Another Proclamation?

For the second week, LDS wards and branches in the USA and Canada were presented with the Letter over the signature of the First Presidency, the Statement over the title of the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the unsigned background material in Q&A form accompanying the Letter. These have all been officially published at the Mormon Newsroom. Social media continues to report a variety of reactions at the local level: some bishops simply read the Statement with no discussion, others conducted a Q&A comment period with considerable discussion. Reported comments (when permitted) following the reading of the Statement range from expressions of love and support for gays to jokes and laughter to complete silence. In a post last week, I examined the text of the Letter and Statement in detail. This week, let’s talk a little more broadly about how it has been received and what it means. If not a turning point, this at least appears to be a rather dramatic moment for the Church. What lies ahead?

1. Same-Sex Marriage: A Proclamation to the World. I haven’t seen anyone point out how similar the Statement is to the Proclamation on the Family. Same tone and style. Like the 1995 document, the Statement responded to political events and the Church’s involvement in the same-sex marriage fight. Like the 1995 document, the Statement was issued in name of the Council of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles, although in the 1995 document that entity had not been fully defined (identified there as “The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”). The Statement might just as well be titled Same-Sex Marriage: A Proclamation to the World.

2. Another Non-Revelation. Recall that the Proclamation on the Family was once referred to in General Conference as “qualif[ying] according to the definition as a revelation.” That reference was quietly edited in the printed edition to describe the Proclamation on the Family as “a guide that members of the Church would do well to read and follow.” The Statement is another non-revelation.

3. Lots of Work Left to Do. The broad language used in the Statement means LDS leaders are going to spend the next few years explaining what they really meant in the Statement. The wide variation in social media reports of how LDS bishops have presented the Statement to their congregations shows how poorly the Statement actually communicated whatever it was trying to say. In addition, the Statement said nothing about whether bishops should continue to direct informal and even formal discipline against Mormons who make public statements supporting gay marriage or refrain from doing so. This practically guarantees additional tension and adverse publicity for the next few years. On a deeper level, there is some theological work to do, giving a fuller explanation of the place of gays and same-sex marriage in the Church, both at the ward level and in our theology. The bottom line is that the Statement raises as many questions as it answers. Lots of work left to do.

4. What the Future Holds.Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom: Two Roads Ahead,” a presentation from the recent BYU conference on religious freedom by Alexander Dushku, an experienced LDS litigator, was published at Meridian Magazine. Dushku suggests that ongoing opposition to same-sex marriage will either remain a socially acceptable position to take, as has been the case with opposition to abortion in the wake of Roe v. Wade, or it will become broadly unacceptable in public discourse, as has been the case with opposition to civil rights for African-Americans in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education and Loving v. Virginia. This is a very helpful context for considering how things will play out in the next ten or fifteen years.

Dushku and, I imagine, most Mormons are hoping for the former, and the Statement suggests that LDS leaders intend to maintain a public campaign against same-sex marriage. The bad news is that opposing same-sex marriage for gays is a lot more like opposing civil rights for African-Americans than it is opposing abortion rights for women. Following Dushku’s scenario sketched above (not his conclusion in which he, too, hopes for continued socially acceptable opposition to same-sex marriage), it is pretty clear that opposing same-sex marriage will, in the near future, become about as acceptable in the public square or in public conversation as opposing African-Americans being educated, hired, housed, or married on the same basis and on the same terms as any other American. It took one generation for the Church to issue the 1978 revelation and another generation to fully process that revelation and issue the essay “Race and Priesthood.” So I think we still have two generations to go. I expect an Official Declaration 3 in about 2030 reiterating that all are alike unto God, even gays and lesbians and all the rest, then an essay in about 2050 repudiating all the gay folklore that members and leaders have been busy producing over the last half-century. Until then, stay in the boat.

So how did “the reading of the Statement” go in your ward or branch? What do you think the future holds? Please keep your observations and comments civil.

70 comments for “Another Proclamation?

  1. You lost me at “I expect an Official Declaration 3 in about 2030 reiterating that all are alike unto God, even gays and lesbians and all the rest, “. Where the fallacy lies is in viewing this issue as a “civil rights” issue. In spite of the feel good language of Obergefell, it is not. Color and race are different from gender in the issue of marriage.

    Now that the shock is wearing off from my above comment, let me clarify. As for state-sanctioned marriage, which is argued to be a “right to associate”, the religious sanctioned marriage is a covenant with God. Let us be clear: the marriage covenant is an agreement between the parties and God. An important evidence of this is that sex is only condoned by God within the bonds of marriage. Gordon Hugenberger argues in his “Marriage as Covenant” (and I strongly agree) that the marriage covenant is sealed with an “oath-sign” and that the “oath-sign” is the sexual union. That bond has to do with the creation of life itself (a Godlike power). Sex outside marriage is the sin “next to murder”. This has to do with a host of the obvious reasons, but also with the exercise of God’s power without making God a party to it. Same sex marriage is OK in the secular sense (where it makes no difference to God and others what the world approves), but it certainly isn’t part of God’s plan.

    Perhaps this requires more development, but its enough for a start.

  2. I tend to agree that public sentiment for SSM will proceed closer to Loving and Brown than to Roe. Supporters of abortion view it as a lesser evil, not something to celebrate in its own right. SSM supporters buy cakes and hire photographers (if you’ve heard). So long as SSM families continue to produce “good fruit,” acceptance will grow both outside and inside the church.

    That said, I see two major differences between LDS acceptance of SSM and the church dropping the racial priesthood/temple bans. One difference suggests greater and quicker acceptance; namely, because of large families, many more LDS people are acquainted with and care for LGBT friends/families than personally knew people of color in the 1950s-1970s. The other difference suggest slower and more difficult acceptance; namely, our church leaders have drawn much brighter and more emphatic lines about SSM and the lines are drawn by a unanimous FP/Q12 (including junior members who will be around for decades), making it more difficult to backtrack anytime soon.

    I used to think that there was no trial that could cause more internal strife for the church than our experience with adopting and then suppressing polygamy. I still think that, but I’m coming to believe that fitting LGBT family and friends into the gospel plan may be a close second. It certainly will be harder than the priesthood ban. May we all move forward with patience and charity.

  3. Terry H,
    I believe the standard view is that many (most?) of Joseph Smith’s polygamous unions were not “sealed” with what you call the “oath-sign”. Perhaps Joseph Smith and Gordon Hugenberger have different understandings of “sealing” when it comes to marriage? Any thoughts on why you so strongly agree with the Hugenberger view?

  4. The reading in our ward was much ado about nothing. Everyone gathered together at the beginning of the third hour. Bishop made a few statements and read the letter. Made a few more comments and asked if anyone had any questions or comments. Nary a peep from the crowd. He dismissed and everyone went to their normal classes.

  5. I was out of town all afternoon, so another T&S permablogger kindly looked after comments during my absence. Let me summarize a few of the comments that didn’t make it through the civility filter.

    Fletch objected to Terry H’s claim that sex outside marriage is the sin “next to murder.”

    Jim D. objected to Fletch’s view, suggesting LDS leaders were in a position to declare God’s views about sex outside of marriage. (“Sex outside of marriage” is sort of a gloss for same-sex sex in these exchanges.)

    todd shared his opinion that when there is generational turnover in the upper echelons of LDS leadership, there will also be change in the LDS position on same-sex marriage. todd observes such a change in view already in the younger LDS cohorts (of youth, not leadership).

    Anon responded that the views of LDS youth at the BYUs remain quite conservative on this issue.

    jeff hoyt replied that todd places too much faith in the wisdom of youth.

    Fletch disagreed with Jim D., giving his view that the priesthood ban shows LDS leaders may make mistakes when declaring God’s views.

    Gerry stated that a Proclamation condoning SSM is not in the cards as SSM is contrary to the plan of salvation. It just won’t happen.

    Dave K. disagreed with Gerry’s understanding of the plan of salvation.

    And J.C., in a clever workaround, posted his comment on another thread, questioning my advice to stay in the boat and suggesting LDS leaders speak as men (rather than as mouthpieces for God, I suppose) 99% of the time.

    And that brings the discussion up to date.

    I figured someone would jump on my statement that “the Statement suggests that LDS leaders intend to maintain a public campaign against same-sex marriage.”

  6. I’m not sure about that, Dave, but the final answer in the Q and A suggests that those in the Church who disagree with the Church’s position about what marriage is and what kind of marriages are deserving of the state’s endosement should be looking for ways to bring their thinking into alignment with the leaders of the Church, rather than trying to convince themselves or others that the leaders are wrong.

  7. I did not see the comparison to the Proclamation , which doesn’t even mention gay marriage, but lots of plausible deniability type statements, and perhaps starts the idea that if you say “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God” it automatically rules out any other possibilities being ordained of God such as between a man and a man.

    I saw more comparison to the statement http://www.blacklds.org/1969-first-presidency-statement where they say However, matters of faith, conscience, and theology are not within the purview of the civil law.

    And From the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith and all succeeding presidents of the Church have taught that Negroes, while spirit children of a common Father, and the progeny of our earthly parents Adam and Eve, were not yet to receive the priesthood, for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man.

    I thought the talk you referenced by Alexander Dushku was very perceptive. His equating one response of the community as seeing opposition to gay marriage as comparable to that to racism. As vitally important as these cases were legally, they had a profound effect culturally. Together with laws passed by Congress, they not only made racist actions by government unlawful, but far more profoundly, they also made racist speech, and even racist ideas by individuals, socially and culturally taboo. Yes, the First Amendment still protects the right of racists to spout their hatred from the street corner, but if you do so, you will be a social outcast. In most communities you are likely to be terminated from your employment, if you can find a job in the first place. You certainly won’t have a professional career to speak of. And you can forget about playing any active role in the political or social life of your community.

    What I think most conservatives can’t accept, is that more than half of society already sees it this way. And in countries outside the US that percentage is even higher. Perhaps again we will have the division where conservatives will see it one way and the rest the other.

    So the church is associating with, and perceived as backward and aligned with bigots, by most of society, great image and “I’M a Mormon” just means bad things.

    Missionary work is aimed at who?

    I hope and believe that, as with racism after 1969, change will come quickly, but that very much depends on the succession of the Prophet.

  8. i tihnk the statement allows the Church to reiterate its doctrinal stance and buy time to figure out the administrative ramifications down the road (e.g., membership records of baptized members who were raised by same-gender parents). I expected the policy directive for bishops not being allowed to perform same-gender weddings; I fully expect that will be expanded in the future to preclude bishops from performing any wedding.

  9. So how did “the reading of the Statement” go in your ward or branch?

    The Bishop had everyone but Primary stay in the chapel just after Sacrament meeting on the 5th. Got a projector out and had the letter projected on the screen while the 1st councilor read it out loud. The Bishop then ask for questions, no one had any, declared the experience to be short and sweet, and we all left for our classes.

  10. I appreciate Dushku’s framework for thinking about SSM and social acceptance.

    Is SSM more like abortion or desegregation of public schools?

    That’s a great question. Here’s my two cents:

    Nobody likes abortion. It’s nearly universally agreed that society would be better off without killing fetuses. There’s debate about at what point in a pregnancy it is appropriate. There is debate about the medical care of the procedure. There is debate about the age of the mother. There is debate about the mental state of the mother. Etc. The debate is never about whether abortion is morally virtuous. It is a debate about the tradeoff between the moral evil of killing a fetus with the moral virtue of a woman’s liberty over her own body.

    Desegregation of public schools. I attended high school in the South, San Antonio, TX. Schools are still segregated, but the segregating factor is money. Often this plays out along racial lines where poorer areas have much higher percentages of minority students.

    There was racism in Texas, but it’s a socio-economic racism. It was my experience (in the mid-90s) that parents didn’t care about the race of the students at the schools. Parents cared about socio-economic status of the students’ families–and the students’ aptitude for athletics. Even in the South, if you asked 10 mothers whether they think desegregation is good, they would all tell you “YES, desegregation is good.” And they’d be telling the truth. Nearly everyone recognizes that desegregation is a moral good. Even in the South.

    What am I getting at?

    Abortion is universally recognized as morally bad (though arguably justified). Desegregation is universally recognized as morally good.

    It’s my opinion that SSM will be recognized as morally good, even by the LDS. I really think that SSM will only affect a tiny portion of society, and that tiny portion will live family life just like any other family on the block. It is not that big of a deal. Seriously. We’ll quickly see that they feed their kids too much saturated fat, corn syrup, and sodium just like the rest of us. SSM is similar to desegregation and dissimilar to abortion.

    (Wow. Longer than I intended. Sorry about that.)

  11. Author lost credibility to me when he fell for the comparison of redefining marriage to the civil rights movement

  12. I’d like to clarify for those who misunderstood that my comment “sex outside of marriage” (1) wasn’t my attempt to judge–its a paraphrase of what Alma said about it, and (2) more importantly, its not referring to homosexual relations. Its sexual relations without the issue of covenant. Marriage is a covenant between the parties and God (in the case of a religious marriage) and the state in the case of a civil marriage. We will see those become more separate here in the United States as it has been in other countries for years. That was really my main comment.

    I do agree that society will follow more along feeling its a civil rights movement. I, personally, do not view them in the same light for reasons which would require far more development here. As I stated on T&S when Obergefell came out, I think there are state-federal issues which are violated by it and I agree with the dissensions. However, its now the law of the land and we all have to get on with it, like it or not. I’m surprised the Brethren haven’t changed the policy of temple marriages already. Its only a matter of time until they’re like they are in other countries.

    Our Ward had no comments about the letter and everyone broke for classes even though I’m pretty sure there are those in our Ward who have issues with the letter. The Bishop just asked for people with questions to make an appointment to come see him.

  13. I suspect there will be another round of social media reports over the next month or two as thousands of LDS in various wards take up the offer to make an appointment and talk to their bishop about any concerns or questions they have about the Statement on Gay Marriage. Let’s hope that none of those who accept the invitation to bring questions and concerns to their bishops end up being subject to informal or even formal discipline by their local leaders. That would make the whole affair into something more like a sting operation than a sincere attempt to foster understanding on what is, for many, a difficult issue.

  14. Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    Geoff-Aus, I corrected your typo and deleted comments identifying the typo.

    Wilfried, that’s quite an article about recent developments in the Utah foster care system. In every community, there is always a need for more qualified foster families to take temporary placements of children and teens that need to be removed from their homes. Good for Utah.

  15. Seriously, Dave? Do you really believe there are bishops in the church who would run a “sting operation” so they could discipline members?

  16. “That would make the whole affair into something more like a sting operation than a sincere attempt to foster understanding on what is, for many, a difficult issue.” What part of “No” don’t you (and others) understand? I’m asking this as sincerely as I can. I don’t know how you could hear the content of the letter material (or read it on the church’s website) and not “understand” what the position of the church is. Are you saying it’s a chance for leaders to understand the SSA/SSM supporter? I ask the same question. What part of “I support SSA/SSM” don’t you think local leaders don’t understand? Is this issue really that complicated for people to understand?

  17. Mark B. and Idiat, there is wide variation in how bishops respond to member questions, including instituting informal or formal discipline. That is one end of the spectrum, but it’s part of the spectrum. Bishops get little in terms of specific guidelines and the Letter and Statement provide no additional specific guidance. So yes, that is a possibility. I expressed a hope that no bishop takes such action toward members who follow the invitation that they seem to be making in connection with the reading of the Statement to come in and talk. Do you hope otherwise? Or are you simply unaware of the full range of variation in actions bishops are taking toward the members?

  18. My experience with the letter was the Bishop read it, and teared up at the part about being respectful to people that take advantage of this legislation. Which for me made this ok. He asked for comments, and none were made. The way the message was delivered made me feel like I’m not alone in my feelings on the matter, that treating others as children of God is more important that taking a stand, but sometimes taking a stand is still appropriate, and we should strive for the Spirit when engaging in such discussions.

    I honestly was dreading this but it feels like it turned out ok. I now have hope in the vagueness of the way this was presented.

    I think honestly as time goes on that most members are so consumed striving to improve their own lives they really don’t have time to keep talking about this over and over.

  19. I’m inclined to think that the facts on the ground will rob gay marriage of its potency as a wedge issue in the future, and the church will simply stop talking about it as much. Kinda like opposition to birth control and women working, the current hardline position will be quietly swept under the rug aside from a token mention here or there.

    We’ll continue to refuse to perform gay marriages, at some point a legal challenge will uphold that right, and we’ll just be seen by most of American society as a little backward and will continue to struggle to get new converts in the US. Maybe a few generations of that negative social pressure combined with new leaders who aren’t as bothered by gay marriage will precipitate a doctrinal change within the church.

    Or maybe everything will go to hell and gay marriage will officially usher in the end times. I dunno.

  20. I’m aware of the spectrum of approaches that might be taken by bishops. I don’t foresee too many hard discipline actions taken, but I do see many soft actions. If a bishop needs to call a new YW presidency, is he going to extend a call to sisters who openly support SSA/SSM? Probably not. Suppose I said I believed the proper age for baptism is 18 and up, and I voiced that opinion frequently, said church leaders were uninspired on this particular issue, etc. Am I apostate? Do I get disciplined, does the bishop just counsel me that I’m wrong? If I persist, do you think I’ll be called to any real position of responsibility? There may be a few members sitting in the benches silently supporting SSA/SSM. I doubt too many will voice that support publicly.

  21. I think a lot of these comments demonstrate the disconnect between orthodox/fundamentalist Mormons as part of the religious right and the rest of the country (moderates and liberals). For example: “Author lost credibility to me when he fell for the comparison of redefining marriage to the civil rights movement.”

    Most of the country (and especially younger people) along with most western countries clearly view gay marriage as a civil right since there are so many government and cultural privileges associated with marriage.

    Further more, although redefining marriage is used by the religious right as an “attack phrase”, if we stop and think about it, redefining marriage isn’t such a bad thing. Stay with me here…. Mormons redefined marriage (polygamy and polyandry) from the early 1830s through the early 20th century. Plus, not long ago, marriage was tightly bound to idea of property (the wife being “property”): women couldn’t vote, women couldn’t own property, women were “given” in marriage from the father to the husband. Even, according to the Bible, Bethuel gave Rebecca to Isaac after Isaac met the requirements of the agreement. Our modern-day sensibilities make the definition of marriage as poly-amorous or property-based distasteful. Do we really want to never change the definition of things that seem so wrong? Do you like either of these tradition-based marriage definitions? 1) marriage is the family unit of one man and several sister wives. 2) marriage is the transaction between a father and a groom where the father transfers ownership of the daughter to the groom.

    Another comment from above: “It’s nearly universally agreed that society would be better off without killing fetuses….. It is a debate about the tradeoff between the moral evil of killing a fetus” The religious right views these statements as facts. They view termination of a fetus as undeniably “moral evil” and “killing.” Clearly, there is a vast difference between a fetus a few weeks prior to birth and a fetus a few weeks beyond conception. When we use phrases like “moral evil” and “killing” for the latter, we paint ourselves as extremists, fundamentalists, and we weaken our connection with the majority of educated humanity.

    Finally, even the variation of the acronyms of/and terms that start with “Same-Sex”: SSA, Same Sex Attraction, SSM, Same-Sex Marriage, SGM, Same Gender Marriage, are viewed by those outside of the fundamentalist right as anywhere from slightly bigoted to extremely bigoted. The whole idea of using “same sex attraction” instead of homosexual or gay infers a sort of “condition” or something that is temporary or that a person suffers from. We’ll connect better with “the other side” if we just eliminate use of the SS (same sex) phrases and say, instead, gay marriage, gay rights, and just “gay.”

    We sometimes talk about gay marriage and its relation to civil rights and a comparison is drawn to racially-based civil rights. I believe that comparison is accurate on many levels, but it is sometimes rejected because one does not choose his/her race while one does choose marriage. Another comparison would be to connect gay rights and gay marriage to religious liberty. Should we allow people to choose their religion? Should we allow people to exercise their religion as long as it doesn’t infringe the rights of others? Should we allow catholics to marry Mormons? The answer to all of these should be yes. But people *clearly* choose their religion. Choice is not a disqualifying factor for civil rights. If we support religious liberty, it follows that we support protection of rights based on personal choices.

  22. Thanks for the comments, everyone.

    Idiat, thanks for your comment. That seems like just the sort of guidance the Letter or Statement might have given local leaders. “Can I extend callings to serve in the YM or YW to members who have made public statements supporting same-sex marriage?” That would have been a great question for the Background material. As it is, each bishop will sort of make up their own policy. Some will categorically say “No” and perhaps even cancel that member’s temple recommend. Others might quietly avoid calling that person as a general rule, but not as a rigid policy and be willing, if moved upon, to issue such a call. Other bishops might simply ignore that issue can call the best available person for the calling.

    And what exactly is support? If I don’t drink alcohol, don’t suggest other LDS members drink alcoholic beverages, but I recognize the legality of drinking in my state and don’t feel inclined to make public statements calling for a new Prohibition regime — am I supporting drinking? Or am I supporting the LDS doctrine that we don’t partake? If a Mormon right now, today, says, “I am not in a gay marriage and I don’t encourage other Mormons to enter into gay marriage, but I recognize the legality of same-sex marriage in my country and I don’t feel inclined to make public statement opposing the general practice of gay marriage” — is that supporting gay marriage? Or is that supporting the LDS doctrine that we don’t practice gay marriage?

    Again, the Letter or Statement could have given some clarification on this important point. Instead, bishops will muddle their way through such scenarios, each coming up with a different approach. A woman with the position in quotes could be disciplined, ignored, or called to be the YW President, depending not on her testimony or worthiness but on who her bishop happens to be and how conservative or progressive that bishop happens to be. That isn’t how the Church should be run!

  23. “There may be a few members sitting in the benches silently supporting SSA/SSM. I doubt too many will voice that support publicly.”

    That’s definitely not the case in my stake, where people are comfortably open about their support for SSM, without fear of repercussion. There’s a lot of support for it. And yes, the people who express that view still get called to leadership positions. Obviously we’re on the progressive end of the spectrum, but I think you may be overstating your case. This is the kind of thing that really does vary by stake. And my guess is that as slow as it may be, the overall trajectory of the church is moving in the direction of my stake’s position.

  24. My bishop held a special meeting and opened discussion. There were lots of gloom and doom responses, but primarily from older generation folks. I remarked that I didn’t think that the courts would force the LDS church to perform same-sex marriages. Some were in disagreement.

    I agree, Dave. I think that as the rank and file become more accepting of gays and lesbians, so will the leadership. And eventually the LDS church will change its policy and allow same-sex marriages in the temples. But this will take several decades.

  25. Dave Harris,

    I made my statement based on the way you worded the comparison, which implies that it was your own comparison to the civil rights movement. I took it to mean that you were telling me– the “fundamental”– that I am doing the equivalent of denying actual rights to blacks. Having your relationship validated by society is not an actual right, IMO, but that’s a different conversation. If you were talking about outside perception, I don’t think that was clearly stated.

    You have a good point about the changing what a traditional marriage is. But allow me to push back a little. First, these cultural shifts should be decided by The People, rather than 5 people. That’s how things were meant to be. Next, LDS weren’t (to my knowledge) campaigning to force their redefinition onto society. They were simply practicing it in their temples and recognizing it within their own culture. At least that’s how modern polygamists do it–they only have 1 legal wife and several spiritual wives. Nobody is talking about preventing gays from starting their own church and marrying each other in it. So, within the LDS culture in which polygamy was practiced, we believed God had instituted the redefinition. A bit of a difference.

    Lastly, and this is also for Dave (26), our apostles have given us a very clear idea about what marriage truly is at this particular time, which is what apostles are for. We as Latter-Day Saints have a choice: support and promote God’s definition of marriage in every kind of meaningful way, or support and promote the definitions of what other people come up with. LDS supporters of gay marriage (or a host of other kinds of matters), need to, in the very least, acknowledge that their philosophy may not show them the end game, even if it is the current ‘enlightened’ position, and that these proclamations may be given for a bigger reason than leadership just ‘kicking against the pricks.’ Until I see more humility in this regard from progressive Saints, I can very much understand getting a few more proclamations.

    This isn’t fundamentalism to me. If God says “this is what marriage is,” then I’m going to say “this is what marriage is.” That’s just kind of the baseline.

  26. Probably 60 to 70% of my ward would agree with your views on this subject Pierce. If it is Gods definition, that does not allow for any possibility of change, except possibly by revelation, but even then does God change his mind on fundamental issues like this?

    Do you also think, as the conservative members did before 78, that racism was Gods will, and how could he change his mind on that? Or as the statement on LDS.org seems to suggest it never was Gods will, just men teaching their culture as if it is Gospel. Which is what I think is happening on this issue too.

    I think the whole church campaign against gay marriage was setting the members up to fail, and I can’t see how continuing to oppose it isn’t again or still, setting people up to fail, too. Does God do that?

  27. Geoff,

    While there are many lessons to learn about the issue of race and priesthood, I think the comparison is an extremely thin one at best. The issue of race has its roots in culture, particularly in American culture. There was no revelation about interracial marriage, nor was there anything to suggest that black people were to be subservient to whites and should be treated poorly. Tracing the ban to scripture has proven to be a wild goose chase, as those with more subjective views have shown. While some members may have felt that racism or bans were God’s will, they couldn’t trace the origin to God without assumption.

    The practice of homosexuality, on the other hand, is a part of scripture. Marriage between man and woman is in scripture. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” is what God has ordained as far as relationships go. Joseph Smith taught how sealings work. Modern apostles have reaffirmed and clarified what has already been established, and has nothing to do with 19-21st century America. Personally, I think you have it flipped around, where you are accepting your own culture as if its gospel, while our apostles are teaching what God established since the beginning. The burden would rest on you to show otherwise. I’m not here to make judgment calls on morality, or what to make of all this. But we have an obligation to figure these things out within the bounds the Lord has set. While I don’t think he would necessarily change his mind, I do hope that He will reveal more important things pertaining to His kingdom, and how all of us fit into it with our unique challenges.

    Finally, I don’t see what the problem is with the church releasing some statements. The only way that we fail is by taking a position opposite God. As Christians, we must face discomfort in our belief system in different ways. Discomfort does not mean discredit. SCOTUS just changed the definition of marriage, and many people–including Saints–have adopted this line of thinking as well. It doesn’t seem unlike God to remind us what He says marriage is, despite our rather sour attitude towards it. I’m not equating these declarations to new revelations, but again, they are reaffirming previous revelations, and that is the unpopular job of an apostle.

  28. Geoff-Aus,

    Surely you must see that there is a big difference between the priesthood ban and this issue? While the ban was policy or doctrine or whatever you want to call it; it was never a fundamental part of the religion. Prophets taught that some day, in this life or in the next it would change, but that it was up to God’s timing. There is also substantial scriptural support for the eventual reversal on race. There was even substantial scriptural support for reserving the priesthood for a certain group or tribe. Our religion, and Christianity on the whole, never really rose or fell based on how race was viewed.

    Same-Sex Marriage however, as with most matters of chastity, is quite different. One of Christianity’s key teachings has always included this prohibition as part of the larger theology of chastity. Prophets have never taught that some day this teaching or policy would change and there is no scriptural support for an eventual reversal.

    The comparison is truly baffling.

  29. The reading of the statement in my ward went much as I expected it to. The bishop read it and asked for questions. Most people said nothing. Some asked questions that were really just veiled support for the statement. Some asked questions not related to the statement based on worries about future action which the bishop couldn’t really answer. I don’t know what else was expected, really, given that so many members of the church stand on opposite sides of the issue.

    Honestly, I don’t know what questions one could ask. I found the statement fairly straightforward. Most of the questions I have seen is from people who support same sex marriage and seem to want some kind of reassurance from the church. I don’t know that they will get what they are looking for.

  30. Just an odd observation: In the present day in the USA, many pairings of people into families are not marriages, but the casual relationships which have become permanent. After a year or two of living together, a couple decides to make commit to a more substantial relationship. At that point the couple has to decide whether or not to make it an official “marriage” with either the law or the church. Many couples decide that the official “marriage” is just words compared to the fundamental commitment of their relationship. One may question the wisdom of this course of action but not the commitment.

    This is the question, then. How much of our marriage depends on the words and how much our actions? Will a crappy marriage solemnized in the temple have more validity than an unsolemnized celestial relationship? Will God honor a deeply committed celestial love relationship more than a relationship, although formalized, where the parties basically can’t stand each other and stay together for one bad reason or another?

    Given the odd nature of this life, I would suggest that the relationship defines who we are, not the words. (The words can be a reminder of what the relationship should be.) A temple marriage is only as good as the way the partners regard each other and make it into a celestial relationship. If that happens, then the words make a difference, but not until. Likewise, a same sex couple with a celestial relationship defines the parameters of that union. The words will follow. It is only a matter of time. And we may be found wanting for denigrating that relationship.

  31. Sorry RW, SSM is by definition unable to be eternal or celestial because in that kingdom all are alike as God. That’s the glory of exaltation. We can not be in his presence eternally unless we are like him. He is a Father, and we have a Heavenly Mother. SSM denies this biological reality which is a part of our eternal characteristics.

    No doubt wonderful, caring people can be living in a state contrary to God’s life, but we can’t be partakers of that life eternally and be in a different state.

    Anyone else find the sudden goal post shift concerning? A few years ago we were counseled by our coreligionists to keep our faith out of our politics. Now we are being told we should update our faith to match their politics. Even the same, it’s only a matter of time, wrong side of history arguments are being used to justify the new shift.

  32. RW,

    Marriage is more than a commitment, it is a covenant. And I personally do challenge the commitment of two people who can’t be bothered to formalize their commitment, to connect it with the public good and to covenant with God. I challenge the notion that one can have the substance of a spiritual life without the covenant. We have been admonished repeatedly to enter at the gate. Now we want to abolish the gate and claim the prize of a relationship with God?

    Gerry, the goal posts have not been shifted, they have been torn down.

  33. I was comparing Racism and marriage equality not as issues but in how they were handled by the church, and how they are seen in the majority of the community. There was no point in 1969 when they put out a proclamation/letter from the first presidency defending racism after the decision was made by the law of the land, and by doing so were setting the conservative members up to fail. Only the conservatives are still protesting, and are again being set up to fail, on this issue too, which I don’t think God does to his faithful followers.

    I don’t see that giving examples of approval for man woman relationships, excludes gay relationships as you do and I have not been told of any revelation from God, all I see are men, some of whom are also apostles, teaching their culture as if it is the Gospel.

    So 1 I don’t believe the church position is also Gods position, on this issue
    2 because I don’t see God setting you up to fail.
    3 The leaders have done this before, and it failed.
    4 I am very concerned for the consequences for both the church and individual members, for example going for a job and having their opposition to marriage equality beside their internet name, if this issue is seen in the outside world in 10 years time, in the same way that racism is now . Likewise the reputation of the church.
    Can you not see that this could be a problem?

  34. Geoff – Aus,

    So the idea of man/woman marriage has been around since the beginning in Christianity and the idea of sexual orientation and gay marriage is a new, modern phenomenon. It seems to me that if someone is “teaching their culture as if it is the gospel”, it isn’t the leadership of the church.

  35. Geoff -Aus,

    Do I understand you correctly? You think that God worries about the popularity of His positions? That He will adjust His position if the members or the church face opposition or challenges in their careers? Do you believe that somehow modern culture has stumbled onto a better way, that current social trends are closer to what God wants and that the prophets have missed the memo?

    I am not worried about the path of the Church. Admittedly, it was 15 years ago when I first had intimations on what was coming, and I was worried then. But if a society invents and adopts a cultural standard and then applies economic and political pressure on all institutions and cultures to conform to that newly invented standard (the ultimate form of bigotry), pluralism and freedom of conscience have died. And if that happens, we’ll have far more to worry about than SSM.

  36. Old Man:

    At first blush, I personally do not believe that God worries about the popularity of His positions, nor do I believe that He will adjust His position if the members of the church face opposition or challenges. That being said, this appears to be the very reason the Church stopped the practice of polygamy. The practice of polygamy was not popular with the people, and God didn’t want the Church to lose its temples and be shut down. He perhaps altered course.

    Couldn’t we view the current issue with the same filter? I’m not advocating for the church or God to change their view on same sex marriage legislation. What I am suggesting is God could instruct the leaders of the Church to leave it alone in an effort to be more inclusive and help the missionary efforts of the Church move forward. It’s one thing to say we believe in traditional marriage only in our temples, and it’s another thing to go door-to-door for Prop 8. Couldn’t God say it’s time to stop going door to door on this issue, stop issuing statements, stop talking about it in our 3rd hour classes, and instead focus on more Christ centered topics in our meetings, all in order to promote the Spirit and increase interest in our Church? I guess what I am advocating for, is a return to the three-fold mission of the church.

    Or am I just another liberal Mormon?

  37. Although I have left the church, I read this site to see what my believing intellectual family members are reading these days. This article reads like the author is having a faith crisis – or has at least stopped buying into the party line about prophets. did I read too much into it?

  38. Chadwick:
    ” Couldn’t God say…”

    He sure could. But we shouldn’t pretend that He has until He does. Polygamy was officially ended by the president of the Church, and also by revelation. If you’re advocating that we follow the lead of the apostles like they did with polygamy, then perhaps you’re more conservative than you think ;-)

    “and instead focus on more Christ centered topics”

    I find statements like these very disingenuous. I taught the lesson last week in Sunday School per the curriculum, and it was about the crucifixion. We had wonderful conversations about the events surrounding the Passion. After that, the bishop combined men and women and read the letter for 10 minutes. Other than that, we haven’t had any lessons on homosexuality or Prop 8 (that was years ago) or marriage or anything of the sort. Spending a short amount of time on it in the last hour, one time, is hardly cause for an accusation that we have all strayed from the mission of the church. It’s a strange thing I’ve seen repeated in similar threads.

  39. “So I think we still have two generations to go. I expect an Official Declaration 3 in about 2030 reiterating that all are alike unto God, even gays and lesbians and all the rest…”

    Hubris.

    “…then an essay in about 2050 repudiating all the gay folklore that members and leaders have been busy producing over the last half-century.”

    Including a Heavenly Mother?

    It took substantial violence to compel the Church to abandon polygamy. Is that what you’re calling for here?

  40. Gerry, Pierce, Jonathon, and old man. The Traditional marriage you defend, for most of it’s time involved the abuse, oppression, selling, and giving of women. Do you really think that was Gods ideal. I think there are lots of things in the world that are more of a problem for God, than marriage equality.

    Old Man @41 no I don’t think God caves in to public opinion. As I said I don’t believe that Gods position is the church position. I think the church will cave in to public opinion, just as it did on polygamy, racism, opposition to birth control etc. None of these were Gods plan and he didn’t cave in, they were all the conservative culture of some of the leaders, and were proven wrong, and ended.

    If in 10 years the church has caved in,/ repented on the opposition to Gay marriage it could be a problem for those who have their names associated with the opposition. Can you imagine if the internet was about in the 1960 and 70 the opinions defending racism being available to employers and the world in general?

    One of the opinions on the post was that the general populace could in a few years feel the same way about opposition to marriage equality, as they now do about racism, and it will be associated with the church, and your individual names.

    Lets come back in 10 years and see which is right?

  41. SilverRain is exactly right in her comment. The church probably expects non-member gay people to do the same thing it would like all non-members (and members) to do: Repent and come unto Christ.

  42. There is no Heavenly Mother. That is not doctrine. I have never heard it taught in church or read about it in the scriptures.

  43. Askeptic: while the question of how official the doctrine is may be dubious, there is no doubt that it is a doctrine taught in the church. Search for “Heavenly Parents” at LDS.org for a plethora of talks and articles. It is also taught in the first chapter of Gospel Principles.

    Geoff: the negative aspects of marriage you bring up are a straw man. You are sidestepping the fact that the scriptures talk about man and woman becoming one flesh, despite whatever else man heaped onto it.
    As for the 10 year challenge, how about you stay in the boat until that happens? That’s what we have covenanted to do. This isn’t the same thing as priesthood ban–at all–. Please understand that there may be a whole lot more to this than what we can reason out for the short time we have collectively considered it. Let’s stick to what we have received rather than what we have perceived.

  44. Geof-Aus,

    Thank you for the link in #46. That was a thoughtful piece with some thoughtful questions. Thanks.

  45. Pierce, and others. I am in the boat, and unless I’m pushed out, will remain so. It should be possible for us both/all to remain, and contribute.

    As I said above your view would be the majority view in my ward, and sometimes the certainty that God is on your side during a discussion can be alienating, it infers that if you disagree with me not only is God not on your side satan probably is. Can you see that telling a fellow member that could be a problem?

    I have had a fellow HP with this certainty tell me that I should not hold a TR and unless I repent I will not be in the Celestial kingdom.

    On this issue I think you are not in line with God but I would not claim that as part of my argument, for the reason given above. It is exclusionary. I know you can find scripture that you think apposes homosexuality, but it is talking about heterosexuals, and I’m sure you believe there is modern day revelation, but I am not aware of it. So I see no reason to be certain that you know what God thinks.

  46. Re #45

    “The Traditional marriage you defend, for most of it’s time involved the abuse, oppression, selling, and giving of women. Do you really think that was Gods ideal. I think there are lots of things in the world that are more of a problem for God, than marriage equality.”

    1- I didn’t say one thing about “Traditional marriage”.

    2- If I’m in favor of water, it doesn’t mean I’m in favor of drowning. Resisting a forcible redefinition of marriage is not an endorsement of slavery or abuse. The conspicuous unreason of this argument rules out a good faith error.

    3- Prophets and Apostles may have some insight into what is “more of a problem for God”.

    “As I said I don’t believe that Gods position is the church position.”

    Is this a plural, a possessive, or both?

    A pity that Prophets and Apostles have no access to “Gods position [sic]”. How fortunate that you do.

    I think the church will cave in to public opinion, just as it did on polygamy, racism, opposition to birth control etc.”

    A cynical, irrational assertion. On how many issues has the Church failed to “cave in to public opinion”?
    Ordaining women, closed temple ceremonies, Church ownership of commercial properties, the Equal Rights Amendment, proxy temple work, discouraging coffee and tea, enthusiastic proselytizing, encouraging mothers to avoid entering the workforce, and many more.

    Not to mention the inflammatory, infuriating doctrines of continuing revelation, open canon, the Book of Mormon, an inspired translation of the Bible, eternal progression, theosis, Heavenly Mother, a righteous Eve causing a fortunate Fall, potential posthumous polygamy, the Book of Abraham, and degrees of glory, just to mention the most prominent.

    The Church has stood firm far more often than it has “caved”.

    Also, your cherry-picked examples of the Church “caving in” to public opinion are most unfortunate.

    The alternative to abandoning polygamy (plus consecration and Church civil government) was annihilation. This wasn’t “caving in to public opinion”, but to genocidal violence.

    Withholding the Priesthood from people of African descent (regardless of race) was always controversial. Some black men were ordained. Certain uses of birth control were discouraged from the pulpit, but never in the same was as, say, alcohol or adultery.

    Finally, the idea that the Church endorsed racism is absurd. Dravidians, negritos, melanesians, Australian Aborigines, and other groups considered black were not excluded from Priesthood ordination. Some whites who had African ancestors were, however, excluded. Asians and Native Americans were not excluded. Descent, not race, was the exclusionary factor.

    Though the Priesthood exclusion obviously stemmed at least in part from racist ideas, in practice, the ban bears no resemblance to the racism of the United States and Europe at the time. If the ban was mere racism, all blacks, as well as Asians, would have been excluded. For that matter, so would Jews, Irish, Italians, and other ethnic groups prior to World War II, when they were regarded as less than white by the ruling Protestants in the U.S.

    Your interest in these topics is admirable, but your arguments are poorly reasoned, and seem to be lacking in good faith. You have much to contribute. You can do better.

  47. Re askeptic (#48)

    “There is no Heavenly Mother. That is not doctrine. I have never heard it taught in church or read about it in the scriptures.”

    You sound awfully certain for a “skeptic.”

    Do you assert that there *is* a doctrine explicitly denying a Heavenly Mother?

    From Paulsen and Pulido, “”A Mother There”:A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven” in BYU Studies, 50/1 (2011):

    “Since the 1840s, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have taught that in addition to a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. This cherished doctrine has been an important, although relatively obscure, part of the Latter-day Saint understanding of the premortal origins and divine nature of humankind. The authors, a professor and a student of philosophy at Brigham Young University, present historical statements by Mormon leaders about Mother in Heaven. Contrary to criticism in some quarters, Church leaders have not relegated this deity to a confined role. Statements from the late 1840s onward show that leaders and influential Latter-day Saints have explored her roles as a fully divine being, a creator of worlds with the Father, a coframer of the plan of salvation, and a concerned and involved parent of her children on earth.”

    Here’s the link to the full paper:

    https://byustudies.byu.edu/PDFViewer.aspx?title=8669&linkURL=50.1PaulsenPulidoMother-482bf17d-bbc5-4530-a7cc-c1a1b7e5b079.pdf

    Your opinion of a Heavenly Mother is directly opposed to just about everyone who has seriously studied the topic.

  48. “sometimes the certainty that God is on your side during a discussion can be alienating, it infers that if you disagree with me not only is God not on your side satan probably is. Can you see that telling a fellow member that could be a problem?”

    If two people are on opposite sides of an issue, this usually indicates that one of them is wrong. Sometimes both are partially right and both partially wrong. I’m wrong a lot, though hopefully I’m well-intentioned. I’m also occasionally right, though sometimes perhaps for the wrong reasons. That’s life. There is no need to take it personally or infer that the other side thinks the person in error is going to hades in a handbasket, however. We’re all here to learn. Let’s not make it more difficult than it needs to be.

  49. Sometimes people who hold seemingly irreconcilable positions on an issue could both be dead wrong. I.e., “the earth is shaped like a flat square,” “no, it is shaped like a cube!” Of course, some ideas are so far out and bizarre and believed by barely anyone that they are best left ignored (i.e., the chemtrail conspiracy theory). The worst are ideas and philosophies that are crazy but have wide appeal. Some of those philosophies are worth ridiculing and shouting down.

  50. I’d like to comment on the infamous “sin next to murder.” Alma declares to Corianton that illicit sex is an abomination just short of murder and denying the Holy Ghost. That may have been Alma’s opinion, but other scriptures and even the temple endowment seem to promote different notions. In the temple, the highest covenant (the one just above chastity) is to keep the law of consecration. It seems logical, then, that a greater sin than unchastity would be to not keep that covenant.

    Or, if you prefer a different perspective based on the Savior’s own words in Matthew 25, the only difference between those who end up on his right hand (the sheep) and those who end up on the left (the goats) is how they treat the poor and disadvantaged. The greatest sin here seems to be a lack of compassion. It’s possible that Alma’s reaction to his son’s little fling with Isabel has deflected many a Mormon from what the Savior views as the most important criterion for salvation. We do tend to have a sex-fixated culture in the Church. Blame Alma?

  51. Letter was read to brethren in priesthood, sisters in relief society. Bishop invited anyone with questions or concerns to come speak with him in his office. Essentially a non-event.

    The lingering difficulty for many people is whether homosexuality is merely a choice or whether it is something that has roots in human biology. If, as most evidence suggests, it is biological and that a sexual identity is imprinted on certain people in the womb, then we might be in for a future of continued soul searching.

  52. Don;

    The idea that if homosexuality is not a choice, then we must be accepting has always puzzled me. I think it can be argued that a predisposition to do many inappropriate things is innate to certain people. We all have some cross to bear. It seems to me a basic gospel principle is that we are called upon to rise above our carnal natures. That this might me more difficult for some is a reason for heightened compassion, but does not change our underlying position.

  53. My daughter (who has epilepsy, cerebral palsy and other disabling conditions, so I know something of predispositions) and I team teach CTR 5 in the primary. The primary administrators and teachers in our ward were escorted to a room of sufficient size to accommodate us all to listen to the letter be read by the 1st Councilor in the Bishopric and then simply dismissed to go back to primary. No comments or questions were solicited or, apparently, to be entertained. At all. I have no clue what happened with the rest of the ward.

    The notion that mutually falling in love with and marrying the person one is attracted to physically, mentally, spiritually, etc. should, in this era of greater knowledge and understanding, equate with a predisposition to do the “inappropriate” or to bowing to a “carnal nature” totally baffles me.

    Have our prophets really ever inquired of the Lord and addressed the question in such a context yet?

  54. @wreddyornot (59) that is too bad about the lack of questions. As a ward executive secretary my understanding is that the whole point of doing it outside of sacrament meeting was so people could ask questions. Our ward had a few questions and our Bishop made it clear that his door and the Stake President’s door are always open for people who had questions they didn’t want to share publicly.

    In terms of inquiring of the Lord, they must be exasperated at this suggestion. They have tried to restate the result of their inquiry a dozen different ways, and some people still don’t like the answer.

  55. Jeff (58), people have long tried to show how homosexuality is a 1) psychological disorder and 2) how romantic relationships between two people of the same gender are inherently more or less harmful than romantic relationships between two people of the opposite gender and have repeatedly failed to find anything strong evidence substantiating these beliefs. Unless we can find solid evidence that homosexuality in and of damages or cognitively/psychologically inhibits the individual who is attracted to the same gender and/or that same-gender romantic relationships are harming society in a way that is somehow more harmful than opposite-gender romantic relationships, then any attitude other than acceptance of homosexuals as normal people and same-gender romantic relationships as normal romantic relationships is baseless homophobia. The textbook definition of a phobia is fear of something or someone not because of a rational reason but because of cultural biases and traditional superstitions.

  56. “Unless we can find solid evidence that homosexuality in and of damages or cognitively/psychologically inhibits the individual who is attracted to the same gender and/or that same-gender romantic relationships are harming society in a way that is somehow more harmful than opposite-gender romantic relationships, then any attitude other than acceptance of homosexuals as normal people and same-gender romantic relationships as normal romantic relationships is baseless homophobia. “

    Not so.

    We try to teach people not to act on those urges, for doing so would be sin. We try to teach people to choose to be holy and to more fully follow the way of our God. Some would call this perspective “cultural biases and traditional superstitions” in an attempt to de-legitimize the perspective. But that perspective is honorable and should have a place in the public square.

  57. Brad L;

    I guess you are correct if you revere science in general and modernity in particular. I do not, and far more trust scriptures and latter day prophets to provide wisdom. Obviously we will continue to disagree on this, so it is important to clarify just why we disagree.

  58. Do we agree that a proportion of the population are born/created gay (I think the church now does)? Somewhere between 2 and 5%

    Do we agree that the only options for gay members is either marry a person of the opposite sex (which has not proven to be successful,) can you imagine agreeing to spend your life in a gay relationship, if you are not gay?

    Or give up all notions of romance, for ever, and the only hope for the eternities is…?

    We really don’t have anything to offer gay people in the church. We offer hetro people family, and exaltation. We don’t offer these to gay people do we?

    For gay non members, we oppose them getting married (marriage is the preferred option for others because it is better for a stable society to have families rather than promiscuous singles, or for that matter lonely singles).

    Why is marriage not the preferred option for gay people?

  59. -It doesn’t matter why gay people are gay. Maybe sexual orientation can be changed by drugs, but our society has chosen not to investigate that option.

    -Yes, the only options for gay members who want to get sealed is to be sealed to a member of the opposite sex, because that is what sealing is.

    -Yes, gay members must give up hope for gay romances. They probably have to give up hope for straight romances, as well. (Not many people have gone broke betting on science to solve problems, and for a gay Latter-day Saint their homosexuality is, indeed, a problem, but as I mentioned our society will probably not produce a sexual orientation-changing drug. I don’t think most people here would be opposed to a gay drug on principle. Straight drug, yes, because that implies homosexuality is pathological, but a gay drug would be merely recreational. They would probably work on the same principle.)

    -Giving up hope for romance is not the worst thing in the world.

    -Giving up hope for romance is not the worst thing in the world.

    -Living the Gospel is really, really hard, and it’s harder for some people than it is for others, and this has always been so.

    -Facing trials makes us stronger. Facing harder trials makes us stronger than that.

    -God’s perspective is not ours.

    -Many things that seem eternal and significant in the cloud of mortality will seem trifling in eternity.

    -Claiming that exaltation is not offered to gays implies homosexuality is intrinsic to our eternal spirits, which themselves we know little about.

    -There are many things more unjust about life than the inability of faithful homosexuals to experience romantic love in it.

  60. Geoff-Aus:

    Physical and psychological attributes we are born with are not necessarily eternal.

    Would it be right for the church to endorse or support SSM’s suspecting or possibly knowing full well that such actions would prove damaging throughout the eternities?

  61. Jeff (63), you seem to be saying that being a faithful LDS person is incompatible with science and modernity. That makes no sense since there are all kinds of active LDS people who embrace scientific values and modernity. Furthermore, you suggest that the scriptures and prophets’ words are good enough for us to inform ourselves about the right position on moral questions to the point that we need not actually approach certain issues scientifically. You should bear in mind that people have used the scriptures to justify all sorts of actions that are commonly regarded today in the developed world to be immoral, such as slavery, past genocides (i.e., the ancient Hebrews slaying the Canaanites, Midianites, and Amorites, provided these actually happened as told), anti-miscegenation laws, and racist policies. Furthermore the LDS leaders have changed positions on a number of issues over time. I have a challenge for you. Read the exchange between LDS sociologist Lowry Nelson and the First Presidency of the LDS church (then George Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark, and David O. McKay) here and then ask yourself whether you agree more with Lowry Nelson’s position on race or the First Presidency’s, bearing in mind that the latter backed their position up by using the scriptures.

  62. Brad L;

    I do not believe I said that. What I do believe is that one cannot be a faithful LDS if one elevates science above scriptures and prophets. Science has a role in advancing knowledge, but provides nothing in regards to wisdom and morality.

    Your statement in (62) indicated that unless Church leaders could cite studies supporting their position, then their rejection of SSM is just baseless homophobia. As I said, we will not agree so I just want to clarify – it seems to me that I am unwilling to accept the current state of worldly wisdom and you are unwilling to accept the scriptures and prophets (on this issue).

    I did my best to try and follow the link. Dozens of typos made it rather difficult. I joined the Church in 1979, so have no insight to the dynamics at play prior the Declaration. I do not know the reasons for the prior Church teachings, beyond the common lore and speculation. Your statement that the scriptures have been used for nefarious purposes means to me that living prophets are vital to avoid being led astray. That is what I see happening with this issue.

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