10 Questions For Sister Oscarson

Dear President Oscarson,

I like you President Oscarson. I like your wit and your humility. I know I’m not a young woman anymore but I feel like you’re my leader. I feel comfortable with you. I want to support all the women leaders in our church. In fact, I look at you like a Helaman and here we are your daughters ready to fight for what you deem worthy. Maybe that’s going a bit far. But you know, we’re Mormon and we like to draw dramatic parallels. Anyway, I bring that up because the other night you asked us to do three things: defend marriage between a man and woman, elevate divine roles of mothers and fathers and stand and defend the sanctity of the home. You also asked us to boldly defend the proclamation.

Now, I want to be on your team President. I want to be one of those faithful saints who says “YES I WILL” to whatever you ask. Like I said above, I want female leaders of our church to be effective and strong and I realize my willingness to do what you ask is in direct correlation with your effectiveness. And when it comes to your messages on inclusion and compassion I am right there on the battlefront (I mean, in theory, in reality I am a failure). But what you asked me to do last night, President, I don’t know if I can do it. If we were sitting in a situation room and the family was under attack as you say it is, before we decided on a stratagem I would ask a few questions. And that’s how I feel right now. Before we carry out this plan as you presented it, I am going to ask some questions to clarify some things:

1. Why is gender so important? And what does it mean when we say “men and women are different”?

2. Why are gender roles important? Why can’t we say it’s the parent’s primary job to nurture, provide, and protect? Why separate the roles by gender? Sorry that was three questions in one. I am writing to you as if you are really reading this and so this is getting sorta weird.

3. Tell me more about the attack on the family. Who is doing the attacking? What are they saying? I am raising four little children and I feel like those who are attacking the family are the people who hate Obamacare. Is that what you are saying? Are you pro-Obamacare like me?

4. In the same vein, when you ask me to defend the Proclamation to whom am I defending it? Also, I don’t know what I am defending. This is very confusing to me. Is it because I live in Provo? Am I too much in the bubble? I mean, even here I have friends who are transgender, but I am not going to knock on their door or anything, you know? I don’t know.

5. Explain preside.

6. When you use the term “doctrine of the family” I don’t know what that means. I just don’t. Are we saying the Proclamation is doctrine? You know what? I don’t even know what the word doctrine means really. Can you explain all of it starting from the beginning?

7. Have you read Chieko Okazaki’s account of the Proclamation and how the women leaders of our church were not consulted before it was presented? I read that interview several years ago and I have to tell you I sobbed for a week about it. You are not asking for my opinion (you aren’t even reading this really) but I think it’s a tragedy that the women of our church had no say in that document. Is a document the same as doctrine? Wait…

8. Is a document the same as doctrine? When do I know if these things are going to stick forever or if they’re going to be around until they don’t make sense anymore? Like you know, many things in our history. The Proclamation is only twenty years old. I mean, it’s a baby. A wee baby blip on the timeline of our church.

9. What do I do if defending the Proclamation and marriage between a man and a woman makes me feel totally unChristlike and what if defending those makes me feel like I am letting my children down and therefore makes me feel like I’m not strengthening my own family? And TANGENT: what if I feel like my greatest enemies aren’t actually living outside of our church but are actually the very women I share our religion? What if I feel like the way they stand for the family makes me feel like I don’t want to stand with them? What if every time the leaders of our church talk about these things it gives them more reason to be awful to people who don’t agree? What if I’ve resigned myself to a lesser kingdom if being in the Celestial Kingdom means I have to hang out with them? AM I GOING TO HELL?

10. What do I do if I have presented these questions to bishops and leaders and anyone and everyone who will listen to me and nobody has any answers but when I go quietly in prayer to the Lord and I hear the entire and total opposite of what you are asking me to do? And what if that answer gives me relief and peace and makes me a better mom and wife and sister and friend? And what if that peace is interrupted every single time I am “called to the battlefront” for this cause? What if it destroys my family, President? That’s what I am really asking. What if “defending the family” ruins my own?

Because I’ve seen it happen to so many families. And I look at these four small children and this man who I gave my complete heart to and my friends whom I love and I feel deep down in my heart I know I cannot choose this battle. I can’t choose it without it destroying me.

What then?

Comments

  1. Oh man this is solid stuff. Let me know if you get answers to any of these.

  2. I had to scroll back up and look at the author, because I knew it had to be you. I have these very same questions. And I wish they had answers, because my answer from the Lord is the same as yours, and it causes me serious cognitive dissonance.

  3. Susiebjoe says:

    Exactly, my thoughts exactly. Thank you .

  4. Wow. Brava.

  5. First-rate questions.

  6. If I get to the Celestial Kingdom and it’s full of the types of folks who revel in their own righteousness on, say, Twitter, then I’ll gladly spend eternity slumming it in the lower ones!

  7. Yes. I would love to get some answers from leaders for once instead of having more questions pile up.

  8. Dear President Oscarson,

    Thank you for the story about the powerful young Italian woman. I’ve made sure my daughters have heard it twice. My spirit soared. However if Courtney and all the other hurt and confused women I’ve seen online are any indication, the rest of your talk felt like a haphazard rallying of the troops that resulted in some unfortunate friendly fire casualties. Your wonderful talent for outreach is now more needed than ever.

    EmJen

  9. I’m no Sister Oscarson, but I can share part of an answer that I hope will be helpful. You mentioned praying and receiving counsel from the Spirit which was the complete and total opposite of what was given by Sister Oscarson (and by extension the General Conference you received it from).

    We must always be prayerful as we live our lives. There are so many complexities we must deal with, yet one thing should be clear. It is part of the foundation of everything it means to be Mormon, in my understanding, that you will never get an answer from the Lord that goes against what the living Prophet teaches us.

    That doesn’t mean we ever blindly accept what is said, but that we can count on the fact that when God calls a Prophet to lead us back to Him with our families intact He won’t mislead us as your question suggests. The Lord doesn’t contradict the voice of His servants at General Conference to us in personal prayer no matter how badly we struggle to understand and live what they, on His behalf, ask of us.

    You have asked questions from your heart, and that is so important that we be authentic to the concerns we have and the things we don’t understand. Thank you for being a genuine person. I think, however, that the more important question for you to consider is whether or not you believe that God has called a living Prophet, Apostles, and others to help in the work of our salvation. I’m not saying not to ask your other questions, but that perhaps your struggle is deeper than what you’ve shared in your article.

    Other questions you might consider which could be helpful: is The Family: A Proclamation to the World a document inspired by God through His authorized servants? Like the Book of Mormon the Family Proclamation is either from God or it’s not. Either Christ leads this Church or He doesn’t.

    Many struggle with questions that are troubling to reconcile, but I promise that the answer to all the hard questions comes in the form of another question: do I trust God more than anyone else? We do have answers to many questions, but some we do not. I hope that you find answers on your faith journey.

    All the best.

    Brett

  10. Dear Brett,
    The proclamation has not been canonized. It was not written by any members of the First Presidency, etc. God may have had a hand in it, but so far, the church has not put it on the level of the BOM, so, you know, there’s that.

  11. I’m male, so you can disregard this, but I second what Brett said.

  12. I understand that the Proclamation hasn’t been canonized, but let me ask this: what would you do if it were? I feel like when someone says that it isn’t cannon like the Book of Mormon, it’s status as a worldwide statement of belief and prophecy rather than scripture becomes a way to avoid feeling guilty. I understand very well the pain of knowing when our actions don’t reflect our beliefs.

    Can you honestly say that the problems people have with the Proclamation would go away if it were cannon? The issue would still be there, and the only difference would be that it becomes more difficult to convince oneself that because it’s technically not scripture then I’m not bound to follow it. Looking for ways to avoid following a Prophet’s counsel never ended well for anyone. Why bother having a Prophet and Apostles in the first place if we’d rather not follow them when it goes against what we think is best? The reason we have a Prophet is because Heavenly Father knew that we wouldn’t be able to resolve these complex issues without clear direction from Him.

    The Prophet has been teaching the doctrine of the family for twenty years, ever since it was read by President Hinckley. It’s even framed on who knows how many people’s walls. We’re only obligated to follow a Prophet’s counsel if we want the protection that comes from doing so. God knows that we will struggle at times to follow the Prophet, but he simply asks us to trust Him, to hope and believe that no matter what the united voice of our Church leaders will never lead us down the wrong spiritual path.

  13. Anon this time says:

    I consider these tactics to be quite brilliant. Mormons have from their beginning been under occasionally real as well as perceived attacks. Now that the Godless Communists aren’t as big a threat, there is a need for a new fairly ambiguous enemy to fight against. Being perpetually under attack serves the dual purposes of bonding a large and sometimes disparate group together as well as uniting them in purpose. Those on the borders should also remember that there is boundary maintenance going on as well.

  14. Dear Brett,

    In addition to what RedLola said, there’s this: with the very first prophet of this dispensation, God asked us to receive Joseph’s words “as if from my own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:5). Why was that patience and faith necessary? Perhaps because Joseph was mortal and fallible and made mistakes, just like every other leader and member and person in the world.

    I think most members believe that Christ does lead this church. Where it gets tricky is sorting out the human from the divine. Our job is to pray to receive our own personal witnesses about the words of our leaders. And we don’t get to judge the personal witnesses of others.

    Also, this, from B.H. Roberts:

    “I think it is a reasonable conclusion to say that constant, never-varying inspiration is not a factor in the administration of the affairs even of the Church; not even good men [or women], no, not though they be prophets or other high officials of the Church, are at all times and in all things inspired of God.”

    The Church itself published that in B. H. Roberts, “Relation of Inspiration and Revelation to Church Government,” Improvement Era, March 1905, 365-66.

    Perhaps aspects of the proclamation were inspired. Perhaps others were not. The whole thing begs a more nuanced view than a simple yes or no.

  15. Hkgrobinson says:

    This. This. This. Especially #9.

  16. And, CJane, THANK YOU. I needed to know I wasn’t alone in this tonight.

  17. If I could add a #11. Why, if the “traditional” family of a man and a woman is so important, and we look to Heavenly Father as our model, then why o why aren’t we talking about Heavenly Mother too?

  18. It matters because uncanonized, it isn’t considered doctrine. Sort of like the ban on black men having the priesthood or any persons of color entering the temple. Was Brigham right to exclude them? Have you read the essays on lds,org? Are you familiar with some of the beliefs that were taught by the leadership of the church that we have since backed away from as not being doctrine, and in fact, also not being right? Whether or not it is doctrine matters deeply.

  19. Aleesa,
    Possibly because if polygamy is the celestial order, we’d have to talk about more than one of her? And that’s a bit sticky when trying to tout the holiness of modern, western European “traditional” marriage. I honestly don’t know and I really hope I’ve got this one wrong.

  20. @Anon, I think it would be very much a stretch to say that there is an imagined attack on the traditional family and the sanctity of life in general. Is this enemy “new”? No. You can read talks going way back talking about defending the family. However, the attacks are getting more and more prevalent and mainstream. Even just a casual perusal of popular media can demonstrate this. The number of people who belittle, mock or disregard the need for strong nuclear families is growing constantly. Abortion is killing millions of infants each year. Children born out of wedlock are statistically less likely to do well in school and are more likely to be financially and emotionally unstable. Deadbeat fathers fill our prisons while their children suffer roaming the streets of our major cities. Marriage is something that God established for a reason. For a purpose. Of course the adversary wants to make it seem insignificant. I’m not singling out gay marriage specifically. It’s everything. It’s mainstream Christians not taking the sanctity of the family seriously. It’s “Latter-day Saints” mocking Church leaders’ inspired talks on blogs.

    “We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”

    God knows more than any of us. To say otherwise is conceited. Let’s listen to (and trust) His anointed servants.

  21. Brett: “in my understanding, that you will never get an answer from the Lord that goes against what the living Prophet teaches us.” My experience contradicts your understanding. On the contrary, individuals often receive personal revelation that is not binding to the church at large but unique to their personal circumstances and situations. I was in RS a few years ago and several of us shared personal experiences of having received an answer to prayer that we did not need to “stay at home” as the prophet (Pres. Benson) admonished all women to do, that our path differed from that advice. Three of us shared the same type of very personal, revelatory experience.

    There were sisters in that room who expressed frustration, who were unhappy with their own situation in life, who felt that the sacrifice had been too great, that they didn’t feel happy or fulfilled or utilized. One said “I didn’t know we were allowed to pray for anything that contradicted what the prophet said.” They felt it wasn’t fair. Last I checked, that’s ALWAYS been the case – we are entitled to personal revelation, and it may differ from the group at large. My answer isn’t binding for anyone other than me. The Proclamation, despite its dubious origins, had the good common sense to talk about individual adaptation being required.

  22. Aleesa, if I may I want to point back to something yet unaddressed from my comment:

    For the sake of discussion let’s say the Proclamation was canonized as part of the Standard Works. Do you still subscribe to a more nuanced view to decide which part is inspired and which isn’t?

    Shouldn’t it say something about the content of the Proclamation that it’s been taught so regularly and consistently over the last twenty years in every General Conference? Wouldn’t the Lord have inspired either President Hinckley or President Monson to correct doctrinal mistakes? Surely the Lord doesn’t want us to be divided over false truths taught by His Prophet? In your view has the Prophet really been teaching us this false doctrine (marriage is ordained of God as being between man and woman) for so long? I made the assumption that that’s what you meant when you referred to things you felt in the Proclamation which weren’t inspired. If I’m wrong please forgive me.

    A nuanced approach to what the Brethren say in Conference as sometimes being inspired, and sometimes being incorrect or false teachings is the perfect cover to decide what one does and doesn’t want to have to accept as true. Having to cherry pick the truth out of the Prophet’s General Conference address is by far the worst way of leading us back to His presence. A nuanced approach to the word of the Lord (whether by His mouth or the mouth of His servants) simply doesn’t work.

  23. “Like the Book of Mormon the Family Proclamation is either from God or it’s not.”

    Um, no. That’s pretty much the worst thing you can ever say to someone struggling with something in the church. All this either truth or fraud, black or white, the Lord’s side or Satan’s side rhetoric is destructive to faith. That just sets up the board so that all someone needs to do to convince themselves it’s all false is find one problem, which is a pretty low bar. I don’t think that’s the kind of thing we want to be encouraging.

  24. Brett, there is a reason we have personal revelation. Also, I would like to point out that President Packer’s comment in GC about the Proc being revelation was edited to remove that before it was published online or in the Ensign. So, yeah, they do sometimes say not true things over the pulpit. Also, what Angela C said above.

  25. Brett,

    I do not doubt your intentions. But your claim that God will never contradict his servants is false. Those who lead the church are good men, but they are not infallible. By their own admission, they don’t get everything right. They seek inspiration and do the best they can given their limited understanding and the practical limitations of working by consensus. They err. The God in which I believe can speak peace and truth to every individual, even if that truth is not 100% consistent with what is spoken from then pulpit.

  26. Also, I think it’s creepy to capitalize “Prophet” and “Apostles” like they were deity (especially when talking about them all in the same sentence). How long before we start capitalizing possessives in relation to them as well because, after all, if it’s the Prophet’s will, it’s His will too, so why not?

    As I wrote that, I felt in my mind and my heart that someone at MWS has probably already done it.

  27. Brett,

    You said: “A nuanced approach to what the Brethren say in Conference as sometimes being inspired, and sometimes being incorrect or false teachings is the perfect cover to decide what one does and doesn’t want to have to accept as true. Having to cherry pick the truth out of the Prophet’s General Conference address is by far the worst way of leading us back to His presence. A nuanced approach to the word of the Lord (whether by His mouth or the mouth of His servants) simply doesn’t work.”

    Thank you. This needed to be said. Zion will never be established on the basis of cherry picking.

  28. Amen CJane. There was something about this talk and just the whole conference that felt much more….orchestrated than usual. Was it just me or did President Oscarson not seem entirely comfortable in much of that talk. I wonder if you did some authorship analysis of this talk and compared it to her past talks if it would stick out….Much of it just didn’t sound like her.

  29. “False prophets and false teachers are also those who attempt to change the God-given and scripturally based doctrines that protect the sanctity of marriage, the divine nature of the family, and the essential doctrine of personal morality. They advocate a redefinition of morality to justify fornication, adultery, and homosexual relationships. Some openly champion the legalization of so-called same-gender marriages. To justify their rejection of God’s immutable laws that protect the family, these false prophets and false teachers even attack the inspired proclamation on the family issued to the world in 1995 by the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles.” – Elder Ballard

  30. I don’t mean to imply that the leaders of the Church are infallible or otherwise incapable of making a mistake. What I mean is that I feel like it should be painfully obvious that when something is consistently taught over a period of decades that there is no error in the principle.

    From your perspective how long will the Lord allow President Monson to teach us something that is not in line with God’s will before He comes out and says “Sorry I was letting you all get misled for the last couple decades. I know I said I’d never let that happen, but I just wanted to see how you’d handle it.”

    If the Family Proclamation is lacking in inspiration, as many here have said {or implied), then why, if this actually is the true Church of Jesus Christ, does it continue for the 20th year? When, in your view, will God step in and correct the entire leadership of His Church. I mean they’ve clearly been very out of touch with true principles of what it means to be Christlike (from question 9). If you’re right then how can this Church have any legitimate claim to the Savior’s name?

    Surely you see how illogical it would be for the Lord to let this go on for so long if it wasn’t His will? Or is He not really in charge of the Church which bears His name?

    P. S. I tend to capitalize prophet and apostle the same way I would a proper noun. To me it’s just correct grammar. A capital letter does not a deity make.

  31. “[…] it should be painfully obvious that when something is consistently taught over a period of decades that there is no error in the principle.”

    Wow. That’s walking right into a trap.

  32. We have a little situation right now where there is specific counsel in my daughter’s patriarchal blessing about preparing for a career and supporting her family. She has a YW leader basically telling her that the Proclamation means that her PB is all a lie. Fortunately, she’a a few weeks away from leaving YW.

    The Proclamation is a set of guiding principles, not scripture.

  33. Just sharing my own feeling on what it means when something gets taught over and over again. I don’t mean to trap anyone. That quote, minus full context, might lead someone to take it as a statement of fact rather than my personal belief and opinion based on present experiences.

  34. Well, how long were people of color denied the blessings of the temple? How long did leaders proclaim that people aren’t born gay? Ain’t nobody perfect, not even the leaders of our blessed church. Hence the direction from God to ask for ourselves if these things are true…
    I find the length of time things are taught and whether or not people hang them on their walls (in frames) to be dubious methods of knowing the truthfulness of things. I prefer prayer and study.

  35. “I don’t mean to trap anyone.”

    Um, I don’t think we’re on the same page here.

  36. I’m sorry that your daughter is having a troubling experience with what should be a thrilling and sacred blessing from Heavenly Father. Like you said we are taught those principles, but then we must live them within the framework of the life God has given us.

    I still honestly don’t understand what would be different if the Proclamation were considered scripture. Could someone please help me? I genuinely would like to know how it would be different because I’m not understanding.

  37. I’ll cross that bridge when (if) I ever come to it. It isn’t scripture, it isn’t canon. As queuno says “The Proclamation is a set of guiding principles, not scripture.”

  38. Brett, I’ll chime in with something that might be different than what others here would say. Even *if* the proclamation were scripture, it wouldn’t change my perspective on it. Because even scripture isn’t fallible either.

    Really, it all boils down to the single most important source of spiritual truth: my own relationship with the divine. That trumps everything else necessarily, for why would I even care at all what scripture X or leader Y said if not for that personal spiritual communication in the first place?

  39. I feel like BCC derives more politics out of General Conference talks than is really there, but maybe I’m just naive. Regardless, I choose to sustain Pres. Oscarson as much as I can and work to better understand where my testimony is lacking.

  40. RedLola,

    Do you think that the brethren were wrong on the whole race/priesthood issue? God revealed to His prophets what was correct for the time. There’s evidence for the doctrine in the Bible and the Pearl of Great Price. The modern prophets had long foretold of the time when all men would be allowed to hold the priesthood. President Kimball knew this, which is why he prayed for years before the revelation came. It was a pretty spectacular revelation too. A vision was seen by those who were present. It’s really “popular” to say that the leaders of the Church were flat out wrong about certain issues. But that doesn’t us more “right” than God and His servants. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t make it wrong.

    You could argue that withholding the priesthood was a “policy”, not a doctrine. Policies are inspired too – just like the missionary age change. You could also say that it was a “policy” for the lesser priesthood to only be held by the descendants of Levi after the higher priesthood was taken away. Full temple blessings and the responsibility of exercising the priesthood were “withheld” from the majority of the population for millennia – based on what group of people you belonged to. It’s God’s priesthood. He decides what to do with it. In the long run, did God’s decision end up withholding eternal blessings from the rest of the Israelites? No. Did His decision end up withholding eternal blessings from faithful Latter-day Saints of African origin who kept their baptismal covenants? No.

    You may also be in the camp that says that polygamy was wrong and uninspired. Was it wrong and uninspired for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses too?

    Joseph Smith said, “Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason there of until all of the events transpire.” Not all of the events have transpired yet. Let’s be patient, humble, and trusting of God and His servants. Everything will work out.

  41. There are some very good questions here. I would try to answer these questions for you, but I don’t think you want it from me. I don’t think you even want it from Sister Oscarson. I believe you really want the Lord answer them. You want Him to tell you why gender matters, why any two good, happy people can’t be married, why women and men have different roles,…but fear being hurt when the answer is not what you want it to be. I’ve felt that fear. I’ve cried and wondered why my close friends were ostracized for their sexual preferences. I’ve wondered if God could really love me and not see me as an equal. I’ve felt the agony that “battling for the family” would mean telling good people that God thought they were bad people.

    I’ll tell you that I’ve learned when a child is angry or hurt, a loving parent still loves them. When a son or daughter comes out to a loving parent, they still adore and support them. When a child feels unloved or misunderstood, a loving parent reaches out to comfort and shower with affection. If I, as a daughter, ignore these efforts out of anger, it doesn’t stop them from happening.

    In the LDS church, we all grow up wanting a Celestial afterlife…we’re taught that is ultimate happiness. But I think we forget there is still a lot of happiness to be had that isn’t “ultimate” or “celestial.” I think we forget that it’s okay to not want “celestial.” It’s part of the choices we get here. It’s part of our spirits growing up and learning who we are.

    Have you seen “Lord of the Rings?” I am not an afficianato, but I have a special fondness for the quote, “I choose a mortal life,” by the character Arwen. She is choosing to be with her mortal partner and not live with the Elves in their…eternal world. A lot of amazing LDS friends of mine decided to marry their same sex partner and have, for lack of a better parallel, chosen a “terrestrial life.” They tell me they are happier in it. I think their loving parents (earthly & heavenly) understand that they are happier there. They will continue to shower them with love and blessings.

    I won’t bother you with the life I’ve currently chosen (who knows what the future holds? My eternal goals may change someday!) but I wish you the best of everything, and hope you find peace through this hard time. Whatever conclusion you come to about the church, Heavenly Father still loves and supports you.

  42. Cranky Day says:

    Of COURSE polygamy was wrong for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. It is the last vestige of primitive culture and downright evil. Slavery and polygamy. Taking women as property. Yes. It is WRONG – then and now. And our church deserves better than to ever think it is what our Heavenly Parents want or relegate their spiritual daughters to in life. Shame on anyone who think of us so lowly. Tragic for women who think of themselves in that way, and maddening that men continue to defend it as acceptable. It’s not. And it never was.

    Shame on you. You’re not thinking of women in a Christlike way.

  43. “[…] it should be painfully obvious that when something is consistently taught over a period of decades that there is no error in the principle.”

    Um, Plural Marriage? Blacks & the Priesthood? On that last one, it seems that Joseph Smith got it right, but, later Church Leaders let their biases influence them.

    Then, there’s Ezra T. Benson’s political statements:

    http://www.mormonpress.com/ezra-taft-benson-and-politics

  44. RedLola thanks for your answer. You too Trevor.

    One more thought. Those “guiding principles” you referred to only qualify as such when they are followed. A principle ignored cannot honestly be referred to as a guiding one. I’m pointing that out in general, not towards you or anyone in specific. I still struggle to see how we can pick and choose which of those principles we think are worthy to be guiding ones. It’s like a divine package deal. “I’m going to give you these guiding principles to protect your family, and to secure the foundation of society for future generations.” Who would choose the former and not the latter? The Proclamation ends with a prophecy, a warning, that the disintegration of the family would trigger the long foretold destruction that would immediately precede the Second Coming.

    I know that we won’t come to agree, but I do sincerely appreciate the conversation. I’ve definitely learned a few things.

  45. My two cents: We LDS women already know the importance of family. One can’t be LDS and not know this. I feel “familied” to death. Every talk is about the family. You know there are members of our church who don’t have a family. Can we hear some other topics for talks such as forgiveness, tolerance, pride, etc. Women are interested in other topics than the family. Enough.

  46. I also have to add that D&C Section 137 & 138, & Official Declaration 2 were canonized in my lifetime. Yet, there’s members who ignore working on their own family history, and, still some members that feel Blacks are lesser people. Are not those members silently questioning canon, which I think is a much worse concern, than those questioning the Proclamation?

  47. Julianna, as I wrote above I have answers from the Lord. So yeah, actually, I’d love to hear what Sister Oscarson has to say. Also, here’s another question, why is it that when someone like me asks questions, someone like you says things like “I hope you find peace during this hard time”? What “hard time”? And why is there always a “don’t worry, Heavenly Father loves you” sorta thing going on? Do you get the idea I don’t think He does? Actually, did you read my post or just skim it?

  48. Brett meet fish in barrel.

    df – seems the big question is how do you know what God requires? Some on this thread seem to believe that anything asked of them by the leaders must either 1) always be right (and thus they pragmatically infallible) or 2) obedience to said leader will remove moral responsibility from those who follow because they are being obedient and obedience in and of itself is good. I understand where both these come from. I can even in many circumstances respect the logic of 2) (kinda….) . However, I personally can not morally accept that logic. Should Marion Romney have stopped supporting the civil rights movement because Elder Stapely (with decades of apostolic talks and rhetoric to back him up) told him to and even warned of his spiritual and temporal destruction for ignoring his counsel? Is obedience to a mortal and thus flawed leader more important than doing what your own conscience and light of Christ tell you? In my moral universe no. Clearly other disagree or at least have personally never been in that situation and can’t imagine it happening to them. Wouldn’t that be nice.

  49. Brett, you remind me of myself 30 years ago. And so I’m saying this as though writing to my young self: Please, check your facts before making strong statements. Don’t just go with what you’ve heard a thousand times; repetition does not make something correct. The world is not black and white, and scriptures contradict themselves left and right, as do apostles and prophets, sometimes within the same session of General Conference. The Lord did not ever say He wouldn’t allow a prophet to lead the church astray; that was a very worried Wilford Woodruff after the issuance of the 2nd Manifesto. Most of what you’ve been taught about polygamy is inaccurate, and yes, some very terrible things were preached over the pulpit for far more than 20 years, about polygamy specifically, that were not just spiritually and morally wrong, but were also historically and biologically inaccurate. It’s great to defend the church, but first be sure that you understand what you’re talking about.

  50. Julianna, your comment was beautiful.

  51. Well for my part I plan to stand in support of the family of D. Todd Christofferson. They aren’t Proclamation Perfect and look at that, they have a GA in the family. Family defended.

  52. Brett – ‘ Wouldn’t the Lord have inspired either President Hinckley or President Monson to correct doctrinal mistakes?”

    I don’t know, when I read the The Race and The Priesthood Essay found on LDS.org, https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng , and I read the words like, “None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.” and “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.” I wonder about your question. Why didn’t the Lord inspire Brigham Young or any of his direct followers to correct their “doctrinal” mistake?

    Lastly, if we are going to talk about people following the Prophet, especially President Monson, I would ask how much giving to the poor and needy have people done. How much time have they dedicated to serving the community, the widow, the ill. These are President Monson’s present requests. I don’t hear anyone cherry picking President Monson.

  53. I have my own post that I am working on that skips over some of these questions, because 20 years ago I watched the Proclamation as it was read, and I received a witness about its “Truthfullness.” (The first time I heard about “Truthiness” I thought of all the damage done to people all over the world because not enough people have actually learned to seek truth.)

    I don’t know what to say to people anymore who assume that they can’t be led astray, and so the rely on vain repetitions of statements that make them feel superior. I am exhausted by priesthood holders who have no actual authority to speak in God’s name because they have never heard the voices of our Heavenly Parents. So instead they try piece togetger their favorite political philosophies and mingle them with a few favorite parts of conference talks that are comfortable to them.

    No one takes away agency from the apostles and prophets of the church. They can and do write books, like The Miracle of Forgiveness, which contains things that are not true, and that have led to the loss of many Mormon lives with its lies. Was it’s author an apostle who was likely doing his best? Sure. Do we know how utterly destructive it is to rape and incest victims and to homosexuals? Yes we do. Does Deseret Book, a church owned company still sell the book, knowing that it is dangerous and oftentimes deadly. Yes they do. Why? I don’t know, but the choice to keep the book in print and selling it directly to bishops, even after the church has admitted that they know homosexuality is not a choice,is very much an example of a terrible thing that was taught, that the church knows leads to terrible consequences for rape and incest survivors. A recall wouldn’t make for infallible leaders, but it would go a long way towards righting one of the wrongs that the Proclamation declares unacceptable.

    If you believe that the Proclamation is revelation, then Brett, get your head out of the sand and look at what you say you believe in. Look at the real consequences for the victimized, from your precious “truth,” and then force yourself to ask, and really think through how many people who are already vulnerable you have helped to convince they have no worth.

    These questions are for everyone, not *just* Brett: Are you ready to be judged by the measure you judge others? Are you ready, to have someone who you love, suffer with those you so happily condemn? What woman or girl who you love, who has been raped, would you be willing to hand over a copy of The Miracle of Forgiveness to, and walk away?

    Personally I wouldn’t do that to my worst enemy. While not quite as bad, I have seen just as much destruction and damage done by the Proclamation, starting on the night it was first read.

  54. Which parts of the self-contradictory Proclamation am I supposed to be treating as doctrine? The part where it says my husband and I are equal partners or the part where it says he presides?

    And why are there so many people (my own dear husband included) who don’t see that a wife can’t be equal partners with her husband if he’s presiding and she’s hearkening?

  55. CJane-
    I think your questions are dead on. I have the same confusion about what all this defending the family talk even means. Defend what- people’s right create families with whoever they love? That seems kind of automatic and not really something that needs to be defended.

    df above wrote,”Abortion is killing millions of infants each year. Children born out of wedlock are statistically less likely to do well in school and are more likely to be financially and emotionally unstable. Deadbeat fathers fill our prisons while their children suffer roaming the streets of our major cities.”

    If that is what we mean by defending the family, then absolutely. Let’s follow the lead of other countries that legally protect the jobs of new parents while they care for newborns at home. Let’s provide affordable daycare options, free preschools and safe after school options so children are cared for in stable environments. Let’s fight for equality in pay so women are paid the same as their male counterparts for the same job. Let’s stop putting dads in prison for non-violent drug crimes and instead deal with the roots of their problems. Let’s offer free and widely available mental health services without the sigma of moral failure. Let’s rebuild the middle class economy that is disappearing and forcing both parents to work out of the home to provide the basics for their children. Let’s agree that fully funded health care is a human right, not a luxury deserving of only the wealthy. Let’s build affordable housing so that no one is homeless and living on the streets in America. Let’s provide affordable job training and college education so that young people aren’t saddled with a lifetime of education debt before they even draw their first minimum wage paycheck. Let’s make it illegal for companies to hire full-time workers at such low wages they still qualify for food stamps.

    In other words, let’s do what Jesus did and feed the hungry, succor the weak and heal the sick. Let’s love the little children enough to help their parents take care of them in a way that doesn’t break the family from stress and unrealistic expectations. Let’s love both men and women equally, giving them opportunities to serve in home, community and church in ways that expand their talents instead of limiting them based solely on gender. Let’s agree that every human being is a child of God and worthy of our time, talents and resources to help.

    That’s the only kind of defending the family that makes sense to me.

  56. Due to the time difference and a particularly busy Sunday, I have yet to sit down and listen to or watch the sisters conference. And now, I’m a little apprehensive to do so. :-/. I know sister Oscarsson personally, as she was temple matron in the Stockholm temple before she was called as YW General President. Like CJane, I am comfortable with her, and feel like she is ‘my’ leader. I found CJanes’ questions thought provoking, but most of the comments disheartening. They often tend to spiral downward in to a bitterness that I don’t find compatible with having the spirit with me. I loved Julianna’s comment, but then CJane’s response to it caught me completely off guard… And then there was rah’s comment about how the whole conference session seemed more orchestrated than usual, and that sis. Oscarsson looked uncomfortable? What on earth?? I wonder if maybe sis. Oscarsson might have read this, and whether she would feel free to respond if she had…? Can we stick to the point and Cjanes questions here?

  57. And Heather – Thank you! I couldn’t agree more!

  58. hb from sc says:

    Oh my God, Hear Thy daughters’ crying plea!

    So many of us could have written this, C. So grateful for your courage and strength. Grateful for your words. Love you. Your lips to God’s ears. Or, at least the committees’.

  59. One more question for Sister Oscarson: if I am 42 and have never been married, does God consider my entire life a contingency plan? The career I built because marriage was not given to me as an option–it is just a backup plan despite being my actual life for 15 years? You said to strive for the ideal, but have a contingency plan–are you saying, and by extension is God saying–my life is not ideal?

    Thank you for writing this. It addressed so much confusion and hurt I tend to feel with every one of the women’s meetings.

  60. Ive never had a more compassionate social structure and honest relationships than I now have out of the church.
    You don’t have to stay.
    You don’t have to listen to veiled hate like these talks are.
    You can go.

  61. Julia’s comments rang most true to me. I can never believe that just because something is taught by a prophet or apostle that well, it must be true!

    I keep my copy of The Miracle Of Forgiveness safely tucked away so that if anyone ever tries to tell me what it doesn’t say I have it right there in painful black and white.

    I love Spencer W Kimball, I really do, but just because he was an apostle and a prophet does not even sort of mean that he did not have some abominable ideas and that those ideas have real-world repercussions for children of God.

  62. We need to be aware of this Mormon gaslighting thing that occurs when women get vulnerable and ask hard questions and are responded to with deflection and “there there” pats on the head. Instead of assuming women with questions “don’t get it” or doubt that God loves them, do them a common courtesy of actually listening to their questions.

  63. Personally I would never want to speak in church I personally did not feel comfortable to share a message I did not agree with. If it was related to a calling I had then I would rather be released than compromise my beliefs.

    The one prospective I look at is we should look forward to Christ return. If I understand correctly we have 1000 years when he comes back to have things balanced. My main concern in life is am I following the two great commandments. I have learned that if we always look for something in someone we like and focus on that about them, it makes life easier.

    I wish we had crystal clear answers to everything however we must live by faith. I am not judging anyone because I love to ask questions too. Remember we are all children of God.

  64. ima- Really? The best you could do to find conference talks NOT about the family are from 1985 and 1989? It doesn’t help the discussion one bit.

  65. Julie’s comment has my heart:
    “One more question for Sister Oscarson: if I am 42 and have never been married, does God consider my entire life a contingency plan? The career I built because marriage was not given to me as an option–it is just a backup plan despite being my actual life for 15 years? You said to strive for the ideal, but have a contingency plan–are you saying, and by extension is God saying–my life is not ideal?”

    There hasn’t been one part of my life that has fit the P of the F ideal. My brother and I were raised in foster care because our birth parents were mentally ill and developmentally delayed. We were abused in foster care, then adopted into an LDS family that took the foster home abuse to a new level. Of course the beatings, starvation, and verbal abuse were done with the Book of Mormon in one hand and a belt in the other.

    My brother and I managed to grow up and heal with the help of LDS church members who took us under their wings and loved us whole again. When I got married in the temple to a wonderful man, neither of us could have guessed the life challenges that would be coming our way. We have three children with disabilities, a granddaughter with autism and we take care of my now elderly birth parents and mentally ill mother-in-law. We have never had the luxury of living the “ideal.” We have always had to scramble to meet the needs of our loved ones, whatever that took. I am proud of the hard work my husband and I have done during our lives and refuse to accept that our lives are less than ideal. I would be insulted by this kind of “defending the family” rhetoric, but frankly I am too tired from actually doing the work of my family to care what someone spouts from the pulpit.

  66. This is so powerful. Sadly Sister Oscarson will never reply with a true heartfelt answer. She’d reply as the “leaders” direct her to reply. Beautiful write up…thank you so much!!

  67. Anon for this says:

    I think there are a lot of great questions here, but I’ll admit I didn’t watch women’s conference. That was the night that, after praying for guidance and comfort for years, I finally decided to leave the church for good. The next morning I read some blogs about women’s conference, partly out of curiosity, and partly with the last vestiges of hope that there might be some reason to stay. But at that point, I knew I had made the right decision for me. As a never married woman, I haven’t felt like I fit in for years. And those talks confirmed it. Since I don’t have a family or fit the mold, there’s never going to be much for me in this church. There are only ever token mentions of single people, and then it’s as if we’re somehow incomplete. The endless marginalization had been gradually crushing my spirit. BCC helped keep me going for a while, so thank you for that, but in the end, I just want to find a place where I’m valued as an individual and not seen as a project or someone who fell short of her “destined” role.

    I finally feel some peace, knowing that my path back to God will be a little different than I imagined it but will be a better one for me. I’m going to focus on trying to be like the Savior, loving all people, and relying on God’s personal revelations to me, instead of trying to trust in the arm of the flesh. I think that may have been what He was trying to teach me all along. To those of you who are staying and find peace and joy in the church, I really am happy for you. It just wasn’t that kind of place for me.

  68. Thank you Courtney. Honest and to the point as always.

  69. Oh golly, why’d I read the comments? The terrestial kingdom just keep looking better and better – sign me up if I can avoid the likes of Brett there.

    As far as defending the Proc, I just don’t get it. It doesn’t actually say anything. There is nothing to defend. I think we project so many things onto it that just aren’t there. It doesn’t even say that same sex marriage is bad. Everytime I read it I’m left wondering a) why anyone would hang this on their wall and b) this is the most carefully crafted document – designed to say nothing definitive and be used as a trump card whenever and however the church wants.

  70. I love this post, CJane. Thanks for asking these pointed questions to cut through the vague political rhetoric.

    Also, juliathepoet, I love what you said here:

    “I don’t know what to say to people anymore who assume that they can’t be led astray, and so the rely on vain repetitions of statements that make them feel superior. I am exhausted by priesthood holders who have no actual authority to speak in God’s name because they have never heard the voices of our Heavenly Parents. So instead they try piece togetger their favorite political philosophies and mingle them with a few favorite parts of conference talks that are comfortable to them.”

    And Anon (two comments up), I’m sorry to see you go, but totally understand your decision. I’m sorry the Church has been, and continues to be, so awful to you and anyone else who doesn’t fit a narrow mold.

  71. Beautifully said Heather! THANK YOU and CJane for the article!!! I have a daughter who is gay and we Love her wife and their baby and we Celebrated the day Utah made it legal for them to be married as much as we Celebrated the following day when our son and his wife were sealed in the Temple. I have been through some very dark days with the pain my children have suffered at the hands of “Christians” so Yes sister Oscarson I defend marriage and family….I defend my daughter to her wife and my son to his wife because now and because of their marriage they are both happier and healthier than they have ever been! I raised my daughter to Honor and protect family and now should I tell her that her very church condemns her for wanting the things she was taught to Love? If anyone defending “Traditional Marriage” could see the pain and suffering and often times suicide these types of talks inflict …they would think twice.

  72. …the other night you asked us to do three things: defend marriage between a man and woman, elevate divine roles of mothers and fathers and stand and defend the sanctity of the home. You also asked us to boldly defend the proclamation.

    Jesus defended marriage between a man and a woman. This seems easy to do. A happily married person, unhappily married person, never-married person, and once-married person can all agree that marriage is an honorable institution. There is an important principle here.

    Similarly, it seems that everyone can see that motherhood and fatherhood are not just matters of biology. Mothers and fathers have duties and responsibilities before God regarding the temporal and spiritual welfare of their children. There may be little perfection in these matters, and we may have imperfect parents or may be imperfect parents, but yes, it is reasonable to want to teach the rising generation of the importance of motherhood and fatherhood. We want them to multiply and to raise strong and happy children. Not every man or woman will become a parent, and those that do will not all be outwardly successful at motherhood or fatherhood, but there is still an important principle here.

    Will important questions regarding children be made by their parents or by the state? Yes, we need to protect the home. Parents, not social workers, should make important decisions regarding their children, and they should take their responsibilities seriously. There is an important principle here.

    The three things that Sister Oscarson asked for seem very reasonable to me.

    With regard to the proclamation that has been spoken of, here is President Hinckley’s introduction of it…

    With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history. I now take the opportunity of reading to you this proclamation.

    To me, it isn’t scripture — but the men who issued it were magnifying their callings and trying to be helpful in teaching correct principles. I appreciate them for that, and accept the proclamation in that light.

  73. When we as Mormons attack the marriages and families of people who were born gay but who wish to exercise their civil right to live in monogamous, stable marriage relationships and raise a family, then *we* are *attacking* the Family, are we not? How could it possibly be viewed any other way?

  74. Ultimately each person’s progression is dependent on personal revelation. So if you’ve prayed to know how you personally can defend the family, which is what President Oscarson called us to do, and you received an answer on how to do that, then trust in your relationship with the Savior more than in your relationships with leaders. I really believe we’re all on the same side and that because we’re all different we can each defend the family in different and equally effective ways. I cringe at the divisive rhetoric I see on these talks, because I really don’t believe that the Lord expects us to fulfill these calls to action in all the same ways. Think about how much good we can do if we ask in prayer what we can do and then do it! And every one could do something different and that’s okay!

  75. “Parents, not social workers, should make important decisions regarding their children, and they should take their responsibilities seriously. There is an important principle here.”

    ji, does this also work: “Parents, not adherents of other religious faiths who believe that people who do not share a particular sectarian belief of theirs must be bound by their beliefs, should make important decisions regarding their children, and they should take their responsibilities seriously.”?

    Gay people who marry and raise their children are also mothers and fathers, exercising motherhood and fatherhood. Your comment seems to miss this entirely.

    The whole “battle” against gay marriage (which concept, gay marriage, is not itself attacking in any way straight marriage) fundamentally depends on making assumptions about gay people that aren’t founded in empirical evidence. These assumptions are that they are Satanic, want to destroy The Family (when in truth this is completely untrue, since they want families of their own), and have entered into a vast conspiracy with each other (as if they all had the same beliefs, ideas, political opinions, etc.) and with special interests throughout society including courts to achieve their ends. It’s a fantasy. Truly.

  76. Thank you Courtney! I left feeling the same. Defend the family–I am not sure it means to me what I think it means to you Sister Oscarson. For me it is championing family life/work balance policies that support family bonding and time–paid paternity and maternity leave, more flexible hours, healthcare etc. for all parents, single or married. It means awareness and support surrounding domestic violence–my friend teaches a class for domestic violence offenders and there were recently 4 men from our stake in the class. The social workers expressed frustration working with the Mormon families because staying together as a value often overlooked the safety and well-being of the victim spouse. It means empowering my daughters and sons to be self-sufficient, to find joy in their career choices, and to value their potential role as parents and creative partners. I did appreciate her egalitarian emphasis on men and women both as makers of home. I could go on, and I hope Sis. Oscarson meant these same things–I hope she did. I hope she didn’t mean fighting against gay marriage because like Courtney, I have never understood this “threat,” and my heart has never felt peaceful fighting against love.

  77. ji,

    Thank you for defending God’s prophets and apostles.

    To BCC, I don’t think I’ve every encountered a group of “Saints” so against the Lord’s prophets and scripture. The whole blog is dripping with negativity, sarcasm and snarky comments about the Lord’s servants. Every once in a while, there is a post that is uplifting or thoughtful (without being prideful). But, in my opinion, the negativity isn’t worth it.

    Samuel the Lamanite in Helaman 13 had the following to say to the Saints shortly before the first coming of the Lord. I fear the same applies to some of the Saints these days as well.

    24 Yea, wo unto this people, because of this time which has arrived, that ye do cast out the prophets, and do mock them, and cast stones at them, and do slay them, and do all manner of iniquity unto them, even as they did of old time.

    25 And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out.

    26 Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.

    27 But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.

  78. Courtney, thank you for your questions and for showing all of us that you can be faithful and still ask these questions. I have many of these same questions, even as a man. I chafe each time the home teachers or missionaries come over and always look to me to ask someone to say the prayer. I desperately want to model an equal partnership with my wife to my children but it is hard when they receive contradictory messages in just about every church meeting or function.

    I have grown weary of our leadership delcaring confusing and hurtful things from the pulpit that they have no business declaring and of so many members rushing to their defense as soon as their ill-conceived statements are questioned. Just yesterday my wife related to me some of the things said by our bishop (many about the same topics discussed in this post) in a combined RS & priesthood meeting (I was unable to attend due to a sick child) that were stated as gospel truth but which have no basis in scripture and have never been declared by God.

    When will we as a people understand that God is no respecter of persons and that we all have equal access to the divine? As a group we have largely abdicated our agency to our “leaders” and are unwilling to “work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling.” It is hard work knowing what God wants each of us to do as individuals. It is much more complicated than “follow the prophet, don’t go astray.” I fear this insidious idea will ultimately be our downfall as a people.

    “O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.” – 2 Nephi 9:41

    The *only* one who can’t be deceived (led astray) is God. Sis. Oscarson will not save us, Pres. Monson will not save us; even Joseph Smith will not save us. Only God will save us. He desperately wants us to know Him.

    I second Heather’s comment. Let’s stop presuming to know the mind and will of God and get back to doing what we know he has asked of us – love God and love each other. Let’s stop trying to tell world what they are doing wrong and just minister to those who are in need and suffering.

  79. I’m too exhausted and sad to make it through this thread. I just want to underline what “anon this time” said at 10:25 pm yesterday. It makes a lot of sense to me that a people form whom persecution is a critical part of their narrative, it makes sense that we’d continue that narrative, albeit on a new topic. And of course apologists say the topic isn’t “new.” But the emphasis is. The focus of persecution has changed from the Book of Mormon, to polygamy, to Cold War issues, now to the family. I wish our leaders could keep it positive. This persecution rhetoric only makes me alienated.

  80. The claim that religious Christians in the US (an overwhelming majority of the population) are being persecuted is just ludicrous.

  81. Miriam–Preach it, sister! I love what you said.

    Also, thank you to Anon (7:10am) and Heather Y (6:34am) for sharing your very personal experiences.

  82. I would add these questions:

    What if the doctrine that “motherhood makes women equal to the priesthood” and saying a woman’s place is in making babies and a man’s place is to preside and lead and administer the ordinances of God makes me feel like women are only valued for their uterus but men are worshiped?

    What if a woman never has children? Will she always be inferior to men?

    Does the church only approve of “traditional” marriage? Does “traditional” marriage mean having 40 wives like Joseph Smith?

    Who exactly is fighting to destroy families? Haven’t gay people fought long and hard to get their right to have families, and so they support the idea of family and haven’t tried to destroy any one else’s family?

  83. I get the feeling that some of us (OP included, no offense) are a little disingenuous with these topics. Does anyone really mean it when they say they’re “confused by” or or somehow “don’t understand” Oscarson’s call to “defend the family”? We all know what she means, we just don’t like it.

    “Defend the family” is political, rhetorical spin — it means oppose SMM, oppose feminism, promote SAHM, oppose premarital sex, etc… Do those things in your relevant political/social forums, whether they be online, face-to-face, or even in financial contributions. That’s what she means, and we know that.

    The political spin is to (a) cast those positions as “defense” when in fact they are more like “offense,” and (b) avoid saying some of the sensitive words out loud when we have primary children listening in.

    I’ll admit that reversing the rhetoric (using the “defend” and “attack” language) is inaccurate, and so it could, theoretically, lead to confusion, and that the vagueness could too. But come on, no one here can honestly claim that they’re actually confused. We know what the church is teaching. We just don’t like it, and we wish it would teach something else. Let’s at least be honest here about what we think.

    (To the OP, I get it that you’re probably not truly “confused,” and with that, I genuinely appreciate your questions. I agree with you almost entirely and I value you starting the very interesting conversation.)

  84. And to Brett — I’m not sure if you’re still reading, but I thought I’d say that, although I don’t agree with much of what you’re saying, I appreciate you being articulate, thoughtful, and responsive. A lot of times, discussions like this go the way of ships passing in the night.

    To answer at least one of your questions from (way) above — no, canonization of the Proc wouldn’t change anything for me. The entire Old Testament is canonized, but that doesn’t make it all inspired and/or revelatory. Many would probably make the same argument about the D&C.

    What might change the minds of many people would be some indication that the Proc was divinely “revealed.” I think most of its critics are of the opinion that it is something formed by committee and a reflection of that committee’s personally held social-cultural beliefs, rather than something that was obtained by “thus says the Lord”-style revelation. If that critical characterization is accurate, then canonization doesn’t really mean anything — it’s still not a revealed from God.

  85. Late to the party, but I just read this stunner from df: “Do you think that the brethren were wrong on the whole race/priesthood issue? God revealed to His prophets what was correct for the time. There’s evidence for the doctrine in the Bible and the Pearl of Great Price.”

    Nothing will make me more inclined to accept your ideas than showing such a clear understanding of church doctrine and history. I’ll say it: the LDS approach to the race/PH issue was wrong.

    As to the Proclamation: it is de facto doctrine. There’s no avoiding that – it is the clear current standard. It is not scriptural canon, but in some respects that is actually meaningless. If the Proclamation were scripture, at least we Mormons would feel more free to disregard it.

  86. A little over a decade ago, Elder D. Todd Christopherson visited my mission. During the talk he gave he said something that stuck with me. He said that as a general authority, he was called to preach the general doctrines of the church, but that individual circumstances would require individual adaptation of those general doctrines(he may have given a similar talk soon after being called as an apostle, but I’m not sure). That doesn’t invalidate those general doctrines, it only means that they won’t necessarily apply in every case. Ideally, a mother should be at home caring for her children. But if a need arises, or if, after prayer and careful reflection, she feels that it is best in her case to work outside the home, she should never be made to feel inferior in any way to a mother that stayed home with her kids.

    That said, the proclamation is not the only place where marriage is said to be between a man and a woman. Even if you believe that same sex marriage should be allowed in this life, you can’t argue that same sex marriage can ever result in exaltation for that couple, as only a man and a woman joined together have the potential for such, just as only a man and a woman have the ability to procreate in this life. Thus, any person choosing to participate in a same sex marriage is choosing to halt their eternal progression.

    The Lord will judge each of us on how we dealt with our own individual circumstances, as only he can understand the challenges each of us has faced. We will not be judged based on our standing within the church, or what callings we held, or what others think about us. All we can do is try to do the best of our ability, according to our own conscience, and the guidance that we receive from the scriptures, modern day revelations, and, most importantly, personal revelation through the Holy Ghost.

  87. Steve Evans and df — I thought that with the latest statements on race/priesthood, the church was pretty much admitting as much: it was wrong; it was not the result of any revelation; it was not “correct for the time”; the justifications for the doctrine/practice (those formulated by reference to the bible and PoGP) were wrong. I had been under the impression that we weren’t really denying any of that anymore.

  88. I appreciate what many have said about being Christlike. We do need to be kind and accept people where they are. But we must also recognize that the Lord’s purpose, and the purpose for the church, is to help us become celestial beings, worthy of dwelling with him for eternity and all the blessings that come with it. That means that wherever we are in our progress, there is further to go. The church teaches the ideal- in this case, the ideal family. The Lord is sharing with us his pattern for celestial living, and asking us to live up to it. That pattern is marriage between a man and a woman and children raised in love and faith. Now, there are literally thousands of situations where we fall short of this ideal, and I would argue that every family falls short in one way or another. Divorce, death, abuse, homosexuality, and on and on. Every family is different, and struggles with something. Yet the Lord’s admonition is the same. We are to come as close to this ideal as we possibly can. (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2001/04/first-things-first?lang=eng) This doesn’t seem fair in a lot of cases. Our compassionate hearts cringe at the thought of asking some to sacrifice so much while so many enjoy these blessings with apparent ease. Yet, this is what the Lord asks of us, if our goal is the same as his. Now, if we are content to have a lower form of glory, to damn ourselves to an eternity without our father and the blessings he has reserved for the faithful, then sure- anything goes. But the Lord, and the church, are not interested in putting forth that scenario. They are helping us to prepare for celestial glory in our father’s presence- they are not going to prepare us for any other outcome. Being Christlike does not mean that we teach a lower standard because we are uncomfortable asking others to sacrifice their natural tendencies. We cannot teach that people are fine the way they are. No one is. That is why we have a Savior- his sacrifice enables ours- we leave behind the people, the families we were, and become something better, something higher, because we made a commitment to follow the Lord no matter the cost. That is what makes us celestial beings. Being afraid to ask for that kind of commitment does no one any favors, and the leaders of our church know this.

  89. Anon again this time says:

    I neglected to add that I actually do believe the family is under enormous pressure, but from far more mundane sources than are generally alluded to. Rising home prices, increased college tuition, astronomical health care costs, etc. make it difficult to start, maintain, and increase in size a family. But Adam and Steve, the two gay dudes down the street that spend their weekends antiquing? The ones who keep their place immaculate and help increase property values in the neighborhood? Yeah, not so much.

    As a stylistic aside, ambiguous and nefarious threats should be discussed in tones far more ominous than GC cadence or primary voice. Far more effective would be an Orson Welles-esque reading of “War of the Premortal Worlds”.

  90. Regarding the Proclamation, I agree (with Steve Evans) that it is de facto doctrine and fills the place of scripture. In more detail, I’d suggest the following as framing:
    1. A key part of the restoration is marriage and family, i.e., connectedness in this life and the next.
    2. The ‘old’ scriptures (Bible and Book of Mormon) are limited and contradictory on marriage and family.
    3. The Doctrine and Covenants on marriage and family is complicated (to say the least) by polygamy.
    4. The Proclamation was intended to become the ‘scripture’ on marriage and family. Canonized or not, to be the cited and quoted text.
    5. There are numerous problems with the Proclamation. It does not bear up well to a close reading. In places it almost certainly does not mean what the words say. It is self-contradictory. Using the Proclamation ‘appropriately’ requires selection, proof texting, and assumed or explicit investigation of intent. Just like scriptures generally.

  91. VicariousSisterOscarson says:

    Dear Sister CJaneKendrick:

    In response to your questions, let me provide some potential answers:

    1. Look at your four beautiful children. That is why gender matters. Without gender—without you and your husband being different, yet complementary—they wouldn’t exist, nor be as strikingly beautiful as they are. Heck, look at yourself. You’re beautiful! Yay for gender differences!
    2. Gender roles are important, because they mirror the heavenly order of things. And in the earthly order of things, those roles also have merit, especially in the context of bearing and raising children. As far as doctrine, section 83 states that “women have claim upon their husbands for their maintenance” and that “children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age.” The stripling warriors claimed they had taught by their mothers, not by their nannies, or mannies, or government sponsored daycare workers. Mothers have a wonderful and intimidating responsibility to nurture and teach, and fathers have a wonderful and intimidating responsibility to provide and protect. Do circumstances often require adaptation? Absolutely! And the Proclamation says as much. Plenty of mothers work. Plenty of fathers stay at home. But when work and career becomes more about personal fulfillment rather than providing for family needs, then it may be time for a little personal reassessment.
    3. Gosh, for this one, I may suggest spending more time reading the news and less time on the bloggernacle. Or you could go back to the words of Jesus Christ himself who said, “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. There’s lots of putting asunder going on out there. Scary…
    4. A good start would be defending the notion that sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. Many people in the world today don’t believe it’s against God’s will to engage in homosexual relations, or premarital relations or self relations (I hate the word masturbation…let’s use ‘defiling oneself with the hand instead…cool?). Can you believe that some members of the church who have been to the temple don’t see anything wrong with people using the sacred powers of procreation outside the bounds the Lord has set? Or see “but if they love each other” as the only requirement for stepping outside the bounds. Silly, amirite?
    5. Easy: it means to officiate, conduct, lead. By divine design (btw, divine probably hearkens to the heavenly order, I know you may not like that, but it’s been going on a loooooong time and it works pretty well…at least as far as granting eternal felicity to intelligences and propagating that felicity throughout the ages yet unborn) fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness…MAJOR emphasis on those last two descriptors, otherwise it pretty much self-cancels. I wonder if Heavenly Mother has the same issues with it as you do, or if she’s ‘waiting it out’ until Heavenly Father has a change of heart or finally gets with the times. I dunno, can’t wait to ask Her.
    6. Doctrine of the family…okay. For a start, refer to Christ’s statement above in Mark. Also, have a read over Paul’s counsel in Ephesians (Paul’s kinda kooky, I know, but he’s got some good stuff in there). Also, D&C section 42, and 49, and 68, and 132, and yeah…the Proclamation. Funny how so many people bristle at the Proclamation, isn’t it? Remember when President Hinckley said, “we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history.” When he uses language like that, and when a document has the full backing of the 15 prophets, seers and revelators, you kinda need to pay attention to it, IMHO. I miss GBH, don’t you?
    7. Of course I’ve read it, she’s one of my heroes. Miss her, too. But that doesn’t mean we should throw out the baby with the bathwater, now does it? And there’s a difference between an apostle and an auxiliary officer. And between an apostle and a seventy. And a member of the Sunday presidency. And the YM presidency. And so on. Apostles and prophets are different. Are they perfect? Hah! No, of course not, and they’ll be the first to admit it. Remember Peter? Yeah, sooooo imperfect. But he had the keys. And he was called to lead the Church. That’s what keys are for.
    8. It’s not a mere document, it’s a Proclamation from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, something that’s only been issued 5 times in our dispensation. And though it’s not canonized as scripture (Section 139) Pres. Eyring said, “the Proclamation fits the Lord’s promise when he said, “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (especially when all 15 servants signed their name to it).
    9. Well, I can’t help how you feel, all I can say is that I feel for you. If you feel those within the Church are your greatest enemies, I’d humbly suggest following the counsel given in Matthew 5 about praying for your enemies. And you probably know that many women in the Church feel that people like YOU are the enemy. Isn’t this whole ‘enemy’ thing kinda silly? We can be better than that.
    10. I think it may be slightly disingenuous to say that NO ONE has answers to these questions of yours. Maybe you don’t like the answers you were given, and that’s okay. But sometimes you may not like an answer even if it’s the correct answer. And that’s okay, too. We’re all learning. I’m not sure how defending the family can ruin your family. Maybe your spouse is gay, I don’t know. Maybe it’s something else. But standing for true principles is always right, as is treating people with love, dignity and patience when they don’t agree with those principles.
    11. You should totally follow me on Pinterest.
    Love, Vicarious Sister Oscarson.

  92. heather y. says:

    Jay just explained my problem with the Women’s broadcast:
    ““Defend the family” is political, rhetorical spin — it means oppose SMM, oppose feminism, promote SAHM, oppose premarital sex, etc… Do those things in your relevant political/social forums, whether they be online, face-to-face, or even in financial contributions. That’s what she means, and we know that.”
    Thank you for spelling it out. I knew I knew it, but I was so upset I couldn’t see it clearly.

    New Perspective: Watching this conference address was like watching Fox News, which is why I hated it.

  93. Sometimes I love you with my whole soul Courtney!!

    Several years ago I sat devastated as the church rolled out its plan of attack for Prop 8. I was physically sick that a church I belonged to would go to such great lengths to display hatred and attack good people and tear families to shreds. I could not understand then and still cannot understand now why some religious people feel that a same sex marriage would threaten their own marriage or degrade it in some way. I felt that the church was the source of the “attack” on the family. Counsel had been dished up for years to try to “change” the orientation of LGBT+ children, to let them know that their lifesytle–in fact, the very core of who they were as a person–was not acceptable. Families were torn apart. Children were ostracized. Christlike love was discarded. Understanding, compassion and empathy were lacking. A few years after Prop 8, I began working in Pediatric Psychiatry at a Utah hospital. I was devastated, yet again, at the number of LGBT+ youth who were admitted for suicidal ideation who came from “ideal” Mormon homes who had been driven to suicide and crippling depression for telling their parents where they identified on the gender scale.

    I was left contemplating many of the same questions you are asking. I sought answers and became more educated. (Spoiler alert: it is okay to seek understanding from sources that are not from within the church.) I took anthropology classes. I read and read and read. The more I understood about humanity, the more I questioned some of the things I heard. Our culture has a very unique way of looking at gender. We are among some of the only people who believe that gender has to fit into a binary system–men are x, y and z and do x, y and z while women are a, b and c and do a, b, and c. Gender roles outside of our culture are very different and vary from culture to culture. Gender is a sliding scale. There is no right or wrong. My choice of gender role does not have to mirror your choice. We can both be mothers, wives, partners, providers, nurturers…or something completely different. A gender binary is not necessary.

    My husband left the church a few years ago for the very reason you brought up. He determined that if everything he was being asked to do and sacrifice for was just going to land him in a heavenly realm with the very people whose judgement, harshness and pride kept him from feeling comfortable on a weekly basis then what was his reward? Eternity with the very people who made him miserable–wouldn’t that actually be hell? I haven’t officially walked away yet but found that I am at peace with no longer attending. I found that instead of falling away from the church that the church fell away from me. I reached a point where I could no longer pretend away the inconsistencies and the doctrinal and historical problems with the church. I could not unsee those things so to speak. I discovered something beautiful during what I thought would only be a short hiatus–I was incredibly happy. I no longer had to stifle my questions. I didn’t have to only believe what was spoon fed to me. I could love my children with abandon. I did not feel the need to add a caveat to my love for my family or myself. For example: I could show a picture of my daughter in a tank top without feeling the need to apologize for the porn shoulders and follow up with “we are praying for her and hope she will choose a more modest shirt in future pictures”, or I could talk about how much fun my husband had fishing on a Sunday morning without assuring the listener that I hoped he would make better choices in the future and attend church on Sunday and fish on Saturday. Most importantly, I could look at myself in the mirror and truly be happy with who I was. I could love and serve people freely. I could love and support people that I desperately wanted to love and support before but felt conflicted by the teachings I was receiving. I could be my authentic self. I no longer had to fear the judgement of my so called “sisters” who trampled me underfoot with every question I asked.

    You are right to throw your questions before the board in the situation room. It is important to have questions answered by those who are compelling you to follow them. It is important to recognize and point out when we are being asked to do something that does not make sense in our hearts. You are a strength and a voice to many who are afraid to express their own concerns. You have my support and enthusiasm even though I am no longer walking quite the same path.

  94. df,
    It’s interesting you chose the example of Samuel the Lamanite. Who was Samuel the Lamanite? He was not a President of a church. In fact, we know very little about him except that he was a Lamanite, he received a message from God, and he delivered it to the people God told him to go to. Further,the people of Zarahemla had priests, leaders, teachers, judges, lawyers (who judged by the law of Moses), temples, etc. and thought they were righteous because of their religious structure. We know that a few believed Samuel. We have no record that Samuel was ever heard of again. To me your example that you use to warn? people here for having differing opinions than established leadership of the LDS church does not fit Samuel. He was not an established leader that repeatedly gave talks or held high status among the people of Zarahemla, like the leadership of the LDS church do today. When we speak of prophets in the scriptures, particularly in the Book of Mormon, it means those who deliver a message given to them by God himself. A prophet then specifically states he has a message from God, without adding or taking away from the specific message from God, so there is no confusion as to if this is a matter of personal opinion of the speaker or divine revelation. Seems to me that the people you are so concerned about are questioning because no leader in the LDS church right now is boldly claiming they have a message from God. Instead, it appears they are assuming that because they hold a high position in the organization, many people will take their messages, no matter if the messages are just opinion mingled with scripture or a committee-drafted proclamation, as direct quotes from God.

  95. a virtual friend says:

    CJane (and all others wrestling with doubt): as someone who has been where you are, I feel compelled to tell you the other side is so much better. Yes, transitioning from Mormon to non-Mormon is hard (on you, on your family, and maybe even your spouse). But CJane, it’s better! So much better. It’s worth doing. It’s authentic! You get to live by a morality based on what you know to be true. You can have a relationship with God on your terms. No longer do you have to try to reconcile your truth with a morality designed by a group of men (and by men, I mean people). Come on over. Then you can really get to work, without the weight of an outdated, earthly idea of Godliness slowing you down. True divine happiness comes when you let Mormonism go- you’ve outgrown it.

  96. martha my love says:

    Thank you, Anon @ 10:32!

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if The Brethren who sit atop a multi-billion dollar corporation and have access to the leaders of the country would concern themselves as much with the crippling amount of debt and untenability of families’ financial survival as they do with whose shoulders are showing and who falls in love with whom and how to insert themselves between it?

  97. Unlike virtual ones, real friends also support their friends in their efforts to stay faithful.

  98. “A God who makes no demands is the functional equivalent of a God who does not exist. A world without God, the living God who establishes moral laws to govern and perfect His children, is also a world without ultimate truth or justice. It is a world where moral relativism reigns supreme.

    Relativism means each person is his or her own highest authority. Of course, it is not just those who deny God that subscribe to this philosophy. Some who believe in God still believe that they themselves, individually, decide what is right and wrong. One young adult expressed it this way: “I don’t think I could say that Hinduism is wrong or Catholicism is wrong or being Episcopalian is wrong—I think it just depends on what you believe. … I don’t think that there’s a right and wrong.”21 Another, asked about the basis for his religious beliefs, replied, “Myself—it really comes down to that. I mean, how could there be authority to what you believe?”22

    To those who believe anything or everything could be true, the declaration of objective, fixed, and universal truth feels like coercion—“I shouldn’t be forced to believe something is true that I don’t like.” But that does not change reality. Resenting the law of gravity won’t keep a person from falling if he steps off a cliff. The same is true for eternal law and justice.”

    Elder Christofferson

    I recommend his talk from this previous General Conference about being free to act for ourselves. It really puts things into perspective.

    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/free-forever-to-act-for-themselves?lang=eng

  99. Vic. Sis. Oscarson,

    I get that you were trying to be funny. Trying. However, the dudebro affect was a bit much. Gender matters because the women and children are beautiful? Check. Gender roles are important because they mirror divine roles….tell me how you know this? I’ll just stop there. I don’t want to distract from a great post and some thoughtful questions.

    Anyway, back to the original post. I agree so much. I have always found Pres. O to be full of warmth and compassion and love. But this message – defend the family! – is lacking what I have come to expect from her. I could echo your questions so well. And I think your last point is the most poignant, what if defending the family destroys your own? So.much.YES.

  100. Brett – I agree with you. Relativism is dangerous stuff and I want no part of it. But what do you propose I do if I do not believe that the Proc is a revelation from God directing my conduct on earth? What if I just don’t have a testimony of that? And, worse, what if my testimony generally is weak, and attempts to follow the Proc make it difficult to find peace withing the church? And if, when that happens, I find myself even farther from the church?

    I think, ultimately, that’s what’s going on for most folks in a forum like this one. My faith in this particular principle is non-existent. My faith in the church generally is weak. Listening to talks like this one make me unhappy. And submitting myself to unhappiness requires a lot of faith.

    In other words, I’m not looking for or promoting relativism.

  101. #9 is where I have been since 2008. I am still an active member of my ward, but I avoid eye contact.

  102. VicariousSisterOscarson says:

    Amanda, I get that you were trying to be righteously indignant. Trying. Now, scurry on back to the echo chamber, you wouldn’t want to miss roll call.

  103. “echo chamber” — you’ve just identified yourself as one of the M* dudebros.

  104. Even though I was at my computer with the feed up 20 minutes early, I didn’t watch Saturday’s Women and Primary Session; I was called at the last minute to make an emergency trip to Costco on behalf of my family, to help get the bacon out of the fire. So to speak. It’s a long story that begins with my zeal, as a young mother, to operate in righteousness according to the influence of the family-building rhetoric I received biannually in these meetings. The result (one of them, and in honesty, not all of them bad) is that now, I have a family that I’ve trained to not see it as a problem that I will interrupt my plans (and life!) to succor their needs. And I am still struggling to find my way back to balance, which is proving nigh impossible after years off kilter. It’s way depressing.

    Since then I’ve had a chance to see/hear/read some of these conference addresses, and with my dead-on hindsight, what I’ve seen raises questions. I refer you to the blog post above for many of them.

    I commend Courtney, and all the other young mothers (and fathers) for considering all their questions early in the growth of their families. My advice to them, and to myself if I could, would be to Ask. The. Questions. Keep asking and seeking solutions. If you’re lucky you’ll get a real answer that isn’t code from the earthly representatives, but most times you’ll have to come up with a way to apply the current gospel rhetoric to your own messy realities without clarification. Which is as it is supposed to be. It starts with asking the questions, so don’t be afraid of that, it’s a very productive road to start on.

    VSisO: You’re cute. But not in Courtney’s league as a writer. (P.S. Not as nice, either)
    Brett: What appears to you as relativism is a necessary reaction to the vagueness and coded language in the rhetoric that doesn’t address the hard questions, and doesn’t express the spirit. (See above)

  105. This talk really bothered me. I tried to sit quietly but I couldn’t help shaking my head in disgust.

    Homosexual actions are “wrong”, so they should live their lives alone and never know romantic love, eh? Funny how when a certain apostles wife died he was remarried in a heartbeat because he “couldn’t bear to be so lonely”.

    Disgusted.

  106. A testimony in this Church is like the plans for what is to be a wonderful structure (home, whatever). To me when there’s a challenge of faith that weakens our ability to believe in the teachings of the Church it’s more important to strengthen the foundation of the building that has been under construction than to keep going.

    What I mean is that I’d suggest to someone who is experiencing a loss of faith or belief in the Church is that they go back to what they can easily accept and believe and start again. Start with what the last thing you felt sure or good about. Life seems to be a matter of building and rebuilding that testimony when we struggle. Faith will always take effort on our part because we will never obtain greater assurance without first having taken leaps of trust in God. It comes from walking a few steps forward into the unknown with the hope and belief that Heavenly Father is still in control despite how much we do not understand.

    I’m not saying any faith crisis can be resolved quickly or easily, but I believe that it is possible. When we feel like we know less to be true than ever before we must hold on to the next stable element of faith. For me it helps to go back in my mind to the first steps of testimony and belief. Why did I choose to believe? How did I come to believe in the teachings of the Church? How did I come to recognize and accept Jesus Christ as my Savior? Those are just some things that I’ve done when I went through my own faith crisis. I think that everyone will encounter at least some challenge to their faith at some point and they will have to come to a resolution they can live with, for better or worse. I just hope that those dealing with issues of faith that are bringing them down can find the peace and help they need. I hope they have good friends and loved ones because that will always be important no matter what a person’s religious persuasion.

  107. VicariousSisterOscarson says:

    Trond: your M* dudebro-dar tends to work better once you step outside the echo chamber. Go ahead, pry the door open a little. Now… step…and step…
    MDearest: I am cute. Because my mom and dad made me that way. Gender differences FTW!!

  108. Goodbye VSO.

  109. So grateful for this post, these questions, and the conversations that ought to be sparked because of them. Because this is what really matters to so many of us down in the trenches and I feel like our leadership busies themselves with other work that they prioritize and thus can easily forget the poignant feelings/thoughts/questions that you’ve expressed here on behalf of a great many Saints. Thank you.

  110. Judging anyone’s thoughts or actions seems to me to fly in the face of Christ’s laws and example. I will be judged for what I’ve done in my life, and not by how others have acted so honestly I don’t worry about others, and try to show love to all I meet. Seems a lot of judgement of others is happening here on both sides. A bit of a waste of time isn’t it?

  111. As a divorced, single mom to a handful of kids, I find talks like Sister Oscarson’s to be disheartening. I defend my family from the looks of pity on Sunday when people feel bad I have to wrangle my kids on my own, by laughing and enjoying the mishaps that inevitably occur during Sacrament. I defend my family from statistics like those stated above about kids raised in poverty, and those equally harming statistics that get spouted about boys and single-mother households by raising them in the Gospel and teaching them the path I HOPE they will choose. I defend my family from those that feel I’m not a whole person, or am unsatisfied because I am single by showing my kids that I can still have a fun and enriching life. I defend my family daily, because regardless of my gender, I was given that duty as soon as I became a parent. Frankly, I’m too worried about defending my own family to worry about defending Sister Oscarson’s “family”.

  112. MDearest says:

    Brett, many of us are not experiencing a faith crisis at all. My faith and testimony in Jesus Christ is intact. The questions come from the politicized nature of our teachings about eternal families, and the rather large differences between what we are told our families need, and what they actually need (sometimes urgent, screaming needs) in real life. Far too many of us don’t fit into the box made for us by the corporation, but Christ, in his infinite engineering, artistry, and foresight, has communicated His gospel in a way that it truly works for all, bond and free, male, female, single, married, BIC or not, “respectable” or not, Pinterest-ready or not, pure-and-delightsome or not, ad infinitum to include every last person born on the earth.

    So please don’t question my testimony, but kindly allow me the space to support my messy family according to His commandments, and following the guidance of His earthly representatives as best I can figure out, by asking my honest questions, and, in the absence of workable answers for my imperfect situation, applying their guidance in the only ways I can invent.

  113. If you’re not experiencing a faith crisis then you can surely treat my attempt at encouragement as you would a talk to men in Priesthood. It was my mistake that I didn’t label my response primarily to the person who asked me what he thought I’d suggest (Jay 11:55am). I’m not questioning your testimony, only offering a word of encouragement to anyone who finds their faith challenged by such issues.

    Please take my comment for what it was (a sincere but apparently useless attempt to offer an explanation that I felt might be helpful), and not for what it wasn’t (a jab at the testimony of someone who doesn’t share my views). MDearest I truly do wish you the best in guiding you and yours through life in the best way you see fit. We need more parents who take responsibility for those they helped bring into this world. Thank you for being that kind of person.

  114. MDearest — I think Brett was responding to me. And I don’t think I was describing a “faith crisis,” at least that’s not how I feel. I was just articulating the fact that my faith is sometimes weak, and I feel like it sometimes requires more faith than I have to deal with the discomfort I feel with certain church teachings.

    Maybe that is a crisis? I don’t know.

  115. Jay I think it comes down to the different ways we use the terminology of religion or faith. What I would describe as one thing isn’t necessarily what it would be considered by someone else. No offense intended. Truth be told faith itself is so personal that only the individual, or perhaps close loved ones, could accurately say someone was having a crisis of faith. I’m just using the vocabulary I’ve come to know and associate with these kinds of things.

  116. Brett — I agree. Language gets in the way. I generally don’t use the word “crisis” to describe my own experiences just b/c I have a hard time using the word “crisis” for something that has been going on since the 90s and that I just learned to live with.

    Elder Anderson visited my stake a couple of years ago and said something that I loved: faith is not something that you have or don’t have; it is a continuum; you have it in degrees.

    My degree of faith is perhaps lower than others, and lower or higher depending on the day. There are certain ideas that I just have no faith in at all, and others that I believe more fully. But to the extent that my faith is weak (and at those times that my faith is weak), I find that talks like the one being discussed do more harm than good (for me) — I don’t believe them, and they cause me great discomfort.

    So, when I express criticism about these topics, I’m not promoting any sort of relativism. I don’t like relativism and I love the idea of objective moral truth. I just don’t believe (have faith) that this answer is the objectively right answer.

  117. MDearest says:

    Thanks Brett, and Jay. Godspeed to your struggles too.

  118. LM,
    Touché. Thank you for your thoughtful response. It was enjoyable. I hadn’t thought of Samuel the Lamanite in that way when I wrote my comment. I agree that the majority of the people of Zarahemla were wicked. Samuel was addressing church members (and probably a good amount of church leaders too). However, Samuel, if anything, was reinforcing the message being taught by the current prophet, Nephi, and his brother, Lehi. I really don’t think that Samuel contradicted anything that Nephi and Lehi were teaching at the time. He did, however, bring a very specific prophecy of the Savior’s birth. Thanks be to God for that.

    Many in these comments keep saying that the Proclamation was written by a committee. Yes, a committee of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They’ve repeatedly said that they wrote it. Even if they didn’t write it, they signed their names to it. That by itself is significant.

    Speaking of documents written by committees, someone above docked me for going against the recent Church history article released about race and the priesthood. Was that article more directly inspired by God than Abraham 1:26-27? Look it up. By the way, in that article, it says that David O. McKay (who was considered by many to be very forward thinking) asked the Lord if the ban should be lifted, and he received a clear, negative answer for the time being. The promised time simply hadn’t come yet. God knows what He’s doing.

    I realize I may be sounding super bigoted right now. This isn’t typical of me… Or at least I hope not. I’m way more of a jerk online than in real life – as probably lots of us are at times. I’m a very flawed person. But I promise I’m generally a nice person! Haha! I can tell you are too. I guess I’m just confused. Which document should we place more value in, the Proclamation that was written by the prophets? Or an article written by a Church History Department committee?

    Also, many in the comments are insinuating that God is probably just fine with gay sex because people are born that way. (BTW, I have hard time believing that every single person who identifies as “gay” was born that way. See Sodom & Gomorra, the Romans, etc.) However, I do recognize that, for the grand majority of gays, there is an innate tendency toward homosexuality. At the same time, though, lots of guys are born with a predisposition to look at porn. Most people have the natural urge to sleep around – even after marriage. Should these sins be okay in the eyes of God because they are innate? Some people are born with natural violent (and even murderous) tendencies. Geneticists have found genetic markers that can show disposition to these things. Sin is sin. Temptation is temptation. Being tempted does not equate to sin. Giving in to temptation does. I thank God for the Atonement.

    God wants us to put off the natural man. That will mean something different for each one of us. It’s a struggle. We need all the help we can get. I think that the Proclamation was inspired by God to help us achieve “sainthood” as families. As an inspired document, it shouldn’t be belittled or mocked. If we each work on defending our individual families first – with their individual needs, then defending “the family” as a society will come.

  119. DF: “I realize I may be sounding super bigoted right now. This isn’t typical of me… Or at least I hope not”

    maybe it’s just every single time you leave a comment, then?

  120. Thanks for sharing, Jay. Faith so much like a scale, to me, and it’s definitely a fluid thing. What I appreciate most about the Gospel is that each person has their own life challenges. It ranges all the way from raising a family alone in a faith that is so focused on the ideal, and extends to persons with feelings of same-gender attraction who have some of the most uniquely difficult circumstances of anyone in the faith. Nevertheless one’s same-sex attraction is another’s struggle to raise a family. I don’t believe necessarily that my challenges as a young single adult who is attracted to his own gender is greater or more painful than having to raise a family alone. They’re just different, and perhaps to the people in that situation they are of equal challenge in their respective spheres.

    As a member of the Church who does experience attraction to my own gender I have found so many ways I could approach faith while feeling what I do about sexuality. People might ask why I choose to believe without reservation when everything my own nature urges me to want is opposed to the faith I love. Many would rightly wonder why someone would make such a sacrifice. To me it’s simple. I want what the Lord is offering me, and I trust Him. I’m not anyone else, but that’s just me. It’s not an easy way to live, but I choose to believe that the happiness God wants me to have is greater than any a homosexual lifestyle could offer me. I love that every person is challenged by life in a different way that is unique to them, yet in the struggle is where we find our connection to Jesus Christ. MDearest when you are suffering (we all will), remember that in those moments you can know your Savior best. I mention you by name because I feel empathy in your lonely situation. No matter how different we may see some things I take great hope in that our relationship with Him is perfectly unique just as it is uniquely perfect. Never give up on doing the best you can in spite of the difficulty. The moment we refuse to stay down when we fall is the moment that Satan has already lost. :)

  121. Steve Evans,

    If one cannot defend the Church and its leaders’ inspired counsel without being labeled a bigot, then so be it. It seems that unless I say something negative or sarcastic against the Church and talk about “nuance” every other sentence, then I will forever be labeled a bigot by most on BCC.

    The God I know does not say, “Here is revealed scripture. Here is inspired counsel. Now, decide for yourself which parts are total lies. This way you will always know more than the prophet, and you should tell others that the message he promotes is flawed.”

  122. I’m still not sure how I would go about defending the Family in my daily life. I need some specific examples of what I should be doing. A checklist, preferably.

  123. It is the “Brett’s” of this world that cause us to try and “convince” others of our sacred answers and directions of the Spirit on how we should be, act, love, administer to and support our circle. I am glad that I have very few “Brett’s” to deal with. I know where my direction for my family comes from without a doubt. I see Sis Oscarson’s call as a call to the general body of the church. The general discussion, for that is all she can lead us in. That is why personal revelation is so important at the PERSONAL level. “Brett” has no clue on what we face as mother’s and family members in our own families complex makeups. We have been blessed with incredible children of light, who the Lord has championed us with the cause of being their mother’s, their father’s their encouragers and spiritual guides. HE trusts us and therefore, the “Brett’s” are of no significance to me or my family. My inspiration does not run counterintuitive. It is a mission of love, support, inclusion and acceptance. It is Christ’s example who I follow and Christ whom I am concerned with pleasing. Sis Oscarson has her calling. She speaks to millions of women in a GENERAL forum and manner . I (we) are in the trenches, on the battle front with our personal relationships with the Savior as our leader; our sergeant, or instructor on how to fight and win this war being waged against our families and those in our circles for whom we have deep love and affection. Our personal Guide will never ask us to do anything hateful, spiteful, exclusionary. This is one time when we really can ask, What would Jesus do? In all honesty, politics aside, the answer is pretty obvious. I have no doubts who is directing me! None whatsoever.

  124. Brett try an independent thought once. It’s scary at first but you’ll like it eventually. e Much healthier than your puppet approach. Goodness friend. You were given a mind to think intelligent, reasonable thoughts. Give it a chance. God won’t condemn you for it. He’ll glory in it.

  125. Steve, for decades the Prophets declared the priesthood ban on blacks as revelation. Now we “disavow” this once “revealed” position on something that affected millions. The recent essay on the matter essentially admits the “policy” was a mistake and a product of the time period. I’m not saying this destroys all credibility of the the General Authorities. This does however indicate to me that our personal revelation is the thing to trust most in life sometimes. Millions, in my opinion, quietly opposed the ban but kept quiet as directed. Decades later they were proven correct as the Church admitted its mistake (with as close to an apology as you’ll get from SLC).

    It can’t be wrong to trust your heart and mind. We are worthy of direction from a loving creator on an individual basis

  126. Brett, I feel for you. These women (and men) are screaming at the top of our lungs “Listen to our opinions” while denying you the same courtesy. All they need to do is say, “I disagree” but their man-hating, don’t-say-anything-I-don’t-agree-with skirts are showing. How embarrassing, ladies, that you are so intolerant.

  127. Staind,

    I feel bad that of all the things you could have shared (to further a civil discussion) you couldn’t provide anything more than an insult to my intelligence. Why is that? We were talking about difficult questions. You didn’t need to make it personal. As long as you feel validated, right?

    Your words do more to damage your own integrity than they do mine. That’s because personal attacks have no place among people trying to have a reasonable discussion. If you or anyone else felt like I was attacking them, I do apologize.

  128. Apologies Brett. For real. I snapped unfairly. I am just so exhausted by the “party line” response to trust above all else the prophets because according to, well themselves, it is impossible for them to lead us astray.

    Almost everyone I am closest to in this world shares nearly verbatim your take on this. I get the comfort and security it provides. It is safe ground for sure. whom am I to fault someone for seeking the security and safety provided by your mindset. I really do regret my “attack” on your position.

    I’m a confused and frustrated hombre when it comes to my trust of SLC right now. I have to remind myself that it is a beautiful right, secured in blood, for anyone to follow their conscience as they see fit on these weighty matters.

    Your post that originally responded to the op, came across to me as a “gentle rebuke” which often stings more than a vehement rebuke. Thus my overreaction. Sincere apologies again.

    Peace to all in pursuit of answers.

  129. You’re fine. I didn’t mean for my first reply to come across as a rebuke. I take the position I do because of personal experiences that have brought me to this point. I am the last person to accept what anyone says just because unless they have a well established integrity to me. I’ve spent years considering the whole gamut of ideas when it comes to the Church. My eyes are very much not closed to the ideas and arguments of people who don’t believe exactly as I do. I’m actually on my own mission to understand why people believe as they do, and how they came to believe that way. Interactions like this do educate me so that I can be more sensitive to others. I fully accept that few to none will see everything the way I do. What I am seeing more and more is how we must be able to agree to disagree without becoming disagreeable. We are all still human beings with our own trials, our own experiences that shape us and how we see the world. That humanity that we share as children of God should bring us together even though we won’t always agree. If everyone thought the exact same the world would be boring even in peace. There should always be something that can be agreed on. No hard feelings..they just aren’t worth it. Who wants to feel angry or hostile? I don’t think anyone does.

  130. df’s comments are consistent with LDS doctrine as stated by the First Presidency in 1949 and 1969.

  131. Love. Love. Love.

    Thanks for writing this!

  132. martha my love says:

    Melissa @ 4:33

    Brett has had free access to express his opinions and he has many times on this thread. So have numerous others (tho I haven’t seen anyone keep waving their flag like Brett). Of the others, some have referenced Brett but, by far, the majority have had nothing to say about him. They merely exercised the same opportunity he did from their own POV.

    What’s wrong with that? It’s the American way. Are you suggesting that Brett’s should be the loudest voice whether or not 80%* or so of the sentiments are quite different? Why would that be? Why do you single out the women here when you want to accuse someone of a lack of decorum or tolerance? And exactly who do you think has been shouting? I haven’t noticed any such thing.

    Notice, please, that I am asking questions as civilly as possible and not suggesting that you shouldn’t say what it is you have to say even if I can’t see evidence of how you came to your conclusions.

    * I fully acknowledge that’s a rough estimate and may not be nearly accurate.

  133. Thank you, CJane. You are not alone in having these questions, and I appreciate knowing that I’m not alone either.

  134. I know these questions weren’t directed to me, but if I were trying to help, these would be my answers to your questions:

    “1. Why is gender so important? And what does it mean when we say “men and women are different”?”

    I don’t know why gender is important. I don’t even know why there are genders instead of just being all one sex.

    “2. Why are gender roles important? Why can’t we say it’s the parent’s primary job to nurture, provide, and protect? Why separate the roles by gender? Sorry that was three questions in one. I am writing to you as if you are really reading this and so this is getting sorta weird.”

    I would ask a question back, why did God create male and female in the first place instead of just making us all the same gender? I assume God has his reasons, but I don’t know them. What the Church seems to be teaching is that gender is some kind of divine pattern, but as to the reason, I’m not sure. Maybe God will answer in time.

    Regarding presiding, that would be a good question to pray about and ask the Lord. Why were men charged with providing for their families? It’s a good question. Some doctrinal foundation for it can be found here:

    * 1 Timothy 5:8 – But if any [man] provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
    * D&C 75:28 – Verily I say unto you, that every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown
    * D&C 83:2 – Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken

    “3. Tell me more about the attack on the family. Who is doing the attacking? What are they saying? I am raising four little children and I feel like those who are attacking the family are the people who hate Obamacare. Is that what you are saying? Are you pro-Obamacare like me?”

    My interpretation is that the attacks on the family largely come from societal acceptance of sex outside of marriage, or sexual promiscuity, of provocative media that expose children to sexuality, a culture where primetime television and popular comedy shows frequently include jokes of a sexual nature. Of the availability of pornography and acceptance of it by mainstream society. Of societal objectifying women. Of the idea that sex is OK for any two people who love each other. That marriage is not sacred, that marriage is cheap. That sexual exclusivity in marriage is an old fashioned idea. The decoupling of marriage from sex. Many modern ideas about divorce. That marriage is primarily about love between two partners rather than the ideal unit for rearing children. That not having children is a good idea. That having large families is a bad idea. That being single a single parent is just as good as being a husband-wife couple rearing children. That snapchat is a great tool for teenagers. That cursing and swearing are rampant on all the popular and very easily accessible youtube channels, that softcore porn is reguarly found on innocuous apps like Instagram. etc. etc.

    “4. In the same vein, when you ask me to defend the Proclamation to whom am I defending it? Also, I don’t know what I am defending. This is very confusing to me. Is it because I live in Provo? Am I too much in the bubble? I mean, even here I have friends who are transgender, but I am not going to knock on their door or anything, you know? I don’t know.”

    Defending it means, living by it, teaching others of the virtues of it, and encouraging political leaders to implement policies that have positive outcomes on families. This is a proclamation to ¨The World¨. Some societies, for example, have lax legal protections for women or children that are abused, or lax punishments for sexual predators, or lack of law altogether where such people may not even be arrested. Some societies, (and increasingly ours) think lasciviousness is acceptable, or that the marriage covenant and bond are not that sacred, that marriage is something of convenience rather that a serious, sacred, solemn covenant. Some societies penalize marriage with extra taxes, including the U.S. Many people today don’t think it’s important to have both parents involved in rearing children, you should encourage them of the virtues of father-mother households. Many people today don’t take their marriage covenants seriously, we should always encourage couples to work things out and stick together and use divorce only as a last option. Some TV stations think putting sexual humor in prime-time is acceptable. These are just a few examples.

    “5. Explain preside.”

    In a pamphlet to father, the Church said this about Fatherhood:
    “Fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. Father, with the assistance and counsel and encouragement of your eternal companion, you preside in the home. It is not a matter of whether you are most worthy or best qualified, but it is a matter of law and appointment. You preside at the meal table, at family prayer. You preside at family home evening; and as guided by the Spirit of the Lord, you see that your children are taught correct principles. It is your place to give direction relating to all of family life.

    “You give father’s blessings. You take an active part in establishing family rules and discipline. As a leader in your home you plan and sacrifice to achieve the blessing of a unified and happy family. To do all of this requires that you live a family-centered life.”

    “6. When you use the term “doctrine of the family” I don’t know what that means. I just don’t. Are we saying the Proclamation is doctrine? You know what? I don’t even know what the word doctrine means really. Can you explain all of it starting from the beginning?”

    Here’s how I would explain “doctrine”: as a continuum. The most definitive and authoritative sources we have are canonized scripture. But not everything written there isn’t necessarily doctrine. Joseph Smith said Song of Solomon, for example, was not inspired writing. There are also many things that are interesting historically but no longer practiced (law of Moses) for example. In modern times, we have the correlation committee that reviews official Church publications and conference talks.

    What I was taught in seminary to use as a standard as to whether something was official or not was to look at conference talks, by a prophet or apostle specifically, since the correlation committee was set up to doctrinally check all talks. Those are pretty safe as official. Also, anything specifically published by the Church press, which is also passed through the correlation committee. (The Church is very careful about what goes through the official Church press). Deseret Book doesn’t count.

    A proclamation should be seen as more authoritative than conference talks because they are unanimously signed by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Anytime the top two quorums are unanimous on an issue and make a specific proclamation (which has only been done four times in modern Church history), we should pay attention, and what they say is probably very important, and probably doctrinal. It would be one of those pretty exceptional circumstances were something major like that reversed.

    Some statements by general authorities, especially pre-correlation, it’s not abundantly clear whether it’s personal opinion or doctrine. And also, keep in mind doctrine can change, and policy can change, as has happened before. Keep in mind the teaching that the counsel from the current prophet is more applicable and important to us than the counsel given in prior periods of Church history.

    Now that this foundation is laid, what President Hinckley said about the Proclamation to the World at the time was that it was largely a restatement of existing doctrine rather than something new. I think it’s safe to say you can consider the Proclamation largely doctrine, and certainly the Lord isn’t going to fault you in the judgment day for following it’s counsel.

    “7. Have you read Chieko Okazaki’s account of the Proclamation and how the women leaders of our church were not consulted before it was presented? I read that interview several years ago and I have to tell you I sobbed for a week about it. You are not asking for my opinion (you aren’t even reading this really) but I think it’s a tragedy that the women of our church had no say in that document. Is a document the same as doctrine? Wait…”

    I’m not going to answer since this is a personal question directed to Sister Oscarson. I read the whole account by sister Okazaki and found it pretty inspiring. To sob over it for a week is pretty crazy to me, I don’t know what there is to be so sad about.

    “8. Is a document the same as doctrine? When do I know if these things are going to stick forever or if they’re going to be around until they don’t make sense anymore? Like you know, many things in our history. The Proclamation is only twenty years old. I mean, it’s a baby. A wee baby blip on the timeline of our church.”

    You never know if something is going to stick forever. Things change in the Church a lot over the decades. How were the Israelites to know how long the Law of Moses would stick around? We never know what changes the Lord may see fit to make. As far as the proclamation, it’s relatively young, but the underpinnings of it can be found in the Church much longer than it’s been around. I mean, I remember when it was released, and the thing I remember most about it was that there was nothing new or surprising in it because they were things we’ve been taught for a long time and lived for a long time as latter-day saints.

    “9. What do I do if defending the Proclamation and marriage between a man and a woman makes me feel totally unChristlike and what if defending those makes me feel like I am letting my children down and therefore makes me feel like I’m not strengthening my own family? And TANGENT: what if I feel like my greatest enemies aren’t actually living outside of our church but are actually the very women I share our religion? What if I feel like the way they stand for the family makes me feel like I don’t want to stand with them? What if every time the leaders of our church talk about these things it gives them more reason to be awful to people who don’t agree? What if I’ve resigned myself to a lesser kingdom if being in the Celestial Kingdom means I have to hang out with them? AM I GOING TO HELL?”

    Maybe you could explain more, why does defending the Church defined ideal pattern of father and mother as parents make you feel un-Christ-like? Do you believe that other familial patterns are more ideal for children?

    Do you think you can’t also follow this counsel given by the Church?
    “Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their own gender”

    Do you disagree with this statement by President Hinckley?
    “The powers of procreation are to be exercised only between a man and a woman lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”

    “10. What do I do if I have presented these questions to bishops and leaders and anyone and everyone who will listen to me and nobody has any answers but when I go quietly in prayer to the Lord and I hear the entire and total opposite of what you are asking me to do? And what if that answer gives me relief and peace and makes me a better mom and wife and sister and friend? And what if that peace is interrupted every single time I am “called to the battlefront” for this cause? What if it destroys my family, President? That’s what I am really asking. What if “defending the family” ruins my own?”

    What would you expect any member of the Church to do if they say they’ve received their own private interpretation of scripture? I would counsel you to consider Isaiah:

    “Isaiah 55:8 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”
    “Isaiah 55:9 – For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

    On the fateful day of the founding of the Church, April 6th, 1830, the prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation. It said:

    “D&C 21:4 – Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
    “D&C 21:5 – For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith”

    I’ve often been taught that we the Lord used the words patience and faith because it won’t always be clear, it won’t always be easy, to follow the prophet’s counsel. Because the prophet is a mortal man, and if it were always easy to follow the counsel, patience and faith probably wouldn’t be needed.

    Thanks for sharing your questions. Hope my answers helped.

  135. 1. Why is gender important? Why is race important? Why are your parents important? Why are your friends and siblings important? Why are you ancestors important? Why are your children important? Why are your name, your reputation, your job, your talents, your skills, your education, etc. important? Why is anything fundamental about who you are important? Because it’s part of who you are.

    2. You know how no one person, no matter how great, can possibly do everything? No one can carry the whole world on their shoulders. As humans, we need each other. Not only on a widespread, communal level, but as constant partners in creating our families. Men and women are simply different creatures, and we have different equipment given to us on a biological level. When we say each parent has their respective “primary” responsibilities, we are dividing and conquering according to our strengths. And the key word is “primary.” Not “exclusive.” Fathers should nurture and mothers should protect. But being equal partners does not mean being identical creatures.

    3. The family is under attack because the definition of what family is, with its accompanying responsibilities, is being actively changed in the eyes of our society. “Children are too inconvenient, so abortions are ok.” “Men are worthless as fathers.” “Mothers are worth less than a female top executive.” That sort of thing. Oh, speaking of Obamacare, which, I have no idea where you’re coming from there, you know the part about free birth control and abortions? I’d say pro-family is more anti-Obamacare, but I’m digressing into politics.

    4. “Defend.” Not “attack in its name.” We don’t have to attack people. But we should encourage policies, conversation, and contemplation which preserve the family, as God has laid it out.

    5. As I understand preside: To direct and serve.

    6. Doctrine: the teachings of the Church.

    7. Does God “consult” mortals, or does he tell us what’s what and let us choose whether or not to abide by his words?

    8. When that document is crafted and signed by the highest authority of the Church, in the name of our Lord, then, yes, it is doctrine. As for how old it is, well, the Ten Commandments were once only twenty years old. Does that affect their validity?

    9. If the way you are going about defending the Proclamation makes you feel “totally unChristlike,” then there is a problem with how you are going about it. I once was having an argument with a friend (forgive me for not sharing details) and I was absolutely certain I was right, and I compiled proof that I was right, and I was going to show him! …and then I realized that it didn’t matter if I was “right” or “wrong,” so long as I was personally out of alignment with the Spirit. So I let the argument go and did not take it up again. And whether anyone would have agreed with me or not, it would be worthless to me so long as I, myself, was not listening to the Spirit of Peace. After all, we are NOT all meant to agree with everything we are told, like mindless drones.

    10. I will emphasize this: first align yourself, and never stop aligning yourself. Put God first, and everything else falls into place. And THEN step forth into “battle.” It does not always “rage.” It is “fought” every moment of every day, with kind words, patience, and a reliance on the Spirit. The most enlightening moments of my life have felt more like whispers than “shouts of battle.”

    This is, of course, only “the gospel according to me.” But I hope you find it helpful.

  136. Oh, this might help!

  137. I found this helpful on some level, but still am struggling with many of these questions: http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2015/03/privilege-and-the-family/

  138. The Proclamation may not yet be canonized, but it is scripture, and it is doctrine in that it is the official position of the Church on the matter. Church Doctrine is not limited to the Standard Works. If it were, we would be forced to dismiss The Living Christ as non-doctrinal as well.

    “And whatsoever [the First Presidency and the Twelve] shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” (D&C 68:4)

  139. Angela C says:

    merlinbaldwin: You said “Oh, speaking of Obamacare, which, I have no idea where you’re coming from there, you know the part about free birth control and abortions? I’d say pro-family is more anti-Obamacare, but I’m digressing into politics.” I have found it shocking since starting a small business last year just how many people who seem pretty middle class and mainstream have no health insurance simply because they work for small businesses that aren’t required to carry it. I assume that the lack of health insurance which is a huge problem in this country that affects millions of children is what is meant.

  140. Thank you so much! I have two remarkable, loving, wonderful gay sons, and I am continually battling whether to stay in the Church or find a more loving, peaceful church until change does happen. Sister Oscarson’s talk was not only discouraging, it was heartbreaking. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  141. Haven’t read ALL the many comments so I’m not sure how much/if this has been discussed. (Read: sorry if this is a repeat…)

    In relation to questions 6,8:

    By definition, doctrine is “a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a church, political party, or other group.”

    As such, the Proclamation is a document that **contains** doctrine. Although the document is relatively new, the doctrine is not. The document nicely and cohesively brings together a set of beliefs that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints holds and teaches in relation to the family–all in one place. What does the church teach about the family? The answer is the doctrine.

    Question 7:
    I *have* read that wonderful, inspirational interview. I loved it. I think Sister Okazaki was right when she said that she felt like they were so busy that they forgot the women were even there. I think she would have been able to add much to the Proclamation. HOWEVER, I don’t think she would have changed the doctrine. Maybe the wording? Maybe helped clarify things? But not the doctrine because I believe the doctrine is the Lord’s.

    About question 9 and 10… I think these questions are more personal and require a personal application but here are my thoughts on the matter:

    I believe we are all on a journey back to our Father in heaven and we are all at different places on that journey. I think we all have different struggles and strengths. I think one of the most difficult things for us is to not judge. Judgement is the Lord’s. It is our job to love. Always to love. I believe the gospel is for EVERYBODY. I believe the gospel is for people who are black, white, gay, married, single, old, young, alcoholics, drug addicts, relief society presidents, and everyone in between. I think it is our job to stand for what you stand for. I know people who are gay/lesbian who truly love their partner and have an honest desire to be parents. I truly love and respect these people BUT I don’t think they should be married. I don’t think that is the way the Lord has designed families and so I don’t share their belief. But they are good people and I don’t go harping on them every time I see them and tell them how terrible they are. I love them. And I teach my children that marriage is between a man and a woman. I tell my children that just like each of us has so much we need to learn and so much we need to become so does everyone else. I want people to accept and love me even though I struggle with my own demons. And because I want that love and acceptance, I try to love and accept others as they make their way back–no matter where they are on their journey. (And please accept the sisters in relief society who may not understand also!) Encourage your sisters, your children, your friends, your family. We are all family. I think that is what is meant by defending the family. Stay true to the doctrine taught in the Proclamation, teach that doctrine to your children and love everyone regardless of where they are in their personal understanding of the doctrine.

    Sorry it’s long. guess I ramble…

  142. I am a somewhat-long-time reader of BCC, and occasional commenter. And I have decided I am done with BCC. There have been many great posts – the inspiring, the humbling, the touching and the hilarious. And a few duds – to be expected :) But this post is not where I want to be or go.

    I suppose, in a way, this post is a clear demonstration of the variety in BCC authors and content. @cjanekendrick makes it clear that she thinks the General Leadership is wrong, “What do I do if I have presented these questions to bishops and leaders and anyone and everyone who will listen to me and nobody has any answers but when I go quietly in prayer to the Lord and I hear the entire and total opposite of what you are asking me to do?”. And she is completely entitled to that view. I think she faces quite a dilemma – what does she do?

    I believe God leads this Church, through the prophets and apostles. I feel God’s love in the counsel from general and local leaders, and when I am in the service of others, including in my home. I believe the Book of Mormon is a true witness of God. I believe Joseph Smith was a true prophet.

  143. I should have specified, I apologize. I know you went to the Lord; I was actually referring to what Brett said about asking questions and answers received.

    Regardless, the post touched me and I was projecting my own feelings. I shouldn’t assume it’s hard for you: it just has been for me. And I don’t mean to imply you don’t know of your heavenly father’s love; I was simply saying that’s the best I have for the questions asked. And yes, it’s probably just me who wants more clarification from the Lord and not Sister Oscarson.

    I’m sorry you took offense. I was trying to empathize through my own experience.

  144. MrC – thank you. You just eloquently expressed my feelings exactly. I’m done too. I wrote my first comment to this not having heard Sis. Oscarsson’s talk. Now I have, and I now know exactly where I will be going in the future to be encouraged, uplifted and motivated.

  145. CJaneKendrick, thank you for the link to Sis Okazaki’s interview, it was a wonderful detour at #7 and provided a thoughtful framing for your post.

  146. — And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.

    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/bofm-title?lang=eng

  147. melodynew says:

    I appreciate Sister Oscarson. I sustain her and support her in her incredibly difficult calling. As I watched and listened to her speak, I kept thinking, “This feels like political propaganda.” It was disturbing to me on many levels.

    When she ended her talk and the next musical number began I walked out to the balcony/foyer area in the conference center and looked south across the city – the Salt Lake Temple prominently positioned in my view, the silver dome of the tabernacle gleaming in the evening sunlight. I wandered around that top floor looking at brilliant and beautiful works of art. I sat on a padded bench as Elder Eyring began his talk and then glanced down at the dark granite floors, buffed to mirror reflections. From an unnoticed prismatic skylight above, a rainbow was splashed across the floor, stretching some fifteen feet or more fanning out from the focal point . . . I couldn’t take my eyes of that rainbow, the stunning creation made by natural light, doing what light does when it is refracted in just the right way. It took my breath away.

    I was overcome with the beauty of that place and of the moment. And I felt grateful for the moments like that every day when God reminds me of the constant and inconvenient discrepancies within my existence as a member of the church I love.

    Thank you for articulating your feelings of respect for Sister Oscarson and disappointment in her message with such honestly and clarity, Courtney. I hope she is listening.

  148. cjanekendrick says:

    Here’s the problem with the “doctrine of the family”: in theory we still practice polygamy even though we say we don’t. We seal more than one woman to one man all the time–daily in fact– and our temple services reflect our commitment to that end. So is our “family doctrine” polygamy or monogamy–I mean at the heart of it? Because to me, we publicly are saying one thing, and privately (sacredly?) doing another. And then we say the traditional family is under attack. I mean, what’s more non-traditional than polygamy (which we still practice)?
    Also, I am not asking in number one why having two complimentary sexual organs is important for reproduction, I am asking why gender–a cultural construct–is important.
    Mormonism is my heritage, that’s why these questions are important to me.

  149. I’m not Mormon or LDS, many times I wish I were, The whole authority structure throws me off, but I love this blog site! It shows me a side of intelligence and debate I wish my United Methodist Church showed. Thanks all of you for being part of my spiritual life, male, female whatever there is some real pursuit of truth here. :)

  150. James Sneak says:

    This was a wonderful open letter and i’m so glad it inspired so many comments. When I see so many people defending the “proclamation on the family” it makes me think of John 5:39-40 where Christ comments to the true blue believers that you search the scriptures thinking you have eternal life, but you refuse to come to me (paraphrase). The one thing i’ve learned (and its taken a long time) about religion is that the rhetoric doesn’t matter, doing the right thing matters. I think that’s the problem many have with some of the direction of church leadership, they don’t seem to be doing the right thing. President Packer taught some years ago to never utter the word “homosexual”, the rhetoric has softened but the message is still there. I think the church would be better served if out leaders tried to help with real issues affecting the family rather than trying to prevent people who want to get married from marrying.

  151. fithtrekkerwoman says:

    cjane, that’s a very good point about polygamy. the contrast between what they say outwardly and what they endorse spiritually is huge. one of the reasons I’m very close to leaving the church is the problem I have with the dishonesty and, to me, lack of integrity. It’s easy to put out into the world how you think things SHOULD be, harder to look at yourself (I’m speaking of the ‘church’ here). Nobody and no institution is perfect. Integrity would be to accept the whole — and it would acknowledge the discomfort about doctrine for people like me. I see it as a Mormon culture thing too (or psychology?) why it’s so hard for people to be comfortable or accepting of imperfection. I understand that’s common for most people but if the church wants to lead by example, it’s leaders have to be strong enough and willing to look within. It was a rereading of Joseph Smith’s first vision that actually gave me the most spiritual confirmation of my questions about continuing to support the church’s point of view. J. Smith was told these are all churches of men, not of God. It’s my belief (and through lots of lots of prayer and fasting) that what we have here now is a very large ‘church of man’ that is trying to hold on to what they have as best they can.

  152. After reading the last couple of posts on this topic I had expected the talk to be political and controversial. I have to say after listening to it an hour ago that’s not what I heard at all. I heard a talk about the importance of family and in particular the importance of motherhood. I thought it was wonderful, not what I was expecting at all.

  153. Ok, but please don’t blanket all women in the church under your tangent in #9. Yes there are women who behave that way. But I do not. Nor do most of the women with whom I associate. Defending the family is not license to treat others poorly, and I do not appreciate being lumped in with those who think it is.

  154. @KM

    Courtney didn’t blanket all women in the church in the tangent in #9. She’s obviously only referring to some women–if you don’t fit into the description of women she describes then you don’t have anything to worry about.

  155. martha my love says:

    I think this missionary to The Netherlands says it extremely well http://approachingjustice.net/2015/03/30/how-is-the-family-is-under-attack/#comments

  156. fithtrekkerwoman says:

    martha my love, great article you linked to!

  157. Awesome and beautiful. Thanks. Now I just need Nathaniel Givens to explain why I am wrong for loving this…and my day will be complete.

  158. Thanks everyone for your thoughtful contributions. I’m closing the thread.