Many Latter-day Saints have struggled with the Church’s new guidelines in the Handbook of Instructions on dealing with same-sex relationships and children raised by same-sex couples. It’s a sensitive issue for many, especially those of us who have close family members who are gay or who are otherwise strongly affected by the issue of same-sex marriage. While the Church’s statements to clarify the guidelines have been helpful (see the context provided by Elder Christofferson at MormonNewsroom.org and the recent letter from the First Presidency with some clarification), it has still been easy for Latter-day Saints to feel pain and confusion over this highly charged, sensitive issue, especially when we see bitterness or disappointment from those we love.
For those who are confused and disappointed by the policy guidelines regarding families same sex marriage, I’d like to point to the example of one woman who has been an inspiration to me and many others here in Asia and in other parts of the world. She’s given me permission to share a letter she wrote to a friend about her personal struggle with the new guidelines. I think the way this faithful woman dealt with the issue is an excellent example for how to deal with these kind of challenges intelligently, but also with patience and faith. I don’t know if the conclusions she draws about the need for some kind of policy like this are correct, for that involves complex legal matters. I need to explore that matter later, but for now, I want to call attention to the approach she took.
She has given me permission to use her name, but I’ll just call her “Jeannie G.” Here’s the letter:
Like you, I was upset by the new church policy on gay family members when it was first announced. Many members who don’t personally know any gay people (or think they don’t know any) seem to be less troubled by the new policy. But for those of us who have gay friends and family members, it was hard not to feel distraught.
I would like to share with you my experience in dealing with this issue in hope that it might help you in your own struggle.
In recent years I have been heartened by the small but significant steps taken by the Church to provide support to gay members and their families. These include: Acknowledging the difference between feelings and behavior. Advising parents to support their gay kids, and not to kick them out. Encouraging gay members to stay with the church, because we need them, and creating the mormonsandgays.org website. All showed much needed acceptance and respect for a maligned group of members who didn’t ask to be gay. As the website states: “With love and understanding the Church reaches out to all God’s children including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”
After these efforts, the new policy seemed to take a step backwards. It first struck me as unkind and unnecessarily painful. My heart goes out to gay members who still have a testimony, or are trying to salvage their testimony, while hoping to find a supportive environment in the Church that they love. I was heartsick with the implied message of the new policy: “You are not wanted here. The Church is no longer your home.”
I am extremely grateful for the gospel. I grew up in a difficult family situation. I could not have survived without the support and direction of the Church. The gospel saved me. So it pained me to think that the innocent children of gay members would be excluded from the resources and strength of the Church community.
I have found the gospel provides rich satisfying truths and a clear logic. I was totally baffled by the new policy that seemed to have none of those defining hallmarks.
After a three week struggle with many heartfelt, tearful prayers, I got an answer. Most of my inspiration comes in the night or early morning, as did this. I awoke one morning to find this answer: The Church had to do it. With legalized gay marriage, the Church is now vulnerable to being sued by some LDS gay couple claiming a right to a temple sealing. Children of gay couples could also sue, thus the need for them to formally disavow the gay lifestyle should they join the Church at age 18. The policy was not intended to divide family loyalties. It is to provide legal protection to the Church. Understanding the legal reasoning, despite my negative first impression, helped me see that the Church is not trying to denigrate those with same sex attraction. Although it creates a wrenching dilemma for gay members, I now see that the general authorities clearly had to institute this new policy. Currently it would be difficult to sue with the religious guarantees that presently stand. I believe the church is putting the policies in place now for the future safety and well being of the institution.
Although it would have helped if the Church had reiterated the positive message from the website while announcing the new policy, I hope that gay members can still find solace from mormomsandgays.org website. It’s still up and running.
I worry that with married gay members now facing a disciplinary council for apostasy, some members might feel justified in condemning or mistreating all gay people. We need to remember the policy was established not to condemn gay members, but rather to protect the temple. As disciples of Christ we are to give succor and support to all those who struggle, whether gay or straight. That love and support is needed now more than ever in these difficult times.
I hope this has been helpful.
This woman is a powerhouse of compassion and intelligence, and if you know her personally, I think you would agree. I always learn something from her. Thank you for caring and for your example of dealing with a challenging, difficult issue.
Update, Jan. 5: Whatever the reasons are behind the policy, I think those who strongly disagree with it should realize that people with different views on gay marriage are not necessarily driven by hate or bigotry. Too many people are trained to think–a word I use loosely–that those who disagree with them must be VEPs (Very Evil People). There is a genuine debate here, as there is on many social issues, and intelligent people can be on both sides, even intelligent non-Nazis. To assume that the guidelines and policies related to gay marriage are driven by bigotry and hate is neither fair nor reasonable. See “The Brethren are not Bigots” by Cassandra Hedelius, a thoughtful and valuable post.
Since we don’t have infallible leaders, it is possible for mistakes to occur. Faithful Latter-day Saints who disagree with a decision or policy can fairly wonder if it’s a mistake, and if so, hope that it will be swiftly corrected. On the other hand, we should also be willing to ask if perhaps there is something we personally don’t yet understand or see properly. We should have the courtesy and civility to recognize that leaders who view something differently aren’t necessarily bad people or failed leaders, and may have legitimate reasons for their view that we don’t yet appreciate. That’s a reasonably faithful approach to sustaining our mortal leaders. Denouncing them is not.
For those interesting in understanding this issue, an excellent discussion is provided at FAIRMormon.org in “A Look at the Church’s New Policy on Children of Gay Couples.” This touches briefly about some of the legal issues that could be involved and may suggest that Jeannie G.’s conclusion has merit. It also carefully explains what the policy does and what it doesn’t do. What you’ve heard about it may not be very accurate or fair.
100 thoughts on “Faithful Latter-day Saints Dealing with the New LDS Policy on Same-Sex Marriage”
As I think about this, it seems that outliers play a huge role in legal policies these days. Of the few gay parents who might want their kids to participate in the LDS Church, 99% wouldn't think of looking for some excuse to sue the Church, but it just takes one activist with heavy legal firepower ready to create a media moment aimed at destroying the Church. It could happen. I think the policy definitely does help keep kids from being caught up in a tug-of-war, or having their own relationship with their parents undermined by their Church activity, etc., but I also think it is possible this policy may help avoid carefully contrived legal snares.
Why would God tell this woman that the reason for the policy was to protect the institution when God's chosen mouthpieces told the world that the reason for the policy was to protect the children? Who is lying?
The policy change also shows that the Church does not really take its ordinances nearly as seriously as it claims. Elder Christofferson said that children to whom this policy applies will not lose out on anything by being forced to wait until they are 18 and of an age to make a mature decision about baptism.
First of all, if one needs to be 18 to make a mature decision about baptism, then perhaps the church is in error to be baptizing anyone at all at age 8. Secondly, if they aren't going to lose out, then the institutional discourse about the power of the guidance of the Holy Ghost for teenagers needs to be thrown out the window. Apparently, it isn't nearly as important as we've all been previously led to believe.
The church proved itself to be an institution of man in the creation of this policy, the unofficial rewriting of the policy within weeks of its implementation, and the failure to replace the first policy in the handbook with the rewritten version. The clarification was not a clarification at all. It was a ruse. The original language that caused all the confusion still stands.
Here's a thought, the same worldview that gave us the Priesthood and temple ban is the same worldview that has implemented this policy. Those facets of life and culture and diversity that Mormonism doesn't understand or that don't fit within Mormonism's present theology must be, by default, immoral or sinful or less obedient somehow. We've seen this show before.
Since we all seem to be doing thought experiments, here is one also. Since Jesus never said at what age his gospel would divide families (Matthew 10:34-36), maybe 18 is a good age at which someone can decide if their parents lifestyle is not in keeping with the gospel. To further this thought experiment, let's also say that 8 years old is old enough to know general right from wrong in a family that is more or less gospel oriented.
Everything, you have a unique ability to take almost anything done by the Church and turn it into "a lie" or blunder. Our fellow Christians among the Evangelicals ought to recognize Latter-day Saints as allies in some of the great controversies and battles of the day, but man times seem more intent in picking a fight than accepting their fellows. I find that sad. Better to let the barn burn down than to allow cousins from the trashy side of the family help put the fire out.
As for "who lied?," come on. There can be dozens of factors considered in making a policy. To discuss or focus on one is not to contradict the other. Whether legal issues were among the top factors considered by Church leaders or not, almost no organization will make public statements about legal strategy and prospective law suits, especially if they have lawyers on board to review their public statements. Neither Jeannie G. nor I are claiming that her answer is the sole reason or factor for the Church, or that it was even one of the factors considered explicitly as a reason for making the policy change. There's no basis for accusing anyone of lying here, unless being an accuser is your job.
While reading scriptures today, I read a passage in 3 Nephi 18 that I felt applied strongly to the policy and the controversy surrounding it. 3 Nephi 18:28-34:
28 And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it;
29 For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.
30 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood.
31 But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.
32 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.
33 Therefore, keep these sayings which I have commanded you that ye come not under condemnation; for wo unto him whom the Father condemneth.
34 And I give you these commandments because of the disputations which have been among you. And blessed are ye if ye have no disputations among you.
Kindness is absolutely what the Lord wants, even when exclusion from ordinances is necessary.
CT, What has an eight-year old done that needs repenting of before he can become numbered amongst God's people?
EverythingBeforeUs is the classic example of an apostate who, having left the church, cannot leave it alone. A person who rejects the idea that God wants us to do good works for our salvation and who has never answered why the Jews had to do ordinances to receive salvation but we don't (Thus making God a disrespecter of persons, a partial God, one who cheerfully dooms people to hell for not saying the magic phrase of salvation, etc).
His biggest complaint is that God expecting him to do something is wrong. That salvation should require no effort on his part, and those who sacrifice much, even all, for the Lord should not expect any reward more than the lazy bum who does nothing.
He says God is wrong when Jesus mentioned that not everyone who calls Him lord will be saved — except for those icky Mormons, of course–no matter how much THEY accept Jesus as their Savior, God won't accept them! Because they insist that baptism is necessary, just like Jesus commanded. How wrong, how deluded those Mormons be–thinking that Jesus meant what He said! For having the audacity to think that we need to follow Christ's example; when all they really need to do is accept Jesus and–this is the critical part–deny Mormonism. That second part is the real requirement to go to heaven! Just ask everythingbeforeus; he'll let you know that Mormons have special requirements to go to heaven that Jesus doesn't impose on anyone else! First and foremost is to get rid of the idea that God likes temples or temple ceremonies–that's not true! God despises the very idea of Temples and temple ceremonies and ritual requirements! It's why the Jews were commanded to build one and Jesus spent so much time in one, after all–because He hates them so much!
Tell me, Everything: You despise baptism, and the very idea of repentance (how can a saved person commit sin? If you are saved, you cannot be kept from heaven, so sin doesn't exist, right–sin is, after all, something that separates us from God–and you cannot lose your salvation due to your actions, or that would mean "Works" actually matter–which is a denying of the Grace of God, as you frequently accuse us of).
Baptism is one of those works you cannot stand. So why do you care if the LDS church refuses it to gays–isn't that a good thing, in your mind? Surely by participating in an "evil work" like baptism is a count against you to God, who, in your view, is appalled at the very idea of someone doing a "work". Thus, isn't it a blessing to refuse baptism to gays? It keeps them clean of the taint of, well, following Jesus. And every evangelical like you knows that doing what Jesus said to do instead of your interpretation of Paul's words is verboten, evil, and we all will be punished for daring to follow the words of the Savior instead of relaxing and doing nothing, so we can show that we accept the Grace of God instead of doing good things.
Vance, I responded already to much of what you say here on a previous thread. Oddly, you had nothing more to say to me back then. And yet, you come here again, misconstrue my position again in the same you did last time.
If you had read your Bible outside of the correlated intepretation provided for you by your church, you'd have the answer to your questions. You say that I am "a person who rejects the idea that God wants us to do good works for our salvation and who has never answered why the Jews had to do ordinances to receive salvation but we don't.
Have I never answer why the Jews had to do ordinances to receive salvation? Oops..forgive me. Let me explain from the Bible: The Law was a schoolmaster to bring the Children of Israel to Christ. That is the reason for the Law. It was not for their salvation. It was to show them Christ, who alone could save. And when Christ came, he implemented the new covenant, because the old was obsolete and was done away with. The old covenant of laws and ordinances which were the source of our condemnation was taken down and nailed to the cross. The Law was not going to save the Children of Israel, unless they lived it perfectly. The same requirement still exists. If you accept Law as your path to salvation, you must live it perfectly or stand condemned.
I just paraphrased five different Biblical passages for you in that paragraph. Open up your scriptures.
Tell me, Everything: You despise baptism, and the very idea of repentance
Who said I despise the very idea of repentance. You and I just have totally different understandings of what repentance is. You believe repentance is making right all your wrongs, and never doing the wrong thing again. I believe that this is actually impossible, and repentance is rightly understood as addressing the root cause of all the bad actions we commit as human beings. To you, sin is an act. To me, sin is a condition. You reject original sin. I do not. Therefore, we have fundamentally different understandings of sin.
Mormons focus on sins. Christians focus on sin. There is a difference. Please learn it, even if you never agree with me. It'll help you to understand what I am saying, and you'll stop making the mistakes you do in our discussion.
(how can a saved person commit sin? If you are saved, you cannot be kept from heaven, so sin doesn't exist…
Romans 8:1,2: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
Read Roman 7 to find out what Paul means by the Law of the Spirit of life and the Law of Sin and Death. This isn't something they teach you in Sunday School, Vance.
1 John 5:13: "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…"
If you don't know that you have eternal life,…you do not believe in the name of the Son of God. Take these words to heart.
And every evangelical like you knows that doing what Jesus said to do instead of your interpretation of Paul's words is verboten, evil, and we all will be punished for daring to follow the words of the Savior instead of relaxing and doing nothing, so we can show that we accept the Grace of God instead of doing good things.
I'm sorry, Vance, but you are just talking nonsense now. Do you seriously believe that evangelicals think that following the Savior's example of good works is verboten, evil, and punishable? Do you seriously believe this?
I can't even talk to you anymore until you educate yourself a little. You are embarrassing yourself.
CT, I'd be careful trying to apply scripture to the church's current policies on same-sex married couples and the children of gay and lesbian couples. This policy will change over the years and then the scriptures will need to be reinterpreted to remain consistent with the policy. You see the church has a very long history of teaching doctrine or issuing policies that they later change. The Church is trying to clarify between doctrine and policy, but honestly, it is impossible to tell the difference sometimes.
A few examples, LDS leaders used to preach against interracial marriage. We know the priesthood/temple ban was motivated by cultural racism and bias when leaders taught that its existence was from God and the result of individuals of African descent being less obedient in the pre-mortal existence. Some forward thinking Church leaders even took it one step further and declared that place of birth and/or disability were the result of our level of obedience in the pre-Earth life. Essentially, this was a teaching that said you were punished here for things don't remember doing before. Really think about that for a minute. The Lord's anointed, the only men on Earth who claim to have all the keys of the priesthood, taught that certain people were born in certain locations, or had priesthood/temple blessing withheld from them, or had disabilities because of things they did which, because of the veil, they have no way of remembering doing. Honestly, what is that? How can prophets of God perpetuate such malicious teachings/doctrines/polices over across generations?
Moving on to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, the Church has also had plenty to say about them over the years. Church leaders in the past have taught that same-sex attraction was a choice and that it could be cured. They also taught that lesbians simply needed to learn feminine behavior and that gay men needed to learn what a priesthood leader and father does. Surprisingly, Church leadership also taught that a necessary part of repentance for gay men and lesbians was for them to report to Church authorities the names of other gay men and lesbians. Those positions clearly were a product of the most conservative social thought of the time. As a church, we no longer accept those teachings. Why do we accept the current policies. Many of us don't. I don't believe the policies are inspired by God. I believe they are legally motivated. It doesn't take a revelation to figure that part out, but if that is what the woman needed, that's fine. The Church is certainly entitled to develop policies for legal protection, but they are not entitled to protection from questioning and criticism when the perpetuate the myth that this policy was designed to protect children. The Church has said enough about homosexuality over the years. Given all of the misinformation and poor guidance they've given members on this issue, I cannot accept anything the current leaders have to say on the subject as divinely inspired.
Do I really think that Evangelicals believe good works are bad? No, until they talk to Mormons. Then it is. We are accused of "Trying to earn our way to heaven!" and "Denying the grace of God". In particular, you have hurled those very accusations.
So, taken at face value, doing good works means we are denying the Grace of God. Right? Else why the focus on how we are "earning our way to heaven, blasphemers!" that comes from you and your fellows? If doing good works isn't bad, why do you condemn us for denying the grace of God by trying to do good works?
And yes, you pretty much confirmed that sinning is impossible for a saved person–they can do whatever they want, as long as they are "saved." Once they "know they have eternal life", they get a free pass.
So, I read your answers to me in the other thread. It's all twisting Paul to mean something he clearly didn't: Obedience doesn't matter. Ordinances don't matter.
Again, you fail to address these simple facts: God required ordinances in the Old Testament. He required Baptism, at the very least, in the New. When the men asked Peter what to do on the day of Pentecost, he told them to repent and be baptized. They already believed, but more was required. Was Peter preaching heresy by requiring them to be baptized? When Stephen met the Eunuch, they went to be baptized. James mentions calling for the elders to come anoint the sick –what, pray tell, was that for? Anointing the sick–that's an ordinance, which Christ did away with!
Peter smote the two who failed to contribute to the communal life because they had lied to God, he said (also showing that the Holy Ghost is God–it's the main scripture so demonstrating). But surely they believed and had faith, for they contributed something! Yet it wasn't enough.
Belief alone, as James said, is not enough. Even Satan believes, after all.
But that's all that it takes, says you.. And then you go on about "However, if you don't do good works, you didn't have saving faith!" Thus putting the question of your salvation after this life is over, to see if you had saving faith or not. And now, in this post, you say that if you don't know you are guaranteed eternal life– you don't believe in Jesus. Which is it–do we have saving faith or don't we, right now? Are YOU saved, guaranteed eternal life, everything? Is your faith "saving faith?" If you say yes, your response to me in the other thread is hooey. If you say no, you stand convicted of not believing in the name of the Son of God, by your own admission.
Apparently God was, shall we say, being rather vindictive towards the Jews by requiring them to have ordinances, and follow His commandments, when all along He knew that Jesus would come and give the rest of us a free pass from those onerous requirements. Pretty foul luck for the Jews, don't you think? Why does God hate them so much to force them to do all these requirements that don't actually save them? Did you really just argue that no one who had the law of Moses was saved? What happened to the Jews, then, under the Law of Moses? What did obeying God's law get them if the Law of Moses had no saving power? This is a stunning concept to me: that the entirety of the Old Testament, the Priesthood of Aaron, the sacrifices, the whole shebang–had no power to save. That God does not honor any of it.
And you expect me to believe that such a God, who would give a Law and rules and set up a Priesthood –would not even honor it to save those who lived by that Law? What a cruel cosmic joke!
Again, you prove that the Evangelical God is very capricious. If you disagree, tell me the real power of the Law of Moses. A schoolmaster, you say, to bring people to Christ. How did it do this, if it was filled with Ordinances and Priesthoods that had no power to save (you claim)? When a Jew, say, in 500 BC went to Temple and did ordinances: what was the precise effect? He died long before Christ, and according to you there is no salvation in the Law of Moses. So that Jew is out of luck? Following God's commandments did nothing at all for him–he does not get to go to heaven? Surely a Jew who would give everything they had, like the widow who helped Elijah –didn't they have saving faith? Or did their belief in the need for a temple ordinance doom them, like it apparently does me?
The Bible is filled with Ordinances. Baptism, anointing the sick, the Eucharist or Communion or the Sacrament–whatever you call it –these were heretical practices after Jesus? According to you, apparently so. What about the Laying on of Hands mentioned? If you reject ordinances as obsolete (and apparently, you reject the entire idea, since you claim that the Law of Moses and its ordinances had no saving power when it was in effect–they were just meaningless rituals, of no impact, apparently); then explain why the early church had so many of them. And explain why Peter was allowed to forgive sins, and heal people.
Further, before Peter received the vision of the unclean things, the gospel was not taken to the Gentiles. What, precisely, was not being taken? If all you need is to believe and have faith, did Jesus just not accept that from Gentiles prior to the vision? We know several people, not of the Jews, had deep faith in Christ, even before His death. Jesus said it wasn't fit to give the Gentiles what was given to the Jews. Yet everyone can have faith and believe–what was being withheld from them, if no ordinances?
John the Baptist–why on earth would Jesus have as His forerunner someone who was preaching baptism, if such a thing was obsolete after Christ's death and resurrection?
So many things about your "Grace alone, not works, and boy howdy, ordinances are irrelevant!" just doesn't match the New Testament, let alone the Old.
As for Craig's accusations of "Ye Mormons are bigots!" that he is hurling. Please.
It is not malicious to note that the availability of the Gospel of God to everyone has been limited for most of the earth's history. While little is known about the Gospel prior to Abraham, it is clear that the Gospel was restricted to the Jews alone–a person in, say, Ireland had no access to the authorized plan of God. When Christ came, He came to the Jews alone. Later, Christ extended the possibility of salvation to the Gentiles in the vision to Peter. But this was limited, practically speaking, to Europeans and surrounding areas of the Mediterranean sea for thousands of years. People in Brazil, or Nigeria, or China had no practical access to the Gospel.
So why is it a surprise to see that God limits access to His church? Particularly why is it a surprise to find out that God limits access to His church to people who proudly claim that homosexuality and their actions are not sinful? In a church which holds that the highest, best reward that God can give is an eternal family, with your own children–something homosexuality is diametrically opposed to? This is objectionable? It's ludicrous. Yes, people suffer from temptations, and maybe even have inborn tendencies. I myself fear that if I ever drank alcohol, I would be addicted and a dead drunk very, very quickly, due to inborn tendencies. So I avoid it.
All of these stürm und drang is based on the pernicious lie that homosexuality is not a sin, and that it is normal, acceptable, and even moral. Do adulterers also deserve to get a free pass into the LDS church? We also require those children of adulterers to repudiate such acts when we ask them to commit to live a moral, Christlike lifestyle; but adulterers don't have an organized arm running around preaching that adultery is normal, moral, and approved by God like the LGBT lobby. And, for the most part as far as I know, adulterers are not preaching to their children that it is perfectly fine and dandy to cheat on your spouse and you should not be punished for it. If it were, I'm pretty sure the church policies that have been implemented towards gays would also be implemented for the adulterers.
Thankfully, adultery is still recognized as a moral problem by the vast numbers of people (outside of politicians, perhaps). So there is no need for such measures… yet.
Vance…this is as simple as I can put it:
Faith – Salvation – Works. That is the order of operations.
Mormons believe it goes this way. Faith – Works – Salvation.
Notice, I didn't complicate the matter by including grace. Both Christians and Mormons acknowledge grace (thought they think of it differently), so there was not need to complicate it by putting that in there.
Faith – Salvation – Works.
NOT Faith – Works – Salvation.
When you understand that, even if you don't agree, we can talk.
As for what you said to Craig about the limited availability of the Gospel..again read the New Testament. Especially Ephesians. The new covenant does not limit the gospel to any group, but makes it available to all.
I really saw the "change" as nothing more than shoring up the boundaries of what is acceptable and appropriate, regardless of what the world says, or the supreme court, for that matter. I also couldn't help but wonder how few people this will actually affect. Yes, I'm sure more than I might think, but less than the entirety of the church or the bedrock of the doctrine on the family. The church should not and must not budge on this issue, but love should never be far from our lips or our actions either. Are we sent here to over come the natural man or not? Is it that only some are expected to abide by the sexual purity standards set forth by the Church, while others get an exemption based on their desire to act out on their sexual impulses? Go and sin no more, as I understand it, applies to us all. We cannot have one foot in the world, seeking after our "authentic" worldly selves, and one foot in the church, professing belief in something we have no intentions of living (not even trying to live). Come, follow me, was and is a request for change, as well as an outreach to the world.
Some other good blogs with posts on this issue: http://www.sixteensmallstones.org/, http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/11/15873/, http://wellbehavedmormonwoman.blogspot.com/2015/11/response-to-new-church-policy-gay-marriage-children-baptism.html, http://www.mormonwomenstand.com/guest-stand/what-the-church-is-making-progress-actually-means/, http://gaymormonguy.blogspot.com/2015/11/waiting-on-lord-same-sex-adoption.html, https://letters4darla.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/no-virginia-christianity-doesnt-need-to-change-people-do/
Vance, I don't believe that I've said Mormons are bigots. What is I was saying is that there is sufficient evidence throughout Church history to show that some prominent, high-ranking, Church leaders have allowed their own cultural and social biases to inform Doctrine, policy, and guidance to members on everything from race to gender to sexual orientation. The fact that for centuries hearing/learning about the Gospel of Jesus Christ was limited to certain people in certain geographic locations is a vastly different thing than carrying on a tradition of withholding priesthood and temple blessings from a certain group of people on the basis of race and calling it doctrine.
Vance, has it never struck you as odd that the same people to whom "God limits access to His church" are the some of the same people that have historically been oppressed and marginalized by the larger society. Think about it.
You claim that homosexuality is "diametrically opposed" to having "your own" children and family. Really? How so? Are adopted children of gay couples not really their children? If that is the case, what of the adopted children of heterosexual couples? Are they not really "their children?" You must be referring to biological children. I know many heterosexual couples who have formed families with children through various means. Are those children any less theirs?
Homosexuality is a sexual orientation. To reduce it to a temptation or an inborn tendency is like reducing opposite gender attraction to a temptation or an inborn tendency. Educate yourself on this. BYU Professor Bill Bradshaw's work on the biological basis for same-gender attraction might be useful for you.
You also equate homosexuality with adultery. Keep thinking that way, Vance. That line of reasoning should take you far in life. Adultery, by definition, means willfully having a sexual relationship with someone other than your lawfully recognized spouse. It is direct violation of marriage vows and a serious violation of the innocent spouse's trust. That doesn't sound like homosexuality to me. By the way, children of adulterers are not required to disavow the lifestyle of their parents in order to be baptized. The children of gay and lesbian couples are required to disavow their parents relationship before getting baptized. Makes no sense.
Mural mama, the Church did not need to shore up their position on homosexuality. It was already very clear. Local church leaders already had the authority to bring disciplinary councils against members (gay or straight) who were engaging in actions that violated the law of chastity. The Church has tried to claim in recent years that they don't ask anything different from members with same-sex attraction than they ask of single, straight members. That is no longer the case. This policy is proof that lesbian or gay members of the Church are defined by their sexual orientation and that it is considered a burden that they must bear in this life. They are not just told to remain celibate, they are required to live a life that forces them to be ever watchful lest they fall in love. Imagine being told that you can experience feelings of opposite gender attraction, but you can never act on them…and by act on them, I'm not just talking about having sex. I'm talking about dating, and spending time together, and developing a committed and trusting relationship with someone to whom you are sexually attracted. The most intimate aspects of the human experience are expressly forbidden to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender. What does the Church promise for this life of celibacy? It'll be ok in the end. All the things you missed out on here will be available there. We've said all kinds of horrible things about homosexuals over the years, we've given guidance to homosexual members that has been misguided and ill informed, but don't pay any attention to that, we got it right this time. Good grief!
Well, I understand that you and I really don't disagree on what Evangelicals think is necessary for Salvation. If it goes Faith, then Salvation, then works…. works are a complete and total irrelevancy to salvation, then. Is that really what you mean; because it seems like this contradicts your other thread. Does Salvation depend on your works, or the lack thereof, at all–even if your lack of works means you never had "saving faith?" I just question the order you are putting this in, because from my discussions with most evangelicals, they are not comfortable with saying works do not matter one whit for salvation. Even you have walked that back.
But here you are, saying that, for purposes of deciding whether or not someone is saved: their works are completely and totally irrelevant. It is only their faith that determines that. Once Salvation is decided, then we move to works. Is that an accurate recap of your position? Note that this means that works, whether bad or good, are therefore simply not considered at all in deciding whether someone is saved. By this I mean that you cannot say "Your works demonstrate whether you had saving faith" because then your formula moves to, in math speak: "w times F >= X means Salvation", where F is Faith and Works is how strong your faith is (demonstrating if you have saving faith)–the multiplier, as it were. And X is the required amount of Faith for Salvation.
This above formula is not correct; what you really believe is that Faith >= X which = Salvation, and W or works is a completely separate equation.
Let's stop there and you tell me if that is accurate for your beliefs.
And Craig: I fail to see the issue. Christ Himself referred to the Samaritans as "dogs" and told the woman that she was not fit to receive the gospel based on her race or cultural identity… up to the point that she demonstrated very great faith. And then the gospel was extended to her. This was relaxed with Peter, but the Savior Himself only went to the Jews. That He would exclude a group of people whose main identifying characteristic isn't race or cultural, but behavioral, is no surprise at all. As to your "God wouldn't withhold the Priesthood on the basis of race!" He did indeed do just that with the Samaritans of Ezra's day… and in fact, only the tribe of Levi got to hold the Priesthood at all. Your common, believing, member of the tribe of Asher, say, or Issachar or even Judah did not have that opportunity, based on their birth.
As for your "don't gays have families too?" question: Again, what is the pattern of heaven? We have a Father in Heaven… and a Mother in Heaven. We don't have two Fathers in Heaven, who created our spirits. Only a marriage between a man and a woman is eligible for eternal blessings; the SSM and adoption here is completely irrelevant on the other side. Just as my wedding is irrelevant until sealed by someone holding the sealing power. And my adopted kids (and I actually do have two adopted kids) would mean nothing except they were sealed to my wife and I; their legal adoption is only relevant here on earth. If I adopt any more children and they are not sealed to me, they will not be in my family in the next world either.
Your complaint that LDS doctrine means that we expect homosexuals to "wait it out" and to not experience the companionship of a loved one is self serving and whining. The LDS church expects nothing more of homosexuals than it does anyone else. My sister in law is mid 40's. Still single. Her chances of finding and experiencing the, as you call it, "most intimate aspects of the human experience" are practically nil. She will almost certainly never be married. The same promises that you dismiss are extended to her as they are to homosexuals; namely that she will have all the opportunities and blessings she is deserving of, even if they are not realized in this life.
It's the same advice, Craig. I personally think that there are far, far more tragic things than to be born with a same sex attraction, if that is even the reason. You could be born TO a person or placed in the care of one of those who thinks that child abuse is a-ok and the preferred method for inducting them into the LGBT lifestyle, for instance. Like Moira Greyland, the daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley, who got to grow up being raped by her parents–both of them. And by her mothers lesbian friends. That seems more of an issue; more of an injustice; than asking gays to follow the same rules we ask everyone else to follow. Or don't you agree?
Plus, this whole notion that the homosexual community needs special privileges because they can't help themselves is a pernicious doctrine that denies Christ. Or do you claim that Christ's Atonement is insufficient to heal the dedicated person, earnestly striving to become more like Christ? Christ can heal the adulterer, the abused, comfort those that mourn; and heal all wounds but same-sex attraction is just too strong for Christ to fix, is that right?
If that is the argument…. then we need to keep preachers of that doctrine out of the Church.
Vance, you and I are not likely to agree. I do not have the same testimony of the current state of Mormon theology that you have. I'm an active member of the Church, but I'm not willing to simply accept that the current state of affairs within the Church is exactly as God intends it to be. Another difference between you and me, is that I don't consider same-sex attraction any form of tragedy. I view it in much the same way as being born with heterosexual attraction. The Church considers it a burden to carry in this life. I do not view it that way. As a result, for me to answer your question about whether it is worse to be born gay or born into an abusive family is ridiculous. Children being born into abusive families has nothing to do with homosexuality, just like adultery has nothing to do with homosexuality. Now you say that homosexuals are unable to control themselves. What do you mean by that? Please educate yourself on same-sex attraction and the myriad lifestyles of lesbian and gay individuals. They are as varied as that of heterosexual individuals. This is what I claim: The atonement of Jesus Christ is not needed to heal same-sex attraction because same-sex attraction does not need healing. Is that clear enough.
Answer this question: Could your sister-in-law get married, if the opportunity presented itself, and remain in full fellowship in the Church? If she could, then the gay person is in a different position than she is. It is not the same.
As for matters of race, the Church itself has stated that the priesthood ban was motivated by historical racism. The sooner you accept that former leaders of the Church have had the ability to teach false doctrine, the sooner you can begin to think for yourself.
Believe it or not, Vance, I used to think like you do now. I used to try to find every possible way to make sure things fit neatly within the Church's current interpretation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I finally realized that the Gospel of Jesus Christ (as explained in the Bible and the Book of Mormon) is really very simple and shouldn't require all of these mental gymnastics and layers.
The moment I came to a realization that the same-sex attraction experienced by gay and lesbian individuals was not in need of repair, is the same moment that I experienced an ability to love these individuals unconditionally.
Vance, I don't know what all these evangelicals you talk to believe. You keep bringing them up. Stop addressing these other people when you talk to me. Talk to ME.
If I have backtracked anything, please explain what exactly so I can maybe correct myself. Frankly, I don't know what these equations you are using even mean. I am trying to figure them out. I'd prefer words.
First of all, we can't determine if someone is saved or not. Only God can do that. And the individual may know. Most likely the individual WILL know. So, since we are not the judges, it becomes kind of silly to even try to nail all this down. We will never be in a position where we need to know the criteria from the point of view of a judge.
Faith in Christ is what saves. This faith usually comes as a result of a hard-fought battle against the desires of the mortal flesh. When the individual comes to the realization that he/she cannot save himself through his/her own righteousness, and decides to give the fight up and turn entirely and completely to God (not a church or anything else), then that person is demonstrating the faith that saves. The salvation occurs. This is an experience that has been experienced by many many people. I experienced it. It is called being born-again. In that experience, one experiences the amazing love and mercy of God. Words cannot describe it. And that person then knows that his or her life is forever changed. Almost in a moment. It has happened to many people. Some Mormons, actually. But many many many Christians.
The moment true faith is expressed, the redeeming grace of Christ kicks in and that person receives the downpayment, or the "earnest," of his or her redemption. That person partakes of the heavenly gift. They are enlightened. They experience the powers of the world to come. Paul describes it this way. Peter describes it this way.
Can a person fall from this? Yes. Paul says so. Peter says so. One falls from it by becoming fully ensnared in the world once again to the point that they reject the gift. Unpardonable sin. Pure evil.
We don't, as you suggest, work on developing faith, then we get saved, then we "move on" to works, as if we are climbing a ladder. Steps up a ladder. I know I kind of made it seem like it is a bunch of steps, but really, it can't be explained in words. So I do my best. But the "ladder" mentality is alive and well in Mormonism.
It is more like being in quicksand, struggling by one's own efforts to get out, and finally just reaching out and grabbing the rope Jesus has been offering the whole time. It is almost an instantaneous thing. The faith-salvation part is. The acceptance of the rope and the ensuing salvation is almost instantaneous. Then, guess what. You are free! You can go and continue to struggle, but this time out of gratitude for the salvation and the Love of God, not to get yourself out of the pit.
The reason you may be perceiving that I am backtracking here and there is not because I am backtracking, but because words fail ultimately to explain this marvelous experience. I am trying to put the inexpressible into expression. But there is no way of doing it.
But experience it for yourself. Then you'll be here wanting to have an entirely different conversation with me. I guarantee it.
EBU has presented an uninteresting chain of reasoning since there is no faith without works. FSW | FWS distinctions are trivial. They're a distraction, and lead to inconsequential nit-picking, which ebu thrives on.
anonymous. Right…that is why I have tried to explain to Vance, who depicted a similar weakness in my argument, that what I am trying to say can't fully be expressed in language. My chain of reasoning is only a model, but it is not reality. Like a diagram of an atom is only a model by which a concept can be partly understood, but is not reality.
Faith-salvation-works. It kind of happens in this order, but it kind of happens all at once. It is a powerful realization of one's true standing before God, but almost in the same moment, a powerful realization of the love God has for us. It is a gift from God. Both the love, and the faith.