Let’s Talk About “Counterfeit Marriage”

“as all the ordinances of the gospel Administered by the world since the Aposticy of the Church was illegal, in like manner was the marriage Cerimony illegal and all the world who had been begotton through the illegal marriage were Bastards not sons”

-Orson Pratt, quoted in Kenney, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 3:260.*

Hold that quote in your head. We’ll be coming back to it.

***

Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 11.30.03 PMWe were doing so well this week…but nope. Dragging us back down to earth (and maybe a little farther down) is an Ensign essay by Elder Larry R. Lawrence, which was just published online today.

Here’s the key excerpt for the purposes of this post:

The devil has been called “the great deceiver.”  He attempts to counterfeit every true principle the Lord presents.
Remember, counterfeits are not the same as opposites. The opposite of white is black, but a counterfeit for white might be off-white or gray. Counterfeits bear a resemblance to the real thing in order to deceive unsuspecting people. They are a twisted version of something good, and just like counterfeit money, they are worthless. Let me illustrate.
One of Satan’s counterfeits for faith is superstition. His counterfeit for love is lust. He counterfeits the priesthood by introducing priestcraft, and he imitates God’s miracles by means of sorcery.
Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, but same-sex marriage is only a counterfeit. It brings neither posterity nor exaltation. Although his imitations deceive many people, they are not the real thing. They cannot bring lasting happiness.
God warned us about counterfeits in the Doctrine and Covenants. He said, “That which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness” (D&C 50:23).

Take something good and twist it

I started with the Orson Pratt quote because the two passages seem related. “All human relationships are fake and illegal except temple ones,” is what Elder Pratt seems to be saying. Note that he’s not saying there’s a higher order of marriage, he’s saying there’s one marriage and Mormons have the market cornered. Everything else is illegal, and thus presumably sinful.

The idea that ALL relationships are “counterfeit” is both better and worse than what Elder Lawrence is saying. Elder Pratt’s quote shows that tone-deafness is not a new trait for us, and he stakes out the logical extremes of our sealing doctrine. Elder Lawrence shows that we’re more targeted with our tone-deafness now. I suppose it’s progress that we no longer call every non-Mormon in the world a bastard and their marriage illegal, but directing that same kind of language toward a smaller subset of people doesn’t make it any more appropriate for the Church of Christ.

In other words, I’m reading Elder Lawrence in the same way that I’m reading Elder Pratt, and arriving at the same conclusion for both passages: They took something good and gave it a little twist.

What does a non-counterfeit relationship look like, anyway?

The other problem with this line of thinking is a simpler one: What paths to an honest, loving relationship are available for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters? Let’s review the options:

  1. Marry a straight person and pretend to be straight
  2. Live in sin or be promiscuous
  3. Never have any intimate relationships and pretend that this is OK
  4. Live in a relationship with somebody to whom you have made the same legal and social commitments that other people make when they marry

Many of us probably know gay Latter-day Saints who’ve chosen each of those four options as the best path forward. Which of these options is best labeled counterfeit? Which would Elder Lawrence recommend for our gay brothers and sisters? Because the one he’s calling fake seems to be the one that involves the least amount of denial.

OK, get to commenting. Respectfully please, and with love in your heart for your brothers and sisters.

—————

*Pratt made similar remarks decades later in Utah. Orson Pratt, October 7, 1873, Journal of Discourses, 16:257–58

Comments

  1. I’m positive this says a lot more about me than it does about him or anyone else, but the whole talk was so completely ridiculous to me. All the war in heaven, black and white, choose sides rhetoric just feels so dead or juvenile or something. I cannot relate to it at all.

  2. Same. I would’ve loved to edit it, TBH. It was kind of all over the place.

  3. Future Mormon Kremlinologists are gonna have a field day with this period. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in Q15 meetings…

  4. It was a bad paragraph that really says that Gay marriages are tools of Satan. I mean not great for outreach.

  5. I feel sad and embarrassed by this essay. Of all the problems Elder Lawrence could have addressed, he chose to demean people who are doing the best they can to build families that feel authentic to them. Honestly, it doesn’t seem Christ-like.

    On the up-side, last Sunday, one of our High Council members quoted an essay on kindness by Lady Ga Ga.

  6. Apparently my Stake President told the local Mama Dragons chapter head, “We don’t have that problem [referring to gay teenagers] in our stake.” He was made an SP at 36, so I’m sure he’ll be a GA by 45. Delightful.

  7. mikerharris says:

    I agree with Elder Lawrence (I can already feel the scarlet letter “i” being placed on my white shirt for intolerant, insensitive, idiot, and …). Isn’t the best attempt, so far, to sympathize or to be helpful towards Mormon gays, Elder Holland’s Conference address, “Behold Thy Mother”? What about the “path” he describes? However, I know for many, Elder Holland’s recommended “path” is woefully inadequate and that nothing less than a doctrinal change (like lifting the priesthood ban) mingled with humble pie, would suffice. But, whether straight or gay, temple married or single, eventually we all learn that emptiness comes when God doesn’t come first. The only relationship that will bring lasting wholeness and fulfillment is with the Bridegroom. Anything else is counterfeit and temporary.

  8. That’s a massive dodge, mikerharris. Lifting up our relationship with God so high that our relationships with other humans don’t matter is neither helpful for doctrinal.

  9. Olde Skool says:

    As someone whose marriage, according to Orson Pratt, is illegal, and as the mother of two splendid bastards begotten in shamefully counterfeit circumstances, I have to say: these guys really help to take the pressure off that whole Mormony perfection urge by allowing me, increasingly, not to give a crap about what church leaders think.

  10. If my company (giant electric utility) were to put out a TV and internet campaign saying, “We are committed to supporting customer-owned rooftop solar generation,” and then a director or VP were to write a piece in the company newsletter declaring that rooftop solar is an unambiguous harm to the viability of the electric grid, somebody would get fired. This almost certainly wouldn’t happen, though, because we have an equivalent of the Correlation Committee called “One Voice” that ensures that different units of the company are on the same page in all communications that have the potential to get outside the General Office.

    Is there even any such thing as the Correlation Committee anymore? Was the Ensign ever run through it, and is it now?

  11. mikerharris, what you’re describing is essentially Catholic or Orthodox, and the logical end is that we might as well all become monks and nuns.

    Try again, dude.

  12. Mark Clifford says:

    Good bye, By Common Consent.
    I am done with you forever.
    Good luck where you are going to.

  13. Mark Clifford:

  14. I don’t know you but I’m sad to see you go, Mark.

  15. Good luck where you are going to.

    Hell, if we don’t repent, just like everyone else.

    My wife married a non-member, so we have a counterfeit marriage from two perspectives, though of course it’s impossible to tell just by looking at us. In my experience, people generally assume the best about us, i.e., that we are both Mormons married in the temple, and I don’t feel institutionally shunned. There was that time, however, when a missionary couple took me to task for not making an honest woman out of my wife–if I wasn’t going to teach her the gospel so we could get sealed in the temple then they would. That episode broke a lot of china, needless to say, but in the end we became friends with that couple. But there’s still the occasional abstract discussion in Sunday school framed in terms of us (covenant-making member of the church) vs them that are sometimes hurtful and rarely, if ever, helpful.

  16. Not only does this kind of language deeply hurt our LGBT members (particularly those who are trying to remain faithful), but it also gives the church a Randy-Bott-like black eye when it gets news coverage outside the church – which I imagine it will. This article seems to be yet more evidence of the wide divergence of opinion at the top.

  17. Honestly, and this is probably very cynical of me, this article just seems of a piece with the warm/fuzzy Mackintosh video. Those two things, especially considered in the context of the November 2015 exclusion policy, just appear like complementary parts of the same basic strategy of social engineering. The ideal for gay members is of course celibate and active, but barring that, I think that general leadership would far prefer to deal with quiet and not antagonistic LGBT people who step away from the Church and never warm a spot in a pew again, as opposed to the gay couple that attends weekly, who sing in the choir, whose children make friends in Primary–that is, a stable, happy family that looks just like an Ensign photo set, with the small difference that both of the parents are the same sex. People in that latter scenario represent the ultimate fifth columnists for members of the Church hierarchy. The Ensign article toes the doctrinal line, while the video is a sop thrown to those with gay family members (lest they become too disenchanted and leave alongside their LGBT loved ones). The 2015 policy change signaled an admission of defeat on that particular front of the broader culture war and a decision to close ranks and prevent the influence of that culture from seeping into the organization.

  18. When I read that the other day, I had that same icky feeling I had when the Proclamation was read aloud in church one Sunday way-back-when. I had that feeling then because I was sitting next to my mom and she raised me as a single woman. We both looked at each other as the Proclamation to the Family was being read and just felt worthless, like our relationship was institutionally being negated.

    Now, as a member who has been married to a non-member, I felt the same way when I read the Ensign article. I remember almost 29 years ago, just before I was married, having these EXACT same thoughts. “Gee, I’m not getting married in the temple, and that’s the only marriage that Heavenly Father recognizes, so why does it matter how or if I get married at all? Why is there any difference between getting married by the Bishop or at City Hall or on the beach or even having a common law marriage?” I felt at the time, I was basically going in to a “counterfeit” marriage, and now here we go. My marriage (and children) have now been institutionally negated.
    You know, I raise my hand to sustain my leaders, and I *really* *really* want to sustain them. But they keep making it so darn hard!

  19. L-dG: I just experienced a visceral sinking sensation when I read your comment. I’ve been internally screaming at the church to get its brand together, but now I suspect you may be right that it is all part of one cohesive message: “We want THEM to leave, but we want YOU to stay.”

  20. Minor point, but I don’t think the Pratt quote is tone deaf so much as it isan attempt to be deliberately provocative.

  21. Elder Larry R. Lawrence spoke correctly when he used the name Satan instead of the watered down devil. And yes Satan does counterfeit miracles and leads even “good” people to bash innocent people who are doing their best for the world. Yes you Satanists who sit in church pews each Sunday and scheme the rest of the week as to how best to get your hands on little children. Folks are getting on to you in a big way. I suggest the rest of you genuine good folks google the Pace Memo and you’ll see Satanists in the true light God uses to expose these morally corrupt followers of Satan.

  22. Kevin Barney says:

    The whole framing of this piece is problematic from another perspective. He is contrasting counterfeit marriage with authentic marriage. The upshot then, whether fully intended or not, is that gay men and women should not only avoid counterfeit marriage, they should enter authentic marriage. The choice is column A or column B, pick one. Our leaders still can’t quite believe that real honest to goodness sex with a real flesh and blood woman won’t awaken a gay man to what he’s been missing and knock the gay right out of him.

  23. I take some added meaning from context. Orson Pratt, one of the original (Mormon) 12, was excommunicated over a he-said-she-said (Orson’s wife Sarah saying that Joseph Smith propositioned her, Joseph denying it). He was later rebaptized, returned to the 12, and under Brigham Young’s leadership in Deseret/Utah became a spokesman for the Church regarding polygamy. His comments are unavoidably complicated by the war (as it was) over polygamy.
    Larry Lawrence is writing/speaking in a time when the Church’s position on marriage has absolutely no room for anything but one-man-one-woman relationships. Once again contrary to the law of the land.
    It is virtually certain that when the Church and the State clash, someone’s going to say fiery, divisive, antagonistic things.
    There’s another context that’s meaningful to me. The new video at the Church’s Mormon & Gay, with the context of outreach, public, social media, suggests the public face the Church would like to portray. An article in the Ensign, viewed as an internal organ directed to and read by subscribers, i.e., dues paying insiders, suggests the real story, what ‘we’ really believe. The reality that putting the Ensign out online in advance of print puts both in the social media face of the Church frame is ironic. Layering in Orson Pratt and polygamy, as you do here, is almost cruel.

  24. It seems like this Ensign talk is an edited version of this LDSBC talk dated 06/23/2015: https://www.ldsbc.edu/campus-culture-events/devotionals/1204-prepared-to-face-the-adversary.html

    I guess that talk did go quite unnoticed…

    In any case, defining SSM as ‘counterfeit’ — a definition which requires a standard or canon or ‘original’ to be compared to — does not sound that new to me or even exclusive to Mormonism. Amng others, Elder Perry made some remarks in this direction at the April 2015 GC, it seems.

    In light of the official doctrine of the Church about marriage, in fact, Elder Lawrence’s comments do not seem that controversial. Quite the contrary. The same could be said for his clear distinction (again, made by many others as well, like Oaks) between opposing the sin and loving the sinner thereof. What are the alternatives available to us, logically or doctrinally? Hate the sin AND the sinner (many choose this way, which seems to be totally unacceptable from a Christian perspective), or love the sinner AND the sin (equally unacceptable position, I guess, even if more and more accepted in society and in the Church, it seems).

    Isn’t the distinction between sin and sinner harder, but ‘truer’ and more in harmony with Gospel values and the laws? Isn’t this what the Savior did and still does? If Exaltation and eternal life are the ultimate, best, supremest blessing our Heavenly Father prepared and desires for us, and for which Jehovah offered Himself and Christ atoned to make possible, and if this blessing is dependent upon faithfulness to the Gospel and especially upon the eternal covenant of celestial marriage, how should we approach behaviors and practices that go against this divinely established pattern? How should we treat those who espouse these practices and support them vocally even by preaching against the law of God, in or out of His Church? Shouldn’t we as Christians love (= Charity) everyone, but express, even defend, clearly the will of the Lord and His purposes for the ultimate, eternal, true joy of His sons and daughters? Any alternatives?

  25. Kevin, I do not read that at all in the article. It seems only your personal inference. Elder Lawrence, to me, seems only to explain the SSM is counterfeit to the ‘original’, or divinely established, pattern of traditional marriage between man and woman. Nowhere does he say that LGBT should then choose the ‘original’. That is certainly not what the Church suggests or teaches nowadays. This is going a non-existent second mile in personal interpretation on your part, I think. The thrust of his remarks to me seems just to clarify that SSM seems or would like to appear like and be commonly accepted like ‘original/traditional marriage’, but it is not and, like all other counterfeits, cannot deliver its promises of joy and fulfilment in the eternal scheme of things as its ultimate ‘fruits’ are not conducive to posterity and to exaltation.

  26. As for the law of the land, it is interesting to note the parallel with Polygamy in the XIX Century… The Church sticks with whatever God commands at a specific time, even if (or especially when) it goes contrary to the law of the land. I guess we will see more and more of this, as the ‘laws of the land’, or society, go further and further away from the laws of God and His kingdom. Nothing that has not been prophesied already, I guess.

  27. nothing assumed about your food allergy says:

    His name is Larry Lawrence? As in, Lawrence Lawrence?

  28. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: “… to be perfectly frank, there have been times when … leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said … that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.” There is no reason to believe that such mistakes can only be in the distant past.

    The “counterfeit marriage” term for SSM originated at least as early as 2008 in the rhetoric of the Family Research Council. See https://jeremiah33three.wordpress.com/in-defense-of-marriage-mjyoung/frc-ten-facts-about-counterfeit-marriage/ and
    http://www.thebostonpilot.com/articleprint.asp?id=6642 . FRC is not an LDS organization; it seems to have been around since 1983.

    As noted by Andrea, the “counterfeit” term was used in this context by L Tom Perry in April 2015 conference. It is not unusual for GAs, like other humans, to echo some of what they hear from their cultural surroundings. It is very common for GAs (and other Mormons) to echo each other — sometimes without much thought. Still, I am appalled by echoed use of the term “counterfeit” and the damage it does to both LGBT members and to the Church. To whatever extent it is directed at civil SSM, that ill-advised battle is over in the US and elsewhere, though not world-wide. To whatever extent the use of the term is intended to contrast SSM with the Church’s doctrine of celestial marriage necessary for exaltation in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, it seems entirely beside the point of a civil SSM.

    It may be that the L-dG/Jensen perception of a coherent message from recent publications is correct as to at least some of Church leadership. But there are also reasons to believe it may not be correct as to all the governing councils of the Church. After all, not even one of the 15 other than Pres. Nelson can be found to have publicly backed up his January 2016 claim that some version of the November 2015 exclusion policy was a “revelation.” There are dynamics at work among the 15 in addition to revelation and purported unanimous agreement.

  29. Kevin Barney says:

    While the church as an institution has backed offf from pushing MOMs, there are still local leaders who think it’s a swell idea. This rhetorical framing encourages that perspective.

  30. I don’t know, Christian. I don’t see a polygamy-like conflict between the law of the land and the church’s position on marriage. The law of the land is now that states can’t restrict marriage to hetero couples, but it isn’t that religious groups are compelled to recognize gay marriage. You could read that as a philosophical conflict, but the law isn’t really qualified to give binding opinions on philosophical questions, only on legal questions, and there is certainly no legal conflict between Obergefell and the church’s position on gay marriage. Nineteenth century Polygamy, by contrast, was a square legal conflict: our religion says we are allowed to (and must) have polygynous marriages, and the law says you can’t.

    Maybe this is an obvious point, but I think it’s important because the notion that the church’s position is irreconcilable with legalizing gay marriage seems to be what drove those who took the position that only an all-out war against legalizing gay marriage was acceptable under church doctrine, which I disagreed with. And now, with Obergefell on the books (and frankly, that’s where we were going even absent Obergefell), that position simply isn’t viable anymore, unless we’re going to “go underground” so to speak, and I don’t want to encourage that kind of thinking.

  31. I choose to take Jason K.’s Prayer for the Third Wednesday in Lent as directly related to the underlying subject of both the Mackintosh video and the “counterfeit” language of Elder Lawrence’s Ensign article. “If ye have done it unto the least of these ….” Thanks, Jason.

  32. This simply seems like a way to assist those who, when they see happy, well adjusted same-sex relationships, need a way to dismiss those relationships somehow. If shown a relationship that is more stable and lasts longer than a heterosexual one, they can simply say, “Yes, but it isn’t a *real* marriage, is it?” It’s a simple way for people to disengage from the conversation entirely.

    Also, a minor peeve, Elder Lawrence needs more training in color theory. There’s no such thing as a “counterfeit” color.

  33. Kyle, I support SSM, but I doubt the approach presented in your post will lead to any serious reflection by traditional church members. As can be seen from several comments, the focus of their “counterfeit” analysis is whether a person is true to God’s law, not whether they are true to themselves.

    May I respectfully propose another approach: make the case that gay marriage is “valuable,” even if “counterfeit” (i.e., not sanctioned by God). This approach has worked for changing church members’ attitude away from Orson Pratt’s statement. While church doctrine still holds that only church-administered ordinances have any effect in the eternities, members can believe (and most all do) that non-temple marriages are nonetheless valuable for preparing a couple for an eventual eternal marriage. The sacrifice, love, and experience gained through a non-temple marriage is not wasted. Such works will be incorporated in these peoples’ eventual eternal marriages – even if their eternal unions end up being to someone other than their mortal “counterfeit” spouse.

    Now apply the same approach to SSM. Start by acknowledging the following church teachings: (1) God will never sanction SSM, (2) while we cannot “cure” LGBTs in this life (i.e., imbue them with opposite-sex attraction), we will be able to do so in the next life, and (3) LGBTs who are “cured” in the next life and who repent will be able to enter traditional marriage. Next, add the following assumptions with respect to a beloved child who is raised in the church and who is gay: (1) the child will *not* choose to remain celibate during this life, (2) the child will choose to repent and be “cured” in the next life.

    In this framework, how should a parent counsel their gay child? Specifically, is it more conducive for the child’s repentance in the next life that they (1) sleep around aimlessly during mortality, or (2) settle down in a committed, albeit “counterfeit,” SSM? Framed in this way, the argument can plausibly be made that a SSM is valuable to the child’s eternal salvation. The sacrifice, love, and experience gained through a SSM will not be wasted. Such works will be incorporated in these children’s eventual eternal marriages – even if their eternal unions end up being to someone other than their mortal “counterfeit” spouse.

    The value is analogous to how we sometimes describe missionary companionships as preparing one for marriage. While not a true marriage (and certainly no sex), missionary companions sleep in the same room, shop and eat together, pray and sacrifice together, and learn to adopt to each others’ quirks. That is valuable experience for a person’s eventual marriage. So too, I would argue, can be a loving committed SSM. For members who cannot yet fathom SSM as being sanctioned by God, this approach allows for them to at least open their hearts to the possibility that SSM can be valuable. God works in mysterious ways.

  34. Jason K. says:

    JR: I can assure you that my attempts to be Christian are only subversive per accidens, as it were :)

  35. Jason, I’m not surprised. I suspect also that certain GAs attempts to teach their understanding of eternal doctrine, e.g. the Crime Against Nature chapter of Miracle of Forgiveness, are also only per accidens sometimes erroneous and sometimes un-Christian in effect on some. I also seem to have more t such accidents than I would like.

  36. Jason K. says:

    The subversion is per accidens; the Christianity is as intentional as I can make it, although I certainly get it wrong often enough.

  37. Dave K,

    Intense shame teen gays feel in the church + cured in the next life = very unhealthy

  38. nothing assumed about your food allergy says:

    Underrated comment by Dave K

  39. Perhaps I’m confused, but it almost seems like people here are arguing for *more* correlation.

  40. incog,

    I agree that talk of ‘cure in the next life’ is unhealthy. Personally, I don’t believe there is any need for a cure. And I like to throw around Brigham Young’s statement that (my paraphrase) “a religion that cannot help people in this life will not do any better in the next.”

    The point of my comment was how best to approach members who believe that SS relationships will always be sinful and, therefore, there must be a cure at some point. To approach people in the mindset you can’t just say “you’re wrong, God approves of gay sex.” You have to work with principles they believe in and build from there.

    That’s why I find it helpful to talk about the “value” of SS marriages regardless of whether the marriages are approved or eternal. Value can be judged here and now. And even the most conservative members I know are hard pressed to look at a happily-married gay couple and say “they’re lying.” The best they can muster – and I actually had a stake president say this to me – “look, they may seem happy now and their kids are doing well, but my testimony of the gospel leads me to believe that eventually all those marriages will fail.”

  41. JKC: No argument that polygamy and SSM put the Church on different sides of the debate, but the question remains who controls the meaning or definition of marriage. The word “counterfeit” is a notable move in that match. So is recent and current debate over Utah’s marriage rules, where the current status is that multiple cohabitation is legal but multiple marriage licenses is not.
    I’d like to think that Reynolds settled one and Obergefell settled the other, but “settled” just isn’t true to history or current events.

  42. Dave K,

    Very good point.

  43. I agree, Christian, but aren’t the church and the law kind of talking past each other? I mean, the church is saying, this is what marriage is in a doctrinal sense, and the law is saying this is what marriage is in a legal sense. I’m thinking of non-overlapping magisteria, here.

  44. JKC: Non-overlapping magisteria is a path to resolution, but not descriptive of current state. My view is that the State/Law is prepared to allow for different roles, but the Church still has a big dose of law as an expression and enforcement of morality and is finding it hard to let go.

  45. The folks here at BCC sure have mastered the skill of outrage culture. It’s kind of impresive, if also sad that this has become a place where I no longer feel safe or welcome.

    Bryce Cook, I’m not sure how you think you can speak for those LGBT members who are trying to be faithful. That a message like this comes out in the Ensign is a balm to my soul this week. When so many of those who should be my brothers and sisters are working so hard to invalidate and undermine my faith, I appreciate the reassuring peace that comes from Doctrine.

  46. That’s fair, Christian. But I’m going to push back a little on the idea of if not being descriptive of the current state. I think you’re right that the church doesn’t see it as descriptive of the current state, but regardless of what the church thinks its role is, it simply doesn’t have the power to decide what marriage means, so even if it aspires to more, it’s role in the current state is limited to telling its members of marriage means within its sphere of doctrine. The church can’t enforce its view of marriage outside of the church. Sure, it can attempt to persuade people who do have the power to define marriage for civil/legal purposes to adopt its view, but that just proves that it doesn’t have that power itself.

    And I could be wrong, but that’s where I thought Elder Oaks’ post Obergefell comments were pointing. We accept it as the law of the land, but we don’t have to accept that it has any effect on our doctrinal definition of marriage.

  47. KL, I don’t think you should feel unwelcome, just because you don’t totally agree with this post.

  48. Thanks to those at BCC who have rung the bell on this article by Elder Lawrence. It’s important to keep having this discussion as long as the struggle to work out this issue continues in the church. I’m persuaded that eventually the merit of same-sex marriage will become undeniable to people like the stake president that Dave K mentions. At some point the church will have to adjust. I don’t know exactly what that adjustment will be, but I hope that the presence of faithful dissenters will make the adjustment easier. Perhaps even more important, this kind of discussion keeps spaces open for compassionate fellowship with LGBT people right now.

  49. I hope you don’t feel unwelcome here, KL, just because I totally don’t agree with your comment.

    I’m curious about why you find this doctrine comforting, and how you square your comfort with the pain that this same doctrine causes others.

  50. KL, feeling unsafe and unwelcome in a religious community of which you’ve been a part is a real bitch, I imagine.

  51. Alpineglow says:

    My gay married brother described the events of this week as being like handing a glass of cool water to a desperately thirsty person, but it turns out the cool water has bleach in it.

    Honestly, all I want is for my family of origin to be able to get along, to be able to be in the same room together. Right now that’s not possible because my parents are consumed with blaming my brother for ruining their eternal family and for failing to honor them as parents. I truly get that it’s a hard situation. But that video helps; this talk does not.

    As a side note: are we sure God likes it when we use war/battle metaphors to talk about his gospel of peace? I suspect they may be a human way to describe things. Tribal. My sense is God has a more expansive view that sees opportunities rather than danger in most situations. Being emotionally secure tends to do that.

  52. For their gay children, many LDS parents are having to chose between encouraging a more emotionally healthy life outside the church vs encouraging a tormented life in the church.

  53. John Mansfield says:

    Considering the Orson Pratt quote brings to my mind the various occasions that I have participated in temple sealing involving dead relatives. I do it with the aim of allowing bonds between spouses and with their children to persist, and with the belief that those bonds will not persist without sealing by priesthood. Whom among the dead we provide temple sealing is rather particular though. We only do it for those who were spouses and children while living. The earthly marriages of my unresurrected dead are at least legitimate enough to guide temple work, but not legitimate enough to leave as they are.

  54. JKC: “where I thought Elder Oaks’ post Obergefell comments were pointing.”
    Me too. On the other hand, Elder Oaks may be the most outspoken on law as morality. We’re in a period of mixed messages (reference the OP, obviously) and I think it’s hard for everybody including the top brass.
    For a purely speculative opinion, I don’t think the separate magisteria approach has legs. I think the only lasting solution is for the Church to find some place for SSM. Not necessarily agreement or embrace, but something that could be communicated in terms of “respect.”

  55. And that’s the issue, incog. As a believing Mormon, I want everyone to be able to find happiness and meaning by being a part of our faith community. That’s the promise of the Gospel, as I see it: joy and faith in this life and exaltation in the next.

    As Mormons and Christians, I’d think we’d be pining and hoping to get rid of anything that excludes our brothers and sisters and children from that promise based on inherent traits, whether race, gender, sexuality, geography, or anything else. Which makes me wonder: Why do we WANT our stance on homosexuality to be true?

  56. Dog Spirit says:

    When I see that headline, “The War Goes On,” with that pretty background, I just can’t wrap my head around it. I’ve said it before, but I am so incredibly tired of being at war in this church. Our heavy use of military metaphors to frame our relationship with our brothers and sisters shows that we have deeply misunderstood Christianity. We have not been changed by the love of Christ and still cling to tribalism, willing to scramble over the backs of others, looking forward to their demise, in order to feel secure in our rightness.

    Also, Lawrence’s statement about sorcery should give us a clue about how much credence to give his other ideas.

  57. Kyle M, it seems like agreeing to disagree on sensitive issues (social, doctrinal, political etc.), even totally disagreeing, is something we are all practicing a lot nowadays, in and out of the Church. Not that this is a bad thing. At all, as long as we keep a balanced and respectful — nay, charitable — approach to people first, and to their opinions, too (but people first, and always). As for practices and behaviors, that is where it becomes more tricky to be ‘accepting’ of everything as if there was no moral evaluation attached, at least from a Gospel perspective.

    As for the doctrine remark, a simple question: if this doctrine causes pain to so many people, and it does — especially and specifically inter nos, among LDS members — should we blame someone or not? Who? When all is said and done, should we just change doctrine(s), discard it (them), or else, so that all those who do not agree with it or suffer because of it can be at peace with themselves and/or with God? And what other doctrine(s) can be a source of existential or emotional pain, if there are any?

  58. Kyle M,

    So we preach contention/shaming/coercion/betrayal is a grievance to God?

  59. Dog Spirit, the metaphor of ‘war’ does not seem to be a modern invention of our modern leaders… It is found throughout Scripture — BoM war chapters, anyone? — and they are especially relevant to a discussion about premortal life and what happened after the Council, in those history-shaking events… And, useless to say, prophecies about the Second Coming and the Last Days have war as a prominent theme. No one likes or loves war, I hope (well, I know this is too optimistic…), but war was, is and will be a huge, sad part of the human experience. At least for our Earth. Don’t know about other worlds…

  60. And what about sorcery, anyway?

    “He counterfeits the priesthood by introducing priestcraft, and he imitates God’s miracles by means of sorcery.” Where’s the problem with Elder Lawrence’s remarks here?

  61. “Why do we WANT our stance on homosexuality to be true?”

    I imagine it has something to do with fear of ending up on the opposite side of the question from God, combined with the sunk costs of fighting this culture war for so long, and a little bit of the belief that if you follow the brethren you’ll be blessed, even if the brethren are mistaken, and the belief that the brethren are never wrong anyway.

  62. Andrea, I don’t have an answer for “what should we do?” beyond praying and thinking and questioning and hoping that this will be resolved in a way that brings the most happiness/exaltation to the most people.

    JKC, I think that’s right, and that’s where the race connection should be helping us. Especially if you believe, as I do, that sexuality is an inherent trait like race, not a treatable/moral one like alcoholism. And if you believe, as I do, that incorrect race doctrine persisted for decades because of our lack of faith and willingness to question the traditions of our forebears. We simply haven’t learned our lessons.

  63. Kyle M: “Which makes me wonder: Why do we WANT our stance on homosexuality to be true?”

    The answer is the same as why we fought so long for polygamy and the racial priesthood ban. When church authorities draw a strong line in the sand, and then eventually yield on the issue, the process causes many members to question the church’s claim to authority. That’s why these big changes only happen when the pain of maintaining the traditional view grows to be greater than the pain of yielding (and even then it’s a few more years).

    In short, we care a whole lot about authority. I don’t say that to be snide or critical. It’s just the reality for so many church member’s testimonies. They don’t hate gay people or want them to suffer. But considering the possibility that the church could be wrong on gay marriage leads to the possibility that everything else the church teaches could be wrong. Maybe the first vision didn’t happen. Maybe there was no resurrection. Maybe death really is the end.

    It hurts (a lot) to stare into the dark void of oblivion. I have understanding for members who would rather allow others to suffer (i.e., gays) rather than choose to suffer themselves. That’s simple human nature. It describes my nature to a “T.”

    But that’s also why I find Christ’s story to be so empowering. For whatever reason (the scriptures say love) He chose to lead off into the oblivion so that we wouldn’t be alone when we choose to follow. And I can’t think of a better latter-day example of following Christ’s lead – of truly being a Savior on Mt. Zion – than when a church member decides: “okay, dear LGBT friend, I love you so much that I will choose to face the dark oblivion, I will choose to leave the garden for the dreary world, if that’s what it takes for a place to made for you in our family.”

  64. The Pratt quote and Elder Lawrence summarized: “All ur relationships r fake!”

    It’s been Nelson’s standard position for decades. But I’m not sure our erstwhile culture war allies of the American Evangelical Political Right Wing really realize that certain of our key leaders consider their heterosexual marriages counterfeit/fake, and have said as much very directly as recently as a couple of conferences ago (a Nelson talk, of course, also Elder Perry).

    In case this isn’t coming across clearly to those culture warriors who have commented in this thread to denounce BCC or Kyle for this very measured response to Elder Lawrence’s speech, let me try to make it clear: Setting aside gay marriage entirely for the moment, some Mormon leaders have long taught their opinion that all heterosexual marriages not performed in the temple are not even real marriages at all.

    This is the real story. Obviously Elder Lawrence feels like it makes total sense to add gay marriages to that. All marriages, whether straight or gay, are fake marriages, not even real or valid, unless performed in a Mormon temple. Not all Church leaders share this opinion. Many seem to have an internal consistency in place that says, in effect, “if we’re going to be on a cultural crusade against divorce and gay marriages and people living together without being married, then we had better cheerfully support and encourage heterosexual marriage of any kind, whether performed in a Catholic church, a synagogue, a mosque, a Hindu temple, a justice of the peace’s office, a Law Vegas wedding factory — anything else tells our allies in this culture wars that we are false friends because it says we not only consider divorce bad and gay marriage invalid but we also consider all of those kinds of straight marriages fake.”

    This line of reasoning has curious implications. For example, in his own contribution to the culture wars, Elder Oaks has repeatedly denounced divorce (seeming to completely ignore that no-fault divorce has been the only thing that allows women to escape from abusive marriages). But why would any Mormon denounce any divorce except a divorce of a couple sealed in the temple? Under Elder Nelson’s and some other Church leaders’ teachings, all other marriages are fake in the first place. Not real. Not recognized by God at all, apparently (according to this teaching). So what’s the big deal if such a marriage breaks up in a divorce?

    The Mormon leaders who view all non-temple marriages as fake seem to also want to teach that non-temple marriage is essential for society. The building block of society. Well, which is it? Are non-temple marriages fake and rejected by God or are they the essential building block of society?

  65. “Why do we WANT our stance on homosexuality to be true?”

    The pain/disbelief of “the world” was more righteous in this regard is a huge stumbling block. Which is not a very good reason to want our stance to be true.

  66. Peter LLC says:

    members can believe (and most all do) that non-temple marriages are nonetheless valuable for preparing a couple for an eventual eternal marriage. The sacrifice, love, and experience gained through a non-temple marriage is not wasted.

    Dave K, I know that you have a specific audience in mind (people who won’t be persuaded by the OP) but that would go over like a lead balloon with someone like me who was not married in the temple and yet finds himself in the pews every Sunday. With visitors allegedly welcome in our services, I’m not sure how to square the circle.

  67. ““Why do we WANT our stance on homosexuality to be true?”

    Do we want it to be true, or IS it true (or isn’t)? Do we believe it to be true because we need to, or is there some objective truth (or lack thereof) behind this stance or doctrinal position? Should we posit the fact that it might be wrong, then, with all the plan of salvation and exaltation centered on Christ’s Atonement and on eternal family units as taught from the beginning?

    Shall we rewrite all our religious, doctrinal history, then? If God is on one specific side of the issue, what is it and how shall we know (and will we do once we know it?) I guess it is natural for someone like you and me who wants to follow Christ and be faithful to the Father to fear ending up on the opposite side of God, especially on matters of huge moral and eternal implications! There’s salvation and exaltation at stake here for us and for our brothers and sisters, after all!

    And is following the Brethren merely a belief or does it have doctrinal substance, or truth, to it? Does it matter, then, to follow them? The Brethren may be mistaken on occasion, but who decides, who judges when they are and when ‘we’ are? And whoever said that they are ‘never’ (as in ‘never ever’) wrong? What role do they play in God’s kingdom?

    These are not rhetorical questions, but real ones. What are your thoughts on the matter?

  68. Dave K, but what does Christ think about SSM or homosexual behavior, ultimately? Can we know? How? Where? From whom? Being a Savior on Mount Zion, thinking about Christ’s story and example as empowering — they are! — is wonderful, but if we do not solve the whole issue of what is sin and what is not sin in the eyes of the Father and of the Son, how will we ever solve the riddle? What was Christ’s stance on sin and on sinners?

  69. Dog Spirit says:

    Andrea, I can’t argue about the presence of war in history or scripture. It just doesn’t square with my reading of Jesus’s teachings and actions in the Gospels. YMMV.

    As to sorcery, I’ll go ahead and out myself as a non-believer in it. Unless sorcery refers to essential oils. Those totally work.

  70. Peter LLC, if I can bring a little personal experience here, there are a lot of faithful members in my ward and stake who are not (yet) married in the temple (or members married to non members, for that matter), but that does not make any difference in their being accepted or welcomed to worship… Visitors are not ‘allegedly’ welcome in our services. People — people, persons, human beings — are always welcome. Behavior is another story, though. Christ was accepting of everyone. He invited everyone to come unto Him. Still does. But He was not, is not and cannot be accepting of any behavior, if that behavior hinders the eternal destiny of that person because it does not align with His commandments or His will.

  71. Andrea, I think our history indicates that desire tends to precede revelation. When we wanted it enough, blacks got the priesthood. Mormons could use birth control. Garments got shorter. I’m assuming the same thing will eventually happen with women and the priesthood, and with gay marriage in the church. When we want it badly enough to rethink our assumptions, change will come.

    I’m intentionally conflating doctrine examples with policy examples because, outside of the atonement of Jesus Christ, I don’t have a lot of reason to believe they’re that different. For instance, our entire homosexual policy is built on the doctrine that a celestial family requires a penis and a vagina to spiritually procreate. But is viviparous spirit birth really such a certain thing? We’re willing to fight and die on this hill, when there is definitely room for revelation on the nature and structure of celestial families.

    Or as I believe, The Celestial Family (singular).

  72. Surely Jesus is preeminently the Prince of Peace and His Gospel and example are the way to real peace for individuals, families, social groups and the world… but it seems to me that He also spoke about war (real or metaphorical). And He certainly did not hesitate in confronting — rather than acquiesce to — sinful behaviors. He is not all ‘peaches and sunshine’ in His teachings. There are hard sayings, too… And our telestial reality IS unfortunately characterized by war, and I believe God is very realist. True religion is realist, practical, not just contemplative or theoretical or ecstatic.

    He taught peace especially because He knew that we would need to find a way, His way, to feel it in this life where the enemy, the prince of war, is all about reigning with blood and horror.

  73. is there some objective truth (or lack thereof) behind this stance or doctrinal position?

    Clearly Elder Lawrence does, at least I assume it’s an abiding belief in the correctness of his ways that inspires him to draw these lines in the sand. Personally, I’m more of a bird-in-the-hand-is-worth-two-in-the-bush kind of person. I’m a lot less sure about what the afterlife will bring than the present, and so I’m less inclined to take principled stands “on matters of huge […] eternal implications” if they hurt people in the here and now.

  74. Visitors are not ‘allegedly’ welcome in our services. People — people, persons, human beings — are always welcome.

    Right–we say, “Hello, welcome to the XXX ward!” and we mean it! But then in the course of a lesson or talk we say something like “Never settle for less than eternal marriage!” and then your spouse, a member of another church but who is happy to support you by attending your services, leaves the room in tears.

  75. Andrea, you are missing something key here that follows logically from Pratt’s, Nelson’s, and Lawrence’s logic: it is also sin to live in a non-temple heterosexual marriage. That, too, is fake, according to this very long-standing strain of opinion among some Church leaders. So that’s where Peter LLC seems to be coming from. Applying your own attempted explanation, people are welcome but sin is not. So gay sex is not welcome even though gay people are welcome. So, inescapably, heterosexual sex within non-temple marriages is not welcome even though people are ostensibly welcome even if they happen to have such a fake marriage.

  76. Kristine A says:

    Christiankimball, thanks for mentioning the how these are examples of external/internal messaging. The I’m a Mormon Campaign was never truly a signal to members to be more tolerant/accepting, but to prove that we are to outsiders. And the message insiders got was not the same as the external one. Excellent point.

    also, spot on, L-Dg re we want YOU to stay, but YOU to leave. yep.

  77. And I know–what a snowflake. You come to the Mormon church, you’re gonna hear Mormon doctrine preached.

    The point I’m trying to make is that we want/welcome visitors and yet talk like they aren’t even there.

  78. Andrea, here’s the best approach I know of:

    Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
    Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
    A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
    Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
    Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

    That’s the really good news about the SSM debate. Now that it’s legal everywhere, we cannot complain that we lack knowledge. So go get it. Meet some married gay people. Have them over for dinner. Become friends. Learn – and then judge – the fruits of their marriage. After all, that’s s supposedly why we are in this probationary state.

  79. it's a series of tubes says:

    Andrea, just a note to say I appreciate the thoughts you have shared in this thread.

    And Dog Spirit: if you’ve ever experienced it or a true practitioner of it firsthand, like I once did, you might think differently.

  80. Same, I appreciate the conversation, everyone. Thanks for keeping it civil.

  81. jimbob: When “Salt Lake” is saying two contradictory things to different audiences, that’s a problem. When we talk about over-Correlation, it’s usually in the context of Salt Lake trying to stamp out any local or cultural variation in practices, even if those variations have no bearing on the salvation of man.

  82. Brother Sky says:

    We want the church’s stance on gay marriage to be true because most mainstream members of our church don’t know the difference between faith and knowledge. If we “KNOW” the church is true, then we “KNOW” our prophets tell the truth, we “KNOW” our beliefs on gay marriage are “true.” It’s a complete misunderstanding of faith. Nothing about belief, whether Mormon or otherwise, is about knowledge or certainty. It’s all based on faith. And if it’s based on faith, there’s a lot less certainty/dependability about everything, including gay marriage. And if there’s less certainty, that tends to make believers nervous, so they double down on the “I KNOW such and such a thing is true,” to compensate for their own anxiety about church doctrines/practices not being “true”. So as a result of the Mormon Church trying to dispel any doubt in the minds of its adherents, we get insidious, un-Christian policies like the Exclusion Policy and the Priesthood Ban. It’s our fear of things being not true that drives us to an absurd level of certainty about things, despite facts, knowledge, research, etc. pointing the other way. It’s a shameful and medieval way of doing things, but that’s what we’ve got. It’s too bad, really, considering all that this church could be if we could stand a little doubt and uncertainty and move more towards true, Christlike compassion. But that ain’t going to happen, folks.

  83. A central characteristic of most orthodox Mormon teaching about sexuality is the underlying implication that sexuality is, at absolute most, something that we don’t discuss in any meaningful way. The most explicit church leaders both official and unofficial (I’m looking at you, WWN) get about the subject is to describe sexual relations using bizarre religious metaphors like “godly” and vague pronouncements about how lust is bad and divine marital relations create more love, whatever that even means.

    At the outset, Lawrence shows his hand in this regard when he argues that lust is a counterfeit of love. Does he (and do his church leadership counterparts) have any meaningful regard for the importance of sexuality, sexual desire generally, and the kind of desire-filled sexual relationships that a lot of people (like me) want and think are critical parts of human relationships? I’m sure he would give it pro-forma acknowledgement if pressed.

    This is a religious culture where we are taught (again, looking at you, WWN) that “dirty talk” is inappropriate and makes sexual relations between temple-married spouses a thing of the devil. In that framework, the only sexuality that is acceptable is repressed, dysfunctional sexuality that assigns feelings of guilt and unworthiness to like 99% of human sexual desire – *even within the bounds of LDS temple-sealed marriages*.

    And we expect the same church leaders who either avoid acknowledging sexuality at all or who urge Mormons to feel guilty in their own marital beds if they get lusty for their own spouse to acknowledge and give serious consideration to the notion that it might not be evil for gay people to love each other? I think we’re making a huge mistake if we think the approach taken in this article (which I agree with) would not, itself, be considered counterfeit and sinful by Lawrence and his colleagues.

    On the question of “[w]hat paths to an honest, loving relationship are available for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters,” I think understanding the position of Lawrence and his colleagues requires acceptance that their answer will assume that there is nothing honest or loving about carnal sexual desire, ever, in any context. I suspect Lawrence would argue that homosexuality is, itself, a counterfeit version of divinely-ordained sexuality (but he wouldn’t use the word “sexuality” because it’s icky), and therefore suggest that the right path for gay Mormons (and non-Mormons) is to ignore or fight against their sexuality.

    That definitely looks like an uncharitable view of the Brethren’s approach to sexuality. But I don’t know that there’s evidence to support a more charitable one.

  84. sgnm, I think this fear of sexuality is something that the Church unconsciously adopted as a means of normalization and assimilation into 20th-century American society, given that the notion of Mormonism as a sex cult was quite widespread in the days of officially sanctioned polygamy (and for a few decades after, as shown by Trapped by the Mormons and its ilk).

    There’s an enormous unwillingness to talk about sex like adults, or even to use non-euphemisms for the anatomy. (The “little factory” talk is one of the most embarrassing things I have ever read.) This is a serious problem.

  85. “I hope you don’t feel unwelcome here, KL, just because I totally don’t agree with your comment.

    I’m curious about why you find this doctrine comforting, and how you square your comfort with the pain that this same doctrine causes others.”

    Kyle, and JKC, I don’t think it really has anything to do with disagreement. I get along very well with people who disagree with me and I them. It is more about the attitude that “Not only am I right, but my belief is so obivoulsy the only right one that anyone who disagrees must be (delusional, an institutional schill, bigoted, stupid).”

    To answer the two questions: I find this doctrine comforting because it helps me understand my desire for a same-sex relationship in a context that neither villifies me for that desire nor invalidates my belief in the value of my marriage. As a counterfit, it makes sense that there would be appealing aspects. It isn’t simply an opposite. At the same time, regardless of how much enjoyment and satisfaction I might find in the counterfit, at the end of the day (eternity) it won’t be valid as a basis for eteral life.

    I square my comfort with the pain this doctrine causes some others by recognizing that from different perspectives the same truth can seem both helpful and hurtful. The call to repentance, to abandon sin, or to sacrifice good things for best things, is often painful. Elder Maxwell said in April ’91: “Much of any weariness is attributable to carrying the heavy natural man. Unlike others we might carry, the natural man is heavy, and he is not our brother!” Most of the pain I experienced through my struggle to reconcile faith and sexuality was casued by holding onto beliefs about sexuality that were not true. The Savior’s yoke only became easy and light for me when I also let go of the yoke of the world and the natural man.

  86. Will we be seeing a BCC review of Bryce’s recent paper at https://mormonlgbtquestions.com/?

  87. I have never seen an answer as to what those of us that believe the currently-taught doctrine are supposed to do. I believe God loves and values all of us the same. I think He is more merciful than we can imagine. I believe everyone has their free agency and should be able to make their own choices in life and I don’t have a problem with civil gay marriage. I have no problem keeping my mouth shut as well. I don’t think its my place to tell you how to live your life.

    On the other hard, I don’t believe SS attraction will exist in the next life – I believe it is a symptom of this fallen world and like many characteristics, it will be gone when we are out of these bodies. I don’t believe SS couples should be sealed in the temple.

    So, what would you like me to do? Is the only acceptable option for me to just agree with you? Where is the middle ground?

  88. orangganjil says:

    This has been a deal-breaking topic for my relationship with the church. When you step back and survey the historical accuracy of the utterances coming from our prophets as compared to society at large, you find out that our prophets are not at all prophetic on matters of profound importance such as this one. They make some claim and state that it is “God’s will”, only to backtrack on a many-year lag as compared to society at large. They’re useless and it’s time we admitted it. Sure, they can dish pithy quotes suitable for social media just as well as Chicken Soup for the Soul, but where are they on the really important matters? They’ve been either flat wrong (e.g., black temple and priesthood ban, women/ERA, homosexuality) or missing entirely (church historical issues, which basically are doctrinal issues for us, have effectively been turned over to the historians and apologists).

    When we as a community are willing to step back and stop sacrificing people to our twin idols of “prophetic” leadership and The Family, we will begin again to regain credibility. I don’t have the patience for this any longer. My kids are of the age where this stuff matters a great deal to them. I don’t have 30 years to wait for the church to get its $*#t together. I want my children to have a durable spirituality that matters in the years ahead. What the church is producing these days doesn’t fit that requirement, so a formally active, committed, family of five has stepped away. We won’t be party to this crap any longer.

  89. Lily,
    That is what makes this issue so controversial; I don’t think there is any real middle ground in the long run.

  90. Lily @11:38: I appreciate you saying so clearly two things:
    “I don’t believe SS attraction will exist in the next life”
    “I don’t have a problem with civil gay marriage.”
    Because of the first (about which we disagree) I believe rapprochement over doctrine is not possible. I imagine arguments and immediately check myself–not worth your time or mine.
    Because of the second, I believe a day-to-day working relationship is possible. Let’s talk about moving from “don’t have a problem” to “respect enough to not excommunicate.” It seems to me that somewhere in there is room for a fruitful discussion.

  91. Agreed, ABM. I’ve said elsewhere ( https://bycommonconsent.com/2015/11/12/the-stakes-of-zion/ ) that the gay issue and female ordination are set up to be the defining characteristics of the church for the rising generation, and that’s sad, because 1) they aren’t central messages of the overall Gospel of Jesus Christ; 2) we’ll lose on both counts; 3) they’re both negative characteristics, where the Church is defined by what it isn’t; 4) I’m not convinced we’re on the right side of either battle.

  92. ABM: “I don’t think there is any real middle ground in the long run.”

    When there is no positive revelation on a subject, meaning revelation presented to the Church in General Conference, not just speculation by people like Elder Lawrence in church magazines, the only thing any of us can do is speculate, and go on our own personal revelation for our own lives.

    Probably best in such a situation to love and support each other and wait for revelation, rather than ostracize and split hairs and split them again, and then preach our splitting of hairs as doctrine.

  93. Lily, I can’t answer your question about what is acceptable middle ground—it’s something I struggle with an active LDS woman who wants to keep her temple recommend. For me, though, your sentence about God loving and valuing us all the same and “being more merciful than we can imagine” is something that I have faith in, too. And, for me, I am inclined to believe that if the church accepted and legitimized all kinds of families, God would be merciful even if we made mistakes by doing so. For me, the lesser evil is to recognize and celebrate love, companionship, loyalty, and families of all kinds rather than require active LGBTQ LDS to deny themselves these things in the name of a doctrine that is ambiguous and has waffled over time (LGBTQ feelings have gone from a “perversion” to a “choice” to a “special trial” just over the course of my own lifetime).

    We seem so sure that God will be merciful to those who commit suicide over their struggles with LGBTQ orientation, but we seem less sure of God’s mercy towards the church for embracing these families and couples for the love they have to share and for the personalities and talents they have that our congregations would be richer for.

    I wish we would go out on a limb of faith and really believe that God wants us to value, embrace, and love all people and families, and that, if we are wrong in doing so, that God will be merciful and understanding enough to forgive us and help right our mortal mistakes.

    For me, I would rather that my mortal mistake be that I was too accepting, too celebratory, too open-armed, too grateful. I would rather that my mortal mistake *not* be that I valued obedience over love, or policies over people.

  94. One reason for wanting our stance on homosexuality to be true is that we want to preserve the church’s distinctiveness. The church’s raison d’etre is to be the unique source of revelation. We tend toward contrarian doctrines and practices as signs of our uniqueness. We have always been contrarians. In the nineteenth century, we were radically liberal—beyond the pale with our practice of polygamy. When that didn’t work out, we eventually moved to the other extreme and became contrarian in our radical conservatism. We have always feared becoming just like everyone else.

    Hanging on to impractical or outmoded beliefs is a tried and true method for keeping a religious community distinct. But that creates tension with two other equally important elements of Mormonism: our mandate to grow by spreading the gospel, and our belief in the possibility of change through continuing revelation. I think that those of us who hope for changes in the church’s stance on these matters are not less faithful. Rather, we put a bit more emphasis on continuing revelation as a necessary part of the church’s future.

    I think there is hope for the church, regardless of where you might stand on the question of homosexuality. What makes the church endure is not our doctrines or our traditions. What makes the church endure is the Spirit working among us. It is harder to hold on to the Spirit than it is to hold on to traditions and creeds. If we move forward in determination to seek the Spirit and follow the dictates of love, then we will find our path. That’s risky and frightening, but it’s really the only way.

  95. ‘It is more about the attitude that “Not only am I right, but my belief is so obivoulsy the only right one that anyone who disagrees must be (delusional, an institutional schill, bigoted, stupid).”‘

    I can definitely see how that would be off-putting. For what it’s worth, that isn’t the attitude that I saw coming through on Kyle’s post, and I’m reasonably confident that Kyle didn’t intend to convey that kind of message.

  96. I think Loursat’s last comment is really important, especially that last paragraph, regardless of where you come down on the gay marriage question.

  97. I’m sorry if I did.

  98. peterllc oh…yes like there :)

  99. Grover, that is a beautiful and sympathetic position to have. I wonder if you have a sense of the privilege that allows you to hold such a view. I guess it’s just easy to hope that God will forgive you for being too celebratory when you have no skin in the game.

    And maybe you are right. Maybe God will just save everyone regardless of what they choose in this life. Maybe all the thousands of LGBT members who sacrifice and consecrate their lives to Christ are just wasting our time and missing out on the opportunity to really enjoy life. Or maybe you’ll get to be accepting and celebratory here and then continue to Exaltation and Eternal Life while all those you celebrated find themselves unable to join you without suffeing the pains of repentance for the actions you encouraged. Either way, it doesn’t really impact you.

  100. Kristine says:

    I’m not sure if Pratt is referring to polygamy in the quotation you’ve highlighted, Kyle, but there is plenty of early church rhetoric to the effect that MONOGAMOUS marriages are tools of the devil and poor imitations of the celestial order. It’s entirely possible that Pratt thinks all post-Manifesto Mormon children are bastards. So there’s that…

  101. A God who creates gay people (or allows people to be born into gay bodies, whatever), and then makes gay sex a sin to be punished, is a monster.

    So, either people aren’t born gay (science and the experience of many gay people suggest otherwise), gay sex isn’t a sin, or God is a monster. Pick you poison.

  102. Exactly, Kristine. George Q. Cannon, for example, wrote fiery newspaper editorials stating that monogamy was a disease that ruined civilizations. He and other Church leaders at the time literally declared that Rome fell because they embraced monogamy as their marriage standard.

  103. A Happy Hubby says:

    Interesting juxtaposition between the video and the Ensign article.

    Unfortunately I think you left off one option that some LGBTQ brothers and sisters feel they have
    – Commit Suicide since some church leaders have stated that SSA will not carry over to the next life.

  104. it's a series of tubes says:

    A God who creates gay people (or allows people to be born into gay bodies, whatever), and then makes gay sex a sin to be punished, is a monster.
    So, either people aren’t born gay (science and the experience of many gay people suggest otherwise), gay sex isn’t a sin, or God is a monster. Pick you poison.

    Hey, this fallacy generator is neat! Can I try?

    “A God who creates hetero people (or allows people to be born into hetero bodies, whatever), and then makes (unmarried) hetero sex a sin to be punished, is a monster.
    So, either people aren’t born hetero (science and the experience of many hetero people suggest otherwise), (unmarried) hetero sex isn’t a sin, or God is a monster. Pick you poison.”

    That was fun! How about another?

    “A God who creates prideful people (or allows people to be born into prideful bodies, whatever), and then makes pride a sin to be punished, is a monster.
    So, either people aren’t born prideful (science and the experience of many prideful people suggest otherwise), pride isn’t a sin, or God is a monster. Pick you poison.”

    I can do this all day. Whoopee!

  105. Yeeeeeah no. I think your fallacy generator is stuck on the False Equivalence setting.

  106. IOW, adding (unmarried) changes the whole freaking meaning. Remove it and you’re a little closer.

  107. ‘Pride’ and ‘sex’ are not apples to apples. Sure, you can ‘try’ the fallacy generator, but you’ve already failed. Sure, point out a weakness of argument, but don’t follow it with your own.

  108. it's a series of tubes says:

    Kyle, the fact that I point out sloppy reasoning in a particular instance is an entirely separate issue from what my personal thoughts are on the matter at hand. Don’t mistake the one for the other.

  109. Nepos – there are a number of things created in people that are sinful. Just because science or experience show them to be inborn and immutable does not make them acceptable.

    For examples (with no equivalence, comparison, or ranking): attraction to only married people, attraction to children, attraction to much older people, attraction to animals, attraction to mechanical items, attraction to the opposite gender, attraction to pre-operative transgender men, attraction to bound and unwilling participants, etc., etc.

    Whatever moral framework someone subscribes to, something inborn to some part of the population is going to be seen as less desirable or “sinful”. In your opinion, God is a monster for allowing such things, but it really points us to the whole “problem of Evil” thing.

  110. “some Mormon leaders have long taught their opinion that all heterosexual marriages not performed in the temple are not even real marriages at all.”

    Twice in HPG in the last year the (same) teacher has made the comment in lessons on marriage “I don’t really know why people would bother to get married if its not in the Temple”. Thanks Bro. Soandso, my non-mo wife and I have a good laugh at your expense on these Sundays.

    “The point I’m trying to make is that we want/welcome visitors and yet talk like they aren’t even there.”

    True x 1000%. Very clear to me from the first time my wife began attending church with me 18 yrs ago. Our rhetoric is terrible.

    “As to sorcery, I’ll go ahead and out myself as a non-believer in it. Unless sorcery refers to essential oils. Those totally work.”

    In the spirit of this post I plan to have a Sorcerer over for dinner soon to get to know them better and judge their fruits.

  111. Kyle M.,

    I too think this will be among the defining issues of the church for the foreseeable future; I remember reading your post from 2015. I agree that if the church continues its present course, then there could be grave consequences for us as a people (hate group, etc.). Where you and I differ is the rightness of a major change in doctrinal treatment of SSM and homosexuality.

    On the one hand, maybe we need to change it because like slavery, usury, treatment of women and other things, this doctrine is a relic from a different time and a culture that had its blind spots. But on the other hand, I also think it is possible that our time and culture has its own blind spots and that changing doctrine here is condoning sin.

    I don’t know, I am not the prophet and I will ultimately accept revelation and more light and knowledge whichever direction it takes us.

  112. I don’t think we disagree even there, ABM. I wouldn’t advocate for a change like this without revelation, but I hope and pray that we’re seeking that revelation on an institutional level.

  113. ABM, that’s the key. We haven’t had revelation on this. We have (very few) references in the scriptures about homosexuality (Leviticus and a few words from Paul — and that’s it). Current Church leaders are basing their beliefs and opinions about gay marriage on these few verses about homosexual sex acts. They aren’t showing any level of intellectual curiosity about those passages, or assuring us they are praying fervently for guidance and revelation on homosexuality and its place in a diverse, modern society that values and prioritizes pluralism and purports to protect fundamental human rights (none of which was true of the Israelites in Leviticus). They aren’t saying “Thus saith the Lord.” They are saying “Based on this verse in Leviticus, I believe gay marriage is a sin.” They aren’t showing us guidance for our day, based on revelation for our day or even the desire to seek such revelation. Instead, they are in effect saying they view the issue of being born gay and what that means for marriage in civil, secular society as being so ridiculous, so gross (because it involves gay sex), as to be beyond the pale and not even worth petitioning the Lord about.

  114. (I note Leviticus and other closely related Old Testament passages also condone rape, requiring a rape victim to marry her raper in certain circumstances; they endorse slavery; they justify genocide; they prohibit eating shellfish as just as sinful as gay sex. We know all of those are wrong or at least no longer applicable after the New Testament and in a society that isn’t a wandering desert theocratic tribe without any human rights, democracy, or secular, pluralistic government.)

  115. I do not defend Elder Lawrence’s choice of words. But I do note what he does not say in the article: he does not say that marriage equality leads to relationships that are inherently unstable (at least in mortality), nor does he claim that it will lead to the collapse or undermining of civil society or of heterosexual marriages, nor does he use some of the harsh wording about lgbtq that were used in the Miracle of Forgiveness. His argument seems to be that marriage equality is wrong only because “it does not bring [biological] posterity [of both spouses] or exaltation” and therefore is “not the real thing” and “cannot bring lasting happiness” [meaning happiness in the hereafter?] This leaves open the position that many members of the Church I know seem to take–marriage equality can lead to lasting, stable, fulfilling relationships in the here and now but, because they cannot be sealed, they might only lead to sadness in the hereafter. Once one acknowledges that marriage equality can be a good thing during mortality, it does not seem to me to be a long step to conclude that it could be a good thing in the heavens too.

  116. Kyle M and Trond,

    I tend to think this matter is more settled than either of you seem to allow. Yes, there is not a lot to go on in scripture but many of our modern practices don’t have “thus Sayeth the Lord” style announcements. If we applied he same standard to tithing and the word of wisdom or even to pornography, I think we would find that our current practice does not have a lot of official basis outside of manuals, talks and the Ensign.

  117. Elder Pratt was inclined to zealous statements in support of his faith and against others who were by and large antagonistic toward the church. It’s a well known antimormon tactic to dig into fiery speeches from the early Utah days to smear the church today. Bad form.

    Elder Lawrence is right that gay marriage is counterfeit in that it can never produce what God designed marriage for – two become one in the Lord and produce mortal offspring and will ultimately do so in the eternities.

    Heterosexual marriage always has that hope. That is the design of our bodies, even if they don’t function that way now for whatever reason.

    Gay marriage is unable to accomplish that primary function and it will always end in a single generation. It’s planting of seed with no hope for fruit. Pointing to adoption is a rhetorical ploy to hide a sinful relationship behind the innocence of children. Adoption will not change this, but will only further delink posterity from the chain of the human family back to Adam. This is probably in part why the church warned of calamity in future generations as the promise of Malachi can not be fulfilled lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse and utterly wasted at his coming.

    Harsh words, and I pray we repent before it get worse, but mocking and rejecting those words don’t seem to place us on the path of repentance.

    Our words to those who have fallen into the post modern trap of embracing homosexuality need to be that we love you, God loves you and has an eternal plan for you – go and sin no more. Not fighting over the wording of one sentence in an ensign article, when you all know full well the position of the church is those gay marriages, no matter how kind hearted the participants are, will be null and void in the eternities and are certainly not authorized by God now.

    Children are entitled to a mother and father by divine design. Where natural circumstances prevent that we ought to do our best to help those children, not hide behind them to justify our choices. Those who argue otherwise in the name of compassion are placing the desires of adults over the needs of children.

  118. “those gay marriages, no matter how kind hearted the participants are, will be null and void in the eternities and are certainly not authorized by God now”

    We absolutely don’t know that at all. Not until God has revealed his will on this issue. And if he had, you would know it because our Church leaders would clearly tell us they’d received a direct revelation about it, not least because it would bolster their authority to be able to say that, and they would view it as in the best interest of the Church not to hide the fact they’d received a direct revelation.

    As to the rest of your comment, it relies entirely on the assumption that sexual reproduction (this is referred to as vivaparous spirit birth in Mormon lingo) accomplished mechanically through a heterosexual sex act is the way that spirits are “created.” But we do not know that at all. That is based on some past Mormon leaders’ speculation arising from their own systematic deductions and inferences from the idiosyncratic ways they interpreted some scriptures. God has not revealed to anyone that resurrected beings create new spirit children through heterosexual sexual intercourse. God might organize spirits out of preexisting matter in any number of other ways completely unknown to us.

  119. Michael H says:

    ABM raises a good point. I think there comes a point when we have to accept that these teachings, no matter how hurtful to some of us, are not anamolous and that the brethren really do believe they’re speaking as prophets when they voice, or allow to be voiced, rhetoric depicting committed homosexual relations as satanic.

  120. Thank goodness you’re here to explain all that to us, apc.

    So you’re saying we can safely dismiss early Mormon rhetoric, but not anything more recent than…when?

    My point in including the Pratt quote is to show how little has changed. We made a lot of leaps then, we make a lot of leaps now.

  121. Again Michael H, the priesthood ban is a useful corollary for those of us hoping for change. Our leaders said a lot of things they thought were right about an issue they were wrong about. I’m not sure why we believe that can’t happen again. I suspect it’s happening now on any number of issues.

  122. “I think there comes a point when we have to accept that these teachings, no matter how hurtful to some of us, are not anamolous and that the brethren really do believe they’re speaking as prophets when they voice, or allow to be voiced, rhetoric depicting committed homosexual relations as satanic.”

    On the other hand on the main LDS.org page, you have a mother preaching the power of love: “Love without condemning. I would not be the person I am today without my son, who has opened my heart and mind to loving other people who are LGBT. I have met some of the most talented and wonderful Mormon LGBT people of all ages and demographics that I am embarrassed to say I would have never made the effort to know, if it weren’t for my son. I will be forever grateful for the friendships made. While there are many things we must make judgments about, comparison to others is not one of them.”

    So do we condemn? Or not condemn? With Elder Lawrence’s article, we’ve gone past the point of saying whether we accept or not, it’s about straight condemnation.

    Oh, and btw, if we condemn, depict it as satanic, or call it counterfeit, we cannot be surprised when we are labeled bigots.

  123. Michael H says:

    Kyle, I guess we both have distinct takeaways from rough patches like this and the priesthood ban. For me, the priesthood ban plus ongoing policy on homosexuality is enough for me to feel confirmation that the prophetic mantle is not rightfully claimed by LDS leadership. That being said I think I understand, and certainly respect, your position.

  124. This is a much more in-depth summary of the current thinking of the Brethren than the brief comments of discussion in Elder Lawrence’s article: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/elder-bednar-transcript-the-divinely-designed-pattern-marriage

  125. “and pretend that this is OK” – seems pretentious and incredibly hurtful to many who wish to follow the words of the living prophets of God.

    KL, thank you for your courage. It makes me happy to witness.

  126. “Conversely, peace and joy come from subjecting one’s self in love to the needs of spouse and family, tempering one’s individual needs and desires, and focusing instead on the needs and desires of others.” From the linked talk of Elder Bednar’s above.

    Seems to me like he nailed the most important reason to support and legalize SSM.

    And then he goes on (with two small changes from me) about the benefits:

    “- finding deep meaning in the complementary roles of spouse, parent, and experiencing the profound unity that can come only from marriage;

    – learning to sacrifice for a higher cause;

    – seeing our own faces in our newborn child who embodies our shared love, faith and hopes;

    – establishing family patterns and traditions that give meaning to the ordinary tasks of life;

    – cultivating faith in our children and watching it blossom and grow;

    – imparting our knowledge and wisdom to our children and then striving to be an example to them of the highest and best in life;

    – rejoicing with children who honor their parents and carry on their name, and weeping with those who struggle;

    – helping with grandchildren, as the ever-widening circle of life and family continues.”

    I’m missing why this is good for straight people, but evil for non-straight…?

  127. Anony, great points! To me, ironically enough, they seem to show that you agree with Elder Lawrence on the definition of SSM as ‘counterfeit’ (i.e. not opposite, but very similar to the original or ‘standard model’, and yet not ‘true’ or equivalent to the original). As a matter of fact, one point that Elder Lawrence (correctly, as far as I can tell) makes is the impossibility of posterity in such marriages. No offspring, as Mother Nature does not allow for this outcome in SSM. So, in some regards SSM really does not seem to have any difference to traditional marriage, for example:

    – finding deep meaning in the complementary roles of spouse, parent, and experiencing the profound unity that can come only from marriage;

    – learning to sacrifice for a higher cause;

    – establishing family patterns and traditions that give meaning to the ordinary tasks of life.

    At the same time, there are other features that only the ‘original’ model of marriage allows (posterity):

    – seeing our own faces in our newborn child who embodies our shared love, faith and hopes;

    – cultivating faith in our children and watching it blossom and grow;

    – helping with grandchildren, as the ever-widening circle of life and family continues

    And I guess this is exactly why SSM is defined as ‘counterfeit’. Some similarities with an original model, but not exactly like the original model in all respects. Also, I guess, not authorized by the original Maker and somewhat not accepted by the Maker. We could think of this parallel between original/true vs. counterfeit in terms of temporal things or objects, as well, as anyone who ever walked downtown in a big Italian city can attest :)

    The issue seems to me down to this: what does God think of this? Is all this ‘counterfeit’ language just a personal opinion of one or more Church leaders, or are they conveying what the Father and the Savior believe about SSM?

    The issue of posterity (on Earth) is certainly one thing, but the issue of Exaltation to me is the most important one. No eternal life is possible, as far as we know (or is the whole plan of salvation as we know it wrong?), without man and woman together, and it has nothing to do with sexual intercourse, I believe. As rightly pointed out, we do not know how spiritual procreation will operate in the next life… but even if it is completely ‘spiritual’ (i.e. not physical), and it might well be so, still Exaltation requires man and woman and there does not seem to be any other way. Redefining the nature of the traditional (or, for us, divinely established and sanctioned) model of marriage would require a redefinition of what exaltation is and of its requirements.

    I do not believe such a revelation will come. It could be (never say never), but it seems on a whole different theological and salvational level than the Priesthood ban issue. It reached much further down on the roots of the plan.

  128. So, on a civil SSM level, I believe we have basically nothing to base our opposition on. In a democratic society, we can express our ideas just like everyone else, but we cannot expect others to agree with us or to apply our ecclesiastical law to the law of the land. Furthermore, nothing as yet proves that ‘traditional’ marriages are better than SSM with respect to many aspects.

    Social science research has given some mixed answers so far. Nothing on that level ‘proves’ that TM is better than SSM. Some say it is, some say it isn’t (and I include the ‘rearing psychologically stable and happy children’ issue as well). Fighting on this level — by insisting that TM is better in this regard because heterosexual couples are happier, or that traditional marriage homes are happier and more stable, or that children raised in TM homes will become better or healthier adults — is a lost cause if we use the tools of scholarship and wordly wisdom, as they will possibly never prove ‘we’ or ‘they’ are right.

    Our opposition is substantially moral, doctrinal, theological, based on our understanding of the plan of salvation prepared from before this world was, of the ‘why’ of creating this Earth; of the duality of the sexes, male and female; of the nature of eternal life and exaltation. The Temple endowment, to me, is a marvelous insight into many of these issues.

    Obviously, bringing our moral, doctrinal and theological ideas in the public square does not guarantee at all that it will be met with success or even appreciation and respect… Now, whereas we believe and/or know that this is the Lord’s Church, and that the Lord cares for the salvation and exaltation of all His children, not just LDS ones, and that we have been called to ‘preach repentance’ to all people and to invite all to come unto Christ, it follows our opposition to civil practices, or even laws, that we feel hinder these spiritual blessings, even if they very well might be a source of happiness here and now for those who embrace these practices (like SSM). On moral grounds, what should our stance be? Silence? Agreement? Respectful but strong opposition? Demanding conformity to Gospel standards to everyone? Embracing these practices into our doctrines and practices? Rewriting Scripture? Dismissing prophets? Asking God to reveal to all (or at least to us) His authoritative stance on these issues? What would you suggest?

  129. EmJen, is there any difference between condemning a practice or behavior (or philosophical teaching, or ideas, and so on) and condemning a person? Is the Church (or any of its leaders) ‘condemning’, or denouncing, or warning against, behaviors/practices or people?

    It seems to me — and it is not a new thing — that the Lord, the Church, and Church leaders say that we do not accept some behaviors or practices, either in the Church or in society at large. That these behaviors/practices are to be condemned or denounced (by prophets, especially but not exclusively, as preaching righteousness is one of the main branches of their calling) as sinful, as contrary to God’s commandments, as hindering the eternal salvation of His children — while at the same time we do not condemn people as such, we do not express definitive judgments about people as such, as that we are to love, accept and try to understand people as such. Same old principle of separating sin and sinner. Again, what are the alternatives? Hate the sin and the sinner, too? Love the sinner and the sin, too? Redefine what is sin and what is not sin? Love the sinner but preach/warn against sin? Is defining sin (whatever it is that we agree on as a definition of sin) as satanic an act of bigotryf? Is defining something sinful (whatever it is that we define as sinful) a counterfeit to what God does/says an act of bigotry?

    I am sincerely interested in understanding more of this.

  130. Andrea,
    I believe that the difference is primarily one of how central a given behavior is to one’s own self-identity. Heterosexual orientation is so much the norm that we rarely think about how much it informs our own notion of ourselves. But I don’t think we value it less than LGQBT folks do in our self-understanding. Sexual orientation is pretty fundamental. So declaring all expressions of something that is fundamental to a human personality sinful is problematic. It is, so the line of thought goes, somewhat similar to declaring having blue eyes sinful or being from Montana. This is why the church is trying to draw a line between sinner and sin here, of course, but saying “We don’t find Montanans sinful; only those acts that indicate that you were raised in or currently live in Montana are sinful” would be an awful lot for Montanans to put up with.

  131. Given past comments by Church leaders in regards to the evils of monogamy and given past comments by Church leaders in regard to ‘the gays,’ it’s difficult for me to see how they have any credibility when they then talk about same-sex marriage. The credibility is diminished on both fronts, when they are combined, it’s even a greater diminishment.

    For me, and many members, we feel that Church leaders need to wrestle with its past (and current) polygamy–including past statements in regards to monogamy–and take some (any!) responsibility for past actions toward gay members (and non-members!) before we feel like we need to come remotely close to supporting their ‘current’ position. Personally, I have wrestled greatly with the Lord over my position in this regard (to check myself) and, like others, feel that neither ‘defending’ the family nor supporting the brother requires me to sustain current positions until then.

  132. John C., yours is a great explanation. I realize how homo- or heterosexual orientation (whether innate or chosen or a mix of both, but that is another topic) is very important in one’s own self-identity. It surely is for me. But is it the main element of self-identity? How fundamental is it (I could only answer for myself, of course, not for others. It is a very personal, intimate, question)? It surely is more important than the color of our eyes; the problem, the central issue is this, after all: is homosexual behavior sinful? If it is, who declared it to be so? Why? And what can those who feel so inclined do about it? Is it innate — and therefore God has already put some people in a position where they cannot reach His highest blessings, which is something I cannot and do not believe — or is it a choice, or a mix of both? Science currently has not given a definitive answer, and I believe it never will. People have given definitive answer depending on their personal perspective and interests, of course. Where is truth? Where do we draw the line and how has the right to do so, speaking especially from our internal LDS environment?

  133. Brian, the fact, though, is that the ‘evils’ of monogamy rhetoric refers to a very specific and quite limited time period in our history; truly, in all Christian history. Monogamy has been and still is (always will be, I think) the ‘norm’ (see Jacob 2).

    As for past comments about ‘gays’ (are you referring to harsh or derogatory language, maybe?), were they not colored by past sensibilities, past (personal, not doctrinal) rhetoric and ideas? The basic doctrine of marriage between man and woman has not changed, it seems to me, even if the language used to teach it (and to preach against sinful practices related to marriage and sex) has changed with time, and probably will change again, notwithstanding the fact that doctrine stays the same.

  134. Andrea, you ask “where is the truth? Where do we draw the line and who has the right to do so, speaking especially form our internal LDS environment?”

    Well, some ceed the truth to others (including Church leaders, scientists etc.), some to themselves, and some to God (through personal revelation). Not surprisingly (or surprisingly for some), each of those can provide different answers, even when the appeal is to the same source. That’s way this is a discussion and not (as some would have it) black and white. An appeal to Church leaders, as some would have it to rectify to disparities, yields inconsistencies even within a very few short years. This must be acknowledged. For anyone to simply charge through and dismiss any concern inconsistent with their own method (and particular time reference) seems strange to me. In our own ‘internal environment’ I think you will find a great deal of struggling going on because so many have personal experiences that seem to counter what they are hearing. If these people sincerely care about the church and its leaders, and if they sincerely care about their own relation to God, they are struggling.

  135. I agree, from experience, that getting different answers is not surprising, even in the Church. Dismissing concerns is almost never a good thing to do, as well.

    But I do not see inconsistencies about the basics of the marriage doctrine and of its role in the plan. Could you point out inconsistencies related to basic, fundamental, salvational doctrines of the plan? I am sincerely asking.

    Struggles, as concerns, are very real and very personal, too, but maybe we agree that personal struggles or concerns, in all their subjective reality, tangible as they are, do not necessarily have a direct influence on what is ‘true’ or ‘right’ and what it isn’t. The ‘personal experiences’ you mention, those that counter what they hear taught from ‘the pulpit’, or in Scripture, or in official Church communications, are they personal revelations, or personal insights, or personal experiences with wonderful LGBT people? I guess there’s a difference in how ‘personal experiences’ is interpreted when trying to figure what is the best or correct way to approach this sensitive issue that tugs at the heart of many.

  136. Michael H., why do you feel that the prophetic mantle is not rightfully claimed (was it in the past, but not now?) by LDS leadership? Because they changed mind about the Priesthood ban (which, I understand, was not considered a fundamental, salvational doctrine anyway and thus it could be changed)? Because they are not infallible? Because their stance on homosexual behavior and SSM is morally wrong and not consistent with a truly Christlike moral standard? What would a ‘true’ prophetic mantle look like, or teach like, in your view?

  137. Andrea, the ‘basic doctrine of marriage between a man and woman’ is a tautology–means nothing. If marriage is defined being between man and woman, then, yes, only men and women got married, get married, and will get married. Not surprising. But to pretend that such a definition also means, as many would have it (perhaps not you), that no committed (or authentic) relationships outside of that definition have existed, exist, or will exist–or even that such relationships are unnatural–is demonstrably false.

    I’m not sure ‘monogamy’ is as limited in time in either Christian (Old Testament) or LDS history (or heck, even world history), as you think. Call it the ‘norm’ if you want, but I think the very fact that it hasn’t been, isn’t, and won’t be the ‘norm’ is one of the reasons it’s so important. People, sadly, just haven’t been as committed to one person over time as much as people would like it to be true.

  138. Andrea, FYI, the ban on black people from the priesthood was considered ‘doctrine’, despite whatever whitewashed version the church currently puts out. ‘Doctrine’ and ‘marriage’ are the semantic thorns that mar this discussion.

    Yes, I can point out inconsistencies to ‘the plan’ in relation to gay people, but you kept your question to ‘salvation’ nothing more. That part’s fine. It’s marriage and gay people that have the problem. And marriage has nothing to do with salvation.

  139. When pointing to possible inconsistencies in ‘the plan’ and I write, “it’s marriage and gay people that have the problem,” I mean to say, “that demonstrate the inconsistencies of the plan.”

  140. The issue seems to me down to this: what does God think of this? Is all this ‘counterfeit’ language just a personal opinion of one or more Church leaders, or are they conveying what the Father and the Savior believe about SSM?

    […] No eternal life is possible, as far as we know (or is the whole plan of salvation as we know it wrong?) […] we do not know how spiritual procreation will operate in the next life… but even if it is completely ‘spiritual’ (i.e. not physical), and it might well be so, still Exaltation requires man and woman and there does not seem to be any other way.

    In my view, the underlying issue is: How do we know what God thinks of this? Your second paragraph is an interesting mix of uncertainty with the conviction that “still Exaltation requires man and woman.” I honestly do not see how you can claim to know that given the qualifications you’ve made yourself about our state of knowledge and the absence of a “Thus sayeth the Lord” declaration from the prophets.

  141. “Anony, great points! To me, ironically enough, they seem to show that you agree with Elder Lawrence on the definition of SSM as ‘counterfeit’”

    Hmm… Perhaps I was unclear then. The point I was trying to make was that LGBT are not an alien species, where the path to God as presented by Elder Bednar is somehow different for them. People are people. What creates a relationship with God in a straight person (using E.Bednar’s examples of how to do this), also creates a relationship with God in a LGBT person. Again, people are people.

    “At the same time, there are other features that only the ‘original’ model of marriage allows (posterity): – seeing our own faces in our newborn child who embodies our shared love, faith and hopes; – cultivating faith in our children and watching it blossom and grow; – helping with grandchildren, as the ever-widening circle of life and family continues”

    My friend with four adopted children would be deeply hurt by this comment. I’ve always thought she appreciated her newborns way more than I do mine. She and her husband have to sacrifice, wait, suffer, (pay) for their babies in a way that I do not. I can’t see how you can deny adoption creates a shared love, faith, and hope for a child and its parents (and why this would be any different for a LGBT couple, I don’t understand either). I’m also unclear how adoption creates a barrier to cultivating faith or joy in grandchildren.

    “And I guess this is exactly why SSM is defined as ‘counterfeit’. Some similarities with an original model, but not exactly like the original model in all respects.”

    Not seeing this myself. But I get that this is your perspective. The only place I see a true difference is the discussion you are having with someone else on exaltation. The church teaches that exaltation is only possible through Man-Woman or Man-Woman-Woman-Woman-Woman relationships. But even if someone believes that, it does nothing for the LGBT person to whom a Man-Woman relationship is inherently unnatural and impossible.

    “What does God think of this? Is all this ‘counterfeit’ language just a personal opinion of one or more Church leaders, or are they conveying what the Father and the Savior believe about SSM?”

    I agree that is the fundamental question. Until God speaks directly, we are all guessing. That individuals are receiving an array of differing personal revelation on the matter to me says that nothing is as clear cut as the church portrays (which leads us back to the years just prior to the removal of the priesthood ban).

  142. it's a series of tubes says:

    People are people.

    So, why should it be you and I should get along so awfully?

  143. D Christian Harrison says:

    KL: Grover’s comment was wonderful… where is your beef? It’s like you read an entirely different comment.

  144. D Christian Harrison says:

    Grover: Amen.

  145. Brian, the phrase ‘basic doctrine of marriage between a man and woman’ is a tautology only insofar as this is what the Church teaches… I only meant it to express the fact that our doctrine, and a most basic one, defines marriage as such.

    Even the word ‘tautology’ can be tautologically meaningless, after all…

    It certainly does not mean that there aren’t or haven’t been or won’t be other types of committed, authentic, loving human relationships outside that definition (man to man, woman to woman, child to parent, cousin to cousin, etc.)!

    My comment about monogamy is just a scriptural echo from Jacob and from what I understand to be the ‘standard’ marriage concept within the people of God (surely I did not mean to expand it to the whole anthropological experience of humanity. I am much more limited in my remarks) established by God — with occasional exceptions (commanded by God, or else unlawfully decreed by men like David or Solomon) in both Old Testament and modern times, as we all know. It surely seems to be the ‘norm’ in the kingdom of God — exceptions aside. My personal opinion is that it will be so even in the hereafter, notwithstanding much lore on the subject of celestial polygyny as the ‘norm’.

    Yet another matter is the fact that people within marriage relationships have not always been faithful to one another and that monogamy becomes just an empty term in these cases…

  146. Jeannine L. says:

    Now that the conversation has been going on forever, I’m gonna chime in downstream where my comment can hide.

    My $64,000 question is: How does SSM hurt anyone? I mean, really hurt, not offend sensibilities, or make squirming happen, etc.

    I’ve thought that Sin is something that eventually harms. How does homosexuality harm?

    And your answers better be good, and show your references. (Hah!)
    But, seriously.

  147. D. Christian Harrison, I understand that you would have loved that comment. It’s very PC and feel-good. It fits in very well with your world view where the Church is wrong and needs to change.

    And while we’re at it, let’s just get rid of all expectations of obedience to any commandments someone finds hard. God couldn’t really meant it when He says that Exaltation requires repentance, sacrifice, and adherence to Celestial Law.

    I think to understand my beef, you’d have to understand a world view based on Faith in Priesthood authority, Grace that is powerful enough to overcome the world, and the unpopular truth that sexuality isn’t the most important part of our identity. Because I get it, without faith, the LDS view doesn’t make sense.

  148. Andrea, I don’t see that the Church has consistent definitions of what ‘marriage’ is, ‘family’ is, or ‘gay people’ are. Nor do they have consistent explanations about polygamy, regardless of what you think. The facts simply don’t justify those claims. If, as you want to argue, some of ‘exceptional’ cases should be discounted because of their ‘short’ use in temporal history, I would rebut by arguing that the idea of one man and one woman is ‘marriage’ and nothing else is, in fact, that exception, even in the church. It’s largely a modern construct. On top of all of that, however, that still doesn’t account for the much bigger issue here, which is–so what to do with people who are gay? Again, the church has been widely inconsistent on this, so of course I will point to gay relationships that exist outside the church, I can’t do anything but.

  149. KL, I see where your problem lies. You assume that the Church as presently constituted is right, and you aren’t open to the idea that it’s imperfect. You just don’t have faith in continuing revelation, and the idea that God might reveal new doctrine when and if we’re ready for it. You just have to understand a worldview based in continuing revelation. Because without that, the LDS view just doesn’t make sense. /s

    Please don’t attack anybody’s faith or worldview. It’s very offensive!

  150. I think I’m about done here, Andrea, but if I might add, ‘pleasantries’ aside, your position seems less ‘sincere question’ than firmly held argument, as petrellc points out above. And to make my own standing clear, I strongly support both monogamy and the importance of ‘family,’ I simply prefer to use the word ‘family’ (related words, brother, sister) like Jesus did–much much broader than most contemporary use of it. And I don’t see that allowing same-sex relationships hurts me or them, but that denying them the blessings of such a relationship is a very serious position to hold, and one that people should wrestle over.

  151. Hey guys, you know who really cares about family? The mafia. They sure do love their family. It’s the most important thing to them, no?

  152. Michael H says:

    John, don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again.

  153. KL – I saw your earlier discussion with Grover (I relate to Grover’s perspective a great deal) and I felt for you. From what I understand you are LGBT in a straight marriage and have chosen this path because of your testimony of the church. I can’t tell you how much I admire the passion and commitment and sacrifice that (I imagine anyway, as we don’t really know each other and if I’m totally wrong in my understanding feel free to correct) you have given to pursue what you believe. That very combination of passion and commitment is what I love so much about being human, especially when, as you’ve shared, you’ve found peace and joy in your life. I will stand by you to celebrate that, absolutely.

    And I can see why from your perspective arguing for SSM undermines what you’ve fought and sacrificed for. I can see why it probably feels like a bunch of people saying all your sacrifice is a total waste. I don’t think we should be telling you that. From my perspective, I certainly don’t want to tell you that. Passion and sacrifice in following a personal path to God deserves to be honored.

    Where we might see things differently is that I believe in plurality in the sense that the beauty of your lived experience being completely opposite someone else’s doesn’t negate either of your experiences. You can find peace and joy by following your testimony and the teachings of the church. My gay-couple next-door-neighbors can find peace and joy in a SSM. Their peace and joy doesn’t mean yours isn’t real. Your peace and joy doesn’t mean their isn’t.

    I think much of the push back you are receiving is because your comments (and Elder Lawrence’s) seem to say that only your peace and joy and path are real (or legitimate).

  154. A reminder that “marriage = one man one woman” is a concept coined for the SSM battles in the courts. It was a (failed) attempt to define “traditional marriage.” The Church adopted it (perhaps even coined it — attribution is difficult) notwithstanding conflict with its own history. Without debating the prophetic or magisterial authority of the phrase, as a description of tradition it’s nonsense. “Marriage” has a multi-faceted meaning that is different over time and culture. To really discuss marriage–traditions, patterns, expectations, definitions–we would have to consider not just gender and number, but also age and consanguinity, race, property rights, divorce rules, concepts of inheritance and bastardy. Aspects of coverture survived as late as the 1960s in some part of the United States. Loving was decided in 1967.
    So if you’re going to talk about “counterfeit” . . . compared to what?

  155. Wow, Gay YSA, my comment obviously struck you as offensive. That wasn’t my intent. I was trying to explain why I found Grover’s comment insensitive and hurtful, even though it was clearly written from a place of love. If identifying and pointing out the core beliefs that underlie our different perspective is offensive, I don’t understand how authentic dialogue as possible. If I have misunderstood and subsequently misrepresented someone else’s beliefs, I would hope that they would be able to correct my misstatements.

    In regards to my own beliefs, you are correct that I believe the Church is correct. I also do not believe in “continuing revelation” being open enough to include revelation that same-sex romantic/sexual relationships have eternal potential. However, I would not agree that the Church is perfect. I think there is plenty of room for growth.

  156. D Christian Harrison says:

    No. To understand your beef, you’d have to have written it in a way that actually communicates your ideas.

    Your ideas, however, are perfectly clear in this comment. Sadly, your condescension is just as clear. There is absolutely no reason to question my faith. Disagree with me all you like, but dial down the ad hominem.

  157. Anony, I appreciate your clarification. I also honor plurality of belief and experience. I believe that the gay couple next door experience joy and fulfillment in their relaitonship. I would not call that joy counterfit. I have long argued for honoring same-sex relationships in a pluralistic society. At the same time, I don’t think it is cruel or inherently offensive to believe when God has told me through men I sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators, as well as through ongoing personal revelation that the same-sex relationship, for all it’s similarities to mine does not have eternal potential. It would be cruel of me, truly believing that, to insist that we never teach about that limitation and make sure that no gay or bisexual youth ever even considers as possible the path I chose. Honestly, if I eject that belief, I have no grounds to hold onto any other belief about morality or even about God at all. My testimony of the centrality of male-female marriage to the plan of salvation is as sure to me as my tetimony that God exists.

    I value your comment that you don’t mean to devalue my sacrifice and personal passion. I wish that opinion was more universal.

  158. D. Christian Harrison, as I wrote above, I had absolutley no intention to question your faith. I don’t understand how that was an ad hominem attack. If I incorrectly understand your views, please correct me. If stating the core differences in belief we have is an ad hominem attack, well, I don’t understand that. Is it offensive to state that you believe the church is wrong and needs to change?

  159. When I first married my non-member husband 28 years ago I was advised that my marriage was nothing more than a funeral. Now I am being told that my returned missionary sons are really just bastards. I suppose my endowment isn’t on par with everyone else’s either.

  160. Klee, you’ve echoed my feelings that I stated earlier. When I married my non-member husband 28 years ago, the bishop refused to marry us because I was making the biggest mistake of my life and he wouldn’t be involved in it.

  161. Elizabeth St Dunstan says:

    I don’t know why, but this just feels like it could have been written by my old Young Women leader who, bless her heart, decided to perform a Broadway medley at the girls camp talent show (early 2000s). Imagine all of our surprise when she led off with a belted “I feel pretty! Oh so pretty! I feel pretty, and witty, and heterosexual!!!!” It’s hard for me to fathom being so afraid of “gay culture” that you’re afraid of the word itself.

  162. Klee and meems — bingo. That is the real point of this teaching. Now, do our Evangelical Right-Wing Christian culture war allies know that President Nelson and some other top Church leaders view their heterosexual marriages as counterfeit/fake/not recognized by God as valid? How do our Church leaders think this teaching will affect those allies’ willingness to continue tolerating our support for their political crusades in exchange for letting us believe we are part of the club? (We’re not part of the club and never were.)

  163. Sodoman G. Morrah says:

    So I’m a young gay returned missionary trying to figure out how I’m going to live my life, and essentially the conclusion I’ve come to is this: Although I love my Mormon family, and the Mormon traditions I’ve grown up with, I simply do not have the fortitude to condemn myself to a life of celibacy, and I’m certainly not going to marry a woman just for the sake of being married to a woman, as that seems like a cruel thing to do to both people involved. I cherish my Mormon heritage, but I’m realizing that this church doesn’t have a place for me, and I feel myself parting ways with it. This seems to be the outcome church leadership is expecting now, as a more recent video on mormonandgay.org features a young gay person coming out to his parents and leaving the church, and that’s pretty much it.
    I fear that they’ve made their call: This church doesn’t have a place for gay people. It breaks my heart, but that is the message I’m getting here.

  164. Kevin Barney says:

    Sodoman, I’ve long that that were I in your position that is exactly what I would do. So if it helps, I think you’re making the right call.

  165. KL, sorry I haven’t replied to your replies yet. I’ve been thinking and considering. One thing you said, satirically: “God couldn’t really meant it when He says that Exaltation requires repentance, sacrifice, and adherence to Celestial Law.”

    I guess where I am at is that I don’t believe that gay marriage keeps a person from repentance, growth, sacrifice, love, or conscience. I believe that all families require sacrifice and all human relationships require repentance, forgiveness, patience, tenderness, communication. I believe that a family with two moms or two dads will have very similar experiences and lessons that my husband and I experience with our kids. How can that be “counterfeit”?

    As for “adherence to Celestial Law,” I don’t know the particulars of this as the requirements for Celestial living have changed dramatically over the years. The Celestial law that I have the most faith in is the one Christ gives when asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” and he replied, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

    There is some ambiguity here: how do I best love God? How do I best love my neighbor as myself? KL, I don’t mean to undermine your interpretation of these scriptures or the way you express obedience and submission to God. But as I try to see through the glass darkly myself, my heart leads me to conclude that I can love my LGBT friends and neighbors in part by acknowledging the authenticity and legitimacy of their relationships and families, because to do otherwise is to suggest that the people they love so much it hurts, the people they love to be with more than any others, the people they have given their lives and loyalties to, that they are establishing traditions and family narratives with—it would suggest that these relationships didn’t “count,” in spite of the growth and love and devotion they had experienced together, just like I have experienced with my family.

    A frequent answer given to LDS women when they have been sealed to multiple husbands over their lifetime or lost babies before they could draw their first breath is that “God will work everything out for the best in the afterlife.” I don’t see how we can’t step onto this limb of faith as it regards to gay marriage, too. Aren’t all family relationships in mortality ultimately acts of faith that we will be together forever, even though there are tricky doctrinal footnotes that threaten this belief? Why not celebrate love and companionship when it happens, and recognize it for the miracle that it is when two people decide that they love each other enough to want to partner up and share everything together for as long as they possibly can?

  166. Grover, I can understand where you are coming from. As far as people who choose same-sex relationships, I honestly feel the same way. I can’t fault anyone for choosing to leave the Church to pursue a same-sex relationship. I know how close I was to making that choice. And I am eternally grateful for those in my life who lovingly and firmly encouraged me to make every effort to keep my covenants. If I had listened to the people who told me to “be true to myself,” I would have missed the opportunity to create the most meaningful thing in my life.

    I know you read my comment as satirical, but for me I was pretty serious. If we abandon the ideal of a male-female relationship in the Church, we may as well abandon every other ideal and standard. Let God (if he even exists) sort everything out. Why even bother with religion at all?

    I know some members sincerely disagree with that sentiment. Just know that every time a member complains about the Church’s position, whether or not they “mean to,” they send a very clear message that they reject me and my family and the thousands of families like mine. I respect your right to choose that, but it is a choice.

  167. I am glad for the variety of views expressed here. I have a question for KL.

    I am grateful, KL, that you have found happiness in the choices you have made. But I am perplexed by your insistence that the path you have found is the only valid one. Many, many people have failed to make mixed-orientation marriages work, and such marriages have caused much grief. Your success is wonderful, but I can’t see how it affects the need to find a better way for others. You seem to believe that the attempt to help others disparages your choices. Why?

    I would add that I do not believe that “if we abandon the ideal of a male-female relationship in the Church, we may as well abandon every other ideal and standard.” I am also perplexed about why you believe this.

  168. KL, I have tried to stay out of this aspect of the discussion, but now I can’t make myself do it. My experience dealing with gay friends or acquaintances in same sex relationships, gay friends who have chosen to remain celibate, acquaintances who believe for some time that they are gay but then decide they are not (and vice versa) but who may have been latently bisexual, gay Mormon friends who committed suicide or died from AIDS complications, gay Mormon friends and relatives who have left the Church and found peace, and having read multiple reports on successful mixed orientation marriages like yours , I have learned to respect multiple choices including yours. BUT it is false to say that “every time a member complains about the Church’s position … they send a very clear message that they reject [you] and your family…”. It is you have chosen to infer that message. It is not they who sent it. It may be that some reject you and your family as not authentic to yourself, but please do not tar the rest of us (who approve of your choice and disapprove of the narrowness of the Church’s current position) with your erroneous, if only over-broad, inference. It seems almost as if you were looking to feel rejected. I applaud your faith, your choice, your fidelity, and your family. That is not a reason for me to applaud the Church’s efforts to drive others who have not made the same choice out of the fellowship of the saints, or to applaud rhetoric that substantially increases psychological and spiritual and in some (many?) cases familial damage to good people who cannot or do not make the same choice you have. I wish you the best and have no doubt that you have made a choice that is good and right for you.

  169. KL, it sounds like you think because I do not view gay marriages as “counterfeit” marriages that I must believe your marriage to be “counterfeit” as a consequence. I apologize if that’s how I’m coming across–that is not how I feel or what I am trying to communicate. Your family is as real, authentic, genuine, and legitimate as my own or as any other relationship in which consenting adults pledge to partner up and begin a family together. I’m glad that you have found fulfillment and love in your family. That doesn’t mean that I can’t also be happy for my gay friends and family who have found fulfillment and love in their same-sex relationships and marriages.

  170. What seems to be missing in the majority of the comments and those who cannot seem to understand KL, is a recognition that the prophets may indeed be correct – that homosexual relationships are not eternal and not part of the eternal plan God has for his children.

    I feel an underlying anxiety coming through over a lack of intellectual explanation for the gaps that currently exist in the revealed plan. It’s understandable, as far as what is openly revealed I think it is clear those gaps exist. But I find it to be an immature response to then jump to the a priori assumption that the prophets of God must therefore be wrong. From my perspective this jump for most of the commenters seems to be rooted in alleviating the discomfort of their own anxiety, while claiming it in the name of “love”. It looks like self-deception to me. Granted it is a difficult subject to face, particularly with societal pressure. Is it really so unlikely that those appointed on the watchtower might know something more than the world?

  171. Steve S, speaking for myself, this is not fundamentally an intellectual problem. Instead, it emerges from the relationships I have had with people I care about. “Love” is not some dodge or distraction; it is the thing that drives everything about this question for me. Whatever resolution the church eventually reaches must be consistent at the most basic level with what love requires. The church’s effort to define its relationship to LGBTQ people is not there yet.

    I do not reject the prophets. However, I do not expect them to know everything all at once. Their teachings in these matters have been inadequate to guide my relationships with LGBTQ people. So I do the best I can to love those around me, and I pray for further understanding to come to us all.

  172. Steve S. Something to consider from one of us ‘immatures:’ just because a relationship ‘can’t’ be eternal (according to some views), doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be a valid temporal one–at least that’s how some of us see it. Also, I’m not sure what ‘anxiety’ you are referring to (perhaps social pressure?) but to call out other people’s sincere feelings of love for others as a mask, is uncharitable and frankly wrong.

  173. The prophets might also be “correct” regarding my great grandma not being able to be sealed to both of the husbands she loved and saw die during mortality, but even if she can only spend eternity with one of her beloved husbands, does that mean that the family she had with her husband was “counterfeit” or valueless or that she didn’t come to better know God and faith during her time married to first husband, the one whose sealing she had to break in her middle age in order to be sealed to the man who grew old with her?

  174. First, please let me say I sincerely appreciate the dialogue. I am coming to better understand that my communications have been somewhat brief and I’ve made some assumptions about how much people here already know about my position. It has been a while since I commented with much more elaboration. Maybe one way for me to work toward being more clear is answering some points from various commenters.

    Loursat

    But I am perplexed by your insistence that the path you have found is the only valid one. 

    I want to clarify that I don’t believe this. I fully accept that God may lead some people to other paths including same-sex marriages. I believe that in those situations, he is leading them out of the Church.

     I can’t see how it affects the need to find a better way for others. You seem to believe that the attempt to help others disparages your choices. Why?

    Because I know that I could never, would never, have made the choices I have without the Church holding firm to a heteronormative ideal. Without that invitation and expectation to transcend my natural man desires, my marriage would have been literally impossible. It never would have even crossed my mind. At first the idea sounded so unnatural and impossible that I never would have even considered it possible let alone invested the work and sacrifice that ultimately made my marriage not only possible, but infinitely fulfilling. I’m serious that if we had stopped teaching man/woman marriage, my family simply could not have existed.

    I am also perplexed about why you believe this.

    Fair question. I’ll add more in the morning.

    Jr

    BUT it is false to say that “every time a member complains about the Church’s position … they send a very clear message that they reject [you] and your family…”. It is you have chosen to infer that message. It is not they who sent it. 

    See my second answer to Loursat above. I want to explain clearly and state as fact that if my family and church leadership had taught the message that it doesn’t matter what gender your partner is, my family would never have even been an option on my table. Can you see how promoting a policy that would have resulted in my family never even having a chance is equivalent to promoting the outcome that my family never existed?

    who approve of your choice and disapprove of the narrowness of the Church’s current position.

    I am staying that my choices could never even have been made for you to approve of if not for the narrowness of the Church’s position.

    Grover,
    . Your family is as real, authentic, genuine, and legitimate as my own or as any other relationship in which consenting adults pledge to partner up and begin a family together. I’m glad that you have found fulfillment and love in your family. 

    What I am saying is my family simply would not, could not exist, without the Church’s strong position on man-wife marriages. After 10 years, I think I’ve developed a genuine love that would keep our marriage together if things changed right now. But earlier in the marriage the only support he had was the doctrine and faith in Heavenly Father’s plan. If my wife and I didn’t have that we never would have been motivated to build a real satisfting relationship.

    That doesn’t mean that I can’t also be happy for my gay friends and family who have found fulfillment and love in their same-sex relationships and marriages.

    Again haven’t argued against being happy for them. I’ve argued against that point. I am happy for my gay friends in and out of the Church. A lot like I’m happy for a friend who converted from athiesm to Catholicism. I’m glad he’s happy and feels closer to God.

    Loursat,

    Sincere question, how would you respond when a loved one, say a returned sister missionary announces that shes never really been able to believe in a savior and has converted to Islam. She says shes happy to particulate as long as we kindly agree to stop all this Jesus talk.

    I think the differing religious belief example is great for this. Why bother with missionary work at all? I have many Muslim brothers and sisters who are happy And Fulfilled. Why even try to teach them more. Let’s just let them be happy and trust God to figure things out.

    Bian, 
    just because a relationship ‘can’t’ be eternal (according to some views), doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be a valid temporal one–

    Again I believe this. Just as a Muslim , Catholic, whatever can be valid and honorable. So why would we even consider missionary work to them?

  175. A new commenter says:

    Wow KL. You seem to be so centered on your own story (a success) that you can’t imagine (or you dismiss) all of the other souls and marriages that have been destroyed by the church’s hard stance. Just wow.

  176. KL, I appreciate your heartfelt response. However, at least that part of it directed to me is based upon the false assumption that all those who do not appreciate or who reject the Church’s current position want it replaced with one actively teaching that it doesn’t matter in the eternal scheme of things whether you have a heterosexual marriage or a same-sex marriage. A little humility about the scope of our ignorance and sometimes speculation about the hereafter, particularly as to the existence and place, if any, of same-sex attraction in the hereafter, and acknowledgment and respect for the human value of same-sex marriages of same-sex attracted persons who choose to participate in Church activity in this life would be enough for many. For them, there is no need to go beyond that to “it doesn’t matter in the hereafter what gender your partner is,” at least unless and until there is clear and canonized (and perhaps personal) revelation to that effect. Your feeling that you would not have chosen your family even for this life without rhetoric from Church leaders that could not be better designed to unnecessarily offend and destroy others, is not something you can legitimately turn into an accusation of rejection by all who are dissatisfied with any aspect of the Church’s current position/treatment of their gay friends and loved ones. A possible inference from your expressed position may be that, if the Church someday claimed revelation that “it doesn’t matter,” you would abandon your family. I hope that, having achieved what you have, you do not give them any reason to think that.

  177. KL, as someone else who is in a heterosexual marriage but who is gay (though I’m not sure you would call yourself that), might I say that you aren’t the only one here with ‘skin in the game’ and that–while I understand your struggles much better than most, as well as the reasons why–even though you find the Ensign article a balm, might I suggest that I don’t. I feely deeply hurt by the church’s general ‘we don’t want you here’ actions despite a much gentler rhetoric than previously used (though to call it gentle would be hyperbole). Also, for you to claim that other people don’t have ‘skin in the game’ just because they aren’t gay is disingenuous. People have gay friends and children who are members. It seems to me you are still struggling greatly with your own decisions (though perhaps not). Regardless, I respect your efforts to make sense of your situation. Your experience and testimony are your own. Others have theirs. Best of luck as you continue to work through this.

  178. Ronkonkoma says:

    Sodoman

    I fear that they’ve made their call: This church doesn’t have a place for gay people. It breaks my heart, but that is the message I’m getting here.

    Not true. Life is so short. There is a way out of the madness. Remember the consequences for major transgression is spiritual death but living in gospel harmony is life eternal. Do not listen to the voices of this world. Remember who their master is

  179. A new commenter:
    I don’t think you’ve really understood what I meant. That is probably much more my fault for getting defensive and not communicating more clearly.

    J r:
    “Your feeling that you would not have chosen your family even for this life without rhetoric from Church leaders that could not be better designed to unnecessarily offend and destroy others, is not something you can legitimately turn into an accusation of rejection by all who are dissatisfied with any aspect of the Church’s current position/treatment of their gay friends and loved ones.” 

    I don’t mean to imply that any dissatisfaction with any aspect of the Church’s current position. I apologize for not being more specific. I am dissatisfied with the lack of authentic, open discussion about the challenges and realities of non-heterosexuality, as well as the limitations of our knowledge. I’m deeply dissatisfied by the unnecessary cultural interpretations that lead to members rejecting LGBT individuals in same-sex relationships from families and fellowship.   I do mean to restrict that accusation to those who suggest that we accept same-sex relationships as fully equivalent to heterosexual ones. I hope you can see that there are many who will not be satisfied with anything less.

    “A possible inference from your expressed position may be that, if the Church someday claimed revelation that “it doesn’t matter,” you would abandon your family.”

    I don’t want that to seem like a possible inference. If the Church someday claimed revelation that “it doesn’t matter,” I absolutely would leave. The Church. I could not reconcile that change with my experience and testimony. Again, I do hope we can continue to change the way we treat LGBT individuals.

    Brian:
    “I feely deeply hurt by the church’s general ‘we don’t want you here’ actions”

    Please know that I take this seriously. I don’t really understand this position and would appreciate any insight you could offer.

    “Also, for you to claim that other people don’t have ‘skin in the game’ just because they aren’t gay is disingenuous. People have gay friends and children who are members.”

    I can understand that. I guess it is more that their own salvation and exaltation aren’t on the line. I do recognize that the issue still impacts them personally and deeply.

    “It seems to me you are still struggling greatly with your own decisions (though perhaps not).”

    I appreciate the compassion. I feel like I am very much at peace with my decision. I think my reaction comes from two places. One, it is not uncommon for members of the LDS and the LGBT communities to actively engage I  hateful behavior toward me and my family. Harassing emails, Facebook stalkers, and death threats are unfortunately realities for me. So, I admit I can be defensive.  I also feel deeply for others who may be in a similar position to me. I don’t feel that I can in good conscience encourage others to make choices that I believe will cause them more pain and suffering in the eternities. That’s not to say I can’t accept, honor, and even support them regardless of their choices.

    “Regardless, I respect your efforts to make sense of your situation. Your experience and testimony are your own. Others have theirs. Best of luck as you continue to work through this.”

    Thank you. Not only for the respect, but also the opportunity to clarify and reflect here. I really do value that, even the confrontation and disagreement.

  180. KL, thank you for your response to my questions. You ask how I would respond if a loved one told me that she has converted to Islam. Of course, I would love her regardless of her choices, but that’s not the point of your question. I don’t think your scenario is a good parallel to the question of same-sex marriage, because it assumes that our teachings about sexuality are as central to our faith as our belief in Jesus Christ. This assumption makes no sense to me. I doubt that it would make sense even if our teachings about sexuality were much more clear, consistent, and settled than they are now. Nonetheless, thanks again for your response. I appreciate your willingness to engage in discussion here.

  181. Well, Loursat, I think that does help increase understanding. It goes a long way to explain how different our perspectives are. My experience in the Church and with God personally does affirm to me that our teachings about sexuality and the nature of the family are as central to my faith as my belief in Jesus Christ. I will work to understand that some members sincerely don’t see things the same way. Perhaps it also helps you understand where I’m coming from to know that I genuinely believe the Church position is that family/sexuality is really that central to the plan.

  182. Kevin, to what are you referring as ‘right call’, if I may ask? Choosing to leave the Church? Choosing not to marry a woman since it would not be the best decision in the long run (and I agree it would not be, in these kind of circumstances)? Choosing not to pursue celibacy as it would be too hard to bear (which I can humanly understand, but that it seems to go contrary to what the Gospel would require as a ‘cross’ to bear in these instances)? I guess these are choices many Church members are struggling with on a deep personal level, and the choice taken may well have huge consequences here and in hereafter.

    I’d like to understand more — and my desire for understanding is sincere (even if Brian does not seem to believe it… Just because I may hold to some personal opinions or beliefs does not mean I cannot have sincere questions in order to understand better the issues at hand or the other people in the discussion!).

  183. Loursat and KL, from my perspective I would say that family and sexuality are indeed central to the plan, but not on the same level as Christ and His Atonement. I see a hierarchy of importance there, with Christ and His salvational sacrifice first and foremost above all else.

    But still, I cannot unsee the fact that traditional marriage and family are central to the plan from the beginning. They are not a modern invention or just a tantrum by modern Church leaders… Social sciences like history, sociology or anthropology might have their word, but in light of the (Restored, especially) Gospel, the doctrine of marriage and family seems pretty clear. I do not see how we can misunderstand it. I do not deny the remote chance of a change through revelation allowing for SSM to be ‘authorized’ — never say never — but it would be a plan-shaking revelation. What other basic doctrines or commandments might change, then?

    The temple endowment (and Genesis, and Moses) to me, clarifies the issue. The Family Proclamation does that, as well (even if it does not claim to be a revelation, I consider it a summary of basic doctrinal positions embedded in ancient and modern Scripture).

  184. Andrea, I appreciate your continued engagement in this post, as it must get weary, though I don’t necessarily agree with all you have said. We claim to know so much about the next life and its purposes and exaltation and all. But, I’ve wondered what is the purpose of and who will be the people who populate 2/3 of the Celestial kingdom who were in “counterfeit” relationships on earth that were “worthless” and “dark”? –since only the top 1/3 will be in “true” marriages. Elder Lawrence stated the counterfeit “cannot bring lasting happiness”. This intimates that 2/3 of the Celestial Kingdom aren’t happy. Yikes! Of course we’ve been told elsewhere that this isn’t accurate. So, in my mind this indicates a huge blind spot in our theology and understanding of the next life and that we should just be open to more options and not so dogmatic and black and white about everything.

  185. KL, who feels unwelcome and may leave BCC. I really understand your frustration. You appear more of an “orthodox” member, if labels are OK, and you are having trouble feeling accepted on this more “progressive” if labels are OK, forum. The same thing happens, but roles flipped, for progressives on orthodox forums like Millennial Star. I’m a little more progressive and have felt shut down and invalidated at Millennial Star. These LDS forums near both extremes are toxic and tend to cause more division in the body of Christ and more polarization as the extremists at each end hover together supporting and further entrenching their original points of view (“never learning, but always thinking they know the truth”). Now, that’s not to say that both forums don’t have valid and meaningful ideas and concepts worthy of consideration, because they do. What is most sad, as KL indicated, and what causes many to leave the sites to one more of their “own kind” is that the main posters on a given forum seem to always have a firm and the only right answer, rarely conceding any point or saying they received some new points of view that are altering their perspectives. The LDS critics, liberals and progressives in the arrogance of their rational reasoning as well as the orthodox in the arrogance of their spiritual certainty on all topics could both benefit from a dose of epistemological humility.

  186. BCC is not an any extreme like M*.

  187. I can’t let christiankimball’s revisionist history (March 23, 2017 at 10:51 am) pass without comment. On the heterosexual nature of marriage, not only would the prophets and apostles, ancient and modern, disagree, but so would the church fathers, the popes, the reformers, the rabbis, the Islamic scholars, the Confucian scholars, and virtually every dictionary writer (legal and otherwise, in virtually every language) until recently. Historically, there may have been somewhere a few, rare exemptions to the concept that marriage in the personal and literal sense was the union of opposite sexes, but those exceptions were just that, exceptions that proved the rule. One can easily consult, for example: http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/marriage and http://thelawdictionary.org/marriage/. Indeed, I am hard-pressed to think of concepts on which there was greater consensus across time, religions, and cultures than the heterosexual nature of marriage. The red-herring of coverture (which didn’t even cover Scotland, let alone the world) doesn’t come close.

    Any reasonable person would conclude that in the civil and legal sense marriage in a number of countries (but by no means those encompassing the majority of the world’s population) has rather recently been redefined, often by the courts. For many churches the sacrament or ordinance of marriage has not been redefined. Many of the churches that have correspondingly redefined their ordinance have seen collapsing membership numbers (e.g. The Episcopal Church) or are on the brink of schism on the issue (e.g. The Anglican Church).

  188. Leo, I wonder if you may be too eager to carry on the culture war over legalization of civil same- sex marriage. I see nothing in Christian’s March 23 comment that suggests there was not great consensus over time on the heterosexual nature of relationships denominated “marriage.” He pointed out that the “one man one woman” attempt at a universal definition of traditional marriage failed to account for polygamy and failed to acknowledge a wide variety of other incidents of “marriage” that have varied over time and culture and have been part of varied traditional definitions.

    If there was an implicit argument in favor of same sex “marriage,” in that comment, it was that the question of gender is another aspect of “marriage” that has now (indeed relatively recently) been seen by some current cultures as a variable, or perhaps that cultural and historical variations in incidents of “marriage” other than gender even suggest that a changing culture could choose to vary that long-standing, but in some cultures now former, consensus on the heterosexual nature of “marriage” in favor of other factors. Of course, there was never a consensus across time, religions and cultures on coverture. That is part of the point, not a red-herring.

  189. Andrea, a few comments above, wrote: “I do not deny the remote chance of a change through revelation allowing for SSM to be ‘authorized’ — never say never — but it would be a plan-shaking revelation. What other basic doctrines or commandments might change, then?”

    The revelation that de-authorized polygamy was titanic. From the perspective of nineteenth-century Mormons, it was “plan-shaking.” I can’t consider our current struggles over sexuality, family, and marriage without accounting for our remarkable past on these very topics. The fact that we have made reversals in the past badly weakens the argument that current teachings are eternally inviolable. What’s more, we have never tied off many loose doctrinal ends left over from the age of Mormon polygamy. We just pretend that those issues never existed. That won’t do if we claim to base our policies on eternal, unchanging truths.

    I don’t make this argument to condemn the leaders of the church. I think it actually shows us, as a people, feeling our way toward better understanding. It’s okay to be uncertain, as long as we’re sincerely seeking revelation in the spirit of love.

  190. When did hetersexual monogamous marriage become doctrine?
    That has not always been the doctrine. The doctrine has changed.
    As same-sex marriage now is, monogamous heterosexual marriage once was…
    Early prophetic and apostolic statements about monogamy:

    “We do not want them to force upon us that institution of monogamy called the social evil. We won’t have their meanness, with their foeticides and infanticides, forced upon us.”
    – President John Taylor
    Source: October 1879 General Conference (em. added)

    “Monogamy, or restrictions by law to one wife, is no part of the economy of heaven among men. Such a system was commenced by the founders of the Roman Empire…. Why do we believe in and practise polygamy? Because the Lord introduced it to his servants in a revelation given to Joseph Smith, and the Lord’s servants have always practiced it.
    Source: Deseret News, August 6, 1862, p. 1, column 4 (em. added)

    “Those who are acquainted with the history of the world are not ignorant that polygamy has always been the general rule and monogamy the exception. Since the founding of the Roman empire monogamy has prevailed more extensively than in times previous to that. The founders of that ancient empire were robbers and women stealers, and made laws favoring monogamy in consequence of the scarcity of women among them, and hence this monogamic system which now prevails throughout all Christendom, and which has been so fruitful a source of prostitution and whoredom throughout all the Christian monogamic cities of the Old and New World, until rottenness and decay are at the root of their institutions both national and religious.
    -Prophet Brigham Young
    Source: Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, pp. 127-128 (em. added)

    The Prophet Brigham Young boldly declared:
    “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.”
    Source: Journal of Discourses 11:269

    There are many, many more confusing and hypocritical comments made by church leaders about the doctrine of monogamous marriage.

    When did the doctrine of honesty become Mormon doctrine? Joseph Smith lied for a decade to EVERYONE. He preached honesty but practiced deception. He lied to his wife, married 14 year olds, married other men’s wives (yes, they were living!) How could SSM be any worse than what JS did? I can no longer determine the doctrine from the deceptions. Doesn’t it teach in 2 Nephi that Satan is the father of lies? But it’s ok for JS??

    Joseph Smith can lie to and cheat on his wife, and it’s “of God” but LGBT members can’t have a loving monogamous relationship because it’s counterfeit? Something is wrong here. So very wrong.

  191. Loursat: You keep making so much sense and writing so well that I’m strongly tempted to sit back and just watch and learn. Thanks.

    JR: Thank you for defending me (March 24 at 3:03 pm). I agree and wouldn’t take anything away from what you wrote. I would add a sort of apology in that I probably contributed to confusion by not making clear from the start–what is so obvious to me as to be left unsaid–that “one man one woman” is, from all I know about world history and culture, the prevailing pattern of marriage as to gender and number. (Prevailing not exclusive. I remember learning that polygamy is quite common measured by number of societies or cultures, but never dominant by number of people participating. But I can’t document that at the moment.)
    What is new, what was coined for the SSM legal battle, is the idea that “one man one woman” as the *defining* characteristic of so-called traditional marriage. My point is that “one man one woman” is just one (or two) of the many characteristics that one has to consider in describing marriage at any particular time and culture, and that there is not such a thing as “traditional” marriage (in all of those dimensions) except as made up for the SSM culture war. It is worth a reminder (hence my earlier comment) some 22 years after the Proclamation on the Family which was (by my memory) contemporaneous with the development of the “traditional marriage” rhetorical device. It is all too easy to treat 22 years as always.

  192. Trond, You are correct. I apologize for being careless in characterizing BCC as extreme. It is not extreme. It was the comments in the post that were somewhat polarizing and I mischaracterized in making a point.

  193. Sometimes I fantasize that Loursat is actually just Russell M. Nelson, who stays up late to log onto the internet and share his real thoughts.

    Prove me wrong.

  194. Christian, thank you. I have often felt the same way about you.

  195. Kyle, let’s just both keep praying and writing. Proof can be so boring.

  196. I knew it!

  197. Man. I’m sad I missed this fun conversation.

    I don’t want to comment on SSM directly. (The OP and comments covered it well.) I would just like to note that as I study the Old Testament, I get the impression that perhaps God’s views of sex don’t align with the Victorian Era mores we have ascribed to Him. I’m not saying that sexual sin is not wrong, but perhaps we should challenge our assumption that all consensual sex outside heteronormative marriage is a “sin next to murder”

  198. MTodd,

    Alma 39 does not hold up under scrutiny for me.
    1 – parent comparing siblings. bad.
    2 – clearly Alma is angry. Angry fathers tend to exaggerate.
    3 – Are we so sure it was fornication? Angry fathers tend to exaggerate. Remove the work harlot.
    5 – “these things” is ambiguous. Could apply to going after Isabel or his forsaking the ministry
    11 – “saw your conduct” implies public, did the people really watch him fornicate?
    12 – spiritual impressions. The Lord is concerned about the people being led astray, not the sexual act.

  199. work = word

  200. orangganjil says:

    MTodd, I think you’re comment is on-target. For example, according to second temple Judaism, betrothed couples could engage in sex and the Law of Moses does not forbid it. In fact, were someone to have sex with a betrothed woman, it was considered adultery.

    The “unchanging laws of God” are not as unchanging as we like to suppose they are.

  201. Um, I agree with everyone who says that being gay shouldn’t be the central or defining part of one’s identity. I just feel like the only reason it is, is because Mormons make such a big deal out of something so cute, life-affirming, and normal.

    I still remember realizing that my personal romantic and sexual feelings were the same for men and women. And that everything everyone had told me (including my own brother), about how gay feelings are so much ickier and weirder than straight ones, was a lie.

  202. Also: If hetero cisgender people think kids are so important, they should stop abusing and abandoning theirs. And they should listen to people who were abused, instead of denying and minimizing blame. All this worship of “the traditional family” amounts to is the erasure of everyone and everything that takes the shine off your image.

    My family of origin cried and got mad when I started blogging about what they did to me. They didn’t know how I could hurt their feelings like this. But if they didn’t want me to talk about how they beat me and terrorized me, and how that’s affected my life to this day, they should’ve taken responsibility for their actions. Instead of leaving me to find what support I could on the internet, and outside the Mormon church.

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