Yesterday's announcement by the LDS church that members should "do all they can" to make sure our families are kept from equal rights in the California constitution upset me more than I've been upset by such in a long time. I stayed up late last night upset (Utah does need a MSDS; I wonder how much shorter my life will be for such stress :-), or maybe :-\).
I'm used to groups attacking us with that false shallow veneer of concern for my children. I'm used to them doing it with no veneer. I'm used to the LDS church doing it. True, I was hoping, based on rumor, that there would be more just treatment outside the church, or at least political hands off our families with the new leadership, and I'm sad that's not the case. Also substantially, we are about to get married there in California, after 16 years as a couple and 13 married. We've waited a long time. To have that giddy joy of feeling like you're so close and then have it mixed with what feels like a punch in the gut from an organization you once trusted and that strongly influences the minds of much of your family, well, the punch in the gut stings all the more, even if you were once used to it.
Mainly, it was the fact that we just got back from Rob's family reunion. We just spent a wonderful weekend with my in-laws in Park City. I love his family and I know the feeling is mutual, and they have come to know we belong together. They've told Rob, that they don't understand how, but through prayer they've no problem with us as a couple, even if that is contrary to what church leadership is teaching, and I'm fine with that truce.
But now we get home and find the leaders of the LDS church (the church of my in-laws and much of my family) are asking them to do all they can to legally diminish my family, to hurt us, their son, me, and their grandchildren. Their leaders are asking that of Rob's siblings too. The cousins our boys were laughing and playing with all weekend, they are also now being asked to "do all you can" to annul our upcoming legal union, to in effect harm our whole family. They are being told to view our children as somehow defective or deficient.
I hope I never learn of any of them donating financially or physically to that cause, though I know the church they give money to already has and will. They, many of our loved ones, are already funding this. It's sick, undermining to families (and demonstratively, in the real world, not merely mystically), and it is why this upset me as much as it did. I was feeling good about the people in the LDS church in my life, now I have to watch and see once again where they go from here.
It's just tough not being in your culture's predominant faith. I'm sure it always has been hard, and far worse than we have it today, from the gentile killed by Moses for collecting sticks on the sabbath to the youth from another tribe headed up the side of a volcano to "appease" a force of nature. You're told you have to be hurt or hurt another. Why? For the good of everyone else, of course. You're not selfish, right? You want the tribe to have a good crop, you don't want your city to be destroyed, or, in this case, you want to do right by some proposed supernatural fertility law. But when a person is unwilling to do such harm on faith, even when it feels good, they have a problem. What's worse for them is that faith has never meant to be verifiable anyway; it has done a lot of work over centuries to not be verifiable outside our all too potent tools of self assurance. There are centuries of effective tools of confidence in place, social proofs and so on. There are even many failsafes: "Your faith in Allah is wanning? Well you must be under the temptation of a demon then. That proves demons exist and thus faith in Allah is true." But there is no real test by which two people can surrender in equal deference to evidence.
In the end, the guy at the side of the volcano arguing that "Hey, the last ten virgins you threw in had no effect on our crop yield" isn't going to stop those with the strongest faith. That only means you need more virgins. Heck, he'd be lucky to not end up being a little extra bit of "appeasement" in the more brutal days of humanity. At least things are far from that bad. But the situation is sadly similar for the guy who doesn't hold the faith of those around him, when that faith asks that one neighbor harm another.
Nevertheless, here's to hoping my in-laws aren't or don't become as ardent of followers as to attack the family with which they just spent a wonderful weekend. I just have to hope they can somehow keep their faith and just treatment of our family too.