Thursday, August 1, 2013

More for Jaime

This started as a Reply in the Comments, then became too long, so now it's a post.  To follow the conversation, go to the previous two posts and read the comments.

Dear Jaime,

If you've got time, and you'd like to get to know me a little better, here are some of my more recent favorite posts: (if it works)

To the Grinning Kid in the Middle of the Twelve-Passenger Van With Mismatched Sandals and a Chocolate Chin  To the Grinning Kid in the Middle of the Twelve-Passenger

and Elevator Story  Elevator Story

I wonder if there is such a thing as death by laundry.


I know I tabled the discussion, but I don't like the idea that I'm going to the family reunion and that I'll be sitting around talking, maybe about this.  I obviously wanted to start a discussion, but now that you and I are talking one-on-one, I don't want it to be you talking to my family.  I want these to be my words. ( I don't have time to edit, though, so please try to get the main idea.)

So here goes, again.  For a minute, anyway.  And I might as well face the fact that I'd rather blog than pack or do dishes.

Also, I wish you could see me nod my head as I read your comments.  I agree with most of what you said.  I think the problem with these issues is that the Powers That Be forget to use common sense and humanity.  Why are policies and procedures seemingly being set by the most extremist ends of the spectrum?  I think that it's because they are the loudest and most violent.  That was part of the reason I wrote the blog entry.  I think it's important for the average Joe to know what she/he believes and quietly stand for it.  Instead, I think we shrink into the background, afraid to offend or get involved, and leave it to the freakazoids who are bombing the abortion clinics or power-hungry politicians who are padding their pockets.  But if rational people were having real discussions without fear of retribution or violence, we'd get some good sense solutions and maybe some understandings.  I personally am seeing this issue from a different point of view and thinking about it in ways I never had before, just because you were willing to patiently, kindly, bravely share and listen.

Here are a couple of ideas:
When we have an election and the results are tabulated, no matter how emotionally charged the issue is, one judge should not have the power to overturn the results of the election.  That is too much power for one person in our nation to have.  Luckily, there are safeguards in place that stop that from happening.  (But in the meantime, when someone like that tries, it causes a lot of problems.)

Thoughtful pause.
I think the reason that we see this issue so differently, besides the obvious that we both have so much hanging on its different outcomes, goes clear back to our foundations.

Maybe I just have a good grasp on the obvious.

Slight pause again to clean up the FULL bowl of soggy cereal that didn't quite make it to the sink.   Sigh.  I don't think I'm as Christian as I claim to be sometimes.

Anyway, I searched to the bottom of my soul last night.  How does it hurt me?

It's hard to express my answer, especially in words.  It's just a lot easier to say, "This is what I believe, and I just want it to be OK to believe it."  But I feel like I owe you more than that, because you're right, the whole life you've built hangs on it. And so even though I still feel strongly about my view, I'm confused about what to do with it.

Here's the best I can do at an explanation.  I've always known that there is a God.  I just know, and I can't deny.  I know that He loves us, we're His children.  I trust him.  I know this as well as I know anything.
Faith is that little leap of trust, and I have spent my whole life fine-tuning, trying to do God's will, trying to learn the truth, sorting through what is me being arrogant or stupid or misled, and trying to be open.  I don't want to blindly follow. But I don't have to blindly follow about God's love, because I KNOW. And knowing about His love makes me see that He wants us to love each other.  As a parent, I am the most sad when my children are cruel or unkind to each other.  The way they make me happiest is by serving each other.

When we moved from the UT fishbowl to MA, I separated out some things that were Mormon culture from the things that were gospel truths.  (Every religion gets a little quirky when they get too concentrated.)

Anyway, I've been trying to focus on the things that are important, to really study doctrine and the life of Christ.  I've tried to throw away the stupid culture stuff.

I've really prayed about the idea of a prophet.  I think it's one of the basic foundations of our religion.  It's one of the most important parts for me, that not only will God lead me personally, but that he has someone who has His authority to lead His church.  I sustain our prophet, and I follow him.  I listen to his words, I pray about what he says.  I know that he is just a man, but I believe that he is like the prophets of old, and that he is God's spokesman for His church.
In 1995, the prophet and apostles chiseled out a proclamation to the world about families.  Here's a link.
Proclamation on the Family

It very succinctly says exactly what I believe about family, marriage and society.  I've read through it too many times to count.

I think it hurts society when we experiment with what it means to be a family.  I believe that children need a mother and a father, firmly committed.  I believe that each play an important role.

I know that most children in our nation do not have that option right now, and I believe that is the underlying reason for most of the nation's problems.

I'm not writing this at anyone.

Because when I say that I believe that children deserve a traditional two-parent home with a mother and a father, I mean it.  And I say it with sorrow.  Because I know it's not happening.

And I know that even in traditional two-parent homes there is a lot of abuse and dysfunction going on.

And I know that for every non-traditional family there is a story.  And I believe that everyone is basically doing the best they can.  And I believe that people are good.

And I see you with your son, and NO ONE can deny that THAT KID IS LOVED!  You are a family.

So.  We're coming from different places.  And I love you.  And I hope by now you maybe still like me.  My motives are pure (I hope, I think).  I'm not perfect.

The same can of worms could be opened about immigration, or abortion, or a lot of things.  There is the theory, the beliefs behind the issue, and then there are the people and their stories.

We're going to have to agree to disagree, and probably never fully see eye-to-eye.  But we can have meaningful discussions, hopefully without attacking each other.

We can learn from each other, and help each other.

We have to be able to have the courage to share our opinions, though.  When we leave the dialog to the fringe extremes, bad things happen.  It has to be OK for everyone to have a voice.



WE, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
WE DECLARE the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.
HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.
WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
This proclamation was read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah.


The Fitch-Jenett Family said...

Hi Jeri,

First I want to thank you so much for being willing to have this conversation. What we are doing right here is kind of a big deal.

I really appreciate you articulating the feeling and structure behind your beliefs. The part that stood out most about President Hinkleys words were thi, "we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets. " This is the part where I feel like we, people in your camp and people in my camp, get into trouble.

Here's what it looks like to me:
Your "camp" truly believes that allowing gay people to marry (or have an abortion, or whatever the issue is) will bring on the destruction of ALL of society because they believe it is a violation of God's will. So, motivated by those religious beliefs, move to make public policy that will prevent that from happening. It makes logical sense given the terror y'all must feel at the idea of an apocalypse.

From a secular perspective, making public policy based on religious beliefs violates one of the basic tenants of this country- the separation of church and state. I will 100% support your right to believe what you believe and be able to practice your religion (as long as it doesn't hurt anyone- eg I'm fine with polygamy in the splinter sects if the marriages are between adults, but forcing young girls to marry is not okay with me). I support your right to protest and disagree with how I'm living my life and even to tell me you think I'm living in sin and will be responsible for the downfall of society.

But making laws that directly impact my life, based on those specific religious beliefs is the problem for me. I understand the motivation, but because don't live under a theocracy, it's unacceptable to me to make laws based on those beliefs.

I go back to slavery as an example. Christians found all sorts of verses in the Bible that backed up their belief that it was morally right to hold other human beings in bondage. They threw those out by the handful when the morality and legality of slavery was being debated. Courts ultimately overturned the popular vote because people were actively being hurt by the laws that kept people enslaved and the courts decided that the rights of the people being hurt were more important than the wishes of the slaveholders. People talked about the end of the traditional structure of slavery bringing an end to society and that ending it was a violation of God's will, but it looks like we're all still here.

I really understand the fear you feel. I understand wanting to pin so many of the struggles this society is facing on a particular family structure, but I don't think it's that simple.

To me, the disintegration we're seeing has much more to do with the effects of capitalism and racism and the poverty than if a child is raised with one parent who has a vagina and one parent with a penis.

Joan said...

I want to thank both of you for the thoughtful dialogue you are sharing. You are both to be commended for the manner in which you express yourselves without dragging emotions into it.
I have gained insights from both of you and appreciate what you are doing.
Thank you.

Jeri said...

Oh, hi Joan! Thanks.

Jaime, your apocalypse paragraph totally cracked me up. I like your style. Yep, we spend a lot of time quakin'. ;).

Seriously, again, though. A lot of head-nodding as I read your words. I agree that we can't have one religion making rules for everyone else. It causes a lot of problems. (Governor Boggs' Extermination order comes to mind.)
And it totally burns me up when I read history and see the scriptures used to support slavery. You can use scripture to support just about any idea, which is why bible bashing is not an approved sport at our house. There is never a spirit of love involved. You'll never hear ol' Billy-Bob say, "Well, you convinced me. Thanks!"

I keep thinking of something you said a while ago in a comment. You said something about not caring how many children I have as long as I can support them. (8 is enough, by the way. Double knots on those tubes, baby.)
When Handsome and I chose our "alternative lifestyle" we knew that it wasn't really going with the flow of society.
We both made a lot of sacrifices before we even had children so that we could have this life. (I have a problem with being self-righteous, and so try to put this in a quiet voice) we both have double back-up careers if anything goes wrong. We're out of debt, and will have our house paid off within a few months. We have savings and food storage. We're very careful with our resources, accepting help when it's needed and offered, and paying it forward. We are playing within the rules.
The slavery issue was different, in my opinion, because it wasn't their choice. We had an obligation, because we put them in that situation. That was pure-D evil on the part of slaveholders, and slaves had no freedom to choose.

You chose an alternative lifestyle, too. All of us knew, when we chose, what the rules were.
So when you chose; I am asking very gently and quietly, please help me to understand; why did you then demand that society change the rules?

I don't think it's fear I feel. Dismay. Disappointment. Sadness. Confusion. Yeah, lots of confusion.

Like when a family has entered the country illegally, and used the welfare system and public education and worked really hard to make a life for themselves and their family. How can we send them back?
How can I blame them for coming? But can we continue to let families cross the border and what about the economy, and what about my child who is not getting the education she needs because half the kids in her class don't speak the language? And we are struggling because half of our income is taken for taxes?
No black and white. Only gray.

Please keep talking.

The Fitch-Jenett Family said...

Ooooh girl, I am loving this!

I’ve been thinking about the “having lots of kids” thing since you’ve brought it up a couple of times. It sounds like you think of this as an “alternative lifestyle” analogous to me living as an out lesbian. I have a few thoughts about that comparison. First, though, I wanted to acknowledge the hurt feelings you must have when people give you a hard time for having so many kids. I know enough about LDS beliefs to understand why you made that choice and, as I said, I support your freedom to do it. I’m sorry to hear that others are being rude and judgmental in your direction.

You said in your last post “I think the reason that we see this issue so differently, besides the obvious that we both have so much hanging on its different outcomes, goes clear back to our foundations.”

When you say, “You chose an alternative lifestyle, too. All of us knew, when we chose, what the rules were.” This very statement illustrates the different foundations our lives were built on.

I didn’t grow up being taught that being gay was a choice, nor did I learn that it was wrong. I wasn’t taught that there are rules about what makes a family or that there was a right way or a wrong way. Families don’t have to have children. Family is about making a commitment to each other and building a life together.

According to the values I and many others grew up with, the life I’m living and the family I am a part of is not an “alternative” to anything and I’m not breaking any rules. I am living my life in a way that is consistent with my core belief which is: my purpose on this planet is to make the world a better place than it was before I got here.

Because I wasn’t raised in a specific religion, I don’t have a set of rules that tell me how I have to do this. It’s different than your system, but I don’t think it’s worse or any less effective.

When you say, “So when you chose; I am asking very gently and quietly, please help me to understand; why did you then demand that society change the rules?” I think a few things.

a) What is “society” and whose rules are they? There are many, many people who make up “society” who don’t think that man+woman+child is the only way to make a family. Society is not made up just of conservative folks who think a nuclear family can and should only be man and woman and their children.

b) Societal rules evolve, sometimes for the better. See my continual reference to the eventual abolition of slavery.

c) Even if I agreed with you that advocating for gay marriage is demanding that society change the rules, I support it because the change prevents tangible harm to gay people while not taking anything away from straight people.

I would love to hear more about why my being married to a woman causes you to feel “Dismay. Disappointment. Sadness. Confusion.”

Alyssa said...

This is fantastic guys, I've been nodding along to both sides. By doing this you're giving others the "permission", if you will, to do the same. Beautiful!