I don’t want my blog to be a place for political or religious controversy, but I recently heard an interview on The Story (American Public Media, “Faith Versus Duty,” air date October 30) that made me want to speak out on the behalf of Mormons. Dick Gordon interviewed Andrew Callahan, a Californian who has been very vocal in his stand against Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage in that state. Callahan is being ex-communicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The interview started out with Callahan saying that the Mormon support of Proposition 8 (which is very strong) is a continuation of bigotry that has always existed in the church, and that Mormons are hypocrites because this proves that they don’t practice Jesus’ command to love one another. “It seems mean-spirited,” says Callahan, who seems shocked that a church which has always maintained political neutrality would suddenly urge its members to donate money to such a cause. While I actually agree with Callahan that the church should not urge members over the pulpit to donate money to pass Proposition 8, I disagree with his comments about the bigotry of the church. When Callahan says that the church is taking an “us against them” stance, I feel he is misguided. If church leaders are telling church members to support Proposition 8, then they are doing it with the intent to support the traditional family; they are not saying hate gay people. Whether or not same-sex marriage is legal in California, LDS people should still show all people love and kindness and let them be judged by God for their private behavior.
Ultimately, I was not disappointed in Andrew Callahan for his stance against Proposition 8, but for his lack of a real reason for his stance. On the surface it seems that Callahan is being excommunicated from the church for his opposition to Prop 8, but from listening to the interview, I learned that Callahan’s reasons for supporting gay marriage are unknown even to him. “All people should be treated the same” is his best excuse, but then he goes on to say that he doesn’t “feel the Mormon understanding of God is the correct one” and that “I feel I’m right” and “the prophet is wrong.” His only argument for gay marriage is that homosexuality is banned by the Mosaic law, and if the Mosaic law isn’t practiced anymore, there should be no ban on homosexuality. His statements show a lack of understanding of LDS doctrine, a lack of willingness to learn it, and a lack of humility. Surely Callahan shouldn’t be surprised or upset that he is being excommunicated from a church that he admits to not believing in.
I guess what seemed most ridiculous to me was when Callahan said that opposition of gay marriage is just an example of church leaders acting in their own self-interest. But he doesn’t explain this, either. Surely if the leaders of the LDS church were acting in self-interest, they would want to support all lifestyles so as to gain the most converts possible. What selfish interest could President Monson have for wanting to ban gay marriage in a society that, it would seem, mostly supports it? That’s as preposterous as the time someone told me that the reason my church wants converts is so the leaders can get rich off the members’ tithing money! No, the church leaders are acting in the interest of righteousness, standing for what the scriptures say: that we must love one another but not condone sinful behavior. A true prophet does not stand by silently and watch as a society falls into iniquity. Despite our modern desire for a separation of church and state, it has always been a prophet’s job to warn secular societies against the dangers of sin, and this time is no different. Wouldn’t it be more hypocritical for the church to take no stand against practices that go against its doctrines?
Yes, Mr. Callahan, the church leaders are just human, but so are you.