The Church Responds to HRC Petition

The Church has just issued an official response to the petition offered by the Human Rights Campaign. Article from the HRC here; full article available from the LDS Newsroom here. Text of the official response below:

My name is Michael Otterson. I am here representing the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the matter of the petition presented today by the Human Rights Campaign.

While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men. We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty, or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation, or for any other reason. Such actions simply have no place in our society.

This Church has felt the bitter sting of persecution and marginalization early in our history, when we were too few in numbers to adequately protect ourselves and when society’s leaders often seemed disinclined to help. Our parents, our young adults, teens and children should therefore, of all people, be especially sensitive to the vulnerable in society and be willing to speak out against bullying or intimidation whenever it occurs, including unkindness towards those who are attracted to others of the same sex. This is particularly so in our own Latter-day Saint congregations. Each Latter-day Saint family and individual should carefully consider whether their attitudes and actions toward others properly reflect Jesus Christ’s second great commandment – to love one another.

As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in his condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.

Further, while the Church is strongly on the record as opposing same-sex marriage, it has openly supported other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment.

The Church’s doctrine is based on love. We believe that our purpose in life is to learn, grow and develop, and that God’s unreserved love enables each of us to reach our potential. None of us is limited by our feelings or inclinations. Ultimately, we are free to act for ourselves.

The Church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social, and physical feelings. The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand, and behavior on the other. It’s not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation.

There is no question that this is difficult, but Church leaders and members are available to help lift, support and encourage fellow members who wish to follow Church doctrine. Their struggle is our struggle. Those in the Church who are attracted to someone of the same sex but stay faithful to the Church’s teachings can be happy during this life and perform meaningful service in the Church. They can enjoy full fellowship with other Church members including attending and serving in temples, and ultimately receive all the blessings afforded to those who live the commandments of God.

Obviously, some will disagree with us. We hope that any disagreement will be based on a full understanding of our position, and not on distortion or selective interpretation. The Church will continue to speak out to ensure its position is accurately understood.

God’s universal fatherhood and love charges each of us with an innate and reverent acknowledgement of our shared human dignity. We are to love one another. We are to treat each other with respect as brothers and sisters and fellow children of God, no matter how much we may differ from one another.

We hope and firmly believe that within this community, and in others, kindness, persuasion and goodwill can prevail.

Comments

  1. The Other Brother Jones says:

    Excellent statement!

  2. D. Fletcher says:

    Good spinning!

  3. Where can we find the full text of the petition from the HRC?

  4. Thanks, Steve.

  5. Brett, I’ve tried looking for it — the petition was an email petition and in my few minutes of google searching I couldn’t find it.

  6. is it just me, or is anyone else starting to get a bit of gay-fatigue… with so many other issues in our society, why is there so much endless focus on who’s got what in their pants and what they want to do with it?

  7. The statement is much better than I would ever have imagined it would be.

  8. me, with few exceptions, there’s very little controversy about what gays have in their pants.

  9. Aaron, yes – I think it’s a good statement. For me, it’s good because it is much closer to the lived experience of Mormonism (or at least, the ideals thereof) than Pres. Packer’s address.

  10. D. Fletcher says:

    Me, I got fatigued with the gay/Mormon issues here on the blogs long, long ago. It does seem like Packer’s talk opened some old wounds, but they’ll heal up soon enough. The Church doesn’t like gays. Gays don’t like the Church. I’ll go back to lurking.

  11. MikeInWeHo says:

    “However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in his condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.”

    How would Otterson square this assertion with the fact that the Church routinely expels gay members who cannot maintain lifelong celibacy? The vast majority of gay Mormons wind up outside the church. This is how Jesus Christ would have it? This is compassion?

    Until the church’s official treatment of gay members changes, statements like this will continue to be viewed as disingenuous by outsiders.

    What if Brother Otterson had said:
    “Stay with us! Struggle with us! Let us help you live as moral a life as is possible for you. We want you in our fellowship whether you are single or not….”

  12. Amen, MikeInWeHo (12).

    But there are some good things for members to remember in Otterson’s statement, and it would be great if this becomes a springboard for action in a new direction rather than a sigh of relief statement that “whew, THAT’s finally over!”

    Then maybe Church leaders won’t have to come up with more statements like this.

  13. Mike, well (and provocatively) said. I would imagine the response is that excommunication is meant as a means of helping someone towards a path of repentance. As such many view it as a compassionate step — probably not the most convincing thing you’ve ever heard, but there you go. The better, more interesting question is why aren’t we doing a better job as Mormons of bringing fellowship and love to the GLBT community when it’s likely that crowd that needs fellowship and love the most?

  14. me–you might be less fatigued if it were your sister trying to figure this problem out. Sure there are plenty of places to spend one’s energy, but this affects a lot of people, and it’s insulting to them to suggest that we should just move along until we have some real answers or hope to offer.

  15. Steve (10), you’re kidding, right? Have you ever been in a congregation with an openly gay member who was fully accepted in the ward? Who had leadership callings?

    I think the statement is aspirational, rather than descriptive. But I do like the direction of the aspiration.

  16. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 14
    I agree with your take on things, Steve. The question I would ask in response is “And how’s that working out for you?”

    The Church lets members stay in who aren’t following the WoW or are sinning in myriad other ways. There is much more room for compassionate behavior toward gay Mormons right now, today, without changing a single doctrine. Not forcing us all into the closet or out the door would be a logical starting point.

  17. “…the Church routinely expels gay members who cannot maintain lifelong celibacy.”

    To the extent that you’re describing a situation where a gay member is trying to maintain celibacy and occasionally misses the mark, but nonetheless continues to try, that statement is incongruous with my experience in the church. My experience is that very few who are still trying get excommunicated; getting kicked out is much harder than it used to be.

    To the extent that you’re describing a gay member who both wants to be in the church but has given up on being celibate, I’d agree with that statement.

    And, to be fair to the Church, any unmarried member who refuses to try at least to be celibate probably puts him or herself at risk for expulsion.

  18. Kristine, I agree that the statement is aspirational (and said as much, I think, with my earlier parenthetical — though it wasn’t very clear). As to your questions:

    Steve (10), you’re kidding, right?
    A: no.

    Have you ever been in a congregation with an openly gay member who was fully accepted in the ward?
    A: yes. but “fully accepted” is an interesting concept. I can only speak for what I observed.

    Who had leadership callings?
    A: no. That’s a fair point. But you can make that same point as to women, devastatingly smart lawyers, etc.

  19. Mike, I’m convinced.

  20. Did anybody else get the impression that the church’s mention of persecution was an attempt to indentify the HRC’s actions as bullying? Or am I just reading too much into it?

  21. Amen, Mike. I’ve been struggling with this all day, as I volleyed yet another round of emails and facebook postings from family members. This statement is clearly a nod in the right direction, but I, too, would love to hear “Stay with us! Struggle with us! Let us help you live as moral a life as is possible for you. We want you in our fellowship whether you are single or not….”

  22. Did anybody else get the impression that the church’s mention of persecution was an attempt to indentify the HRC’s actions as bullying?

    Thats not what I got.

  23. D. Fletcher says:

    “Stay with us! Struggle with us! Let us help you live as moral a life as is possible for you. We want you in our fellowship whether you are single or not….”

    I’ve heard this from many people on this board, and in my ward. Alas, I’ve not heard this from my leaders… or the brethren.

  24. This is why Mormons drive me nuts sometimes. We do not need the leaderships permission to say it. We sure as hell do not need their permission to do it. We are such mindless dead weight sometimes (it should be noted that this is how my wife describes me).

  25. “Let us help you live as moral a life as is possible for you.”

    That’s the problem, though–until we believe that it is possible for gay people to morally enjoy their full humanity (including the blessings of tenderness and affection with a lifelong partner), any welcome we can offer is conditional and condescending. I want us to be able to say “Stay with us! Struggle with us! Teach us what you have learned about love and about God.”

  26. Did anybody else get the impression that the church’s mention of persecution was an attempt to indentify the HRC’s actions as bullying?

    No, I didn’t get that. I felt more of a “with as large a persecution complex as mormons have, we ought to understand where the HRC is coming from better than anyone else.”

  27. “Stay with us! Struggle with us! Let us help you live as moral a life as is possible for you. We want you in our fellowship whether you are single or not….”

    Hear, hear!

  28. “Stay with us! Struggle with us! Let us help you live as moral a life as is possible for you. We want you in our fellowship whether you are single or not….”

    I suspect Brother Otterson, and many of the Brethren, would have liked to have said that. That bothersome and nettlesome principle of unanimity of the FP and 12 precludes some things from happening that should, but it also probably prevents some things from happening that should not happen.

  29. Someone just answer me how the church has not responded to Packer’s comment “Why would God do that? He is our Father.” Okay, why does God make hermaphradites, blind, down syndrome, mental illness, heart defects, etc. I am a Member and am horrified by that comment.

  30. After reading the quotation again, I wonder if the wording in this statement is significant:

    The Church…has openly supported other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment.

    I thought the Church’s position was that they were “not opposed” to these rights, not that they “openly supported” them. Am I wrong?

  31. Alex–they did respond. They excised it from the record. That’s as strong a response as you’re going to get–nobody’s going to stand up and explicitly contradict or criticize what might be Elder Packer’s final conference address.

  32. D. Fletcher says:

    Kristine’s comment is correct. There is no current model of morality for homosexuals, who are not even considered moral if they choose lifetime fidelity to a single partner.

    So, the only choice for them/us is celibacy, which the Church supports in theory but not in practice.

  33. Nate W.–I imagine they’re talking about the housing ordinance in SLC.

  34. Kristine – You mean they “removed” it from the talk? It won’t be re-printed, etc.? It was still said and the church has full sign off on what is said from the conference pulpit. They should address that and speak out against that particular ridiculous comment.

  35. “…the Church routinely expels gay members who cannot maintain lifelong celibacy.”

    I agree with jimbob — this characterization is not accurate in my ward and stake.

  36. Alex, there are lots of things we think the Church should do. It’s more fruitful to identify the good things they are doing, applaud those, and work to bridge the gaps where we realistically can.

  37. Alex, I agree that that would be nice, but it’s not going to happen. What did happen is the strongest repudiation of Packer’s remarks that is possible in the current institutional culture.

    Packer’s question was also, as Rosalynde pointed out (http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2010/10/i-thought-he-asked-a-really-good-question-actually/) the crucial theological question to be asking, even if it is disturbing. Troubling, yes; unfortunately timed, ill-chosen, probably; but not ridiculous.

  38. Steve – I agree with your point. It seems that most everyone Ive talked to about this particular talk by Elder Packer were hung up on that comment. Yes, we all know the church’s position on homosexuality but to now add “Why would God do that?” is opening a can of worms. It gets into other struggles and pains people experience in life when anyone asks “WHY?” If they are going to delete that section, it only seems logical to explain why they did so. Previously the church has stayed away from the origins of homosexuality and Elder Packer has now stated that God would not make people that way. It’s a BIG deal.

  39. Nah, I don’t think it is such a big deal. I don’t think his talk represents any definitive declaration of the origins of homosexuality.

  40. I’m stunned at some of you purporting to be LDS. I saw nothing wrong whatsoever with Elder Packer’s comments. Certainly all of you are intelligent enough to distinguish between desires and actions. Expecting ecclesiastical ambivalence to something that is, without religious question, a sin, is irrational. And none of you want to go down the “inborn desires” route. We all deal with inborn “issues”. Point is, we have no right to rewrite the laws of God because we “feel” like it.

  41. Kristine and Steve – Thanks for the banter. Again, I am disheartened by the comment as I have personally had family with down syndrome, mental illness, etc. There are struggles in life that God allows to happen. I guess I will always “struggle” with Elder Packer’s comment. Again people are born as hermaphrodites, what choice do they have?

  42. So much for treating each other with love and respect.

  43. “I saw nothing wrong whatsoever with Elder Packer’s comments.” I will send a note to President Packer advising him to restore the talk to the original text.

  44. wlv, your comment is dumb. For more reasons than I care to take the time to elaborate.

  45. A youngle, single woman in our ward just had a baby out of wedlock. She is not repentant and, in fact, is still living openly with the baby’s father. I have heard no talk of excommunication and she hasn’t even been released from her calling. How is this less unrighteous than two people living together in a single sex relationship? I am not advocating that she be turned out, in fact I am happy she is still part of the church. I just don’t understand why hetero relationships are treated differently than homo ones. And I think the church needs to get over the past and quit bringing up how poorly we were treated in the old days. Noone outside the church is likely to even care about that and it makes us sound patronizing.

  46. “As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong”

    What about holding hands? Kissing? Cuddling?

    Can two 16 year old girls hold hands romantically? Can two men share a soft kiss after an evening together? Can two men cuddle up and watch a movie?

  47. Question. jimbob said (#18):

    And, to be fair to the Church, any unmarried member who refuses to try at least to be celibate probably puts him or herself at risk for expulsion.

    I may be importing my Protestant understanding of the word “celibate” here, but I’ve always understood celibacy to mean “a willful choice to abstain from romantic or sexual relationships.” Not having sex ≠ celibacy; that’s abstinence.

    I’ve never thought of heterosexual LDS singles as “celibate” because, while they may be required to abstain from sex, they are not required to abstain from holding hands, kissing, flirting, or pursuing non-sexual romantic attachments to the sex they’re attracted to. My understanding was that gay members are asked to be truly celibate in that regard.

    I guess my question is, if a set of gay members strike up a non-sexual relationship that includes activities like holding hands, kissing, hugging, etc., can they be subject to church discipline?

    If so, I don’t think that their situation is really comparable to that of heterosexual members who are asked to practice only abstinence.

  48. Jack, for Mormons celibacy = abstinence, more or less. Gay members that hold hands etc. are typically not subject to church discipline.

  49. #49

    As I was writing my last post (and yours which asked the same thing), the question suddenly dawned on me: Has the Church ever explicitly stated that same-sex dating and non-sexual acts of affection were sinful?

  50. I think many are misreading Elder Packer’s talk. I think both the original and modified language of his talk were focused on a person’s God-given ability to resist temptation, not whether that person was born to be attracted to persons of the same gender. In this regard, I think Elder Packer was saying that if a believing Mormon is attracted to someone of the same gender and believes that it would be wrong to act upon that attraction, then Elder Packer believes God will help that person resist the temptation.

    The focus of his remarks, then, was on the ability to “overcome” the “temptation to act” (not whether or not the attraction was “inborn”). While the timing and tone of Elder Packer’s talk might be construed as unfortunate, I don’t think either the original or the modified versions, which focus on our God-given ability to resist temptation, were inconsistent with Church doctrine (including the fact that the Church has not opined – and should not opine – on whether same gender attraction is inborn). I attach below the relevant original and modifed text of Elder Packer’s talk for further consideration.

    Original language:
    “Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and the unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, He is our Father.”

    Clarified: “Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.”

    Elder Packer’s intent both in the original and modifed version is even more evident if one reads the next statement in his talk: “Paul promised that ‘God . . . will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.’ You can, if you will, break the habits and conquer an addiction and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church.”

  51. #50

    Can a Mormon be in a serious non-sexual relationship with someone of the same sex and still be an Elders Quorum president, Gospel Doctrine teacher, or Relief Society President?

  52. Alex, the idea that no one could possibly be born gay has a long sad history in the church–there’s no news in Elder Packer’s restatement of that position. People (notably Elder Wickman on lds.org) have compared it to birth defects of various sorts. They’re wrong, and it will be a great day when someone stands up in church and says so, but it’s going to be a while. That’s the nature of conservative religious institutions.

  53. narrator, there’s decent evidence that the two longest-serving General Primary Presidents did just that–they were called (in official church publications) “the David and Jonathan of Primary.” Nowadays it seems unlikely.

  54. I have some questions:

    Did Bro Otterson begin drafting his statement the second he heard these words, “Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember he is our father,” come out of President Packer’s mouth?

    What look was on Elder Oaks face when he heard those words? Was anyone at conference, could they see?

    Wouldn’t it have been fascinating to be a fly on the wall during discussions between the first presidency and the quorum of the twelve during the last week and two days?

    I heard the words myself the first time while they were being delivered, and said to myself, this is gonna cause an uproar. But I have gone back to review the video of the talk and President Packer was obviously having trouble reading his text on the teleprompter during parts of the talk. I wonder if any of the controversial wording wasn’t the way he meant to say it beforehand.

  55. The original talk was delivered as written.

  56. Why is it so difficult for some of you to accept the notion that we as humans may have inclinations to do things we shouldn’t do? Again, this is stunning. Some of you seem to think that if you feel like doing something, it must be OK to do. President Packer’s message is that God has created anyone to NOT have the ability to keep His commandments. What’s so hard to understand about that?

  57. Matthew Chapman says:

    19. “Have you ever been in a congregation with an openly gay member who was fully accepted in the ward?
    A: yes. but “fully accepted” is an interesting concept. I can only speak for what I observed.”

    “Who had leadership callings?
    A: no. That’s a fair point. But you can make that same point as to women, devastatingly smart lawyers, etc.”

    I once lived in a stake in which the stake president was a devastatingly smart lawyer.
    I also once lived in a stake where a member of the stake presidency was a good-looking, never-married, perpetually celibate, 50+year-old man.

  58. And you inferred that he was gay? Or he said so?

  59. “I think both the original and modified language of his talk were focused on a person’s God-given ability to resist temptation, not whether that person was born to be attracted to persons of the same gender.”

    I would like to believe that the talk was not pointed at all at homosexuality or same sex marriage. Or that it was only meant to state that one can resist temptation. The inclusion of his ridiculing the democratic process could only refer to efforts to recognize same sex marriage (and perhaps other protections for behavior of LGBT). If those parts were deleted, then the talk would make perfect sense, and could be viewed as a helpful “pastoral” sermon not touching on same sex marriage.

  60. #57, nothing Pres. Packer said is hard to understand. What’s hard to understand is why you’re being such an obvious jerk. Back off.

  61. 61: Trying to censor me, in the name of tolerance? Typical … seems like openmindedness for some is a one-way street. I’m trying to explain that to many of us Pres. Packer’s statement was both logical and right. But you can keep blinders on if you wish. Agency is a beautiful thing.

  62. wlv, don’t confuse censorship with a very simple request that you stop acting like a jerk. Pres. Packer would be ashamed of your tenor on this thread.

  63. Antoinette says:

    I think that all churches/religions, including LDS are in a rock and a hard place concerning homosexuality. There are so many implications because the common goal is to save, to lead the person on the right path.
    I don’t agree with ostracism nor prejudice in any way, and I’ve had a few gay friends here and there, and I have always approached them in love, however, my strong belief is that homosexuality is a sin, and that it takes sincere prayer and an inner will to want to overcome that temptation, that attraction because at the core of it, as Elder Packer noted, it is contrary to the way Heavenly Father designed us. I tell people right off the bat that I don’t agree with same-sex marriage, and I don’t condone homosexuality, which I think sums up the position of the church.
    I think it’s great that there are members who are gay who attend church and are active and adhere to those precepts, but at the same time, I don’t think it’s fair for people to expect the Church nor some members to compromise doctrine/standards just to affirm one’s lifestyle that is clearly wrong. For example, the post that talked about the girl living with her boyfriend; it’s the same thing. She may not have been disciplined or excommunicated, but non-disciplinary action does not mean affirmation or condoning of the behavior. It is wrong to live together and have sex before marriage, according to God’s word.
    Wrong is wrong, and it’s just as equally wrong for het and homosexual couples. That’s the position I think the church is taking. Acceptance of the person doesn’t mean acceptance of the behavior. So, like I said, it’s great that so many are coming into the Church because we all have issues, but, if I’m doing wrong, and it’s not lining up with the word of God, I’d hope that our leaders will aid in correcting me so that I’m not in a place where my salvation is compromised. Jesus told us what was right and wrong, in love; he accepted people where they were at, but he didn’t shrink away from the truth because telling the truth is love. Heavenly Father loves us, and wants us to be happy, but, like any earthly father, Heavenly Father, who knows us inside out because we are his children, also disciplines, teaches, and sometimes, takes us through some stuff to get the point across. The Father is a God of mercy, of Help, and of truth.

  64. FYI, to commenters: advertisements for your own sites will be removed (see, wlv — THAT’S censorship).

  65. Look Steve: I’ve spent most of my career in the media, most recently as the publisher of a large newspaper. Believe me when I tell you that it is ENTIRELY possible to work in harmony with people of different sexual inclinations, while disagreeing with their personal life’s choices. The Church is not a man-made democratically-run organization in which the members draft the rules. If you’re LDS, you believe it is actually the Church of Jesus Christ, run by Christ Himself through a prophet. Christ, unlike humankind, doesn’t allow His moral boundaries to shift. Your problem is with Christ, not the LDS church.

  66. What exactly am I saying that makes me a jerk? Steve, you seem to object to opinions different than yours. And I’m the jerk? You’re throwing out the names here, not me.

  67. Antoinette, there’s an enormous difference between saying “your desires are righteous and God-given, meant to be fulfilled in a specific context” and saying “your desires are an illness, or a birth defect, and it will never ever be ok for you to experience the intimacy you crave.”

  68. #62

    Steve, at first I thought you were being mean to Kristine, then I thought you were sarcastically making some point with Kristine that I didn’t understand, then I finally realized you should have tagged your comment #58

    Either that or my comment numbering is one off.

  69. Steve,
    Thanks for taking the time to post this.

  70. Sorry about mistyping #57: President Packer’s message is that God has never created anyone to NOT have the ability to keep His commandments.

  71. ugh–I meant “desire” not “deserve.” Hazards of typing while yelling at children!

  72. I don’t think its a good statement because it doesn’t address what Packer said, which was the main topic of the HRC statement. As usual the Church’s response was about the church and about how important it is that others understand the church’s position. As polite as it is, it still does not come close to getting the point; which is that its the leaders of the church that need to listen, and learn, and understand, what the experience of the Other is like and to respect that experience.

  73. To respond point by point to the HRC’s petition is to grant the HRC a position of moral authority it doesn’t deserve. Frankly, the Church should outline its position clearly, which it did. If people don’t agree with the position, they don’t have to accept it. This is a moral issue, and no posturing from the HRC will make something that’s immoral into something moral. It’s just a shame that the HRC and other gay-activist groups cannot exercise the same level of tolerance they demand.

  74. wlv – you’re acting like a jerk when you state that your position is clear and self-evidently true and that if people do not agree they 1) have a problem with Christ; 2) are stupid, 3) are merely “purportedly LDS.” First, just about everybody who comments here is an active member of the Church and are doing their best to reconcile a difficult moral and ethical problem. Stating that these things are not true is, frankly, an insult. Second, that problem is as much one about _how_ we talk about homosexuality as it is what our policy is. That is a distinction that I’m not sure you’re grasping. You seem to think that people who are expressing discomfort with Pres. Packer’s talk are doing so because they believe the Church should be sanctioning gay marriage; I’d point out that many are simply uncomfortable with the rhetorical tack he took. Finally, the position you attribute to Pres. Packer in 41 (the orientation/action distinction) is not actually the position he took in the talk, but rather the one in the edited transcript. It is not the position that Elder Oaks, among others, has taken in the past. All of this might signal that our leaders are themselves still figuring out how to talk about this issue, and further still, that the situation requires nuance, humility, and a desire for charity. You are not in this thread expressing any of those three things. The recent Newsroom statement on the HRC petition might be a good rhetorical guide here.

    And in re: your 68. You’re badgering, mischaracterizing what others have said, and generally walking around this party telling people “I can’t believe how wrong you are!” and rolling your eyes. Steve did not say you were acting like a jerk because of the positions you are taking; he said you were acting like a jerk because of your tone.

  75. Antoinette says:

    Kristine: Antoinette, there’s an enormous difference between saying “your desires are righteous and God-given, meant to be fulfilled in a specific context” and saying “your desires are an illness, or a birth defect, and it will never ever be ok for you to experience the intimacy you deserve.”
    I’m not exactly sure of the context in which you put this statement, because that’s not what I was saying at all. I was just saying that respect has to be shown on both sides of this issue because while I don’t think your latter comment is the attitude of the church overall, I do believe that as children of God and followers of Christ that we walk in truth, and at the basic core of it, it’s not okay to live in a situation that is not ordained of God and that one knows is wrong in God’s eyes. I’m not saying that we have to be perfect, but, like I was saying, we all have issues, and there has to be an inner will and desire to overcome those issues, whether it be homosexuality (because it is a real, painful struggle for some people, and it’s not always because of prejudice or condemnation), drug addiction, anger, unforgiveness…those are real human struggles that the Church has taken a stance on and presented Doctrinal/Scriptural bases as to why these need to be addressed personally with our Father through prayer and seeking legitimate help for.
    To condone any of that would defeat the purpose. I’m not in a place, nor is the Church, to deem what a person does or does not deserve; I’m just speaking from my own convictions and the truth that I was taught since I was young. I grew up in the church and I’ve seen people go through these things, and my former leaders would absolutely affirm those people in love, and bestow grace, but also tell the truth at the same time because they were called of God to do so. Jesus approached in love, and as the Scriptures say, he is our Advocate with the Father, so, I have no doubts or questions about his everlasting love and mercy, but I also recognize the fact that he is a God of truth above all.

  76. Kristine (16) and Steve (19) – If I was listening correctly at stake conference, my stake recently called an openly gay (celibate) man to be a stake high councilor. He is widely loved and respected in our stake, and was previously an extremely successful ward mission leader.

    It can happen.

  77. “I tell people right off the bat that I don’t agree with same-sex marriage, and I don’t condone homosexuality, which I think sums up the position of the church.”

    You tell that to gay or lesbian folks right off the bat?

    For better or worse, I usually just treat people as people, without reporting to them what I think about their lifestyle choices.

  78. Antoinette says:

    #73: Oh, okay! I got it:) But, my same points cover that too!
    Good luck with the typing and the children;) Use your inside voice:*
    You’re probably thinking, what does this chick know about my life?

  79. (Oh, and it’s a bit beside the point, but my ward’s previous Relief Society president was a devastating smart lawyer. Just sayin’.)

  80. wondering says:

    Soooo — Why was this delivered to the public by a representative of Church leadership and not in general conference by actual Church leadership?

  81. “To respond point by point to the HRC’s petition is to grant the HRC a position of moral authority it doesn’t deserve.”

    I suppose that even mentioning HRC, which the statement does at the outset, also granted HRC a position it “doesn’t deserve.” Do you think the Church was wrong to reply?

  82. MoHoHawaii says:

    Here’s what I noticed in the statement issued today.

    1) LDS Newsroom has begun to use words gay and lesbian without prefixing them with “so-called” or placing the words in quotation marks. You can see this in several places in the Otterson’s statement.

    Further, Otterson uses these words as nouns as well as adjectives, which is something you still won’t hear in General Conference. LDS PR is taking the next step in saying that people known as gays and lesbians exist.

    (Prior usage would have been the clumsy and demeaning phrase “people suffering from same-gender attraction.”

    It’s also interesting to note that the use of the word gay is so new to the Church that its copyeditors didn’t catch the nonstandard phrase “gay young men” and replace it with the more idiomatic “young gay men.” )

    2) LDS Newsroom used the term sexual orientation without prefixing it with “so-called” or putting it in quotation marks to delegitimize it. The idea that sexual orientation exists is very new to LDS official discourse. This may be the first use of the term in any kind of official LDS statement.

    3) The statement explicitly calls out the fact that the Church recognizes that same-sex attraction is not lust. Otterson offers that there are “emotional, social, and physical feelings” involved. The implication is that sexual orientation is important to the formation of pair bonds. This an important change in thinking and strongly contradicts Elder Packer’s remarks. (Elder Packer admits only sexual desire, and not social and emotional bonding for members of the same sex.)

    4) LDS PR speaks the name “Human Rights Campaign” and says that the Church shares some goals with HRC. This may be the first time any offical statement by the Church has dignified a gay-rights group by speaking its name. (Prior usage would have been “Some say that….” or “While proponents of so-called “gay rights” claim that…”).

    You can look back on previous statements from the Church to see how novel the current language is. For example, even as late as the Oask/Wickman interview, the Church used quotation marks to indicate that the word relationship when applied to same-sex couples could only denote a risible counterfeit of authentic human experience. That’s now gone.

    Kremlinologists (and copyeditors) take note. Change is afoot. :- )

  83. Antoinette says:

    DavidH: “I tell people right off the bat that I don’t agree with same-sex marriage, and I don’t condone homosexuality, which I think sums up the position of the church.”You tell that to gay or lesbian folks right off the bat?For better or worse, I usually just treat people as people, without reporting to them what I think about their lifestyle choices.
    I should clarify: because I’ve had conversations about this issue with people, I let them know what I believe, when asked my opinion of it. That’s what I meant:) I don’t just start the conversation off like that! That’s so creepy!
    When people reveal to me that they’re gay/lesbian, I usually don’t care because it’s none of my business, but if they ask me my opinion on it, I tell them-right off the bat-that I don’t agree with same-sex marriage nor do I condone homosexuality because of my faith and because I have a right to my opinion. Doesn’t mean I’m not gonna be your friend or treat you differently because that’s not how I was raised. I do treat people with respect and see people as people. I don’t inquire about people’s personal lives, but if you tell me something about your life in conversation and then ask me what do do or how I feel about it, then I’m gonna tell ya how I feel about it; if you get mad because I didn’t say what you wanted to hear, then don’t ask me…you’re the one who volunteered the information and wanted to know what I thought…
    I don’t apologize for what I believe, but I’m not perfect, and I recognize that others are not perfect, so I treat them how I want to be treated-with respect, dignity, and compassion. Just because we don’t agree doesn’t mean I don’t respect you.

  84. Cynthia L. says:

    Wondering #81, that is an interesting question. Surely there are members who badly need to hear this and probably won’t, or will not take it very seriously because it isn’t from a prophet’s voice.

  85. Coming to personally know and love gay men and women throughout my life has made me question Church doctrine on this issue – especially when the rhetoric comes from fallible men and women.

    But, what I don’t hear is people explaining how a believer can reconcile a progressive attitude toward homosexuality with what we find in the Bible. It may be easy for LDS to accept Biblical errancy, but is it still not still scripture? Do we pick and choose what parts we believe in based on our liberal/conservative leanings? Even if we believe that God currently accepts homosexuality as a natural, moral and healthy way of life, do we still accept that He ONCE said the following:

    You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

    If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

    Or do we chalk that up to fallibility in the writer(s) of Leviticus?(and in Paul – no less) Again, my own inclination is that some people are born homosexual and that we should accept it as a moral, healthy way of life. BUT, I can’t fault the Church’s position – because its essentially the view found in the Bible (only softer).

  86. Re: Matt’s #76: I agree with your reprimand of wlv’s tone. However, I am not persuaded by your comment to wlv that “(the orientation/action distinction) is not actually the position [President Packer] took in the talk, but rather the one in the edited transcript.” In his original remarks, Elder Packer said, “Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and the unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?” I think if a person reads that paragraph in the context of the next paragraph in Elder Packer’s talk, about how God helps us resist temptation, then Elder Packer’s remarks can (and perhaps should) be construed as referring to our God-given ability to “overcome” temptation, and not that God would never allow someone to be “born” gay. In other words, God would not “do” anything to prevent someone from overcoming temptation. I suppose I’m an apologist of sorts, but my interpretation is definitely the one I’d “like” to believe, and I think it’s a reasonable interpretation in the context of what Elder Packer said in the next pararaph of his talk.

  87. #88 Alpheus,

    I think assuming infallibility for unknown authors is just as (or even more) dangerous as assuming it for known authors.

  88. #83,
    Those are all very interesting points. If this language represents the new standard of official LDS discourse on homosexuality, this is very significant.

  89. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 83
    I was thinking the same thing, MoHoHawaii. There are some remarkable changes in language in this message. It’s quite striking. I can’t think of anything similar coming from the church through such an official channel before. What do these changes mean? That would be more interesting to discuss (although it’s always entertaining to watch you guys twist yourselves into knots over this topic…. : )

    The mere acknowledgement that gays and lesbians exist as a community, and the use of generally-accepted language when talking about them….it’s a big change. It’s hard to overstate how offensive language like “so-called” and “those struggling with SSA” can be to gay people.

  90. Alpheus, #86,
    Two quick points. First of all, the biblical texts in question only concern themselves with certain male/male homosexual acts. Second, we (and all Christians, really, even the ones which refuse to admit it) are quite comfortable not caring about a number of things the God portrayed in biblical accounts forbade, demanded, permitted, etc. (cf., for example, most of the rest of the book of Leviticus, Paul’s teachings on female participation in worship services, etc.).

  91. So, just to clarify, does everyone agree with Steve Evans’ answer (#49) to my question (#48)? A gay or lesbian couple can openly kiss, hold hands, snuggle together while watching a movie on the couch without being subject to any form of church discipline? They can come to Sacrament meeting arm-in-arm and nuzzle in the foyer between meetings without institutional consequence?

    I’m honestly asking. I don’t know all of the particulars of LDS policy toward gays, but if that’s the case, that seems surprisingly progressive for a conservative religion.

  92. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 91
    Find me a date and I’ll test it out, Ms. Jack.

  93. narrator – Does scripture have any authority at all? Or – just the passages that meet our current world view? If we throw out one thing – why not the other?

    ps. just to be clear, these questions have honestly perplexed me for some time – I’m wide open to explanations…

  94. StillConfused says:

    My first close relationship with someone with an “alternative” lifestyle came a few years back when I hired a transsexual to work as my secretary. I cannot begin to express how impressed I was and am with her. She decided to start formally appearing as a female in high school in Springville Utah (not a very open minded area) and stuck with what she felt was right in the face of untold ugliness.

    What amazed me most about this person is that she never returned the cruelty that was forced upon her. My clients all loved and respected her for the compassionate person that she is.

    I consider her to be much more Christian than pretty much any member of my local ward.

    She is in a committed loving monogamous relationship with a fine man who loves her for what and who she is. She was recently baptized in a non-denominational Christian faith. I am so very grateful that there are churches out there who are able to truly embrace those who seem “a little different.”

    I cannot treat someone who has a different sexual preference as somehow being less worthy of God’s love. Our church is at a loss for the good people that it turns away because they do not fit a certain mold.

  95. Julie M. Smith says:

    Alpheus,

    When you stop wearing poly-cotton blends, then you can treat Leviticus as normative.

    When women aren’t allowed to wear braids or gold to church, then you can treat Paul as normative.

  96. Soooo — Why was this delivered to the public by a representative of Church leadership and not in general conference by actual Church leadership?

    Maybe I missed something, but wasn’t the HRC petition delivered after GC concluded?

  97. Cynthia L. says:

    Ms. Jack, the answer depends. For one perspective on being church active and (non-sexually) dating gay man, see Silus Grok’s podcast: http://silusgrok.blogspot.com/2009/03/totally-gay-podcast.html

    At BYU, total celibacy is required (ie ok for hetero couples to kiss but not gays), but BYU is crazy. Nobody in the church at large gets kicked out for having a beard.

    I imagine the church foyer PDA would stir some ire, even some official talking-tos, in most wards. But I think that has a lot to do with many members simply not ever having seen that in person before in any context, and having just a visceral shock/new kind of reaction.

  98. StillConfused says:

    It would be interesting to see one of you fine smart folks list the various sins that are in the Old Testament (maybe even New Testament for that matter) and whether they are still in effect now.

    Don’t they say something along the lines of “if a man lusteth in his heart, he has already committed the sin”? If so, does being a celibate gay person really work? (I don’t like the celibacy rule)

  99. At BYU, total celibacy is required (ie ok for hetero couples to kiss but not gays), but BYU is crazy. Nobody in the church at large gets kicked out for having a beard.

    Fortunately, BYU isn’t the Church. It’s a really great undergraduate university that’s pretty economical if you’re LDS, but most of its graduates don’t take some of its garbage* too seriously.

    * – That includes that cute little thing they pretend to call a college football team. Hook’em Horns! Go Buckeyes!

  100. I get it Julie, Brad – scripture is messy. So how do we decide what we will pick and choose? The Mormon answer to that mess has always been living prophets. Now that we know that they’re out to lunch too, I guess we just do whatever Western culture tells us to?

    I actually agree with your answers 100% – but you have to admit that they sound a lot more like a Bart Ehrman book than a professing Christian.

    Again, my inclination is to disagree with the Church’s position – but its not easy.

  101. Molly Bennion says:

    One is pitifully few, but an Elder’s Quorum President in the Seattle North Stake served for many years, openly gay. By all accounts, he was loved and appreciated.

  102. Alpheus, if it were easy, none of us would need to talk about it this much!

  103. Julie M. Smith says:

    “Now that we know that they’re out to lunch too,”

    I, for one, know no such thing.

    What I do know is that our near-veneration of every syllable that drops from the mouth of anyone in a suit speaking from a podium is coming back to bite us in the butt. I can’t help but thinking that if we had gotten this fallability thing right in the first place, we’d all be sleeping better now.

  104. Kevin Barney says:

    The issue of what the Bible has to say on the subject has been raised. Please see this 2006 BCC post:

    http://bycommonconsent.com/2006/06/06/homosexuality-and-the-bible/

  105. #83 — “gay young men.” I think the order is significant — a semiconscious protestation that sexual orientation is fundamental to one’s identity. A famous linguist whose name I can’t remember pointed out: the way we decide how to order a list of adjectives is by inherency. By placing “young” rather than “gay” closer to the word “men,” writer is saying that the “gayness” is more inherent than their “youngness.” We say “The beautiful brown brick house” rather than “The brick beautiful brown house” because the adjective “brick” is more inherent to the house, whereas “brown” and especially “beautiful” are in the eye of the beholder.

  106. I’m just comforted to know that many of you are troubled by the talk and the difficulties they’ve created for many of us. I’m not quite sure why the church is focusing sooooo much on homosexuality right now. When Christ was on the earth, he spoke of it briefly but the majority of his gospel, actually the whole of his gospel is LOVE. Love one another. Condemning those who are homosexual over and over, does not engender a lot of love. We are blessed to have apostles, but again we will never receive all the answers.

  107. Swisster,

    Unless I am misreading your statement, you seem to have that backwards. If proximity determines which adjectives we believe are more inherent, then “gay young men” says that the men in question are first and foremost inherently young, and that their gayness is not as essential to the speaker’s identifying of these particular men.

  108. @skip #51, 87 – That was my understanding of his message as well.

  109. How would Otterson square this assertion with the fact that the Church routinely expels gay members who cannot maintain lifelong celibacy?

    When the Church follows the D&C, it would do that with heterosexuals who have sex outside of marriage on a repeated basis as well:

    [With regard to fornication] And if they are not married, they shall repent of all their sins or ye shall not receive them. (D&C 42:74)

    The standards for married individuals are higher. Adultery is often grounds for automatic excommunication. As to the merits of the first rule, I would be a little surprised to hear of the excommunication of any unmarried person for a one time offense, especially if they are repentant. It is the people who openly flout the standards of the Church, especially if they are active, that draw attention.

    As to the standard of kindness, it is impossible to understand the excommunication of anyone for any reason except in the context that the Church believes that in the long run it will motivate the individual concerned to repentance. Tough love, about a controversial standard, as it were.

  110. Cynthia L. says:

    Swisster, that’s one reading. However, “young man” also has special meaning in the church as something of a title, due to the name of the Young Men’s program. So it could just be a matter of affixing “gay” to the bigram “young man” (where young man is effectively one word because it is a special term). I’m not saying you’re wrong and I’m right, just throwing it out there.

  111. Antoinette (#76),

    Forgive my singling you out. Of all the comments in this thread, this one phrase is the one that saddens me most:

    “those issues, whether it be homosexuality (…), drug addiction, anger, unforgiveness”

    If this equivalence is valid, then where are the millions of drug addicts proud to be drug addicts? Where are their parents who rejoice with their tweaker-children and cry out with (and not for) them? Where are the angry who, having accepted their inner anger, feel the weight of the world lifted from their shoulders? Where are the unforgiving and unforgiven that rejoice in no longer having to live a lie?

    However much you feel fine, if three people come up and ask you what’s wrong, maybe you should consider lying down and see if you feel even better.

    Or, you can choose to continue to forgo a deeper understanding of no small number of your fellow human beings (such as myself). The choice, as always, is yours alone.

  112. “My first close relationship with someone with an “alternative” lifestyle came a few years back when I hired a transsexual to work as my secretary….She is in a committed loving monogamous relationship with a fine man who loves her for what and who she is. She was recently baptized in a non-denominational Christian faith. I am so very grateful that there are churches out there who are able to truly embrace those who seem “a little different.”

    While “elective” transsexual surgery is grounds for Church discipline, once a person has undergone the surgery, he/she may be baptized (or rebaptized). Under current policy, however, such an individual may not be ordained to the priesthood nor receive the temple endowment. As far as I know, there is no prohibition or a man who has become a woman through surgery and hormone therapy from marrying a man (or vice versa).

    In some ways, but not others, the Church’s position for transsexuals is more “progressive” than for gays and lesbians.

  113. 108, 111. Yes, yes! Thanks.

  114. “The Church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social, and physical feelings.”

    Its always nice to see someone in the Church make this distinction. The sexual feelings themselves and want for that kind of gratification are such a small part of the actual pain that those that I know within the Church who are homosexuals feel.

    “There is no question that this is difficult, but Church leaders and members are available to help lift, support and encourage fellow members who wish to follow Church doctrine. Their struggle is our struggle.”

    Ok, Church leaders can help sure. They generally know who is and isn’t struggling with this trial. Church members on the other hand often have no clue. If we honestly expect there to be any chance at all of members who struggle with homosexuality to remain within the Church given the current guidelines those emotional and social feelings must be fulfilled one way or another. Chances are that’s not going to happen through a Bishop. It’s going to have to be done by the members themselves. So my question then is how do you give “lift, support, and encourage” them when you don’t know? Seems to me this taboo against being open about one’s sexual orientation within our Church needs to end.

  115. Steve Evans says:

    Gang, this has been a fun thread so far. Thanks to those who have been making an effort to be civil and friendly.

    XOXO,

    Steve

  116. I would never welcome a gay couple to church or my home if minor-aged children were present. Children are still forming their sexual identities, and they don’t need confusing examples that may give them ideas from which they should be protected, as much as possible. That’s why if the church ever starts welcoming gay couples to come worship together as a known gay couple, I will stay home with my kids.

    But adults? No problem. Gay people are often fun to hang out with. My wife and I had a great breakfast with a gay couple just the other day. And if a gay wants to come without his partner to worship, no problem with me.

    Parents need to be parents, and gay = R-rated.

  117. Steve Evans says:

    I guess I spoke too soon. Sell your painfully obvious homophobia/self-loathing somewhere else, Chris. We ain’t buyin’.

  118. balthasar says:

    So is this the original comment or the edited one?

  119. Eric Russell says:

    But it could be more fun. The Facebook post from LDS Newsroom on this matter has only 51 comments yet over 40 exclamation marks and 4 smilies. Let’s step it up, people.

  120. Weird flashback. If in #117, you replace ‘gay’ with ‘interracial’ and ‘sexual’ with ‘racial’ that is almost a verbatim quote from a LDS fireman on my mission in Arkansas circa 1979. He left the church eventually.

  121. Wow, this is so much better than that awful Deseret News editorial! Now it’s starting to sound like they actually want to have a civil dialog for real. Too bad this wasn’t read in Conference, in place of BKP’s talk.

  122. It's Not Me says:

    What ain’t you buyin’, Steve Evans? That someone has an opinion that’s different from yours?

    Do you detest Chris’s opinion, or that he expressed it?

  123. #109. I second your second of skip’s impression of the talk. I found the talk valuable when applied to myself. I hope others find it helpful also.

  124. Perhaps hes not buying the “I have gay friends but…” aspect of his comment. You know, like when someone says “I have black friends but…” and then says something offensive or stereotypical about black folks. As if simply having a friend who falls into a group you have a negative view of allows you to try to appear unbiased and express that view unquestioned because you couldn’t possibly hold prejudiced views against them. After all, you have a friend who is one.

  125. It's Not Me says:

    So one cannot have gay friends without endorsing homosexuality? That seems to be a very narrow view of the world.

  126. No Apology says:

    I have to completely agree with Chris #117. I have never heard in the whole debate over gay marriage, etc. what effect it might have on children–which SHOULD be paramount in this whole debate.

    As the parent of 3 young children, I am very sensitive to what messages they receive when I send them out into world. As Chris pointed out, at this young age they are still forming their sexual identities which I believe are more malleable than most people think.

    As a parent I have to fight society/the world on a host of issues. This one I do NOT need to be fighting.

  127. Yes save the children. because gays are like vampires, one look at a gay couple and little Johnny must have billy. I didn’t know gay was infectious but apparently according to some commentators it’s highly contagious and particulary among children.

  128. It’s Not Me, don’t be dense. Do you really want to be confrontational with me? Chris Bigelow has expressed his view that he would leave the Church if it ever welcomed gay couples to worship (a practice not now prohibited, in case you’re wondering). All for the sake of his children, of course.

    I’d be curious about the gay friends you have who are nonetheless aware of your solid denunciation of homosexuality. They must be dear friends indeed.

    No Apology, bringing children into the debate is a red herring. If we are to ascribe to the Proclamation on the Family the import some award it, sexual identity ain’t malleable at all. I’m all for protecting kids from evil, but it’s raw hysterics to believe that somehow their innate heterosexuality will be forever lost if they see two dudes holding hands at church.

  129. If exposing my daughter to homosexual people early in life means I’m running the risk that she’ll consequently become gay, won’t exposing her to tons of heterosexuals make it more likely she’ll turn out straight?

    Chris, I have a 4-year old daughter, and I’d much rather she spend the day at the Pride Parade, followed by an evening of Village People tunes, than be exposed to the silly, bigoted attitudes of folks like you. If gay=R-rated, Chris Bigelow=X-rated bondage porn.

  130. Chris and No Apology (maybe you should rethink that moniker):

    Gay is not a disease, and it’s not contageous. Your children are not going to end up gay if you have gay people in your house or if they have a gay teacher. Please wake up and use your brains.

  131. Tuscarora horseman says:

    Alpheus,
    Do you remember the time when the Savior was in the synagogue in Nazareth and was accorded the honor of reading from the Scriptures and He read His selected passage to the assembled listeners and their response was one of anger and consternation? (Luke 4: 16-24) He who gave the old, preparatory law had just informed His mortal brethren that it was now done away because He was here to give the higher law, His Gospel. The same lesson was later underscored when Peter had his vision of the clean and unclean things of the earth, (according to the Levitical law), and was told, “What God hath cleansed that call not thou uncommon”. (Acts 10:10-35) That cleansing came through the Atonement, and as far as I know it applies to everyone, even those who call themselves gay. For we Latter-day Saints the message was re-iterated in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 74. So there you have it; Leviticus has been superceded by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By citing irrelevant Old Testament laws you might fall into the habit of stoning your children to death for talking back to you. After all, if you’re going to pull out a few passages from the O.T. to justify your prejudices, then you are obligated to live all the others because you have lent those few legitimacy. If you don’t, then you become one of those whom you accuse of being ‘cafeteria Mormons’ and living by only those laws that they select. I suggest that at your first opportunity you avail yourself of attending a B.Y.U. Education Week and ask one of the professors of Ancient Scripture about the circumstances that brought the creation of those laws that you think refer to gays; the answer might surprise you. I’ll give you a hint, it has something to do with the religious practices of those ‘gentile’ tribes living geographically around the ancient Israelites and their unorthodox practices. [a.k.a. temple prostitution]

  132. “So one cannot have gay friends without endorsing homosexuality? That seems to be a very narrow view of the world.”

    Not what I said at all (and I also don’t accept or agree with that notion). I am saying that throwing out the “I have gay friends but…” card is irrelevant and offensive. It’s used as a qualifier to establish impartiality when it doesn’t mean anything. If you feel that way you feel that way, but don’t invoke the existence of your gay friends as if it has any relevancy to your argument.

    Despite the fact that I completely disagree with him, I can see where he’s coming from. There are a lot of these fears over homosexuality being a learned behavior out there, especially in the LDS world. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large percentage of the membership of the Church held similar views. I personally think in most cases this type of viewed behavior (especially the kind you would expect at Church) would have little to no effect on a child. I don’t doubt he has gay friends, and I am really not insinuating that he’s super homophobic. I am just saying that the “gay friend” qualifier is irrelevant and offensive.

  133. Ok stay with my whole thought here.

    When I was about six or seven I met a football player from our local Canadian Football League team. He was six foot plus, was big, to me, and was black. In Canada at the time. especially in Western Canada, there were very few black people. I was caught out and fascinated by his skin colour, I am sure it embarrassed my parents but kids are like that.

    Then at the age eight I was in hospital in Toronto and I met a boy there and were great friends. He was also black. I lost my fascination with the skin colour and looked at the person.

    Since that time our country has become, thankfully, much more multi-cultural so it is not as strange for my kids to see a person with family history from around the world.

    Right now though I suspect for much of Mormonism there is a sense of either repulsion or obvious gawking with same sex people sharing affection. It is embarrassing but true. Until we look at the person we will not get over that gawking.

    Knowing gay people has not made me understand their views and what they go through. However I do understand that it can be painful.

    Five years ago I worked with those who fought against same sex marriage laws. I saw some of the concerns about family as valid and important. Then I came to understand that some of their points of view were un-Christian. Now I wonder why I got so upset about the issue.

    In Canada we just do not have the same level of social conservatives as there are in the US. So we lost fairly decisively.

    I feel sad now to hear people talk about leaving the church over x or y issue if the church ever excepts, does, or whatever. It is God’s church we should recognize that he can change some tenants of it without removing the main point of it. The Gospel, or good news is about the atonement and resurrection.

    Most often when I struggle with what the church is saying or doing on an issue I feel reminded of that point.

    I think section 132 still calls for polygamy so if that can be set aside I am sure anything can be changed if a Prophet of God is told to change it.

    At the moment is not changed. It is not going to change tomorrow. The nature of the church as pointed out previously is conservative which stops over reaction to events and keeps things delayed which may be changed quicker in other circumstances.

    I am not convinced that gay or lesbian couples will be allowed to marry in the church or treated like other married couples, but as the LDS society changes who knows what will be the result.

    But while I might pray for it to change, it is not up to me to change the church or tell God what to do. So I guess that is my reasoning I think that what one thing Proposition 8 has done is allowed the church to grow up a bit. I think that is good and healthy and along with the immigration reform issues I am seeing the church moving away from lock step conservative thought.

    Yet I have no problem with the church being involved politically in issues it sees as moral. I cannot deny they have a right to that and I find it repulsive when others try to say the church should shut up. No the church needs to be involved because it might just eventually influence others to do things for the right reasons rather than just for political gain.

    I also think the church generally has been reasonable in its approaches politically so I think it can be respected for that. Even if you disagree.

  134. From what I am seeing here in this statement, the Church is basically instructing its members to be loving, sensitive, understanding, kind – but also is maintaining a strict line in refusing to re-write the law of chastity to accommodate gay marriage or gay sex, which are still considered by the Church to be immoral.

  135. It's Not Me says:

    Steve, I guess I have to spell it out. I have a gay friend with whom I occasionally do lunch. My office partner and I invited her to move in with us to practice together, but she ended up buying her own building. We get along great, laugh together and have fun. Fortunately, however, we do not discuss the morality of homosexual behavior. She knows that I’m in my bishopric, so I think she understands my general view. She’s bright enough not to make an issue of it, and I enjoy our friendship enough that I don’t bring it up, either.

    I know that might be difficult to imagine, but give it a shot. Or am I too dense to see that it’s not really working, that my friend and I are both just pretending? That we only “think” that we’re enjoying our relationship?

  136. D. Fletcher says:

    I really want to know — has anybody seen two men holding hands in Church?

  137. pardon my absolute ignorance…what does “openly gay” mean? Is it just self identifying as gay? I don’t see why that would prevent activity in church or callings-and I’m rather conservative.

    On the Packer subject-When I first heard the talk I thought I heard him say homosexuals are not “born that way”-not that exact phrase, but that was my take away message. So I relistened and was surprised to find nothing of the kind..it was all about not being tempted above that we are able. I reread it while listening and still got that. huh. I can’t explain my first reaction, but I can understand how other people got there too.

    The whole PDA discussion is interesting…I seldom see anyone holding hands at church-and can’t remember seeing kissing ever.

    This is an interesting reaction http://gaymormonguy.blogspot.com/2010/10/president-packers-talk-from-gay-mormon.html?spref=fb :President Packer gave a clear, direct, and concise talk on pornography and other sexual sins. I don’t know if he realized that everything in his talk could also be applied to same-sex attraction… or how painful that application would be. But I know that his final statements were heartfelt and true:

    “I promise that ahead of you is peace and happiness for you and your family.”
    “And I invoke the blessings of the Lord upon you who are struggling against this terrible plague, to find the healing that is available to us in the priesthood of the Lord.”

  138. MikeInWeHo says:

    “But I know that his final statements were heartfelt and true:

    “I promise that ahead of you is peace and happiness for you and your family.”
    “And I invoke the blessings of the Lord upon you who are struggling against this terrible plague, to find the healing that is available to us in the priesthood of the Lord.” ”

    I think you’ve gotten to the heart of the matter, Britt K. When THAT message is conveyed to some poor Mormon gay dude, who knows in his gut that his sexual feelings will never change, who knows he will never have a “normal” LDS family of his own, who has sought priesthood healing his entire adult life and found none…..it inevitably leads to the kind of despair that triggers so many suicides.

    Seriously guys, please tell your church leaders to stop comparing homosexuality to various addictions or physical and mental defects. Y’all are unintentionally doing a lot of harm.

  139. # Britt –

    I’d love to know how many other people thought they heard that people were not born gay as well. My wife said the same thing during the talk just after he asked the now infamous question and I replied that’s not what he said and we had to re-watch that part so I could point out I was right (first time in almost 10 years, so it was a big deal).

    In any case, it seems like that part of the talk was a Rorschach test where people heard what they expected to hear rather than what was actually said.

  140. Steve Evans says:

    #136, based on that I’d say you have some very nice casual gay acquaintances. But no, not friends. I say this because you never talk about homosexuality or your own views on the matter with your gay acquaintance. Friends talk about important things with each other. Frankly, it sort of sounds like you’re hiding from having that discussion – most likely because you know it would cause offense and embarrassment for each of you. And yet that would be the surest indicator of a real friendship.

  141. Kristine, you said:

    “The original talk was delivered as written.”

    I’d be interested (really!) in evidence of that assertion.

  142. It's Not Me says:

    #141 I also never discuss my views on heterosexuality with my straight friends. In fact, I don’t really discuss homosexuality with my straight friends. I’m sure if I had a son or daughter who is gay that would change. But I don’t, it’s not an issue in my life, so I’ve never felt compelled to explore it in conversation with my friends (or acquaintances or whatever you wish to call them).

    The characterization of my relationships with gay people is really quite irrelevant. The point is that I can associate with them without feeling “icky” or wondering if I’ll go to hell for doing so, or wondering whether I’ll turn gay myself, or trying to figure out a way I can “cure” them. They are, simply, my friends . . . er . . . I mean acquaintances, not my “gay friends,” and I will continue to associate with them regardless of what anybody here may think.

  143. From the 2006 Church Handbook of Instructions:

    “Homosexual Behavior

    Homosexual behavior violates the commandments of God, is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality, distorts loving relationships, and deprives people of the blessings that can be found in gamily life and in the saving ordinances of the gospel. Those who persist in such behavior or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline. Homosexual behavior can be forgiven through sincere repentance.

    While opposing homosexual behavior, the Church reaches out to understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender.

    If members have homosexual thoughts or feelings or engage in homosexual behavior, Church leaders should help them have a clear understanding of faith in Jesus Christ, the process of repentance, and the purpose of life on earth. Leaders also should help them accept responsibility for their thoughts and actions and apply gospel principles in their lives.

    In addition to the inspired assistance of Church leaders, members may need professional counseling. When appropriate, bishops should contact LDS Social Services to identify resources to provide such counseling in harmony with gospel principles.”

    From the BYU Honor Code (which I think is a fair interpretation of the CHOI):

    “Homosexual Behavior or Advocacy

    Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or attraction and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. Members of the university community can remain in good Honor Code standing if they conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code.
    One’s stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior and/or advocacy of homosexual behavior are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings. Advocacy includes seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable.”

    If the BYU Honor Code is the Church’s definition of “Homosexual Behavior,” then the Church’s rhetoric of homosexuals and heterosexuals having the same standard of chastity is a disingenuous and duplicitous lie.

  144. “…I will continue to associate with them regardless of what anybody here may think.”

    Really? I always pick my friends and associates based on the maxim: What will they think at BCC?

  145. narrator,

    The BYU Honor code does not stand at the official stance of the Church.

  146. It's Not Me says:

    #145, well according to some here that is exactly what you should do.

  147. Cynthia L. says:

    #147, enough tangent. Back to the post.

  148. #146

    Quite aware of that Chris. The question is whether or not the BYU Honor Code’s definition of “homosexual behavior” reflects the Church’s definition.

    My point is that it seems fair to say that two men romantically holding hands is understood as homosexual behavior by the Church.

    Does anyone have the 2010 CHOI to see if the official position has been more explicitly defined?

  149. Eric Russell says:

    MikeInWeHo,

    The belief that homosexual activity is a sin is inevitably going to do a lot of harm. There’s no way around it.

    One very well might say of the man “who knows in his gut that [any of a long list of life challenges] will never change, who knows he will never have a “normal” LDS family of his own, who has sought priesthood healing his entire adult life and found none…it inevitably leads to the kind of despair that triggers so many suicides.”

    Many, though not all, of these challenges do involve mental or physical disabilities, but the purpose of the comparison is to convey hope – to demonstrate that while the situation that gay people face is unique ways, it is also similar in some ways to challenges that other people manage to live with and find happiness in spite of.

    Given that that heterosexual marriage with children is an ideal, any life conditions that prevent one from obtaining that ideal are going to share a categorization, by definition. I believe that while church leaders recognize the potential offense that may occur by identifying the shared categorization, they express it nonetheless because they believe gays will find hope in the successful examples of others who live full lives in spite of the things that prevent them from living the church’s stated ideal.

  150. It’s Not Me, your insistance that you can be friends with gay people while believing the way you do reminds me (sadly) of this adorably cute but morally bankrupt cartoon from the Yes on 8 campaign. Start watching at 1:10. Your point is asserted at 3:38. I rejected it then. I reject it now.

  151. I, for one, have never been “fully accepted” in any ward I’ve belonged to.

    If that’s the measure of acceptance by which the church is being judged, you might as well give up now.

  152. Tuscarora horseman (#132),

    To be clear, my original question about homosexuality in Leviticus was, “Do we believe in a God that ONCE said that?” not “Shouldn’t we follow the law of Moses to the T?”

    That cleansing came through the Atonement, and as far as I know it applies to everyone, even those who call themselves gay. For we Latter-day Saints the message was re-iterated in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 74.

    I can accept liberal interpretations of Bible, but you’re kind of making my point by citing Section 74 – meanwhile rejecting Sections 131-132 – not to mention the statements of current Church leaders. In short, its a Mormonism stripped of authoritative revelation.

    I’ll say it again, my common sense tells me to reject the Church’s position on homosexuality – but if I start picking and choosing – maybe I should throw out the whole thing.

    Thanks for humoring me.

  153. Matt Huph says:

    And with comment #130, Aaron B. just totally ruined my collection of bondage porn.

    Thanks, dude.

  154. I have friends with whom I disagree on a number of points. But I would never keep my (future) children from being around them. I am quite certain that my friends would notice when I refuse to bring my kids around. Refuse to let them meet them. And when my friends are welcomed to attend worship services at my church, and I coincidentally stop attending that church, I am sure they would notice.

    I am equally sure that our friendship would quickly end.

    I simply do not believe that one can be close friends with people, while blatantly letting your kids get near them. Surely this is going to come up at some point. What would you say to them when they ask?

  155. D. Fletcher says:

    I’m just amused by the idea that the Church would support an out gay person who was celibate. Do you suppose someone could marry a person of the same sex, publicly state the couple’s abstinence, and then have the full support of the Church?

    I suppose not.

  156. It's Not Me says:

    #151 Dan Weston –

    I see. So not only am I adorably cute and morally bankrupt, but (or is it “however”?) I must have imagined my relationship with my friend, the lunches we’ve had, the jokes we’ve shared, the work issues we’ve grappled with, etc. I must truly be detached from reality. I’m so glad you posted your comment, Dan, because now I can see myself for who I truly am.

    Yes, now it’s all clear. I do remember holding a gun in my hand under the table at lunch, not once, but multiples times, just waiting for my friend to ask me my thoughts on homosexuality. How could I not see that?

    Truly, as I can now see, the LDS Church is also adorably cute and morally bankrupt when it counsels us to “love the sinner”, because, as you have pointed out, that is impossible.

    Seriously, Dan, am I just making this stuff up that I have a friendship with a gay person, or is the problem with your/my definition of “friendship”?

    I am not delusional when I say that we go to lunch, we discuss work, family, kids, etc. (though the “etc.” does not include the morality of homosexuality). I guess we are simply left with you calling me a liar and me saying “Ok, if that’s how you feel about it.”

  157. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 150

    “….the purpose of the comparison is to convey hope….”

    Conveyance Of Hope = FAIL

  158. It's Not Me says:

    It’s funny because usually it’s the liberal people who mock the conservatives for seeing the world as “black and white.” Yet, Dan, this issue seems to be black and white to you: There is no way a person who believes homosexual behavior is sinful could actually like a gay person. There is no room for gray there.

    Yeah, there’s no inconsistency there.

  159. > Quite aware of that Chris. The question is whether or not
    > the BYU Honor Code’s definition of “homosexual behavior”
    > reflects the Church’s definition.

    narrator, citing the BYU Honor Code for definitions to apply to the whole church only makes sense if you also think that members get TRs revoked for WoW violations if they drink Coke.

  160. “It’s funny because usually it’s the liberal people …”

    Is there a rule that strawman arguments have to start like that?

  161. Eric Russell says:

    Mike,

    It appears as if you’re the one insisting that mortal despair is the only option available. What were you saying about suicides again?

  162. It’s Not Me, I think Dan is just saying that he, as a married gay man, would rather not be friends with someone who rejects his dearly loved spouse and wouldn’t let their children see him when his spouse is also in the room at the same time. That seems reasonable enough to me. If someone told me that they liked me and wanted to be my friend just as long as my different-race spouse isn’t in the picture, I’d tell them stuff about where they could shove that and where they can go.

    You can try to be friends with whoever you want. The point is whether they really consider your friendship to be sincere or not, and whether they accept your friendship or not.

  163. Cynthia,
    Drinking Coke is not an HC violation. OTOH, honor code violations can entail TR-revoking consequences for many Church members (i.e. BYU students).

  164. On my father’s side, my extended family is extremely conservative. Yet my uncle and his same sex partner were both welcomed and embraced at family gatherings–more than 15 years ago. I do believe love often triumphs.

  165. It’s not Me

    No one is saying you don’t have a friendly work relationship with someone who is gay.

    I think they are saying that the kinds of friends that are integrated in your personal life are categorically different than the kinds of friends you purposefully do not allow around your family. The quality of the friendship will be different.

  166. It's Not Me says:

    #163 – I guess I’m not being clear enough. I’m not “trying” to be friends with my gay friend: we ARE friends. I see her with her “spouse” quote often. Where did I ever say (and it’s not true) that I’ve told my friend that we can be friends so long as her significant other is not around?

    I am perplexed as to why it’s so difficult for others to understand this (and recognize that I am not running for office here, so I’m not vying for your votes or looking for acceptance; in other words, why would I make this stuff up?)

    By the way, here’s another shocker: I am Republican, and my best friend, whom I office with, is a Democrat. We have a lot of fun here at the office, our families do things together and we get along fine. We also do not discuss politics. I guess our friendship is a farce.

  167. #160

    cynthia, coke is not a violation of the Honor Code. And I fully recognize that the HC does not equal the Church’s position on moral obedience (such as with hair-cuts, and mixed-gender camping). The question is whether or not the HC’s definition of “homosexual behavior” is the same “homosexual behavior” strictly prohibited in the CHOI.

  168. It's Not Me says:

    #166 – There are some assumptions being made here. How can anybody here say I am “purposely not allowing” certain kinds of friends to be around my family? If by that you mean that I don’t invite my gay friends to come into my living room and demonstrate for my family their most intimate physical contact for us, then yes, I don’t invite that sort of thing.

    (I am being facetious)

  169. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 162
    I’m not saying it’s the only option. I’m saying that the evidence is unambiguous: The message conveyed by the church and Mormon culture to gay members HAS resulted in despair in many cases. Agree with the Church of not, that’s just reality.

    To deny this fact is to willfully ignore the testimonies of thousands and thousands of gay members, former-members, and their families. That’s what I’m saying.

  170. 117 “I would never welcome a gay couple to church or my home if minor-aged children were present. ”

    169 How can anybody here say I am “purposely not allowing” certain kinds of friends to be around my family?

    I apologize, It’s not me.

    Chris Bigelow made the above statement in 117, you defended his statement in 126 and later, and I think I attributed his statement to you.

    I would say a person could be friends with someone who is gay and not endorse homosexuality. I would not say that someone could be friends with someone who is gay and have an attitude that meant the would not allow them around their family or attend church if they and their partner were in attendance.

    To be fair, though, in your defense of Chris Bigelow, you didn’t make that distinction either.

  171. It's Not Me says:

    “. . . you didn’t make that distinction either.”

    I guess that’s one of the hazards of posting comments on a blog like this. So much energy is spent on trying to clarify our positions that most of the time I don’t bother to comment because I don’t have the time to offer every conceivable caveat so as to not be misunderstood. I should know better, because we all know that no matter how much you try to clarify, not everybody will understand (I’m not talking about those who disagree).

  172. Steve Evans says:

    “I guess our friendship is a farce.”

    Actually, yeah – it sort of sounds like a friendship of convenience at best.

  173. Cynthia L. says:

    “So much energy is spent on trying to clarify our positions that most of the time I don’t bother to comment because I don’t have the time to offer every conceivable caveat so as to not be misunderstood. ”

    Hah. Sorry to conflate you with Chris. I think having friends across wide, sometimes very painful, divides is rewarding. And ultimately the only thing that can help us bridge those divides is to have brave souls willing to give such friendships a try, and then guide others to follow them. I’m just saying that I can’t blame gay people who might not want to be friends with someone who can’t fully accept them and important aspects of their lives.

  174. Eric Russell says:

    Mike,

    My point is that this despair originates principally from the doctrine itself (which at this point in time, at least, is non-negotiable) and not from church leaders’ best attempts to offer hope within the bounds of the doctrine. Given the constraints, I believe one of the best things the church can do is remind gays that they are not alone in their celibacy – that others live with celibacy and yet live full and happy lives. It may be true that there are some who irrationally insist on taking offense to the categorization, but overall it remains the best thing the church can offer and constitutes a net good.

    If you have any better ideas, within the constraints of the doctrine, I’m sure the church would be happy to hear them.

  175. It’s Not Me

    I apologise. I read your defense of Chris Bigelow as being in total agreement with his stance that parents should keep children away from gay people just as much as they should keep them away from R-rated movies.

  176. “within the constraints of the doctrine”

    Eric, what is the doctrine, so far as you understand it? Or are you talking about the Church’s position that (a) all sexual relations outside marriage are a sin and (b) marriage is solely between a man and a woman? Are those “doctrines”?

  177. It's Not Me says:

    Alex, no apology necessary. That’s the risk one takes when commenting here.

    Steve,

    There’s actually nothing “convenient” about any of my friendships. My social life primarily revolves around my immediate–and to some extent, my extended–family. When I’m not working or churching it’s family. A couple times a year we do dinner with others, and a few times a month I do lunch with friends. When scheduling dinners with friends and their families it takes almost a Herculean effort to find a mutually acceptable date/time. There is nothing convenient about any of it.

    Having said that, I’m a big believer in free speech, so go ahead and express your judgment of me all you want, and I’ll disagree with your characterizations of me.

  178. Mike and Eric – The problem of despair comes when hardly anyone can live up to the “ideal”. We all want to get married, have kids, grow old, etc. But its hard to feel accepted at church when for example, you get divorced, are gay, your husband dies and you can’t get sealed to another man, your kids don’t want to be members, etc. The church has set up this perfect ideal that hardly any of us can live up to because life is hard and full of struggles! Then we all despair because we have failed the eternal plan.

  179. Eric Russell says:

    Steve,

    I don’t know if they’re actually doctrines because I don’t know how doctrine is properly defined. But I’m happy to replace every instance of my use of “doctrine” with “doctrine and/or policy” and I don’t believe it changes the nature of anything I’m saying.

  180. Eric, fair enough.

    It’s Not Me, I apologize – I’m coming off far more harsh than I mean to be. I promise I’ll be nicer.

  181. It's Not Me says:

    Steve, I’m probably being more defensive than I need to be. Such is the nature of blog discourse.

  182. The church has set up this perfect ideal that hardly any of us can live up to because life is hard and full of struggles! Then we all despair because we have failed the eternal plan.

    My mileage varies. Despair? Failure? Because I don’t live the ideal in mortality? Bah!

  183. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 175
    I basically agree with you, Eric. Where I disagree is that you seem to believe that despair is the inevitable result of the doctrine. Not so.

    What if a gay member decides that he disagrees with that particular point of doctrine, or simply cannot live it with integrity? Should he therefore be expelled altogether?

    It’s clear from the Bloggernacle that there are lots of active members who disagree with various points of doctrine, and let’s not even begin to list the ways members fail to live up to the standards.

    My biggest beef with the status quo is that by threatening ecclesiastic discipline on gay members who cannot remain celibate (and clearly most cannot), the Church gives them only two options: Lie or Leave. Sometimes they even choose to leave via suicide.

    There is a third option that would not require any change whatsoever in doctrine (see my comment #12 above). The Catholic church takes this approach and has better outcomes. Its teachings on sexuality are at least as strict, but members in-the-pews are allowed to stay even if they disagree or don’t live up to them. Only when one publically preaches against the church does one become at risk of excommunication. As a result, they do a much better job of retaining gay and lesbian members. So it’s clearly possible, even within the constraints of doctrine.

  184. MoHoHawaii says:

    Re doctrinally-induced despair: check out this short YouTube clip by a survivor of such despair. It’s very moving and illustrates the point well.

  185. Regarding the question of how well public displays of affection between gay people would go over at Church meetings, I think two experiments should be done. First, we need gay men to visit sacrament meetings hand in hand (in wards where no one knows them) and report back whether they were asked to leave (and how politely) or whether they were physically confronted, or whether they were merely stared at with open disgust/disbelief/horror/confusion.
    For the second, we need gay men who are known to be gay by their wards, who feel accepted enough to attend church, and who have always attended by themselves to show holding hands with a man. Of course the problem with the second is finding these people. I’ve been a member of 15 wards now and never known anyone who was openly gay who also attended church with any regularity.
    I fear that the first experiment would yield ugly results. Maybe the second would too.

  186. D. Fletcher says:

    I think the dialogue here and elsewhere seems over-intellectualized and over-analyzed. The Church (and other organizations) will not let me love the person I choose to love, and be exalted for it. In fact, the Church would like to punish me for feeling that love, and chastize me, and heal me, though I don’t understand why I need healing.

    I will go on loving whom I love, regardless. (P.S. it’s you Steve, it’s always been you.)

  187. Eric Russell says:

    Mike, we’re talking about different things here, brother. I’ll let it go.

    Brad (164), can you offer an example of a non TR violating HC violation that resulted in a TR revocation? I’m skeptical.

  188. or whether they were merely stared at with open disgust/disbelief/horror/confusion.

    Alex #2, in conducting this hypothetical experiment (which we know will probably never happen), I would strike this response from the notes.

    I used to have blue hair and earrings and attend church. Reactions of horror and confusion were rather irrelevant to my ability to partake of the sacrament.

    I do think it would be interesting whether or not anyone would object to them partaking of the sacrament. (especially week after week).

  189. D., likewise.

  190. #98 Cynthia & #144 the narrator ~ Thanks for taking shots at answering my question (#92).

    Personally, I don’t view the BYU Honor Code as a perfect guide for disciplinary measures to expect elsewhere in the church. For example, you can get thrown out of BYU for having a beard; you can’t be excommunicated from the church for that.

    However, I do see the Honor Code as a pretty official guideline for the ideal that the church would like to see from its members. Again, while I know plenty of members with beards, I’ve never met a bishop or a stake president with a beard, and I know of a few people who were gently asked to shave their beards upon being called to those leadership positions (they always complied, too). Obviously none of the apostles or seventies have beards.

    It seems reasonable, then, to say that the church would like homosexual members to refrain from even non-sexual homosexual relationships, and the 2006 CHI seems to allow space for local leaders to initiate disciplinary proceedings against gay members who have non-sexual romantic relationships with other gays. Maybe some wards and stakes are more tolerant of this than others, but the former seems to be the ideal the church shoots for.

    And that’s why I originally said that I don’t think what the church asks of gays is all that comparable to what the church asks of heterosexual singles (#48). The church seems to request “celibacy” of homosexuals in the classical Christian theological sense of the term, and they may or may not enforce this through disciplinary measures. Heterosexual adult singles are asked to abstain from sex, but otherwise they are always encouraged to be seeking romantic relationships with the opposite sex, and they will never see church discipline for it.

    The only exception I can think of are single Mormon missionaries, who are indeed asked to practice a form of short-term celibacy (in the classical sense of the word).

    BTW, thanks to Kristine for sharing that information about Louie B. Felt and May Anderson (#54). Fascinating.

  191. Jack, saying that the HC is a “pretty official” guideline for ideals is problematic in lots of ways, but it’s especially problematic to take the tack that it’s the basis for disciplinary proceedings under some ideal discipline structure the Church has in mind. That’s just not true. You’ve asked what we think of your definition of celibacy, what we think of the honor code, and we’ve told you, but your conclusions disregard what we’ve all said. I don’t think the Church asks celibacy of gay members, just abstinence from sexual relations, and that’s what it asks of straight members. You’re right that the Church discourages homosexuals from seeking romantic relationships, but that’s not the same thing as standards for ecclesiastical discipline.

  192. Jack, you might be interested in listening to the linked podcast below.

    http://www.nine-moons.com/?p=942

  193. #192

    I agree that the HC is a from a pretty official guide or anything like it.

    As I have pointed out the Church Handbook of Instructions clearly states that “homosexual behavior” is grounds for Church discipline.

    The two questions remain: What is the Church’s definition of “homosexual behavior”? and is the HC reflective of the Church’s definition of “homosexual behavior”?

  194. that first line was supposed to say:

    “the HC is FAR from a pretty official guide or anything like it.”

  195. What D. said (#187).

    Except the part about loving Steve.

  196. “The Church (and other organizations) will not let me love the person I choose to love, and be exalted for it. In fact, the Church would like to punish me for feeling that love, and chastize me, and heal me, though I don’t understand why I need healing.”

    D. Fletcher, I know you hardly need me to tell you this, but it bears mentioning that the Church cannot exalt anyone; that’s decision for God. All the Church does is tell you what behaviors it thinks God will and won’t condone as it relates to exaltation, and then proctors covenants accordingly. As such, if the Church truly is wrong on this issue, then it stands to reason that your exaltation cannot be at risk for “loving who you choose to love.”

  197. #186

    We don’t need to conduct an experiment to see how the church would react to non-sexual expressions of affection by gay couples. There’s at least one real life example.

    Just look to the Main Street plaza incident last year. The results of the “experiment” were caught on tape.

    After the dust settled, and the “he said, he said” was over– the Deseret News provided the following description of events:
    “Around 11 p.m. July 9, the couple held hands as they walked from the Gallivan Center through the Main Street Plaza, where Aune said he hugged Jones and kissed him on the cheek. That’s when the couple was detained by private security guards and later cited by the Salt Lake City Police Department.”

    The church claimed after the fact that it holds straight couples to the same standard on its property. But we’ve ALL seen straight couples holding hands, kissing, or otherwise expressing affection of church property.

    Notably for this purpose– the church did not say, “it’s ok for gay couples to hold hands, just don’t do it on our property.”

  198. Main Street Plaza is a bit charged because of earlier political issues. Also, I think that the Church and most Mormons view Temple Square a bit differently than they do the foyer. Maybe it is just me.

  199. #199

    Fair point. It is charged.

    But I think that’s why the event got attention. If it had happened elsewhere– like a foyer for example– it wouldn’t have been a good news story.

  200. #198: That is a good point. Also, and this is getting a bit hearsay and was long ago, but I recall my Institute Director saying that any kind of affection (holding hands, etc) by gays was supposed to be banned from Institute property and events sponsored by Institute. This came up in the context of discussions about trying to get LDS students recognized as a campus club and conflicts with the anti-discrimination requirements for doing so (I went to a public university).

  201. Actually, the Main Street Plaza incident is a perfect example of why the entire body of the church should be compelled to hear this message in general conference, a la “wondering”‘s suggestion. Or perhaps pass it out for hanging in our homes, like the Proclamation. Even assuming the rules for the Plaza property are that no homosexual affection contact is allowed, clearly there was no need for the incident to end up as it did with getting so violent. Church members need a wakeup call on civility and just not being crazy homophobic.

    Whether or not we want to “allow” gay hand-holding in a church foyer, if it is true that a gay couple doing so is at the risk of violence, we have a stupendously huge amount of repenting to do.

  202. @184: I think one issue though, Mike, is that the Church considers itself under scriptural mandate to not administer certain ordinances, or accept as teachers, those who are (pardon the harshness) no longer even trying to conform their lives to the commandments as the Church interprets them. Excommunication, and other ecclesiastical discipline, is the process the Church has implemented to comply with that mandate; and I’m not sure it can change.

    What can change–what, IMHO, must change–is the way we, as active Mormons, would treat the average excommunicated member (gay or straight) who dropped in for Sunday services.

  203. [Hit "submit" too early]

    Excommunication, as I understand it in the LDS Church, isn’t supposed to mean “go away, and don’t come back”. But that’s how the bulk of the membership seems to interpret it.

  204. #184 – I would love to see that, Mike – and nothing doctrinally would have to change.

    Chris, the Main Street Plaza incident wasn’t about holding hands, and the two people involved weren’t innocents caught unknowingly violating a hand-holding restriction. To say that your assertion is inaccurate would be an understatement. To characterize it as about hand-holding is as wrong as if they had been expelled simply for strolling quietly along holding hands. They weren’t, and it wasn’t.

  205. #203 – But, Jim, the Church doesn’t take that stance for MANY instances of people not trying to live the commandments. The Word of Wisdom might be the best example, but there are plenty of others.

  206. MoHoHawaii says:

    Re 199 [M]ost Mormons view Temple Square a bit differently

    Sorry, I just have to correct one bit of misinformation about the Main Street Plaza incident last year.

    The couple in question were not on Temple Square. They were walking along a sidewalk on the part of Main Street that had only recently been deeded to the Church by the city of Salt Lake after assurances by the Church that its traditional use as public thoroughfare, open to all, would be maintained. The men did not realize that the city had signed away their legal right to be on what for nearly 150 years had been a public sidewalk, and so they questioned the jurisdiction of LDS Security. They were wrestled to the ground on the spot, handcuffed and separated from each other. A half hour later LDS Security handed them over to the police for arrest. After that incident the Church has posted unfriendly signs remiding the public that they no rights to this section of Main Street and may denied access *for any reason* to a vital urban pedestrian route that has been open to the public for more than a century.

    The formerly public sidewalk along Main Street Plaza isn’t the foyer of your local meetinghouse. By any reasonable measure it should be more open to PDA than the foyer, not less.

  207. #205:

    I’m not saying anyone involved was “innocent.” For all I know, the couple involved wanted to get a stir out of the church. And I acknowledged multiple times in my comment that kissing was involved. (Sorry if I minimized the kissing part in my last sentence.)

    But by all accounts, they weren’t having sex. As I understood it– the question at hand was the church’s attitude toward non-sexual expressions of affection between gay people.

  208. It's Not Me says:

    #207 – You’re saying that by some miracle those two gentlemen were the only people in the Salt Lake Valley who were unaware of the brouhaha surrounding that piece of property having been sold to the church? And that they did not go onto that property with the intention of creating a confrontation?

    I honestly don’t know what their intentions were in going onto that property, but I have a hard time believing that they did were not aware of the very public issue surrounding that piece of property at that time they went there.

  209. I am all in favor of PDA anywhere and everywhere. I just need to convince my wife along the same lines.

    MoHoHawaii,

    I am not so interested in the legal status of the space, but how we view it. For me it is part of what I think of as temple square. That said, I do not care who kisses or holds hand there.

    This is tedious…even for me.

    The statement in the OP is awesome.

  210. #207, your description of events is definitely contestable. Please settle down. This is a friendly thread so far, and sticking to facts will assist in maintaining that tone.

  211. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    “Find me a date and I’ll test it out, Ms. Jack.”

    MikeInWeho…would you really trust your luck on a date set-up by a well-meaning straight person? I seem to recall a Sex In The City episode where it just didn’t work!

  212. @206: Ray, point taken; but (for better or for worse) the Church does seem to draw something of a line when it comes to sexual sin.

  213. #213 – Agreed, Jim. I’m just agreeing with Mike that we can draw it more inclusively with regard to formal disciplinary actions without compromising doctrine. Whatever is ok for heterosexual single adults to do without being formally disciplined should be ok for homosexual single adults to do, likewise – and I don’t want that to occur by restricting what heterosexual single adults can do.

    unless it’s in Sacrament Meeting . . .

    http://www.mormonmommywars.com/?p=659

  214. I seem to recall a Sex In The City episode where it just didn’t work!

    Scariest comment I’ve ever read.

  215. #217–lol!

  216. Ray, yeah the whole thing about same sex PDA at church is a red herring because it rubs up against (pun intended) all kinds of issues regarding any kind of PDA at church.

    You have wards where people actually make out in the pews or engage in all kinds of creepy back rubbing and then you have wards where that stuff can get you tossed into the street.

    I’m sure there are places where two guys holding hands would be treated with absolute equanimity and also places where it would raise all kinds of alarm. My advice? Don’t try it in Texas or Arizona.

  217. MikeInWeHo says:

    Probably wouldn’t cause much fuss at Westwood 1st in LA.

  218. They’ve probably seen about everything there. Come to think of it, that would be a pretty entertaining place to attend, I’m guessing. What time’s sacrament meeting?

  219. StillConfused says:

    The first time I was with my now husband is when I invited him to my second home (his family was going to have a reunion down at the resort). My son’s favorite friends to bring are a pre-op transsexual and his (birth gender) boyfriend. I like these folks because they bring awesome guns to the shooting range. Anyway, I didn’t tell my now husband about this in advance. I will admit that I was very interested in his response. And my now-husband had no issue at all with the situation. He was not the least bit judgmental. The only thing he said is how bad he felt for how hard it must be for this person. Well, suffice it to say that that put him in good graces with me and with my children. I can honestly say that his nonjudgmental attitude is one of the primary reasons that I married him.

  220. “He was not the least bit judgmental. The only thing he said is how bad he felt for how hard it must be for this person. Well, suffice it to say that that put him in good graces with me and with my children. I can honestly say that his nonjudgmental attitude is one of the primary reasons that I married him.”

    Awesome.

  221. Question. Re #117 & related others, what opinions fly in the face of reason considering the seeming frequent (I said frequent – no more, no less) in-your-facedness of gays? Examples. The gay teen across the Utah Co. street who necked under the streetlight whereas the rest of the necking neighborhood teenagers did so in the dark. The parents living in the Montrose borough of Houston deciding to shop out of the neighborhood because of the bizarre interest their children were taking in the antics there of certain locals. The older half of an Oregon teenage pair crawling into bed with the younger, hang the fact that siblings observed the beeline from the door to the bed. (Not pointing out locations as problematic, just the broadness of the picture.) Just haven’t seen the issue covered in the above comments (other than the possible likelihood re Main St.) – that or I missed it.

  222. Paul (sorry my phone doesn’t display comment #s),

    You asked Kristine, for evidence that “The original talk was delivered as written.”

    I listened to the Spanish translation today and the translator speaks smoothly and normally through the controverial part, saying “tendencies” and asking the question. When speakers go off script, translators tend to pause and stumble, this especially would have happened if the question “why would he do that?” were not in the prepared remarks as it would have been awkward to phrase in Spanish.

    I’m sure other people have more concrete evidence though.

  223. Freida, (a) how does what you are saying relate to the original post, (b) you think I can’t find 3-4 examples of “in-your-facedness” of heterosexuals? You know, just the other day I saw a man-woman couple full-on Frenching for the entire time I sat at a stoplight leaving Costco. They were right in front of Legoland–where there are lots of kids!! Oh noes! I’ve never seen that in my city (PDA at a major intersection). Ever. Awfully in-your-face I would say! What does that even have to do with anything??

  224. Freida,

    You ask an important question (at least I think so, I can’t really understand what you are saying for sure). In essence, why can’t gays just “keep it in the bedroom”?

    I will let you in on a secret, one not revealed in the whole Prop. 8 thing. Gays are not looking for tolerance. Not really, not any more. Gays are looking for acceptance. It is not our right to demand this, because people have a right to believe what they want. We are asking for a generosity of spirit, the taking of a risk, the expansion of your world not just to include, but to embrace us.

    You have a right not to give this gift of acceptance, and I for one will live without it. But I ask it anyway, because it matters to me. But how much more it matters to your gay brothers and sisters within the Church, especially the young.

    The gay couple making out in front of the streetlight never held hands in high school. They did not go to the prom with their boyfriend. They never felt the pain of breaking up, only the ache of never dating. In short, they are making up for lost time. They are a very easy target for you to despise. I hope you will find it in your heart, if their display offends you, to look away. It is a skill gay people learned all too well in junior high.

  225. Left Field says:

    I’ve seen a fair number of flamboyantly gay people around where I live.

    Then again, New Orleans may not be typical.

  226. Did anyone else catch Kris H’s excellent interview on this topic on NPR yesterday?

    Here’s the link: http://tiny.cc/6qifh

  227. MikeInWeHo says:

    “Then again, New Orleans may not be typical.”

    I think that’s a safe bet. Never saw so many boobs in my entire life. Not that I’ve been counting.

  228. 6.There is something wrong. Why wasn’t this nice wording and nice counsel and niceness part of General Conference? Why was the tone from Elder Packer so unkind in the first place? Why isn’t Michael Otterson the “mouthpiece” for the Lord? At several other blogs, many are rejoicing over this nice counsel, but why from the bureaucratic side of the church and not the “real” side of the church. Something has happened. Is the bureaucracy better than the “real”?

  229. It's Not Me says:

    #229 – Perhaps it’s because President Packer didn’t anticipate that his talk would become such a Rorschach test, as alluded to above.

    So . . . you’re correct. There is something wrong here.

  230. That’s interesting, Dan, I’d never though of that (assuming I’m reading it correctly), that budding gays turn away/are offended having to observe hetero affection. And not getting to be part of all the other accepted dating routines is a felt loss. That does make sense, that for those who are into the shock value aspects, it could stem from all that angst. I sincerely appreciate your painting the picture of being in their shoes. So if a gay couple showed up at prom, what do you think would happen? (I’m sure it’s location/location, of course.) I’m thinking along the lines of tolerance/acceptance. Sociologically, tolerance first, then acceptance? I could quote Alexander Pope but I dare say that would be considered offensive. I just mean, wouldn’t more headway be made absent the shock value? But then I guess that’s a lot to expect, as who hasn’t struggled socially traveling from childhood to adulthood.

  231. “Steve (10), you’re kidding, right? Have you ever been in a congregation with an openly gay member who was fully accepted in the ward? Who had leadership callings?”

    Can’t say I’m “fully accepted in the Ward”, since I choose not to be publicly “out”, but I’m fully accepted by my friends, Bishop(s), Stake Pres, etc. who know I’m a homosexual.

    With full knowledge of my homosexuality, I was called to serve in the Stake Presidency as a Stake Clerk. I also served as a Sunday School teacher for the 16-18 year olds for 3 years, and as a veil worker in the Temple. I know a Bishop who is a married homosexual, and several other homosexuals who have served on the High Council or as counselors in the Stake Presidency.

    I also run a web site for support of LDS homosexuals, and in the past few years we’ve sent 5 young men on missions – all of whom fully disclosed their homosexuality to Bishops, Stake Presidents, and Mission Presidents prior to serving.

    There’s no limitation or restriction that I know of for homosexuals, other than personal worthiness, when it comes to serving in or participating in the Church and its programs.

  232. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 232
    “Can’t say I’m ‘fully accepted in the Ward’, since I choose not to be publicly out…I also run a web site for support of LDS homosexuals…..”

    Yeah, that sounds like the way to go, Neal.

  233. Yes, Mike – in my situation it IS the way to go. At least for now. You’re not in a position to judge.

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