Saturday, July 24, 2010

It's Always Better When We're Together

I read an interesting article in the Washington Post about Catholic Latinos. 57% of Catholic Latinos in California support gay marriage, as compared to only 22% of Protestant Latinos. Both groups are grounded in strong family values, but that means different things to the different groups which may be why they view gay rights differently.

For most Catholic Latinos, family values means family loyalty. They spend a lot of time with their family, and their religious worship is based on family milestone events, holidays, and cultural festivals. For them, family is family, so if a child comes out of the closet, he or she is still family and should still be loved, included, and defended. Because of this, Catholics Latinos "say they trust the parents of gay and lesbian children more than their own clergy as a source of information about homosexuality." (Public Religion Research Poll) They support gay people because they support their sons and daughters, cousins, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, etc who are gay.

Protestants, on the other hand, believe in family values as they connect to their more individual based worship. Family values means teaching children to seek out individual salvation, usually through a personal conversion experience that leads one to confess Jesus as personal Lord and Savior. In practice this makes them like many Latter-day Saints who are more prone to believe what their religious leaders say about homosexuality than their own gay family members.

I see both attributes--family loyalty and individual family morality--in Latter-day Saint culture, but unfortunately I see too much of the second and not enough of the first. I wish Latter-day Saint families would more often react with loyalty to their children who come of the closet instead of loyalty to the general pronouncements of church authorities. I am blessed to have family that fall somewhere in the middle. My parents do trust what their leaders in Salt Lake tell them, but they are also loyal to their children and showed support by coming to my wedding even though they didn't believe I should marry a man. My heart goes out to those young gay Mormons who are not so lucky.


Rob said...

Very perceptive, as always. Isn't it interesting how individual values and priorities can significantly skew opinions even among those who all pay lip service to the idea that God has spoken His final word about homosexuality and there should be no debate about it.

And again, as usual, the Mormon approach blends some of both Catholic and Protestant traditions and puts the result on steroids. The results we see all around us should therefore not be surprising.

Pablo said...

Family values = Family loyalty. Simple and sublime.

It strikes me that in any family there are about a million disagreements about as many issues. Yet a loving family still shows intense loyalty. It comes down to love. This poll is a window into the value placed on love versus rightness in different communities of people, or at least where on that spectrum different communities place themselves.

We all know the favorite Mormon song "Families Can Be Together Forever." It is a wonderful sentiment until you realize that it's conditioned upon compliance with a regimen rather than founded upon true love within the family. The message of the song and the concept of "forever families" too often misses mark by ignoring the joy of the present.

Unfortunately, for many Mormon families, "love" is conditioned on obedience to dogma and tradition, which doesn't give much room for loyalty. Dan, I'm glad to hear your family is at least somewhere in the middle.

Daniel said...


Well stated. That song that used to hold so much meaning and hope for me now sends shivers down my spine. It is not about being together as a family, it is about manipulating individuals to a common end. It is about excluding all who don't fit one mold. It isn't an accident that the song reads "Families can be together forever" not "Families will be together forever."

Pablo said...

Daniel: No accident indeed. The word "will" just doesn't fit well in a mindset in which love and family connections are "conditioned on your faithfulness."

I heard a story long ago (I'd like to confirm its accuracy sometime) that in the 1960s when the phrase "Choose the Right" was selected for use in Primary, there was debate between two phrases: 1) "Choose the Right" and 2) "Choose the Good."

I've often wondered how the culture of the church might be different had "Choose the Good" become the universal Mormon phrase. The difference between the two phrases is not so subtle, which is exactly why the "right" was chosen over the "good."

(BTW Daniel, sorry about shortening your name in my earlier comment. Maybe you didn't mind, but I should have asked first. Love your blog.)

Pablo said...

Found the source of the story I heard. I got it wrong. The issue was whether to include the word "the" or state it as "Choose Right." Here's a snippet from the article I have, which is based on an interview with Norma Nichols, who was on the Primary General Board when the decision was made:

"I remember we thought about dropping the word 'the' out and having just a CR ring - Choose Right," Nichols says today. "I went home that night to think about it. That's when the inspiration came that the word 'the' was the most important word of all. Choosing right could mean many things, but choosing the right meant there was only one way. We kept the 'T' in CTR."

Sorry for getting my story wrong. The real version is even worse. "Only one way." Sigh.

cj said...

Interesting and insightful post.