is considered the most Evil because it isn’t bound by laws or driven by a mad desire to commit harm, it is a calculated, uninhibited thing willing to use any methods to sate its desires. I was exactly such a thing, I looked at the legal profession and said….

“Shit, I’ve got too many morals for that. I may be a monster, but I merely want to murder all of humanity, not despoil them in such a horrific manner as that!”

On the other hand, I can’t stop laughing over the fact that I have managed to repeatedly out argue, out reason, and out perform a mother fucking lawyer in this state of theological debating. Holy shit, this guy gets paid to argue and I beat him. This has to be like some random dude off the street beating Jean Claude Van Damme or something. No wonder Halstead has gotten so pissed at me. I’ve beaten him at his own profession (debate)*, and I’m not even supposed to be a contender.

All humor aside though, he is pretty accurate on the legal issues in this paragraph.

 

How is the lay leader of a local Mormon congregation to make this determination when courts and lawyers find it challenging? Does the Mormon church leadership intend the local Mormon bishops (the Mormon term for “pastor”) to try to calculate the days or hours that a child lives with each parent in order to determine whether or not they may by baptized? And will one extra day spent with the homosexual parent really bar them from bar them from the holy sacraments?

I’m going to go with the solution is “ask God, err on the side of caution.”

Look, I know Mormons are considered odd by most Christians and down right…insane by everyone else, but frankly, this is just sounding petty on the part of Halstead.

I’m not saying “how will they choose when lawyers can’t” isn’t a good question, but really, he’s taking it to absurd levels. It’s their religion, it’s their choice, their decision, and they will come up with their own judgements. Frankly where does Halstead even have a leg to stand on in this conversation. At least when he went after Polytheists he was technically in the same religious grouping as us, but Mormans are about as close to Paganism as, well, Jews. Not very. And this isn’t even like me with Islamists, because at least Islamist practices can end up presenting a very real danger to my existence and my religion. But I can’t ever recall hearing how Mormon were insisting on the killing of witches in modern times, nor that they were really into anything except playing off in the corner by themselves because they don’t get other people and other people don’t get them.

holy crap, does that make Mormon’s the “autistic kid” in religious circles? Damn, no wonder I feel kinda sorry for them here.

So really, unless Halstead wants to come out as a gay Mormon…what in here is really his business? This is starting to feel less like a critic on Mormon positions regarding GLBT matters and more like a round of misplace aggression. He couldn’t beat up the polytheists in Paganism, got his ass handed back to him instead, and so now he’s going after the one group of Christians no one really cares about and thinks is weird. He’s spitting fire and brimstone about this, without even addressing any of the moral issues at all.

He’s…just being hateful. He’s not presenting a counter argument to why GLBT should be morally acceptable in regards to his own religion. He’s not even arguing from inside Mormonism about why GLBT should be acceptable in that religion. He’s just screaming “how dare you burden these children” without any understanding of Mormon thought or views. Hel, I doubt he expects much of a response from any of the Mormons.

But I mean, really, if he wanted to talk about a religion whose practices are a burden or harmful to GLBT people and their children…Mormons? Why not Islam, where in even the moderate forms of the religion practiced in moderate Islamic countries, gay people are put to death? Frankly, as something of a supporter of GLBT rights myself, I would rather go after the religion dictating these people be killed more than I would a religion that says “you have to be a legal adult before you get baptized.”

So how about it, Halstead, wanna right an article or two about the present Islamic rulings about GLBT people?

And what impact will this policy have on custody battles where one parent is LGBT? It is easy to imagine a disparate impact on the LGBT parent where the heterosexual parent argues that sole physical custody should be granted to them to avoid the child’s exclusion from full participation in their church.

And the LGBT Parent will scream to high heaven before the court, the media, and anyone who will listen that the Mormon church is an organized hate group trying to ruin their lives because they’re a bunch of homophobic bigots who hate love and don’t want people to be happy and how their trying to “take the child away from gay people” so “the gay parent should obviously get primary custody to protect the child from hateful bigots”

And the Mormon church will shake it’s head sadly, watch the child be dragged off, and say “this is why we say 18 years old and they have to disavow their gay parent.”

Because if they didn’t, even if the Mormon parent got primary or full custody, you can bet there would be all kinds of state observers and child care workers constantly monitoring every single thing that happens to “protect” the child from bigots and homophobes. And if you think being denied the sacraments would be bad, think about how bad a kid would feel being constantly eagle-eyed during the sacraments, knowing that the pastor couldn’t preach the faith properly lest the entire church suffer the wrath of government sanctions for hate speech and cause deep harm to their Mormon parent for any tiny thing the most likely non-Mormon observers would judge as “Bad.”

You know, for a lawyer, Halstead isn’t really putting much thought into the outcomes here.

3. The policy will continue to test the faith of many members of the Mormon church.

The new policy also re-categorizes “same gender marriage” as a form of “apostasy,” in contrast to same gender cohabitation, which is categorized as a “serious transgression.” Other “serious transgressions” include attempted murder, forcible rape, sexual abuse, spousal abuse, intentional serious physical injury of others, adultery, fornication, and deliberate abandonment of family responsibilities. While non-married homosexuals continue to be grouped with rapists and child molesters, the Mormon church now considers married homosexuals to be “apostates,” worse than rapists and child molesters.  Married LGBT Mormons will now be subject to automatic church discipline — not for being gay, but for being married.

There is an expression, “Passed the Rubicon” that comes to mind here. “Beyond the Pale”

My Gay Mormon Coworker (wow that sounds like a 90’s show) is in fact getting married. Much joy is to be had by this, and while they are happy I have also sensed that there is a sorrow in them. They are pretty devout in their faith, if not always capable of the practice.

But here we’re finally getting to why Halstead is so pissed about all this. Mormons consider Homosexuality a Sin. Morally wrong, equivalent to attempting murder, rape, abusing one’s spouse, etc. And of course, Halstead doesn’t like this, not one bit. It’s not his religion, it’s not his morals, and it is clearly, clearly bad. Probably even automatically bad. Sadly, Halstead doesn’t give us his personal reasoning on why GLBT relationships are good, so we cannot judge his foundations against those of the Mormons, but clearly he is displeased that they would consider the act of same sex…sex (and relationships) to be morally objectionable.

Now marriage is a very special thing. Pretty much always has been. It’s found in every civilization that I know of among humans, it’s even found in the animal kingdoms. Religiously, Marriage is the generally second holiest vow you can take in most religions (especially the Christian ones, where in Baptism is the holiest). Even in most Paganisms, Marriage is pretty damn holy. In fact, Marriage is universally viewed as so special that the GLBT community insisted they be able to have legally recognized marriages, despite the fact that they could have the full rights and privileges as partners via civil unions or with a bit of other legal paperwork. But rights and privileges were not enough, Marriage itself must be had.

So marriage is a pretty damn important thing.

So let’s slip from our mortal shells for a moment, our Pagan thoughts and Pagan ways, and look at it like this, objectively.

Same sex relationships and carnal activities are morally abhorrent to the same level as trying to murder someone or beating your spouse for Mormons. We can mostly agree that these things are indeed, morally abhorrent (and displeasing to most of our Gods as well). So marriage, the ultimate expression of sacred romance and trust, then being used to consecrate and consummate such a relationship would have to be like beating your spouse to death, possibly after having raped them.

Which, I think, might actually help us view this. Imagine if (like say happened in Old Testament Judaism, or even some Modern Day Islam) a woman was forced to marry her rapist, condemning her to a lifetime of repeated rape at the hands of her husband. Would we view this as a morally good thing, respecting of the sexual desires and natures of at least one of the people involved…or would we view this as a blasphemy against everything we believe marriage is supposed to be?

If beating your spouse is the Rubicon, then killing your spouse would be passing the Rubicon, The point of no return, you have violated the sacred so horrifically. It would be like shitting on communion wafers or, in Pagan terms, chopping down a sacred grove so you could wipe your ass on the leaves. Or digging up your grandma to fuck the corpse.

That’s how the Mormon’s view this thing.

Now, we Pagans may have different views on GLBT relationships. I myself, though dissenting from the Supreme Courts decision, do support Gay marriage. But I know that my peoples, both Germanic and Roman, have many moral practices and views that are as abhorrent to others as the Mormon view of GLBT relationships and marriages is to Halstead. So I’m really not of a mind to look down on their beliefs and cultures when I know mine are not “universally perfect” either.

And let’s face it, apostasy from the Mormon church is a far cry from apostasy from say Islam, a religion which puts you to death both for apostasy and for being gay. Once again, the Mormons are kooky, but fairly harmless.

But Halstead seems to view this as some sort of hypocrisy on the part of the Mormon church, that the thing worthy of being punished is the act of getting married rather than the state of being gay.

Frankly though, I find this a bit enlightened. If it’s true that one is “born gay” then one cannot help it. It’s like being born left handed or with a hearing problem. But the point with religions like those that are christian is that it’s not about what you are but what you do. You can be gay and Catholic, for example, and as long as you do not practice gay sex, you are not in trouble. The sin is in the action, not in the person. Hate the sin, love the sinner, as I believe Christ is supposed to have said.

What some people may not realize is that there are, in fact, LGBT Mormons, members of the Mormon church who are active in the church life, who have faith in Jesus Christ and the Mormon Restoration, and who happen to be gay.  Just imagine the dedication one must have to Mormonism in order to remain a faithful Mormon as an LGBT person.  And now imagine how this policy will affect their faith.

I don’t know if we’re meeting irony again, but hey, I know one of those LGBT Mormons. And yeah, this shit’s hard for them. Though we haven’t talked about it much, their faith is very, very important to them. To the point where they were just going to live a straight life rather than give into their desires.

And while they are happy to be living their orientation and getting married, I can tell how heavy it weighs on them. As a Theistic Pagan, I think I can understand their pain in a way that someone like Halstead, atheist that he is, never could. He sings lip service to pain, but it is not a pain he will ever understand in the slightest. Except perhaps if he were torn away from his precious earth and made to live on a space station for the rest of his life, ever looking down, but never again touching Terra.

I don’t have to imagine how this will affect their faith or the dedication they have to that faith. I have seen it in them. I hope every day that the one they love is worth it to them, the pain in this life. And given a theistic interpretation of the Mormon church’s position, the pain inevitable in the damnation that likely is to follow such a life.

These policy changes have been deeply upsetting to many non-LGBT members of the Mormon church as well, even some who are not previously bothered by the Church’s stance of same-sex marriage. Some of those who are most disturbed by the policy change are the Sunday School leaders and teachers, those who interact on a weekly basis with the children who will be affected. The policy will also continue to test the faith of Mormons who have LGBT family members. Even if the children do not fall within the scope of the policy for some reason, the change nevertheless sends a message that LGBTs and their children are not welcome in the Mormon pews. In a faith that places such emphasis on the importance of family, this policy sends a mixed message, so say the least.

Moral laws are always hard. There is no denying this. A hard line on moral issues can be both helpful or harmful.

But what if we weren’t talking about something viewed as harmless like GLBT and Marriage. What if we were talking about say Pedophilia?

What if the whole of the USA, or the World, started saying that fucking under aged children was not only perfectly okay, but socially desirable. That it wasn’t an act of rape, but an act of love, between adult and child. Pure, joyous love, and love is never bad or evil!

Now what if say Heathens refused to agree? What if heathens took a moral hard-line on the issue of kiddy fucking. What if say the Asatru Folk Assembly stood up and said “we do not believe that fucking children is morally acceptable, and that those children who live in such families must leave such beliefs and the practitioners of those beliefs behind if they wish to join in with our Folk and engage in our rituals.”

Would we be angry? Would be be horrified? Would we call them bigots? In such a pedophilic friendly world, those words would most certainly be fired off. Would not those who defend a friendly view of pedo relationships also cry out “think of the children!”

This is the problem with debating moral issues. There are those who believe something is acceptable, and those who believe something is not acceptable, and that something will be the same thing. Eating bacon, fucking a dude when you’re a dude, fucking a child, working on Saturdays, having a god, having no god, having a multiplicity of gods, thinking the gods are individuals, thinking the gods are things in your heads, murdering people, etc, etc, etc.

Let’s look back at that list of things the Mormon church finds as serious transgression. Beating your spouse, raping someone, attempting to murder someone, etc. Now if a church popped up and said “we don’t let spousal abusers into our church, and a child must disavow their abusive parent(s) before we allow them to seek salvation” would we really be objecting or would we be applauding them for standing up against spousal abuse? What about if they said “no rapists, etc”? “If your parent goes around attempting to murder people, you must renounce such things before you can find salvation”?

Geez, that sounds completely horrible and morally reprehensible. How dare we ask children to disavow the practices of spousal abuse, attempted murder, and rape before they seek their salvation. Clearly, these Mormons are nothing more than dogmatic bigots to divergent lifestyles who only want to be moral fudydudies and ruin everyone’s fun.

And then there are the children themselves. Imagine telling an eight year old boy or girl who has been raised in the Mormon church that they cannot be baptized with their same-aged step-sibling because their father or mother is gay. One Mormon mother of both gay and straight children wrote to me describing the policy as “a very harsh, almost Old Testament type sacrificing of innocent children over what is perceived to be the sinful lifestyle of their parents.”

Well, the Mormons are a fairly Old Testament people, from what I’ve gathered.

But does this sacrifice children for the sinful lifestyles of their parents?

Even after only reading the edited content Halstead has allowed in his post to make the point he desires…I don’t think so. It does burden these children, something awful, but it doesn’t sacrifice them. Sacrificing them would be saying “you may never have these sacred things because of your gay parent.”

It merely says “wait a bit, wait until you are an adult and you are free to leave such sinful, harmful, evil behaviors behind you forever, when you can renounce such sins without fear of reprisals, and you will be welcomed with open arms to the full rights and privileges of the Church.”

In the Cultus Deorum, there is a concept called “spiritual pollution.” It’s not unlike the concept of being “unclean” in Judaism. I find it fits well here, looking at the ruling of the Mormon church. Given the severity of homosexual marriage and acts in their moral framework, the child could only be polluted spiritually from being surrounded in such things. It would wear on their mind, their soul, every part of them that such things were wrong, but they were forced to live in them anyways. And not only live in them, but essentially support these sinful acts because they rely on their parent to live.

I imagine it would be like a Buddhist child forced to make landmines all day. Such an antithesis of what they believe is good, yet they are forced to engage in acts that support something they view as evil. You don’t have to be a psychology doctorate holder to know what that would do to a child, or an adult.

And what would that look like to the God you swore to obey, if you swore an oath against such things, but then aided in them. If it were merely mortal concerns, such a thing would be treason. And this “treason” would create a spiritual pollution in the child, harming them greatly.

So really, better then that they not be able to make that oath until such time as they would be free to act upon it.

And really, I know this sucks to say, but if anyone is sacrificing the child it would be the gay parent. They’re the ones making the situation “pick me or your faith. Support my sin, committed for my personal gratification at the cost of your soul, or deny your blood family and be a homophobic bigot.”

Frankly, if that was my choice I’d be tempted to just eat a gun. I imagine there are those who were behind this ruling who looked at it the same way, with the same understanding, and decided “the poor child is damned either way, we might as well pick the least damning thing we can.”

Which, frankly…is the choice they have presented. Stay with your parent, be with your family, because you need them. But as soon as you can, reject such moral horrors and we will accept you.

We’ll wrap this up with Part 3

 

 

 

Hela Bless


*Huh, he’s a lawyer, whose profession it is to debate the Law, and yet Halstead insists that debate is something that ruins civilization.

I do believe this is Irony.

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