≡ Menu

Who’s On the Lord’s Side?

We should show love and kindness and sympathy and welcome all to our friendship.

At the same time, we need to be careful that we do not “cast out” and “mock” the words of our prophets and “destroy” or discredit them by using social media as a forum to breed anger and criticism of the prophets and our church.

As angry as some of you have been about one part of the new policy, do not forget about the definition of apostasy that was laid out in the handbook as well:

Repeatedly act in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.

How can we share the gospel, be a missionary, and further the work of the Lord when we discredit and shame our own prophet? 

When Alma was trying to teach the Zoramites, Corianton undermined his efforts by his bad example. Alma chastised him:

Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.

We bear responsibility for the example we set.

President Harold B. Lee (Conference Report, Oct. 1970, p. 152–153) said:

There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6).

I find the situation in Helaman 13:24-27 sadly applicable to our behavior:

Yea, wo unto this people, because of this time which has arrived, that ye do cast out the prophets, and do mock them, and cast stones at them, and do slay them, and do all manner of iniquity unto them, even as they did of old time.

And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out.

Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.

Typically we read verses like that and think “those guys.” But it’s us. We are doing this. Within the church.

Some deeds are sins. “The Church,” the prophet, we continue to teach that. In doing so we should still show love and patience. But not to the point that it starts to sound like this:

But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.”

Once in the Book of Mormon there was so much internal conflict among the Nephites they found themselves unprepared to withstand an attack from the Lamanites (Alma 51:9).

But behold, this was a critical time for such contentions to be among the people of Nephi; for behold, Amalickiah had again stirred up the hearts of the people of the Lamanites against the people of the Nephites, and he was gathering together soldiers from all parts of his land, and arming them, and preparing for war with all diligence; for he had sworn to drink the blood of Moroni.

I’ll save a lot of time here and just say it didn’t go well. Moroni even said, “…this had been hitherto a cause of all their destruction” (Alma 51:16). So he got permission to have dissenters put to death. (Gasp, and we freak out if after a very long time someone is excommunicated). Amalickiah came in and took possession of a lot of their strongly fortified cities. Strongly fortified Nephite cities. Our team, so to speak.

Are we setting ourselves up for trouble by this bickering amongst ourselves? Do we believe in the doctrine of Christ? Do we believe Joseph Smith was a prophet? Do we believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God? Well, do you? Whose team are you on? Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?

I recognize some people are affected by some aspects of the doctrine or church policy more than others. But we can expect that all of us will find difficulty at some point. All of us will encounter something hard for us to obey. If not this, something else later.

There have been things in the past that have been harder for me. Because I chose to follow then, it makes it easier for me to obey and trust now, because I can see that I don’t have all the answers. God really does know more. And it is well within his privilege to say what is right and what is wrong. It is my choice to follow or not.

What is important is that we keep our feet firmly planted on the foundation of Jesus Christ (see Helaman 5:12). If we only obey our prophet insofar as we already happen to agree with him, then he is useless to us. If think we already have all the answers, what do we need a prophet for? We have to expect that sometimes we don’t understand everything.

Certainly, the Lord wants us to have understanding, and we learn line upon line, but sometimes, we are required to act in faith, trusting in the Lord. Just because we don’t understand, don’t like it, or it affects us more deeply, does not mean it is wrong and should be fixed.

This test of life wouldn’t mean much if all the questions were softballs. In our effort to show love and compassion, let us not forget that our first allegiance should always be to Jesus Christ and his chosen prophets (Joshua 24:15).

Choose you this day whom ye will serve.

It is now more important than ever for you to decide. This won’t be the last time something hard comes along.

{ 59 comments… add one }
  • Marivene November 10, 2015, 8:27 am

    Thank you. I have been thinking along those lines, but you said it so much more clearly.

  • Carl Youngblood November 10, 2015, 9:22 am

    I think one of the challenges of the recent policy changes is that it makes it difficult to determine which side is the Lord’s. Many people truly believe that these policies will cause a number of families to deteriorate further, and have even shared specific examples where, with couples who had joint custody, some spouses are seeking sole custody in order to allow their kids to advance normally in the Church. These outcomes seem to many to be contrary to God’s will.

  • Marsha November 10, 2015, 10:21 am

    I am so confused by all of this, but the one thing that gives me peace is to remember in whom I have trusted, the Holy One of Isreal. And I will not be afraid of whatever the spirit tells me, even if it tells me all is not right with this new policy, particularly given this warning from Joseph Smith:

    “We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them [even] if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without any questions. When the Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves.” –Joseph Smith Jr., Millennial Star, vol. 14, no 38, pp. 593-595

    As members of the Church we are to counsel together and as we do so, may we hold to the rock of our Redeemer and press forward with a steadfastness in hope that things will be sorted out.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 10, 2015, 10:31 am

    Carl, I won’t speak for Shelly—she lives in Australia, so her time zone will impact her responses—but here is one note.

    I don’t think there is a single rule, law, or church policy that can’t be shown to “hurt” someone. On the issue of the new church policy (which you can see from my two posts, I agree are somewhat problematic) there seems to be a myopic insistence on seeing only one version of the harm.

    Example: When I lived in Boca, there was obsession with not “driving away” the inactive/converts, etc. The practical application of this (refusal to enforce even standards of civility, watering down of doctrine, capitulating to demands, etc.) drove lots of people away, it was just a different set of people. Most notably many girls who were kind, civil, and interesting in learning were put at the mercy of bullies and trouble-makers. That consequence was almost never acknowledged. Both groups needed God and the gospel, not just one. (I see this in public schools a lot as well.)

    In this case I see utter refusal to acknowledge any problem with normalizing homosexual behavior. In my estimation and experience that is mostly because those most angered by this policy don’t see homosexual behavior as sinful in the first place. If we’re going to address this issue, we must at least recognize that very fundamental issue.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…The Logical Fail of the New Handbook Rules:
    Writing Policy with Bad Code
    My Profile

  • Carl Youngblood November 10, 2015, 10:41 am

    The church wasn’t “normalizing homosexual behavior” before the policy. Acknowledging the complexities involved in this topic is certainly important, but it doesn’t follow that the policy is the appropriate response. There is a huge possibility space between the acknowledgement of the challenges and this particular response to said challenges.

  • Amphigory November 10, 2015, 11:20 am

    Shelly,
    Thanks for your brave post. I use ‘brave’ a bit tongue-in-cheek, as ‘brave’ is nowadays most often reserved for people like Bruce Jenner. The media and popular culture champion such people, yet truly brave people are those who say what many don’t want to hear. Speaking (or agreeing with) ‘smooth’ things will keep us safe from ridicule, to be sure, but won’t really help eternally. I see a lot of smooth words being used now that make everyone feel good about themselves and excuse sin. Often we nod in agreement to avoid accusations of ‘intolerance.’

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the horrific news from the middle east: we see Christians tortured, murdered and all manner of atrocities daily. We see nine-year old boys–children–beheading people. Surely they are taught in such a manner that they ignore their innate Light of Christ that proscribes such evil. But what about everyone else around them–those that have not extinguished their own Light of Christ? Where are they?

    We know Satan is working hardest now and seeing more success everywhere. Will we, twenty years from now, look back at ourselves and see where we were deceived by Satan (maybe just a little) and wish we had understood better? We know the smooth things that are being preached to us today. I pray that we can keep our eyes wide open, discuss as we do and deepen our understanding, yet ultimately stand strong in our testimonies.

  • Katie November 10, 2015, 11:23 am

    “Do we believe in the doctrine of Christ? Do we believe Joseph Smith was a prophet? Do we believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God? Well, do you? Whose team are you on? Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?”

    “let us not forget that our first allegiance should always be to Jesus Christ and his chosen prophets”

    These are fabulous questions. I want to make an exhaustive study of this topic as it applies to homosexuality and same-sex marriage. I want to be sure I understand exactly what Jesus Christ himself has taught about the topic. I wonder if maybe I’ve missed something in the teachings of Christ that others are seeing.

    From my understanding so far (which may be incorrect):
    – The words of Christ in any book of scripture do not mention homosexuality or committed homosexual relationships.
    – Joseph Smith did not speak against homosexuality or committed homosexual relationships (the closest I’ve found is that Joseph Smith teaches that God destroyed Sodom for “rejecting the prophets,”. )
    – The Book of Mormon, THE book of scripture specifically intended for our time, does not mention homosexuality or committed homosexual relationships.
    – Thomas S. Monson, the prophet of our day during the time when the most attention has ever been placed on this issue, has not personally mentioned homosexuality or committed homosexual relationships.

    Taken as a whole, I find this remarkable. Surely there is something I missed. Surely if this is an issue of critical importance, our current prophet will have personally spoken about it to the members. I didn’t find any results when I searched President Monson’s talks for the obvious terms, so maybe he’s spoken about it in a more vague way. I intend to eventually get through all of his Conference teachings (particularly since he became the prophet) to see where I missed it. I’m sure he has to have spoken about it.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 10, 2015, 11:32 am

    Carl, the church isn’t normalizing homosexual behavior (although lots of people were celebrating every concession as if they were moving toward that end) but obviously culture is. The church hasn’t created policy to demand deacons breathe while passing the sacrament. But they might if holding one’s breath until passing out became the cool thing among 12-year-old boys. 🙂 I suspect this policy follows years of accelerating local issues with lay church leaders trying to deal with more and more issues outside of a standardized policy.

    You’ll note that I didn’t say this policy was necessarily the appropriate (or perfect or best or…) response. Rather, I noted two things:

    (1) All policies “harm” some (meaning they impose something that some would not choose) and help some. If you focus only on one aspect of that, you’ll never get the appropriate policy.

    (2) Setting a policy to deal with a defined sin that many do not consider a sin is never going to be acceptable to those who have so disregarded it. It will always be deemed unnecessary, punitive, unloving, unfair, etc.

    Do you consider homosexual behavior sinful? If so, do you believe that exposure to and normalization of sin is harmful? If so, how? If not, why?
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…An Open Letter to BYU Fans: 3-Step 12th Man PrimerMy Profile

  • Katie November 10, 2015, 11:34 am

    I am familiar with the July 2015 authoritative statement from the First Presidency and Q12. It clearly states that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are against God’s commandments. But I’m still wondering where these actual commandments are located. Where do we see Christ teaching these things? Where are they written in our modern scriptures? If it was a revelation to a modern prophet, where’s the revelation? I also don’t understand why the prophet would not personally speak to us (such as in Conference) about such a critical issue. I understand that we consider all the apostles to be prophets, but 50 years later, no one studies the “Teachings of George Q. Morris.” So I would think that on such a critical issue, the prophet himself would speak.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 10, 2015, 12:00 pm

    Katie, there are a number of scriptures that relate to this. (Romans 1: 26–28; Leviticus 18:22; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11) You can google them easily. Not to mention the command for men to leave their parents, cleave to a wife, and multiply. Of course, they can be debated, but they have been acknowledged for millennia as meaning that homosexuality is contrary to God’s law. The LDS church leaders have always accepted those interpretations and added testimony to them.

    At very least—whatever your moral interpretation—it’s obvious that it’s not natural with regard to perpetuating of the human race. (And, please, no one start linking to the rare animal that exhibits homosexual behaviors…)

    As explained in my first post, I accept the idea on the grounds that I believe a complete, whole, “perfect,” God is a Heavenly Mother/Heavenly Father working as one. Rejecting that god model prevents progress, which is how I identify sin.

    That said, I don’t think Shelly’s post is to debate the veracity of classifying homosexuality as a sin, it’s to address the current conflict n the context of accepting the long-standing classification.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…The Logical Fail of the New Handbook Rules:
    Writing Policy with Bad Code
    My Profile

  • IdRatherNotSay November 10, 2015, 12:05 pm

    Carl,

    Do you personally know all of the people from the stories you have read about parents suing homosexual parents for custody? Are you certain that every one of these stories are not only true, but about real people?

    I can’t help but question the validity said stories. It would not surprise me if some were true, but I am suspect of a large number. I cannot help but wonder if the Church of John Dehlin isn’t stirring up manufactured controversy to make a point. No, I I’m not accusing John Dehlin personally. Please nobody suggest that, okay?

    P.S. If straight parents REALLY are suing gay parents over this, it is my opinion that the church should condemn it.

  • Carl Youngblood November 10, 2015, 12:08 pm

    Alison, I think your focus on “normalizing homosexual behavior” is interesting, insofar as protecting against this was not one of the stated purposes of the policy. If this was a purpose of the policy, why wasn’t it explicitly stated? Why were other purposes given, namely, making the doctrine clear and protecting the children?

    Forgive me if this wasn’t your intention, but I often feel like you pose questions to me with an intent of entrapment, such as your question about whether or not I consider “homosexual behavior” sinful. You have ridiculed me before for disagreeing with scripture or with certain policies and doctrines. I respect the Church’s right to define its own doctrine on chastity. I personally believe that sexual sin is not determined by the anatomies of the individuals involved, but by whether or not the sex occurs in the context of a committed, loving relationship, ideally one that has the force of law behind it. I don’t believe that this is a black and white issue though. For example, I believe that casual sex is worse than sex in a committed relationship, but I believe it is even better to confine it to a relationship that has been recognized by the community one inhabits in the form of civil marriage.

  • Katie November 10, 2015, 12:35 pm

    I’m familiar with those scriptures, Alison, but if this is really one of THE most heinous sins (which the current policy seems to assert), I would think that Christ himself would have said something about it (rather than leaving it to Moses or Paul), or that the Book of Mormon or D&C would mention it. We know homosexual behavior existed in Christ’s time. I suppose that because we disregard much of what is written in Leviticus and by Paul as cultural artifacts, I don’t see how we can use those as THE definitive authority on this MOST critical of all sins.

    Cultural understanding is even more crucial than I thought. We recently studied the chapters where female headcovering is mentioned in the NT. I later found an article about what they understood about anatomy and physiology at the time. They thought the head of the hair was part of the reproductive system, and that women’s entire bodies (including their hair on their head) were ‘sponges’ for male reproductive fluids! The scriptures on headcovering make sense when understood in that context. This has nothing to do with homosexuality; my point is that we need to have a FULL understanding of the culture and practices of the time before we really know what the alleged homosexuality scriptures actually mean.

    At the very least, it is clear that none of the scriptures in question are addressing committed homosexual relationships. They seem to address prostitution, turning against nature (a straight person engaging in homosexuality), gang rape (Sodom), etc.

    I agree the LDS leaders have accepted those interpretations. I wonder if they’ve ever actually asked God about it. When I first read the process that President Kimball and the other leaders went through to receive the revelation on blacks and the priesthood, I was astounded at how difficult and time-intensive and energy-intensive it was. I was astounded at the previous history, and how all the other prophets before him felt it was wrong to ask, or had not received an answer (for the 1 or 2 who asked). I was astounded at the YEARS of work it took. So I can’t take it for a given that the leaders have put that kind of effort into understanding the place of LGBT people in the plan of salvation. They certainly haven’t given us any indication that they have.

    I love the idea of a united male Heavenly Father and female Heavenly Mother being God. But that speculation works for me because I’m straight. The truth is, we just don’t have much revealed knowledge about what Godhood is, and zero about how eternal increase works. In fact, in Elder Bednar’s April 2013 Conference talk, he said “The power of procreation is spiritually significant. Misuse of this power subverts the purposes of the Father’s plan and of our mortal existence. Our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son are creators and have entrusted each of us with a portion of Their creative power.”

    NO mention of a woman required whatsoever! I am not taking that as an authoritative teaching (because it’s one apostle, versus something taught by the Q15, which Elder Nelson says is required to know the Lord’s will), but it’s an example of how we don’t have any revealed knowledge about how creative power actually works. So far it doesn’t seem to involve women.

    (You’re the only one mentioning animals. Where do you get the idea that it’s rare? Homosexual behavior has been documented in over 500 species as of 1999, and who knows how long they had even been looking for it or how many more have been documented since then — the studies I read said it was taboo to researchers for decades.)

  • Katie November 10, 2015, 12:38 pm

    IdRatherNotSay,
    In 2006, I started following a bunch of mixed-orientation marriage blogs. Most of those marriages have failed. Unfortunately, I can’t cite exact blog URLs, because I haven’t followed them as much over the last few years, but there were indeed cases where a straight wife was LIVID over her husband’s homosexuality and fought him tooth and nail for every bit of custody she could. I’m sure that you are aware that historically judges have been biased against fathers in custody cases, and I’m sure aware of cases where judges are not fair and let their religious biases get in the way. It really does happen, to real people. I would think that this policy would INCREASE the likelihood of it happening. However, the policy as currently written does not make any allowance for where the child lives, or how often they live with the gay parent, so hopefully people will realize that custody makes no difference.

  • Carl Youngblood November 10, 2015, 12:39 pm

    IdRatherNotSay,
    I made no claim about how many people this policy would affect, although I would not be surprised if there are hundreds of families throughout the church in a situation like this. I can attest that I have personally heard from at least three families directly whose children are affected by this policy, and one family in which one of the spouses is seeking sole custody. I’m sure more stories like this will surface as time goes on.

  • Katie November 10, 2015, 12:41 pm

    Carl says “casual sex is worse than sex in a committed relationship, but I believe it is even better to confine it to a relationship that has been recognized by the community one inhabits in the form of civil marriage.”

    The recent policy seems to say the opposite. Casual homosexual sex MAY be cause for church discipline, but it is required if you are in a committed sexual relationship. The child policy applies only to children of parents in a committed sexual relationship (cohabiting or married), not to children of promiscuous gay parents. It’s so backwards!

  • Sam November 10, 2015, 12:46 pm

    It isn’t that we are upset that they have testified about our sins, it is that we are hurt and confused that they have withheld blessings from the sinless. Sinless! By definition, infants are alive in Christ and without sin. Children of an age to be baptized or be ordained have zero sins from their parents because of the Atonement. Teenage years are so hard. Why would we deprive them of the blessings of the Holy Ghost during their most vulnerable years?

  • Katie November 10, 2015, 12:47 pm

    Carl,
    How are you nesting your comments below the one you wish to reply to? I knew Alison could do it, but I thought it was an admin-only function.

    ~~

    My cousin lives in Malad and messaged me last night about a family there where the parents are divorced. The active LDS mother is straight, and the father is gay. The father is fully supportive of his kids’ activity in the church. The 10-year old has been baptized, and now the 6-year old can’t be (unless the dad sticks to promiscuity or they rewrite the policy). Even in small-town MALAD (population 2,095) we are hearing these stories!

  • Carl Youngblood November 10, 2015, 12:57 pm

    Katie, I’m just clicking the reply button that comes in the email notifications I receive, and it seems to take care of the rest.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 10, 2015, 12:58 pm

    Carl Youngblood:

    Alison, I think your focus on “normalizing homosexual behavior” is interesting, insofar as protecting against this was not one of the stated purposes of the policy.

    So? I’ve said from the beginning that “I think the policy change is mostly a logistical and practical one.”

    If this was a purpose of the policy, why wasn’t it explicitly stated?

    You can read my thoughts on that here.

    I often feel like you pose questions to me with an intent of entrapment, such as your question about whether or not I consider “homosexual behavior” sinful.

    Carl, I gave a position (“In my estimation and experience that is mostly because those most angered by this policy don’t see homosexual behavior as sinful in the first place.”) and you responded without addressing what I said. (For example, asserting that the church isn’t normalizing homosexuality, when that was never claimed, etc.) I concluded that position statement by noting: “If we’re going to address this issue, we must at least recognize that very fundamental issue.”

    If we are debating the efficacy of a policy it is—per my position—critical that we establish the foundational positions being spoken to. If you agree homosexual behavior is a sin, then we can start there, with common ground. If you don’t, it changes the entire discussion. Of course those who don’t believe it is a sin are going to have an entirely different set of expectations and acceptable outcomes. Given that fact, we will get nowhere if we do not have a clear understanding.

    That said, why would this be “entrapment”? I have no stewardship over you. What ramifications could there be for you saying you don’t believe homosexuality is not a sin in this forum? If by “entrapment” you mean that when people make clear statements of their beliefs they may be called on to make sense of them, well, yea. 🙂

    You have ridiculed me before for disagreeing with scripture or with certain policies and doctrines.

    Ridiculed you for disagreeing or ridiculed you for ridiculing those with whom you disagree? 🙂 It’s a different thing.

    I respect the Church’s right to define its own doctrine on chastity. I personally believe that sexual sin is not determined by the anatomies of the individuals involved, but by whether or not the sex occurs in the context of a committed, loving relationship, ideally one that has the force of law behind it. I don’t believe that this is a black and white issue though. For example, I believe that casual sex is worse than sex in a committed relationship, but I believe it is even better to confine it to a relationship that has been recognized by the community one inhabits in the form of civil marriage.

    Thank you for being clear. So you do not think homosexual behavior is a sin and you don’t think fornication is a sin. (Do you have a position on adultery as as general rule?) I can’t tell if you think casual sex (of any variety) is sinful, although you think it’s more problematic than committed sex.

    So, in this case you fundamentally disagree with the church with regard to chastity. Although you “respect the Church’s right to define its own doctrine on chastity,” isn’t it obvious that given that definition, you will probably never agree with or be satisfied with any serious sanction with regard to behavior that you don’t believe is wrong?
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Same Sex Marriage and the New Church PoliciesMy Profile

  • IdRatherNotSay November 10, 2015, 12:59 pm

    Carl,

    Forgive me, I must have misunderstood. You said, “many people” and “stories (plural) where spouses are suing.”

    I am not trying to split hairs… Even though it seems like it. I just think that language can be so important in these kinds of situations because if we are not careful, the case of one family eventually becomes “many people” and turns one sad story into a global catastrophe. I think that is how so many of the erroneous rumors about this policy have originated on Facebook.

    I mean, we’re scrutinizing the church’s policy word for word, so it’s only fair that we examine our own words, right? And I do not claim to be an exception. I am sure I slip up all the time.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 10, 2015, 1:05 pm

    Nutshell: You’re engaging in a discussion about policy efficacy when you are actually arguing legitimacy.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…The Logical Fail of the New Handbook Rules:
    Writing Policy with Bad Code
    My Profile

  • Carl Youngblood November 10, 2015, 1:10 pm

    IdRatherNotSay, I have seen so many posts from actual people affected by this that it is probably well over the specific ones that I can recall. I don’t know the exact count. I believe I even saw two different cases of a custody battle resulting from this but it’s kind of a blur to me, so I only cited the specific instances that I definitely recall. Point is: it’s only been 2-3 days since the policy was announced and already the fallout is significant, and I am just one person who is certainly not in touch with everyone who has been affected by this. Extrapolate from my limited viewpoint and I think it’s safe to say that hundreds and possibly thousands of families will be affected by this. I would be willing to be that almost every ward and certainly every stake in the Church will have at least one family affected by the policy.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 10, 2015, 1:14 pm

    It’s supposed to be admin only, but the hack can’t redirect email reply clicks. I’d PREFER is you didn’t thread because I think it’s very heard to follow multiple threads. 🙂
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…An Open Letter to BYU Fans: 3-Step 12th Man PrimerMy Profile

  • Katie November 10, 2015, 1:52 pm

    OK 🙂

    LOL! My epic-length comments yesterday continue to get rejected no matter what I do (split into small chunks, etc.), yet this one was rejected for being too short. Hope it’s long enough now. . .

  • Carl Youngblood November 10, 2015, 2:06 pm

    You can read my thoughts on that here.

    At the link you referred me to, you state: “No, the church didn’t talk about it and I didn’t think they would. Why? No one cares.”

    Certainly many people care about the honesty of the Church’s leadership when clarifying policies. They take them at their word when they claim that they did something for certain reasons. When they omit the primary reasons for doing something, this is rightly perceived as dishonesty, or communication with an intent to deceive. Elder Christofferson explicitly stated that the reasons for doing this were such and such. If these weren’t the primary motivations, he should have said so. Media communications aren’t only for the so-called progressives, but for everybody. To claim that PR is only to appease those who “care about other’s feelings only very selectively” (your caricature of the progressive agenda), is to assume bad faith and to adopt a very cynical stance on the Church’s own motivations for communicating with others.

    …you responded without addressing what I said. (For example, asserting that the church isn’t normalizing homosexuality, when that was never claimed, etc.) I concluded that position statement by noting: “If we’re going to address this issue, we must at least recognize that very fundamental issue.”

    My point in calling attention to the fact that the Church isn’t normalizing homosexuality is that I didn’t think the Church’s position was at all unclear before the policy and I don’t think the policy effectively counteracts this normalization either way. You implied that the policy was intended to reverse this trend, which I pointed out was not in the stated purposes of the policy, and which I think is an important point about honesty in communication.

    If we are debating the efficacy of a policy it is—per my position—critical that we establish the foundational positions being spoken to. If you agree homosexual behavior is a sin, then we can start there, with common ground. If you don’t, it changes the entire discussion. Of course those who don’t believe it is a sin are going to have an entirely different set of expectations and acceptable outcomes. Given that fact, we will get nowhere if we do not have a clear understanding.

    I disagree. I already stated that the Church had every right to define its doctrine of chastity and I will not cease to defend that right, even if I disagree with some aspects of the doctrine. I also have attempted to show that my view of chastity is not completely at odds with the Church’s, although it does not agree in every particular.

    That said, why would this be “entrapment”? I have no stewardship over you. What ramifications could there be for you saying you don’t believe homosexuality is not a sin in this forum? If by “entrapment” you mean that when people make clear statements of their beliefs they may be called on to make sense of them, well, yea. 🙂

    Any time someone participates in a forum where they are exposed to ridicule and persecution for stating their honest opinions about something that they were asked to clarify, I think one can fairly call that entrapment. It doesn’t matter if you “have no stewardship over” me. I am a human being with a desire for respect and friendship (including yours), and being rejected and mocked doesn’t feel good. This is pretty basic stuff.

    Ridiculed you for disagreeing or ridiculed you for ridiculing those with whom you disagree? 🙂 It’s a different thing.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right. If I have ever ridiculed you or made you to feel that you are being ridiculed, I apologize. That was wrong of me. I would ask and hope for your forgiveness.

    Thank you for being clear. So you do not think homosexual behavior is a sin and you don’t think fornication is a sin. (Do you have a position on adultery as as general rule?) I can’t tell if you think casual sex (of any variety) is sinful, although you think it’s more problematic than committed sex.

    This is frankly a very inaccurate restatement of my position. I just got through saying that I felt that casual sex was wrong, so why would you assume that I don’t think fornication is a sin? It’s the lack of nuance in your interpretation that is causing this miscommunication. I don’t think that a piece of paper from the city hall should be the sole factor considered when determining the sinfulness (or lack thereof) of certain sexual relationships. I think it also has a lot to do with awareness and culture. For example, I met several couples in Norway who were more faithful and loving toward one another and their children than many married people, despite their lack of being civilly married. I don’t think that classifying these couples as fornicators was an accurate way of describing their level of sinfulness or goodness.

    So, in this case you fundamentally disagree with the church with regard to chastity. Although you “respect the Church’s right to define its own doctrine on chastity,” isn’t it obvious that given that definition, you will probably never agree with or be satisfied with any serious sanction with regard to behavior that you don’t believe is wrong?

    I don’t think you give me enough credit. If I say that I respect the Church’s right to define its own doctrine, why wouldn’t I respect its right to determine the sanctions for disobeying its doctrines? And why should that disqualify me from having an opinion on the fairness of such sanctions? You seem to be assuming bad faith.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 10, 2015, 2:15 pm

    …but if this is really one of THE most heinous sins I would think that Christ himself would have said something about it

    Given the scope of what he talked about, the assumed common knowledge among the people, what was actually written, what is in the scripture, I don’t have the same expectation. It would make things easier, but I don’t think it would change many minds.

    …my point is that we need to have a FULL understanding of the culture and practices of the time before we really know what the alleged homosexuality scriptures actually mean.

    We will never have a full understanding of even our own culture and practices and the further removed we are the more problematic it becomes. So we do the best we can with what we have and what we know.

    …turning against nature (a straight person engaging in homosexuality)…

    I admit, I’m giggling. Katie, are we really, really going to claim that scriptural “nature” isn’t about behaving contrary to biological design (you know, how things actually fit together and how procreation occurs), but rather about behaving contrary to “inborn orientation” and feelings? And so, I suppose, it’s also counseling bisexual people to make sure they get it on with some of each so as not to deny their authentic selves?

    I wonder if they’ve ever actually asked God about it.

    That, I think, is a legitimate question. I do not think they have prayed about female priesthood (at least until recently) but, rather, accepted tradition. That opinion, however, has never brought me to the point where I determine that their assumptions are wrong. As you know, I have no problem asking questions I think are cogent, but I don’t insist my desires are God’s will.

    When I first read the process that President Kimball and the other leaders went through to receive the revelation on blacks and the priesthood, I was astounded at how difficult and time-intensive and energy-intensive it was.

    Yes, which is why I’m incredulous when:

    (1) Some claim to be incredibly inspired about every issue in their lives every single day and
    (2) When we insist our leaders must go through this process for every thing that bugs us 🙂

    Sam and I have theories about what we call Type 1 Revelation and Type 2 Revelation that kind of goes along with what you said. Maybe we’ll write it up one day.

    I love the idea of a united male Heavenly Father and female Heavenly Mother being God. But that speculation works for me because I’m straight.

    It actually doesn’t work for me because I’m straight, it works for me because it makes sense to me. It makes sense that the human creative process that requires the two complementary parts (male and female) is a type for eternal wholeness and creation (progression).

    One of the underlying ideas I’ve had to consider over my life is that, perhaps, women actually are eternally subordinate, less significant, separated from God, etc. I don’t like that idea and it certainly puts me at a disadvantage, but that idea does justify some of the discrepancies. I can’t and don’t pretend it’s not possible just because I’d prefer it be otherwise.

    NO mention of a woman required whatsoever! I am not taking that as an authoritative teaching

    It is an authoritative teaching, but your (seeming?) implication that Heavenly Father and Jesus are the co-creators in some kind of homosexual (or homogender?) union is fallacious. If you asked Elder Bednar if that was his intent, I think we all know what he would say. No real speculation needed.

    You’re the only one mentioning animals.

    I’m pretty sure it was clear it was a preemptive statement, right? When you mention “nature” invariably someone bring it up as if (1) it’s common in the overall animal kingdom, (2) it’s some kind of proof about God’s will, and (3) as if animal behavior is somehow an appropriate human model.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…The Logical Fail of the New Handbook Rules:
    Writing Policy with Bad Code
    My Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith November 10, 2015, 3:04 pm

    At the link you referred me to, you state: “No, the church didn’t talk about it and I didn’t think they would. Why? No one cares.”

    Certainly many people care about the honesty of the Church’s leadership when clarifying policies.

    OK. You have coerced me to re-quote. 🙂 Here is the rest of the pertinent info:

    It’s not that complicated, but when it comes to how people feel about something they (and, yes, it is particularly progressives for whom feelings are often the primary value) don’t care about how the situation actually impacts people in the church day after day after day. In fact, they care about other’s feelings only very selectively—within the bounds of the thing they already care about. So, the church tries to address it within that context.

    Yes, I think it would have been better if they had given more reasoning. But the church is responding in the context of people’s concerns. Few people who think homosexual behavior is acceptable are going to be satisfied with the logistical and administrative nightmares facing some lay church leaders over trying to administer to homosexuals who are being treated like…sinners.

    You jump the shark into questions of being trustworthy, etc., (even using my opinion about the reasoning to do so). But, Carl, since you don’t think homosexuals should be sanctioned, how would the logistics of leaders trying to deal with sanctions address your actual concerns?

    This is why it’s foundational to understand the worldview of those participating in a supposed discussion about efficacy.

    I stand by my “caricature” of progressives (and I think it’s mostly about guilt assuagement, if you’re interested), but I didn’t claim that “PR is only to appease” them. I said it’s to address concerns within the context of what they actually care about. Which is their feelings about selective issues (not feelings generally, not love generally, etc.).

    My point in calling attention to the fact that the Church isn’t normalizing homosexuality is that I didn’t think the Church’s position was at all unclear before the policy and I don’t think the policy effectively counteracts this normalization either way.

    It certainly hadn’t been clear that gay marriage was apostasy. (At least not to me.) It’s obviously a much stronger position about not only the behavior itself but about the perceived influence of those who engage in it.

    Is it an ineffective means of countering the normalization? I don’t know. But I would guess that assertions that is won’t probably have more to do with disliking the policy, thinking it should not exist, and thinking homosexual sex should not be sanctioned at all than it does with the efficacy of the policy.

    If you did want to reverse normalization of homosexuality, what would you do?

    Like I said, I’m not a fan of the policy and think it’s logically flawed, but that’s a different thing.

    I disagree. I already stated that the Church had every right to define its doctrine of chastity and I will not cease to defend that right, even if I disagree with some aspects of the doctrine.

    The fact that the church can codify its own policy has never been in question. The Bloggernacle/social media discussions are individuals discussing/debating/arguing whether the policy is good/bad, harmful/helpful, loving/punitive, etc. That discussion (the one actually happening here) is meaningless without understanding where the participants come from.

    When progressives say “love” in the context of homosexuality, they mean accept, normalize, equalize. From the perspective of homosexual behavior being sinful those requirements are not only nonsensical but contrary. Who would help and assist someone they actually love to sin and be removed from God and eternal progression?

    When progressives say “love” in the context of transgenderism, progressives mean accept, normalize, equalize. From the perspective that transgenderism is body dysmorphia, those requirements preclude possibly helpful medical treatment.

    Understanding the foundational position someone else has is critical in order to have any reasonable discussion about policy efficacy.

    I appreciate your position about ridicule. I don’t remove comments so anyone who feels unfairly treated can respond. That said, Carl, you have ridiculed my positions and conservative positions often. To be honest, I don’t mind. I prefer open ridicule to feigned civility. 🙂

    This is frankly a very inaccurate restatement of my position.

    I did not intend to misrepresent your position. (Given that anyone reading can read both our statements completely, it would be rather counter-productive.) I’m sorry for that.

    I just got through saying that I felt that casual sex was wrong, so why would you assume that I don’t think fornication is a sin?

    Because you didn’t say it was wrong. You said, “…casual sex is worse than sex in a committed relationship.” First, “worse than” merely puts it on a continuum with regard to other kinds of sex, which I read as “more problematic.” Second, you said, “better to confine it to…civil marriage” but did not indicate anything like “confined only to marriage” (the rest being sinful)—which is the church’s position.

    I didn’t read your prescriptions as regarding sin but rather preference and/or how problematic the relationship is likely to be.

    I don’t think that a piece of paper from the city hall should be the sole factor considered when determining the sinfulness (or lack thereof) of certain sexual relationships.

    OK, so it’s not necessarily sinful to have sex outside marriage, right? You can parse that however you want—and redefine fornication to mean something else—but that’s is contrary to the church position which does, in fact, say that sex outside of marriage is (a) fornication and (b) sinful.

    Carl, I don’t mind if you describe your own nuance and continuum. I think it’s interesting. In Samoa, traditionally only rich people got married because the ceremony was expensive. But they committed to each other, moved in, and stayed together for life anyway. I’m not completely unaware of such cultural issues. But the church still defines those things in a particular way (and, in fact, requires unmarried couples to legally marry before baptism) and if you don’t align with those definitions, it’s not “miscommunication” to say so.

    I don’t think you give me enough credit. If I say that I respect the Church’s right to define its own doctrine, why wouldn’t I respect its right to determine the sanctions for disobeying its doctrines?

    I didn’t say that you wouldn’t respect their right to determine the sanctions. I said you wouldn’t respect the sanctions themselves. Since you don’t think homosexual behavior is sinful, why would you ever be satisfied with a penalty for engaging in it?

    And why should that disqualify me from having an opinion on the fairness of such sanctions? You seem to be assuming bad faith.

    Again…I didn’t say it disqualified you from having an opinion. (How can anyone be disqualified from having an opinion?) The only “bad faith” I assume is that you don’t have faith (heh) in the leadership’s assertion that homosexuality is a sin that should be sanctioned.

    So while we are arguing efficacy of the policy, you are really arguing legitimacy of the policy.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…An Open Letter to BYU Fans: 3-Step 12th Man PrimerMy Profile

  • Katie November 10, 2015, 3:33 pm

    “are we really, really going to claim that scriptural “nature” isn’t about behaving contrary to biological design (you know, how things actually fit together and how procreation occurs), but rather about behaving contrary to “inborn orientation” and feelings?”

    Absolutely. I don’t see how it makes sense any other way. If we’re going to say it’s talking about body parts, then it means that heterosexual couples can only use one approved body part for sexual purposes, and that’s certainly not the case in the church today (1984 First Presidency letter notwithstanding). Perhaps God does want us to only have missionary-style sex, but I doubt it.

    ” implication that Heavenly Father and Jesus are the co-creators in some kind of homosexual (or homogender?) union is fallacious.”

    I’m not implying that at all. I’m saying that our leaders are not telling us that a woman is required for the process of creation. I guess if you take “homogender” to mean that “two men are both organizing matter into a planet,” then yes, I’m implying that what we’re being taught is “homogender”. But I’m not saying that two men are having human sex to create a spirit body. Based on all I understand about creation, the process of organizing matter into a planet would be very similar to the process of organizing spirit matter into a body and wouldn’t require any human reproductive organs at all. But we really don’t know either way.

    Since you made me think of animals, I don’t take male+female reproduction to be the only possible model of eternal procreation because there are so many versions of it in the natural world. In the animal world, we have parthogenesis, fission, fragmentation, budding, etc. I do believe humans are the pinnacle of creation, but with so many options available for reproduction, I surely wouldn’t restrict eternal reproduction to following the human male+female model. We can make up ideas all day. We’ve never had one speck of knowledge revealed about it.

    Let’s see a statement from a general authority anywhere that says a woman is required to participate in the process of eternal creation (of worlds, bodies, whatever). The pinnacle of our experience as LDS people, the temple, doesn’t even imply it, or really even leave room to hope for it now. When the creation narrative was a voiceover, I used to imagine that Heavenly Mother was standing right next to Heavenly Father. Now that we see an actor portraying him on screen, she’s clearly not even in the room. Or maybe she is, but she’s invisible.

    “But the church still defines those things in a particular way (and, in fact, requires unmarried couples to legally marry before baptism)”

    That’s actually (probably) not universally true any more. This summer an elder in the Philippines San Pablo mission reported that there is a new rule from the Area Presidency that couples living together longer than 5 years can be baptized. Unfortunately he took down his blog post, so you can only see it referenced in the blogs that wrote about it. So either they reversed the policy, so he removed the post, or someone was embarrassed/upset by the rule being made public and he removed it.

    It was reported here: http://www.nearingkolob (dot) com/cohabiting-opposite-sex-couples-can-now-baptized/

  • Katie November 10, 2015, 3:35 pm

    This guy defends the policy in the Philippines, saying it really doesn’t relax the marital standard for baptism. They still don’t have the piece of paper though.

    mormonism-unveiled.blogspot (dot) com/2015/07/cohabiting-couples-can-apparently-be.html

  • Alison Moore Smith November 10, 2015, 4:24 pm

    “are we really, really going to claim that scriptural “nature” isn’t about behaving contrary to biological design (you know, how things actually fit together and how procreation occurs), but rather about behaving contrary to “inborn orientation” and feelings?”

    Absolutely. I don’t see how it makes sense any other way.

    Then we simply are on opposite poles on this. Your position is that the doctrine and the compunctions listed are simply divine declarations that people should have sex only with whom they feel like having sex with. Because “natural” sex is sex with those we are sexually attracted.

    Why did we need a directive about that? Wouldn’t people “naturally” have sex with those to whom they were attracted? In fact, these scriptures must be a prescription for homosexuality, right? When some crazy rightwinger started saying, “No, no! Only man to woman!” God had to step in to promote the “natural” sex with whomever you want to have sex with.

    This is why there is not point in the church explaining so much of this. It doesn’t matter. Fornication isn’t what it is. Natural relationships—in scripture—are what you feel like. What is the point of addressing logistics and administration?

    If we’re going to say it’s talking about body parts, then it means that heterosexual couples can only use one approved body part for sexual purposes…

    I have no idea what that means. It’s about gender. Real gender, not imagined gender. Chromosomes, biology. The two complementary humans coming together, not the two complementary organs.

    And, yes, I know there are other procreation models. But, again, I’m speaking about the human model which is the one I think is a type for eternal procreation. I don’t think worms are the source for our eternal inspiration.

    This summer an elder in the Philippines San Pablo mission reported that there is a new rule from the Area Presidency that couples living together longer than 5 years can be baptized. Unfortunately he took down his blog post, so you can only see it referenced in the blogs that wrote about it. So either they reversed the policy, so he removed the post, or someone was embarrassed/upset by the rule being made public and he removed it.

    Or someone misrepresented the rule? Or someone represented a rule that didn’t exist? Those are at least possibilities.

    In many places in the world, cohabiting becomes legal marriage by common law after X years. I don’t know about the Philippines, but if the law there gives legal married status after five years, there would be no need to force a couple to get a second legally sanctioned union.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Saturday’s Warrior: The Motion Picture – We Need You!My Profile

  • Carl Youngblood November 10, 2015, 6:30 pm

    OK, so it’s not necessarily sinful to have sex outside marriage, right? You can parse that however you want—and redefine fornication to mean something else—but that’s is contrary to the church position which does, in fact, say that sex outside of marriage is (a) fornication and (b) sinful.

    Carl, I don’t mind if you describe your own nuance and continuum. I think it’s interesting. In Samoa, traditionally only rich people got married because the ceremony was expensive. But they committed to each other, moved in, and stayed together for life anyway. I’m not completely unaware of such cultural issues. But the church still defines those things in a particular way (and, in fact, requires unmarried couples to legally marry before baptism) and if you don’t align with those definitions, it’s not “miscommunication” to say so.

    I don’t have more time to devote to this conversation, but I do want to address this part of your response. In any country, there are going to sometimes be differences between what is legal and what is good. But we don’t get rid of either laws or ethics on account of this discrepancy. In a similar way, most churches have commandments and rules that must be complied with to some degree for full fellowship. Of course there are some churches with fewer or no requirements, but in general this is true. It is perfectly reasonable for churches to have a clear standard of conduct, even if there are some areas where that standard doesn’t perfectly delineate all ways in which sin could occur or if there are some violations of said standards that would actually not be sinful. Christ’s life was all about reaching out to those who were on the margins of these policies, those who were unfairly excluded by them. To claim that the standards of any earthly institution, ecclesiastical or otherwise, perfectly determine what is and is not actually sinful is to make an idol. No institution, however noble, can honestly make such a claim. Yet it is still perfectly within the rights of any church to set standards of conduct, and it is indeed necessary and helpful for it to do so. Ideally they should do this, however, with a recognition that all standards are bound to occasionally fall short.

    When I tell you my personal opinions about morality, I do not mean to imply that these opinions can or should be perfectly in sync with church standards, or even that the church standards are bad. Certainly I feel there are some areas where some improvements could be made, but the Church can and should have standards, and it should update these standards at times and in ways that are most beneficial to its righteous objectives, just as it updated its standards in regards to banning Africans from temple ordinances and priesthood ordination, even though one would not today say that it was sinful to be black before the ban was lifted.

    Expecting me to accept all church doctrines and policies as direct one-to-one mappings with righteousness/sinfulness is to ask me to engage in idol worship. All human standards are imperfect, even the Church’s. But the Church needs to have these standards, and I support its right to do so and I even accept these standards and have willingly covenanted to abide by them.

    If I were inviting a couple to join the Church, I would explain the need for them to abide by the Church’s law of chastity in order to join, and I would feel no hesitation in doing so, just like I agree to abide by the same law. Yet I would also not assume that they were evil, or wicked or vile for not being married. That is what I’m talking about. You go too far when you imply that I don’t care about or that I reject the Church’s standards. “Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” This is what I am trying to do when I consider other people in the context of Church standards.

  • Shelly November 11, 2015, 6:20 am

    You guys have had a lot to say!

    Carl said, “I think one of the challenges of the recent policy changes is that it makes it difficult to determine which side is the Lord’s.”

    No it’s not. Unless you don’t have a testimony that Pres. Monson is a prophet of God. So that’s one reason I wrote this post. There are other things you need to ask yourself before you or others accuse the Church of doing the wrong thing.

    But, if you don’t believe he’s a prophet of God, then why would you or anyone else care that he’s decided someone can’t be baptized? You don’t believe in the church he leads anyway. Who cares?

    Just because you and others feel the policy is bad for some families doesn’t mean Pres. Monson is wrong. He speaks for the Lord, not you.

    Katie, I think it’s a mistake to try to separate the words of Christ in scripture as being the only ones to adhere to. What are the rest? In our Church the four standard works are the canon of scripture we accept as the word of God (see 8th Article of Faith).

    You say you like the questions I posed. None of them require an exhaustive study of this specific topic. Those items in my questions should focus on a core foundation each of us need. Without them, your study will only find what you want it to find. President Monson upholds the Proclamation on the Family. That is enough to settle where he stands on this issue.

  • Megan November 11, 2015, 6:46 am

    “If we are debating the efficacy of a policy it is—per my position—critical that we establish the foundational positions being spoken to. If you agree homosexual behavior is a sin, then we can start there, with common ground. If you don’t, it changes the entire discussion. Of course those who don’t believe it is a sin are going to have an entirely different set of expectations and acceptable outcomes. Given that fact, we will get nowhere if we do not have a clear understanding”

    I think it’s ok to say I just don’t know if homosexuality is a sin. It’s a gray area for me, and I’m allowing for the possibility of church leaders getting it wrong on this one. It was easier, before the church acknowledged that being gay is not a choice. At least then, despite my personal positive interactions with homosexuals, I could tell myself that they chose their orientation (although with the accompanying heartache, why?!), and that the sin of their homosexual behavior was a consequence of their choice to be gay. But even back then, I wasn’t buying it.

    But then the church acknowledged being gay was not a choice. So you have a group of people, born with a sexual orientation and desire for intimacy in a way that goes against our historical cultural norms and procreative biology. And to be a member in good standing they must shun those very strong desires to the point of celibacy and must deny themselves the very things that make my life most fulfilled, namely being a spouse and a parent. And they can’t even hope for those things in this life. To me this is unprecedented. I can think of no other situation where God has created an individual with so much potential and capacity for love and stewardship (families!) and by nature of how He created them denies the person fulfillment of that potential.

    On this one I can’t simply and easily agree with Church teachings that homosexual behavior is a sin. It’s on my very full shelf. And like other things on that shelf I can still sustain my leaders through all of this. But you won’t hear me shouting “homosexuality is a sin!” from the rooftops. I’m the one that gets to kiss my children and then sleep next to a warm body on Saturday night, then wake up the next morning and partake of the sacrament.

  • Meg November 11, 2015, 7:16 am

    Hello, my comments aren’t posting. I’ve searched your site for a comment policy but don’t see one. I’m commenting from my iPhone -could that be the problem? There were no swears I promise and it was a smidge long but considerably shorter than some already posted.
    Thanks!

  • Eliza November 11, 2015, 8:37 am

    Shelly, your assertion that only those who don’t have a testimony would find this policy objectionable is false and deeply offensive. It just is. I have a testimony of living prophets. I believe that good men have been called to lead the church. I also know, without a doubt, that those good men have been wrong about policies and practices before, are wrong now and will continue to get things wrong in the future. Not all things, of course. On the whole, I think our beloved leaders get it right more often than not. On this, however, they are wrong. My testimony of their prophetic call is not incompatible with that view, and it is not your place to suggest that it is. I am so incredibly tired of the “If you had a testimony…” trump card being trotted out to defend the indefensible and shut down discussion. It is long past time for all members to jettison the idea of prophetic infallibility. It is contrary to our doctrine, has been repeatedly shown to be incorrect and leads people to abdicate their own thinking, studying and prayer in favor of blind obedience. If that’s the foundation of an acceptable “testimony” I will pass, thank you very much. I will instead continue to rely on the scriptures, prayer and, most importantly, my relationship with my Savior to guide my life, even if that means I am not in full support of every word that comes from our leadership.

  • Shelly November 11, 2015, 8:58 am

    Eliza,

    Not trying to play an all-encompassing trump card. Just asserting that it isn’t that difficult to determine which side of this issue the prophet is on. Carl really thinks the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve might be on the other side? That’s a lot different than just human infallibility. And again, if we’re only going to follow the prophet up the to point where we disagree with them, then we really aren’t following them. We’re just doing our own thing and enjoying the company.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 11, 2015, 9:08 am

    Meg, first comments (or first name/email combos) are always modded until manual approval. Yours is now approved. 🙂 Now stop your cursing! 😉
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Same Sex Marriage and the New Church PoliciesMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith November 11, 2015, 9:36 am

    Carl Youngblood:

    To claim that the standards of any earthly institution, ecclesiastical or otherwise, perfectly determine what is and is not actually sinful is to make an idol.

    Except that I’m not. We are talking about church policy, not reading minds and divining God’s perfection. The church calls fornication—which is easily and simply defined—sin. If you do not (which you implied but then denied but then implied) it matters in the course of discussion.

    Ideally they should do this, however, with a recognition that all standards are bound to occasionally fall short.

    Generally speaking, the church does this. They allow local leaders a range of options for dealing with issues. In some cases, however, they do have firm positions about behavior and consequences. I suspect in the case of SSM, the issue has become so politically charged and problematic that lay local leaders are dealing (at an accelerated rate) with problems and activism that they can’t handle.

    Expecting me to accept all church doctrines and policies as direct one-to-one mappings with righteousness/sinfulness is to ask me to engage in idol worship.

    Carl, to be really honest, I don’t care what you accept and what you don’t. You are a bright, decent percent and I’m sure you can find your own way in the world. I don’t expect anything of you with regards to your personal journey. We are, however, having a conversation about policy. Unless I know your position on things related to it, the conversation makes no sense. What I’m asking is that you be clear and forthright with regard to your position so that the conversation can take into account those positions.

    When I wrote Same Sex Marriage and the New Church Policies, I outlined at the top my personal position about sexual sin and why I had taken that position. (Mine doesn’t perfectly align with the church’s either, so I’m probably not demanding that of anyone else…) Giving that context helps others better understand what I’m saying, respond to what I’m saying, noting how the differing views impact outcomes, etc.

    Honestly, I don’t think this is hard to understand. I may be misreading, but it seems (in many recent conversations) that you are apprehensive about stating your differences with the church publicly and so when I ask you for specifics you assume it’s some nefarious plot to get you in trouble or something. If you don’t want to answer, that’s fine, but it’s very difficult to interpret your “nuance” if you don’t state is and if asking for it upsets you.

    You go too far when you imply that I don’t care about or that I reject the Church’s standards.

    I have no idea how much you “care” about the standard and, really, I don’t care how much you care. 🙂 For the purpose of discussion, as I keep saying, it’s important to know how much you agree. If, again as I keep saying, you do not think homosexual behavior is a sin, then your approach to a harsh sanction against it will be entirely different from someone who recognizes it as such.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Same Sex Marriage and the New Church PoliciesMy Profile

  • Carl Youngblood November 11, 2015, 10:44 am

    The church calls fornication—which is easily and simply defined—sin.

    From my perspective, you keep twisting my argument and reframing the terms of the discussion to fit your position. You are, from my perspective, engaging in reductionism, insisting that the definition of sin is very easy and that it is the only one that matters. You haven’t, in my opinion, sufficiently established why your framing should prevail. I’m afraid I honestly don’t have time to engage further. I have neglected other more pressing issues (like putting food on the table) too long already on this discussion. I’m sorry we were not able to make more progress and sorry for abandoning it unfinished.

    I do want to say that I value your friendship and am sad that the feeling doesn’t seem to be mutual. I admit I feel that I often feel that you judge me unfairly. To the extent I have comported myself towards you in an offensive manner, that was not my intention and I hope you’ll forgive me. Lately you seem to have take a gloves off approach, as though you don’t really care what other people think anymore. You don’t seem to be interested in joining our MTA discussions anymore. That hurts. I honestly value your opinion and participation and would welcome it any time in the future.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 11, 2015, 11:06 am

    Thanks for dropping by, Megan. You put much thought into your comment and I appreciate the input.

    I think it’s ok to say I just don’t know if homosexuality is a sin.

    Agreed. And that clarification is helpful for discussion of policy as well. To me it’s just an issue of clarity. What is common ground and what is not between participants.

    It was easier, before the church acknowledged that being gay is not a choice.

    While I do think homosexual behavior is a sin—due to my belief about the male/female nature of a whole (or “perfect”) God and how rejection of that model prevents progress—I actually disagree with the assertion that it’s not a choice. Before anyone jumps the shark with that, let me clarify.

    I don’t think we remotely understand how biology plays into preference. There is no settled science. Frankly, though, I don’t think it matters much with regard to obedience (although it matters with regard to God’s judgment, which will be utterly fair).

    As we all know, we get lots of trials merely by living in a fallen world and also from our own and others’ choices. But we also know that in some cases God can give us trials for growth. In those cases, it seems a most elegant solution to me that he would simply hard-wire them in us. So I would never consider even a proven hard-wired trait as evidence that we should accept, embrace, and/or indulge it.

    That said, I don’t think the church leaders know more about “gay choice” than the rest of us. I think the position is simply to accept the rhetoric and move on. Of course, that has its own set of consequences, but I think the choice issue is a hill they chose not to die on.

    I have preferences, urges, desires (some very strong) toward things that aren’t good (as determined by the gospel). I don’t get a pass on those behaviors due to my strong desires—even those that have been identifiable to anyone within shouting distance since I was a toddler. It has always seemed odd that very particular (politically charged) issues get the special status of “protected class” while everyone else is expected to continue a path toward obedience, in spite of the struggle involved.

    I’m going to give an example that has the tendency to make people furious. I’ll try (probably unsuccessfully, if the past is any indicator of the future) to alleviate that at the outset. I’m not equating the two behaviors I’m going to use. But I am specifically using the two because of how they related to one another. Please, try to parse that before your (not directed at Megan, just to the collective) indignation kicks in. (Because, seriously, if you can’t do that, I will virtually slap you. I was born with a temper. It can’t be helped. :))

    When I was a child, both homosexuality and pedophilia were generally understood to be sinful behaviors. Today, homosexuality is not (generally but not universally) and pedophilia still is (generally but not universally). These are two sexual behaviors that both were recently considered sinful, with perception of only one changing.

    Pedophilia is sexual attraction to children. What if people are born pedophiles? Does that make a difference?

    Yes, I understand consent laws and difficulties when dealing with minors. But we do compel children to do lots of things they don’t want to do, if (as a society) we deem it for their own good. If the currently (very prevalent) perception that sex is not special nor reserved for special relationships, but simply a natural, healthy, important bodily function, persists into this space, what will happen? If post-pubescent children want to engage in sex—and if adults want to help them with their “natural, healthy, important body functions”—will you deny them this “right”? Why or why not? Will you vilify and marginalize those who are just following their “natural” inclination (in Katie’s rework of “natural”)? Will you “force” them to be suicidal by shaming them for their orientations and desires? Will you promote community and/or church sanctions or declare that “love is love”?

    Those aren’t rhetorical questions, in case you were wondering.

    At least then, despite my personal positive interactions with homosexuals, I could tell myself that they chose their orientation…

    Once in a drama class at BYU a girl piped up with this, “I love blacks!” I told her the comment was racist and she was utterly incredulous.

    Your line about “personal positive interactions with homomsexuals” just struck my funny bone. I have positive and negative interactions with people of various orientations and the orientation doesn’t seem to be much of a factor. I had decades of “personal positive interactions” with a heterosexual perpetrator of massive fraud (currently in prison), but that didn’t mean I disregarded his actual behavior. I can do the same for homosexuals. 🙂

    …(although with the accompanying heartache, why?!)…

    I often hear this used as some kind of proof that homosexuality is inborn. To be clear, I don’t know whether it is or not (and I don’t think it matters), but the justification is so odd to me given human nature and the billion examples we all see every day.

    People (ahem) are fat, even though there are enormous social and health consequences, up to and including incapacitation and death. Why are people fat?

    People know they will do better on a test if they study, but instead the go out and party the night before the exam. Why?

    Porn impacts brain chemistry, interferes with future real human relationships, and damages current relationships, yet it’s rampant. Why?

    People engage in extramarital affairs that ruin their marriages, tear apart their families, destroy their careers and reputations, etc. Why?

    So, here you go. Because it feels good. Sometimes really, really good. People are willing to give up many things long term for short term pleasure.

    And to be a member in good standing they must shun those very strong desires to the point of celibacy and must deny themselves the very things that make my life most fulfilled, namely being a spouse and a parent.

    Yes. (Although, you know, it’s not very cool these days to suggest being an x to someone else is the most fulfilling thing ever…still…) My brother got married for the first time in his late 40s. It definitely seemed he would never marry (to him and all of us) just given the statistics. Yet, he was true to the temple covenants he made when he was just 19. And he would have done so until his death if it had worked out that way.

    And they can’t even hope for those things in this life.

    To me this is a distinguishing difference between heterosexual single-hood and homosexual. Except that, if you want to get technical, homosexuals are allowed to (righteously) marry and have children the same way heterosexuals do. (And, of course, they can’t naturally procreate homosexually so that goal is going to require some other process.)

    To me this is unprecedented. I can think of no other situation where God has created an individual with so much potential and capacity for love and stewardship (families!) and by nature of how He created them denies the person fulfillment of that potential.

    This seems both an intentional stereotype and intentional myopia. 🙂

    Homosexuals are human beings. Some of them are awesome and some are awful—just like the rest of us real human beings. (Think Ellen Degeneres vs Rosie O’Donell—just my personal impressions about two people I originally only knew as gifted comedians.) We all have “potential” for “love and stewardship,” but that doesn’t put us outside the bounds of propriety.

    But this prohibition isn’t remotely unprecedented. There are all sorts of stipulations that impact everyone with regard to sexual behavior and personal preference doesn’t play much into it for anyone.

    What about those who will only be fulfilled with multiple partners (sequential or simultaneous)? with children? with someone else’s spouse? with their mother/father or brother/sister? with an animal? with a corpse? with whatever-their-preference-is done exhibitionist style? with someone with whom they have no relationship/responsibility? I could go on and on, but all those things do exist in the real world. In spite of that, we still have moral stipulations that prohibit certain behaviors and restrict us from fulfilling our desires.

    For example, I have a relative who fell madly “in love” with the second counselor in her bishopric. She asked her husband (and father of her three children) to let her date him so she could have a complete and full life.

    On this one I can’t simply and easily agree with Church teachings that homosexual behavior is a sin.

    I’ve long said it would sure make things easier if the church accepted homosexuality as a legitimate relationship. I’m not sure, however, that it would be good. 🙂
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…The Logical Fail of the New Handbook Rules:
    Writing Policy with Bad Code
    My Profile

  • Katie November 11, 2015, 12:34 pm

    Shelly,

    I spent 20 minutes pecking out a reply on my phone this morning, and it seems to have been eaten. I’ve rewritten the entire thing, and now the comment form won’t take it. I’ve tried cutting it in half, different browsers (Chrome & Firefox). I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but I can almost never get a comment through on the first try at this blog, and sometimes it will never go through.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 11, 2015, 12:47 pm

    From my perspective, you keep twisting my argument and reframing the terms of the discussion to fit your position.

    Carl, I’d like to ask you to clarify, because I really do not understand your complaint. What argument am I “twisting”?

    My position isn’t at issue. Fornication has a definition. I didn’t create it, but it’s not complicated. I know you know what it is, but for the sake of discussion, I’ll include it:

    “sexual intercourse between people not married to each other”

    Our personal positions aside, the church takes that definition and declares that behavior sinful. So if we’re talking about church policy, we must recognize that the church does accept that definition—and declares it sinful—and then acknowledge how our personal perceptions might differ, so we see how that impacts the discussion.

    If we’re talking about the best main dishes and I have a moral objection to eating flesh, that’s probably a point that should be clear at the outset. 🙂

    I guess I’m surprised that rather than talking about the issue, we are still talking about talking about the issue. Our own perceptions and moral delineations obviously impact how we see a moral issue. Do we disagree on that? I’m simply trying to clarify what those points are for you (and others) as I’ve already stated my own. I’m not making some other point about those perceptions other than how they relate the church’s stance.

    You are, from my perspective, engaging in reductionism, insisting that the definition of sin is very easy and that it is the only one that matters. You haven’t, in my opinion, sufficiently established why your framing should prevail.

    It’s not my framing, it’s the church’s framing. We are discussing CHURCH policy, not what Alison would do if she were queen of the world. 🙂 Within the context of church policy, we have to recognize that the church accepts the dictionary definition of “fornication” and declares it sinful. We can’t discuss appropriate church policy outside of the framework of the church. If those in the discussion DISAGREE with the church’s position (or want more nuance or want more conditions or something) then being clear about those differences makes the discussion more clear.

    Lately you seem to have take a gloves off approach, as though you don’t really care what other people think anymore.

    I actually do value your friendship, and I apologize if I have offended you. I don’t think anything I’ve said was a personal affront and I didn’t intend it. If there was something, I am more than happy to address it. But I don’t think its wrong to challenge ideas or disagree.

    For the record, I took the proverbial gloves off my second year in college. It’s not personal. While I sincerely try to avoid ad hominem, I don’t avoid being direct. I don’t equate the two. 🙂

    You don’t seem to be interested in joining our MTA discussions anymore. That hurts. I honestly value your opinion and participation and would welcome it any time in the future.

    Thank you. I don’t think I missed a single meeting from the time I joined until June. Summer is busy and I have to decide if I can afford to stay up until 2:00 am on a Sunday night and sometimes that is our best family time (particularly with extended family). 🙂 Because once I get there, I don’t want to leave.

    There are some things I absolutely love about MTA (the Mormon Transhumanist Association for those who are unfamiliar with it). I love the people, I love the generally respectful demeanor, I love the ability to disagree and discuss complex issues, etc. Of all the groups I’ve attended (and I’ve said this repeatedly to Sam) I find it the most willing to engage in complex issues and to hear various views without a shout down.

    Still, there are things that make it…hmmm…tiring? Or maybe make it so I feel I have to “bulk up” to be ready for it?

    Mostly it’s that I am conservative politically which make me in the (extreme?) minority on many topics. You might not notice the impact of that in discussion, but it is a strong undercurrent that carries a kind of collective assumption that we’re all on the same page. (I get this in social media a lot, too. Many people assume that, because I’ve been vocal about sexism, that I must support abortion or take other progressive stances that I don’t.)

    In addition, I am much more of a church traditionalist (who (much like the pejorative “Mormon”) has embraced the TBM moniker). I actually do believe the Book of Mormon is likely historical rather then epic myth. I do believe there was some kind of flood. I’m not a biblical literalist, I don’t believe the earth was created in six, 24-hour periods, and I don’t discount all aspects of evolutionary theory, but I do believe strongly in intelligent design. I defer to authority almost all of the time. I think God already knows how to resurrect us and that we don’t need to advance science to be immortal. Those things don’t necessarily fit the MTA narrative and, in fact, often comments assume an understanding that such notions are naive. (Your, “Wait! You don’t believe in an actual flood, do you?” is just an example. 🙂 )

    For the record, I’m not saying others are wrong or should change their views or even change the tone of the meetings. I’m just saying that sometimes I love that type of interaction and sometimes I’d rather do something else—like play Dutch Blitz with my kiddos. 🙂
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…An Open Letter to BYU Fans: 3-Step 12th Man PrimerMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith November 11, 2015, 12:52 pm

    Katie, I’m not sure what the problem is with your comments. They aren’t in the mod folder nor in spam. It must be you! 😉

    I suggest before you submit, copy and paste your entire comment in case there is a glitch. If it still doesn’t work, send it through Facebook and I will be happy to post it under your name. (I think I can do that by using your name/email combo…)
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Saturday’s Warrior: The Motion Picture – We Need You!My Profile

  • Katie November 11, 2015, 1:03 pm

    Believe me, I always write my comments in Notepad or copy/paste them to Notepad because of my luck with this comment form 🙂 I thought maybe the problem was because I was copying/pasting them FROM Notepad, but even comments I’ve composed in the comment window don’t work sometimes.

    When it doesn’t work, I just get sent to a “Page Not Found” screen.

  • Alison Moore Smith November 11, 2015, 1:05 pm

    I’m sorry about your frustration. I don’t see many complaints and don’t experience it myself—but I am usually logged into my account. :/
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…3 New Apostles NamedMy Profile

  • Carl Youngblood November 11, 2015, 1:07 pm

    Hey Alison, thanks for your clarifications. What I mean by “twisting the argument” is insisting that the Church’s defining of fornication and homosexual sex as sin _is_ the most important point to get straight first and that all discussions of this topic must begin with an agreement on that point. I am not afraid of discussing differences between my views of morality and church standards, but I am afraid of getting pounced on in a forum about it. I attempted to affirm my support for the Church’s right to have standards and my willingness to abide by these standards even though I don’t perfectly agree with them, precisely in an attempt to 1) show that I’m more supportive than you seem to want to give me credit for and 2) point out that my morality may differ from the Church’s without invalidating my opinion on the sanctions it imposes for violation of these standards.

  • Katie November 11, 2015, 1:15 pm

    Because this comment is totally unrelated to the conversation, I’m sure it will go through. This is what I see when my comments won\’t go through. I’ve had problems commenting on this blog all along; I’ve just never mentioned it before (I don’t think).

    screencast.com/t/9jLqyz2kNuj

  • Alison Moore Smith November 11, 2015, 1:23 pm

    Thanks for responding, Carl.

    What I mean by “twisting the argument” is insisting that the Church’s defining of fornication and homosexual sex as sin _is_ the most important point to get straight first and that all discussions of this topic must begin with an agreement on that point.

    I apologize if I gave that impression. I haven’t consciously prioritized importance of points (in other words, I would never have said that I think that is “the most important point” myself), nor that we (remotely!) have to agree on that point. I just think we need to be clear about the church position and our own positions so we aren’t speaking past each other.

    1) to show that I’m more supportive than you seem to want to give me credit for and 2) point out that my morality may differ from the Church’s without invalidating my opinion on the sanctions it imposes for violation of these standards.

    This seems to be a sticking point, but I’m unsure why.

    I’m not offering nor denying “credit” based on how supportive you are. I’m also not invalidating your opinion. It’s a clarifying issue.

    For example, if we are talking about sanctioning SSM and I assume you agree with the church that SSM is sinful, I will read your view through that lens. You might think, for example, the policy is too harsh, the behavior isn’t problematic enough to warrant the policy, you think children are not influenced by SSM parents, etc. That’s an entirely different discussion than one that comes from the view that SSM is not sinful. It may say, for example again, the policy doesn’t need to exist, the behavior isn’t problematic at all, children can be influenced by SSM parents but because the behavior is acceptable, the influence isn’t harmful and, perhaps, is beneficial, etc.

    We need to view the church’s frame with the understanding that it not only views SSM as sinful, but as apostate.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…T-Bone Steak PerfectionMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith November 11, 2015, 1:36 pm

    I still say it’s you. 😉 I sincerely don’t know what the problem is. I’ll address it in some tech forums. Thanks for the video, that will help.

    The only mods I have set up are:

    1. Comment author must fill out name and email
    2. Comment author must have a previously approved comment
    3. Hold a comment in the queue if it contains 2 or more links
    4. In 13 years of blogging I have one email and one IP modded and one other IP blocked

    That’s it. :/
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…An Open Letter to BYU Fans: 3-Step 12th Man PrimerMy Profile

  • Karma November 11, 2015, 1:53 pm

    I have seen it all.

    When we take a scripture that obviously says not to have unnatural sex and then say natural means whatever sex you “naturally” feel attracted to, we have gone all the way down the slippery slope and landed in the filth.

    Feelings are the new god.

  • Katie November 11, 2015, 2:07 pm

    Shelly,

    From my perspective, this policy has nothing to do with believing President Monson is a prophet. In Elder Christofferson’s interview, he talked about the origins of and reasons for the policy (he addressed the part that mandates discipline for the new apostates, and the part that restricts children from ordinances). He did not state or even imply that the restrictions on children come from revelation. I am 99 percent sure that if it did come from revelation, they would be trumpeting it loud and clear to help the members through this. They have to know that even many of the most faithful, conservative, and obedient of members are shocked and horrified at this policy, and I am sure they would give them any assurances they could on the subject.

    In addition, I do not require prophets to be infallible. We know that prophets have released official signed statements teaching critical false doctrine before. This does not mean they were not prophets. It means they are humans and God allows them to be human. If they have made mistakes in doctrine in the past, we should be all the more willing to allow them to make mistakes in policy. Even the ridiculous “9 Myths” article defending this policy states that the policy is not doctrine.

    “President Monson upholds the Proclamation on the Family. That is enough to settle where he stands on this issue.”

    I’m not really sure any more. The Proclamation technically doesn’t address gay marriage. In other publications and addresses, the apostles teach that man-woman marriage is the *ONLY* form of marriage ordained by God, and they’re very careful to make the “only” distinction, but the Proclamation doesn’t say it.

    Maybe President Monson stands behind this formally, but it’s not really an issue of importance to him. I am sure that he has carefully determined how every minute of his 65+ Conference talks since he became prophet were spent, and that he only speaks on the issues that are the most important to God, himself, and the members. I’m not complaining. I far prefer the messages he gives.

  • Katie November 11, 2015, 2:10 pm

    I repeatedly tried submitting my comment without changing anything (to prove how stubborn I am?), and then I took out the ‘percent’ symbol and changed it to the word ‘percent’ and then it went through. I’ll have to go check my attempted comment from yesterday to see if I used any symbols. I’ve heard you can give people viruses through using specific codes in comments, so maybe the percent symbol is banned?

    Also, I can never include any links in my comments, not even one. If I have one link, it will tell me I have too many.

  • Katie November 11, 2015, 4:02 pm

    Yep, the comment I tried to submit previously (which was actually Saturday, not yesterday), also used the percent symbol. I use it a lot. I’ve taken a mathematical approach to my beliefs recently (“I’m ___ percent sure of XYZ belief”).

    When I tried to submit this comment earlier, it said I have visited this page too many times and to come back in an hour. Ha!

  • Katie November 11, 2015, 4:02 pm

    Karma,

    What’s the definition of “unnatural sex” (or whatever specific phrase you want to focus on)? I was trying to talk about that with Alison previously without being too explicit. An official letter from the First Presidency has defined oral as unnatural. How many church members do you think agree with that today? I am guaranteeing you that the number is very small, and always getting smaller, and I think those people are just fine in God’s view. I think the church was wrong in their 1984 definition. For each of the many practices we could discuss, some will consider it unnatural and some will not. So when you say a scripture in Leviticus clearly refers to “unnatural sex,” in my mind that could mean a lot of things that have very little to do with feelings. Maybe you’re just trying to avoid being too explicit too, which I can understand 🙂

  • Megan November 11, 2015, 4:50 pm

    Katie,
    I had heard of the letter you referenced and just looked it up. It was enlightening. I support spousal privacy and I’m glad we aren’t seeing leaked Handbook policies regarding marital bedroom practices. #pharisees

    Also I had to re-write that paragraph a couple of times. It’s amazing how a silly little pronoun with this topic can make things a bit more personal sounding than desired.

    Also there were a several one liners I was tempted to use in response to your comment. Seriously, it was a struggle. I refrained though, my mother would be proud. #personalgrowth

    Awww, man!

  • Shelly November 11, 2015, 6:16 pm

    Katie,

    Pres. Benson gave some counsel on how to follow the prophet. I’ll list his 14 points here.

    14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet
    1. The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.
    2. The living prophet is more vital to us that the standard works.
    3. The living prophet is more important to us that a dead prophet.
    4. The prophet will never lead the Church astray.
    5. The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.
    6. The prophet does not have to say “thus saith the Lord” to give us scripture.
    7. The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.
    8. The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.
    9. The prophet can receive revelation on any matter—temporal or spiritual.
    10. The prophet may be involved in civic matters.
    11. The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.
    12. The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.
    13. The prophet and his counselors make up The First Presidency—The highest quorum in the Church.
    14. The prophet and The Presidency—The living prophet and The First Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.
    (Ezra Taft Benson, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1977-1980, pp.26-30)

    I think we should pay particular attention to #4, #5, and #7.

    #6 pertains directly to your concern.

    #12 shows that all this uproar and backlash isn’t a big surprise and won’t cause the First Presidency to change their mind.

    And–lest you say, he lived a long time ago or maybe Pres. Monson would disagree–his counsel was re-published under direction of the current First Presidency for study in this year’s study manual for Relief Society and Priesthood. (Lesson 11–I’m not able to post the link here)

    He wasn’t really making up anything new either.
    D&C 21:5 says, “For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.”

    D&C 88:44 “For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.”

    D&C 1:38 “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”

    And, while I’ve addressed Katie here, I just want to state that the only reason I post or engage in discussion is for the benefit of others with similar questions who are just looking on. If you don’t change your mind it won’t ruin my day. But it may be beneficial to someone else.

  • Katie November 11, 2015, 7:00 pm

    Whereas then-Elder Benson was reprimanded by the Q12 for giving the 14 Fundamentals talk, and then he never said anything like it again after he became the prophet (I imagine he learned a few things once it was his turn), I admit I don’t put any stock in it. I was completely shocked that it was shared in Conference twice recently AND put into the manual. I don’t get how they can reprimand him for it and then let it be taught again. I admit that has me a bit confounded.

    #4 – The church has an interesting and unknown definition of “lead astray.” I suppose to them it must mean doing something that would utterly destroy the church, or cause the eternal damnation of a significant number of people in the church. For example, I would think that teaching false doctrine about race in Conference and in signed First Presidency statements for decades would count as “leading astray.” But they don’t seem to think that qualifies, so I’m not sure what their definition is. Also, I admit that I have a bit of trouble with the circular reasoning behind that phrase. “I can’t lead you astray because I said I can’t” is basically what President Woodruff said.

    Ultimately, I follow Christ. If the prophet agrees with him, great. If the teachings of the prophet don’t agree with Christ, I assume the prophet has made an error, and as I said, I am OK with that. He is allowed to be human too.

  • Huh November 11, 2015, 9:20 pm

    What did Christ say about rape? Drunk driving? Ponzi schemes?

    We have him more on record about tax evasion than those things.

    Incidentally, Christ says a lot about all those things. In as much as it’s the voice of his servants it’s his own voice.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge