A Member of the Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints flared into life as an audacious venture, a scandal, an insult and an invitation to the Christian age. To the believing mind, the Mormon church is charged with keeping the flame of God’s authority alight for the world through the winds of secular modernity. But even without that lens of faith, Mormonism is something distinctly risky, brazen, and peculiar. It casually straddles the chasm between ancient and modern, old world and new, without concern and without a net. It yokes together competing claims to authority, forcing them to pull together despite the constant danger of one devouring the other. It makes people, it makes kin, and it makes communities, and it sends this trinity spinning out into space to collide and throw sparks far enough to light the universe. It reads literally, it flatly refuses, it tosses out whatever ain’t nobody got time for; it hordes, it collects sentimentally, it strings together in flights of fancy. It reads from a hat, it meticulously translates, and it improvises. It builds skyscrapers, and it razes the block in a single blow. It exposes its faithful to danger and pain time and again; it resists and it refuses and it rebels. But it gives, too, with a generosity matched only by the expanse of its sacred cosmos across time and space.

Its course has been anything but smooth. Over its history it has veered and listed, injuring itself and its cargo. It bears the scars, as do broken individuals. But it lives another day. And, it appears, it will continue to challenge and stretch nearly to the breaking point the conditions of religious faith in our era of secular modernity. The new policies on gay couples and their children signal the institution’s unabated intent to refuse what it sees as the misdirections and dead-ends of history. It will not go gently into the new intelligible, it will not assent to the new structures of cultural legibility.

To frame these new policies as a kind of refusal conditioned by Mormonism’s history of such refusals, as I have done here, may seem to excuse, minimize or — Lord help us — normalize the pain they have caused, but that is emphatically not my intent. There will be collateral damage to this refusal: injury to individuals, foremost, but also harm to the Church’s ability to evangelize its primary host nation and great strain on the crucial trust between membership and leadership that holds the ship together. For my own part, this move has pushed me to a new limit of my ability to assent.

Yet without grandiosity and triumphalism, I hope, I can say that my life takes its particularity and any small historical significance it may claim largely from my association with this stubborn, scandalous church. To enliven the limbs of Mormonism, to inhabit the unlikely wager it represents, is to make some small mark on the course of modernity. I wouldn’t abandon it, even if I could.

And in truth I can’t. My membership in the Church is not a vector of self-expression; it is a given ground of my experience. My Mormonism is not a catalog of my beliefs; it’s the condition that enables faith in the first place. Thus to leave the Church would not, for me, be a statement of dissent; it would be a division of the very soul from which dissent arises. Nor, on the contrary, is my continued membership an endorsement. This realization makes it all the more difficult, of course, to consider that membership in the Church is precisely what is at stake for the gay couples and their children in our midst.

61 comments for “A Member of the Church

  1. Thank you Rosalynde. I appreciate your willingness to work out your pain in a public forum. May peace abound for you as well as for my good friends who have recently announced a different path.

    FWIW, the same source that initially broke this story has recently said that local leaders are being told that “clarifying statements” are on their way. So stay tuned. Here’s hoping that clarity comes not only for the “what” (policy scope, local discretion, etc.), but the “why.”

    Regarding the “why,” I must say that I am thoroughly perplexed by the church’s explanation that this new policy mirrors a similar policy for children in polygamous households. As one who was unaware of the polygamy-child policy before last week, I found this source (https://exploringmormonism.com/children-and-the-handbooks-timeline/) to be very helpful for several reasons:

    1) The polygamy-child policy has been in flux for decades, which shows me that this really is a matter of policy, not doctrine.

    2) The polygamy-child policy does not have an age requirement for children to obtain FP permission. Perhaps the SSM-child policy will eventually follow suit.

    3) The current polygamy-child policy is much more narrow than the SSM-child policy. It only applies to baptism and confirmation (not blessings and ordination). And, critically, it only applies to countries where polygamous unions are “contrary to the law.”

    The last point is what really confuses me. If these policies are meant to avoid conflict between church teachings and home examples, then why does the polygamy-child policy not apply in countries where polygamy is legal? The doctrinal conflict exists regardless of legality. The only sensible explanation I can see is that the church’s concern stems more from legal ramifications than from home conflict.

  2. Out of the consequences of our divisive bureaucracy, some genuinely beautiful poetry. This is wonderful, and admirable. (Also quite possibly wrong–but still.) I don’t stand where you stand, Rosalynde, but thank you for sharing the vistas your position allows you to take in.

  3. Such a ‘clarifying’ statement might be similar to the one that caused a firestorm back when President Kimball was leading the Church. There was some kind of questioning about personal behavior (those who remember will know and those who are too young can guess) in a marriage between the husband and wife that raised a bit of a ruckus and eventually was “clarified”.

  4. Exquisitely eloquent, powerful and soul-wrenching, Rosalynde. Thank you.

    One of my very real fears about stepping away from activity for a time is the perception (mine and others) that such a move would be viewed as a rejection of my faith when in reality my Mormonism is inextricably and beautifully entwined with my very being. That a pause in activity might only signal abandonment of my community rather than what feels like being engulfed in the sink hole these policies have created puts all the burden of the Church withstanding its own collapse on individual members instead of the policies opening these chasms of despair in the first place. I’m not suggesting you’re placing that burden here, but these are the thoughts going through my own heart and mind as I consider my way forward. When I think of good people like you and my close-knit community of saints bearing this load I feel awe and grief. It is so hard to see the way ahead.

  5. I agree that the writing and imagery are beautiful. Many people are sharing thoughts to express their disappointment that the Church of which they are a part will not give legitimacy to same-sex marriage, as the prevailing culture has done. But time heals all wounds, and the work of God continues to move forward. I hope that in time, those who feel grief today will soon feel joy again. In the meantime, I hope they will stay aboard the good ship Zion.

  6. Beautiful. ” I wouldn’t abandon it, even if I could.” Reminds me of Peter’s “Lord, to whom shall we go?” And of my relationship with my husband. He does things that I find maddening or even offensive, but those things can’t outmeasure the depth of my love and loyalty or dislodge me from the little world we have built together.

  7. I have wondered why, in all the pain and dissonance that I feel as an active Mormon, I don’t consider leaving. I never do. I think that you hit it nicely with your last paragraph. Thank you. But the question remains: What do I do? I don’t want to go to church and complain. Other people going to church might be seeking something very different than what I seek, and I have no desire to take away from their experience. So I feel trapped. I want to protest, disagree, complain about, remove myself from this most recent policy which seems so narrow-minded and un-Christian. However, I really don’t want to go to church and declare such things. We go to church because we have so much in common, and learn so much from each-other. I can’t find peace in the church, but rattling the walls doesn’t sound particulary inviting to me as well.

  8. What do I do? I don’t want to go to church and complain.

    Go to church and worship our Savior, Jesus Christ. Sing the hymns expressively. Say hello and pleased to meet you to everyone you meet. Call a child or teenager by name. Give a generous fast offering. Listen to the sacrament meeting speakers — really listen to what they say and discern what they mean. Volunteer to help put away the chairs afterwards. Forgive all your neighbors. Such a course can work wonders.

  9. I befriend a member of my ward who happens to be Lesbian. The bitterness and animosity is amazing to me as she continues to go as she knows its a good place for her son to attend. After speaking with her I know the church makes her feel like she is unworthy and that her very existence is abomination. So the best way I can show support for her is sit next to her at church and show that I understand her feelings. However on the other hand the rock this church was built on was shaped from the very rock it was created from…it’s not going anywhere anytime soon…however the face will eventually change as it weathers storms. As a new member and someone who has tremendous insight…the church 30 years now from now will be much different than it was today…just like 30 years ago it’s not the same but it still has the same basic principles. I too feel get frustrated with my involvement in the church from time to time. Sometimes I feel isolated as I cant seem to identity with the rest of 38 year males with large families. I want to get laid. I want to go out and just get drunk til the sun comes up. I realize that most the members have no idea what they are doing here other than following and keeping up with family tradition. However the thing about it is at the end of the day its not about me or what i want to make my life easier its about making the world a balanced place. When it comes to Christ, I believe in what Christ is before I believe in who Christ was. Having that said I look at Christ like the yin/yang symbol. In the opening paragraph I think it captures that perfectly. The opposites all wrapped up into one. Contradictions colliding while creating new worlds ideas and thoughts. It’s what the physical universe is made up of. But more importantly it shows the perfect balance between spiritual and temporal ideas. It’ll be ok in the end!!! For in the end when you’re on that death bed surrounded by friends and family with loved ones beyond the veil waiting for you with open arms, that would be the time when one can say it was worth the faith!

  10. David, I’m glad to call you brother. I love your honesty. You bring a valuable perspective and unique past experience to the life of a Latter-day Saint, and your faithfulness is all the more inspiring. You’re in a special position to minister to those who don’t fit the Mormon mold. Thank you for all the ways you are blessing the people your ward.

  11. I’m curious about the temple recommend issue–now that gay marriage is apostasy, will supporters of gay marriage be denied their temple recommends, as supporters of polygamy are currently?

    Seems like that could be a far more significant issue than the baptism of children of gay parents (which, while horribly significant to those children and their parents, is still a relatively small group).

  12. Nepos – there isn’t a recommend question asking if someone supports polygamy. There is the question “Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?”

    And for that, we’ll have to hope there’s clarification.

  13. This makes no sense at all to me.

    Grandiosity and triumphalism would have a prophet revealing “many great and important things” that would lift the downcast, the impoverished, the under and unrepresented children of God making a place at the head of the table for them.

    Grandiosity and triumphalism would be the leading voice for change in the greater society, not trailing it by fifty years.

    Grandiosity and triumphalism would be Joseph, or more Grand and Triumphant still; Christ.

    Said He who spoke to Joseph:

    “I call upon the weak things of the world to thresh the nations by the power of my spirit”.

    What we have, and more tragic still, what we accept, is a faint copy, a “poor player that struts and frets”.

    God help us all

  14. Dang! I should have copied it – I just shared the link with half my family. If anyone has a copy of its text please post it here. Times and seasons – what happened? Can we access it anywhere else? It was the best analysis yet.

  15. anon, Brad L, and Peter:

    I’m really, really sorry about this. It was very much just a draft and I must have accidentally published it without realizing it. I took it down when I realized my mistake.

  16. PLEASE post again ASAP – there was nothing wrong with it :) You’ve done a great job – when will it return?

  17. Beautiful post, Rosalynde. You’re quite a gifted poet.

    One line, though, seemed a little inaccurate: “To the believing mind, the Mormon church is charged with keeping the flame of God’s authority alight for the world through the winds of secular modernity.”

    Earlier this morning, I was reading through Joseph Smith’s First Vision, and it struck me that as Latter-day Saints, we were not founded against the winds of secular modernity. It wasn’t secularism, or Deism, as it was probably called back then, that so strongly opposed us.

    It was Christians.

    As Latter-day Saints, we were born as a group who opposed the false teachings of evangelical Christianity, wherein God could not find His church.

    Today, it seems like we have turned 180 from our original path, and are now walking hand-in-hand with those groups we were born opposing, and are now joining them in persecuting others, just as they once persecuted us.

    There are plenty of religions, Roman Catholicism foremost, that do have a rich tradition of opposing secularism and modernism. But that wasn’t us.

  18. Well, I thoroughly read through it and thought it was fairly good, Julie. You should smooth it out a little bit and repost it.

  19. Rosalynde,
    I add my thanks for your words and emotions, for giving expression to the turmoil we face in choosing to stay in our “stubborn, scandalous church,” or not.

    I thought I had decided to stay, but your last sentence has me reconsidering. The direct link you make between your (and my and many others’) choice to remain a member and the lack of that very choice for our gay brothers and sisters highlights for me why offering up my membership in solidarity with those who can’t have it might be the best sacrifice I can make.

    I want to stay but struggle increasingly to believe that I can do so and still follow Christ.

  20. I feel like I am not seeing what everyone else is seeing in this policy. Kirsten wrote that the church is taking away the choice to be a member from LGBTQ folks. This seems to confound 1) people who are sexually attracted to others of the same gender with; 2) having homosexual sex. They are different, right? To me, this policy is about the church clarifying its position that homosexual sex=a sin which would disqualify you from membership. This is true for extra-marital heterosexual sex, too. The policy doesn’t say that people who want to have homosexual sex are excluded. It is not excluding people because of who they are or how they feel. It is clarifying what it considers problematic enough to exclude you from membership. Celibacy/abstinence is a big sacrifice, but it isn’t the biggest one God has asked of people. Do we consider having sex with who we want to have sex with a basic human right, not to be infringed on even by God? The policy make clear that it affects those who have chosen to have homosexual sex and embrace a homosexual lifestyle and their children. It doesn’t say anything about same sex attraction. My sense is that it also affects the children because they are being taught “apostate” doctrine at home and they naturally affiliate with and love and support those teaching the doctrine. The church won’t try to change that (because of a respect for families, cognitive dissonance, legal issues, etc.–I don’t know all the reasons) and so does not interfere with the children. What am I missing?

  21. jcb – you are right, there is a lack of precision in the term gay. Let us assume, then, that Kristen’s words give context for her usage, and that the people she is talking about are your category 2. Those who have chosen to live in a homosexual relationship, who have built a marriage, but who still feel, as Rosalynde feels, that Mormonism is woven into the selves, are now forced to make the choice between humans – their partner, often their children, the people with whom they have been building a life – and the institution that has structured their lives (I do not say the Gospel, because I refuse to believe that God’s word is, at its core, about whether your family is the 1950’s American ideal rather than whether you work and sacrifice to build yourself and God’s kingdom. I at least could have no respect for such a Gospel). Those who do not yet have a partner but who drink in the LDS church’s messages of love and family and children and growth now are forced into the (I would argue unnecessary) position of choosing between a very real chance for love and family (which Mormons think is the pinnacle of life unless you’re gay), and that same institution.

    What I think you are missing is the justification for your belief that the Gospel of Christ cares more about the structure of your family than its focus on love and growth and service and God.

  22. Municipal– thank you for your thoughtful reply.

    You are right that I believe God cares about the structure of our families–in particular that what was given in the Proclamation to the World sets out the structure which fulfills His plan, and a homosexual family structure doesn’t. That proclamation has been “on the books” for over a decade now, but I haven’t been aware of it producing the sort of angst that is currently being expressed. So why, now, are we in arms about what family structure the Lord approves?

    I don’t believe that the ability to be in the family structure of your choice in necessary for love and growth and service. To say that one has to be able to have the kind of sex and marriage he/she wants in order to love and grow and serve means that no single member of the church is able to love and grow and serve, which clearly isn’t the case. Of course, many single people would LOVE to love, grow and serve in a way that includes spouse, sex, children, etc., but the church has been clear that those things aren’t guaranteed in life and that they CAN love, serve and grow nonetheless.

    Again, I feel like I’m missing the point that is causing so much angst.

  23. For me the angst arises because the church has put its members into a crisis situation – they have removed the hope that we can continue as a church family even while we hope for change. They have labeled as tares individuals we know to be wheat.

    The Proclamation on the Family, I’ll be honest, contains both beautiful and troubling precepts for me, and I’m not inclined to accept it as the end-all-be-all of God’s will for families. My concerns there have not been a cause for crisis, as my family wasn’t kicked out of the church if my husband didn’t ‘preside’ in the prescribed way, and our ‘individual adaptation’ (me working) to the ‘divine design’ of separate roles wasn’t grounds for excommunication even though it was prompted by neither disability nor death. Thus, many of us have muddled along, loving our church even though we are as sure of its imperfections as we are of our own.

    And of course I agree with you that having the family structure of your choice isn’t necessary for love and growth and service. Monks and Nuns and priests through the ages have proven that lives of dedication to God need not be predicated on building a family at all. My argument was not that family is necessary to serve God, but quite the opposite – that a specific family structure is unnecessary to serve God, though families (as the church also claims) are marvelous structures for supporting the love, commitment, and growth that bring us closer to God. It seems that we believe in Gods with two different hierarchies of priorities. I believe in a God who prioritizes creating communities and families that will comfort, support, strengthen and challenge us over making sure families look a certain way. You (I think) believe that God thinks two men or two women are so unacceptable as a family, that those individuals must be cut off from if they attempt to receive the love, comfort, and support that a family can bring.

    Your God and my God are simply different beings, I believe, with different goals.

  24. “That proclamation has been “on the books” for over a decade now … So why, now, are we in arms about what family structure the Lord approves?”

    When the Lord approves one family structure without specifically disapproving other family structures in the same canonized scriptural “thus saith the Lord” language, some people hope that the door is left open to further light and knowledge to be revealed in the future. When the church says that such other structures are not just unapproved, not just sinful, but inherently apostate and the children of such a family not able to come to Christ through baptism at the normal age, no one expected that. No one knew they had to be shunned like polygamists. Some people didn’t even know how polygamists were being treated.

  25. Eve:

    Do you spend a lot of time shunning polygamists? I live on the Wasatch Front where there are a small communities of polygamists and a very high percentage of active LDS. Never seen a polygamist shunned. Wouldn’t know how to do it properly if I had to. I teach high school and I have never seen a student from a polygamist family shunned. I even know of one who was elected as a student body officer. I’ve seen BYU fans shunned by Utah fans and vice versa. But I can’t recall of a single polygamist ever being shunned, or at least labeled and shunned for their parents’ actions.

    I’ve even seen children of polygamists become Eagle scouts, get baptized at 18, serve missions, marry in the temple,etc. Now their parents can’t serve missions, nor can they even get baptized. And their newly baptized LDS kids have disavowed the practice of plural marriage. That probably smarts, but they seem to get over it soon enough. But no shunning. Not to say that there couldn’t be a little covert shunning going on that I don’t know about, so don’t be too disappointed. I’ll keep watching for you.

  26. Old Man, do you know very many people from polygamist families well? I have to admit I have only known one, and I knew her after she was an adult and had converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but she and her still-polygamous mother, whom I met on one occasion, had personal experiences of people throwing bricks through their window as well as a lot of other persecution and general shunning from people in Utah.

    I think it’s great that you have never seen polygamists be shunned or persecuted, but it does happen. If you do know any people from such families on a familiar enough basis that such questions would be appropriate, I encourage you to ask them privately if they have had to deal with shunning, persecution, or violence, and I bet they would have stories to share with you.

  27. Yep, I know some people. Probably nearly one hundred people total. Two families in my ward. One was just baptized into the Church. Had business relations with some, one family owns some historic homes in our city. Another owns a peach orchard and I made a point of buying my fruit there for decades. Darn good peaches. Went to dinner with one family to thank them for their family helping to take care of an elderly relative. Wonderful people. Taught dozens in class… I’ve taught school in this area for decades. Another family owns the gravel pit which our city uses. No bricks, no harassment, no persecution, no violence. Most LDS families in my area have multiple polygamist ancestors, so shunning makes little sense.

    Incidentally, I have uncovered incidents of students persecuting gay students. We got those resolved really quick. Most students in my area are quite tolerant. I had two students come out in my class this year. So I guess they feel comfortable with a grumpy old cuss like myself teaching them.

  28. Old Man, maybe in the Wasatch Front “shunning” has a special definition that has to do with targeted harassment like brick throwing? I have no idea what special definition you’re using.

    All I meant is that the way the church treats polygamists as being a special danger to the flock so bishops have to refuse to let them in at all, and take extra precautions before letting even their children in. That’s all it takes in my mind to shun someone.

    If you’re like, what do you mean? The Church has no antipathy toward polygamists or gay people, it’s just being cautious. Well, words mean things.

    persistently avoid, ignore, or reject (someone or something) through antipathy or caution.

  29. Eve,

    Shunning does have a meaning to me. It is psychological intimidation or exclusion with the intent to force submission. The Amish practice it to some degree. It is partly based on Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 5. By your definition, shunning can mean something as simple as ignoring a heckler or obnoxious used car salesman. Apparently I’ve been shunning Donald Trump long distance for some time now!

  30. Well, that is a very creative definition, Old Man. I’m not Amish and never have been, so I’m not going to use words the way they do. 1 Corinthians 5 doesn’t even contain the word “shun.” At least not in the King James Version used by Latter-day Saints. I also don’t feel that using a specialized or unique definition is conducive to good communication.

    I use a standard dictionary definition (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/shun). According to that definition, yes, when I’m performing onstage, I do shun hecklers. I have gone to used car lots and shunned the salespeople. I shun politicians who say reprehensible things. In other words, I only shun people who are actively bothering me. I’ve never felt it necessary to shun gay people though. Or polygamists. I’ve never felt a need to avoid, ignore, or reject them–not out of antipathy, and not out of caution, either.

  31. “Your God and my God are simply different beings, I believe, with different goals.” Christ said He came to bring a sword and divide families and those who chose their mother or child over Him aren’t worthy of Him. He also gave us the parables of the Wheat and Tares and the Ten Virgins. He doesn’t accept everything and everyone because He’s just so loving. Our repentance–doing our best to try and change in heart and in deed to align our will with His–is how we can be accepted by Him.

  32. So the angst over the Church policy on children of homosexual couples is really the affirmation that it will not accept practicing homosexuals into Church fellowship? That is not news, any more than the fact that it will not baptize people who are living together without benefit of marriage.

    The Church does not bar people who are not members in good standing from attending our Sunday meetings or ward dinners or service projects, nor does it bar their children from Primary or teenage Sunday School. But being baptized means affirming every Sunday our intent to obey God’s commandments, including the ones about not having sexual relations outside a marriage between one man and one woman.

    Being an Episcopalian does not involve that kind of commitment. But being a Mormon does.

    Episcopalians might think that being less demanding on standards of sexual behavior will make them more popular in the modern era, but they seem to be losing members anyway. Despite the LDS Church being much stricter about this, it does grow, and does retain the vast majority of its members.

    I really don’t see any likelihood that the Church will ever change its position on this, regardless of the legal status of same-sex marriage in the US or any other country. The Church is not bent on coercing homosexuals, or polygamists, or anyone else who has a non-traditional sexual practice. But it will not be coerced into abandoning its very simple doctrine on this topic for its own members, who are, after all, volunteers.

  33. Raymond, read Grant Hardy’s most recent article in the Atlantic on the issue. He points out a number of doctrinal contradictions that this new policy forces the church into. Here are some notable quotables:

    Withholding baptism from the children of willing parents is virtually unheard of. And to suggest that some teenagers will do just fine without the gift of the Holy Ghost—which is conferred at confirmation—does not square with standard LDS teachings.

    It’s true that the LDS Church employed stringent policies to stamp out polygamy in the early 20th century, but same-sex marriage today is quite different. One practice was illegal and scorned; the other lawful and increasingly accepted. The children of polygamists are often socialized to become polygamists, while children of same-sex marriages are overwhelmingly heterosexual. Given the history of polygamy in early Mormonism, those who cling to the practice claim higher religious authority and are often part of an underground movement. In other words, they are apostates. By contrast, the decision to marry someone of the same sex cannot be supported with quotations from Joseph Smith or Brigham Young.

    Many LGBT Mormons accept the Church’s high valuation of marriage and children, yet labeling same-sex marriage as apostasy makes a lifetime, legally binding commitment between gays or lesbians a more serious sin than gay promiscuity.

    He says it better than I can, and he’s right.

  34. Thanks for the link to that Atlantic article. When people like Brother Hardy are criticizing the policy, well it’s probably time to reonsider.

  35. Withholding baptism from the children of willing parents is virtually unheard of.

    I think, for the Church, “parents” means father and mother, male and female (with provision for death and adoption and so forth). I don’t think “parents” means parental-unit-one and parental-unit-two, male and male or female and female. So where there are not willing “parents” to give consent, the rule is that the child waits. No harm, no foul. That has been the rule for a long time.

    Lawful and increasingly accepted.

    By whom? I haven’t heard that our God or His church have accepted homosexual marriage. The Supreme Court did, but that only affects civil law.

    Labeling same-sex marriage as apostasy makes a lifetime, legally binding commitment between gays or lesbians a more serious sin than gay promiscuity.

    Well, isn’t that right? Claiming the imprimatur of marriage for a homosexual relationship, and making it public and permanent, does seem to me to be a greater sin than an occasional and furtive homosexual escapade, or even a non-married long-term situation.

    I don’t speak for the Church in any matter, but I think I understand the policy and I am willing to sustain it (but I am not in any position to enforce it). I suppose the supporters of homosexual marriage supposed they had won the battle with the recent Supreme Court decision — the court did grant recognition of homosexual marriage as a matter of civil law in the U.S., but it didn’t (and couldn’t?) order recognition by God or His church. The Church has not yet chosen to recognize homosexual marriage, and in that light the policy makes sense to me.

    When people like Brother Hardy are criticizing the policy, well it’s probably time to reconsider.

    Who is Grant Hardy? The Univ. of N. Carolina professor? I understand that people in his position are required to be supportive of homosexual marriage as a condition of keeping their jobs and qualifying for tenure and so forth. For matters of doctrine and church policy, well, I wouldn’t look to a UNC professor.

  36. So where there are not willing “parents” to give consent, the rule is that the child waits. No harm, no foul. That has been the rule for a long time.

    Wait, ji, I’m assuming that you are full believing member of the LDS church, correct? Don’t you believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit, which can only be received by being confirmed a member of the LDS church by a priesthood holder, is crucial for children to have? If one of the legal guardians of a child is consenting to that child’s baptism and confirmation, and the child desires to be baptized and is found worthy, then the LDS church has nothing or no one to blame but itself for denying that child the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is inconceivable. I thought that the LDS church was on a mission to give all willing people access to the gift of the Holy Spirit as soon as it possibly could. This is a complete double standard on the part of the LDS church.

    I don’t speak for the Church in any matter, but I think I understand the policy

    Then you don’t seem to understand how the policy contradicts other church doctrines and teachings, particularly Article of Faith 2.

    What’s more perplexing is that you don’t even address Grant Hardy’s main points. Did you not understand them? Are you afraid to address them?

  37. Claiming the imprimatur of marriage for a homosexual relationship, and making it public and permanent, does seem to me to be a greater sin than an occasional and furtive homosexual escapade, or even a non-married long-term situation.

    Alright, then. Let’s mark ji’s name down in the category of those who think that there are some situations in which sexual promiscuity (even to the extent of spreading deadly diseases) is less immoral than making a lifetime romantic commitment to one partner. Your moral compass is completely backwards, ji. I suppose that is what happens to people who blindly mimic and obey authority figures for years and years. They actually lose the power to think for themselves, and eventually even lose the very power to think logically altogether.

  38. Brad L., casual sin has always been less of a problem than dedicated sin. Following your passions has always been less of a sin than putting heart and discipline into a mockery of Christ’s church. Marriage is our highest sacrament, so gay marriage is something like a Black Mass. Do you follow that? Sins of passion make us animals. Sins of commitment make us devils.

    You seem to be one of that growing number of moderns that base their moral compass entirely on whether or not the individual in question feels good, and on whether or not a given action will hurt someone’s feelings. That’s not backwards, but it is stunted. Purity is real, and it’s not based on whether something brings a smile to your face or makes your heart throb. If you have sexual desire towards a member of your own sex, your desire is twisted, no matter how good you feel or how faithful to that person you are. It doesn’t matter if they consent, or if they return that favor, it’s a parody of God’s organization.

    is that logical enough for you? In the past few decades our culture has seen a very large shift, and some of us have been taken up by it. The old directions on our moral compasses have been erased, and we no longer care about anything but niceness. Not to mention it’s become a taboo to even research ways to, you know, change sexual orientation. The Church of the World has declared you can’t so stop trying, and since you can’t why are you hurting these people? Ironically, followers of that Church think of themselves as free thinkers, and imagine they aren’t bound tightly to its authority.

  39. There are several flaws in arguing that committed homosexual relationships are morally and sacramentally worse than ‘animal’ promiscuity, and that it is the world that has decided to stop trying therapies and cures for homosexual orientation. The Church itself after putting a lot of gay members through hell and tortures for decades has acknowledged that this did not work and has stopped recommending that as a response to ‘same sex attraction’.

    Ironically the reason our GAs used to give for homosexuality being an affront to God is that it encouraged selfish promiscuity and could not result in raising children and stable socially responsible lifestyles. It is a complete about face to now define committed gay relationships as more profoundly dangerous and sinful than promiscuous ones. However you feel about whether or not God is OK with gay sexual activity or relationships, that is inconsistent and hypocritical and I am growing weary of members of the Church boldly asserting things as ‘how it has always been’ when they are clearly very ignorant of the real history of these matters in the Church. Brigham Young and other GAs spent a lot of time preaching polygamy as the most natural and healthy sexuality to have and actually disparaged monogamy as an affront to God’s ideals and a symptom of a morally weak civilisation. Any member asserting that the Church has been consistent in promoting and valuing the current line on heterosexual monogamy as the right and ‘natural’ form of marriage should at least have some humility and acknowledge that history even if you believe Brigham was lying when he claimed to be speaking as a prophet when he taught those things. Hypocrisy all over the place, and that was Jesus’ biggest bugbear.

    Pharisees value rules and ritual purity over actual harm to real people. Sexual
    promiscuity is far more damaging to families, society and health than any committed relationship as it immediately results in spreading STIs, infertility, abortions, unstable home environments for children and damage to the promiscuous emotionally, physically and spiritually. This is why so many committed, active members like me are horrified at all the rhetoric from GAs and anyone else proclaiming that offending sacraments is more evil that harming people in response to the implications of this policy change.

  40. nl, the issue at hand isn’t actually whether or not homosexuality is moral or not. Clearly, according to LDS church doctrine, it is immoral (and for the sake of argument, let’s just assume that homosexual relationships in all forms are immoral). This issue at hand is whether or not homosexual promiscuity is more immoral than being in a lifelong committed relationship with a single same-gender partner. You say that casual sin is less of a problem than dedicated sin. OK. So what about a person who marries in the temple, comes out of the closet, divorces his wife, and lives a lifetime of promiscuity with dozens and dozens of same-gender sexual partners. Suppose that this is a lifestyle that he constantly boasts of and is well known to all his acquaintances. Now suppose this person chooses to live alone and never actually cohabits with one of his sexual partners or enters into a civil marriage with one of them (because he has a deep fear of commitment and he thinks marriage is a form of oppression) and his former wife dies and he gets full custody of his children. Technically, according to the new policy, this person’s children would be able to be baptized. He wouldn’t technically be considered an apostate. He could technically even tell the church leaders, “yeah, I’m gay and have lots of same-gender sexual partners but not living with any of them, and my kid wants to get baptized and I’m fine with that,” and the church leader wouldn’t have any reason to reject his child’s baptism. I’m going to give the brethren the benefit of the doubt and say that this is oversight on their part. I don’t think that they actually consider gay promiscuity more moral than lifelong same-gender commitment. They don’t say anything on the matter, nor to the scriptures about what is technically more moral or less moral. But you mean to tell me that somehow this person is living a more moral life than a person in a lifelong committed same-gender relationship?

    This causes me to question how exactly you are informing yourself of what is moral or if you even have a concept of what the term morality means. Please explain how this man is living a more moral life.

  41. Well said, Peter. I’m happy to see someone else coming on here and challenging the torrent of nonsensical twisted logic on these comment sections (the permas certainly don’t step in to do that nearly enough. Come on, guys, let’s shoot down and ridicule these bad ideas to death). It is as if bad logic is all the rage these days in the bloggernacle.

  42. Look, guys, I’m not MiniTru here. Moses advocated massacring Canaanites, yet we don’t today. Hypocrisy! What are your moral systems based on? Is it anything more complicated than “be nice to each other?” Does it have any foundation in scripture? You seem awfully convinced your ideas are the only right ones, and that wouldn’t bother me as much if you weren’t toeing the Church of the World party line so completely.

    Defiling sacraments has always been worse than harming people. At certain times harming people is good. In fact, the highest sacrifice involved harming someone, quite badly in fact. Sacraments are eternal, physicality is not.

  43. Peter, I am with you on disagreeing with the new policy (and the old policy—I think within a couple of decades the church will allow gay temple marriages), I don’t think the fact that one is classified as apostasy, and another not, is meant to have anything to say about the seriousness of the respective sins, but of fears about each sin’s effect on other church members. If a gay person is sexually promiscuous, many other members will look at that person and say he or she is clearly sinning. Apostles do not feel threatened by this, at least not to a greater level than they do about heterosexual promiscuity. On the other hand, if two gay individuals marry and have children and raise them lovingly, statistically, the church members who know this family are going to be much more likely to begin to support gay marriage and to believe it is completely normal and healthy, and maybe even just as good as heterosexual marriage. Apostles feel very, very threatened by this possibility—more and more members are believing that line of thinking each year.

    Excommunication is not about meting out judgment, although many Latter-day Saints erroneously think of it that way—it is about separating what are perceived as harmful elements from the rest of the body to prevent contamination.

    The apostles are scared of gay families, and so they have attempted to amputate them from the body of Christ. I believe that is enormously hypocritical.

    So nl, that’s what my moral system is based on: faith over fear. The handbook policy is clearly based on fear, so I oppose it. But even if my moral system was limited to “be[ing] nice to each other”, as you suggest, there is clear scriptural precedent for that. Remember when Jesus said to love one another? Remember when he put mercy above sacrifice in his list of virtues? Remember when God told Joseph Smith Christian creeds were an abomination to him? What you call “defiling sacraments” I call ignoring 20th-century creeds. And incidentally, your policy is just the 20th-century policy of the church of the world. So it’s not God versus world: it’s 21st-century world versus 20th-century world. And just as 20th-century world is better than 19th-century in its rejection of slavery and racism, so 21st-century world is better than 20th-century in its rejection of sexual discrimination. The policy you’re defending didn’t originate with God: it originated with fallen humanity, and was one of those creeds Heavenly Father considered so abominable.

    Also, if sacraments are eternal, then why aren’t you still practicing animal sacrifice? Isn’t that eternal? Or can sacraments change over time as new circumstances in the world arise? If grain can replace animal flesh, why is it so strange to you for same-sex to stand alongside hetero-sex?

  44. nl, you never answered my question and never addressed my point. Did you even read what Peter or I had to say? If you comment again, please reread our comments and make sure that you specifically address the points we raise. By not doing so, you come off as either lazy or dodgy. In either case, I see that as your loss and my win in the debate.

  45. Does it have any foundation in scripture?

    Wait, does the idea that gay promiscuity is more moral than lifetime romantic same-gender commitment have any foundation in the scripture have any foundation in scripture? You’re simply relying on your own (il)logic to draw that conclusion about morality.

    Defiling sacraments has always been worse than harming people

    What???? You’ve completely lost me. is this some sort of gnostic thinking that I’m supposed to derive some sort of esoteric meaning from?

  46. Okay, so mirrorrorim bases morality on faith, not fear. The apostles clearly base their policy on fear, so they’re out as a source of inspiration? Where do you get this? Do you know them? I mentioned that policies do change, yes. Grain was alongside animal flesh from the beginning, read Leviticus.

    Brad L, I’m not sure what you want me to answer. The family is the basic unit of the Church, the eternal unit that is going to endure when the rest of the Church vanishes into history. Families are based on a father and a mother. There is precedent for fathers being shared between families, but the presence of a father and a mother is necessary for a family. That’s in the Proclamation, it’s twenty years old, freely available on the internet. Sure, the Prophet might wake up tomorrow and change that, just like the priesthood ban, but consider this: prophets and members of the Twelve were publicly wondering whether the priesthood ban might be ended, black families were always promised temple ordinances at least in the next life, and there was never a Race: Proclamation to the World.

    So with the family being that important, and family units not based on a mother and father being excluded, what happens when you start a family with a father and a father or a mother and a mother anyway? Is that a family unit that is going to someday be able to be sealed? According to the best information from the First Presidency and the Twelve, and their unwavering policy for at least twenty years ever since this subject became important at all, no. So a non-traditional family – and I’m not talking about a family based on grandparents or aunts and uncles, no, those can be sealed as fathers and mothers – a non-traditional family is a competitor to the ordained-of-God kind, one that clogs family roles with people eternally unqualified for them. Again, I don’t care if they look like they can fill that role, if you can spend a lifetime with them seeming to fill that role. There are eternal things going on here, and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.

    So a promiscuous gay is an individual sinning for himself. A gay family? That’s a building block for another church. God is jealous. Some things that look innocuous to us look evil to him, and eventually we will praise God for protecting us from such good things. They’re both immoral, but one is immoral in the I’ll-follow-my-passions way, the other one, no matter how good it might feel, is immoral in the I’ll-build-Satan’s-church way.

    Is any of this new to you? Have all of you missed the last twenty years of church doctrine and policy? When they talked about the importance of the family, did you just blow it off? Do you really think the Lord will take his church in the direction of the world because the world is right? For the hardness of our hearts he’s allowed us many bad things, but he’s drawn us a line here.

    Oh, and defiling sacraments being worse than hurting people, that is right out of scripture. Touch the ark? Dead. Dude probably had a family. Sodom and Gomorrah? Fire from heaven. Worship a calf? Chopped to bits by Levites. Hold back your substance when the Lord wants it consecrated? Struck dead. Your eye offends you? Pluck it out. Hand’s holding you back? Chop it off. Jesus was never afraid of hurting people.

    You people are so sure progress only goes one way, that the world would never lead you astray, or tell you that homosexuality is healthy and normal even when the prophets have unwaveringly since the beginning of time called it an abomination. Please go back to scripture, go back to James 1:5, go back to asking God, by prayer, by study, by attention to the words of the living prophets, and trust them, give them some time. About a year and a half ago I wasn’t sure what kind of harm gay marriage could cause the family; I gave it time, gave it prayer, and came to a better understanding of family through it. You can too.

  47. “For the hardness of our hearts he’s allowed us many bad things, but he’s drawn us a line here” and “You people are so sure progress only goes one way” are important points. Not every change that happens is because the people are progressively becoming more enlightened and able to receive greater truth. The assumption that we are better situated as a people to receive the greater truths of God than the people of Joseph Smith’s day or Brigham’s day or Heber’s day or Gordon’s day is just that: an assumption. Every new revelation or policy change should be considered on its own, to assess whether it is in fact, greater truth, or, on the other hand, a lower law.

  48. nl, I’m going to let you just keep hacking away at that straw man you’ve created. It seems like you’re getting him real good. Your comment is nothing but rambling nonsense that shows us just how much of a deranged person you are. The only thing in that disjointed tirade of yours that even remotely answers my question is: “So a promiscuous gay is an individual sinning for himself. A gay family? That’s a building block for another church.” But again, this appears to be nothing but unintelligible babble. Same-gender couples in committed relationships are building a church??? Is there some piece of news that I missed? I would ask you to clarify what you mean, but I don’t think that I could expect more than crazed gibberish as a response from you. I think that I’ve pretty well cut the chicken’s head off entirely and we’re just watching its body run around for a bit until it collapses.

  49. If we’re going to bring Sodom into this discussion let me point out that its sins were pride, fullness of bread, idleness, and neglect of the poor and needy. If we’re going to talk about Uzzah, his mistake was definitely touching the ark, but his first sin was listening to his leaders hair brained scheme for moving the ark. (If only he’d thought for himself.)

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