|Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song.
Glory, laud, and honor unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing.599
The Hebrew God of the Bible is a “man of war.”600 This replicates the Biblical doctrine that “the people” (i.e., the “army”) are not the entire community of men and women but the male priesthood holders alone: “[Y]e are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”601 In modern times, by means of this patriarchy, it has become de rigeur to speak evil of others in order to condemn their sexual practices. It will be recalled that the subject paragraph in the 2004 “Statement” contains two separate parts:  “The Church accordingly favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman” and  “that do not confer legal status on any other sexual relationship.” Both images recall the principle that defines marriage as the two people “becoming one flesh”602 and the way that “flesh” is properly supposed to fit together—going naturally “where It goes.” The powerful nature of that mantra is nicely captured in Ron Nyswaner’s script for Jonathan Demme’s 1993 film, Philadelphia, in which Tom Hanks portrays a young homosexual attorney who is dying of AIDS and whose law firm fires him when they discover his illness. He sues them to recover damages. At one point, the outraged senior partner of the firm (Jason Robards) roars: “He brought AIDS into our offices, into our men’s room. He brought AIDS to our annual goddam family picnic.”603 The same lawyer tells a dirty joke about gay sex and “hot yogurt” being squirted on someone’s back to the other partners when they are naked together in the sauna of the racquet club—three heterosexuals and a homosexual. This is not merely the fear of AIDS as disease but of AIDS and sex as metaphor.604 It is literally the rain on the patriarchal picnic. Most telling and succinct is the statement that plaintiff’s attorney (Denzel Washington) makes to the court:
“Everybody in this courtroom is thinking about sexual orientation. You know, sexual preference, whatever you want to call it. Who does what to whom, and how they do it…. They’re thinking about it…. They’re wondering about it…. So let’s talk about what this case is really all about.”
Who does what to whom, and how do they do it. That is the nub of the problem—that titillated voyeurism. It has been the preoccupation of Judeo-Christian tradition since God told Abraham to circumcise himself as a token of the covenant between God and man.605 Men’s room’s and saunas, as extensions of the offices themselves, are the places where penises are on display to all present, where jokes and euphemisms and games—and the anxieties they betray—can be safely fielded, where it is appropriate for the power and influence that control and prescribe the “annual goddam family picnic” can be acknowledged, and where semen is “yogurt.” It is the same titillated voyeurism that informed and drove the anti-polygamy animus against the Mormons for nearly a century—to “lift the bed curtains,”606 to get a “good look” at how polygamists did it, not only in their temples but in their bedrooms,607 to experience, if even vicariously, the “great thrill” of opening the private door and having a “good satisfying look at a Mormon family in all its comprehensive ampleness.”608 If we scratch the surface of much of the polite discourse about marriage and family, it is this voyeurism and the preservation of gender and gender roles as mediated by the penis that are the foundational motivation.
In a similar vein, Andrew Sullivan, a senior editor of The New Republic, recounts his experience with Republican conservative Pat Buchanan on national television. During an exchange on CNN’s “Crossfire” regarding same-sex marriage and homosexuality, Buchanan yelled at him across the table: “Andrew, it’s not who you are. It is what you do!”609 Sullivan comments correctly that the reductionist focus is on copulation, the “sexual act.”610 It is what you do! And what you do it with, and to whom. This is the bedrock truth after the euphemisms of court pleadings and “polite conversation” (lifestyle, marriage, family, civilization) are stripped away. It is this singular image that is at work. Hence, the enacting images: the glance of the all-seeing eye of God will pierce you through,611 as will the still small voice.612 And the “word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.613 In order to be allowed to attend the services of their temples, modern Mormons are subject to a “searching interview” on the subjects of adultery, fornication, and homosexuality.614
It is no coincidence that the description of the essential element of the anatomy is the same word in both the law and the church: member. It is no coincidence that in law and religion, “testament,” “testify,” and “testimony” all come from testes (the plural of testis, witness)615, from the pattern of the Patriarch when swearing to tell the truth by the placing another man’s hand into his groin.616 Anciently, any man with damaged testicles or missing penis was prohibited from being a member of the congregation.617 Once a man swore such an oath, and there is nothing more serious a man can do, “our fears did cease concerning him.”618 Women could not so swear. Placing one’s hand on the Bible or a gospel book to take an oath instead of on the groin is no different in fact or form: all are testaments. Mormons are especially enjoined to be “lively members” of the church.619 And there is a special irony in the 1978 announcement that the old Mormon practice of denying the priesthood to Negroes would be lifted so that “all worthy male members” would thereafter receive it.620 Indeed, Mormons who have attended services in their temples and received the ceremony called The Endowment621, both men and women, are commonly called “endowed members,” thus assimilating women to the male image. The prohibition on Black men holding the Mormon priesthood prior to 1978 was another reification of “knowing where it goes,” not in the form of the phallus but in the semen or sperm, for Brigham Young said: “Any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot receive the priesthood.”622 “Knowing where It goes” is a talismanic religious test. For those to whom homophobia is a fighting faith, it solves and resolves everything. This is what must be defended at all cost by appeal to the power of the state and its law—because faith in the persuasive, converting power of true doctrine is weak.623 It is not to be interrogated or debated because it is the quintessence of patriarchal privilege.
This is illustrated in a well-known speech by Mormon general authority William J. Critchlow, Jr., an assistant to the Mormon twelve apostles and a general authority of the church. He told the story of a female church member who had written to the male general authorities asking why women could not hold the priesthood. Critchlow replied: “Dear Sister: I do not know. I'm not supposed to know. Sincerely your brother, Wm. J. Critchlow, Jr.,” and later, Critchlow continued, “Priesthood is the power of God, presently and purposely denied to women for reasons which he has not revealed. And when he whose business priesthood is wants the sisters to hold it, he will let his prophet know; and until then, there is nothing we can do about it.”624 He continued with “I don’t know” refrain with much pride and confidence in his ignorance, boasting that although faith and the priesthood “are twin-kindred, godly powers,” still “it does not embarrass me to say I do not know. And I’m not supposed to know—this I believe. God has purposely veiled some things in secrecy. The ‘substance’ of priesthood is presently veiled knowledge.”625 As an expression of “faith,” such willful ignorance and refuge in uncritical acceptance of a received “given” may suffice within the precincts of religion, but it will not suffice in the marketplace of the public square. In 1978, the church’s prophet and president Spencer W. Kimball received a revelation changing the church’s long-standing practice of denying its priesthood to Black men.626 It has since been adopted as part of the church’s scriptural canon, having been introduced and accepted by the membership at the church’s general conference on September 30, 1987.
Further in his defense of patriarchy, Critchlow issued a warning: “And until the Lord or his prophet speaks, don’t ever, Sister, make a pretense to priesthood power, and never simulate a priesthood ordinance.”627 Yet one of the most frequently told stories of the Mormon pioneers is that of Mary Fielding Smith, widow of Hyrum Smith (the brother of Joseph Smith), who laid her hands on a sick ox to heal it628 according to the (by her simulated) priesthood ordinance.629
We may also consider another quintessential discourse by Mormon Apostle Boyd K. Packer, in an address entitled “To Young Men Only,” delivered at a session of the all-male priesthood, on the subject of pubescent sexuality:
“I wish to explain something that will help you understand your young manhood and help you develop self-control. When this power begins to form, it might be likened to having a little factory in your body, one designed to produce the product that can generate life.
“This little factory moves quietly into operation as a normal and expected pattern of growth and begins to produce the lifegiving substance. It will do so perhaps as long as you live. It works very slowly. That is the way it should be. For the most part, unless you tamper with it, you will hardly be aware that it is working at all.
“As you move closer to manhood, this little factory will sometimes produce an oversupply of this substance. The Lord has provided a way for that to be released. It will happen without any help or without any resistance from you. Perhaps, one night you will have a dream. In the course of it the release valve that controls the factory will open and release all that is excess.
“The factory and automatic release work on their own schedule. The Lord intended it to be that way. It is to regulate itself. This will not happen very often. You may go a longer period of time, and there will be no need for this to occur. When it does, you should not feel guilty. It is the nature of young manhood and is part of becoming a man.
“There is, however, something you should not do. Sometimes a young man does not understand. Perhaps he is encouraged by unwise or unworthy companions to tamper with that factory. He might fondle himself and open that release valve. This you shouldn't do, for if you do that, the little factory will speed up. You will then be tempted again and again to release it. You can quickly be subjected to a habit, one that is not worthy, one that will leave you feeling depressed and feeling guilty. Resist that temptation. Do not be guilty of tampering or playing with this sacred power of creation. Keep it in reserve for the time when it can be righteously employed.
“One of you, perhaps, has not fully understood until now. Perhaps your father did not talk to you. You may already have been guilty of tampering with these powers. You may even have developed a habit. What do you do then?
“First, I want you to know this. If you are struggling with this temptation and perhaps you have not quite been able to resist, the Lord still loves you. It is not anything so wicked nor is it a transgression so great that the Lord would reject you because of it, but it can quickly lead to that kind of transgression. It is not pleasing to the Lord, nor is it pleasing to you. It does not make you feel worthy or clean.
“There are ways to conquer such a habit. First of all, you must leave that factory alone long enough for it to slow down. Resisting is not easy. It will take weeks, even months. But you can get the little factory slowed back to where it should be.”630
In this titillating masturbatory fantasy, hardly calculated to becalm the imaginations of the many teenage boys present, It does not even go in one’s own hand but must be kept in reserve for the time when it can be “righteously employed.” The discourse reduces male and female sexual expression, as well as marriage itself, to the most mechanistic level. Similarly, the final paragraph of the church’s 2004 “Statement” says mechanistically: “The Church accordingly favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that do not confer legal status on any other sexual relationship”—ignoring the reality than many unions, including marriages, are nonsexual. Furthermore, most significantly, there is no mention of female masturbation, which is of no account because there is no penis involved. I can find no counterpart “message to young women.” A Book of Mormon patriarch advises his sons to “be men,”631 but there is no counterpart advice for daughters. “Traditional” marriage exists for the purpose of transforming “mere” males into husbands through the mechanism of “married heterosexual intercourse.”632 Thus, knowing “where It goes” is the translation and true subtext of the code words “nature” and “natural/unnatural” in most homophobic discourse, which asserts that heterosexual, patriarchal “family” relations are “natural,” while homosexual ones are “unnatural.”633 It is argued that the single male-single female bond is the ideal type of “family” for the raising of children.634 As Schneider aptly states it, the very presence of these familiar social institutions, “the social currency they have, and the governmental support they receive…combine to make it seem reasonable and even natural for people to use them. Thus people can be said to be channeled into them.”635 But these are not appeals to nature in general, to Mother Nature, Jefferson’s nature and nature’s God636, Tennyson’s “nature red in tooth and claw,”637 for in nature we find the widest possible variety of patterns and relationships. Some mating pairs (“parents”) bond for life, make a “home” (nest, cave, burrow, warren), raise their young together, migrate and return together—perhaps thus replicating the human ideal. But many others do not. There are many cases of homosexual matings in nature; some species change sex as they mature (i.e., the Hawaiian hīnālea wrasse). All of these are perfectly “natural” parts of nature. The National Geographic Society produced a television program, “Out in Nature: Homosexual Behaviour in the Animal Kingdom,” about which it concluded:
“According to recent scientific research, more than 450 different species engage in homosexual activity. Based on the data, a covert sexual revolution has been taking place in nature and now creatures large and small are coming out of the animal kingdom closet. Explore the various ways homosexuality is expressed in the animal kingdom through courtship, affection, sex, and same-sex parenting.”638
But it is clearly not to any of these realities of nature that the “moral” appeal is made. As Thomas A. Metzger writes: “The difficulties in deducing human norms from nature are formidable. For instance, how could the principle of treating another human being as an end, not a means, ever be inferred from nature’s food chain?”639 In the sexual sphere, we must conclude, the only thing that is meant in the moral appeal is that the male places a penis into the female to impregnate her. Hence, in Hawai’i during the debate over same-sex marriage during the 1990s, the legislature amended the marriage statute to define marriage as between only one man and one woman; but perceiving the problem of the “(in)fertile octogenarian,” and in answer to the argument that many men and women get married for many purposes other than reproduction, and that sometimes married couples are incapable of procreating (the aged, women with hysterectomies, castrated men, the infertile), the legislature added the oft-repeated language that in a heterosexual marriage, there is “at least the possibility of procreation.”
“The purpose of the bill is to clarify that the marriage licensing statutes relate solely to male-female couples, and that the primary purpose of issuing marriage licenses is to regulate and encourage the civil marriage of those couples who appear, by virtue of their sex, to present the biological possibility of producing offspring from their union.”640
This is nothing more or less than the language of presumptive heterosexual intercourse and “knowing where It goes” dressed up in the language of legislation. In every case of heterosexual marriage, and of arguments such as the legislation, there is always the minimal presumption that a penis is in play, and the place where it is in play is a vagina. The legislature knows “where It goes.” The idea or enactment of same-sex marriage poses no threat to the institutions of heterosexual marriage or “the family.” They will go on as before, “for better or for worse.” But let us recur to a statement we discussed earlier. James B. Allen wrote:
“During the nineteenth century Church leaders sometimes took a stand with regard to presidential candidates, but when they did, that stand reflected what seemed to be in the best current interest of the Church. It did not reflect any effort to equate political action with religious doctrine, but rather was simply a pragmatic effort to promote the well-being of the Church as an organization.”641
Does the expanded definition of “marriage” poses a threat to the “well-being of the Church as an organization.” Of course, it does not. Rather, it poses a substantial, terrifying, and existential threat to the ecclesiastical mind’s-eye picture of the propriety of “where It goes” and that there is an “It” at all. In same-sex marriage, “It” becomes either “they” or “nemo.” That is the nature of the contest: It threatens sexual patriarchy and patriarchy’s sexuality. That is why legal definition must be carved in stone. This is why the make-weight argument that same-sex marriage will “destroy the family” is so specious: It must be made to seem a threat to religion so as to bring it clearly within the constitutional ambit. Religion-itself must be made to seem at risk in order that religion religious activists may retain control of all the important names and definitions.642 It must be made to seem that “families” are “under fire”643 because someone chooses to define “family” in a way other than the patriarchal way.644 This has been the God-given right of all patriarchs since God brought all the creatures, including the woman, to Adam to see what he (Adam) would name them.645 They were not allowed to name themselves. And only Adam’s sons (Cain and Abel) are named and act in the narrative. His daughters have no names or faces, yet we are told they existed because “Cain knew his wife, and she conceived, and bare Enoch.”646 They exist only to be thus “known” for reproduction—as Paul says, the “natural use of the woman.”647 The problem of fighting over the definitions of words is prohibited in Mormon scripture, where scorners, those who watch for iniquity, and who “make a man an offender for a word” will be “cut off.”648 This understanding is abundantly clear in the amicus curiae brief filed by the Mormons and other churches in the California same-sex marriage cases. This is also evident in a recent address, “Counsel to Young Men,” by Boyd K. Packer to the all-male “priesthood session” of the church’s April 2009 general conference. To the thousands of pre-teenage and teenage boys present, he ordered that “one day each of you will take a pure and precious daughter of our Heavenly Father to the temple to be” married.649 You will. This is not merely a “prophetic” vision or a hortatory admonition, nor even the mere future tense of the verb. It is an Adamic, patriarchal commandment—a fiat. To the statistical percentage of gay boys in the audience (not to mention the statistical percentage of lesbian “daughters” targeted as those to be taken), many of whom are not yet aware that they are gay, such a commandment will lead them ultimately to marry, against their nature, perhaps to have children, and thence to divorce when they can no longer live the patriarchal lie.
Finally, the problem of “where It goes” is at bottom the cause of the furor and anxiety over abortion. In an abortion, the male and female have obviously and properly known “where It goes” and applied that knowledge as “nature” intended. The fetus, even the embryo, is living proof of that. This is why the argument over whether the fetus-embryo is “human” or not is utterly meaningless, unpersuasive, and indeed sacrilegious to those who oppose abortion. Its humanity is not the issue and will never be the issue even if it is carried to full term. The sole issue is its very existence in any form, at any stage, from zygote to new-born infant, because that existence is proof positive—indeed the sine qua non—of the initial fact that someone knew “where It goes” and got it right. That irrefutable and irreplaceable proof was established once for all the instant the sperm met the egg, even if the donors of the sperm and egg were not married, were casual lovers, or were perpetrator and victim in a rape. The same is true even if the embryo is manufactured in vitro and regardless of whether the fetus is normal or suffers from disabling genetic defects. In any case, that proof must not be destroyed except by Nature and Nature’s God themselves in a miscarriage. The problem in an abortion is that sacred knowledge and proof and the act they represent are interdicted by the female and her accomplice (the doctor), who dishonor them by truncating their full implications and thus nullifying them ab initio—as if the act never took place and the holy knowledge never existed. She has, in reality, denied the “where” to “It”—given “It” no place proper to “go,” and has done so ab initio. In this analysis, there is absolutely no distinction between abortion and intercourse per os or per anum. Abortion to “save the life of the mother” stands on valid ground only insofar as it guarantees the existence of a “where” to which an “It” can “go” again, even if only theoretically.
This is also the reason the pro-life advocates are traditionally so indifferent to what happens to the mother and infant after the birth of the baby they have “saved,” and indeed why they are often so hostile to governmental provisions for the “welfare moms” and “fatherless” children created thereby. For once birth takes place, the unique evidence departs the “where” to which “It” had gone, and in the eternal scheme of things, it is now time for a new round of “knowing where It goes.” Thus, Adam and his sons (the first Patriarchs) “knew” their wives, and their wives conceived and bore them children.650 “Knowing where It goes” is, to borrow again from William Faulkner, “not of the heart but of the glands.”651 It is an unseemly preoccupation for religion and the church to have. The heart cannot be legislated for it is not the subject of the law. But the glands can and are. That is their nature. Law is all about glands, just as it is all about compulsion.652 In this context, when then are we to make of a statement such as this, which occurs at page 28 of the 2015 amicus brief:
Our faith traditions, and those of millions more Americans, include beliefs about the meaning of sexuality and powerful injunctions against sexual conduct outside traditional marriage.
But polygamous marriages include “sexual conduct outside traditional marriage.” How then can we understand this inconsistency? What is the one, irreducible distinction between polygamy, on the one hand, and same-sex marriage, on the other? Both are “outside traditional marriage,” but one—polygamy—apparently is ordained of God, while the other is unworthy of any protection, even at law. The one irreducible difference is the penis and “where it goes.” It is only with this penile understanding of “marriage” that the church can seriously argue, as it does at page 32 of the amicus brief, “
It cannot be said that the only definition of marriage known to this country until a decade ago – one held sacred and profoundly important to tens of millions of religious Americans – is irrational. For faith communities, a ruling that the traditional definition of marriage fails rational basis review.
Clearly, at least in Utah, the “only” and “traditional” definition of “marriage” was not one-man-one-woman, but penis-in-vagina.
Chapter 9: The Nature of Mormon Faith & Obedience
Faith-based religions are presumably based on faith. Faith is a gift of God.653 It comes of grace.654 Hence, it is not an entitlement, it is not inherent or innate, it cannot be summoned or demanded or earned or bought; it is not the only gift of God, and it is not given to everyone.655 Among the gifts of God, or “gifts of the Spirit,”656 faith is given to some but not to others. Nor is it a matter of will or compulsion. The gifts of God are functions or manifestations of the grace of God.657 Faith is the sine qua non of Mormon practice, for “without faith, you can do nothing.”658 The shield of faith is the power to “quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”659 Faith is the first principle of the gospel.660 Membership in the “household of faith” is wholly voluntary.661 This is why persuasion and long-suffering are mandated instead of the coercion of law. “A man convinced against his will / Is of the same opinion still.” Even if the law could specify that everyone must act as if s/he were a member of the household of faith662, it would forever be a pretense and a misery for those without the gift. It would come of the devil. It would be a permanent split between the two that the law itself would be powerless to bridge. It would forever divide society, making impossible the Constitution’s mandate to “form a more perfect union.”663 Hence, the meaning of the full context of the epigram from D&C 121 that began this discussion:
“33. How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day saints.”
“34. Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
“35. Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
“36. That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
“37. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
“38. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
“39. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
“40. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
“41. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
“42. By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
“43. Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
“44. That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
“45. Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
“46. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.”664
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