From a Concerned Reader

A regular (though mostly quiet) BCC reader recently emailed me the following:

My Church Service Troubles

Recently, my service in a church calling has started to bother me. It’s not the time investment, although there’s a lot of that. I am a member of a Stake Presidency, after all. What’s bothering me is that my service in the calling might be involving me in unfairness toward gay people in the Church.

Let me tell you about two recent disciplinary councils we had to hold. The first was for a 52-year-old bachelor. He had a years-long pattern of sexual sin. Starting in his early twenties, he began to go to massage parlors in order to pay for sex. He sometimes also found women he could pay for sex on street corners. All told, he had paid for sex several dozen times.

The second council was for a 22-year-old single brother. This young man considers himself gay but wants to be a faithful Mormon. He says he’s trying to live a celibate life. One night recently, he failed at that goal and had sex with a non-member young man who was about his age. This was the only time he had ever had sexual relations.

During both councils, I felt the Spirit prompting me to speak out for mercy. And I did. Maybe this was the wrong thing to do.

In the first council, for the 52-year-old, the members of the High Council and the rest of the Stake Presidency were moved by my speech in favor of mercy. The man was disfellowshipped, not excommunicated. He was also referred to LDS Family Services. I felt good about this.

In the second case, the 22-year-old, nobody listened to me. He was excommunicated.

I know that both of these men broke the Law of Chastity. Church discipline obviously applied to both. But I can’t help thinking that the older man had the greater sin. I worry that my speaking out for mercy helped make things come out wrong. How can I keep serving in the Church when my service might lead to punishing gay people more harshly than straight people who have committed the same or even worse sins?

When the Stake President asked me to support his decision in both cases, I agreed. Was that a sin? How do I repent?

[Note: This is a sensitive topic, not least because it deals with personal confidentialities. The personal (but not substantive) details have been altered to protect the innocent (or guilty, as the case may be). Some, no doubt, will consider it plain wrong to talk about disciplinary councils at all. Others will assume that I simply made the whole thing up to ignite controversy (though I assure you that I really received this email from a real BCC participant whom I really trust to be telling the truth). Others still might demand that I disclose the actual details and sources. I have no such details, and will categorically refuse to reveal the identity of the source. I don't want to hurt any of the actual people involved, any more than they might have already been by what happened. Don't like these ground rules? You're completely welcome to not participate in the discussion at all.]

From a Concerned Reader

Comments

  1. It seems like an odd result.

    I know of disciplinary councils where the flip side was true–a gay married man with a long history of acting out with male partners was disfellowshipped (for a second time) rather than excommunicated.

    The facts say the concerned reader is a counselor to the stake president. When I have served on bishopric disciplinary councils, we have always discussed the matter until everyone is completely comfortable with the decision. If anyone expressed any discomfort, we would continue to discuss the matter.

    At the stake level, I once served on a council that was reconvened a couple of months later, I think because there was not a clear feeling on the part of the stake presidency what the outcome should be.

    If this good brother feels like an injustice was done, I would suggest he raise it with the president to whom he is a counselor.

  2. AspieMom says:

    That must have been very difficult for you. I commend you for pleading for mercy. It isn’t fair, and neither the church nor the young man were served. What a waste.

  3. It would be helpful to know why he thought speaking for mercy “helped make things come out wrong.” That seems like a non sequitur.

  4. I think this shows the inherent unjustness of the disciplinary councils. You have a room full of middle-aged men, all presumably heterosexual, and of course they will go easy on the heterosexual. I’m intimately familiar with a case in which a former bishop repeat adulterer was just disfellowshipped after his most recent adultery. Do you think the fact the he was a back-slapping good old boy had anything to do with his lack of punishment? I sure do. Plus, he was in business with half of the High Council and Stake President. I feel sorry for the 22 year old. He has probably left the church forever. Sad.

  5. We should all jump right in and say that someone acted stupidly in this matter.

  6. I don’t think we should presume injustice here, and I don’t think the point of the email was to expose injustice. I think the emailer is expressing concern about his own role, about the possibility that he facilitated a misuse of mercy, and about what he might do to come to peace with his role.

    I’m not going to defend the system of Church discipline. Nor do I think this is the best place for criticizing it, however legitimate the concerns might be. This is a personal story about personal struggle, and I think we should not lose sight of that.

  7. “When the Stake President asked me to support his decision in both cases, I agreed. Was this a sin? How do I repent?”

    This really hits at the heart of what it means to sustain our leaders. Can a person sustain his/her leader without actually agreeing with that leader’s decision?

    For example, suppose that I believe the church should not have acted in support of Prop 8 — can I really say that I sustain the FP and Q12?

    –One possible perspective is that I do sustain these men as the leaders of the church, since I don’t recognize any other person as having the authority to make decisions for the church. I am sustaining the FP’s and Q12’s authority to make that decision, even if I don’t agree with the decision.

    –Another possible perspective is that I don’t sustain these men as prophets, seers, and revelators, because I have doubts about whether their decision is really God’s will, and I won’t act to support the cause they are espousing.

    I prefer the first perspective above. So I think the commentor in Brad’s post might be able to justify his support of the Stake President by saying, “In the end, this is his decision to make, and not mine, and so I must acknowledge his perogative here.” But I also think that the commentor could have decided not to back the SP’s decision, and this would not necessarily have been a “failure to sustain” him — it would simply be an honest expression of personal opinion that was not necessarily an attempted coup.

  8. What strikes me the most about this this story is that in my experience church disciplinary councils tend to be more merciful towards younger people. Esp people in their early 20’s. My exp is that single people in their 20’s rarely get called to full stake disciplinary councils. Its almost always a bishops court if it even gets that far.

  9. It can’t be a bishop’s court if the young man holds the Melchizedek Priesthood, can it, bbell? That’s automatically stake level.

  10. It is always difficult to comment on such sensitive issues and the uniqueness of each disciplinary that takes place. If there was always a definitive answer to the sin we would seldom hold these councils. e.g. a list of possible sins and the associated judgement to be passed.

    Clearly this can’t be done due to the uniqueness of people, circumstance and not knowing the mind of The Lord for a such a specific situation.

    On the face of it this seems an injustice but without being present in such councils one could never comment. I have sat in many stake councils and one thing that always impresses me is the power of the spirit in these meetings. To cast judgement on such councils when not set apart to do so is virtually impossible.

  11. Matt W. says:

    Ardis, that is incorrect. If the Young man is a member of the Bishopric, it can not be a bishop’s court, though..

  12. Ardis,

    It really depends in my exp. I am basing my opinion of many RM buddies that have been involved in church discipline. Rarely did things ever get kicked up to a full stake council.

    I would like to hear from say Kevinf who has enough exp to offer a pretty solid opinion on this.

  13. I’m sorry … there just isn’t enough information here to make a judgment on the proceedings. I think, from what little information we have here, DavidH has the best comment. In the end, if this good brother feels uncomfortable with the decision, he should return and speak with the Stake President. If the issue cannot be resolved to his satisfaction, I’d encourage the good brother to take it to the general authority with stewardship over his stake. While seeking out the advice of sage friends is always an options for us in our callings, it’s important to remember that we sage friends do not have the keys necessary to receive revelation on the matter.

    I wish this brother God’s speed.

  14. I read the source of personal tension in this case to be not a sense that the system is unjust but that the emailer both feels that the decision in the case of the younger man was wrong and that the SP is still an inspired leader deserving of sustaining and personal respect. The emailer submitted to the ruling, but retains a sense that mercy still should have been extended in both cases.

  15. Egad, I hate that I can’t edit my comments after posting.

    Please pretend the orthographic errors don’t really exist.

  16. It is hard to make judgments based on the scant information here. Do I find the “sins” of one of these men worse than the other? No (at least, not at this stage). So I don’t feel like I am really in a position to question to stake leadership’s judgment. Would I tend to err on the side of mercy? Probably. But what do I know (maybe it wouldn’t even be an error)?

    Life has taught me to rely on God to pick up the pieces when we screw up. There are too many things in life that are too easily shattered for it to work any other way. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t strive for justice, compassion, peace, or safety; I just often fear that we do as much damage as we seek to avoid.

  17. Thanks, Matt and bbell. Since church courts never seem to be discussed by the church, it’s hard to get a handle on them.

  18. Ardis (#9) —

    You’re right that a bishop cannot excommunicate a MP holder — only a stake president can. I believe that a Melchizidek Priesthood holder must go before a stake disciplinary council (instead of a ward-level council) if there is a possibility that the proceedings will lead to excommunication. But I think the bishop can hold a ward-level court and disfellowship an MP holder.

  19. And, I believe that a Branch President can excommunicate a MP holder.

  20. Matt W. says:

    Ardis, it’s all in the handbook,
    here

  21. The relevant paragraph from page 105 – 106 of the 2006 CHI says that the stake president has authority over church discipline of all members in the stake, but bishops normally administer discipline unless evidence indicates that a person who holds the Melchizidek Priesthood is likely to be excommunicated.

  22. For me, I understood the speaker to say that he worried that his speaking up for mercy in the first case might have contributed to things coming out harshly in the second case. That is, I understood him to be saying that perhaps he felt that he helped tip the scales towards mercy in the first case, such that when the second case was up, the figurative scales were swinging back towards justice.

    Assuming that I’m reading him correctly, I think what he’s saying makes sense. In the criminal justice system, you like to think that each sentencing case is handled in a vacuum and each sentence is handed out totally on its own merits. However, I can see where in a situation of successive sentencing hearings, a prior sentencing could affect the temperament of the judge and thus influence the latter sentencing. I don’t mean to say that this is a perfect analogy for a church court (nearly all accounts of church courts that I’ve read and heard about have undeniably involved a reasoned, and merciful spirit), but just that I could see how part of what happened in the prior church court of the older man could have affected the disposition of the council in the second court.

  23. Ardis,

    One quick thought. Bishops and SP’s rarely have any stomach for Exing young singles. I have actually spent quite a bit of time with two SP’s discussing this at length during my YM work over the last decade. Usually the conversation goes along the lines of “the church has to much invested in these young people to ex them for youthful LOC violations” “Usually the exing itself serves as a detriment to the actual repentance process since the YSA usually goes inactive and is lost to the church for many years if not forever”

  24. IMO the 52-year-old had the greater sin, and neither should have been exed. If I had been asked to support the second decision–exing the young gay man (assuming that this council was held after the other and the disparity in discipline was obvious)–I don’t think I could have. Easy for me to say, of course, as I’ll never be involved in such a situation. I wouldn’t call supporting the SP’s decision a sin, but maybe that’s mostly because I’m sympathetic to the counselor. Perhaps the most he could do was speak for mercy.

  25. The fact that mercy was withheld in the second case doesn’t make the extension of mercy in the first a mistake. While I can understand the heartache expressed in the emailer’s question, nothing he did was a sin. In fact, because of his plea for mercy, he is probably in a unique position to offer the love and support that the excommunicated young man surely needs and might not accept from other members in High Council or Stake Presidency.

    I can’t imagine the pain the emailer is experiencing. My heart hurts for everyone involved and I don’t even know them.

  26. We would be wise to remember that we are NOT judges in Israel. We do not hold the priesthood authority to know everything about these cases. We would be foolish, therefore, to think that any judgement could be so easily passed by a simple, quanitifiable comparison.

    We have a responsibility to support and sustain the leaders of the Church. This is what we committed to do when we raised our right hands with our sustaining vote. When the member of the stake presidency in question was sustained, that is what he agreed to do. As long as he operates under the guidance and instruction of the Spirit, he has committed no sin.

    There’s a reason that disciplinary hearings are presided over by a council, with multiple leaders having the ability to provide input. By the mouth of two and three witnesses shall all things be established. We cannot condemn our leaders for fulfilling their responsibilities to the best of their abilities, even though their verdicts may appear unpopular by comparison. The reason for confidentiality is that God never intended His children to compare themselves to each other–rather, first, foremost, and ALWAYS to Christ first.

    We would be wise not to discuss such matters over the internet. It misrepresents the Church and makes us look like gossip mongers. Unless of course a principle to gnaw over publicly like a nasty bone is more important to us than the condemnation of the Lord.

  27. If this was a standardized test question i would have to answer “there is not sufficient information to answer.”

    It all depends on whether the brothers are better served with their respective disciplines. I don’t think that a Church disciplinary hearing is intended to follow some sort of sin-severity matrix.

  28. Overreach much, paradox?

    seriously, you’re tilting at major windmills here. The emailer did not express condemnation for his SP, neither did anyone here express negative judgment of the emailer. This is far from gossip mongering. I think the points you make about what it means to sustain a leader are important. But I think they are shared by those here, including the emailer, for whom these decisions pose concerning questions. No one is presuming the wisdom to know how these cases should have been handled or arrogating to themselves the powers of discernment of a judge in Israel. Chillax…

  29. Excommunicating the young gay guy might be better for him psychologically in the long run. Sure, he’s forced out of the Church and all that entails….but it may also prevent him from trying to change his sexual orientation (impossible and very damaging), marrying a woman (disaster for all involved), etc. Maybe this will jolt him into dealing with his homosexuality in a healthier way. Maybe it’s more merciful to show him to the door early in this Church, given its current views on homosexuality.

    I know this perspective will not sit well with most faithful members, and I don’t mean to anger anyone here.

  30. We should all jump right in and say that someone acted stupidly in this matter.

    But we’re not White Sox fans, so we wouldn’t make that mistake, right? :)

    (My lifelong emnity toward the White Sox and their pathetic fan base is well known, only surpassed – maybe – by my utter disdain for Red Sox fans and Yankess fans…)

  31. That’s a provocative and very interesting point, Mike.

  32. Just my $.02: Excommunication doesn’t equate to mercy being withheld, nor does a “lesser” consequence necessarily qualify as “merciful”.

    I’m with the “return and visit with the SP” advocates (DavidH, etc.)

  33. MikeInWeHo (29) – There’s a certain amount of logic in your perspective. It’s hard to determine what the SP may have been inspired to do, without knowing all of the comments made by participants in the council.

  34. anon for this says:

    I’ve sat in perhaps three dozen bishop’s courts and one stake court, and I’ll say I’m surprised at this result. In my limited experience, if someone is seriously trying and admits the mistake, even if grievous, disfellowshipment is usually the worst it gets, barring extrordinary circumstances (pedophilia, e.g.).

    That said, I’m reticent to second-guess a council based on the limited information available above. There are a lot of factors to consider and a lot of questions I’d want the answer to first.

    I will echo DavidH’s experience in reconvening. I saw it done once after the bishop went home and decided we’d all been too precipitous. Hopefully, the counselor above has a relationship with the president wherein he can at least talk about his reservations.

  35. Sanford says:

    The sad thing here is that based on what I have seen in similar situations Mike (29) is probably right.

  36. I participated in exactly one disciplinary council while on the High Council, and it was actually concerning rebaptism. I was greatly moved both by the sincere display of love for this individual and by the earnest seeking for the Spirit during our (opinionated and lively) discussion and while the Stake Presidency deliberated and prayed. When we unanimously raised our hands to the square to sustain the decision of the Stake Presidency, there was a palpable feeling of both justice and mercy having been satisfied.

    To the degree that the council system overshadows whatever unfair or unkind thoughts lie in the hearts of individual councilors, I believe this remarkable system accomplishes the work and will of the Lord.

    That said, if this is weighing on you, talk to the Stake President. Tell him your concerns. The worst that can happen is that he’ll blow it off. A more likely consequence is a more unified stake presidency.

  37. Mike,
    I’m certainly in the demographic of those you would guess your opinion would offend, and I find your opinion to be the very best of all so far. The exact same thoughts came to my mind, but I’d have never dared say as much without your prompting.

  38. I think the question is about how the man feels. If he asked my advise, I would tell him to find a quiet spot and pray, to see if the Spirit has a personal message for him, before taking any action.

  39. I took a bioethics class at BYU about five years ago, where we discussed homosexuality. I was of the mind that homosexual lust was not any worse than heterosexual lust; the vast majority of my classmates disagreed with me. Perhaps the majority of church members and leaders feel the same way as my classmates about acting on that lust, and that shows up in the disciplinary councils.

  40. I agree with MikeinWEHO as well to a point, as much as I wish that it didn’t have to be that way. I believe some gay members are probably better off spiritually and emotionally outside of the church. I am gay and currently very active in my ward. It is at times frustrating, but overall I feel like the benefits I get from being active are currently outweighing the drawbacks. I can’t say that will always be the case. I sincerely hope it will be, but am willing to accept that could very likely change.

    But getting to the point of Brad’s post, based on the scarce details, this concerned reader seems like he has a kind heart and a willingness to listen to and follow the spirit. I think only he can know what he needs to do, with the help of the spirit. In some twisted way, it makes me feel good that he’s at least thinking about and experiencing some anguish over this. Not because I think he deserves to go through that but I feel heartened that someone in his position is thinking about these things instead of summarily doling out pure justice in cases like these, which I think happens far too often.

  41. I can’t see how asking/pleading for mercy on behalf of another is ever wrong. But then I also believe that if you’re sustaining someone, you need to tell him when he’s wrong (or when he might be wrong) – what’s a counselor for if not to give counsel?

    If the issue continues to gnaw at the writer, it would make sense for him to take it up with the SP – he’ll get it off his chest and the SP can figure out if he still needs/wants counsel from that person.

    In the end, though, despite my personal feeling that the younger man’s sin seems to be more of a “youthful indiscretion” type, maybe it was more merciful to say to the gay man, “This Church is not for you at this time.” It’s terribly sad that he’s been cut off, but, really, look at what he’d have to put up with the rest of his life if he remained a member – we don’t have the best track record on supporting, sustaining and fellowshipping gay LDS members.

    Perhaps all we can say is (a) there is an avenue for appeal if either accused men wants to take that step; and (b) the Ultimate Authority is God and nobody will be cut off unjustly or unfairly merely because other humans were unable to overcome their particular prejudices while examining the details and meting out justice in the lives of their fellow sinners.

  42. two things I must say.

    1. You should not be talking publically about disciplinary councils. Even though you do not devalge the identity of these people it should be considered confidential if not sacred.

    2. You are right to speak out with the voice of the spirit. I do tend to see a bias in the relating of the two unrelated instances you mention. But I must ask as a Member, what is the sin of homosexuality? Where do our scriptures speak out against homosexuality and not hetrosexuality? All I can tell is that it is not sex with the same gender that is the offense but sex outside of mariage. Also I do not think the scriptures call for celibicy but to seek the wisdom of God and not the flesh of man.

    We all screw up, and I am glad you have compation. You really do have a difficult calling, but it is given to you and not someone else because you have been called to that position. Keep following the promptings of the Spirit even if they don’t listen. It is like Samuel the Lamanite, Noah, Even Nephi. When people don’t listen, you just need to follow those promptings that much closer. When prompted to be still, listen.. When prompted to speak open your mouth and the words will be there.

    God bless,
    -Ditchu

  43. Hibernia says:

    If we accept that the general authorities of the church are not infallible then it makes sense that the local leaders are also not infallible. I wonder if the writer has discussed how he feels with the SP. He can sustain the SP in the office he holds but not agree with his decisions. It would be only fair to the SP though for the writer to tell him how he feels.

    At least this case came to be judged. I know a young gay man who married a beautiful young woman in the temple, even though, unknown to her, he was having sex with men the whole time. She was devestated when he told her after 2 years of marriage and she still bears the scars. He has never appeared before a church counsel of any type.

  44. Jon Miranda says:

    Jon said
    I am gay
    Jon, there is another school of thought out there. The idea is that people are not born gay and that same sex attraction can de diminished.
    http://www.evergreeninternational.org
    Getting to the excommunication, gay sex is considered a serious sin which stops your progress here and can stop your eternal progress. I don’t agree with Mikeinweho and others that if it feels good do it.

  45. Jon Miranda says:

    Ditchu Said
    But I must ask as a Member, what is the sin of homosexuality?
    The scriptures and the prophets are clear on this subject.
    Engaging in homosexual copulation is one of the worst things you can do to your spirit and your body.

  46. Hibernia says:

    Someone once said to me that there are more gay people in the Mormon church than in any other group of society. If this is true, why do you think this is?

  47. Jason L. says:

    Hibernia, it’s an untestable hypothesis and a silly hypothetical.

  48. Hibernia says:

    Jason, I honestly don’t know anything about it. I’m not saying that it’s true but someone said that to me and I never knew who to ask about this.

  49. Jon Miranda – Thank you for your suggestion, I’ve actually been involved in Evergreen affiliated groups for over 10 years. When I say I am gay, I mean that I am attracted to my own gender. I don’t mean that I’m having promiscuous sex and I don’t even necessarily mean that I think I was born this way. I don’t think it’s quite that simple.

  50. I haven’t made it through all the comments, but I agree with #29 (MikeInWeHo). Excom for the younger man may be in his best interest. To be honest, I think he will probably lead a much healthier, happier life. He may be able to think through his sexuality and make decisions about his faith and his relationship with God without some of the pressures from the Church. Plus, he is no longer held accountable for covenants that he previously made.

    Myabe one day he will come back to the church. Maybe he will meet a nice man and get married and have babies and live a healthy life. Maybe he will do both!

    Perhaps the OP’s desire for mercy was met in both cases. Maybe he was excommunicated precisly BECAUSE it was best for him and the more mericful option.

  51. merrybits says:

    Thank you MikeInWeHo for being the voice of reason. We are that we might have joy. Joy is not synonymous with being Mormon.

  52. It is also, I might add, not the opposite of being Mormon. I’ll give you joy in Mormonism if you will give me joy in it.

    That sounds a lot dirtier than I intended…

  53. Just to echo Mike’s view, if a Church court is a court of love rather than a court of justice, a court of purity, etc., we must believe that excommunication is, in certain circumstances, a loving and merciful result. If we don’t honestly believe that some people are honestly better off outside of the church, the term “court of love” is just a grim euphemism.

  54. Kevin Barney says:

    Wow, I didn’t originally think of Mike’s point, but when he made it I thought that was a great observation and I agree with him.

    I’m glad I’ve never been in a position to be involved in conducting a DC; that would be a hard experience for me.

  55. “When the Stake President asked me to support his decision in both cases, I agreed. Was that a sin?”

    I didn’t read all the comments, so this may have been covered. But what struck me when I read this was that it is simply not okay that one person can have that much influence. I do not think it is appropriate that he asked you to support his position. He called you as a counselor, not as a cheerleader. He should ask you for you honest thoughts. If you show any uncertainty, you should work together until a clear, comfortable consensus is reached. The fact that he asked for your support suggests to me that perhaps he knew you had reservations, and wanted you to overlook them because of his position and authority.

    Not okay.

  56. Holden Caulfield says:

    In my opinion, a counselor in a presidency only fails his president when he doesn’t counsel. A counselor needs to express his feelings about the matter at hand and when a vote is called for, vote your feelings. It has been my experience, however, that the vote is unanimous, even when the feelings aren’t, which in my opinion is not right. People are people and even in this setting there is peer pressure that people cave to. Unfortunate. In the end, it is the SP’s call based on his feelings.

    I have been involved in counsels where the presiding authority had extreme prejudice concerning the individual involved. Fortunately, the counselors did their job and overcome those unfortunate feelings. Express your thoughts fully and you will feel no regrets. Vote how you feel inside not how you think others want you to vote.

  57. Wasting one’s own life is a tragedy. Wasting another’s is a crime.

    Some peoples’ stance on homosexuality seems to be that the best way to avoid choosing between one or the other is to do both.

  58. RS James says:

    In my opinion, the writer should have resolved his conflicted feelings privately by seeking the Spirit through prayer, contemplation and discussion with his SP. Anything but publicizing it in this forum as fodder for the blogosphere chattering classes.

  59. I don’t think it is impossible for people to switch sexual orientation. I don’t think it is impossible to choose the happiness of church affiliation over sexual fulfillment. I don’t think it’s always a disaster for a gay man to marry a woman. I think those are gross overstatements.

    I think it is a shame for someone to be excomunicated. In my limited experience, Church courts don’t happen where I live for these types of issues. Only for people who have either cheated on their spouse, stolen from the church, or openly attacked the church/disregarded church teachings.

  60. Latter-day Guy says:

    This is a very good example of one of the strange wrinkles that Mormonism has to deal with in addressing the problem of suffering. How do we deal with suffering which is––to some extent––caused by church action, when church action is believed (be definition?) to be inspired? (I am NOT saying that this is, in fact, the case in this instance; only that it seems to be one of the possibilities.) When facing situations of this variety, where do we assign blame? Does the cause for the pain lie, in this instance, with the young man, with one or more High Councilmen, some combination of members of the Stake Presidency, with God? It’s no wonder that this is such a painful issue for the author of the email in the original post.

  61. Kelly Ann says:

    This is an interesting thread and I won’t debate the specific cases mentioned here.

    I would like to pose a question. We are talking about a heterosexual man and a homosexual man, but what about women who sin? I see the disciplinary process being completely skewed in this regard. Does anyone have experience or know of any good posts in this regard? I am interested to hear anyone’s perceptions.

  62. Latter-day Guy says:

    Re: 58,

    Please tell me that you can see, RS James, the irony of your having posted such a comment. Could you not have dealt more constructively with your feelings about this post by private prayer and contemplation, rather than participating in the soul-destruction that is the inevitable effect of all bloggernacle activity?

  63. I’m wondering if this letter is real. It rings untrue to me in several respects. First that a member of a SP would think it a sin to support the decision of his SP even when he disagreed with it. That is most definitely not a sin.

    Second, I agree with others that it seems unbelievable in my experience that the person in the second council was exed. That rarely or never happens, especially if this was a first-time thing. This sounds like someone trying to stir up drama with a made-up tale of injustice.

    Even if it is real, I think the letter writer misunderstands the premise of church disciplinary proceedings. They are not like criminal courts where precedent applies and similar cases are always to be treated similarly. Each case is completely independent and should be decided in accord with the spirit, not out of some misplaced sense of consistency.

    I also agree with Mikeinweho, but not for the same reasons. I have known people who were exed and it need not be seen as a death sentence to your life in the church. Many people are exed and continue to attend church. After counseling and sincere repentance, many are rebaptized and return to full activity. There’s no reason this person couldn’t do that if they wish.

  64. Eric Russell says:

    Amen MCQ on all points.

    I was actually thinking it was made up until Brad specifically stated that it was not made up, in which case, it must not be made up, because surely no one who made up such a thing would endeavor to point out that it was not made up.

  65. My first post :-)

    I’ll try to address the real issues raised by the original post, rather than side issues or comments on the specific cases.

    I’ve managed to read through most of the posts and what was written by MCQ in post 63 about the application of consistency is exactly what I wanted to express. Disciplinary councils are NOT held to apply laws which require legal tariffs to be applied or to conform to legal precedents – nor should we expect them to be. There are no fixed tariffs for sins. If we look for “justice” in this way in church councils, we’re not going to find it.

    This reason is that after determining what sin, if any, has taken place, a disciplinary council addresses the question of repentance. Obviously this is very challenging and requires the testimony of individual, usually that of his/her bishop and maybe others, the circumstances and finally (and most importantly) the influence of the Spirit. The decision of the council, taken ultimately by the stake president, is made in the light of his perception of the degree of repentance by the individual.

  66. aloysiusmiller says:

    Broken record in LDS blogs: gayness, women and priesthood, blacks and priesthood, LDS history, Wasatch front culture, gayness, women and priesthood, blacks and priesthood, LDS history, Wasatch front culture, gayness, women and priesthood, blacks and priesthood, LDS history, Wasatch front culture, gayness, women and priesthood, blacks and priesthood, LDS history, Wasatch front culture, gayness, women and priesthood, blacks and priesthood, LDS history, Wasatch front culture, …..

  67. Aloysius, regarding homosexuality, lingering racial issues, and women’s roles, I think it’s odd to complain that we have to hear so much about these problems. When current impasses are resolved, then we’ll hear much less. For the time being, it’s probably more reasonable to be worried about the problems than about the amount of discourse about them.

  68. ‘ysiusmiller leaves out the part of the ever-repeating blog cycle where he lectures us on torture as the first law of heaven, and Pinochet as the best thing that ever happened to Chile. Who wouldn’t be ready for another round of the history of gay black Mormon women on the Watsatch Front after that?

  69. Ardis, have I told you lately how wonderful you are?

  70. No — tell me again. And again.

  71. 68 I adore you. In the almost-words of Jerry Maguire, “your crankiness completes me.”

    22 Are you saying mercy is the opposite of justice? I don’t know, in this setting, what the right polarity would be since, “punitive,” is hardly the loving alternative but surely there is justice in mercy? Not only justice but strength and integrity as well, lest we call “mercy,” the domain of the weak and inferior. Yikes.

    29 Yes, yes, yes. I hope that what went unsaid on the OP was that they sensed a lack of shame for his orientation and That was the reason they felt compelled to excommunicate. I hope for this young man’s sake, that is true. There are enough self-hating, shame filled gay men in this church and others. I hope he finds love and acceptance for his whole self.

  72. If the sentiments articulated in comment #45 are widespread among that demographic swath of Mormons likely to officiate in a DC, I think that sheds considerable light on the questions of 1) whether the outcomes asserted by the writer are true or even plausible, and 2) whether the excommunication of the young man was carried out in a spirit of mercy (along the lines of MikeinWeHo’s comments).

  73. Brad,
    I have hope Brad. As far as I can tell, every reader thus far had amazingly pretended that #45 didn’t exist.

  74. I don’t think it was a sin, nor do you have anything to repent for; you did the best you could in the situation.

    Now, however, you can reach out to that young man; and that older man; with mercy and love.

  75. #73: Every writer, not every reader.

  76. neither reader nor writer is accurate. #49. just sad.

  77. Not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment, Scott, but (and here I mean no disrespect to the blog I love and write for) BCC commenters are hardly ideologically representative of most HCs and SPs. Put differently, a man walks up to you and says what Jon said in comment #45. Which is more likely? 1) this person is a frequent BCC commenter; or 2) this person is a middle aged member of his stake high council?

  78. Crazy Woman–#49 was responding to #44 (same author, though).

    Brad–Totally agree. That said, there are plenty of people who typically react less than impressively to comments such as #45 on BCC that I was pleasantly surprised to see such a non-reaction. Hence, I have hope–not certainty, but hope.

    And now look at us giving more attention to #45 than it ever deserved.

  79. MoHoHawaii says:

    Mormonism has many attributes of what anthropologists call a shame-based culture. Since the social stigma of homosexual orientation within this culture is great, it’s no surprise that leniency is rarely shown to gay people.

    For believers, being expelled from your religious community is like having your parents disown you. It is an act of tremendous emotional violence and can be devastating. I hope the young man has supportive friends and family to help him get through this.

    There’s a reason the OP’s conscience troubles him, and it shouldn’t just be papered over.

  80. Terrakota says:

    Disciplinary councils are more about helping people, than about punishing them, I think. So, the main objective would be not to treat people equally, but rather to make the decision that would help and suit this particular individual the most. So, apparently those priesthood leaders thought that excommunication would be the best thing for the younger guy to help understand all the seriousness of his sin.

  81. Scott B, just to clarify, it sounded like you were saying I am the same person as Jon Miranda. I am not. Not even close.

  82. 81 No, he has you straight (sorry, HORRID pun.) Scott was clarifying (to me, CWC,) that your comment was a response to Jon Miranda’s comment 44, not 45.
    No one is confusing the celibate gay mormon with the hetero, homophobe Mormon, and I mean those descriptively, not pejoratively.

  83. ugh. no edit button. I mistakenly did not capitalize “Mormon,” for you, Jon. There was no bizarrely-intended disrespect, like a “lower case Mormon,” (wink wink.)
    I’m bowing out of trying to make sense.
    I do love what you wrote MoHoHawaii. I’ll probably steal it.

  84. StillConfused says:

    I think it is terrible that the second guy was ex communicated for one indescretion. I dated a man whose wife was an adulterer while married to him and even got pregnant by another man. She didn’t even get disfellowshiped.

    I hope that the second man is able to find a faith that honors and respects him as much as he honors and respects his faith. I think he will be much happier in a different faith. In that respect, maybe excommunication was a blessing to him.

  85. #84: Even in the OT, adultery made the TOP TEN, homosexuality did not.

  86. Ok whew! Crisis averted. :) Just don’t try to set ME straight, Scott B. I already tried for several years and it just didn’t take. ;)

    No worries about the little m. I didn’t even notice.

  87. Forrester McLeod says:

    Gosh. Your candor and open-heartedness are so lovely. I am not a Mormon…my spirituality differs greatly from yours. It is understandable to me that when one chooses a particular way of worship, it only follows that they will be expected to uphold the requirements of that path. I can’t even begin to tell you how deeply I am touched by your post. My heart reaches out to all concerned. Your strong intentions to love surely on some level will permeate the situation.

    Much Peace to You….

  88. Phil Johnson says:

    #45 has a very valid point.

  89. Thomas Parkin says:

    MoHo,

    All groups of people have rules which allow them to cohere. When a person moves outside of those rules, the group finds ways to reestablish itself, including shame.

    If you don’ think good tolerant liberals use the same tools, including shame, you should have seen the reaction to me in 2004 when I announced to my group of friends that I was returning to the church, and that I was considering the arch sin, voting for Bush. Shamed by some, shunned by most, and of those friendships which have survived, almost all are compromised. I can count on the fingers of one hand those of my former compatriots who treat me the way they did before 2004.

    It is easy to be tolerant of one’s own, of people who think, act and look exactly like you. It is difficult to be tolerant of people who seem to threaten the ideas that you hold most dear. ~

  90. MoHoHawaii says:

    Thomas,

    Re #89, I’m sorry your friends treated you poorly over your religious and political beliefs. I think what they did was unkind and short sighted and no more morally defensible than the ritual shunning of homosexuals practiced by LDS church leaders. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    We’re all here together in this big confusing mess that we call life. What we have in common is more than what divides us, even if we don’t all think alike on every issue. A little consideration and respect go a long way toward bridging the gaps.

    BTW, many very respectable churches do just fine without the big hammer of excommunication. I’m not saying the Church has no right to do this. Instead, I’m saying that there are more humane ways to deal with these issues, especially the issue of sexual orientation.

  91. Thomas Parkin makes a good point about liberals, but not about Mormons. Mormonism is not about, and not justfied by, “cohering”, as though it were some PTA or scouting troop, or a reality TV show voting unpopular people off some island.

    Mormons answer to a higher calling, and should feel shame at utilizing shame as a weapon. That does not seem very Christ-centered to me.

  92. Thomas Parkin says:

    Dan,

    I don’t think Mormons are particularly apt to shame anyone. Also, you must remember that Mormons run the gamut, from very developed, deeply spiritual people, to others who are barely just muddling through and are dealing with … more baseline prejudices. So that in these discussions we are always in danger of comparing one’s best to other’s worst.

    Also, I get to comment from a privileged place because I’m both a Mormon and a liberal. *wink* ~

  93. Thomas Parkin says:

    Moho,

    I don’t see excommunication as a big hammer. I don’t pretend that, at times, it might be misused, or executed poorly, but my limited experience doesn’t contain any such instances. Even when not desired, it releases people from deep promises and allows them to move in an area of increased freedom until, hopefully, they can find a way to remake those promises. ~

  94. Dan Weston,
    You seriously underestimate the importance of scouting troops in Mormonism.

    (sigh…leaving to tie double-half-hitches repeatedly as part of my repentance for hating scouting)

  95. You must remember that a Stake Council functions as a quasi-judicial body. Similar to cases in the Courts each case is tried on it’s individual merits and evidence. As a member of Stake Council you should form your own views. However unlike a quasi-judicial body, the Stake President has the final say on each case.
    While you may hold strong views on what the outcome of each case should be, it may assist the integrity of the Council to support the Stake President – holding a differing opinion will not change the outcome.
    If you are unhappy with the Council decisions, perhaps you should discuss your concerns with the stake president.
    I would only consider going along with the stake president’s request to support his decision sinful if you could, or felt you could, change the outcome.
    As for continuing to serve in your Church, it could be useful to hold a forum discussing sinful behaviour and why your Church consistently punishes gay individuals more harshly.
    In terms of repentance, seek guidance from God. If you felt strongly drawn to speak out for mercy, it seems that God is willing to guide you in these matters.

    I hope that helps you.

  96. Jim Donaldson says:

    I have participated in more than a dozen disciplinary councils all at the bishopric level. Though I don’t think there was any attempt to apply this as a rule, I don’t think we ever excommunicated anybody who didn’t think he or she should be excommunicated. Sometimes the impulse to be lenient and compassionate flies in the face the understanding, wants, and needs of the person involved. In some cases, some people want and expect excommunication. They are taking this very seriously and would be disappointed if others didn’t as well. In other cases, the opposite would be true.

    Trying to find consistency in the results of disciplinary councils is the path to madness. So much of it is very personal and dependent upon multiple attitudes and feelings, some of which you may see and some not. We all hope we listen to the spirit and do what is God’s will. That’s the best we can do.

  97. #95: I am sorry, but you lost me. Why are there even others there if their opinions can not make a difference? Why would someone speak out for mercy if the SP is only acting out of love?

  98. #97: Of course the others can make a difference. In the same way that a judge is informed by debate and discussion in adversarial proceedings, the SP is going to be weighing up the arguments in each case. It’s in that respect that every voice counts.
    Also, mercy is certainly an integral part of love. The individual in the original post said they felt compelled, and spoke out for mercy. Sure, the SP may act out of love, but that doesn’t prevent them from considering mercy and other elements in that act of love, does it?

  99. “Since the social stigma of homosexual orientation within this culture is great, it’s no surprise that leniency is rarely shown to gay people.”

    You’ve skipped the part where you provide some evidence that leniency is rarely shown to gay people, or is shown in lower proportions than to heterosexuals. This example, or even your experience, does not a pattern make. (And, for what it’s worth, it would be contrary to my experience.)

    “Even in the OT, adultery made the TOP TEN, homosexuality did not.”

    I know this is probably meant as a joke, but by that same token, fornication didn’t make the top ten either. Maybe you’re slicing the bread a little thin.

  100. #98: Thank you for for answer. As long as all opinions are considered, I am okay with the SP making the final call.

  101. jimbob, I would take fornication’s omission as a rousing endorsement, wouldn’t you? Here’s my all-time top ten recommended sins list:

    1) Fornication
    2) Grinding upon the faces of the poor
    3) Loud laughter
    4) Devouring meat with the blood still in
    5) Threesomes
    6) Genocide
    7) Drilling holes in hotel rooms to secretly videotape people changing clothes
    8) Not tithing the food you grow in your garden
    9) Wearing cotton-poly blends
    10) Commenting at BCC

  102. I love it when the number eight smiley guy strikes. 8 ) 8)

  103. StillConfused says:

    Threesomes…

  104. I’m late to comment about this, but I do think the anonymous poster did commit a sin if he acted against what the spirit was telling him in this matter. We all agree to sustain and support our leaders, but I do not think this means acting contrary to the direction of the spirit. I think it would have been far better to voice his concerns and the impressions he was getting honestly to the other members of the council, that is what he has been called to do. It appears that there is a genuine desire to do what is right, and I think it would be important to bring up his concerns with the SP, who deserves a real counsellor, not a rubber stamp.

  105. #104 – He did speak for mercy – as he stated clearly in the post.

    I’ve sat on SC’s at the ward and stake level. I’ve been involved in those where the presiding authority’s initial feelings were follwed by a decision in the end that mirrored those feelings, and I’ve been involved in those where the feelings of the participants helped to change the presiding authority’s mind. I’ve been involved in long and complex cases – with lots of feelings expressed covering multiple options – and short, simple cases. There seems to be an idea among some members that mirrors the false rubber stamp accusation of #104. That might happen in some cases, but it absolutely is not my experience.

    Finally, I only will echo what some others have said:

    I can see where either option would have been “merciful” and “proper” in either case – depending totally on the person involved. I have no clue whatsoever as to the “merit” of either decision in this particular case. I am convinced, however, that the person who asked committed no sin whatsoever. He fulfilled his duty admirably – and now is in a great position to reach out and actively love each person involved.

  106. No idea how a comment with “threesomes” “fornication” and “cotton-poly blends” made it through the spam filter.

  107. That was supposed to be “DC’s” – disciplinary councils – not “SC’s” – and “followed”, not “follwed”. If I can’t catch those in an initial re-read, I’m way too tired. *sigh*

  108. #106 – JNS is like Chuck Norris: The rules that govern the rest of us (mere mortals) don’t apply to him.

  109. Latter-day Guy says:

    Ummm… WHA?

  110. I just became A Concerned Reader, too.

  111. Latter-day Guy says:

    Has someone forgotten their meds? Hmmm?

  112. Latter-day Guy says:

    Jason Echols, are you any relation of Carol Echols of SW Missouri?

  113. Depends. Was the meds comment referring to me or Mrs. K?

  114. Margaret, you were right, and I was wrong. Chino Blanco should be the Media Specialist.

  115. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    From the facts that were presented, it would seem in my limited experience that the case of the young gay man should have been resolved in a Bishop’s council with disfellowshipment, unless he did not indicate a desire to repent. The results seem to be outside the norm, as other people have commented.

    The comments that MikeinWeho made about the outcome of this case not being a bad thing also went through my mind as I was reading. I do have some concerns about the philosophy that “maybe this will jolt him into dealing with his homosexuality in a healthier way.” In this case where the young man considers himself a celibate gay, it is likely to be appropriate. When homosexual attraction is a feature of bisexuality, however, our society’s push to move individual’s into a gay or straight category can lead individuals into lifestyles which may not provide the ultimate degree of fulfillment. Repression of heterosexual sexual behavior due to living the law of chastity creates older than average male virgins that when faced with the dilemma of bisexuality assume gayness because they have never had sex with a woman. Although the bisexual man may find gay sex highly intoxicating, it may be to them like pornography…ultimately unsatisfying.

    Having said that, it would seem that the bridge between the church leadership and the gay community should have more efforts from the side of the church. D&C 143:43 speaks of showing forth an increase of love toward those who have been reproved. Since the gay community is being reproved by prop 8, consequences for kiss-in’s etc., what is the church doing afterward to follow the direction of the scripture and show increased love? Saying “we love you” in general conference is a start, but where are there any service projects directed specifically to demonstrate that love?

  116. Scott B (117)–I think he might be. Not sure what he does. But it was fun to see that bit from _2001_.
    I find that this post and the whole situation simply make me sad–too sad to comment beyond this.

  117. Latter-day Guy says:

    :-) Oh, Mrs. K, without a doubt!

  118. In defense of everyone involved in these sad cases, I’ll share some general comments about both ward and stake disciplinary councils.

    At the ward level, bishops try and handle chastity related issues as closely and directly as possible, and normally a bishop would begin with some sort of informal discipline and counseling. In the case of a MP holder, he would normally consult with the stake president before ever holding any formal council, knowing that the maximum penalty is to be disfellowshipped. If a bishop felt through spiritual promptings that a ward council is all that is required, in my experience a stake president would not normally intervene, unless he felt that a bishop was not following the specifics stated in the CHI (ie, pedophilia, history of serial predatory behavior, or prominent position in the church).

    At the stake level, I have seen stake presidents, who always assert that the final decision of a stake council is ultimately his, still encourage and listen to the various questions from other members of the council, and seriously consider them. After the individual for whom the council is being held is excused, the SP and the council discuss all the factors carefully, and then finally the stake president and his two counselors would go to his office, and consult finally with each other.

    At both the ward and stake level, though, when a decision is reached, a final prayer is offered asking for confirmation. I have seen decisions changed at that point, when spiritual promptings have indicated that the decision is wrong.

    As to the counselor in the stake presidency who submitted this post, my heart goes out to you. If you spoke as prompted by the spirit, but your stake president has reached a different decision, I can only say that you have done what you thought right. Perhaps you are in this calling to help your SP become more tolerant. However, my experience with three different stake presidents where I have participated in stake councils have led me to feel that as he holds the final keys of authority in that stake, he has the potential for spiritual promptings and revelation that you or I do not. It’s a very difficult position, but don’t ever give up on sharing the feelings, promptings, and insights you have. I have to believe you are there for a reason.

    MikeinWeHo, I certainly can’t disregard your comment, as well. I have to admit that I don’t really know how difficult this situation has to be for a young man dealing with these issues, but I can imagine the stress that someone would be under. Ultimately, we are all going to be judged by how well we follow the Savior’s admonition to charity, selflessness, and serving others. While I grieve for someone who leaves the church, if in the long run it makes them more able to be a true disciple of Christ, who am I to say that it is the wrong decision?

  119. @120/LDG: Thanks for the clarification. On the off-chance Mom happened to be lurking in these parts, wouldn’t want her thinking I’d gone off the meds without letting her know.

    @117/SB: No, you got it right the first time, unless this ward happens to also include a crew of IP pros willing to accept callings to work pro bono defending the new Media Specialist whose expertise – it turns out – was apparently limited to appropriating copyrighted material.

    In the spirit of 119/MY’s comment, I’m gonna go away now and hope I haven’t distracted too much from an otherwise worthwhile thread.

  120. anonforthisone says:

    I’ve been in about 12 courts at the Stake level, and I’m actually a little confused as to how the gay brother actually made it to a DC with the Stake. Normally wouldn’t that issue have been dealt with by the Bishop?

    I don’t think what the OP did was a sin, these courts are difficult for everyone, and I doubt he was the reason the court as a whole made their decision. A plea for mercy is rarely a bad thing to do.

    In my experience with DC, I’ve found the people involved in matters that include homosexuality are dealt with more harshly. I don’t think any of the brothers involved do it purposely, I think it’s more a case of the yuck factor that especially many members of the older generation seem to have toward homosexuality. I have a feeling if there is a bias in these courts, it will be resolved naturally as a younger generation that is more willing to look at sexual sin as sexual sin, whether it involves a man and a woman or a woman and a woman.

  121. Absolutely the young man needed to be excommunicated if he was unrepentant. Just because someone struggles with same-gender attractive doesn’t give them a license for fornication. Gays are any more sexually driven than straights. I agree that the older man should have been excommunicated as well if he showed no signs of repentance.

    However, if both showed sincere repentance, that’s another are entirely.

  122. SNeilsen says:

    Why is there a questioning that the young man is repentent, when the post states he is? To quote, “This young man considers himself gay but wants to be a faithful Mormon. He says he’s trying to live a celibate life. One night recently, he failed at that goal and had sex with a non-member young man who was about his age. This was the only time he had ever had sexual relations.” Hello???
    Perhaps he should have done what many straight singles I have known have repeatedly done–Say nothing and if asked, Lie.
    I have also met gay members with a temple recommend, and they didn’t have lie to get it.
    Perhaps what is meant is that gays should repent of being gay, no matter how worthy?

  123. Liberal Mormon says:

    I feel you did the right thing. You followe your heart and the Spirit. In my own opinion, it was the Stake President who seems whacked up and caused the miscarriage of justice! The decisions should have been REVERSED! Do you know of someone who has very close ties to one of the General Authorities who will be compassionate enough to listen and maybe investigate this for you?

  124. Commenter #1 had the best advice. From the info given us, it seems unfair, but what did the others base their decision on? It would be best to have a very humble, open, and prayerful conversation with the SP until you both have a better understanding. This will only improve your ability to handle future actions. As for if decisions are skewed towards gays or women or whatever demographic group or individual has a lot to do with how much the particular disciplinary council follows the Spirit. It would be best to not leave your calling, but seek to have the Spirit more present in your presidency. If injustice was done, this is the only way to keep it from happening again.

  125. #46 The statistics are that the more older brothers a man has, the greater the probability that he will be gay. The conclusion is that large families produce a greater proportion of gay men than small families. If the Mormon Church has larger families than the prevailing norm, then they will have more gays proportionately than the norm. This is hard for a church that does not like homosexual relationships.

    My opinion has been and will be for the foreseeable future that gay men should leave the church unless they can be completely happy without any physical relationship in their lives. This probably applies to 99.9% of all people. Then go to the Episcopalians or the Unitarians or some place where diversity is celebrated rather than punished. So the sentence was hard but in the right direction.

    The language the SP used, if his councilor could support his decision, could have been couched in different terms: could he live with it. Then he could have said that he was not happy about it but he could live with it.

  126. Jon Miranda says:

    There was a tragedy Sunday in San Antonio. A baby was stabbed and decapitated by his mother and worse. Maybe we as Latter Day Saints should be out there volunteering instead of wasting time. Maybe tragedy could have been averted. Please pray for the family. This is not a joke.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/breaking/6548023.html

  127. re: 126

    Is there a Niblet Award for most macabre tangental comment?

  128. Latter-day Guy says:

    126, Holy non-sequiturs, Batman!

    There was a tragedy Sunday in San Antonio. A baby was stabbed and decapitated by his mother and worse[?].

    I agree wholeheartedly that this was a terrible act, a tragedy… but I have to say, once you’ve been stabbed and decapitated, there aren’t too many things that would make your situation worse, because by that point, you are already dead.

    Maybe we as Latter Day Saints should be out there volunteering instead of wasting time. Maybe tragedy could have been averted.

    I am trying to envision some kind of situation by which volunteer efforts could have changed this––it’s not as though the girl scouts go door to door selling non-infanticidal cookies. Do you think having the teachers drop by to collect fast offerings could have saved the child’s life? Do you think that “less time reading blogs” = “fewer babies get murdered by their mothers”? Really? Or is that statement just a general suggestion that has nothing to do with the rest of your comment?

    This is not a joke.

    Uhh… nope. No it’s not. Nobody’s laughing. I think that the whole decapitation-and-stabbing thing was sufficient to get this message across. I don’t think most BCC readers are the kind of folk who sit through the credits of Schindler’s List, waiting for the bloopers reel.

  129. Hibernia says:

    Latter -Day Guy
    I don’t know if I will ever stop laughing!!! that is sooo funny!
    I must admit, I wondered about the Volunteer thing but assumed everyone else was a lot more clever than I am and would “get it”.
    Thanks for the great belly laugh…I needed it. That’s your good deed(voluntary deed)? for the day.

  130. There’s a bloopers reel for Schindler’s List?
    Hang on while I check my copy….

  131. 127 Now you’ve done it. I can’t wait for the competition for that one to ramp up. For the record, my money is on Jon Miranda; anyone can threadjack, lots of commenters threaten and there’s no shortage of bizarre violence , but to combine them all so cunningly…he’ll be a hard man to beat.

  132. Jon Miranda, I wholeheartedly agree, no matter what these BCC loons and nuts might say. You should most definitely not waste time, especially with commenting on pointless, apostate, liberal blogs. You should be out there volunteering somewhere, anywhere. There’s no time like the present — start today. Please.

  133. gst-wannabe says:

    If gst isn’t going to show up, somebody needs to step up and say this:

    Get out there and volunteer, people — or heads will roll.

  134. I am impressed #129 has been taken to church court 12 times yet is still a member – good for you.

  135. #120 not 129

  136. Please consider my humble offering…

    According to the handbook of instructions, “The purposes of Church discipline are (1) to save the souls of transgressors, (2) to protect the innocent, and (3) to safeguard the purity, integrity, and good name of the Church.”

    The order is significant and should not be overlooked.

    The handbook further states…

    “Excommunication is the most severe Church disciplinary action. As directed by the Spirit, it may be necessary for:

    1. Members who have committed serious transgressions, especially violations of temple covenants.
    2. Members who have been disfellowshipped and have not repented and for whom excommunication seems to offer the best hope for reformation.
    3. Members whose conduct makes them a serious threat to others and whose Church membership facilitates their access to victims.
    4. Church leaders or prominent members whose transgressions significantly impair the good name or moral influence of the Church in the community that is aware of the transgression.”

    To me, the words “as directed by the spirit” are significant.

    Unfortunately, no one here is familiar enough with all of the facts sufficient to offer more than an opinion. Circumstances may seem similar on the outside, but there is so much more that we are unaware of. None of us were participants in the proceedings; hence none of us experienced the influence of the spirit. We are therefore ill-equipped to make a judgment about the fairness of the outcome. One of the things I’ve learned in my years of service in the church is to avoid judgment in situations where I don’t have a full understanding of the circumstances and the influence of the spirit. The irony is that my greatest lessons in non-judgment were learned while serving as a Bishop.

    An example which makes my point…

    A sister came to me to repent after years of inactivity. Suffice it to say she had committed just about every sin a person could commit in 30 years, both morally and legally. She was not endowed and therefore it was appropriate that a Bishop’s disciplinary council be held. In my interviews with her, I had “pre-judged” the situation and felt that she would probably be a good candidate for disfellowshipment. She was very repentant and wanted to get her life back on track. After her testimony, we excused her and deliberated for a quite a long time. We prayed for inspiration to do what was best for this sister. The spirit clearly witnessed that she should be excommunicated. I actually fought the feeling for a while, until finally relenting. When we brought her back in to the council and announced our decision, she broke down in tears. She told us all that she was so afraid that we were going to “just disfellowship her”. She knew, as we all did, that for this sister in this situation, she needed to be excommunicated in order to get her life in order.

    This is why cannot judge based solely on an outsiders view.

  137. Wow 136 comments!

    There is too much to go through here to glean the small bit of information that is yet uncertian to me about this topic in a general sense.

    I still do not know any direct referance in the scriptures that clearly state that homosexuality is sinful, nor do I in my current diminished understanding, know of the reasons some Authorities in the church use to deem Homosexuality as sinful.

    If anyone has a scriptural referance or a statment from a Church authority about homosexuality being sinful or wrong and some reasoning as to why it is that way, Please email me: ditchu@gmail.com

    As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints I would really like to know the exact referances, so I can answer honestly when someone asks me what the church has agains homosexuality. As yet I don’t know anything beyond some people have issues with the subject.

    I do see how sex outside the bounds of mariage could be taken here but there seems to be less tollarence for homosexuality outside of mariage than hetrosexuality outside of mariage.

    Again Pleas send me any referances you might have to ditchu@gmail.com

    Please, no spam.

    Thank you all, and God bless,
    -Ditchu

  138. The Church’s latest publication on homosexuality is “God Loveth His Children”. You can find it at lds.org by searching the title.

  139. Terrakota says:

    Here is a link to the interview with El. Oaks and El. Wickman on homosexuality http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/same-gender-attraction

  140. Mark N. says:

    #5 – “We should all jump right in and say that someone acted stupidly in this matter.”

    I would, but I’m afraid you’ll try and make me drink a beer if I do.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,786 other followers