I was all set to blog about my date last night with my youngest son, Levi. I had considered blogging about the historic day at the Supreme Court yesterday, but ultimately determined I didn't really have anything particularly earth-shattering to say on the subject. That was before I came home last night and realized that the national discussion going on right now about gay marriage had unexpectedly become very personal.
After a very entertaining discussion with my eight-year-old son - while eating a burger and fries at Crown Burger, the effects of which lingered long after I had eaten both my fries and those of my son, as well as a double cheeseburger - in which I "learned" some interesting "facts" about stomachs (such as this one: "Our stomachs expand with the food we eat until they pop - that's when we know we're full - then it takes all night for them to grow back to normal, usually until 8:00 a.m.")
I came home, sat down at the computer and read what my eldest son, Adam, had just posted to his Facebook page. He's been teaching English in Kiev, Ukraine the past few months and is currently on a trip with his fellow teachers through eastern Europe. From Prague, he wrote the following:
"All the anti-gay marriage sentiment I see seems to be based on semantics... Gays aren't asking to be married in religious ceremonies in places sacred to those of said religion. Merely to be allowed the right to a union in the eyes of the law. Arguments made in the name of marriage being sacred are religious, and, in my humble opinion, should be left in the realms of religion. This, as it stands, is a secular and therefore separate issue."
I was proud of my son for having posted this, but I was even more proud to see that he had changed his profile picture (above) and that two of my other children had "liked" what he had written. What a precious, priceless gift it is to me to have the love and support of my children!
Like many others across the country, my children's views of homosexuality have changed because they now know that someone they love is gay. Except in the case of dyed in the wool bigots, I think most people would be hard pressed to maintain their prejudice against members of the LGBT community once they learn that someone they care about is a member of that community.
This phenomenon is as true in the Mormon community as it is in the general American population. Yet, there is so much more education that needs to take place, so many more hearts that need to be touched, such as that of the young man who wrote the following comment in response to Adam's status:
"I respectfully understand where you're coming from, but wasn't our great nation based on religious freedom and founded on religious principles. And if we want religious protection(from God), wouldn't you assume we should respect and protect His laws that He established and allowed us to follow? Also, this can't just be a secular ordeal, it will undoubtedly spill over to religious areas of our country because what will likely happen is religions declaring love and tolerance feeling pressured to change their doctrine based on congregation attendance and societal influence. Some religions will obviously not change their doctrine, but the "disapproval" that will be raise against religions who refuse to marry based on spiritual beliefs will then be "breaking a law" by denying a homosexual union or will be required to marry those of homosexual behaviors, even if they do not happen within a religion's sacred structure."
There is SO much that could be said and written about this comment, which is why I particularly loved my son's simple response: "I understand what you're saying ... but also feel that a religion, if its true, will never need to bend to societal whims, and also to some extent, vice versa."
I am convinced that most fair-minded Mormons, when called upon to reconcile the love that they have for a gay son, daughter, father, mother, sister, brother or dear friend with beliefs such as those expressed in the above comment will (often after a painful but purgative struggle) allow the truth of their love to trump the "truth" of their doctrines (or, at the very least, refuse to allow doctrine to trump love).
Meantime, I'll close this with another one of Adam's responses to comments he received on his status (needless to say, I am one incredibly proud father):
"I love to see everyone's opinions on this, as in my mind, expressing one's opinion on an issue in a respectful manner is a sign of a respectful human being. Though our opinions may differ, let us all love and respect one another as we are all deserving of such. Though my opinion lies firmly entrenched in what I have already expressed, I encourage people to continue sharing their own as long as the manner in which they express it remains loving of their fellow man."
Not to be outdone by his older brother, my teenage son also changed his profile picture this morning. I am one humbly proud and grateful father.