There was an interview released last week where Paul Reeve admitted being the source behind the Race & Priesthood essay at LDS.org. While I think that was a nice scoop, there was another part of that interview that I think is very important and may have gotten lost in the headline.
I have been very vocal about the ban on gays as being a wrong-headed move. Three days after the ban was announced, I wrote a post excoriating the ban. A few weeks later, I compared the gay ban to the black ban. I believe the gay ban is a violation of the 2nd Article of Faith that states “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” Some have disputed with me on that point, saying that the 2nd Article of Faith should be limited strictly to “Adam’s transgression” and does not apply to Cain or Ham’s transgressions. Of course I disagree. Apparently Orson Pratt disagrees too.
In the interview Becoming a Fanboy of Orson Pratt, Paul Reeve states that Orson Pratt argued with Brigham Young over slavery. According to Young, Cain and his descendants were cursed and slavery and the priesthood ban. Pratt pushed back against Young. Paul tells us:
Orson Pratt gives a speech where he simply speaks out very strongly against the bill the legislature is debating. He speaks out strongly against slavery. He says if the Utah Territory legalizes slavery it will put a black mark on the territory. A variety of countries were emancipating their slaves, outlawing slavery. The British Empire had already done so, obviously the U.S. had not, but Pratt said this will harm our missionary efforts when we go abroad if people become aware that as countries are getting rid of slavery, we’re legalizing it. He says we should reject the bill outright and says that if Utah Territory does this the angels of heaven will blush. He’s very strong in his notion of why this is wrong.
He argues that curses are not multi-generational, so God may very well curse a people but it’s only that people. It doesn’t pass down from generation to generation, so he’s rejecting the notion of a multigenerational curse might impact if black people truly are the descendants of Cain, that doesn’t matter to Orson Pratt because curses are not multigenerational. It would only apply to the generation that God cursed, not to however many generations later, so it’s a very singular kind of position he stakes out in Mormonism and ultimately he doesn’t win the day but he is speaking out against Brigham Young and they are butting heads in that legislative session.
In the part of the interview that was promoted about Paul’s authorship of the Race essay, Paul is asked about modern issues, and specifically if the black ban is comparable to the gay ban. (Quotes with permission.)
GT: I know some historians have likened the ban on blacks to the current ban on gays within the church. Do you see these as similar or is there significant difference?
Paul: Well I guess there are ways in which I could see them as similar and ways in which I think they’re distinct. The similarities could be that, is this simply the sort of cultural context, right? That is somehow seeping in, it would be hard to argue that the cultural context of America moving towards legalizing gay marriage didn’t impact Mormonism, right? So it’s Mormonism responding to its cultural context the same way that Mormonism seemed to respond to the racial context in the 19th century, so a parallel there, but I think also important distinctions.
So for race and priesthood in particular there is an historical precedent, right? Black men were ordained to the priesthood in the early decades of Mormonism and I’m not aware of a precedent for gay marriage in the early decades of Mormonism. Then the other important distinction is that black people in Mormonism were the only group prevented from having all of the saving rituals that Mormonism requires for the Mormon heaven. You can be gay and receive all of the saving ordinances that Mormonism requires, and so black people are the only group that I’m aware of that were ever prevented from receiving all of the saving ordinances so it’s not the same kind of pressure point.
Now I realize that gay Latter-day Saints like gay marriage as a part of that process, but nonetheless they’re not barred from receiving the Endowment, they are not barred from temple participation like black people were. Black people were prevented from receiving all the saving ordinances and the same thing for female priesthood ordination, right? You could make the same kind of case that it’s not necessary for saving ordinances and so it’s not the same kind of issue as it was with black Latter-day Saints who were only allowed to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost but were prevented from receiving the other saving ordinances that Mormonism defines as necessary for exaltation. So that’s the only case I’m aware of that comes in to impact.
Now if we talk about the more recent marriage policy, we’re talking about children of gay couples who are being prevented from those saving ordinances, there may be a new parallel there, right? Being prevented from the saving ordinances, not of your own volition but simply because your parents are in a gay marriage, so that’s the first time that I see us returning back, or Mormonism returning back to something, that they had prevented a group, in this case black Latter-day Saints from receiving all the saving ordinances and now they’re preventing—and not because of their own sins, right? Not because of worthiness but because of Cain killing Abel, and in this case once again gay parents, children of gay parents not because of their own choices but because of their parents’ choices. So that is a parallel that I see that wasn’t in existence before the most recent policy came into play.
GT: That brings up another point. I know that immediately after the announcement, the November 2015 Announcement I believe it was, where they prevented children of gay parents from being ordained, baptism, or whatever, I know a lot of people came out with the Second Article of Faith as Orson Pratt did in the Legislature: “Men should be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.”
I’ll tell you what, I’ve had some debates online about whether, does God punish as Orson Pratt said, only this generation, or does He punish future generations through not allowing ordinances. Some people say well God’s cursed lots of people and you can read the Bible. There’s lots of curses in the Bible that are supposedly from God, or the prophets claim are from God. So how do you interpret? I guess I’m putting on your theologian hat on there.
GT: But how do you feel about that, especially with regards to the Second Article of Faith?
Paul: Sure, so my understanding of curse is not something that God distributes but in fact that a person may curse themselves as a separation from God and it’s through the person’s actions and that can be overcome simply through repentance. So I see that as how curses are supposed to operate. It’s not how Brigham Young articulated it and Orson Pratt, as you note, pushes back against it and I see it as a violation of the Second Article of Faith. Absolutely, I see the position that Brigham Young staked out in 1852 as a violation of the Second Article of Faith. He’s holding all black people accountable for Cain’s murder of Abel, something they did not participate in. That’s a violation of the principle Joseph Smith establishes in the Second Article of Faith, and I see then the November 5th policy also as a violation of that Second Article of Faith. Holding children of gay couples accountable for decisions they are not making themselves. Yeah. So I absolutely see it as a violation of the Second Article of Faith.
GT: Great, one other parallel I just wanted to point out. You mentioned the one drop rule, that there were probably lots of people with more than one drop of blood who were ordained but they looked white. With the gays, there have been lots of gays ordained, not openly. Maybe they got married in the temple or whatever, got the priesthood as they should have done at certain ages, but then came out as gay after, and now they have priesthood. So it’s kind of interesting to me, it seems like we’re reverting back to the days of Brigham Young. We’re trying to prevent this, but it’s an impossible thing to prevent. What are your thoughts on that?
Paul: Well yeah, I mean a person even could be openly gay and hold the priesthood and be ordained to the priesthood as long as they are adhering to what the Church articulates as its Law of Chastity, right? So you can openly identify as gay and still be ordained to the priesthood so that’s a way in which it’s a distinction or a difference from how the racial priesthood restriction operated.
But you’re right in terms of a person’s sexual identity and if they’re open about it or not open about it and being ordained to the priesthood happening regardless of whether they’re open or not open about it. So it is like the one drop rule. It’s impossible to police. Trying to police someone’s sexual identity is also very problematic as well.
Do you think the gay ban is a violation of the 2nd Article of Faith? How do you react to Paul’s statements?
I don’t see a “violation” of the second article of faith. As I understand, the general rule is that a parent may request baptism and other ordinances from the church for his or her minor children. However, the referenced policy suggests that a parent who has avowedly set aside the church teaching on marriage (man + woman) may not make such a request. It is the non-traditional parent who is estopped, not the child. I think the thought is that the Church prefers to treat with parents in the traditional sense of father and mother (and recognizing normal patterns of adaptations, such as single-parent and step situations and so forth), and chooses not to treat with same-sex marriages and so forth. But not to worry — when the child reaches his or her majority, he or she can request baptism directly — or, the offending parent can repent of his or her sin and make the request. There is no loss.
At least, this is how I understand it. I don’t speak for the church or for other Latter-day Saints.
Given that repentance is available for sins (with certain limited exceptions which don’t apply here) until an individual dies, while we suffer the consequences of our actions here on this earth, God does not “punish” us for our sins until after we die and judgment based on our unrepented sins at that point is rendered. To accept that making a person wait a period of time to receive baptism is a punishment from God means you also have to accept that Jesus was responsible while he was on the earth for subjecting people to God’s punishment because he wasn’t baptizing or permitting the baptism of any gentiles during his ministry.
I think the POX is a violation of many things, including the church’s own teachings on the importance of baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, etc. The 2nd Article of Faith is the least of these, IMHO. The ban is nothing more than bigotry couched in the rhetoric of righteousness, which, come to think of it, does make it similar to the Blacks/priesthood ban, which was essentially the same thing. It’s a shame, really, on so many levels, the obvious bigotry being one, of course, but also the church leaders not understanding how much ridiculousness like this erodes the members’ trust in them and how much this kind of naked bigotry alienates our young members.
ji: We allow non-member parents of all levels of morality to “request baptism for their children” all the time. In fact, we encourage it.
ji and Ojisan, you’re all violating scripture. It says 8, not 18. I guess the sins be upon you.
Just curious, does anyone think Orson Pratt was wrong for using the 2nd article of faith against slavery and the right for blacks to vote?
If that were the rationale Ji, then children of cohabiting parents would not be allowed to be baptised either. And, it’s either preferable to raise our children in the church or it’s not, so I do worry.
Now, please offer me an acceptable explanation for my compassionate liberal thinking 21 year old.
There are no answers, are there Ji?
handlewithcare, President Uchtdorf suggested [in advance] an explanation acceptable to some when he said “to be perfectly frank, there have been times when … leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.” That is easier for some to accept when the “mistakes” are long ago and far away, but there is no satisfactory reason to think that the Lord has somehow made the current crop of Church leaders entirely immune from mistakes. “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8 But fallibility is not a sufficient reason to reject all.
ji, “There is no loss” is an incredible conclusion! There have already been significant losses to families that include step-children/half-siblings who also have a gay parent who gave permission, or even encouraged, raising the children LDS. This seems likely a more common scenario than some others also affected by the policy of exclusion. A necessary corollary of your conclusion is that the gift of the Holy Ghost is not important for children with a gay parent somewhere, but only becomes important when they turn 18. That may be true, but it has not been the doctrine of the Church. BTW, as some understand the general policy relating to baptism of minors, it requires parental consent, not parental request. Why that policy could not simply have been expanded to ensure that parental consent was informed consent with respect to the Church’s current position (right or wrong) on the sinfulness of gay marriage and its current understanding of eternal families is beyond me.
You asked about a violation of the 2nd Article of Faith, not a violation of D&C 68:25-27 or scripture generally. It is your post so you can do as wish but I suspect that it generally works best to be precise and consistent.
Ojisan, “To accept that making a person wait a period of time to receive baptism is a punishment from God means you also have to accept that Jesus was responsible while he was on the earth for subjecting people to God’s punishment because he wasn’t baptizing or permitting the baptism of any gentiles during his ministry.”
Both I and Paul view the gay policy as a violation of the 2nd article of faith. Martin Luther once said, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” If the church won’t follow its own scriptures by delaying baptism until 18, surely there will be many children who would have been baptized at 8 that don’t get baptized at 18. Perhaps the Gift of the Holy Ghost is unimportant for the 10 years between 8 and 18? That isn’t a delay, it is a prevention in many cases. I see D&C 68 as simply supporting the argument. It seems you want to limit it only to AoF 2. Well, if you want to do that, then you and I don’t have much to discuss then. I disagree with your interpretation. Not sure what else to say if you don’t want me to provide corroborating evidence of why I disagree. Are you saying I can’t provide scriptures in support of my position?
I don’t necessarily think AoF 2 is a good argument when it comes to the race ban unless we acknowledge that race is a byproduct of sin which it obviously is not. BY’s argument that it was the sin of Ham passed down through generations is flimsy at best–it’s not even uniquely Mormon! It’s a byproduct of his protestant upbringing. The same nonsense is found in Barbara Kingsolver’s novel the Poisonwood Bible. But the uniquely Mormon justification (that is also racist) that the race ban was because blacks were less valiant in the pre-existence would be a different twist, holding people accountable for their own invisible and pre-supposed sins.
I don’t think that’s the intention of the POX (the Nov 5 gay policy). That’s not about “punishing children of gay parents” so much as it is a vote of no confidence in the church’s stance against gay marriage. 1) it pre-supposes that gay people don’t and can’t have testimonies which is demonstrably false, and 2) it pre-supposes that gay marriage is so attractive an option that even the merest exposure to it will cause people to support it contrary the church’s teachings. It’s an attempt to isolate people so that they don’t develop empathy for gay people in committed relationships because then they will side with them about gay marriage rights. But God keeps letting gay kids be born to Mormon families. Obviously God doesn’t wish to isolate Mormons from gays in the same way this policy does.
Personally, I think it’s a stop gap while they figure out how gay marriage figures into the Plan, but that doesn’t mean it will ever change. It just means they aren’t ready to figure it out.
ji, now you are assuming and attributing to me an anger that does not exist. As to the primary residence language, that is not in the original policy of exclusion. It first appears in the so-called “clarification” letter that in fact drastically changed the original Nov 5 policy. It was certainly a change for the better. Sorry I wasn’t clearer about which policy I referred to. Of course, “primary residence” remains a significantly ambiguous term in the case of a child whose divorced parents have joint custody while one of them is in a same-gender marriage or similar relationship. Perhaps that ambiguity is a feature and not a bug of the revised policy since it allows local leadership to interpret it in dealing with a specific situation. In any event, I suppose you may be saying that the original Nov 5 policy was mistaken in its utter failure to limit its application to those children with a “primary residence” with a parent in a same-gender marriage or similar relationship. It would seem that if that was a mistake, there could be more. Please don’t project what may be your anger on me as if it were mine.
I’m idly curious why ji’s comment to which I responded (time stamp 12:42) does not appear, but my response does. I guess I just don’t understand the vagaries of blog systems (or monitoring). Has ji been banned? had comments held for moderation? Though ji’s views don’t seem to be popular here, it is useful to me to try to understand how others think about the issues.
Ji has a history of passive aggressive comments towards multiple users. Having been warned to avoid this, she persists and was moderated.
“We don’t change the Message; the Message changes Us”; a slogan on a Protestant church sign. There are many, many behaviors in our lives that we must make a deliberate, prayerful effort to set aside in order to follow the standards of the Church. I think much of the outrage expressed is simply “How DARE the Church ask me to (whatever)?
I’m with Angela C on pretty much her whole comment, except I don’t expect the church to “repent” of its position on gay marriage. I don’t see the children as being punished for their parents sins, so I don’t see how AofF 2 applies. I also don’t think that the D&C 68 citation precludes the POX. The church gives baptism a really high priority (necessary for salvation and all that), but it’s not THAT high. The church doesn’t baptize children against their parents’ will, or Muslims who would risk serious physical harm for converting, or people in countries where the church isn’t allowed to operate. Everybody will get an opportunity to get baptized at some point. Yet, it’s also supposed to be a huge advantage to have the Gift of the Holy Ghost (GofHG), and those children are being denied that, right? But I think the Holy Ghost works with people where they’re at, and people without the GofGH often experience the HG more than those of us who have it (presumably why the church has so many converts). I don’t feel the children affected by the POX would be denied the Spirit through no fault of their own, but if they were regular church attenders, watching their peers’ rites of passage and being unable to have their own could definitely feel like punishment.
Oops, my comment makes it look like I accused Angela C of expecting the church to repent. All I meant was that I don’t expect the church to change its position on gay marriage and I think her comment implies that it probably will in some way or another.
Martin: Thanks for the clarification. I actually don’t necessarily expect it to change either, at least not in my lifetime, although that’s probably in my case because I think we’ve theologicked ourselves into a corner through so much focus on the family to the exclusion of all else.
Back in the 1980s, there were studies that showed that the one positive thing people ever said about the oft-reviled Mormons was that we had great families. Ever since then, we’ve steadily increased our focus on this one single aspect of Mormonism to the point that we now have a so-called “doctrine of the family” which is pretty new, honestly. (I’m not saying the concepts haven’t been there in various forms, but calling it a doctrine is new!) The problem with this single-minded focus is that gay people exist and aren’t accounted for in this doctrine.
Can we continue to ignore their existence and marginalize those families who support their gay children? Yes, and we will shrink as a result, but we can always say that’s because the church is special, elite, and the world is wicked. There’s a narrative to cover our doctrine gap caused by the existence of gay people. Again, there are plenty of people who won’t be troubled by that or by a little distilling of our numbers.
Corroborating scriptures are good but the generally accepted practice is to explain why the scripture corroborates your position.In your posting of the scripture from the D&C you provided no explanation of the corroboration. On the face of it D&C 68:25-27 has nothing to do with the 2nd AoF and a practice that is inconsistent with it wouldn’t necessarily be inconsistent with the 2nd AoF. Thus without an explanation it is meaningless. I also note that your subsequent explanation about the delay, which elucidates your views of the violation of D&C 68:25-27, still does not tie that violation back to why the practice of delaying baptism constitutes a breach of the 2nd AoF.,
In my little patch of Zion along the Wasatch Front, the church’s membership is certainly getting smaller and older because of the ban on gay families.
I have no sociological evidence for this conjecture, but I think I’m seeing a significant change in the group of people that we generally identify as “less active.” When the current members of the Q15 were young, there was a pretty large group of people (at least in the American West) who retained their Mormon identity even though they didn’t go to church. My sense is that being an inactive Mormon who still identifies as Mormon is less tenable now than it has ever been, especially among younger people. I see least two reasons for this.
One reason is that we have ratcheted up the requirements for being a member in good standing. Nowadays, if you don’t have a temple recommend, many Mormons tend to think that there’s something wrong with you. It wasn’t always that way! This is, perhaps, a Mormon version of “extreme vetting.” We vet both insiders and outsiders, and in doing so we make it harder for insiders to stay and harder for outsiders to enter or re-enter.
Another reason is that the choices and opportunities for completely separating from the church have greatly increased in the last couple of generations. Or to put it another way, it’s easier than ever for a Mormon to find a comfortable identity outside of Mormonism. We are pushing away more people at a time when they find it easier to take the exit, and we are losing the diverse pool of people who have traditionally been able to exist comfortably at the margins—people who have been friends of the faith, if not full participants.
This is unhealthy. Angela C is undoubtedly right that some zealots take satisfaction in being part of a dwindling elite. Unfortunately, that’s not a prescription for long-term prosperity. A church whose members are devoted to extreme vetting will wither. I sometimes wonder whether the general authorities fully understand how far-reaching are their policies like the ban on gay families. The message of alienation that those policies send is being heard very clearly by many people. There are a lot of very loving, welcoming members in my ward. The warmth of those members can heal a lot of hurt, and it can embrace a lot of difference. There are too many people who will never get close enough to feel that warmth because they have been paying attention to the unwelcoming messages of the prophets.
In his talk, “Come, Join with Us”, Pres. Uchtdorf said:
>But we earnestly desire to overcome our faults and the tendency to sin. With our heart and soul we yearn to become better with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
>If these are your desires, then regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church. Come, join with us!
The POX directly contradicts this message. There are many devout disciples of Christ who cannot in good conscious follow the church’s rules about homosexuality. I don’t think that the POX contradicts the 2nd article of faith, as that assumes that the parents are sinning. Instead, I see the POX as contradicting the 13th article of faith, that in seeking after things that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report”, you and your family are kicked out of the church.
Then again, from another perspective, this is exactly what happened to Adam and Eve in the garden. When they pursued godliness, Adam and Eve were removed from an environment that was limiting their growth and placed somewhere that they could achieve their full potential. While it was a painful experience for them, as Eve noted, “It is better for us to pass through sorrow that we may know the good from the evil.”
I suppose neither of these perspectives is a complement to the church or supports the “one true church” doctrine.
Ojisan, I think there are a multitude of scriptural reasons why the gay policy is wrong: 2nd AoF and D&C 68 are just 2 examples. On my blog, some had called this a delay, not a ban, and my point was seeing ji’s comment ” It is the non-traditional parent who is estopped, not the child” and your comment “To accept that making a person wait a period of time to receive baptism is a punishment from God….” seemed to contradict D&C 68, so I don’t think it was sound reasoning to dispute AoF 2. Sorry my reasoning wasn’t more clear, but refuting AoF 2 by violating scripture seems like a non starter to me.
Laying aside the issue of whether the policy is wrong, I actually don’t think section 68 is the best argument against it. What D&C 68 enjoins parents to do is to teach their children to understand the doctrine of repentance and baptism when they are 8 years old, not necessarily baptize them when they are 8 years old. But section 20 lays out the prerequisites for baptism: “humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins.” Read together, I think these verses suggest that while parents have the responsibility to teach their children the gospel of repentance and baptism, a child should be baptized when he or she actually does repent and become converted, not automatically at 8 years old.
I have ancestors who were active church members who were baptized later than 8 years old. I have one ancestor who served as an apostle who was baptized at 11. I don’t know how unique that is, or whether the practice of baptizing kids on or right after their eighth birthday is a recent innovation, but I wish we were a little less rushed about it.
Now, that’s not to say that any restriction on baptism is automatically right, or that the gay policy is right, but I don’t think D&C 68 is the best argument.