The Stakes of Zion

Let me start with three points of cultural context:
  1. I’m a believer, I’m not going anywhere, and this isn’t intended to be a radical post.
  2. I live in a big city, and work in the ad industry in close proximity to gay people. They’re my friends, neighbors, employees, coworkers, and ward members.
  3. I was born the year after the priesthood ban was lifted. Mine is the first generation to have grown up in a Mormon church without false doctrinal cover for racism.

Let’s just call things what they are, at least for the moment. Because we need a moment of honesty right now, to clearly consider what’s at stake.

If this policy and our anti-gay views (again, calling things what they are) are somehow cemented as doctrine, in time we will be labeled a hate group, and no amount of Mormon bloggers and commenters and online missionaries and ad campaigns will sway that opinion. It will be our brand identity. Within 10 years we’ll be seen as a fringe group. In 20 years we’ll be a bigoted, extremist anachronism.

As that happens, our members will not be able to run major corporations. They will not be welcome in artistic circles. They will not be able to win political office. They will not be able to play in popular rock bands. Think anyone will play BYU in sports? Football contracts get broken all the time, and every school that backs out of playing BYU will win PR points for doing so.

Cultural momentum is moving quickly in this direction (note that those instances linked above have already happened). If this isn’t your reality right now, it will be soon.

Like I said, at the rate that public opinion is shifting, I give it 10 years. Shorten that timeline in urban areas like mine, and in more liberal developed nations. Lengthen it for a few developing nations and rural communities, perhaps. But we will lose the youth, fast. Imagine BYU enrollment sinking, fewer teens putting in mission papers, smaller seminary classes. This probably would have happened over gender issues anyway; it will happen faster if we institutionally mistreat a growing number of our young men and women and their friends.

We invest so much energy and time and money into building good relations and brand perceptions. This policy will dismantle that goodwill. Not everywhere right away, but soon.

Softening the policy will not fix this. Making small retractions and concessions will not fix this either.

So it’s only right to ask, as a believing member, is that the Lord’s plan for His church?

It might be—I have no business having an opinion about that. Honestly. Maybe people are right that this is the big faith test they’ve been waiting for, and I’m in danger of being on the wrong side of it. I do not dismiss that as a real possibility. As a believing Mormon who tries to be faithful, this subverts everything I’ve built my testimony around, and everything about my lived experience. But what do I know about the mind of the Lord, really?

Very little, but I believe we are led by prophets, seers and revelators who are called to prophesy, see and reveal. This is fundamental to our religion. It’s our brand differentiation, so to speak; our primary selling point. If we think the Lord’s plan for the church is for it to become a shrinking community of hardliners, it’s fair and right and faithful to pray and plead for His word on the subject.

I hope we’re all doing so. We don’t have a lot of time, and there’s a lot at stake.

NOTE: This post is not intended to address the rightness or wrongness of the policy, or whether we should bend to popular whim. I’m describing the future as I see it from my non-prophetic perch.

Comments

  1. Is there no chance at all that mainstream society might just mature enough to truly accept diversity and come to a realization that one can be in favor of the longstanding definition of marriage as between a man and a woman without being a bigot?

    Those LDS who were forced to resign were bullied. There is no justification for that, yet in your description of reality, you seem to be giving those folks a pass. They somehow escape the “bigot” label.

  2. “Is there no chance at all that mainstream society might just mature enough to truly accept diversity and come to a realization that one can be in favor of the longstanding definition of marriage as between a man and a woman without being a bigot?”

    No. No chance at all.

  3. PS yes, the bullying was unacceptable and should not be condoned.

  4. None. Words have meaning.

  5. Naismith, I hear people in the church say that sexual preference and race aren’t corollaries…give it a couple more years and that won’t be a culturally accepted position.

  6. Policies aside there are other Christian denominations as well as other faith groups and much of the Islamic world who do not condone homosexuality. So looking at the wider context where does that leave other religous groups as referred to in the next 10 and 20 years??

  7. I’m not sure, Claire. Any thoughts?

  8. Reader Rachel says:

    I don’t know that BYU enrollment would go down, but the academic standards of the students might. And it may be harder to get and keep quality professors.

  9. Yet Another John says:

    We all are tolerant people as long as others agree with us.

  10. Claire: This policy puts us to the extreme right of the Catholic Church. Given that the Evangelicals are more open with borders anyway, their dislike for homosexuality is a moot point as they will not have any pertinent policy. There is no other church (maybe the Westboro Baptist Church) that has such a strong stance against gay people as to craft a policy to cut their straight children out of the church, making them ineligible to be on church records, visitors at best.

  11. Eve of Destruction says:

    A BYU degree is on my cv. That is not something I can change. I already have a harder time getting jobs with the liberal organizations I would prefer to work for because of it. If I say nothing, they see BYU on there and doubt my liberal cred. If I try to find the least-awkward way to blurt out “I disagree with the LDS stance on gays and women,” they wonder what kind of idiot I was to go to BYU if I felt that way or how fickle or disloyal I must be to have made such a 180 afterward and might I someday make another 180 to go back to my roots. It horrifies me to think this will get worse.

  12. It will be harder for BYU to get and keep quality professors, and it might be harder or impossible for BYU to keep accredation, and the cache behind a BYU degree will diminish. Working for BYU will not be a career-advancing move, and it will become a cult-de-sac, where BYU produces it’s own graduate students who circle back around and become professors. It’s a decidedly unhealthy academic model.

    Yes, there are other faiths with similar stances on homosexuality, but at least in the western world, they too are going to have to adapt. The west won’t be a comfortable place for institutional bigotry.

  13. Yeah I think this is about right. And the church may very well embrace the small band of the righteous identity where the small and more persecuted it is the more that is seen as a proof of its truthfullness. (A look at out polygamous cousins gives us a sense of what that looks like). I am already personally seeing a rise of the rhetoric among members. This stands in stark contrast to the growth narrative that we have used for generations – the stone cut out of the mountsin, fastest growing church etc.

    I don’t know if the Y will shrink. I think there is plenty of excess demand. However, i do think we will start seeing major employers stop recruiting on campus etc. Top grad programs at other universities might cut back intaking our graduates. That will be the first signs. I also agree the quality of the professoriate will drop. I think that ship has sailed as the very capriciousness of this policy will warn of faculty that don’t want their livelihoods tied to their recommend status.

  14. Clark Goble says:

    Evangelicalism is a movement and not an organized religion so it doesn’t apply. I’m fairly confident you could easily find evangelical congregations with a more strict policy. Even among other groups roughly the size of our Church you find similar policies though. The Church of Christ has had similar controversies and arguably is far to the right of the LDS. Jehovah’s Witneses have a shunning doctrine for gays which is arguably much harsher than anything the LDS do. Obviously a lot of mosques have fairly harsh views as well. I’m not quite as sure as what the Southern Baptist convention requires. That’s the largest protestant group. Their leaders have preached pretty harsh on SSM telling their followers they are not to attend SSM. However I’ve seen no sign they’d keep SSM practitioners families from church.

    My point is not to say anything about the correctness of the policy in question (which I think has been read more broadly than intended) but merely to say most conservative Christians take arguably harder stances against SSM than Mormons do.

  15. Do any of them deny baptism to children or make the children renounce their parents in or be be baptized? And is that really the yardstick we want to use to measure ourselves?

  16. This is why there are 3 arms to the mission of the church. When we go too far toward “Perfecting the Saints” by cutting out any perceived impurity in the flock, we lose on “Proclaiming the Gospel.” Policies need to maintain balance. This one is not balanced at all.

  17. Rah, I just don’t want to underestimate the level of rejection of any anti-gay teachings among young people.

  18. Clark Goble says:

    Tracy M, I don’t see how this could affect accreditation. At worst it might affect football or basketball scheduling with certain colleges. Likewise professorship jobs are scarce enough I don’t think BYU will have trouble attracting solid people. There are still many more people wanting a job than there are jobs.

  19. Clark, it will absolutely effect sports, and with more than just certain colleges. It is *already* effecting the academics.

  20. Clark Goble says:

    Tracy M, yes most require children to renounce their parents homosexual lifestyle. So far as I know none except maybe JW would keep children from being baptized although I confess I just don’t know on that point. Again, I’m not saying anything about our policy in this merely noting that I think people simply don’t realize that most Christians are very conservative on this issue. It’s not hard to find polls on how Christians view gay marriage (Evangelicals and Black Protestants oppose in huge numbers) It’s harder to say how they’ll react given that it’ll take a few years for reactions to occur. Of course among the young even among Christians people see homosexuality as more acceptable. Among mainline Protestants support for SSM is now the majority. But of course as a movement they are dwindling in numbers quickly.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    BYU has already torpedoed it’s own hiring. These days they’ll only hire LDS (except in the most dire circumstances), and often the best LDS candidate is way down the list of applicants.

  22. Clark Goble says:

    When you say “already affecting academics” what do you mean? Certainly people trying to go to more liberal minded areas will have trouble. I think that sort of conflict was inevitable and would continue to get worse so long as the church doesn’t adopt the normative views of most political liberals on this issue broadly. In the short term this will undoubtedly accelerate that but I think the conflict would already have grown.

  23. Clark Goble says:

    Kevin, hasn’t that always been the case?

  24. Clark, no, the hiring policy is of relatively recent vintage.

  25. And, to Kyle’s point, I suspect that “young people” includes a substantial swath of the under-40 it -50 crowd.

  26. “Is there no chance at all that mainstream society might just mature enough to truly accept diversity and come to a realization that one can be in favor of the longstanding definition of marriage as between a man and a woman without being a bigot?”

    I managed to be “pro” Prop-8 because we were asked to, and I honestly believed that it wasn’t bigoted to not want the government to change the definition of marriage. Equal rights and civl unions for all, religious ceremonies for those who wish!

    This, somehow, isn’t even about THAT. This is withholding membership and saving ordinances from children for the sins of their parents until they are legally old enough to move out and disavow their parents’ current or past relationships. As a lifelong member, I don’t know how to accept ‘diversity’ enough to be okay with this and not feel like a bigot.

  27. 5, 10, 20 years from now the US just might be in the grasp of something far worse than the arguments and debates about gays, what lives, matter, and etc. LDS scripture makes it clear the day of the Gentiles is coming to and end. When that day arrives basic survival will be on the minds of all.

  28. Discretion says:

    I have a ward full of BYU employees and faculty. I’ve known at least four highly qualified instructors be either forced out or seek more academic freedom taking jobs elsewhere because of baloney religious politicking. I’ve seen highly talented intelligent faithful students bullied by the current dogmatic climate, to the point of considering semesters off for mental, emotional and spiritual health.

  29. John Mansfield says:

    From the NY Times obituary for Rene Girard:

    A nonpracticing Roman Catholic, Professor Girard underwent a religious awakening after a cancer scare in 1959, while working on the conclusion of his first book.

    “I was thrown for a loop, because I was proud of being a skeptic,” he later said. “It was very hard for me to imagine myself going to church, praying and so on. I was all puffed up, full of what the old catechisms used to call ‘human respect.’ ”

    The Christian influence on his work was most apparent in “Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World,” written in 1978 and published in English in 1987. In that book he said Christianity was the only religion that had examined scapegoating and sacrifice from the victim’s point of view.

    His final work, published in 2007, posited that the mimetic competition among nations would lead to an apocalyptic confrontation unless nations could learn to renounce retaliation.

    That forthright religious stance may have cost him status in university circles, said Robert Pogue Harrison, a professor of literature at Stanford. “No doubt it was an obstacle,” he said. “He believed in Christian truth, which isn’t going to find ready acceptance in contemporary academia.”

    If being a believing Catholic whose beliefs were expressed in his work could be a noticeable professional obstacle in the late 20th Century, it’s a reasonable possibility that a Mormon believer could be marginalized from various segments of society in the near future.

  30. Taking us to a dark place there, Jack.

  31. BTW, I am very interested in people’s thoughts on how the next few years will play out in the Bible Belt. The young christians I know (including from CoC) gravitate to more open, less dogmatic faith communities than the ones they were raised in. But more often they leave Christianity altogether.

  32. Clark Goble says:

    Sam if it’s recent why have there been so few non-LDS hires the past 30 years?

  33. Your list of tough things that might happen in the next decades reads like part of the 1890 manifesto. Wilford Woodruff sketched out the church’s expected losses if current church policies stayed in place (i.e., polygamy). Interesting to envision a church president nowadays prefacing the announcement of a major change with a statement about what would happen if we don’t make this change.

  34. Clark Goble says:

    Kyle, this is shaping up in the Evangelical community as a big deal. There’s starting to be a bit of a schism over sexual ethics from what I can tell. I’m very curious how the Evangelical community deals with this.

  35. Clark Goble says:

    Discretion, sadly there’s politics at all universities. The point of the controversy here is that Mormons would be bullied in other universities. Most departments have views they consider appropriate and those they don’t. Conflicts in academia can become rather nasty. Look at string theorists vs those skeptical or continental philosophers vs. analytic. It’s called academic bloodsport for a reason. Compared to most I’ve seen BYU’s is fairly benign frankly.

  36. Swisster,

    What’s really interesting is that those who believe the discontinuation of polygamy to be a moral imperative generally feel the current policy re: SSM to be morally bankrupt.

  37. D. Fletcher says:

    Apparently, Elder Oaks spoke about the “wheat” and the “tares” just this last weekend. Isn’t it possible they are thinning the herd, on purpose? Perhaps it’s God’s intent.

  38. Clark Goble says:

    Kyle, to add among young Evangelicals support for SSM jumped from 20% in ’03 to 45% in ’14. When you look at the demographics it’s overwhelmingly accepted by the young. So in a certain way the debate is really over and it’s all about waiting for those of the older generation to die off.

    If, as is fairly common, LDS buck these trends then we’ll become more and more out of the mainstream to the point there will undoubtedly be persecution and discrimination as many in this thread have mentioned. On the other hand on many issues LDS tend to follow national trends but simply with a longer delay. (Consider use of birth control or family size for recent 20th century examples) It’s not clear where the church will go. There’s been a lot of opposition to SSM from the Church under Pres. Monson. It’s seems rather futile to me in that long ago it seemed the demographic trends were not going to reverse. However he clearly feels there is value in fighting the trend.

  39. Right. It’s not a nice or a polite thing to say, but the policy will be reversed when the homophobic generation is gone, just as the race policy changed when the racist generation was gone, just as other policies will change as the role of women in the world changes.

    Perhaps that’s the way the kingdom is intended to progress. But gosh that’s a cynical way to view it all.

  40. Would you agree with this: The status quo for Wilford Woodruff was polygamy. The status quo for Thomas S. Monson is that gay families have no place in the church. The status quo changed/changes due in part to a prophetic peek at the debilitating negatives of leaving things the way they are.

  41. I’m going to agree in broad strokes by way of quibbling on the edges. I think there’s more room than you suggest for the heterodox or non-practicing Mormon, in the C-suite, in the arts, in politics. I do think Western society is sophisticated enough to understand the difference. I think the external change will come even faster than you describe. Public opinion these days operates with such a powerful feedback loop that almost as soon as it starts it will be over. On the other hand, I think the Church is big enough, and the core of true believers is large enough, that the Church and BYU will appear strong and vital for much longer than you suggest, even while concentrating.

  42. Thanks Christian. I will say I’ve been very surprised by some of the people who are willing to speak up about this new policy, across the U.S. and in all kinds of wards and situations. Orthodoxy trends might be difficult to predict right now, because I think the current situation is unprecedented.

  43. Bring it on. The savior did not shrink from the bitter cup. If we are to be misjudged once again, or rather continue to be misjudged, I welcome the adversity.

  44. “Would you agree with this: The status quo for Wilford Woodruff was polygamy. The status quo for Thomas S. Monson is that gay families have no place in the church. The status quo changed/changes due in part to a prophetic peek at the debilitating negatives of leaving things the way they are.”

    Depends on who’s doing the “prophetic peeking.”

  45. Clark Goble says:

    Swisster, I think that’s right although I’d add that we can’t always know what the Lord will do. He surprises us quite often.

    Kyle, it is important to note though that on some matters Mormons either were ahead of the curve on change (say on alcohol and tobacco) or haven’t changed (say the overwhelming acceptance of pre-marital sex in our society). So according to Gallup 66% of Americans consider pre-marital sex morally acceptable. Mormons by and large do not and aren’t likely to change that view any time soon. Exactly where SSM falls into that isn’t clear. Will it be more like views of birth control or more like pre-marital sex? I’ll be very curious to see where things sit a decade from now.

    One thing seems certain we’re in a decade of rapid social change probably not seen since the era after WWII or the late 60’s.

  46. Hula,

    Right on. Though it can be double the burden when we’re misjudged by our own.

  47. The Savior also didn’t say “bring it on,” Hula. I wish you grace and mercy when it is “brought on.”

  48. Discretion says:

    Clark Goble, if the reasons had anything to do with their fields I might believe it but it’s all comes back to religious thought and practice policing. The professor that works in performance arts not being able to teach the way they would like because they are too sympathetic to those in the LBGT community. The communications instructor that was accused of kingdom building and priestcraft because their students liked them too much and they advocated to the administration on behalf of students journalistic freedom, eventually being forced out. Women working currently in many departments hitting what amounts to a impenetrable patriarchal ceiling reinforced beyond the normal glass one. Bright smart normal complicated young adults not being able to navigate the normal stuff that young adults navigate because the stakes are too high. We are border policing ourselves to death.

  49. John Harrison says:

    As long as we’re making predictions, if all of this stuff happens, 20 years from now the Church will be shuttering temples. Perhaps selling them off eventually. Which seemed unthinkable a week ago.

  50. See? This is fun! [shudder]

  51. I have thought for the last 5 years that the church is at a crossroads. Either it will change and allow women in the Priesthood and Same Sex Marriage, and then it will continue to grow and be a vibrant part of society as a mainstream religious movement. Or it will double down on male only priesthood and homosexuality, and lose millions of members and end up as a relatively small and not influential fundamentalist sect. Truth is in 10 or 20 years those who oppose equality for women and homosexuals will be seen the same way as we see those who oppose equality for all races today. i.e. it will be a minority and bigoted view.

    I know of LOTS of fundamentalist and conservative Mormons who talk about wheat and the tares and that they almost welcome the second option. And if you are so inclined, it might actually be a welcome change. But the church will not be as big or as influential as it is today.

    It genuinely feels like prop 8 and the recent excommunications of women’s rights activists were the first tentative steps down path 2. This most recent policy feels like the first solid step further down path 2, to the point I am not sure they even could go back to path 1 anymore.

  52. I guess you could also predict that this raises the chances of getting apostles from the global south as those cultures are generally more likely to be on board with this policy. The policy might be a catalyst for a big demographic shift.

  53. Scott,

    I keep trying to figure out who the wheat are and who the tares are. I think we’d all like to fancy ourselves as wheat. Those that seemed thrilled by this sifting don’t strike me as very wheat-like.

    If this is some sort of test I’d rather be a Samaritan than a Levite. I’m just trying to figure out what shape that will take.

  54. @Claire: What Angela C. said. Bad as it is today, we collectively have no idea how far right this stance will increasingly put us on the wacky anti-gay Christian spectrum. We’re not full Westboro yet, but making each and every SSM couple de facto apostates implies just a modest twist on God hates f*gs theology, if you maintain as we do that no other measure of conduct or belief can mitigate gay exclusion from the body of Christ while agreeing that orientation is not a choice. Nobody will ever buy “gay-only mandatory singleness/celibacy” as reasonable, fair, or even humane. On this vector the SPLC will eventually designate us an anti-gay hate group. (As they have the WCF, which Elder Ballard just addressed.) The only question is when, but I’m betting not long. And on and on from there.The OP has it exactly right.

    All Christian groups in the West that wish to thrive will have to embrace gay marriage. Full stop. A majority of Christian millennials (including Mormon youth) already accept it, so it’s a done deal. Our kids choose the future and we don’t get a vote, and they have zero interest in culture wars long gone stale before they were even born. Most mainline churches are ahead of this shift and Evangelicals are already discussing “new ministries,” which will be powered by progressive Christian ideals. In the global South it may be different, but do we want to be classed with the Robert Mugabes? Is Mormonism, the American Religion, willing not just to evangelize, but recenter itself on the global South with other conservative Christianities?

    American Christianity will never settle for being a moral minority and it has all the room it needs to create theological accommodation (just as do we). There have been gay Evangelical associations since the 70s and Obergefell is the LGBTQ ticket to full acceptance even in those churches. Marriage is a legitimating sacrament. The cultural warriors were completely right about the stakes. But past is prologue and nobody can pull off historical revisionism like a church (just look at us!). I agree with Neil Carter’s take:

    “Fifty years from now evangelicals will claim they helped bring marriage equality to pass. You read it here first. I would bet my life savings on it (okay, so maybe that’s not saying much). Just as the same conservative Christian traditions that opposed the abolition of slavery now claim credit for making it happen, I’m going on record in predicting that 50 years from now evangelical churches—whatever they have evolved into by that time—will be claiming today’s victory as their own. As soon as the memory of all the bitter opposition to this development has gone to the grave with this generation, revisionist historians will look back on people like Brandan Robertson and Matthew Vines in order to argue that the evangelical church was out in front of social progress, calling for the equal inclusion of their LGBT brothers and sisters in the name of Jesus. They will have completely forgotten that in our day it was the evangelical churches that issued all the ultimatums and spoke in dire apocalyptic terms about this change in public opinion.”
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2015/06/26/upon-the-legalization-of-gay-marriage/

  55. “Women working currently in many departments hitting what amounts to a impenetrable patriarchal ceiling reinforced beyond the normal glass one.”

    Yup.

  56. I’m with you, John. The wheat might just turn out to be the ones who want everyone else to be counted as wheat too. I call that “big heaven mormonism”…our doctrine lets me hope for the largest possible heaven, and any other hope doesn’t make sense to me.

  57. I doubt recruitment of students from BYU will really every take a hit. Sure, you may be hiring someone who’s views on guys doing it with guys you find old fashioned or bigoted. But, you’re also hiring someone you know won’t steal from you, will show up sober on Monday, and knows how to work. The competitive advantage young LDS people have over their peers is not going away anytime soon. We might have trouble in certain industries (the ones we already have trouble in), but meh. About half of my colleagues are gay Europeans, and none of this is an issue. We Mormons are a small, odd sect already, and whatever stupid things we do are little more than a footnote in the world’s consciousness. The news cycle has a very short memory.

  58. Kyle M says:
    November 12, 2015 at 8:06 pm
    Taking us to a dark place there, Jack.

    Uhhh…we’re already well on our way. If the census data stands, there’s 3 single women for every two single man for LDS in Utah. That’s a lost generation already…1/3 of men to inactivity, and 1/3 of women to spinsterhood. The same ratio goes for single men and women in the nation at college.

    For the first time ever, life satisfaction is higher for teenagers and those in their 20s than those 30 and higher. There’s the well publicized number about the spiked mortality rate among whites 45-54. (Someone reviewed the underlying data and says its really women who have caught with men in self-destructive behavior.)

    The general economic data looks OK, until you look closer, and you see…you guessed it, the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. This seems to explain the Sanders/Trump phenomenon. The stock market drops 50% in 2000, and 57% in 2008…still, there doesn’t seem to be any real recovery…not for the average person on the street anyways. Only 40% of graduates are current on their loans.

    Meanwhile, we have the largest refugee crisis in history…not just since WWII. The world seems to be telling Obama, as the saying goes, you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.

  59. Quit trying to trump my jeremiad.

    So to speak.

  60. For those who haven’t seen it, a Relief Society President in a small ward outside of Utah has written a letter to the General Presidents of the Women’s Auxiliaries of the Church. It is short, devoid of hyperbole, and heart-wrenching: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2015/11/to-the-general-presidents-of-the-womens-auxiliaries/

  61. I see this issue as a very small minority of fringe Mormons making a huge deal out of not much. I believe that in time we will see the wisdom in the policy changes while the fringe becomes more dark and unrelenting. Truly, the only real threat we have is from a very small minority of fringe sometime Mormons who dont participate in church anyway.

  62. That is startlingly divergent from what I’m seeing. Where do you live?

    I’m getting texts and emails from mainstream, moderate, politically conservative mormons.

  63. And btw, BCC’s traffic from the past week suggests otherwise, Rob. This is not fringe, and it’s not small.

  64. Rob,

    One of us is seriously out of touch. You might even be able to convince me that I’m just a weirdo who knows lots of people for whom this has been a serious blow. Not partially-active types either.

  65. lil drummer says:

    and after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not. these are the words of my father:

    for as many as heeded them, had fallen away

    If it’s not this issue then it’s something else that people will mock us about. the issue isn’t whether or not we can turn down/off their scornful voices but whether or not we really care about their opinion (heed them). I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about the issue. Lehi is pretty clear on our chances if we do care too much about what they think of us.

  66. Not saying we should care what they think about us, lil drummer. More concerned that we might be shooing people off the iron rod before they’ve had a chance to see what lies at the end of it.

  67. I used to be a blogger on the archipalego years ago until they kicked me out. It was around then I started noticing that most LDS blogger sites attract the majority of fringe Mormons who troll the blogs and forums and clutter it up pretty good with anti Mormon material. At church, (where true LDS members are) you dont see the same sentiment as you do on the blogs. Active LDS members support the prophet and are against ssm. In my ward, I didnt hear one single person, who actively attends, voice dissent in regards to the new policy change. There are 2 kinds of Mormons- the active majority who serve faithfully and pray for and support their leaders, and then you have the fringe Mormons who are always too quick to side with the world, lack faith, and live, in some degree, immoral lives.

  68. Rob,

    I’m not talking about bloggers. I’m talking about friends, family members, and co-workers. People are freaking out. They might not look to you as a shoulder on which to cry. I can only speculate as to why that might be.

  69. John,
    I dont know where you live but here in small town Idaho no one is freaking out. Perhaps I live in too conservative an area. I just dont see a large portion of “true LDS” freaking out over this. Maybe you just know a lot of fringe Mormons.

  70. I can confirm Discretion’s observations. Hiring pools are already taking a huge hit at BYU in many disciplines. Fewer LDS candidates apply, and it has become quite commonplace in the last few years for the administration to veto TR-holding finalists or to override hires of TR-holding committee selections. And I personally know of one finalist for a current opening who withdrew after the events of last week.

  71. Rob, the people I am seeing are faithful believing members who are being torn apart by this. The fringy members as you put it are leaving in droves, the ex mormons are crowing at the “mistake” made by the brethren, but the ones who are really suffering are believing strong members. Multiple of my friends and relatives.

    On top of that they are Stake Presidents, Relief Society Presidents, the guy in Seattle who was called to do gay outreach by his Stake President, a good friend of mine who has a gay brother, another relative who has struggled with the gay rights issue for a number of years, the multitudes of millennials who have gay friends. These are not fringy people.

  72. Rob,

    That might be. They’re all active, TR holding, returned missionaries. I guess I’m just a weirdo. Of course when I go to church in small town Wyoming I feel that many members there wearing their various bigotries proudly on their sleeves, which probably says as much about me as it does about them.

  73. Rob Osborn, true believing and active members also take their Savior’s words to heart. They have faith in Jesus Christ and believe him when he says, “Suffer the children…” They believe that the second Article of Faith is not just empty words, but truth.

    It is scary for a true believing, active Mormon to find herself in the present situation. Statements like yours often shut us up because we aren’t looking for judgement or conflict. We are looking for the truth and peace that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are suffering. We are taking our pain to our leaders privately or we are on our knees begging our God for help. Pray with us. We need everyone’s prayers.

  74. Scott,
    Im sorry but “faithful” members are, by definition, “faithful” and pray for and support the prophets in their decisions. Faithless more accurately defines someone who “lacks faith” by leaving or voicing dissent.

  75. Amy,

    Then I encourage you and others to pray for wisdom in why this policy is in place at this time and further, support the apostles wnd prophets by standing for them, praying for them, and standing tall.

  76. Not sure why this subject is still being talked about. Either you are with Him or you are against Him, you can’t be lukewarm. Either you support the Brethren or you don’t. The only place I’ve seen any discussion about the issue is on your blog and even though you say you’re not going anywhere, you don’t sound very convincing. Jesus may love gay people individually, but He certainly abhors their behavior when they act on their sexual feelings. A man and a woman have children and they form a family. If you’re not part of a family, you’re not going to feel welcome in the Ward. Many single adults don’t feel welcome in Wards as they simply don’t fit in as part of a family unit. They have to figure out how to become part of the Ward family and sometimes it’s hard. I can’t imagine how a gay person that wants to be openly gay will ever fit into the Ward family or feel at home in the Church.

  77. Rob….maybe you are right. And your definition seems fair. But truthfully it doesn’t change the discussion at all. Maybe it will just mean millions of “unfaithful” mormons leaving, and the world categorizing the LDS church as a hate group, but whether or not you see these people as faithful mormons or not doesn’t change the equation.

    The church has decided to double down on this issue. It is causing pain, even if it is only in people you declare unfaithful. It may be God’s will and the Prophets are understanding him correctly. Still doesn’t change the equation. The church is making a stand and right or wrong it will be losing a lot of members, even if they are unfaithful. And the missionary efforts will be damaged, BYU students will have a harder time getting work, BYU will likely be boycotted from college games, there will be impacts. Right or wrong.

  78. Rob,

    I am praying for our leaders. I am praying for our LGBTQ friends. I am praying for you. I praying for me. I am praying for the children. I am praying for understanding. I am praying for healing. I am praying for the love and peace of our Savior, Jesus Christ. My faith is in Him. My love is for Him. We are all of His fold. I am praying to know His will. I’m praying to know how I can follow Him.

    Pray with me. Pray for me. Pray for our friends. Prayers of faith are heard and answered.

  79. Scott,
    It is true that our church will take a hit. Its all kind of a sad thing but it does show just how immoral society has become and why there needs to be a separation. I am a scout leader and I have witnessed over the years how the BSA has taken hit after hit. Even this last go around with the church stating emphatically they do not and will not support gay scout leaders in their charter. That too took a big hit from the immoral left. What I do know is that the church will continue and will still stand as a light of truth in an ever increasing dark world. The Lord isnt concerned about public opinion, the work of salvation will and must continue even if it isnt the “popular” thing to do.
    Btw, I could really, honestly, care less about BYU sports and othrrs boycotting them. The sports program isnt a program of salvation anyway.

  80. Fair enough Rob….and I think a lot of the more conservative members will agree with you. It will all be part of God’s plan.

    I do have a question for you. I personally think there is a good chance the church will abandon this policy, or at the very least clarify and tweak it so it isn’t as objectionable to so many. If hey do that, what will be your reaction? Or do you think that because God is in control there isn’t any likelihood that the brethren will back down?

  81. This just in from the church newsroom: “An insider with the Q15 was heard to say late last night … ‘oops!'”

  82. MCQ, come to a recruitment fair at BYU sometime and ask the employers. Especially the ones who need employees to be able to qualify for security clearances.

  83. Scott,
    I doubt the church will abandon this policy. I also doubt they will tweak it in favor of public opinion. I see this policy as being very well calculated to squash the idea that the church was warming up to acceptance of ssm. I think the main point of the policy is to point out that ssm is a grevious sin that has no place whatsoever in the church. Because of these clarifications, the church has moved to a fixed position where it will not backtrack. We can say lots of what ifs, but historically speaking, since the day of the internet, the church has never rescinded or tweaked a policy in regards to morality.

  84. “Let’s just call things what they are, at least for the moment. Because we need a moment of honesty right now, to clearly consider what’s at stake.”

    In Sunday school last week the policy was discussed for a good 10 minutes as part of the larger lesson about apostles and prophets. Not once were the words “gay,” “homosexual,” or even the safer term “same sex attraction” even uttered. It’s humorous in a really sad way to see adults discuss a topic without even being able to utter the words. It’s like the time we had a lesson about Joseph and Emma and their marriage was celebrated as this wonderful, loyal, amazing thing. Polygamy was never mentioned. The “Law of Sarah” and the certain heartache it caused Emma? Most in the room probably had no idea.

    I also live in rural Idaho. We can’t even say the words here. If anything, I hope this policy and the discomfort many feel because of it will allow us to confront our difficult history, cement in our minds what constitutes doctrine and policy, and finally start calling a spade a spade.

  85. Rob, I hold out faith that the brethren are not the ones in charge, and that literally every single thing is flexible until a revelation has been received. And sometimes even after.

    You get one more comment to send people I care about to hell and then please move along.

  86. That’s interesting Megan. I have to admit, I’m curious how it came up in your Sunday School class. Did the teacher bring it up or was it a question/comment?

    I had a couple points ready in my lesson last week in case the class wanted to talk about it, but it turned out not to be necessary (and I didn’t feel comfortable forcing the conversation).

  87. Rob,

    “The Lord isnt concerned about public opinion, the work of salvation will and must continue even if it isnt the “popular” thing to do.”

    I’ve heard this a lot the past few days. Reminds me of when, as a confused teenager, I asked my leaders (seminary teachers, sunday school teachers, etc.) why the priesthood ban was ever in place. Because no matter the mental gymnastics, it made absolutely no sense. A common answer was that racism was so prevalent in those days that had there been no ban, the practice of allowing black male members to become ordained would go so far against popular opinion that it would hinder the missionary effort.

    So, a policy that allowed racism in the Church was needed to allow the work of salvation to continue because it coincided with the popular beliefs of the time?
    And now a policy that allows bigotry in the Church is needed to allow the work of salvation to continue even though it isn’t the popular belief of the time?

    What I like about this article is that although it’s apparent where the author sympathizes on this issue, he acknowledges he doesn’t know the mind of the Lord.

  88. Kyle,
    A woman in the ward made the comment that went something like “I was discussing this with my children because they were upset about (long pause)….some recent happenings and were confused. I explained that when the prophets speak, the thinking has been done for us, so we don’t have to worry.” The teacher kindly thanked her for her comment while clarifying that God DOES want us to think for ourselves. And he explained that a policy happened a few days prior, for anyone who didn’t know, that was controversial. And then the comments started. I’m new to the ward so I’m not yet comfortable speaking up but I wish I would have at least made the point that apostles and prophets aren’t perfect, because the lesson pretty much went the opposite direction.

  89. I believe Kyle M. is spot on here. And for those claiming that anyone who questions this policy is “on the fringe” or “faithless”, I have found much comfort this week in this talk by Hugh B. Brown. A few snippets below that have buoyed me up this week and strengthened my resolve to reject this policy as inspired. Perhaps these words will also be helpful to others:

    1. “There are altogether too many people in the world who are willing to accept as true whatever is printed in a book or delivered from a pulpit. Their faith never goes below the surface soil of authority. I plead with everyone I meet that they may drive their faith down through that soil and get hold of the solid truth, that they may be able to withstand the winds and storm of indecision and of doubt, of opposition and persecution.”

    2. “I admire men and women who have developed the questioning spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas as stepping stones to progress. We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid to dissent — if we are informed. Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth emerges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression.”

    3. “We should be dauntless in our pursuit of truth and resist all demands for unthinking conformity. No one would have us become mere tape recorders of other people’s thoughts.”

    4. “More thinking is required, and we should all exercise our God-given right to think and be unafraid to express our opinions, with proper respect for those to whom we talk and proper acknowledgment of our own shortcomings. We must preserve freedom of the mind in the church and resist all efforts to suppress it. The church is not so much concerned with whether the thoughts of its members are orthodox or heterodox as it is that they shall have thoughts. ”

    Entire text can be found here: http://www.sciencemeetsreligion.org/lds/brown-final.php

  90. While it’s natural to draw parallels with the current conflict between the Church and society regarding SSM, and historically regarding polygamy, it is important to also recognize that in the case of polygamy, the Church was facing a legal ban on the practice, and the stripping of its assets and legal status if the practice continued. The SSM issue is almost the complete opposite: the Church refuses to accept/endorse the practice, and is not facing any direct legal compulsion to do so. There were compelling, externally-imposed reasons for the Church to end the practice of polygamy; there as (as yet) no similar direct reasons (other than social/political) to embrace SSM. I just don’t see the outcome of polygamy as foreshadowing the response of the Church to current pressures re SSM.

  91. “Policies aside there are other Christian denominations as well as other faith groups and much of the Islamic world who do not condone homosexuality. So looking at the wider context where does that leave other religous groups as referred to in the next 10 and 20 years??”

    Indeed, but also let us consider the global context.

    For the most part, this “culture war” is swaying the way described in WEIRD countries, meaning Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic countries as described by Jonathan Haidt in The Righteous Mind.

    For the most part, these WEIRD countries also belong economically in the top 1 billion most wealthy of the world, living at or near the income level of 100 dollars a day. The remaining six billion are divided into 1 billion at the bottom living on 1 dollar a day (which, btw, until recently carried a much larger proportion of the population) then the rest are somewhere in between the two extremes. (Watch the excellent “Don’t Panic” video explanation by Hans Rosling. It’s worth it. )

    But it is shifting toward wealth for a greater proportion of the world. To give an idea of what is meant by wealth, imagine having a home with walls, roof, running water, a job, and a washing machine to wash clothes. This, if considering the majority of the world, is rich. With this wealth, we’re also seeing a change in fertility rates. And this is monumental. For the most part, (and again these numbers are still coming from Hans Ronsling statistical illustrations of public publicized WHO data) we’re already at “peak child,” which is 2 billion. This means that the world population of children has stabilized at that number and is expected to plateau or start decreasing. Thus, as population grows from the now 7 billion to a projected 11 billion in 2050, it will do so because less people are dying prematurely and more people are living longer. This, too, is a monumental change.

    In the short term, it appears that many of the European population drops will be filled in by immigration from poorer, less developed, and less democratic nations. As an anecdote which might be telling, this last Sunday in my ward in France, that in the past usually had 80-90 regular attendees, there were at least a dozen investigators taking the special missionary-taught class and they were all composed of immigrants from poorer, less-democratic countries. This doesn’t count the 2 out of the 3 families from such countries with parents who were baptized this last year.

    As we know, the Church hit a major milestone of having the majority of membership residing outside the US, and, indeed, if the prognostications from this piece hold generally true, then that proportion could be even heavier outside the US. What we’ll end up with, if we predict globally, is that of having the majority of the world having risen out of poverty, technology like washing machines allowing women to give over their time to more intellectual and educational pursuits, whilst all be coming from social cultures which are often hyper-conservative in their views, even compared to the LDS Church.

    This could put the Church in the position of being, despite this new policy, the most religiously liberal but socially conservative Christian Church, perhaps appealing to the intellectual growth and searching of the newly-developing nations while also satisfying the socially conservative values that many keep. Yet again, the Church might be disproportionately effective in society, but this time, in the global society.

    Just as with Kyle M, I’m just speculating about everything besides the WEIRD correlations and populations (those are measurements of scientists,) but I think it is safe too say that we are living in a time when the world we die in and leave behind us has the potential to be extremely different than it is now. Furthermore, we should remember that our WEIRD mindsets can easily give us a false sense of inevitability about the trends of society, since they represent such a relatively small proportion of the world. Those who are today rising out of poverty and extreme poverty may have difference minds and values than the ones that brought us our current culture.

    For me, the most important thing is to keep my relationship with God. In my opinion, one challenge we Latter-Day-Saints must struggle to overcome is the human tendency to create monsters out of those with which we disagree, when we should really still be loving them as brothers and sisters. If we can do this, we may have an extraordinary opportunity to share that ability with the rest of the world.

  92. “To pray and plead for His word on the subject”, possibly the best and most significant advice we can follow right now (or whenever difficult issues arise). I would add to exercise a huge particle of humility and patience (and faith, and trust…), personally and as a people. Towards each other, towards our prophetic leaders, towards the Lord.

    Also, I feel that there still seems to be some long-standing confusion, among some people (LDS and not), between tolerance, or even love (doctrinal and personal), for other people, and tolerance for behaviors which the Lord clearly disagrees with.

    We seem to forget, sometimes, that the Father and the Savior Themselves clearly love all people — perfectly, infinitely, Gethsemane-and-Golgotha like — yet they clearly do not love all behaviors/lifestyles (not feelings or tendencies, but actual behaviors). It’s the old saying ‘Love the sinner, not the sin’, which I always found not an easy line to draw myself.

  93. Andrea, I believe this “long-standing confusion” is quite human, but it is something perhaps we are being taught to overcome now, in this generation. Listening to this last Conference, I certainly feel we’re being taught to overcome it by love, persuasion, gentleness, and faith.

  94. Our church leaders surely expect to answer to the Lord one day for all their doings, including this decision. That tells me that they are solid on this expecting they understand the Lord’s will on this.

  95. Terms like “homophobic generation” are not conducive to an open an respectful conversation.

    This is one policy amidst many other moves by the church which were actively against discrimination of gays, etc. Not sure that the epithet sticks in the light of the overall track record.

    Trying to paint that as “honesty” is again a distortion of reality. It’s just plain rude, and it is not okay to talk like that.

    Your generation did not invent gay sex. Some of us over 50 have friends and neighbors who are gay, have been in car pools with gay parents, and so on.

    Also, I suspect a lot of members are like me: neither outraged nor supportive. They are waiting to hear what the leaders actually say to the members. Not a blog with leaked material, not a press conference that few of us heard about. And as happened in the past so very many times, I would not be surprised if it was tweaked to be more clear (and indeed the soft launch may have been designed to collect input from local leaders.)

  96. One of the things I find most compelling about Christianity is that its founder lived the principles he taught. It is a hard thing to love our enemies; Jesus showed us how to do it as he was nailed to the cross and cried out to God to forgive his tormentors.

    It is a hard thing to discriminate against our gay brothers and sisters and their children; it is also a hard thing to belong to a church starting to be considered to be a hate group before our very eyes. Alas, I do not think most of the leaders taking us down this path are likely to pay any kind of personal price for it.

    The disconnect between the ivory tower on N. Temple and the rank and file has never been greater.

  97. The “fringe” members I was talking with last night, all of whom seemed to be a bit shaken up about all this, were at a dinner for bishops, stake officers, and spouses at the SP’s house. Not Utah or Idaho, but still.

  98. Sorry Naismith but you are transparently reaching for normalcy that does not exist, to the point of straining all credibility. A soft launch to gauge member response? Are you serious? Such a thing has never happened. Nor, despite your feigned offense, is it inappropriate to label this policy as homophobic: indeed, fighting for heteronormativity within the church is pretty much how Elder Christofferson describes the policy, and yes, that means it is homophobic as a simple definitional matter. We are literally afraid of having gay marriage amongst us. Next you’ll be arguing that the gay community should really be thanking us for our thoughtful consideration of their feelings.

    Seriously I get that it is important to you to defend the church, but try not to sound completely ridiculous while doing so, please.

  99. I heard these words in sunday school this past week. “The faithful are not divided over this issue. Only those without faith have concerns.”

    And there you have the rub.

    The discussion on many fronts has been simplified down to obedience equates to faithful. Disagreeing with a “policy” equates to not having any faith.

    If that happens to be a person’s opinion, they may want to consider if you have any moral boundaries whatsoever.

    Moral relativity is what led to some of the most heinous sins committed in the name of religion in human history. And putting the argument into the framework of obey or else, makes me very afraid of that group. They are potentially capable of doing some very bad things in the name of obedience.

    The litmus test to me is not faith to an organization. But faith to morality and unchanging principles.

  100. Sarah Jane Bowen says:

    ‘Maybe people are right that this is the big faith test they’ve been waiting for, and I’m in danger of being on the wrong side of it. I do not dismiss that as a real possibility. As a believing Mormon who tries to be faithful, this subverts everything I’ve built my testimony around, and everything about my lived experience. But what do I know about the mind of the Lord, really?’

    Kyle, this paragraph resonated particularly strong with me. It is how I feel and have felt for awhile now. It has been an impossible task for me to try and reconcile these two things – what my testimony of Christ and the gospel is based on (love), and the stance of the church on this issue. I find them at odds at every turn.

    Great piece. I appreciate your perspective, and it’s certainly something I hope people consider.

  101. mem: “Our church leaders surely expect to answer to the Lord one day for all their doings, including this decision. That tells me that they are solid on this expecting they understand the Lord’s will on this.” Confidence =/= being right.

  102. Eve of Destruction says:

    “Your generation did not invent gay sex.”

    Truth. Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world. If it was so important to strenuously condemn gay sex (“hate the sin”) why didn’t Jesus ever speak on the subject? It couldn’t be because he never ran across any gay people. How could there not have been at least one gay person among the 5000 who gathered for the sermon on the mount? It couldn’t be that it was so obviously wrong that it didn’t need mentioning, because he did speak about murder and adultery and hypocrisy and so on.

    I understand that the Book of Mormon and modern revelation are needed because Jesus didn’t address some issues that just didn’t come up back then (infant baptism) or where the rule has changed between ancient times and now (drinking wine). But gay sex was definitely a thing back then (unlike infant baptism), because it was forbidden in the Old Testament along with eating shrimp and touching dead bodies and all kinds of minutiae that is considered to have been done away in Christ. Did it only recently become an especially serious kind of sin (like partaking of things forbidden by the Word of Wisdom), and if so where is the modern revelation on par with the Word of Wisdom in the D&C to condemn it?

  103. Kyle M – You said in the OP — “it will happen faster if we institutionally mistreat a growing number of our young men and women and their friends.” Could you elaborate on this a bit? I’m assuming you mean a growing number of homosexual youth and their friends. Is the number of homosexual youth growing, or is the percentage in the general population constant, but numbers increase as the church increases in numbers? While I don’t think homosexuality is anything new or novel, it does seem to be the trendy thing for youth and under 30’s to try out. So, I wonder if the cultural attitude towards LGBT is like goatees, tattoos and three piercings in the ear — a passing fad that will run its course before something else comes along.

  104. A thought experiment I’ve been considering. Say the church never lifted the priesthood ban. Where would that leave us today? There are still groups out there that exclude on the basis of race, but I doubt we’d want to be a part of any of them.

    It’s 2015 and we’re to the point where opposing gay marriage means you’re a bigot. Add 37 years to that (the distance we are from the ban being lifted) and I don’t see how the church is anything but an obscure, extreme right-wing sect of Christianity. That, or we cede ground. To Kyle’s point, this isn’t a commentary on whether the policy is incorrect or whether this is a place the Lord might want to move his people, just a (fairly obvious) reading of the tea leaves.

  105. EOD – perhaps Jesus didn’t address it because the Mosiac law already condemned it, and therefore there was no need to preach something that was very clear to the Jews. If anything, if He was “for it,” you would think he would have specifically addressed it and said it was okay.

  106. I wonder how many progressive Mormons realize they bear some fault for this.

    Surely the parent who left their child to pursue other relationships instituted the problem in their family.

    But also when society reinforces this action, and progressive Mormons continually reinforce the idea that the church will change its approach to gay Mormons, it’s not surprising that as a result of this increased confusion the church has to administer itself differently.

    We aren’t confused on single or unmarried parents. We love them and are sensitive to their situation but we know what the ideal is. So that situation is different. Since here on this blog you can’t even get someone to admit leaving your spouse and children is not an act of courage, but of cowardice. The children aren’t suffering solely from that abandonment of responsibilities, but because society and progressive Mormons won’t even acknowledge that abandonment.

    Here there is not only confusion without but within from you lot. When that hypothetical 8 year old grows up in the church, becoming not only a battleground between the parents philosophies and the Lord’s, but also over the course is their life as they enter teenage years told and taught by misguided progressives like yourselves that there prophets are wrong on this issue and we really just need to wait for a more righteous or accepting leadership to rise to the top, you are playing serious mind games with their development. Leadership has said, “Stop, we want no part in this on going battle with children, the Lord will see to them in good own due time and way as no one else can.”

    Society has already ruined the approach with how to handle temptation like ssa. It appears the church would rather not have the parents and people without and within the church poison the the child’s mind further over time. With the church becoming the central battleground. They’ve wisely seen it’s better not to fight in the war.

    But that doesn’t mean society and progressive Mormons won’t start intellectually slaughtering them (in a pattern like the people of Ammon years ago who refused to fight and were essentially drug into the fight and killed anyway). The church refused to engage tit for tat across a child’s developmental period, so you’re asking them to engage now, and where they again refuse for the most part to answer these verbal attacks further subjecting themselves and the child to more parading, they are being attacked nonetheless.

    And yes, the denial of baptism here is a loss, but it will be made up. The church doesn’t baptize children in various countries because of the “sins” of that society’s organization. It’s tragic. I feel sad likewise for the different but parallel motivations here.

    You want change? Look in the mirror.

  107. Rob Osborn says:

    Megan,
    The church arent bigots.

  108. I appreciate the tone and message in this article from KyleM. More than anything, I have been surprised and honestly shocked at the response to this policy from a broad range of members of the church. The policy doesn’t surprise me in the least. It makes sense to me. It is the outcry from members of the church that has been most interesting.

    The reason this response has been surprising to me is that one of the core narratives of the restoration and the words of scriptures and modern prophets has been one of separation between the church of Jesus Christ in the last days and the world. There have been so many apostles and prophets speak since Joseph Smith about the need to stay close to the prophet because of this separation that will naturally arise regarding moral issues. And part of that narrative is quite clear that the saints will suffer great persecutions and pain at the hands of Babylon, or the morally bankrupt and increasingly violent world. This narrative can be found throughout the Book of Mormon and in countless talks from modern prophets. It really is part of the Latter-day Saint identity. So it is really surprising to me that so many people seem so confused by a policy or stand on the part of the brethren that receives such a widely negative response.

    Elder Maxwell gave a talk in 1977 at BYU. He quoted George Q. Cannon who “warned that the forms of resistance to righteousness will strike us ‘with wonder and astonishment.’ This, he said, would occur because ‘the war which was waged in heaven has been transferred to the earth,’ and that this conflict, he said, ‘will [come to] occupy the thoughts and minds of all the inhabitants of the earth’ (Journal of Discourses 11:227–29). Brothers and sisters, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be at the epicenter of all that.”

    It saddens me to hear people refer to the church as a “hate organization.” I don’t like being thought of in that way. And it saddens me to see so many saints struggle with their testimony of prophets. But I recognize how predictable this really has been and will be. According to our own doctrine and canon, the faithful saints will have to endure great tribulations before the second coming of Christ.

  109. I agree with Naismith that phrases such as “homophobic generation” are not conducive to an open and respectful conversation. They may be accurate, but their use tends to shut down dialogue.

    Likewise, phrases such as “sinner” and “apostate” are not conducive to an open and respectful conversation. They may be accurate, but their use tends to shut down dialogue.

  110. IDIAT at 8:18: I don’t speak for Kyle M., but there is a direct answer in my mind. What’s increasing is “friends”. A clear and open part of the notorious “gay agenda” is for gay people to come out, to announce themselves. As a result, we now know them as friends and neighbors, brothers and daughters. And in rapidly growing numbers we count ourselves friends. I’m a great fan of this approach; it has been hugely successful.

  111. For what is worth (re-reading them helped me quite a lot, personally), may I refer to “Love and Law” by Elder Oaks (October 2009 GC) and “Teach Us Tolerance and Love” by then-Elder Nelson (April 1994 GC)?

  112. Mr. Person says:

    Right. It’s not a nice or a polite thing to say, but the policy will be reversed when the homophobic generation is gone, just as the race policy changed when the racist generation was gone, just as other policies will change as the role of women in the world changes.

    Perhaps that’s the way the kingdom is intended to progress. But gosh that’s a cynical way to view it all.

    Cynical? Maybe. But it also seems plausible in light of Jacob 5:65-66.

  113. Yeah, Christian has it right. Seeing a friend/loved find happiness tends to force a perception shift about the validity of their path.

  114. I am not confident that enormous opposition to this policy is proof that it is from God. Not all opposition comes from the World.

  115. Here is a verse from 1 Nephi worth considering:

    “And it came to pass that I saw and bear record, that the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great. And the angel of the Lord spake unto me again, saying: Thus shall be the destruction of all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, that shall fight against the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” 1 Nephi 11:36

  116. Steve Evans,

    No. It isn’t necessarily “proof.” But it certainly makes sense.

  117. I’m not defending the church. I don’t particularly support the policy. I am giving the church the benefit of the doubt, rather than support. I am more in a wait-and-see mode, since the church hasn’t even had anything read over the pulpit to the membership.

    I am concerned that folks with a wide variety of views toward their gay neighbors are being thrown into a big black pot labelled “homophobic” unless they jump onto the outrage bandwagon, immediately.

    It kind of sound like McCarthyism: Unless we take a vow to be outraged, we are homophobic and are fair game for bullying and deserve whatever happens to us, including losing a job (when in reality, a lot of us would speak up on behalf of a gay person being bullied the same way!).

    And no, neither do I find hate language to be acceptable from any side–not “sinners,” not “unfaithful,” and certainly not invitations to leave the church.

  118. Eve of Destruction says:

    IDIAT, Jesus set an example of breaking the Mosaic law to heal on the Sabbath, not doing the ritual washing of hands before eating some grain, the parable of the Good Samaritan where the priest and Levite were trying so hard not to break the law against touching dead bodies. But he didn’t recite each prohibition from Leviticus and Deuteronomy to his disciples and say “verse 1 is okay now, verse 2 is okay now, verse 3…” He said that not one jot or tittle would pass from the law until all was fulfilled. then he fulfilled the law with his blood. So what we’re thinking now is that it wasn’t just some random jot or tittle from the Mosaic law that managed to escape being fulfilled in Christ, but it was an especially grievous sin under the Mosaic law that Christ didn’t fulfill?

  119. D. Fletcher says:

    “Right. It’s not a nice or a polite thing to say, but the policy will be reversed when the homophobic generation is gone, just as the race policy changed when the racist generation was gone, just as other policies will change as the role of women in the world changes.”

    I’m sure you’re right about this, Kyle, but if so, it might be 50 years from now. I have personally spoken to one of the new apostles (so the last to die out, presumably) and he spoke continuously about the same-sex marriage issue, and how gays were ruining the Church, literally. The youngest apostle might be the most homophobic.

  120. Kyle,
    I thank you for this post. It is a lot to think about. You and Steve Evans have both said you’re not going anywhere. I’ve been hearing that a lot from members who claim to be disturbed by this new policy but then quickly say, they are not leaving the church over it. I understand that I really do. But I need to ask because I’m asking this of myself, what are you planning to do (besides writing blog posts)? You will most likely voice your disapproval as it comes up in your ward, but that will happen less and less as time goes on I suspect. As a believer, leaving the church was never something I thought about. The thing I’m really struggling with is the feeling that if I stay and nothing changes in my church involvement, then I’m being complicit to something that feels very wrong. I’m not judging anyone for leaving or staying, I’m just honestly curious as to how I continue to participate fully in something that feels wrong? What does that look like to you or anyone else who cares to chime in?
    At this point I realize it’s early. I have hope, as you probably do also, that this policy may be reviewed and changed or abolished but what if it’s not? Six months, a year down the road, when no one is really talking about it anymore do we all just sit in our privileged pews on Sunday and sing “…all is well…?” I read Steve’s post about Paths forward but he didn’t really say what that means other than he’s not leaving the church. I guess my honest and sincere question is just simply, what does it mean then for you to stay…with all of this? What if anything will be different?

  121. Kristen, I can only answer for myself, but I am spending some time with my gay and lesbian friends. I am mourning with them, at times quite literally. This affects them much more than me. I hear you about growing apathy and that is something I’ve thought about, too. The greatest cure for that apathy will be to actually be in contact with people affected by this policy. They do not have the luxury of getting over it.

    So my membership means visiting the sick, the tired and the mourning, and doing more with people that live near me and my own family. It means possibly paying less attention to goings-on in Headquarters. It means giving D Fletcher a long hug as soon as possible and taking him out to lunch. It means hanging out with Christian Harrison. It means going to dim sum with my cousin and apologizing to him for not being there for years after he came out to parents that cannot understand or face it.

    I admit I don’t know much more than that.

  122. Rob O: The church aren’t plural.

  123. I don’t know, either, Kristen. I believe that our priesthood and our baptism is real and I want it for my children, as well as the Gift of the Holy Ghost. I live in a wonderful, welcoming ward with an inspired bishop. My testimony of Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon is special to me. The parts that feel wrong will continue to feel wrong, but I don’t think it’s fair or right to expect perfection from the church or its leaders. It will get better, line upon line. And in the meantime, there is still so much beauty and truth and love here.

  124. Ronan, it seems like you believe that current Church leaders are not living the principles they teach (or that Christ taught), and that they are even living in an ‘ivory tower’. I personally do not believe this, not for one second, as much as I still do not understand all that is happening right now. These are strong words…

    I also do not believe ‘we’ (whatever it means) are ‘discriminating’ against our gay brothers and sisters and their children. We haven’t been asked to love them less, or to serve them less, or to feel less empathy for them or to include them less. I feel this is a stronger than ever declaration that ssm (and not same-sex attracted individuals, or same-sex feelings, or same-sex attraction, or children living in same-sex households) has no place in the Kingdom, on earth and in heaven. Al people are welcome, but not all behaviors. We are to love, serve and accept all people, just as Christ did. But we are not to love, serve and accept all behaviors/lifestyles. Christ did not do it.

    Same-sex marriage is in direct opposition to the Father’s plan, if there ever was any doubt about it, and yet few other practices defined as ‘sinful’ by the Lord find such a widespread social, legal and even moral acceptance nowadays. I feel that’s an important point that the Lord, through His servants, wants to bring to our awareness.

    It is crystal clear from Genesis on (and that’s why I do not believe it was necessary for the Lord to condemn it in detail in every scriptural page): eternal marriage between man and woman is at the very center of the Plan. The Creation, the Fall, the Atonement… have the eternal family unity (exaltation) as their ultimate goal and meaning. If the Lord or His Church yield about this, we are told that the Earth itself would be wasted at His coming, because there would be no more purpose in the Earth’s creation. It’s about family, and family as intended by His Author. This is not about being homophobic, intolerant, bigots or the like; it’s about drawing a line.

    It is a hard thing indeed to love our enemies; it may well be the supreme test of our discipleship… but the fundamental point to me is this: “What does ‘love’ mean in this context?” And what does it mean to ‘love’ our enemies. And who or what are our ‘enemies’? Individuals? Groups? Doctrines? Philosophies of men? Specific behaviors or lifestyles? All of these? None of these?

    I realize it is not a simple question with a simple or short answer, but I do not find in the Gospel any hint of the fact that loving our enemies means accepting or embracing what they do when and if what they do is contrary to God’s commandments or laws. I’m all in for loving and accepting all people, and I mean all, but I have a hard time loving and accepting all behaviors or lifestyles if and when they are contrary to my understanding of God’s will. I do not think it is love to condone what we know (or believe) to be wrong, or sinful, or simply against the Plan of Happiness. I do not believe that when the Lord (or His prophets) preach repentance or when they chastise us, that they are not showing love. Actually, when I see my children do something which I know to be wrong and, in the long run, damaging to their peace, happiness and well-being, I cannot restrain myself from warning them (hopefully according to D&C 121). I see something like this throughout Scripture in God’s dealings with His wayward children. The greater the danger, the stronger the voice of warning. When one ‘knows’, only indifference, or a misplaced ‘love’, can say ‘whatever’ to any behavior. There’s no love, mercy nor justice in condoning or accepting or promoting something with will ultimately prove to hurt God’s children.

    “Not all roads lead to Rome (i.e. Celestial Kingdom, for my purposes, and I’m not saying this because I actually live near Rome…)”, to put a spin on the old adage, and the Lord and His prophets want to be clear about that. For the ultimate good of all people involved.

  125. Andrea, I’m sorry but you are dead wrong. The policies are discriminatory as a factual matter. There can be no debate over that point. They operate to differentiate between people because of sexual orientation and gay marriage. That is discrimination, which you yourself refer to as “drawing a line”.

    You are also quite wrong about your interpretation of the scriptures being all about families. That’s not something biblical, and certainly not Genesis. That is a modern invention. That’s not to say that families aren’t central to God’s plan — I believe they are — but you will have to look elsewhere for that particular revelation.

    As for this being an act of love, I’m sure that someday they’ll thank you for your love.

  126. Clark Goble says:

    Discretion (9:22) BYU is a religious school so it seems quite fair to require things to be keeping with that mission. Likewise moreso at BYU than most universities professors are supposed to be mentors and thus their religious views matter.

    That said, political views unrelated to ones field matter a lot at most universities. How much varies of course. But it’s not hard to find people who have views outside of the mainstream of a department (which at most US colleges would be quite far to the left of the American mainstream) being treated quite badly and in ways that would affect ones ability to get tenure.

    To the degree that hiring pools are affected at BYU it will likely be those fields already the most politicized. (I’ll not go into a tangent on that, but it’s usually not STEM fields)

    So again, I think that if one is politically or theologically far to the left, you probably won’t enjoy BYU as a professor or perhaps even as a student. But then the reverse is often true elsewhere.

    This is also a long term thing at BYU. When I was there years ago there were huge fights in the English and a few other departments over feminism.

    John (9:32) I rather doubt that. I can see our numbers in Europe dropping even more but that’s primarily due to the ubiquitous secularism there. Even most of the few who attend services rarely believe. The only growth in religion in Europe comes primarily from immigrants. It’s still a pretty open question whether the US is going to follow Europe or end up a different equilibrium. In any case I don’t think we can draw big implications from this for a variety of reasons. (Not the least being that people are putting the worst spin possible on things when I doubt that was the intent) There’s a lot of hyperbole going on. Worse, I’m not sure people realize its hyperbole.

    Rob (12:33) I think the policy at a minimum will be clarified simply because its confusingly written and people are interpreting it in quite radically different ways. (Does it apply to any child who has a parent who had ever been in a homosexual relationship or just to children living with parents in an ongoing gay relationship)

  127. Rob Olson,

    “Megan,
    The church arent bigots.”

    Yes that was the wrong choice of word. (had to look it up to remind myself the specific definition)
    But my point was that the “popularity” argument has been used by church members to allow for discrimination.

    Priesthood Ban: “It makes sense because it’s popular and the gospel won’t spread without it”
    Current Policy: “It makes sense because the Lord doesn’t care what’s popular, the gospel will spread despite it”

    My point is that we need to stop speculating as to what the Lord thinks. Many have been struck by members voicing frustration/anger over the policy. I’m struck by the members who go straight to defense mode using language insinuating that this is exactly what the Lord wants.

  128. Self inflicted? Is that why there is so much angst over this? Do you really think this policy came in a vacuum?

    The church does but baptize in a variety of situations. I find it deeply sorrowing that one of those situations has been able to develop so close to home.

    The fact that the church has a similar policy when dealing with oppressive governments, oppressive religious believers, and apostates should signal where the church sees this heading. And some members double down on hastening that day in our backyard.

    In order for this policy to apply, gay couples have to try to infiltrate the church using their family child as a rhetorical weapon (not really likely, but there are some yahoos.. Still that alone isn’t enough for a policy update).

    Or a patent has break their covenant with God, spouse, and child. AND that parent has to be receiving support and encouragement of not only society to do so, but some dissidents in the church as well.

    Without all of those factors, this doesn’t happen.

    Tell me, if society and the outraged members taught that child, “your parent was wrong to do so” along with the church, do you think this would be an issue.

    The church does not want to place that child in the middle of this war.

    The parallels are tragic. A withdrawal of ordinance that child in their formative years sounds like a microcosm of withdrawal of authority from the early apostolic authority to the early church.

    I hope we can pass this test and it doesn’t lead down a similar path.

  129. Naismith: If you can understand why multiplying two negatives give you a positive, you should be able to understand how intolerance of intolerance is tolerant. Removing intolerance increases overall tolerance. So if you favor tolerance you will be vocal in your opposition to the intolerance of others. Simple-minded and confused partisans might call this opposition to intolerance “intolerant”, but they are just factually wrong in the same way that saying multiplying two negatives creates a negative result. Facts and logic matter.

  130. I often reflect on how I would have responded to the 1949 First Presidency proclamation on race, or if I was a Jew listening to John the Baptist. What we think is cut-and-dried isn’t always so, I believe.

    I hear a lot of talk about test of faith but I wonder if our test is whether we, like the rich man, will choose love over everything else. Jesus didn’t ask the man to give his wealth to the priests and go build more; Jesus asked him to give it to the poor directly, and then follow Jesus – acts of love.

    Lastly, I’ve reflected often the past few days on Matthew 9:9-13, where Jesus takes flack from Pharisees for eating with sinners (sinners being those who were unclean, outsiders, apostates, etc.). Jesus gives the infamous quip about the healthy needing no physician. He also tells the Pharisees this:
    “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.” NRSV
    To those obsessed with sacrifice and ritual purity, such a comment would have had tremendous implications.

  131. From Neal A. Maxwell:

    Civilizations as well as souls are at stake. One scholar who studied dozens of civilizations forecast that in “the struggle between nations, those who cling to chastity will, in all likelihood, keep the upper hand”—and a commentator added “[because] they try to keep intact the family which promiscuity and homosexuality tend to destroy.” (The Human Life Review, Spring 1978, p. 71.)/

  132. As a side note, it is worth mentioning that the Community of Christ, formerly known at the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, accepts gays, accepts gay marriages, even accepts women in the priesthood and leadership. Seems to be a more compassionate organization. Perhaps Brigham Young was the wrong one to follow??!!??!?!?

  133. Thanks Kyle and Steve.
    I never expected perfection from the church or it’s leaders either. I guess this has all just made me wonder in ways that I haven’t before. There has been a lot of talk about wheat and tares etc…But after I had children, I came to the realization one day that if I was ever put to the Abrahamic test, I wouldn’t do it. I told God that. I said I’m sorry but I just wouldn’t be able to do it, no matter the consequences. I felt that He understood. Maybe I have to face the fact that no matter how much I have loved this church, I have limits. This current trial may or may not be the limit. But it sure is a sober reminder that I have them.

  134. I have no doubt that was the prevailing notion nearly 40 years ago, Observer. The church was teaching some strange stuff about black people back then too.

  135. Clark Goble says:

    John F, it’s repeated twice but in a subsection that only applies when it’s not the case. Whether or not you think your reading is correct (and clearly you do) many others at a minimum are reading it a different way. That means as a practical matter it’s not clearly written for communication. When something is clearly written the range of people read it the same way. Further there’s a fair bit of indirect evidence we’re hearing that the way you are reading it is not the way the brethren intended it to be read. For instance there are now many indirect reports that the brethren never intended this to apply to cases of divorce where the children aren’t living with the gay divorced spouse.

    This is the kind of thing that’s kind of frustrating. People are taking one, often hyperbolic, worst case reading and then because that’s not enough they are then extending the hypothetic (and usually hyperbolic) implications down apocalyptic lines. What’s funny is that these same people would laugh when members do this for last days talk due to war in Syria or the silliness of that supposed Idaho prophetess and her predictions. Yet it’s exactly the same kind of hyper literalness and extension of texts being done. It’s just down a different political angle.

    The apocalyptic tendency is humans is hard to break.

  136. Thanks Kristen. I don’t know what my limit is, but I don’t fault anyone for drawing their lines differently than mine. It’s way too personal for that.

  137. I can stay in the Church as a regular member. I would have a hard time staying in a leadership position if I were asked to enforce the new policy (and I have held responsible leadership positions at both the ward and stake levels continuously for more than two decades–the kind of callings that often put me on disciplinary councils). Please note: I support the Church’s long-standing doctrines on sexuality, homosexuality, and marriage. It’s the new policies that I find difficult to square with my understanding of Mormon Christianity.

  138. your analysis is overzealous. You skip the part about us not baptizing in a variety of times, places, and circumstances.

    Each refusal is different, but each share some similarities.

    Right now there is someone who has accepted the gospel in another nation, but can but receive it, essentially because of the attitudes of their society at large. That didn’t rewrite doctrine.

    This is not very different in principle, but in a more micro level where we have an oppressive society on this issue mingled with confusion of the family, as well willful refusal of some members to acknowledge to that child where the wrong was initiated in the first place.

    The church is not firing the first shot. They are not even shooting back. They are saying there battle must be taken elsewhere.

    This doesn’t create new heartbreak for that child but reveals there heartbreak put in place already by the parent and sustained by society.

    In the end, if we believe there Lord with care for that child in a way we can not, and make up for the suffering as a result of a confused society, then perhaps this is the best solution.

  139. I think the OP describes a big part of why this has been such a serious issue in my stake, and one that the leadership is taking seriously. We have a huge percentage of the working-age males’ livelihoods being risked here. You don’t live in my area as a worker bee, you live here if you’re in leadership and visible. And if you’re in leadership and you’re visible, you are hugely vulnerable to this.

  140. “For instance there are now many indirect reports that the brethren never intended this to apply to cases of divorce where the children aren’t living with the gay divorced spouse.”

    Unfortunately, that aspect of the policy, as written, is perfectly clear (even if the “has lived with” portion isn’t). The policy, as written, applies in cases where the children aren’t living with the gay divorced spouse. Any “clarification” to the contrary won’t be a clarification–it will be an amendment of the clear message of the policy. If you’re right that what was clearly written wasn’t the intention (and I desperately hope you are right), those who wrote and approved the current language goofed up royally. Words have meaning.

  141. There are members in the quorum of 15 that do not support this policy change. We are validated in our heartbreak. I am fervently praying that one of them will speak up even risking a fate similar to that of John W. Taylor or Matthias F. Cowley. As it takes faith to blindly follow the brethren, it likely takes faith to follow personal revelation and speak up.

  142. At least in my corner of the vineyard, this policy change has created very interesting discussions. I am intrigued by the wide spectrum of approaches to this decision by our prophets. While there are as many positions to take as members in the church, there are a few that seem common, in no particular order:

    1. The prophets are pretty much infallible, this policy change could be labeled OD3 and that would be fine with me.
    2. The prophets are fallible, but I am going to follow them anyway because they are true prophets of God despite their imperfections
    3, The prophets are fallible. I will follow them when I agree with them and not when I don’t.
    4. The “prophets” are not really more inspired by God than anyone else, this is evidence that has convinced me of this reality, in other words “the smoking gun” and I am leaving the church.

    The member’s positions which fall into groups 2 and 3 are the most interesting to be. Is it better to follow a true though fallible prophet including following the possibly erroneous decisions? Is it better to pick and choose the decisions that one agree’s with. 1, 2 and 4 seem to be intellectually consistent to me. I have to confess that I don’t understand position 3 as the prophet in position number 3 seems to be superfluous. I recognize that position 1 is not consistent with church teaching regarding prophets, but it seems to be a commonly held position in the church anyway.

    On a side note, the comparison to Abraham’s sacrifice does not ring true for me on any level. If anything there are far more benign examples that might make more sense to consider if going down the Old Testament prophet path: Noah’s ark or the Exodus or my personal favorite trial of faith; the leap of faith in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In any event, the question for me is following a prophet when it is hard to do so.

  143. I do disagree with john f. (which very rarely happens) on the “has lived with” language. All the “has lived with” language does is create confusion, and convey the message that the writers of this policy are in some serious need of training in the art of writing. I think the “has lived with” language was probably included in an earlier draft and then removed, in part, later on–but the person removing the language forgot to remove all of the instances of the phrase. Hence, it’s not in the second paragraph (where, if it were really intended, one would expect to see it).

  144. KyleM,

    So promiscuity and homosexuality do not tend to destroy the traditional intact family? This was just a strange teaching from the Church? From Neal Maxwell of all people?

  145. Not all opposition comes from the World.”

    In this case, understandably, a lot of the opposition comes from within the church. The reason for this is apparent. If two weeks ago you asked a Mormon what the best way to “protect children” was, a likely answer would have been to learn the gospel, get baptized, be worthy of the gift of the Holy Ghost, renew covenants with the sacrament, and participate in LDS youth activities. Now Latter-day Saints are being asked to believe that doing the exact opposite of those things is the best way to protect some children. It is too nakedly Orwellian even for the most faithful of members.

  146. All your arguments are moot, the Brethren have now clarified. Move along.