Mormons react to Utah man’s hunger strike to oppose same-sex marriage

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Twitter nullification argumentI read with interest in today’s news that a Utah man has ended a hunger strike that was engineered to oppose same-sex marriage in his state. On December 20, as soon as a judge affirmed the right of gay couples to get married, Trestin Meacham stopped eating solid food. For two weeks he subsisted on water and vitamins.

It must have been one heck of a Christmas.

Meacham’s fast is not terribly surprising, given the role of fasting in Mormon history and belief. And he’s not the first Latter-day Saint to use a hunger strike as a weapon for social change; at the other end of the political spectrum, Sonia Johnson did it in 1982 to persuade Illinois state legislators to vote in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Though Johnson had by that time been excommunicated from the Church for her feminist stance, her memoir makes clear that fasting for social change was a strategy born primarily from her Mormon heritage.

Perhaps it’s because of the example of Johnson—and the hate mail, death threats, and vitriol that she received at the hands of more conservative Mormons—that I am disappointed in the way some of my Mormon and post-Mormon compatriots have responded to Meacham’s fast.

The above examples vary from benign and funny (green Jell-O) to sinister and disturbing (death threats?!).

Here’s the sucky and glorious thing about being Christians. Being a molecule in the Body of Christ means that even when you want to amputate a hand or a foot, or even when you think that your vestigial appendix is living in another millennium and really ought to absent itself already, you don’t get that privilege. You don’t get to wish for so much as a haircut.

In fact, you shouldn’t even joke about the death of a member of the Body of Christ.

That’s the drill. We’re all in this Christ business together.

Don’t get me wrong; Twitter toleranceEquality is coming, and if anything I feel sorry for people like Meacham, who are on the wrong side of history and justice.

But I don’t want him to die because he disagrees with me.

  • Frank

    Why would anyone rejoice over the affirmation of sinful behavior. That has nothing to do with Christ that’s for sure.

  • TomW

    I’d rather be on the wrong side of mortal history than the wrong side of eternal history. There’s something to be said for aligning our will to God’s, and harmonizing with the teachings of the living prophets and apostles. As the song goes, “in this there is safety and peace.”

  • Fred

    I have no problem being on the wrong side of history as long as I’m on the right side of God.
    Homosexual behavior is on the WRONG side of God.

  • Steve W

    Are you pple really that blind and republican minded? …seems that way.. There should be Marriage Equality for EVERYONE regardless of gender preference.. ..seriously… are you people so stuck to the idea that marriage equality is bad that your willing to all starve to death?? If one guy wants to starve himself because he’s homophobic.. let him … that just shows his own ignorance … if you all are seriously are so singled minded, that you cant let anyone else be happy, because your so damn miserable yourself, then I say go on a hunger strike yourselves and make sure to pay your Tithings before you do though!

  • Jenny

    Steve W — Your remarks were rude, angry, and un-called-for. Speak your mind, that’s fine, but speak it without attacking people so viciously.

    The fact is, heterosexual marriage is a DOCTRINAL thing. Calling people names isn’t going to change that. Treating people with love has never meant accepting everything they do/say/think/feel as being righteous and worthy, or equal to the will of God. Anyone treating people badly will be chastised by The Lord, so we need to love. But we are also called upon as members to stand up for certain things — however unpopular at times — and those people will be in the right. Sometimes things change somewhat within the Church, but do you honestly believe that God will punish those who stand up for the things they know at any given time? Christ brought forth a new law, but do you SERIOUSLY believe that those who righteously lived the law before that won’t be blessed for it? At this time, we have been told that homosexual marriage is wrong. We have, in fact, been issued WARNINGS FROM GOD that should this become a practiced norm, it will “bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.” Do you seriously think those things were said lightly? When have warnings from God, gone unheeded by mankind, EVER ended well for mankind?

    Now, granted, I think that what this person is doing is a bit over the top, but hey — that’s just not something I would do myself, I can see why he made this choice regardless of my personal feelings on it.

    But remember that this is not just church policy we’re talking about, it is doctrine. Saying that it is something the Church should accept is like saying we should also accept fornication and “open marriages” — because, after all, people just “can’t help” being incredibly sexual and acting on it.

    But don’t attack people who disagree with you. Especially when they’re doing so peacefully.

  • Steve W

    My apologies for my rudeness earlier. I would like to address a few things that you mentioned. You said “at this time , you’re “told” that gay marriage is wrong… who says that , in accordance with legally binding law? The church? God? Church doctrine? None of those options count nor are they legally binding in a court of law on this planet. And neither is your bishops opinion either. As to God’s warnings, that’s in the book of Mormon. .. not the bible. And keep in mind that even the bible was a story/ semi history written by the winner’s of that time AFTER Jesus had been crucified. Roughly 30-40 years after the fact. And even in that it says homosexuality was frowned upon but not gay marriage. Who cares what someone’s sexual preferences are? Really! If 2 women get married does that just completely ruin your day or something?

  • Steve W

    Open up your minds and let go of your hate for a change. Then you’ll truly be able to be happy.

  • Sushipheliac

    Equality = Choice. I am an honest, law-abiding, tax-paying citizen, but have no choice. I OBEY THE LAW. I PAY MY TAXES BY THE LAW, but I can’t marry my soulmate? The one I love?…. Church and State must be separate. I don’t go knocking on Church-Goers’ doors pushing my political views. In fact, I try not to engage in religious or political topics, period. Just let me have equal rights. Please.

  • Earold Gunter

    Jenny, I disagree with you that “The fact is, heterosexual marriage is a DOCTRINAL thing.” Marriage was a custom way before Christianity was around. Just because it is in the Bible, doesn’t mean that Christians get to claim it as there own.

    My thoughts on Meacham. First, no more attention should be given to him, than Dennis Rodman going to North Korea, which is none.

    Second, he is just plain wrong. This in not about religious freedom. Same sex marriage does not stop anyone from practicing their religion, unless the practice includes moderating others behavior that don’t feel the same way, which is a violation of the constitution, and the very reason this country was founded in the 1st place.

    Finally, the last comment he made in his tweet that the fast had another purpose than that was shared with the public sounds as if he was doing it for religious purposes. Playing the martyr is something I see done by Christians every so often, but never has quite the same commitment about it as when done by a Muslim.;-)

    Finally, he should head the words written in Mathew 6; 16-17 and stop the publicity stunt, which is merely designed to show the world his commitment to his faith. If his God is truly real, then he should pray to it silently and it will take care of everything, right?;-). If it doesn’t, maybe he should think about whether it really exists.

  • Ovala T

    Why on earth do homosexuals feel that they don’t have equality by not having their unions call a “marriage?” What’s wrong with calling theirs a “civil union” or “partnership” or whatever and still have all the benefits afforded to those on traditional marriage? And what’s with this so called “wrong side of history” garbage? Ever since the beginning of time when God first instituted marriage it was always meant to be the union of one man and one woman, and it”s been that way for thousands of years throughout history. If anything, it’s the godless and misguided in the LGBTQ that are trying to impose their will on God and the sacred institution he established since the beginning on creation. If any hatred is displayed on this argument it’s often the vocal and vicious way this small minority insist on imposing their will on the majority who oppose calling their union a marriage. How normal is it for a child to hear his father call his partner “his wife” or his mother call her mate “her wife?” C’mon folks, can’t you all see the insanity of this at all?

  • Ovala T

    Ooops, I meant to say a man calling his partner “his husband.”

  • Ovala T

    Sushipheliac, Who’s stopping you or denying you your happiness or even preventing you from uniting with your soul mate in a civil union partnership? Why must your happiness be based on your union being labeled a marriage? I’m not against gays getting hitched to each other and practicing their lifestyle anyway they want and choose. I’m only against them calling their union a “marriage.” As for marriage benefits? Let them have it…all of them. If they’re not getting them now, then the laws should be change to reflect that. No gay person should be denied any benefit afforded to a traditional married person if he/she is in a lawful civil union partnership.

  • Sushipheliac

    Marriage is a LEGAL contract. A couple must obtain a MARRIAGE LICENSE before they can be married. If a couple decides their marriage isn’t working, LAWYERS and COURTS are involved. Nothing to do with the church. I reside in Utah, and as you know there is major controversy happening. Those same sex couples who happened to marry during that small window of opportunity are now in limbo. Couples who LEGALLY obtained a marriage license and were LEGALLY married are now fighting for marriage benefits. Civil Unions for same sex couples in Utah are not even recognized. Couples are being denied spousal health insurance among other rights at this time due to the court’s decision of stay on Amendment 3.

  • Larry

    Separate but Equal argument?
    In this day and age?

    1. People opposing marriage equality oppose anything where civil unions have the same legal effect as marriage so it is not an equivalent. Essentially you are saying segregation of legal status is OK by you. Especially when supported by prejudice and nothing else

    2. The legal state of marriage has universally recognized rights, obligations, legal and cultural connotations which are uniform and consistent. Civil Unions are always treated as less than marriage in that respect.

    3. The word “marriage” does not belong to your religion or any others. Marriage laws did not come from religion. Marriage is and always has been under the control of the state. What your God says about marriage is only relevant to you and your church. Nobody else needs to be concern.

  • B. Miller

    Or in fewer words, disagree without being disagreeable. 🙂

  • Sushipheliac

    Here is a quote from Evan J’date Kessler on his Twitter account: “Funny how we know gay people exist and don’t know if God exists, but deny gay people their rights on the off chance it might piss God off.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • Doc Anthony

    If it’s not a man and a woman, then it’s not a marriage. It’s just a mess. America is rapidly moving towards real disaster, and there won’t be any quick do-overs.

    Mormons believe in God. Gay activists, de facto, do not.

  • ThomasT

    Equality is nice. 10 is equal to 100. Happy is equal to sad. Sick is equal to healthy. Virtue is equal to vice. Night is equal to day. Good is equal to bad. My opinion is equal to yours. Why don’t we just let judges redefine every term there is? Marriage was defined for hundreds of years in the law as one thing and now it is being defined as another. So, judges can simply redefine any legal term they like to be whatever they like. Slavery will now be defined as freedom, etc., etc., etc. The law cannot make two unequal things equal just by saying they are. And if legal words can be changed to mean something never meant then every law is up for reinterpretation by any judge or politician with an agenda. Everything means nothing. I don’t believe that the laws of nature and of nature’s God are so worried about equality or change and if we are just talking about man’s laws then what makes one law better than another. There is no right side without referring to some higher source of right and wrong than mankind.

  • Steve W

    Doc, Your completely off base.. I personally know some Gay people that are Mormon .. and they even have their Temple recommends …So your point is moot and invalid..

    *** Would you like fries with that? ***

  • Dana

    Amen, Larry. Ovala, if you think there is nothing wrong with someone calling there relationship a “civil union”, by all means call yours what you want. But you don’t get to dictate what other people can call theirs.

  • Dana

    As a former Mormon, I can testify Mormonism has nothing to do with the body of Christ, and in days past have gone out of their way to state such. They want to be considered legit Christians by outsiders just so more people will open their doors to their missionaries and convert. But their salvation is based upon their works, and they rejected the grace of Jesus Christ.

  • Dana

    Mormons believe in a God, but not the one of the Bible. The God of the Bible was not a gorified man. The God of the Bible didn’t have physical sex with his daughter to create Jesus Christ. The God of the Bible didn’t curse man with black skin so that Satan would have a representative on Earth.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Fasting to the point of harming yourself physically is directly opposed to guidance from LDS leaders about not going overboard on fasting. The point of fasting in LDS doctrine is not to hold yourself hostage to force God to help you. It is to concentrate the mind and spirit away from gratifying physical needs, so that each hunger pang anbd thought of food is a reminder to think about the prayer we are making to God, to which our fast is dedicated. And it is a reminder that we are making a sacrifice directly provide food to another person who may have little choice about being hungry.

    Since it is outside the parameters of church-endorsed fasating, he is not going to influence other LDS members. And the people who oppose his viewpoint are so committed to their own goal they are unlikely to be persuaded to change their minds because they donl;t want to see him suffer.

    Indeed, even if people did change their minds, it would not influence the course of events because Judge Shelby has taken the issue out of the hands of the people. He has deprived the citizens of Utah from any role in making the decision. A hundred people could fast themselves to death, and a hundred thousand people could be persuaded to change their viewpoints, but it would not make any difference to Judge Shelby, who believes that the majority of Utah voters are evil and bigoted and don’t deserve the right to make the laws that govern their community.

    I don;t think same sex marriage is a good idea. I think it will have long term consequences for children and for society, that many people are even willing to think about for fear of being the object of death threats and hate mail. But I believe that instituting same sex marriage through judicial fiat is far more dangerous, because it destroys democracy and ouor most fundamental political right in america, the right to govern ourselves, and make our decisions as communities through open discussion and persuasion rather than coercion. I think Judge Shelby’s lawless assertion of the right to throw out democratic referenda is going to destroy all respect for the judicial system. If the judicial system insists it can overrule democracy, the people are going to overrule the judicial system.

  • Doc, if God doesn’t like gays and lesbians, why does he keep making so many of them?

  • Larry

    Very tough to do that when the topic is the civil liberties of others. This is a discussion about how people live their lives. Its a discussion which demands strong feelings.

    You have no malice or passion about it because you are not affected by it, nor know people who are. If you can be dispassionate about it, either you are not really concerned or don’t take it seriously. I believe the opponents to marriage equality are bigoted religious zealots who lack a rational argument to their point of view. The use of religion in such discussion merely is an excuse to act badly to others in public and claim some form of social sanction.

    I disagree with your POV, your motives and that you are trying not to be disagreeable. Your post reeks of a malicious and disagreeable intent but you are tone deaf to it. You ask for a level civility you do not exhibit yourself. So it is returned in kind.

  • Larry

    If you require divine guidance to tell the difference between right and wrong, just and unjust, you have no morality to speak of. You are merely a sociopath on a spiritual leash.

    Marriage has been defined in different ways for centuries. You are just being ignorant and relying on talking points. In Biblical days it was a commercial transaction or a political tool. Women were chattel property of the men in their family. Polygamy, use of concubines, war captives and the forced marriage of rape victim and rapist are all Biblically sanctioned. “God’s law” does not jive with a modern sane society.

    Your argument is especially ridiculous since you cannot cough up a reason why the definition of marriage needs to remain beyond, “its the way we always did it”. Traditions are worthless in of themselves unless you can justify their existence.

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