First, let me explain the title. I ran across a recent article at The Atlantic, “A Ukrainian Victory Is the Only Acceptable Endgame.” Go ahead, read the article. Now it’s not exactly clear how to get from point A (where we are) to point B (a Ukrainian victory, defined as the Russian troops leave Ukraine and Ukraine retains its own elected or appointed government and officials). It will likely require more aid from the West and providing Ukraine with more sophisticated weapons systems (airplanes and missiles, for example, not just Stingers and Javelins). It will likely make Vladimir Putin very upset and rather desperate. But the point of the article is, as emphasized in the title, that any other outcome to the present conflict is simply UNacceptable.
We can’t just let Putin defeat the Ukrainians, appoint a thug to run Ukraine supported by armed force, then bring (some of) the troops home. Alternatively, we can’t just let Putin reduce the entire country to rubble and likely kill its existing leaders (as a warning to any other country near Russia not to become a viable if not perfect democracy under more or less functioning rule of law), then leave. I understand that Americans do not *want* to get more involved in a land war in Eastern Europe. President Biden certainly doesn’t. But sometimes circumstances present political leaders with ugly choices. In this case (following the article; some may disagree) the least ugly choice and the only acceptable choice, the inevitable choice, is to do whatever is necessary to secure a Ukrainian victory as defined above, then help rebuild the country. Kennedy stared down the Russians (plus conducted skillful diplomacy) in 1962. Biden will stare down the Russians (plus conduct skillful diplomacy) in 2022.
Now let’s pivot to a couple of LDS scenarios, one historical and one contemporaneous. The Antebellum United States was not a very hospitable place for African Americans. The Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment were promising 19th-century first steps in securing equal citizenship for African Americans. A century later, Truman’s integration of the armed services, Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Loving v. Virginia, and affirmative action programs made additional steps toward that goal. Today, as I write these words, we see the beneficial social outcome of that difficult and long-delayed process. Ketanji Brown Jackson, a federal judge but also an African American woman, has been nominated to sit on the US Supreme Court, and today is facing additional questioning from members of the Judiciary Committee of the US Senate. A century ago, in many parts of the country, African Americans couldn’t even get a seat on a jury or bring an action in court, much less become appointed or elected judges at any level. Progress is possible.
As the US government moved to bring African Americans into full citizenship in the United States during the fifties and sixties, the LDS Church balked and delayed. I won’t relate the details, but plainly the LDS leadership faced some ugly choices. They wanted to defend LDS racial doctrines, not repeal them. They were conservative in the sense of not wanting to change doctrine or tradition. They didn’t want to look like they just caved in to public pressure. And let’s be honest, deep down some or most of them really believed all that racial folklore the Church has now repudiated. But to some Mormons at the time and to most of us now in retrospect, it was clear that there was only one acceptable endgame for the Church. At some point, African Americans, and all Africans, and for that matter all humans whatever their racial heritage, were going to be granted equal citizenship in the Church. It was just a matter of time. And it did happen, formally in 1978 and effectively only in the last decade or so as the leadership finally took steps to combat racial prejudice within LDS culture and the general membership. We do not have a Black apostle yet (the parallel to a Black Supreme Court Justice and we’ve already had a Black US President) but sooner or later we will. It could happen next year and very few LDS would object. Progress is possible.
That was the historical example. Now for the thorny contemporaneous example, tougher because we’re in the middle of it rather than looking back with the benefit of hindsight. Will LGBT persons ever gain full citizenship within the LDS Church? That is, publicly acknowledged full citizenship. There are, I assume, many closeted LGBT within the Church who are granted full rights of membership. There has been some movement in the official LDS position, such that a person is not automatically exed simply for acknowledging their own homosexuality, as long as it stops there. That’s where we’re at, point A. What I think is the inevitable endpoint, point B, is equal and open citizenship in the Church for any of those presently excluded. Equal citizenship in the Church for all of them is the only acceptable endgame. The LDS leadership face some ugly choices to get there, but as with the priesthood and temple issue for those of African descent, they’ll get there sooner or later. Progress is possible. I’d like to think it is inevitable.
Now let me throw in a couple of caveats. First, this isn’t really my issue. There are plenty of LDS advocates who publish articles and posts on this topic. There are those who organize actions and publicize the plight of the marginalized. That’s just not my thing. But just as leaders, political and otherwise, don’t generally ask for the tough issues that get thrown at them and force some sort of decision or action, likewise we as rank and file members don’t get to choose the issues that, in our time or our generation, trickle down to us at the local level, our day-to-day level. It’s not just a leadership issue, it is everyone’s issue. My sense is that the LGBT issue facing the LDS Church (as it faces other institutions in society) simply will not go away, and the logic of history and jurisprudence and morality is that the endgame is inevitable. One of those endgame points is that equal citizenship in the LDS Church for LGBT members is inevitable. It is the only acceptable outcome. Progress is possible.
Second caveat. Education is possible. I’ve read Greg Prince’s book Gay Rights and the Mormon Church: Intended Actions, Unintended Consequences (Univ. of Utah Press, 2019). When a new bishop was called in my ward, I gave him my copy, telling him “you’ll need this.” I’ve read half of Taylor Petrey’s Tabernacles of Clay: Sexuality and Gender in Modern Mormonism (UNC Press, 2020) and I promise I’ll read the other half before too long. There’s an LDS scripture that says the glory of God is intelligence, but too often leadership and the general membership seem to think that willful ignorance is the path to follow. Publishing and discussion and education on this topic are important. It is an established fact that Pres. Kimball’s reading of Lester Bush’s 1973 Dialogue article giving a detailed and accurate historical account of LDS racial doctrine changed history by getting Kimball to think differently about the priesthood and temple ban. Education matters. So reading and talking and publishing and even arguing over the LDS LGBT issue is part of getting from point A to point B. Point B: Equal citizenship in the LDS Church for our LGBT members is the only acceptable endgame.
Sorry, that was an aside, not a caveat. Here’s my second caveat: Some of you may think giving women the LDS priesthood is a more pressing current issue. Maybe, I dunno. It seems like the vast majority of LGBT Saints are unhappy with their situation vis-a-vis the Church, while at the same time remaining or at least wanting to remain within the Church and in good standing. It is a very difficult position to maintain for very long. I suspect most of them are praying for positive change. On the other hand, most LDS women are not yearning for the LDS priesthood and aren’t, on the whole, unhappy with their role in the Church and aren’t praying for positive change. So my sense is the LGBT issue is more pressing for the Church. It’s the issue they can’t keep dodging for very long. Maybe you see it differently. Maybe at some level it’s the same issue and the same fight.
I don’t know what else to say. I’m not quoting any scriptures, although “all are alike unto God” comes to mind. I’m not providing any detailed philosophical or scientific or moral arguments. I just think that, as the Church was unable to continue a second-tier citizenship regime for African American Saints after the US civil rights movement, so the Church will be unable to continue a second-tier citizenship (or un-citizenship) regime for LGBT Saints for too long. As an African American who fought the civil rights fight once said, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
If you look at it not as, percentage of women who are unhappy compared to percentage of LGBT who are unhappy, but as how many women are leaving compared to how many LGBT are leaving, you may get a better picture on which is most urgent. More young women are leaving the church over the inequality, than what there are LGBT in the first place. Granted, some women are not bothered while almost all LGBT are bothered, but the sheer number of women is great enough that 1/2 of them can be OK being second class and you still have more women who are unhappy than you have LGBT people who exist. And if you add in the parents of those LGBT, then maybe you have to consider the children of those women, because as a statistical rule, the children follow the mother’s religion.
But then most feminists are also fighting for LGBT rights, while most LGBT may not be fighting for women’s equality.
You could just as easily have written a post themed, “Equal citizenship in the LDS Church for women is the only acceptable endgame.”
One difference between the fight for LGB equality in the church and the fight for women’s equality is the LGB struggle is new and novel whereas women have been struggling for power since the days of Brother Brigham, when he began the process of stripping women of their authority. (I left off the T from LGBT on purpose because that’s it’s own thorny issue.) Because of this novelty, the LGB issue perhaps gets more airtime, but at the end of the day, the fight is the same; it’s a struggle to wrest power from heterosexual white men unwilling to allow others to have a voice.
I agree with you that it seems like full inclusion of LGBT people is inevitable at some point. The question, I guess, is how long the Q15, and future Q15s, can stall it. If they can stall it long enough, it’s not a whole lot different from stalling it forever, as generations of LGBT Mormons are born and come to face the reality that their church hates them, and exit.
I also think Anna is spot on that more women in number are likely leaving over feminist issues, just because there are so many more women to begin with. I feel like the external pressure on LGBT issues is greater, and has been for decades, though. Many men, and even many women, feel like feminism has done its work, and women are fully equal, and anyone pushing for more equality is just choosing to be offended. I don’t think many people are saying this on the LGBT front.
But I’m also with Anna in that ordaining women is where my mind went first when reading your post. It would be great if the Church could do right by both women and LGBT people. It’s awful that it still insists on teaching that LGBT people are wrong by their very nature. (Sorry, that they have a unique “struggle.”) But the fact that it won’t do right by this group that comprises more than half its adult membership is just mind-bogglingly absurd.
If we are speculating on things like female members getting the priesthood or LGBTQ members getting “full membership” within the Church, we have to look at the gray areas. The Church always seem to thrive on the gray when the black and white gets to be inconvenient. And just how might the gray areas help women and LGBTQ with respect to their membership in the Church?
Women and the priesthood: I am unaware of any doctrine that prohibits women from getting the priesthood. It simply doesn’t exist. But the practices, policies, and traditions of the Church have thus far not allowed it. And you don’t see it in the scriptures either. So when the Brethren decide that women should receive the priesthood, they won’t be contradicting any doctrine. In fact, the hurdle to get there is LESS steep than the 1978 decision to give black men the priesthood because that decision was going against a 1949 First Presidency statement that these things were DOCTRINE, NOT POLICY. In sum, I think the day when women get the priesthood in the Church is sooner rather than later because there’s nothing black and white stopping it.
LGBTQ: I really don’t see how the Brethren can allow practicing homosexuals to enjoy full membership if that includes family sealings (i.e., gay marriage). That goes against so much that we have been taught about the temple and eternal families. However, I see no doctrinal reason why gay members should not be allowed full membership outside of the temple. The Church could essentially develop a new policy that says gay members, even if practicing and married, can serve in callings and operate as fully worthy members as long as they are monogamous (sex only in marriage). The Church could say “marriage is marriage” but temple sealings have to be heterosexual. I actually predict this will happen. It’s the gray area that allows homosexuals to be integrated into membership while reserving eternal sealings for heterosexuals.
Note: I am not stating above my opinion on what the Church should do. I’m simply predicting what I think will happen.
Agree that fully equal citizenship is the endgame.
That said, getting there may require smaller steps. It we don’t allow temple marriage for LGBT right now, can we at least accept their civil marriages and allow them the same callings as everyone else who is married but w/o a temple recommend?? I don’t think that would require changes in doctrine.
We had a pretty surreal Europe-wide RS devotional Sunday evening as part of the RS 80 year celebration. It felt like I was inhabiting a different universe. Michelle Craig and Reyna Aburto spoke, as well as Traci di Marco (the area 70 level auxiliary representative for the UK). Well, alongside now obligatory-seeming expressions of love for Pres Nelson, we had to watch what I might consider the worst of the video clips of church presidents talking about women. First up was Camilla Kimball reading her husbands address- specifically the quote I blogged about here:
The one about more and more women joining the church as we differ from women of the world in happy ways. Reyna Aburto in her address referred back to the video, and said she could see this prophecy is being fulfilled now in Europe. I found that pretty mind boggling considering how many young women are simply not hanging around. And wards being merged and so forth.
The remaining video clips were president Nelson telling women what we are. All the stuff that got me so riled up and upset in the women’s session of conference we first heard them and I wanted to slap him. Furthermore, that first question and answer session a few years back a byu for women where we’d been encouraged to submit our questions, and where they assured us they had read all the many submissions, I had taken the opportunity to express precisely how it made me feel to have men telling me what am, especially given that it didn’t match the reality – all that giff about god given gifts of blah de blah nurturing etc given only to women. And final insult, yep, the video clip of president Nelson talking about the importance of the moral force of women that got so much pushback from feminists at the time it was given.
Sister Aburto expressed in the visits they’d had to various RS activities in the previous days, it was lovely to see (as it is always done in the church) priesthood men present to support the activity. So all the complaints made about women not being able to be in the building without a priesthood holder present apparently count for nothing. And of course you simply cannot have a woman’s meeting without a man presiding – even when he is a lowly area authority and she is a counsellor on the General Relief Society presidency. And of course, he also had to be the final speaker.
I was mostly disappointed with Reyna Aburto. Found the alternate universe utterly bizarre. And found the emphasis on all the things I really don’t like and disagree with distressing.
It was hard not to take it all very personally as pretty much showing me the door and kicking me out.
All of which is to say it doesn’t look like we’re moving forwards on any of this any time soon. It feels like heads a firmly in the sand, heels dug in.
I had never thought about change in this way before, that it’s inevitable. We can hope that’s true. Especially for Ukraine.
But I can’t get Elder Holland out of my head. The fact that he’s willing to let hundreds of thousands of degrees become worthless defending the indefensible gives me pause. Are these things inevitable for the Church? I guess it depends on what kind of church they want to be.
I welcome the Jackson confirmation hearings because it gives another chance for truly racist, misogynist, obtuse senators (like Ted Cruz) to publicly reveal themselves as the despicable people they are. Judge Jackson is more than capable of defending herself against their groundless criticism and hateful rhetoric. All the more reason that she needs to be confirmed.
The war in Ukraine, though I don’t welcome it at all, is giving Putin an opportunity to reveal himself to the world as the evil despot he always was, who many of us suspected him to be for years, but now all doubt is removed. Again, the suffering of Ukrainians was totally unnecessary, but the result is that the entire world has turned against Russia and Putin.
Strangely, I’m looking forward to the upcoming general conference for similar reasons. Oaks just keeps digging himself into a deeper and deeper hole on an anti-LGBTQ position and “religious liberty” revealing his true (reptilian) character. And the membership statistics for last year will be released (albeit quietly), so we can have factual information to challenge the persistent fantasy of exponential growth. As much as I would welcome an announcement to ordain women or extend temple sealings to same-sex couples, I don’t expect either to happen this time around; hoping for a better future, but managing expectations realistically.
Whenever they do happen though, I expect one to shortly follow the other. If it happens that first women are ordained and placed into more positions of power, I expect subsequent Church policy changes to be more empathetic to the plight of marginalized populations, such as LGBTQ people, and thus granting them more privileges in our system. If it happens that LGBTQ members are allowed full personhood first (such as temple sealings for same-sex couples and their adopted children), it will sufficiently challenge our cultural notions of exclusive binary gender roles, enough that the next natural step would be to ordain women.
I’ve thought a fair amount about josh h’s prediction of how the Church will ultimately deal with its LGBT dilemma, I agree with him that same-sex temple sealings would require too great of a doctrinal shift and will therefore never happen. The problem with the equal-outside-of-the-temple concept, however, isn’t so much that it would institutionalize second-class citizenship, but that it would normalize it. I suspect that a nontrivial number of straight members would observe the new LGBT experience in the Church as one that would work for them just fine and be cheaper to boot. And temple worthiness would drop even lower than it is. Thus, I don’t see it as a plausible “grey area” solution.
The pressing demand for equal representation and ecclesiastical inclusion among LDS is Utah-centric. In other places, this is a minor complaint from a minority group with an activist agenda. I visited Salt Lake City during the Olympics and remember hearing gay friends talk openly about Utah becoming the gay-capital of the United States, surpassing San Francisco. Back in 2000, we didn’t have the term “LGBTetc.” I thought it was funny. For whatever reason, my gay friends loved the clean-cut Boy Scout image that LDS groom young men for. I thought that was funny too. These many years later, my gay friends say that the activist agenda to pressure the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to be more inclusive, doesn’t even come from gay groups–it comes from agenda thinktanks that stay in the shadow. My gay friends love LDS and think it is ridiculous that the crafty agendamakers have amplified sexuality, and that the controversial political dynamic could only happen in Utah. It is an interesting take, and looking from the outside-in, I think it is funny.
Funny aside, it is tragic that feelings get hurt and people are treated poorly. There is a mean side to Mormonism. There is a narrow-mindedness to Mormonism. But “mormonism” is really a culture of the intermountainwest, and does not represent the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Nelson was wise to divorce the Restored Church from the culture of Mormonism. Utah doesn’t get it because they are swimming in it.
The Restored Church represents a template for Creation. As a congregation, we model ourselves from the Creation template–our temples imply as much. The template for family is woman, man, children, and this familial contract conceptualizes covenant in scriptures and among those who identify as “Israelite.” Upholding the template, the covenant, the model for Creation is not inherently offensive or mean. My gay friends get it–they have no interest in participating in a stiff cosmology, they like to be gay and also be friends with LDS–nothing clashes.
Clashes occur when we try to emphasize morality as our justification for treating others poorly. When LDS do this to our own families, we move away from covenant.
And you know most women are satisfied because. . . ? We are always at the bottom of the poo pile.
One possile way to analogize the Ukrainian/Russian conflict to the Church is that the Church is Russia. The Church is the aggressor on human rights and equality, and would rather alienate the world and retrench into a closed off community filled with false us vs them narratives than admit error and repent of its sins.
As a young woman in the church, I was taught from childhood not to want more than what was given. Every church lesson from age 10 into adulthood was in some way telling me to not want more. LDS women had visiting teachers who would come once a month and teach a lesson that was focused on how to make each individual woman stay in their lane. Each lesson was a reminder of the importance of children, marriage, family, church, honoring the priesthood and how to take those same lessons and teach them on the next generation.
The women are emotionally and socially pummeled into submission at every turn.
For so long, the LDS church was all I knew. I thought that my unhappiness had to be a deficit of my character. I was taught it was sinful and unrighteous to want more.
As societal norms and LDS cultural norms continued to move farther apart, there is a future day of reckoning. Women do deserve more. Rather than fighting the system and being excommunicated, they just walk away from the LDS church. Because the ratio between men and women in the church is so unbalanced, the fact is that no one cares when women leave.
I was with you all the way until this: “On the other hand, most LDS women are not yearning for the LDS priesthood and aren’t, on the whole, unhappy with their role in the Church and aren’t praying for positive change.” Where are you getting your information? Have you actually talked to any women? I have no idea why you even felt the need to draw a distinction—equal citizenship for EVERYONE in the church is the only acceptable endgame, which is where I thought you were going. Instead your article reinforced the fact that women don’t matter. And that is why we are walking away.
This is funny. My earlier contribution was immediately downvoted–as if to signal to the “group” that the comment does not fall in line with the way the provocative post hopes comments would. I didn’t cheerlead loud enough? The groupthink at Wheat and Tares uses downvotes to steer the narrative and coerce the conversation.
It is a social management tactic that has no utility except to conform to the blog’s political agenda.
The blog would be more genuine without votes up or down–or, if only upvotes existed. By upvotes alone, consenus would be self-evident.
Who can explain the theoretical basis and utility for downvotes on a blog?
@Josh H took the words right out of my mouth as far as my predictions go. I agree with his predictions.
I think the day when women get the priesthood in the Church is coming because there’s nothing black and white stopping it.
The Church could essentially develop a new policy that says gay members, even if practicing and married, can serve in callings and operate as fully worthy members as long as they are monogamous (sex only in marriage). This would also include the endowment ceremony (with a few more changes). The Church could say “marriage is marriage” but temple sealings have to be heterosexual. I actually predict this will happen.
Note: I am not stating above my opinion on what the Church should do. I’m simply predicting what I think will happen.
@Travis, did you read the post from 1 week ago entitled “The Game of Church” which talked about how organizations are “games,” meaning structured in such a way to drive certain behaviors and outcomes or to reinforce desired behaviors by giving points for those and penalties for others.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, and Wheat and Tares is absolutely structured as a game in which you get “points”/likes for posting things that those who participate here will like and agree with. The challenge is to continually comment honestly. It is very easy and tempting to censor my unpopular opinions and exaggerate my popular opinions in order to get more likes. To me, that’s the real “game” of participating on this blog, can I participate here and not be overly influenced by the likes/dislikes?
Thanks for the comments, everyone.
Let me just say that I pretty much never even notice the upvotes or downvotes for comments on my posts. I read the comments and sometimes respond to some of them (can’t respond to all of them, and sometimes I’ve just said everything I have to say in the opening post). Even on my own comments on posts by other perms, I just don’t notice the votes.
*…reinforced the fact that women don’t matter in the church (in case there was any doubt as to my meaning)
I agree with Damascene – we really can’t gauge how many women are dissatisfied with our place in the church because since childhood we are taught that being dissatisfied is a sign of sin, of pride and power-seeking and ingratitude. No one wants to be those things, so we try to stamp it out. If we don’t stamp it out, we at least stay silent on the matter at church to keep our social standing. Are those who speak out really the minority in thought, or are they just the minority with the courage to stand up for themselves and defy what they’ve always been taught?
I’ll also add that the church doesn’t care when women leave because the positions that run the institution are largely exclusive to men anyway.
@CosmoTheCat, thank you for answering on the theoretical basis of downvotes. I made an upvote for you for that. The game explanation is fantastic for religious institutions–but a blog? I don’t mind downvotes, I just want to understand the psychology at work.
What is the substantive gain that the blog attains with downvotes vs. only upvotes?
@DaveB, if you pretty much don’t notice upvotes or downvotes, explain the utility of having them. The deployment of downvotes to religious discussion is, as @CosmoTheCat pointed out, a bit of the same flavor of “game” that is used by the institution. I made an upvote for you too, because you took time to comment, but your comment wasn’t nearly as good as the comment by CosmoTheCat.
(If somebody told me this blog was a psyop to monitor and regulate LDS opposition in the same way government intelligence operations disguise and pose as terrorist organizations, I could could entertain the idea…).
I could see a version of the sealing ceremony for queer couples in the future, but it’s a way off; many of the current generation of leadership will have to move on—egos are too invested in the Family Proclamation. I predict D&C 131:1 will be invoked and the claim will be it was there staring at us all along: hetero couples, queer couples, single people. Further light and knowledge! Hurray. Also, a song and dance about these couples/this sealing not being lesser, but different, ditto the choice to remain single.
Not sure I like this approach entirely but I think it could play out this way.
And I think so many of the commenters have it exactly right: women’s inequality is a huge issue, but many (though not all) of the women who care most deeply can’t bear to stay and the rest of us collectively shrug and look the other way.
None of these changes will come in time to prevent huge attrition in my kids’ age cohort, at least in North America, much of Latin America, and Europe. I’m less familiar with the Church culture in the rest of the world…
@Travis, I am guessing your comment was downvoted because talking about a “gay agenda” reeks of homophobia (that is not a phrase that gay people or allied use except ironically), and your accusation that gay people don’t actually care about the Church changing (only outside “activist” organizations do) is baseless. What are these activist orgs and what are they doing to further the “gay agenda” in the Church and what is the gay agenda??? Where are your sources – your “gay friends”???
I’m very active in the LDS / LGBT space. The only groups I’m aware of are composed of LGBT Mormons and former Mormons, their families, and others for whom it is deeply painful that they are denied full inclusion in our Church and theology. Not that it’s anyone’s right to question the motives, but they are nothing but sincere to me.
So I downvote your comment so that if there are LGBT blog readers who find your comments hurtful, they’ll see that others do, too, and feel some support.
Yeah, I would add my voice to those saying that I wouldn’t assume that women aren’t seeking more influence within the Church. Maybe they don’t care so much about full-on priesthood ordination, but I don’t know many women who don’t think women should have a lot more opportunities for leadership and visibility in the Church, and many women who feel they’ve been undervalued and mistreated. I don’t know that there’s a poll around and maybe I live in an echo chamber (totally possible) but women in my life are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the Church’s treatment of women. Many are leaving and others are quietly pursuing their own interests (hence the crackdown on “social media” and Heavenly Mother).
I also think the issues are closely related. A huge reason the leadership won’t accept gay marriage is because it doesn’t fit with male-only priesthood and a gender complementarity model that justifies that male-only priesthood. Sex and gender stereotypes and assumptions have a ton to do with homophobia.
@Travis I downvoted you for the same reason Elisa did. In case you wanted another data point.
While I do notice the upvoting/downvoting, and won’t pretend otherwise, I’m here for the discussion. The voting button is simply a whimsical add-on.
@Elisa, my comment was framed around the Utah-centric culture you accustom. There isn’t anything homophobic about my comments; I’ve had gay friends since before it became trendy to do so in Utah. In California where I grew up, the leaders in the Restored Church didn’t act like Utah leadership until Utah leadership forced its hand upon our politics with Prop 8. We didn’t like it, but because Utah influences so much of the way the institution is run, we had to go along with it. Utah isn’t the rest of the world @Elisa. Your activist attitude is extreme. Are you friends with these folks or are you just advocating for them to be able to share secret handshakes?
Thanks for the comments, everyone. Keep it civil. You can respond to other commenters, but don’t attack them.
Travis, I was speaking for myself, not the blog. Some people obviously like the upvote/downvote options. I think the upvotes and downvotes are there (1) because some perms like them; (2) because lots of commenters like them; and (3) maybe because it’s just part of the blog software?
@Elisa, I’ve had gay friends since before it became trendy in Utah. In California, LDS leadership had to be “taught” by Utah leadership how to do something as stupid as Prop 8. We didn’t like it. It was Utah-centric. We hoped there was something more behind it than Utah’s legal firms fear-mongering the institution. I took a break from “activity” in protest and because the whole thing caused for disillusion–way back when. Your response is fueled by a character of activism.
@Elisa: Either you misread, or mean to mischaracterize my words. At no point did I ever mention “gay agenda.” Those are your words. Scroll up.
I am in my 40s. I genuinely do not know if I live to see a change to full, equal “citizenship” for either women or LGBT members. It feels to me that such a shift in policy and doctrine could only come through a “Thus saith the Lord” revelation. Redefining doctrine upon existing scripture is tantamount to admitting you had it wrong for 200+ years, despite serious ink and breath spent on the subjects. So which future prophet in the current roster has the guts and sympathy to take these questions to the Lord and “reveal” God’s will on the issues, forever changing the past and future of the Church?
Travis,I didn’t downvote your comment, just because I pretty much only downvote when someone is proudly uneducated, is insulting others, or other objectionable behavior. And that happens whether I happen to agree with them or not. I upvote comments that give me new perspective, share interesting experiences or ideas, who back up their opinion with data, or something more than “my gay friends”. I upvote things that are well written and intelligent, whether I happen to agree or not. I come here for the discussion, not a popularity contest.
I believe the church’s stance is that any combination of sexual partners besides one man and one woman. legally married, is a sin in God’s eyes. Apparently under some circumstances in recent and ancient history, a God-approved scenario has been one man and more than one woman, legally married. Is this post suggesting that it is inevitable, that it would be considered progress, and that it would be considered the only acceptable endgame for the church, to see God tell us that any combination and any number of willing sexual participants is “okay” or “approved”?
There’s a third option. The Church can admit it is going to appeal to a smaller and smaller portion of the population and stop preaching that everyone should walk the covenant path. The scriptures say “narrow is the gate that leads to heaven” and “many are called but few are chosen.” Universal salvation isn’t scriptural. It’s a nice idea, but Christianity has always been limited. Christ said to teach everyone, but he also acknowledged that most people would reject salvation. The LDS Church is even more exclusive – it excludes from the Celestial Kingdom even honorable people, just because they were blinded by the craftiness of men. It’s not like most straight temple-married couples are going to heaven either, if the test is to be valiant in your testimony of Christ. I’m referring to the Christ who wants us to care for the poor and repent of our pride, not the Christ of the right-wingers.
Here’s the talk DHO ought to give in Gen Conf: “Brothers and sisters, the truth is that the Celestial Kingdom is a pretty small place. You only get there if you’re in a hetero marriage with kids, and the wife took the role of primary nurturer and the husband magnified his priesthood and presided in righteousness. Let’s be honest – most of you aren’t going to make it. And that’s okay! The only people who would be happy in the CK are the ones who are happy in that sort of family! Something we haven’t emphasized enough is that eternal joy is found in lots of places. If you’re horrified at the idea of eternal pregnancy and subservience to men, then you won’t want to be in the CK anyway. If you have zero desire to have procreative sex, then the CK won’t be heaven. But … here’s the thing. We have no information about the fate of anyone who isn’t just like us, the Brethren. So we’re going to focus our message on people like us, and just be really open about the fact that the rest of you need to find your own path. God loves you just as much as he loves us, but your revelation is coming to you individually instead of through Pres RMN. We’ll be ending the missionary program and basically grow the Church through the birth rate, like the Amish.”
In my opinion, the Church isn’t going to change and make women and gays equal with straight men. Patriarchy and gender roles are baked in too deep. It’s more than policy; more than doctrine; it’s fundamental to the Church’s structure. Despite lifting the priesthood ban, the Church hasn’t really made Blacks equal either – there’s still a racism problem that the Church tiptoes around (call back to the Brad Wilcox debacle) (racial minorities are called into the high leadership positions in token amounts only). Even if the Church ordained women and let gays marry in the temple (and I don’t believe either of those things will ever happen), a thick helping of misogyny and homophobia would persist. The continuing presence of racism shows that.
Wow, I’m cynical.
@janey: Perfect. Almost as aggravating as the misogyny and homophobia and racism is the pretense that it doesn’t exist. It would be so much easier for everyone if they just owned it. “We’re here for straight white men; good luck and best wishes to the rest of you.”
@Elisa, I won’t mischaracterize your words:
“I’m very active in the LDS / LGBT space. The only groups I’m aware of are composed of LGBT Mormons and former Mormons, their families, and others for whom it is deeply painful that they are denied full inclusion in our Church and theology.”
Your Utah-centric activism applies “ONLY” to LGBT Mormons and exMormons. When compared to the entirety of the LGBT community, I observe that not many want straightfolk advocating for their religious inclusion, and even fewer want straightfolk to advocate for their inclusion in Mormonism.
So you are an activist for a considerably small group of LDS who identify as LGBT. What should be advocated for is better family relations within the Church. Some of the content on Dehlin’s Mormon Stories coming from Utah is shocking–that LDS families disown and treat their children poorly for “coming out” is horrific. Bishops should disfellowship parents who treat their children outside unconditional love. Advocate that.
Can you entertain the possibility that the majority of the LGBT community (which exists outside Utah) might not be jazzed about Mormon soccermoms enlisting as activists on behalf of the LGBT kids who are raised in mean Mormon families? Take a poll with never-been-LDS-LGBT folk, see where it lands…
Travis, your characterization that only Utah Mormons care doesn’t match what I’ve observed AT ALL.
I’m Canadian. I don’t live in the Jello Belt. But I can say that in the 5 different wards I’ve been in in 2 different provinces, LGBT concerns are big in every single ward. Families that were in leadership positions that were considered solid have left. Why? Because one of their children came out to them. And it’s not just those families – I’ve watched a huge change in the last 10 years as friends have done a 180 on their old views. Heck, I’m one of them.
My youngest is 14 and one of his good friends is transitioning. So my son has grown increasingly annoyed with church rhetoric (oh my goodness, how many times have our youth had a “yay for celestial marriage!” lesson in the last six months between the end of the D&C and the beginning of the OT? It’s embarrassing. And the seminary lesson on Sodom and Gomorrah was absolutely awful). He’s a great kid and it ticks me off the church is likely going to lose what he has to offer because of their constant, growing drumbeat. And it’s not just him: I teach junior high school and I’ve found this generation has no patience for homophobia.
@Margot, I agree that the discussions in Sunday School and Quorum are bad and getting worse. The “Come Follow Me” manuals don’t help a bit. And I am sorry that this issue is so painful to some LDS families. I think the ALL-IN, as well as the ALL-OUT responses are extreme, and that the institution cannot solve this problem. This problem is solved by more love in the home.
In my first comment, I claim that LDS identify as Israelites. Israelites are identified by covenant. Covenant in Israel derives from marriage and family and the order of Creation. Like-minded “lost” Israelites all over the world will be gathered by the Spirit and the Covenant–converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Maintaining the template and model of the Israelite covenant is more important to the worldwide gathering of Israel than inclusivity. Muslims, Jews, and Orthodox Christians share covenant cosmology with Latter-Day Saints that Catholics, Protestants, and Evangelicals don’t. Whether we agree or not, the road ahead runs to the East, not the West. Catholic, Protestant, and Evangelical theology may be a better fit for those who prefer a religious experience outside covenant cosmology.
Identifying as Israelite and identifying as LGBT meet at a standstill. Both ought to respect one another’s position and identity. By the vicarious work for the Dead, LDS should come to realize that the majesty of the eternal covenant resides in the fact that righteous saints will not be separated from their families–even if folks stray. All the troublemakers (like me) and all of our children–LGBT especially–will be united with us together forever.
I’m a life-long Californian who hung out with the gay kids in high school, survived Prop 22 and Prop 8, and am raising 2 LGBT teens of my own. My experience couldn’t be more opposite Travis’s. I see little difference when it comes to LGBTQ issues between LDS members in California and LDS members in Utah. Not now and not in 2008.
“even fewer want straightfolk to advocate for their inclusion in Mormonism.” I imagine that is very, very true of non-LDS LGBTQ. Humorously so even. I don’t know that any LDS LGBTQ straight allies are trying to include non-member LGBTQ in the church anyway. It’s our already-LDS kids, siblings, nieces/nephews that we are trying to protect/assist.
*P.S. For whatever reason my browser doesn’t show up/down votes. I’ve never seen it as being important.
@travis, I honestly don’t understand your point. Why would non-LDS / adjacent people care about queer inclusion in the LDS church? I wouldn’t expect that a bunch of secular LGBT groups with zero connection to the Church are spending a lot of time on this (although I would also suspect that if you asked them “should churches stop discriminating against gay people” that would probably say “sure”).
Your original comment suggested that the only people advocating for LGBT inclusion were outside special interests with an “agenda.” I still have no idea what you mean by that. Mormon and former Mormon LGBTQ folks are the opposite of outside interests.
Also to be clear with I’m not advocating for people to try to make things better so queer folks stay or join. I don’t think that church is a healthy place for queer people although it’s not my place to judge whether someone should stay or go. But I’m advocating for people to make things better at Church because no matter how little your “never-been-LDS-LGBT friends” care, queer kids will continue to be born into Mormon families and will continue to be traumatized and harmed by the Church until things change.
I honestly have no idea what you mean when you talk about my activism and whether I have queer friends? Like none. Or why you accuse me of being Utah-centric. I’ve spent more of my adult years outside of Utah than inside, including in California during prop 8.
You’re right you said “activist agenda” and my brain read that as “gay agenda”. Perhaps you could explain what the “activist agenda” is and how it is different from the “gay agenda” because in context it seems like you mean the same thing.
@Elisa, worldwide, there are activist agendas that target social cohesions, particularly among LDS, Jews, and Orthodox Christians. Groups like Karaites, Kurds, Samaritans, Alawites, etc., have been internally rolled over to a point of endangerment. The purpose is to incite and provoke. Intelligence taskers in the private and public sector and thinktanks participate, but it’s compartmentalized, so few people get to see agenda from inception to provocation. I only have a glimpse because I avoid that type of work these days. I think LDS leadership up top is aware, and because of this awareness, they tend to overreact–whether its communists or LGBT, the intel of “conspiring” agenda triggers them. The lapse of judgment in the enacting and overturning prohibition of child baptism a few years ago indicates as much.
Activist agenda might target LGBT issues in a religious community; it might target children of military parents at the high school level near a base; it might target divisive dogma in a strategic parish in order to cause schism (as with feuding Ukrainian and Moscow Patriarchs). It is very effective because it appears benign, but the operations are suprisingly sophisticated.
We differ in that you would like to see changes at church: I think such an expectation is so unrealistic, it displaces sound reason. I advocate that we work at the family level. I think Bishops should disfellowship parents if they cut off inheritance, disown, or treat a child unkindly over sexual orientation. And I think the threat of disfellowship would create a proper check on the scrupulosity of LDS parents or leaders, who would otherwise justify treating a LGBT child poorly because of a belief system or perceived immorality.
Travis, I went back to your original comment. When you say this:
“These many years later, my gay friends say that the activist agenda to pressure the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to be more inclusive, doesn’t even come from gay groups–it comes from agenda thinktanks that stay in the shadow.”
That’s where you get downvotes. In decreasing order of severity, you’re doing the following:
1. Telling other people the issues that concern them aren’t real issues, but just stuff made up by shadowy think tanks.
2. Attributing your opinions to “my gay friends” as an obvious attempt to shield yourself from pushback.
3. Making a point of writing out the Church’s full name multiple times in one comment.
The first is the worst offender. Don’t wave people’s concerns away and claim stupid conspiracy theories with shadowy influence groups. That’s an extraordinary claim. Please provide the required extraordinary evidence. The second is a common tactic of anyone who wants to put a group down. “Well my friends who are members of the group agree with me!” Right. It seems more likely that your gay friends are just as aware of the issues as other gay people, but that you’ve made clear to them that you won’t stand for hearing their actual grievances, so they’re guarded around you in sharing their true opinions. The third isn’t that big a deal, but it does mark you as someone who’s overly concerned with the appearance of being orthodox.
Ordinarily, I would never break someone’s comment down in such detail. Doing this feels rude to me. But when you come back to the thread over and over and over to complain about the downvotes, and whine about the whole *system* of upvotes and downvotes, you’re literally asking for this type of feedback.
So Travis, your allusions to these activists share some similarity to Stephen’s allusions to activists working against family in the UN ( and which he apparently assumed we all knew about, and which I had to work out piecing together snippets of peoples comments on that other post, sigh!). Anyway what precisely is it they have to gain from creating social disintegration? Money presumably. Who are they? Arms dealers? Drug barons? Fossil fuel conglomerates ? Other global business conglomerates?
Are they actually real or is this paranoia..
This issue seems to finally be coming to a head in my ward. I’m genuinely unsure of whether it will fracture or unify the ward. I ended up writing 20 pages of material for the bishopric to delineate what the Church’s current teachings are about LGBTQ issues and the necessity of inclusion. I obviously can’t post that all here (I really should start writing again), and it still needs some refinement, but it felt pretty thorough to me (obvious self serving bias acknowledged).
Having gone through that exercise, I have come to see LGBTQ issues as having two main branches. Unless someone can give me better terminology, I’ll label these as transgender issues and gay issues.
Transgender issues, interestingly, align almost perfectly with women’s equality. All of the restrictions imposed on transgender individuals are related to the exercise of priesthood. If women were to be ordained, all transgender restrictions would become moot.
Gay issues are a little trickier, because it involves the question of sealing of marriages. The path to equal opportunity in the Church for gay couples is same sex sealings. I don’t know how I feel about that. I don’t know that I could formulate a solid opinion without making some kind of assumption about what “causes gay.” One the one hand, it is objectively unfair to gay couples that they can’t be sealed; on the other, it doesn’t quite feel right to me to seal gay couples (and let me be very clear here that I will openly admit my lifetime of experience and biases may be influencing my thoughts here. My personal stance is a big “I don’t know where to go from here.”)
What was clear in my review of the current policies and teachings is that exclusion and denial are not acceptable solutions. Under the current policies, a transgender person can’t hold/exercise priesthood and so may not be able to hold a temple recommend. A member in a gay marriage won’t be able to hold a temple recommend. But both are able to retain membership and participate in the Church, including holding callings and assignments. And they should be encouraged to do so as much as possible. And while we encourage that participation, we should at the very least acknowledge that their plight is unfair. Regardless of what you think the origins of gay/transgender are, their plight is unfair. And it comes with soul-crushing choices that “socio-normative” people will never have to make.
I don’t think we will ever have the revelations necessary to direct how God wants us to engage with this part of our flock until we can first learn to listen to and sympathize with them. I don’t think we can receive those revelations until we stop seeing their entire identity as gay/transgender and start seeing gay/transgender as a part of their identity that always ends in “Child of Heavenly Parents.”
Is that half apologetic for the Church’s current position? Yes, it is. If that disappoints you, at least know that it disappoints me, too. I don’t like the Church’s current position. At the same time, and for a lot of reasons, I don’t feel any strong direction on where to go next.
@Ziff, totally fair. But I wasn’t complaining about downvotes, I thought it was funny and wanted an insight. I wondered about the intent of the format when I asked: “What is the substantive gain that the blog attains with downvotes vs. only upvotes?”
1. I never said anything about whether or not the topic at-hand was a “real issue,” I don’t think I ever used the word “issue.” On shadowy thinktanks, pay is good, but employment temporary, it’s the world we live in.
2. I enjoy pushback and the back-and-forth, and the communion of commenters. I do not yet know a LDS who is openly LGBT and active. Most of my LGBT comrades are not LDS, so my perspective is more from never-LDS LGBT. I mentioned that in my earlier comments. It is my bias. Also, I live in Hawaii, where ambiguous sexual orientation is rooted in a role in family dynamic. So LGBT among LDS Polynesians is somewhat concealed and protected within the family unit and from the LDS institution. There are many many LGBT LDS in Hawaii–many work at Polynesian Cultural Center. I think they make it work because they are loyal to one another as family first, and to the institution second. This leads me to advocate more love in the family, instead of changing church policy (which is patently unrealistic).
3.I don’t see how writing the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” in longform is offensive. I’m glad you told me because I would have never guessed.
@Hedgehog, it’s statecraft, nothing that can’t be found in books or open source. I am not familiar with Stephen’s reference.
Travis, it’s not offensive. It just marks you as someone who’s trying to highlight their orthodoxy.
@Benjamin: “But both are able to retain membership and participate in the Church, including holding callings and assignments. And they should be encouraged to do so as much as possible.” Unfortunately, this is the ideal scenario for the church—the church gets maximum benefit (more people to perform callings and assignments, more tithing, free babysitting and towel distribution services—keeping women in the conversation) at minimal cost (nothing needs to change for the men in charge), and what they’ve tried to keep going for awhile now. But as you mentioned, it is coming to a head, because increasing numbers of marginalized members are no longer content with second-class status. I appreciate your thoughts and your effort putting them together, but they boil down to “be nice to gay people so they’ll feel included even though they’re not really included.” And while that’s something, it’s not much.
“the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”
I thought we expected the last days to get progressively more wicked until the second coming?
I will readily agree that it is a very unsatisfying solution. And I don’t want to leave the impression that it should be the final solution. I just don’t know that there can be a satisfying solution without first answering a lot of theological questions to which I don’t feel we have any definitive answers.
I think the problem is that the current leadership has shown no interest in trying to wrestle with the theological conditions required for full personhood of women and LGBT individuals. They just want the problem to go away. They used to ignore the problem, but because it has been harder to ignore, they have shifted to victim-blaming, which makes us marginalized people feel even more unwelcome. I remember when the Ordain Women stuff blew up a few years ago, the leadership could have tamped down a lot of momentum by saying, “we asked God, and he told us that the priesthood is closed off to women”. But instead, they used weasel words that made it clear to me that they didn’t want to ask because they were afraid of the answer, and they instead shifted into full attack mode.
You description of the Polynesian LGBTQ community sounds like the majority of LGBTQ members just stay-in-the-closet enough so that the church doesn’t officially know they are LGBTQ. Would you agree with this?
If yes, why is hiding/lying about ones identity the honorable thing to do? How does one hide/lie getting married from the church?
And then, if Bishop’s should be disfellowshiping families for being unkind to their LGBTQ children, how would a Bishop know that is happening? Should 12-year-olds be tattling to Bishops about parents’ bad parenting? How many 12-year-olds are actually capable of doing this? What if their dad is the Bishop? For that matter, if a family disowns/disinherits a 21-year-old adult child who doesn’t live at home, how would a Bishop even know?
Leadership will do what it takes to keep the institution alive. They eventually changed on polygamy even though it took 40 years of legal difficulties to get there cause the Church was going to lose all of its properties. They eventually changed on priesthood and temple restrictions because keeping the restrictions in place would have led to the ostracism of the Church and its members in the US . Also, keeping the restrictions in place would have made being an international church impossible.
As I see it, the Church will eventually change on LGBT cause not doing so will become too costly (legally, socially, and in lost members). The only question is when. You are probably looking at changes happening post Bednar presidency (the personalities who will become presidents of the church before him just seem too closed off to want to make the change), which puts you in the 2040s at the earliest. So change will come, but not anytime soon.
As for women receiving the priesthood, etc. I have no idea if that will ever change. I want it to change, but it seems like the Church has been able to weather the periodical revivals of Mormon Feminism without having to make many significant changes.
I hope this progress is inevitable and I agree that total equality is the only acceptable outcome. Also, I think we should resist the impulse to compare or rank sexism in the church vs homophobia in the church. Patriarchy enjoys turning marginalized groups against each other. A rising tide raises all boats.
To be clear, anyone still clinging to the idea that only heterosexual marriages are valid (or even somehow superior) is flat-out wrong. There is no argument—whether biological, socioeconomic, or ethical—against marriage equality that holds any water. The only argument left is, “because God said so.” But the Mormon God clearly hasn’t said anything about the issue at all, regardless of what DHO says. And honestly, these guys in the red chairs have been so wrong about so many things so many times, at this point it’s irresponsible to hold them up as arbiters of truth in any meaningful way.
I’ve listened to too many friends—whether on social media or in person, in support groups or in late-night conversations—open up about what a soul-crushing thing it is to be gay and Mormon to have much patience left for anyone who doesn’t get it yet. Human beings are diverse. LGBTQ is a beautiful part of that diversity. Any culture or organization that paints romantic love within the bonds of matrimony as the pinnacle of human experience and then denies that privilege to a portion of its membership based on their intrinsic nature is cruel and stupid. And my wife, though she’s been out of the church for years now, still wrestles with the internalized messages of inferiority and powerlessness she absorbed when she was a believing woman in the church. Mormon patriarchy deeply traumatized her.
Doctrines can be changed. Ordinances can be changed. And until they are, the church will continue to reveal itself as cruel and stupid.
@ReTx, I do not know how the LGBT LDS dynamic among Polynesians interfaces with the institution. It is possible that Utah leadership turns a blindeye because the Polynesian Cultural Center is a $100 million cash flow cow. It is possible that any unkind signal from the institution to the LGBT community would damage the relationship with the state. It is possible that Polynesian employees have the collective strength to strike, protest, and ultimately tear down the institution’s private “tropical Disneyland.” What I do know is that it seems that LDS Polynesians deal with LGBT issues with much more compassion than our mainland counterparts. It seems Polynesian strength and compassion comes from a family dynamic, and not from anything going on at church.
I’m late to the discussion, but I’ll contribute. I support full equality for LGBTQ+ members. Same-sex marriage should be allowed in temples. Members should be taught to treat them equally and as normal people (not people with a disorder or disease). However, my prediction is that throughout my lifetime (I’m 41 now), LGBTQ+ members will not have equality. Tradition is slow to change.
With blacks and the priesthood, there was precedent of Elijah Abel and many scriptures that people could point to that talked of equal treatment to all regardless of race. Additionally the general US culture had changed in the 1960s and 1970s, which in turn brought about change in Mormon culture, to be more accepting of blacks as equals and to do with away with Jim Crow laws. The 1978 “revelation” didn’t risk alienating many white rank-and-file members.
With LGBTQ+s, there is no precedent to latch onto to justify a change in policy. The little the scriptures do say about LGBTQ+s is horrific. There is nothing to point to in the scriptures that condones same-sex romantic relationships. Lastly, while Mormon culture has changed with regard to LGBTQ+s, it is small. Those members who are most vocal in support of LGBTQ+s are also very likely to leave the church. Those who stay in the church are unlikely to gain callings and positions of influence. Those who are in positions of influence now who have had a change of heart with regard to LGBTQ+s are in the minority and do not dare say too much lest they become a pariah and get released from their callings. The stalwart rank-and-file folks are homophobes, overwhelmingly. They are the ones who will rise in the leadership. They are the ones who will inherit, protect, and preserve Mormonism. They know that if they bow too much to the demands of liberal members who want reform and change, that they will risk alienating other rank-and-file folks, on whose money, loyalty, and time they rely the most. Progressive changes will be small things here and there. But nothing on the scale of same-sex couples getting married in the temples. Not any time soon, at least.
If Trump and the Republican Party have taught me anything, it is that conservatism is tenacious, die-hard, and can survive scandal, conspiracy theory infestations, and blows from waves of liberal ideas, no matter how rooted in science and evidence these are. I am very pessimistic with regard to the lot of LGBTQ+s in the church. If any LGBTQ+ member comes to me about the church, honestly I would encourage them to leave it. It has long been a toxic environment for them, it continues to be (although less so than in the past), and will for some time to come. Happiness for them is probably best found outside it.
I’m not quite sure how to integrate it into the comments here, other than it also talks about LGBT LDS — only it tries to speak to those who are “all in” the Church and wonders if we are losing their voices because we tend to speak ill of their experience. I think I mostly want to see this community’s response to Br. Fisher.
Forgot link to Br. Fisher’s article: https://publicsquaremag.org/sexuality-family/why-all-in-lgbtq-ssa-saints-are-so-reluctant-to-speak-up/
From reading comments, there seems to be a consensus that agrees that the institution will not budge. Wishful thinking and complaints about the backwardness of the institution are valid, but contribute no more to solving this problem than writing a letter to Putin would solve Ukraine’s problems.
I feel for families who have made the decision to collectively abstain from the institution for the sake of a loved one. That’s one way to put family first. Some families might find refuge in relocating like Lehi–picking up and leaving home and career to find a ward or stake more hospitable to mixed-family LGBT dynamic. Some families might brave the task by outsourcing community resources and support groups. Family solves the standoff between those who identify as Israelites and those who identify as LGBT. Any expectation that the institution will bend over is not founded in reality. It’s Santa Claus.
There is a recent story about a prominent, high-ranking LDS leader, who upon having what seemed to be a jovial lunch with his LGBT son, afterward requested that no photos of the event be shared. The request was obviously hurtful, and so the son posted about it on social media. Backfire.
The incident highlights why this problem cannot be fixed at an institutional level, and why I think efforts to do so are wasted energy. The incident suggests that there is a problem with LDS parental guilt or shame by a child’s sexual orientation. Is it guilt or shame? (Guilt comes from the inside and shame comes from the outside). Whatever it is, no matter. If there is any harmony or healing to be found, we will find it within and among families, and not from the institution.
@Deborah, I agree that it does not look like the Brethren have made much effort to ask about real change. I found it bizarre that the response to Ordain Women was to act like the issues were just a big misunderstanding “Gee sisters! You’ve had the priesthood all along and you just didn’t know it! That’s so cute you didn’t know but we’ll explain it to you now. This means we don’t have to change anything we’re doing.”
I found that very patronising. The problem is that women don’t have much voice in running the church, if any voice at all, and they’re shut out from leadership and priesthood ordinances, not that we didn’t realize we had enough priesthood authority to do our callings.
On the topic of women’s rights or gay rights, I don’t see any real reason to separate those issues and move them along a separate timeline. Both categories require the heteropatriarchy to either take a step down, or let other groups take a step up in order to achieve equality. However, equality is not highly valued by Church leadership. Equality in God’s love is valued, and the brethren emphasize that, but equality in authority and opportunity is not something the church leaders value.
@travis, I am not holding my breath for institutional change (but am more optimistic about it than you are). But it doesn’t follow that we shouldn’t ask for it. I think it’s immoral not to. Does that mean we put all our energies there? No. That’s why things like the Out Foundation exist – to help people transition out.
You seem to actually interpret LDS theology of having zero room for gay people. That’s a limited and IMO incorrect view.
@Elisa, you seem to read the worst into everything I write: earlier, you read a “gay agenda” phrase that didn’t exist at all. This time, you write: “You seem to actually interpret LDS theology of having zero room for gay people. That’s a limited and IMO incorrect view.”
What gives? Scroll up, Sister. Never did I say anything of the sort. You are demonstratively making stuff up in your head and projecting it into baseless assumptions about me. This is not either-or. It should be somewhat clear from my comments that I don’t pretend with absolutes, that I am critical of many aspects of the institution and leadership, and that I empathize with the LGBT situation–I think if you would scroll through my comments and read them with a quiet heart, you’d realize that you and I are more same-team than appears. But my position isn’t good enough–you will pick a fight with me, a nuanced LDS, because you demand that LGBT identity receive precedence over our collective Israelite identity. There’s no winning with activists because their position is by definition, polarizing. I offered a number of analysis, plenty of examples that identify my bias and even ideas to solve some of the suffering. None of these have you addressed or recognized: your position is as standstill as the institution’s position, so good luck with that.
If we’re talking about desire I’m way into equal citizenship for all and have been for as long as I can remember. As long as I can remember dates to before 1978, although there have been dark moments since then that brought the issues into stark relief.
If we’re talking about hopes and hopeful expectations, we are already decades past my hopes and expectations for change. I’m surprised at how long the church has held out already, although “surprise” might be the wrong word. Is it possible to be surprised continually for 20 years?
If we’re talking real world expectations, I agree that the end game is equal citizenship across the board and/but I can’t decide whether equality for LGBTQ members or for women will come first. For the LDS Church in particular they are different. I think full citizenship for women is easy as a matter of theology and principle (it’s all there in our temple practice), but requires massive change in how the church operates on a day to day basis. I say that recognizing and reiterating that the empowerment I’m looking for means my next bishop is a woman, and probably a woman of color. I think full citizenship for LGBTQ members is much more difficult theologically or doctrinally.. Gender essential notions are so deeply ingrained, all the way up to our godhead notions, that full citizenship is a big lift in theory. However, in day to day practice we could make the L and G steps like flicking a switch, leaving B and T and the +-s to sort with somewhat more difficulty.
One added complexity is that I see some church leaders thinking about women in incremental terms. Like adding women to the list of possible witnesses solves or satisfies anybody. I don’t perceive any parallel incrementalism for LGBTQ members.
Thinking about the several difficulties and the inter-related nature of sorting out gender roles, I predict an all at once shift, when it comes. I would add that there’s significant experience now with other churches, other denominations, that have moved to full equality such that the questions and answers will all be on the table at the same time. I might have thought differently in 1982, but we are 40 years into our future already.
@travis, this is what I’m referring to:
“The Restored Church represents a template for Creation. As a congregation, we model ourselves from the Creation template–our temples imply as much. The template for family is woman, man, children, and this familial contract conceptualizes covenant in scriptures and among those who identify as “Israelite.” Upholding the template, the covenant, the model for Creation is not inherently offensive or mean. My gay friends get it–they have no interest in participating in a stiff cosmology, they like to be gay and also be friends with LDS–nothing clashes.”
If I am incorrectly interpreting your words feel free to clarify. I interpret your comments as “we can peacefully coexist with LGBTQ folks but they don’t fit the covenant Israel model so it is useless to push for that. They should do something else.”
I am not reading the worst into your comments. Many people responded to your comments in similar ways as I have. If you meant something else when you said “activist agenda” you’ve yet to clarify that and if you meant to say that there is room in LDS theology for queer people and families you’ve yet to say that.
@Eliza, LDS identity as Israelite is founded upon covenant in the way I earlier described. Israelite identity and LGBT identity are fundamentally different. I did not make it this way. The order of Creation and model for covenant existed since before the created world. The grand effort in LDS covenant cosmology is the incarnating of spiritual intelligences into mortal bodies: the mortal body and earthly paradise we are born into constitute “first estates.” Therefore, our first estates require a model for procreation, which amounts to a sexual union between woman and man. As LDS, we recognize this covenant cosmology as more fundamental to our theology than even repentance or sin. “Cleave to wife” came before “Don’t eat that fruit.” Both repentance and sin “could” be argued as human social constructs. The template for procreation, however, is biologically sewn into the world we live in.
Sometimes it makes sense to ask a Rabbi:
“Rabbi, how do Jews deal with LGBT dynamics, given your covenant cosmology?”
Rabbi says, “Secular Jews do secular things and religious Jews do religious things.”
“But Rabbi, what if a secular Jew wants to do religious things?”
“Then the secular Jew will have to turn away from secular things, and wholeheartedly adopt religious things.”
Seriously. Ask a Rabbi.
@travis, I think we fundamentally disagree about LDS theology and a lot of other things. There are many who have convincingly argued for a more expansive theology (like Taylor Petrey and Blair Ostler).
If you interpreted my comments as saying I think you’re homophobic, I’m sorry – not what I intended. I disagree with your positions and arguments is all.
@Travis For the record, unlike Elisa (and others here) I agree with your positions and arguments. They seem well thought out, rationale, logical. I wanted to provide more than just a “thumbs up” 😉
I just read the article you posted. I have so many thoughts swirling around in my mind, but I’ll try to be brief. I’m not a fan of his post. Firstly, he’s using the SSA acronym. I don’t know anyone in the queer community who identifies this way. Which makes me deeply skeptical that he knows what he’s talking about. Second, I find his “blame” to be very much misplaced. Yes, sometimes the queer community (or the feminist community, or the Christian community, or the United States of America community) can be very hard on each other. But, in my opinion, these students are not staying quiet because of the queer community and its allies. The students are staying quiet because they recognize that being gay on campus can put their entire academic career at jeopardy. I could go on but needless to say I give his anecdotal take at mind-reading why these students want to be private with their personal lives an epic F.
@Chadwick. I’m not sure what to make of it all. I will note that Fisher himself claims to be LGB/SSA himself. He also claims that this goes beyond BYU students, as he also has access through his Church position to LGBT church members throughout the Church.
As for the BYU student contingent, I agree with your thought that he doesn’t try to distinguish between “all-in” students and those who are giving the right answer to avoid other consequences. It all feels so “anecdotal” but not a solid attempt to put numbers to it all (though, to be fair, he is more of a counselor and less of a researcher, so maybe he doesn’t feel he can approach this in a statistical way).
As for the SSA acronym, I know that, in general, the LGB community rejects the SSA identifier, so it seems very possible for an individual like you or I to not know anyone who identifies as SSA. Could it be that you are unaware of anyone identifying as such, because the “all-in” LGB crowd is choosing to hide their experiences? I would expect an “all-in” LGB individual to be more likely to identify as SSA, because that is the identifier the Church seems to prefer.
In the end, I don’t know anything, but I do appreciate the reaction. I would be interested in more thoughts.
@david, that article probably warrants its own post.
I agree that lgbtq folks who want to stay engaged at Church deserve love and support and not judgement or preaching.
I think the “you have no idea how many huge numbers of LGBTQ people are all-in on the Church” is lacking in qualitative and quantitative data to back it up. So I have a hard time taking that very seriously.
I knew personally quite a few people who were part of the original mormonsandgays website. I don’t even know if that website exists anymore, but one by one those profiles were taken down as the subjects left the church – some of whom because being “all-in” in a homophobic church made them suicidal. I’ve not seen a lot of examples of good outcomes, although I guess Fisher’s response would just be “those are secret.”
@David I really shouldn’t discuss this too much as I’m no expert and as Elisa notes this probably deserves it’s own topic, but I think the following statement you made is instructive: “I would expect an “all-in” LGB individual to be more likely to identify as SSA, because that is the identifier the Church seems to prefer.”
Interesting that the Church gets to determine the identifiers for this group. If the church created a new name for people of color that those communities don’t accept, would you feel comfortable using it? How about for feminists? People of a different nationality? I guess I see it outside of the church’s lane to create their own names for any community instead of accepting the names put forth by the community itself.
To attempt to answer your question, I’m not sure I know any LGBTQ members that would consider themselves “all-in” but I do know members of this community who are also striving to belong to the church community. None of them use this term.
@Elisa. I was thinking the same thing, this could make a good post on its own. I have limited interaction with LGBT people in the Church, so I can’t say how different people reconcile (or don’t) their relationship to the Church and their sexual orientation/gender identity. I do think there are many who went “public” on Church websites and similar who then changed their tune. I don’t know exactly how that gets taken into account by those who are choosing not to be public about their orientation/identity, but it seems like a possible part of the calculus. Even if they consider themselves all-in in 2022, how confident are they that they will still be all in in 2025 or 2030?
In some ways, I do think that I personally do not hear any of the “faithful LGBT” voices, because it does seem that there are a lot more of the struggling voices. I do wonder if there is something the all-in LGBT voices could teach us (even if it doesn’t necessarily mean that all LGBT should also be all-in).
If this is true, “Israelite identity and LGBT identity are fundamentally different,” then how is it possible that I have two BIC children who are LGBT (one of them from about age 3)? Shouldn’t that also be impossible? Under your theological understanding, why is God giving LDS families LGBT kids?
I’m also deeply uncomfortable using the term ‘Israelite Identity’. My friends from Israel find LDS people creating / using such phrasing deeply offensive.
@ReTx that’s a good point. I know many lgbtq people including family members who had an Israelite lineage declared in a patriarchal blessing.
SSA is like IRS. Two government acronyms. I’m Really Sorry.
@travis, I’m confused when you say you don’t really know LDS lgbtq folks. Why do you think you know what they want or what’s best for them then wrt inclusion in the Church? Why do you assume they aren’t part of “Israel”?
Because I’m not part of that community, everything I advocate for comes from listening to people who are. I have spent thousands of hours listening to LDS queer folks. Obviously, not all of them want the same thing – but based on what I’ve read and heard, the vast majority would prefer the Church STOP discriminating against gay people, STOP excommunicating same-sex married couples, etc. Like, even if they don’t necessarily want to stay in the Church, they would still prefer the Church stop hurting people.
So I fail to understand why you think you know what’s best for LDS LGBTQ folks. I get that you have an interesting take on LDS theology and “Israel” (a view I don’t share but find interesting and perhaps sometime you can do a guest post on it with a more thorough explanation) and I agree that we should advocate for families to accept their queer kids, but as far as I can tell you’re still fundamentally OK with their exclusion from Mormonism / the covenant of Israel. I don’t understand why you are content to keep them cut off if that’s not what they want. It is their religious heritage too. I have queer siblings and their ancestors were pioneers too. Why is the only option we give them to leave the Church of their ancestors and do their own thing?
You told me to ask a Rabbi what Judaism does with queer Jews. Perhaps you should ask a queer Mormon or two what they would like Mormonism to do for them.
@Eliza, “So I fail to understand why you think you know what’s best for LDS LGBTQ folks.”
I never claimed to know what is best for LDSLGB because I do know yet know any. My biased perspective comes from LGB comrades who are NOT members of the Restored Church. My claim is that I am sorry any LGBT are treated poorly by LDS family members or wardfolk.
@Eliza, “I have spent thousands of hours listening to LDS queer folks. Obviously, not all of them want the same thing – but based on what I’ve read and heard, the vast majority would prefer the Church STOP discriminating against gay people, STOP excommunicating same-sex married couples, etc.”
I think it is nice that you counsel LDS queer folks. I hope that you don’t discuss with them the possibility that the institution will bend to their requests, because that would be like planting seeds of false hope on the salt flats.
@Eliza, “I don’t understand why you are content to keep them cut off if that’s not what they want.”
I am a simple ward member who will sit next to anybody. Because I do not yet know personally any LDSLGB, I have not had the opportunity to develop the type of relationship that would motivate me to seek institutional policy change on behalf. In addition, I’d need to see a consistent, logical link from theology to whatever policy is advocated…
In fact, I think LDS could be more inclusive about beer, wine, and weed. I think it is easier to read the responsible use of beer, wine, and weed into Section 89, than it is to reconstruct theology that would accomodate LGB and covenant cosmology. Using your rationale, I think we would bring inclusion to tens of thousands of inactive LDS, if we didn’t use Section 89 as a gatekeeper for the Lord’s ordinances. Not everybody has “thousands of hours” to spend counselling LDSLGB, and so some of us have to pick our battles. But if I was to pick a battle, it would be one that is winnable, and could serve the most people. Comparatively, lifting the gatekeeping from Section 89 would create more inclusion that any LGB policy change.
In order for this to happen the church first has to remove itself and leaders from the influence of the republican party. And hopefully members.
And there could then come a time when it becomes obvious that an age cap be placed on Apostles/prophets. The Saviour says 72. So if this is introduced at the same time as equality for members, most of the 15 will retire, and the 15 be made up of 8 women, 2 LGBTI, 4 black and 4 asian, and 7 males. (Some of the new men and women will be in 2 or 3 categories). A diverse and multicultural 15. Progress, and a possible future for the church.
By this time they will have disconnected from the republican party in a search for Christs teachings, which allows the changes above. We could then also fight against financial inequality to make the world more just and equitable, instead of wasting energy discriminating against women and gays.
If this does not happen, and we continue to be lead by conservative old white men, we will continue to shrink into irrelavence, bigotry and obscurity.
@ReTx, “Under your theological understanding, why is God giving LDS families LGBT kids?”
The question implies that there is something wrong with LDS families who birth LGB kids. Why shouldn’t God bless LDS families with LGB kids? Our task is to figure out how to make it work, families forever. Reference my comment @1:42pm about LDS parental guilt and shame.
Theologically, a specific change in temple ordinance (1990) might explain why spiritual intelligences born in the past few decades present with greater sexual ambiguity. Temple ordinance flows out from the temple to the Creation: if something in a temple ordinance is ambiguous, it reflects as ambiguity upon the incoming generations. I interpret Nelson’s allusion of the “cracked foundation” of the Salt Lake temple to signal that considerable changes are needed in some parts of temple ordinance, and I look forward to the changes.
Thank you for responding, but I think I wasn’t clear on what I was to say as your answer didn’t really address it. Your argument was that a person can’t be LBGTQ and part of the Covenant of Abraham at the same time. That these two parts of a person are fundamental different. I’m trying to understand how that is possibly true when LGBTQ kids are Born-in-the-Covenant constantly and even have their Abrahamic lineage declared in patriarchal blessings.
Changing the subject slightly, the Church needs more women in important leadership positions. Issues like spending priorities need a much broader range of ideas. I wonder if spending priorities would change if members like Sharon Eubanks had more input into spending priorities? Would there be more sensitivity to the needs of the poor? Recently, while several apostles were hobnobbing in Great Britain and UAE, Sharon was visiting a refugee camp in Syria.
I wonder if women were in important senior leadership positions if the Church’s obsession with LGBTQ community would continue. Would Blacks have been treated more fairly prior to 1978? More diversity in senior leadership needs to happen if the Church is going to be relevant in the modern world.
@travis, you and I agree that the church probably can’t or won’t change (at least not anytime soon) and so it’s really important to ensure that families don’t abandon or mistreat queer family members. I never said I “counseled” queer folks I said I “listened” to them, but if someone asked me if I thought the church was going to change I’d say no and if it was appropriate for me to give my opinion on whether a queer person should keep attending church I would say I don’t think that’s in the best interest based on outcomes I’ve seen but I would support someone in whatever choice they wanted to make, and I will continue to advocate for full inclusion because it’s the right thing to do.
What confused me is your original comment, and several follow ups, where you suggested that we are misrepresenting what queer people want and pursuing an “activist agenda” instead of supporting what queer people want because your non-LDS queer friends don’t care about inclusion.
You also suggested that LDS theology has no room for queer families because Israel is about actual literal reproduction.
Those two points are where we disagree. I also disagree about comparing the WoW to the church’s treatment of queer people but again focusing on our agreement, I’m all for getting rid of it :-).
I just want to point out that any active member of the church who thinks that they don’t know any LGBTQ+ members is almost certainly wrong. It may be true that you are not *aware* of any LGBTQ+ members, but that’s not because you don’t know them, they just haven’t told you. This is particularly true with youth, where the younger generation is more likely to identify as LGBTQ+, as well as less likely to have left the church, because they are still teens. A recent survey found that around 20% of LDS Gen Z identify as something other than heterosexual. My ward has about 80 youth that attend church at least occasionally. That means I should expect that there are in the ball park of 16 LGBTQ+ youth in my ward.
@ReTx, Covenant isn’t merely contract. Responsibility is to covenant as obedience is to commandment–so when we read responsibility into a scriptural passage, we understand the text to refer to covenant, and when we read obedience into a scriptural passage, we understand the text to refer to commandment. The covenantal responsibility is to bring forth children, transmigrate souls. The template for this covenantal theology is cosmological because it transcends mortality from the womb to the tomb. The highest, most sacred ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are childbirth and the sexual act of procreation (over which women preside). These two ordinances draw from the template modeled at the tree in the premortal garden. In other words, the covenant expressed is rooted in the most fundamental denominator of our theology: our Israelite identity is intimately linked to union of woman and man, there is no way around it.
@Elisa, my comparison of Section 89 rigidity to LGB is an analogical argument that isolates “inclusion” as the highest value variable. It highlights the fact that your highest value isn’t inclusion, it’s LDSLGB agenda. Because your agenda (1) isn’t realistic, and (2) doesn’t broadly solve for the greater numbers of LDS inclusion [those cut out by beer, wine, weed–maybe hundreds of thousands of inactive LDS], it is “activist.” It is extreme.
I find it interesting that you have not discussed or offered anything about how to help mend our LDS family dynamic in the face of no theological compromise. What do LDS families with LGB need to know? How do LDS families with LGB better express unconditional love, and at the same time, abide in covenant cosmology? What do we do within our families, given the standstill?
Travis, I think one of the reasons you’re getting so many downvotes isn’t just because people disagree with your ideas. It’s also possible you’re getting downvoted because others don’t UNDERSTAND what you’re saying.
“Temple ordinance flows out from the temple to the Creation: if something in a temple ordinance is ambiguous, it reflects as ambiguity upon the incoming generations.”
I have no idea what this means. Not that I want an explanation, just pointing out it’s hard to understand. Now granted, I’m a secondary English teacher who reads a lot of writing by teens who try to hide their lack of clear thinking with bafflegab, so I really value clarity. If I’m reading a scholarly paper with terms like hermeneutics, I’ll slow down and even re-read to make sure I’m understanding, but I’m not willing to put in the same amount of work on a blog comment.
I think part of the miscommunication you’re experiencing here is it seems you have a very literal, leaning into the mystical, sense of Church doctrine. That prophets speak Truth, capital “T”, straight from the mind of God unfiltered by any human bias. However, many of the people on this blog see Church doctrine as truth screened through a human filter. That God meets us where we are and reveals what we are ready to receive. That revelation is messy and imperfect. I think this is why we seem to be speaking past each other.
If you would like a scholarly sense of this second kind of worldview, check out Ben Spackman’s article “Truth, Scripture, and Interpretation: Some Precursors to Reading Genesis.” Honestly, if more members of the Church understood this, I think we’d have less faith crises.
@travis, you are making a lot of assumptions about my “agenda”.
WoW doesn’t compare to LGBTQ because people can make choices about WoW. WoW compliance is a choice. Might it be harder for some than others? Absolutely. But keeping or not keeping the WoW isn’t an immutable characteristic like sexual orientation or gender identity (or race). And I don’t know a lot of people killing themselves over the Church’s position on WoW (although I don’t doubt that some do). My value is human dignity and equality, not “include as many humans in church as possible.”
I didn’t mention efforts to improve family outcomes because this is a post about the Church’s institutional positions. Not about what families can do and how we can support that. Inasmuch as I have virtually zero institutional power and (like you) don’t think the institution is likely to change, families and just being kind actually *is* where I put my focus even though my conviction is that the institution is wrong and should change. Which is, again, what this post was about, and what I was responding to.
Travis, you appear to agree with Valerie Hudson-Cassler on the role and position of women. A lot of us disagree. Some of us are revolted by it. Most specifically the reduction of women to and sacralising of basic biological functions.
@Elisa, I have to comment on your remarkable engagement here. I read the most excellent post, way upthread, and thought I would chime in with my $.02, something about no one is equal until we’re all equal, but thought I’d read through the comments first….
I read almost all of them and skimmed through only a few…. Big sigh.
Now I’m stricken with brain fog from consuming so much word salad from certain interlocutors, which has little substance but is fibrous and dense, and keeps one chewing but is ultimately not digestible. Yet you keep up with it, and patiently explain yourself, engage with all commenters, and re-explain when needed. For the most part without covering the same ground.
Well done, and thank you.
“ The highest, most sacred ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are childbirth and the sexual act of procreation (over which women preside).” Um…..what???
Just wondering if people know what their “gay friends” say when they’re not around? Guessing it’s not about women presiding over procreation (yeah pro choice) and fulfilling the most sacred ordinance by providing tabernacles for the souls of men. Oh to be a fly on the wall.
But it appears the good news seems to function as a fumigate on the instar stages. Gotta separate the maggots from the wheat.
Silly me, thinking the lowest common denominator was who is our neighbor. Dunno, maybe it’s about repeating decimals.
And oh, oh, oh, can we debate the theological implications of Fermat’s little theorem. And what’s up with integers.
Could debate how equal citizenship works in a divine hierarchy, don’t have the patience. I’m cynical. Does the universe have a moral arc?
Many devout members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have patriarchal blessings identifying them as direct descendants of the Old Testament prophet Israel. Many have done genetic testing. How many have results identifying that they have Israeli ancestry?
“The covenantal responsibility is to bring forth children, transmigrate souls. The template for this covenantal theology is cosmological because it transcends mortality from the womb to the tomb. The highest, most sacred ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are childbirth and the sexual act of procreation (over which women preside). These two ordinances draw from the template modeled at the tree in the premortal garden. In other words, the covenant expressed is rooted in the most fundamental denominator of our theology: our Israelite identity is intimately linked to union of woman and man, there is no way around it.”
I have a friend. A gay man. He and one of his best friends, a woman married to another woman, intentionally created three children. The children are raised by their two mothers and have a very involved “dad”. I’m also a gay man with 5 children.
There are many “ways around it”, Travis (and others who can’t seem to get past procreation when it comes to LGBT being full members of the Church).
Or, as the Lord said:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
I suspect God has many ways to accomplish His goals. Infinite ways, even. Those who who put limits on God (“there is no way around it”) show a fundamental misunderstanding of the infinite nature of God and the infinite nature of man.
“Those who who put limits on God (“there is no way around it”) show a fundamental misunderstanding of the infinite nature of God and the infinite nature of man.”
It can also be said that those who find what God has commanded to be limiting do not trust that he knows more than they do.
@jack, I don’t know if you meant it this way but, in context, you are suggesting that people who support gay marriage or trans-affirming care simply don’t “understand” God or they would not see Church rules as “limiting.”
I think what people have found is, in fact, the opposite: the more direct experience they have with God, the more they realize that the Church’s limits were never from God in the first place. They were invented by humans who weren’t capable of comprehending the expansiveness of God.
Personally, I think its’ quite possible that so many people (of all “stripes”) will simply find “The Church” to be totally inconsequential – or so overly problematic – in their lives, that they will simply go elsewhere to create purpose and community with others. At that point, it doesn’t matter one wit; what the church does or doesn’t do.
Interesting thought process and comparison.
I really liked Oakes talk in the last conference. Not only because he emphasized doctrine taught in the family proclamation that gender is eternal, but because he also presented this topic in connection with the 88th section of the D&C. The section that outlines there are more than three kingdoms outlined in the 76th section (those are just the kingdoms of glory); and, that we will go to the kingdom where we can abide the laws of that kingdom. An infinite number of kingdoms — ‘there is no space in the which there is no kingdom (D&C 88:37)”. Those who cannot live the Terrestrial law, will not receive Terrestrial Glory — and so forth.
The essence of this section of the D&C is that we are not equal. We never have been and we never will be — the purpose of the plan of salvation is to distribute the children of God to the kingdom they belong. We cannot progress beyond the laws we can abide and natural procreation between a sealed couple is a Celestial law. And, we will receive the eternal body of that kingdom whether it be Celestial, Telestial or other. In the words of Jesus, “straight is the way and narrow the gate and few be there that find it (it being exaltation)”. It is and will be a limited “few” that are exalted. From the 76th section, most will (in and out of the church I suspect) be somewhere in the middle.