My hometown was home to a surprising number of Mormon families, considering it wasn’t located in either Utah or Arizona. One of my close friends in high school happened to be LDS, and she invited me to church with her once. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t tell my parents I was going beforehand.
For those of you who’ve never attended Mormon services before, here’s all you need to know: Since they don’t drink wine, the “crackers and juice” portion of the service includes individual paper water cups. After the group service, everyone breaks into groups based on age and gender. I was placed in the “Young Women’s” group.
In this particular meeting of this group, two 30-something women talked to a dozen high school girls about making decisions based on their beliefs. They talked about establishing your “agency”, so that when an opportunity presents itself in your life (at the time, I took this to mean, your friends ask you to smoke weed, or your boyfriend asks you if you want to have sex), you compare the issue to your agency, or list of beliefs, and find out how you feel. The idea really appealed to me. It’s like a dichotomous key for making decisions. Excuse me, time out. How do I feel about this? Let me check with my agency… Oh, nope. I don’t believe in premarital sex. Sorry! I’m terrible at making decisions as it is – I can’t even pick a brand of peanut butter at the grocery store. This seemed like the best solution EVER!
But something I learned in “my whole long life,” as I used to say when I was little, is that it’s more respectable to make the decision on a case-by-case basis. Then you can take into consideration all of the information you have (or don’t), and make an educated decision. For instance, smoking weed in middle school didn’t seem like a good idea, so I didn’t. Smoking weed when I was 18? Seemed about right. And it was. But if I’d decided when I was 15 at that LDS church in Montana that I would never do it, I would have had an ulcer before age 19. And I would have missed out on a ridiculously fun evening, in all honesty.
This is how I feel about political opinions. For instance, I’ve never really formed an opinion on immigration laws. I have never lived near the Mexican border, nor have I heard the arguments on both sides of immigration issues, so I haven’t formed an educated opinion. I know that immigration is the way my family got here, and I know that Mexicans are pretty great people (see: roommate), but I’ve never known someone who was negatively affected by an illegal immigrant worker. So I never talk about the subject, nor would I ever regurgitate someone else’s opinion to sound knowledgeable. If and when I hear arguments from both sides, I will form an opinion. And until I feel strongly about it, I’ll leave it in the hands of the folks who do.
I never really knew how I felt about late-term/partial-birth abortions. I’m VERY CLEAR about my pro-choice stance, but it’s hard to get behind aborting babies that are pretty close to being babies. I always sort of assumed I would fall back on the “slippery slope” argument, even though I knew it was flawed. But last week, I read the blog Uppercase Woman for the first time. Specifically, this post, which then led me to this heart-wrenching post. And now, I’m with Cecily. The idea that some poor couple would ever have to make the decision with which she and her husband were faced just about kills me, but the idea that they would have no choice is absolutely atrocious. And after reading all of this, I can’t imagine what she went through when she watched John McCain on TV, talking about Democrats “stretching” the idea of a woman’s health in order to rationalize abortions. What sort of sick people think that someone out there in the world is actually pro-abortion? Or that the decision is ever made easily?
When I think of Republicans, I imagine that they created their “agency” when they signed on with the Republican Party, and now all of their decisions are made for them. Are you pro-life with a pregnant teenage daughter? I hear wedding bells! Did you have a gay experience in an airport bathroom? Tell your wife you’re sorry, then sign up for a class at church that will help you control your urges. Never, under any circumstances, reevaluate your decisions based on the information presented. Even if it could save thousands of soldiers’ lives or help a family who isn’t able to pay their medical bills due to layoffs. Instead, send horrible, deplorable messages to innocent people who are already suffering, pretending you know something about their situation.
Because if you’re going to suffer with your repressed sexuality and pregnant teenage daughter who’s engaged to a man she doesn’t really want to marry, then by all means, bring us down with you. Don’t change your original, uneducated, untested opinion.