On Choosing Each Other and Eating the Fruit

Taylor Kerby is an alumnus of Claremont Graduate University where he received master’s degrees in Religious Studies and Education. He is currently finishing his dissertation at Grand Canyon University in Arizona where he is a full-time educator. He has published his memoir, Scrupulous, with BCC Press. A father of two girls, he teaches Sunday school to the 12 and 13-year-olds in his ward

When I turned twelve, my uncle gave me a copy of Joseph Fielding Smith’s Answers to Gospel Questions. For most twelve-year-olds this would (rightly) be a dud of a gift, but for me (see my gripping memoir Scrupulous ) this was perfect. It was the full five-volume set bound in faux leather. As the title implies, each of the five volumes was written in a question/answer format, and often investigated painfully granular doctrinal issues, both of which made it all the easier for twelve-year-old me to indulge in the sort of morally superior trivial pursuit I craved.

It was in the pursuit of this “higher” spiritual knowledge I was first introduced to our interpretation of the Eden story which, joking aside, remains a cherished part of my faith. As Joseph Fielding taught me, Adam and Eve were given two contradictory commandments:

  1. Multiply and replenish the earth.
  2. Don’t eat the forbidden fruit.

After the fruit was eaten by Eve, Adam is left in an impossible position. In either case, he is destined for disobedience. In the end, he decides that God’s injunction that it is “not good for man to be alone” is more important and leaves, with Eve, into the world.

Strangely, or at least it was so for a twelve-year-old me who was obsessed with doing the right thing (for real, read my book), according to Joseph Fielding both Adam and Eve made the right choice. It was good that they made a bad choice. As Eve puts it in the Pearl of Great Price:

Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

This story brings more nuance to an approach to keeping God’s commandments than is often present in our Sunday school discourse. This story invites the receiver to think carefully about what commandments are most important. Adam and Eve recognized that being together was more important than the fruit, that people are more important than rules. They understood that it was better to eat the fruit than to be alone. Their purity wasn’t worth their loneliness. And as I learned from my five-volume Answers to Gospel Questions set, the restoration agrees. Thanks be to God.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about this story in relation to the church’s current approach to gay relationships (and LGBT+ issues generally). Currently, we are left with several contradictory ideas.

  1. Same sex realtionships are not to be had by church members.

However…

  1. The Family is the basic unit of society.
  2. We are called to gather together “all people” in one.
  3. We are all literal spirit children of a Heavenly Father who, plagiarizing Max Lucado’s children’s book, “doesn’t make mistakes.”

And of course…

  1. It is not good for man to be alone.

I could go on with the list of restored truths that contradict the first statement on the list. But I think enough is present to make the following point. We Mormons are left with an Edenic Choice. Thus far, we have opted to not eat the fruit at the expense, in my view, of people. We have allowed loneliness and stigmatization to persist in the interest of our own purity. Whereas Adam and Eve chose each other over the “right” choice, we have “chosen the right” at the expense of one another.

            Some church members have made the argument that we are wrong to consider same sex relationships sinful at all. I agree with them. Strongly. But I would also suggest that the restoration teaches us that it doesn’t actually matter either way. The God of the restoration does not tolerate loneliness even at the expense of our purity. In other words, the God of the restoration, the one I worship, picks people over forbidden fruit every time. So much so that He celebrates the breaking of His own laws when we choose people over them.

            Whatever comes next for the institutional church, I hope our leaders will consider its future in the same spirit that Adam and Eve did theirs.

Comments

  1. Love this: “…..the God of the restoration, the one I worship, picks people over forbidden fruit every time.”
    Thank you.

  2. dougiereedgmailcom says:

    Interesting. And I like it!

  3. Its not about choosing people. Sounds nice but this is a fundamentally incorrect interpretation. The commandment was to multiply and replenish the Earth. Its about procreation. This happens between Man and Woman. Spirits must have to have an ability to come to Earth and prove themselves. It happens through a Man and Woman who become a Mother and Father and gain experience like Heavenly Parents. Why do people push so hard against this? Scriptural, Logical, Biological, Consistent, and proven best setting for a Child to have a Mom and a Dad. Twist it however you want but this is the reality.

  4. Also reality, God sends homosexuals, trans, asexual people (like my brother) into the world. He also sends people he knows won’t get married, can’t get married, are married but can’t have children, people who abuse children, traffic them etc. Those are also realities. Why these happen I have no idea. I don’t know why God would send a homosexual person to a LDS family only to be turned out, kicked out and become atheist (God knew that would all happen) Why, I don’t know or what purpose there is in that. Procreation isn’t the only reality in God’s eyes and plans. Scripture barely scratches the surface when it comes to reality.

  5. TRE, I have a male cousin who is married to another man, and they have three biological children (using s surrogate). They are wonderful parents, much better than many of the heterosexual parents I know. Of course, they have had to raise their kids in another, ‘accepting’ church. Our loss.

  6. Thanks for this. As a gay member of the Church, I have a lot of thoughts, but I will just say this:

    I can think of two men I have had serious crushes on. In both cases, one of the things I find most attractive is that they are faithful, devoted Latter-day Saints. They are some of the most Christlike people I know. This is more important to me than any physical attraction I might have. If me being gay is a problem, I don’t understand why I am attracted to their righteousness.

  7. TRE is here to tell us that he/she only has/will have/ has had sex only for procreation and that’s also the most important reason that he/she got married/will get married, so much so that he/she demanded/will demand a fertility test before getting married. Thanks for the clarification! Though, to be honest, he/she is parroting what they’ve heard for ever. This isn’t his/her fault. It’s the Church’s fault and responsibility, as the OP is pointing out.

    Also, TRE, don’t come here with your un-researched scare tactics about parenting. Take that trash out.

  8. Another one of the great tools of the restoration is the ability to seal families without the requirement that they be biologically related.

  9. According to TRE, as Jesus broke bread with his disciples, on his final night on this earth, when he said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another,” what Jesus really meant was, “An old commandment I repeat now: it’s all about procreation!” Also, Jesus really meant to say that if you can’t impregnate a woman and raise kids together, then you can’t participate in the sealing ordinances in this life or return to live with God in the next life. It’s just the natural order of things, homies. Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s rewrite this scripture, too: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. Nobody comes to the Father except through procreation.”

  10. This is beautiful and a wonderful Friday morning read. Thank you. I truly believe that God has a plan for his queer children that does not involve the uncertainty and loneliness that is currently part of our faith tradition’s response. I truly long for the day when prophets will provide a true plan of happiness for all of God’s children.

    Also, if it’s not about people and is just about procreation, then I’ve failed miserably. My family for over two decades has benefitted from various birth control methods.

  11. Taylor: Thank you for your post. Your thesis is beautifully laid out. I love the work you’re doing here.

    Brian: Agreed. It’s really easy for me to get frustrated with people like TRE who swoop in and (instead of engaging the interesting ideas of the post) just repeat lines like “It’s about procreation” (as if procreation is the summa of all Gospel principles). But it’s not their fault. S/he is just repeating what has been preached over the past 50 years. Good to remember where most of the responsibility lays.

  12. J. Mansfield says:

    Freeman Dyson, Nature 427 (22 January 2004), p. 297:
    “In desperation I asked Fermi whether he was not impressed by the agreement between our calculated numbers and his measured numbers. He replied, ‘How many arbitrary parameters did you use for your calculations?’ I thought for a moment about our cut-off procedures and said, ‘Four.’ He said, ‘I remember my friend Johnny von Neumann used to say, with four parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle his trunk.'”

  13. It’s amazing that the Church’s modern scriptures don’t say a word about homosexuality. And the Bible is pretty subtle about it too (the same Bible that seems to endorse slavery, concubines, and a donkey that talks). And yet, some are so convinced that gay rights = the end of civilization. You would think we’d see more about it in the scriptures if this was the case.

  14. This meshes nicely into the 1st and 2nd great commandment debates going on now. Adam showed his love to God by loving Eve. The Priest and the Levite perhaps thought they were observing the 1st commandment ritual purity standards and avoiding touching a dead traveler, but Jesus says they blew it. Jesus taught that if your fellow traveler is bleeding, help, love, heal, and do not worry about convention, standard or commandment in bringing love to that person. The hymn, “How Great the Wisdom and the Love” has this line, “By strict obedience Jesus won The prize with glory rife.” Was he strictly obedient, including when it meant loving less? Did he not violate 1st commandment ritual purity laws by touching the lepers? Did he not reorient the 1st commandment sabbath codes to clarify that those codes were meant for man and not man for the sabbath?

  15. I said nothing of Sex, which you seem so stirred up about. It’s about allowing Sprits to come to get a body. The method and way it was devised is actually unimportant to me as I’m nothing. It happens to be the path laid out back to Father. Mom+Dad => Kids. This changes nothing of my love or compassion for any that follow any other path. In fact, it may increase it and I support and applaud that aspect of the post even if the interpretation is flawed. Also, don’t feel bad for my ability to think or my Biology PhD from one of the most respected universities in the world. I can think for myself. Nothing wrong with a telestial life.

    strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:13–14.) Not sure who gets there, but its not for everyone.

    and for Brian who apparently doesn’t like science and likes to spray insults: two parents including a Mom and a Dad are best for kids. There are many studies you could access to evaluate this finding beyond the words of the prophets. Here’s one with lots of others referenced for your perusal: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2930824/

  16. TRE, I like science. I don’t like duplicitous posts and absolute inane logical thinking. “I didn’t say anything about sex, just sexual procreation via a man and a woman.” Come on.

    As to your ‘research,’ which is a 10 year-old assessment of even earlier studies. No one here is arguing that 1 parent is better than 2 parents. Talk about strawman attacks.

    Very difficult to take your seriously. Should we all display our degrees in this thread. I have three graduate degrees. And they clearly taught me more about ethical logic, research, and argument than whatever you got.

  17. Alma Frances Pellett says:

    Thank you for the additional theological rationale that could be used to open up our 20th century limiting of marriage and families that are acceptable to God.

    I’ll mention briefly that I don’t believe those were the only two choices, as either or both could have waited or asked God, then been given the fruit by God, as was the plan (evidenced by Lucifer complaining that previous A&E were given the fruit).

    I have hope that there is another option we don’t see, which would be better than the options we think we are limited to now.

    But people are being hurt now, so waiting is not the best option. Better to move with limited understanding than stop progressing in case you get it wrong.

    Thank you again.

  18. Thank you, Taylor. This is a wonderful piece of creative theology, adding complexity, depth, and (critically) empathy to what we’ve long assumed God asked us to do. It’s critical that we interrogate our assumptions, and especially the ones that cause us to treat our neighbors and fellowsaints badly, and read our choices and beliefs through a theological (and divinely-commanded) commitment to love our neighbor.

  19. TRE, your study that claims that a child does best with a mother and father failed to control for the number of parents, or their financial situation, or of there was a lot of fighting and then divorce. So, it compared single parents to two parent intact families, not mother/father families to dad/dad or mom/mom families. So, no that study you claim proves that children are better off with mother and father proves no such thing. All it proves is that children who have never seen their parents divorce or been raised by a single parent are not as well off as parents in an intact two parent family—back before gay marriage was legal. Yes, kids are hurt by the fighting that goes on before parents split and kids are hurt by being raised in poverty as most single parent families are. But when you control for those two factors, kids do just fine. Poverty and fighting. Control for those and kids do just fine with mom & dad, *or* mom & grandma, dad & dad, mom &mom, mom with enough money, grandma with enough money, dad with enough money, uncle Harry, dad & uncle Harry, pick any loving combination you want. But don’t compare kids who have watched their parents go from loving each other to hating each other, and don’t compare to the mom working three jobs just to pay for food and housing. Those things hurt kids.

    And since we are bragging about our university degrees, I have three in social sciences, so I have had more classes in child development and what hurts kids than you have.

    Taylor, thanks for this, it is a new and refreshing take on the subject. And I am so glad my daughter and her wife have found each other and left the church that condemns their love. And you can add to your argument, “man is that he might have joy.” What joy could people have in life by living separately and singly. I just don’t think that God is the one who wants certain of his children to live their whole life without the love of a companion. Whether or not they can have biological children.

    Oh, and TRE, my daughter decided with her medical conditions, that she should not have children, and her wife cannot, so if they had married men, it still wouldn’t have produced children. So, what is your next argument about why they should be alone and lonely for life?

  20. bagofsand says:

    I think your getting the wrong analogy by truncating the momentum of certain elements in the garden story. You gotta take the whole thing into account in order to complete the narrative and, thereby, understand the rational boundaries of the story. A key element in the story is the establishment of man and woman in juxtaposition one to another and the commandment given to them as a couple. Without the momentum created by that element in the story–moving forward with the forbidden fruit would be just as meaningless as if there were no general creation, no creation of Adam, no planting of the garden, no creation of Eve, and so forth. In other words, given the context that is created when all of the elements are brought together in one coherent narrative what Adam is choosing is the woman. Yes she is a sacred other–but insofar as the scriptures are concerned the choice is narrow: it is to be with the woman–Eve specifically–or without her.

  21. bagofsand says:

    Anna, perhaps I’m misunderstanding you. But I think it’s obvious that a dysfunctional home of any makeup is worse than a loving and stable home of any makeup. That said, I think the science is “in” with regard to the best possible situation for children–and that is being in a loving and stable home with their biological mother and father.

  22. bagofsand, it’s not clear what you are saying in your first comment that contradicts anything in the OP. And, I wonder what your source is for the science being ‘in’ on this issue. Perhaps you could share. At least TKE shared a source, though it wasn’t a good one and thus undermined the claim. What do you have that’s better?

  23. Actually, I’m just going to preempt bagofsand and anyone else who wants to argue that research suggests being raised by same-sex couples puts children at a disadvantage. The fact is, the science does not support that. In fact, if anything, it suggest the opposite. I know conservatives want to point to some article that support their claim, but the overwhelming evidence suggests against such a claim.

    A great resource is here: https://whatweknow.inequality.cornell.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/PDF-Parenting-wellbeing-1.pdf

    It covers 79 studies on the matter. Go check it out.

  24. bagofsand says:

    Brian: “bagofsand, it’s not clear what you are saying in your first comment that contradicts anything in the OP.”

    What I’m trying to suggest (and all but failing) is that when all of the elements in the garden saga are given their fair say Adam’s “crisis” becomes clear. While we can assume (in the most general sense) that he’s “choosing others” over the commandment to avoid the forbidden fruit–what he’s *really* doing insofar as the story is concerned is choosing to remain with Eve. Without that specific choice (or action) on his part there is no “others.”

    And so when we generalize the meaning of “others” in Adam’s choice what we do is water down the purpose and meaning of vital elements of the story–without which we simply can’t get at what’s being taught by the allegory. IMO, there’s profound meaning in Adam making the choice to remain with Eve. It’s quite specific–and any analogizing that stems from it will come off as a bit fast and loose (for my tastes at any rate) if it is not understood in its proper context, including the powerful momentum that is brought to bear on it from all of the various elements of the story.

    Re: Sources for the best situations for children: Start here:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=children+living+with+both+biological+parents&oq=chi&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j69i60j69i65l3j69i61l2.2888j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    And then look at page after page of studies on the subject. Most of them will confirm that children tend to do better when brought up in a functional home with both of their biological parents.

    That’s not to say that other situations cannot function well enough to get children on the right track–especially where there’s an outpouring of love. But the numbers suggest that a stable home with both biological parents is the *ideal* situation for the proper care and nurture of children.

  25. bagofsand, I still don’t get what you are saying in your opening claim. Whatever.

    Secondly, did you even read what Anna wrote? No one is arguing that growing up in a functional home with two parents is not advantageous. We’re talking about kids growing with a two different sexes vs. two same sexes. You need to look at studies directly comparing the two. The studies you are finding do not compare the two. So what you think you are proving, you are not proving. I linked to relevant research of studies that compare the two. And they don’t prove there is any disadvantage to children growing up with functional heterosexual parents vs homosexual parents.

  26. bagofsand says:

    Re: My thoughts about the garden story: Oh, the irony! Here I am trying to say something meaningful about good story telling and I can’t get my point across.

    ***

    The studies I linked to have to do with the benefit of being brought up by both *biological* parents. That’s a different category–IMO. But inasmuch as that particular arrangement is the best option for children we should do everything we can to promote it as the *ideal.*

    That said, I think most folks would agree that children would fair much better in a home with two loving dads than in a home with a distant mom and a dad. But even so, inasmuch as there’s nothing more important for children — and society as a whole! — than the proper care a nurture of children, it should be our priority to provide them with the ideal–or to get as close to it as we can. Adult desires, fulfillments, and aspirations — as honorable as they may be — must take a back seat to what is best for little ones.

  27. “It should be a priority” is pretty much a non sequitur here. You statements here are opinions, not facts.

    I’m not sure who you’re trying to convince here, nobody is seeking to remove children from their homes.

    If your argument was “it’s best for children to be raised by their “biological” parents (note that you can have 3 biological parents, you get mitochondrial dna from the person whose womb you develop in, and your cellular dna from whoever contributed to the sperm and egg, at least for now – genetic engineering is already here to blur those lines) specifically of opposite sex”, that’s first of all an ill defined metric, and when you do define it for specific outcomes, well it’s already been shared via 97 studies that in fact, same sex parents (who tend to be more equitable than opposite sex partners) tend to produce better outcomes for children (which probably has quite a bit to do with the gating of what same sex parents have to have in terms of financial and social resources to have kids).

    So, no, that argument does not hold.

    Your opinion might be different, but that’s your opinion.

    What should and shouldn’t be “an ideal” is laughably esoteric.

    What should and shouldn’t be a “priority” is, also, your opinion, but of you’re trying to suggest some kind of religious imperative, it’s this very thing that articles like this are suggesting cause great harm for no good reason, like most attitudes steeped in bigotry tend to do.

    I hope you’ll consider that when you express your opinion as though it were some kind of fact, because it’s not a fact.

  28. Aaron,

    Yes, they are my opinions. Here are two (what I believe to be) good reasons for at least giving them a second thought:

    Click to access nhsr074.pdf

    https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/the-family-a-proclamation-to-the-world/the-family-a-proclamation-to-the-world?lang=eng

    Now, Aaron, I want to give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps I’ve written things in such a way as to make them unintelligible. But what you describe above is a good arrow shot away from what I was trying to get at. I hope the links I’ve provided will help to clarify things.

  29. Mike Sanders says:

    Interesting framing, but a bit circular. Your conclusion is informing how you choose to present the doctrine. The choice wasn’t between purity and companionship. It was between obedience to the direction to abstain from the fruit of the tree of knowledge and the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth.

    Everywhere in your post where you talked about companionship, replace it with procreation and see if it still makes the same point.

    >So much so that He celebrates the breaking of His own laws when we choose people over them.

    So much so that he celebrates when his plan of happiness advances. It does not follow that every broken commandment in the service of “prioritizing people” advances his plan. The statement that you made is specifically contradicted by Jesus himself. When the man asked to be given a little time to bury his father, Jesus said, “Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:60)” And elsewhere, he warned of deviations from our devotions, even those inspired by our families, “37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
    38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me (Matthew 10:37-38)”

    God wants us to face reality. Pretending that it okay to break the commandments serves only devilish ends.

  30. bagofsand,

    Again, the CDC article you link to does not address same-sex parents (meaning that they were not even considered and thus not subject to the conclusion in any manner). The list of relevant studies that I linked to earlier (I should have linked to this site, with easy to access abstracts and complete studies here: https://whatweknow.inequality.cornell.edu/topics/lgbt-equality/what-does-the-scholarly-research-say-about-the-wellbeing-of-children-with-gay-or-lesbian-parents/ )
    you would find conclusions like (in Alphabetical order, the first 4 of 75, cited here to save you the trouble):

    “We find that the literature on outcomes for children of same-sex parents is marked by scientific consensus that they experience “no differences” compared to children from other parental configurations.” (Adams 2015)

    “The analyses examine parenting practices, the emotional well-being of the child, and the sexual orientation of the child. The results demonstrate no differences on any measures between the heterosexual and homosexual parents regarding parenting styles, emotional adjustment, and sexual orientation of the child(ren). In other words, the data fail to support the continuation of a bias against homosexual parents by any court.” (Allen and Burrell 1996)

    “Seven types of outcomes were found to be typical: emotional functioning, sexual preference, stigmatization, gender role behavior, behavioral adjustment, gender identity, and cognitive functioning. Children raised by lesbian mothers or gay fathers did not systematically differ from other children on any of the outcomes. The studies indicate that children raised by lesbian women do not experience adverse outcomes compared with other children. The same holds for children raised by gay men, but more studies should be done.” (Anderssen, Amlie, and Ytteroy, 2002)

    “Lesbian and gay parents reported higher levels of dyadic adjustment, flexibility, and communication in their family than heterosexual parents. Data from the present study demonstrated that children raised by lesbian and gay parents showed a similar level of emotion regulation and psychological well-being than children raised by heterosexual parents.” (Baiocco et al., 2015)

    The list goes on for quite some time: not always such direct, glowing conclusions, but which support the overall consensus.

    I understand that you currently believe something else (largely, it appears, because you feel the Church supports your claim). I’d urge you, however, to consider that perhaps what you believe is not what is. The truth is out there.

    Finally, thank you, at least, for this exchange, as it helps me understand how you and others more than likely arrive at your conclusions, ie. take what the Church has said and read that into your conclusions, supported via primarily ‘Google research’ with parameters designed to return desirable results, coupled by ignoring (by either doubling down or not considering, eg. reading, engaging) any contradictory, relevant data. I mean this sincerely. I don’t think you are trying to be deceitful or ignorant or mean. I’m not trying to be either. And your process helps me better understand so many people I know and am very close to on how they came to their beliefs.

  31. Gilgamesh says:

    I enjoyed this refreshing take on the relationship of LGTBQ+ community with God’s plans. However, theologically I believe there can be different interpretations. We tend to read the Adam and Eve story as one of contradictory commandments. That does not have to be the case. What if they were progressive commandments? Forbidden at one point then permitted at another. The commandment against fornication while single and then promoting sexual intercourse when married is an example. What was once forbidden is later encouraged. The fruit of the tree could have been the same. Forbidden at first, but permitted later. Only, Satan preempted the later permission.

    Also, the idea that God made us as we are on earth is not a given fact. I tend to think everything that happens to our earthly bodies, including sexual attraction, is a consequence of earth life. God didn’t make people gay or straight, but our genetics, which God does not control, make those both possible outcomes by choosing to come to earth. I see God as more hands off when it comes to sexual attraction or innate characteristics of individuals.

    That said, I think there is plenty of room in Mormon theology for LGBTQ+ members of the church and we should be doing more to reach out to them. I just disagree that there were contradictory commandments and that God makes us how we are in this life.

  32. bagofsand says:

    Brian, thank you for the thoughtful reply. As I said earlier, the facts regarding the wellbeing of children who are raised by their own biological parents is a different category. It doesn’t have to do with the question of heterosexual verses homosexual parents. It’s simply a measurement of the differences in outcomes between children being raised by both biological parents and being raised in other family structures that include one or no biological parents. So far as I can tell this is established science in the world of sociology.

    And so the logic is simple: According to the CDC the proclamation on the family has got it right insofar as the proper care and nurture of children is concerned.

    That said, even if the CDC’s findings (or the literally thousands of google results) didn’t match the proclamation I’d side with the latter. I believe the words of living prophets trump those of the academy–especially when all fifteen apostles are of one accord.

  33. Antonio Parr says:

    Guest/OP –

    Your post is exceptionally well written, although it relies upon some speculative theology that I don’t entirely share. Still, it is rare to come across ideas that are so innovative, and I am glad that I read what you had to say on this topic.

    Brian –

    Does our love and support for our gay brothers and sisters require us to renounce any distinct societal value arising out of heterosexual marriages and heterosexual parenting?

  34. bagofsand,

    I get what you’re attempting to argue, but a study that concludes ‘it’s best to eat only meat over only non-meat’ and their method was to study ‘only meat’ vs ‘only vegetables,’ but did not even consider ‘only fruit,’ we cannot conclude that eating only meat is better than eating only fruit. That’s what you’re claiming that article supports. I know you want to argue it isn’t because their category of ‘non-biological’ must include ‘gay parents,’ but . . . it doesn’t. They did not consider ‘gay parents’ and yet worded it as though they had. On the other hand, I point to an enormous amount of data that directly studies children raised by gay vs heterosexual parents and you ignore it, still claiming the science supports your claim when it clearly doesn’t.

    But, again, thank you, for stating the main method on how you came to your belief: that science of the matter is only good as far as it supports a pre-determined conclusion, as dictated by current Church statements.

    Also, the Proclamation doesn’t say what you are claiming it does either. The relevant passage, “Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity,” is a statement of ‘A.’ No one is arguing against ‘A,’ but simply that ‘A’ does not preclude ‘B’. And not as a logical claim, but simply to point out that Jesus was physically reared by his non-biological father. Same with Moses. Like the two greatest prophets in Christianity, until, say Joesph Smith.

    Look, I’m done at this point, because . . . brick walls; . . . leading a horse to water; . . . etc. We’re getting nowhere. Though perhaps the discussion helped someone else with initially similar views, but perhaps more open.

    In the end, I’m not fine with people causing harm using faulty logic. Or causing harm using religion, for that matter. (I hear you, you don’t believe in those things either). And yet, here we are.

    I believe in studying things out (sincerely) and that much has yet to be revealed. I mean, the Church used to teach that it was ‘best’ for same-race marriages and thus discouraged (and even denied blessings to those you participated in) inter-racial marriage. The Church can and will change. (Note that I didn’t say the gospel causes harm or changes.) Again, though, I don’t have much hope that any of this is reaching you but I’m more in the “I am fearful [the members] settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation” than the ”once the leaders have spoken the thinking is done,’ camp.

    But it’s worth a final try.

    All the best. End of line for me.

  35. bagofsand says:

    Brian, I think we’re both coming at this with a lot of momentum and it’s causing us to talk passed each other.

    Best to you as well.

  36. bagofsand says:

    *past* each other…

    Sheesh.

  37. Gilgamesh, I think there is another interpretation of the whole Adam and Eve set of choices. God didn’t say, “don’t eat that fruit.” But said “don’t eat the fruit or else.” It was not a commandment, but a consequence. It was a choice of, “don’t eat it if you want to stay immortal in the G. of E.” It wasn’t a commandment, but a condition of a choice. “You eat this fruit and you will die.” And they both did eventually die. Eve didn’t disobey one commandment in order to obey another and neither did Adam. She made a choice to become mortal so she could have the knowledge of good and evil, and so she could have children. Then she presented the problem to Adam. “Stay here and be ignorant and alone, and stay immortal, or eat the fruit, gain knowledge, we stay together, and we have children.”

    That removes the idea that God lied, or tried to trick them. I really don’t like a God that gives you a choice without telling you all the facts, or gives two conflicting commandments. So, that is how I view it. They knew the choice was to become mortal, gain the knowledge of good and evil, and have children. Or, remain in childlike innocence in the garden as immortal beings. And men “ruling over women” is purely a fallen state of this world and just as evil as other things that come with a fallen state. It is a consequence of the fall and not an eternal principle.

    The rest is stuff people changed or misunderstood because they liked it better when the woman made a bad choice but Adam made a good one. It is the stereotype men find flattering, so they stick with it. “Stupid woman, brave smart man.” No, they both made the same choice, but Eve made it first, probably because she figured out after eons in the garden, that they just were not producing children.

    But then, really I think the whole thing is an allegory of the choice each one of us makes to be born on earth. We make the choice to be mortal, know good from evil, and suffer the fall of living in mortality.

  38. Your food allergy says:

    Anna, brava!

  39. This OP is uniquely thought-provoking on a lot of levels, and I thank you for sharing it.

    My jumbled thoughts wouldn’t gel enough to comment before, but I had the impression that some of the contrarian comments, written by men or from a male-centric viewpoint and pontificating sternly about the meaning of procreation, seemed a wee bit off to me. The framework those comments constructed in those comments seemed to me to have a disconnect between the creation of the bodies, and the long-term care that’s necessary afterwards. After creating three bodies and shepherding them through the long haul, I don’t easily distinguish those two parts of procreation as separate. Also, within such comments was a strong implication of gender essentialism as doctrinal, in support of the mom-and-dad framework. I dislike using the gospel found in scripture as a blunt weapon, so I didn’t speak up, and there were those already engaging the bothersome notions much better than I would.

    And then here is Anna, illuminating the posits with a completely different light that “marries” those two seemingly separate notions back together, so to speak, without even mentioning my irritating disconnects. And shows me an angle that reveals how to make sense of it, and is inclusive of both as equal parents of the hoped-for children.

    Beautifully expressed, and not weaponized against loving parents who may not be biological, but are fully engaged in that long haul, and the others who, for reasons, aren’t parents but still participate in the long-haul of a loving family. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Anna.

  40. Robert Hagedorn says:

    “As Joseph Fielding taught me, Adam and Eve were taught two contradictory commandments:

    1. Multiply and replenish the earth.
    2. Don’t eat the forbidden fruit.”

    No, they are not contradictory commandments. They are the two most complementary commandments ever given. Both are dependent upon each other. But the two simple and direct commandments nevertheless summarize the following many-worded exegesis of the story of Adam and Eve. The only missing element in this two-commandment summary is the identity of the forbidden fruit: what do they eat?

    For thousands of years, the identity of the forbidden fruit eaten by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden story has been unknown. If the fruit is the traditionally believed apple, or another literal fruit, it would simply be called by its literal name, and not the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Because eating a piece of this literal fruit would give only knowledge of the literal fruit’s taste, not knowledge of good and evil. So…

    If literal fruit is not the fruit in the world’s oldest and greatest mystery story, then what is the fruit? Why are the two super secret trees assigned the mystical names “tree of life” and “tree of knowledge of good and evil?” Is the talking snake Evil Angel speaking words, or does the talk represent something more subtle? Could two men have yielded to Adam and Eve’s temptation? Why would a smart man and woman eat from a forbidden fruit tree, instead of from one that is NOT forbidden, especially when both “trees” are right next to each other in the center of the Garden? How is the couple’s disobedience of the very first commandment to be fruitful and multiply while in the Garden linked to their decision to make only fig leaf aprons, instead of complete clothing, in this incomprehensible narrative, with its guesswork of interpretations and its hints of sexual behavior?

    A lone exegesis combines all six questions for one answer, using only evidence in the dreamlike Bible chronicle, for an intelligent and sensible explanation of the world’s oldest and greatest fruit mystery. This evidence in the Genesis 2 and 3 Bible story identifies the fruit as carnal pleasure. The solid evidence offers no support for historical fruit identity opinions. But, even with the evidence, is this unique exegesis the correct exegesis?

    *****
    Bad Day in the Garden

    They eat the fruit, but what do they eat?
    We lift the veil, for a wary peek.
    Through a forest of mystery hiding it all,
    We see a body, naked and weak.

    “The Random House Dictionary of the English Language” defines allegory as “a representation of an abstract, or spiritual meaning through concrete, or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another.” It’s difficult to imagine a better definition than this one. But it’s even more difficult to imagine anyone making any sense of the second and third chapters of Genesis by taking everything in the two chapters literally. When was the last time someone went into a grocery store and bought some knowledge of good and evil fruit?

    Although most elements in Genesis 2 and 3 represent something else, there are a number of facts in the story that can be taken at face value.

    1. Adam and Eve have real human bodies.
    2. Adam and Eve are not wearing any clothes.
    3. God has forbidden them to do something.
    4. They have disobeyed God.
    5. God has punished them both for their disobedience.

    The above five facts form the basis for the religious beliefs of many people who are not interested in allegories, and of many who are. But there is an all-important sixth fact, the knowledge of which would do no harm to anyone’s religious beliefs.

    This BODY is the Garden in whose center grow
    The two famous trees, but nowhere a weevil.
    Here is the tree of life and the one
    Of knowledge of good and knowledge of evil.

    This sixth fact is the key that unlocks the door, opens it, and solves the mystery: both trees are in the center of the garden. This fact is so important that it is mentioned, not just once, but twice: Genesis 2:9 and Genesis 3:3. (In Genesis 3:3 the tree of life is not specifically mentioned, but we know it is there, because we were told it is there in Genesis 2:9.) Technically, both trees could not occupy the center of the garden at the same time, unless they were entwined. But, there is no evidence for entwinement here. What these two verses tell us, is that both trees are very close to each other.

    Because the two trees are right next to each other
    Care must be taken to avoid the one bad.
    For the fruit of both trees is pleasure,
    So the pleasure is there to be had.

    To be fruitful and multiply eat from the first.
    But eat from the second and no one conceives.
    So here we go now: one, two, three–
    Pleasure, shame, fig tree leaves.

    God’s first commandment to Adam and Eve was to be fruitful and multiply. To be fruitful and multiply, eat from the first. But eat from the second and no one conceives. Adam and Eve eat from the forbidden second tree, and as a result, produce no children while in the Garden of Eden. Instead of engaging in the procreative process as commanded, they use, as a procreative organ, a delivery system designed for delivery, but not for delivery of children.

    This material is not just a brain teaser, nor hopefully is it an example of sophomoric cleverness. It’s really quite simple: explanations of certain fearful mysteries buried in the story for thousands of years, have been exhumed by using verse, rather than prose, to more easily reveal these explanations. The quality of the verse is both irrelevant and unimportant.

    Please note: some parts of the story are totally acceptable as both symbolic and literal narrative, at least up to a point. For example, the symbolic garden can be juxtaposed with a literal garden, complete with fruit trees. Other sections can be taken as literal accounts, extra material such as Genesis 3:20-21, in which Adam gives Eve her name and God shows compassion for the pair by clothing them in animal skins for warmth, before evicting them from the garden, symbolic and literal, into the graceless and cold outside world where they forfeit their gift of eternal life they would have had if they had eaten only from the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22)

    *****
    Preliminary Wrap

    The Genesis story tells us in Genesis 2:9 and 3:3 both trees are in the center of the Garden. So the forbidden Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is right next to the allowed tree, the Tree of Life, and its fruit. If the forbidden fruit from the forbidden tree is literal fruit, the eating of this fruit would give only knowledge of the fruit’s taste, not knowledge of good and evil. But the covering of the genitals with fig leaf aprons following the eating of the “fruit” does indicate sudden acquisition of knowledge of good and evil, a knowledge that results in a certain type of shame. It is difficult to understand how eating literal fruit results in this type of shame. And it is difficult to understand how normal and necessary physical relations between Adam and Eve result in this type of shame, since the first and only specified commandment to them is to “Be fruitful and multiply” in the Garden, a commandment they disobey, because no children are produced until after the eviction from Eden, and after they have normal and necessary physical relations for the first time in Genesis 4:1. But their obedience is too late: guardian cherubim and a flaming sword prevent reentry into the Garden.

    Adam and Eve execute a double disobedience when they eat of the forbidden fruit–they fail to procreate, by doing what they are forbidden to do. And they fail to procreate, by not doing what they are commanded to do. Both failures occur simultaneously. The fruit in the Garden of Eden is not forbidden carnal pleasure, but forbidden nonprocreative carnal pleasure–nonprocreative carnal pleasure derived from a specific forbidden physical act.

    *****
    Postscript: Traditional Identity of The Fruit Persists

    The widespread belief that the fruit is an apple has its genesis in the 12th century, based on Saint Jerome’s earlier 4th century Vulgate translation, in which he substituted the later corrected “malum,” meaning “apple,” for “malus,” meaning “evil,” to identify the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve ate. And this error remains the apex identity reaching us in the 21st century, still based on no evidence for the existence of a literal fruit. But to end on a positive note, the acceptance of the evidence-based exegesis of the identity of the fruit in the world’s oldest mystery story is at last making headway, as increasing numbers of people manage to set aside the emotions and feelings spinning them in circles, and acknowledge–at least until a better exegesis appears–the evidence in the Bible story of the talking fruit snake. This long-forgotten exegesis explains everything as it superimposes the allegorical Eden Garden upon its literal counterpart. The exegesis offers enlightenment for the untrue and oft repeated, “Only God knows what fruit they ate.” Yes, a Deity would know what “fruit” they “ate,” but the evidence in the Genesis story reveals the Deity’s knowledge of the fruit’s identity to anyone who wishes to know, and has the courage to overcome their emotional resistance and uneasiness resulting from being exposed to this knowledge. Would this exposure be eating forbidden knowledge once again? Would a Deity want us to remain ignorant of the Genesis story’s meaning? No to both questions, because our garden is not their Garden–we are not living in the Garden of Eden’s state of grace. And secondly, the evidence in the story clearly tells us that Adam and Eve did not disobey the “be fruitful and multiply” Genesis 1:28 commandment for the purpose of acquiring knowledge of good and evil. Their acquisition of this knowledge was a byproduct of their disobedient behavior, which was to experience nonprocreative physical pleasure by eating allegorical fruit from the allegorical wrong tree in the center of an allegorical garden, while at the same time quite possibly living in a literal garden with literal fruit trees and literal snakes that do not talk to women.

    *****
    Just Another Doctrinal Neologism?

    Is this exegesis beginning with Genesis 1:28, continuing through Genesis 2 and 3, and concluding with Genesis 4:1 just another neologism? No, it is not. If the exegesis is only another neologism, but not the exhumation and revelation of the original story, then not only do the individuals who first hear the story have absolutely no idea what the story means, but neither does the original storyteller. Imagine the storyteller saying, “Sometimes I just say things. I don’t know what they mean.” It is somewhat difficult to imagine this event happening.

    If it does happen, then the original storyteller tells the story while having no understanding of the words being said, unless the storyteller decides to deliberately disguise and beautify the story, to hide its true meaning. This will certainly require complex ability, to intentionally mystify at the very dawn of human consciousness. It will also require the original listeners to not ask the original storyteller any questions about this new story–a story that makes no sense. So, the mystification probably happens later. And, of course, when it does, everyone will know the meaning of the entire story. For a while.

  41. Old Woman says:

    @Robert Hagedorn. The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is a myth/allegory which is open to a variety of interpretations. Yours is one, although it is difficult to tell if your interpretation is based on the allegorical interpretation or the literal story. In any case, it is a very long “comment” with very little relevancy to the topic of the post (choosing people over purity laws). As an interpretation it seems to be quite convoluted.

  42. Antonio Parr says:

    No me should be alone, and we as a people need to do what we can to make sure that we are ministering, in word and in deed, in as Christ-like a way as possible.

    I posted this question as an addendum to my earlier post, and I would be curious to hear others’ thoughts on this:

    Does our love and support for our gay brothers and sisters require us to renounce any distinct societal value arising out of heterosexual marriages and heterosexual parenting?

    The Church, specifically, and society, generally, actively encourages men and women to marry each other, in part recognizing that their sexual unions will result in the birth of children and the perpetuation of community. Should the Church/society be ~identically~ invested in *encouraging* marriage between members of the same gender and, similarly, should the Church/society be ~identically~ invested in *encouraging* same-gender couples to have children?

  43. bagofsand says:

    From the OP:

    “In other words, the God of the restoration, the one I worship, picks people over forbidden fruit every time.”

    Yes–but he’s paid a horrible price so he can do that. And not only that–part of the horrible price he’s paid for us has to do with enabling us to become purified; covering us, as it were, while he helps us work out our salvation. So while he chooses people he does require repentance of them–that is, if they desire to take advantage of everything he offers them.

  44. Antonio Parr, I don’t think supporting our gay brothers and sisters *requires* that religion *encourage* gay couples or families, but it does require that it stop forbidding it, at least in my opinion. I just don’t see how you can love and support someone and forbid them from marrying the person the love. But I am a dragon mama, so yes, I support my daughter, no matter who she loves.

    As to does it require that we renounce any advantage that straight couples have in raising children. Well, *science* does that. So, f you want to believe in what science shows, then the answer is yes. At minimum truth requires that we stop bad mouthing gay couples and their equal ability to raise good productive children. So, yeah we are required to renounce the idea that straight couples do a better job raising children, because it just isn’t true according to the studies that actually compare straight couples to gay couples on an equal basis. So far, most studies that BYU points to as proof that straight couples do better compare children who were born into a straight couple, then that couple divorces and gay dad or gay mom finishes raising the kids with a gay partner. Then BYU claims that it is the gay couple harming kids. No, it is divorce. No, compare children who were adopted at birth by that gay couple. Make your study fair and stop comparing apples and oranges to prove your point. All that kind of study proves is that divorce hurts kids.

    Or, stop pressuring gays to marry someone of the opposite sex, then after they divorce, look at the kids and claim that it proves gays should not marry gays. Nope. It says a person should be allowed to marry who they love. Then you won’t have kids of gay parents harmed when that parent divorces the other parent they never loved and then marries who they love.

    So, it is science that requires we renounce this idea that straight couples or biological parents are better parents. Because it simply is not true.

    But religion can keep claiming what ever it likes. Religion can claim that pigs can fly, or it can claim that straight biological parents make better parents. But religion claiming it does not make it true.

  45. PS, I forgot the part about the huge [insert sarcasm] advantage of producing children. As long as there are kids in foster care who need parents, this is not the most important point. Most gay couples would not marry and have kids anyway, so, if some of them adopt, what skin is it off your teeth? Why the blank is this so all fired important to the men around here? The world has too many people already. We are over carrying capacity and there are people who starve, so you are worried that every available man and woman produce kids? Why?

    That commandment was given specifically to Adam and Eve. God commanded Noah to build an ark. Are you applying that to yourselves also.

    No, I don’t believe that God currently wants everyone to produce as many children as they possibly can. And don’t bother quoting prophets at me. Or I will explain to you all why I think the prophets are self serving by repeating a command given to Adam and Eve to our modern world.

  46. Mike Sanders says:

    @Anna,

    >And don’t bother quoting prophets at me.

    Then I’ll quote Christ,

    >But I am a dragon mama, so yes, I support my daughter, no matter who she loves.

    “he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37)”

  47. Alma Frances Pellett says:

    @OldWoman; thank you.
    @Mike Sanders; Boooo. Despite your simplistic and out of context snippet of scripture, we believe in a God that wants people sealed together as one large family. To say that loving a child you believe to be sinning means you are not really following God is antithetical to the Gospel.
    You may believe that as a transgender woman I could not possibly be in line with God, but I know who I am, and I know what rock I have built on.

  48. Antonio Parr says:

    Anna –

    First, peace to you.

    Second, my question was meant as a question and not as a declaration. I present it because, at first glance, the upending of the social order arising out of the family unit – the bedrock of society – is not something to be approached casually. Similarly, abandoning gender roles that are thousands of years in the making seems to be a significant step that requires sober consideration of any long-term and ancillary repercussions associated with such a move.

    If you take away religion, we are creatures that have certain hard-wired tendencies in a way that a pride of lions has hard-wired tendencies. It may not be a simple thing to attempt to act otherwise.

    If we add religion to the mix, walking into every LDS chapel and every Catholic cathedral and every Jewish synagogue and every Muslim mosque and asking the leaders and the congregants to, on the spot, forget about everything that they have ever been taught about motherhood and fatherhood and gender and families, and to, in effect, renounce the wisdom of their ancestors in establishing such orders – well, that is a step that no people should take lightly.

    Finally – you love your daughter and you are her fierce advocate. We all know parents of gay children who have all but abandoned these precious ones. May God bless your love.

  49. Pconnornc says:

    I also feel like it is a bit of a stretch and inconsistent w/ other scriptures that addressing our loneliness is qualification for disobedience. I really loved Anna’s positioning that partaking of the fruit was not a commandment, but instruction of what would happen.

    In the scriptures we are told we may have to abandon family relationships for the Lord – nothing is said here of our loneliness, though it is suggested that we will have trials like the Lord did.

    I also wonder how much our battle with the “natural man” (who is an enemy to God) is at odds with some of the comments? I think I hear some suggest that if a person is born with a certain tendency, then it must be from God and should be leaned into. Isn’t it possible that all of us (I know I am) are born with tendencies, that in of themselves are not sinful, but acting upon them are?

  50. Whether or not one agrees with Brian, and I’m not saying if I do or don’t, the logic there is awful. As much as Brian claims to be for logic, we instead are met with a plethora of slippery slopes, ad hominem attacks, strawman attacks, appeals to emotion, and gaslighting. It hurts your cause by practicing such an abundance of fallacious arguments.

  51. Brian Larsen says:

    Thanks, Abe, for the string of accusations with no discussion, evidence, etc. I offered plenty of material for discussion in my comments. Look, I’m not perfect and I can be a bit short, but perhaps could you offer more than a simple driveby? I’m happy to engage with honest discourset until it seems we reach an impasse.

  52. Whenever I see posts on BCC about changing the church’s stance on SSM or LGBTQ+ issues in general, I’m reminded of the stark divide that exists between people like me, who support the church’s doctrinal positions and people who wish it to change.

    There is an imagination to “the other side” that I find deeply inappropriate in these matters, bordering on arrogance. I believe we covenant to God to obey His will and to align ourselves in every thought, deed and action to Him. And though we will fail, there is hope and sanctification in the process of trying.

    How can I do that while imagining new ways the gospel can be changed BY ME to fit MY standards? Not by God, but by me? Not offering judgment to you, but it’s something I truly don’t get.

  53. bagofsand says:

    Robert Hagedorn,

    I enjoyed reading your comment. The Garden Saga is something that interests me very much–so I’m hungry for thoughts on the subject–especially from folks who have spent some serious time studying it. So, thanks!

    I found your conclusion (as to what the fruit really is) quite interesting. Even so, I think that approach has a tendency to take us toward a degree asceticism that undercuts the joy of embodiment.

    At this point in my ruminations — and I don’t know if I’ve got it right — I tend to believe that the fruit is an induction into the mystery of Godliness–so to speak. And at the center of the mystery is the power to bring forth life–progeny.

    Someone — I can’t remember who–I think it was Anna — mentioned above that Eve was ready to get on with the business of having children. That interpretation resonates with me. IMO, I think what had happened was–Eve’s design caused her to be more open to input on the subject than Adam was. And so that’s why *she* led *him* into making the decision that would move them toward becoming like the Gods.

    But the problem was–having such knowledge at that stage of the game placed them in a position where they were not able to live up to what they knew–and so they were condemned by it. And thus the need for a redeemer.

    You may already be aware of this study by Jeff Bradshaw wherein he likens the Tree of Knowledge unto a veil surrounding the Tree of Life:

    https://rsc.byu.edu/ascending-mountain-lord/tree-knowledge-veil-sanctuary

    Thanks again!

  54. Anna, I’ve come to the same conclusion you have about what eating the fruit symbolized. You said: “But then, really I think the whole thing is an allegory of the choice each one of us makes to be born on earth. We make the choice to be mortal, know good from evil, and suffer the fall of living in mortality.”

    I wrote my thoughts this way:

    “I don’t believe sex was the original sin and that ‘eating the fruit’ was a euphemism. The Bible is not shy about declaring when people had sex. In the verse right after Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden, the Bible tells us that “Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived.” Genesis 4:1. If Adam and Eve had sex in the Garden of Eden, I believe the story would say so.

    In addition, equating the fruit with sex ignores the fact that there is a lot to learn about good and evil that has nothing to do with sex. Of the Ten Commandments, only one addresses sexual sin. The New Testament Gospels only record a few instances of Jesus Christ speaking about sexual standards and sin. Saying that eating the fruit meant having sex demonizes sex (which is frequently not a sin at all) and leaves out all the other many types of sin.

    Instead, I believe that eating the fruit symbolizes the choice to become mortal. Because all mortals who live long enough to reach the age of accountability commit sins, choosing mortality means choosing to sin. Eve chose mortality, which includes the capacity to commit sin.

    This interpretation dovetails nicely with the doctrine that we existed in a premortal state and chose to be born on this earth. We all chose to become mortal; we all chose to gain the capacity to sin; we all chose to leave the premortal existence (which could be compared to the Garden of Eden for its lack of death and pain) to be born on this earth. The reason we are not held accountable for Adam and Eve’s choice is because we all made the same choice – to live in a fallen mortal world full of sin.

    We all ate the fruit.”

    (Sorry for getting off topic – I haven’t seen anyone else come to the same conclusion I have about the symbolism of eating the fruit and just had to jump in and get excited about that.)

  55. I appreciate this post. It’s thoughtful and at least cracks the door. I was watching the anniversary celebration of the priesthood decision and Gladys Knight singing there’s a place for us and a time for us. I think sadly gay people are in exile and the best advice for exile people is to bless the land u find urself and prove the occupiers wrong as Jeremiah directed

  56. steelbright says:

    @Len:

    Your position presupposes that the Church’s doctrine and policies on these issues are consistent with the will of God. A fact that cannot reasonably be disputed is that the Church as an institution is not perfect. Any way you look at it, the Church as an institution today is the result of a collective group of decisions made by men over time. Generally speaking, if you are a believer in LDS doctrine and theology then you believe that those decisions are inspired, in many cases prophetic, and reflect the will of God (and constitute what you call the Gospel in your comment).

    However, even without pointing to any specific doctrine/policy, no one can reasonably argue that the men who make/have made the Church’s policy and pronounced its doctrines are infallible when they do it. Those men do not magically transform into infallible beings that never make a mistake about policy or doctrine simply because they were set apart for their callings; they are still mortal, they are still imperfect, they are still influenced by their own life experiences, and conditioned prejudices and biases.

    Given this, even the Church does not claim that its leaders are always correct. In my experience you can usually get members of the church to generally agree with this point (my area 70 even went so far as to say he thought Pres. Nelson would agree), but then if you ask them to identify a policy or doctrine that they think the Church may be incorrect about… game over. That’s apostasy talk, thinking above your station, or at least headed in that direction. I recently read somewhere the following (I can’t remember where so I can’t give proper credit): “The Catholic Church’s doctrine is that the pope is infallible, but no Catholic really believes it. The Mormon Church’s doctrine is that the prophet is fallible, but no Mormon really believes it.”

    My point is this: The Church is not God. The prophet is not God. The Church and the Gospel are not synonyms. Even though the Church is an institution made up of well-meaning people who in good faith are probably doing their best to get it right, it is not infallible.

    To treat the Church and its decisions as infallible and always consistent with the will of God is to put your trust in the arm of flesh and make the Church your idol.

    Not offering judgment to you, but please stop unintentionally shaming people in the name of your false God, just for thinking.

  57. The exact quote is “Consider the irony: Roman Catholic doctrine proclaims the pope to infallible, but most Catholics don’t believe it; whereas Mormon doctrine rejects the idea of infallible leaders, but we Mormons refuse to accept that.” From “The Mark of the Curse: Lingering Racism in Mormon Doctrine,” Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 32 No. 1 (Spring 1999), p. 131

  58. steelbright says:

    Thanks very much for the citation! I think I read it paraphrased somewhere outside Dialogue (some blog or social media post or something), but knowing where it originated is always the best. Appreciate the help.

  59. I forgot to add the author’s name: Keith Norman

  60. Mike Sanders says:

    @steelbright

    Counterpoint:

    When has ignoring the prophets or despising their message ever been the laudable decision? Is there any time in the scriptures that this was demonstrated?

    Indeed, I think that the the idea of the lawful exercise of priesthood keys means that God will justify his people when they follow the prophet.

    Speaking to his Seventies, Jesus said, “He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me. (Luke 10:16)”

    That is why we can easily admit that our leaders are imperfect, but also why receive their lawfully given message.

  61. steelbright says:

    @Mike Sanders

    1. Questioning is not despising;
    2. Questioning is not ignoring;
    3. If the policy/doctrine in question actually turns out to be consistent with God’s will, I did not say those who believed that policy/doctrine would not be “justified” – whatever you mean by that;
    4. The point I think you are trying to make with reference to Jesus speaking to his 70 presupposes that the particular policy/doctrine that the 70 teach, and that is in question, whatever it may be, is actually consistent with His/God’s will;
    5. What makes a message “lawfully given”? If by lawfully given you mean the policy/doctrine was given to us by a person or group of people who hold the keys to receive revelation for that particular thing, then your counterpoint fails for the very reasons I originally stated, which is that those people are subject to being fallible at every moment in their lives, even when they are acting in the capacity of their callings, just like you and me.

    I am not saying we cannot have confidence in their decisions. I am not saying that their mortal and fallible nature negates the reality of their calling as prophets, seers and revelators. What I am saying is that the fact that they say something is true does not automatically make it true; it is not wrong, sinful, “apostate” or necessarily even showing a lack of faith to take the position that they got it wrong on an issue, i.e. to question whether something they say is policy/doctrine is actually God’s will. To say otherwise is to tacitly admit that the Church’s constant refrain and admonition to ask God whether these things are true is a farce, because the only answer God could possibly give if the correct priesthood leader already spoke on the matter is “Yes it is true.” This would render personal revelation to know whether the Church’s teachings are true an absurdity because there would be absolutely no need to even ask God.

    For a very wide variety of reasons, there are lots and lots of people in (and, now, out of) the Church who do not feel like the Church’s present policy/doctrine on LGBTQ+ issues is consistent with the will of God. Engaging in scriptural exegesis to determine a way forward that harmonizes what those people still believe with what they do not believe (or are questioning) is for many a faithful act. They are trying not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. (Some who contribute have left the Church or were forced out by circumstance, but they add value to the process because they almost always have engaged with the issue in a meaningful way.) So, while in your mind you may be “defending the faith” by proclaiming we are off the straight and narrow, what you (and Len) are really doing is trying to subvert a process that the forms the foundation of our entire Church and Mormon-specific theology (“he who lacks wisdom let him ask of God”).

  62. Len,

    In case you’re actually wanting to understand, the difference is pretty simple–it seems like your position depends on being certain that every policy position taken by prophets is God’s will, so that agreeing with current policies is equivalent to “align[ing] ourselves in every thought, deed and action to Him. And though we will fail, there is hope and sanctification in the process of trying.” I believe that trying to discern whether what the prophets are currently teaching (particularly when it differs from what others have taught in the past, even within my lifetime) is God’s will is a key part of that aligning process. I absolutely agree with you that the process is hopeful and potentially sanctifying.

  63. Mike Sanders says:

    @steelbright

    >is actually consistent with His/God’s will;

    I think that there is some deep philosophical issues at play here, that depending on their resolution change the landscape of the conversation. In a universe governed by an Omnipotent, Omniscient being, what does it mean that some happens or doesn’t happen consistent with his will?

    Honestly, I’m not going to dig into this at the moment, but I thing that is bears consideration. As a toy example, suppose that God would have preferred that the extension of the priesthood to worthy male members had happened earlier. Certainly he could have called leaders that would have done it. He could have found people who would lean into their own understanding and not wait for an explicit revelation. Yet he did not. Does that mean that he had other priorities that outweighed his preference?

    Now to return to your comment…

    1&2. What does faithful questioning look like (I don’t deny that it is possible). What are good examples from the scriptures of the appropriate manner to question the prophets and apostles?

    3. Justified in the sense of the opposite situation. If it is possible that church leaders can act in their official capacity in a way that doesn’t follow God’s preferences, God’s people are justified in following those leader’s called by God even though it doesn’t follow God’s preference.

    >If by lawfully given you mean the policy/doctrine was given to us by a person or group of people who hold the keys to receive revelation for that particular thing

    That is exactly what I mean.

    >then your counterpoint fails for the very reasons I originally stated, which is that those people are subject to being fallible at every moment in their lives, even when they are acting in the capacity of their callings, just like you and me.

    That is exactly my counterpoint. When they exercise the keys of their office and calling, the possibility of their fallibility doesn’t even come into the discussion. Again, turning to the scriptures, when did it ever turn out to be the right choice to call into question the fallibility of a prophet’s message?

    >it is not wrong, sinful, “apostate” or necessarily even showing a lack of faith to take the position that they got it wrong on an issue, i.e. to question whether something they say is policy/doctrine is actually God’s will.

    Do you have an example where taking such a position was the correct or laudable choice?

    >To say otherwise is to tacitly admit that the Church’s constant refrain and admonition to ask God whether these things are true is a farce, because the only answer God could possibly give if the correct priesthood leader already spoke on the matter is “Yes it is true.”

    It’s not a farce, because that isn’t the point of personal revelation. The point of personal testimony is that God will communicate/confirm it to you, you don’t have to nor are you expected take it solely on the word of men. The point of seeking personal revelation/confirmation isn’t a tacit admission that they might be wrong (Although it is a very good way to find out if they are actually God’s prophets or apostles at all.)

    >This would render personal revelation to know whether the Church’s teachings are true an absurdity because there would be absolutely no need to even ask God.

    Absolutely ask God, it is super important to know whether this is God’s church, with God’s priesthood, lead by revelation.

    >For a very wide variety of reasons, there are lots and lots of people in (and, now, out of) the Church who do not feel like the Church’s present policy/doctrine on LGBTQ+ issues is consistent with the will of God.

    If they are out of the church, I don’t care much whether they think something is of God or not, they have separated themselves from him. This weakens their authority to propound his gospel and nature considerably.

  64. steelbright says:

    @Mike Sanders

    We are going in circles to some extent here, and we are off the topic of the OP, so this is probably it for me.

    I get what you are saying re an omniscient God choosing a leader – God would know beforehand the decisions the leader would make that are not going to be consistent with His will, but chooses that leader anyway for other reasons. Whether that is how it works is definitely something to think about, but in the event that is true and the leader’s decision is not in line with God’s will, then, still, it would not be a bad thing to disagree with the leader’s decision in favor of God’s will.

    At the judgment, I’m not going to be comfortable saying “Yes, I knew what the Church said about LGBTQ+ was wrong because of my personal experience with you, but I did what the Church said instead of what I knew inside was right, even though it meant harmfully excluding some of your children.” I feel accountable to act in accordance with (to the best of my ability) what I understand God’s will to be, regardless of what the Church says. I answer to God, and I think He will be much less concerned about if I got the theology wrong than he will be with the way I treated his children. If it turns out I am in error, then I am erring on the side of love, inclusion and grace.

    “Do you have an example where taking such a position was the correct or laudable choice?”
    People who opposed the Church’s priesthood and temple ban when it was in effect. Also, the underlying message of Jesus’ entire ministry, and at times the explicit message, is that believing in him and doing his will in spite of cultural norms and institutionalized religious authority is the correct way to live, especially when doing so serves to love, include and otherwise benefit “the least of these” in society.

    Godspeed and thanks for your thoughts.

  65. Kristine,

    I am really wanting to understand the divide. Thank you for you response. I’ll just add that I am NOT “certain that every policy position taken by prophets is God’s will”. This would be an absurd position to take in my mind.

    There are many minor policy positions that are a matter of personal preference, old-fashioned views or current fads. I would not feel comfortable taking any particular quote about evolution, or how to teach missionary lessons or dinosaurs or the exact nature of the Celestial Kingdom as the gospel truth.

    But on the matter of SSM, this is not one position taken by one prophet one time or even just a few times. This is a position taken from the moment this became an issue and was implied in the years before this became part of the public consciousness. There was no SSM in Nauvoo or 1890s SLC for example. And, personally, I’m not comfortable saying that just because BY was wrong about race or the Adam/God theory, that means all prophets who have ever spoken on the matter of SSM are wrong too.

    From my point of view, this feels like a settled issue. And every article stating otherwise leans heavily on creative theology. Hence my original question.

  66. Len, thanks for responding. And a “settled doctrine” rule seems like not a bad one. However, the priesthood and temple ban was settled doctrine, too, right up until it wasn’t.

  67. Kristine,

    To me the priesthood and temple ban are not very relevant for several reasons. 1) There have been temple/priesthood restrictions before based on family, tribe, group and race. 2) Prophets did preach it would end someday and 3) There is also ample doctrinal/scriptural precedent that race did not in fact matter in the church. 4) No other doctrines in the church had to change in order to accommodate the 1978 revelation.

    Before 1978, a reading of doctrine could lead one to either conclusion, that God has restricted priesthood for a time or He did not. It’s difficult to see how that ambiguity applies to SSM where there is no support whatsoever for a change in teaching.

    Once again, thank you for the polite engagement.

  68. Thanks, Len. I read the history differently, but of course you are right that it’s not a precise parallel. Still, I think it’s unwise to try to put God in a box–I. continue to hope that “he will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” I’m sure we agree on that :)

  69. Indeed we can! Article of Faith #9 always applies.

  70. As someone whose spouse chose making sure he was never alone or lonely over his covenant to keep the law of chastity, I disagree.

  71. A great deal of the issues which are addressed here would be theologically eased if gay marriage was allowed in the church. Acceptance and extended love would still be an issue in plenty quarters.

    I find it hard to believe and utterly perplexing that a church (which I’m an active member of), with the claim of prophets, seers and revelators to be floundering on such an issue and in some instances stating they don’t know.

  72. bagofsand says:

    JED, I think the family proclamation is a straightforward and bold statement by the apostles on the subject. IMO, if there’s any floundering happening it’s on the part of the members choosing whether or not to accept the proclamation as an inspired document.

  73. Bagofsand: I agree regarding the proclamation, but as referenced recently by Elder Holland, the brethren have shed more tears on the subject than any other. Maybe it’s not floundering but I think they’re struggling for their own answers, hence awkward statements, contradictory messages and backtracking on policies.

  74. bagofsand says:

    lara2004, I think they’re agonizing over losing people–it’s heartbreaking. And I think they’re doing all they can to keep people in without compromising the doctrine.

    Re: Backtracking on Policies: I think D&C Section 103: 30-34 is a good example of the kind of wiggle room the Lord allows us (at times) in fulfilling his will–especially with to policy, management, projects, and the like.

  75. bagofsand, as far as I know Elder Packer is the only Q15 member who has ever designated the Proclamation a revelation. And that Conference statement of his was edited afterwards to remove the word revelation. Sure, there are lots of ‘inspired’ references, but not ‘revelation.’ So, unlike for you, many of us find it difficult to consider the Proclamation as some game-winning slam dunk. Many things are inspired that aren’t the whole truth. And even if it were referenced as revelation, many faithful members would still wonder, as lara points out, all the other problems surrounding the issue that this OP is addressing and you are you discounting as (less faithful) members floundering.

  76. bagofsand – the PotF is not as “straightforward” as some seem to think. For example, I believe my spirit to be female, always has been and always will be, though my body gave some indication of maleness when I was born into this world. I still fit neatly into the PotF. I have a friend who is intersex and wasn’t assigned a gender at birth. She has lived as both male and female. Where does she fit in the PotF?

    The document even goes as far as saying “individual adaptation”, which gives families a -lot- of room while still maintaining the “anything outside our given gender roles is lesser” our doctrine is steeped in.

    All of this is why we truly need to get back to basics; love God, love they neighbor. There is no love in telling others that they are sinning.

  77. bagofsand says:

    Brian, I think the proclamation speaks for itself. IMO, the reason as to why the apostles are careful with how they frame it (in terms of revelation) is because they want to allow members enough space to come to terms with it on their own–without any sense of coercion. It’s a hard doctrine for many folks nowadays and they don’t want to needlessly push people away.

    Re: Discounting less faithful members: well, we all flounder at times over something, don’t we? I certainly do. I’m the least saint in that regard. Nevertheless, I think it can be said — speaking of the membership in general terms — that social issues are probably one of the most–if not the most–difficult challenges in the church at present.

  78. Bagofsand, sure the Proclamation speaks for itself: as a guide (that’s what ‘revelation’ was changed to), not a final, end all revelation (and even those can and have changed). Also, I see no reason to accept your rational that the Q15 aren’t calling the Proclamation a revelation if it was one. President Nelson calls just about anything he offers as a revelation and yet not this? And “needlessly pushing people away?” I mean, that’s already happening. Finally, your interpretation goes directly against prophets called to preach the hard doctrines. We get it, the existence of LGBT+ people is a difficult fact for you and Church leaders and other folks like you nowadays to fit into the currently theology. Hence the conversation. But, as you’ve already written, you will support the Church, end of line: facts don’t matter; history doesn’t matter; science doesn’t matter; nuance doesn’t matter; contradictions don’t matter; you can turn a blind eye to just about anything with that mindset. And you are.

  79. Alma and Brian,

    I like how Elder Oaks frames the proclamation in this talk:

    https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2017/10/the-plan-and-the-proclamation?lang=eng

  80. Read it before, thanks. I’m not ignorant of the Church’s current policy and teachings. (I’m also aware, however, of past teaching, policies, contradictions, etc.) Pointing me to Elder Oaks doesn’t change anything being discussed here. It doesn’t answer Alma’s concerns either. Perhaps you don’t care. Or perhaps you assumed it did. It doesn’t. Believe it or not, the Church doesn’t have an answer for everything. They’ve literally said ‘we don’t know’ what will happen in the next life in regards to LGBT+ people. Again, perhaps you don’t think that matters. It does.

    And FWIW, I could also link to numerous, numerous posts, examples, evidences about the subject (and I have in this very thread). But we all know it wouldn’t matter unless it’s from a Q15. And yet many posts in the bloggernacle on the subject deal explicitly with scripture (like this OP), with those very talks, with facts, with lived experiences, etc. But, you don’t want those. You don’t wish to engage. You wish to come here and recite things and then ignore how other people engage with them. I’m not interested in playing chess with pigeons, man. I’m out. Again.

  81. Brian, presumably you are “out” so you won’t see this, but having skimmed the back-and-forth just on November 8, isn’t that the definition of “engage”? If anything, your most recent comment sounds more like you are not interested in hearing how “other people engage with” those same things you say bagsofsand is refusing to engage with. And, again (in my mind) ironically, it sounds like you are not willing to engage in how others might read the “numerous, numerous posts, examples, evidences” and understand those same things, as indicated by this exasperated aspersion (“But we all know it wouldn’t matter unless it’s from a Q15”).

    Rather, it strikes me that you are frustrated they are not immediately agreeing with you – but the very idea of “engaging” suggests a back-and-forth. Your frustration reads more as a frustration that others can’t see that you are right already. That’s not engagement. It’s seems more like a desire to reinforce an echo chamber (it’s not just nutty right-wingers that exist in such structures).

  82. Adam C, bagofsand and I had an exchange early in the thread where they were attempting to make a claim about same-sex parents and child rearing where they ended up, finally, saying/admitting that (although they had appeared to engage the material), in the end, they didn’t care about anything other than what the Church said. They are still saying that. That’s fine. This whole OP engages relevant questions and the Church’s position and many comments address bagofsand’s points and then raise other ones with questions, experiences, evidences, etc., and bagofsand repeats the same thing over and over, ignoring those points. If that’s engaging, cool. There are plenty of things that I don’t know. But when valid points are raised, when counterpoints are refuted and then replies refuse to address them, well, to me, that’s not engaging. And I never said anything about nutty right-wingers. I agree, everyone can be a brick wall when it comes to debate. And yes, I’m frustrated when, as you say, someone just can’t quite see anything other than their own point as being right. For instance, there’s real discussion in the OP and in the comments and on the topic and bagofsand continually says, “Nope it’s been decided, can’t you see that?”

  83. bagofsand – it was a deeply painful talk then, and reading it again to be sure (just in case the appeal to authority missed something), it was just as densely awful as I remember, speaking little of Jesus and a lot of recent (male) leaders and how much they were involved in crafting it.

    But as Brian said, there’s not a lot of answering the points brought up, just more appeals to authority (without actually invoking Jesus).

  84. Brian, thanks for the reply. And for what it’s worth, it was me that said the nutty right-wingers thing – I was not imputing that to you. And I agree that if the retort is simply, “it’s been decided” then that can be frustrating and an end to engagement.

  85. Adam C,

    Just to clarify a bit: I think some folks feel that an appeal to revelation has a tendency to end the engagement. But, IMO, even though it may shift the focus a bit there’s a lot that can be said about the importance of continuing revelation and how that may relate to the subject at hand.

    It seems (to me) that a lot of folks talk past each other because they’re not on the same page with regard to what constitutes genuine knowledge or information–indeed, sometimes it boils down to competing epistemologies. So it can be a bit tricky at times to know what people are really saying–and perhaps even more so what they’re not saying.

  86. The Gaze aren’t as topical as Transsexuals now, eg eunuchs. I pondered what the Bible has to say about this. It turns out, in scripture we have:

    The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12

    For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth,
    and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men,
    and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

    Huh! Ya think you know a guy!

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