Because this is a thing now apparently…

There is a person trolling away on the internet, attempting to make the case that being racist and being LGBTQ are morally equivalent. They are not. If this question doesn’t interest you, good, but you probably won’t enjoy the rest of this blog post.

The Church has been quite clear that one can be homosexual without being considered in sin. As Elder Ballard put it:

Let us be clear: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that ‘the experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including [those with same-sex attraction].’

The Church has created a space where the experience of homosexual longing is not considered sinful in and of itself. It is behavior that is considered immoral and sinful, not thoughts.

Related to this is a passage from Alma 30, where it is explained that men were not punished in Nephite society for their beliefs (somewhat ironically):

Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds…
For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds.

The passage is referring specifically to belief or disbelief in God (or the Nephite religion), but I still think it is applicable to God’s approach to his children. Whatever thoughts we may have, awful or otherwise, they do not have inherent moral value; they cannot be sinful. It is our actions that determine our moral status.

So, the online argument goes, thinking homosexual thoughts (whatever that means) is morally neutral and, therefore, the worst sort of thoughts, racist thoughts, ought to be as well. And people who are having racist thoughts, but not acting on them, are to be treated with love and respect, just as we would treat anyone. And here is where the argument breaks down. Because speech is behavior. And the behaviors of racism and homosexuality, while both discouraged by the Brethren, are qualitatively different.

LGBTQ speech is, generally speaking, an expression of what life is like as an LGBTQ person. As has been stated above, there is nothing sinful in being an LGBTQ person. The speech is not exclusionary nor is it provocative of violence (at least, not usually). It is not harmful to other people.

Racist speech, on the other hand, is an expression of what it is to be racist. And racism, by its nature, is violent, exclusionary, and provocative. Stating “I am a racist” is making a statement about who you are, but also about what you think of the people around you. Implying that a statement of racism is merely a thought experiment fails to comprehend the real world effects of racism, including assault, murder, and terrorism or, more likely, revels in the implication of those effects.

And being racist (as opposed to acting racist) has been condemned by Church leadership. President Hinckley, in his April 2006 Priesthood Conference talk, said:

Brethren, there is no basis for racial hatred among the priesthood of this Church. If any within the sound of my voice is inclined to indulge in this, then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such.

While God loves everyone, including racists, speech expressing sympathy for, identification with, or support of racist causes or racism generally has no place in the church, nor should it in society. And individuals who harbor racist thoughts or ideologies have to repent in a manner that LGBTQ people expressly do not. Because while there are non-sinful ways to be LGBTQ, there is no non-sinful way to be racist.

Recently, racism has reared its ugly head again in a church setting. And, while it was abominable, there was nothing particularly Mormon about it. The racist statements in that BYU setting were the same racist things I’ve heard all over the country. It is emblematic of systemic American racism, not particular Mormon racism. But we are meant to be God’s people and there is no reason for us to partake in that same racism that harms so many of our fellow citizens (in and out of the US). Let us continue to condemn racism in the strongest terms possible and let it be driven out of the church. And finally let us strive to become a church where everyone, black and white, straight and gay, is welcomed and made to feel like a valued member of the community.

Comments

  1. Geoff - Aus says:

    This is more difficult because of our position on homosexuality, and particularly gay marriage. I can see no justification for our discrimination against gays. I will be surprised if it is not gone in 10 years.
    If we did not discriminate against gays that would make it much easier to be clear that racism is totally unacceptable.
    This is part of the moral vacume that allows people who claim to be followers of Christ to also follow Trump, and now follow his racism. Why surprised if supporters of trump are racist?

  2. Hello DezNat. Also, Goodbye DezNat.

  3. “thinking homosexual thoughts (whatever that means) ”

    Do you really not know what that entails?

    “experience of homosexual longing is not considered sinful ”

    Hmmm, this phrasing gets to where you try to slip the camel’s nice under the tent. First you describe it as an experience, as though it’s entirely something that happens to a passive participant with no active use of agency in connection to the duration, direction, and intensify of your thoughts?

    I think we ought to put a clear distinction between having a temptation (Christ while fasting being the classic example), longing for that temptation, which implies channeling and focusing your desires on something, usually at duration, and finally your reaction to that temptation. Of course the word could be used and intended differently, but it’s fair to distinguish between what’s appropriate and inappropriate in an article about exactly those two concepts.

    If someone has graphically immoral thoughts and quickly asserts their own agency in a Satan get thee hence kind of way, turning ones thoughts to more virtuous subject matter, that’s not “longing”. If someone has those thoughts and dwells on them and desires them but doesn’t act on them, that’s certainly longing and there is moral responsibility for such an use of agency.

    I feel that distinction is being deliberately misunderstood in order to chisel away at the foundation the brethren have described.

    Next, regarding racism, this is both clear cut (it’s wrong) and subtly nuanced (it’s everywhere and beneath the surface in ways we might not understand). It’s pretty much an article of faith, with a degree of truth, that we have some degrees of inherited systemic racism due generations of bias.

    You aren’t morally culpable for those thoughts, if once recognized, you turn away from them by regarding them as wrong in a Satan get thee hence way. But surely if you have an “experience” where you “long” for them, that’s a real problem.

    The trick here with homosexuality (the actions and the thoughts that promote those actions) is in a class of it’s own. It doesn’t lend itself perfectly to analogy, but in truth no two distinct subjects do. You can always pick them apart. The analogy presented here with racism merely has an the additional weakness that our culture is paralyzed with fear about doing something wrong with regard to racism.

    Surely you understand that every parable or metaphor the Savior delivered can’t withstand this level of scrutiny? But the parables were given for a reason. To teach a lesson, often through private reflection in the part of the heater, not to withstand all levels of scrutiny about it’s applicability.

    There purpose of this thought analogy with racism seems to be to draw attention to immoral behavior and immoral thoughts and the culpability you have for them. You don’t get a pass by creating a superior cultural scientific construct for one of them (alleged genes or subconscious quantum electromagnetic forces in the brain, or whatever it is that’s said to create thought). From a logical stand point, you’re rigging the contest from the outset by doing that. It certainly is acceptable to do so within our current culture, but that qualifier “current” is exactly the point. Your argument rests on a lot of subjectivity, which you assume at the outset is objectivity.

    It’s no surprise if you a priori define homosexually (and I’m talking about the longing for it as well as the actions) as engrained and unchanging, never learned and culturally reinforced that you would privilege it above all other sins

  4. The linked article is interesting though in several respects. First that BYU felt it will be appropriate to discipline someone for asking an anonymous question. That’s of course the purpose of anonymous questions. To ask something that you’d worry about getting in trouble for.

    That the response, is, “who should we discipline” is sad. What should have happened is the question should have been addressed. You don’t have to presume the question was right, but let’s be clear here when you entertain anonymous questions about all kinds of lewd behavior in a health class, you usually don’t scold the asker. All that does is reinforce the underlying thought behind the question. Better to confront it in a manner that patiently tries to persuade what is true.

    The question can be asked and read and discussed within whatever framework desired including that the question itself is begging the answer or it’s misleading. These problems about race and crime go deep, even billionaire Democrat candidates get plagued by them.

  5. Sute,
    Where there is no longing there is no temptation. We are not tempted by that to which we are indifferent. The camel’s nose can remain safely outside the tent if that is where you prefer it. You are adding fences to the commandments, like the Pharisees did.

    I’m not sure what you mean by privileging homosexuality above other sins.

  6. Your second comment doesn’t make a lick of sense. Give it another go.

  7. it's a series of tubes says:

    John, I’d be interested to hear your views on how the principle set forth in Matthew 5:27-28 applies (whether similarly, differently, or whatever) to hetero vs non-hetero people.

  8. Tubes,
    I think that I’d say that objectifying people is bad and that there is a difference between coveting your neighbor’s spouse and generally being lonely. Nor do I think the Lord much cares about your covetousness if you manage to keep it completely internal, but that seems unlikely. All that repression comes out somewhere in most cases.

  9. It sounds like the person arguing this stance is equating thoughts with speech. Speech is an actual action and more than a thought.
    If you are finding yourself thinking racist thoughts and correcting yourself, you’re doing good. If you’re finding yourself thinking racist thoughts and they fester enough in you to make it to speech you need correcting.

  10. Geoff Aus
    Gay marriage is not compatible with the gospel and will never be.

  11. Homophobia is not compatible with the gospel and will never be.

  12. Billy Possum says:

    Well said, John C. I think the most direct evidence of your point (as far as the Church’s official positions are concerned) comes right from the Church’s response to Charlottesville:

    “White supremacist *attitudes* are morally wrong and sinful, and we condemn them.”

    Versus:

    “[An] attraction itself is not a sin.”

    “Attitudes” and “attraction” look synonymous to me. I think its very important to make a point that I don’t see in the OP – that our views on the etiology of racism differ wildly from our views on the etiology of sexual attraction. On the latter, the Church is at least agnostic, and is inching toward a “you get what you’re born/socialized with” view. Moreover, we view sexual attraction as fundamentally good and Godly (a distinctively Mormon view, arising from our materialistic naturalism). On racism, though, we see no cosmic basis for problematic “attitudes,” which distort the truth that all of us are literally spiritual children of the same parents (back to the sex thing again). In other words, Mormon cosmology reinforces the OP’s point and the Church’s official positions: sexuality is an eternal good, and we need to make room for it; racism, though, is short-sighted, irrational, and the opposite of charity.

  13. Perhaps my total ignorance of what prompted this is causing me to misunderstand what this is saying, but this message doesn’t ring true to me. Whatever the sin, “sinful” thoughts are only sinful when we give expression to them and let them affect or actions. If someone who, as a result of growing up around racist attitudes, finds himself having racist thoughts, the thoughts are not themselves sinful. Someone can even openly acknowledge that he has those thoughts, and that would not itself be sinful as long as he openly recognizes that such thoughts are not from God, and that he does not let those thoughts govern or control him. I think you can make the exact same statement about any other kind of thoughts, be they envious, adulterous, hateful, idolatrous, etc.

  14. Genuinely Confused says:

    The Church’s current stance on race is putting it and it’s members in a bind. At what point does it become heretical to believe that “the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon” the Lamanites “that they might not be enticing unto” the Nephites? Will there be disciplinary action for such believers? If it is legitimate to reject the statements of past prophets because past prophets were influenced by the racist sensibilities of their time and place, how is it not legitimate to reject the current disavowals as reflections of the anti-racist sensibilities of our current time and place?

  15. Question: is the Church saying that we no longer consider dark skin of our contemporaries a sign of a curse, or is the Church saying that we no longer consider dark skin of anyone in the past a sign of the curse? Do you understand the distinction? I’m just wondering if we are admitting that we were wrong to consider that to be the case in the past, or ifthere is somehow a difference between Native Americans / Lamanites / Indians today than the ones that lived in the past. I’m not trying to be funny…I genuinely do not understand how the Church has changed this doctrine or belief.

  16. Genuinely Confused, I’m indifferent to questions of heresy. But believing that represents a lack of engagement and critical thought when it comes to scripture. It’s the Flandersian hermeneutic of “I’ve done everything the bible says. Even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff.”

    Racism is deeply antithetical to the gospel, which emphasizes the fundamental value of each and every individual. If your method of reading scripture requires you to believe that God is racist, you’re reading scripture wrong. Full stop.

  17. Billy Possum says:

    dsc:

    I disagree. There’s an important moral difference (at least for Mormons) between what it means to “act on” sexual attraction versus to “act on” racist sentiments. Assume arguendo that I can vehemently hate a person (because he is, say, black) without ever doing or saying anything about it. My hatred would be, *in itself*, wicked. The hatred alone, without any action, is a direct violation of God’s greatest commandment. And I have an affirmative moral obligation to replace the hatred with love, and then to act on that love.

    Contrarily, assume arguendo (1) that I am a man, and (2) that I can be profoundly sexually attracted to another man without ever doing or saying anything about it. My attraction is *not* wrong in itself because God doesn’t require me to have sexual feelings only for my legally-married wife. The law of chastity is much narrower than that. In contrast to the affirmative obligation to avoid racism (which is an ideology, not an action), I have only a negative moral obligation to avoid sexual acts with someone other than my legally married wife.

    Race and sexuality are not comparable because, for some reason, God has made them subject to incomparable moral rules. I speculate (but do not know) that the reason has something to do with the inherent goodness of love/attraction/sex, and the inherent badness of anger/hatred.

  18. josh h, my 2c: The Church is saying that we were wrong in the past to assume that dark skin was a curse. That’s what “disavow” (in the Gospel Topics essay about Race and the Priesthood) means — we deny any support for those racist ideas taught in the past, despite their longstanding teaching as doctrine. How we do that is by realizing that the scriptures don’t actually say what early Church members assumed they said, and that those early members jumped to conclusions based on the prevailing culture of their times.

    The mistaken assumption about skin color is far more serious and with greater consequences, but a somewhat analogous misunderstanding can perhaps help us understand: Alma 11 lays out the system of Nephite values (senines and senums and so on). Until very recently, the headnote for that chapter spoke of Nephite coins … until people pointed out that nothing resembling coins has been found in any of the proposed settings of the Book of Mormon, and that the “pieces” of silver and gold mentioned aren’t necessarily coins as we know them, but could be weights, (or measures of volume, or something else). So the headnote has been changed to refer to “monetary system” rather than coins. Because no doctrinal issue was at stake, recognizing and correcting that mistaken assumption was no problem. But the connection of curse and skin color, while just as much a mistaken assumption, causes difficulty because it *does* require us to correct our past doctrine and deal with the consequences of that longstanding assumption.

  19. Billy Possum says:

    Ardis,

    Do the scriptures not actually describe dark skin as a curse from God? Whether that description represents reality or author/translator/mediator bias is another matter entirely (and re-readings, historical and otherwise, abound, as they should). But how can you read the BOM other than to directly state the proposition (true or false) that dark skin was, at least in one instance, a curse? I can’t get there.

  20. Billy P: here’s one explanation I heard recently: the Nephites themselves were racist and that when the Book of Mormon was translated, Joseph Smith was just passing along their racist attitudes. In other words, the BOM does not reflect the racism of the modern Church or its leaders. It reflects the ancient racism of Nephites and the implication is that the “curse” was just their misreading of things.

    Ardis: All of us have read the BOM verses that state pretty clearly what dark skin represented. If the Church now says that we don’t believe dark skin to be a curse or sign of a curse, we are forced to deny what is stated in plain English. You know, “skin” doesn’t mean “skin” for example.

  21. This post in an exercise in troll feeding.

  22. Billy, you can get there by saying that Nephi was racist when he said their dark skin was a curse, therefore the scripture is wrong to say what it says. I don’t think a person can get there, at least not without saying that the scripture does not say what it obviously does say, without accepting prophetic fallibility. You have to be able to say that a prophet can be angry enough at his brothers to want them cursed, and therefore, when their skin got darker from more sun exposure, he attributed this to the curse he wanted God to put on his brothers. I don’t know why more people don’t want to come out and state that Nephi was just flat out wrong when he said that. Do people like to throw God under the bus as a racist jerk of a father, rather than throwing Nephi under the bus as a human, angry, prophet who saw what he wanted to see in his brothers’ families? That is the part I don’t get. How come people are trying to say that the scripture doesn’t say what it obviously does say? The scripture says that God cursed the Lamanites with dark skin. But I don’t believe in a God that curses a group of people for the sins of their parents. Nor do I believe in a God who uses dark skin as a mark of evil. But I do believe in fallible prophets, so in this case, the prophet was wrong when he wrote what he wrote.

  23. What Anna says.

    The scriptures don’t magically “say” anything. Words didn’t magically appear on the plates untouched by human minds and hands. You have to look at who said what, who added/interpreted what God is quoted as saying. When you do that, you see that we’ve been reading what Nephi added to what he records God as actually saying. That’s our longstanding misunderstanding.

    The Book of Mormon deserves to be considered carefully. The easiest, the so-called “plainest,” the surface readings of our own childhood and seminary days, or of the earliest members of the Church, are not good enough anymore. We have greater light and knowledge and need to bring greater maturity to our reading.

    Apart from that (I’m not saying this about josh h), jpv is right —there’s a lot of trolling, and a lot of feeding of trolls here. I hope I’m not contributing to that.

  24. jpv,
    I don’t disagree. But trying to live decently seems to get you there nowadays anyway.

  25. I agree with your post, John C. The comparison is a fallacy. There is no comparison. A gay person has attraction for the same sex, that doesn’t mean she necessarily lusts after them as in Matthew, it’s just inborn and natural for them just as a hetero has for the opposite sex. In contrast, racist thoughts by themselves are sinful. I agree with Anna that there is much less cog-dis to admit that Nephi could be wrong than to say what he wrote didn’t say what it did. Less cog-dis, but a lot more opposition from the infallibility camp.

  26. Billy,

    I disagree. I think someone who holds racist attitudes but manages to suppress them because he knows they are wrong is fundamentally in the same position as someone who has lustful desires for someone not his wife but does not act on them (I’m going with adultery instead of homosexuality because adultery is pretty universally regarded as sinful). Allowing the feeling to grow and fester, and dwelling on it may in fact be sinful, but the impulse is not. But I’m not even sure that dwelling on the sinful impulse is even itself sinful. Spiritually and psychologically damaging? Sure. Sinful? Maybe. But I don’t think it’s any different for the would-be adulterer than it is the would-be racist. In fact, I fully believe that some people’s racist impulses are so ingrained and so involuntarily that they may never fully rid themselves of it in this life. For those people, I find efforts to overcome the impulse and belief admirable and examples of the truth taught in Ether 12:27.

  27. If there was any doubt that the church disavows the idea that skin color even in the past was a sign of a curse the recent dust up over Joseph Fielding Smith’s outdated teachings on race in 2 Nephi clarified it. The quote that was mistakenly included in in the come follow me manual clearly said that dark skin today is not a sign of a curse, and that it was a sign of a curse in Nephi’s time and place. The church removed that and disavowed it specifically.

    If you believe prophets (either Joseph Fielding Smith or Nephi) are infallible, I guess that’s going to cause a crisis for you. Good thing the church doesn’t ask us to believe that.

  28. Genuinely Confused says:

    Ardis & Anna:

    I agree with the proposition that the prophets were human and their humanity is reflected in their writing. What’s troubling is when folks use that core truth to disregard scripture as merely old-fashioned opinion or, in this case, racist propaganda. What’s the limiting principle on which verses we get to ignore or contradict? If we can’t rely on a “thus saith the Lord God” statement from a prophet of God, recorded and Providentially preserved in scripture, what verses are safe?

    But it gets worse. Nephi says that “the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon” the Lamanites “that they might not be enticing unto” the Nephites. That teaches us about more than the etiology of Lamanite skin color, it says something about God’s will and divine providence. If scripture misleads us in understanding the will of God, what good is it? If I can’t trust that Nephi’s writings are more than the self-serving propaganda of a racist patriarch, why would I spend time studying them? If plain readings of the Book of Mormon perpetuate evil and inspire terror, why do we continue to distribute thousands of copies of the BoM daily, mostly to folks who will interpret it plainly?

  29. Confused,
    The Old Testament recommends genocide. The New Testament recommends self-castration and family abandonment. You’ve just got to figure these things out before God yourself. That said, we do have modern prophets saying that racism is sinful and disavowing the skin=curse equation. So maybe listen to them.

  30. Genuinely Confused says:

    John,
    Your advice to listen to the teachings of modern prophets is undermined by your position that we should ignore the teachings of prior prophets because prior prophets were influenced by their surrounding cultures. Are modern prophets no longer influenced by the surrounding culture?

  31. Of course they are, GC. That doesn’t mean we should ignore them, just like we shouldn’t ignore Nephi (or Joshua or Jesus). It just means that you’ve got figure this stuff out. In the church, as a rule, current revelation and guidance trumps older guidance and revelation. I’d suggest that you focus on the stuff that holds true through all of it. Ultimately there is no easy standard for determining what scripture to incorporate and what to ignore; you’ve just got the reason God gave you, the Holy Ghost, and your experience of God to act as a guide.

    Also, and I cannot emphasize this enough, don’t be a racist.

  32. Geoff - Aus says:

    Jon Miranda,
    If it were 1970 you would be saying the same thing about racism, and birth control, but both teachings are gone.

  33. Confused, personally, I pray about it. When the scripture says abandon your mother and father and Follow Christ, or give all that you have to the poor and follow Christ, I look at the scripture and think through if and how it applies to me. Give all that I have to the poor, well, I don’t have much, so I give what I can but so far, I haven’t given away my home or “all that I have” to go follow anybody, because so far, I have not found anyone with a bat phone to God. All I have found is fallible guys who say they are prophets, but keep more of what they have rather than giving it to the poor than what I keep. When the scripture says we should abandon our parents, I think that one through and notice that at the very end of his life, one of Christ’s last acts was to see that his mother was taken care of. So, at the very end of her life, I took care of my mother. The same goes for our prophets as the scripture. When Elder Oaks says to not allow your gay child to bring their same sex partner into your home, I think through how that would effect my gay daughter and her wife. Then I pray about it and do what God tells me is best, not necessarily what a “living prophet” tells me I should do.

    See, I think part of this earth life’s test is to learn to think for ourselves, not just listen to someone or some book and blindly follow. Obedience is not the first law of heaven. Love is. So, I always try to err on the side of love, rather than the side of obedience. Satan’s plan was to make everyone obey. That would have been so much easier. None of this messy thinking it through for yourself and praying about it. We could have just obeyed and all made it back to Heavenly Father. Simple. But that was not what we voted for…or at least not those of use who ended up on earth according to our church. We voted for the messy, unsure, hard way of thinking things through and praying for confirmation, and the bottom line is that sometimes we will screw up. God knew this and provided a plan for our screw ups. So, I am not afraid of screwing it up and getting it wrong sometimes, because I know I can correct course if I need to. It is easier to let someone else do the thinking for us and we just follow, but that wasn’t the plan.

    So, to answer your question about what you can trust. None of it and nobody. You have to figure it out for yourself.

  34. I have no feeling that having “homosexual thoughts” is a sin, and so my comment is not related to that concept in any way. My comments concerns a though repeated several times in this post:

    “Whatever thoughts we may have, awful or otherwise, they do not have inherent moral value; they cannot be sinful.”
    “It is behavior that is considered immoral and sinful, not thoughts.”

    Alma taught: “For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to chide us from his presence.”

    Again, “our thoughts will also condemn us.” You cite Alma 30 which is speaking about “belief,” but the two concepts are not synonymous. Moreover, here are some thoughts from George Albert Smith on the subject: “‘Not only will you be held accountable for the things that you do, but you will be held responsible for the very thoughts that you think.’

    “Being a boy, not in the habit of controlling my thoughts very much, it was quite a puzzle to me what I was to do, and it worried me. In fact, it stuck to me just like a burr. About a week or ten days after that it suddenly came to me what he meant. I could see the philosophy of it then. All at once there came to me this interpretation of what he had said: Why, of course, you will be held accountable for your thoughts because when your life is complete in mortality, it will be the sum of your thoughts. That one suggestion has been a great blessing to me all my life, and it has enabled me upon many occasions to avoid thinking improperly because I realize that I will be, when my life’s labor is complete, the product of my thoughts.” – (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith).

    Again, this doesn’t relate precisely to whatever may be sinful in terms of what kinds of thoughts one is thinking; instead, I think it is important to note that the idea that our thoughts have no “inherent moral value,” is not supportable based on Latter-day Saint scripture or disseminated teachings.

  35. Dylan,
    You raise a good point. I suppose that the intent behind an act is necessarily morally significant. But I’m skeptical that God will condemn based on temptations or thoughts that, while potentially leading to sin, where never acted upon.

  36. Give me a break. . . my thoughts are ok, your’s aren’t?

  37. Lily,
    ?

  38. John C,
    “But I’m skeptical that God will condemn based on temptations or thoughts that, while potentially leading to sin, where never acted upon.”

    John C, this is really where the question of a consecrated life of a latter-day saint kicks into gear. That’s who Jesus was essentially talking to, when he said, “I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

    There’s no doubt about it, that once you make a commitment to be one of his disciples, when you willingingly take his name upon you, you binding yourself to that standard. This doesn’t mean there’s no forgiveness, but certainly there’s no preemptive excusing away!

  39. Sute,
    As we discussed above, Christ was tempted, but did not sin. So it seems possible to do the same. Maybe I’m expecting too much of disciples. I don’t know.

  40. Geoff - Aus says:

    Can I suggest it is not about what you think but what you are/have become?

  41. Generally Confused, you ask a very good question, but one that does not have a straightforward answer. You’re asking a fallible person(s) to infallibly declare when other fallible people have made eternally accurate statements and when they have not.
    The best guiding statement I can come by is a Joseph Smith quote:

    The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, “that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;” and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.

    Now all other things are appendages. The standard works are appendages, the Priesthood offices and organizations are appendages, General Conference is an appendage, etc. Now this isn’t to say that they are discardable, nor is it to say that you should approach them trying to look for faults in them; but you should eventually start to factor in that they’re all not as straightforward as we all would like them to be.
    Think about Lehi’s dream. Who is the first group that made it to the Tree of Life? It was those who were clinging to the Iron Rod (sounds pretty righteous). But when they made it to the end of the Iron Rod it was time to let go and partake of the fruit. After having partaken of the fruit they became ashamed and left. As I’ve pondered over this, and tried to apply it to situations I’ve experienced and witnessed others experience, I also believe that in addition to being ashamed some may have been sincerely confused. They thought that life was all about holding onto the Iron Rod, and now here they are not holding onto an Iron Rod and eating some fruit which must not have been what they expected, and so they left. I’m not saying at any point you should let go of the Word of God in your life (all metaphors have a breaking point), but after so many lines upon lines, and precepts upon precepts, and Sunday School lesson, and General Conference talks, you need to build your own individual relationship with God, and that probably will be more complicated than what you thought it would look like than when you were younger. (and when I say ‘you’ I’m not making a personal attack against you, but I mean everyone as individuals).
    Using your experiences and your relationship with God you may find differing opinions on some statements made by others who have also been close with God. Likely you are wrong and need to change, or perhaps your initial understanding of those statements was wrong and you need to change, or perhaps they had a good understanding of the gospel when they made that statement and you now have a better one, and perhaps one day you’ll even learn the best understanding. I’m not advocating for a rebellion against the church and it’s leaders, but hopefully sustaining them in being imperfect beings who have been tasked with a heavy burden.
    When Pres. Nelson became President of the church he didn’t say “I receive revelation, listen to and obey me.” he said (paraphrasing) “Get your own revelation.”
    I too wish it was more straightforward. The church is true.

  42. stephen hardy says:

    In our past we believed that skin color reflected character or worth (either or both.) We have come reject that and have generally agreed that those who used scripture to support those ideas were possibly mis-interpreting those scriptures. Not only skin color though. In the past, especially before genetics was understood, it was widely believed that you could determine someone’s character based on physical traits such as the set of the eyes, or the color of the iris, or the bumps on one’s head, or the nature of the nose. Novels, even highly respected ones, often used someone’s physical body as a reflection of their nature and character.

    Today we reject that entirely, and believe that these are all genetic traits. They have no value whatsoever on one’s character, or worth, or closeness to God. They are neither the cause of nor do they reflect one’s intrinsic worth. They are genetic variants, and nothing else. There is, we believe, no moral meaning to our physical traits.

    I believe that we as a people will eventually find that being gay, (or any of the letters associated with being a sexual minority) is also simply a genetic variant. With no moral meaning whatsoever. Gay people will be allowed to be gay, to marry, and we will rejoice in those unions just as we take joy in marriages today that reach across cultural or racial boundaries that used to be barriers.

    No moral meaning whatsoever.

    I believe that those who believe differently will find that they “might stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream…”

  43. Geoff - Aus says:

    Agree Stephen Hardy.
    Jader3, might it produce a different understanding of what is expected if you start from a different place?
    If your fundamental understanding is
    36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
    37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
    38 This is the first and great commandment.
    39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

    If love of our fellow man (neighbour) is our starting point then discrimination against any of our neighbours is not acceptable.

    When we become a person who loves as God loves, which is what we are here to learn to do, racism, homophobia, sexism etc. become unaceptable.
    I have a problem with jader3s quote above because racism, in the past, and homophobia and sexism, in the present can be seen as apendages as jon miranda believes.

    The original post was about making an equivalence between being gay and racism, which are not equivalent, but there is an equivalence between being racist, being homophobic, and being sexist. All are refusing to love our neighbours as God does. Notice they are states of being like being loving, you do not have to do anything if you are that person, it is part of you.

    As far as thoughts of racism not acted upon, so long as they are steps on the way to loving as God does; good. If you are not able to repent and progress on, problem.
    For those with thoughts of love, keep in mind that the Lord has said sex to be within marriage.
    This is my religious understanding.

    In Trumps America it may be different, but homophobia, and sexism, are increasingly becoming as unacceptable as racism. In Australia we had a rugby player called Isreal Falau, he had a $4 million contract. He had been a mormon, then he started a church with his father. He repeatedly posted comments about those going to hell, including gays. He was sacked for breaking his contract, by making homophobic comments. He has just signed up with a French club (and promised not to make homophobic comments), but other members of the league in Europe, are warning that if they loose sponsors, or attendance because of Falau, there will be consequences.

  44. Geoff, yes if your expectations are different, it really helps. In the Lehi’s dream analogy, those who clung to the rod weren’t the only ones who made it to the tree. Others did too, and they stayed.
    As to your point about the quote, that’s the nice thing about appendages; they can be cut off if need be. Or when we think about all that we ingest in church it’s important to remember that some of it may be corrected later. Or out and out changed.
    A few years ago my grandmother gave a talk in church, in it she said “Now I can’t find a quote from a prophet or apostle, nor can I find anything in any church manual, but my father once told me ….” At the end of Sacrament meeting the Bishop got up and casually read a paragraph or two from the Handbook of Instructions.

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