Consistently Inconsistent

“Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.” – Bernard Berenson

In response to a statement regarding same-sex marriage issued by The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons), which is required to be read aloud, from the pulpit, to each Sunday congregation, church member Paul Malan scribed and open letter to his local Bishop.

The letter rightly, via the Church’s own essays, condemns previous LDS racism:

When our culture began to recognize the nonsense of racism, N. Eldon Tanner assured Church members “that no matter how convincing an argument might seem to be,” our prophets and apostles were “powerless to change God’s unchanging laws when it comes to the color of our skin.”

Thankfully, God’s laws may be unchanging, but our understanding of them is not. The Church recently approved an essay in which they “unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

Mr. Malan then goes on to draw the comparison between that needless, erroneous bigotry and the ongoing bigotry toward LGBT people:

There is nothing new or surprising in the wording of the letter you’ve been asked to read, but, as with past statements on race, it perpetuates misunderstanding and reinforces the “otherness” of our gay brothers and sisters. As a father, I hope our church can become a welcoming, safe place for my children to learn from Christ’s loving example within the context of their Mormon heritage. This letter makes that connection less likely.

As I am an atheist, I assume that Mr. Malan and I disagree on almost everything, though on this particular point we may find common ground; If a church celebrates that it receives modern-day revelation from its prophet, if that prophet speaks directly to The LORD, and if the church has received many, many, many documented revelations that have reversed previous practices*, how is it surprising or shocking to imagine that God may issue new commandments at any moment? Many LDS members believe that God will one day call them back to Independence, MO. Others believe that God will eventually call women to hold The Priesthood. Maybe God will even allow decency toward LGBT members.

As Dr. King said, “The arc of the  Moral Universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  So too does the will of benevolent LDS believers like Mr. Malan, Kate Kelly, Douglas Wallace, and others like them who drag a stubborn, intolerant institution with them into a future of equality and morality.

But no one wants to go back to Missouri.

* Polygamy, Law of Consecration, Blacks in the Priesthood, Word of Wisdom, “White and Delightsome”, Law of Adoption

Love Whomsoever Thou Wilt

“Love all men, even your enemies; love them, not because they are your brothers, but that they may become your brothers.”
– Augustine of Hippo

The last time I remember experiencing a pure, unbridled joy for my fellow human beings was when Utah’s Amendment 3 was originally overturned in December of 2013. I was not joyful with a sense of victory, or triumph, or schadenfreude, but rather with the pure happiness of watching love celebrated so honestly and openly after being so long denied. I watched the TV news with elation as couple after couple after couple after couple kissed each other as if for the first and only time.

I know a great many who worship the god of The Bible and believe that homosexuality is wrong. I also know a great many who believe that God is the spiritual and physical embodiment of love. If your heart is filled with disgust, disappointment, or even hate with today’s SCOTUS announcement, take a moment to see how much joy, happiness, and love is being celebrated by those for whom the decision most affects.

To this outsider, it seems that God has changed his mind about a great many things since the first authoring of The Old Testament. Maybe this is another and He’s telling us with  bliss, jubilance, and, of course, Love.

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better

“I can do anything better than you.”

I am more moral than the god of The Bible. I shall prove it here by re-writing The 10 Commandments to contain more morality, fewer silly rules, and greater specificity.   Which version of The 10 Commandments doesn’t matter and I am re-creating them entirely. I shall throw out the nonsensical and bring in the moral. This is not to be considered a complete list – just as The Bible has many, many rules that aren’t in the Top Ten.

The New and Improved 10 Commandments!
(with 100% less Charlton Heston)

  1. Do not put anything of yourself into any other living creature unless that creature explicitly invites you.

  2. Do not steal, by theft or deceit, anything that does not belong to you.

  3. Do not own other people.

  4. Read #1 again. It’s that important.

  5. Do not kill other people. Ever. Even if (especially if) you believe a invisible, power-mad, supernatural and disembodied individual tells you to do so.

  6. Go ahead and read #5 (and give another glance at #1 too) again. Notice there are no loopholes.

  1. Do your best to be honest with other people. As it is impossible *never* to lie, just do your best to make sure no one is going to be irrevocably harmed by your dishonesty.

  2. Do not needlessly harm or torture animals (this includes human beings). If you want to eat an animal (this does not include human beings – see rule #5), ok, but makes sure that it dies as painlessly as possible. If you raise animals to eat them, feed them and treat them well.

  3. If it’s not clear yet, murder, rape, molestation, torture, and theft are all right out. If you think there’s a moral justification for them, you are incorrect.

  4. Do not trust a list of things that tells you what is moral or not. Odds are, there are some grey areas, and things that once were considered moral, but are, in retrospect, truly horrifying. Think for yourself. Reason for yourself.