I would like to address a controversial yet core argument defending the traditional family and marriage between a man and a woman. Opponents may say to supporters, “If you are as kind and loving toward members of the LGBT community as you say you are, then why don’t you let them marry who they wish to marry?”
The answer is simple: the attitude and policy of recognizing only marriage between a man and a woman address actions, not people.
Everyone on earth is a child of Heavenly Father. We deserve to be loved and respected as such. We all are born with a certain set of rights which we count on parents, governments, churches, law enforcement, and dedicated citizens to protect. The human family, or the family of God, includes all people—Mormons, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, whites, blacks, browns, gays, straights, and countless other groups and categorizations.
We are all on equal ground at birth. We all begin as innocent. It is only what we do during our lives on earth that cause us to risk losing the rights we had to begin with.
Out beliefs, just as our very being, cannot qualify us for punishment or reward. No one earns money for believing in something, and no one goes to jail for it either. Or shouldn’t. Anyone is ought to be allowed to have any beliefs without consequence, even if these beliefs are extremely negative, hateful, discriminatory, etc. As long as they are just beliefs, they won’t hurt anyone.
Here is where the line begins to blur. Some words represent nothing more than beliefs; other words can form threats and insults. While sometimes it is difficult to differentiate between the two (increasingly as of late) usually it can be discerned whether the intent was to simply communicate or to actively harm. Judge wisely. Debate, conflicting opinions, disagreement, and discussion are all manifestations of a healthy use of words. Raised voices, repeated threats, and ominous silences are clues that dangerous actions might follow. However, we should take care not to infringe on one’s right of speech (especially under the accusation it being harmful) simply because we disagree.
In addition, planning and scheming to do harmful things because of beliefs (such as to kill someone or launch a terrorist attack) raises a red flag and could qualify someone for punishment, depending on the circumstance. However, notice the critical difference between these two example statements: “The leader of the attack should be condemned to death for his crimes,” and “I’m going to kill the leader of the attack myself no matter what outcome of his trial.” Both point in the direction of someone being killed, but the first would lead to a death through due process of law (as the expression is only of belief) while the second would lead to an illegal murder.
Everyone, through the course of life, acts. We all make hundreds of decisions every day. Ideally, with few exceptions (such as age and mental maturity), we receive consequences based on our actions and not on our identities. This means that if a white man robs a bank, he will receive the same punishment that an Asian woman receives or that a gay black man receives or anyone else who is mature enough to understand the consequences.
Having homosexual or other attractions or desires is not evil. It is not worthy of punishment. It is what some churches (including my own) term as a “temptation.” A temptation is an enticement or persuasion to do something that is not correct. Everyone is tempted, including those who are moral and those who are not. Even Jesus Christ was tempted, and He was perfect. The sin is not in the temptation or enticing, and by extension the sin is not in the affiliation or identity. Rather, the sin is in the action.
Engagement in homosexual activities is an action. Those who engage in homosexual activities choose to do so. Because it is an action, it can be punished or rewarded by law.
It is curious to see how the world has made the identity defined by what we are tempted by more important than our identity as children of God. Really, even our identities in groups of race or religion have become too prominent. We all belong to one big group—the human species. There is no need to divide ourselves up and pit ourselves against each other.
The flaw of justification
Many would also argue that “some people can’t help themselves; they have to act the way they do because that’s the they are.” I will illustrate the flaw in this justification with a simple example: a child refuses to heed her parents’ counsel and plays outside close to a busy street. Would anyone say that this child was simply “born that way” and could not help but to participate in dangerous behavior? Such an idea would be an insult to the child’s intelligence and freedom. She is not constrained her entire life to participate in dangerous behavior; rather, she can learn what is correct and safe and make conscious choices to avoid danger in the future.
Inescapably, this child will experience pain and sorrow as she slowly but surely learns the difference between right and wrong. However, any attempt to avoid this necessary opposition would be highly detrimental her growth and leave her completely unprepared to face the world on her own when it is time for her to live independently.
What needs to be decided is not whether LGBT people should have the same rights as other people in the world. They were already born with those very same rights. What needs to be decided is what actions will be tolerated by the world and which actions will be punished. Proper laws do not punish or reward people for existing; they only punish and reward people for acting. Will the world tolerate the improper actions that desecrate and mock the traditional family? Will the world contribute to the demise of a civilized society by destroying its most cherished and important unit? Let the people decide, and let the consequence follow.