Why I Think I Was Wrong About Proposition 8 and Same-Sex Marriage

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

The only time I have had the opportunity to actually vote on–as opposed to pontificate about–same-sex marriage was in 2004 when I lived in Arkansas, when an amendment to the state constitution forbidding the legal recognition of anything besides a union of one man and one woman as a marriage was on the ballot. I voted in favor of it. In 2008, though I wasn’t living in California, Proposition 8–the ballot initiative to re-establish what was, at the time, the exclusively heterosexual definition of marriage in that state–was obviously something just about every informed American Mormon, due to our church’s heavy involvement in its passage, had an opinion on. My opinion, which was published as part of a roundtable in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, was that I would have, if I’d lived in California, reluctantly voted in support of the referendum. I now think both my vote on same-sex marriage in Arkansas, and the arguments I laid out regarding Proposition 8, were wrong.

Big deal is the correct reaction, I suppose. Hasn’t everyone changed their mind about same-sex marriage by now? President Obama has evolved (said yes, then no, then yes, to be specific). David Blankenhorn, one of the most articulate defenders of traditional marriage, has given up the fight. Noah Millman, the blogger whose arguments against same-sex marriage influenced my thinking nearly a decade ago more than any others, has long since changed his mind. When even Wendell Berry, one of the most revered defenders of localism and traditionalism in America today, says he has no real problem with gay marriage, who am I to be a holdout? (Oh, and by the way, to all those conservatives who are perplexed by Berry’s opinion on the matter–hasn’t it always been obvious that Berry embraces tradition and rejects technological progress not because of some affection for the “natural order” of things, but because doing so–and using populist government programs as appropriate to accomplish such–conserves the power of people to build local communities which are healthy and decent…kind of in the way the right sort of marriage can?) But since I’m actually on record about some of this stuff, I figured I needed to say something publicly about my own evolution.

There are many causes for changing my mind, some of which are included in much of the thinking included in the arguments and statements I’ve linked to above. But the bottom-line reason for my change is really a consequence of how I formulated my argument against same-sex marriage in the first place. I’ve never been a crusader on the topic; it was, rather, as I wrote before, something I simply “nodded my head in regards to.” It made sense to me to defend traditional marriage, because it made sense to see the state as an important player in maintaining certain lines in the sand regarding how men and women went about their community-building, sexual-identity-expressing, procreative work. It made sense to me to argue that civilization–our specific moment in the history of Western civilization, if you want to get particular–depends at least in part on certain norms, and the stronger of those norms, however much of a historical or socio-economic construct they may be, draw upon and thus themselves contribute to the preservation of certain naturally grounded tendencies, tendencies which harness potentially harmful and exploitive aspects of human socializing (undisciplined and irresponsible sexuality being one such) and turn them into productive, virtuous contributions (though intact families rearing children, the close civil relationship between religious belief and local lifestyles, and more). Marriage in this tradition-strengthened, locality-building, civil-religion-endorsing, socially productive sense had clearly already been dealt a near-unrecoverable blow in America by the advent of no-fault divorce and the sexual revolution, but that was no reason not to continue to fight to prevent its continued degeneration. And so, the fight in favor against same-sex marriage–same-sex relations being non-procreative, non-religiously-endorsed, non-traditional, and perhaps even arguably non-natural ones–is a fight worth supporting, with my vote.

That’s what I thought then; it’s not what I think now. Now, I think the above reasoning falls apart at a few key points: at the point where homosexual relations were assumed to be non-compatible with building enduring communities, the point where I stipulated the need for America’s civil religion to be able to contribute to said communities through religious ordinances like marriage, etc. But that’s not the real reason for changing my mind. The real reason is that the above abstract, head-nodding, I-have-no-personal-stake-in-this-so-it-remains-just-intellectual-bit-of-communitarian-cultural-theorizing-to-me arguments ran into reality. One of those realities was the It Gets Better campaign (which even made it to BYU, can you believe it?), and my subsequently reconnecting with an old friend of mine. The other realities were my daughters.

I should note that if, perhaps, I had been a crusader, fired up by orthodox Catholic commitments to natural law (or, less admiringly, by a deep homophobic revulsion to the idea that men might be sexually attracted to men, or women to women), then I could have overcome those encounters with reality; after all, many decent, intelligent, moral people continue along with their increasingly marginalized (though still politically viable!) opposition to same-sex marriage. More relevantly to my own religious tradition, if I had a deep conviction that my church’s Proclamation on the Family was a revelation from God, then opposing same-sex marriage would continue to make good politico-theological sense; after all, if God in His goodness makes all His children eternally male or female, with pre-ordained and naturally validated sexual roles, then legitimating same-sex marriages might well be a matter of legitimating a mortal possibility which could only result in deep spiritual confusion and harm. (There has been, to be fair, a fair amount of elaboration on what the Proclamation truly implies for the Mormon faithful, as more has been learned about the whole range of dynamics involved in realizing for oneself and/or purposefully articulating a sexual identity, and no doubt such articulation will continue–even to the point of some acknowledgment that accepting the idea of the eternity of gender doesn’t obviously have to mandate heterosexuality exclusively.) But fortunately for myself in this matter, as I’ve long kind of felt that much–not all, but much–of what some Mormons like to claim regarding divine embodiment, the sociality of eternally gendered beings, and endless procreative expansion, was both scripturally unwarranted and kind of dumb, not taking the (non-canonized!) Proclamation’s theological claims, and all the arguments about them, particularly seriously has been easy for me. So that means there really wasn’t a whole lot besides some persuasive but impersonal ideological convictions to get in way of the reality of what my girls–now aged 15, 12, 8, and 6, and none of them gay so far as I can tell–taught me.

This is what they taught me: that they are my equals insofar as their gender is concerned, and that I simply can’t be part of an argument which assumes otherwise. (Can I be part of a community or polity or organization which assumes otherwise? Of course, because every human grouping is going to be a mix of causes and practices, and you identity with or reject its different parts for various reasons and in historically contextual ways–a church or association usually can’t be, and shouldn’t be, reduced to a single argument or cause. A vote on a referendum on same-sex marriage, however…that’s something else.) What does gender equality have to do with same-sex marriage? There are very likely strong arguments against it which may get around the issue entirely…but they weren’t my arguments, the ones which I read in First Things magazine more than a decade ago and found persuasive. Those arguments had everything to do with gender roles; indeed, everything I wrote up two paragraphs above here did as well, regarding procreation and sexual exploitation and more. Specifically, they have to do with the idea that male-female complementarity has to be understood as the normative basis for a civilized society. Of course, what are the specifics of that complementarity? Whatever they may be, they aren’t characterized by equality. And equality…well, that’s important to me, and not just for the abstract good of it: I want it for my daughters’ sake as well.

This was all crystallized for me by the comments of the very intelligent, very decent same-sex marriage opponent Francis Beckwith, when he denied that opposing same-sex marriage was the same as opposing interracial marriage, because racial identity is, he asserts, obviously irrelevant to the deeper, obviously natural, male-female identity:

The fact that a man and a woman from different races were biologically and metaphysically capable of marrying each other, building families, and living among the general population is precisely why the race purists wanted to forbid such unions by the force of law. And because this view of marriage and its gender-complementary nature was firmly in place and the only understanding found in common law, the Supreme Court in Loving knew that racial identity was not relevant to what marriage requires of its two opposite-gender members. By injecting race into the equation, anti-miscegenation supporters were very much like contemporary same-sex marriage proponents, for in both cases they introduced a criterion other than male-female complementarity in order to promote the goals of a utopian social movement: race purity or sexual egalitarianism. 

This struck me hard when I read it: it meant that, for me at least, the full logic of my own head-nodding support of traditional marriage meant accepting sexual inegalitarianism. And how could I sign on to an argument which draws its logical force from an assumption which I could only see as potentially harming my daughters in the long run? I couldn’t.

Yes, I can imagine, and can even find slightly persuasive, arguments which assert that same-sex marriage buys into an individualization of sexual identity, disconnected from larger wholes like families, and thus can only further contribute to a culture which already plays into male sexual independence and irresponsibility, which is almost invariably to the detriment of women. God knows I have see almost nothing good whatsoever in the world of hook-ups, out-of-wedlock births, child-abandonment, and male infantilization which I see around me, even here on my fairly conservative and religious college campus. But then the Marxist in me speaks up: Really? It’s the individualization of sexual identity which has played the primarily role in the breakdown of effective, sexual-responsibility teaching norms? It’s the fault of women entering the workforce and asking for a little sexual parity, and the legal and technological tools they made used of to achieve it, which has given us family breakdown and the feminization of poverty? You don’t think it might also have just a little bit to do with, you know…JOBS?

My oldest daughter will probably have one more year at home, and then she’ll be heading out into the world. She appears to take her religion–our family religion–seriously. She also appears to like boys. And most importantly, she has confidence and ambition and some real intelligence leading her on. When I look at what surrounds her, and the sexual snares and family dysfunction that she already knows plenty about through her friends, I see, for certain, the negative consequences of the Sexual Revolution. But I also see the ravages of globalization and financial capitalism, which have eviscerated the socio-economic basis for the post-Industrial Revolution family unit (a family unit that was, for certain, itself a historical construct, but for good or ill it was a workable one, one which carried us through most of the 19th and 20th centuries in good shape), erected in its place a–in my opinion–deeply condescending and class-reinforcing and service-oriented meritocracy, and then provided plenty of porn and computer games for all the men (and women…but mostly men) who have found themselves unable to climb that ever-shifting and frankly corrupt ladder. (Paging Hanna Rosin–or maybe Ray Bradbury–here.) Opposing same-sex marriage will not only not do anything to address this situation; it will–again, in the case of the arguments I myself at one time found persuasive–rather oblige me to buy into a ideology of marriage and female happiness that would prevent me from preparing my daughters for this unfortunate world as equals. I can’t do that. And with that realization, the realization that I cannot wink at sexual inegalitarianism…my ability to articulate a case against same-sex marriage disappeared. Just like that.

Does this end all the arguments? Of course not. My own church has shifted their arguments; now, the Mormon leadership is talking less and less about orientation and nature (though the old guard remains), and more and more about preserving religious liberty, the ability of religious communities to engage in their own rituals and practices and to teach their own doctrines publicly without facing legal penalties. I care a great deal about the freedom of religious communities to define and handle their own affairs, not just because I take my (and others’) religious faith seriously, but also because I believe that not interfering with what religious organizations can bring to the civic table is the best way to maximize the good those organizations can do. Hence, my frustration with President Obama’s HHS mandate…and if it were the case that similar mandates were at all likely, in the wake of state decisions to legalize same-sex marriage, that would affect the ability of my church to conduct weddings and teach sexual morality as they see fit, then my opposition to it would probably be undiminished. But, despite the paranoid bell-clanging of some, there simply aren’t any such mandates anywhere on the horizon. Might there someday be? Of course. But I’m not willing to personally support a logic that requires I accept an unacceptable premise, simply for the sake of what might be. That’s not a good way to approach my responsibilities as a citizen…responsibilities I have to our civilization, to be sure, but also, and more immediately, to a gay friend who is also an American citizen, and most immediately to my girls, who are American citizens too. Give me an argument against same-sex marriage that has nothing whatsoever to do with presuming the normativity of a kind of sexual inequality, or makes a reasonable and believable case that the self-defined teachings and operations of churches and their sponsoring institutions are going to be imminently threatened by it, and then maybe I’ll change my mind back. But I don’t see that happening. Apparently, I’m with a slowly emerging majority in thinking that way. Better late than never, I guess.

Comments

  1. it's a series of tubes says:

    RAF, this was interesting reading. Before I comment, could you clarify one key point? In your view, does “different” presuppose “unequal”? In other words, if one accepts the premise that differently gendered persons have inherent differences arising from their respective genders, MUST one accept the premise that those persons can never be sexual equals?

  2. Not everyone changes their minds in the direction you indicate.

    I voted to support State-sanctioned marriage between same-sex couples ages ago, and now I probably would not, for reasons that have more to do with my new understanding of law, the consequences of marital law, and the purpose of marriage than personal taste.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    Just out of curiousity, have you discussed this with your eldest daughter, and if so, what does she think about it all? I’m just curious in light of the fact that young people seem to come to this position much more easily than do their elders.

  4. Series of Tubes (#1),

    I think you’re right to question whether “difference” has to involve inequality; since I think it’s silly to ignore the basic physiological and psychological differences that appear to be coded into males and females, I hope that doesn’t mean I’m endorsing such. What seemed clear to me as the same-sex marriage debate evolved, though, is that forbidding any legitimacy to same-sex marriages logically entailed me to stipulate as normative not only the sexual differences between men and women, but a particular, gender-constructed complementarity between them–an arrangement of complementary, but unequal, roles. And I couldn’t do that.

    Let me put it this way: it seemed to me, operating as I was without any attachment to either a divinely revealed fixity of gender roles or to a natural theology of sexuality, that any opposition to same-sex marriage would be logically inconsistent with thinking that it would be morally legitimate for my daughters to choose not to marry or to choose not to have children or to choose to be the dominant sexual partner in a marriage relationship. Those are all choices which complicate the model of male-female complementarity in ways not dissimilar to the way that same-sex marriages would complicate it. If I trust my daughters, as equals, to be able to make choices that violate that norm, on what basis should I forbid the legitimation of homosexual marriages because they might similarly violate it?

    Opposing same-sex marriage is really a whole lot easier if you believe, by divine fiat or theological argument, that same-sex attraction is a natural and moral disorder. But if you can’t believe that (as I couldn’t, because I didn’t see much evidence for it), then you’re left opposing it for various ideological/historical/communitarian reasons…and for me, those reasons, in the face of my refusal to confine my daughters to a certain unequal marriage norm, just couldn’t be maintained.

  5. Applause! Congratulations!

  6. I’ve also come to essentially the same results. I haven’t changed my mind on how I think things will be in the eternities–I don’t think homosexuality will exist at all there–but I don’t see why that matters in the gay marriage debate. Regardless of what the eternities hold, who am I to stop individuals who are homosexual from marrying here and now? Unless religious freedoms on the issue are challenged (something that is as much a threat from the right as it is from the left) it’s not a concern.

    And yes, most people under the age of 35 have friends who are homosexual. The church’s stance on this issue, and the publicity from that stance, is creating a huge stumbling block for most potential converts in this age group.

  7. Very interesting article. Under a government where religious liberty exists for a free people, then to ban associations that people desire would eventually create a state that dictates morals and thus religion. The corollary is also true, I believe, but not from the position of government dictating the standards. but society itself. Once those standards are lost it becomes a slippery slope to
    licentiousness

  8. Rachael says:

    Like Series of Tubes, I still don’t think I understand your argument. Could you clarify a little more? Specifically, you acknowledge basic physiological and psycholgoical differences between men and women, but I don’t see the steps to your conclusion that they are arranged in complementary and unequal roles. Do you mean this as a logical argument, or a description of current society, or past historical periods? If logical– then what forces the seemingly necessary conclusion?

    I’m also unclear as to how the opposition to same-sex marriage is the same thing as opposing your daughters’ decision to marry or not, have children or not, or be a domniant sexual partner, or not. From what I read, you identify them as the same because they both seem to violate social norms. That seems like a very simplistic way of reducing the two phenomenon, without taking into account the effects of and rationale behind them. Or you seem to be saying that a woman’s preference to participate or not in a social/legal/religious institution is the same thing as a homosexual’s preference to alter the institution. (Please don’t assume a negative charge to the word “alter”; I’m simply trying to understand what you are doing– and “alter,” of course, rests on the assumption that marriage in the western tradition–or American, at least– has been a way of trying to optimize the differences between the genders, and the sexual capacity between the two, for the production and rearing of children in a social, legal, financial, emotional, and possibly religious contract.) And so again, the two do not appear to be the same. I’d appreciate any clarification. Thanks – R

  9. Society has long known that homosexuality/homosexual behavior/gay sex is unhealthy and that society should not sanction it. LDS church members who encourage others to follow this path rather than encourage them to repent risk their own exaltation. Also, on other websites much fanfare has been made about members marching in gay pride parades. Members who are genuinely interested in repenting of this practice should not go to pride parades or gay bars much as the alcoholic should not go to bars.

  10. Rachael,

    Specifically, you acknowledge basic physiological and psycholgoical differences between men and women, but I don’t see the steps to your conclusion that they are arranged in complementary and unequal roles. Do you mean this as a logical argument, or a description of current society, or past historical periods? If logical– then what forces the seemingly necessary conclusion?

    It’s both logical and descriptive: namely, as I see it, if I’m forbidding legal legitimacy to same-sex relations because they do not fit the normative complementarity of a male-female relationship, and that normative complementarity is identified with the (I think highly unequal) institution of male-female marriages as they presently exist, then to be logical I must forbid–or at least consider to be morally defective or inadequate–my daughters’ potential choices to do otherwise than embrace this (unequal) institution as normative. And I don’t want to do that, because I don’t want my daughters’ gender to be a basis of an unequal range of choices for them. I’m not denying that men and women are bound–physically and emotionally–to approach the marriage relationship differently, but I want my daughters to continue to push the institution in more equal directions, rather than expect them, if only in my own head, to abide by the current inequality as normative.

    If someone wants to put together an argument against same-sex marriage which is ALSO an argument against marriage and sexual norms in general as they presently exist, that might also escape this logical trap. I don’t know if it would be compatible with the value I attach to my daughters being treated as sexual equals in any possible marriage relationship they may have, but at least it would be consistent. (There ARE people who make that argument, but from what I know of them, they usually articulate it in highly traditional Catholic ways, often denying the legitimacy of divorce, women keeping their own names, etc. But maybe there are yet other ways to put together the argument–an argument which condemns same-sex marriage and DOESN’T endorse marriage as it presently exists as normative–that I’m unaware of.)

  11. LDS church members who encourage others to follow this path rather than encourage them to repent risk their own exaltation. That’s quite a charge Henry, can you provide scriptural support for that?

  12. @6 – the dual issues of supporting state-sanctioned gay marriage and chuech doctrine/practive/missionary work shouldn’t inform each other…

  13. Howard:
    When someone comes to you with this issue you have a choice to either support or not support.
    1. Encourage them to pursue the gay lifestyle.
    2. Discourage them from it. Remind that with the spirit of love that the First Presidency has stated in God Loveth His Children that same sex attraction was not present before this life and will not be present in the next. Also remind that it’s best to avoid major transgression. Just because you legalize something doesn’t mean it’s okay. Look at alcohol. It’s legal.

    Per LDS theology, only those faithful families will be permitted to live as husband and wife/eternal families as exalted beings. All others will live separately and singly.

    So, if the person that you encouraged to pursue the gay lifestyle arrives at the final day never having repented , how do you NOT jeopardize your exaltation? How do you remain safe?

  14. Yes I agree Henry, alcohol is a good example what do you think about Jesus and JS using it? Didn’t Jesus say he would drink wine with us again? Did they risk their exaltation to use it? Some “laws” are not absolute or eternal, are they?

  15. “Society has long known that homosexuality/homosexual behavior/gay sex is unhealthy and that society should not sanction it.”

    That’s quite a charge, Henry. Can you support that on non-tautological grounds?

  16. I could care less about any logical argument for or against gay marriage.

    I think the church should stick to its guns with the very simple statement: we do not perform gay-marriages in our temples and churches or on our property, because God has commanded us to not. When God changes His mind, we will.

    Not a graceful, enlightened, logical or socially acceptable explanation, but it is simple. I think the current problem Mormons have as participants in the gay-marriage discussion is an over-reliance on logic. Logic is a rhetorical-creation to provide explanations. Logic is entirely too plastic and yet is perceived and thus valued as being concrete. Logic in any form is a cloud of rhetorical weed-smoke. Religious-apologists have gotten the church into a lot of trouble by using logical tools to explain the positions of God. Because logic is created by society and not by God, logic can only make sense when it is supporting what is socially popular.

    I don’t mind being socially unpopular through my rejection of logic. Mormons were once famous for being socially unpopular. Logical heterogeneity is boring. There is a certain value in fringe-existence. There is no mitzvah dictating popularity and so we Mormons should not be trying to create one through the nothingness of logic. I don’t speak for God, but I’m fairly sure he doesn’t mind being unpopular either.

  17. Howard:
    It’s true somethings change but the Law of Chastity has not. Sexual transgression is serious hence the penalties against it. Prophets ancient and modern have always preached/warned against sexual immorality.

  18. Cogs:
    There are endless references about it. Google
    Homosexual lifestyle is unhealthy.
    I don’t provide references because it doesn’t change anyone’s mind. Interesting reading to be sure when people provide links but I don’t.

  19. Aaron:
    It’s strange how church members are endorsing this lfestyle. But then they say the greatest threat usualy comes from within.

  20. Kristine says:

    New BCC rule: We do not say “the gay lifestyle.” It doesn’t exist, and when you say it, you sound like someone who doesn’t know any gay people. (If you actually don’t know any gay people, go look at these pictures, then generalize about the lifestyle of all the couples pictured: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/portraits-of-gay-couples-just-married-in-new-york)

    Subsequent comments containing “the gay lifestyle” will be deleted.

  21. But I typify the gay lifestyle, Kristine! Why, at this very moment, I’m at home … um … procrastinating working on a pressing project.

    The gay lifestyle rocks.

  22. Henry … when I find the man of my dreams and marry — and I’ve waited (many many years) to have sex until our wedding night — am I to believe that my loving and committed and solemnized relationship is somehow outside the law of chastity? That chastity is somehow different for me than for everyone else?

  23. Kristine says:

    Christian, you’ve been warned–I’m deleting your very next comment ;)

  24. Ogrous Aaron: I completely reject the (unargued) assertion that “logic is created by society.” I’m not sure what that means, but to me, logic is the attempt to be clear and consistent. I certainly don’t adopt it (when I manage to) in order to be “popular,” but in an attempt to be honest with myself and others. Your whole “popularity” rant is just a red herring.

    I can accept the idea that I don’t always know all the facts, and that my (pea) brain doesn’t understand everything. But that only requires me to reject omniscience, not logic.

    Finally, I just find your implicit rejection of the need for explanation repulsive. “Just bear your testimony and walk away?” It feels both arrogant and dishonest. To me, both intellectual and moral integrity require us to listen and genuinely converse.

  25. Thank you, Russell. I think there are many more reasons to support the right of a person to choose his or her own spouse, but I’m glad you found one that tipped the scales for you. (And I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically.)

    Henry: Google as a source for your beliefs? Really? Google “Mormons are idiots” and you get nearly a half million results. Hmmm.

  26. It’s extraordinarily rare to come across such a thoughtful, calm, deeply humane discussion of this issue. Thank you, Russell.

  27. Amen, Eve.

  28. Morris:
    Google as a source for your beliefs?
    Ridiculous thing to say.

  29. Eve, Brad, thanks, And Christian, thanks for showing up; your faith and good humor have meant a great deal to me as I’ve worked this out in my head over the past couple of years.

  30. Rachael says:

    Russell, thanks for the response. I’m still lacking the evidence to see your conclusion that the marriage institution as it presently exists is unequal. As a feminist who is engaged to be married, I find nothing inherently unequal about the institution into which I am about to enter. If anything, it now currently favors women (divorce culture, child support, abortion- the men are discriminated in these forms). The premise seems unsubstantiated and the conclusion, apples and oranges. Perhaps you could explain more.

  31. Oh don’t thank me too quickly, Russell — I think you’re plenty wrong on a couple of points, but I’m saving my rebuttals until we can talk about them over breakfast.

    See you next week!

  32. I like your argument. Thank you for sharing.

    I did the head-nodding vote for prop 22 way back in 2000, and alienated a couple of good friends in the process. I’m frankly embarassed I believed–and repeated to them–some of the rhetoric the church was putting out then. By the time prop 8 came around I was living in Indiana, but my views had evolved substantially. Though your arguments aren’t at all the ones that changed my mind, they are arguments I can agree with.

  33. Yes Kristine, because censorship is always a good idea.

  34. anonymous says:

    Kristine @20

  35. @33 Comment policies that are wisely enforced are part of what keep this forum from being anything like the comment sections in newspapers.

  36. @33 You do recognize a distinction between (1) prohibiting offensive or disrespectful speech and (2) censoring the free flow of ideas, right?

  37. Kristine: Thanks for the link of gay couples married in New York. It makes me smile. It’s also very calming and encouraging to read essays like this one. As the mother of a gay son, Proposition 8 broke my heart and nearly my testimony. I live in a very conservative ward and stake and still listen to harsh rhetoric against gays. Every time someone spouts damning doctrine, and supercilious interpretation, tears of sorrow and anger flow — it happens almost every week. As a result, knowing and reading that many are changing their philosophies brings me lots and lots of hope. Thank you, RAF!

  38. Thanks for the article, I think I got what you are saying, though I’m not sure you really said it. The inequalities that exist under the mask or premise of “different” or “complementary” within “traditional” heterosexual marriage, are frightening. And yes, the issue of gender equality has everything to do with the argument. I felt this post http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2012/06/archive-sunday-traditional-marriage-is-dead-and-it’s-a-good-thing-too-2/ summed it up nicely as well.

    I had to change my mind too. I also nodded in conformity at one point, though I gave a good fight and even prayed about it. But at the time, I felt it was apostasy to have a different opinion than the GA’s or even local leaders. Interesting that for me too, it is raising my children that made the real difference. I’m raising boys, who have suffered terribly at the hands of a mistaken bishop. Seeing through their eyes opened up to me how wrong I had been to not realize sooner the cost of accepting the Church’s stance on same-sex marriage. I don’t condone breaking the law of chastity, but I try to focus with all my might on the two greatest commandments as recorded in our canonized scriptures.

    I want religious dictatorship out of my politics, bedroom, and health standards. Last I heard forcing compliance was Satan’s plan. So yes, Henry #19, the greatest threat is from within, to very top. There are many more choices than simply condemning or endorsing. Loving, forgiving, and embracing personal choice and individuality are what I choose. If that means living singly in the eternities, so be it–I’ll be among those I love. LOL, after raising these kids, the idea of having my procreative power removed no longer bothers me.

  39. James L says:

    I for one have long rejected suggestions that homosexuality is a choice, or brought about by unpleasant childhood experiences etc: I very much believe that biology accounts for the attraction. There is bigotry and intolerance in the church (its membership) on this issue and I find it appalling. However, I think this article, as appealing as it is in parts, and as nice and comforting as it might be to those with a same-sex attraction upon which they want to act, or who have family members or friends who have such an attraction, draws upon false premises to reach its conclusion. Marriages can be unequal. Historically (and presently) men have abused women, and society and it’s institutions have all too often supported that. To the extent that they have done so, they are wrong, and as a father of three boys and one girl, I would never want or encourage such inequality. But to use the fact of such inequality to justify or legitimise same sex marriage I find bizarre. We should do all we can to eliminate inequality, but to suggest that society should accede to the desire of the minority to change the institution of marriage because heterosexual marriages can be unequal does not stack up. I agree strongly with Rachael. It is interesting that in all of the arguments put forward to support the article (and indeed in the article itself) no one seems to have referred up the scriptures, to prayer, to revelation. I do not think that logic plays no part, but I fear we are all missing a trick if we exclude such sources: After all, this is primarily a blog for the LDS believer. The church’s teachings, for all the softening in its approach to those with same-sex attraction (to be welcomed), does not sanction or permit any to sanction the same-sex, sexual relationship. Homosexual intimacy remains a sexual sin, and is to be considered spiritually corrosive like all sexual sin. It is a battle I am thankful not to have to fight, but is it right to think that those with the battle should not be required to fight? I suspect that those with a particular view will not countenance changing it, but to suggest that it is somehow in harmony with the teachings of the church seems to me to wholly erroneous. I wonder how many have prayed for wisdom, and sought it with a completely open mind? Abandon a belief in God and his laws, and there are few arguments remaining for prohibiting, or seeking to prohibit the legitimatisation of same sex marriage, save for the effect on children reared in such homes (Sweedish and Australian research is available on this), but include God, and you have to stretch statements, ignore scriptures and proclamations to justify the approach advocated by the article. I urge you to pray before you respond to my comments.

  40. Kristine says:

    33–not censorship, just editing. I like to keep people from saying things that make them look like they don’t know what they’re talking about.

  41. Racheal,

    Thanks for your continued questions; it helps me see where I wasn’t very clear in my original post.

    I’m still lacking the evidence to see your conclusion that the marriage institution as it presently exists is unequal. As a feminist who is engaged to be married, I find nothing inherently unequal about the institution into which I am about to enter. If anything, it now currently favors women (divorce culture, child support, abortion- the men are discriminated in these forms).

    All I can say here is that we must be looking at very different evidences and examples if you come to this conclusion. Have many of the explicitly misogynistic and discriminatory legal elements of marriage been eliminated over the past 50 years? Absolutely. Is it therefore constructed–socially, economically, sexually, and otherwise–as a wholly egalitarian institution? And, more relevantly for myself and my daughters, is it constructed as such within the everyday culture of the American Mormon church? I would say–looking at any number of variables from the levels of violence against women to the degree of guarantees of maternity leave in the workplace to the division of homekeeping responsibilities in the majority of American homes to the number of female speakers in general conference (just to randomly grab four out of dozens of possible measurements, both significant and somewhat silly)–that the answer is probably “no.” Again, if what you’ve seen and experienced runs counter to this conclusion, that’s wonderful, and hopeful. Among other things, it would mean that you won’t ever feel as though accepting certain types of arguments against same-sex marriage (assuming you might ever find such arguments persuasive, as I did; maybe your thinking would be entirely different from mine) would logically entail that you cast yourself as a strong defender of an unequal relationship as normative model and basis of law and culture for all.

  42. Sorry for spelling your name wrong, Rachael!

  43. James L,

    It is interesting that in all of the arguments put forward to support the article (and indeed in the article itself) no one seems to have referred up the scriptures, to prayer, to revelation. I do not think that logic plays no part, but I fear we are all missing a trick if we exclude such sources: after all, this is primarily a blog for the LDS believer.

    This is an entirely valid point, to which I can only respond that I am talking about why I think I was wrong in some of my previous opinions. I make no claims to be a particularly orthodox (or even particularly good) LDS believer. (My snarks in the original post about the Proclamation on the Family and some of Mormonism’s more, to my mind, esoteric–though nonetheless widely accepted–beliefs should have made that clear.) I never had a spiritual witness that traditional heterosexual marriage was to be defended against the legal recognition of same-sex marriages because God and/or His prophets wanted me to. All I had was an argument, one that seemed persuasive to me for years…and then, in a fairly short amount of time, stopped being persuasive to me. That’s what I’ve attempted, in part, to lay out here. (No doubt there is still much more that could be said, not just about my own thinking, but about the aims, both general and particular, of the church in regards to various battles over same-sex marriage over the years. But that would have been a different blog post than the one I wrote.)

  44. Christian, if you think I’m wrong on only ” a couple” of points, then I’m doing well.

  45. Dave K. says:

    Thank you Russell. This process largely mirrors the evolution I have gone through. Much more important than theoretical, or even doctrinal arguments, have been the experiences I’ve gained in raising my daughters and actually knowing LGBT people. Its just like we preach in regards to missionary work: people’s attitutes about the church will be affected much more by knowing a member than anything else. So too with homosexuality. IMO, that’s largely why views of homosexuality are changing so quickly. Unlike race or religion, you cannot segregate youself from homosexuals – particularly if you are part of a large mormon community. By simple statistics, if you follow the church’s teachings and have children, and they likewise have children, you quickly and inevitably are faced with knowing someone who identifies as homosexual and whom you love very dearly.

    Also very helpful for me was reading the Dialogue article “Towards a Post-Heterosexual Mormon Theology”. Realizing that homosexual unions actually good be fit within a gospel context was a game changer for me.

  46. There is nothing new about contradictory commandments: Multiply but don’t eat the fruit. Love one another but acting on SSA is wrong. It’s up to us to choose the higher law! It is now clear to most members that all races are to be treated equally. As we individually evolve from largely Mosaic black & white exclusive and exclusionary thinking to Christ’s love for everyone it becomes clear that everyone is to be treated equally! Gee, what a threatening concept! Will the Kingdom withstand it?

  47. Russell — we’re both communitarians at heart, I couldn’t possibly disagree with you on EVERY point!

  48. Well, I googled…err, “that” lifestyle, and in fact I found an number of sources from our evangelical friends that confirm it is indeed unhealthy! Point to you, Hen! Though they also had a few unkind things to say about Joseph Smith that I think you should learn about as well. Then I thought, “what other mysteries can I learn from the wondrous Google machine?”…and did you know that our President was born in subsaharan Africa and that the World Trade center attacks were orchestrated by his predecessor??

  49. James L says:

    Howard, I thought that things were meant to get confusing in the last days, with good being called evil and evil good. This whole issue appears to underscore the truth of that prophesy. The logic of your (and the article’s)arguments appears to be this: If everyone is doing it, and the young are raised with such norms and are not phased by them, then we should approve, or at the very least not stand in the way, or even voice an opinion. I assume that promiscuity will ultimately be fine, together with adultery, prostitution, pornography etc. I assume that you hope that the gospel will become ‘enlightened’ in that fashion? In a permissive society where does it end? Until I am told that President Hinckley’s description of the practice of homosexuality as being sexual sin has been rewritten, I will continue to treat it as such. I will also treat promiscuity as sin, and will steer away from pornography, even though most of my peers and friends indulge in both. It seems that there is a balance to be struck between freedom to act as one sees fit and societal constraint, but this blog doesn’t really acknowledge that: It seems to be veering down the path of suggesting that all lifestyles are equally valid, and that we will all see that God thinks so to, when we’re mature enough. Where is love the sinner but hate the sin? You set up a straw man when you sarcastically imply that the kingdom might not withstand treating people equally. I don’t read anyone as saying that. The issue appears to be whether the practice is right or wrong in and of itself. The kingdom will struggle on in a world of sin until the second coming of the Saviour. Those who love all men will treat all men equally, but please don’t suggest that sexual sin is anything other than what it is. I love my friends, but I don’t think that their one night stand or porno nights are right, and if asked my opinion, I would tell them so. I assume from your stance that as the desire for both such activities are hard wired, they should be permitted, and thought to be a perfectly proper way to proceed, even by latter-day saints? God will probably catch up with that view too, but he’s taking his time.

  50. Dave K. says:

    James, for me it comes down to personal experience. I have seen people struggle with all manner of evil – pornography, gambling, adultery, theft, abuse, and on an on. In these cases, I have gained sympathy for the victims (and to some degree for the offenders too), but the experience has redoubled my belief that the actions themselves are harmful and wrong. They should be stopped.

    My experience with homosexuality is different (for the record, I’m straight). While homosexuals also can struggle with evils (such as those mentioned above), homosexual desires themselves are not harmful or wrong. When properly channeled, they can lead to the same good outcomes as heterosexual desires. I have personally seen this. Whereas, I have not personally seen adultery, theft, etc. lead to any good. That is why the slipperly slope does not work here.

    Acceptance of properly established homosexual relationship will not lead to an acceptance of adultery (or other ills) any more than an acceptance of uncircumcised gentiles into the church during Paul’s day lead to an acceptance of spiritual impurity. Good vs. Evil is judged by our personal experiences as guided by the spirit, not simply by what was taught in the past. The last dispensation is about moving forward, not just cligging on.

  51. It’s been the last days for 2000 years, James.

  52. James L,
    Eating the fruit was a sin!

  53. James L makes very good points.

  54. James L says:

    Hi Dave, Howard and Christian: I hear what you are saying, but President Hinckley did not speak a thousand or two thousand years ago. That seems to me to be the problem: This conversation seems to completely neglect to deal with what the prophets say. If you want to abandon a belief in prophetic leadership, then that would be a significant support to your general argument, but unless you do so, or demonstrate that the prophets words were wrong, you cannot support an argument that what is described by them as sin, is no sin at all. This is why the conversation seems surreal: We believe in prophetic leadership, but not when we think we know better.

    Also, I agree that Homosexuality will not inevitably (or even likely) lead to the other sins that I cited. That’s not the point: The point is that all of those sins and pornography have recently be described as sin by prophets. On your analysis, the practice of homosexuality is no sin at all. It looks very much like cherry picking- You agree that pornography is sin or evil, but not the practice of homosexuality yet both are described as such by prophets, old and modern. In addition, you left off any discussion of promiscuity. Do you consider that to be a sin, or something that we are yet to see as perfectly natural, normal and right? With proper contraception, it harms no one does it?

    It seems to me that the basis for the argument in refusing to accept what the prophets say is this: I like such and such and they are gay. The prophets describe what they do as sin, but because I like them, I will not. Or even, the world’s views and norms change, and if we do not follow suit then we are lacking enlightenment.

    I would be very interested to see one or two of you deal with the real meat of what I say: namely picking and choosing what we will accept of what the prophets say.

    I wonder whether some don’t really believe, but are wedded through marriage or community to the church and fight its tenets from within?

  55. The Church is in flux on this issue. That’s where my confidence comes from — that and spiritual confirmation of the road I’m on. When I was in high school, the Brethren labelled me and my kind “abominations” and we were excommunicated for even acknowledging our desires. A couple years before I entered BYU, they were still administering electro-shock therapy to gay men at the Y. In college, the jump was made to “gender confused” … and now the Brethren acknowledge that it’s in-born. We’ve gone from pariahs to beloved members of our wards and stakes. The feelings of my heart are no longer considered a sin second only to murder. The Brethren are moving on this and still moving — I wouldn’t hang your hat on this issue suddenly becoming static.

    And remember: it has only been an issue for 50 years — WWII was the beginning of our infatuation with gay sex.

    Moreover, since when do we think the Brethren are infallible? Yes; we need to squarely address the words of the prophets. We can NOT simply set them aside. And I don’t think any of us have — I sure as hell haven’t. I’ve wept over this and prayed and longed for greater light and knowledge for DECADES. And not to change, because I’m not broken, but to understand. And I do. And I’ve found peace with this issue.

  56. You’ve brought up what in my opinion is the only valid “equality” argument for same sex marriage. Current marriage laws in the US — regardless of whether on the state level they do, or do not, allow same sex marriage — don’t take sexual orientation into account. For example in states where gay marriage is not recognized a gay man and a gay woman could be married. It’s not their sexual orientation that is in question, but their gender.

    However, in my understanding the Church’s primary opposition to gay marriage is neither based on sexual orientation or gender but on what the church considers to be the basic civil rights of children. From the Family Proclamation: “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” (Tied up in this we can also see the basis for the Church’s opposition of divorce and intentional single parenthood.)

    What are you thoughts on children’s rights in this regard?

  57. Dave K. says:

    James,

    I can only speak for myself, but will try to give you as much an answer as I can. As to promiscuity, I didn’t intentionally leave that off. In my experience, it is also harmful. I accept the church’s stance against it. However, that view must be nuanced in the situation of homosexuals who are currently denied an ability to publicly commit to one another and thus may be technically viewed as promiscious depite their commitment to their spouse.

    You are right that this issue depends greatly on how we view prophetic leadership. While the church has recently evolved its stance to be much more kind and understanding, it clearly still views homosexual actions as sin, even when performed in a committed relationship. Thus, for the time being, that is the stance I also must take as a lay leader in the church in working with individuals with these desires. I will continue to do so and be patient, realizing that we are a large church body and change takes time.

    But that does not mean that I ignore or silence my personal experiences, which directly conflict with this teaching. Revelation is not a process where we sit and wait for the Lord to speak. It is an active process where we dialogue about our experiences, choose what we believe is right, and seek confirmation of that. Look at the historical process through which great changes have happened in the past – from the admission of gentiles into the church in Paul’s day to the extension of the priesthood to all worthy males. In each of these instances, there were teachings by high-level church leaders that conflicted with member’s personal experiences and desires. In each instance, the members did not sit quietly, but instead talked with each other and with the leaders about the harm the teaching was causing. Ideally, that sharing is done through peaceful means rather than conflict, which drives the spirit away. But the point is this: we are a church body. In order to receive revelation, church leaders must be aware of their member’s experiences and desires or they cannot properly counsel together with the Lord on behalf of the church.

    It is not an act of disobedience or denial of faith for a member in good conscience to say to the church “this teaching conflicts with my experiences and desires. Please talk with me so that you can understand what I have seen.”

  58. James L,
    Refusing to accept what prophets say? God was speaking directly to Adam and Eve in the garden (making them prophets as we all can be) and it wasn’t a note he left for them 1 or 2,000 years before! Become your own prophet!

    Homosexuality didn’t even make the top ten sins in Moses’ day. It isn’t even mentioned in the Ten Commandments which puts below keeping the sabbath day holy and honoring you father and mother!

  59. “we’re both communitarians at heart”

    You both are flawed. I still love you both.

    RAF, thanks for the post.

  60. James L says:

    Christian, you bring the issue into relief. The doctrine may change, and there may be homosexual eternal partnerships, but there is no word of it yet. What do you do in the interim? Simply ignore the words of the prophets?

    Homosexuality
    “People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71).

    Should the inclination be acted upon after all? Is the practice of homosexuality a violation of the law of chastity, or not? Was Hinckley wrong because what he said was 14 years ago? You say we need to squarely address the words of the prophets, but no-one has. Take Hinckley’s words and counter them, but with prophetic utterances, rather than an appeal to worldly logic.

    As I said earlier, I am so very glad that this is not my struggle, and I would welcome you to England with open arms, but what the blog suggests is simply wrong. As a matter for civil society, without input from religion, it is difficult to justify the prohibition, but as a Latter-day Saint, it is difficult to sit with a straight face and say that what is declared a sin, is no sin at all.

  61. >namely picking and choosing what we will accept of what the prophets say.

    To be fair, James, every Mormon does that.

    You are right, however, to remind the readers of this blog that to support gay marriage is to place oneself perpendicular to the official views of the Brethren. I am sure Russell realises that and that it doesn’t sit easy with him, good and sincere Mormon that he is. This, like plural marriage and civil rights before, is the great Mormon moral dilemma of our time. I hope we have the charity to work it out with civility, whatever the end result may be.

  62. Ronan, indeed. But should we then go further and say, that what I pick which is declared wrong should be declared right because I want to pick it? I’m not trifling with a very personal issue, but it seems like a justification for what we are (presently) told is sin. If it changes, we’ll no doubt deal with it in the same way as all previous dilemmas. What stance should you take in the interim?

  63. >What stance should you take in the interim?

    Very good question.

    Let’s say you are a committed member of the church, maybe even a leader, and want to be loyal to prophetic leadership but also feel inclined through conscience to support loving, committed relationships of all orientations.

    Let’s say that you are the same member but *do not* support gay marriage but equally do not want to cause distress to gays or perpetuate homophobia nor alienate your more “liberal” fellow Saints.

    What should you do?

    That’s the conversation we should be having nowadays given that all the other arguments have been discussed over and over again.

    I would be interested in people’s responses.

  64. It was hard to get excited over the whole prop-8 issue when it seemed clear that very soon society would normalize gay-marriage. That said I think there was an issue but the problem was the state regulating a religious ceremony effectively by making marriage a state issue rather than a religious one. Were the state regulating and giving benefits on the basis of baptism I think things would have been clearer to people. However the fact is that for much of the nation’s history the dominant Protestant view was integrated into politics. And the Protestants want this. Even most Evangelicals don’t want the state out of marriage they just want to maintain the state regulating things their way. Which is really just the opposite side of those upset when the state normalizes marriage a different way.

    I think that were the state to get out of the marriage business entirely then we could make everyone happy. We could treat homosexuals fairly and equally with the rest of us and religious people wouldn’t worry about the state modifying religious symbols.

    Absent that solution, which was probably possible a decade ago however unlikely, we inevitably have the current situation which is normalizing gay marriage. This was all obvious long ago which is why I kept out of the debate. It seemed like a silly waste of time, money and political capital on a lost cause.

  65. it's a series of tubes says:

    RJH (#63), exactly. The questions you pose are the far more interesting ones, and the ones most likely to lead to productive dialogue.

  66. buenosds says:

    Does it really matter either way for those of us who are Mormon. If you are not married in the Temple, you are only married till you die anywayz. If you believe what the church believes, no other marriage is recognized by church except on performed by The Holy Priesthood. Am I wrong?

  67. Thank you, Russell, for a thoughtful post. I appreciate being made to think carefully about such a complex topic.

    What bothers me the most about arguments against homosexual marriage is that all of them that I’ve heard or read that have a religious foundation apply equally to many heterosexual marriages.

    Gay couples can’t produce kids biologically. Neither can many straight couples.

    Every child is entitled to be born to and raised by a mother and a father. Many straight parents are single parents, so do we not allow them to raise kids? Also, as Russell notes, the whole sex-focused gender-norming that underlies that assumption completely ignores the possibility that two men and two women can function, at the most practical level, just like a stereotypical man and a stereotypical woman – and it also ignores lots of situations where the gender roles are reversed in heterosexual marriages and where both spouses exhibit stereotypically male or female orientations (two dominant or submissive personalities).

    For me, any argument that could be used just as applicably against allowing some heterosexual marriages should not be the basis of arguments against homosexual marriages.

    Finally, I can’t get past the fact that we fought so hard to keep polygamy strictly on the basis that it was a religious choice and that society didn’t have the right to tell our own consenting adults that they couldn’t have non-traditional family and sexual relationships. Polygamy was the gay marriage of our communal past, and, for me, current arguments against gay marriage sound way too much like the arguments against polygamy that were used to disenfranchise, push into hiding and jail some of my own ancestors. We wanted and prayed protection then, and now we are the ones causing others to want and pray for protection from us.

    I could respect and support an argument I believe has real merit and isn’t hypocritical or fear-mongering in any way. I haven’t found that argument yet.

  68. Randy B. says:

    RAF, I don’t comment here much anymore, but couldn’t let this one pass. Thank you.

  69. I support the Church’s official stance as far as I understand it. I do not see the Church shifting in the future.. As a good friend of mine said to me years ago who feels differently about the possibility of future change, we will have to respect each other enough to agree to disagree.

  70. Oh Chris … we’re all flawed. That’s the beauty of it.

    An agrarian, communitarian, redistributivist, homosexual, Mormon, short, chubby man. Who likes to cook, tell stories, and talk policy.

    That’s me. And I love it. God loves it. The man I eventually find to marry and build a future with will love it.

  71. “It is difficult to sit with a straight face and say that what is declared a sin, is no sin at all.”

    Where, exactly, was this said in the post? I couldn’t find it. It might or might not be believed, but it certainly isn’t said.

    Two things:

    Pres. Uchtdorf said recently, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you do.” Nearly every argument against homosexual marriage I have heard rests on the foundation of judging others because their sins are worse than our sins and, therefore, cannot be tolerated or allowed.

    Teaching something as a religious principle and enforcing it outside of the religious community that believes it are two very different things. Any conversation about this topic that does not include a careful treatment of the religious arguments for and against polygamy and inter-racial marriage and their use to justify legal restrictions is incomplete, imo.

  72. Dave K., Chris H., Ronan, and Ray, thanks very much for your thoughtful and supportive comments.

    Christian, when you say (#55)…

    Since when do we think the Brethren are infallible? Yes; we need to squarely address the words of the prophets. We can NOT simply set them aside. And I don’t think any of us have

    …you’re speaking powerfully from the heart, and I hear you. But I wonder what you mean by “set [the words of the prophets] aside”? Surely if, upon reflection (whether that be prayer, secular study, meditation, pursuing the scriptures, or all of the above), we come to feel that some statement by our entirely fallible prophets isn’t something that we have a witness of the truth of, then we DO set it aside, do we not? I’ll lay my cards upon the table: I think those who are troubled by the church’s stance on same-sex marriage have to be prepared to do exactly that with the Proclamation on the Family, or at least with many of its the policy implications. I could be completely wrong there; there may well be ways to come to a conclusion about same-sex marriage which challenges the church’s official position that leaves one’s faith in the revealed truthfulness of the Proclamation entirely intact. (Arguably this is some of what Taylor Petrey was doing with his theological speculation on non-heterosexual sealings.) But that’s not the way my mind worked out this issue; for me, the Proclamation was never an issue. I could set it–or, again, at least some of the implications which defenders of the church’s position on same-sex marriage have drawn out of it–aside.

  73. Ray, you miss my point. We all sin. Sin is sin is sin (although I do not agree with the proposition that all sins are equally as serious- I doubt you or Uchtdorf do either), but my is point that the blog (and by that I mean the comments as well), appears to deny that the practice of homosexuality is sin: In fact, some of the comments appear to suggest that it is anything but, and that we unenlightened ones just need to catch up. I believe that the official position of the church is that the practice of homosexuality is sin (see no. 60 above), and I have not seen one comment that tackles that issue. As a Mormon blog, I’m interested in how Mormons deal with this. Do they just ignore it? Do they accept that they are in direct opposition to one of the fundamental tenets of the faith- prophetic leadership? It seems that most are not even willing to deal with that issue, but simply speak of what they hope might happen in the future.

  74. Randy, you also–thanks.

    An agrarian, communitarian, redistributivist, homosexual, Mormon, short, chubby man. Who likes to cook, tell stories, and talk policy.

    Oh come on, you’re not that short, Christian. Now Steve Evans? That’s one tiny little man.

  75. James (#73),

    My is point that the blog (and by that I mean the comments as well), appears to deny that the practice of homosexuality is sin: In fact, some of the comments appear to suggest that it is anything but, and that we unenlightened ones just need to catch up.

    Let me make this clear: I never said in the post that I didn’t consider unmarried homosexual acts to be sinful. I do think they are sinful, in the same way that I believe that all sexual acts outside of the bonds of marriage to be sinful. Now I admit that I don’t find any strong religious reason, nor any longer do I find any persuasive intellectual reason, to consider homosexual relationships a detriment to society and/or harmful to the perpetuation of some kind of presumably (but I think now not actually) civilization-validating heterosexual normativity. Because of all that, I no longer believe that same-sex marriages should be forbidden. And following that, it holds that I do not, myself, believe that gay men and women engaging in sexual acts within the bonds of legally authorized (but non-Mormon-priesthood-authorized) marriages are engaging in sin, in the same way I do not believe that straight men and women engaging in sexual acts within the bonds of legally authorized (but non-Mormon-priesthood-authorized) marriages are engaging in sin.

    As I said above, I am fully aware that this puts me outside where the official line of the church (right at this moment, anyway) would like its members to be at in regard to this issue. In truth, I suppose I have been outside that official line for a long time, because I never have really strongly felt that revealed doctrine wanted me to be there, and that may well be simply a spiritual failing or flaw on my part. But in any case, all that is not the same as saying that I do not regard the practice of unmarried homosexual acts to be a sin, as I do indeed think they are.

  76. #73 – James, I don’t think I miss your point – but maybe you miss mine.

    1) There is a difference between seeing something as sin and supporting legislation against it. Not supporting legislation against something doesn’t mean one automatically dismisses it as sin.

    2) Imo, the Golden Rule applies in this particular situation in a very personal way for Mormons, given our history of being the equivalent to gay marriage advocates not all that long ago. In opposing gay marriage, whether or not I see it as sin, I think it’s important to ask if I would support the most similar legislation that could be devised by others to ban something that is important to me that others see as sin.

    3) “Sin” and “transgression” are defined distinctly by many Mormons as resting on one’s own understanding of something. (i.e., if someone doesn’t understand something to be wrong, they are not sinning in doing so; rather, they are transgressing.) Thus, in a very practical way, supporting gay marriage is not encouraging people to sin; rather, it is allowing them to transgress. In the case of sexual choices between (or among) consenting adults, I am very wary of mandating what should and should not be legislated based on someone else’s perception of sin. More generally, am I willing to allow others (especially a group that is smaller than my own religious community) to forbid me from making mistakes that I don’t believe are mistakes – to allow them to keep me from transgressing?

    4) I want any law that is passed to not be based on a hypocritical foundation. Advance a specific argument that in no way applies to certain heterosexual marriages, and I will consider it seriously.

    Sincere question, asked in order to try to understand your view better:

    Should I support prohibition (of alcohol or tobacco sales) simply because I believe it would be a sin for me to drink alcohol or use tobacco?

  77. “…I do not, myself, believe that gay men and women engaging in sexual acts within the bonds of legally authorized (but non-Mormon-priesthood-authorized) marriages are engaging in sin, in the same way I do not believe that straight men and women engaging in sexual acts within the bonds of legally authorized (but non-Mormon-priesthood-authorized) marriages are engaging in sin.”

    “…I do not regard the practice of unmarried homosexual acts to [not] be a sin, as I do indeed think they are.”

    Russell, I like the side step. I do not think that the church’s view is that, if a change to the law is made that allows same-sex marriage, then it will no longer be sinful.

    One of the church’s expressed views on the issue relate to children and their rights. I accept that many children grow up in horrendous heterosexual households. That said, there is a reasonable amount of research (Sweedish and Australian) into the effects of, for instance, children being adopted by same sex couples. The Australian research found that there was not less than a 20% increase (using control groups) of experimentation with homosexual acts, by children who ultimately went on to live as heterosexuals. This will be no doubt a small problem, but when you say ‘…I don’t find any persuasive intellectual reason, to consider homosexual relationships a detriment to society and/or harmful to the perpetuation of some kind of presumably (but I think now not actually) civilization-validating heterosexual normatively…”, I’m not convinced that that is right. In England, same-sex couples now adopt and there is no longer a prohibition. Children often follow example. I am sure that such experimentation cannot change sexuality, but I have met many people (both professionally and personally) who experimented without desire, and were very confused for long periods of their lives. I do consider this a harm. Moreover, who knows what harm would result from a re-writing of norms? Who has the long view? Because the promoting/normalising of homosexual relationships is popular, who now is brave enough to do the research?

    I sense that I am commenting on a blog, dominated by people who are on one side of the debate, but it needs balance.

    I wonder whether we have already bound ourselves to a particular view, and would not let God in regardless? (either side of the debate)

  78. While my soul is 6’2″, my body is only 5’6″. So I definitely qualify as short. :-)

    The operative word in my statement is “simply” — one does not simply walk into Mordor, and one does not simply set the words of the prophets aside.

    On a different point, Russell, you keep bringing up the Proclamation on the Family. And I don’t get the bad feelings about the document. I love love love it. LOVE! I hate that people treat it like it’s canon, though — not because I don’t want it to be canon, but because it speaks to a profound gap in someone’s understanding of The Way Things are Done™.

  79. “Every child is entitled to be born to and raised by a mother and a father. Many straight parents are single parents, so do we not allow them to raise kids?”

    Stictly speaking the Church is no more opposed to homosexuals raising children than it is against single parents raising children or divorced parents raising children. At worst it views such situations as falling short of the ideal that we should strive for as a society. But such situations exist and we should deal with them with empathy and compassion.

    There is no fear-mongering or hypocrisy in this stance. For example, children of divorced parents often turn out just fine, and have often been unduly stigmatized. Is the Church fear-mongering and hypocritical (or as some have said hateful and bigoted) when it condems divorce? Should we dispense with the traditional notions of marriage as a life long commitment and instead help to normalize marriage as a temporary arrangement? Should the Church should stop preaching against divorce entirely? When couples experience differences, should we encourage them to just get divorced rather than imply there’s something wrong with divorce so as not to be insensitive to divorced families?

  80. Ray, my comments, perhaps less lucid than I wanted, are to challenge not the issue of the change to the law (indeed I think it very difficult to justify imposition of an ultimately religious view on others, many of whom may not be religious), but the views expressed by Latter-day Saints that somehow suggest that homosexual practice is not sin.

    In response to your question:

    “…Should I support prohibition (of alcohol or tobacco sales) simply because I believe it would be a sin for me to drink alcohol or use tobacco?”

    I would say yes, but then that would be because there are very obvious harms from both not because consumption is sinful (the evils of all alcohol is very much a latter day view). I would take this view regardless of whether I was LDS or not. Most commentators here (England) agree that both are bad news, on balance, for society. In England most people over drink, and we have a ticking time bomb of liver disease which will ultimately cost our health system (and tax payers) billions each year. I am not sure that the issues are the same. I would not, for instance, support a ban on coffee or tea because the word of wisdom (as explained) suggests that they should not be consumed. I would probably not even support a prohibition on same-sex unions. But as I said before, please do not ask me to say what most people appear have sympathy with- the idea that homosexual practice is not sin. It cannot be squared with current doctrine, try as one might.

  81. abdiel,

    Where do you get this from?

    “Stictly speaking the Church is no more opposed to homosexuals raising children than it is against single parents raising children or divorced parents raising children.”

  82. #80 – “It cannot be squared with current doctrine, try as one might.”

    Seriously, who has been trying to do that in this post and thread?

  83. and thank you for answering my question. I understand much better now.

    I guess we disagree on the harmful effect of allowing gay marriage – on those being married and on others not involved directly.

    Also, fwiw, I’m pretty sure you think my own view of gay marriage is different than it actually is.

  84. Doug Hudson says:

    Is anyone here actually arguing that the Mormon church should start allow gay Temple marriages? I know that some do make that argument, but I don’t think that is the argument being made here.

    The question to me is whether the Mormon church should continue its efforts to prevent the secular state from recognizing gay marriage. Considering Mormon history, one might think that Mormons would be more cautious about using secular law to enforce religious beliefs, especially when it comes to marriage.

  85. Ray, I make no assumptions about a person’s views.

    When you say “…Seriously, who has been trying to do that in this post and thread?” consider the following selection:

    no. 22 “…Henry … when I find the man of my dreams and marry — and I’ve waited (many many years) to have sex until our wedding night — am I to believe that my loving and committed and solemnized relationship is somehow outside the law of chastity? That chastity is somehow different for me than for everyone else?” [suggesting that such an encounter will not be against the law of chastity]

    no. 50 “…Good vs. Evil is judged by our personal experiences as guided by the spirit, not simply by what was taught in the past. The last dispensation is about moving forward, not just cligging on.” [the spirit will guide agains the past prophetic pronouncements- to the member but not the prophet?]

    no. 55 “…The Church is in flux on this issue. That’s where my confidence comes from — that and spiritual confirmation of the road I’m on.” “…Moreover, since when do we think the Brethren are infallible?” [the spirit has confirmed the road]

    no. 70 “…God loves it.” []

    no. 72 “…there may well be ways to come to a conclusion about same-sex marriage which challenges the church’s official position that leaves one’s faith in the revealed truthfulness of the Proclamation entirely intact.” [res ipsa loquitor]

    no. 76 “…Advance a specific argument that in no way applies to certain heterosexual marriages, and I will consider it seriously.” [President Hinckley]

  86. Christian,

    On a different point, Russell, you keep bringing up the Proclamation on the Family. And I don’t get the bad feelings about the document. I love love love it. LOVE!

    I’m overstating my feelings here, probably because (in my own head, if not in my original post or in these comments) this argument really seems to me to get unavoidably trapped in some murky theological waters, waters which I think parts of the Proclamation tries to clarify, but doesn’t (at least not to my satisfaction). In truth, removed from this whole discussion, I’d probably find at least 70% of the words in that document to be both truthful and wise. I respect the writing of it; unlike some, I don’t at all think the whole thing can be reduced to some insidious move by the church to position itself in the culture wars. But when folks start running with “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose,” connect that to the “divine design” of male and female marriage, and come out with a normative model which supposedly excludes homosexuals by stamping the imprimatur of eternal normativity upon a sexually unequal constrtuct, I have to get off the bus.

  87. My position on gay marriage and homosexuality in general is fully squared with Church doctrine. I don’t believe current doctrine needs to change one iota for the Church to embrace homosexuality — our resistance is cultural.

  88. RAF #75,

    I’m taking the next logical step down the path you outline, as a thought experiment. Currently, if an unmarried, cohabiting heterosexual couple (or one of them) wants to get baptized, they are taught that they need to get married first, yes?

    OK, now suppose that gay marriage is legalized, but remains excluded from the LDS doctrine of marriage. The missionaries come knocking, and one or both members of a gay marriage want to get baptized. Do they have to get DIVORCED first? Given that same-sex marriage is already legal in some states, it is only a matter of time before this hypothetical question becomes literal.

    Seems to me like your answer, based on what you wrote above, would be no. But it also seems to me like that answer would eliminate any basis whatsoever for the exclusion of gay marriage from the LDS church, including temple marriage.

    I don’t pretend to understand it all; I am still trying to work it out myself, but I think there is more to the LDS law of chastity than simply married vs. unmarried sex. Of course, we are familiar with the principle that what is or is not sinful varies, to some extent, based on our participation in certain covenants (this is not true of all sin, of course, but I amhether any sin is ENTIRELY free from the relativity imposed by covenants). When it comes to covenants, there is no logical inconsistency in saying that what is sin for you is a greater sin for me, or even that what is sin for me is not sin for you, because you have made no covenant. So maybe it really is not problematic to say that same-sex marriage is legally permissible but covenantally (I just made that word up) impossible.

  89. it's a series of tubes says:

    Considering Mormon history, one might think that Mormons would be more cautious about using secular law to enforce religious beliefs

    A fair point, and one with which I am sympathetic given my status as a descendant of polygamists on both sides.
    That being said, I know quite a few members of the Church who take an opposing stance; in a discussion on this topic, one cited Alma 1:17-18 and Alma 30:7-11 to me as the reason for that stance.

    I’m still interested in hearing answers to RJH’s question in #63. Depending on which side of the issue we fall, HOW we should conduct ourselves – that’s where I’d like to hear from my fellow BCCers.

  90. Kristine says:

    James, could you offer some specific references for this Swedish and Australian data you cite?

  91. “But when folks start running with “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose,” connect that to the “divine design” of male and female marriage, and come out with a normative model which supposedly excludes homosexuals by stamping the imprimatur of eternal normativity upon a sexually unequal constrtuct, I have to get off the bus.”

    I believe sex is an essential characteristic of pre-, pari- and post-mortal existence.

    I believe that marriage is divinely ordained to fulfill an essential role in pari- and another (probably different) role in post-mortal realms.

    I don’t believe equality is possible. Chasing it is the Great Distraction. Apples … meet Oranges. ( I especially like a blog post someone did about the helical approach to sexual duality. )

  92. Edit to my post #88…I am uncertain whether any sin is entirely free from the relativity imposed by covenants.

    Tablet keyboard garbled it up…

  93. James L says:

    Kristine, I’ll dig it out. It was for a Family Law essay at University. The English House of Lords debate on the Adoption Bill is also outstanding, and references some very good material, if you’re at all interested.

  94. #85 – James, how do those statements attempt to square gay marriage with current church doctrine?

    I wrote a post four years ago about what happens when moral issues become political issues. It attempts to spell out why I hesitate to base what I will or won’t support as legislation on my personal, moral views. If you are interested, the link is:

    http://mormonmatters.org/2008/06/11/when-moral-issues-become-political-issues/

    Fwiw, I actually do believe that gay marriage can be squared with current church doctrine (especially for people who aren’t members of the LDS Church, but even for those who are), but that would require a more careful look at what the word “marriage”, in and of itself, entails (which is one of Russell’s central points in the OP) – and that’s a discussion that too few people are willing to have. It also isn’t the point of this post, so I haven’t gone there directly.

    Gay marriage sealing, otoh, probably can’t be squared with current church doctrine. I also believe that gay marriage can’t be squared with most members’ view of current church doctrine, and that is an important distinction, imo.

  95. James L says:

    Ray, I’ll read your post asap, but I am intrigued about your thoughts on how to square homosexual marriage with the doctrines of the church. I am no advocate of legislating using religious beliefs, not least because of the difficulty in choosing what the common, core beliefs should be from the myriad choices, but to suggest that somehow you can analyse the word marriage, and find an interpretation that accords with the church’s current teachings seems absurd. Even a purposive approach to interpretation would leave you short by a mile. This is what I’m interested in. Please explain to me how you get a position where marriage between two latter-day saint men (or women) can be justified doctrinally. I suspect that most who post on here are of the same mind as you, and I would like to know whether there is a credible argument underpinning your general views that is worthy of proper consideration, or whether you and others have simply started with an objective of justification and have stretched or omitted from consideration what seems clear and unequivocal to get to your desired conclusion.

  96. @Ray: I don’t need to be sealed to my husband to be happy. Time-only is just fine by me.

  97. #96 – I understand that. I hope I didn’t imply otherwise.

  98. James, let me ask you this:

    How do you define the word “marriage” – and exactly what aspect of gay marriage do you feel can’t be squared with current church doctrine?

  99. Kristine says:

    James, I don’t think that a majority of bloggers/commenters agree with all (or any) of this, but here’s a place to start for thinking through possible theological resources we could bring to bear on the questions: https://www.dialoguejournal.com/2011/toward-a-post-heterosexual-mormon-theology/

    (And, in general, it’s best not to draw conclusions about what “most who post here” think–there’s a very broad range of opinions.)

  100. James L says:

    Ray (and indeed all), I don’t seem to have had anyone deal with the Hinckley reference yet. I am not dodging your question on my question, but I don’t think that there are any credible counters to it. There are many different passages that one could cite to answer your question: I am not a great fan of Holland, but:

    “As fellow Church members, families, and friends, we need to recognize that those attracted to the same gender face some unique restrictions regarding expression of their feelings. While same-gender attraction is real, there must be no physical expression of this attraction. The desire for physical gratification does not authorize immorality by anyone. Such feelings can be powerful, but they are never so strong as to deprive anyone of the freedom to choose worthy conduct.” (Ensign Oct 2007)

    I simply do believe that you can find anywhere anything that suggests that the church doctrine can be harmonised with any physical expression of homosexual affection, let alone the marriage and full physical union. As I asked earlier, please set out your rational basis for suggesting otherwise. I am genuinely interested to understand how the view is formulated.

  101. James L says:

    Kristine, I drew no conclusions, only expressed my suspicion based on the responses I have read. I think that it was not an unreasonable suspicion on balance, but I suppose you know those who post much better than I.

  102. Russell this is a great post. The comments have given me a headache and stomach ulcer though. I will mention though that not *all* of us needed to evolve and/or come to these views. Some of us always had them.

    I am thankful every day that I was raised never thinking that being gay was something wrong, or something to be ashamed of. From as far back as I can remember, my Uncle’s boyfriend was his boyfriend not his “roommate” or “friend”. Two of my uncles, my godfather, and my sister are all gay as well as a myriad of friends and acquaintances. It was always just as normal to me as it is today. Marriage is a natural extension of that.

    I also agree with Ray that pretty much all of the arguments I have heard against gay marriage can be equally applied to heterosexual marriages so therefore fail majorly on the logical scale.

  103. Kristine says:

    James, it’s not an unreasonable suspicion, but it is a bit hasty to draw that conclusion based on such limited data. That’s all I meant.

  104. James L,
    I think the church could sidestep the problem by allowing marriage to be defined by the state and retreating to Temple sealing or temple marriage to take the place of the current term marriage. Then by default, the Law of Chastity would allow sex between married homosexuals! This could be argued both ways; for the anti-gays a shoulder shrug, well, what could we do? For the pro gays, silence. They will be cheering anyway! And Then the Hinckley quote could be explained away as coming before legal homosexual marriage. It isn’t elegant but it’s simple and it seems to moving that way anyway!

  105. Howard:
    Humans are not the Law Givers.

  106. All I know is that some people mistake revulsion as revelation. It is easy to understand that Pres. Hinckley might get the two mixed up as do many other people.

    I am positively straight. Gay sex is somewhat difficult to imagine for me. However, it comes down to the fact that some people are revolted by Limburger cheese where others find it a great delicacy. So imagine a world where cheese has eternal implications and is as important as sex…

    I had an absolute revelation on the subject, one that could be no stronger. It is much more important for us to love, as in, lay down our lives for each other, than to assign sin. God will forgive whom he will forgive but we must forgive (love) all men (women).

    Russel, nice explication. Better late than never.

  107. RW AMEN!

  108. James, if there is another post about the topic you want to discuss, I will discuss it in that thread. I see no way to do justice to that topic without totally derailing the point of Russell’s OP, which I think deserves attention outside of a different topic. I asked my last question specifically to try to stay on point with the OP, so I’ll leave our discussion where it is right now.

  109. “if I had a deep conviction that my church’s Proclamation on the Family was a revelation from God”

    You should get one.

  110. Devorah says:

    Russell, thank you for putting into words what I’ve often thought but haven’t expressed.

    There’s something that leaves me curious, though. You wrote, “This is what they taught me: that they are my equals insofar as their gender is concerned, and that I simply can’t be part of an argument which assumes otherwise.”

    I’ve heard something like this from other male friends of mine: they don’t come to think of females as their equals as far as gender is concerned until they have daughters. So, what is it about your [relationship with your] girls that taught you that lesson? Would you have been able to learn that lesson from, say, your mother or a sister (if you have any) or the mother of your daughters or any other female in your life?

  111. Dave K. says:

    Devorah, for my part, I always thought of women as equals, but I was largely oblivious to how unequal their situation is until having daughters of my own. I really cant say why. I grew up in a large family and have always been close to my mother and sisters. Looking back, I recall numerous family discussions about women’s status in the church, but I never felt a draw to advocate for them. That desire came with my daughters. I feel guilt now but can’t offer a good explanation for why daughters change things. They just do.

  112. I’ve changed my mind, along with others. Earlier, I didn’t really think I had anything interesting to add to this discussion. Now … well, as it turns out, I still don’t feel I have anything interesting to add to this discussion.

  113. Devorah (#110),

    What is it about your [relationship with your] girls that taught you that lesson? Would you have been able to learn that lesson from, say, your mother or a sister (if you have any) or the mother of your daughters or any other female in your life?

    Dave K.’s answer in #111 is essentially my own as well. I suppose what’s really going on with so many men is that they become responsible for these girls, seeing them dependent and striving and growing, and slowly pick up on, in so many ways both subtle and obvious, the fact that the world does not open up for them the way it does for men. Boys do not grow up being commodified as sex objects. Boys are not weighed down with nearly the same social expectations. Etc., etc. You bring the church into it, and everything from how one takes a family name to how one apportions the relative time and expense devoted to boys’ activities versus girls’ activities to big questions about the eternal nature of gender and roles in the afterlife and how things are portrayed in the temple…all of that, for me at least, and for more than a few others, made it clear that sexual inegalitarianism as something to be struggled against–and to the extent that the battle against same-sex marriage partakes of that those same unequal presumptions, then that’s something to resist also.

  114. Kirstine:
    Disagree here. Most on this board seem to be in favor of homosexuality/gay sex/gay marriage despite being LDS church members.

    (And, in general, it’s best not to draw conclusions about what “most who post here” think–there’s a very broad range of opinions.)

  115. Interesting that you’re justifying this all with Elder Oak’s talk on Mormon Newsroom. Have you read his other talks on Mormon Newsroom?

  116. Quickmere Graham says:

    Elder Oak?

  117. #114 – “Most on this board seem to be in favor of homosexuality/gay sex/gay marriage”

    You do understand, right, that those are three very different things – and that even the LDS Church recognizes them now as three very different things?

    I don’t want to threadjack into a long discussion of that, but it is an important point – and it’s something that too many people don’t understand. Lumping them together into one category, and using that category in stereotypical terms and/or to identify a threat (even if just by implication), is one of the central things that keeps a deeper understanding of the issues addressed in the OP from being possible.

  118. Bobi Jean Andros says:

    Too much analyzing and left-brain work for me. Matters of morality do best with something higher than logic, they do best perceived by genuine love. It’s a light, peaceful, happy way, not an argument. It comes from right-brain work.

  119. wreddyornot says:

    Have enjoyed the posting and resulting discussion. I did my due diligence on the subject matter of this posting long long ago and received my answer. It was not unlike the resolution of my disappointment in the denial of righteous black people getting the priesthood. I did my due diligence on that issue too, long long before June 8, 1978 and received my answer. The subsequent action slowly came. Did it bother me to be out of step? Does it now?

    I ask, who was/is out of step?

  120. Ray, if you don’t want to ‘derail’ the purpose of the OP you can always email me your ideas (jamesjleslie@gmail.com). The same applies to everyone of like-mind. However, I would have thought that had the answer been so obvious; had your view been correct, you could have provided a fairly pithy post in over a hundred others that would not have disrupted the general discussion? At present, I see nothing that even gets close to a good explanation for one who genuinely seeks to understand, or an attempt to explain.

  121. When the devil appealed to logic and common sense in his discussion with our Savior, the Savior didn’t engage — he simply responded, “It is written . . .” — we don’t argue with the devil, because the devil will ALWAYS win — and whenever we discuss matters such as this with the scripture closed and appealing to logic and common sense and social niceness, the devil will always win. For me, the question of marriage is answered with, “It is written . . . .”

  122. “I would have thought that had the answer been so obvious; had your view been correct, you could have provided a fairly pithy post in over a hundred others that would not have disrupted the general discussion?”

    No thanks. I’ll e-mail you.

  123. Can’t post the words “g@y lifestyle”?
    Making one an offender for a word?

    Looks like this discussion highlights the separation of the wheat and tares.

  124. No, it highlights the offensive jerks. My sister and her wife work, go to school, work on improving their house, cook together, watch a bit of tv, take the dog for a walk, etc… Exactly how is their “lifestyle” any different than a heterosexual couple’s lifestyle?

  125. James L says:

    Eor, I am surprised that using the term g@y lifestyle qualifies one as an offensive jerk. Your sister and her wife do all that a heterosexual couple do, but as g@ys or homosexuals. They no doubt have non-heterosexual sex. I think what they do, for part of their life, or as part of their lifestyle is g@y or homosexual. I don’t know what censoring had taken place already, but it seems that if we go down this route of having to use terms that a group of people like, we will get bogged down and upset.

  126. Kristine says:

    The problem is saying “gay lifestyle” as though it were some monolithic evil that all gay people participate in and no heterosexuals do. It is a way of totalizing the difference between heterosexually-oriented people and homosexually-oriented ones. When you say “the gay lifestyle,” you betray willful and deliberate ignorance of the broad diversity of how gay people live; you fail to recognize their full humanity. That is offensive.

    Moreover, it’s imprecise. When one says “the gay lifestyle” is harmful, what is meant (I presume) is something more like promiscuous sex is dangerous. Or maybe that parents with unstable relationships endanger their children’s healthy development. Or maybe that relationships based on romantic desire are less conducive to flourishing societies than marriages based on economic dependence and childrearing partnerships. There’s simply no way to know what you actually meant based on “society knows that the gay lifestyle is harmful.” All of the possible meanings I’ve outlined above apply equally to heterosexual partnerships–the only thing your sloppy shorthand actually communicates is “I blame random, unspecified societal ills on gay people.” That is not necessarily beyond the pale of civilized conversation (though it is certainly uncharitable), but it doesn’t contribute much to the reasoned discussion Russell’s post invited.

    I wasn’t actually threatening some heavy-handed censorship; I was expressing exasperation with the unfortunate direction such conversations (and we’ve had a LOT of them) take when people start using imprecise code words for homophobia, rather than contributing to the quite precise and specific discussion that would be appropriate to Russell’s careful and nuanced post.

  127. Can anyone define for me what “the heterosexual lifestyle” is like?

    I thought not, because, as Kristine said, there is no lifestyle that is normative for heterosexuals.

    My own “lifestyle” is much more influenced by my religion than it is by my sexual orientation – and it also is influenced more by my occupation and education and rural upbringing and many other aspects of my life than it is by my sexual orientation. For example, my lifestyle is FAR more in common with a homosexual who is an active Mormon than it is with many (if not most) heterosexuals who are non-religious.

    Believing or implying that such is true for heterosexuals but not true for homosexuals is objectively false, patronizing, condescending, judgmental, ignorant and many other terms I could use accurately to describe it. It is a bigoted phrase, even if used by someone who doesn’t intend it to be such – who uses it out of ignorance of the what I laid out above. Using the term “the gay lifestyle” as a broad brush is no different at heart than using the term “wet back” when talking about all people who were born in Mexico but now live in the United States. It is a pejorative mis-characterization – a slur in the truest sense of the word.

    Its use is a great example of Russell’s point in the OP.

  128. abdiel:
    ““Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.” (Tied up in this we can also see the basis for the Church’s opposition of divorce and intentional single parenthood.)”

    Abdiel, I must have forgotten about the times the church tried to pass ballot propositions in California revoking the existing right to divorce and single parenthood, like it did in California to revoke the existing right to [gay] marriage.

    If we were honest about the distinction between what our doctrines require and what many members’ base revulsion to the idea leads them to conclude about gay people, maybe we as a people would treat gay families a lot more like we already treat divorced adults and single-parent families. Maybe lesbian parents would be welcomed to the ward with an extra outpouring of EQ moving help because they don’t have a male head of household. Maybe home teachers and other men in the ward would take special care to augment, without denigrating, the lesbians’ parenting by providing a loving male father figure to those children–taking them on fathers&sons campouts and the like. Maybe primary, young women, and relief society leaders could take female children of gay couples under their wing and provide a mother figure who can talk to them about menarche and boys. Maybe single and married gay people could sit next to us in the pews, come to our activities, teach our lessons, play and lead our music, teach and lead our children (cough), and do all the other things that divorced and single parents do in our church without raising an eyebrow among fellow ward members.

    IF we really treated the underlying “issue” we have with gay marriage the same as we treat our underlying “issue” with divorced and single parents. And IF we were honest about the distinction between what our doctrines require and what many members’ base revulsion to the idea leads them to conclude about gay people.

  129. MikeInWeHo says:

    That’s a lovely vision for how it could be, Cynthia. It doesn’t require changing any current doctrine. It would require changing practice, though, and not threatening some kinds of sinners with excommunication. In some ways, that’s the core problem of the moment: Apparently in some areas of the Church a gay couple can be members, but in others excommunication would occur.

  130. Mommie Dearest says:

    I read the OP with more than a few nods of the head. Not every nuance of it resonated with me (there is no lockstep among regular commenters on this or any other blog) but much of it did. I have been on my learning curve since I voted for the Prop 8 equivalent in AZ in 2008 and also encouraged others to vote likewise, largely because of the nudge I received at church. During that time, I was troubled by what would happen to the gay people in my circle of friends, and I started to address the apparent conflicts between doctrine and practice, and doing that has forced me to do some careful thinking and examination. That’s been a good exercise, though I am troubled when I see attitudes in the church that aren’t as far on their learning curve as I would like. That’s another exercise, as well.

    I don’t have much time to write, so I’ll cut to the chase. Regarding doctrine, I am waiting for further light and knowledge. I’m prepared to be patient for a long wait. We have far to go in evolving our practice to truly loving our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. That actually requires more patience of me than doctrinal issues, which are (mostly) immutable to us as laity. The way we (far too often) treat these folks — as if they are among the worst sinners, when in reality they are no different of sinners than say — us — well there’s room to grow up here.

    If I had to vote on such a marriage ballot today, I would likely vote in favor of it, even though I think such questions don’t belong on a ballot, to change a constitution without first having been vetted in the legislature and in real practice. I believe now that it’s good public policy for them to be able to easily marry and make families. There is nothing I can think of that is more effective in curtailing the hedonistic lifestyle that we mistakenly label all gay folks as having, than getting married, taking care of a kid or two, and joining the PTA. Plus I enjoy seeing my friends be settled and happily contributing. I could go on enumerating the reasons why this would be a good thing, but I don’t wish to compromise anyone’s learning curve. And for the record, I don’t think it would “hurt marriage” in its present configuration in our society. Nor does it compromise me in my ability to observe and honor all the doctrinal requirements of the church.

  131. Cynthia (#128),

    If we were honest about the distinction between what our doctrines require and what many members’ base revulsion to the idea leads them to conclude about gay people, maybe we as a people would treat gay families a lot more like we already treat divorced adults and single-parent families.

    Really beautifully put, and it helps me see how my ideas might play out in our church life. As Mike thoughtfully adds (#129), it’s not the sort of thing which would necessarily involve any major change in church doctrine–which, despite what James and some others have alleged, I’ve never suggested in this post. I continue to believe that homosexuality is an aberration, a deviation from the ideal. Just like divorce, or single mother- or fatherhood, or certain physical ailments, or any number of other entirely common, in many ways regrettable, but in no sense church-participationg-invalidating conditions. We who happen to be in the majority ought to be expected to do what we’re called to do: love, serve, support, and not be a stumbling-block. For a long time, I was a stumbling block to the faithful happiness of gay and lesbian couples, for reasons that seemed important to me at the time, but which I can’t really justify any longer.

  132. James L says:

    Russell, I’m a little confused by your last post, but my point is a short one: As a matter of civil practice, it is hard to see how to mount a compelling argument against permitting same-sex marriage. However, doctrinally, you cannot square the practice of homosexuality with the doctrines of the church. Whilst some of those who post appear to suggest that you can, no one has yet provided any explanation as to how. I agree with you that homosexuality is an aberration, akin to other physical ailments. Isn’t the resurrection not meant to remove all ailments? What seems to be the thrust of many posts is that it is not an aberration that will be cured hereafter, but rather a perfectly healthy and proper aspect of mortal and eternal nature, and that when we are ‘grown up’ enough to appreciate that (prophets included), the doctrine will allow for eternal homosexual relationships. In my view, that is pernicious.

    I took the time to read the Petrey article as was suggested to me. The man actually tries to interpret the creation of Eve as an account of one man being ‘penetrated’ by another to produce life: as if Adam had had something happen to him akin to him having been buggered. It would be laughable, if it were not so vile a suggestion. Mary’s conception of the Saviour, is somehow explained as authority for eternal female-female procreation, with Petrey almost completely failing (as his desired conclusion required) to acknowledge that a male (the Almighty God) was the one who gave the life to the woman Mary, not another woman. I think God must be weeping at the thought of his children being led astray by such palpably vile arguments. I’m afraid, Petrey’s ramblings are the natural seqelae of trying to treat homosexuality as anything other than an aberration to be lost in the resurrection.

    I pray that we all treat each other with dignity and fairness, and never shun or treat without love, those who suffer the aberration of homosexuality, please let’s not say it is anything other than a temporary aberration. The doctrine just does not support it.

  133. Kristine says:

    “The man actually tries to interpret the creation of Eve as an account of one man being ‘penetrated’ by another to produce life: as if Adam had had something happen to him akin to him having been buggered.”

    That’s some serious reading into the text. Reaching into Adam’s body to take out a rib is really nothing like being “buggered.” (At least I don’t think it is, unless my understanding of British sexual slang is more faulty than I thought…)

  134. “Hasn’t everyone changed their mind about same-sex marriage by now?”

    You listed a whole lot of admirable people after asking that question. But it’s strange you don’t list any of the following… Thomas Monson, Henry Eyring, Dieter Uchtdorf, Boyd Packer, Tom Perry, and so on. Have any of them changed their mind on same sex marraige? Apostles, who have literally become servants who devoted their livelihood to the Lord.

    There isn’t much more to be said than you are wrong on this issue. I hope you can come around.

  135. James L is it your contention that Prophets are never wrong? That they are not subject to human failings, and are not vulnerable to being products of their time? I won’t address other parts of your comment because they make me want to throttle you but please answer that. As you do, please remember to keep in mind all the times that they have been wrong, and subject to human failings/vulnerable to being products of their time.

  136. Have any of them changed their mind on same sex marraige? Apostles, who have literally become servants who devoted their livelihood to the Lord.. We don’t know for sure, do we? If one of them did would he announce it or wait for unanimity?

  137. James L says:

    Kristine first:

    “That’s some serious reading into the text. Reaching into Adam’s body to take out a rib is really nothing like being “buggered.” (At least I don’t think it is, unless my understanding of British sexual slang is more faulty than I thought…)”

    Exactly, it isn’t, but the author seems to suggest that penetrating a body for a rib is somehow justification for homosexual fathering or procreation. You make my points for me.

  138. Kristine says:

    No, he doesn’t, actually. He’s simply pointing out that the creation narrative we have in the temple liturgy involves no male-female complementarity.

  139. Taylor Petrey is one of the most charitable and beautiful people I have ever met. Petrey, both the man and his writings, is a major reasons I am an active and faithful member of the Church.

    His dissertation from Harvard deals with the concept of penetration in early Christian thought. I think there is some conceptualization and abstraction that me be lost on James. Either way, the article is one of the most important works of Mormon theology.

    Vile ramblings? James, luckily for you BCC will tolerate you.

  140. James L says:

    EOR, I wondered when it might become a little heated. No one here is trying to say that anyone is infallible, but are you seriously trying say that all of the prophets who have spoken of homosexual practice as a sin are wrong, somehow way behind your far thinking, advanced, enlightened curve? Instead of dodging the issue, why don’t you chanel your desire to throttle me into a lucid, systematic explanation of how to square what many advocate as the enlightened view of homosexual practice with church doctrine. I rather suspect that you, like everyone else who has written, will decline to do so. I think that that is because there are no credible explanations, or none that would bear serious anslysis.The best that can be mustered up is: ‘well, they were wrong before and I ‘think’ that they are again.’ I am open to well reasoned, argument, but I see none of that. I thought this blog was about dialogue? Help me see how it can be squared: Please.

    As an aside, if my choice of the description of homosexuality has enraged you, please remember that I adopted it from #131 above. Homosexuality is an inclination as President Hinckley suggested which wrong, like many other inclinations and should not be acted upon. Why don’t you take the words of the prophets and demonstrate that they are doctrinally wrong, instead of resorting to comments that suggest a desire to hurt rather than explain?

  141. Kristine says:

    James–try comparing the way Spencer W. Kimball spoke about homosexuality with the way that President Hinckley did, or read President Packer’s “To the One” and compare it with recent Church publications on the subject. It is simply impossible to maintain that prophets have had a consistent view.

    And then read the handbooks. We haven’t even had consistent policy.

  142. James L says:

    Chris H

    I am truly thankful to be tolerated by BCC, but I would gladly give that up to receive explanation instead. Do you want to have a go at it? Do you have a credible explanation? I read the text of Petrey’s essay to a very kind, liberal woman, and she almost puked. He may well be very nice, but in my opinion, parts of his essay are vile: A vile attempt to justify what has been, and I rather suspect always will be described as sin. Explain why doctrinally I am wrong: please.

  143. Russell,

    I disagree with your characterization of homosexuality as an aberration. Does it violate a number of a social norms? Sure, but I think that relationships and families should be based on love and not Platonistic ideals.

  144. “I read the text of Petrey’s essay to a very kind, liberal woman, and she almost puked.”

    For those who know me…you know how I really want to respond to that. My only issue with Taylor is that he has committed me to not swearing at people on blogs.

    My guess is that you are full of complete crap since reading that article out loud to somebody would take well over an hour. Sharing quotes out of context does not count.

    You are free to find the article as vile. I find it to be a pearl.

  145. Kristine says:

    James, I think Russell and others have already acknowledged that their views place them perpendicular to current church teachings. What further acknowledgment of your superior righteousness do you require?

  146. I am pretty sure we need to find a GA acknowledging his righteousness in a General Conference talk. I am pretty nothing else counts.

  147. James L says:

    Chris, thanks for the explanation I requested. I suspected that it would be as clear, calm and lucid. You turn so readily to insults. I did read the article as I said, but then you probably know better than me about what happened here in my home. Some of us would rather try to understand than insult. Problem is that no one is trying to explain. Fancy trying again without making personal attacks?

  148. “Fancy trying again without making personal attacks?”

    Nope.

  149. Latter-day Guy says:

    …but are you seriously trying say that all of the prophets[, from Moses to the Apostle Paul,] who have spoken of [slavery as a morally acceptable practice, compatible both with Judaism and Christianity,] are wrong, somehow way behind your far[-]thinking, advanced, enlightened curve?

    Golly, James, if no one is in fact “trying to say that anyone is infallible,” then, yes, perhaps prophets might have made/be making actual mistakes! Maybe some of these even have something to do with doctrine! It might even be conceivable that such mistakes are not all lost in the vaguely distant past! Or are you only paying lip-service to fallibility? Does a prophet’s fallibility only get exuded like a faint musk of possibility, never accumulating the critical mass necessary to be part of real missteps that occur in time and space?

    Try this helpful little thought experiment: Pretend you’re sitting in General Conference and it is announced that the Church’s position on homosexuality is totally reversed. There’s been a revelation. Gay couples can now be sealed and everything. Honestly, what would your reaction be? To what extent would you be upset, or angry, or disgusted? (And you seem like you’d be fairly disgusted, based on your comments here.) Well, that is the same extent to which your opinion on the matter has nothing to do with Mormon theology. That is the extent to which you are using “doctrine” as a veneer to cover something uglier.

    You are free to find the article as vile. I find it to be a pearl.

    Ah, Chris. I seem to remember something in the New Testament about pearls and knowing your audience.

  150. BTW, I read your last comment to my son and he ACTUALLY puked. Since that seems to be the standard…I WIN!

  151. James L says:

    Kristine, thanks for your kind comments. It is so nice to have a clear, balanced response. I think you might want to re-read the thread if you think that those who have posted acknowledge that their views are out of kilter. For the record, I have made plenty of mistakes, and sin with alarmingly regularity. What I don’t do thankfully is try to describe such actions as righteous, and likely to be accepted in the eternities as perfectly proper. I also don’t suggest that the brethren are wrong on the basis of past mistakes (if they were such) of others. I acknowledge frankly, that when the church declares a particular act a sin, it is that until it says otherwise. Might you bd the one to explain why my view of the doctrine is wrong? Or would you rather insult me again instead in the absence of such an explanation?

  152. “Ah, Chris. I seem to remember something in the New Testament about pearls and knowing your audience.”

    I seem to remember that passage…

  153. James L says:

    #148 what a Christian approach to dialogue. I ask for explanation, you give insults.

  154. James L says:

    #148 what a Christian approach to dialogue. I ask for explanation, you provide insults….mmm me thinks you have no explanation.

  155. Kristine says:

    I’m not interested in insulting you. Those of us who are troubled by the current teachings about homosexuality are troubled precisely because we recognize our own spiritual intuitions to be out of harmony with the Brethren’s contemporary pronouncements. That might explain why no one is trying to tell you why we are in harmony with them.

    The historical context is useful for recognizing that others have found themselves in this situation before, and remained faithful, and ultimately been confirmed in their faith. That history, though, can’t be used as a bully club, since it clearly requires that the faithful remain in a tenuous and uncomfortable spot unless and until further light and knowledge are revealed (at which point those whose views made them comfortable with the older doctrine will be in precisely the same situation we are now in, and charity will need to be extended in all directions).

  156. MikeInWeHo says:

    Gosh, this is like the old days. I sure miss Steve Evans though.

  157. You are right. I totally should have burned you at the stake. Where do you live?

    BTW, thanks a lot. Puked pulled pork sandwich doesn’t come out of the carpet. Why do you have to make such vile comments!

  158. Frank Fish says:

    To those who advocate absolute adherence to current church teachings on homosexuality but who also deny prophetic infallibility:

    Can you please give an example from the recent past when LDS prophets have been wrong about something?

  159. Steve Evans isn’t lurking?!?!?!

  160. Kristine says:

    Steve Evans is fled.

  161. My blogging worldview has been shattered.

  162. James L says:

    #149 ergo, anyone who doesn’t agree is swine. A persuasive argument. Want to try really explaining, or are you too simply in favour of answering requests with insults?

  163. James L, it is pretty rich to sit here calling gay people vile, hedonistic sinners, and buggerers and then get your nose out of joint because people insult you and even (gasp!) want to throttle you. Throttle was actually my light phrase because I did not want to get banned, [removed by admin.--it really was a bit beyond the pale]

    You have made it clear as Latter-day Guy mentioned that you are only paying lip service to the notion that the brethren are imperfect (you know, human beings). Their position suits an already existing prejudice for you so all is well in Zion! I don’t try to shove my views into the Mormon box because I don’t have to. As a free, thinking, divine-natured human being my allegiance is to God, not the Church. The Church has been wrong, and I believe they are wrong now. It is not because I am oh so enlightened, it is because they are 100 year old white men stuck in the 1950’s. They are a product of their times. It does not make them evil, or bad, or sinister in any way. They are free to believe as they do, as am I. I have prayed about it, and until I get an answer to the contrary I go with my gut which tells me to love all and treat people charitably (regardless of whether they are sinning or not). Pre-marital sex is a sin, and that is why I am in favor of gay marriage. You can continue to ask for doctrinal confirmation, but what you are being told is that there is none–you just don’t seem to be able to process that.

  164. “Want to try really explaining, or are you too simply in favour of answering requests with insults?”

    What am I supposed to be explaining again? I got carried away with all the fun.

  165. Admin, I accept the censorship. My apologies.

  166. James L says:

    Kristine, now that’s a kinder response, and one that makes sense. It saddens me that rather than trying to bring an unenlightened soul on, many of those who post would rather insult. Isn’t that the kind if intolerance that we seek to avoid?

  167. Frank Fish says:

    Chris is not being very helpful in this discussion. Nor are people like EOR who want to run Mr. Leslie off (and the Brethren it seems) as some neanderthalic homophobe. He may be, but that’s beside the point. Everyone should dial it down instead of trying to be cutting.

    I would like James and anyone else of a similar mind to answer #158. Then we can really get to the heart of the matter, insults aside.

  168. Frank I gladly would have left insults to the side, but one can’t drop an A-bomb and then call “Safe!” I would have preferred a civilized discussion, but some people need a shock. I don’t think the brethren are homophobes, and I never said so. I think they are wrong about gays. I am much more charitable towards people raised pre-1970’s on this issue. I don’t know how old James L is, but his comments branded him, not me.

  169. Yes! We have gotten to the part of the thread where we discuss me in the third-person even though I am active on the thread.

    Chris is sorry for making James sad and he is also sorry for being unhelpful.

  170. *gay people, not gays

  171. Chris really isn’t sorry about either of those things…but it has been reported that he is sorry for lying about it.

  172. Frank Fish says:

    EOR, fine. But let’s now await a response to #158. Everything here hinges on how one views infallibility. Everything. So let’s get an answer.

  173. James L says:

    Chris, if that was fun, you really need to get out more. I think that Kristine and EOR have explained well: There is no explanation; just a hope that things will change, or a suggestion that because the brethren are old, their morality must be wrong.

    EOR, I’m glad that you’re treating me charitably. I hate to see what your uncharitable self is like…

  174. Kristine says:

    James, people’s feelings run hot; some of us have close and painful personal experience with friends or family members who have been hurt by the kinds of remarks that are being tossed around here, or, even more deeply, by doctrine that contradicts their essential human experience and leaves them uncertain of their place in the Church or in eternity. It’s not surprising that tempers run hot, though it is regrettable. We can all, always, find ways to be more charitable with each other.

    I apologize for my part in the escalation.

  175. Latter-day Guy says:

    #149 ergo, anyone who doesn’t agree is swine.

    Hardly, James. More to the point, the second half of 149 wasn’t addressed to you, was it? I can’t say it wasn’t about you (though it wasn’t only about you), but you should consider it a snide comment made audibly, but behind your back, as it were. You really shouldn’t have even dignified it with a response, but I’ll forgive you the indiscretion (just this once, mind!).

    I’ve got to run right now, but I’ll be back later this evening, and I’ll happily work on a response to your question (provided the thread isn’t closed altogether). In the meantime, why don’t you address my points in the first half of 149? (My edited re-quote of your earlier comment only suggests a question, true, but you’re a smart fellow. I’m sure I needn’t spell out the implications.)

  176. Since EVERYTHING hinges on the question in 158, I cannot believe that 173-175 did not answer the question. I am very disappointed.

  177. Frank Fish says:

    James, #158, please.

    And what Kristine said. If you had a teenage son who came out as gay, who wanted to remain faithful to his religion, but heard from trusted adults in that religion such as yourself that what they felt was their essential nature was an “aberration” to be “fixed” in the eternities, and whose means of sexual expression (perhaps unconsummated) made you want to “puke”, you would weep with hurt. It may even be true, but there’s a way to say that that isn’t a more sophisticated way of saying “fag”.

    Now, #158.

  178. EOR votes for Chris H to be on her fantasy basketball team. (I would vote for Congress, but I’m not a constituent)

    I yield the floor.

  179. Frank Fish says:

    Chris, sssshhhhhhhhh.

  180. Frank Fish says:

    Perhaps we will not get an answer. Here’s why infallibility is crucial:

    1. If you REALLY believe in fallibility (i.e. if you can give a meaningful example of such), then you must allow for the Brethren being wrong on homosexuality. If, however, you believe they are right in this case anyway, that belief must have its origins in some other source. The question is, what is it?

    2. If you cannot give a meaningful example of such, you believe in prophetic infallibility, which is fine, but not what Mormons claim to believe.

    3. If you believe in prophetic infallibility but find yourself at odds with the Brethren on some other issue, then one would need to return to point one. What is it about homosexuality that particularly exercises you?

    4. Those who feel inclined to support committed homosexual relationships know that they are at odds with the church. However, they typically believe in fallibility and usually have some awareness of history, e.g. the church’s major about-turn on race in their lifetimes. And so, with a heavy heart, they feel at odds with the church, hope for change, and generally sit silently in the pews.

    5. Of course, this was a post about the legalisation of civil gay marriage, which one can support and still find homosexuality sinful. Thus this is all one massive threadjack.

    The End.

  181. James L says:

    #177 the choice of the word aberration wasn’t mine, it was Russell’s, but I adopted it because I thought it made sense.

    I would not tell, nor expect anyone to tell my fictitious homosexual son that his desires, make me want to puke. But I would also not try to do what many seem to want to do, to pretend that the doctrine is either not what it is, or should change to accommodate earthly experiences and will likely change when the old foggy brethren have died out. I would never use the phrase fag, nor insult someone because of their sexuality.

    #158. I’ve had only two explanations and a lot of insults. It seems a little unfair that my question is answered with a question, but then…

    My view is this: The brethren have been clear on the nature of the practice of homosexuality. Some may have used harsher language in the past about it, but none have ever got close to saying that it is anything other than sin. If they do, I’ll have to take it to the Lord. Until such time should I pick and chose what I want to accept? I thought that sometimes the brethren might say things that conflict with our personal views, but if we accept the prophetic call, it will be our views that should change, not theirs. I may be wrong, but I get the sense that not many really believe in the prophets as inspired by God, or at least not when what they teach is inconvenient, or makes life difficult.

  182. Frank Fish says:

    So, you are person no. 2, then. You believe in infallibility. Which is fine, but let’s be honest about it.

  183. James L says:

    It is nearly 1am here. I’m hanging up my boots for the night, but will respond in the morning.

  184. Frank Fish says:

    Well, good night, James. And please return to what I hope will be a civilized discussion about prophetic fallibility.

  185. Frank Fish says:

    And please get around to unpacking this statement tomorrow:

    >If they do, I’ll have to take it to the Lord.

    You seem to be suggesting that prophets might be fallible (contrary to what you have implied by your inability to provide evidence for their fallibility), that they might choose to change the church’s stance on homosexuality but that you’d need to confirm with the Lord that they aren’t wrong (fallible). So why can’t they be wrong now? Perhaps you have prayed about it — but then those who have come to view gay marriage as good might also claim the same, which leads us nowhere.

    All of which leads me to suspect that you have reasons why the church’s views on homosexuality sit easily with you. Again, this is fine, we all enjoy the confirmation of our own biases, but we ought to be aware of when this is happening.

  186. Danny Pratt says:

    I know James L and he is one of the greats in the world today.

    I too value the Prophet and his doctrine. It is what makes this church so special without modern day revelation I would feel lost.

  187. James L: you won’t get an explanation here because such an explanation would take more time to write and more time to read than any one is inclined to take.

    The closest thing to an explanation you’ve had, thus far, are the several references to single parenting and divorce. As a Church, we recognize that these conditions are far from the ideal taught by the Brethren and ensconced within the Proclamation — but, as a Church, we recognize that holding that no child should ever be parented singly and no person should ever divorce would heap upon the families of the Church more harm and more pain and more grief than any of us possessing even a widows mite of charity would countenance. Moreover, we also recognize that there is profound GOOD that can come from single parenting and divorce. And yet, we are able to preach both grave concern and profound respect for both endeavors — and no one bats an eye. Why? Because on matters of single parenting and divorce, the Church has discovered a pursuit for perfection can NOT be an enemy of the pursuit of the good.

    A similar approach to homosexuality would reap mountains of good for the Church, for the kingdom, and for faithful gay latter-day saints.

  188. And no doctrine need change. None — because it already has: homosexuals are no longer considered abominations but are hailed as children of God, worthy of our love.

  189. As a Church, we recognize that holding that no child should ever be parented singly and no person should ever divorce would heap upon the families of the Church more harm and more pain and more grief than any of us possessing even a widows mite of charity would countenance. Moreover, we also recognize that there is profound GOOD that can come from single parenting and divorce. And yet, we are able to preach both grave concern and profound respect for both endeavors — and no one bats an eye. Why? Because on matters of single parenting and divorce, the Church has discovered a pursuit for perfection can NOT be an enemy of the pursuit of the good. A similar approach to homosexuality would reap mountains of good for the Church, for the kingdom, and for faithful gay latter-day saints.

    Excellently said, Christian–truly excellent.

  190. As an addendum to my comment #106. I pointed out the power of revulsion which might be mistaken for revelation. Here is an interesting link to an article in New Scientist.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528731.800-the-yuck-factor-the-surprising-power-of-disgust.html

  191. Just a paragraph from the article.

    Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, to find that the more “disgustable” you are, the more likely you are to be politically conservative, says Pizarro, who has studied this correlation. Similarly, the more conservative that people are, the harsher their moral judgements become in the presence of disgust stimuli.

  192. Frank Fish says:

    Danny Pratt,

    It is the Mormons’ view of the prophets that is at the heart of this issue and it is one that we are trying to discuss sensibly here.

    James insists that the practice of homosexuality is not consistent with current church teachings. He seems not to be hearing those who are admitting exactly that. It is not an easy thing for a faithful Mormon to find herself at odds with the church. Some charity for that predicament would be welcome.

    Some are suggesting (like Christian), that the church would lose nothing in its pursuit of perfection if it was more tolerant of gays (the way we are “tolerant” — or ought to be — of divorcees and single parents). Others, like Taylor Petrey, find much to acclaim in Mormonism’s ability to adapt. Currently there seems to be no way to bypass the view of exaltation as one of male/female creation/procreation. And yet in Mormon scripture there are examples of non-heterosexual creation: the creation of the world by Elohim, Jehovah and Michael (all male), the creation of Adam by Elohim and Jehovah (male), and the creation of Eve by the same out of a man. So, there is room in Mormon theology to take a radical turn (as was the case under polygamy and civil rights) if the church ever desires to do so. It may not, but Petrey’s degree from Harvard Divinity School gives him the skills to perform such a thought experiment.

    But as I have said again and again, forget all that because everything hinges on the notion of prophetic infallibility. Consider John Taylor’s view of heterosexual monogamy, held up today by the church as the eternal norm:

    “…the one-wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people” (John Taylor, Millennial Star, Vol. 15, p. 227).

    One suspects that James believes Taylor to have been wrong about this, namely that monogamy is a barbarism and a threat to society. I also believe Taylor to have been wrong. So, here is the crux and mark it well:

    Because Taylor (and Young, Pratt, Cannon et al.) were wrong, so it is possible that Hinckley et al. were wrong. We would prefer them always to be right, of course. Life would be easier that way with such superhuman oracles at the helm. But the prophets are not infallible as James himself admits when he says he would need to pray to see if an acceptance of homosexuality by the church was indeed God’s will.

    And so we have a choice to make: are they right today about homosexuality today?

    Let’s be honest here. Our answer to that question depends on a disposition wholly divorced from what prophets have said. If we are inclined to support gay marriage, then one will see the modern prophets as fallible on this issue. If we are inclined to disagree with gay marriage, then we will see the current proclamation as infallible.

    That’s all there is to it, really. Let’s simply admit our own cultural biases. James has non-Mormon reasons to oppose homosexual relationships and so uses Mormon prophets to guilt people into agreement; others have non-Mormon reasons to support homosexual relationships and so use past Mormon prophets to show how they need not always be obediently followed and that we ought therefore not to be unenlightened homophobes. All heat and no light which is why these conversations always degenerate into name-calling.

    Gnōthi seauton.

  193. James L says:

    Frank,

    I thought you were providing a beautiful summary of the issues and thoughts but again you resorted to unfair attacks.

    First, I was hearing what people were saying, but no one was providing an answer to the question I asked. They used insults instead of explanation. I think any fair-minded person who has followed the thread will see that. Your caracature is palpably unfair.

    Second, You also assume that I think that President Taylor was wrong on plural marriage. I don’t. The practice was prohibited, but I do not recall ever hearing or reading any prophet saying the principal was wrong.

    Third, I have no none Mormon reasons for opposing homosexual practice. I think personally that the physical act of intimacy (the insertion of the penis into the orifice out of which faeces comes) to be disgusting, as I do the act of picking one’s nose, but I would leave it to individuals to decide themselves whether to practice either. The problem is that doctrinally the homosexual act, and others like it has been declared unequivocally to be sinful, time and time again, in all ages. I have provided reasoned responses with quotes where necessary to suport that proposition. I don’t seem to have been provided the same courtesy. I don’t have cultural biases on the issue. I have a doctrinal bias, which as of yet has received no good response. I don’t try to use Mormon theology to cause others to change their view through guilt. I am genuinely interested in trying to understand how one can take the unequivocal statements of prophets on the issue, and come to the views expressed by many who posted. Guilt come from knowing the truth, but justifying our behaviour by denying what we know to be true.

    I have called no one names, like swine, full of crap etc etc. that has been the preserve of others: I think those who wish to ignore the prophetic teaching and justify their view on the basis that it might be rewritten. I have given my view of a sinful act, but never the person. Again, it would have been nice to have been afforded the same courtesy.

    In the absence of a clear response, I take the view that the doctrine is clear and truthful, and that there is a very good reason why it, and my repeating of it, has caused anger and promoted name calling. The wicked taketh the truth to be hard say the scriptures, and it seems like that applies here. To override the prophets view with your own is wickedness. Thankfully, at present only the minority within the church do so.

    I think wrong thinking has to be challenged at every opportunity, but never with name calling: That’s no real challenge at all.

  194. Frank Fish says:

    Just this, for now:

    >President Taylor was wrong on plural marriage.

    That’s not the point of the quote. He claims that monogamy is a social evil and a curse. Was he right?

  195. wreddyornot says:

    Some people lead, and some are content to follow.

    The bottom line is that we are to love all of them.

    The fact that a person believes differently than their prophet doesn’t constitute an “override” in any sense of the word. Some say they don’t name call, then seem to go on to call people wicked. Why isn’t that name calling?

    Do your due diligence in every sense within the context of the gospel and prayerfully consider the question and go with it. That’s no different than what I’ve done and many others here have done and are doing. Some want to be part of the change; some don’t.

    When blacks got the priesthood some were three years old and some were thirty years old and had felt differently than the prophet for many many years before that based upon due diligence and prayerful consideration of the question. Did they override the prophet? No.

    I, for one, was for the ERA here in the USA. I still am.

  196. First, one cannot change another’s mind by the argument of facts. Contrary facts only set one’s contrary opinion. This has been proven.

    GA-s have proven themselves wrong an many occasions. Consider the Young Earth hypothesis that most of the Prophets subscribed to until very recently. The problem is that there are no tests of prophetic pronouncements which prove conclusively they are wrong or right. The Young Earth should be counted as one scientific and testable position by which to pass judgement.

    James’ idea that John Taylor was right and all us monogamous people are wrong… We are, therefore, not living the law of heaven and are at risk of loosing our Celestial reward by not living the principle. James should be actively engaged in finding women to be his plural wives.

    I have found the idea of disgust to be a unifying principle. I do not doubt that the leadership feels very strongly about homosexuality. Strongly enough that they feel that revelation has been given. It is so difficult to disambiguate the feelings of disgust from the feelings of moral absolutes that they may easily become revelation. We will have to wait until these people, with the memes of disgust, die before the “revelation” will change.

    Has no one ever had a spurious revelation, one that turned out wrong? Am I the only one?

  197. Frank Fish says:

    And really, you’re calling people here “wicked” and then decry the name-calling. Wow. Just wow. I have seen some arrogant, self-righteous behavior around these parts before, but you are close to being the most egregious, especially given your incredible lack of self-awareness.

    Can you not see how the following is a red flag of contradiction?

    >I have no none Mormon reasons for opposing homosexual practice. I think personally that the physical act of intimacy (the insertion of the penis into the orifice out of which faeces comes) to be disgusting . . .

    If you cannot see how you have shown your true hand, then this isn’t the place for you. Dust your feet and leave the wicked to wallow in their own wickedness. We cannot stand to be near your righteous glow.

  198. “….self-righteous behavior….”

    It is humble of you to include yourself.

    Where is gst when we need him?

  199. James L, I don’t know whether you have an interest in discussing Mormon history rather than general Mormon discussions, but if you do, you are certainly welcome to participate at keepapitchinin.org . No name calling is tolerated there (well, except, maybe, when I sneer at drive-by trolls, and rarely even then).

  200. Living in a non-member family makes me forget things sometimes. As it is Sunday, I went to Church and was quickly reminded that some people are still fighting with evolution. This discussion was no longer as infuriating to me. If we aren’t unified on the absolute basics then I don’t know how much hope there ever is for a Church-wide embrace of our wonderful gay brothers and sisters.

    However, there is still no basis to oppose gay marriage since we do not live in a theocracy, and our own 11th article of faith proclaims that we allow all men the same privilege (free agency) let them worship how, where, or what they may.

  201. EOR:
    Homosexuality is just un anything you can think. Unhealthy, unsafe. Society should not legitimize homosexuality.

  202. Frank Fish says:

    And we still need answers to two important questions:

    1. Can you give examples of prophetic infallibility?
    2. Do you think John Taylor was right to decry monogamy as a social evil?

  203. Chris H. says:

    Frank, you are bossy.

  204. Henry: “Homosexuality is just un anything you can think.”

    Good news guys Henry thinks homosexuality is unobjectionable!

  205. #204: Ooh, time to break out the dictionary.

    undeniable, unforgettable, unbeatable, unblemished, unexpressed, unfading, unquenchable, unrequited, and unfertilized.

  206. FTW, SB2. FTW.

  207. How about un-electro-shock-away-able?

  208. James L says:

    Ardis,

    many thanks. I will migrate for a while.

    Kind regards

  209. James L says:

    Ardis,

    Many thanks. I’ll migrate for a while.

    Kind regards

  210. Aaron B says:

    In my opinion, James L’s comments have afforded the BCC community an opportunity to have a meaningful discussion about these issues, and we’ve mostly blown it (Frank Fish and Kristine’s responses, excepted). I do think that Frank is right to try to steer us back to comment #158, but at the moment I want to react to something he said in #180:

    “2. If you cannot give a meaningful example of such, you believe in prophetic infallibility, which is fine, but not what Mormons claim to believe.”

    Is this really true? Seems to me it doesn’t have to be. It should theoretically be possible for one to believe in fallibility and yet be so ignorant of LDS history that one can’t give any examples of actual fallible statements to illustrate one’s belief. But having said that, I think this statement (#2) is probably going to nevertheless be true in the vast majority of cases. For the simple truth is that it’s very, very easy for Mormons to pay lip service to “fallibility” without really meaning it. And without any concrete examples that come to mind, rejection of infallibility too easily becomes something we mumble quickly, as we get back to the really important business of making absurdly robust claims on the part of our superhuman, invincible Prophets and their prophetic “powers”.

  211. 204-207, priceless!

  212. Chris H. says:

    EOR, looks like you and I blew it. Y’all have fun.

  213. wreddyornot says:

    What do you mean by infallibility? Today our HP’s discussion was on Elder Holland’s “The Laborers in the Vineyard” talk. The written and spoken texts don’t exactly match. Did Elder Holland misspeak or did the transcriber? Does he qualify as a prophet? I find it hard, at least from my perspective, to imagine President Monson always listening when he should, not forgetting to thank somebody worthy of it, or making a hasty judgment of the driving done by his chauffeur. Or are you speaking only of bigger things, like priesthood changes, changes in temple verbiage and practices, changes in texts in the cannon?

  214. Frank Fish says:

    Aaron,

    I think you are right. Most Mormons simply cannot think of a single example of prophetic fallibility other than perhaps Joseph Smith hurting people while wrestling or David O. McKay sipping a Coke. Prophets are always right and must be obeyed. And when they say things like John Taylor above, we have to ignore it and pretend he meant something different. We have brilliantly out papisted the papists.

    And thus we arrive again at the central point: this isn’t about gays, penetration, pearls, swine, anuses, vomit, or slippery slopes. Rather, it is about those who believe prophets are fallible and those who don’t. It’s telling how the LDS Newsroom is wholly on the side of the former (cf. Randy Bott, Mitt Romney). The lip service to fallibility is the external discourse of the church; the de facto claim to infallibility is the internal discourse.

  215. Agree with Aaron B and Frank’s 214. For all our hymns and primary songs, it sounds like we don’t have a clear understanding among ourselves as lay members as to what prophets do and how they do it. That they are wrong sometimes is indisputable to anyone who’s done a bit of reading (even if you stick to scripture). But there are those who would (and have) called for the temple recommends of anyone who thinks the prophet might be wrong in this instance, right now. Such a hardline stance seems to ignore history and misinterpret the role of prophetic leadership.

    I know this has mostly been said above, but wanted to support the above comments.

  216. Aaron B says:

    It’s also important, though, to recognize that a true embrace of prophetic fallibility (as opposed to the fake embrace most of us are accustomed to) doesn’t provide us with complete license to jettison any and all prophetic claims we happen not to like. A rejection of prophetic infallibility can quickly become a rejection of prophetic counsel period, unless such counsel happens to accord with our prior personal opinions and commitments (in which case what we’re doing doesn’t really count as “heeding the prophets” at all). I suspect this is what James L thinks most are doing here, and some participants haven’t given him reason to think otherwise, frankly.

    Given the realities of prophetic fallibility, in the end we’re left to consulting our own spiritual impressions in order to evaluate prophetic counsel, and these impressions may or may not accord with what the Prophets have taught. Once you take seriously the possibility of receiving a “true” spiritual impression that runs against what Prophets are teaching, the question arises as to what the point of having prophets even is. Isn’t the whole point of Mormonism to have modern-day prophets that can settle controversial questions definitively and accurately? To suggest that prophets don’t really necessarily perform this task as advertised seems to pull the rug out from under the whole raison d’etre of Mormonism for many. So better not to even go exploring down those roads (goes the thinking).

  217. Aaron Brown says:

    Nevertheless, the roads need to be explored. They just do. If LDS Churchmembers really feel the need to belong to a Church whose leadership is entitled to a presumption of inerrancy in their pronouncements, they ought to either (a) look elsewhere, or (b) found a church of their own and see if they can make claims on behalf of their new leadership that will convince 3rd parties. Cuz The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just ain’t the vehicle for this project. Maybe if we could create a time machine and, say, go back and prevent the perpetuation of (public and private) teachings on the Godhead for several decades that are wholly inconsistent with modern LDS theology and can’t be fit into a plausible narrative of divinely-led “doctrinal progress” (to cite just one example), things would be different. But we can’t, so they aren’t. Boo-hoo-hoo.

  218. James L did plenty to set himself up for contempt so I will not boohoo for him nor be guilted by others on his behalf. I answered his questions plenty, he just didn’t like my answers.

    Other people are welcome to feel however they like about Prophetic fallability, but my experience is based on two things; history, and the fact that they are human beings. I will not worship them, I will not place them on a pedestal, I will not eat them with Green Eggs and Ham. I can sustain without blind obedience. Prophetic counsel has its place–as counsel. I am no longer Catholic and thereby no longer need a go-between to God excepting Christ. I’ve said enough Hail Mary’s and kissed enough rings, and I won’t do it anymore, even metaphorically.

  219. MikeInWeHo says:

    Re: 215
    I think you nail it, Kyle M. There is major internal tension on the issue of the fallibility of the contemporary church and its leadership. The Newsroom and PR reps say one thing and liberal-leaning members latch onto these statements, but the overall message (even in official discourse) strongly implies the opposite.

    http://www.lds.org/churchmusic/detailmusicPlayer/index.html?searchlanguage=1&searchcollection=2&searchseqstart=110&searchsubseqstart=%20&searchseqend=110&searchsubseqend=ZZZ

  220. There have been more than a few comments along the lines of: “realizing that we are a large church body and change takes time.” and
    ” Once you take seriously the possibility of receiving a “true” spiritual impression that runs against what Prophets are teaching, the question arises as to what the point of having prophets even is. Isn’t the whole point of Mormonism to have modern-day prophets that can settle controversial questions definitively and accurately? To suggest that prophets don’t really necessarily perform this task as advertised seems to pull the rug out from under the whole raison d’etre of Mormonism for many.” and
    “When I was in high school, the Brethren labelled me and my kind “abominations” and we were excommunicated for even acknowledging our desires. A couple years before I entered BYU, they were still administering electro-shock therapy to gay men at the Y. In college, the jump was made to “gender confused” … and now the Brethren acknowledge that it’s in-born. We’ve gone from pariahs to beloved members of our wards and stakes. The feelings of my heart are no longer considered a sin second only to murder. The Brethren are moving on this and still moving — I wouldn’t hang your hat on this issue suddenly becoming static.”

    My point: I (and I suppose most of us over the age of 40, or so) have long been taught to “follow the prophet” and that having a living prophet gives the church a unique (AND DIRECT) conduit to truth and right. So, God is leading us through modern-day “prophets, seers, and revelators’ (as we sustain the top 15 GAs to be twice a year). Then why is that we Mormons (formally, in edicts from SLC) are always so late in coming to believe and teach various social justice (and other) TRUTHS? For examples: evolution, racism, birth control, sexism, monogamy, and such. There are many arguments, or points made, in comments above (such as those I copied here) that the church leadership is coming around, it just takes time. I have heard that so many times during my life. If they are in contact with God why didn’t he tell Brigham Young (and his contemporaries) to knock off all the demeaning racist comments? Was it less wrong then than now?

    My most generous conclusion: God is silent and allows our leaders to lead us in the ways they choose. We are (supposedly) not like a Moose Lodge, social club, or any other democracy that bows to its members’ prejudices, bigotries, or wrong-headed traditionalism. That is done so as not to upset the membership with too much TRUTH. But, the evidence (over these many years) is that we really are (like a democracy). Is the church so slow to change because the “brethren” are simply really old and out of touch (on some key issues) with where (many of) the members have evolved to. Think about it. How many years ago were members of the 70, let along the Apostles, serving in wards and participating in debates on such issues in priesthood class. Thus, it takes so very long for them to get the message that they are woefully behind the times.

    If God isn’t going to let them know they are wrong, where are they going to hear it? And, before the Apostacy arrows come out. I assume we can define changing from polygamy to monogamy; from strict creationists to passable evolutionists; from paternalism to something approaching egalitarianism for women, from treating black men as second-class to equals; as examples of having been wrong before they were right.

  221. Very thoughtful, Russell. Thanks for sharing.

    My own evolution on the process has been so subtle and sneaky that I would have a hard time nailing down the influencing factors. I do think it’s interesting that having daughters is the largest factor in your shift, because I’ve had a number of people tsk-tsk me for my current views by saying, “You’ll understand once you have kids of your own.” Thanks for the counter example. :)

  222. Latter-day Guy says:

    I don’t know if you’re still reading, James, but––as promised––here’s my take.

    LDS Church leaders, over many years, have made statements about homosexuality. These statements make different claims and fall into different categories: statements about the moral/ethical nature of homosexual behavior; statements about the causes of homosexual attraction; statements about how homosexual attraction or feelings can be cured, eradicated, suppressed; etc. You will notice that some of these claims are objectively verifiable––that is to say, the truth claims of certain statements can be evaluated by processes other than personal and subjective means (like how you feel when you pray about something). Where they have made claims about the etiology of same-sex attraction (that is, what causes such attraction), such claims can be investigated empirically to determine if they are correct. Where they have made claims about how homosexual attraction can be resolved or eliminated, such claims can be similarly tested to see if following their advice does in fact resolve or eliminate such attraction. Other claims––regarding the moral/ethical acceptability of homosexual behavior, or the role/nature of sexuality in post-mortal settings, etc.––cannot be similarly tested. These would be matters of faith, accepted due to either personal conviction regarding the claims themselves or beliefs about those who make such claims.

    Fair enough so far?

    Now we get to the point: All the claims made by church leaders that have purported to explain the origins of homosexuality and how it could be eliminated––empirically testable claims––have proven to be false.

    So, Spencer W. Kimball was incorrect when he (in his role as an apostle) counseled gay people to just get married, promising them that their homosexual attractions would thereby be resolved. The result of following this “inspired” counsel was a lot of ugly divorces. And there were usually children around who were hit with the shrapnel of exploding marriages that would most likely have never been attempted, had it not been for leaders like Elder Kimball telling vulnerable souls that this was the will of God for them. He was wrong. His arguments were wishful thinking. His promises were fantasy.

    Boyd K. Packer was also wrong when he taught (in his role as an apostle) that homosexuality was caused by selfishness, and promised that if gay people would simply be unselfish, they would be “cured routinely.” That “inspired” counsel was published in pamphlet form as To the One, and it was the Church’s official word on the subject for decades. Sadly, it was quite incorrect, both in its claims about the causes of homosexuality (at the very least, we know it is far more complex than a matter of petty selfishness––most likely including significant, even determinative, biological elements), and in its prophecy that we would be “curing” gay people “routinely.” Nevertheless, many people suffered––told that this was the will of God, revealed through His servant, with the imprimatur of His Church––no doubt wondering why their concerted efforts at selfless behavior were not making them less gay. He was wrong. His arguments were wishful thinking. His promises were fantasy.

    I could go on, but I think you get the picture. (For more examples, see the essay The Etiology of Homosexuality from Authoritative Latter-day Saint Perspectives, 1879-2006.)

    Now, this does not, of course, prove that the Church is wrong in their claims to represent the will of God regarding the moral and ethical nature of homosexuality. Nevertheless, their record is not exactly confidence inspiring: on every statement that can be evaluated against fact, they have been simply, plainly (and, for some, lethally) wrong. The history of Church statements on the matter has been a long, slow retreat away from any position that could be checked against fact. The current line is essentially, “We don’t know what causes it (even though we used to say we knew––and we said all kinds of nutty things like that in the past), we don’t know how to fix it (in spite of a loooooong record of unfulfilled promises we’ve made about it), but we know it’s wrong. And we know that we’re not wrong in saying it is wrong, because we’re right. And we know we’re right about our being right. Because we’re right. Even though we told you we were right about loads of stuff that has turned out to be wrong. And–––boy howdy––was that stuff all wrong! But we’re not wrong now. Not about this part. Because we’re right. And we’re not wrong about being right. Alright?”

    But how could this be? How could their earlier “inspired” counsel be so faulty?

    The possibilities are limited: either they 1) were not actually inspired in the matter, or 2) God did inspire them, but God lied. Given that the brethren are not infallible––a fact you are at least willing to articulate, even though everything else you have said here screams that you don’t actually believe it––I think that option 1 is the less distressing of the two, but suit yourself.

    Now, Church history provides a similar case at the nexus of doctrine and policy that might be instructive. At some point, most likely after the death of Joseph and Hyrum, the priesthood began to be denied to those of African descent. (Let’s ignore the fact that all humans are technically of African descent for right now; that’s an argument for another day.) Exactly how this happened is not entirely clear. We do know that Joseph did allow for the ordination of black males, and we have no record of Joseph disallowing the practice, so it seems likely that it was either an innovation of Brigham Young, or it was an innovation that originated elsewhere but received his support, and thus became normative Church-wide. However it happened, practices need justification. (And we are here getting into the territory of hypothesis, but it seems the most compelling explanation.) So how could early Mormonism justify denying the priesthood to black men? It seems to terribly unjust. But God is not unjust. Thus––the reasoning went––they must deserve this “curse.” From there it was not much of a stretch to arrive at the notion of pre-mortally less-valiant spirits coming to earth in bodies with dark skin––skin that, independent of LDS doctrine, put them at a significant disadvantage in the western culture of the day. This idea didn’t grow in a cultural vacuum, and seems to have been closely related to notions of the curse of Cain passed through the descendants of Ham by Egyptus which were present in broader Christianity––notions that were ever so useful in justifying practices like slavery. Take special notice, though, of the way these justifications worked: they accepted the status quo (in this case, slavery or the priesthood ban) and went backward from there; they did not start with racial equality and decide that God or the scriptures demanded they abandon it.

    In lifting the priesthood ban, a number of things happened. Slavery ended, and with it (though not immediately) certain scriptural justifications were jettisoned. The Civil Rights movement gathered steam and the culture of the United States continued to shift in the direction of valuing equality and de-legitimizing (if that’s a word) racism. (The Church, being a conservative institution resisted this trend; Church leaders made various statements during this period that are quite embarrassing to modern Mormons. Church leaders may be inspired, but they are manifestly fallible products of their culture.) Finally, there were shifts within the Church. This was a largely bottom-up process. Members became less and less comfortable with racist doctrines; scholars started to question the doctrinal and scriptural underpinnings of such attitudes, and began to find that their justifications were not nearly so compelling as they had seemed to previous generations. Edward Kimball has suggested that Lester Bush’s article, Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine, was a particularly important paper to his father and was a significant factor in getting Spencer Kimball to reconsider the matter of the priesthood ban.

    The rest of the story is no doubt familiar.

    I believe that any shift in our understanding of homosexuality will take place in much the same way. Public opinion will adapt as straight people actually get to know gay people and thereby make the shocking discovery that gay people are, in fact, just people. This is already taking place. The dreadful and slanderous kinds of statements that were de rigeur (and considered inspired) only decades ago, are now becoming accurately understood as dreadful and slanderous. Contrary to what we were popularly taught (often inside the Church), gay people don’t recruit. They aren’t out to convert your kids. (I hope I don’t need to comment on the irony of that statement coming from members of a church with tens of thousands of full-time missionaries.) Contrary to what the Church published in the 1970′s in “New Horizons for Homosexuals” (a nasty piece of work, written by S.W. Kimball)––that gay people would simply abandon their partners when they “could no longer satisfy sexually,” that homosexual relationships were inherently and totally exploitative––the AIDS crisis stands as a compelling testament that love is love, and commitment is commitment, and that gay relationships are no less based on love and commitment than straight ones. The native revulsion heterosexual people feel at the thought of homosexual intimacy (a revulsion you have copped to explicitly here; see comment #193) will no longer be used to justify intolerable doctrinal positions. The biases Mormons continue to bring to the scriptures will be re-evaluated through responsible scholarship. (See more below!) Positions that seemed justified, self-evident, and unassailable will be revealed as simple prejudice parading in the robes of prophecy. (Take, for example, the rhetorical question President Packer had excised from his GC talk in Oct 2010: “Why would Heavenly Father do that?” by which he actually meant “Heavenly Father wouldn’t do that.” The implication being that making some people naturally gay would be unjust if he was going to condemn homosexuality and not also provide some means to turn the gay people straight. Of course, it would be unjust to do that. Quite as unjust as making people dark skinned and so denying them the priesthood, if they hadn’t done something bad in the pre-mortal realm to deserve such a curse.) And we will learn to forgive and repent of the bigotry of our recent past, as we continue to learn to forgive and repent of the racism of our more distant past.

    But what of scripture’s condemnation of the practice (and ancient scripture is largely responsible for the Church’s current position; but feel free to call me when a new section is added to the D&C on the subject)? That claim is problematic. First, none of Mormonism’s unique contributions to the canon mention homosexuality. The statements in the standard works are confined to the Bible. There are statements in Leviticus that address the issue, but portions lifted out of the Holiness Code (usually without making even an attempt at considering context) are not compelling support to your position. Indeed, including them would actually be a liability––it would make any of your other scriptural claims suspect, as it is fairly damning evidence that certain false assumptions with regard to holy writ remain disturbingly intact (“Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone,” as Wilde said).

    The other Biblical argument comes from the Pauline corpus, and here you would be on somewhat firmer ground (just as quicksand is firmer than water). I will happily concede the point that Paul was not a fan of same-sex intimacy. Of course, Paul doesn’t seem to have been much of a fan of physical intimacy at all. His letters make it evident that he anticipated the parousia very soon, and so thought it would be best if single people would just remain single; reasonably, he didn’t demand that married folk run out and get divorced. He clearly thought celibacy was the best option for everyone, though, and seemed to only allow marriage as a concession to mankind’s weakness. He also taught that women ought to remain silent in church meetings and should keep their heads covered. Does any of that sound even remotely applicable to Mormon theology? A theology that requires marriage as a prerequisite to the fullest form of salvation? A theology through which Elder Holland described sex, not as a possibly justifiable unpleasantness, but as a sacrament?

    Further, there are significant reasons to doubt that the Bible actually says anything about homosexuality per se. Neither Paul nor Leviticus are unambiguously applicable to homosexuality (as opposed to same-sex behavior) because neither the term nor the concept existed in the cultures in which the Bible developed. Just as Bible doesn’t talk about television, because biblical authors weren’t aware of such a thing, there are scholars who would argue (perhaps convincingly) that the same is true of homosexuality. Some of these scholars have written books. I hope you might consider reading one or two of them before you dismiss their ideas sight unseen.

    Even more fundamentally, there are very serious causes to doubt that the Bible can be accepted uncritically as a guide to moral or ethical behavior. I mentioned slavery in comment #149––a point you have not yet seen fit to address, as it happens. Both the Old and New Testaments accept the practice. Biblical authors seem to have felt it was morally justifiable. Do you feel the same? Can you demonstrate a biblical example that unambiguously condemns slavery? (Hint: no, you can’t.) Do you, then, favor private ownership of human beings? You have said, “[V]iews and norms change, and if we do not follow suit then [are we] lacking enlightenment?” Sometimes, yes. Clearly.

    In summary, such arguments from scripture cannot simply be accepted at face value. Holy writ does not come down pure as snow. It comes to imperfect people, people who are influenced by their culture and experience. I think any valid approach to scripture must to take this into account. That is, I think, how one should decide how to apply scripture: context and honest, careful exegesis––not knee-jerk credulity.

    Similarly, no living prophet receives revelation that is unfiltered by human experience. (This ought to be obvious, as, presumably, the same general conditions that apply to prophecy received by dead prophets applies to prophecy received by live ones.) No General Authority lives in a vacuum, and none of them are infallible. Still, the writings of living prophets are different in at least one way from other scripture: they have not yet been canonized. They have not passed the test of time, nor received the imprimatur of the body of the Church through the Law of Common Consent. Such writings may be scripture, but they are not yet Scripture. Plenty of modern scripture has been simply abandoned and disavowed. (Search the Journal of Discourses for information on the nature of Adam, and the meaning of ‘Blood Atonement.’ You may find it an instructive experience.) The Proclamation on the Family is not yet Scripture in the second sense, and may never be canonized. (Of course, even if it is, that doesn’t make it permanently Scripture. Things have been removed from the canon as well, like the Lectures on Faith, or an earlier section of the D&C that condemned polygamy––canonized after Joseph Smith had begun to practice polygamy.)

    Well, James, I have no idea if you’ll read this or if I’m just talking into the æther. Nevertheless, you have accused some here of “cherry picking” (comment #54), you’ve maintained that those who disagree with you “want to abandon a belief in prophetic leadership.” Of course, you’re quite wrong; and I’m not sure if I should attribute it to misreading or maliciousness on your part. You asked, “Was Hinckley wrong because what he said was 14 years ago? … Take Hinckley’s words and counter them, but [not with] an appeal to worldly logic.” I have no idea why the statement’s having being made 14 years ago would be relevant. President Hinckley wasn’t wrong because of when he said those words. The statement is wrong because it is wrong. And there is no such thing as “worldly logic.” There is only logic. Use it or don’t. You have complained that others haven’t been responding to your points, and then you conveniently sidestep difficult questions (e.g.: Frank Fish’s comments, or my #149). You have repeatedly complained about being insulted and picked on, and then you turned around and used words like “bugger,” and referred to those who disagree with you as “the wicked.” I don’t know if you’ll be back, but for this thread at least, I’ll be happy to be put out of your misery.

    ……………

    On the matter of civil same-sex marriage, per the OP, I think that a C.S. Lewis quote might be applicable:

    Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question––how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the [Muslims] tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not.

  223. Aaron Brown says:

    Awesome comment, LDG. A real keeper.

  224. “The possibilities are limited: either they 1) were not actually inspired in the matter, or 2) God did inspire them, but God lied.”

    It’s a great comment. I only want to point out here that there are more than these two possibilities. It may be that God inspired them but they were to some greater or lesser extent blocked personally in their ability to receive the whole enchilada. Thus the importance of always taking a more or less tentative stance, pending further light and knowledge. All people are, but of course we more so are, inclined to want to swallow whole or toss entirely out. We are not good at taking tentative stances, although intellectual and spiritual good faith require it.

    I’d add that there have been times in my life when I have received a personal revelation that left me in a position where I was still fundamentally wrong on an issue, only less wrong than I had been before. This has been, I think, a matter of my being closed to receiving more light than what I got. (A state that impossible to overcome in a minute.) I have more than once proceeded on partial information, sure of my course because I thought I’d got all the information I needed, and only after crashing and burning finding myself open to further light and knowledge.

  225. LdG, you are fantastic.

    Thomas, thank you for this: “I’d add that there have been times in my life when I have received a personal revelation that left me in a position where I was still fundamentally wrong on an issue, only less wrong than I had been before.” I’ve certainly been there. (and am there on a great many other things, I’m sure)

    Interesting that two comments that struggle in the mire of our human falibility and the ever-elusive grasp on Truth can feel so inspiring and warming to me. But both your comments recalled in me tender moments of clarity amid the dark glass. Thank you for the rekindling.

  226. Latter-day Guy says:

    Yes, Thomas. Thank you, you’re quite right. One can partially (or completely) misunderstand revelation. That is a perfectly valid possibility, and I should have included it.

  227. L-d G,
    Your explication of the problem is exactly right. A great comment. I would like to see you and James engage with it; I know him and he’s a good bloke. There is so much at stake here with how we see the church and the world that it is no wonder we all get sensitive about it.

  228. James L says:

    LDG,

    You sent me the response above via email and I have responded to it. For the record let me repeat it here:

    Now that is what I was after. A clear, well reasoned argument on the point. I’m not sure I agree with it all, but it does raise some very serious issues that I will thoroughly examine. I have had all sorts of paradigm shifts in my short life, and as I said in my posts, I genuinely want to understand. 

    I will now need to look at all of the issues individually and in the round.

    Thank you for taking the time to respond so fully.

  229. James L says:

    Thomas, beautifully put. We all have preconceived ideas based on nothing more than a sketchy understanding or personal desires for the ideas to be either right or wrong. The way to eliminate them or confirm them, in my view, is through non-emotive, rational, reasoned argument that we can consider and take to God (if we so believe). My concern has been, and is, what we do in the interim as Latter-Day Saints. We believe in prophetic leadership and ideas such as absolute truth (God lives, the church is the only church upon the earth with which the Lord is pleased, Joseph Smith was a prophet etc). Are we then to treat everything that a prophet says as only being worthy of belief if it suits our own desires or opinions? It seems to me that much of what we do and think in life is based upon what we want to do rather than ought to do. This is certainly true for me. If we treat everything that the prophets say as fallible and inherently untrustworthy, where does that leave us? Are the prophets conduits who speak for and on behalf of the God, or are they simply men with opinions some of which are taken from scripture but always intrustworthy? When my children ask: Dad, can we trust the words of the prophets, what do I say? Dad, is promiscuity really wrong? Well it depends, the scriptures and teachings on the point are clear: it is sin. But prophets have been wrong before on other matters, they could be wrong again, and there may be further light and knowledge on the issue. So in the interim, do what you feel you want to. If prophets are entirely fallible, then Joseph Smith might well have been hallucinating when he claimed to have seen God. Remove confidence in prophets, and the church is just another organisation. I am genuinely interested in how you solve this dilemma without simply cherry picking what we accept as doctrine to be followed and to which we ought to align our thoughts.

  230. James, those are important questions. I suspect you might already have answers to some of them, however. I can’t imagine you ever simply telling your kids “because the church says so” as an answer to the question “is promiscuity really wrong?” Our moral views are a web of different influences. Our religious tradition urges us to take chastity seriously and through reasoned observation, our intelligence suggests that sexuality is something to be controlled. In that dialogue of faith and reason, we make our moral decisions. I won’t claim that to be wholly satisfying, but it’s all I’ve got.

  231. James,

    If we treat everything that the prophets say as fallible and inherently untrustworthy, where does that leave us? Are the prophets conduits who speak for and on behalf of the God, or are they simply men with opinions some of which are taken from scripture but always intrustworthy? When my children ask: Dad, can we trust the words of the prophets, what do I say? Dad, is promiscuity really wrong? Well it depends, the scriptures and teachings on the point are clear: it is sin. But prophets have been wrong before on other matters, they could be wrong again, and there may be further light and knowledge on the issue. So in the interim, do what you feel you want to.

    This is a backtrack which takes us away from the very interesting and important direction which this thread has moved in (and my kudos to James, Frank Fish, Latter-day Guy, Cynthia, and others who have carried the argument there), but I just wanted to remind you (and all other readers) of my comments from above (#75 and #131, specifically): the original post had nothing to do with apologizing for promiscuity, nor with debating the ultimate moral standing of homosexuality within the doctrine of the church. It had to do with my own personal thinking about the legal recognition of same-sex marriages–that is all. And, to my knowledge, aside from California in 2008 and a few other select occurrences in different times and places, opposition to the legal recognition of same-sex marriages has not been articulated as a clear issue of prophetic obedience binding upon members of the church (and arguably it wasn’t even in the aforementioned cases either).

  232. James, I will take your fictitious dilemma more seriously when you (and other members who think as you do) rally to take away the rights of promiscuous heterosexuals to marry as well. Then at least you can claim continuity, even if it is ridiculous.

  233. James L says:

    EOR, I would expect nothing less from you. I wait for, what I expect will be a thoughtful, reasoned response from LDG about the ‘infallibility’ dilemma. For the avoidance of doubt though, I think I have tried to make my view about the right to marry pretty clear, but for the sake of clarity, I do not think that there are sound reasons for denying, civically, the right of same-sex couples to marry or anyone else for that matter. I have tried to approach what I think is the bigger, and for latter-day saints, the more relevant theological issue of whether homosexuality is something other than sin, and as some appear to advocate, will continue in the eternities. On current doctrine, the practice of homosexuality is sin. Promiscuous heterosexuals marrying is not. Promiscuity within marriage (or outside of it), is sin.

    Russell described homosexuality as an ‘aberration’. I agree. I think that on current teachings, the resurrection will take away all ailments, or toput it in a way that may be more pleasing- aberrations. You seem not to be prepared or able to deal with that point with the kind of clarity and courtesy afforded by LDG.

    What I believe is that a view that suggests homosexuality will be an eternal aspect of a person’s character or make-up, is completely unsupported by any or any credible argument, and very much at odds with current doctrine. I also happen to believe that the resurrection will take away disability and baldness, both of which I believe are aberrations, albeit naturally occurring for which the individual should not be held at fault. I hope that no one will be eternally disabled. I hope that baldness will be remedied. I also hope that those who have been caused or permitted to have powerful, sexual feelings toward those of the same sex will have such feelings/desires removed and replaced in the hereafter. I do not think that one should seek to desire to have any aberration for eternity, no matter how comfortable or natural it might feel to the person so affected by it now.

  234. EOR,

    It is not worth it.

    All the best,
    Chris H.

  235. Antonio Parr says:

    I am late in this discussion, and have not been able to read the enitre, voluminous dialouge that precedes this post (although I have read much of it). If my comment is redundant, apologies.

    The perpetuation of humanity is dependent upon heterosexual unions. A loving, committed, homosexual couple will never be able to create a child, no matter how many times they engage in sexual relations. In that sense, homosexual marriages are not indistinguishable from heterosexual marriages.

    In light of the potential that heterosexual couples carry for creating tomorrow’s society through their unions, doesn’t a government have an interest in providng special recogniztion for opposite sex marriages? It seems to me that affording civil union status to homosexual couples takes care of the most compelling civil rights arguments, and preserving a special status for heterosexual couples allows for the recognition of the life-bearing potential of such unions.

  236. You lack so much self-awareness that if your views weren’t so painful to so many they would be laughable. You see no hypocrisy on your part by claiming that you are essentially being persecuted and insulted after all of the revolting things that you have said? Really?

    Here is the truth; I do not, nor you, nor any other human being living on this Earth knows what will happen in the eternities. Mormons are famous for mis-using and abusing the notion of “knowing” something–well, they don’t! I don’t have the answers, and never claimed I did, but my default is charity, instead of judgment. Perhaps baldness, or Multiple Sclerosis will carry over into the eternities, I don’t know. However bald people, and those with MS aren’t “vile, disgusting, sinners” now are they? The default offered to them is Charity. Why are homosexuals afforded anything different? Because YOU don’t like it? You have already admitted that even if (by your standards) the infallible Prophet were to announce that homosexual unions would be sealed in the Temple you would need to “take it to the Lord”. Therefore, the Prophets are infallible except when they disagree with your existing prejudices. That is a slippery slippery position to hold. I simply hold that ALL human beings are fallible and in the absence of confirmation stick to my gut and the admonishment to love my neighbors as MYSELF. I don’t want people telling me how I conduct my life when I am not hurting other people, so I will not do it to anyone else.

  237. [admin] says:

    [come on people, this isn't Jr. High.]

  238. James L says:

    EOR, I don’t think that baldness or the other disabilities have ever been described as sin. The practice of homosexuality has. I don’t personally judge anyone, but I do hold with the present expressions of the prophets, naive lad that I am. Charity does not require a person to revile or disagree with prophets doctrinal expressions, unless again you can point to something that suggests it should. It seems to me, if I am permitted to hold an opinion, that there are those who want to rewrite current doctrine to fit with what they want. It seems you want latter day saints to change their views to a position against doctrine. It is for you to justify why.

  239. M Dearest says:

    Thanks RAF for making me feel less like the invisible woman, with this in #231:

    I just wanted to remind you (and all other readers) of my comments from above (#75 and #131, specifically): the original post had nothing to do with apologizing for promiscuity, nor with debating the ultimate moral standing of homosexuality within the doctrine of the church. It had to do with my own personal thinking about the legal recognition of same-sex marriages–that is all. And, to my knowledge, aside from California in 2008 and a few other select occurrences in different times and places, opposition to the legal recognition of same-sex marriages has not been articulated as a clear issue of prophetic obedience binding upon members of the church (and arguably it wasn’t even in the aforementioned cases either).

  240. opposition to the legal recognition of same-sex marriages has not been articulated as a clear issue of prophetic obedience

    Doesn’t that go without saying?

    Church members should oppose same sex marriage.

  241. #235 – Antonio, I understand and respect that position – as long as you are willing to apply it to all marriages, including those heterosxeuxal marriages that involve the inability to create children. If you are willing to rescind speical privilege in cases of heterosexual infertility, that argument is reasonable, whether or not I agree with it (and I don’t, just for the record). If not, that argument illustrates Russell’s point in the OP perfectly.

    James, I also was planning on talkikng with you privately via e-mail, but I think the latest comments make that avenue less important than a simple statement here:

    We don’t attempt to force others to give up their sins through legislation in cases of great importance to us. We don’t attempt to legislate marriage for all, for example – even though we hold that marriage is central to the Plan of Salvation. We passionately support and sustain our Article of Faith that says we claim the privilege to worship God according to the dictates of our own consciences, and we generally support the rest of that Article of Faith that says we allow all (people) everywhere the same privilege. My concern from a legal standpoint is when we allow our disgust for something to limit our ability to live up to the principles that underlie our support of that Article of Faith – especially when we push for legislation that includes double standards.

    You’ve said now that you don’t want to talk about the legal issue but, instead, want to focus on the doctrinal issue. I respect that – but that wasn’t the point of Russell’s post, and I usually try to respect an author’s intent in writing a post. Thus, I have tried to stay away from turning this discussion into one of doctrine. If you want to see what I perceive to be the central issue with our current treatment of homosexuals from a non-legal perspective, read the following post from my personal blog and comment on it – so we can continue our conversation there:

    “Homosexuality and the Most Baisc Double Standard” (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2011/11/homosexuality-and-most-basic-double.html)

  242. M Dearest says:

    I think RAF is correct in stating that the opposition to same sex marriage is not binding upon church members, in perhaps the same way that chastity is. In other words, if I want to be a good latter-day saint, I must meet the standard of chastity, but it is also possible to vote in favor of same sex marriage and remain a good-latter-day saint. Too bad that most of the comments have so thoroughly explored the chastity issue, which is not in question in this post, and the voting booth issue remains poorly examined.

  243. Antonio Parr says:

    Ray: Your approach would be too burdensome from an administrative point of view. Most couples don’t find out about their infertility until years after a marriage, and it would make no sense to have such a couple re-register their status. (Besides, there are many stories of couples who try for years and years to have children, unsuccessfully, but who then have the wonderful suprise of finding they were pregnant when they thought that all hope was lost.)

    There is no such confusion with homosexual couples, as all such couplings are infertile.

  244. Henry (#240)

    [me:]opposition to the legal recognition of same-sex marriages has not been articulated as a clear issue of prophetic obedience

    [you:]Doesn’t that go without saying?

    Not to be unnecessarily Clintonesque here, but I really must insist: that depends on what “that” in your response means. If it means, as you go on to say, “church members should oppose same sex marriage,” then I agree that’s a pretty obvious expectation held by the majority of both the leaders and the rank-and-file of the American church. I’ve admitted straightforwardly in this thread, as have more than a few others, that those of us who (in my case, now) believe that there aren’t any good reasons for opposing same-sex marriage are not in harmony with the dominant understandings or the presumed expectations of American Mormonism. I’m comfortable with that. (I’d better be, considering how many ways, as I alluded in the original post, I’m already off the reservation theologically anyway.) But if, however, your “that” means something like “of course opposing the legal recognition of same-sex marriages have been articulated as a clear issue of prophetic obedience in the church!,” then I’m going to say you’re just plain wrong. I’ve never heard that spoken over the pulpit in any state I’ve lived in (not even in Arkansas back in 2004, when I cast my one vote in opposition to recognizing such marriages), and I’ve never heard it in a temple recommend interview. Now sure, maybe bishops across the church are thinking “agreeing with the president of the church in opposing the legal recognition of same-sex marriages” when they ask us if we sustain Thomas S. Monson as a prophet…but maybe they aren’t, and in any case, I can’t know that, can I? That’s why I said a “clear issue of prophetic obedience,” not an assumption of such.

  245. #243 – “your approach” – ???

    That wasn’t my approach. I said quite clearly I could understand and respect that position, even though I said I don’t accept or agree with it.

    You said you can’t accept it either, and I’m saying the fact that you can’t accept it invalidates your original stance in my mind. It applies a double standard simply because employing a consistent standard would be difficult. Legally, I can’t accept that – at all. If heterosexual citizens can be married and remain married despite being infertile, homosexual citizens shouldn’t be denied marriage based on their infertility.

    Equality under the law is important to me, so any restriction on homsexual marriage I would support would have to be applicable to heterosexual marriages that reflect the basis of the restriction. Infertility doesn’t fit that requirement.

  246. Relative to Russell’s post:

    If a heterosexual couple married but never engaged in sexual activity that would be seen as inappropriate for a non-married couple, if they were completely “chaste” in their relationship, would anyone deny their right to marry? What if the couple was homosexual – would they be totally “chaste” and living in accordance with the Law of Chastity if their actions were **exactly** the same as the heterosexual couple? If not, why not?

    Why would “doctrine” have to be changed to allow any two people to live the Law of Chastity by acting in the exact same way as any other two people?

    Answer: I believe it is because we conflate sexual activity with intimacy – and, in doing so, start prohibiting non-sexual intimacy in cases where we see that intimacy as icky / yucky. That’s not doctrinal; it’s cultural.

  247. I stand/sit/recline corrected. Someone — LDG — was willing to take the time.

  248. James L says:

    With the exception of the obvious few, it seems as though the current views expressed herein boil down to this: Love the sinner (but never, ever call him or her a sinner); and either love the sin and equate it with the ideal, or if you cannot bring yourself to do that, never ever describe the sin as sin. Certainly don’t hate it, because those who describe it as sin have been wrong before and you may find yourself ultimately on the wrong side of the curve. Also be prepared, for those who cannot accept that sin is sin will bash you with either insults if you dare to adopt a prophetic description of sin, or with a warped interpretation of what it means to show charity. I am frankly surprised that the Saviour had the audacity to suggest to anyone that they ought to go and sin no more. How dare he? How dare anyone have the audacity to believe the words of living prophets when they call a particular act a sin. Sshhh, don’t voice an opinion: those who seek tolerance are coming and they don’t like other’s opinions (unless they happen to concur completely, or at least broadly with theirs). They get very, very angry.

  249. #235: Antonio … reproduction is not the only reason to marry. And reproduction isn’t the only way of furthering the species.

    Marriage is a way of ordering society, and it does so in a number of ways: it collapses the number moving parts, which saves administrative overhead; it formalizes sexual pairing; when pervasive, it lessons the influence of single sex actors; it lessons the spread of STIs; it encourages “deeper roots and taller branches” — short-term stability and more lofty long-term plans; and it’s a healthier environment for the rearing of children — all of these transfer to without penalty to same sex unions ( you don’t need to be married to make children — everything else requires marriage ).

    Same sex unions further the species through adoption and fostering of children and through the formalization of sexual pairing, which lessons the spread of STIs and decreases the likelihood of infidelity.

  250. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the number of comments the OP has generated, but my goodness! After reading as many as I could before drifting off to sleep, I found myself asking the following hypothetical question: Suppose I believe X to be the correct course of action and suppose further that X is actually the correct course of action. Suppose the prophet believes and teaches that Y (not equal to X) is the correct course of action. Let’s assume that later prophets recognize X to the be correct course and disavow Y. Where would God rather I be? Following X because I believed it was right (and it was!) or following Y because that’s part of sustaining my leaders? (If you want, you can assume I was able to articulate my thoughts about X vs. Y to the prophet, because I think part of sustaining our leaders is telling them, charitably, when we think they’re wrong.) Which is the higher law? Obedience is better than sacrifice but is obedience better than being right? I find myself very conflicted about this situation.

  251. Following my own spiritual intuitions > Following someone else’s spiritual intuitions

    Isn’t that a core precept of Mormonism? How else are we to develop our own spiritual compass and become more like God? Considering the wise counsel of our leaders is important, but how in the blazes did that ever trump learning to follow our own spiritual promptings?

  252. James L (#248)

    Seriously, the conversation was going pretty well. Please don’t divulge into ad hominem attacks and overstating other’s views. No one here has suggested that there is no sin. Incest, adultery, pornography, murder, etc. are all sins. What is being discussed is whether one issue – same-sex attraction – is really a sin. Many people have personal experience in knowing LGBTs in committed relationships. For them (and me) they simply do not see the harm. In fact, what they see is the same good that comes from heterosexual relationships. Our experience stands in stark contrast to the harm we do see that comes with adulter, murder, etc., and which therefore are correctly labeled sins.

    Instead of asserting (falsely) that we’re trying to silence others with “tolerance”, why don’t you explain your experiences. What harms exactly have you seen from come from same-sex attraction? You are correct that for some actions – specifically adultery – the Savior did say “thou are forgiven; go and sin no more.” But for other actions – such as leprosy, blindness, and menstration – the Savior taught the people “you’re wrong, these are not sins; despite what your leaders have told you, these things are natural and do not make you impure.” Perhaps it is you that needs the cure, and not the homosexuals.

  253. Doug Hudson says:

    Again, I ask: should the Mormon Church use its influence to try to compel non-members to act in accordance with Mormon belief?

    Before you answer “yes”, consider the implications; if a Church can use secular power to enforce its beliefs on non-members, then other Churches may (will) try to use secular power to enforce their beliefs on Mormons.

    The safest position for all minority churches is to support a firm division between religious and secular power. On the question of homosexuality, Mormons are trying to blur that division, and I think that is a mistake.

    Whether the LDS church should allow homosexuality marriage within its own ranks is a separate issue, and one where the Church is on much firmer ground; a Church can set whatever rules it wants regarding those who would profess to be members of said Church.

  254. Dave K,

    Same-sex attraction is not sin. Acting upon such inclination is (see President Hinckley reference above). I have never suggested that the inclination was sinful. In fact, I have repeated time and time again that it is not. The sin is in the expression. Temptation is not sin. You seem to take a Mill approach to this issue: demonstrate harm and you will concede that it is therefore sinful. This underscores the point. It is not me that has said that the act is sinful, it is the prophet. I would chose to follow prophetic utterances on the point, and I think if you carefully review what has been said above, anger has come from disagreeing with other’s opinions. It did not seem particularly tolerant to me. I happen to believe that if the prophet is the Lord’s prophet, and the prophet (all of the prophets in fact) have always declAred the practice of homosexuality to be sin, then odds are that it is and that that is God’s view. I do not think that to be an unreasonable proposition. If that is right, then would the Saviour not also direct a practising homosexual to go and sin no more? On your harm point: take promiscuity (conveniently left off your list). Sex is a natural inclination,indeed very much hard wired. If it is practised safely, ie, with protection, and between consenting, peaceful individuals, where is thr demonstrable harm? is it then not sinful? The prophets and scriptures give a resounding no to that question. Should we seek to reclassify it, or suggest that the prophets are wrong simply because we want to practice it? No, I suggest. The same applies to the practice of homosexuality. Sling out prophetic leadership, and anything goes which does not cause ‘harm’. But accept prophetic leadership, and until such time as there is doctrinal change, we ought to seek to align our wills with that which God has declared through his prophet. But that will never satisfy those who want to hold to their opinion. I repeat again, I believe that the inclination toward one of the same sex is an aberration. It will not survive the resurrection like all maladies and other biological/psychological aberrations. It is surprising to me that it is suggested that our own spiritual promptings on doctrinal matters trump the prophetic declarations. I do not agree that Mormonism allows for such a possibility. I believe that a desire to do a particular act can prompt all sorts of feelings, some of which might very well be confused for spiritual promptings.

  255. Are we allowed to delete comments that we have made, if we think we may have seem churlish? You know, to but our best foot forward? I’m new to all of this…

  256. James,
    Generally speaking, if someone requests that a comment be removed, the moderators will accommodate. We all have had our moments of jerk-itude online.

  257. James,

    I should have been more precise. I was referring to same sex relationships, not just inclinations. Please read my post in that light. Also, for the second time, I did not intentionally leave off “promiscuity” from my list of sins. The items in my list were just examples. See post #57.

    As to same sex relationships, in my experience, they are not just “not harmful”; they are beneficial. All of the same goods (and greats!) that can come from proper heterosexual relationships can also come from proper homosexual relationships.

    How do I square that with prophetic utterances? With patience and humility. I do not speak out against the brethren. In fact, I enforce the church’s doctrine within my calling. But my experiences do conflict with some of the things they have taught. I am confident that whatever is “right” in the end, all the errors we have made along the way can be cured through the atonement.

  258. M Dearest says:

    James, one of the reasons why I feel badly misrepresented by your #248 (Love the sinner, but don’t hate the sin and don’t call it sin, etc. etc) is that I make a clear distinction between breaking the law of chastity and going in a voting booth and casting a ballot in favor of making marriage available to same-sex couples. The law of chastity is well-defined enough that we know where we stand in almost all cases. What a member does in a voting booth is the murkiest of areas, for good reason.

    Another reason I feel badly misrepresented by this is that I very seriously accept the prophetic injunction to keep the law of chastity, and I express this in the way I live my life. I don’t have quite the same authority as the Savior to tell some one to “go and sin no more.” Maybe it’s a female thing, but I don’t consider it my duty, nor is it helpful for me to call people out on their sinful behavior, unless it impacts me personally. And I really appreciate the return of the favor for me and my sins.

    Like RAF in the OP, I have changed a lot my opinion regarding the public policy of allowing marriage to same-sex couples, and I stated some of the reasons why back in my first, long-forgotten comment. I don’t agree with every comment on this thread, but for the most part we’ve been rather civil, and that alone is progress.

  259. James L says:

    M Dearest, I am not calling people out on sinful behaviour: This is a blog that it is free to access, and for that reason there may be many people who consider what is said, both in the OP and the attendant comments. It seemed to me, when I first looked (I think no. 38), that most of the comments were going one way, and that the blog needed balance. If you express your views on a public website, people ought to be free to counter them or offer their opinion, and raise serious questions. Your ‘calling people out’ is nothing more than offering a counter view. We are obliged, I thought, to raise a warning voice. If people openly contend that a sinful act is not sinful, is one not allowed to say that that is wrong? Does one have to be the Saviour or a prophet to have an entitlement to counter expressed error (although there are many who have questioned the authority, accuracy etc of prophetic statements in any event)? Your reticence to do so (” I don’t have quite the same authority as the Savior to tell some one to “go and sin no more.” Maybe it’s a female thing, but I don’t consider it my duty, nor is it helpful for me to call people out on their sinful behavior, unless it impacts me personally. And I really appreciate the return of the favor for me and my sins.”), I believe will lead to one outcome: People can sin, tell others that it is no sin at all, and no one will counter it. That simply cannot be correct. It is wholly one-sided, and about as far away from genuine dialogue, as one can imagine. It might not be ‘helpful’ in that those with entrenched views, and deep interests in clinging to justification, are unlikely to change, but what about the true seeker for wisdom? Should he or she see only one view expressed? I think not.

    The world is very persuasive, and if that is all you rely upon, then it is small wonder that the prophets teaching are rejected (by some). If you agitate for a particular view, I think it a bit rich to expect no counterpoint.

    You say that the thread has been rather civil, for the most part. I think that it has, but only when the majority view (of those posting) has not been challenged. The claws and teeth come out when the challenge is articulated. Questions are answered with questions (or not at all), and openly, personal attacks are made. I am not particularly bothered about them myself, although I cannot say I love conflict. It is however, indicative of utter intolerance for a contrary view. There are (before I have ten posts pointing to fair, reasoned answers), good responses, but many, many have chosen to attack rather to explain. Hence my suggestion that the wicked taketh the truth to be hard. People hate to hear someone say that something which they do is wrong. It is human nature, but for myself, I find those experiences, if I don’t revile, and actually consider where I am as against revealed truth/doctrine, to be growing experiences. Justification prevails where humble introspection fails.

  260. Oh good grief, James. M Dearest was just describing HER approach to life and why SHE doesn’t feel to vote against gay marriage, because she doesn’t feel it is her place to tell people not to sin via legislation. Then you had to go and make it all about you. (“I am not calling people out on sinful behaviour:” blah blah blah) Your ability to get defensive about things that weren’t even directed at you is growing tiresome. If you can’t say something about the topic, rather than meta-commentary about your treatment in this thread, please just shush. If you have any meta-commentary about your treatment, it would properly be addressed to admin by email: sisterblah2@gmail.com

  261. M Dearest says:

    In my experience with sin, I have found it counterproductive for someone, without a fairly compelling reason, to notify me of my sinfulness. It actually makes my repentance harder. It is no help to me, and sin has enough built-in signifiers that I can feel the pull to repent without the help of random buttinskies. I don’t think that my due diligence in minding my own business is going to harm our efforts to warn the world of what sin is. There are many legitimate forums for broadcasting our standard to the world, and infinite individual ways to present truth to the world. I get to choose my ways, and the reasons for my choice are between me and the Lord. You get to choose yours, and you are accountable to the Lord the same as me. But I am not accountable to you, nor are you accountable to me. Go your way and godspeed, but if you try to correct my way, unless you can persuade me in love (which I believe requires a measure of a relationship), I am going to resist. I would expect no less from any random sinner.

    The comparative civility of this thread I commented on was a throwaway remark and kind of a threadjack, for which I’m sorry. I was merely pointing out that I have seen far worse discussions in the short history of this topic. Yes people have disagreed, and some in a rather trollish manner, but the thread hasn’t capsized, but rather has calmed somewhat, enough that I felt comfortable in participating and offering my view. Trust me, that’s a small measure of progress.

  262. I for one would like to hear more analysis from James L as to how he feels he has been treated throughout the development of this blog discussion. Guest post?

  263. James L says:

    M Dearest, a lovely response. I agree that it is very difficult to take criticism. But the compelling reason to notify of sinfulness arises out of (1) the injunction in the scriptures to raise the warning voice, and (2) a concern for the welfare of others. In addition and perhaps most importantly, as I said previously, people don’t just sit back and quietly sin, some promote it (think of some of the comments above- made in a public forum, and Petrey’s article). In fact, in our schools it is now being taught as just another healthy lifestyle. It isn’t; it is sinful behaviour. This should be challenged. You put your views out: expect them to be challenged.

    I fear though that Satan is winning. Civically, it is becoming a very one-sided debate. Soon I don’t think that it will be possible to talk of the practice of homosexuality as sinful in this country, even if the basis for such a view is theological. A civil victory over freedom of speech in this area will not change doctrinal truths.

    “…but if you try to correct my way, unless you can persuade me in love (which I believe requires a measure of a relationship), I am going to resist”. This has been the world’s problem and the individual’s challenge. Either you do exactly what you want, or you heed prophetic counsel. It is difficult for a Latter-Day Saint to the former and be justified.

  264. James L says:

    Cynthia, I am just so sensitive. How could I have ever read M Dearest’s comments so far from their intended meaning? Perhaps my neurones are not all firing at their optimum. I realise now that my many posts have had nothing to do with the subject at all, but have all been about me. I will try to improve.

  265. M Dearest says:

    I know that injunction in the scriptures, and I am trying to quell my alarm at Satan’s success in the world. All the more reason to take the time to think through what effects your intended actions will have. If I am really concerned for another’s welfare, that’s the least I can do. The very least.

    And as I said, and has been pointed out in many individual ways in the thread, sometimes prophetic counsel is quite clear, and sometimes it is so murky that you must feel your way and rely on your own good sense a great deal. I truly believe the Lord wants it this way. Thus, it is relatively easy for me to live the law of chastity, which is quite clear, but what I do on my ballot is much less proscribed, and I must combine my individual efforts with the whole of the gospel light I have to make my choices.

  266. James L says:

    M Dearest, again I agree. As I said before, I think from a civil perspective, the refusal to give same-sex couples the right to marry (whether you call that that or not is probably a whole other debate) is nigh indefensible. I would probably not support Proposition 8 or an equivalent, although I am a little conflicted on the point. I don’t think the lord has been murky on the law of chastity though, although as many of the posts have suggested, there are other areas that require careful examination. I am very interested to know how you answer the questions though that I raise about my children (no. 229). You seem to have genuinely thought about the issues. How should I approach my fictitious dialogue with my children, which doesn’t undermine following prophetic leadership, but still helps them see things in a nuanced way?

  267. Well, that’s easy: promiscuity is wrong. (Serious question: did you honestly expect to find a single person in this thread who does not believe that promiscuity is straightforwardly wrong?)

    Whether monogamy within marriage is wrong in some cases is, I think, a more complicated question.

    I hope Kristine doesn’t ban me, but I found out something in my research today on The Gay Lifestyle. It includes baked ziti: http://www.slate.com/slideshows/life/will-and-erwynns-same-sex-military-wedding.html?wpisrc=msn_gallery#slide_2

  268. M Dearest says:

    Sorry to be so long about it, but I had to take some time for real life, and to think it over. I could reference the questions in 229 herein as a courtesy to the few readers left on this thread, but as I thought about it, I decided I don’t even need to reference them for myself. How do I approach dialog with my children (or anyone) in a way that doesn’t undermine prophetic leadership but still helps them to see nuance? With honesty and as much creative effort that the situation requires.

    Also, you can lead a kid to nuance but you can’t make them think, you know that, don’t you?

  269. Doug Hudson says:

    Hey, I don’t necessarily think promiscuity is wrong! :)

    But then, I’m not a Mormon either (nor gay, for that matter). I’m just a student of comparative religion. Its interesting to see how the various conservative faiths (Mormons, Catholics, Orthodox Jews, Fundamentalist Evangelicals) deal with the issue of homosexuality.

    I still think the alliance between Mormons and Evangelicals against gay marriage could backfire badly for the Mormons, since the Evangelicals would gladly turn on the Mormons given the chance, but it will be interesting to watch.

  270. MikeInWeHo says:

    You’ve got that right, Doug. The Evangelicals already threw their Mormon allies under the bus post-Prop 8. Notice who took all the heat in CA? But that’s a topic for another day…..

  271. Trevor, I believe you are mistaken. After considering my own question I came to the following realization: We’re not talking about just any fool off the street. If we were, my spiritual intuition wins out, but we’re talking about a person who I’ve received a spiritual witness is a prophet. In that case, his intuition wins out. I also remembered an interesting story told by Pres. Grant when he was a new Apostle. Apparently he disagreed with other members of the Twelve and Pres. Taylor about allowing a certain individual to be rebaptized. He told Pres. Taylor, essentially, that if Pres. Taylor wanted him to vote in favor of rebaptism that he’d do it, though he believed it to be wrong. Pres. Taylor told him that if that’s what he believed he should stick to that conviction. Later, during reflection and scripture study, Heber received a witness that he’d been wrong and Pres. Taylor right. The thing that strikes me in this story is that Heber J. Grant was willing to act in a way he felt incorrect if told by the prophet to do so. The prophet ended up not telling him to do so, but he was willing to do that. I think that’s a pretty good example and I think I can follow it. I may believe X, but if the prophet tells me to act toward Y, then I’ll do it. (My local EQP, perhaps not…). Often, I think we’ll find as Pres. Grant did that the prophet won’t unilaterally command one to act against their beliefs and the two parties will root around differently until one receives a spiritual confirmation.

  272. Brian, I suppose that one doesn’t get to be Mormon and reject certain official LDS positions without running the risk of being wrong. However, I’d rather err on the side of being wrong than act against my own spiritual compass. Every single time. This life isn’t about simply learning to follow someone else; it’s about personal development by the exercise of agency. I’m reminded of something Hugh B. Brown said:

    “One of the most important things in the world is freedom of the mind; from this all other freedoms spring. Such freedom is necessarily dangerous, for one cannot think right without running the risk of thinking wrong, but generally more thinking is the antidote for the evils that spring from wrong thinking. More thinking is required, and we call upon you students to exercise your God-given right to think through every proposition that is submitted to you and to be unafraid to express your opinions, with proper respect for those to whom you talk and proper acknowledgment of your own shortcomings.

    Preserve, then, the freedom of your mind in education and in religion, and be unafraid to express your thoughts and to insist upon your right to examine every proposition. We are not so much concerned with whether your thoughts are orthodox or heterodox as we are that you shall have thoughts. One may memorize much without learning anything. In this age of speed, there seems to be little time for meditation.”

  273. Trevor, @273: I agree with your comment, and also appreciate many things Hugh B. Brown wrote or said on the subject of agency and independent thinking. In fact I was so interested I downloaded an MP3 of his speech at BYU from which the quote you used taken. In listening to the speech he actually did not say “We are not so much concerned with whether your thoughts are orthodox or heterodox as we are that you shall have thoughts.” I was disappointed. Either he edited himself or BYU later edited the recording!!

    Just a bit of trivia.

  274. Brian, the problem is that I have to live with myself and look in the mirror every day. If I really truly feel something is wrong, I cannot do it. Doesn’t matter what anybody else says (even a prophet). I will, in the face of uncertainty, take the prophet’s word. I will, in the face of thinking I’m pretty sure the prophet is wrong, earnestly pray and seek and try to see if I can come around to feeling that he is right. But if after all that I still feel that it is wrong in a way that is so deep in my soul that I cannot deny it, I simply am unable to act against my “gut” and then live with myself afterwards. Have you ever had that feeling? That Alma 36:12-16 feeling? It sucks. So, no, I won’t act against something I deeply feel in my conscience, no matter what anybody says. Just not worth it.

  275. Trevor and Cynthia L., thanks for your replies. First off, Trevor I agree with Hugh B. Brown, though I don’t see that as directly contradicting my (or Pres. Grant’s) conclusion. Pres. Grant made it very clear that he disagreed with Pres. Taylor and would continue to disagree with him on the issue but would act in accordance with an explicit instruction from Pres. Taylor. That is, I believe, a perfectly acceptable course of action. In fact, I imagine something similar happening among the membership and the leadership when Peter received the revelation to open the preaching of the gospel beyond the House of Israel.

    Cynthia L., what if you have, equally deep in your soul, a conviction that the man is a prophet? That’s a manner of spiritual intuition too that should not be discounted. It may turn out that following explicit instruction from the prophet is following my spiritual intuition even when it conflicts with what I would have done otherwise for the simple fact that I think one should hold deep feelings about such a thing. In your situation, if you really believe Pres. Hinckley was a prophet (for example), then you’re stuck going against your conscience either way, so I suppose we each get to pick our own poison in that regard. In an oversimplification of the matter, I suppose you could argue there are 4 distinct possibilities when one disagrees with the prophet: 1) The prophet’s right and I follow him. 2) The prophet’s wrong and I follow him. 3) The prophet’s right and I don’t follow him. 4) The prophet’s wrong and I don’t follow him. Of the four, I think option 3 is the worst possible outcome and so I would seek to avoid that possibility even if it meant getting option 2 sometimes. Perhaps you, or Trevor, would weight them differently and so come to a different conclusion. In the end, we all have to rely on our personal understanding of the Lord so we’ll know what’ll be justifiable before Him when that day comes. If you think it’s something different than I do, then that’s fine. In most cases it’s probably moot, however, because I have a difficult time picturing Pres. Monson telling me to act against my conscience. That doesn’t seem his style. I can see him telling me to consider it more and pray about it more, but that’s a different thing entirely.

  276. The difference between Grant and now is that we don’t have the option of sitting down with the prophet — nor he with us. This is far more analogous to our relationship with our stake presidents.

  277. Brian, i think your reasoning on those four options is useful. For instance, what if current understanding on the issue is wrong? Well, then we are depriving people of their free agency, obstructing them from the joy and satisfaction that come from forming family units, marginalizing them, creating an atmosphere where suicide and rejection are rampant… All for nothing.

    On the flip side, what are the real benefits of maintaining the status quo if the traditional understanding is correct? They seem to pale in comparison.

    Not that this all boils down to a simple wager to me. I just weigh the risks and factor it in to my thinking.

  278. Brian, “what if you have, equally deep in your soul, a conviction that the man is a prophet? That’s a manner of spiritual intuition too that should not be discounted. … In most cases it’s probably moot, however, because I have a difficult time picturing Pres. Monson telling me to act against my conscience.”

    That’s the rub, isn’t it? You never expect it to happen. Until it does. A friend (not LDS) years and years ago asked me what I would do if the church ever told me to do something I thought was wrong. I said basically, it’s probably moot because I have a difficult time picturing that happening. And I know that the prophet is a prophet.

    If you haven’t been there, I would suggest some degree of charity for those who find themselves there, even if you can’t fathom it or think they must have gone wrong somehow to find themselves there. Comes back to RJH’s excellent comments #61 and #63.

  279. To Cynthia’s comment, I’d also add that we all have different notions of what a prophet’s role is and how perfectly he can execute it.

  280. “We claim the privielege of worshiping God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all (wo)men everywhere the same privilege.”

    I believe in that principle passionately, but I also believe we tend to honor that with regard to others better than we do with regard to “our own”.

  281. Fairsister says:

    Yes, the Mormon Church should promote heterosexual marriage only allowed in secular law. It is important to me because I believe homosexual sex acts are a sin. When homosexual marriage is a protected right, I will get into big trouble as I express my belief of homosexual sin to my children, my neighbors or co-workers. I could be penalized for hate speech or blacklisted in my work. (As many LDS have) Soon the school curriculum will be forced to represent homosexual led families beginning in kindergarten. The result will be an even greater chasm among Americans with biblical parents who will continue to make an exodus out of public education. The externalities of a homosexual marriage legalization will have a cascading negative effect on free education and free speech….and this is just the beginning.

  282. Chris H. says:

    We do not have hate speech law in the United State. Heck, we protect the speech of everyone from the KKK to the Westboro Baptist Church.

  283. wreddyornot says:

    Maybe Fairsister should write horror and fantasy. Her thoughts certainly seem to have the necessary elements to me.

  284. @Fairsister: someone sold you a bill of goods.

  285. @Fairsister, if you only want to send your children to a school that will teach them that homosexual people are are evil and deserve scorn, then, yes, you are probably going to have a hard time sending them to public schools now and in the future. My kids are going to be taught a lot of things at school that I don’t agree with and go against my values. This could even happen at church, since everybody gets a nutty Sunday School teacher or two in their lives (cough*Randy Bott*cough). That’s just part of life. You need to be a strong enough mother to your children that you can be an influence in their lives even when they get messages you disagree with from other sources.

    It will never be illegal in the United States to express your belief that homosexuality is evil. To prove that this cannot EVER happen, just ask yourself, is it illegal now to express a belief that interracial marriage is evil? Nope. That said, will saying that make a lot of people not want to be friends with you? Sure. But that also has nothing to do with gay marriage legalization. Gay marriage is illegal in CA right now (thanks, Prop 8!) and yet there are plenty of people who won’t want to be friends with you if you go around saying that homosexuality is evil all the time. Really, there’s nothing the government can do about that.

  286. Fairsister says:

    I have served on two school boards and have participated state curriculum development. I am very aware of the powers behind the formation of state approved texts. My brother who is a videographer was blacklisted from a wedding networking group in Northern Ca. because he declined a to shoot a gay wedding. Also, my childhood friend lost his dream job in the theater because he donated to Prop 8. While my hate speech comment was weak. I stand by my belief that I should not express my opinions against homosexual acts if I want to get a job at the local junior college or any other state agency. My religious belief will preclude me from state jobs. SHhhh……

  287. Cynthia L:
    Why are you in favor of something which is in such stark contrast to church teachings?

  288. Cynthia L., please don’t suppose that I “haven’t been there.” Indeed, I feel that much of my recent years have “been there.” I certainly do not intend to act uncharitably toward anyone and if that is how I came across to you, I apologize. I believe my point still holds, however. Most of the times I’ve seen this situation in my own life it has not been the prophet’s counsel I have been considering. While I believe prophets are indeed fallible, an extra dose of skepticism is always in order for my interactions with mission presidents, bishops, parents, what-have-you. By no means do I intend to disparage or disregard or downplay the conflict you feel; I feel it too, but I believe we have moved forward in different ways. As I analyzed the situation I realized that there were two things operating in me: a sincere belief that a statement by the prophet was incorrect and a sincere belief that the person who uttered that statement was a prophet. I think that in that situation each of us has to examine which belief is deeper or more central to us. I understand and I can sympathize if you answered that question differently than I did. I certainly don’t think poorly of you or anyone else for doing so. Rather, I commiserate with the difficulty inherent in such an examination. Now, before anyone dismisses my point entirely (and acknowledging our inability to sit down and have a one-on-one with the prophet), try to imagine what Pres. Monson might say to you in such a situation where you carefully explain your beliefs on the matter. While this exercise is speculative by its very nature, I have a difficult time envisioning Pres. Monson saying anything like, “Cynthia L., you are dead wrong and you need to toe the line.” I can’t, for the life of me, imagine him telling me explicitly to go against my conscience, but I’m stating my decision that if he did I would because I have a deeper commitment that he’s a prophet than I do of my own spiritual intuition (the fallibility of which I could provide numerous examples). Maybe this means my spiritual intuition is weaker than yours, maybe it means my testimony of him as a prophet is stronger, or maybe it means we just made different decisions in the same (or analogous) situation. I don’t know, but that is the logic as I see it.

    Trevor, I don’t quite follow you on the whole cost/benefit analysis. For one thing, predicting the future accurately is beyond my ability and so I won’t engage much on that front but secondly, what if life is basically the 7th grade of eternity? That is to say, what if things that feel so important and so all-consuming here are, in hindsight, rather trivial? Not trivial in the sense of importance but trivial in the sense of magnitude. If that’s the case, and for Job’s sake I hope it is, then an argument based purely on the here and now loses some of its luster and, unless I’m mistaken, God is not prone to revealing much about the there and later to the lay membership without channeling it through the prophet. What else have you got?

  289. Brian, I was trying to explain a cost/benefit analysis of some of your options. I think it’s useful to assess whether one actually has a full understanding of the options (i.e. the impact they have on LGBT individuals).

    And RE: 7th grade, I call this the ”you’ll be better off when you’re dead” doctrine, and I find it outside my grasp of reasoning to conclude that God expects all his homosexual children to deliberately forego a happy family life and instead choose a life of celibacy.

  290. There are two issues here:

    Moral:

    1) We criticize the Catholic Church for what we believe to be an apostate practice of denying priests and nuns the ability to have sex – and many people blame that insistence on abstinence on the abuses that have occurred over the centuries among their clergy.

    Seriously, why it is horrible to insist that priests abstain all their lives (especially if we believe they will get some regularly after death [which, fwiw, I don't believe]) and noble to insist that our homosexual brothers and sisters not display ANY sign of affection or intimacy at all? I’m not even talking about actual sex; I’m talking about holding hands and sitting together with an arm around someone they love?

    Political:

    2) We insist that we be allowed to have our temple sealings recognized by the American government as legal and lawful marriages, even though a large percentage of our fellow citizens might vote to eradicate that recognition if given the chance.

    Everyone who opposes gay marriage: Would you support and accept a law that made temple sealings non-binding legally – like in some other countries? Would you say that opponents of Mormon sealings have the legal right to ban Mormon marriages, since they believe those marriages produce children who are condemned to Hell as a result? After all, it’s all about the children, right?

    My own personal view of gay marriage as a moral issue aside, when it moves into the political arena the very nature of the discussion changes – and those who don’t recognize that either haven’t thought about the possible ramifications and real implications of their view or are supremely confident that similar actions could never be taken against them. Our not-too-distant history would seem to invalidate the latter belief.

  291. Brian, in regards to your 4-point breakdown of the options, I think think it’s easier for me to say that I would follow the prophet, even when I think it’s wrong, at great personal cost. But it’s very different (much harder) for me to say that I would follow the prophet, even when I think it’s wrong, in a way that doesn’t really cost me anything, and yet is totally devastating to the lives of many other people.

    I think I’m much closer to your “I’d rather be wrong than not follow a right prophet” reasoning when it is deciding for *myself* whether *I* will follow the prophet across the plains in half-starvation and bloody foot blisters and cholera. But I think it’s a different calculus entirely when the (hypothetical) prophet is saying, I order you to forcibly subject this other person, who isn’t even Mormon (!), against their will, to a grueling 1300-mile trek that could possibly kill them, while we safely hang out poolside at the hotel. I just have a much harder time thinking that it’s my right to decide “well, I’m not totally sure the prophet is right, but, sure! I’m happy to risk Joe Schmoe’s life just in case being obedient to this is *my* ticket to heavenly paradise! It might have been that this command was mistaken, but hey, that’s a risk I’m willing to take!”

  292. wreddyornot says:

    You have a great imagination, Fairsister. You, your examples, dream of moving into venues where you’re possibly minorities and are being perhaps unfairly treated. Well, imagine some more and reread the original entry by Brother Fox. See yourself deciding differently. Realize the unfairness dealt out because of ignorance over the millennia. My best wishes to you and yours.

  293. Trevor – who are you to tell homosexual individuals what God expects them to do with their trials.

    That is strictly the provenance of prophets and apostles to reveal what God expects of them. And then the rest of us can receive confirmation of that teaching and reiterate what the prophets have taught. You have no authority to say what God expects of them beyond repeating the message of the prophets.

    Anything you say regarding what God expects of them to do with their current trial or state of being (however you want to look at it) that is outside the bounds of what prophets are teaching is without authority.

    I wouldn’t tell my neighbors that God expects them to pack their bags and move to Montana, and I wouldn’t tell them what God expects them to do with their personal circumstances — unless it was already revealed by a prophet. And in this case, the prophets have said rather plainly to stay away from those kinds of relationships in very clear and precise terms.

  294. Trevor – I wanted to add that my statement should not mean that I don’t think people are unable to abstain from those relationships or that that would even be unable to have a family if they desire — I think all good things are possible through the atonement.

    But I think on both sides of the issue we have too many people chiming in what they think God expects of them, without just pointing to the prophets and teachings and letting the people decide for themselves.

  295. Trevor, I agree that it is difficult to understand (I certainly don’t understand), but I also don’t understand why my grandfather had to suffer from Alzheimer’s or why a veteran friend had to have PTSD so badly that he couldn’t live with his family or why my niece will forever eat through a straw and never learn to walk, so I don’t find that counterargument very compelling. If we accept that God allows terrible things to happen then it seems unreasonable to suddenly decide that something is simply too terrible and so must not be true. It may in fact not be, but the difficulty of the situation has little bearing on that.

    Cynthia L., the most recent argument you provide is much more compelling, I think. I have wondered how I would respond if I were an early Israelite and commanded to wipe out some farming community…doing is sometimes more often than being done too. Unfortunately, there are numerous examples where people were commanded to do things that they probably felt were just as awful as the scenario you describe (Nephi and Laban, the Israelites as I’ve mentioned, Moses and the Egyptians via the plagues, etc.). If those examples demonstrate anything, however, it’s that such situations do occur. The fact that they are soul-wrenchingly awful is poignant, but I don’t think that can solely make the decision for us. We’ll never know what would have happened if Abraham had said, “That’s crazy – I’m not going to go sacrifice my son no matter what He says.” My guess though is that he wouldn’t have been Abraham. We’re not all Abrahams (I’m certainly not), maybe that’s why…

  296. “That’s crazy – I’m not going to go sacrifice my son no matter what He says.”

    That is exactly what I would tell anyone who told me to harm, let alone kill my child.

    That said, that story of Abraham is a symbolic metaphor. I am not condemning him. I do not think there was such a person. If anything, that is why we need prophets and leaders from keeping us from taking the Abraham/Nephi/Mose role upon ourselves.

  297. kaphor, if we were talking only about gay Mormons not getting married civilly, it still would be a more complicated discussion than many members understand – but it would be a totally different discussion than the point of this post. This post is about forcing others – those who don’t believe the LDS leadership are prophets – to accept the mainstream LDS view of marriage, and even sexual relationships in general.

    Cynthia’s example is a good one, imo – but I still say a better one is how hard the early saints fought and how bitterly they complained when others did to them what we are talking about doing to others. We really were the equivalent of gay marriage advocates just over 100 years ago, and I personally can’t get past that simple fact as something that needs to be acknowledged and addressed among us.

    Early Mormons were the homosexuals of their day, in the eyes of the rest of their society, and it bothers me more than I can express to see so many of us now being the modern version of the masses who persecuted, jailed and killed my own ancestors for daring to insist that they be allowed to marry “outside the mainstream” of society.

  298. Years ago, I wrote a long, preachy letter to a gay friend of mine–one who had been my friend through some very difficult times. It included the line, “I don’t know what it’s like to be gay.” My friend said, “You should’ve stopped there.” I agree with him.

  299. Love is the trump card.

  300. kayphor

    I’m not sure what I wrote that invited such an antagonistic response. I don’t presume to tell anyone what to do with their trials or how to live their lives. If a gay Mormon (or atheist, for that matter) seeks to live a life of strict celibacy, be my guest. I also think such a person should be free to marry the person they love. You apparently seek to prevent them from choosing the latter option, so I’m not sure why I’m the one telling them how to live.

  301. Thomas Parkin, 224: “It may be that God inspired them but they were to some greater or lesser extent blocked personally in their ability to receive the whole enchilada.”
    When Thomas comments, I listen. That was a brilliant comment. The whole thing/enchilada.

  302. Brian

    The counter-examples of people leading lives in suffering serve as a complete apples-to-oranges comparison. In each of your examples, those individuals have no choice but to accept their immense challenge. If your grandfather could’ve chosen not to have Alzheimers, your veteran friend not to have PTSD, or your niece not to have to eat throw a straw, etc…. Well, do you imagine they wouldn’t opt out?

    See, unlike those examples, homosexual individuals are presented with a stark choice (according to current Mormon doctrine): live the remainder of their life in strict celibacy, or, marry someone they love and form a family. It’s a very different scenario than someone who suffers.

    It would be like telling your grandfather not to take the medicine that would cure his Alzheimers, telling your veteran friend not to get psychological counseling to remedy his PTSD, prohibiting your niece from corrective surgery and therapy to fix her disability, etc. simply because those remedies were “morally wrong”.

  303. I enjoyed the OP and found the comments enlightening. My view on the subject has definitely evolved over time.

    It bothers me that sexual inclinations are painted in such binary terms, i.e. either somebody is completely homosexual or completely heterosexual. My observations suggest that there are many individuals whose natural dispositions are some mixture of those two extremes. It seems their behavior will be swayed one direction or another depending on environment and social mores. Paired with my judgement that heterosexual pairings are preferred in both gospel and society-building contexts, that observation constitutes my remaining hesitancy about legalizing (and normalizing) same-sex marriage.

    We can argue all day about the relative social value point. And certainly the way LDS members generally treat those with homosexual tendencies needs adjustment. And I’d even say the legal standing of same-sex couples needs to be increased. But what about this idea that some individuals are “in the middle” and might be swayed to heterosexual outcomes if that is the expectation? Does anybody else see a problem with a binary definition of sexuality?

  304. And I would add, I acknowledge that some individuals are at the (persecuted) end of the homosexual spectrum and we need to find a workable solution for them too.

  305. JonD, RE: individuals “in the middle”

    I think that the trend towards acceptance of different sexual orientations will likely have some degree of impact on those in the middle. However, I don’t think that it’s a good idea to hide (either directly or indirectly) the various choices that other individuals in that same case make regarding their sexual expression. As it is now, social pressure may very well cause some bisexuals to stick to opposite-sex relationships.

    But I think that the better the information we have, the more capable we are of making decisions. People could feel more freedom to make choices (for their own good or bad) if that social pressure changes. If that makes sense.

  306. Brian, great analogy: “What if life is basically the 7th grade of eternity?” I think God lets his children work through terribly difficult issues, such as slavery, women’s rights, civil rights, blacks and the priesthood, etc. In the hereafter, we’ll all be on the same page. For years I battled excruciating cognitive dissonance on this issue. After a gazillion tears, prayers, and fasts, I finally found peace. I must follow my conscience. I simply can’t go back to the old prejudices.

  307. MoHoHawaii says:

    I read the OP and all of the comments so far. It took several sittings. :- ) I have to say that as a gay Mormon, I’m impressed. I see a lot of evolution in thinking in not so many years. Perhaps that’s the silver lining with the Prop 8 fiasco. It certainly spurred discussion and reflection on this issue.

    After reading the OP and comments here are a few observations:

    – I’ve felt for a long time that the core of the Church’s opposition to gay marriage has been more of a defense of patriarchal family structures and push back against egalitarian trends in heterosexual marriage than a critique of homosexual relationships per se. The strongest official statements against gay marriage (POTF, etc.) often don’t even mention gay people directly, but they do spend a lot of time spelling out idealized gender roles. That’s pretty much a smoking gun. I found it interesting that gender inequality was the tipping point in the OP.

    – I’ve noticed that men tend to have a lot more trouble than women in reconciling themselves to a world that includes gay people as fully enfranchised members of society. Gay relationships threaten male authority and concept of self in a unique way. Women don’t react in the same way.There’s kind of a joke in the gay world that straight men are the problem; everyone else seems to get along just fine. :- ) It was interesting to see that dynamic play out on this thread. Not to pick on you straight guys… you’re truly special and we ‘preciate ya. :- )

    – The Church’s political outspokenness against civil marriage equality for gay couples is hugely divisive for Mormon families. My own large extended family has been fairly cohesive over the years and easygoing about my situation, but I will tell you that Prop 8 was an earthquake that we haven’t yet fully recovered from. Do not underestimate the stress that the Church’s hard-line politics places on its members who have gay family and loved ones (and on the gay people who must deal with orthodox family members). The burden is especially heavy for parents of gay kids and gay children of orthodox parents. In some very real ways, the Church asks parents to reject their own children. The stories I hear from young gay Mormons break my heart. It’s no wonder that Utah’s suicide rate among 18-24 year old males leads the nation. This has to change.

    – As was mentioned in the comments, the single biggest potential improvement is not even doctrinal. It’s just policy. We need to stop the excommunications. Just that would make a *huge* difference.

    – When I read comments that are not supportive, my strongest emotional response occurs with the repetition of the folk doctrine that homosexuality will be cured in the resurrection. There’s a failure of empathy here– can you imagine what it might be like to have your deepest ability to love your spouse torn from your soul? It’s spiritual napalm. It’s burning a village to the ground in order to save it.

    I’ve been around the block. After my mission I married a woman and had kids. A devastating and unavoidable divorce followed. My ex-wife and I picked ourselves up and rebuilt our lives. Our kids are now grown and doing great. My wife remarried, and I’m in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a man I love. Along the way we did the best we could given the cards we’d been dealt. I wish I could say that the Church was there for us along the way, but it just wasn’t. I’m glad to see so many LDS folks understand that on this issue it’s time to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

    P.S. I’m not crazy about what you do in bed, either. : -) The yuck factor cuts both ways.

  308. MoHoHawaii (#308),

    Great comment; your observations pull together a lot of what this thread has been all about.

    I’ve felt for a long time that the core of the Church’s opposition to gay marriage has been more of a defense of patriarchal family structures and push back against egalitarian trends in heterosexual marriage than a critique of homosexual relationships per se.

    Not that I can predict how or if church doctrines or practices will or should change (and once more, for the record, that wasn’t what my original post was about), but if the church gets to the point where historians can look back and try to assess and interpret the church’s position on homosexuality from the years 1980 through, say, 2030, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that there was, during this half-century, a broad entanglement with culture war issues, driven to an extent by key sympathizers with the conservative backlash against the changes to the family in post-WWII America, that shaped the whole discourse. In other words, MoHo, I think you’re right. Of course, I’m speaking here as someone whose opinions about the debate were (and continue to be) ideological and intellectual, not spiritual, and so I recognize that arguably any such possible future history could be condemned for its naturalistic presumptions, and its refusal to countenance the possibility of divine revelation. Still, going off the only church-aligned argument against same-sex marriage that ever worked for me–namely, the one I laid out originally–I think your suspicion makes sense. I think that the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage is of a piece with its opposition to the ERA, with its opposition to women working outside the home, with its condemnation of divorce, single-motherhood, and birth control. Of course, the church’s position on all of those things has been greatly nuanced or reformulated over the past 30+ years…because, obviously, more and more of the American Mormon church operates with an assumption of basic (if assuredly still incomplete) gender egalitarianism, in the same way the rest of our culture does. We are now at a point–or at least, I found myself at a point–where defending the privileged legal position of the traditional heterosexual family against same-sex marriage requires a logical embrace of patriarchal, inegalitarian roles which, in practice, down in the trenches of the wards and branches of this country, are for the most part embraced only rhetorically, and rarely enforced–and which I strongly reject. Thus, absent revelation, maintaining opposition to the legal recognition of same-sex marriages no longer makes much sense to me.

  309. JonD (#304),

    Certainly the way LDS members generally treat those with homosexual tendencies needs adjustment. And I’d even say the legal standing of same-sex couples needs to be increased. But what about this idea that some individuals are “in the middle” and might be swayed to heterosexual outcomes if that is the expectation? Does anybody else see a problem with a binary definition of sexuality?

    This is an excellent point, and an interesting one, at least for me, though probably also a great many others. Here’s where I stand, I think: I think homosexuality is a deviation from the norm. I don’t think it’s part of the ideal package. Neither is being a diabetic part of the ideal package. Nor is Down’s Syndrome, or being deaf. Unlike those last three conditions, though, you’re probably correct that homosexuality is, in some cases anyway, at least in part a function of environment and choice. There are people–not many, but some–that could probably go either way, depending on their family history or their socialization or their whimsy. (And there are some–even fewer, but some–who can build a bisexual life for themselves and stay in that “middle.”) If I believe that homosexuality isn’t the ideal, and if it is possible that environmental factors may sometimes have a limited role to play in determining whether or not anyone chooses it, then, all things considered, wouldn’t I rather see my children and others’ children partake of the ideal rather than deviate from it, and shouldn’t I therefore do something to promote the ideal? After all, I know divorced and unmarried women who have accomplished great and good things through and in addition to raising their children, and am fairly confident that God will judge them with compassion and wisdom equal to that which He’ll use in judging me…and yet, my wife and I invest a fair amount of effort in teaching our children those things that we hope will lead them to stable marriages, rather than otherwise. Shouldn’t I do the same ideal-promoting stuff for the folks in the “middle”?

    My answer is essentially the same as that of Trevor (#306); I think that society (perhaps in some ways arguably for ill, but on the balance I suspect mostly for good) has changed in such a way that denying the information about the natural fact of homosexual inclinations is a lot more damaging than would be the possible benefit of capturing a slightly greater percentage of those folks in the middle than might be the case otherwise. Yes, the legal recognition of same-sex marriage will probably, at the margins, very slightly increase the base number of “middling” people who pursue homosexual relationships, with possible consequences for their lives (namely, they’d miss out on the ideal). Similarly, legalizing marijuana will probably very slightly increase the base number of people who use recreational drugs, with possible consequences for their lives (addiction, etc.). But just as I no longer believe that the benefits of the war on drugs (keeping a marginal number of people away from addiction) is worth the costs (the economic and civic devastation of poor and minority neighborhoods across the United States, turning our country into a mass incarceration state, etc.), I no longer believe opposing same-sex marriage (and thereby keeping pressure on a few of the folks in the middle) is worth the cost (disrupting the chances for gays and lesbians to enjoy happy, fulfilling, civic-strengthening lives, not to mention–as my original post argued–maintaining as a cultural norm a fundamentally inegaltiarian model of marriage). The genie is out of the bottle, so let’s deal with the world which is, for better and/or for worse, rather than pretending the genie, if we’re mean enough to it, will go back in the bottle on its own accord.

  310. Russell Arben Fox, you’ve given a response I think I can agree with. It does bring up one difficulty, however, in that it suggests church leaders are historically bad at policy decisions (see the disappointment over Utah’s vote repealing Prohibition, which most agree had led to the rise of organized crime), and not only bad but consistently Nicolas Cage movie bad continuing into the present issue. Do you agree that this is a necessary presumption of your argument and if so, can you offer your thoughts on why that might be the case? It seems a bit contradictory to me to say that these men are inspired and called of God but when it comes to the big issues they’ll make the wrong policy decision nearly every time simply because they’re focused on ideals rather than practical matters. My own life experience suggests to me that God is a very practical being, extremely adept at using existing phenomena to accomplish his purposes so it feels incongruous to imply that His servants would be practically the opposite.

    Trevor, two responses to your # 303. 1) I think my analogy only breaks down by your extension of it if one considers homosexual marriage to be a “cure” to homosexuality. I did not make that argument and I don’t believe that argument. A release of sexual tension is not all we’re talking about here. 2) In many cases there are situations in which we have no effective help for the suffering of others, but this does not mean their suffering is somehow unreasonable or unacceptable in the eyes of God. I have seen and felt enough suffering in my life that I am frequently forced to attempt a reconciliation between the merciful God I want to believe is there and the downright bitterness of much of life. Therefore, to say that asking homosexuals to live a life of celibacy is simply too callous to come from God is unconvincing at best and disingenuous at worst.

  311. Another Lurker says:

    – When I read comments that are not supportive, my strongest emotional response occurs with the repetition of the folk doctrine that homosexuality will be cured in the resurrection. There’s a failure of empathy here– can you imagine what it might be like to have your deepest ability to love your spouse torn from your soul? It’s spiritual napalm. It’s burning a village to the ground in order to save it.

    Thanks for your comment. Given that the statements in question come from an official Church publication, and a recent one at that (2007), for better or for worse it seems to be more than a “folk doctrine” at present.

    http://www.lds.org/manual/god-loveth-his-children/god-loveth-his-children
    (last two paragraphs under ‘the plan of happiness’)

  312. Antonio Parr says:

    Some of you seem very well-versed on this issue, hence this non-trolling (honest!) question: are chidlren raised by gay parents (a) less likely to self-identify as gay or bisexual; (b) more likely to self identify as gay or bisexual; or (c) statistically identical to children raised by heterosexual couples when it comes to sexual self-identity? If (a) or (c), then I would think that opponents of gay marriage would have a steeper hill to climb when rationalizing their opposition to gay marriage. However, if the answer is (b), then I think there are some important issues that need to be explored before any societal decree that gay marriages are indistinguishable from heterosexual marriages.

    (My casual googling suggests that there are studies that go both ways, with some studies suggesting that girls raised by lesbian couples are more likely to self-identify as lesbians. Such studies seem slanted, depending upon the biases of the researchers. Any social scientists here who know the prevailing view?)

  313. Antonio:
    This does not seem to be complete but is nevertheless interesting reading.

    What these studies don’t tell you according to this research paper:

    Judith Stacey and Timothy J. Biblarz, “Does the ‘Sexual Orientation’ of Parents Matter?” American Sociological Review, Vol. 66, April, pp. 159-183.

    … in which the authors documented their review of dozens of papers on same-sex parenting and how they selected about 20 of the most rigorous to assess whether the researchers downplayed or ignored any differences between children raised in gay households versus those raised in straight ones. Here’s some of their findings, which I excerpted from the linked essay:

    “According to research cited in a paper prepared by two researchers at USC, 25% of the adults raised by lesbian parents had a homosexual relationship. In comparison, none of the children raised by heterosexual parents had such a relationship. Based on another statistic, 64% of young adults raised in lesbian households report having considered same-sex relationships (in the past, now, or in the future), compared with only 17% raised in heterosexual families.”

    Thus being more likely to engage in same-sex behavior, the children of same-sex parents have a greater risk of exposure to the serious diseases and bodily damage to which homosexuals are much more susceptible than heterosexuals on a per person basis.

    You may be able to google more info.

  314. Fairsister says:

    Cindy L That’s quite a big jump assuming I would allow my children to be indoctrinated to scorn and call people evil. I teach my children that homosexual acts are prohibited by God. On the other hand one must love your neighbor. Numerous educational opportunities are popping up everywhere where kids can learn outside the influence of the Gay lobby and other societal pressures.. Please don’t assume that hate and disdain for other’s is taught in these venues.

    wreddyornot Imagination, fantasy? The beginning of this school year, the local high school where my son attends was plastered with LGBT club fliers inviting all students to attend. Every door to the school had one or two announcements posted.
    The LGBT club sponsor teacher announced to his class that extra credit would be given to those who attended the club meeting and wanted to know by a raise of hands who was going. One student who did not raise his hand was asked why he was not going. He said he didn’t agree with the homosexual lifestyle. The teacher told him he didn’t want a bigot in his classroom and told him to leave classroom. In the end free speech prevailed. This boy was singled out and chastened by his teacher in public school.

    Fact: TheLGBT lobby wants educational institutions to adopt a pro gay agenda.
    Fact: Religious persecution does and will occur to those who do not adhere to the LGBT agenda.

    In education a careful balance must be maintained assuring individual religious and speech rights are not trampled by social dictates.

  315. Latter-day Guy says:

    Fact: Prefacing a statement with the “Fact:” doesn’t actually make it one. For example,

    Fact: The blogger calling herself Fairsister is actually a preternaturally hairy Greek man. He likes to eat babies, and is gripped at times with the overwhelming desire to juggle or run for public office. He also struggles manfully against the tendency to grow another head.

    See how that works?

  316. Latter-day Guy says:

    Crap. Strike “the” in the first sentence above.

  317. Antonio Parr says:

    If gay marriage is not just about extending equal rights to homosexuals (which sounds like a fair and just thing to do), but the impact that such unions will have upon the sexual identities of children placed in gay marriages, then it seems that the Church’s opposition to gay marriage might not be motivated by the choices of same sex couples to build a life together, but, instead, the impact that that such unions will have upon the agency of children as it relates to their sexual development.

  318. Great comment, MoHoHawaii.

    “Gay relationships threaten male authority and concept of self in a unique way.”

    Indeed. Misogyny and homophobia are deeply entwined. As are their milder counterparts, benevolent patriarchy and “I don’t hate gay individuals, I just don’t want them to have rights or be near my kids.” What’s that little saying, “Homophobia: the fear that gay men will treat you the way you treat women.” That doesn’t quite capture it, but I think starts getting at where some of the deeply unsettled feelings come from.

  319. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 310
    Love your thoughts RAF but this comment made me uncomfortable. All the comparisons you make are to diseases (or in the case of deafness, a disability). We know that homosexuality is a naturally-occurring variation from the norm, like left-handedness or red hair. Whether it is a sinful deviation from some metaphysical ideal is a question that must be answered by religion. Anyway, as a gay man I am uncomfortable with the term “deviation” being used to describe me.

    Re: 318
    It’s not as if banning gay marriage will eliminate gay couples raising children. Those already exist in vast numbers and will continue to do so. It’s just absurd to think that legalizing gay marriage will lead to an upsurge in gay relationships. “Oh yeah! They’ve legalized gay marriage! I think I’ll go homo!”

  320. James L says:

    no. 294 “Trevor – who are you to tell homosexual individuals what God expects them to do with their trials.” no.295 “But I think on both sides of the issue we have too many people chiming in what they think God expects of them, without just pointing to the prophets and teachings and letting the people decide for themselves.”

    >The problem is, the prophets are pretty clear on what to do with the trial of homosexuality: abstain, as with any expression of sexuality which deviates from the law of chastity. The common theme appears to be: I want to do it, and I do not want to be told it is wrong. Letting people decide what they will do is one thing, I suspect with the exception of children being raised within same-sex households, many would not seek to impose a religiously-based restriction on the practice of homosexual unions. But many comments go so very much further, they suggest that the very practice of homosexuality is somehow laudable, and will ultimately be recognised as such, and that present opposition is only ‘cultural’. It is not: It is doctrinal.

    Moreover, it is very difficult for a Latter-day Saint to agree with giving the right for homosexuals to marry (an expression of homosexual inclination), when the Lord teaches that it is so very wrong. That is difficult enough, but many of those who post here seem to suggest that one should not only agree with that proposition, but should go further and hope for a doctrinal change to the status here (and hereafter) of the very practice.

    no. 299 “Years ago, I wrote a long, preachy letter to a gay friend of mine–one who had been my friend through some very difficult times. It included the line, “I don’t know what it’s like to be gay.” My friend said, “You should’ve stopped there.” I agree with him.”

    >What about adding: but I know what the law of chastity says? It might not be comfortable reading, but at least it is what the Lord asks, and consequently ultimately designed to bring eternal happiness. I do not think that we will be ultimately thanked for not raising the warning voice with love and compassion.

    no. 307 ” I simply can’t go back to the old prejudices.”

    > This is an assumption that, the prophetic counsel which includes describing the practice of homosexuality as a sin, is a ‘prejudice’. Is that really right? All the prophets who have spoken on the subject must have been really far off the mark to describe something as a sin, which is no sin at all, but merely a prejudice.

    no. 308 “- When I read comments that are not supportive, my strongest emotional response occurs with the repetition of the folk doctrine that homosexuality will be cured in the resurrection. There’s a failure of empathy here– can you imagine what it might be like to have your deepest ability to love your spouse torn from your soul? It’s spiritual napalm. It’s burning a village to the ground in order to save it.

    I’ve been around the block. After my mission I married a woman and had kids. A devastating and unavoidable divorce followed. My ex-wife and I picked ourselves up and rebuilt our lives. Our kids are now grown and doing great. My wife remarried, and I’m in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a man I love. Along the way we did the best we could given the cards we’d been dealt. I wish I could say that the Church was there for us along the way, but it just wasn’t. I’m glad to see so many LDS folks understand that on this issue it’s time to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.”

    > I agree, that there should be a very considerable degree of empathy. But you cannot really believe that the Lord wants and will allow the homosexual relationship to be eternal, can you? The very thought is so far removed from the doctrine. Being part of the solution, does not seem to me, to require the agitation to change doctrine. But that is what many advocate.

    “Gay relationships threaten male authority and concept of self in a unique way.”

    >This is a rather bizarre statement. How does another person wanting to engage is a gay relationship threaten anyone? Are you suggesting that every male who follows the prophetic counsel to abhor sin (in this instance the practice of homosexuality) is only doing so because they feel their authority is being threatened? It is not right for me, and I suspect for a lot of people who have commented on this OP.

    no. 311 “to say that asking homosexuals to live a life of celibacy is simply too callous to come from God is unconvincing at best and disingenuous at worst.”

    >I agree with this statement. Those who simply wish to practice and do practice homosexuality, do so because they want to. I do not believe that they feel it to be doctrinally justified. It is simply a powerful emotion that they are not willing to control, and so seek to justify it as conforming with God’s laws.

  321. James, I aks this seriously:

    How can you be the judge of why others think and act as they do?

  322. I also ask you, James. (Thought I fixed that, before it got submitted.)

  323. MikeInWeHo (#320),

    Love your thoughts RAF but this comment made me uncomfortable. All the comparisons you make are to diseases (or in the case of deafness, a disability). We know that homosexuality is a naturally-occurring variation from the norm, like left-handedness or red hair. Whether it is a sinful deviation from some metaphysical ideal is a question that must be answered by religion. Anyway, as a gay man I am uncomfortable with the term “deviation” being used to describe me.

    You’re right to call me on that, though I’m not sure what language remains available to me. Deviation isn’t good, but I don’t know if “aberration” is any better. To say that homosexuality is a “naturally-occurring variation” on the level of hair color or handedness seems, to me, to leave a good deal out; there aren’t any statements that I am aware of (whether or not I accept them as authentic or take them seriously) which suggests God cares about hair color or handedness, whereas he does seem to care (far, far less than he cares about, say, succoring the poor, but still, at least a little bit) about our sexual relations, particularly if they are within the bonds of marriage or not. So I don’t know best how to describe my position. I do tend to think that, ideally, variations wouldn’t exist, and that God has provided a model for receiving His grace and a modicum of joy in this life which ought to be pursued, if possible. Gays and lesbians can obviously enjoy both grace and joy in this life, and I’m no longer comfortable enough with the unequal implications of the way we’ve (I think poorly) socially constructed God’s ideal model to want to stand in the way of homosexual men and women claiming whatever elements of that model they can for themselves. But there remains a kind of bottom-line for me: to whatever extremely limited extent what can speak intelligently and responsibly about choosing a sexual preference, I think heterosexuality is to be preferred to homosexuality, in the same way norms are to be preferred to variant subsets. I realize that on a certain level that’s like telling a person who has been deaf all their life and built a rich life and an extensive communicative network and fruitful relationships through sign that, all things considered, it really would be kind of better if they could hear…it can’t help but be condescending. But that’s kind of where I stand.

    It occurs to me that perhaps, as we come to understand our genetic endowments better, we will come to realize that we are all “variations” in one sense or another, and that some of us are disposed to anger or gluttony or incivility in ways that, ideally, we wouldn’t be. The continuing revolution in our understanding of our own codes may give me the language I’m looking for, eventually.

  324. “It occurs to me that perhaps, as we come to understand our genetic endowments better, we will come to realize that we are all “variations” in one sense or another”

    Russell, that essentially is how I’ve come to see the whole idea of judging not that we be not judged – and that we will be judged, in the end, exactly how we judge others simply because how we judge others is perhaps the clearest manifestation of our acquisition of charity and the evolution that causes within us. In that sense, I believe we will be our own witnesses and judges far more than many people realize – and, in that sense, perhaps the only thing that separates my variation from that of others when it comes to general acceptance is how obvious it is and how yucky it appears to be to others.

    I think we give good lip service to the idea that we all are sinners and unworthy of God’s mercy, but I think we do a far worse job of really believing it – for “others”, yes, but especially with regard to “our own” whom we judge much more harshly when they are the variation we can’t accept.

    I know homosexual friends who are much better Christians than I am in just about every observable way – except according to the one most obvious commandment I believe and accept. However, in acknowledging that, I simply must acknowledge that they are just as “monogamous” as I am – so, in a very real way, they are only “less obedient” than I am because “my people” accept my sexual activities but have outlawed theirs by not granting them the ability to act within an accepted companionship we call marriage. I am “more obedient” simply because “my people” set the rules.

    At some level, I’m OK with that – IF they are Mormon and IF they want to attend the temple. That is one thing, even as I believe we wouldn’t have to compromise our theology in any way to allow them to attend the temple but not be sealed (given the actual wording of the Law of Chastity in the temple). I’m not OK with it at all, however, when it comes to imposing it civilly, whatever their religious beliefs or lack thereof. I look at how I would react if the roles were reveresed – if a homosexual majority were to forbid heterosexual marriage (or if an evangelical majority were to forbid Mormon temple sealings), and I just can’t go there.

  325. Fairsister says:

    Great points James! It’s a futile conversation due to the general sentiment here that a heavenly law against homosexual acts is unjust and unfair and unfeeling. And secondly that it is mean and judgmental to believe that law.

    My husband, who experiences same sex attraction, has found joy and peace through Christ and his atonement. We believe It is only through faith and repentance in and by means of magnificent atonement can one fully keep the law. As my husband likes to say, …We are all broken.

  326. “the general sentiment here that a heavenly law against homosexual acts is unjust and unfair and unfeeling. And secondly that it is mean and judgmental to believe that law.”

    *Sigh* That isn’t being said here.

  327. “We are all broken.”

    Ironically, Russell and I just said that.

  328. Another Lurker says:

    if an evangelical majority were to forbid Mormon temple sealings

    Ray, as you are likely aware, such a law would be a facial violation of the free exercise clause and would never pass constitutional muster. Laws can incidentally restrict the practice of religion, as long as they apply to all religions equally – but you can’t target one religion. In light of that, is your role reversal thought exercise really helpful?

  329. #329 – It happened a little over 100 years ago, and “we” fought it hard and suffered greatly for it – although not just from the evangelical population. I understand the current constitutional issues and trends, so I agree it’s not likely to happen again, with regard to heterosexual, monogamous marriage (since that now is all that happens in the temples, as far as mortality is concerned), but saying it would never happen is saying history can never repeat its mistakes. Also, what if someone proposed forbidding temple sealings to more than one spouse using anti-polygamy laws as their basis. Constitutionality aside, how we would react is directly relevant to this discussion. If we are the ones doing the icky, non-mainstream stuff, does that change the picture any?

    In that way, it’s not unhelpful in the sense of why I asked it – a majority that loathes something (and there is a large percentage of people in the US who loathe Mormon temple sealings) legislating to ban it based on nothing more than their view of what God commands and desires – and that believes adamantly that Mormon temple sealings are abberant, abominable, loathesome, devilish, etc. If they tried to forbid a specific type of marriage based on those beliefs, and if it affected you and me personally, I wonder if we would switch arguments suddenly and rediscover our pioneer roots in a hurry.

  330. Latter-day Guy says:

    My husband, who experiences same sex attraction, has found joy and peace through Christ and his atonement. We believe It is only through faith and repentance in and by means of magnificent atonement can one fully keep the law. As my husband likes to say, …We are all broken.

    And I am sure the joy and peace your husband experiences is a great comfort to those parents whose gay kids have taken self-administered .45 caliber sleeping pills.

    In all sincerity, it’s great that you and your husband have found happiness navigating this territory in the way you have chosen. However, all doctrine aside, for many gay people the approach you’ve taken manifestly Does. Not. Work. The status quo is simply unacceptable. The Church has stopped making promises about how gay people can be made into straight people if only they will [get married; join Evergreen; use LDS Family Services; get priesthood blessings; stop being so damn selfish; participate in BYU's Patented S&M Nightmare Porn and Electroshock Cure!; etc.]. They’ve stopped making these promises because they’re all essentially bullsh*t. They don’t work. All the Church can offer now is a vague assurance that everything will be put right in the hereafter––homosexuality won’t be a post-mortal problem.

    If that’s the only carrot you’re dangling, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when gay kids decide to introduce themselves to a post-mortal state prematurely. If we want to point out abominations, perhaps we should start there.

  331. Latter-day Guy says:

    Incidentally, I’m pretty sure that “BYU’s Patented S&M Nightmare Porn and Electroshock Cure!” would be an awesome name for a band.

  332. Is it possible to lean both directions? I believe same-sex activity is sin along with opposite-sex activity outside of marriage (wickedness never was happiness). But when we’re talking about marriage laws, we’re in the realm of public policy rather than Christian doctrine. One’s religious beliefs certainly should inform his or her public policy views, but they generally shouldn’t dictate them. I believe in teaching correct principles and letting others govern themselves. I’ve never had to vote on this issue, but I appreciate that one could vote for something which he or she sees as wrong. For example, a county commissioner could vote in favor of zoning laws allowing adult bookstores in a certain portion of the county, even though he or she sees pornography as sin.

    I wish I knew where it will stop. If the gay community gets the right to marry among themselves, will they be satisfied? Or will they insist that I and my church must recognize and start solemnizing same-sex marriages, under penalty of law? Will they want to charge me with a hate crime for believing that same-sex activity is sin? I’m generous with my vote as a general rule (you give me what I want and I’ll give you what you want, or you leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone), but I have seen that the gay community is so loud, so strident, so mean and even ruthless, that I’m afraid to be kind to them with a vote in this matter. I’m also afraid not to be kind.

  333. ji, I respect being torn on this issue and appreciate that what you expressed is where so many people are right now, and I appreciate the honesty of your comment – but you might want to modify the last part of your statement to say that “some gay marriage advocates” instead of “the gay community”.

    One of the issues is when generalizations obscure the fact that “the gay community” is just like “the straight community” and “the Mormon community” n many ways – especially in that the community is made up of very diverse people. I know you know that, but the term “the gay community” is like “the gay lifestyle”. it just doesn’t exist as a monolithic, homogenous entity. We ought, therefore, to be very careful when using it.

  334. Thanks, Ray… You’re right.

  335. Observer says:

    I think a large part of the issue here comes down to the issue of revelation and how it is supposed to be handled.

    As an individual, I have the right to receive personal revelation to direct my own life. Within my callings or other stewardships (such as parenthood), I have the right to receive revelation to direct that stewardship. However, if I take what was given to me as a personal revelation, or for direction of my stewardship, and attempt to use it to control someone or something outside my stewardship, I have crossed the line.

    The only person who has the authority to receive revelation to direct the Church (and indeed, for the entire world) is the President of the Church. He is the person whose stewardship covers the Church as a whole.

    If I receive a personal revelation that seems to conflict with what the Prophet teaches, then it really leaves me with only three options:
    1) Disregard my personal revelation. This would seem spiritually dangerous to me, as we are expected to follow the light and knowledge that God gives us.
    2) Disregard the Prophet. This also would seem spiritually dangerous to me, as if we truly believe he is God’s spokesperson, we shouldn’t disregard his counsel.
    3) Keep our conflict private and personal, and trust that God will eventually reveal more to make it all fit. We don’t know all of God’s reasons, and don’t know all of His plans.

    If you choose option 1), you are essentially abandoning the basis of personal testimony. If you choose option 2), you are basically rejecting the Church is true (by rejecting the Prophet). Option 3) is by far the hardest course, but the only one that can really reconcile the conflicting messages.

    There were many people who received personal revelations regarding the Priesthood prior to the 1978 revelation, but that didn’t mean that it was appropriate for them to criticize the Church or its leadership because they didn’t follow those personal revelations immediately. President McKay repeatedly prayed to inquire about the prohibition, but did not receive an answer that it should be lifted. That suggests that, while the Lord may have spoken to individuals on the subject, He wasn’t prepared to speak to the Church as a whole on that subject.

    Similarly, just because the Lord has given you an answer doesn’t mean that the answer He gave you was meant to be shared with others or treated as authoritative on others. If it’s outside your stewardship, you just have to have faith that the Lord is actually directing His church.

  336. it's a series of tubes says:

    #336, I’d like to hit a like button for your comment.

  337. wreddyornot says:

    Observer, could you/do you distinguish “criticism” from “questioning”? Are they different or the same? How and why? An answer given by the Lord might not be intended to be shared with others, but might it not be so? Might not questioning missing the spittoon and ignoring it for others to clean up after lead to, say for example, a Word of Wisdom? For example, we all know we have a HM as well as a HF. Is it inappropriate to ask where HM is? Is it, in your belief, wrong to ask why same-sex marriage might not be morally better than living without it?

    Fairsister, it seems there are jerks in all venues, even the school system. We need common sense, love, and the rule of law and order. Nonetheless, we must evolve. The ideal is perfection, no?

  338. Observer says:

    #338,

    Questioning is one thing, and should usually be done in private. It starts to cross the line into criticism when you make it public and start using it to try to force or influence changes within the Church, particularly outside of your own stewardship(s).

    If you openly criticize or attempt to undermine the positions of the Church (as taught under the direction of the Prophet), can you honestly say that you are sustaining the Prophet in his position? To me, sustaining priesthood leadership means that you follow their counsel, even when you disagree with it. Why? Because you have faith that the Lord is ultimately directing His church, and that He will sort things out in His own time.

    For example, when I was 17, I started college on a concurrent enrollment program (in place of my senior year of high school). I was still living at home and attending my home ward, but I was essentially a normal college student. During that time, I decided to start attending the YSA Sunday School class instead of the 17-year-old class, because I was essentially transitioned to being a YSA (and I was within 3 months of my 18th birthday).

    My Bishop caught me after Church one day and asked to speak with me for a moment. He instructed me to attend the 17-year-old class instead of the YSA class. He didn’t explain why, only that it was what he felt was appropriate. I strongly disagreed with him. After all, if I had gone off to another school on a similar program I would be treated like any other YSA, and the Institute program encourages high school seniors to attend classes and activities.

    However, even though I disagreed with the Bishop, I decided to follow his counsel. I remained in the 17-year-old Sunday School class until the end of the year (a few weeks after my birthday). I sustained my priesthood leader, even though I disagreed with his counsel. To this day, while I still think he was wrong (and he’s now in the Stake Presidency), I don’t regret my decision to sustain him.

  339. wreddyornot says:

    Thanks, Observer, for your reply. Usually, you say. So whereas the issue of this post is same-sex marriage — a societal secular issue — is it okay, in your view, to question or to state a postition, like Brother Fox does? Or does your ecclesiastical beliefs extend to that realm too? And relative to complaining about spittoons — under your view that’s only okay if it’s done in private? What constitutes private for you? I don’t have private conversations with the Prophet. Seems we have a lot of history on spittoons relative to the WofW and various feelings regarding Priesthood changes prior to June 1978, doesn’t it? Don’t we still have a lot of questioning about ERA and rights for women? And you think this all should be addressed privately? Usually?

  340. xhinago says:

    In other words, when President Obama has spoken, the thinking is done.

  341. Fairsister says:

    Fact: Religious persecution does and will occur to those who do not adhere to the LGBT agenda
    Chick-fil-a

  342. Latter-day Guy says:

    Seriously, Fairsister? How long has it been since you visited the home planet? Boycotting Chick-fil-a ≠ religious persecution. But thanks for reminding me of this!

  343. LDG:
    Fair Sister has a point. If you don’t get with the LGBT agenda, they go after you mercilessly.

  344. MikeInWeHo says:

    Yes, those merciless, ruthless, mean gays want to wipe out religion completely!

    Good grief, I need to open an exchange program so you can come visit and actually meet a few gay people. We’re actually rather polite in real life.

  345. Mark Brown says:

    Since when did Mormonism become a religion of thin-skinned crybabies? Our forebears at Haun’s Mill and Far West knew and understood the meaning of persecution. If they could see us today, they would be ashamed, if they could first stop laughing.

  346. Latter-day Guy says:

    346 –– Amen, amen, and amen! The list of what gets labeled as “persecution” is crazy. Most of the time, the correct word would be “disagreement.”

  347. Of course Mark Brown and others feel like they have to ridicule. Great example

  348. Latter-day Guy says:

    Yes, Henry. Remember, if you don’t get with this blog’s “agenda” (ill defined and thus conveniently elastic enough to stretch to cover anything you don’t like) Mark Brown and others will go after you mercilessly. Congrats––you just became the QED to #346.

  349. Chris H. says:

    Henry, you realize you are reinforcing Marks point, right?

  350. Chris H. says:

    “Mark’s point”

  351. (When I see someone in a blog comment say “Fact:”, I can’t help but hear it in the voice of that kind in the Kid History video: “FFFFFFAAAAAACKUH-TUH.”)

  352. Capozaino says:

    @ 343

    You underestimate the holy devotion people render to the infallible fried chicken establishment with impeccable customer service. Yea, it is truly the only true and living fast food joint. Well, that and In-N-Out (in the mouths of two witnesses, and all that).

  353. Since when did Mormonism become a religion of thin-skinned crybabies? Our forebears at Haun’s Mill and Far West knew and understood the meaning of persecution. If they could see us today, they would be ashamed, if they could first stop laughing.

    Mark B,

    This made my night.

  354. Those who seek tolerance will ultimately not tolerate those who once tolerated them.

    The suggestion that you don’t have to be seen to agree with the LGBT agenda is absolutely wrong. Indeed, a good friend advised me to be careful of putting too much personal information on here in case those with contrary views attempted to cause difficulty for me in my professional life. For the record, this person is very sympathetic to the majority of views expressed herein. Case in point.

    Russell’s ‘aberration’ point (i.e. that homosexuality is a deviation from the norm like many disabilities) cannot even be safely made here in England in the public forum. Has it been proven to be wrong? No. It just isn’t popular.

    Categorising Mormons who don’t get with the agenda, and think it rather unfair that genuine comments are met with abuse, is disingenuous. Look back at the thread and consider who expressed hurt when arguments were presented rather than insults. When something is said which doesn’t accord with the LGBT agenda it is met with scorn and personal attacks (or even storming off). Those attacked should more thick-skinned apparently. When non-attacking arguments are made against the LGBT stance, ridicule and abuse (or even storming off) follows: Who is thin-skinned? It is the classic double standard.

    The world has all but won the argument to promote homosexuality. It is a shame that those who profess a belief in the doctrines of the church are so blinded/overpowered by their desire to sin (and allow friends to sin because they are friends), that they attempt to justify their sins rather than repent, abstain etc…

  355. Observer says:

    #340,

    “Private” doesn’t mean that you only complain about it behind closed doors. I consider it more along the lines of the way that Mary “kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart”.

    Sustaining our priesthood leaders is one way in which we show our faith that the Lord is directing the Church. If you don’t have that faith that He is directing the Church, then what basis do you really have to believe that the Church is true? Why would you continue to be an active member of a church that you don’t believe is directed by God, especially when it claims to be?

    That doesn’t mean that you think the Church’s leaders are infallible, but rather that you trust that God will make everything work out in the end, that the Atonement doesn’t just cover my infirmities, or your infirmities, but also the infirmities and failings of those that God has chosen to lead His Church. I have faith that God can and will make sure that no one is unfairly penalized for the actions or failings of another, even if that other is the President of the Church.

    Applying those principles to this issue, I would say that the best course is to keep any personal revelations on the subject to yourself (within your stewardships), and not criticize or oppose the Church’s position. When it comes to how to vote, I find it instructive that the Church didn’t tell anyone through ecclesiastical channels how they had to vote (nor could they verify it anyways). How you cast your vote is both personal and private. In 2008, the Church sent out the same letter that they send out every year, telling people to study the issues and vote according to their conscience.

    There’s no hard-and-fast line, but personally I tend to err on the side of avoiding making comments that would serve to undermine and not sustain my priesthood leaders.

  356. Observer says:

    #343,

    Boycotting is one thing. Violating the constitutional rights of Chick-Fil-A is another thing.

    For a government official to publicly state that they will prevent Chick-Fil-A from getting a business license in their jurisdiction (as the Mayor of Boston and an alderman in Chicago have both done) because of the protected speech of a company or its officers is a form of persecution. It’s why we have protections for free speech and freedom of religion.

    Note that the threats weren’t because Chick-Fil-A is accused of discriminating when it comes to service or employment, but because of statements by the CEO in opposition to same-sex marriage and financial support to charities that are also opposed to same-sex marriage.

    Article: http://www.volokh.com/2012/07/26/chicago-alderman-i-will-deny-business-permit-because-there-are-consequences-for-its-owners-statements-and-beliefs-and-they-should-include-denial/

  357. Latter-day Guy says:

    It is a shame that those who profess a belief in the doctrines of the church are so blinded/overpowered by their desire to sin

    Wow, James. Just wow. I’m sorry to have wasted my time on this thread, specifically by responding to you. The cumulative effect of your comments here, and of the above-quoted portion in particular, makes it clear that you have not been participating in good faith. It would have been nice if you’d just said so from the beginning. Obviously, my disagreement with you is based in my overwhelming desire to serve the devil.

    What a waste of time.

  358. I am pretty sure that my support for gay marriage is the result of decades of listening to Black Sabbath.

  359. Mark Brown says:

    We have now reached the point of surreal ridiculousness.

    Apparently James and others are unaware that the church has issued a written statement, clearly saying that a member’s position on gay rights has no bearing whatsoever on worthiness, and is not to be taken into account by local leaders when it comes to callings and temple recommends. So, under the guise of standing up for righteousness, these self-appointed righteousness nazis decide for themselves to do the job the general authorities are unwilling to do, and cleanse the church of sinners. Good job looking beyond the mark, guys.

  360. Mark Brown says:

    FACT: Religious persecution is real. I experienced it this morning. At breakfast, and in spite of my garment line which clearly showed through my light colored shirt, the waitress insisted on asking me if I wanted coffee. THIS IS A DIRECT AFFRONT TO MY RELIGIOUS SENSIBILITIES!! And it that weren’t enough, 15 minutes later yet another waitress came by with a foul pot of brew, and tried to get me to break my covenants YET AGAIN!

    FACT. The coffee lobby has now infiltrated that most innocent of places, McDonald’s restaurants. Within just a few feet of the indoor playground, children as young as 3 or 4 years old are exposed to cleverly packaged coffee products like latte and cappuccino. These evil and designing men have changed the name to mislead the unaware into thinking their drink doesn’t contain that vile substance.

    FACT. At the school board meetings, they always have a large coffee urn on the back table. It isn’t enough that these sinners drink their vile poison right out in front of everybody, but they force me to breathe the second hand vapors of brewing coffee. THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!! And guess what? If I were to stand up and tell them that coffee is offensive to God, Jesus, YHWH, Ra, Vishnu, The Buddha, and Thomas S. Monson, they would ostracize me. That’s right, I’m the victim there, and yet they would probably call the cops and have me forcibly ejected, just for standing up for my beliefs.

    FACT. The coffee lobby is very real and very aggressive. They are relentless in pushing their agenda on the rest of society, and they just won’t quit until they have forced their lifestyle DOWN OUR THROATS!!

    I tell you, it’s a real bitch, standing up for truth and righteousness these days.

  361. RE: Comments 339 and 356, specifically, and several others I don’t want to take the time to go back and find.

    I don’t agree that “sustaining my priesthood leaders” requires that I must do what they say. Briefly, there are many instances regarding highly public positions taken by Church leadership where support for contrary actions was given by some GAs–such as voting against Prop 8 in California.

    The full and operational (meaning what we have to do to perform it) meaning of Sustain has never been adequately discussed. I know that the overwhelmingly common meaning is that we must do what they say–among other aspects or requirements of being able to say “yes” to that question in the temple recommend interview. But, as with politics, fads, fans of all genres, and much of the so-called doctrines of the Church, (as someone more clever than I once said) “the public are an idiot.” And, in such doctrinal matters, the commonly-held belief is so very often wrong (the literalness of Genesis–all of it–for example).

    But, I bloviate. Primarily I am just suggesting to this forum’s owners that they commission a discussion on just what requirements “sustain” imposes on the “faithful.”

  362. clearly saying that a member’s position on gay rights has no bearing whatsoever on worthiness

    Doesn’t mean it isn’t the right thing to oppose the homosexual militants forcing their views on everybody.

  363. Mark Brown says:

    So true, Henry. Like when last Christmas, those militant homosexuals forced themselves into the conference center and sat on the front row, as honored guests of the First Presidency. Will this never stop?

  364. @361, so true. The other morning in my office while I was sipping a Red Bull and eating a doughnut a colleague dropped by and asked why I wouldn’t drink coffee. I responded that I follow the Lord’s Law of Health and that requires I abstain from coffee. I thoughy my answer was fine but didn’t understand what he found so funny in my response. Now, I see I was being mocked for honoring the Lord’s law of health. I’m now heading out for lunch at McDonalds and b/c it is so damn hot around here I will swing by Dairy Queen afterwards for an oreo blizzard to top off my big mac, french fries and root beer (no caffeine here!). But, at no point will I even consider drinking iced tea in this heat-way too unhealthy.

  365. Observer says:

    #362,

    The definition of “sustain” that I work from is based on what it says in the Guide to the Scriptures: “To pledge support to those serving in general and local Church leadership positions.”

    How can you honestly say that you support them if you openly criticize them for what they teach or say in an official capacity?

    You have a choice as to whether or not to sustain them, but don’t try to claim that criticism or opposition to their teachings is a form of sustaining them.

    I didn’t even say that you have to actively do everything that they say. On this sort of issue, all I’ve said is that you shouldn’t actively stand up and oppose them. If you feel that you’ve received direct revelation that contradicts their teachings, then you need to decide whether or not you think they are actually God’s representatives. If they are, then openly opposing or criticizing them is also opposing and criticizing God. If they aren’t, then why do you remain a member of a church that they are leading? No one forces you (or anyone else) to remain a member.

    That’s really what it boils down to. If you believe that the are God’s representatives, then by obeying them you are showing your faith in God, even if you disagree with their counsel. If you don’t believe that, then why maintain a membership that suggests that you do believe it? You can’t have it both ways, claiming that the do represent God, but then picking and choosing when they deserve your support for their teachings.

  366. Since nobody’s really addressed Observer’s #357 with actual facts from the news cycle: yes, two politicians tried to threaten Chick-Fil-A by, in effect, banning them in Boston. Since, as you and MANY other people immediately pointed out, that would be unconstitutional (First Amendment grounds), it will never happen. Within 24 hours, both politicians’ offices had backed off the statements, admitting that it would be illegal to make good on their threat.

    In other words, this is a bad example of how THE MILITANT HOMOSEXUAL LOBBY will inevitably start taking away your gay-disapproving freedoms in the public sphere. It’s a good example of politicians either (a) saying poorly-thought-out things in response to a news story or (b) pandering, or both. Nothing surprising about either.

  367. Observer says:

    #367,

    First of all, at least one of those politicians (the Chicago alderman) hasn’t really backed off. If anything, his Chicago Tribune op-ed doubled down on his threat. Both the mayors of Boston and Chicago have backed off their support.

    However, that still ignores the real problem with that sort of behavior. Even though it’s unconstitutional, and the city would lose in court, it is still an attempt to force an expensive lawsuit to get them to back down. It’s also using the power of government to persecute someone because of their religious or political beliefs and speech. That’s unacceptable, even if the end result is that the persecutor loses.

  368. Fairsister says:

    I stand by the work I did promoting Prop 8. I believe that Homosexual marriage and it’s subsequent repercussions will affect public education, religious life and the economic arena negatively. I have seen it begin to happen already.

    Thanks to all who speak to the issue of homosexual rights pro and con rather than attack the person who posts with name calling or snide remarks. I respect you……….and that’s a FACT ;)!

  369. wreddyornot says:

    Observer (seems and odd name for you on this forum), I personally don’t see how pledging support forecloses infrequently going a different direction on something a person feels moved upon, perhaps even inspired, to do. I’d take that stand even with my father, both my earthly father and my Heavenly Father. There’s something fine to be learned in questioning and the Savior recommended it.

    People often pledge support to individuals or causes in varying venues. That doesn’t mean there may not be a few differences, even important differences they might like to preserve, to question, to explore, to understand better.

    Unlike some maybe who claim differently, I don’t see the world in terms of black and white or this and that, but much more textured, variously colored, hot and cold and everything in between. I don’t even imagine life hereafter is like that black and white crap either. I see people like me in that too, even the highly placed. It’s more like the genuine human experience that everyone actually lives. Can I not raise questions to my political preference without, as you say, sustaining him or her on the bulk of what he or she represents? Of course I can. I do.

    So I boldly claim that raising questions or making assertions — if you call that “criticism” — doesn’t foreclose sustaining the General Authorities or Heavenly Father. In a sense, we’re all God’s representatives, and I, for one, don’t plan to forgo the use of my endowment of sense, reason, and intellect.

  370. Fwiw, I have served in multiple positions in the Church requiring I give counsel to leaders. In every case, I’ve been honest in the counsel I have given, even when my counsel went against what my leader was thinking of doing. Sometimes, my counsel helped change my leader’s mind; sometimes, it had no effect. Once my counsel was given, I supported whatever decision was reached. In every case throughout my life, my leaders have thanked me for prividing contrary counsel when I believed something differently than they did.

    To me, that is an important part of sustaining – making sure my leaders have as much counsel as possible to consider every detail possible before making a decision or in order to change a decision. To me, that approach is FAR more of true sustaining than just being a Yes Man.

    My comments here amount to what my counsel would be if asked – nothing more. I sustain the Church leadership, and part of that is being honest and open with them.

  371. James L says:

    No. 360

    “Apparently James and others are unaware that the church has issued a written statement, clearly saying that a member’s position on gay rights has no bearing whatsoever on worthiness, and is not to be taken into account by local leaders when it comes to callings and temple recommends. So, under the guise of standing up for righteousness, these self-appointed righteousness nazis decide for themselves to do the job the general authorities are unwilling to do, and cleanse the church of sinners. Good job looking beyond the mark, guys.”

    Promoting, and advocating something characterised as sin (I speak now not of the Proposition 8, but doctrinally of the practice of homosexuality- and to that extent we are perhaps talking at cross purposes (my opposition in this thread has been principally to doctrinal justification)), is wrong. To suggest that anyone has said that it has a bearing on worthiness is wrong, but I rather suspect that if anyone who openly advocated as many do here for a doctrinal change to the status of homosexual practice, might struggle to answer at least one of the temple recommend interviews honestly (except perhaps before a similarly minded bishop).

    Oh, and nice use of the word Nazi. You advocate sin, and characterise anyone who disagrees as a Nazi. I’m glad that those like me have enough about them not to trade insults. The fact is that the practice of homosexuality is an aberration, a deviation, a sin. If you can’t see it and accept it, there is probably no way of helping you to accept otherwise.

    No. 358

    LDG; I am truly sorry that my views irk you so much. For the record, I am very thankful for your detailed response. I am looking at the issues you raised closely. I am not seeking to discuss in bad faith, but I do have a view on the doctrinally sound basis for describing homosexual practice as sin, and I have not yet be persuaded otherwise. I do think that those who advocate for the LGBT agenda do so out of a mis-guided sense of loyalty, and a very skewed interpretation of doctrine and hope of for change.

  372. Capozaino says:

    Promoting and advocating marriage for gays does not promote or advocate sin. In other words, it’s one thing to say, “Let’s treat each other equally as fellow citizens,” and quite another to say, “Homosexuality is the best! Let’s all try it!”

  373. James, you keep mischaracterizing what most people here have been saying.

    Please try to understand that.

  374. Capozaino
    Promoting and advocating marriage for gays does not promote or advocate sin.

    It most certainly does.

  375. Observer says in #368 that an “expensive lawsuit” between the city and Chick-Fil-A is the inevitable result of the Chicago alderman shooting off his mouth. That may play nicely into the narrative that white Christians in America–perhaps the most privileged majority in the history of the world–are actually some persecuted underclass, but it’s just not going to happen. If this actually turns into a expensive, high-profile legal battle, I will donate $500 to the gay marriage-hating nonprofit of your choice. This is politics, not policy.

    Among the bastions of conservative thought that have condemned your militant gay-loving alderman: Time magazine, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Illinois ACLU. This one ignorant city politician is no more the first step in some vast conspiracy to derive you of your rights than every idiot red-state senator saying something dumb about women or creationism or Islam is a dire threat to the Constitution.

  376. MoHoHawaii says:

    James L. (# 321) said:

    But you cannot really believe that the Lord wants and will allow the homosexual relationship to be eternal, can you? The very thought is so far removed from the doctrine.

    I understand that this was a rhetorical question, but I think it deserves to be taken seriously. There’s potential for mutual understanding here, even if our conclusions aren’t the same. I respect the fact that your belief differs from mine on this issue. With that preface, here’s my take on the theological question.

    In 19th century Mormonism the sealing ordinance was applied in a variety of situations, and not just between husbands and wives. There were fraternal sealings between intimate friends and even sealings that bound servants to their masters in the eternities. There’s plenty of precedent for the concept of
    eternal association of various kinds. The sealing ordinance had broader application than it does in current practice. It is not beyond the realm of speculation to consider the possibility of life-long partners being sealed for the eternities. Whether it’s called marriage is beside the point. Surely, devoted, committed partners mean at least as much to each other as masters and servants or intimate friends, for which there’s ample precedent with the sealing ordinance. This is just a thought experiment. I don’t expect LDS policy to change in my life time. However, the conclusion I reach makes completely comfortable to let the eternities take care of themselves. If the cause is just, then some accommodation will be made. I’m not in charge of LDS doctrine and don’t have to be.

    But is the cause just? That’s the subtext of the original question. Is it conceivable that committed gay unions have the capacity to be holy? Can gay marriage be a blessed estate?

    My suggestion is similar to MikeInWeHo’s: get to know some gay people. Listen to them. Interact with them. We’re not all that different from you. As is often the case, what you fear the most is not what you think it is. From listening to hundreds of gay couples over the years and from my own personal experience, I’ve found that same-sex relationships have exactly the same capacity for joy and fulfillment as those between men and women. They embody the same principles of sacrifice and devotion. They have the same life-giving spark and bring stability to those whose lives are blessed by them. They are deserving of the same dignity and respect as straight relationships.

    It’s not as if there’s a fixed resource here to be preserved. It’s not as if celebrating gay unions diminishes straight relationships in any way. You basically have the situation where some people who would not ordinarily marry members of the opposite sex get the benefits of marriage– stability, companionship, pair bonding, financial security and all of the other benefits of family status. How does this harm the majority? It doesn’t. It simply allows avenues for happiness that would otherwise
    be cut off from some people. On the other hand, how does it benefit gay couples and their children? This is well documented and is probably not even controversial at this point.

    What happens in the hereafter is not something that has to be settled today. I am not agitating or doctrinal change of any kind. If the cause is just, some accommodation will be made in the eternities, and that’s enough for me. What needs to stop today, however, is the ritual shunning of gay people via excommunication and disfellowshipping. Committed gay couples and their children need to be welcomed in the pews before we can even begin to have the next discussion.

  377. Josh Turner has a song called Long Black Train and advises humanity not to ride the Long Black Train because it’s only destiny is nowhere.

  378. Ugly Mahana says:

    377:

    From one on the other side of the fence – Thank you! I line up quite comfortably with the current majority LDS position, but I can certainly relate to the frustration you must have with that position. Your statement is remarkably generous, mild, measured, and respectful. Well stated. (If you can stand the reference to Pres. Hinckley, I think it is a marvelous example of disagreeing without being disagreeable.)

  379. Capozaino says:

    #375
    In what way? My understanding of current LDS teachings is that homosexual actions are sinful. I don’t think same-sex marriage causes homosexual action. Rather, given that people are going to perform homosexual acts, whether married or not, we should promote the most healthy and stable form of relationship for everyone: marriage. In this way, I think my approach mirrors the church’s approach to divorce; in light of the fact that not everyone will live within what the church teaches is the ideal relationship, at least let those that don’t conform lead lives that are as healthy, safe, happy, and as close to the ideal as possible for them.

  380. 380
    Human bodies are not designed for gay sex.

  381. Capozaino says:

    #380
    I wish you had actually answered my question, instead of spouting a non-sequitur.

  382. Re: #367, 368, 370, and 371: wreddyornot responded to Observer (responding to my #367) much better than I could have. I was getting ready to point out that Observer’s definition of “sustain” would require me to shut up (except in private) and obey, or leave the church, when its leaders were preaching racism, sexism, strict creationism, and up until very recently, the abomination of being homosexual.

    I think it is extremely valuable/useful/righteous to think independently and to speak up (in appropriate ways–including, but not limited to those listed by Ray in #371) in disagreement to the “commonly-held” beliefs/teachings of our highly traditional Mormon culture. That, so far as I can see is the ONLY way such false beliefs/practices are ever corrected. Have we as a church ever made in progress in “social justice” issues that weren’t preceded by the wider culture having done so many years earlier and our own internal “radicals” talking about it at length (Dialogue and Sunstone prior to the Internet forums)?

    For example, I was taught, repeatedly as I grew up in a completely non-racist environment, and then specifically as a missionary in California in 1967, the Randy Bott version (But, back then it was Elder Marvin J. Ashton’s version) of why blacks couldn’t be given the priesthood. This, I was instructed, was how to answer the question if it came up. I did not see that explanation as rational or logical–even then I didn’t see God and his Plan of Salvation as mystical and magical, and beyond logical (uncreated) principles that define our existence. I am sad to say I did not speak up. At 19 I didn’t have the courage of my convictions nor the much wider knowledge I now have.

    I don’t think this small set of comments has produced a definitive understanding of what “sustain” means or requires in this, the more enlightened 21st Century. I think Observer’s comments reflect the current “common wisdom” and belief of the unthinking masses of the Church regarding what is required to “sustain.” But, if after a thorough discussion I become convinced God wants it to mean “obey,” then I won’t be able to answer yes to that question in the TR interview. On the other hand, if, due to “unrighteous dominion” I believe God has said “amen to the priesthood of that man,” then I have to decide whether to say NO to the TR question, but with an asterisk: the leader isn’t righteous as defined in Section 121. So, I am not required to “sustain?”

  383. Fairsister says:

    Capozaino I can’t agree with your idea that homosexual marriage would cause safety for our society. On the contrary, Gay marriage would increase homosexual behavior
    in our country by condoning it with a special privilege. In addition entities of the state would have to introduce, recognized and promote gay family life in school textbooks, public announcements etc. I
    Comparing gay marriage to divorce doesn’t pan out either. Jesus said the law of divorce was a lower law given by Moses because of “hard- hearted” Israel. In addition he explicitly said, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female. ..For this cause shall a man cleave to his wife and they twain shall be one flesh….” In essence in the beatitudes, a higher law of keeping the marriage covenant to the end was the best practice.

    Mo Ho We have many with same sex attraction in our congregations with whom we have bonded with in fellowship. The thing is, our brothers and sisters strive to not act out on their same sex attraction desires. They do as Jesus asks, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. They are able to do this by choosing to live a eunical life for the glory of God or with God’s grace are able to life the law of male and female marriage that Jesus has pronounced.

  384. Fairsister:
    I was kind of with you until you said this.

    They are able to do this by choosing to live a eunical life

  385. MikeInWeHo says:

    I think it’s spelled “eunuchal.”

    BTW:
    Best. Adjective. Ever.

  386. Fairsister says:

    Mike Eunuchal…. right…. thanks…not part of my everyday lexicon.
    Henry, I find it interesting that in Mathew’s beatitudes Jesus mentions natural eunuchs from birth, eunuchs “made” by man, and finally, self-made eunuchs who have chosen this path to glorify God. I would liken celibate homosexuals to this group. Denying themselves for the Glory of God.
    Fibisti, I agree that we should not be told how to answer doctrinal questions. For me the blacks in the Priesthood issue is best answered by the “timing” doctrines in scripture such as “the first shall be last and the last shall be first and some of the timing ideas in Revelations that God reveals or hides, or endows or withholds according to what he believes will help his children the most. In addition, the parable of the salaried agricultural workers who hired on in the morning for a wage and when the master of harvest saw that more workers were needed late in the day he hired more workers who received a full days wage.
    One of the outcomes of God’s timing in this issue is that we have integrated congregations with our black brothers and sisters not the race divided congregations found in many other faiths. At least that is my experience in western US wards that I have attended.

  387. #387 – Bruce R. McConkie said to forget every justification for the ban, no matter who gave it. Elder Holland said that the least we can do is not perpetuate justifications for the ban. In that light, I hope you understand that perpetuating justifications, according to you former comments in this thread, constitutes not sustaining the prophets and apostles. I hope you sustain them by acknowledging you are ignoring their official requests and repenting of that willful choice.

    Frankly, that’s the path I take with regard to how homosexuals have been treated by too many members, including in this thread. I don’t question or challenge the Law of Chastity as articulated in the temple. I accept it fully. However, I’m not about to justify the legal, civil double standards that have existed and still exist in our society.

  388. Fairsister says:

    Ray, I get you and I disagree on the issue of gay marriage. I am not treating anyone poorly. I am submitting my personal ideas and backing them up with examples and my reasoning. I am sure you are more educated and knowledgeable than I am especially about “official requests” of the prophets and apostles. I am not afraid of you or your reproach and will continue to express my views.

  389. Glass Ceiling says:

    What a mess! All I can say is that it must be the Last Days. “Even the elect will be deceived.” So,

  390. michelle says:

    “My comments here amount to what my counsel would be if asked – nothing more. I sustain the Church leadership, and part of that is being honest and open with them.”

    This helps me understand you better, Ray. I disagree with this approach (I don’t think there is a need to be honest with them unless they actually ask for your input) but I am glad you explained this.

  391. Glass Ceiling says:

    What a mess! All I can say is that it must be the Last Days. “Even the elect will be deceived.” So, since we are ALL elect, some of us HAVE to be wrong.

    I say, when in doubt, fake it.

    What I really mean is follow the Prophet. Its the Last Days, remember? Fire, brimstone, and whatnot? We can love sinners and not the sin. We can tolerate a contrary lifestyle without bowing to it and making it “Holy Matrimony. ” Can’t we? Or is that stance just plain ignorance and bigotry?

  392. michelle says:

    Ray, to talk about the lifting of the ban being a timing thing is actually consistent with what some of our leaders have said, Elder Holland being one of them. I agree with you that we ought not stretch that to speculate on why the timing might have been what it was (so I’m not keen on the more detailed speculation in the comment you mention) but the general concept of timing is something we’ve heard and was recently stated again.

    e.g., Elder Holland in a recent article about the Church and gospel in Africa:
    “In some ways,” he said, “the gospel is late in coming to Africa, at least as we could do it on the Lord’s timetable—and it was the Lord’s timetable, I’m quick to affirm.” (emphasis mine)

  393. Thanks, everyone, for your participation. The Holy Ghost goes to bed around the 200th comment, so we’ve been playing with fire for a long time now, and it’s time to stop.

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