Moral Rightness and the Same Sex Marriage Debate

March 26, 2013    By: Administrator @ 10:41 pm   Category: Ethics

This guest post was submitted by NCT regular commenter, DavidF

Hot off the presses, you can listen to the oral arguments over the Same Sex marriage debate before the Supreme Court. I highly recommend it.

I want to bring up some of the highlights by comparing the competing value structures that the two sides rely on to make their case. So you’re getting a philosophical post and a political post for the price of one. But why the philosophy? Because the moral values both sides bring to the debate rest at the very heart of how they justify their positions. This is a useful tool to get at the bias inherent to each side’s argument.

Consequentialism and Deontology Crash Course

There are two moral systems colliding in this debate: consequentialism and deontology. The conservatives rely mainly on deontological arguments and the liberals rely mainly on consequentialist arguments. What’s the difference?

“Mormon Girl” Joanna Brooks Misfired On This One

   By: Geoff J @ 12:20 am   Category: Life

I just saw an article by Joanna Brooks titled “I Died Inside”. Here is the first paragraph:

Emmett C. is a twenty year-old community college student in the Pacific Northwest. Last year, he applied to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religious obligation he had long prepared for and looked forward to fulfilling. But in the course of preparing his missionary application, Emmett came out to his local LDS Church leaders—not as a gay man, but as a straight Mormon who believes that LGBT people are equal in the sight of God and should treated the same as straight members of the LDS Church. And on these grounds, he was told that he would not be permitted to serve.


If Emmett was told he couldn’t serve a mission due to his views on the LGBT topic, I can guarantee that it was not for him believing “that LGBT people are equal in the sight of God and should treated the same as straight members of the LDS Church”. How do I know this? Because the church openly teaches that LGBT members are equal in the sight of God and should be treated the same as all other members. That includes holding all Mormons to the exact same Law of Chastity. The Mormon Law of Chastity states we should have no sexual contact with anyone besides our opposite-sex, legal spouse.

It is more likely that Emmett was advocating that LGBT members should not be treated the same as straight members and should not have to follow the Law of Chastity as it currently stands. Perhaps he was advocating for the Law of Chastity to be amended to give the green light to gay sex (within gay marriages) or something.

I’m sure Ms. Brooks meant well but I find her attempts at spin in that opening paragraph irritating and counter-productive. If you want to lobby for gay sex (within gay marriage) being permitted in the Mormon Law of Chastity just say so. At least we’ll be talking about the actual subject rather that completely dancing around it.

The impact of progressive change on Mormonism

March 24, 2013    By: Matt W. @ 8:53 am   Category: Life

Change within the church, as within any other organization, can be challenging. This is not to say change should not and cannot occur. But it does mean that those who agitate for change need to be sensitive to the issues surrounding it and should be sensitive to the needs and feelings of those who will be impacted by that change.

One challenge many face in the wake of change is uncertainty and confusion about what is correct and valuable. Some will look back on their lives and see a gap in them that could have been filled had the policy been different in their day, and will cry out “How could God let this happen to me?”. Others will see this change as an indicator that other changes are possible and will lose certainty of the paradigms upon which they have made their life decisions. They will either have set up a series of reasoning which had supported the rules before the change and need help deconstructing that list, or they will have reservations making faith claims on any certain position of the church, wondering if it will just change later. They will turn to their own reasoning over the teachings of the church and begin trying to predict rightness or wrongness on their own. This is not bad in its own right, but people will feel further from God as a result of this.

Another result causing a feeling of sadness in people will be their seeing human action trumping divine aid. They have seen you lobby for this change, and they wonder to themselves “All my life I have been told that God runs this church, and that I can pour out my heart to him in prayer and he will answer. But now, these people run the church via activism. Should God have not just heard their prayers and responded?” Some will see this as another indicator that the church is a human run organization with no divine spark pushing it along.

This leads us straight into prophetic fallibility. It can be very challenging for members to see major change from leadership in the church. One of the central ideas of Mormonism, like it or not, is that the Lord uses his prophet to lead the people. It is assumed that this should mean the prophet has some higher level of consciousness and should know God’s will directly. He should not need to be poked and prodded by other men or women. He should take his orders directly from God. When one statement from a general authority is questioned, it creates the Paul H. Dunn effect, where every other statement by that same authority is damaged collaterally.

Lastly, when we are dealing with change of any kind within the church, we have to be sensitive to the human emotion involved. People have invested their time, talent, and energies into defending the thing you are now seeking to change. They have done this because they believed it was God’s will. Some have made it a central part of their identity to defend it. They will need to be assured their energies have not been wasted and still matter, or you will have people become emotionally disengaged.

So when you bring snacks to primary, please be considerate of those who remember the days when snacks in primary were not allowed. Tread lightly, my friends.

Academics and the Nature of Truth

March 4, 2013    By: Jeff G @ 9:10 pm   Category: Truth

Suppose we want to know what the rules of football are – what the nature of football is.  Who do we ask?  Where should we search for an answer?  Which person or source we choose to treat as authoritative is pretty important in cases like this since the Green Bay Packers fan will tell us something very different the Manchester United fan will.  And if we, in our attempt to be very thorough and even handed, go to both sources and (obviously) get two different and incompatible answers, how will we decide what the “true” rules or nature of football really are?  (more…)