Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Law of Chastity, Micah and Same-Sex Relationships

The other day, I wrote a post about calling good evil and evil, good - particularly in the context of homosexuality and same-sex relationships. I referred to a passage from the Book of Isaiah that had been rolling around my head.

I have a few more thoughts on this subject, but today I want to refer to another passage of scripture from the Old Testament, this time from the Book of Micah, 6:8:

"He has shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, 
but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." (KJV)

Or, as translated in the Common English Bible:

"He has told you, human one, what is good and
what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God."

As I contemplated comments that my daughter and I had received with respect to a couple of recent blog posts, the thought coalesced in my mind that so much of the condemnation of same-sex relationships - both within the LDS Church as well as in other conservative Christian denominations - boils down to the so-called "Law of Chastity."Anyone familiar with Mormonism knows that, in today's Church, the Law of Chastity has been elevated to a position of extreme importance, almost as important as the Law of Obedience (to the Gospel as promulgated through the General Authorities of the Church). 

The law of chastity has many different manifestations in today's Mormon culture and theology, ranging from the importance of "modesty" - particularly in young women in the Church who are objectified and taught to think that how they dress is who they are - to telling gay men (who are now accepted, but only if they play by a proscribed set of rules) that if they show displays of affection that would be considered normal and appropriate to heterosexual males, that they are in violation of the law of chastity.

The thing that these manifestations have in common is that they reduce human beings to objects who are slaves to animalistic desires. 

In the context of accepting and supporting gay family members, it appears that the law of chastity trumps love, whether toward a parent or a child. It trumps all other qualities that a parent or a child may have, anything "lovely, praiseworthy or of good report": their loving and kind heart; the love and devotion that they show toward their same-sex partner; their compassion; their desires for a just and humane society; their value as a human being, or, in Mormon theology, their value as a son or daughter of God. All of these qualities suddenly become practically invisible in the looming shadow of the Law of Chastity.

What does the Lord require of us? To condemn a loved one and cut off acceptance and support because they don't happen to view the normal expression of their sexuality as immoral, animalistic and wrong?

No. Micah tells us what is required: to do justice, to embrace faithful love, and to walk humbly. It is my hope that increasing numbers of LDS parents, children, and siblings of gay men and women - as well as the general membership - will come to understand and embrace these concepts.

1 comment:

  1. An exemplary analysis and argument.

    I agree that the church objectifies women and, as you pointed out, homosexuals to outcasts, pariah.

    What I find interesting, as I think about it, is that people and institutions prefer to interpret laws, guidelines or scriptures in order to justify their need to dominate others. The church promotes the church and the only way of securing its all-powerful and knowing position is to justify members ineptitude to be as righteous as the ideal that they say is true. Being in a position of inequality keeps the other person enslaved (I know it's a strong word, but I see consistencies across churches and colonialism). If the person is taught that they can only be human if they adhere to the superior's ideal, then they are always under control. Thus, the strategy to become as equal to the superior ideal is the plan on salvation which is only for the designated few who adhere by the letter to an interpretation of what is "right".

    What I say may ruffle some feathers, but these are my thoughts.

    Your line: "To condemn a loved one and cut off acceptance and support because they don't happen to view the normal expression of their sexuality as immoral, animalistic and wrong?"
    - Can one condemn and love?
    - Can one refuse acceptance and support and love?
    - Can one reduce human diversity and humanity to a narrow definition of "normal" and love?
    - Can one deny a part of their being, their sexuality, and love?