Wheat & Tares welcomes guest poster Bill Reel once more for a discussion on the recent policy changes.
The recent policy change on Same Sex couples has opened so many new questions, ramifications and doctrinal contradictions that in spite of our being burned out and numb by all this, it needs be revisited. I hope to be short and sweet so as to make this possible to skim in 5 minutes and able to be read in full in 20 minutes. So with that here we go!
This policy change diminishes agency.
- As a faith, agency is one of our most important gospel principles. Removing the choice to bless a baby, to be baptized, to receive Priesthood (if a male) negates the agency of both the parents and the child.
“Agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves. Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without agency, we would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior.” – Gospel Principles Manual
This policy diminishes the importance of the Holy Ghost
- We have up till now taught that the gift of the holy ghost can be a great help in our decision making and assist us in staying on the right path. With this policy we have in effect said that it’s not that big a deal if you don’t have it. You can always get it later, nothing is lost. This runs contrary to what we have taught since the days of Joseph Smith.
“Likewise, the Holy Ghost can help you. Through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, you can recognize and understand truth and make right choices and inspired decisions. The Holy Ghost can inspire you with thoughts and ideas, warn you, and comfort you in times of sorrow. – Mormon.org
This violates the scripture in D&C 68:27 which calls for all 8 year old children within the stakes of Zion to be baptized and confirmed
D&C68:27 – “26 For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized. 27 And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.”
This policy diminishes the value of ordinances such as baptism.
- This policy implies that for some the ordinances are not that big a deal. The fact remains that if these kids are treated as second class during their formative years, the chance is slim to none that they will come back later. These children will be more likely to grow up resenting the church and its rituals and will be much less likely to receive them later.
“Some ordinances are essential to our exaltation. These ordinances are called saving ordinances. They include baptism, confirmation, ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men), the temple endowment, and the marriage sealing. With each of these ordinances, we enter into solemn covenants with the Lord.” – LDS.org
This policy seems to run contradictory to the teachings of Jesus.
- We have in this policy pushed innocent children away and made it much less likely that the kids affected will return to the faith later in life.
“Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus
“Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Jesus
This policy leaves so many harming possibilities.
- One example of many is that if one child in a family is grandfathered in under the rules from before the policy, his siblings will be impacted by the policy cannot enjoy the same rituals and blessings.
- Leaders will have latitude in determining who is the primary caregiving parent: how much a child lives with a gay parent, how many days a year, what legal designations in terms of decision-making, and so forth. The lack of clear guidance means that it will be applied locally and inconsistently.
This policy seems to contradict Article of Faith #2
AoF #2: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.”
- This is generally understood to mean that we are only held accountable for our own sins, not those of other people. But this policy, by contrast, greatly diminishes a child’s opportunity to receive the gospel based on the choices of their parents.
It seems deceptive to claim the letter sent out a week later was a clarification of the original intent.
- The original wording in the handbook seemed extremely clear that this policy affected any child or had a parent or both parents who were gay. It did not distinguish between a child who was adopted by a gay couple or a child whose parents were divorced and now has one parent in a homosexual committed relationship. It also left room for denial of rituals, ordinances, and blessings simply because one’s parent participated in a homosexual cohabiting relationship long before getting married in a heterosexual marriage and having the child. When Elder Christofferson addressed the media less than 48 hours later, he only defended the motive behind the policy which he stated was to protect the children. He did not address any misunderstanding about the policy. The letter that followed a week after the policy’s release was an afterthought, a minor correction without admitting the original policy was wrong. Calling it a “clarification” when it modifies the scope of the original policy dramatically is at least disingenuous. It points blame at those who received the policy as if they misunderstood it, and it enables church leaders to change it without apologizing.
There was already a policy that would have covered in all likelihood most all of these situations.
- There is already a policy on the books that if a underage person wishes to join the church they must have both parents’ permission to proceed. This means the only children the present “modified” policy affects is children whose “primary” homosexual cohabiting parent(s) approve of the child growing up in full fellowship in the faith. Their consent is no longer accepted. This seems like such a small, small, small, segment to create such uprise over and to have members resigning at a rate unseen “since the days of Kirtland.”
This policy creates a litmus test where Elder Christofferson just a few months ago said there was none.
- Why just a few months ago say that members were free to support Same Sex Marriage and now place language in the manual that states that such support is no longer acceptable for those with gay parents? This is how it now stands for children of gay parents who want to join the church; they must disavow their gay parent(s)’ marriage:
“There hasn’t been any litmus test or standard imposed that you couldn’t support that if you want to support it,” Christofferson said, “if that’s your belief and you think it’s right.” Any Latter-day Saint can have a belief “on either side of this issue,” he said. “That’s not uncommon.” – Elder Christofferson
This policy encourages promiscuous homosexual sex over committed legal loving homosexual relationships.
- The message the policy gives directly is that the worst possible legal consenting relationship dynamic you can be in is a homosexual marriage or long-term cohabitation. That this is the most highly punishable sin you can commit in these terms and is now labelled “apostasy,” triggering a required church disciplinary court. What message does this give to homosexual church members? Homosexual acts are, by contrast, labelled a “greivous sin.” Common sense says that even if homosexuality is against God’s law that we as a church would prefer to encourage legal loving committed relationships rather than an unsafe, promiscuous lifestyle, and yet this policy does the opposite by placing harsher penalties on commitment than on promiscuity.
This motive of protecting children from confusion is implausible.
- The only kids this affects are active kids. Inactive families won’t pursue ordinances for their children. So only active church-going gay families with kids will be impacted. Given that, how does this policy reduce confusion? It doesn’t. It adds to confusion, making the situation even more complicated. The kids would have already been exposed to the idea that homosexual behavior is condemned by the church, which would have been the case even without the policy, but now they also have the confusion surrounding their own ability to progress through the gospel mile markers. Rather than protecting children from confusion, this increases the confusion by making it more personal.
This “modification” has not yet been added to the online handbook.
- As a former bishop I am aware that bishops are instructed to save these letters, but I’m also aware that few bishops actually save them or have them organized in a useful manner. When I began my tenure as bishop there were 1st presidency letters in our confidential cabinet, but they were from a bishop who served 12 years before I was called. Without this “modification” letter visible online where it is readily available, a new leader who is called in future will simply follow the handbook’s guidance not aware that such a revision exists.
The policy contradicts Book of Mormon’theology that teaches if ye have a desire to be baptized and are worthy, you are encouraged to do so.
Mosiah 18: “Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into acovenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?”
There are likely more issues with the policy that I am missing in this list, but these suffice to show that in the end we should feel free to dissent against such policies. As Joseph F Smith once taught us:
“STANDARD WORKS JUDGE TEACHINGS OF ALL MEN. It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine. You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works. Every man who writes is responsible, not the Church, for what he writes. If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it. If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed word of the Lord, then it should be accepted. – Joseph Fielding Smith
Yep, you heard him. Duty Bound!
Questions to consider
- Did you agree that the handbook wording and “clarification” were essentially saying the same thing?
- Do you see its present interpretation affecting many people?
- Have you moved on or is this still bothering you?
- Do you feel comfortable dissenting against the Church? If so, how? If not, why not?
Bill Reel is the host of Mormon Discussion Podcast. The podcast tries to deal with the tough issues forthrightly while “leading with faith”.
To hear more from Bill Reel on this issue see his podcast episode – “Handbooks, Policies, and Sleight of Hand”
I see the “clarification” as a minor change that would slightly limit the number of individuals this covers (and to allow members to feel, OH, it was changed. It is all fine now). So it is a practical change, but from a philosophical perspective, it is saying the same thing.
I don’t know that this adjusted policy will DIRECTLY affect anything more than a small number, but we can already see that indirectly it is having a HUGE (unintended?) affect that spills way over the policy itself. There are solid members that are having a hard time with this and I think it may forever change how they view the authority of the leaders.
It is still bothering me enough that I requested another visit with my therapist as I am so upset I have been blowing up on simple unrelated stuff that never was an issue a few weeks back.
At this moment I am MORE than comfortable in church saying, “Others are free to feel fine with this policy, but I have yet to reconcile this with our doctrine nor with my conscience. I have read much about the ban on blacks with the priesthood and temples and I have often wondered if I would have been brave enough to stand up and say this isn’t right if I didn’t get a confirmation from God that it was his will. Well, it appears that I might have a parallel opportunity now to know how I would have responded then.” I am stopping short of saying the leaders are wrong (at least publicly in church), but I do think I am duty bound by my teaching to CTR.
This is a good summary Bill, thanks. I hadn’t considered the issue of the clarification getting lost over time. That’s an important point. As much hubbub as there is right now, in a few years there could be a bishop implements the policy without knowing about the clarifying letter. If he implements the policy as written, he may easily get it wrong because the policy is very poorly written. So hopefully the actual policy gets updated, but probably not for a few months until things calm down.
To answer your questions:
1) Not at all. The clarification significantly changed the policy – mostly in beneficial ways by limiting the number of children affected.
2) Directly, no. There just aren’t that many kids in the church being raised primarily by a SS couple (though obviously every child matter). Indirectly, yes. The amount a hostility and “wheat/tares” talk within our ranks is higher than I’ve ever known. FWIW, I don’t think this is so much a result of the policy, but the policy is a touchstone that is setting off existing angst over the growing acceptance of SSM by members of the church.
3) Trying to move on. I think I’ll always be bothered, but at this point being bothered isn’t doing me any good.
4) Yes. Within family I will say what I really believe. Within church circles I’m more circumspect, but I think it appropriate to point out factual errors in the church’s rationales for the policy and to acknowledge the harm the policy will inflict, even if the church believes that harm is justified.
Wow! That Joseph Fielding Smith quote is particularly damning. I’ve read it before, but never thought about it in this context.
He’s right, duty bound!
Bill Reel, have you ever once considered that the path you are on leads into apostacy?
“Removing the choice to bless a baby, to be baptized, to receive Priesthood (if a male) negates the agency of both the parents and the child.”
Nope. They still have the agency to do so, but not the authority to do so. Agency has never meant “anything goes”. You are free to do many actions and those actions will have consequences that may limit future actions. If you do something sinful, it will limit what actions you (and possibly others) can make in the future.
“•This [AoF2] is generally understood to mean that we are only held accountable for our own sins, not those of other people. But this policy, by contrast, greatly diminishes a child’s opportunity to receive the gospel based on the choices of their parents.”
It should never be applied that way. It specifically talks about Adam’s transgression, not that no one is ever affected by the sins of their ancestors. Women covenant to their husbands for Eve’s transgression. In the Temple. That’s about as far from your interpretation of AofF2 as you can get.
“This violates the scripture in D&C 68:27 which calls for all 8 year old children within the stakes of Zion to be baptized and confirmed”
So does anyone else who is baptized after 8. There are -lots- of reasons why this could happen, and they aren’t called a “violation”, but a celebration that it could finally happen. The age of 8 is set as a minimum, not as an absolute. It keeps people from heading toward baptizing babies, since they couldn’t be happy with the simple “don’t do it” but needed an absolute line.
The importance of something is not “diminished” by it’s delay. Is the importance of marriage “diminished” when people are unable to get married? Is the importance of having children “diminished” when people are unable to do so? I have at least one child who will not be ready to be baptized at 8 – are we “in violation” by not forcing it to happen?
One thing I’ve grown to hate about this discussion is the increased use of really bad arguments on both sides, arguments that we scoff at when they are used in an argument we disagree with. It makes it seem like we can’t come up with a good, valid argument, so we’d better throw everything we can just to be sure -they- get the point.
It’s a good summary, Bill, from one perspective. Lots of scriptures can support this policy and clarification from a negative light if you start with that premise and go look for supporting scriptures.
But I think you can step back from the emotion and see things a little more favorably. For example, it isn’t really fair to present it as:
“This policy encourages promiscuous homosexual sex…”
The brethren aren’t encouraging any sin. I think that goes too far.
To answer the questions:
1) Yes, the same things. It was a clarification, not a change.
2) Yes, it affects many people.
3) I am moving on while it bothers me.
4) I never feel comfortable dissenting against the church. It feels comfortable when the church fits with my personal revelation. I don’t think people waiting for the priesthood ban to change felt comfortable. But…I can prioritize and keep persepective, and work through my feelings of what is uncomfortable without throwing out the baby with the dirty bathwater that needs to be changed.
Rob#4: Have you ever considered that apostasy from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is NOT the worst option for some people?
Sometimes we make choices amid dilemma. We prioritize good, better, best…or sometimes, bad, worse, worst.
Frank, your “delay” point is important but not fully developed. Consider a similar scenario. The missionaries come to my house, teach me the gospel, and invite me to take on certain covenants. I respond by saying “thank you, I fully intend to take these covenants someday, but I’m going to delay for awhile.” Or consider that I’m a member who’s taken on the covenants but delays obeying them: “I’ll paying tithing and do my hometeaching when I’m 60.”
Is anything lost by these choices? Well, in the eternal scheme perhaps no. But most members I know would say that my choice to delay the covenants (or obedience) also delays my ability to receive the blessings predicated on those covenants.
Likewise, I child who is denied the gift of the Holy Ghost through her teen years may eventually have things made right, but that doesn’t mean there was no loss from the denial. This is no different from the common refrain that “blacks weren’t harmed by the priesthood/temple ban because in the end God denies no one.” That’s simply baloney. The atonement may heal all harms in the long term, but that doesn’t give us right to overlook the harms we can address now.
#5 Frank: I agree with you on the use of bad arguments and hyperbole that make any discussion on the topic more difficult to have.
But…that is religion and politics. Very difficult to keep it on even keel.
Dave K #8. Wasn’t the Lord teaching us in the parable of the workers in the vineyard that we should not compare timetables and wages? Even if others are emloyed later in the day, the Lord determines what is appropriate, not us and our sense of fairness with timetables.
I do not think the Lord will deny any teenager the gift of holy ghost promptings or blessings just because they didn’t have the chance to be baptized at 8.
The Atonement will heal all harms. Full Stop. The rest is experience and circumstance. We are in the middle of our existence, as Pres Uchtdorf taught us. We shouldn’t worry about delays.
The Lord fairly pays all the laborers.
Great summary of lots of important issues, Bill.
I assume Rob in #4 is saying that your path will lead to gay marriage, since that’s the new apostasy according to the Handbook.
Heber13, the Lord uses that parable to teach his disciples to not be jealous of each other. And as Elder Holland taught in regards to the parable, those who labor longer also have the benefit of being servants longer. In short, the sooner we’re included in the laborers the better. You’re reading the parable wrong if you think the Lord wants to delay the calling of laborers.
Your approach would also create perverse incentives to delay taking the gospel to the world. If the Lord gives the same holy ghost to all teenagers regardless of covenants (which, BTW is contrary to LDS doctrine) they why not keep our missionaries at home and let the HG keep blessing everyone?
I also agree that there are bad arguments on both sides. The bad argument that you made that sticks out to me is the implication that it is ok to punish children for their parents sins because we punish women for Eve’s sins. This is akin to the argument that it’s ok to refuse ordinances to children of SSM couples because we already refuse ordinances to children of polygamous families. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Ziff: If so, maybe #4 was actually a come on. If so, it was probably a little too indirect. Better luck next time.
As our ward discussed (and that might not be the right description) this policy change on Sunday, it became absolutely clear that the most toe-the-line church members were completely willing to throw out the significance of the holy ghost and the need for baptism to support the brethren in this policy. It’s not because of love for the policy, but an absolute fervent devotion to kissing the ring. I appreciate the concept of loyalty and love for our leaders, but doing so to the point that they are contradicting the gospel of Jesus Christ leaps over loyalty and lands on idolatry.
I was reminded of Shakespeare’s King Lear. The king asks his three daughters to tell him how much they love him before he decides to divide up the kingdom. Regan and Goneril are over the top in expressing their devotion to him. Cordelia is more modest and measured in expressing her duty as a daughter. As a result, Cordelia is disowned and cast out while everything goes to the ambitious older daughters.
At church, I have no ambitions. I’m not seeking a high calling or any calling at all. I’m just trying to do better at living the gospel. If I have to fawn over leaders to prove my willingness to do anything I’m asked regardless of my conscience, that’s a distraction. That’s not why I go to church. The lengths some are going to in order to justify something they don’t agree with is frankly astonishing.
Dave, your 2nd paragraph does not follow the very good point your first paragraph makes.
Keeping the missionaries home does not allow the missionaries the benefit of laboring in the vineyard.
You’re reading the parable wrong if you think it teaches the laborers employed earlier in the day are paid more than the ones employed later in the day.
Wages are the same.
Those employed earlier should be grateful they get to labor longer. They receive their reward.
The fact the Lord continues to employ some at different times is teaching us the timing is irrelevant to the Lord.
The Lord and the Holy Ghost will bless everyone worthy to receive it. Perhaps not a constant companionship, but still available to all. I’m glad the Lord doesn’t restrict his love to only those the 83,000 missionaries can find. Instead, it is a blessing to the 83,000 missionaries to be part of God’s work.
I don’t disagree there are unique blessings that come from ordinances of the church through priesthood. But I think many members of the church misunderstand how much God can reach and bless those without the ordinances.
Not everyone in the world will have the same opportunities given to them. God is judging based on what we do with the opportunities we are given.
If the church is restricting some children opportunities, God has a plan and a way to make it right, and the laborers hired in the morning don’t need to worry about what the Lord does with others. They need only to be concerned about their covenant and what they did with their opporunities.
Another parable: Talents. Some God gave 5 and some 2 and some 1. Doesn’t matter the amount. Don’t compare. Just simply do something to increase what you have been given, and the Lord is pleased with effort, not the statistics we sometimes like to measure success with.
I think it is important to believe that if a Policy seems unfair, we should have faith the Atonement is not limited by policy. The Lord makes it right. Therefore, I can not agree with a policy I think is unfair. Because God can correct it. One way or another, God is just.
EBK (#13) – “The bad argument that you made that sticks out to me is the implication that it is ok to punish children for their parents sins because we punish women for Eve’s sins.”
Never said it was ok. I just said it was a poor argument, since we have a really big example where it doesn’t apply as it is argued.
I think we should have dropped the woman -> man -> God hierarchy ages ago. I hope it’s dropped soon.
This is an excellent summary. Have you considered putting it in an evelope and sending it to the Brethren to reflect on? …oh wait…
As for your questions:
Did you agree that the handbook wording and “clarification” were essentially saying the same thing? They certainly are not. It seems clear that the Brethren were shaken by the initial reaction to the leaked change and tried to walk it back without much success.
Do you see its present interpretation affecting many people?
I think it affects everyone who reads it. We may not all be gay and raising children or children of gay parents but we are all people with intelligence, consciences and empathy and this flies in the face of our sense of decency and worthiness.
Have you moved on or is this still bothering you?
It has continued to bother me since the church responded to the ERA amendment by organizing to limit women’s opportunity for equality. Prop 8, of course, re-ignited those feelings and I haven’t been comfortable again yet.
Do you feel comfortable dissenting against the Church? If so, how? If not, why not?
It did make me feel very uncomfortable originally but less and less as the church entrenched to protect White male straight dominance. Now I feel it’s my responsibility to speak up for marginalized groups.
Fair enough. I do tend to agree that A of F 2 is in reference to original sin and doesn’t necessarily apply here.
I also agree that many people are punished for things that are outside of their control, but that punishment comes from either other people’s agency or just the problem of living in a fallen world. The fact that in a few cases (this new policy and others like it, and the covenant required of women in the temple) that punishment comes from the Church seems wrong to me.
Did you agree that the handbook wording and “clarification” were essentially saying the same thing?
No. The clarification was a substantive change. To go from ‘children of parents living in or ever living in’ to ‘children whose primary residence’ shows it is very different.
Do you see its present interpretation affecting many people?
Yes (see below).
Have you moved on or is this still bothering you?
It still bothers me because the underlying problem still exists. Church authorities refuse to accept that there is much more to addressing the homosexual question than citing Pauline epistles, Levitical law, or the creation mythos.
As some in Mr.Dehlin’s forum pointed out, there will always be youth in the church who must confront this issue in themselves. That despite any teachings that say we accept you and God loves you, the rhetoric will continually remind gay teenagers how they are cursed. Any thought of gay/lesbian romance or attraction that comes to them naturally will never have any avenue of expression and is therefore sinful.
This is unnecessary suffering as committed gay couples have a lot to offer society and the work of God.
Do you feel comfortable dissenting against the Church? If so, how? If not, why not?
JS manual Chapter 22
Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth: consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft. …
I say to all those who are disposed to set up stakes for the Almighty, You will come short of the glory of God. To become a joint heir of the heirship of the Son, one must put away all his false traditions
I didn’t answer your questions yet:
1 – Did you agree that the handbook wording and “clarification” were essentially saying the same thing? No, the change greatly reduced the scope of those impacted. Unfortunately, during the week between the initial change and the modification, people left the church and families were torn apart. Families were in anguish over whether their remaining children would be allowed to be baptized or be impacted. One family’s son was told he could not go on a mission, and his family (including his straight parent) chose to leave the church. Do we hate gay people so much that we treat them and their loved ones with such disdain?
Interestingly, this wording remains confusing. I was talking to a family law attorney friend this morning, and she explained that “custody” is an outdated term in family law (here in AZ anyway). Now arrangements refer to two different things: parental time and legal decision making. Nearly ALL divorced couples have joint legal decision making, regardless of the way parental time is divided. So this policy is basically saying that gay people, in the church’s eyes, are so unfit that they don’t have any legal decision making authority. This is evident not because they can refuse consent for their children to participate but because their consent is not acknowledged. This policy treats them like they have no parenting rights or authority at all. It is a huge insult, needlessly harsh. Even those in my ward who approved the policy called it harsh.
2 – Do you see its present interpretation affecting many people? Yes, it still will continue to impact many people, and it essentially creates a future generation problem because it will drive believing gay Mormons back into the closet or into ruinous mixed-orientation marriages that usually end in divorce. It will create a whole new flavor of custody battle, and in refusing to grant gay parents the right to be supportive of their children being in the church, it creates animosity where none needed to exist.
3 – Have you moved on or is this still bothering you? I don’t see how we get past this because getting past it is a symptom of just how sick our culture within the church has gotten.
4 – Do you feel comfortable dissenting against the Church? If so, how? If not, why not? I don’t feel comfortable dissenting against the church at all. I believe in the gospel. I love the teachings of Jesus. I generally find myself feeling edified on Sunday, and my ward family is pretty solid. But I am not comfortable silently implying I agree with this policy either. So I’m forced to say I don’t agree with it. If I had to enforce it, I would not do so.
It is parents who bring a baby to the elders of the Church for a blessing. Both parents need to give permission. Similarly, it is parents who bring a child for baptism. Both parents need to give permission.
For the Church, “parents” mean father and mother, male and female. It also includes adoptive parents, male and female. It allows for one, father or mother, where the other is not in the picture. But “parents” does not mean parental-unit-one and parental-unit-two, male and male or female and female. So a child of a same-sex marriage does not have parents to bring him or her to the elders of the Church, and the Church will not treat with same-sex couples. Thus, not having parents to bring him or her to the elders of the Church, he or she waits until he or she is adult and can speak for him- or herself, and every blessing is available.
At least, that’s how I figure it out. I have no inside knowledge. I know many in the homosexual community are offended that the Church will not give legitimacy to homosexual marriages. The Church, I suppose doesn’t want to change blessing and baptism certificates from father and mother to parental-unit-one and parental-unit-two. I support the right of the Church to take that position.
My viewpoint will differ from that of the original posting, but I hope it will still be welcome in the discussion of ideas.
The clarification by the First Presidency helped, and no, it was not an exact match to the wording of the handbook. I am concerned that the First Presidency clarification letter may not be kept by all bishops, which means they’ll make judgment calls based on the handbook wording alone. I’m worried that the handbook policies will be used to justify un-Christlike behavior by wardmembers and local leaders. I’m worried about the impact this will have on the mental health of churchmembers who are already unsure of their standing before God.
The policy will technically apply to a very small number of people. I’m assuming that most members are like me and were not even aware of the restriction on children of polygamists until a few months ago. People who suggest that members shouldn’t have a problem with the new policy because no-one complained about the polygamy policy conveniently forget how little known it was.
Although the church has been adament in it’s opposition to gay marriage, the overall tone towards the gay community seemed to be softening. The June 29th letter read to all congregations following the Supreme Court’s ruling seemed odd at the time. The ending couple paragraphs in the background section heavily implied that reservations about the church’s position against gay marriage were not okay (contradicting Elder Christofferson’s previous statement) and that they fell under a category of difficulties with church doctrine, not just political positions. Now I’m beginning to wonder if the letter was an attempt to prep people for what was to come.
I’m not as angry and sad about the policy as I was last week, though it still weighs on my mind. The FP letter helped as well as being able to help some people understand why many are struggling. The anger now erupts more in response to churchmembers who imply that anyone who have difficulties with the policies are bitter, angry apostates who clearly lost their testimonies long ago.
I grew up knowing that a testimony of the church should be based on the gospel and not on church leaders. Disagreement with leaders is inevitable. The respect is for the position, not for the person in that position. My spiritual heritage includes not just those who followed church leaders at great cost, but also those who defied church leaders when they felt actions were inappropriate. Some of my ancestors were well-connected so the defiance was excused (Edwin Woolley). Others did not have leaders who were so understanding, and they paid the price of excommunication. In spite of that, they still encouraged their descendants to stay close to the church and it’s gospel. Their testimony of the gospel was not worth tossing just because a leader did something vindictive or stupid.
For the most part I think church leaders are good people trying to do the right thing. I’m not sure if it’s zeal or God playing games, but sometimes we as members are asked to do things by our leaders that are really frustrating. There was only one time in my life when a leader came back and apologized for what they did. Usually once things have fizzled they just shrug and go forward in a different direction. Luckily God never seems to mind when I vent my frustrations to Him. If God is allowing something funky to happen then I know He’ll at least stick around to deal with the damage.
Personally, I think ji is right about the reasoning. It’s an utter refusal to acknowledge a gay couple as having any decision making authority. Their approval is neither sought nor accepted. They are deemed eternally spiritually unfit parents and cast aside.
When I say I don’t see how we get past this, I refer not to the leaders. Like Mary Ann, I’m pretty forgiving of leaders making mistakes. They are a product of their age just like I am. They are fallible, just like I am. What I don’t think we can get past is the culture of leader worship we live in which is what is so sick. Church members beating each other up and feeling perfectly justified in it over any perceived disloyalty to the brethren. That’s a sickness. That’s what is unhealthy.
You provided an interesting perspective. It is interesting to see the claws come out after your arguments, I’ve seen far less analytical bloggernacle posts skid by with praise. This is a touchy issue, and you’ve hit the heart of it. Good job.
Yet more reasons to consider these men as just men that are always speaking as men.
@hawkgrrrl, Have you read the links I supplied on your own blog about sunk costs?
“This policy change diminishes agency.”
(Oh, boy. This has started out bad.)
“As a faith, agency is one of our most important gospel principles.
(Well, that’s not bad.)”
“Removing the choice to bless a baby, to be baptized, to receive Priesthood (if a male) negates the agency of both the parents and the child.”
Hey! Hold on! What’s this ‘removing the choice for a child to receive the Priesthood’ ‘(IF A MALE)’? What if it’s a daughter? She should get the priesthood, too. Unless God has already said that women can’t hold the priesthood – unless God has already said that gay marriages are an abomination – unless God has said that children however they have gotten into these abominable families should not be baptized until they have reached adulthood and recognized the evilness of it. All this and they would be to be ready and willing to obey the gospel when they are taught the right way.
It’s pretty obvious that none of you have ever been told by God that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church and that all those sweet, candied, testimonies you gave in the past were nothing but a pack of lies. Have a good time in one of those other churches.
I’ll write more about this sickening post, later. Whether the Bloggernacle likes it or not.
I don’t like the policy either, but I believe the First Presidency and the Q12 have every right based on the principles of the gospel to move forward with the policy.
They must have some very good reasons for developing this policy. Over the long run, no one is denied anything. Yes, blessing are postponed, but not denied.
When gospel principles are in conflict, the higher principle prevails.
Thou shalt not kill vs. constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban
Scripture is filled with principles in conflict. The author of this post doesn’t appear to understand this aspect of the gospel.
The following counsel, given by President Harold B Lee, needs to be included in this post.
“It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they write. I don’t care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard church works, unless that one be the prophet, seer, and revelator please note that one exception you may immediately say, “Well, that is his own idea.” The Teachings of Harold B. Lee P. 541.
1) The wording is a big difference. The clarification may have been what the original policy was thought to result in. Local leaders always have some discretion in implementing policy.
2) The short term impact of the policy should be very limited. The majority of the impact is reaction and overreaction to the announcement. Note that the church did not go public with the change, but individuals went on to distribute it widely. I think that most of the policy was already being implemented by local leaders (excommunicating practicing, unrepentant homosexuals), but some leaders may have been reluctant to do this. The impact on children with the clarification should be limited to a few instances.
3) Only the overreaction that I have seen has really bothered me. Most of the visible reaction has been in the opposition to this policy, but there have been hardline anti-gay overreactions also.
4) I have no problem dissenting against narrow policies that seem to have no basis in scripture or core doctrine. I do not normally vocalize my dissent, it usually does not apply. Most of my vocal dissent is with implementation or plans locally. I have no problem raising my voice in the appropriate venue if I feel something is wrong.
I would note that the basic doctrine of practicing homosexuality being a serious sin is very well grounded in scripture and the teachings of modern prophets. An adjustment to the church discipline policy regarding this is not a huge issue. This is the basis for the policy change, so no big scriptural problem. The Joseph Fielding Smith quote is not followed in many other long-standing policies, many of which were in effect during his presidency.
if I’m going to choose between being good and being loyal, i’ll choose being good. first rule of humaning: do no harm
@Kristine – I am with you on that.
Like what Mitch Mayne said in an NPR interview (not verbatim):
In the eyes and hearts of even solid LDS members a notion of, “I can either be a good Mormon or a good disciple of Christ And those two things look very different under this policy”
Glenn: Those articles have been touted by those seeking to justify the policy. I addressed it (conceptually) in #4 on this post: http://www.wheatandtares.org/19492/pull-your-heads-out-nutters/. It doesn’t change the experience of the rest of believing gay Mormon friends and gay parents who would be supportive of their kids. It’s good to know many different stories rather than a single story. But in the long run, there is zero chance this policy won’t be repealed in a future day. It’s untenable in our diverse society.
Thank for the Duty bound quote. That is how many have felt about.
Can you discuss soon how members can reject policies put out by the church? An episode on “common consent” would be timely.
I just read something that says a lot. Here it is for your enjoyment.
Christ taught that we should be in the world but not of it. Yet there are some in our midst who are not so much concerned about taking the gospel into the world as the are about bringing worldliness into the gospel. They want us to be in the world and of it. They want us to be popular with the worldly even though a prophet has said that this is impossible, for all hell would then want to join us.
Hawkgrrl says: “When I say I don’t see how we get past this, I refer not to the leaders. Like Mary Ann, I’m pretty forgiving of leaders making mistakes. They are a product of their age just like I am. They are fallible, just like I am. What I don’t think we can get past is the culture of leader worship we live in which is what is so sick. Church members beating each other up and feeling perfectly justified in it over any perceived disloyalty to the brethren. That’s a sickness. That’s what is unhealthy.”
This is a great concern to me as well. Thinking that loyalty to leaders over praying and studying to see if this policy is of good report or praiseworthy is troubling—because those who choose leader-loyalty feel certain they are wheat….or virgins with oil in their lamps…..or sure of their righteousness to the
Make that ….
Of those who see the policy as not in harmony with the teachings of Christ.
There’s vitriol thrown every which way. There’s division….all of which is blamed on those who see problems in the policy.
That’s a very dangerous way to be. It is not of God at all. Yet these good members feel utterly justified in their treatment of those who differ from their leader-loyalty position.
“They want us to be in the world and of it. They want us to be popular with the worldly …”
You think some of us are concerned with being popular with the world?!
No. We just want to be decent to our fellow man. Like Christ said he wanted us to be.
If it comes to following the church or Christ — as it certainly appears to be in this case — I’m following the second of Christ’s two great commandments.
The “clarification” was clearly a modification, although I’m somewhat open to the possibility that the individuals in leadership may not have all had the same intent originally, so the clarification may be closer to the original intent of some fraction of leadership.
Of the (directly) affected families I personally know (all divorced mixed orientation marriages), the situation has changed from one of outright ostracism to ecclesiastic roulette.
I have not moved on. This bothers me immensely. Codifying ostracism and shunning of people who aren’t hurting anyone goes against some of my fundamental ideas of right and wrong.
Unfortunately, my persuasiveness among LDS is weakened by the fact that I’m not a conventional believer. We’re it not for family I probably wouldn’t be in the church at all. This policy pushes me closer to the brink of complete separation from the church because I don’t want to be perceived as one who supports such harmful policies.
In your conceptual coverage of the topic, you did not speak about the children. You spoke about believing gay people. The believing gay person who chooses to legally engage in a same sex marriage is doing so knowing that homosexual activity is a sin.
Now, if you do not believe that the church teachings on homosexual activity is correct, we really do not have a common ground for discussion.
The policy is not about them. It is about the children. The articles are about children that have experienced the conflicts. The policy is designed to protect those children from those conflicts.
@Jared in post 28: The quote you use was from when Harold B Lee was a member of the Q12. The following quotation comes from when he was the prophet, and it goes further:
If anyone, regardless of his position in the Church, were to advance a doctrine that is not substantiated by the standard Church works, meaning the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, you may know that his statement is merely his private opinion. The only one authorized to bring forth any new doctrine is the President of the Church, who, when he does, will declare it as revelation from God, and it will be so accepted by the Council of the Twelve and sustained by the body of the Church. And if any man speak a doctrine which contradicts what is in the standard Church works, you may know by that same token that it is false and you are not bound to accept it as truth. (The First Area General Conference for Germany, Austria, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Spain of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held in Munich Germany, August 24–26, 1973, Reports and Discourses, p.69)
When our prophet does this and announces that it is revelation from God and we sustain it as a body of the church, only then will I see it as doctrine. Until then, it is the opinion of men, and I choose to reject their opinion as being from the Lord. I believe the differentiation between policy and doctrine is very clear.
Jared (#34), Elder Oaks recently gave an address on religious freedom (quoted below) in which he expressed that light and truth come into the church through secular society.
So yes, there is much in the world that is harmful. But there is also good – good that the church eventually embraces. I believe that the civil rights movement is one example of this. SSM is another. While there is tension now, in the eternities the church will be better because society has given it light and knowledge on this important issue.
Dallin Oaks: “I reject the idea of a wall between church and state. The more appropriate metaphor to express that relation—reinforced by various decisions of the United States Supreme Court—is a curtain that defines boundaries but is not a barrier to the passage of light and love and mutual support from one side to another.”
#40 M Lynn: “When our prophet does this and announces that it is revelation from God and we sustain it as a body of the church, only then will I see it as doctrine. Until then, it is the opinion of men, and I choose to reject their opinion as being from the Lord. I believe the differentiation between policy and doctrine is very clear.”
Well said. We believe continuing revelation will help even prophets see more clearly as time goes on.
Even if a prophet declares it doctrine, I believe God is patient with me to take some time to figure it out through personal revelation to support priesthood revelation.
I will be judged how I do this, and if I keep my heart open and willing to receive truth.
This is a fantastic and articulate article. Thank you for taking the time to write it. You speak the hearts of many.
My new mantra is if you are lousy to your fellow man because you’re a j*ck*ass, shame on you. If you are lousy to your fellow man because the church told you to be, shame on them!
Bill–good points. One item I might disagree with is the notion that free agency can be curtailed by laws or policies in mortal life here. Dallin Oaks spoke on the difference between free agency and freedom, pointing out that agency cannot be curtailed:
“because free agency is a God-given precondition to the purpose of mortal life, no person or organization can take away our free agency in mortality.
Second, what can be taken away or reduced by the conditions of mortality is our freedom, the power to act upon our choices. Free agency is absolute, but in the circumstances of mortality freedom is always qualified.because free agency is a God-given precondition to the purpose of mortal life, no person or organization can take away our free agency in mortality.
Second, what can be taken away or reduced by the conditions of mortality is our freedom, the power to act upon our choices. Free agency is absolute, but in the circumstances of mortality freedom is always qualified.”
I found this article, written by Greg Prince, very interesting on the evolution of church policies regarding transexuals.
#41 DaveK, I also agree that there is good in the world that the church draws from.
I believe that is the point of the allegory in Jacob 5, the tame tree would not survive without grafting in things that strengthen it. In this way, God uses his ways to achieve his plan.
In time, we may see some wisdom in the church policy, and in time it may soften as prophets learn more from God and the world around us, until it eventually gets closer to truth.
Anon – “Codifying ostracism and shunning of people who aren’t hurting anyone goes against some of my fundamental ideas or right and wrong.”
I am concerned about children, gay teenagers, gay adults, the future of the church, etc. But when it boils down, I’m just selfish. I don’t like who I am when I take this policy upon myself. If you could prove that no one else is harmed by it, it doesn’t matter. I won’t do this to myself.
Okay your interpretation of AoF #2 does not square with the ten commandments. Remember there are issues regarding the agency of others and how it affects our agency on this Earth, that the Standard Works phrase as a paradox. Remember both AoF #2 and the Ten Commandments are part of the Standard works. And the ten Commandments teaches that “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” So it isn’t that the children are being punished for their parents sins, but that the reality remains that children are taught by their parents. Whether that is good or not. And if the Church does not want to divide children from their parents on this issue, that is entirely in line with the Revelations and does not contradict one bit AoF #2. That is a very shallow interpretation of scripture and does not address adequatly the full problems with agency.
Lois, I find that distinction to be nonsensical. Agency would imply the ability to be an agent. That necessarily presupposes the power to act.
Bill, to your questions:
1. No they are not the same. Further w/o the handbook being updated to incorporate the changes (what is all this about keeping letters on file when the whole issue is about an online change update in the first place), it seems to be hand waving in an attempt to calm the out cry.
2. I am not aware of anyone known to me who is affected.
3. This is still bothering me. I’d concur with Also Anon, I don’t like a me that would accept it…
4. I’ve always tended towards stating my disagreement from YW to now, getting on for 30 years later, so I guess I can’t find it so uncomfortable.
So here is a question. Does Joseph Fielding Smith’s quote go against D&C 1:38?What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same
Unfortunately, this policy has nothing to do with Christ and everything to do with protecting the church from legal liability. It had to craft a legal/doctrinal position against same sex marriage and the children under this union to protect itself from federal lawsuits that would require them from offer benefits to such unions and their minors–if they were members of their church. By excluding minors from membership, it gives the church the legal protection it needs. It’s much like the Percolation on the Family and the legalization of same sex marriages in Hawaii some 20 years ago.
Glenn: “if you do not believe that the church teachings on homosexual activity is correct, we really do not have a common ground for discussion.” You are probably right that we don’t. I am inclined to believe that science is correct, that homosexuality is innate, and not so easily overcome that celibacy for life is a viable option for everyone. I absolutely don’t want to encourage gay people to marry straight people and pretend they aren’t gay. That’s harmful all around.
“The policy is not about them. It is about the children. The articles are about children that have experienced the conflicts. The policy is designed to protect those children from those conflicts.” The failure of the policy is that it supposedly protects straight children, but it wounds both gay children, coming to terms with their own sexual orientation, and gay parents. For these groups and their families, it adds extra pressure and manipulation by holding their children hostage spiritually. This will escalate family conflicts and manipulation where gay people are part of the mix. Grandparents afraid for their grandchildren will be pitted against their own gay children. It will tear families apart in new, more forceful ways.
One thing is sure, though. It won’t prevent gay people from existing and being born into straight Mormon families.
Packerman23, the standard works are inherently problematic. They are not without contradiction and unity. In my mind this means that they must therefore be prioritized. Some parts must supersede others. And individual interpretation can make a single verse’s meaning debatable.
For example, the scripture you quoted…The key point for me is that God’s word will not pass away regardless of who utters it. It does not say that anything uttered by a servant = his word. Many others take it to mean that if a servant of the Lord utters something we should assume it is the Lord’s by default until we are told otherwise.
“One thing is sure, though. It won’t prevent gay people from existing and being born into straight Mormon families.”
“This will escalate family conflicts and manipulation where gay people are part of the mix. Grandparents afraid for their grandchildren will be pitted against their own gay children. It will tear families apart in new, more forceful ways.”
Also when the theoretical 18yo children of gay parents are disavowing their parents and being forced out of their home in order to be baptized, it will also create a wedge between them and their younger sibs still in the gay parents’ home.
How can the church have created so much antipathy and pathos in the name of “protecting” anyone? What is that saying about dissension is of Satan? Is it referring to those who experience dissension of conscience or those who create dissension?
I am inclined to believe that science is correct, that homosexuality is innate, and not so easily overcome that celibacy for life is a viable option for everyone. I absolutely don’t want to encourage gay people to marry straight people and pretend they aren’t gay.
That’s all well and good, but irrelevant to the question. Do you believe homosexual sexual relations are sin? That’s the real question.
Bill – Have you ever considered doing a podcast about the significance of bystander apathy (the “bystander effect”) in Mormon culture?
Kristine A #30
“if I’m going to choose between being good and being loyal, i’ll choose being good. first rule of humaning: do no harm”
You’re driving in fog. What has God told YOU about where His church is and what it is? The best you can do for that is stay with Him. He’ll take care of the Leaders He has chosen. (If there is care to be taken.) Maybe there is more care for Him to take for you than for His leaders.
‘Do no harm’ That’s a pretty good rule. To follow that make sure you don’t leave God or you will end up doing harm and if He hasn’t told you anything about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than ask Him.
Are you saying agency and freedom are synonymous? Then, any laws and commandments are going to limit our agency–so what was the “war in heaven” about?
I would argue that even in the most restrictive circumstances–say, a POW being held by the enemy or someone being held in a concentration camp has a measure of agency, though they don’t have freedom. People in these extreme circumstances can still choose how they respond to their captivity–even in extreme situations. The POW can choose to resist his captors demands to propogandize (although it could result in him being tortured or killed), or refuse to eat etc etc. During the Holocaust there were examples of prisoners giving to others–forgoing their meager food portions etc. Agency includes our attitudes and how we react to our situations.
I’ve always read the following as it didn’t matter how the job got done:
“rth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants,” — that is God’s word will be fulfilled whether he does it or whether his servants get the job done.
Not that it doesn’t matter who does the speaking.
“Do you believe homosexual sexual relations are sin?” I am not a homosexual. Therefore I haven’t prayed to know this. From a logical standpoint, I see homosexual acts as parallel to heterosexual ones. There is a marked difference between promiscuity and committed consensual sexual relationships in terms of intentions and outcomes.
OK. It’s time to do more talking about this sick ‘Duty bound to reject it!’
“This policy diminishes the importance of the Holy Ghost”
Oh my, here I go again. Nothing in this section is worth saying. If it’s bad, it’s rotten to the core and if it’s good it’s worse than rotten to the core because of the way it is used, but I suppose I should mention it anyway.
• We have up till now taught that the gift of the holy ghost can be a great help in our decision making and assist us in staying on the right path. With this policy we have in effect said that it’s not that big a deal if you don’t have it. You can always get it later, nothing is lost. This runs contrary to what we have taught since the days of Joseph Smith.
“Likewise, the Holy Ghost can help you. Through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, you can recognize and understand truth and make right choices and inspired decisions. The Holy Ghost can inspire you with thoughts and ideas, warn you, and comfort you in times of sorrow.” – Mormon.org
Ok. If the Holy Ghost can help you than what’s the problem? If the Holy Ghost can’t help you anymore then get out of this Church and find one where the Holy Ghost can help you. As for those silly testimonies you gave in the past, don’t feel stupid, everyone makes mistakes. Just make sure the Holy Ghost is in the next church you find. The best of luck to you.
I find the next part inspiring. A scripture is mentioned.
“This violates the scripture in D&C 68:27 which calls for all 8 year old children within the stakes of Zion to be baptized and confirmed.”
Well that’s a bunch of contaminated sewage. Let’s see the verse instead:
D&C68:27 – “26 For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized. 27 And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands.”
Let me talk about that and then we’ll see what this says. In the verse is the following phrase. 26 For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion…
(Question – What are the inhabitants of Zion? Now Latter-day Saints, you may have read scriptures before but you certainly don’t know what they mean. So let me tell you.)
The inhabitants of Zion are married couples and when I say married couples I mean like a man and a woman who make a marriage covenant and have children because of that marriage covenant and if they don’t have them because of the marriage they’ll probably end up having them just because of what they do. Inhabitants of Zion are not same sex couples who pick up their children from somewhere and call them their children. There are no same sex marriages in Zion or in the Church if it is in Zion. Question! Before all this started, were there same sex couples who were members of the Church? If so this should never have been.
Let’s see what the post says.
This policy diminishes the value of ordinances such as baptism.
Yeah, right. If you like sick talk.
• This policy implies that for some the ordinances are not that big a deal. The fact remains that if these kids are treated as second class during their formative years, the chance is slim to none that they will come back later. These children will be more likely to grow up resenting the church and its rituals and will be much less likely to receive them later.
“Some ordinances are essential to our exaltation. These ordinances are called saving ordinances. They include baptism, confirmation, ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men)(‘here is that MEN’S TALK again’), the temple endowment, and the marriage sealing. With each of these ordinances, we enter into solemn covenants with the Lord.” – LDS.org.
“The fact remains that if these kids are treated as second class during their formative years, the chance is slim to none that they will come back later.”
This would be because of the stupid way the members of the Church act, not the inhabitants of Zion. Maybe Zion doesn’t exist yet. If it doesn’t than such a child will have to trust the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yeah, that might be a slim chance. And if they are like this post, these same sex children have no chance.
It gives me the creeps saying the term ‘same sex children’.
I can’t do any more on this post today.
“Do you believe homosexual sexual relations are sin?”
“I am not a homosexual. Therefore I haven’t prayed to know this.”
Then, by all means: Pray about it.
From a logical standpoint, I see homosexual acts as parallel to heterosexual ones.
Not so. Heterosexuals can create life. Homosexual can’t touch it. Improper heterosexuality is much more serious.
There is a marked difference between promiscuity and committed consensual sexual relationships in terms of intentions and outcomes.
True. Committed consensual relationships lie to God about what their intentions are and as far as the outcomes go they have no concept what that’s going to be. Being in hell to suffer their sins will not be pleasant.
“Are you saying agency and freedom are synonymous?”
Not exactly, but the one requires the other. Where freedom is limited, limits are placed on the power to act. Freedom results in agency. Clearly there are limits on the extent to which freedoms can be curtailed, practically speaking, and it is that which leaves those in the POW camp etc. the agency you mention in those circumstances.
Rich – I feel your frustration coming through loud and clear. I am sure in your heart you are standing up for God and see others with a different opinion.
But I have to say I don’t know if having more volume of words will change someone else’s feelings when they feel that their feelings are also coming from God. That is true with non-members and even members.
At some point we all have to figure this out the best way that we can asking the Lord to help us – and help others.
The conversation is going down the tubes as far as being a true dialog. In order to have a dialog we ALL (not just Rich) need to be able to say, “I don’t see it that way and we each can have our own view.” Otherwise we get nowhere just trying to bash each other into our our (right way) of thinking.
“Otherwise we get nowhere just trying to bash each other into our our (right way) of thinking.”
Mind explaining when being unequivocal in your own beliefs becomes bashing someone else?
I am unambiguous and emphatic in my own beliefs. Particularly on this issue which I think outrages common decency and flied in the face of a number of Christ’s own direct instructions in the New Testament. What’s more, I have made an effort to work my beliefs through evaluating the effect they would have on others in my community and in the world.
I recognize that others have their own views and a right to express them. I’m not giving them permission to have them when I communicate mine. Such permission is not mine to give! Ultimately, I can be wrong. I know that. Even so, that doesn’t alter the clarity of what I believe or think I need to express.
I don’t believe that’s bashing anyone. I’m sorry if anyone feels they’ve been bashed.
Another thought on “bashing”.
If anyone thinks the emphatic nature of any individual’s post in any way approaches the capacity of a multinational organization’s to bash or crush another person, I think they are seriously misguided.
People are not leaving the community of their birth and committing suicide over posters’ opinions.
I suppose that’s emphatic but I genuinely believe it to be true. So how should I go about expressing it?
The greatest problem in the church isn’t same sex issues. The greatest problem is members who rebel against the Lord’s anointed. There are numerous degrees and way to rebel.
I hope such members will return to the Lord.
Jared, I agree with you that the greatest problem is not same sex issues.
But…your next statements are way too narrow and sweeping.
It is a greater problem members think no one should ever challenge a church policy, or that sincerly doing so is mischaracterized with an unfair statement like “rebelling against the Lord’s anointed.”
I hope if some members feel like such honest acts of working through issues is never allowed…I hope such members will return to their senses…and better understand the Lord’s plan.
Church policies can and should be changed when necessary. I encourage church members to express themselves properly on issues they are concerned about, and at the same time sustain those called by the Lord.
I think the best way is to write a letter to local church leaders or even to church headquarters. Many years ago I sent a letter to church headquarters complaining about something and apostles said.
The best place to take our concerns about policies or anything else is to the Lord in prayer.
I think those who refer to church leaders as out of touch old men are wrong. Those who are stridently criticizing and opposing church leaders are rebelling against the Lord’s anointed.
I don’t see a letter doing anything. It gets kicked back to local leaders. Better to just talk to local leaders. And if that goes no where, then other avenues like protests become an option to get the attention of the press…I think that is the result of letters getting kicked back.
I wish people didn’t jump so quickly to “apostasy!!!” when I think you show in your response the limited avenues to have a voice in church.
I actually think the Internet has helped (and hurt) because at least people have a place to go and talk about it. But it still feels to be ignored from leaders.
Regarding prayer…do you remember Elder Scott’s GC talk on prayer?
“It is a mistake to assume that every prayer we offer will be answered immediately.
He answers yes, sometimes no. Often He withholds an answer, not for lack of concern, but because He loves us—perfectly. He wants us to apply truths He has given us. For us to grow, we need to trust our ability to make correct decisions. We need to do what we feel is right. In time, He will answer. He will not fail us.”
So…prayer will work in time. In the mean time (most often)…while we work things out and trust our ability to make correct decisions, we shouldn’t go around yelling “heretic” to everyone who speaks up at church.
There is a line that is crossed when one openly opposes the brethren. It isn’t just by disagreeing with this one policy. It isn’t even by joining a protest. It is when actively striving to tear down the church. Some protests are trying to build it up. Some are not. Not all are apostate.
You jump too quickly to tell me to “return to the Lord”. Republicans do the same of democrats in the church. The church is bigger than that.
The science on homosexuality and its genesis is all over the map. It is hardly a settled fact that it is innate. Such a discussion would hijack this thread.
Okay, let’s look at a scenario with a young child living in a family where his or her parents are in an SSM union and want their child to be baptized. What are they going to teach the child in family home evening about chastity? What is the child going to be taught at church? What is the SSM couple going to teach their child about families? What are they going to be taught at church? What will the SSM couple teach their child about homosexual acts? What will they learn at church?
What kind of reactions from other children will this child face when the other children learn that this child has two fathers who are married or two mothers who are married? And even from adults who should know better. But what is the reality of what such a child will face??
And then, if the child actually grasps and believes sincerely in the the teachings of the church on families, chastity, homosexual activity, etc. What is going to happen to that child in the home???
Do you actually believe that the First Presidency threw this policy out there in a knee jerk reaction to the Supreme Court ruling on SSM? Do you actually believe that they did not and do not pray fervently about such matters and discuss the ramifications???
Rich, I’m almost tempted to accept your conclusions about what is and isn’t sewage, on account of the fact that you must be an expert judging by how often it comes out of your mouth (or keyboard). It seems abundantly clear that if the holy ghost exists, he has no association with you.
Glenn: Lots of kids who are baptized come from homes with a parent who isn’t a member of the church or a parent doesn’t follow the teachings, and they are already taught different things. What matters is whether the parent is supportive of joining the church.
Many gay parents are supportive of their children. There are gay believing Mormons who simply aren’t able to live a celibate life forever. The new policy calls them “apostate,” but that’s not because they feel like apostates or openly oppose the church. They just bear to live a lie or to be alone forever. We haven’t really given them any viable options.
I’m going to guess that you don’t have any kids who are Millenials because your question about the reactions of kids’ peers to them having two same sex parents is simple: yawn. I have three kids in this age range, and none of them thinks it’s a big deal for a peer to have same sex parents. They all support their gay classmates, too. They simply don’t see homosexuals as some other species as this policy seems to.
“Do you actually believe that the First Presidency threw this policy out there in a knee jerk reaction to the Supreme Court ruling on SSM?” No idea why they created this policy, but it’s a policy, not a doctrine and not a revelation. I’m not sure why the priesthood ban happened either.
“Do you actually believe that they did not and do not pray fervently about such matters and discuss the ramifications???” Why all the question marks? I hope they do, but let’s bear in mind that this policy was poorly written, poorly rolled out, and still has a million loopholes. See Julie’s post here: http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2015/11/consequences-intended-or-otherwise-in-light-of-the-update/
Evidence suggests it wasn’t well thought out.
I appreciate your answer. I believe that is where the difference is — I suppose that those who made the policy believe the answer is yes — those who oppose the policy don’t. If there was more alignment on the answer to the question, we wouldn’t have this unpleasantness.
Hawkgrrrl: “Evidence suggests it wasn’t well thought out.”
This is what my very conservative, non-“faith crisis”-mode husband said.
Truly I do not have any children in school right now.I do have grandchildren though, and possibly my are of the country is more conservative than where you live. I don’t know.
As to your point about gays who will be supportive of the church and wish to have their children baptized, I ask again how will they teach their children??? Will they teach their children the position of the church, but that the church is wrong?
There is a cognitive dissonance in your arguments there.
And lastly, as to the policy you said “Evidence suggests it wasn’t well thought out” What is the evidence? The negative reactions that have been posted here and elsewhere? The resignations???
If so, I will expect that there will be more not “well thought out” policies as time goes on. I do not see the church being swayed by popular opinion.As time goes on it will become more and more difficult to be a member of the church. Some will decide to leave because they do not agree with policy such and such. Those who stay will find themselves coming under harsher and harsher attacks because of their beliefs.
I will read any follow up comments you may make, but I will not respond. I don’t think we would be getting anywhere.
Glenn, I agree this is a waste of time. I already pointed out the many evidences the policy wasn’t clearly thought out: 1) it was rolled out to 30,000 handbooks without notification or explanation, 2) the church said they would issue a clarifying message at 3, then kept pushing it back until it finally came out very late that evening, so it was clearly not prepared in advance, 3) bishops and SPs and members sweated it out for a week because the way it was written it included any child who has any parent who has ever been in a committed gay relationship whether past or present, and even before the child was born, 4) when the clarification came it only narrowed the scope, but still leaves many many open questions (the Times & Seasons post I linked to lists them).
Anyone who supports gay marriage is already teaching their children that we should support and accept gay people. Nearly 100% of women do not support polygamy. Plenty of people teach their children to judge others based on outward appearance. All of these things are teachings in the home that are at odds with church teachings. Every Catholic on the planet teaches things in the home that aren’t church doctrine; this is evidence of growing diversity. I don’t teach my kids that they should heap coals on their gay friends or on their friends whose parents are gay. Does that mean my kids shouldn’t be baptized because they are going to hear gay bashing (and they have and they do) from well-meaning but ignorant teachers at church? There has never been a litmus test for teachings in the home being 100% aligned with teachings at church because it’s literally impossible. Nobody would ever pass it.
But back to the gay parents. What seems to be so hard for some to get their heads around is that gay people, having lived a life of rejection and fear of loss of approval, are often among the most accepting people around. They are generally more supportive than parents who have never been rejected in this way. And many Mormons who were born gay who simply couldn’t live a life of loneliness and celibacy (call it weakness if you have to), still believe in the church otherwise and don’t oppose their children getting the blessings they know are denied to them. Isn’t the gospel supposed to transcend political ideologies? If not, it’s not much of a gospel.
“Rich, I’m almost tempted to accept your conclusions about what is and isn’t sewage, on account of the fact that you must be an expert judging by how often it comes out of your mouth (or keyboard). It seems abundantly clear that if the holy ghost exists, he has no association with you.”
Brjones, how did you get tempted to accept my conclusions and then suddenly follow a holy ghost you apparently don’t believe in to think he wouldn’t follow me?
“…many Mormons who were born gay who simply couldn’t live a life of loneliness and celibacy (call it weakness if you have to), still believe in the church otherwise and don’t oppose their children” (THEIR CHILDREN? God didn’t create people to get children that way!They don’t have any children.) “getting the blessings they know are denied to them. Isn’t the gospel supposed to transcend political ideologies?” (of course, political ideologies are what caused it and it is why they can say they have children.) “If not, it’s not much of a gospel.” It’s the only gospel.
Rich: Most of these children you are so outraged exist were the result of misguided leaders encouraging gay church members to “overcome” their gayness by marrying heterosexuals. There are a LOT of kids in this situation, sitting in every ward right now. Aside from that, bear in mind that many straight couples can’t have children either and choose to adopt. Apparently God didn’t “intend” them to have kids either, and yet they do, and they are allowed to give consent for their adopted kids to be baptized. There are also many singles who have kids who attend in our wards. Single people also didn’t reproduce asexually, and yet they are allowed to consent to their children being baptized.
This is getting boring. All these points should be self-evident.
I want to say that my husband is a bishop. He received absolutely no communication on this policy. He found out from me, who found out from Facebook. He looked through his mail, his email, on the church website special bishop’s section…nothing. Until the letter came a week later. No new handbooks have been distributed, it is only online at this point.
Secondly…let me throw out a few scenarios to see what people think.
Man and woman get married, have kids. One of them decides they don’t love the other and want to do something else with their lives. They divorce, work together as parents. The leaving parent decides to go totally AWOL from the church and has multiple affairs, eventually deciding to live with opposite-sex partner, not married. Children can receive all the blessings of the gospel. What will children think when they learn about the law of chastity? How are they then protected from this cognitive dissonance when their loving parent is living in sin? They also drink, and maybe smoke, and maybe they live in Colorado so they smoke some other stuff too. Still, the kids can receive all blessings and ordinances. Still, they will learn in church what a horrible sinner their parent is. Still, their parent is a good parent and involved in their life as well as any parent can be.
In another family, all the same things above apply, except that the parent who left turned out to be gay. So the kids can’t receive saving ordinances until they denounce their parents and don’t live with them. Kids whose parent lives with an opposite-sex partner? No denouncing said-parent’s sins.
SSM has been legal in many other countries where the church is strong for several years. Why is the church just now creating this policy, now that it’s legal in Utah? Does God care less about the confusion created for the European kids and the Latin American kids for the past decade or so?
I’m sorry that you are bored, but that’s your fault. I think that you are the one who doesn’t understand and that is what is bringing on your boredom.
“Most of these children you are so outraged exist were the result of misguided leaders encouraging gay church members to “overcome” their gayness by marrying heterosexuals. There are a LOT of kids in this situation, sitting in every ward right now. Aside from that, bear in mind that many straight couples can’t have children either and choose to adopt. Apparently God didn’t “intend” them to have kids either, and yet they do, and they are allowed to give consent for their adopted kids to be baptized. There are also many singles who have kids who attend in our wards. Single people also didn’t reproduce asexually, and yet they are allowed to consent to their children being baptized.”
‘Most of these children you are so outraged exist were the result of misguided leaders encouraging gay church members to “overcome” their gayness by marrying heterosexuals. There are a LOT of kids in this situation, sitting in every ward right now.’
I don’t agree with the leaders who did that and would not be surprised if they also no longer agree with it after the harm has been done, but those are children with man and woman parents in a family unit that God has created that to be. That is a different subject than a SSM.
The children in the first place have a father and a mother, not a father and a father or mother and a mother or one of them pretending to be something he or she isn’t. And, in reality neither one of them is a father or a mother. The children are, of course, real children, of real fathers and real mothers who may not even claim them. Not only does that not exist in eternity but it is very wrong. In the family with father and mother (as in male and female, OK?) either one or both of the parents can be seriously sinful and have no membership. This need have no effect on the child unless the child becomes sinful him/herself. BIG DIFFERENCE.
Now let’s get down to the SSM. God did not make or do SSM. Not only that, but it’s a terrible thing to do besides that. They are three individual people. Let’s start with the two adults. If they are baptized they will need that again because they won’t be members for long. Before the child (or that person who is called a child in this world) can be baptized he or she will have to grow up first, probably, to adulthood to determine or decide whether he or she supports that kind of relationship or not.
“… bear in mind that many straight couples can’t have children either and choose to adopt. Apparently God didn’t “intend” them to have kids either, and yet they do, and they are allowed to give consent for their adopted kids to be baptized.”
Why shouldn’t the Church let Straight couples or fathers and mothers with adopted children have their children be baptized? My oldest brother is an adopted son of my father. In all families with the form God taught them to be in, all members in each of them have some sort of spiritual problems to deal with. That is why He gave us the baptismal covenant. With straight couples, before they can be baptized there must be no infidelity of they cannot be baptized. With SSM, to God there is no marriage and no children, therefore no baptism until the two stop the SSM. They are three separate people, at least, two of them committing serious sin. If the child is an adult and has taken the missionary lessons without any problems then he or she can be baptized. This is just like the straights have it. You have to understand the teachings of the Church before being baptized.
“There are also many singles who have kids who attend in our wards. Single people also didn’t reproduce asexually, and yet they are allowed to consent to their children being baptized.”
Ok. Here we have actual fathers and children and actual mothers and children. It kind of looks like there could have been some meetings with the Bishop or Bishopric. Well, of course, they can get their children baptized. I’m sure the single parents will want to be in a proper marriage someday. SSM will not do.
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