Condone is a loaded word. It just doesn’t mean to “put up with something”, but is means that the “something” that is put up with is behavior that is considered morally wrong or offensive.
Now look at how Elder Holland used the word “condone” in his talk at the Annual Training Broadcast for seminary and institute teachers a few weeks ago. The below is from thechurchnews.com web site. The full video can be found here
“Generation Z” students — ages 7 to 22 — are often defined by characteristics that might pose challenges to teachers, he said.
Broadly speaking, Zs are always “wired” to some sort of device. They have perhaps been exposed to “flagrant, destructive pornography” at early ages. They tend to support gay marriage and transgender rights as part of everyday life. “Because of this sociability, the thin line between friendship and condoning behavior begins to blur.”
He used the word condone with respect to gay marriage AND transgender rights. Now it is obvious that the LDS church thinks that gay marriage is ” considered morally wrong or offensive”. But lets talk about transgender rights. Elder Holland thinks these rights are also morally wrong or offensive.
What part of these rights are morally wrong? The right to be able to rent an apartment? The right to be able to walk down the street and feel safe? Maybe he doesn’t like the right of equal employment opportunities?
In the audio, he also talks about how for the Generation Z kids “it would be rare for them to not have a friend from the LGBT community” and it is because of this that they are “condoning” gay marriage and transsexual rights. I think they are scared to death of this. Gays and transsexuals are not scary people like they were in his generation, but are the youth’s classmates, next door neighbors, sisters and brothers. They are regular people. They are being normalized as they should, and there is no going back.
Brigham Young would not condone interracial marriage, and yet the church lost its battle on that, and today I have a black bishop in my ward, married to a white woman. But it took 150 years. How long will it take before we have married gay couples as full members of the church? Another 150 years?
I have well and truly got to the point where trying to understand the rhetoric church leaders use in relation to LGBT issues no longer gets me any closer to appreciating their position.
The way that they ( Oaks is the largest offender) shroud their concern for the LGBT community against their call for continuing religious freedom – and in this case church members’ interactions with that community – is terrible. It is confusing, replete with logical inconsistencies and perpetuates yet another example (as you indicate) of trying to apply a doctrinal bandaid to a non existent social wound.
It will be interesting to see how the tone of the anti LGBT rhetoric orchestrated by Nelson, Oaks and Holland changes when they are no longer with us. The seminary teachers Holland is trying to educate here would do well to distance themselves from this pointless and disparaging position. Why can’t he just educate them to be better teachers. Isn’t that the whole purpose of this training..??
Young people have always “blurred the line” between friendship and condoning behavior. Growing up in UT, I felt the underlying message that I shouldn’t associate too much with non-members.
“It will be interesting to see how the tone of the anti LGBT rhetoric orchestrated by Nelson, Oaks and Holland changes when they are no longer with us.”
I’m not optimistic about church rhetoric changing when leadership changes. The “talent pool” with similar views/attitudes is wide and deep. People who are “independent” thinkers don’t usually ascend through the ranks. (Ex. Bednar)
(It seems Oak’s hyper focus on religious freedom erupted alongside the issue of
same sex marriage).
Generation Z does not have an evil-tolerance gene that makes them condone gay behavior; Generation Z is more tolerant because they were taught to be that way by Generation X and Generation Y (millennials). These generations have gotten progressively more accepting of gay and transgender issues, each generation building on the generation before it. I’ve heard to explanations for this.
1. We are approaching the end times when people will call evil good and good evil. (I will not pretend to do this argument justice; if someone else wishes to argue for it or something similar that is up to them).
2. As a society we have learned more about origins of gender issues and the psychological damage of repressing ones identity. We have learned that repressing sexual orientation and gender identity leads to psychological harm, and that expressing it does not.
I’m obviously more inclined to believe the second option. Generations Y and Z have been tought to be nice (tolerate) their LGBT friends. They have learned that it’s safe to come out of the closet because they will have allies, even if some people do not accept them. This is why, as Holland states, most Generation Z will know someone who is gay.
On the issue of trans rights, I suspect Holland is referring (at least in part) to the right to use the bathroom and/or locker room of choice.
I recently saw my grandfather who I only see about once a year. He is of Oaks’ generation. The first thing he said to me wasn’t, “Hi MTodd; hows your family?” or, “It’s so great to see you; tell me what’s new.” Instead he upbraided me for not shaving. I knew this would happen because it happens pretty much every time I see him and it’s getting worse as he gets older. It’s like he can’t help himself; he’s hyper focused on a few issues that don’t really matter. Whatever.
As my grandfather started giving me a hard time for my facial hair, I thought of President Oaks who can’t seem to open his mouth without blaming the homosexual agenda for corrupting society (or spouting other pharisaical beliefs like it’s important which hand you use to take the sacrament). It’s like he can’t help himself; he’s hyper focused on a few issues that don’t really matter.
The difference between the scope of influence of my grandfather and that of President Oaks is huge. I can easily chalk my grandfather’s ranting up to old age and ignore him. (Sorry grandpa, I’m keeping my well-trimmed beard.) No one is injured; no real harm is done. The same is not true for President Oaks comments. He opens his mouth and millions of people think he’s speaking the word of God, countless LGBT youth are stuck wondering if God loves them or if they are evil, and parents of LGBT youth feel justified kicking their kids out of the home.
I can simply ignore my grandfather’s rants; I can’t in good conscience just ignore President Oaks’ rants.
I just can’t deal with a church leader who actually wants people to fear and loathe anyone.
Life is complicated. There are many exceptions to the rules. We need to roll with them and that’s what religion should help us do so that we can stay on our path, be our best selves and be an example to people who may need one. Expressing or living with hostility isn’t good for us and it isn’t fair or good for anyone we aim it at. I should think a spiritual “leader” would understand that and advocate Jesus’ and HF’s love.
Shame on Holland.
On the issue of transgender rights, the examples that you gave (housing, employment, etc.) are non-issues and have already been addressed by the Church. In 2015 already voiced support for laws that oppose discrimination in housing and employment on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. See –
However, transgender rights go beyond that. Laws have been put in place that allow employers to fire people if they do not refer to transgendered by people by the pronoun they want to be known by . See –
In fact is happened to a teacher in Virgina last year. The teacher made every effort to refer to a transgender student by their name and avoid any use of pronouns…but even that wasn’t enough. Because he wouldn’t refer to a biological “she” as “he” and use the pronouns that person wanted he lost his job and ability to provide for his family.
Additionally, there was a legal case in Canada where a 14-year-old wanted to transition by using puberty blocking interventions and the father objected….and the judge overruled the objection of the father. In fact, the judge stated that by objecting to the gender transition and by not referring to his son as a “she” the father was guilty of committing “family violence” under the Family Law Act (of British Columbia).
So transgender rights are much more about housing and employment – they are about coercing others to modify their beliefs and conscience to satisfy the views of another (the transgendered individual). It is one thing for a person to believe and identify as another gender….it is quite another thing to use the force of law to make everyone that comes into contact with person to believe the same thing about them.
The irony would be amusing if it wasn’t so tragic — many of the people now condemning Elder Holland were (a couple years ago) counting the years until he became Prophet and could sweep out the old guard and replace them with like-minded forward-thinkers. I even saw a post (on this blog, I believe) anticipating the life-expectancy of the various Apostles and saw cheering posts that it was actuarially only a matter of time until things changed for the better under then President Holland’s inspired (finally!) leadership. Now this — Elder Hollard is no different than all the rest of the Apostles. And so the wailing begins: ‘It cannot possibly be because they are right and this is the Lord’s will. No, why can’t they just see that they are all wrong and I am right?!? How long will it be until they finally abandon the foolish and vain traditions of their fathers and come around to my way of thinking!’
Reading this, and the comments, also reminded me of another of Elder Holland’s talks:
“Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods and smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds. Talk about man creating God in his own image! Sometimes — and this seems the greatest irony of all — these folks invoke the name of Jesus as one who was this kind of ‘comfortable’ God. Really?”
and, speaking of prophets:
“They know full well that the road leading to the Promised Land ‘flowing with milk and honey,’ of necessity runs by way of Mount Sinai flowing with ‘thou shalts’ and ‘thou shalt nots.’”
I am sorry what Elder Holland says contradicts your social and political views. I’m sorry the doctrine contradicts your ‘lived experience.’ But, perhaps, that is why God calls these mortal men to positions of leadership — because they contradict our views (even those views we cling to like Gollum clings to the One Ring). There would be no need for Prophets and Apostles to come and tell us when we are right — but there is every need for them to come and tell us when we are wrong. Then our agency kicks in — we can humble ourselves and learn from them or we can puff ourselves up and seek to tell them how things are. You make your choice.
But you must make that choice. Because if you convince yourself that you are following some future prophet while opposing the current Prophet, or that you are somehow following the Lord’s will by opposing the Prophet that He put at the head of His Church, the only person you are liable to convince with that little piece of fallacious sophistry is yourself.
About a half an hour before reading this post, I sat in my living room, drinking my orange juice with two gay men, a transgender man (all in their mid-20’s), and a couple of Mama Dragons. A beautiful Sunday morning, completely relaxed (still in my jammies). Nothing to fear, although those Mamas can get pretty scary sometimes.
Anyone who is uncomfortable or afraid of LGBTQIA+ folk should really just get to know some. And maybe love and serve them, and then see how they feel.
Some people are very afraid of condoning. Our bishop was by recently to extend a calling to my wife to be in the Primary presidency. As we talked about our family, he suddenly looked thunderstruck. He said, “There’s something I must ask you as your bishop and for callings. Do you support same-sex marriage?” I suppose the clever thing to say would have been, “we believe in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law of the land. As same-sex marriage is the law of the land, we are duty bound as Mormons to support it.” But we just said, “Yes.” Our 15-year-old daughter came into the room to add, “I support it 100%.” Well, the calling was dropped. Ministering brothers were reassigned so that the Aaronic PH minister wouldn’t be exposed to our ideas. Basically, we’re a threat to the youth and children of the ward.
As pointed out in the OP, there appears to be significant fear in the top leadership of normalizing “them”. Commenters have talked about that harm. In the months following the November 2015 policy, I had experiences with two young gay men that took their lives in the same week.
My wife, daughter, and I went to the mortuary in Bountiful to make a hand mold for Stockton’s family. We held the cold hand of that beautiful boy as we prepared the impressions to cast the detailed mold that would give the family a chance to “hold his hand” again. Part of Stockton’s story is told in Gregory Prince’s new book, Gay Rights and the Mormon Church: Intended Actions, Unintended Consequences. https://www.amazon.com/Gay-Rights-Mormon-Church-Consequences-ebook/dp/B07QNGYBM6/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=gregory+prince+books+gay&qid=1561313720&s=gateway&sr=8-1 In those pages you’ll see how the deliberate words and actions of those that wanted to make sure that they didn’t “condone” Stockton. This is a young man that excelled academically, athletically, musically, and was an Eagle Scout – but who could never feel worth and acceptance from those afraid to condone him.
The next day, I attended Wyatt’s funeral. I’ve known his father since 1981, though we lost touch many years ago. As I embraced him, he asked if I knew his son was gay. I said just a couple of days ago. He said he found out at viewing the evening before when asking some of the mourners how they knew Wyatt and they replied, “We dated for a while”.
Wyatt’s uncle spoke at the funeral. He looked out in the congregation, filled with “rainbow” youth, and acknowledged the unexpected “diversity”. He then proceeded to say how no one recognized Wyatt’s pain in life, but how he knew now that somehow, Jesus was “fixing” Wyatt so that he would be normal in the eternities and would be free from that pain. How many kids in the audience connected the dots that suicide is the way to be free of their pain and to get fixed? Another Eagle Scout, scholar, and record-class swimmer – another gay 17-year-old that felt that he was not enough.
Oh – his uncle is Matt Holland, then president of Utah Valley University. Son of Elder Holland.
Three nights ago, I received a desperate text from my son’s partner – “I really need a parent now”. I found him very despondent, probably suicidal. His father, mother, and siblings had been tearing into him all day. I listened to his father say, “I’m never going to wave a flag in the parade. I love the s***t out of you but can’t support you.”
Where do you draw the line between overtly not condoning and hate or persecution? Does “I love you, but . . .” ever convey love? To me, my job begins and never ends with love.
Jon – We all get the company line. We don’t need you to remind us. I go to church every Sunday and I get what you are saying. I just got released from a bishopric last week after serving for five years. I come here to vent and say things that I can’t say in Sunday School. We all get that this is a progressive blog and that things said here are a little unorthodox at times. Give it a rest man.
“They have perhaps been exposed to “flagrant, destructive pornography” at early ages”
As opposed to the non-destructive, tasteful, innocent porn of the earlier days. Good old Playboy of decades past and its artful nudity.
“They tend to support gay marriage and transgender rights as part of everyday life”
This is said right after the porn line, suggesting that exposure to porn makes people more accepting of LGBTQs. So don’t watch porn, folks. It is a gateway to non-homophobia. Before you know it, you’ll be saying, “I accept my neighbor’s same-sex marriage as just as valid as mine” and maybe even say, “I want to marry someone of the same sex.” Oh the horror. Damn those transgenders wanting to be able to use public restrooms without people targeting and harming them. We really should be in a constant state of harassment of anyone says they are a man in a woman’s body. I mean, how dare someone with a penis wear a dress and have long hair. They need to follow the example of Jesus Christ who in LDS portrayals totally did not have long hair and wear dress-like robes.
“Because of this sociability, the thin line between friendship and condoning behavior begins to blur.”
Tell me about it. Anytime I meet someone who is gay or transgender, I always make it a point to talk about how I am offended by their attempting to look like a man in spite of being a woman and how their marriage to someone of the same gender, even though lawful, is not a real marriage and that that act offends me, even though I love them as a person. I love people struggling with same-sex attraction. I just get bent out of shape at the sight of two men holding hands and kissing. I make sure to let them know that what they’re doing is offensive and that they need to stop. Sheesh.
You write like you accept the premise that LGBTQ people choose to be such? How can you think that a loving Heavenly Father would create sons and daughters – but then love some less and not worthy of all of his blessings? Please take a moment to read this piece :
Umm, you realize, of course, that we don’t use the RSV in our Church, right? You realize that, regardless of whether you believe the scriptures do or don’t declare homosexual behavior a sin, that modern Prophets and Apostles have been both uniform and explicit that it is?
“How can you think that a loving Heavenly Father would create sons and daughters – but then love some less and not worthy of all of his blessings?”
I, of course, said no such thing (though sin does make us unworthy of some blessings). If hearing the commandments makes you think that God loves some children more than others, I expect that to be a misunderstanding you hold as to our fallen natures. Whether homosexual attraction is nature, nurture, choice, without choice, or anywhere else along the spectrum (and, for my two cents, it is likely in different places for different people), that doesn’t change the fact that sin never was happiness. I was born with any number of desires that I didn’t choose — but to act on them is sinful and leads to unhappiness. Could I declare that because I was born a jealous person, then “Thou shalt not covet” doesn’t apply to me? Or, to be more directly comparable to what is being cited above, could I declare that because I was born a jealous person, then it is an attack on my personhood that anyone teaches “Thou shalt not covet” and demand the silence of anyone hateful enough to preach against my particular preferred sin? Should I write posts longing for the day when someone far more enlightened leads the Church who will understand that jealousy is just something I was born with and stop the unrighteous condemnation and allow me to envy in peace?
What you, and the original poster, are asking for is a special pleading. Every one of us is fallen and has desires and appetites outside of the bounds permitted by the Lord. Every one of us is obligated to constrain those desires. Same-sex attraction is not a magical exception to this general rule, and so much that is written by its proponents are results-oriented, clumsy, backwards reasonings — ‘what do I need to think in order to come to the conclusion that what I want is correct?’. God loves you and me the same — perfectly. But for us to love God, we must keep His commandments (John 14:15). To paraphrase BeenThere, “[d]oes ‘I love you, but I refuse to keep your commandments’ ever convey love” to God?
Jonathan’s comments bring to mind a question I have considered for quite some time.
There are people, at least hypothetically, and probably in reality, who would do anything a church leader says without question. But I think most people have some threshold where they will pause and take stock, and consider whether to follow their leader or their conscience. My question is, where is this line? How does a faithful member of the church, when instructed to do something against their conscience, decide to follow their own moral compass, or somebody else’s?
For many members of the church, this is not an issue they have struggled with because they agree with the church leaders; they have no desire to condone gays or gay marriage. (Jonathan, I suspect you fall in this camp. Feel free to correct me). But for many of us, this is a real struggle. Holland’s comments suggest this struggle is becoming much more prevalent with succeeding generations.
I have decided for myself that I can not rely on church leaders for my personal ethics. But I’m an exception within the church and even possibly on this blog, where the forum is primarily for believing members, and I wonder how other people address this question.
Church leaders, for example, advised and encouraged members to participate in the campaign for proposition 8 in California. If you agreed with proposition 8, then imagine if it was something you found personally abhorrent, like allowing child marriages, or (for the second amendment crowd) banning all personally owned firearms. How should a believing member decide what to do when a leader asks them to support behavior s/he finds abhorrent, or support legislation that infringes on people’s rights?
I think Been There hits it on the head with this: “there appears to be significant fear in the top leadership of normalizing ‘them’.” Note how Holland links “flagrant, destructive pornography” with tending to support gay and trans rights. He’s quite intentionally aligning what to him is the most morally depraved thing (ironically, people having sex/intimacy) with supporting mandated, legislated rights (marriage, at least, is a right according to the Supreme Court) for groups of people towards whom he is obviously prejudiced. This whole “love, but don’t condone” or “love, but don’t support” thing is absurd and untenable. How is it possible that after all of this time, we haven’t figured out the most basic things about treating groups of people who are slightly different from us? It’s sort of like the old line, “If you don’t support gay marriage, don’t have one.” There has been a long and storied history of (mostly paranoid) religious leaders associating the fair and kind treatment of homosexuals, trans people, people of different ethnicities, etc. with societal destruction. That is demonstrably untrue. If religious leaders are so concerned about society, they ought to spend a lot more time talking about food deserts, wealth inequality, the environment, and the scarcity of potable water. Those things have already wrought havoc upon fairly large swaths of humanity. Holland’s (and Oaks’) language is simply unconscionable whether viewed through the lens of human rights or through the lens of Christian charity.
“My question is, where is this line? How does a faithful member of the church, when instructed to do something against their conscience, decide to follow their own moral compass, or somebody else’s?”
I think the answer is that we are a Church led by personal revelation. If you are a same-sex attracted individual and God tells you to go and get married, then you do it. Be cautious to know your instructions from Him, but He outranks the Prophet. This is true across the board — do what God says, but be very, very cautious as to your instructions when God says what you want to hear. Now, with that said, just because God gives you certain instructions doesn’t authorize you to go out and preach against the Church — even if He did give you something different, He gave it to you (not to you to give to everyone else).
Think of Nephi. The doctrine of “Thou shalt not kill” was pretty clear. But the Lord tells him to kill Laban. And so he does. So far, so good. But if Nephi had hopped on the Internet the next day and said “Just killed Laban, and I was totally righteous to do it. #OnlyNineRealCommandments” then that would be sinful.
“For many members of the church, this is not an issue they have struggled with because they agree with the church leaders”
Everyone has something like this they struggle with — any exceptions are welcome to float up through the ceiling and be translated because they have no purpose being here any more. But just because your struggles and my struggles are on different topics, that doesn’t mean (a) either of our struggles are less meaningful or real; or (b) different principles should control how we handle those struggles.
“How should a believing member decide what to do when a leader asks them to support behavior s/he finds abhorrent, or support legislation that infringes on people’s rights?”
Follow the Prophet unless the Lord instructs you otherwise. When you pit your own will, or reasoning, or anything of the sort against the Prophets you are on a slippery slope to apostasy. Man is a rationalizing animal, not a rational one — and stifling that impulse is one reason I think the Lord gives us prophets. But the Lord can direct each of us individually as well. The best example of this that I know is Elder McConkie’s son who, when he heard his father speak about blacks never receiving the priesthood, prayed himself and received revelation that Elder McConkie was wrong. He took that revelation and wrote in his journal about his joy in finding that out. And he continued to follow the Brethren, knowing the Lord would change things in his own due time.
Contrast that with those who might have left the Church or agitated against it — and, many of whom, never came back after OD2. Which course of action was better? Even if God were to tell you that the Church is wrong on a particular issue, that doesn’t extend to you the stewardship to go about fighting against the Kingdom of God on Earth. At worst you end up kicking against the pricks and at very best you are still steadying the Ark.
Rockwell, I agree with your point of view. I go by BeenThere because I once was in lock-step with the leadership and worked hard to mentally justify every new thing, old thing, and contradicting thing. I completely understand where Jonathan is coming from because I stood right there with him for decades.
For months after the November 2015 policy (my biggest problem with it was excluding children from ordinances ) I could not bring myself to pray about it. “Is it from Thee?” Either answer would explode my world. When I finally could ask, I didn’t – I simply said, “I don’t want to be out of step with the Brethren.” His response was “You are accountable to me. Counsel with your wife. Teach your children.”
Figuring out what that meant has been quite a journey. Beyond the obvious that I can’t pass off my accountability off to anyone else including the prophet, I have had to step up to examining or re-examining pretty much everything. Where do I receive peace and knowledge and do the most good in the world? How does God deal with the other 99+% of His children who live on this planet? Does he have a delivery system for caring for His children beyond the Church? The certainty and elitism carried by so many members seem woefully inadequate.
If your eternal salvation is dependent on particular behaviors, practices, and performances – you better be darn sure for yourself that they are handed down from God and not just passed on by man. And you can get that assurance – and learn what you should become along the way.
It would be a shame to fall short at the last day because of unexamined notions. My accountability doesn’t go away just because those notions come from the top and have been held for generations. Not drinking coffee will not compensate for wounding tender souls because we wanted to be sure we weren’t condoning their behavior.
“I have decided for myself that I can not rely on church leaders for my personal ethics. ”
Right. Of course..
I believe we will be judged on our own decisions. The problem with setting aside one’s own judgment can result in serious, even criminal mistakes. (Or the opposite) Now granted, our church leaders are decent (mortal) men trying to do good, but nevertheless we all have agency and will answer for how we used our agency.
“Love one another. “ That is what we are commanded to do. We are not commanded to judge.
Jesus regularly sought out the sinner—-and offered them love. I think love and refraining from judging is a more effective tool to reaching people than shaming and demonizing them.
When we look back in history, we see mistakes that have been made which caused great harm to those different than ourselves or those we didn’t understand.
My daughter just brought her girlfriend home from college to meet the family. I was reminded what Brother Oaks said when asked hypothetically what he would do and say if his child were gay and wanted to visit with his partner.
If I had responded like Oaks suggests then I would have hurt my daughter so much and I would never have forgiven myself. Instead we spent a lovely weekend playing games and getting to know this person that obviously loves my daughter.
I would much rather embrace my daughter and welcome her new girlfriend to the family. That is what is right and I unapologetically disagree with the twelve about this.
Folks, Jonathan is right. There are no gays in the church, or in life for that matter. There are simply people struggling with same-sex attraction much like some struggle with the impulse to kill. And we darn well better fight those impulses because much like the impulse to kill if not controlled could lead us to kill someone, the same-sex attraction impulse if not controlled could lead us to kiss another person of the same gender, and that is just plain gross. Ew… Not to mention seeing two guys kiss is super offensive to religious people (well I mean not those fake religious people who love the gays, because non-homophobes can’t possibly be religious), and who would want to offend them? I mean they are the guardians of human righteousness, and if It weren’t for those holy folks, people would just be coveting each other’s stuff, killing each other and kissing the same gender all over the place. It would be absolute mayhem.
Besides, the prophets have told us repeatedly that gay stuff is evil, and these guys are basically gods among men. Once when President Monson visited my ward, I prostrated myself in front of his holiness and asked him a special blessing to protect me from the gays. Why? Because the legalization of gay marriage tore my family apart. Someone told my son that some kids have two dads (two dads!) and you could just see the confusion on his poor face. He was so confused he just said OK, shrugged his shoulders and went to go play. The confusion was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
Our youngest daughter is gay. I am a believing and active member of the church. There is a tension that exists with the church’s emphasis on homosexuality and our relationship with our daughter. That is something we learning to deal with. What is most difficult is the terrible rhetoric that comes out of the leaderships mouths which is at complete contradiction to our lived experience with a gay daughter.
We have learned pretty quick that the church does support families that are outside a certain definition. We have had to learn how to defend and provide a more mature response to people who repeat the rhetoric of the church on homosexuality, which without realising, crushes the soul of our gay daughter. There is very little in the way of teachings from our prophets on how to raise a gay daughter in the church, how to sustain faith in a loving god, and how your divine nature includes your innate sexuality. However there are a plethora of un-nuanced sound bite quotes condemning gay attractions, attitudes, agendas and behaviours.
In short relying on the church for support and any advice with gay family members is of little use.
FWIW, I respectfully think you are reading something into a single sentence in a 30+ minute presentation that wasn’t intended, or at least not clearly intended. Elder Holland doesn’t “use the word condone with respect to gay marriage AND transgender rights.” According to the video, this is what he said:
“They tend to support gay marriage and transgender rights as part of everyday life. It would be rare for a Z to not have a close friend from the LGBT community. Because of this sociability, the thin line between friendship and condoning behavior begins to blur and to be difficult to draw.”
To my reading, “this sociability” refers to the “close friend”ship with LGBT youth in the immediately preceding sentence, (which was unfortunately omitted from the newsroom summary), not the support of gay marriage and transgender rights. He talks about this “sociability” blurring the line between “friendship” and condoning “behavior.” To argue that Elder Holland is saying that transgender rights are “morally wrong or offensive” based on an implicit definition of “condone,” coupled with a tenuous connection between “behavior” and “transgender rights,” seems a pretty slender reed on which to post a condemnation of Elder Holland.
I’m reasonably sure Elder Holland, if asked, would probably reiterate the Church’s position on transgender rights, as stated in their recent statement in opposition to the Equality Act:
“Lawmakers across the nation, including members of Congress, are working to enact or strengthen laws that ensure LGBT persons fair access to important rights, such as nondiscrimination in areas like housing, employment and appropriate public accommodations. The Church is on record favoring reasonable measures that secure such rights.”
Assuming that’s correct, don’t you already have the answer to your questions about his stance on a transgender person’s “right to be able to rent an apartment,” “right to be able to walk down the street and feel safe,” and “right of equal employment opportunities”? Why would you think that Elder Holland’s views would be any different than the Church’s?
Of course, none of this may matter to most people. The mere fact that he said “condoning behavior” with regard to LGBT individuals may be enough to argue that he is wrong. I’m willing to admit the possibility that the Brethren’s position on these issues could be a result of their cultural biases. I agree that there have been statements made by the Brethren on these issues that have caused unnecessary pain to the LGBT community. Given all that has been unambiguously said on this issue that can and should be discussed, why put words in Elder Holland’s mouth?
Perhaps I’m too willing to give Elder Holland the benefit of the doubt, and failing to the same for Bishop Bill (of whom I admittedly know nothing). I have no reason to doubt that he is well meaning. But if the intended audience of this post is members who are searching for their own answers on these issues, to me it is too easily dismissed as hyperbolic Brethren-bashing.
Jonathon, Above you say But for us to love God, we must keep His commandments (John 14:15). To paraphrase BeenThere, “[d]oes ‘I love you, but I refuse to keep your commandments’ ever convey love” to God?
You might read the context because later in talk he says ch15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
So the commandment is not that you discriminate as your leaders say, but that you love the people you think you are required to discriminate against.
So God is saying love one another as I love you, and some of our leaders say discriminate against the people our culture can’t cope with.
I believe God takes precedence. It is difficult to see our leaders damaging their credibility again.
Rob, It seems to me to be the Church News’ misleading summary that gave “sociability” an antecedent other than “close friend[ship with someone] from the LGBT community.” The Church News report quoted by Bishop Bill omits the friendship and instead precedes the sentence in question with “support[ing] gay marriage and LGBT rights as a part of everyday life.”. It does not appear that Bishop Bill’s hyperbolic rhetoric depends on a single sentence from Holland, but rather on the Church News’ misleading reporting of its content.
Over the years — and recently — there has also been a lot of hyperbolic rhetoric from general authorities. Maybe such rhetoric is a characteristic of the “great teachers” Elder Holland identified in his talk as reported by the Church news — Bruce McConkie, Boyd Packer, Russell Nelson. Elder Holland suggested that “we [seminary and institute teachers?] would do well to ask ourselves why those teachers affect us the way they do.” I think he meant their teaching affects people positively. Could he be unaware of the scope of the negative influence of precisely those same teachers? For some it arises from part of the content of their teaching, for some from their hyperbolic rhetoric — their attempts to teach their opinions [right or wrong] with “power and authority” — for some it arises from a combination of factors.
Elder Holland may have conflated two different kinds of teaching with power and authority; he is also quoted saying, “We need to astonish those students and do it with the power and authority of God that is given to a teacher — professional or volunteer — who teaches the gospel of Jesus Christ boldly and honestly.” If he did, he would not be the first person to do so.
I appreciate both your analysis (I have not been able to get to the video) and this: “Perhaps I’m too willing to give Elder Holland the benefit of the doubt, and failing to the same for Bishop Bill (of whom I admittedly know nothing). I have no reason to doubt that he is well meaning.” Perhaps you can point out the error to the Church News writer/editor and elicit a correction.
That’s some pretty blatant wresting of the scriptures right there. Christ tells us to keep his commandments (notice the plural). You have redefined that to keep his commandment, and then chosen that one commandment (love one another). Then you have redefined that one commandment as permitting or endorsing (or engaging in) sin. Wow.
While I fully endorse a radical, universal love for our fellow men, this is not the only commandment. It is not even the first commandment. “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
The first commandment — the one you ignore in your overwhelming zeal for the second — is to love God. If you love Him, you keep His commandments (all of them, not the one you cherry pick because you believe it supports your worldview).
Add in that the love we have for others is supposed to be to love them as ourselves, not to endorse or even condone their sins, and you have a perfect storm of turning the scriptures on their heads. When I am enmeshed in sin, the most loving thing that I can do for myself is work to escape it. When my neighbor is enmeshed in sin, the most loving thing that I can do for them (loving them as I love myself) is to help them to escape. If I am an alcoholic, it doesn’t amount to loving myself if I go to the bar (even if that is really, really what I want — go to any 12-step meeting to learn the difference between what you want and what is loving to yourself). Likewise, there is absolutely nothing loving about allowing my neighbor to languish in sin when there is perhaps something that I can do to help them — there is a similar difference between doing what my neighbor wants and what is loving towards them. Thus the Church’s position is the correct and loving one (show kindness and respect, but preach doctrine, repentance, and obedience). And the position of the detractors is not only not correct — it is not loving.
In the place of this love — with an eternal perspective and consistent with the purpose and value of each as a child of God — you have chosen a faddish adherence towards something that has largely been outside of culture for the entirety of human history until less than a decade ago. You claim it is to protect the most vulnerable, but the suicide rate (if we take that as the key evidence — a bad choice with its complexities for evidence on either side, but one seemingly is brought up anecdotally into every discussion of this sort to use as a club against believers) is certainly not decreasing as your worldview becomes more ascendant. Could it be that wickedness really isn’t happiness, and that when we take the steps you advocate we actually increase the pain and suffering of our fellow-travelers? The love you offer is shallow, superficial, and selfish because it is primarily focused on you — supporting your worldview, building up your image of yourself (and, for some, tearing down others in their eyes — while I don’t seek out the downvotes on my posts I do expect them because there are those who seem to get their sense of self-worth and pride from being more enlightened than the ‘haters’ who share doctrine).
I am reminded of a quote from Penn Jillette — an atheist and no friend of religion. “If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward…how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
I know the OP (and you) believe you are being loving. But I read these posts and comments and think to myself: “How much must you guys hate those you say you love to know the truth and not say anything because you think that it will be socially awkward or you’ll look more virtuous to claim you are ‘loving?’ How much must you hate them to use their suffering and challenges and adversities as only so much grist in your mill or straw for your toll of bricks to buttress your grievances with the Church and its leaders? How much do you have to actually hate those you claim others hate (and you love) to know that eternal life is possible and to work to lead others away from that?”
Wow Jonathan. You know, when I first was doubting/ considering leaving the church, it was scary because, if it was true, I was putting my eternal salvation and happiness on the line. But since I’ve left I’ve come to realize that, if it is true, and I end up spending the eternities in a universe run by good, loving Christians like you, that’s actually all the more reason to leave—to maximize my time away. I can’t even believe your blithe dismissal of the suicide statistics. People are dying over church LGBTQ policies. You don’t care. Oaks and Holland don’t care. It’s appalling. If that’s Christian, I’ll keep my distance, thank you.
There’s the old saying that if you cannot argue your point honestly, perhaps you ought to rethink your point.
” I can’t even believe your blithe dismissal of the suicide statistics. People are dying over church LGBTQ policies. You don’t care. Oaks and Holland don’t care.”
This is a flat-out, dishonest statement. You know it. I know it. All the people upvoting you know it. I pointed out (correctly) both that the causes of suicide are complex (a factually true statement) and that, instead of being a clumsy club against believers, the clear trend line is an increase in suicidal tendencies as your political and social worldview gains cultural dominance. In no part of that was I not caring about suicide.
But, of course, it serves your rhetorical purposes to misrepresent what I am saying. The International Suicide Prevention Handbook notes that research:
“tend(s) to support the basic premise that religion provides protection against suicide risk.”
Do you not care about suicide because you are advocating against the Church and religion provides protection against suicide risk? Because that is the same logic that you are using to falsely accuse me, and there is research and data to back it up. So, Dot, ‘I can’t even believe your blithe dismissal of the suicide research. People are dying over your statements against religion. You don’t care.’
But that wouldn’t be fair to you, of course. No more than it is fair to me. But when you say:
“People are dying over church LGBTQ policies.”
you say more than you can demonstrate. Rather than cite to a source you probably won’t like, I will cite to Q Salt Lake Magazine.
The pull quotes:
“This is what I’ve been trying to say all along: Suicide is just not reducible to this one thing, or even one or two things, or three things. It’s many things that add up, and we’re trying to figure out how they add up.”
““There’s no data to show that, period,” [referencing your assertion above] says Michael Staley, who works in the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner and is the first person who would know, since he leads an effort to collect, compile and analyze suicide information from around the state.”
And, of course, the line that would justify my reversal on you (“you just don’t care”):
“Posner and Staley both said that attributing blame, for instance to a religion or church, is counterproductive. While ascertaining the preventable causes of suicide is important, they agree it’s also important to find and emphasize reasons to live.”
So both professionals agree “that attributing blame, for instance to a religion or church, is counterproductive.” So, if it is counterproductive, why do you continue to do it?
But sure, go ahead and tell me that because I don’t agree with you on the doctrine then I don’t care about suicide. Because I disagree with you about the best way to help those struggling or in adversity, I don’t care about suicide. Because I follow Posner’s and Staley’s advice not to attribute blame, that I don’t care about suicide. Yeah, go with that.
Anyhow, this conversation is starting to generate more heat than light, so I will bow out at this point. Go ahead and have the last word.
To turn it around – I can’t condone the damage the LDS church would do on my family if one comes out. My youngest son is showing some gay tendencies and I love told my parents and wife that if he is gay that I’ll leave the church.
I personally don’t see a way to keep a foot in both worlds. I fear that by attending an LGBT unfriendly church that I’m condoning it and that my son would constantly worry whether his parents really loved him.
Jonathan, thanks for responding to me above (6/23, 7:01pm). I appreciate your point of view in that comment, although I disagree with much of it. I dislike the comparison of getting married to Nephi killing drunk-and-passed out Laban in order steal his property. Truly, although it gets good play in primary that story leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. But that has little to do, I think, with your point or mine.
I have to disagree, respectfully, that people should be quiet when they disagree with church leaders. While I recognize the church’s right to call loyal leaders, and to excommunicate members when it sees fit, I don’t think it will be well served by quashing dissent. If care is not taken, “we” will end up going to church and just listening to conference talks verbatim each week. That is pretty much what is happening in my ward, and I personally don’t find it very helpful. The church is becoming the world’s largest echo chamber. I think it would be better if people felt more free to express their honest opinion without repercussion, as long as they didn’t misrepresent their authority or lack of it.
I am a part of the “Generation Z” the OP mentioned (22 years old right now) and just like he predicted, I have LGBT friends.
I have a bisexual friend who has never been a member of the church – he and I often have intellectually deep conversations, and I have told him my belief that most people will be bisexual in a sufficiently permissive society; he actually seems to agree with this, and we’ve discussed the experience of ancient Greece and Rome as a counterexample to the modern idea that homosexuality is an inborn trait in a small but constant segment of the population. He knows that I disapprove of sodomy, but I’ve also made it clear that I don’t deem it to be all that different from ordinary fornication, and that I will not shun him for the same reason that I don’t shun the other 95-97% of the population that doesn’t share my strict standards of complete abstinence from extramarital sex. We seem to get along just fine as friends.
Now obviously such a rapprochement between a bisexual man and an orthodox Mormon isn’t possible in every circumstance – things would certainly be more strained between family members, or with a friend who actually enters a same-sex marriage or changes genders.
Jonathan, Jonathan. I already repackaged and restated your general points to fairly good approval to the readers here (20 upvotes to only 8 downvotes). If you just admit that you think that gay stuff is so icky and gross that we should have laws against it and that the Mormon leaders are infallible demigods, like I believe, then people can respect that and give you upvotes.
But I must commend your logic. The true gay haters are the liberal Mormons since they are technically supposed to believe that gay stuff is evil and love the sinner enough to be in a state of continually reprimanding their gay acts and either telling them to act straight or never romantically love. Plus, religions should never be held accountable for causing such emotional distress to people that they contemplate suicide. We should just be telling people to hold religions blameless, because the religions’ hearts are in the right place. It is religion after all!!! We know that religion is inherently good and non-religion bad. They’re helping people get saved, and what is more noble than that? Multi-billion-dollar religions are victimized enough by those evil atheists (I mean, they don’t even believe in God, how can they possibly advocate anything moral?) non-violently calling for greater separation between church and state, an end to tax exemptions for religions, holding church leaders accountable for misleading people, profiting off of ignorance, and an end to subjecting people to oppressive cultural norms enforced by shunning, shaming, and ostracism. Who do those African Muslim women think they are protesting against socioreligiously against female genital mutilation? How dare they blame the religion of Islam for causing emotional distress and physical harm. Islam’s not to blame. And the even better and perfect religion of Mormonism most certainly can’t be held to blame for anything either. We know that the Mormon leaders are infallible with revelation and insight that always represents God’s will. Who are we to ever disagree with what they say? What they say are basically God’s words, and you wouldn’t want to go against God.
You gay-hating liberal Mormons! Stop hating the gays so much by just accepting and celebrating their lifestyles when you know that God is going to punish them severely for their gross acts. Listen to the wisdom of atheist Penn Gillette who was totally not mockingly calling out those who claim to be religious for their actual lack of certainty in their religion’s truth claims and call those gays to repentance for their acts. Let’s make sure that they are not doing anything gay and make them feel the utmost shame for it. It is for their benefit after all.
Jonathan. My statement about the suicides is not dishonest. If you reread this thread you will find in the comments that at least two people have died because of the church’s LGBTQ policies. I personally know of others. I know I’m not alone. How these examples affect the overall suicide statistics in any location I do not know–the fact remains that yes, people are dying because of these policies. Furthermore, I stand by my opinion that neither you nor Oaks nor Holland cares, regardless of the numbers. Perhaps if it’s not very many, it really doesn’t matter–they are only a small blip, right? (Sort of like Gordon B. Hinckley’s reference to abuse in the church–“a blip here, a blip there.” You know. But I digress.) But based on your statements and theirs, the concern centers around Teaching People a Lesson, keeping very clear boundaries, and deflecting responsibility for the damage that is done.
@Believing Joseph, you said, “Now obviously such a rapprochement between a bisexual man and an orthodox Mormon isn’t possible in every circumstance – things would certainly be more strained between family members, or with a friend who actually enters a same-sex marriage or changes genders.”
Why? If your bisexual friend entered a same-sex marriage or changed genders, why would things be more strained?
I say that things would be more strained because I think that believing someone’s marriage to be invalid, or his or her gender identity to be false, will lead to a greater level of conflict than simply disapproving of his or her private conduct.
Pretty much everyone engages in some action or another that others around him or her disapprove of. It’s a normal part of life. Living in a marriage, or with a gender identity, that those around you don’t recognize would, I think, be much harder.
Jonathan: I’d feel better about your assertion that the apostles are in lock step on this because they are prophetic if it weren’t for the fact that 9 of the 12 are registered Republicans and these are politically conservative assumptions about gender identity and sexual orientation. Hard as I try, it’s impossible to see their political alignment as irrelevant and unrelated to their political views.
I’ve been listening to a History of England podcast about the reformation, and the concept of “condoning” is interesting in this context. Essentially, when a society attempts to respect multiple religious viewpoints, the extremists want to be sure they distance themselves from toleration. They don’t want others to see them as anything but staunchly in their own camp, so they more openly voice their objection to the other accepted-by-society perspective. There’s always going to be some tension in a multi-diverse society. The best approach, IMO, is to be respectful and humble and to allow these differences to exist, while also allowing a free exchange of ideas (and may the best one win), but I’m a secular person and not a religious leader. The alternative usually favored by religious people is burning heretics (or the destruction of the side holding the other viewpoint), forcing people to hide their views or live in exile to allow their own side to flourish.
“But lets talk about transgender rights.”
There is no such thing, no rights that come solely because you are transgender, at least ought not to be. Whatever rights you have I ought to have and vice versa. It is not clear to me what rights you should get just because you added or removed a penis. I’m not saying there isn’t one, just that I cannot think of a right that depends upon your combination of interchangeable body parts.
Some human rights exist, but even they exist only to the extent that others acknowledge their existence. Rights are intangible. You cannot hold one in your hand. They are ephemeral; your rights today will likely change next year.
In the past centuries being outcast from society could spell your doom in a very real way when nobody, not one person in a town would hire you, sell you or give you food, talk to you, rent a place for you to live. Some citizens of that town would probably be willing but they face the same consequence for violating a shunning.
I “condone” government for taking actions that limit liberty where life itself is at stake, and in some cases balancing liberty and the pursuit of happiness; for it cannot be that you, in the pursuit of your happiness, intrudes upon my happiness (and vice versa); at least at law. Some people’s idea of happiness requires others to be unhappy on a vast scale. Then there’s God. I’m not sure that “balancing” pertains; if some things make him happy, you still have freedom to not do those things but you do not have freedom to obtain a reward by so doing.
“the thin line between friendship and condoning behavior begins to blur”
There never was a line, thick or thin. A friend is one thing, condoning or approving behavior something else entirely. They tend to run together simply because if you don’t approve of your friends’ behaviors they will likely cease being your friends depending on the demands that you, and they, put upon friendship; which as we can see right here on these pages, is pretty stringent on any side.
Toad writes “I personally don’t see a way to keep a foot in both worlds.”
The biblical equivalent is trying to serve two masters.
John W writes “kiss another person of the same gender, and that is just plain gross”
My thoughts exactly. Osculating is kind of gross anyway (trading germs) and it isn’t the reason I go see any movie.
How lucky Tom Christopherson was to have a loving family (and ward family) that condoned (allowed and accepted) his life and choice of partner.
For myself, I can’t imagine going through my entire adult life without a partner and family at my side.
In general, people don’t change their minds on these sorts of issues. It took me having a complete faith crisis before I felt comfortable having strong opinions that were different from the brethren. I’m still not sure if that was a result of my own inner moral compass being allowed to come through or if the process of undergoing a faith transition itself changed my viewpoints.
I can recall almost the exact minute where I felt such a strong love for all of humanity and in that moment I knew I had been wrong about issues like same-sex marriage. That feeling of love was palpable and it took me losing my faith to experience it, and I’m so glad now it happened.
Many others don’t need to lose their faith to feel that love and acceptance are the answers to these issues. One thing the church has going for it is a strong central leadership that has the ability to set the tone on these issues. Eventually, I think we all know the church’s stance on LGBTQ issues will have to change. It can either drag it’s feet (like it seems to be doing), or it can be brave and progressive and set the tone. If it chooses the latter, which I think is unlikely, there is an opportunity to get an entire generation of members to support these issues that otherwise maybe wouldn’t. Instead, what will likely happen is that over the next 30 years, support for LGBTQ issues will gradually become mainstream within the church instead of happening now.
A few minths ago, I attended the Northstar Conference in SLC. Attendees (100s) were primarily LGBT people who have chosen to live their lives in accordance to gospel standards. Many have heterosexual marriages. These people experience hate from both sides: conservative church members who exude disgust; and activist community who despise them for not being true to who they really are. I applaud this organization for its efforts.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Northstar. The church no longer teaches that homosexuals should enter a mixed orientation marriage unless they no longer have homosexual attractions. (This change in direction had been on the books since President Hinckley.) As more members get this message and as more members are accepting of homosexuality, NorthStar will likely become less relevant.
I look to the 12 (15) Apostles to testify of Christ because they are “special witnesses of Christ”. Beyond that, I carefully consider what they have to say. When it comes to race, sex, and gender, I am very hesitant to take what they say as Gospel. Why? Because history has demonstrated that they do NOT have more insight into human nature than anyone else. Within my lifetime we had an apostle imply that masturbation leads to homosexuality. We had another question how a loving Father could ever send one of his children to earth as gay. We had another state that there are no gays in the Church, just those with an attraction. I guess my point here is that while the Church is becoming more tolerant, it is always 25 years behind the rest of society. The Church is trying to lead from behind. So when I hear an Apostle speak of homosexuality, I’m hesitant to listen. But I do believe they are special witnesses of Christ and I’m thankful for that.