On Sunday evening, President and Sister Oaks delivered a worldwide devotional addressed to LDS young adults and older youth. A write-up with quotations from the address is found at the Newsroom, along with a video box to view the entire presentation. I’m not going to dive in the deep end, just splash around a bit with a couple of ongoing issues. For a fuller discussion of these topics, go read an earlier W&T post by hawkgrrrl, “Binary Gender Theology in a Non-Binary World.” Really, go read it — it discusses details I won’t get into. But that’s a great title, and it still applies. As evident from Sunday’s presentation, Pres. Oaks is still struggling to make a non-binary world fit into LDS binary gender theology.
First, an aside. Let me point out one challenge the LDS Church faces in formulating and stating a policy for these various issues and for modifying that policy as circumstances change. While there are Mormon denominations that have split off from the main body of the LDS Church, it’s still the case that most Mormons are LDS Mormons and the church structure is hierarchical and correlated. That’s a real contrast to church governance in more decentralized Protestant churches. Imagine, if you would, a greeter at the door of a large megachurch, responding to various questions visitors pose. Yes, sir, there is a Black evangelical church, two miles down Main Street. To another: Of course gay Christians are welcome here, but if you want a church that offers a focused gay ministry, try the Rainbow Church over on Hillside Avenue. Insert various other responses of your choosing. I’ll bet an experienced evangelical greeter could even point out an evangelical church for recovering Mormons.
For the most part, those options don’t exist in the LDS Church. If you are Black or gay or a recovering Mormon, your city or town likely doesn’t offer an LDS congregation that specializes in your particular circumstances or faith challenges. If you are lucky enough to find such a congregation (there are a few, I’ve heard) the doctrine doesn’t change, just the packaging. So when LDS leaders formulate policy on new issues, they really do need a one-size fits all policy or doctrine. That’s a big challenge. You can stretch a policy or doctrine here and bend it a little there, but it just won’t stretch far enough to comfortably fit the increasing diversity (along so many axes) of 21st century Western society. They can’t keep everyone happy all the time. The best they can do (even if you grant they are sincerely trying) is to keep some of the people happy most of the time.
End of aside. Now let’s look at what Pres. Oaks said on Sunday night. Quotes from the article are in block quotes, with direct quotes of Pres. Oaks in quotation marks in the quote box. Underlining added.
“Whatever our own variations in the diversity of our Father in Heaven’s creations, He loves all of us, and His perfect plan of happiness has a place for all,” President Oaks said. “We show our love for Him by keeping His commandments, including love for His children.”
That’s the first step forward, trying to walk back a bit earlier remarks by Oaks that left most listeners thinking there is serious tension between the two great commandments “love God” and “love your neighbor.”
President Oaks urged his audience to live the commandments of love and law “in a more complete way. Anyone who does not treat individuals who face gender identity challenges with love and dignity is not aligned with the teachings of the first and second great commandments.”
That’s the second step forward. I would think that at this point in the presentation, about halfway through, those young LDS listeners who don’t think they fit into LDS binary gender theology are feeling okay about the direction of the message here. Woudn’t it be nice if every LDS were treated with “love and dignity,” especially those who have not generally been treated that way in the past? Then came this:
“And on the subject of our duty to love our neighbor, we need to remember that God has commanded us to love even those who do not keep all the commandments.“
Something’s a little off in that admonition. First, at some point in his remarks, Pres. Oaks noted the verse in Genesis that said God created us “male and female,” then turned that into a commandment. As if there were an eleventh commandment on those stone tablets that read Thou shalt be male or thou shalt be female, but nothing in between. So when he says “even those who do not keep all the commandments,” in the context of this talk that seems to be pointing at anyone who doesn’t identify as plain and unadulterated male or female. He seems to be saying they’re not just struggling with gender identity or some other sexuality issue, they are disobedient commandment breakers.
If he had said, “especially those who do not keep all the commandments,” that would sound better. That would be giving all the rest of us a heightened duty to treat those outside the standard gender boxes with love and dignity. The burden would be on us. Instead, his actual remarks seem to shift the burden to those darned commandment breakers who for some reason won’t choose to conform to LDS gender and sexuality norms and categories. If only they would get with the program … but in the meantime love them. What do you call that? Condescending love? Judgmental love? Love feigned?
To those who experience same-sex attraction, President Oaks taught that God loves each of His creations and has a place for everyone in the divine plan of happiness.
That sentence sort of cuts both ways. Claiming there is “a place for everyone in the divine plan of happiness” sounds more inclusive that the usual LDS sketch of the afterlife. A cynical listener might add some details: Yes, your place is to be a chaste ministering angel to all those eternally procreating couples over there. Don’t complain, at least you’re not going to the Bad Place.
There is not a complete transcript (yet?) and I don’t have time to go through the video sentence by sentence. There was another step back in his remarks toward the very end of the presentation. Maybe I will find it later and put it in the comments. I’ll close with an odd thought that came to me while writing this post.
Generally, children and teens develop their moral sense in terms of simple contrasts: good and bad, right and wrong. Grey areas and nuance generally come later, sometimes well past young adulthood. But on gender and sexuality issues in the LDS Church, there’s a strange inversion. The younger LDS cohort is comfortable with a lot of diversity and a wide range of identities. There is a spectrum and a lot of adjoining grey areas. It’s the older LDS cohort, including the senior leadership, that wants it simple and binary. In some ways, LDS youth are thinking like adults and LDS leaders are thinking like children.
So let’s ponderize this.
- If you saw the devotional live or if you went the extra mile and listened to the video recording, what jumped out at you? On the whole, was it encouraging or discouraging?
- Based on just the short Newsroom article or the quotes in the OP, same question. Is this encouraging or discouraging? Is there movement or are they digging in their heels?
- Can LDS leaders who still struggle to talk confidently and coherently about something as straightforward as single parenthood or divorce ever come to grips with the emerging spectrum of gender and sexual identities?
- Do you agree that the strong hierarchical organization and correlated program of the Church narrows the options that leaders face for policy formulation? And of course the Internet makes it harder than ever to give different messages to different LDS audiences.
There are many issues and questions that the Brethren now answer with “we don’t know” or “the Lord will work it out”. Why can’t the Q15 treat sexuality and gender that way? Because let’s face it, they really have no idea. This is worse than the philosophies of men mingled with scripture because there isn’t scripture. This is purely the philosophies of men. They need to stick to the special witnesses of Christ script and just stop.
I was watching. I was encouraged. I respect that President Oaks took the time to walk back his statement about putting love of God first. The only real way we have of loving God is by loving our neighbor and it’s important he emphasized this. Emphasizing this has the potential to make our community a safer place for transgender folks.
I am encouraged that President Oaks has the capacity to walk back comments that have a destructive impact. This is an excellent quality in a person who will likely be the next president of the church.
I appreciated that he addressed people who suffer gender incongruence, and their parents, directly because we/they are in the room, we are part of the church and anything he says is said in our presence. He also did well in that he didn’t define exactly what transgender people and their families should do or think, he just said “take the long view”. I think that’s better than a lot he could have said.
While I do think a new revelation is needed addressing a path to salvation for queer people and focusing on differences instead of sin, I think President Oaks did very well within the current parameters of revelation. He emphasized actually following Jesus Christ even when we imagine others have sinned. That’s a fabulous first step because our community is into imagining sin and justifying their own oppressive actions. This will support our more Christ like inclinations and support and justify efforts to tamp down harmful rhetoric and unwelcoming behavior in our community (for instance, referring to the proclamation of the family, saying how evil the world is getting in the last days and calling on people to fight evil…with FOX news in the mix you might as well say it’s time to fight transgender people).
I really think this was a good place to start with where our people are currently at. He publicly acknowledged gender incongruence as a real and difficult problem members of our church and their families face. That’s ground breaking all by itself.
I did not watch this broadcast, but I did mostly read the lengthy summary of it from the Deseret News. To me, the largest step forward from Oaks was this:
“Many of us have a tendency to give less attention to loving our neighbor and to overemphasize keeping the law (commandments),” he said.
That is his own tendency, because of his legal training, he said, and because the first great commandment to love God includes keeping his commandments. It’s just easier to judge oneself and others on whether they are obeying the law.
“I now believe that goal to be better expressed as trying to live both of these commandments in a more complete way,” he said. “Anyone who does not treat individuals who face gender identity challenges with love and dignity is not aligned with the teachings of the first and second great commandments.”
This was nice to read, for several reasons. First, as the guy who has spoken the most about “Love God” and “Love Neighbor”, he isn’t overtly presenting them as conflicting as he has seemed to do in the past. Second, he admits to his own tendency to err on the side of “Love God” over “Love Neighbor”. Even an understated admission like this is disappointingly uncommon in our church (and particularly from Oaks) so it’s progress that he said it. (In a broadcast that I didn’t even know was happening.) And third, with the phrase “I now believe” he admits that his views have changed. Yes, it’s a small change and many of the regulars might feel that it is far too little and much too late. As a still active parent of a trans teen, I am currently standing right in the middle of grappling with local church leadership that is wonderfully supportive (not all are as lucky as we are) and a general church leadership that seems to shuffle forward at an achingly slow pace. (What ever happened to ‘lengthen your stride’?) Today I am trying to see the progress. Tomorrow I might revert to frustration.
For me, one of the greatest challenges with the church is that we don’t have any way to agree on what counts as doctrine. An apostle might stand up in general conference and suggest that we shouldn’t be too accepting of our LGBTQ kids, lest the feel justified in their decisions. And a decade later that same apostle might tell us that if we don’t treat those kids with love and dignity we aren’t keeping the second OR first great commandment. But as far as the corpus of church teaching goes, both of those statements are just sitting out there for anyone to read, teach in EQ/RS, preach from the pulpit or quote on the internet. There’s never any effort to clean up past statements. For a church so focused on correlation, we don’t ever address the impossibility of correlating Dallin Oaks with himself.
Perhaps the orthodox line here would be that Today’s Prophet always trumps yesterdays prophet, but for me, that leaves us with a theology that can feel ever shifting, particularly when we have a strong history of changing teachings and policies without ever acknowledging the harm caused by the ideas that we apparently suddenly no longer believe. These are all ideas that have been well covered in many posts and comments here, and I’m sure we will keep trying to understand them for many posts yet to come. (Thanks for letting me ramble.)
The counsel has been clear and concise–and Elder Oaks reiterated that counsel last Sunday. He reminded the church that, according to the Law of Chastity, sexual intimacy is only to be expressed between a man and a woman who are lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
Re: Transgender Issues: While Elder Oaks didn’t get into any details about the church’s position on transitioning specific instructions can be found here:
I am completely clueless about transgenderism. But I am somewhat comfortable with ambiguity and doubt. So I can muddle along and get away with emphasizing what I am sure about. The Holy Spirit and my conscience have never demanded that I hate and try to damage other human beings. I have had volatile and at times violent confrontations in my life. But I felt horrible if I ever went even slightly beyond preservation of my own and my family’s well-being in word or action. The Spirit never justified me when I forgot that one of my primary obligations was to love my fellow human beings. It is a pretty shallow love that dissolves at the first difference or disagreement. The love I speak of is not a manufactured emotion, but a committed loving kindness to always do what is best for the person in question. It is like the traditional Hindu greeting of “namaste” which recognizes the divine element within the other person. One of the most important teachings of Joseph Smith was an unapologetic recognition that our souls were made of the same stuff (intelligence) as God’s. It goes far beyond the “I am a child of God” our primary children sing. It is a recognition that part of us is uncreated and co-eternal with God. I think that is how God sees us and how we must learn to see each other.
I did not know about or listen to the devotional. So I cannot confirm the below information that perhaps was not included in the Newroom summary.
I’m a member of a facebook group called “I’ll Walk With You” which is a support group for LDS parents of queer children. Someone there posted that Elder Oaks used the following story in the devotional:
(Video of young woman reading Amy’s words): “I feel like I sometimes get inconsistent and confusing messages from the Church. In my day-to-day life, I see members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on social media act as if they aren’t part of this gospel. I feel like I am the only young woman in my ward who sees the things I see wrong with the world. I truly don’t understand why so many youth in our church don’t see any problem with people changing their gender every other day, dating people who are the same sex or identify as no gender. At ward or stake youth activities, I am asked my pronouns, or at school I am asked to dance with a girl who thinks she is a boy. I know we are supposed to love everyone and show them respect, and I always do. I just feel that there is a line being crossed. I wish we heard more talk from the Church leaders about this problem.”
There seems to be a consensus in the group that the story is possibly fabricated to suit Elder Oak’s narrative as we are often told that 50 S Temple will not hear from local members and will revert us back to local leaders. So unless Amy is related to Elder Oaks, she should not be given audience with him. Of course, we can neither confirm nor deny this.
It appears to me that Amy needs to seek education on the queer experience, not from Church leaders, and that Amy may not be aware that she doesn’t actually always shows others respect given her rhetoric that people are changing identities daily and is miffed about being asked pronouns when she could simply say “she/hers” and move on.
The big thing that stood out to me was Pres. and Sister Oaks explaining the good things that come with marriage — perhaps because “purposes and value of marriage” is something has been rolling around in my head for some years. I largely agree with Pres. and Sister Oaks that marriage is useful for teaching and learning and growing us in ways that we may not learn as effectively while single. My big question is — if we believe that marriage is such an effective “people growing machine” (to borrow from secular sex therapist David Schnarch), why should we discourage our LGB brothers and sisters from marrying someone of their own sex? So many conservative explanations for the restriction against same-sex marriage get bogged down in “fertility,” but the growth opportunities Pres. and Sister Oaks described have nothing to do with fertility.
The new FSY pamphlet has introduced a new emphasis on grounding our choices on true principles. These thoughts that have rattled around in my head for years clearly show that I fail to understand the basic, true principles behind marriage, since I fail to understand why same-sex marriage is forbidden. If I could ever get/give feedback on a talk like this, that is one of the things I would like to ask Pres. Oaks or someone adjacent to him to explain. If so much of the purpose of marriage is for the promotion of personal growth and development, why is same-sex marriage forbidden?
Oaks wrote this in 1984 (in a paper titled, “Principles to Govern Possible Public Starement on Legislation Affecting Rights of Homosexuals”): “One generation of homosexual “marriages” would depopulate a nation, and, if sufficiently widespread, would extinguish its people. Our marriage laws should not abet national suicide.”
He said this in general conference in 2018:
“[The adversary] seeks to confuse gender, to distort marriage and to discourage childbearing.”
And in the devotional (taken from the Church News): “Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are concerned about recent changes in the nature and extent of marriage in the United States. President Oaks showed two charts: one showing the reduction in the percentage of adults in the United States who marry and the other showing the increase in the average age of Church members who marry.
Those who intentionally postpone marriage represent opportunities lost and blessings postponed, President Oaks said, including delays in important personal growth that occurs through that relationship, decreased opportunities to work together in building the kingdom of God and fewer children born.”
I really think he’s terrified that if the “right” people don’t reproduce quickly and prolifically enough, the wrong ones will take over. I’m pleasantly surprised that he seems to have changed his views a bit on the two great commandments, but in the end I would summarize his talk like this: Hurry up and get married and have as many children as early as you can. And yeah, some people can’t or won’t do that and we do need to be nice to them. But hurry up and have children.
I still just find it incredibly rich that the advice “Stay celibate and single for life! Keeping covenants is actually *easier* than breaking them!” is consistently being given by men who have definitely not been celibate and single their whole life and have no idea how easy or hard it is. They claim to issue this decree “out of love”, but when those affected by it say “hey so actually this is making us miserable”, they dismiss it out of hand or say that dissidence is sin.
Jack: I’m familiar with the Law of Chastity. I am also aware that the Brethren inject their personal philosophies into sexuality and gender the way they used to about race. You remember those days, right?
The sad thing about whatever church leaders say about these types of topics can be boiled down to “Yes/but.”
When I read the words of Christ in the scriptures I don’t find as many “Yes/buts.”
The church leaders may be taking steps forward (yes) (but) they aren’t really addressing the issue, going forward, or helping anyone that’s marginalized like the Savior did when He was here on this earth..
I will not be the first to point this out, but all the stuff the Church over the last few years concerning LGBT is mostly aimed at helping the family members of LBGT individuals stay in the church, but not actually make the church a more welcoming/affirming place for LGBT. They are softening the harmful rhetoric without changing the harmful practices/doctrines/teachings.
I can see why the church is concerned and doing this, anecdotally, I have one friends family (consisting of; of grandparents, 3 siblings, their spouses, their kids) all step away from the church after their brother came out as gay because they, CORRECTLY, saw the church as a harmful place and institution for him
Slightly off topic: Just fyi, if you have Microsoft word you can create your own transcript which is pretty cool. No punctuation, but still super helpful at times! (I’m not trying to hype Microsoft–if anyone else knows other ways to produce transcripts I’m all ears!)
Thanks for the post and your thoughts and insights!
“God loves each of His creations and has a place for everyone in the divine plan of happiness.”
Agree and this love includes the commandment to repent of our sins and accept the Atonement of Christ. What is sin? It is anything that distances us from God’s holiness. As we are all imperfect we all sin and rely on God’s grace to cover our errors and imperfections. Intrinsic to God’s plan is we are each accountable for our choices and we will each be judged for our words, thoughts and actions. God will not save us in our sins, but can only save us from our sins.
Is gender dysphoria a sin? Is it a sin to imagine one can change genders? Is it a sin to encourage individuals to imagine they can be something other than the biology with which they were born? For anything other than sexuality, society says that claiming to be something other than what one is is a deception. We treat people making imaginary claims to either be a liar or to be mentally disturbed. For example, if an adult man or woman demanded to be identified as a child and be able to participate as a child in Primary I can’t imagine that demand would be accommodated. If a person demanded to be identified as a prophet of God and no evidence existed to justify that claim we would not accommodate that person – the LDS leadership would go so far as to excommunicate such a person. In both of these cases, the accommodation of a person’s identity claims would create confusion and this confusion would detract from the learning and worship of others.
Please appreciate society and Christianity have little problem with the male who is effeminate or the female who is a “Tomboy”. It is the claim that one be recognized as a gender different than what is biological fact that creates fiction. It is the expectation that others accommodate a person’s identity claim independent of what is factual. No matter what anyone says, no matter what arguments are presented, I do not see anyway to eliminate the social friction created by Gender Fluidity. Sure, my generation is old has-beens and we will soon go the way of all the earth. But even while Gen-Z is more accepting than ever of the ideology, their acceptance is at 50%. Meaning 50% disagree: https://time.com/6275663/generation-z-gender-identity/
On one hand we can all appreciate the effort of LDS church leadership to be patient and attempt understanding of the issue. On the other hand there are irreconcilable conflicts and one wonders if it is beneficial for LDS leaders to dance around them. The primary conflict is a religion must teach ideals – churches claiming to speak for God must teach the perfection of God. In the LDS church the ideal is marriage between a man and woman and the creation and nurturing of children in a traditional family setting. This ideal is at the root of Mormonism. It is the quintessential LDS teaching. Not only is the LDS church doctrine intrinsically linked to the doctrine of the Eternal Family but so is the culture. Combined this forms the lifeline of the church. Parents have children and raise those children in the church. Those children then marry and with their spouses have children and raise those children in the church. Without this pattern the LDS church collapses (Yes Dot, I believe the leadership thinks this way not only because they believe it but also because the trend of changing member demographics is frightening).
As I say, the church leadership is dancing around this irreconcilable conflict. My hunch is, as with Covid, the leadership wants congregations to handle this issue locally. The general authorities will deliver their general message, and local stakes and wards will do what works for their congregations. It must be appreciated that the church leadership does not want to give reasons for members to leave – they want to retain members! This explains the dancing.
One wonders if the dance will ever end? The ending options are (1) The church leadership returns to a hardline position that boys are boys and girls are girls (2) The church leadership embraces Gender Fluidity as acceptable – at which point Lucifer should buy ice skates or (3) The church leadership gets awfully quiet about the issue and basically pretends it doesn’t exist. This is a softer form of the hardline position but less controversial. Offended individuals will self-select out of the church but there won’t be inflammatory statements to pin on the leaders for making this happen. Are there other ways to end the dance that won’t blow up the church?
The addition of Correlation Department was necessary if the church wanted to maintain any sort of centralized order over doctrine and practices. As the church has become more international, correlation has been incredibly helpful to newer units where there isn’t multi-generational membership who inherently knows the drill… it’s just not that old of a religion, or very widespread.
As with anything, there are trade-offs. The standardization has simultaneously made LDS doctrine much more rigid and flattened much of the personal, nuanced aspects of personal belief.
This is not an issue if you fall within the correlated boundaries, but can leave those outside or on the margins feeling…well….marginalized.
As noted in the OP, the LDS just doesn’t have as many “specialized” wards and branches. There are some, but they tend to fall along languages, cultures, and marital status (e.g. Spanish speaking, Polynesian, single adults, etc.)
IMO the church would be wise to soften the correlation a bit…but that will be a challenge – having had a smidge of interaction with the correlation department myself, it seems like that department collects a lot of orthodox zealot types.
@josh h and @jack (and anyone else interested in the tangent)
josh h wrote: “Jack: I’m familiar with the Law of Chastity. I am also aware that the Brethren inject their personal philosophies into sexuality and gender the way they used to about race. You remember those days, right?”
IMO, this is a big reason why I think we must get a robust handle on the history of the priesthood and temple ban. How much of it came from God and how much of it came from man and, if some or all of it came from man why God did not correct the issues sooner and so on and so forth. If the brethren were able to inject their own opinions into the discussions and policies and doctrines around race (even if they sincerely believed they came from God), how can we know the same thing is not happening with our beliefs around sexual orientation or gender identity?
IMO, we don’t have a good answer for this question. In part, because we won’t face the historical issue head on (was the priesthood and temple ban from God or not?). Our reticence to face the historical issue head on leads to a lack of clarity on how much of current church doctrine and practice is truly from God.
“If the brethren were able to inject their own opinions into the discussions and policies and doctrines around race (even if they sincerely believed they came from God), how can we know the same thing is not happening with our beliefs around sexual orientation or gender identity?”
MrShorty & Josh h, I think the proclamation on the family is the parallel statement we’re looking for vis-a-vis the inception of the priesthood ban. It is an unequivocal statement an the part of all fifteen apostles on the doctrines of marriage & family and the Law of Chastity.
As people in society continue moving toward the attitude that LGBTQ+ people are simply individuals (just like heterosexuals are simply individuals) the church will at some future point be nothing more than a has-been organization comprised of bigots and haters.
With a buttload of money.
The church can truly become the church cut out of the mountain and fill the whole earth. All they need to do is look at the scriptures, realize they in no way, shape or form condemn the actions of the LGBTQ+ community (BIG shoutout to Dan McClellan) admit their error and welcome them in. They’ll gain far more members than they’ll lose (which will just be the bigots and haters anyway, so who cares?)
Don’t think it isn’t possible; just read up on the rhetoric that former “prophets seers and revelators” said about the blacks NEVER, EVER NEVER receiving the priesthood until after the millennium.
To a Disciple,
There’s a way for us to resolve this conflict without blowing up the church as you say. It would be for people like yourself and all leaders and members to spend the time to listen to & understand the actual life experiences of queer people, particularly queer members of the church. Additionally you could spend the time to study the science on this topic. Gender has never been a binary. It is a spectrum and there are people born somewhere in between. Nearly 1 to 2 percent of people are born intersex, which means the doctor can’t tell easily if they are male or female. That’s as many people as there are red heads. Some babies have both sets of sex organs, some have neither, sometimes the external genitals do not match the DNA. How the brain forms influences how they experience their gender, and what gender they are attracted to. These characteristics of the brain may or may not match either the DNA or physical form.
The church recognizes this as a real situation and an intersex person can present documentation of their physical condition and usually the church will change the records to match the sex that a person comes to accept in adulthood. The church accepts that gender incongruence is a real and difficult situation in our society. They aren’t dancing around to keep members. They know they have a real and difficult situation because so many members like yourself are unaware of the reality faced by members in this situation.
This being a factual biological situation, not connected with sin, & because all people are children of God, our doctrine, policy, covenants, community, churches and temple would do right by making room for all people. It is the right thing to do in following Christ.
I imagine you are a person of kindness and good faith. I suggest you educate yourself. A good source is Richard Ostler’s podcast “Listen, Love and Learn”. This is a church supportive podcast where Brother Ostler interviews members about their real life experiences trying to live their lives and stay in the church, even though their sexuality and gender situation is not simple. Here’s the link , hope you enjoy it.
I read your comment as arguing that because an exceptional, rare, biological condition exists, then people without that condition must also be allowed to claim any gender identity they choose, and the rest of society must accept that self declaration as fact..
I think a biological condition and the exercise of one’s free will are two very different realms and the two should not be conflated. Do you see trans persons as exercising free will? How does free will apply to the question of gender identity?
A Disciple, I majored in both psychology and social work, then got a Masters, and the best answer that scientist can give to “is being transgender a choice, a malfunction of some kind, or is it a biological condition?” is that we really don’t know, but it doesn’t look like a choice, and we can’t find any solid biological condition, and if it is a malfunction, we can’t find any kind of cause, but it seems to be inborn….best guess. And it can show up in people too young to be affected by all the crap politicians are blaming. And the people who are transgender say this not something any sane person would choose, they say that they just ARE that way. So, if the best answer science can give is as the King says in The King and I, “is a puzzlement,” then what business of mine is it to judge? What business is it of politicians to judge? Even what business is it of Elder Oaks to judge?
Maybe, since scientists don’t know, we all who are not transgender should shut up and back off. Let the people who ARE transgender speak. What do they say? They say they have felt like they were born into the wrong body for as long as they can remember. Scientists also say that it really cannot be changed. If a person in a male body feels like they are a woman, maybe their brain is female. So, since we have no way to change their brains, maybe we should allow them to change their bodies.
Call me Mark,
There are many like me who are willing to bear the labels “bigots and haters” in order to keep the commandments. But as unpleasant as bearing those labels may be the real sting is in the irony that we love our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
Dave B’s question about how to label the love Church members are to feel for “those darned commandment breakers who for some reason won’t choose to conform to LDS gender and sexuality norms and categories” is a good one. I’m sure people like Jack really do feel that they love “those darned commandment breakers.” I know from being on the receiving end of that type of love that it makes me want to vomit. The person is telling me that they know my experience and what’s good for me better than I know it. Why? Not because they listened to me or sought to understand, but because some other person who told them that I was confused and sinning said they should feel love for me. Feel whatever you want. I don’t want you telling me how to feel, so I won’t tell you how to feel. But know that my response to your “love” is a vague feeling of nausea.
It’s odd that religious people are the ones acting like others’ feelings are wrong. All of religion is based on a feeling. You feel something that people have told you is the spirit, so you believe you know truth. There’s no proof. And so you take this feeling and condemn other people as sinners for having different feelings. Someone’s “testimony” of their transgenderism is probably pretty similar to your “testimony” of your religion, in that both are rooted in very personal experiences, an overwhelming conviction of rightness, and a deep need to live by your own truth.
Your faith is no more valid or invalid than any other belief or behavior based on a feeling, whether that is transgenderism, sexual orientation, or believing that God cares very deeply about not drinking coffee. You live life by your own beliefs, but don’t tell other people they can’t do the same.
Anna, as someone who suffers from severe depression I don’t feel responsible for the fact that my mind has a veritable plowshare driven through it. At times I have fallen to the ground or on the bed involuntarily and cried uncontrollably at the top of my lungs. The outpouring of emotion can be so intense that my mind dissociates (as it were) so that I feel like I’m observing myself objectively during the ordeal. It erupts like a volcano–and there’s nothing I can do but ride it out.
That being said, I’ve had the impulse on many occasions to tear my house apart–and I mean–to shred it to pieces so that it looks like we got a visit from the Tasmanian devil. But thankfully, the most damage I’ve ever done is punch a few holes in the wall and break a few objects–usually when no one’s around. Even so, though I went for several years bearing the burden of a deep inextinguishable rage — it took about two years for it to work its way out of my system as if it were seeping out of my pores — I had to bear down with all of the strength I had, calling on the Lord for help, to keep myself from crossing a line that might’ve caused irreversible damage.
And so what I’m saying is, the fact that one’s proclivities may be inborn or imposed by external forces does not mean that we are exempt from having to do all that is within our power to bridle our passions and live within the bounds the Lord has set. Everyone, without exception, is challenged one way or another and from one degree to another by our fallen condition and by the fallen world that we inhabit. Living the gospel as best we can is the only truth that will ultimately make us free.
Hey can anyone confirm that the “Amy” snippet that Chadwick found quoted on the Facebook group was in fact part of the broadcast?
If it was, then I can’t possibly see this talk as two steps forward and two steps back but rather as a full throttle reverse dressed in some niceties to give cover to the people who “aren’t prejudiced against gay people”.
If DHO chose to use that quote without directly refuting the obvious misinterpretations by “Amy”, it would seem pretty clear to me what he wanted his take message to be and it’s not terribly different than Holland’s musket talk. It may be “Amy” throwing the verbal rocks at her peers and church leaders who act as LGBTQ allies , but unless DHO called Amy out as misguided and unfair, it sounds more like his true feeling disguised in a pseudo anecdote.
Can anyone confirm the quote and context? I have vowed never to listen or read another DHO talk again.
You didn’t understand my comment entirely. Actually there is some scientific evidence that the brains of trans women resemble the brains of cisgender women more than cisgender men. We have only found the meanings of a portion of the DNA connected with sex so far but eventually it may be untangled.
When you consider intersex people you need to remember that many transgender people actually are in this category (the general public has no way to determine who is in this category and who isn’t and frankly, the formation or malformation of someone’s genitals is nobody’s business). As I mentioned, a doctor can struggle to identify the sex of a baby, and he can misidentify a baby at birth, or even do a surgery removing male parts and assigning him to be a girl. Later he may feel like a boy, and suffer depression and suicidality connected to gender dysphoria. A person in this situation may tell you they are transgender rather than go into the gritty details.
Any transgender or nonbinary person might have the technical diagnosis of intersex, or may be considered only transgender. The point is that YOU don’t know who is what. YOU don’t know their motivations or situation, only THEY do. YOU have no basis for judging them.
Seriously, it feels wrong to me for the church to be judging that either, but with the way they have set up the church according to a nonbiological totally binary position that excludes a marginalized and mistreated portion of the population, they end up judging this so that they know who to exclude from the priesthood. Honestly they shouldn’t exclude anyone, male, female or otherwise, but that gets into another topic.
I don’t think free will applies to the question of gender identity typically. In listening to the stories of trans people, their choice isn’t about which sex they pick. They often know what sex their brain is from a young age, whether they like it or not. They exercise their free will by acting with courage, honesty, and and integrity and coming out, even though it may ruin their lives to do so. Often they feel happier and have less mental health problems after coming out, even as they face increased misunderstanding and ill treatment.
For these reasons I do not believe being transgender is a sin. If the body and brain formed in a way they don’t match, that’s a birth defect of sorts and is not a sin. I have a son with a series of awful birth defects. He has had 14 surgeries to try to correct defects of his back, esophagus, anus, heart and other problems. He is 17 and only weighs 78 pounds. He is not sinful for wishing his defects could be corrected to match how he feels inside. Transgender people aren’t sinful either for wanting their body to match how they feel.
People don’t treat my son with the defects like he did anything wrong by being born different than them. I don’t believe people who are born transgender should be treated like they did something wrong either.
I confirm Amy’s comments. I watched it. I don’t confirm your context or interpretation. I suggest you watch the talk if you want to judge DHO or the church on it.
DHO’s comments were a clear attempt to respond to Amy by telling her the pain of gender incongruence is real and that she should treat all people kindly regardless of whether she thinks they have sinned or not. He actually walked back and clarified comments he made on another occasion that came across badly about loving God more than loving your neighbor (nope, you love God BY loving your neighbor). I personally found his comments to be accurate and helpful to transgender people and those who love them.
My only addition would be for him to clarify that being transgender isn’t a sin.
Disciple, this particular argument is misguided. You said: “I read your comment as arguing that because an exceptional, rare, biological condition exists, then people without that condition must also be allowed to claim any gender identity they choose, and the rest of society must accept that self declaration as fact.”
Intersex people are 1-2% of the world population. That is MUCH more than the percentage of the world’s population that are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This particular religious belief is a rare condition. Should we just willy-nilly allow people to change their religious beliefs to join this tiny group of believers? Converts frequently encounter opposition from the family, persecution from people who misunderstand why they would want to upend their lives by leaving the religion they were born into, and may even (oddly) claim that they are happier than they have ever been. Should society be forced to accept that these converts have found the “truth”? Despite the fact that so very few people are born into this religious faith.
As I said above, having a testimony of a religious belief is founded on emotional conviction and strong personal experiences. Knowing you’re transgender has a similar foundation. It’s personal. Do unto others and as you would want others to do unto you. Respect others’ personal experiences and knowledge of their own personal truth.
Jack – comparing uncontrollable and destructive rage that is causing you untold amounts of anguish to being trans or queer shows you don’t understand what it’s really like to be trans or queer. There’s a lot of fear, until you realize that God accepts trans and queer people, and then it becomes a source of peace, joy and self-acceptance. The destructive and anguishing part of being trans or queer is encountering religious believers who think their feelings should control someone else’s life. You should start listening to the Latter Gay Stories podcast. Nearly all of the gay Latter-day Saints interviewed talk about the effort to overcome their queerness the way you describe your effort to overcome your rage. But it ends differently. What finally goes away is the self-rejection. God helps queer people overcome their internalized homophobia and self-rejection. It’s a beautiful process.
Part of your assumption is that being transgender or having same sex attraction is a sin. On what do you base this?
The Proclamation of the Family isn’t canonized and it mentions neither same sex marriage or transgender people. It’s topic is cisgender marriage.
The church doesn’t define these things as sinful either, they actually let LGBTQ people attend the temple in certain circumstances,but yet they don’t come out and clearly say that in meetings. It’s like they assume LGBTQ people will be sexually promiscuous. They don’t assume heterosexual people are promiscuous when they talk about them.
The scriptures in the New Testament are likely referring to sex between men and slave boys since there were no egalitarian same sex couples at that time and sex was typically about dominance. The scriptures in the Old Testament about homosexuality are accompanied by verses that tell you to avoid shrimp, mixed fabrics and buying your slaves from neighboring countries. We have one scripture that could be applied to transgender people Matthew 19:12 where Jesus talks about eunuchs and describes them as being this way from birth, circumstance or personal choice, “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven”.
Thanks for confirming the quote and giving your thoughts on its context.
No thanks on reading or listening to DHO’s talk myself. The 35 years that I listened to and read his “wisdom” is enough for a lifetime. And the harm he has done to my transgender child’s relationship to God is sufficient for multiple life times. If I am called to stand as a witness at the judgment bar of Christ, that is what I will testify of. I’ll let God judge whether he has repented or not.
Still I hope you are right that DHO is starting to acknowledge that he may need to change his thinking. Not just for his own sake. Given his influence within the LDS church, even small changes in his attitude could save the lives of some LDS kids. And maybe if it had to be Nixon to go to China, then maybe it could one day be DHO that finally and sincerely apologizes for the harm that he and the LDS church leadership have done to it’s LGBTQ members and makes real changes. Our family couldn’t survive in the church waiting that long for such an uncertain hope, but since new LGBTQ members are being born into the church each day, that would still be a wonderful thing if it happened.
“Part of your assumption is that being transgender or having same sex attraction is a sin.”
Just be clear–I don’t categorize being transgender or having same sex attraction as sin, per se. I’m sorry if my comment conveyed that idea. The question of sin becomes pertinent only when behavior is relevant to the argument.
“The Proclamation of the Family isn’t canonized and it mentions neither same sex marriage or transgender people. It’s topic is cisgender marriage.”
IMO–the proclamation defines what marriage is as instituted by God. Any arrangement outside of that definition is contrary to the commandments he has given on marriage. And so there is no need to define marriage by any other category. There is only one.
“Comparing uncontrollable and destructive rage that is causing you untold amounts of anguish to being trans or queer shows you don’t understand what it’s really like to be trans or queer.”
Where I think my analogy is most useful is not in the respective ways that each of us may suffer–but in the fact that, regardless of what our challenges may be, we are required to do all that we can to conform to the laws of the gospel *irrespective* of our culpability (or lack thereof) in the those challenges.
“God helps queer people overcome their internalized homophobia and self-rejection. It’s a beautiful process.”
That is beautiful–and it’s my hope that we can do more to help them feel welcome in the community of the saints. Even so, I believe that it’s possible for queer people — and indeed all people — to feel accepted by the Lord for who and what they are and, at once, be edified to the degree that they can live according to the laws that he has established for his people.
Jack, first of all, let me just say that I have also been depressed, so I know where you are coming from. It is terrible and it is difficult to change.
But it isn’t a mismatch between your brain and your body. You didn’t have a happy brain living in a miserable body and all you have to do is tell your happy brain that it is wrong to be happy and you just need to live miserable because your body is miserable, even if all of you just wants to be happy. See how silly your analogy is?
But that is what you are saying God wants Trans people to do. Just accept that your brain, your feeling, your very essence, is wrong because your body is different.
But, let’s skip the bad comparison and go with want you were trying to get me to see. You said that you had an inborn condition that could lead to bad behavior.
Depression is something wrong in your brain that, yes, it can lead to behaviors that are destructive. So, you can sin or you can fix your depressed brain. But, depression is something where we CAN (usually) fix your brain. Sometimes it is difficult, for example it took doctors 50 years of my brother being so depressed that he hallucinated constantly, before it was fixed. He attempted suicide several times. He found that being drunk solved the hallucinations, so became an alcoholic. Hopefully you never got THAT depressed. They finally found an antidepressant that fixed his brain. The ideal treatment with depression is to fix the brain.
Transgender and other LGBT+ issues are all things where we can’t fix their brain. No amount of counseling, electroshock, medication works. Changing the brain to fix LGBT issues is a failure. So, what do you suggest?
The only options for these people to find happiness are in your book, called sin. And I just can’t buy that life is a choice between unhappiness and sin. Everyone has the God given right to try to find happiness. Our US Constitution even calls the pursuit of happiness an inalienable right. So, why not LGBT people?
So, great, you were finally able, after much suffering and some destruction, to fix your brain. But what would you do if there was no fix for your brain and any behavior you engaged in that could make you happy was “sin”?
I don’t want you telling us how you fixed your inborn problem without sinning because your problem of depression *can* be fixed without sinning. In fact, smashing things would not have made you happy. It would just make things worse. Being LGBT *can’t* be fixed by any of the things that will cure depression.
I don’t want you to tell me what general authorities say about it because I decided back in 1970 that they don’t have a bat phone to God and that they can scream all they want and pound the pulpit and it doesn’t make them correct. They insisted that blacks not having priesthood was gospel. It was Doctrine. god said so and it would not change until Able was resurrected and his children got priesthood….sometime in the millennium. Yeah, they caved and changed on blacks and the priesthood and us “sinners” who said they were just plain wrong turned out to be right. So, I am going to stay apostate because I know they can be wrong. When loving people conflicts with what they insist God wants me to think…well, they are wrong.
Elder Oaks comments probably feel monumental to him, and he’s going to take heat no matter what he says on this topic. That glint of clarification and nuance is welcome. I think the OP’s analysis was pretty fair and reasonable.
Regarding the inevitable comment firestorm, can we please stop being surprised/upset that a giant, conservative, slow-moving religious organization is being conservative and slow-moving when altering the religion part.
I’d love to see the needle move a bit more, but we’ve got to accept that it’s going to be slow AF.
Society at large has yet to figure all this out with any real certainty. Very difficult questions need answering, and the answers may still be decades away…especially with academia trying hard to burn itself to the ground and with sociology attempting a hostile takeover of psychology. The LDS church will inevitably lag some ways behind.
Let’s also not pretend like scriptures are going to be the hurdle here. People have done Scripture Olympics to defend AND oppose discrimination, slavery, war, murder, atrocities, Harry Potter, and basically everything else under the sun. It’s just not that hard to back up ANY position scripturally and find people who agree with you.
In the mean time, err on the side of treating people like people. LGBTQ+ people count as people…hardline orthodox Mormons and evangelicals also count as people.
Haha my comment was a bit a mess.
Tldr; Oaks’ comments were overall positive IMO.
I’m annoyed with surprise/outrage over a topic that’s volatile across literally every part of society. Let’s be happy that there were some comments that seem to point in a more nuanced direction.
Scripture ping pong is apparently annoying me today…could just be that I’m tired and grumpy. Scripture is a very low obstacle historically speaking, it won’t be hard to justify LGBTQ+ scripturally.
I didn’t listen to or read DHO’s talk nor do I intend to. There is a beautiful version of “I’m trying to be like Jesus ” by the motab choir on YouTube that conveys essentially the same message, but without all the hedging and qualifications. I’m with Josh H on this one. I would really like to see church leaders approach gender and sexuality issues with A LOT more humility. Just be honest and admit that they really don’t have a firm handle on gender fluidity and LGBTQ issues in general, but are creating a task force of trained theologians from a variety of perspectives to see what scriptures actually says (or doesn’t say) about it, are willing to openly and sincerely listen to LGBTQ+ folks, and are humbly seeking further light and knowledge from the Lord. I don’t see that happening. I see a lot of “Yes/but” tactics, as Instereo pointed out. Jesus didn’t do “Yes/but.” He was a “Yes/And” kind of a guy. Read the Gospels. It’s always “you have heard this, but I say unto you this +that.” He was trying to bring us to a more expansive, more relational version of the gospel that is about transformation (personal, yes, but especially collective), rather than retribution. Finally, I hate to keep piling on Jack, but he has mentioned “sin” on this and other posts quite a bit. Sin is not just about personal”sexual purity.” In fact God in the scriptures is usually perturbed because His people collectively have sinned by focusing on riches, neglecting the poor, the needy, and the widow, engaging in violence, not doing justice. This is especially true in the Book of Mormon, actually, and certainly the OT. But if we make sin all about sex, we don’t have time to worry about that pesky social justice thing God actually cares about.
I’m not so much drawing an analogy between how two different categories of people suffer. As I told Janey: “Where I think my analogy is most useful is . . . in the fact that, regardless of what our challenges may be, we are required to do all that we can to conform to the laws of the gospel *irrespective* of our culpability (or lack thereof) in the those challenges.
And so, when I spoke of my difficulties with depression — and just to be clear I’m not healed of mental illness. I’ll likely be plagued with it until the resurrection — I meant to convey the notion that I’m familiar with being burdened with a challenge that has nothing (or very little) to do with sin on my part. And I think we all know that every human being suffers from challenges in some measure for which they are not culpable. But even so, the covenants that God has established are no respecters of persons. We are expected to do our best to live up to the ideal — recognizing, of course, that we all fall short of it in some way or another — irrespective of what our challenges may be–and that includes difficulties that are not likely to be solved in this life.
@Disciple, many good responses to you here but also wanted to add: sometimes, as a society, we do accept fiction as fact. For example, we refer to someone’s adopted children in the same way as their natural born children. It would be rude and ridiculous to do otherwise, even though, biologically, this is a fiction. It’s better for all people involved to accept it as fact. Even Jesus said “woman, behold thy son” and I’m sure you would agree that this but of fiction was not a sin.
I forgot to address this paragraph:
“The only options for these people to find happiness are in your book, called sin. And I just can’t buy that life is a choice between unhappiness and sin. Everyone has the God given right to try to find happiness. Our US Constitution even calls the pursuit of happiness an inalienable right. So, why not LGBT people?”
I think this is a false dichotomy because it assumes that there is only one way for LGBTQ folks — or anyone really — to find happiness-and that’s to give ourselves over to our mortal proclivities without consideration for the code of conduct that the Lord expects his disciples to live by. But, according to the Savior, there is *another* way to find happiness–and that’s following him which involves keeping his commandments as well as taking upon ourselves his name and always remembering him.
Threadjack: I believe the original draft was “life, liberty and the pursuit of property. . .
I don’t exactly disagree with you. I disagree with referring to queer people in the same breath as sin. We don’t refer to heterosexual people as automatically sinful even though heterosexual people do commit sexual sin. Being LGBTQ doesn’t mean you are sinful anymore than being heterosexual means that. We muddy the discussion when we refer to sin in connection with the LGBTQ issue.
Even temple married heterosexuals commit sin, sometimes even adultery. But we don’t refer to them as inherently sinful and bring up sin when we discuss temple marriage.LGBTQ people aren’t inherently sinful either, even in the parameters of the handbook right now, but yet our leaders feel that they have to bring up sin whenever they discuss LGBTQ people. This comes across to LGBTQ people that they are subject to more judgement than heterosexual people.
The other concern is that there are more single people (including LGBTQ people) in the church today than there are married people. Single people are 2nd class citizens in the church and LGBTQ people are seen as a sinful, even perverse, 3rd class.
Those of us who love LGBTQ people can’t help but want to change that.
I just do not consider that my married and faithful lesbian daughter and her wife are committing a sin by choosing to love each other.
And the church talks about LGBT member and sin because they do not hold them to the same chastity standard of legal marriage as they do heterosexuals. Choosing to even be married even if they never touch each other is sin. My transsexual relative can’t really live as either gender in the church, because her talking and mannerisms are feminine, so the men mock and make fun of her because she is effeminate. She can’t fit is as a man and doesn’t feel like a man and doesn’t talk or think like a man. Why do the men demand she change who she is, then are horrified at how she wants to change who she is? The women are much more accepting because she is really quite nice, in spite of being over six feet and looking masculine. She is stuck between genders and sees the only solution as transitioning, or killing herself. Men are extremely cruel to a man who does not fit the proper masculine mold, so she has been teased, picked on and mocked all her life and it is worst at church. One would think elders of Jesus Christ would be above the kind of behavior of picking on the ugly duckling, but no, let’s peck it to death.
So, is it really a sin for her to reject the kind of treatment she gets from Mormon men and live her life as a woman?
Here’s a good reminder for all of us:
Quoting another GA to justify what the first GA was saying is like the Pharisees of old trying to justify the law. Christ spoke as one having authority because he was the law. In everything I’ve read that he said about sin was that he seemed more concerned about the individual than the sin unless he was calling out those that made the law the one indicator and definition of sin without any consideration.
“Quoting another GA to justify what the first GA was saying is like the Pharisees of old trying to justify the law.”
I suppose one could make that argument. But on the other hand, one could also argue that prophets often quote other prophets.
Oh yes, the code of conduct that the Lord expects his disciples to live by. If I remember right, the second great commandment is “can’t see the forest for the trees.” I don’t know how one obeys such a commandment, but I’m sure many people make an honorable and valiant attempt.
Which leads to much straining of gnats while swallowing, um, elephants. Who qualifies in the category of of neighbor, and what love should be properly administrated.
It seems to me that some trans kids keep down from home to school, and bullies attack them and dump them in the road. Some commandment adhering folks went by on the other side of the street, cuz righteous reasons. Meanwhile, a nonbelieving doctor, stops to treat the wounds and provide gender affirming care. It seems to me we should go and do likewise.
If that’s to out there, consider this. If marriage is good because a husband and wife learn lessons x y and z, and these lessons are necessary for eternal progression or happiness, then even if homosexuality isn’t a eternal thing, a dude married to a dude is still a good thing in this life– cuz they learn those lessons. It’s a win for a healthy ecosystem in the great forest. And the good forester is well pleased.
Keeping the basic commandments and loving our neighbor need not be mutually exclusive. And though–yes–charity covereth a multitude of sins the Savior did not forgo teaching his disciples that they must repent and be baptized; that they must not be angry; that they must not be lustful; that they must not be prideful or envious or what-have-you. Can you imagine how the world would be utterly transformed if we only kept the basic counsel we’ve received to be honest, chaste, and temperate?
Yes–I agree that marriage is good for the reasons you mention. But it is good and even essential for other reasons as well–and those reasons are clearly laid out in the proclamation on the family. I don’t know what else I can say–except that these issues are so complex and so charged with passion that the only way to finally resolve them is to follow the inspired counsel of living prophets.
Thanks for the comments, everyone.
Jack, let’s talk about comment thread etiquette. Yes, you can express your opinion. Yes, you can recite the orthodox LDS position or a scripture or cite a GA in that comment. But you cannot make a specific reply to every single commenter along the lines of, “no, that doesn’t agree with the orthodox LDS view, and here’s why …” You can’t act as the moderator or boss of the comment thread, pointing out to each commenter that they are wrong because they don’t agree with you or with orthodox LDS doctrine. Leave a comment or two sharing your view on the topic of the opening post, and if you feel particularly moved by another’s comment chime in to support or to extend that comment — or even offer a contrary view — but do it one additional time. No more replying to every single comment as Jack’s Orthodoxy Monitoring Service.
Here’s how much of our time and attention DHO deserves: zero.
Someone who hasn’t changed their mind about a damn thing in my lifetime isn’t worth any space in my brain.
Someone who is giving the same talk in 2023 that they gave in 2005, with a few additional points given verbatim from talks given in 2018-2020, isn’t worth any space in my brain.
Someone who claims to be a special witness of Christ but who has absolutely no clue how to credibly interpret the New Testament isn’t worth any space in my brain.
Someone who celebrates being a spiritual polygamist who objectifies women by acting as though it’s a man’s job to rescue single women, who minimizes the real pain Church policies cause them, and who believes the women must sacrifice their physical, mental, emotional, and financial health to bring more children into the world regardless of a woman’s own feelings about the issue isn’t worth any space in my brain.
I’m glad those of you who need this discussion are having it, so don’t interpret my comment as criticizing the OP or comments, but I would also invite people to just full on ignore Oaks.
The only power he has is the power any of us gives to him. Take yours back.
I get a lot of responses sometimes precisely because of my orthodoxy. So it’s hard *not* to respond on those occasions–especially when there’s a friendly challenge. But I’ll try to do what you ask. And sorry for overdoing it–sometimes I don’t know when to stop.
Dave B: Thanks for the link to my article in your post. I honestly forgot I even wrote that, but it actually was a pretty good overview of the issues Church leaders are (not?) facing. The so-called struggle with “same-sex attraction” and “gender identity” is THEIR struggle. While I’m in total agreement with Elisa that any time spent thinking about Oaks’ opinions is not time well spent for us, it’s definitely time well spent for him and other Church leaders who have been struggling (or worse, NOT struggling) to keep up. This talk sounds like he’s finally starting to see that queerphobia is a transgression of the second commandment and therefore of the first, and while he’s extremely late to the party, that’s at least a first step.
There are a lot of people saying the letter from “Amy” is fake, and maybe it is. I can’t imagine a whole lot of young people who are so clueless about these things. Maybe if she was home schooled or lives in DeSantis’ dream state he’s trying to create. But if there is someone this supremely clueless, she might be a very sheltered Mormon or Evangelical. She sounds a lot like Amanda Bynes’ character in Easy A, the horribly judgmental girl who says awful things to everyone else then rejoices that she *got through to” the Emma Stone character who is just being nice to her.
Thanks for your comments, everyone.
Jack, thanks for your gracious and understanding response.
Elisa, maybe someday Pres. Oaks will do a McConkie “forget everything I have ever said on this subject” talk. I’ll bet you’ll listen to that one!
Angela C, almost nothing has changed since your post five years ago. It is surprising how we can go back ten or twenty or even thirty years on this subject and find talks and responses that sound hardly any different than what is heard today. I’m sure the leadership and some members feel like there has been a lot of change and even accommodation, but there really hasn’t been much. It’s like being the slowest car on the freeway. Yes, you are moving, but in relative terms you are falling behind, not moving ahead.
Amy was probably a fake because of course we aren’t supposed to write church leaders per the hand book and they are supposed to reroute those letters to stake presidents. As far as her being homeschooled, I homeschooled and every last one of my children understood the LGBTQ issue before I did. They had to talk with me over and over and explain over and over that the church’s stand is not Christ like. I didn’t get it for many years. Eventually I listened to them and tried to understand their point of view. But I didn’t keep them locked in a closet and they had internet connection, and high school classes occasionally.
What’s interesting to me is there are homeschooling parents in the church who homeschooled for the express purpose of protecting their children from homosexuality (I know some). What’s interesting there is what happens to those parents when their child comes out (to them last of all). They only have focused on conservative media and church teachings. They lack flexibility to understand. This breaks them emotionally. They cannot adjust or understand and just insist on not affirming their child’s choice. They call it mental illness. This breaks families. And by the way, their children still affirm their sibling. I find it doubtful that there’s an Amy. There could be a letter from her mother.
So, Elisa, what Oaks says matters. You may no longer be in the house. But the house is burning down. There are children inside. Oaks is in a unique position of power in that what he says to orthodox parents will be heard by them as legitimate and has a chance to allow them to love and accept their children. This is a very big deal to their children. He has the powerful firetruck and he can maybe put the fire out.
Elisa, I can hear that Oaks and the church have hurt you beyond forgiveness and repair. You go take care of yourself. I am taking your advice, in that Oaks can’t hurt me because I don’t depend on him as having infallible authority. But families and children are still being hurt. I am going to keep trying to put out the fire, one person at a time, and yeah, I am going to notice if a fire truck arrives on the scene, even if he’s inept at putting out the fire.
Reality is: if the church wants to keep the younger generation they will have to catch up to the science and find a way to be affirming and accepting to queer people. Otherwise they will be left with only the older generation. Maybe if the church changed their position they would lose people like Jack, or maybe they would have no trouble following the prophet. But honestly, the older generation is not the future life of the church. Offending them matters much less than offending the children.
I look forward to a day not far off when even more affirming talks are shared in conference. It has to happen whether orthodox members like it or not. My guess is that the first presidency is starting to accept this reality.
There is nothing the church can do to lose Jack. His entire belief system orbits the idea that it is led by prophets and revelators. If they make a change, he will just change what he believes.
Re: Amy. I’m a bit agnostic on whether or not Amy is a literal person. I know enough orthodox/conservative members of the church who could have easily written Amy’s letter. Even if Amy is not a literal person, she is easily representative of or a composite of a common attitude I see among orthodox/conservative members of the church. My analysis of this portion of the talk:
1) Introduce Amy and her concern. My summary of Amy’s concerns is that, as an orthodox/conservative member, she is bothered by or concerned by or confused by the existence of heterodox/progressive members of the church and their beliefs and attitudes.
2) Pres. Oaks characterizes Amy as someone who “wants to do what is right, but feels surrounded by attitudes and behaviors that she feels to be wrong…. She wants to stand for truth, but doesn’t know how to do it with love.”
3) Pres. Oaks then goes on to talk about strategies for “standing fast with love while proclaiming the truth…without compromising the truths we know.” He also suggests taking a “long view,” which, with the rest of the talk sounds like the orthodox/conservative should be lovingly patient until the heterodox/progressive comes around to the orthodox/conservative view.
4) He then goes into the tangential LGBT issues without further addressing the central question (IMO) of Amy’s letter which is how to deal with disagreements and diversity of opinion on doctrinal issues among members of the church.
The big thing that stands out to me is his choice to use only an orthodox/conservative view for this letter to set up the rest of his talk. I also know enough heterodox/progressive members of the church who are confused by the existence of the orthodox/conservative members and their attitudes and beliefs. They, too, want “to do what is right, but feel surrounded by attitudes and behaviors that they feel to be wrong…. They want to stand for truth, but don’t know how to do it with love.” I could easily hypothesize a “progressive apostle” giving a parallel talk starting with “Betty” who is a heterodox/progressive member who is confused by the orthodox/conservative members around her, but still wants to stand for truth without compromising what she feels is right and true. Perhaps the same advice to be lovingly patient and refuse to condemn in the moment (deferring judgement to God in the resurrection) would still apply.
As a heterodox/progressive member, I think I ultimately feel “patronized” (if that is the best word for it) by Pres. Oaks. I’m grateful (somewhat sincerely but also somewhat sarcastically) that he is calling for a patient “long view” that is willing to tolerate my presence and participation in the church. I hope he senses and appreciates my own willingness to tolerate his orthodox/conservative viewpoints in loving patience (expecting that some day he and those like him will become convinced of the error of their ways). Somewhere in this atmosphere of mutual tolerance, I wish we were doing more to really come to know God’s will and truth (this is where mine and josh h’s comment above about historical examples of prophets and apostles injecting their own, false beliefs into church doctrine become salient) so we can be working together towards a unity of faith.
@lws, I understand your sentiment but to be clear Oaks and the church have not hurt me beyond forgiveness. I just no longer believe in fundamental truth claims – which means there is literally nothing special about Oaks and no reason for my to devote brain space to what he has to say. He hasn’t earned my attention.
I understand what he says still hurts people. That’s why I wear my rainbow stuff around town and speak out about discrimination and donate to lgbtq charities and stay involved in YW in my ward and have conversations with people etc etc etc. It is not fair to characterize me as not caring about the people still inside the burning building. I do care about the people inside the building. I just don’t care one iota about the assholes who set it on fire, and I have no interest in looking for the positive in what they say, and I also don’t care one bit about saving the building. I would just as soon get people out of the building and away from the arsonists.
“I do care about the people inside the building. I just don’t care one iota about the assholes who set it on fire …”
Winner, winner chicken dinner. Look for this quote in the near future on bumper stickers and t-shirts.
Just to be clear, the truth and authority claims don’t do anything for me either. They need to listen and think and make room for those of us who do. They need to quit pretending they know things they don’t and that this entitles them to make decisions unilaterally.
To me this is the most important statement: “To those who experience same-sex attraction, President Oaks taught that God loves each of His creations and has a place for everyone in the divine plan of happiness.” I don’t think Oaks understood what he said there but maybe someday it’ll click. The sooner they get to the theology that its God’s intention for some people to experience same-sex attraction the better off the church will be.
“There is nothing the church can do to lose Jack. His entire belief system orbits the idea that it is led by prophets and revelators. If they make a change, he will just change what he believes.”
That’s about the size of it–with one qualifier: they might one day offer counsel that will be beyond my capacity to accept. But I think I’d try to accept it nonetheless.
Regarding whether “Amy” is fake, I think it is possible she is real. I believe it is true that young church members are more accepting of LGBTQ people than their parents and leaders are, but as a mother of two queer young people in Utah, I can testify that in my experience, active LDS youth are far more rejecting of my children than less active or non-LDS youth. They are taught to fear them and I think for some, they avoid them to eliminate the discomfort of having to deal with the cognitive dissonance the teachings of the church cause.
And … Jack can’t keep from commenting. Even when the comment says basically nothing.
Dave B. – thank you for your guidance to Jack. You really put your finger on the problem, in that he has to respond to every single comment with an evaluation of the commenter’s orthodoxy. It’s like that cartoon of the man who’s wife is calling him to dinner and he’s replying, “I can’t come to dinner! Someone is wrong on the Internet!”
I recall a previous time when I told Jack that his comments were making Wheat and Tares an unpleasant experience for me personally. He said that leaving comments on conservative blogs didn’t get any response. He comes here because he gets a response. That is the definition of troll behavior – to post stuff just to stir up an argument. He eventually dominates the thread in a way that makes W&T less safe for the heterodox and reminds me of all the many reasons I’m glad that I don’t go to church anymore.
Which is all to say that I am in favor of limiting Jack to three comments per post. No exceptions for replies that mention Jack by name. Three comments and you’re done, Jack.
For myself, I don’t mind the push back. It’s interesting to hear different points of view. I don’t come to wheat and tares to have my own thoughts reflected back.
Jack is fairly respectful how he puts things. However he might consider like you said, we already know the orthodox point of view.
Another thing to consider: in a discussion with Jack, he may not be convinced. But it’s an opportunity for people educated in thinking differently to put forward their thoughts and education on the point. These discussions provide information you wouldn’t see in another way. Probably people read that information and are influenced by it that never say anything.
I would miss Jack’s comments if you eliminated them. I love a good discussion. But if the rest of you aren’t comfortable with that, I will have to look elsewhere for that sort of thing
lws – I understand people enjoy different types of discussion. However, Jack is not respectful. He phrases things mildly, but he is not at all, not even a little bit, respectful of anyone who has a different experience or a different testimony than he does.
Just in this thread, he compares mental illness and destructive anger to being LGBTQ. He thinks LGBTQ behavior is a sin. Then he says he loves his LGBTQ brothers and sisters. That is not respectful. It’s patronizing and damaging. He has never once, not one time in the way-too-many comments that he’s left here, even budged on his obsessive orthodoxy. He doesn’t respect the people here. He does not respect that people have different opinions and different life experiences than he does.
He’s here because he gets ignored on the conservative blogs and he wants to stir up up comments and interactions and he doesn’t give a darn about the people his comments hurt. He just gets even more patronizing. That isn’t respect. He’s a troll.
I agree with you that the discussion may be useful for people who don’t comment. But then again, it may also hurt people who don’t comment. Seeing the dogmatic insistence in comparing LGBTQ to mental illness; insisting that God helps you live a life of self-hatred; the endless insistence that the Brethren are somehow good people. That does damage. Wheat and Tares is generally a place where I come to heal from the damage done to me by Jack-type of people, and the fact that he comments ENDLESSLY and never never never budges a millimeter is, in my opinion, more damaging than useful for the lurkers.
Three comments and done. Jack doesn’t need to be the center of every comment thread.
I support you with what you need to do with this
I’m not in favor of creating an echo chamber where certain people read only things that agree with themselves. I’d rather have my opponent speak so that I can understand him–not so that he can convince me to come to his side, but so that I can see more facets of the argument (I think arguments often have facets more than they have than sides), which will help me see where I need to think about some things differently, even if I ultimately do not change my position. While many people in America want to shut down speech that offends them, I think this will ultimately weaken us as a people. We can always take a break from social media for a few days or weeks, and I do that sometimes. Some people only listen to a news channel that aligns with their politics, and they are poorer because of it. I’ve learned to ignore what I don’t agree with, and that makes my mental health much better. Another strategy: the posts have the submitter’s identifier at the beginning, and we can skip over posts from people if we don’t want to hear what they have to say. I do that sometimes–read a sentence or two, and then decide that I can skip to the next post. I would rather make the choice to skip myself than to have another block the post so that I never see it at all. Maybe all posters should be limited to three comments.
I am a faithful member in good standing, but I think that people like Jack do more harm than good for the cause. Sometimes silence might be better. The Church does not always need to be defended, and it does not always need to be defended by any individual. When Jesus was falsely accused before the chief priests, He answered nothing, and when the chief priests brought Him to Pilate and accused Him of bad deeds, He answered nothing, such that Pilate marvelled. Jack, maybe sometimes you don’t need to see yourself as the avenging angel teaching truth. My process: 1-is it true? 2-if it is true, do I need to say it? 3-if I need to say it, do I need to say it right now? 4-if I need to say it right now, do I need to say it with sharp words that will hurt? Just because it is true, that does not mean that I need to say it. This much I will say: if anyone posts on here because of the thrill of starting something, then their motivation might be misguided. I don’t see this forum as a place for scoring points against an enemy. That’s a hard lesson.
The problem is not a differing viewpoint.
The problem is the overwhelming number of comments. It’s exhausting.
My core position, as I have explained in comments, is that Trans advocacy / apologetics is in irreconcilable conflict with cultural norms. Recent events prove this. Beer maker Budweiser rolled out a marketing effort featuring a trans-woman. Consumers responded by rejecting the brand. Sales of Bud light have plummeted so sharply the company has resorted to essentially giving the beer away for free. The retailer Target has made a big push of trans apparel. They have faced severe pushback in certain communities.
The response by advocates that this just shows the bigotry and hate of people is hubris. No, this shows that most people want their boys to grow up to be men and their daughters to grow up women. And the efforts by trans advocates to criticize this innate desire will backfire on them.
The untenable position of trans advocates is that others – society – must affirm their lifestyle choice. That is not how a free society works. A free society allows individuals to have great personal liberty. At the same time a free society allows people to freely associate, meaning people can create groups of people they prefer to be associated with.
Such freedom of association is essential for the simple reason that people will not and do not all agree on the same morality! People will not all agree on priorities or beliefs. So in a free society we have many different associations, or groups and churches
Because the LDS church wants to retain membership and not give cause to send people away, the leaders are trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. However, as is plain to see the leadership can NEVER do enough for the trans advocates. But if the church leaders gave the trans community what it wanted and said what it wanted to hear, the church would suffer a massive exodus of members. And perhaps a membership decline is in the cards either way.
If you find the message that boys should grow up to be men and girls should grow up to be woman offensive, than perhaps the LDS church is not the right place for you. And if the day comes that the LDS church no longer supports that message, then I will conclude the church is not the right place for me and my family.
Many “trans advocates” felt exactly as you did once. And then someone they love trusted them and confided that all their lives they have felt like other sex, and that they know they are trans and they just want to be able to be themselves and tell one person how they are feeling and still be loved. If they trust you enough they may tell you how anxious and depressed they feel when they hear the news, and how much better they feel just wearing opposite sex clothing for a moment, and how they have prayed and tried for years to feel differently, and they don’t. And if you love them and you are smart about it you will put your arms around them and tell them you love them whatever sex they are. And you will pray they aren’t suicidal and watch for the signs. And yes, you may keep wishing that boys will grow up to be men and girls will grow up to be women, but you will know that no matter how much you wanted and believed that, it just isn’t reality for someone you love.
And then if you are a parent, grandparent, or uncle worth your salt you too will become a trans advocate, because you will finally understand it isn’t something people choose. It’s something that exists inside someone’s brain that they have to find a way to live with.
Right now, someone you love is watching you and listening to you, hoping they can trust you with the truth about them. Sometimes they cry at night quietly without you knowing, because of something you said. I hope they find someone they can trust to love them soon. I hope they trust you, instead of attempting suicide.
I made a position in my post above, but these issues are complicated. If we believe Paul, then Romans 1:18 et seq. might apply to our day, where although we (as a people) knew God, we created a God after our own desires and worshipped our creation, and God gave us up to the fruits of our creation. In the ESV: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” While I believe in a God whose ability, power, and desire to save are beyond my comprehension, I also acknowledge that there is right and wrong, and there is a real thing called sin, and it remains sin even if we call it something else. I do not throw stones at sinners, because I sin, too, and don’t want stones thrown at me, but error masquerading as truth is real, and people can be deceived, to the loss of their salvation. In Colossians 1, Paul reminds us that in Christ is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, so that we won’t be deluded with plausible arguments. He then warns us to “see to it that no one takes [us] captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition … and not according to Christ.”
As we deal with these very difficult issues, for me the answer is to turn more to Christ, and to put my trust in Him to make all crooked things straight, in contrast to the position that Job’s wife encouraged her husband to take. Perhaps my task is to figure out how I can try to live well, and to invite others to do likewise, inviting with love but never pressuring with guilt and a pointed finger. In the prodigal son, the father didn’t condemn his younger son and he actually helped his son leave to do what he had decided to do. While the son was in the far-away city wasting his living with the loose women, the father never voiced words of hate or anger or even disappointment, but it was also a given that these activities would not be allowed on the father’s farm or in his house. I think there’s a model for us there in the father, at least I see a model for me.
One problem is that we can’t say that we don’t know. Instead of being silent about why Black men couldn’t receive the priesthood, as the scriptures are silent, people–including apostles–came up with reasons and preached them as truth and doctrine from our pulpits and printed them in their books. That was error, and we now eschew all of those reasons. We then made absolute statements that being gay was a choice, and only a choice, when the scriptures are also silent on that topic. Some make the point on the other side that it is never a choice, but that doesn’t seem true, either. The messy truth is that being gay (or trans) is probably a choice for some, and is probably not a choice for others, so our efforts to paint this as black and white will fail. I don’t think that gays go directly to hell, just like I don’t think that heteros go directly to heaven. There’s more calculus that goes into the equation, things like belief and faith, and the fruits of that faith, such as keeping the weightier matters of the law, and loving your fellowman, doing good to those despise you, and not obsessing about the mote in my neighbor’s eye while I should worry about the beam that is in my own eye.
There are LDS families who have children who embrace polygamy. Others have children who embrace polyamory. Should the LDS church return to polygamy because some members are separated from the church and from their families because family members choose that lifestyle? Despite church history being so intimately tied to polygamy, the 20th century church has rejected it, and quite forcefully. Now there is a good reason for this. The church’s ties to polygamy proved to be one of the great obstacles to the people’s acceptance of the church.
And a point about feelings of confusion, loneliness and desperation and the role of advocacy. As a teenager I felt confused, lonely and at times desperate. I felt very different from my social peers. The reason was I was LDS in an orthodox LDS family living in a area where Mormons were viewed as strange and peculiar. So I must ask. What would be the advocacy for my situation? Staying with my family meant I would continue to be peculiar. Straying from my family would mean enduring those pains.
The advocacy, as taught by my church leaders, was to recognize that I was peculiar. The advocacy was to stop worrying about myself and to make friends with those who would be my friend. The advocacy was to stop worrying about being different. To stop thinking society had to affirm my Mormon identity. And so I endured various humiliations – most of which are common to all teenagers – and became a stronger person for it.
The pursuit of affirmation from society for one’s preferences and priorities may not be constructive. The demand for affirmation from society for one’s preferences and priorities creates conflict and division. A recent personal example is with Covid policies. My family did not follow the mainstream. My family did not follow the church leadership on Covid. At times I respectfully approached church leadership on my disagreements. But I could not succeed and never will in having my stake leadership affirm my position. My disagreement with my stake on Covid required me to resign my church calling. It required me to travel outside the stake to take the sacrament. And this I did because I firmly believed it was more important for me to live consistent with my integrity than to “go along to get along”.
Jackson Browne sang, “In the end there is one dance you’ll do alone.” There are aspects of our life we will dance alone. We each must pick up OUR cross and carry it. Each person has a different cross. It is nice when a community can help each person carry their cross, but I do not think it is possible or healthy to expect society to do away with all personal burdens. There will be opposition. For we are each unique individuals and we each see and experience the world in our own way.
Embracing polygamy is a choice. Being a member of the LDS faith community outside the Mormon corridor is a choice. Not following the science with respect to a global pandemic is a choice.
Being queer is not a choice.
I shouldn’t have to even write this. I encourage you to do the hard work and educate yourself on this subject. In the meantime, your position is duly noted on this and other threads. No response is therefore needed.
To be clear – I do not want to turn W&T into an echo chamber. Good discussions and disagreements are important and I don’t want to shut that down.
My problem is with Jack and how he doesn’t “fight fair.” Many have mentioned his excessive comments. Once Jack comments on a post, the comment section is The Jack Show. I don’t think other commenters should be limited in their number of comments because no one else has abused the comment section the way Jack has. Limit Jack. This is his second go-round at W&T (that I’ve seen) and both times he’s done the same thing. He needs a limit because he can’t limit himself.
My other issue is how manipulative he is – to the point of gaslighting. A slight personal tangent here. My mother will smile, say the cruelest thing imaginable, and then tell you how much she loves you. It took me years to work out just how evil that is. To destroy someone’s personhood and then call it love is so manipulative and so hard to recover from. I have a very visceral negative reaction when people do that. I know that’s because of my mother, and I try to just avoid Jack as much as possible, but it’s not always possible.
In this thread, Jack compared my LGBTQ identity to his mental illness. Then he said he loved LGBTQ people. In my mind and experience, that’s manipulative and gaslighting. His reasonable tone even fools someone as astute as lws329 into thinking he is being respectful. But he is being cruel. Jack is a cruel person using a reasonable tone. People can disagree without being disagreeable, but Jack can’t.
I think the difference in your perspective and mine on Jack may be the difference between being queer and being an allie. I was discussing your comments with one of my sons and he suggested that Jack gaslights himself to believe his stance equals love for queer people. I have people in my life like Jack that I hope I can help to see better on this issue. Maybe I gaslight myself into believing that people like Jack can change. Still, I cannot give up on trying to make the world a safer place for queer people. I will keep trying to reach people like Jack.
Still, I understand and respect your needs in this matter. As an allie I can keep trying, but you need to protect yourself. I agree, Jack overuses the comments to repeat orthodox statements everyone of us is already aware of. I agree, he shouldn’t be allowed to dominate the space.
I appreciate your efforts to moderate, Janey, and to provide a place for heterodox discussion.
A Disciple: This has been a bit of a hard week for me. I’m not 100% happy with needing to step away from the church. Sometimes the loss of decades of belief, service, and association hits harder than others.
Then comments like yours bring me back to the reality that the church isn’t a safe place for my family anymore. Love one another, except for those children of God that we hate, amirite?
Nope, can’t damage my kids like that.
I want you to know that in my ward last Sunday a stake leader spoke on welcoming people who are different to church. The talk was on unity, and in it this member of the YW presidency called out queer people, autistic people and people who struggle with mental illness as people we should particularly reach out to and support as part of our ward and community. She went on to say that it’s none of our business what sins we think people may struggle with. Our job as followers of Jesus Christ is to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort, wherever each of us is on the path. She was followed by a member of the stake presidency who said we need to work hard to fight evil. He then apologized for his military language and explained that the evil we should fight is loneliness and disconnection.
I believe these talks occurred because I confided to my bishopric and a friend whose husband is a high councilman, that someone close to our family has recently come out to our family and that our children cannot tolerate listening to lessons and talks that put queer people in a group as separate from the church to be fought… or talks that say how evil the world is and thank God for the proclamation of the family and we need to fight evil. We live in a red area that feels very unsafe. Comments saying you can’t support transgender people and have a temple recommend had been shared in my son’s Sunday school class. This is contrary to the church’s policy and LGBT website which we provided a link for. I really appreciate these efforts and they give me hope for my community.
I believe good will triumph over evil. In this case good is the love and acceptance of God’s children as they are today. Evil is when we say we love them but only if they change to fit our standards.
BB, I hope people like you can find the strength to change our church communities to become more truly Christ like, inclusive and accepting of all people.
But if you have to go where it’s safer, well, it’s interesting that your feeling that it’s unsafe is caused by someone who calls himself A Disciple.
I don’t think Christ would consider him a disciple. Christ spent his time supporting marginalized people. In that, I am his disciple.
“In this thread, Jack compared my LGBTQ identity to his mental illness.”
I apologize, Janey, for coming across ham fisted. The comparison I was trying to make had to do with how both are *not* a product of sin–not with how both categories align in terms of their respective characteristics.
A lot has been said–and I don’t really care about defending myself. But with respect to what some have said about already knowing the orthodox position: I argue from that corner of the ring, not to remind people of what they already know, but because I think there are good arguments for the church’s position on most issues.
Jack – apology NOT accepted. You’re ham-fisted on purpose, and then you fake like you didn’t know what you were doing. You’ve been told over and over and over again exactly what you’re doing and you keep doing it. If you really want to prove that you’re sorry, then change. And if you can’t change, then at least leave me alone.
And I would explain to you why that non-apology shows you still don’t understand just how hurtful you are, but I’ve seen people try to explain it to you and it hasn’t worked.
Don’t reply to this comment. I get the last word.
For church to be safe for your family does that mean it needs to affirm the lifestyles of your family members? How can a church do that for the whole congregation if people are living divergent lifestyle choices? Are all roads good roads? Can one teach some roads are more fulfilling than others or would that be offensive?
Back when there was a General Priesthood session the “inside joke” was men would go and in the course of two hours be told a dozen different ways they were failing God and their family. Yet LDS men attended nonetheless because they wanted to be reminded there was a greater cause then themselves. And truth was most men are failing God and their families to one degree or another and need to be reminded to do better.
Today we seem to have prioritized not being offended above all other considerations. I’m not sure avoiding discomfort for our errors and inadequacies is the Christian way.
In Proverbs we read “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” To fear God is to submit ourselves to Him.
An example of this is when the people of king Benjamin were taught of their sinful state:
“[The people] had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them. And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified;”
Then, continuing in chapter 4, king Benjamin outlines the fundamental principles of Christian living: Caring for ones children, providing for the poor, doing what is right for our neighbor.
The only attention king Benjamin gives to personal needs concerns humility, repentance and keeping one’s covenant with God. No mention is made of self affirmation but there is a commandment to have self-awareness. King Benjamin explains: “I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them. But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, …, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.”
I have never felt comfortable reading those last verses of Mosiah 4. How could I? How could anyone?
Apply these verses to yourself please. Consider if you keep your covenant of mourning with those who mourn and comforting those who stand in need of comfort as stated in Mosiah. Consider if you have done unto queer people as you should have done unto Christ. Refer to Matthew 25 to evaluate yourself.
I will evaluate myself and I can tell you I try to follow these words. What I hear from you is not comfort as commanded, but an attempt to stand in Christ’s place and stand in judgement.
Go your way and sin no more.