So I’ve gone over Halstead’s article on the Mormon Church deciding that the children of GLBT parents not be allowed to be baptized or offered the sacraments until age 18 in parts 1 and 2. Part 3 is about some post thoughts.
My own history with Religions vs GLBT is one of conflict. On the one hand I support the rights of GLBT peoples to live as they will free of as much molestations as possible. On the other I support the rights of the religious to believe and practice their own morality as free of molestation as possible. Due to moral reasons, these two objectives often clash. Each side views the other largely as morally repugnant, an evil to be verboten. And I sit, somewhere in the middle, wishing we could all just have peaceful lives.
As I was working on the latest Halstead post, I came across a post by the only Catholic blog I follow, written by (oddly enough) a faithful gay catholic (he prefers the term same sex attracted though), DN, called Catholics Cannot View the Moral Law as Arbitrary.
I’m not going through the whole thing (it’s worth a read though) but just a few relevant bits. DN is also a theist.
I think its easy for us to sometimes believe that, yes, there is good and evil, but that the distinction is arbitrary, in that God could have declared the things that he considers evil to have been good, and vice-versa. As Fr. Nelson said, we can tend to believe it is like driving on the right side of the road. It is wrong to drive on the left side of the road, you can die, be injured, fined, etc. But it could be ok to drive on the left side of the road. The choice to make the right side the right side was arbitrary, and in fact, in alternative universes like England, it is in fact ok to drive on the left side.
Going over Halstead’s post, and the debates over the last several, I would say that Halstead is much in the “morality is arbitrary” camp. He’s not Theistic, so any “moral teachings” the Gods give us would be our own personal gnosis based on “head creatures” or something like that.
For Halstead, saying GLBT lifestyles are sinful and morally wrong is a choice, an arbitrary choice, one that can and likely should be changed to a more “accepting” morality. It is people choosing to hate an action, a lifestyle, etc. So they can always just choose to change that view.
This is of course, by all accounts, an arbitrary position of Halstead’s as well. No reasoning, foundation, or defense of his view of GLBT matters was presented as he tore into the Mormon church. He believes what he does for…whatever reasons suit him. But as he is a non-theist, I can presume that his reasons are not upon some great moral foundation derived from ancient religions or the divine word of any God. It’s like driving on the right hand side of the road. It’s good because everyone else says it’s good.
The problem is that this line of thinking is not even close to the reality of the moral law. The moral law is what it is because God is who he is. Let me say that again: the moral law is what it is because God is who he is. Murder is not a sin because God says so, but because God is so. Murder is wrong because God is the God of life. Marriage isn’t between a man and a woman because God says so, but because the union of man and woman is the image of the creative power of God.
This extends into the Polytheistic realms as well. The Gods aren’t simply beings in our heads, they are fundamental foundations to the very workings of the universe. A moral law put forth by a God, any god really, has the same weight, power, and validity as say a physical law such as gravity, which legislates that things which go up must then come back down. Gravity is what it is not because of some arbitrary “well, I think things that go up must come down,” but because it is was it is, that things which go up will come down.
While there is numerable difference between Mormonism and Catholicism, both churches come from this theistic understanding of the Divine and how divine moral law works. It is a view largely shared as well with most other forms of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Pagan and Heathenism, etc.
We respect the ancestors because Hela wills that respect, and that respect is as much a fabric of the universe as the ground beneath my feet. Hela is that Respect (among many other things) because she is Hela. Thing will die because Hela wills it, Hela is death and things must die.
We go to War because it is Sacred to Bellona. Bellona is war and war is Bellona and there will always be war. Because this is the nature of the universe.
It is this level of reality, of foundation, that is the Christian (and Muslim and Jewish) basis that Homosexuality is a sin. Their God is Real, their god is the foundation, and the foundation of the world predicates that GLBT acts are as wrong as something going up and never coming back down.
Now, the foundations of their world are not the foundations of my world. My foundations are different Gods, with different natures to theirs. But I can respect their foundation, the same way I ask that they respect mine. After all, Heathenism is a religion which dictates that homosexual sex is “unmanly” (and thus something of a bad thing in a culture where even the women were “manly”) but also teaches that oaths are to be respected even if they are not “manly” oaths. (Hence why I support gay marriage).
And it makes me understand more why the Mormon church has taken the position they have, not just for political reasons, but for moral ones. I can’t say I agree with their morals, because I don’t. But it is not my place to dictate what it is they be allowed to believe and do, at least because they’re not actively trying to kill those who disagree with them.
The Mormon church hasn’t said to go out and kill gay people, merely that they are not welcome in the church if they get married and that their children will not be allowed certain spiritual rights until age of maturity. Certainly, not the worst fate out there for GLBT people or their children.
Now, this is not to say GLBT people are not freely entitled to live the lives they please so long as they do not break the law (I feel this way about pretty much any group). But like everything, everyone is entitled to their space and the right to believe as they please. Mormon and GLBT people alike. In the case of making moral judgments, we have to acknowledge there is no real objective standard. One is no more right than the other, and if we wish to have the respect of others, we must first respect them. As offensive as what the Mormon church has done is to many people, allowing outside forces to go in and “correct” their choices only opens the door for the same to happen to us.
Halstead, in denouncing the Mormon church for standing by their beliefs and tacitly implying that some force should go prevent this “bigotry” is merely laying the foundation for the same to happen to him. He has basically handed Polytheists the ability to come in and dictate what his Paganism should be, because he feels he can go in and dictate what what Mormonism should be for certain Mormons. Certainly, he is acting as a voice for Mormons and others who disagree, but then I have acted as a voice for those who disagree with him. If it was bad for me to do so to him, to point out what was offensive, incorrect, or otherwise “wrong” with his Paganism…then he cannot be right to do the same action to the Mormons.
Mormon leaders don’t get it? It, presumably being Halstead’s “correct” morality. But like anything theistic, Halstead also doesn’t get it. Sometimes, morality is just what’s inside your head. Sometimes, it comes from somewhere, someone, else. One can assume one or the other is the superior form of morality, but I find it mostly best as long as someone is keeping to some moral code, long as it doesn’t try to kill people simply for violating it.
It is unfair, but everyone has moral positions they do not flex on. Maybe a little understanding for our non-violent neighbors about their inflexible moral issues could take us a bit further than screaming at them because they believe something differently than we? I choose to think so.