Freedom to Marry?

image A former professional colleague posted an interesting question on this site earlier today:

"How does the freedom to marry fare here? Living in Canada, I can marry as I choose but in the US gay, lesbian and bisexual people are NOT given that freedom."

This question is certainly controversial, but as one who deeply treasures freedom, I have pondered extensively on this subject and am pleased to share my thoughts with you.

First, I will address this as a matter of logical thought …

Inherent in our existence as human beings all of us possess free will, also called agency, or the ability to act for ourselves and not be acted upon by someone else.  

If that statement is taken with no other context, it would seem that you could  exercise your agency by choosing to kill me, steal my wife, ravish my daughters and haul away my possessions.   While certainly you could do that, I am grateful that you won’t, because  the civil society in which we live has placed both moral and legal limits on such actions. I am grateful that such actions are both culturally abhorrent and legally forbidden.

As members of a civil society, we accept limitations on how we exercise our agency based on two fundamental principles:

  1. A person may act in ways that do not harm or threaten other people or property.
  2. A person may in ways that do not undermine the ability of the society to flourish and sustain itself.

The first principle largely addresses immediate or short term affects; the second encompasses long term consequences.

Restrictions on marriage within our society are primarily based on the second principle.  For millennia, the fundamental unit of our society has been and continues to be the nuclear family, led by a husband and wife who are bound together both by legal and moral covenants.  Marriage is the foundation relationship which serves to sustain both husband and wife and provide the environment for children to brought into the world, raised to be productive citizens and nurtured in the moral standards that form the basis of our society.  There is no more important relationship in our society. Without the family as currently defined, the principles which sustain this society will progressively decay and undermine the very existence of the society we enjoy.

Efforts to change the definition of marriage to include relationships between two men or two women strikes at the very heart of our society.  Such relationships are not marriage; they lack the fundamental capacity to have husband and wife procreate and nurture the children they have brought into the world. To change the definition of marriage would undermine the ability of the society to flourish and sustain itself.

Those who choose to enter relationships other than traditional marriage can certainly do so, but such relationships do not constitute marriage.    Perhaps another term can be defined to encompass appropriate legal privileges afforded to participants of such relationships, but these relationships cannot and must not be called marriage without endangering the long term sustainability of our society.

I firmly support the proposition generally accepted by the majority of the citizens of the USA and legally ratified by recent referendums in states such as Arizona and California, that maintaining the current definition of marriage is critical to the preservation of our society, and therefore worthy of the legal and moral restrictions placed upon how we exercise our free will.

Second, and most importantly, I address this subject as a matter of the heart and faith in a living and loving God …

Mental logic alone falls far short of articulating how I feel about this subject.  My absolute acceptance that a loving God governs this universe and that my life and family will survive and flourish for eternity beyond this mortal life, provides the foundation for my perception of marriage.  The best explanation of the moral principles governing this subject come from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” published in 1995 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, written by men I accept as apostles and prophets of the living God.

The entire proclamation is included here:

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

© 1995, 2008 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

We are not just mortal beings who happen to reside here on earth because of some fortuitous accident of nature.  We are an integral part of an eternal plan that was put in place before time began and will exist long after this earth dies away.

Marriage and family are absolutely basic to this eternal existence.  Therefore, I will always stand in support of traditional marriage, for both reasons of faith and logic. 

By the way, the photo at the top of this post shows my dear wife Claudia and myself on the day of our marriage for time and eternity in 1976.   As young kids with stars in our eyes, we scarcely had an inkling of what lay before us, but now, 34 years, seven children and nine grandchildren later, we’d do it all over again.

John Olsen – Celebrating Independence Day

My good friend John Olsen started celebrating Independence Day a week early this year by wearing his patriotic tie to church on June 27th.  He graciously allowed me to take his picture for this blog.


Thanks, John, for your uplifting, patriotic example for all of us.  Happy Independence Day!

If any of you would like to send me a patriotic photo of yourself to post on this blog, please let me know by posting a comment on this post.

Freedom Shrine – St. Louis Airport

I always enjoy stopping briefly at Freedom Shrines prominently displayed in public places – this time in the St. Louis airport. 

A project of the National Exchange Club,

“The Freedom Shrine is an impressive, permanently mounted collection of 30 of the most important and historic American documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the Gettysburg Address. They show our nation’s youth the strength and courage of their forefathers by allowing them to read, with their own eyes, the immortal words of inspired Americans who so decisively changed the course of history.”


“Developed by the National Exchange Club, the Freedom Shrine originated from the Freedom Train that toured the nation in 1947 carrying an exhibit of historic documents. The purpose of the Freedom Shrine is twofold. It puts before young Americans proof that the freedom and greatness we enjoy today were not purchased easily and reminds them that these gifts must be cherished and protected. Painstakingly researched to guarantee absolute authenticity, the 28 historical American documents that comprise the Shrine were carefully chosen to exemplify the beginnings of our nation and those subsequent turning points of importance which shaped our national character and eminence. The documents of the Shrine, although culled from the past, represent foundation stones which permit the present, as we know it, to exist and the future, as we dream it, to be attainable.”


Thank you, Exchange Clubs everywhere, for this valuable contribution to the freedom in our nation! Tags: ,

Remembering Bill Cosby as Noah

Way back in my teenage years, my Mother taught LDS early morning seminary class in Richfield, Idaho, for four years, which coincidentally were the same four years I attended.  I don’t remember many of the specific lessons, but I do remember the time she introduced the story of Noah and the Ark by playing Bill Cosby’s famous “Noah” routine on a 33 1/3 LP record player.

Tonight, I watched a great give and take between Bill Cosby and George Lopez on the Lopez Tonight show.  It reminded me of the classic Noah routine, which, due to the magic of YouTube, I share with you tonight.

Right! Tags: ,,

Protect Us from Ourselves, Please!

image I usually enjoy reading the biting sarcasm usually found on The Onion website, taking most articles with a grain of salt, but today my son’s facebook post drew attention to a classic article from back in 2003 that would be much funnier if it were not so true.

The article began:

“Alarmed by the unhealthy choices they make every day, more and more Americans are calling on the government to enact legislation that will protect them from their own behavior.”

Hey, this isn’t satire.  This is reality! What about seatbelt and motorcycle helmet laws?  Why not protect me from eating that juicy hamburger?

The final paragraph tells it all, highlighting the eternal conflict between personal responsibility and guaranteed salvation:

"The fact is, personal responsibility doesn’t work," Nathansen (Lucifer) said. "Take a good look at the way others around you are living, and I’m sure you’ll agree. It’s time for the American people to demand that someone force them to do something about it."

(My parenthetical comment included.)

From a Patriot to a Princess – A Civil War Letter

imageYesterday, on Memorial Day, the Arizona Republic shared this heart-wrenching letter, written by Sullivan Ballou, a 32-year-old officer, lawyer and former speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, before he left to fight at Bull Run, a battle he would not survive.

As you read this letter, please consider that the name “Sarah” means “princess”, a title befitting the woman so dearly beloved by her valiant patriot, Sullivan Ballou.


 July 14, 1861

Camp Clark, Washington

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days – perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more …

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans on the triumph of the Government and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of the Revolution. And I am willing – perfectly willing – to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt …

Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field. The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our sons grown up to honorable manhood, around us.

I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me – perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness …

But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights … always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.

Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.


Note:  The Wikipedia article apparently contains the full text of the letter, including passages omitted from the Arizona Republic article. Tags: ,,,

Don’t Be Ashamed of Their Ultimate Sacrifice

Thanks to my friend Bryan Green for sharing this thought-provoking photo essay.

Our European arrogance in alphabetical order …

1. The American Cemetery at Aisne-Marne, France.. A total of 2,289

2. The American Cemetery at  Ardennes, Belgium.  A total of 5,329

3. The American Cemetery at Brittany, France. A total of 4,410

4. Brookwood, England American Cemetery. A total of 468

5. Cambridge, England. A total of 3,812

6. Epinal, France American Cemetery. A total of 5,525

7. Flanders Field, Belgium. A total of 368

8. Florence, Italy. A total of 4,402

9. Henri-Chapelle, Belgium. A total of 7,992

10. Lorraine, France. A total of 10,489

11. Luxembourg, Luxembourg. A total of 5,076

12. Meuse-Argonne. A total of 14,246

13. Netherlands, Netherlands . A total of 8,301

14.  Normandy, France. A total of 9,387

15. Oise-Aisne, France. A total of 6,012

16. Rhone, France . A total of 861

17. Sicily, Italy. A total of 7,861

18. Somme, France . A total of 1,844

19. St.. Mihiel, France. A total of 4,153

20.  Suresnes, France. A total of 1,541

Apologize to no one. Remind those of our sacrifice and don’t confuse arrogance with leadership.

The count is 104,366 dead brave Americans.

And we have to watch an

American elected leader who apologizes to Europe and the Middle East that our country is "arrogant"!