LGBTPDA@BYU: Moral Reasoning in a Purity Culture

Brigham Young University–my alma mater and an institution that I care about deeply–has been in the news this week for two debates that they are currently having with themselves. One of these debates concerns a contemporary pastoral issue. The other one concerns a fundamental question about the way that BYU, or anyone affiliated with it, should understand and exercise moral reasoning. And here is the tricky thing: they both look like the same argument, and most people don’t realize that there are two separate sets of questions at issue.

Let’s start with the first question, the pastoral one: should LGBTQ students be admitted to the university ekklesia on the same terms as other students. Should they be permitted to hold hands, kiss, go out on dates, and otherwise express affection and romantic attachment on the same terms that heterosexual couples do? Are everybody’s needs for emotional connection and intimacy considered equally important?

Answering “yes” to these questions produces a seismic shift from where the BYUs have been in the past. Until last week, the honor code prohibited “all forms of intimacy” between members of the same sex. This language was removed last week. And good riddance. It was a deeply problematic passage that set up an indefensible double standard around the Church’s law of chastity. Kudos to BYU for sort of, kind of, in a very limited way, no longer enshrining this double standard in their official policies. 

And now, everybody wants to know where the new lines are. Who can touch what when? What happens if someone does it wrong? The Honor Code Office is apparently being flooded with queries about appropriate behavior–from LGBT students who want to know whether they will still be expelled for holding hands, from conservative students who are demanding a retraction and a clarification that God still hates homosexual behavior, and from parents of prospective students who want to make sure that their precious child never has to witness two people of the same gender displaying affection.

This desire for bright lines and easy categories, I think, is the real issue–and it goes much deeper than the question of LGBT PDA at BYU. It is at the root of nearly every controversy at the BYUs that I remember, beginning with “MTV-gate,” in my freshman year, when a local apartment complex got rid of MTV because its owner, who was also a bishop, was convinced that MTV was making students fornicate. The problem is easy to state but difficult to analyze: Mormons are not very good at moral reasoning.

To illustrate what I mean by this, let’s look at three related areas where the kind of morality represented by the BYU Honor Code–morality based on bright lines and strict enforcement–creates blind spots that prevent more serious thinking about moral issues. These come largely from my experiences inside and outside the Mormon communities that I have been part of in my life. Other people, I’m sure, have different experiences and different observations. These are mine:

  • We are far too willing to equate the promulgation of rules with moral instruction.
    I have spent my professional life working at institutions of higher education, two of them affiliated with religious organizations, and one of them affiliated with an institution with views on sexuality and gender very similar to those of BYU. Such institutions teach moral principles in required ethics and religion classes and expose students to clergy members trained to help them think through difficult moral questions. Nobody wonders what the sponsoring institutions believe. But they don’t expel students who do not live up to those values. This is because teaching moral values is not the same thing as enforcing moral codes.

    I once asked a good friend of mine at one of these schools–a theology professor who was also a priest, why the college didn’t make rules about sexual behavior and expel students who didn’t follow them. This seemed basic to me, given my experiences at BYU. His answer was profound. He said, “We don’t educate students because they are good Catholics; we educate them because we are trying to be good Catholics.” 

    It took me a long time to understand the profundity of this response. It is a very different view of both moral education and the moral nature of educating. My friend wanted to be involved in education so that he could bring people to Christ–and not as a reward for good behavior. Punitive behavioral codes, he told me, rarely convert anybody, and the finality of an expulsion is at odds with the Lord’s grace.

    I know, of course, that there are plenty of theological differences between our two faiths. But the idea that one need not encode everything that one believes into a bright-line behavioral code strikes me as something that does not depend on theology and might even be possible at the BYUs. It is entirely possible to hold moral values, teach them clearly, advocate for them constantly, and still not kick people out of stuff when they fall short.
  • We overemphasize things that can be easily measured.
    This is the enduring problem of assessment in any field. Certain things can be measured easily and perfectly, certain things can be measured imperfectly and with great difficulty, and certain things can’t be measured at all. In any enterprise that requires measurement, things in the first group–things that can be measured easily–are invariably the only things that get measured at all. And eventually people begin to see them as the most important things as well.

    Just about everything that can get you kicked out of BYU falls into this group. Clean, crisp, bright behavioral lines that can be crossed and evaluated in an objective way: drinking alcohol, viewing pornography, not attending church, touching body part A with appendage B. It all fits into a series of “yes” or “no” questions that can be easily measured.

    But these are not the most important things in the gospel, which would be, you know, loving the Lord with all one’s heart, and loving one’s neighbor as oneself. These are important things, but they are not objective things, so they don’t get measured. And, to my knowledge, one can graduate with honors from BYU without ever loving a single neighbor. The same goes for having charity, mourning with those that mourn, turning the other cheek, and forgiving 7 x 70 times. None of the big stuff can be easily measured, so we don’t think much about it at all when deciding who, and what, counts as “moral.”
  • We don’t distinguish very well between “having virtue” and “not having sex.”
    In a purity culture–which ours most certainly is–sexual behavior frequently dominates moral discussions. I was well into my 20s before I realized that most of the world did not use the word “virtue” to mean “not having sex.” And it was pretty much the same for words like “honor,” “morality,” “purity,” and “cleanliness.” and “I still have to check myself when I use the word “modesty” to describe a way of dressing (so that nobody around you thinks about sex) rather than a mode of being (not wanting to call attention to oneself and one’s accomplishments).  

    Linguistically, this is annoying, but philosophically it is dangerous. Virtue and morality are really important concepts that require a lot of careful thought. We do a disservice to these concepts when we limit them to discussions of sexual behavior. If we learn to equate morality and virtue with sexual continence, we are in danger of thinking that anything short of having sex is therefore not really immoral. And we become capable of absolutely ridiculous sentences like, “he is mean and spiteful and unwilling to do anything to help anybody else, but at least he doesn’t behave immorally.”

    This does not mean that sexual ethics are not important to moral discussions. They are profoundly important because they get to the heart of how we treat, and how we conceive of, other people. But they are not the only questions that are important. And the importance that they do have has very little to do with the bright behavioral lines that I learned when youth leaders drew pictures on the chalk board and, in great detail, told us all not to touch until we were married.

To be fair, I will say that Latter-day Saints do a very good job of teaching our children to choose the right. And, in the very few instances in my life when a moral choice was as simple as choosing between perfect evil and unalloyed good, my grounding in the Church has helped me choose the latter.

But most moral choices don’t work like that because there are usually multiple issues at stake. There are competing interests, partial goods, lesser evils, and serious consequences for every possible action, including inaction. Learning how to make these moral choices is, we believe, the entire reason that we came to earth as part of our eternal journey. And the certainty that we would sometimes make them badly is the entire reason for the Atonement. There was another plan that involved both bright lines and perfect choices, but, wisely, we didn’t choose it.

The current kerfuffle at BYU seems to be an outgrowth of the way that Latter-day Saints have been trained to think about moral issues–a way of thinking that is reinforced, and even required, by an “honor code” that does not actually involve much in the way of honor and is mainly a mechanism for policing the behavioral bright lines that we have all been trained to equate with morality.

Comments

  1. Love your catholic friend’s response. What a wise man.
    Also love your thoughts about over emphasizing things that are measurable. We recently went through this with our teenage daughter and our bishop as they tried to distinguish a line about whether supporting same sex marriage works to oppose the church. Sometimes we create these lines and they can be rather arbitrary and unhelpful. Obviously there need to be some lines, but our church culture creates so many and ends up alienating people and in the end, the Christlike behavior we choose to emulate makes the biggest difference to how we behave.

  2. Regardless of the theological teachings, if I were attending an institution that had boundaries on acceptable and unacceptable actions, I know I would like bright lines. I don’t want to be punished for something that was ambiguous.

  3. Geoff - Aus says:

    Agree with the post.

    I am really struggling to understand where moral judgement has gone for conservative members. They have a problem seeng gay people expressing affection, but have no problem voting for Trump who is personally immoral (hetro) and whose government does so much that opposes the gospel? Perhaps as you say they have rules that say gay stuff is bad, but no church leaders saying Trump is bad. Lacking any moral judgement of their own, and no instruction from church leaders just carry follow their political instincts.

  4. I love it when smart, thoughtful people post smart, thoughtful things on the internet.

  5. Nearly everything about this is off kilter from a moral standpoint, right down to you not understanding initially the point of the priest. It’s plain to understand.

    Except with BYU doesn’t charge 30k in admissions like your catholic school likely did. The church funded school is for the faithful, obedient, and intelligent. The 30k catholic school is for the wealthy and intelligent.

    The problem with gay relationships is that it reinforces something that’s a sin to be repented of. It’s not as benign as drinking an alcoholic beverage (if of age), but for a true Latter-day saint, you also wouldn’t suggest normalization of that drinking behavior either — even though we don’t freak out if non members do it.

    Pre-sex stage homosexual dating is exactly that. A precursor to a sexual relationship and inevitablly designed to increase sexual desire and chance for an encounter.

    Granted, many people have no problem with that. Those who know better, in gospel terms, do. Sorry there’s no Church perspective moral high ground for claiming people should swallow the lie that they need to have homosexual kissing and dating to be happy.

    For thousands of years people have convinced themselves that all manner of sexual desires are ok. And rationalized all kinds of behavior.

    Those members pushing on this issue are just wrong and frankly creating more hurt and confusion where there should be support for patience and faithfulnes and not accusations of hate by their brothers and sisters.

  6. Michael you touch on a concern I have had since I was at BYU and became a student of moral reasoning and philosophy. We teach obedience, but do not teach how to become an independent moral agent.

    When the church sought to change its teaching pedagogy and implemented the teacher council training meetings, I was asked to lead a series of discussions. In one discussion, I introduced the case study method centered on resolving a moral dilemma to engage students to learn how to apply gospel principles to difficult real-life issues. One of the adults in the room raised his hand and asked me, “What is a moral dilemma?” It turned out none in the class could articulate what a moral dilemma is. I was shocked–I live in an area dense with highly educated professionals (not many academics, however). The idea, the concept, was new to them. I could tell a few immediately viewed me and that which I was introducing with suspicion. (One of the cases I introduced was similar to an example you list in your OP.) Largely, once the concept was explained, most of the class engaged…and we ended up going 10 minutes over time, and then three in the class cornered me in the hall and we spent the rest of the third hour in the hallway continuing the discussion because of their high interest in the concept. They wanted to know a lot more.

    This is my opinion, but since correlation, the church’s curriculum has been dumbing down members for half a century now. We teach rules with the hope we receive simple obedience and well ordered and unquestioning congregants, and it comes at the expense of our members not learning how to make independent moral decisions. In the long run, the church, collectively, suffers because of this and our growth is stunted.

  7. Well said. Thank you.

  8. Poster Sue stated that BYU “is for the faithful, obedient and intelligent.” What happens to the nearly 30% of the student body each year that have to address their shortcomings with their bishop? How on earth were they allowed to enroll? Should they be expelled regardless of their desire to do better, so that someone more faithful and obedient can take their place? Is there a difference between the gay student who practices perfect celibacy and the hetero student that violates the law of chastity?

  9. Billy Possum says:

    I agree with Big Sky (and the OP): Although our theology compels independent moral judgment and action, the institutional Church has, for the last half-century, emphasized conformity instead. I think the 200th anniversary of the first vision this year gives us an important chance to remember our metaethical roots. Joseph Smith did the right thing in spite of what authorities told him to do. Imagine if he’d just read the “Come, follow me” manual instead.

  10. Craig Watts says:

    The LGBTQ is issue is proving to be the “bright lines” LDS Church’s Waterloo and some day we will all be grateful in the “defeat.” Gay people call it “losing forward.”

  11. Mormons love rules, but not the interpretation of rules. We like to outsource our morality to other authorities. To wit, we outsource our movie-watching habits to the MPAA guidelines. According to the new handbook, we outsource our membership council decisions, in some cases, to decisions made in legal proceedings. Why? I presume because it’s easier. But not better.

    Sue: The “Church” whatever that means does not fund the BYU’s. WE fund the BYU’s. As a tithe paying member, put me down as someone who is more than happy to fund education for people that aren’t perfect.

  12. In some ways I prefer having the bright lines so we can hold leaders accountable when they use their authority to overstep. For example, the handbook now states that Transgender people should be welcome to all meetings (although with the caveat “not a distraction”, blah). Leaders who have before refused transgender people access to Relief Society/quorum meetings now have a line they should adhere to.

    On the other hand, it doesn’t take much for leaders to decide that the rules aren’t stringent enough. If they’re supported by the next leader up, there’s not really anything that can be done by those that are injured.

    To me, all the laws and rules we have been given because we couldn’t handle ourselves without the bright line. We should be working toward what all the laws and prophets hang upon, only leaning on the bright lines when we’re not strong enough to be better.

  13. “and from parents of prospective students who want to make sure that their precious child never has to witness two people of the same gender displaying affection.” Come on…that is just too much.

  14. Roger Terry says:

    Thanks, Michael. This post made me think of two things. First, you wrote, “But most moral choices don’t work like that because there are usually multiple issues at stake. There are competing interests, partial goods, lesser evils, and serious consequences for every possible action, including inaction.” This reminded me that abortion likely falls into this basket. We have been trained to think that it is a simple bright-line matter. But when you look at the myriad individual circumstances involved, you realize that this is not such a simple, one-issue matter as conservative politics would suggest. The Church’s slightly nuanced official stance supports this, but it is even more complicated than indicated by the few exceptions the Church mentions. Second, this discussion reminded me of one of the finest essays we ever printed in BYU Studies. It is Travis Anderson’s “Seeking after the Good in Art, Drama, Film, and Literature” (available at https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/seeking-after-good-art-drama-film-and-literature). In this essay, Anderson tackles the Mormon notion of what “wholesome” means. Among other things, he points out that some R-rated movies have more good in them than many G- or PG-rated movies.

  15. it’s also important to understand why LDS are so preoccupied by sex. there’s a scripture in Alma that has been interpreted to mean that sexual sin of any kind is second only to murder in terms of seriousness in the eyes of God. Once you believe that, you’re going to make all kind of rules to prevent others from sinning that’s 2nd only to murder.

    I have made this point at church at the risk of sounding like the guy who is trying to minimize the seriousness of sexual sin. I believe it is serious but our preoccupation with it forces to act irrationally.

  16. Avid reader says:

    I imagine the now mainstream LDS approach–“we love you, gay people, though your identity is an abomination” gets tiresome to many in the LGBTQ community.

    It reminds me of benevolent racism–where people look down on people of color, but do it in a self-professed loving way.

    If I was a gay person, I’d be sick of it by now. I am getting tired of my own hypocrisy and pretty much ready to accept that people need and want love, and I don’t care who they choose, as long as they don’t hurt me.

    I don’t say that glibly. I have a lot of pain inside. Why would I repeat rhetoric that causes pain to others?

  17. James, I can’t tell you how much I wish you were right. But I’m seeing exactly that worry on conservative twitter feeds.

  18. we become capable of absolutely ridiculous sentences like, “he is mean and spiteful and unwilling to do anything to help anybody else, but at least he doesn’t behave immorally.”

    This line got me thinking about one of my wife’s LDS friends. She was mentioning bad how her husband for most of their marriage. Wasn’t employed or even looking for work, didn’t do any house chores, stopped going to church, wouldn’t watch their child (now children), was emotionally abusive, etc. Spent most days for nearly two years, playing video games. She talked herself out of getting a divorce with “At least he’s not looking at porn.” Apparently that’s the bright line, and nothing else matters. That just doesn’t sit well with me.

  19. “At least he’s not looking at porn.”

    Newsflash: Yes he is!

  20. Michael Austin says:

    Josh,

    The “sin next to murder” thing was very prevalent in my upbringing in the Church. And it usually came with a rationale: murder is the taking of an innocent life, and sexual sin runs the risk of creating a life without the ability to support it properly. They were sort of a mirror image of each other, both treating the value of human too lightly.

    It is a compelling story. But it doesn’t work with “homosexual behavior,” in which the risk of unintentionally creating a life is zero.

  21. ReTx: I think James’ issue was with the tone of that line, which I too found unnecessarily condescending and snarky in an otherwise well-crafted post on a challenging subject.

  22. Patrick, Whether that line is perceived as condescending or snarky, or inappropriately so, might depend on the context the reader brings to it. I read it as a reference to a comment I had read elsewhere from a critic of the honor code change: “Alumni want to know, students want to know, and parents want to know what is going on with the university and if its safe to send their kids to BYU.” What kind of “safe” could they have meant other than not “having to witness two people of the same gender displaying affection?”

  23. Patrick says:

    Wondering: Sorry, but I thought “their precious child” was gratuitous and unnecessary.

  24. “Officer, I’d like to report some snarky tone down at the BCC.”

    “We’ll drop everything and get right on that!”

  25. pconnornc says:

    I too like the overall reason & tone of the post, but have to agree w/ Patrick. No need to distract from something that is well reasoned by negatively portraying people that may differ w/ your stance.

    I would also suggest that BYU is a little different in that there is a long list of people who want to attend, who “just miss” in an extremely competitive environment. I wonder if part of the purpose of the Honor Code commitment is less to “protect” those who attend, but to cull those who could be equally served at the U, UVU or any local university? My sense is that local authorities (as a whole) are looking for reasons to help students stay in (contrition, repentance, etc) rather than looking for reasons to boot them out.

  26. “But it doesn’t work with “homosexual behavior,” in which the risk of unintentionally creating a life is zero.”

    Homosexuality runs in a different direction, but both negatively affect generations.

    One creates life in conditions God did not intend, for the mere few moments of personal pleasure. The other abuses procreative powers, dams generational lines from ever existing, again for the mere moments of personal pleasure.

    Certainly much if not most of marital conjugation is not engaged in with a holier sense of unity and generational progression in mind, but the reality is that natural outgrowth of generations across time and entity from marriage between a man and a woman is absolutely unparalleled.

    There’s so much confusion, ignorance, deceit and all manner of pathologies when it comes to sex. The feelings behind our “sex impulses” are literally the driving force behind all generations of human history.

    Sexuality is to be respected, understood as best as we are able and embraced within the bounds the Lord has set forth (assuming you’re faithful).

    If you’re more interested in science, evolution has your answers there as well. Anomalies may exist in nature, and they may even have some joy within the measure of there own creation. But it’s a lesser kingdom in the scientific world to be a species which can not propagate and certainly that reality lines up with the celestial kingdom as well.

    We’re not helping people by lying to them and telling them they’ll be happy embracing a lesser form of human (or divine) sexuality. We’re literally daming them in more ways than one.

    Our society is confused on this issue. Byu is forced to deal with that confusion as compassionately as it can. Arguing with your spouse who did something dumb and refuses to recognize it doesn’t mean you keep calling them dumb or get a divorce.

    Sometimes you just move on. Byu seems to be trying to do that, without hitting people over the head with doctrine or reality as I’ve done in this comment.

    I sympathize with that effort, but I’m not sure how much I should emulate it. It’s a policy given at a certain time and place for a certain reason, within the mix of a complex bureaucracy, social and government structure.

  27. stephen hardy says:

    Sams: Your concern about “dam(ing) generational lines from ever existing” is not a compelling argument. It would suggest that all infertile couples have a meaningless marriage and possibly a meaningless and empty existence. A gay couple can, like an infertile couple, adopt, and raise a child and watch as a generational process is perpetuated. Your argument is insulting to all adopted children (is their existence less meaningful because they are not part of a blood line connecting them to their families?) and infertile couples. You should be more careful.

    Furthermore, to suggest that the abuse of these powers are done only for a “mere few moments of personal pleasure” is also an argument that falls short. Very short. Successful gay couples, like straight couples, develop life-long, complex, and deep connections. The act of sexual intercourse is only a small part of that. It can be part of the glue that joins a couple, but a successful marriage depends on love, forgiving, sacrificing, hard work, sharing, and various tug of wars over endless needs and topics. None of which are strongly related to a “mere few moments of personal pleasure.” Your argument is again insulting, this time to all long-term successful marriages based on thousands of moments of compromise, service and love.

  28. Stephen – yes, infertility sucks. It’s very hard. Tragic. Is your life a complete waste? No. Can you have joy? To a degree within whatever sphere possible given the physical limitations. But never the same without your own progeny. It’s not something to beat in someone’s head as they already know it and feel it missing. Our society has gotten good at reinforcing all kinds of false consciences though, so frequently children become an impediment to personal stuff or frenzied activity. But ultimately progeny it’s the crown of a man and womans life.

    You can get offended by it. But it’s literally how you came to exist. The sum of your existence within a union between husband and wife is infinite. Both in mortality and spiritually into eternity.

    We should not diminsh both the spiritual, biological, generational, emotional, social and eternal impact of children to comfort those who can’t or chose not to have them.

    It’s either a tragedy on one hand, to pray for deliverance and/or seek medical care, or a foolish shortsighted, immature selfish philosophy.

    And I have a hunch that our sex drive is so powerful, in part, because we’d otherwise embrace our foolish selfish philosophies that would leave families and children to someone else. Fortunately, over generations of time, man and woman have been drawn together by that desire that often is heavily physically based. But then over time, and in particular with years of raising and sacrificing children, grows into a much deeper love the impacts all of time and eternity.

    This strikes at the heart of both humanity and our doctrine of eternal family. Don’t presume to use the tragic exceptions from nature or accident to undermine the rule in the name of charity.

    We can’t ignore reinforcing eternal truths because some can’t live them now. There is more social and generational harm done from downplaying the supreme importance of husband and wife united physically and spiritualy through the creation and raising of children.

    We don’t need to diminsh or ignore that reality to help others suffering in this issue. If you’re infertile for whatever reason, press on in patience and faith and your prayers will be answered and you will someday enjoy every blessing absent from your life someday.

  29. Stephen you said, “a successful marriage depends on love, forgiving, sacrificing, hard work, sharing, and various tug of wars over endless needs and topics. None of which are strongly related to a “mere few moments of personal pleasure.” ”

    All of that actually sounds about to me, and it’s what the Lord expects to happen as men and women are united. And by your own admission, if that’s the bulk of a marriage, no real good reason to not make that bond between husband and wife exclusively where their union results in (potential) infinite posterity.

  30. Stephen Hardy says:

    Like I said: I find your arguments to be unconvincing. They fall short. They clearly work for you

  31. Harry B. says:

    Excellent post, and I’ve had similar thoughts myself about the tragedy that we find ourselves in. For a church that speaks so highly of morality, it is sad that our most important value is obedience, so much so that agreeing to give away our moral agency to leaders is seen as the greatest act of morality.

    Another side effect of not teaching moral reasoning is that it leaves individuals ill prepared for the times when the church is no longer their moral authority. If the lessons of the growing trend of faith crises and the rise of the “none”s mean anything, we need to realistically expect that a sizable share of any class you’re teaching–even adults and especially the youth–will lose their faith in the church sometime in the future.

    If obedience is the primary moral reasoning they’ve learned, when they become disaffected from the church, disobedience to everything that they were taught too easily becomes the default to exercise their autonomy from the church’s authority. And since many of the church’s rules are associated with lower risk factors, I think we would all agree that flipping the switch on all of them can lead to many objectively bad outcomes.

    On the other hand, people are better prepared if they have learned to rely on their own moral reasoning and genuinely decide for themselves based on good principles. That way, even if they become disaffected from the church in the future, they are better equipped to navigate their post-Mormon life and choosing behaviors that may be risky according to their morals, and not out of defiance against what the bishop/prophet used to teach.

  32. Mormons are not very good at moral reasoning [that agrees with my worldview.]

    There, fixed that for ya..

  33. Stephen let’s start from the beginning.

    God first organized a world for man and women to dwell.

    His first command to them was to be fruitful and multiply.

    We learn from Latter-day revelation ancient of prophets were taught his work and his glory is the immortality and eternal life of man and that guys creations are without number.

    We learn from Latter-day revelation in this dispensation that we have heavenly parents, a mother and a father and the crowning blessing of the oath and covenant of the priesthood is to receive all the Father has, his glory, dominion, and power.

    We learn that the works of God do not end, but continue, Adam is the first of all creation and we learn if Adam and Eve in the temple. What’s in the past has been repeated many times over.

    We learn that as man now is, God once was, as God now is, man may become.

    You can see where this is going I hope — what’s happened in the past, will happen in the future. I don’t suppose God will exalt us to his level though the atoning sacrifice of his son and say, now go and do completely different than what I have done. “Everything you’ve been taught and done in your mortal probation will not ever be replicated again. You are the last, go sit on a beach for eternity drinking margaritas.”

    No, the works of God continue, and that which we’ve seen him do, we will do, if we continue in faith.

  34. *his creations are without number

  35. Sams,
    I think “that guys creations are without number” is probably a more accurate fit given our history of polygamy and the ‘sacred silence’ of Heavenly Mother’s role.

  36. “We learn that as man now is, God once was, as God now is, man may become.” Hasn’t the church backtracked on this, starting with Pres. Hinkley? I vaguely recall reading a blog article about this saying’s history (possibly at BCC).

    Sams, I think your lay-out is too filled with speculation for me. Not that speculation isn’t fun, but it’s not a good starting place to prove anything.

  37. Stephen Hardy says:

    Sams:
    There is too much that we really don’t know about the next life. I believe that we should not do things that heap pain and suffering on people in this life in anticipation of assumptions about the next life. We don’t know enough.

    I understand your arguments, and I believe that they likely represent or nearly represent “mainstream” thought among members of the church. But as I said, I do not find your arguments to be convincing, compelling, logical, and most importantly for this forum they do not appeal to me spiritually. Your arguments require a set of assumptions and certainties that I do not have.

  38. Very fairminded in your approach. Well done.

  39. east of the mississippi says:

    @ReTx… I think the reference is… “I don’t believe we teach that”…

  40. “[I]nfertility sucks. It’s very hard. Tragic. Is your life a complete waste? No. Can you have joy? To a degree within whatever sphere possible given the physical limitations. ***But never the same without your own progeny***” (emphasis mine).

    Sams, congratulations on writing the most offensive thing I’ve ever read about adoption. I normally try not to ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity, but at a certain point the distinction becomes irrelevant. Just… wow.

  41. Miguelito says:

    All y’all who are so offended by a perceived slap at adoption seem conveniently unaware that the vast majority of people who adopt do so only after exhausting their own possibilities for procreation. Having your own biological children is clearly the most appealing option. That’s just a fact, not a slap. Church doctrine that prioritizes personally procreated posterity (alliteration anyone?) is in harmony with this natural, common sensical and overwhelmingly universal human imperative.
    Ordering things here on Earth differently than what has been revealed to us of heaven to mollify homosexually challenged (and even reproductively-challenged heterosexual minorities for that matter), vocal though they may be, isn’t helpful. It’s distracting and deceptive. Which is exactly why it’s being advocated so vociferously in these latter days.
    As Christians, we can and must love those who do wrong, but to legitimize that wrong and hold it up as a standard for those seeking greater Godliness in their lives is harmful, not loving.