Forgiving our leaders

It is about ten months ago now, that Sad Sunday when the ‘Exclusion Policy’ was upon us, the one that created a lot of problems, while solving probably none. In our ward we lost our bishop through it, and he still has not returned. Also, some of the Primary kids still have not been baptized, as some still wait for the exclusion policy to be revoked. There is ample reason for such a repeal; after all, as I analysed last year, the policy of excluding children of same sex parents from a normal entrance into our community does not really address anyone in practice, whereas it does send a signal of exclusion into the world. And into the Church. It is the wrong arena, the wrong battle, the wrong fight.

Yet, a retraction is unlikely to happen for several reasons. In any formal organization, not just the Church, reversing a decision is much harder than taking one, as it erodes the authority of the leadership and ultimately undermines the organization itself. When presiding over an international sport federation, I had exactly the same problem: how to come back on mistakes without creating a lot of confusion in the organization, or losing too much political clout? I did make mistakes, and most I had to ‘suffer out’, only a few I could correct. In our church this issue is compounded by the mist of infallibility that hovers around our leaders, the nebula generated by the notion of ‘not leading astray’. During my term as a stake president I clearly felt the expectation of being inspired as an additional burden. Inspiration definitely helps, but counting on it does not.

So what now? I do think it is time to move on, but not to simply close the book as this page will not be turned over as the issue will keep popping up. And with good reason, not just because the internet never forgets. This signal of intolerance stands, and should be heeded, but we simply have to learn from it. Judging from their reactions to the internet-storm our leaders did learn from this experience. Their defensive posture was and is clear, and the attempt to define the policy as a revelation simply failed. The point now is to help those who feel angry about the policy, who leave the church over it. As I cannot defend the policy, I want to address those who are indignant as they do not understand it, but also those who understand it all too well.

The road is simple, I think, we have to forgive our leaders. We have to forgive them for this particular ruling, for past mistakes, and be ready to forgive them in the future. The injunction to forgive our neighbors, to forgive our brothers and sisters, seventy times seven, does include our leaders as well.

Why does this sound presumptuous, forgiving our leaders? Usually they are the ones who judge us, and who have to forgive us, but it does work the other way around as well. We are all entitled to inspiration within our own realm, so we are all ‘not-quite-infallible’, and equally so. If we are promised that the Lord will not lead his Church astray, I do believe it, but that does not preclude any of us from making an occasional wrong turn, either as individual or as a leadership collective. We have to forgive our leaders, and move on together. If they make a mistake, we are not led astray, we are simply for a moment not led. But all of us together, leaders, followers – and we all are in some measure both – we can lead one another by a gentle protest when needed, but especially by forgiving each other for mistakes at all times. So on this particular issue, let us forgive our leaders. They deserve it. One never knows, we ourselves might be forgiven as well.

Walter van Beek

97 comments for “Forgiving our leaders

  1. How can we forgive our leaders when the The Policy is still in place, when beautiful children are being ostracized, when legal marriages aren’t being honored and recognized, when young men and women are being driven to suicide? How can we forgive our leaders when they haven’t repented and asked for forgiveness? When they’ve never apologized and asked for forgiveness for the century-long nightmare of the Negro Doctrine/policy? Or for sustaining the Patriarchal Order that produces bad fruit like the subjugation of women, the continuing pall of polygamy in our temple ordinances, and the rape culture fostered by the BYU honor code? Or when a senior apostle reflects institutional pride with the statement, “We never apologize!” When they ask for forgiveness in word and action, we can forgive and move on.

  2. I am very willing to forgive our leaders. I hope I already have, but I continue to deal with the fallout from policy. I still have to go to church every week and listen to those who preach constantly about the evils of the “gay agenda.” Those who voice an alternative perspective get attacked. I am so jealous of those of you who apparently can talk openly about these topics at church without fear. I can only imagine what kind of crap I would catch at church if I suggested that I forgive my leaders for this policy.

  3. Perhaps it would be better to focus on acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God, and leave the forgiving of others to God, if in fact they require forgiveness for the things you disapprove of.

    Otherwise, you simply come across as the Pharisee, praying, thanking God that you are “not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

  4. I’m afraid that this issue is still very much with us. The October Ensign includes the talk that Pres. Nelson gave proclaiming the “Exclusion Policy” a revelation (although it was recently deleted from the seminary Doctrinal Mastery manual), and his address is followed just a few pages later with an article on “Understanding Suicide: Warning Signs and Prevention.” A bit later you will discover “Five Ways to Help Youth Tackle Tough Social Issues,” and the October issue concludes with a retrospective talk from Pres. Hinckley on how wonderful it is to be led by “rather elderly” church leaders. It appears the the leadership is deeply committed to their policies regarding gays and lesbians, and that they are also deeply worried about how this position will be received by both church members and the world at large.

    http://media.ldscdn.org/pdf/magazines/ensign-october-2016/2016-10-00-ensign-eng.pdf

  5. This was the part of Mason’s “Planted” that I most needed to hear. All of us, including leaders down to me, are imperfect and in need of forgiveness. My heart must willingly give forgiveness away if I ever hope to be forgiven.

    I’m reminded of Darius Gray’s story of how he left BYU: the honor code office brought him in and said they’d noticed he’d become close friends w a white woman and he’d be dismissed if he started dating her. He left on his own accord to the U before they had the chance. Sometimes you have to forgive organizations. Sometimes they are blind and in need of grace, too.

    God will sort out whether your forgiveness was necessary or not, but in the meantime, try to give it freely.

  6. If “beautiful children are being ostracized,” we can and ought to do something about NOW, in every ward of the church.

    In every ward that I’ve lived, there have been unbaptized children, for various reasons. They were fully welcomed and participated in every way they could, including serving on committees that organize youth conference, serving as girls camp youth leaders, etc. Not every young man passes the sacrament every week anyway, so a lot of times that was not noticed by rank-and-file members. I have heard that when a young person is attending regularly and graduates seminary that they do not have to wait a full year in order to serve a full-time mission–not sure if that is true. But where I live, a lot of young men are waiting until 19 anyway.

  7. If indeed you think another needs forgiving, you should do it and then shut up about it. Publicly “forgiving” someone else is just another way of telling the world that you think you’ve achieved a higher moral plane than they have. Let’s call it “weaponized forgiveness.”

  8. Hi Walter –

    I agree with your basic message about forgiveness. I’m disappointed in what appears to be an excuse for the leaders not apologizing or reversing their error – “as it erodes the authority of the leadership and ultimately undermines the organization itself.” You then mention your time as a leader of a sports federation.

    Are the Church and a sports federation really comparable? Should leadership strategies from secular business organizations govern “The Church of Jesus Christ?” If so, why make all the fuss about revelation?

    The authority of the church does not rest with any particular Church president or leader, be it President Monson or Elder Nelson. The authority resides exclusively in Jesus Christ. To the extent that the church flouts clear teachings of Jesus, it becomes “as the hypocrites” and loses credibility as an authentic representative of Jesus on earth. It begins to base its decisions more on how well-run businesses operate, rather than on the directives of the Master.

    The ways of heaven and the ways of the world are not the same. Mammon vs. God, and all that.

  9. This post does nothing to the cause of furthering the church work. I see this as yet just another attempt to place unwarranted blame on leaders and in effect undermine their credibility. Might as well be an anti-Mormon because it sounds just the same.

  10. I’ve been thinking along similar lines, Walter. In my take on this, both parties are well-intentioned and fallible. When we deny the fallibility of the Church and its leaders, we also cut off our capacity to act charitably toward to the Church, and to forgive it and its leaders. This mistake is one that is made by both people in and out of the Church. But when we can exercise charity and forgiveness toward the Church, we are able to still love it in its not-yet-perfect-still-being-restored state. We can serve and help in the process of restoration. We, both as individuals and as a people, can continue to grow.

  11. This is an admirable attempt to outline a positive approach to a difficult issue. Blessed are the peacemakers. But I doubt efforts by a chunk of the membership to move past the issue will work when the leadership is still throwing gasoline on the fire. This one has to burn awhile before we can make any progress.

  12. Walter writes from his perspective in the Netherlands, and I can understand him — same in my neighboring Belgium. Our countries have known same-sex marriage for some 15 years now. Such couples form a tiny minority, but they are an integral part of the diverse social fabric. Any form of discrimination against gay couples and their children is considered intolerable. So, many church members deeply struggle with the policy, in particular if children of gay couples cannot be baptized like their friends, and not be ordained as their friends. I know Walter’s true concern for these members, in particular for those who become bitter and are turning away from the church. One way to help them, perhaps not the ideal, but at least an honest try, is to suggest to them that they forgive their fallible leaders and be patient. Commendable.

  13. I feel that I have forgiven them. But forgiveness does not require reconciliation. Repentance on the part of the one being forgiven is necessary in order for reconciliation to be safe. To reconcile with someone who is not sorry they hurt you is asking to be hurt again. Just like an abused wife can forgive her unrepentant abuser, but still choose not to live with him, I have chosen to distance myself from their authority. It wasn’t just this latest policy of exclusion, but a pattern of being the last to regognize the humanity of blacks, of women, of gays, of children of gays.

    People often pressure others into forgiveness, when what they want is for the injury to be swept under the rug and forgotten. I can’t do that. It is my daughter and her wife the church declared apostate.

    I hope this call to forgive the church leaders is not just asking us to sweep the problem under the rug and ignore it. I have been there before. In the 1960s and early 70s, people advised me to forgive the church leaders, because after all, when they were young being racist was normal. I saw the problems in the Indian Placement Program. They were not just educating Native Americans, they were taking away their culture and language. People pressured me to forgive and stay in the church. So, like a good obedient Mormon I swept the problems under the rug and trusted that someday maybe things would change. Well, things did, and they didn’t change. The church leaders have never repented of their polite bigotry. Sure, they changed the policy on blacks and gave them the priesthood and allowed them to enter the temple. But the attitude of white hetro male supremacy never changed. I, for one, am tired of reconciling with the unrepentant.

  14. First we should forgive leaders because they need our help. I’ve never been in a major leadership position (thankfully) but even in the ones I was in as I look back I see lots of mistakes I wish I could take back. People try as best they can.

    To the policy there’s a presumption by many that the actions (fairly consistent over the past 15 – 25 years) are wrong and in need of forgiving. While I recognize this can be challenging for people to deal with, the assumption the Apostles are all wrong on this seems a bit problematic. (I say that not having any particular inspiration one way or an other on the matter – just that it seems unusual for them all to be praying about this and get it wrong)

    My guess is that over the decades ahead there will be plenty of opportunities for people with strong views (right or left) to find those views in conflict with the church (rightly or wrongly). At a certain point one has to decide what ones testimony is about. The gospel and Jesus or our political or philosophical assumptions. My guess is that we’ll see more conflict coming not less. God is trying us to see where our heart is.

  15. Perhaps someday many LDS and former LDS can ask for forgiveness from God for their judging of Gods annointed and holy ones.

  16. How anyone can honestly give any credibility to Church pronouncements on either marriage or homosexuality is amazing to me. Past (both recent and not so) pronouncements surely should give one pause in relation to the sheer magnitude of their vacillation. For those who recognize this, we have few options that help us remain but to forgive such extreme vacillations, regardless of current pronouncements. Either people don’t know much about past Church leader statements in regard in marriage and the evils of monogamy or they don’t know how recently we’ve come to even quasi-admitting gay people exist. No credibility on either issue. How can they possible have any credibility when comes to the combination of the two?

  17. Galahad, I’m assuming you’re just saying that for effect since I’m sure you realize nearly everyone commenting here is more than aware of the historical issues.

  18. Man, so many issues.

    1. Forgiveness implies (necessarily) a wrong. I hate these blasted policies, but I also hate assuming that I have any authority or knowledge about what is right or wrong (on this or any other issue). I mean, what do I know? I’ve been wrong about many things in my life, and I’m subject to the whims of society and my own cultural bias just as much as anyone else. At some level, I have to admit that my own feelings are emotional, and probably not much more. As non-credible as the church might be on these issues, I can’t honestly say that I, personally, have any greater knowledge.

    2. Forgiveness without repentance – I guess that makes sense. Assuming there has been a wrong, is it my obligation to forgive someone even if they don’t say sorry? I guess so. Turn the other cheek, etc…

    3. Forgive without giving up – Again, assuming a wrong, and assuming that I am supposed to forgive, does that mean that I have to give up fighting against the wrong? I hope not.

    What a tornado this all is. Lots of questions. Few great answers.

  19. Naismith,

    Yes, there are unbaptized children in many wards and there are children of SOBs moral reprobates who allow they children to be baptized. I don’t quite understand your point.

    There was a recent lesson from the Teachings of the Presidents manual which opened with a vignettes about President Hunter’s baptism being delayed until after he turned 12. While that ward may have loved him in his unbaptized condition, that condition caused him pain even late in life as he shared that story in talks and sermons.

    Hard for me to imagine kids of gay, married parents finding anything of worth in the Church but for those who choose to participate in the pre-teen and teen years there is a good chance the love they may feel from local members only masks the pain and does not come close to taking it away, at least if he use President Hunter as our guide.

  20. brian, aka galahad, here (must haveswitched my email and name in that last post.).

    Clark, I didn’t know you knew us all so personally. Sorry.

    Effect. Those last sentences were for effect. My first post was not.

  21. Brian, don’t think I mentioned anyone specifically. But the posters and regular commenters over the years have demonstrated a fair bit of knowledge on the subject. The subject has come up over the years.

    I’ve not met anyone claiming personal revelation on the subject that the brethren are wrong. If one thinks one has that then of course forgiveness is a more live decision. Since I have no way of knowing independent of revelation who has had an authentic revelation it tends to limit discussion somewhat.

  22. Thank you for your objectivity and clarity of thought in developing a way forward.

    The November policy is a cancer that is eating at the life, light, and goodness of the church i love.

    It is contrary to the scriptures, contrary to the Articles of Faith, and contrary to the Light of Christ in my heart.

    It has already caused 3 of my 4 children to leave the church. It is destroying eternal families and testimonies. When I think I am supporting an organization with a bigoted hateful policy with my time and money I want to vomit.

    The cancer should not be left to suck more light out of the host but should be cured. The policy needs to be rescinded. This is not who we are.

  23. You forgive because it is required of you. Because holding vengeance in your heart is poisonous and will kill your soul. Because vengeance and punishment belong to God alone. Because you’d better hope that at the last day, Christ shows you the kind of mercy and grace that you show to others. Because love and charity come from a heart that refuses to blame. Not that we forget wrongs and injustices, but that we no longer stand as the accuser – that role belongs to Satan alone.

    8 My disciples, in days of old, sought occasion against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened.

    9 Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.

    10 I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.

    11 And ye ought to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds.

    (D&C 64:8-11)

  24. I got you, Clark. You don’t find the vacillations on marriage and homosexuality relevant to the current policy. But, as evidenced by this OP and even many of the commenters on this post that you know so well, some of them do–or at least have other reasons to question it. I won’t speak of my own personal revelations here, but let’s just say that if you don’t know anyone who has received revelation that it isn’t from God, there may be a reason for that. Of course, there are those, who don’t think receiving revelation contrary to the Brethren is even possible. For people like that, to claim that they don’t know anyone who has received revelation country to the Brethren would be, as you write, a claim simply for effect. The discussion doesn’t have to be ‘live’ for you. It’s ‘live’ for others.

  25. I think vacillations have to occur because situations change. Further we fundamentally don’t believe we know all things and think new important things are to be revealed.

    Again, people have reasons on the topic to think what they think. I just am really skeptical the reasons people have to think the brethren wrong. But again I’m quite willing to embrace my fallibilism. I may be wrong. Just like there are many regular commenters who think I’m wrong in my beliefs in the Church. I can provide reasons but they in their skepticism discount them. I don’t mind that because I recognize when it comes to what reasons we can present publicly we’re somewhat limited. I can but say I’m very skeptical most commenting have revelations on the subject.

  26. Good thing you linked to that Article of Faith. You must have done that for effect. Because, nearly all of those commenting here know about that Article of Faith.

    By all means, be skeptical. I’m not challenging that. I’m challenging your unwillingness to see this as a ‘live’ discussion. It’s live because it is. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be here.

  27. It’s live to the degree many feel this is something they have to do. And I definitely encourage that if they have strong feelings. I just worry about the presupposition the brethren need forgiven. I’ll confess it bothers me.

  28. The point is not that the brethren need to be forgiven. The point is that we need to forgive the brethren. Whether the brethren need to repent is an entirely different issue. Forgiveness is *always* about the hearts of those who do the forgiving. One hopes that forgiveness will lead to reconciliation, but that is also a different issue. Those who read rancor or arrogance into the OP are way off track.

  29. I’m not a fan of the policy. However, bear in mind that the policy, according to Elder Nelson, was a product of revelation. So if you accept that, then you would have to forgive them for doing what god told them to do.

  30. Oooooh, Loursat – that’s very helpful and I hadn’t thought of it in those terms before. I can (and need to) forgive, even if I’m incorrect about the wrongdoing. Maybe the church did something wrong here; maybe not. But if I feel angry about it, I have some work to do. Maybe they do too, but I can’t say that for 100% sure.

  31. I can honestly say I believe the policy is the mind of God and the will of God. I have never questioned the policy and have welcomed it into its place as a means, by wisdom, for the best solution to the problem of homosexuality, as a practice, as it relates to our church membership. It’s a clear sign that God does not condone the practice of homosexuality within his church.

  32. People throw around words like “discrimination” and “vacillation” as if they explained anything. The fact is that on the bedrock principle that sexual relations are permitted only between a husband and wife, legally and lawfully married, there has never been a hint of wavering. And if it’s “discrimination” to treat different situations differently, then the word has ceased to have any meaning and should be tossed onto the ash heap with a lot of other useless words.

  33. Well, Mark B. I don’t think I threw around the word ‘vascialltion’ at all. Which is why mentioned the historical declarations of the evils of monogamy. Maybe you don’t see that rhetoric as a vascialltion from what we present to the world today, but I sure think it does. As well, our rhetoric on ‘gays’ has vascilated widely in the past few decades. Your saying there has been no vascialltion does not make it so.

    I did not use the word discrimination, so I won’t respond to that.

  34. There is certainly a lot of confusion about what constitutes forgiveness, who can do it, and why. I recently reread the 1976 edition of Simon Wiesenthal’s The Sunflower and the following essays on forgiveness and whether or why forgiveness of the dying Nazi murderer was possible, if so, by whom, etc. Most of the essays like some comments here wholly failed to notice that a definition of “forgive” was necessary to their arguments. They simply assumed that others meant the same thing by that word that the writer did. For decades this was a problem for me in LDS teaching on forgiveness until I read non-LDS Louis Smedes’ book The Art of Forgiving. Smedes and I think Loursat got it right, i.e. she uses the only notion of human forgiveness that makes sense to us. It does not include reconciliation and in the context of forgiving our human Church leaders for their actual or perceived mistakes, it does not mean believing what they say or trusting them or the institutional Church. I’m not sure the OP meant only that we should forgive in that context; it seems to imply an expectation that we pretend the perceived mistakes did not happen or at least act as if they had not. I believe that is to much to expect.

    Brian wants us to “bear in mind that the policy, according to Elder Nelson, was a product of revelation.” Well, I do bear that in mind. And that may be as big a problem as the POX itself. To those who see the POX as inconsistent with the fundamental message of Christ, with the value of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, etc., the voice of a single apostle purporting that it was a product of revelation does not persuade. None of the others have joined him in that claim. I’ve cited elsewhere to an R.B. Scott article suggesting rather strongly that, while as Clark said, “it seems unusual for them all [the 15] to be praying about this and get it wrong,” they in fact did not do that. I am not so much unwilling as unable to believe President Nelson’s pronouncement. He may have misspoken; he may have accurately stated his misperception of the others’ sustaining a decision by President Monson as their having received revelatory confirmation that the decision was God’s will; he may have simply lied in an effort to quell unrest; there may be other possibilities. I am not inclined to believed that that he lied, but his utter failure to identify which of the two fundamentally contradictory versions of the POX was allegedly revealed [i.e. (1) the handbook changes as written or (2) the later so-called clarifying letter] strongly suggests that he had not carefully considered what he was talking about. Whichever of those contradictory POXs he meant, the other at least was not a product of revelation, or we must believe God fundamentally changes his mind on how to treat children with a gay parent within a week as a result of public, internet uproar.

    What some of us are left with is an inability to believe at least one of (a) Pres. Nelson knows what revelation is, (b) Pres. Nelson can perceive whether others among the 15 experience the same “revelation” he claims, or (c) Pres. Nelson cannot or will not articulate sensibly whatever it is he was talking about. At least sometimes, if not often, I don’t know what revelation is, cannot perceive whether others have actually experienced “revelation,” and cannot articulate sensibly what I am talking about. And so, I can “forgive” Pres. Nelson the offense given (or taken by me) at his speech. I can assume his good intention to do and speak God’s will as he understands it. But I cannot trust his claims of revelation or his understanding of God’s will. This is not a matter of refusal; it is a matter of inability.

    As nearly as I’ve been able to learn, rebuilding failed trust requires a relationship in which it can be rebuilt. There is no such relationship between Pres. Nelson (or the other 14) and the general membership of the Church. The Church has grown too large for that. There might come to be a sufficient relationship when the Church learns to acknowledge mistakes rather than only the fact that its leaders have made some. As one of R.B. Scott’s informants noted, “After stepping in fresh ordure, it’s best to scrape it off your boots before it hardens.” In this case, they didn’t. Had Pres. Nelson left bad enough alone, they might have been able to do so long before they now can in the face of his claim of revelation. At this point, they cannot backtrack until they are ready to say at least that Pres. Nelson misspoke, which would only be a euphemism for his having misperceived what happened in the adoption of the POX. If past practice of Church administration is what we can continue to expect, it will be a long, long time before that happens. The ordure may not only have hardened, but might have petrified in the meantime.

  35. I find it quite arrogant on your part to presume the leaders need your forgiveness. You not agreeing with a policy decision does not equal that policy decision being a mistake. Honestly, I don’t get the uproar over this. Were you all upset before when this same rule applied to polygamous children, because I don’t remember reading about it. How many children of gay couples are out there trying to join the church? And if they did join the church how would it help that child to attend a church that teaches that their parents lifestyle is sinful? The decision makes perfect sense, especially in the aftermath of the churches attempts to explain how homosexuality was not a sin as long as you didn’t act on it. That opened the door to way to much speculation on the part of those lobbying to eventually make it acceptable in the church. The leaders needed to draw a line in the sand, and I agree with it 100%.

  36. I am with Anna above. While I work on forgiving the Church and its leaders, I know that giving them my forgiveness does not mean I have to trust them. And it certainly doesn’t mean I must stay with them (especially if they do not change).

    I haven’t seen the October Ensign in print yet or on the Church’s official website. I hope and pray that Elder Nelson’s talk is not in the Ensign as reported. Hopefully it’s just a bad internet rumor. If it is indeed in the Ensign, I think I’m going to cry. The leaders know that the policy is about to hit its 1 year mark. Why must they pick at a wound that has barely begun to heal?

  37. I have been a Church leader on a local and stake level and made mistakes. At the time, I was doing the best I could with the knowledge I had, but as I look back, I know people had reason to be offended. I was imperfect. I am heartbroken with some of the decisions our Church leaders have made.. I believe some are clearly antithetical to Christ’s teachings. With that said, to preserve my own sanity and to find peace, I have chosen recently to forgive. That does not mean I condone their behavior but does not that I have turned judgment over to the Lord. I will try to show them the same mercy I hope God and others will show me for the many mistakes I have made as a Church leader.

  38. The best thing I can say about the policy is that I sympathize with the feeling or intuition or sense that I see as motivating (albeit far in the background) the Church’s position as well as those who defend that position, which is that there is something inherently inconsistent or at least in deep tension with certain aspects of modernity and our commitments as Christians. But this raises for me an ethical concern: Scapegoating the gay community might release the tension or inconsistency that us Mormons feel regarding the secular age that we all inhabit, but I fear that it lets us off the hook too easily and cuts off the potential for the type of spiritual transformation that is at the heart of Christianity. When I do the “difficult work” of taking an unpopular stand against gay marriage and those, including children, caught up in it, I feel like I’ve done my duty to protest the ills of the modern world. I’m doing something hard. Standing up for what’s right in the face of the jeers from the great and spacious building. And then I can go back to living, without too much cognitive dissonance, my thoroughly modern life (with all of its materialism, careerism, consumerism and all the other “isms” that float in the waters in which we swim) apparently oblivious to the fact that I haven’t even begun to do the real work that needs to be done if I’m ever to experience the transformative promise of the gospel message.

  39. At Rob #12: “Unwarranted”? I am gay man who trusted them, went through their treatment programs, trusted that they knew what they were doing. Guess what? They didn’t know jack squat. Now here I am, twenty years later and alone. I’ll forgive them eventually. But an apology for our treatment is definitely warranted.

    From Anna #16 “forgiveness does not require reconciliation. Repentance on the part of the one being forgiven is necessary in order for reconciliation to be safe. To reconcile with someone who is not sorry they hurt you is asking to be hurt again. Just like an abused wife can forgive her unrepentant abuser, but still choose not to live with him, I have chosen to distance myself from their authority.”

    This is brilliant, and sums up my own approach exactly. I’ll forgive. But as far as I’m concerned their moral authority is gone.

  40. At Jeremiah#45,
    They (the church) have treated all their members fairly including the gay members. It’s when the gay members disregard moral counsel and go wholly against their leaders by acting upon their homosexuality that has caused the problem. It has nothing to do with a person’s sexual inclination but rather how one acts out sexually that determines treatment. If you choose to act out sexually against leadership and church policy you can’t expect to have the same rights and priveledges as those who are obedient. There are plenty of gay men in the church who enjoy full worship priveledge because they do not act out their sexuality. It is completely warranted that church leadership has revealed this policy because some of the gay members and supporters, both in the church and out, have utterly rejected the counsel against homosexual acts and continue to live in sin. To protect not only the church and it’s loyal members, but also the children who may be caught in between a difficult proposition, the policy was put into effect. It’s not saying we don’t want children of same sex couples to be members, it’s saying that the problems associated would be too great to risk having children placed in the middle of differing teachings at home and church. Later on these same children can join, but in a matter and timeframe where it doesn’t create so much problems in the home or place hatred between the child and their parents.

    The other part of the policy about SSM is completely warranted also because the church has never recognized SSM and have always frowned upon homosexual acts. Those who continue in polygamy are treated the same way. The church has to draw a line somewhere with where and how it deals with homosexuality. The church has done so correctly by identifying that thoughts, temptations, attractions, or desires themselves that enter the mind and create feelings do not themselves warrant any disciplinary action. It’s only when those thoughts, desires, attractions, temptations, lead into acting upon those feelings in immoral ways that require disciplinary actions to take place.

    The church places such high sacredness and principle on the father/mother relationship in raising children that to have same sex couples trying to do the same it’s like blasphemy against God, it’s that grevious and serious. Studies continue to show that children raised by same sex couples fare far less in life and have more problems in every aspect than their peers raised in homes by a father and mother.

    The church will never budge on this issue and the result will create a greater divide between the righteous and the wicked. It’s sad it has to create such hardship but it just shows how much we have fallen downwards into spiritual Babylon.

  41. Rob while I think it wrong to assume the brethren are acting ignorantly, I think it also pretty clear that well intentioned attempts to ‘cure’ people of their inclination failed miserably and often had negative side effects. The brethren and leaders under them embraced some pretty questionable psychological treatments that had very little scientific basis behind them. Likewise some practices, such as encouraging people to marry led to tragic marriages and divorces. I think we the Church do have to take up responsibility for such actions regardless of good intentions. And hopefully people will forgive those with those well meaning goals that failed.

    That seems a bit different from what the original post was discussing.

  42. Clark,
    You generally only hear about the cases where therapy, etc, didn’t work. Yet there are many cases where it did work. Mormonsandgays website can attribute to that. I personally believe one sexual inclination is learned, not what they are born with so I don’t but into the belief that therapy is damaging. The church sides with therapy and so do I.

  43. Re#23. I think “pain” and “ostracism” are two separate constructs that may or may not be related. Pain is felt by the individual, while ostracism has to do with group action by the ward members.

    A lot of young people may feel pain irregardless of their baptismal status. We cannot change how they feel pain, because they are entitled to their own feelings..

    And while we cannot control whether a young person is baptized, we absolutely can control whether s/he is ostracized. That is on us, Every one of us in every unit in the world.

    The original comment to which I was responding made it sound like it is understandable and unavoidable and even acceptable for such young people to be ostracizes. My only point is that is NOT acceptable.

  44. Rob (comment 46)
    Your explanation of the current teaching and your comment that the Church will never budge on this issue puts you in the company of at least Elder Oaks. Some have thought that the switch from the position of Brigham Young and others that the blacks would never have the priesthood in this life to the position of the Church following revelation to President Kimball would have taught us never to say “never.”

    In any event, at the risk of somewhat misapplying the term, I noted your Freudian? slip claiming “that church leadership has revealed this policy.” Apparently for that writing moment some part of you could have been agreeing that it was not revealed by God. Of course, “revealed” can have a number of meanings, but the policy was “revealed” to the world and most of the membership only by a leak to and through John Dehlin. In any event, thanks for the smile.

  45. Several people have questioned the need to forgive. They are claiming that the POX is revelation, so there is nothing to forgive. I want to explain why for me at least forgiveness is necessary, even IF ( and that is a big if) the POX came directly from God. If it came directly from God, then I suppose I have to put God on my list of jerks that I have to forgive.

    When someone does something that injures you, it does not matter if the person was acting on the best knowledge they have or whether they had evil intentions, you still are injured and you still have to forgive. Yes, it is easier to forgive an accident or unintended consequences than it is intentional harmful actions, but forgiveness is still required for your own well being and peace. Say, Abraham actually went through with the sacrifice of Isaac, because no angel came to stop him. God commanded the sacrifice, and Abraham obeyed. Would Sarah have had a hard time with it and would she have needed to forgive both Abraham and God?

    Well, the POX put my daughter on the sacrificial chopping block and no angel came and whacked the Brethern up the side of the head to stop them. So, yeah there is something for some of us to forgive even if this POX was revelation.

    But the God I believe in is not the God of POXes, so I will follow the God of Love and allow the Brethern to follow what ever God they follow.

  46. Thanks so much for all the comments, I learned a lot from them. Several of you made very clear what I meant; one of the gems is that we need to forgive, (32) much more than the leaders are in need of forgiveness. We can start healing only when and if we forgive. And yes, as several remarked, the forgiveness does not mean that we acquiesce, but with full memory of what happened, move forwards and try to heal and grow. And, yes, the call on forgiving the leaders does imply a change in the balance of moral authority, a moral authority which should never come simply from the top down, but always flows back to the top as well. It is for that purpose that I included the waterfall of Escher in the blog: the waterfall moves the wheel, but itself has to be fed by the same waterflow returning back, seemingly against gravity. We are not separate from the leaders, we are together one church, each with our own testimony of the Lord, and our legacy of inspiration.
    For those who never led a sports federation, you would be surprised how similar it is to a stake leadership.
    Indeed, as Wilfried remarked, this is a view from Europe (Netherlands), and our experience is clear: this is not an arena where we should define our battles, It is very much a non-issue. It is simply an arena where actions tend to produce more problems than that they solve.
    I prefer to see Nelson’s appeal on revelation as a gut reaction to stem the tide of criticism, a reaction that unfortunately has blocked any reversal as it is an argumentum ad auctoritatem. Respecting Nelson very much, I can empathize with his plight, but his argumentation is rather weak.
    Well meaning people make mistakes, well-meaning leaders make highly visible mistakes, and forgiving is based on that shared aspect of our humanity. So the call is for forgiving, not forgetting, moving on but after learning, together but in a shifted balance of moral authority.

    Walter van Beek

  47. I think it is important to note that only a very very small minority of church members think the policy is wrong. The majority of us believe in and support the prophet.

  48. Walter (52): “moving on but after learning, together but in a shifted balance of moral authority.”

    Perhaps there can be hope, but I am unaware of any evidence, that the 15 have learned anything together with the general membership of the Church over the POX, its clarification [sic], or its roll out. While for many the balance of moral authority may have shifted, I can find no evidence that it has for any of the 15 (or other upper echelon Church leaders) or for what Rob (53) claims is a majority. Until there is evidence of such a shift on the part of Church leadership, I fear the rebuilding of trust is impossible, or at least that trust cannot be rebuilt to the same or a similar level. Maybe not trusting to that same level is what you meant by a “shifted balance of moral authority.”

    I think it is important to note also that a number of those who believe the POX is wrong also believe in the prophetic call and responsibility of the Church president and the rest of the 15 and sustain them in their callings. There are many more nuanced understandings of “believe in”, “support”, or “sustain” than Rob’s brief comment could address. I found this recent talk by Patrick Mason to be particularly insightful for the faithful ways in which it addresses dealing with varieties of Mormonism, including Rob’s, and its implications for what it may mean to support the prophet : http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/fair-conferences/2016-fairmormon-conference/courage-convictions.

  49. I try to believe that the Apostles and Prophets acted as stewards with accountability to the God they will be meeting sooner than most of us and felt that they would not be able to stand before God having carried out their stewardship if they did anything that supported same sex marriage. They felt that if they did anything that opened the door for the recognition of SSM in the church they would be condemned. That is their personal obligation and they intend to stand on that ground for the remainder of their mortal lives. If a child became a member of the church and two parents of the same gender are on the child’s membership–then that is one step of acceptance, a foot in the door, so to speak. Their actions were taken so that their ministry would not be viewed as placing that foot in the door.

    My feelings about the policy are buried. I still feel a dry lump in my throat when I think about it. I try not to. My week to week church experience in my isolated rural part of the country does not hinge on that decision. It is not something I am faced with week to week. The thing I find hard to comprehend–forgive if you will–is their failure to release a policy with such clarity that it had to be restated a few days later. I have written a number of policies in my occupation and in doing so, the application for various scenarios is thoroughly vetted. Loopholes and contingencies are contemplated before the policy is released. Drafts are studied by respected peers. How this policy could have gotten through without first clarifying how it would impact divorced parents from a known or unknown mixed orientation marriage is inexplicable. These brethren travel throughout the country and the world and meet members in all situations. They had to have understood what this would have done from the beginning–OR maybe they really did change their mind after a few days?

    Anyway, I was in the midst of daily prayers to know whether I should turn in my recommend as a non-sustainer and when the clarification happened, my answer was to bury it and support all I can support. Forgiveness is not something I feel is any obstacle standing in my way–but it would help my comprehension to know how the policy evolved from the original draft to the attached clarification.

  50. Rigel, This may help comprehension: http://www.themuss.net/articles/2016/1/5/mormon-lgbt-policy-prompts-anger-resignations-and-fresh-concerns-about-aged-leaders-1

    But it is not likely to help acceptance. It seems to some that at least a number of the apostles were “sustaining” a casual or fleeting decision by President Monson to approve handbook revisions that included the POX at the instigation of one or two of the apostles following a summer of the quorum not reaching agreement on what, if any, action to take. The POX as issued prevented the baptism or ordination of children who had a parent (even one) anywhere in the world who had ever been in a same-sex sexual relationship, whether or not the child had any contact with that parent, and whether or not that parent had “repented.” [The policy waffles from “living in a same-gender relationship” to “has lived in or is living in”.] That is the simple result of its extraordinarily thoughtless drafting. When this became clear to someone in SLC following the public outrage, it seems an after-the-fact rationalization was concocted and Elder Christofferson, reportedly reluctantly, accepted the assignment to participate in a scripted interview defending the policy as to children. The outrage did not abate and the “clarification” letter considerably softened the policy as to children by limiting it to those who live primarily (whatever that means in cases of joint custody after a mixed-orientation marriage ended in divorce) in a household with a parent in a same-sex marriage.or similar relationship. The “clarification” letter also excepts from the ordination prohibition (and possibly the missionary service prohibition) such children who were already baptized when the POX was issued. If it had been true that the brethren had jointly considered innumerable scenarios and had carefully considered the language of the policy such a clarification could never have become necessary. In the Christofferson “interview” and in the subsequent news broadcasts including President Uchtdorf (according to some Utah residents/I never saw Pres. Uchtdorf involved), there was never a suggestion that revelation had anything to do with the POX. That first came about in Pres. Nelson’s January speech in Hawaii. I have searched in vain for any hint of a report that any of the other brethren have agreed with him as to a divine revelatory source. As to at least some of them, I am unable to believe that their consent to the POX resulted from thinking it was necessary to avoid taking action to open the Church to SSM. I think it was rather a decision to support/sustain President Monson’s decision, regardless of consequences, if, indeed, they even had time to discover that the POX was buried in the handbook changes they approved in bulk.

    As to the children, the Church already had a policy requiring parental consent to the baptism of minors. If there was concern for the children prior to rather than after the POX adoption, the Church still could have merely modified that policy to ensure that it was informed consent including the information that the Church would be teaching that the actively gay parent’s relationship was sinful (married or not) and that, if married, it was not the kind of marriage to which Church teachings on eternal families applied. The parents could then be trusted to make the decision whether their family, including their children, could cope with that.

    There are, of course, other potential problems with the wording of the POX as to those in same-gender sexual relationships themselves. But even that action was not strictly necessary, though it could reasonably be deemed advisable as a clarification of already existing policy. The designation of apostacy “as used here” [and therefore only with respect to when a disciplinary council is “mandatory”, but without specifying what the result must be] already included “Repeatedly act[ing] in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition to the Church or its leaders.” At least in the US, a civil marriage is a deliberate public act requiring (except where legally contracted as a common law marriage) a civil license and a public record. Remaining married thereafter could readily be understood as a repeated act each day that it continues. Accordingly, designating as apostate, for purposes of disciplinary council procedures, those in same-gender marriages (but NOT those in unmarried, cohabiting same-gender sexual relationships) might have been seen as a mere clarification. No such clarification was necessary to make it clear what the Church’s position on SSM or SS co-habitation was. But the POX did clarify for local leaders that being in a SSM was understood by senior Church leadership to be repeatedly acting in clear, open, and deliberate public opposition” to the teachings of the Church.

    I may not like the earlier definition of apostacy or the prescribed approach to Church discipline of those in same-gender relationships, but as to the apostacy issue, the POX does seem to have been a mere clarification that some may reasonably have thought necessary.

    Unfortunately, the press and many commenters did not read the policy any more carefully than it was drafted. This also resulted in fanning the flames of outrage. On behalf of my current and former (as in dead of suicide or AIDS) gay Mormon friends and the children of failed mixed-orientation Mormon marriages at least, I was outraged enough without all the distortions. My comprehension, accurate or not, of how the POX came about and developed through the “clarification” letter, does not assuage the outrage or inspire any confidence in leadership. I have to look inwardly and elsewhere for that.

  51. Rob, whether some worked, the process was never scientific and is generally condemned by people in the field. In any case most didn’t work and it seems reasonable to assume many of those people were rather pissed off by it all. Likewise if I were in a troubled marriage where a spouse had been encouraged to marry despite not being attracted to me I can understand more than a little anger over the subject. But that’s probably all getting afield from the OP. I suspect everyone has at least one experience with a leader that upset them and probably everyone at one time or other in their calling has done something stupid that hurt an other person in someway. Hopefully all of us can forgive one an other.

  52. My personal experience with the policy has been that I only know about it because of timesandseasons. When the policy was given, if I ever brought up the subject with other active members; either they hadn’t heard of it (and when I informed them of it, it didn’t phase them at all), or had a vague recollection of learning about it recently, but didn’t find it important enough to remember the details. It didn’t phase a single member that I knew in any way.
    The only person who ever brought it up with me was a very progressive and anti-religious coworker who suspected that the version of what he heard was exaggerated (and it was). Even he didn’t see what the fuss was all about. once I explained it. Then somehow to conversation drifted into other church policies\practices and after explaining how with excommunication most members of the ward probably wouldn’t even know that someone was excommunicated, he said “Man, you guys do excommunication wrong.”

  53. JR’s (55) analysis is very apt, and in fact demonstrates that it is impossible for the 15 not to have learned something out of this vent. And also it is clear that our European assessment – wrong arena, wrong fight – is compounded by the USA analysis of the fumbling way the POX was designed and (not)published. But the main lesson for all is that one can be a faithful Mormon, and ‘support’ the leaders, without agreeing with everything they do, and that ‘support’ sometimes means clearly voiced criticism, within bounds.and respecting the things they do right. And a recognition that we probably would make even bigger mistakes.
    The water in Escher’s etching falls downwards, but flows upwards: the balance of moral authority changes, which is a good thing. No organization, however inspired, can function without checks and balances.

  54. Clark,
    There are more politics involved than science in the decision of saying therapy doesn’t work. If therapy didnt work, and people are supposedly “born that way” then how is it that many people change their sexual inclinations over time including some who go through therapy?

    We, as a society, need to get rid of the dogmatism of believing and teaching people are born a certain way. That’s like saying child molesters were just born that way or that rapists were just born that way. No, people make choices that lead on to effect the choices that effect their feelings and sexuality. I have always found it interesting that with male homosexuals two things go hand in hand- promiscuous behavior and pornography. Why? Were they just born that way?

  55. I agree. I know it sounds presumptuous, but I forgive my leaders for this grievous sin. I forgive. Thank you, Walter.

  56. Rob, thank you for revealing your true feelings about homosexuality. They stem from ignorance and lack of exposure. They even ignore teachings like this: “And, I must say, this son’s sexual orientation did not somehow miraculously change—no one assumed it would. But little by little, his heart changed” (Elder Holland, Oct. 2015 Conference Talk, “Behold Thy Mother.”)

    Your comments move far beyond the policy debate and even the same-sex marriage debate. Comments like yours are completely out of place in the church, but, sadly, still occur.

  57. Rob, your thoughts are line with the LDS church leaders’ teachings much more than others’ on this board. That said, you’re completely ignorant about human sexuality and identity.

  58. Rob, I think a strong argument could be made that the restraining factors of socialized marriage is why. That is without social constraints men tend to be sexually promiscuous either directly or through pornography. There’s a whole “the conservative case for gay marriage” that argues marriage would reduce those things in the community over time much as it does with regular marriage. Now for whatever reasons that big plus doesn’t outweigh the negatives the brethren see in it. But I think it does answer your charge.

    As to the other point, most of these “experiments” were done in an era when there simply wasn’t the social pressure for gay rights. Further the individuals who entered had huge incentives to want to change given the society of the 70’s and 80’s. That it still didn’t work well in those ideal conditions is pretty damning.

    The reality is that “technology” for psychology is pretty primitive at best and usually what works isn’t really understood in terms of why it works. (Think lithium for bipolar disorder or the variety of anti-depressants) By and large we’re ignorant of how the brain works. However those who claim these foundational behaviors are easy to change have the burden of proof to explain why change is so hard to come by. At a very minimum they should be extremely empathetic to demanding someone change something so foundational and enter into relationships that they not only don’t feel anything for but may be repelled by. Regardless of what one thinks of the brethren’s statements this year pro or con, I think we should all be understanding of what they are demanding of people. It’s not a question of “being born that way” since of course the brain develops well into ones twenties through a combination of DNA and gene expression in reaction to the environment. To assume that because it’s not all set at birth that we can simply choose by pure will whatever we want seems to wishful thinking.

  59. You guys are going to have to help me out. What exactly is the sin that was committed by the brethren that requires our forgiveness? What commandment was violated here? I see a lot of self righteous finger pointing but what exactly about the act of making this policy broke God’s law and required your forgiveness? I don’t mind disagreeing with people, but I honestly can’t even understand your argument.

  60. Walter (#60): “But the main lesson for all is that one can be a faithful Mormon, and ‘support’ the leaders, without agreeing with everything they do, and that ‘support’ sometimes means clearly voiced criticism, within bounds.and respecting the things they do right. And a recognition that we probably would make even bigger mistakes.”

    “Clearly voiced criticism” implies public activism. What do you mean “within bounds?” Ar you implying that there has been insufficient analysis and viewpoints expressed on this issue?

    And when do the critics acknowledge their own fallibility? It seems that far too many critics are willing to weigh leader’s actions with their own judgement and framed within their personal worldview, all the while failing to recognize their own limited perspective and abilities.

    Walter: “No organization, however inspired, can function without checks and balances.”

    The implication here is that the Church should operate like a modern liberal government, based on Montesquieu’s political theories. Perhaps we’ll even split into political parties, ensuring regionalism and factionalism. I think I’ll pass….

  61. LDSguy (66)

    Several possibilities have been alluded to, but more specifically identified elsewhere. I do not necessarily subscribe to all of these, and there are reasonable alternative interpretations, but here are the ones I’ve noticed:

    “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

    “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6 [I won’t rehearse here the numerous reports of faithful children scheduled for baptism or ordination to whom it was denied on a moment’s notice or of submissions of papers to serve a mission withdrawn after approval by stake presidents because of the policy. Despite the “clarification” letter drastically changing the policy in ways that would have prevented a number of the personal and familial disasters caused by the policy in the first place, I have not been able to find any evidence of any attempt to apologize or right the wrong to the victims of the first, thoughtlessly drafted version of the policy. The absence of such an attempt (if it is absent) would be yet another wrong to be forgiven.]

    “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7 [Blaming the POX on God by an incorrect claim of revelation is seen by some as a more serious taking the Lord’s name in vain than using the name as a swear word.]

    “Will ye … deny the good word of Christ [e.g., Matt 19:14], and the power of God [e.g., to help baptized children deal with what is not in accord with the gospel in their homes] , and the gift of the Holy Ghost [which is not given until after baptism]…?” Jacob 6:8 [Scripturally, I believe this one a real stretch from the context of Jacob 6:8, but it is a convenient way to point out that the “nothing is lost” claim relative to children not being permitted the gift of the Holy Ghost until age 18 and then only on conditions that may well significantly disrupt their families, amounts to telling the Church, contrary to past teachings, that the gift of the Holy Ghost is really not important in adolescent and young adult years.]

    There may be more, but your inquiry might also be somewhat misplaced. Forgiveness is not only needed for sins, but also for hurts inflicted on others even unintentionally. The forgiving is primarily for the benefit of the one doing it, it is misplaced unless that one believes the offender has done something wrong, but “something wrong” doesn’t necessarily need to amount to a sin.

  62. At JR #68 thank you for the post sir. Well done. My response will be to the statements and not to you personally, as you said at the outset you do not agree with all of them.

    Matthew 19:14 – I would argue that none of these children are prevented from coming into Christ by this rule. They can pray, read scriptures, make choices for good or bad, and attend church if they like. Children 0-7 in the church are generally believed to be automatic heirs of exaltation. 8-18 if they happened to die and go to their final judgment, would certainly not be held accountable for a lack of baptism if they were not baptized due to this policy. Therefore ultimately, there is no barrier to salvation.

    Matthew 18:6 – I would argue that far from offending little children this rule protects them. Why would those against this policy want to put a child in a situation where they must choose between their church and their parents? To me that is cruel.

    Exodus 20:7 – Anyone making this argument is essentially calling the brethren liars, and I would say reasonable discussion is over at that point.

    Jacob 6:8 I would agree is too much of a stretch to warrant a serious response, but I would respond to the issue of not having the gift of the Holy Ghost. For starters they still have the light of Christ and the ability to feel the effects of the Holy Ghost in certain situations as the scriptures demonstrate. However, the gift of the Holy Ghost is a blessing or or privilege given to members of the church. It is not a right. While a child could certainly have benefitted from the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost during adolescence, that ordinance must be authorized by those holding priesthood keys just like any other.

    As to your final statement that forgiveness for the unintentional infliction of hurt is still needed even if a sin wasnt committed, I would disagree. Should Christ apologize to the money changers he certainly offended when he ejected them from the temple? Should he apologize to the Jews offended by his teachings? My point is, if someone is offended by the righteous actions of those called by God, the problem lies with them, not those who caused the offense.

  63. In general, if we feel offended by someone, it is best that we do everything in our power to forgive that person. There is a reason that Jesus declared ” I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:10) Jesus knows when an offense has been committed and when repentance merits forgiveness. We humans, on the other hand, do not have that perfect knowledge. Even if an actual offense has been committed against us, we still are required to forgive, because in not doing so, we accrue the greater sin. (D&C 64:9).
    That is a sobering thought. And as human beings, it is really a difficult thing to overcome, especially when a person has been badly hurt by another’s actions. But the Lord knows that holding hurt and hate inside, in any degree is not good for the mental and spiritual health of anyone.
    And, then, we also run the risk of holding a grudge when there has been no offense committed for which we should seek redress. We would be guilty of a double barrelled offense of not forgiving and in rendering unrighteous judgment.

    Glenn

  64. At Glenn #70. Sorry to disagree, but Jesus didn’t teach forgive me Jews if I hurt your feelings teaching the gospel. A wrong has to be committed to warrant forgiveness. My question is what was the wrong, not whether people are upset. Someone being upset or offended doesn’t mean that offense is warranted, especially in today’s PC, snowflake generation world. In fact, some people need to be offended. Ask most of the prophets in the scriptures who were asked to call a people to repentance. They usually didn’t like it.

  65. LDSguy in 69 are you saying that depriving the gift of the Holy Ghost to children of those in a same sex marriage doesn’t harm the child? Would they not be helped having the Holy Ghost throughout their teenage years?

  66. MTodd I think that’s a fair point, although I think most upset aren’t really upset at that so much as the signaling issues. After all few were upset before at the similar policy for polygamists.

  67. MTodd #72. Let’s play out the hypothetical scenario that folks seem to be so worried about. A child, somewhere between 8 and 18 years old decides he wants to be an active member of the church, follow it’s teachings, and be baptized. This child also happens to belong to a married gay couple. For some reason, this married gay couple are allowing their child to attend a church that teaches they are living in sin and apostasy. They are also going to allow that child to be baptized. Perhaps they are just extremely open minded. Perhaps they are not bothered at all by the churches teaches and say, “little Johnny, if you want to be a Mormon you go right ahead. Little Johnny is apparently not bothered either that his parents are not allowed to be members of the church. Surely he would ask right? Why can’t my parents join too? Well, little Johnny, let me teach you something about your parents…Little Johnny then learns that what his parents are doing is wrong. Doesn’t he then have to make a choice? Who has the moral high ground here? My church or my parents? If little Johnny is to continue on his path to baptism, he would certainly have to choose the church. What then? We would have to believe he would then go home and tell his parents, you guys are wrong, the church is right, why are you doing what you are doing? Don’t you want to go to heaven? Maybe Johnny’s parents would argue with him, maybe they would just say, “that’s alright Johnny, you believe what you want, we are still your parents and we know what’s best.” Little Johnny then gets to relive that internal conflict every day of his childhood.

    Now that, I believe, would cause the child harm. If there are any real little Johnny’s or Suzie’s out there that fall into this category, and I have to think that would be a very small number, not allowing them to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost is not something the church takes lightly or enjoys doing, but it is a wise move considering the circumstances of a child in that situation.

  68. Why forgiveness? Because, in the view of probably many people, true Christianity with great care draw a very fine line between defending a vision of transformation and fullness that transcends mere human flourishing while at the same time not going so far as to lead to the mutilation of our humanness. And because there is at least a non-zero chance (evidenced by the history of the church, the nature of prophetic fallibility and the pain and suffering and apparently even suicides resulting from the policy) that the brethren drew the line wrong this time around.

  69. Clark,
    I believe that homosexuality comes about according to circumstance, whether it be exposure to it at an early age, pornography, experimentation, etc. I even tend to believe that everyone born has the inclination within themselves to potentially be gay if those triggers happen. The mind is so powerful and also so willing to accept a desire to act on impulse if those triggers fire. This is exactly why the pornography industry is so rampant and also why there is a very high frequency for people to committ immoral acts be it viewing pornography, flirting with someones spouse, cheating on their spouse, etc.

    The allure for male homosexuality is lots of sex primarily driven off of the lust for fullfilling the next sexual adventure in satisfying ones own selfish desires. This is why male homosexuality is extremely promiscuous. Those who do enter SSM usually agree upon an “open” marriage. But these promiscuous behaviors are not what they are naturally born with, it’s what they have conditioned themelves for one small step at a time. Those small steps included many smaller steps of tolerance towards the un-natural and acceptance and greater desire to more sexual extremes and rushes of pleasure chemicals in the brain. The side effect tbough of just fullfilling selfish sexual pleasures is the increase of pornography, an increase of sexual encounters with strangers, etc. This sexual lifestyle is not healthy and not something one is born with. It’s what they have conditioned themselves with over many years following triggers due to circumstance in their lives. It’s all in the mind.

    The power of influence combined with circumstance or chance events has the ability of the mind to believe and build walls of evidence to themselves to a certain belief or desire. This is why hypnotists can get otherwise normal people to do things completely outside of their character. It’s the same mechanism at work that helps people not only conquer lifetime fears but come to make those fears pleasent and even enjoyable. The power of the mind rests heavily upon influence combined with circumstance.

    With the increase of making homosexuality acceptable, more people are becoming homosexual. It’s a choice they make that stemmed from very small triggers.

  70. LDSguy, I doubt you’ll find much disagreement with your last sentence of 69. However, I think you may be focused on a meaning of “forgive” that is not exactly what the OP or Loursat or some others had in mind. In their usage and as they noted, it is the offended how have more need to forgive than the brethren have to be forgiven. At least sometimes in the process of their attempts to be forgiving, the offended learn that there was no wrong to be forgiven in the sense you are using. That is one of the possible results of responding to Walter’s suggestion that being forgiving is in order here.

    When you say, in any event one of the arguments raised is calling the brethren liars, you seem to have exaggerated. Only one has made the claim that the POX was arrived at through revelation, and he didn’t say which one — the first, which the brethren admitted was wrong by issuing the “clarification” letter, or the second drastically different policy resulting from that so-called “clarification” letter. Despite any such exaggeration, I think you are right that the reported suggestion of taking the Lord’s name in vain doesn’t work appropriately. Even if there were no revelation involved, there is plenty of room for human error in its perception or for misspeaking, neither of which should be categorized as a violation of that commandment.

    There remain, however, a number of people who were actually hurt by the admitted wrong of implementation of the first version of the POX who would not have been hurt by implementation of the “clarification” version. There are many more who feel themselves hurt by the current version and who believe it to be wrong. Whether or not they are right about that belief, they have a problem and Walter suggested a way that they begin to deal with it.

    As to your 72, I know of a ward in which there are two same-sex married couples (one spouse in each a member — or now former member, as far as I know) who attend church with their children regularly and are as “active” as participants as they are allowed to be. Your hypothetical is not hypothetical. More common, however, is the situation in which a mixed-orientation LDS marriage ends in divorce and the ex-spouses agree that the children should be raised LDS. Most of the reports I’ve seen of personal and familial harm as a result of the first version of the policy are in this category. Many of them would not have been harmed had the current, “clarified” policy been the policy in the first place. At least in those cases, they were legitimately wronged, even if only by human drafting and implementation error and not “sin.” I can find no report of anyone doing anything about an attempt to right those wrongs. Perhaps such attempts have merely been kept private.

  71. I’m glad that now we’ve been discussing these topics for over a decade on the Bloggernacle most of us can ignore Rob O’s comments for the drivel they are and resume our everyday lives.

  72. Rob, addressing you directly. Some questions: Why such anger and fear? Would you claim these same things to Elder Holland and the missionary he talked about in General Conference. The missionary that no one in his telling of it, not even Elder Holland blamed for being gay or expected him to be able to change it? Or even that he needed to? Would you feel okay repeating your assertions about “The allure for homosexuality is lots of sex primary driven off of the lust for fulfilling the next sexual adventure to fulfill one’s one selfish desires?” You are way off course, brother. Do you not protest too much?

    Have you ever heard of the Kinsey Scale?

    What makes you an expert on how people are born? Also, you don’t make much sense in these claims. If “promiscuous behaviors are not what [people] are naturally born with” how again do you explain what you do about pornography being so rampant?

    Finally, and in all honesty, as a male married to a woman, who realized shortly after marrying her I was gay; as a soul and child of heavenly parents who finds himself crying at night because of it even after 12 years; as one who is tortured by the pain I feel and frustration with my situation; as one who desires–for my wife’s sake and for min–that I could be attracted to women sexually; as a person who sincerely fears for the life of the youth in my ward that I know is gay; as a member of the church who would hope to find members of the church more in line with even the leaders of the church whom I feel (and many gay members) feel a distance from; and as one who thus also feels a great distance from God, at times, because Church members assume such evil, I wake this morning, read yet again your comments, and struggle to forgive you. It is very difficult. But I must.

  73. Rob Osborn (#77) referring to same-sex attractions, on mormonsandgays.org the Church itself has said, “individuals do not choose to have such attractions” and “No one fully knows the root causes of same-sex attraction. Each experience is different. Latter-day Saints recognize the enormous complexity of this matter.” How is it that you, with your sweeping generalizations, know more than the Church? How do you know that it is a choice?

    As a gay man married to a woman, I second much of brian’s comment at #80. I won’t say that I was born gay, but I certainly experienced same-sex attraction from the youngest of ages. If it was a choice, it was not a conscious one. Why would I choose to be gay when growing up what I wanted most is a family of my own?

  74. @LDSGuy in #71. While I agree with you that there is no need for forgiveness when there has been no offense, there are times when people take offense at something and whether or not there has actually been an offense committed, they need to obey the admonition of Jesus to forgive everyone.

    We are not going to convince the many people that have had an emotional reaction to the policy in question that the policy is correct, much less an inspired one. But they do need to understand the need to forgive and let go no matter what the provocation, imagined or not, for all of the reasons I outlined in my first post.

    On an aside, people talk about the policy as if it was a knee jerk reaction to the SSM ruling by the Supreme Court. I do not accept that because I know the brethren put much meditation, prayer, and discussion in their decisions. Of course they are fallible. But so are we. And they have been tasked with the responsibility of guiding the Church, not us. If we are to come close to their level of spirituality, we need to spend as much time and effort in meditation, prayer, and time in the temple as they do. We have to divorce ourselves from knee jerk emotionalism also.

    If all of the membership actually did this, there would be very little in the way of complaints and criticism.

    Glenn

  75. I am impressed with the comments on my call for forgiveness. This is an issue with a double edge; one is on the complicated issue of human sexuality, and I am glad to see that simplistic arguments are being thoroughly refuted. Sexuality, we can be pretty sure of that, is not a choice, and results from a complex interplay with genetics (which is undeniable now), birth environment, the personal history of bodily and social development and the larger socio-cultutal environment. Thank you, 79 and 80, for a deeply felt and yet succinctly worded glimpse into a personal struggle.

    The second issue is moral and ecclesiastical authority. That is a breathtaking burden to bear, especially if they go together. The leadership needs some way of feedback on their decisions (even if they do not always like it, the old conundrum of Aristoteles), not in order to break down the system, but to prune it. That is what I mean with ‘criticism within bounds’. Raising our voices when something goes wrong – and between the first draft, the second corrected version and the half-hearted claim of revelation something clearly has gone wrong – the best service we can render the ones in charge is to raise our voices, well reasoned and with all the respect due, to make clear that not all is well in Zion. And not simply to correct the leaders, but in the realization that we all are the church, that we are part and parcel of an organization whose heavenly mandate is not dependent on the notion that leaders never make mistakes. And then, indeed, forgive.

  76. Brian #80,

    I find it interesting that a large portion (not all, just the majority) of actively gay males are promiscuous and view pornography. Why is that? Were they just born that way? Is it part of the gay culture or is it part of their genetics? Help me understand. I’m also curious that I read lots of studies that show sex attraction is made by choice more than any other factor be the person, gay, straight, bi, trans, etc.

    I am not however suggesting that being gay is solely a choice for some. I do believe that various factors and influences at very early ages can have a large impact on sexual attraction choices later on in life. Don’t judge me for my beliefs, I am trying to understand.

  77. Gaymobro,
    I watched one of my neighbors over the years transform himself into a transgendered woman then sadly watched his wife transform herself into a transgendered man. I knew both of these before this raise their family in the church. They held temple reccomends, attended and took part in church, etc. I was their home teacher around the time I noticed a change in his behavior. I felt that he was doing things in his life out of harmony with the gospel. He shortly after withdrew his membership and slowly transformed himself into a completely different person completely infatuated with his looks and himself. His wife, after a few years followed suit claiming she was born that way too. But, I knew them long enough and watched the transformation to know the little steps and choices each one made was the direct result of choosing a different sexual preference for themselves. They are still attracted to opposite genders, they just changed their own identities. Now the strange part- After they both changed fully they realized they were crisply transgendered bisexuals and born that way. So, how is it that it took them almost 40 years to find that conclusion but only because of the others choices?

    Admittedly, watching this along with some of my own personal choices, I have shaped my beliefs into the belief I have today regarding sexual preference as a choice. I am of the firm belief that you could take almost any man or woman, under the right circumstances, that if they were given an opportunity to have some type of gay experience, small or large, would induldge and enjoy at least the thought of it. It’s just a fact that the natural man, by itself on senses alone, would enjoy almost any sexual experience. The difference is how the brain learns to associate sexual feelings with other aspects or feelings from other aspects of sociality in community. This is why you sometimes get the extremes of people being sexually attracted to the strangest of things such as cars or objects that aren’t typically natural. Now it would be absurd to believe that a person was born with the sexual attraction towards a car. The point here is to show that sexual feelings are associated with other things in our mind that help to shape our perceived attractions. I watched a hypnotist once that convinced his small group under a hypnotic trance that they were sexually attracted to their shoes. needless to say, for one it almost got R rated because of his absolute belief of his attraction towards his shoe. He actually cried when the hypnotist told him to stop and his shoe was forbidden to touch. After his hypnotic trance he was told this and it was completely a shock to him that he could think that way.

    I can’t say for sure what triggers there are, early or late in life, that causes the brain to associate sexual feelings with gender type, but I do “know” it happens and as such can be changed or conditioned to believe and spark new sexual feelings towards different gender type.

  78. Rob, you are not just trying to understand. You are playing a conscending game because of your own insecurities and dissonance. I was there. I know what you are doing. It is OK to come out and to accept yourself as God created you.

  79. Walter,

    You are a shining example of the thoughtfulness and reasoned consideration that I have come to expect from the Dutch. I work with a lot of Dutch people – our company is a U.S. branch of a company based in Veldhoven. I am continually amazed at how my Dutch colleagues make us Americans to step outside of our entrenched mentalities and see things from an equally important, yet totally distinct point of view. It is simultaneously frustrating & refreshing, and I can’t imagine how I would get such a priceless education anywhere else. I am eternally grateful for you and the rest of the Dutch people.

    On my most recent trip to the Netherlands, I had two opportunities to attend the Eindhoven ward, and I will never forget the sacred feelings I experienced in those ward meetings. Keep in mind that I only know about a dozen Dutch words, so the specific content of what was said was lost on me, but the general flow & emotional content of the meetings really resonated with me. I am glad that I made time to attend the ward meetings & I am eternally grateful for the experiences that I had there.

    I bring this up to point out that my experiences with your wonderful country & its people opened my eyes to a lot of the ways that we as human beings self-select and self-organize. In extreme cases means that we as dogmatize and ostracize with impunity, not thinking about the consequences of our “digital” classifications in a holistic context. i.e. We conveniently label people as “apostates” or “sinful” without first putting ourselves in their shoes to see & understand why they feel the way they feel or do the things they do, much less stopping to analyze and correct our own harmful biases and opinions.

    Rather than seeing people on a multidimensional continuum / spectrum, we tend to clump people together on broad-yet-narrow classifications. It’s something that humans do almost instinctively in order to quickly model & approximate scenarios for the purpose of decision making in business, and engineering scenarios. In those cases, it works out well enough because the business is detached enough from the market that consumer preference & acceptance ameliorates much of the imperfection. However, the digitized classification of human conditions doesn’t work so well when it comes to religious dogma that plug into our most deeply held senses of self-worth. It is made that much worse when large sectors of the organization apply bad apologetics to put the cart before the horse and hold up a divisive policy as proof that their narrow-minded position is the “mind & will of God”.

    I don’t have any solid answers to all of the big questions that the POX brings up & all of the stuff that it calls into question, but I am grateful for those who are willing to step outside of the cultural norms & take a compassionately motivated look into the human condition and courageously point out where we as a group can use improvement.
    To that end, I look forward to a time when the Church acquires a better, more complete & more in-depth way of describing the human condition & the TRUE reason behind the spectrum of possibilities to which we are witness. And along with that, I wish the Church could TRULY & COMPREHENSIVELY map out how all of those possibilities translate into stepping stones (or stumbling blocks) in the road of eternal progress. Currently, there exists too much cultural bias & false ideology to make that happen. Which is why on one hand I DO believe that we need to forgive our leaders and compassionately make it known that we disagree with some of their policies, otherwise we will be forever locked in a dogmatic stalemate.

    Met vriendelijke groeten,
    -nate

  80. Fail. This is not how forgiveness works. What you are describing is “enabling” not forgiveness.

  81. Rob, what are you doing to understand? For example what have you learned from this thread? What sources are you using to learn about LGBT issues? You speak negatively of your neighbors who took 40 years to discover their gender. Did you speak to them and try to understand where they were coming from? How many LGBT friends do you have? How close are you with them? If they are/were members of the church have you asked them how they feel about the church? What did you learn? How have you tried to understand their point of view? Have you gone to a Pride weekend? Have you gone to a Mormons Building Bridges meeting? Have you gone to an Affirmation meeting? How have you engaged with LGBT brothers and sisters to help them feel loved?

  82. Gaymobro,
    I have talked with them. I speak of them truthfully. They have built a wall of lies around themselves. They, like most, blame the church. But, I was there and they were my neighbors and they have made many lies. It isn’t the church that is to blame. They chose to change their sexual identity and blame the church for not accepting them. Truth is they reject the prophets because their immorality isnt acceptable. Just like this thread shows, the dogmatism of belief that somehow church leaders are to blame is their calling card. It’s two sides of the coin.

    For a long time I have been trying to understand LGBT issues. I don’t buy into their beliefs because true research shows otherwise.

  83. Yet, Rob, the researcher (Lisa Diamond) mentioned in that post claims that people can’t choose their sexual orientation and that conversation therapy doesn’t/can’t alter one’s sexual orientation. She isn’t be any means arguing for what you think she is (or for what that article is spinning). She is arguing for yet another category of sexual orientation called “sexual fluidity” to be added to the existing categories of orientation.

    Rob, you aren’t interest in conversation or understanding. You are interested in your view. You haven’t yet responded to anyone here who has pointed out that the Church disagrees with you on many points about sexual orientation. Fine, you don’t have to agree with them. But please don’t construe your views as matching theirs.

  84. Sorry, that was harsh and judgmental. I should have written “Rob, you don’t seem interested in conversation or understanding.” Maybe you are. Maybe you honestly don’t know what sources to consider.

  85. The article states that sexuality is fluid, people aren’t born locked into a certain attraction type, that they can change, it’s not genetics.

  86. Thank you, Nate (87), for this generous endorsement, not just of me but of all Dutch. Let us hope to live up to your appreciation. Apart from quite a few liabilities, Dutch culture has some assets as well: a long history of tolerance and a thorough relativization of our own importance, Both have been bred in a situation of dense living in a small country that never was a world power. Anyway, I like the way Rachel has taken over the baton, and I also think the discussion on LGTB has reached some point of ‘agree to disagree’, So It might be a good idea to close this thread at this point.
    Walter

  87. Rob, you don’t get it. An article on some website does not equal research or proof of any kind. Go to some original sources by the author. What I wrote above is an accurate depiction of her claims. I don’t care what the article states. You shouldn’t either. What I am writing here is the basics of research. The “research” you have done is not research that provides lasting insight or knowledge because it’s not accurate. It’s decontextualized.

    The author of the book that article is talking about DOES NOT believe people can change their sexual orientation. I’ve tried to be charitable. You refuse to directly engage with substantial criticism. One reason people do this is because it would make them feel vulnerable. It might require them to alter their perceptions. It might require change.

  88. My first reaction to Walter’s “Forgiving our leaders” was: of course we should forgive our leaders, as we forgive all people as a matter of gospel principle. That’s not even the point; I meet very few members who are critical of Church leaders and their policies, while mainly focusing on personal accusations. But in an institutional sense, does forgiving our institutional leaders mean that we “forgive” their institutional wrongdoings? I wouldn’t think so. Increasingly in the United States, both legally and politically, there is a tendency to see institutions (corporations) as people, so perhaps from there the impression arises that institutions can and should be forgiven like individual people should be forgiven. And even if the institution is seen as an “individual” entity, the question arises if our mormon institution has progressed enough on the path of repentance in order to even qualify for The Miracle of Forgiveness.

    But Walter raised the possibility of forgiveness, and I take him serious on that topic. I was privileged to serve as high councillor during some of his years as Stake President in my native Netherlands, so I experienced his kind and forgiving spirit first hand. I’m grateful for the conciliatory approach he always demonstrates, then and now, and I am honored to call him my friend.

    So even though I’m not sure that our mormon institution can and should be forgiven, even though her individual leaders should be forgiven, I take the liberty to suggest that instead we might entertain the thought of “Forgiving ourselves”. As we know, forgiving ourselves is not always seen as a possibility in the human psyche in general, and that is certainly true for many guild-ridden church members. I would suggest that we start forgiving ourselves for years of being overly confident in the exclusive truth claims of our institution, for too blindly following our leaders, for a lack of intellectual honesty even on academic levels, and for the lack of modesty and humanity which could have resulted from all that. All with the best intentions, as we say, but mistakenly so nevertheless. If we are able to forgive ourselves through a process of repentance we no doubt will experience The Miracle of Forgiveness in our church lives. A new beginning dawns, opening the possibility of healing and positive change. On the personal level, I have decided to forgive myself for my lack of personal integrity when it came to muster the courage to balance institutional and personal revelation. But those days are gone now. I intend to more honestly and more clearly draw the lines of where I can follow, and where I cannot. As a relatively young institution our mormon faith tradition will have to get used to a plurality of spiritual approaches, as have developed within older faith traditions like the Catholic Church and the churches of the Reformation.

    While for some the saying still sounds true: “When the Prophet has spoken, the discussion ends”, for me “When the Prophet has spoken, the discussion begins”. Could it be that we need forgiveness for leaning too heavily on the shoulders of our leaders, thus burdening them with unrealistic expectations which they nevertheless tried to meet as best as they could? As a liberal, progressive Mormon, I am grateful for forgiveness, and for the redeeming qualities of Restoration!

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