Unintended Consequences

We are pleased to feature this guest post by Judy Dushku, one of Exponent II‘s founding mothers.

In the months since the LDS church announced “The Policy” on gay couples and their families, significant healthy changes have taken place within judy dushkuthe Mormon community that may not be obvious, but are increasingly discernable.  These have not emerged with uniformity across the whole church, as it is still easy to find blog posts and Facebook admonitions to “follow the Brethren or else” on any given day.  But there are noticeable expressions of acceptance of the fact that “Mormons Mormon differently and still remain Mormons!”  In other words, the extreme nature of The Policy and the breadth of the backlash are so well-known to most members of the LDS church, that the church has been somehow altered by having to watch its leadership cling so fiercely and defensively  to something that many openly ignore or condemn.  While thousands of people left the church, thousands more stayed in and continue to regularly attend church, yet openly either joke about The Policy or, more respectfully but still firmly, reject it. And there is still a Mormon church and people still call themselves Mormons.  People pass and partake of the sacrament and accept callings and dutifully serve in them.  But the authority of the Brethren has lost its tight grip.  The church is bigger than both “The Policy” and bigger than the Brethren.

Undoubtedly some will say this is absolutely not true, and from the experience of those living in wards where “The Policy” has been defended and even enforced, social media still reports that this new and less coerced membership has not evolved everywhere.  But there is anecdotal evidence that more than a few members have simply shaken off the sense of being required to “fall in line” with something they do not and cannot accept, and have found a way to co-exist within wards with others who may be towing the more regulated line.

A woman in my stake said to me last week, “O yes, you are in the ward with all the doubters.  In my ward, there are probably just as many, but ours are more quiet.”  What does this say? I ask myself.  She totally supports the official leadership explanation of God’s role in The Policy, and with the reasons given by previous explainers.  But she is resigned to a new reality, even in what she has always called her very “conservative” and “traditional” ward.  An email from another ward in what I have considered as very rigidly unquestioning in its attitude toward church leadership said, “Members in our ward are getting along well, though most know who accepts The Policy and who doesn’t.”  This says that there is a broader spectrum of believer-ship than before, and that it may be a new normal.  Am I jumping to a conclusion too quickly?  We’ll see.

I find myself in this fuzzy category of not leaving and feeling very active, but not believing what apostles and the First Presidency are saying at all.  After seriously considering the possibility of leaving the church for at least a month, I realized I would still be a “Mormon.”  I had several plans for my exit – ranging from a quiet plan to a loud and dramatic one, but all felt so false as to be almost laughable.  It did feel equally false to simply go to church and say nothing, as my disbelief was so loud.  My only acceptable choice for me seemed sadly bland, but was all I could imagine doing at this juncture.  I spoke of my not having a testimony at all of the divine origin of this policy early on and have remained open about that position when asked, but of late I have continued to participate in my ward activities and realize that my fellow sisters and brothers accept what I believe, and don’t regard me as an apostate.  At a recent testimony meeting, one sister read a statement of her unwavering belief in the Prophet and his clear connection to God whenever he speaks on any subject and she chastised anyone in the church who feels differently.  But she was followed by a brother who bore his testimony on how we all  make mistakes, even our leaders, and that his commitment was to expanding his understanding of the Savior and to his desire to be more like Him.  None in our ward seemed surprised.

Gospel Doctrine class is particularly lively, and has not been a place where a discussion about The Policy has taken place, but I sense a communal quiet exploration of the idea of personal responsibility for thinking seriously about doctrine and making individual decisions about interpretation and meaning.  Maybe it is me projecting by own growing sense that any of us wanting to understand the mind and will of the Father, needs to make it a more serious matter of prayer and then trust what answers come to us.

….

I recently had a great conversation with my seven year old grandson about the Hans Christian Anderson parable, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”    He raised good questions.  “If the emperor was smart enough to be an emperor, how come he did not know he was naked?” he wanted to know.  I explained that sometimes people want to believe something that is not true so badly they almost fool themselves into thinking it is true.  Remember last year before Christmas when you learned that Santa Claus was really your mom and dad? You were so sorry that you had been told this secret, that when Christmas actually came, you almost believed it again.  Remember?  He did, and acknowledged that he still sometimes forgets the truth that he knows

I suggested that he wasn’t the only one who didn’t want to know what was true, since others who wanted to stay on the good side of the powerful emperor probably felt like pretending just kept everyone happier than telling the truth, so they all kept quiet.  We spoke of a boy my grandson knows who excels at sports to his father’s delight, but the year his team kept losing, the boy didn’t want to disappoint his dad so he told his father after each game that his team had won and that he had made the winning goal.  He kept up the deception for months until the boy’s father showed up at a game.  Everyone was so happy to see the boy’s father appear at last, that everyone went along with the boy’s claim that the loss his dad witnessed was the first one of the season.  Not only did the boy want it badly to be true, but others felt sorry for him because they knew how badly he wanted to please his dad, and no one disclosed the truth.  I tried to explain that it is always best to tell the truth, but when we know the truth might hurt or deeply disappoint someone, sometimes we hide it thinking it keeps someone from looking foolish.   “Sometimes if the truth will spoil something, you can just keep quiet.  Right?”  I agreed it was a temptation that everyone has to guard against.

I reminded him that the tailors also told the emperor that only the smartest and best people could see the cloth that they sewed into the new clothes.  The emperor was so used to thinking he was the smartest and best man ever, that he told everyone around him this that to show how smart and good you are you should pretend to see the clothes.   “So when the emperor showed up in a parade with nothing on because he wanted people to think good things about him, did even grown-ups  just pretend?”  Not only that – the tailors who pretended to make the clothes for the foolish emperor lied to him and told him that if someone said they couldn’t see the beautiful clothes, it meant they were bad or stupid people.  So all the emperor’s friends heard this and they decided to pretend that they, too, could see the clothes so they raved and raved about them and the emperor believed the lie even more. So the emperor didn’t know at all that he was totally naked when he marched down the street. Remember, I reminded my grandson, that it was a small boy who finally told the truth.  “Look.” he said, “The emperor is naked.”

We then talked about what we thought might have happened to the boy who spoke up and said the truth.  I quietly reflected on what has happened to those who have pointed out that the LDS apostles who have spoken in behalf of an indefensible “Handbook Policy” aren’t  telling the truth about where that policy came from.  One day it will be known, but now most people have either lined up to pretend they received this from God, or have decided it will simply hurt the feelings of too many church members if they admit it was a flawed idea to begin with.   The apostles are used to being believed and not challenged, and it is easier to simple wrap themselves in the mantle of their apostleship and expect people to accept that it is being worn properly, than to explain what is really true – which is that they are unable to decide quite what to do about integrating gay people into the fabric of the wards and stakes of Zion and that it will take time and good will to come up with something that will work for  the peace of the Kingdom.   But  wearing the mantle of apostleship while hiding the deception will leave a diminished view of the mantle and the apostles.  The apostles have played the role of an emperor, as in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

It remains to be seen how members will come out of this ordeal in terms of their deep and genuine respect for our General Authorities.  I think of the flurry of activity that takes place in the church as we are all urged to prayerfully prepare for General Conference.  If people are really praying and get authentic answers to prayers about what is, indeed, true and what is not true – will they hang on to every word of each speaker’s message?  Or as the Spirit withholds a witness of truth for what is said, do these faithful church members become even more reliant on their individual testimonies and on what they hear the Spirit reveal directly to them?

My grandson asked, “What happened after the kid told everyone that the emperor was naked?”  The Hans Christian Anderson story ended there, but the parallel story of LDS apostles will not.  I don’t know, I replied, but maybe some people tried to silence him.  But others may have simply decided that the emperor can continue to walk naked in the street and people could ignore him  Or maybe the emperor learned something and got different advice next time and did not go walking until he was sure that he knew what he was doing.  But probably after his march through the city in his new clothes that weren’t clothes at all, people didn’t see him as so important after that.  If he walked down the street again, maybe he just had to enjoy the walk.  Grown-ups might call this an unintended consequence of walking while naked.

This brings to mind a quote from Benjamin Hooks, former director of the NAACP: “If you think you are leading and turn around to see no one following, then you are just taking a walk.”

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65 Responses

  1. Andrew R. says:

    “more respectfully but still firmly, reject it”

    What does it mean to reject it? The policy is there, and the policy should be adhered to by leaders. For ordinary members it makes little difference to them that the policy is there. A bishop, or missionary, interviewing someone and continuing with a blessing or baptism under the circumstances laid out in the policy is doing something they should not be doing. What would happen to them I do not know.

    But it’s easy for a member not actually affected by the policy to say they either do, or don’t, agree with it (or go stronger and say they reject it). It means nothing, because it has no effect on them if they are a member in good standing.

    The difficulty is that it wasn’t one policy. There were two policy changes. One affected certain ordinances being withheld in a certain set of conditions, until adulthood.

    The other was a reclassification of SSM being apostasy. Joining another Church is apostasy, and always has been. Teaching and living a false doctrine is also apostasy. So polygamy for instance is apostasy. Entering into a SSM is also living a false doctrine, and teaching by example, so it too is apostasy. It may seem unfair for those who find they can not conform, but that’s how it is.

    • Kevin Winters says:

      Andrew R.: it does affect the average member on a few levels. First, if they have friends or family who are influenced by this policy, they cannot help but be influenced. Second, if they have leaders who see their disagreement as a form of apostasy, it can have huge influences on their callings and interactions within their Ward and Stake. Third, it can shake their faith in their leaders, both local and in SLC, which, in many cases, have immense consequences for them and their lives.

      On your first claim: I submit to you that it is false doctrine that following falsehoods, whether it be from Home Teachers or Prophets, will lead in blessings. It causes harm, regardless of who the directive came from, and one cannot displace responsibility by laying the blame on someone else. So, no, a leader who does not enforce a rule that they believe not only to be uninspired, but also will cause immense harm and result in the the loss of blessings to the most vulnerable members of the Kingdom, is doing exactly what they should. “Do what is right, let the consequence follow.” We do not do the Church or its members any service by perpetuating falsehoods and causing harm.

      On your last point: according to current Church doctrine, masturbating, watching pornography, and even spousal abuse are “living a false doctrine”, yet they do not result in an immediate removal from the Church. The question becomes, why is someone committing fidelity to a member of the same gender worse than spousal abuse?

      • Andrew R. says:

        ” they do not result in an immediate removal from the Church.”

        Nor does SSM. The policy does not state excommunicate them. It makes a disciplinary council mandatory. The result of any DC is not mandated. It may well be excommunication. But the purpose is to bring the individual to repentance.

        The same is true for the other things you note. A person would meet with their ecclesiastical leader and work towards a solution. Informal or Formal probation. Maybe something more – especially in the case of spouse abuse.

        The problem here is that the individuals have made their sin official.

        Someone engaged in fornication (homosexually or heterosexually) or adultery can only be dealt with by the church disciplinary measures if they have confessed or there are two witnesses. Confession usually means an individual is seeking to repent, and to receive forgiveness, or they don’t care and want out of the church anyway.

        However entering a SSM is a public act, no need of witnesses, no need of confession. They are violating Church laws (which state marriage is between a man and a woman). The discipline system can immediately begin.

  2. Lisa says:

    Thank you for being willing to be the little boy pointing out that the emperor has no clothes. This is a great analogy. I too have seen these unintended consequences. Maybe this will force all of us to grow-up spiritually and do what God and Christ have asked us to do: be responsible for our own salvation by thinking, questioning, and receiving our own answers. Then with those answers, charting our individual spiritual course.

  3. Ziff says:

    I really like this, Judy. This line in particular struck me:

    “It remains to be seen how members will come out of this ordeal in terms of their deep and genuine respect for our General Authorities.”

    I think it would be *great* if one of the unintended consequences of the policy was that it actually pushed more Church members to reevaluate the idea that GAs can’t lead us astray. Unfortunately, it seems like lots of people are still clinging to this as a defense.

  4. David D says:

    White American heterosexual couples have had the luxury of believing the prophet and apostles are unerring. That the Brethren sometimes are wrong and take the church along incorrect paths is not new to many, just ask any member of African descent, or a homosexual who grew up when the church taught that these are choices and God would never give someone such unnatural inclinations.

  5. snj says:

    Thanks for speaking up Judy! We have never met but I have always admired you and your courage to speak up when something is not quite right. Thank you.

  6. Anon for This says:

    My own difficulties with faith in the brethern began long before the policy, but other than the timing, I am probably a good example of a member who is active in the church, but skeptical when it comes to the absolute trust many put in the GAs. The thing I’ve learned about myself though is that trust is individual and it is earned. As a missionary (years ago), we spent lots of time ‘Building Relationships of Trust’ with our investigators. That trust came as we spoke and acted and got to know one another. And if I look at the GAs from that perspective, most of them, I have zero trust in because I have zero relationship. Those I do have trust in (Uchtdorf anyone?), it’s because they are speaking and acting in ways that build that trust. But so many of them are undermining any trust I might have by their own words and actions.

  7. James Stone says:

    Questioning the words and decisions of apostles and prophets is nothing new. People are deluding themselves if they think rejecting “The Policy” is trodden new ground. The scriptures are full of examples of those who rejected all or some of their teachings as well as the consequences of those decisions.

  8. bwv549 says:

    @james stone:

    Scripture is also replete with examples of times when the current leadership was doing it wrong and needed to be called to repentance (e.g., that’s the message of most of the old testament prophets, Jesus relative to the leadership of the church in his day, and Abinidi in the Book of Mormon).

    • James Stone says:

      Yet every example you cite, the correction has come from other prophets or God himself–not the general membership body of the church.

      • bwv549 says:

        Did the leadership of King Noah’s time accept that Abinadi’s message came from God? Or was Abinadi just a normal member?

        Mosiah 11:20 – “And it came to pass that there was **a man among them** whose name was Abinadi; and he went forth among them, and began to prophesy…”

        Abinadi appears to have been a normal member. There is no indication that Abinadi had a special calling or office (except that he felt that God had a message for him to deliver to the Church officers). Just a member talking to the leadership and calling them to repentance. And they didn’t accept that God had spoken to Abinadi.

      • James Stone says:

        @bwv549 — That’s a pretty selective reading of the verse. If you read it in it’s entirety, you see the he was commanded by the Lord to preach to the people. He was a prophet called of God. He didn’t just do it on his own volition.

        20 And it came to pass that there was a man among them whose name was Abinadi; and he went forth among them, and began to prophesy, saying: Behold, thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me, saying, Go forth, and say unto this people, thus saith the Lord—Wo be unto this people, for I have seen their abominations, and their wickedness, and their whoredoms; and except they repent I will visit them in mine anger.

      • bwv549 says:

        @James Stone – That is a good point (Abinadi felt he was called of God). Okay, so Denver Snuffer was an everyday member who felt called of God (and claims to have spoken face to face with God) and felt that he needed to call the current organization to repentance. Rob Smith (upwardthought.blogspot.com) is another similar fellow (feels called of God to call the church to repentance and claims to have spoken with Jesus face to face). Both of them were excommunicated for sharing their messages (Abinadi was put to death for sharing his). From King Noah’s perspective, Abinadi was just another Denver Snuffer or Rob Smith. My key point here, and I think it is still valid, is that scripture definitely describes individuals who offered correction to the church who were not in the leadership of the Church. Similar cases exist today, but we dismiss all of them as apostates (rather than calling them “Prophets”).

  9. Paul Brown says:

    We should pray for our apostles, that they can prophesy, see, and reveal. Unfortunately, we are too long separated from those events. And, during that separation, discourse from SLC relies on the experience and prejudice of aged white heterosexual American (with one exception) men. We have the prophesied famine of the Word of God.

  10. Andrew R. says:

    WOW. This is getting quite desperate IMHO. 15 men whom the Lord has supposedly called, and who have been ordained Apostles, have unanimously declared the policy of the Church. They have done this after deliberation in their council meeting, held in the Temple.

    However, because they are white Americans (bar one), they are prejudiced and lack the Spirit so much that they have erred. They are leading the Church in the wrong way. And for some reason God is letting this happen.

    Where is the prophet who can call these men to repentance going to come from?

    Really. If I believed this I would have lost my testimony of this Church already. I would have no reason to continue to spend hours on my callings, attend the temple, etc. I would be enjoying my life blissfully aware that I was doing what God, or the universe, thought was best for me.

    But I don’t. The Policy may not be perfect, but it sends the right message. God does not accept homosexual relationships. They are not a way to perfection. He doesn’t accept a lot of other things either, for the same reason.

    I realise this is a blow to those who thought He might change His mind. And deciding that the 15 Apostles have got it wrong is a way of holding out hope I guess. But it is also a way to move away from God.

    • Liz says:

      Maybe the call to repentance will come from people like the children, or youth, like Judy says, and like it also says in Acts 2:17: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”

      Andrew R., I realize that you feel strongly that homosexual behavior is a sin. Many of us don’t. Please try to be respectful of those who simply disagree with you. You don’t get to suggest that those who feel differently are “moving away from God.” It’s a violation of our comment policy to call out other people’s righteousness. Stick to your own feelings, experiences, and ideas or you’ll be stuck in permanent moderation.

    • Ziff says:

      Andrew, it’s fine that you need to accept practical infallibility of Church leaders in order to keep participating in the Church. Just realize that the rest of us might not require that. We can both participate *and* realize that GAs can make mistakes.

      • Andrew R, says:

        “practical infallibility” not really sure what you are accusing me of there.

        I don’t believe any one of them is infallible. I do believe that the reason the Lord expects their decisions to be unanimous is to ensure they are the correct one.

      • Ziff says:

        That’s practical infallibility. If you believe *in theory* that they could make a mistake, but you don’t in practice ever identify cases where they do, you believe in infallibility for practical purposes, even if you wouldn’t say they’re infallible.

      • Andrew R. says:

        I think what I believe is that the Lord is leading His Church. Or is that not possible any longer?

    • James Stone says:

      Agreed, Andrew. Denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation is one of the patterns of apostasy set forth in the Book of Mormon. This essay is a textbook example of that.

      • Peter says:

        James, the argument you and Andrew make that a unanimous belief or decision by the Apostles is always to be trusted, infallable or however you word it and we can consider that a safe garuntee even if they are not infallable individually unfortunately does not hold up at all in light of our history of 150 years of institutional racism. Alhought there were private discussions and dissenting voices along the way amongst the apostles, again and again for 150 years the leadership unanimously and publicly declared and insisted that every ward in the Church enforced the exclusion of teenagers and men and women with ANY black African ancestry from temple ordinances and priesthood ordination except a tiny handful of descendents of black members who had been ordained by Joseph Smith. President Monson is the last surviving serving apostle from that pre-1978 era.

        Recent official media announcements and the Gospel Topics Essay on Blacks and the Priesthood which have First Presidency endorsement and Elder Ballard has just urged all Church leaders and Teachers to study and know ‘like the back of your hand’ specifically disavows ALL past racism in and out of the Church and any doctrines or interpretations taught to justify or excuse it, thus acknowledging that for 150 years on a very fundamental issue that effected countless lives and opportunities for salvation in and out of the Church, the united revelatory voice and decisions of the quorum of 15 was completely wrong. And arguably one of the most harmful and destructive sins against God’s children in the history of the gospel.

        You can’t pretent that didn’t happen, never mind all the other doctrines and practices they have changed their mind about like Brigham Young with unanimous support from his Apostles teaching that polygamy was the ‘natural’ healthy family structure when now the Apostles talk about heterosexual monogamy being the ‘natural family’ structure. I’m afraid you need to adjust your assumptions about what is the bottom line when it comes to revelation from our leaders and be less condemning of the other faithful members who have already worked this out. Life is a bit more complicated that we would like in these matters and if you are to survive in the Church at some point you will need to come to terms with that.

  11. Anon for This says:

    Andrew R – I think you miss the point of how people like me view the brethern. I’m in no way desperate. I (and this may differ for others) am not worried about their skin color (although I do love the idea of an leader of different race).

    I have prayed a lot (a LOT) about this issue over the last 15 years and the answer I receive every time is not that the policy is correct or that I need to denounce homosexuality or that God is denouncing homosexuality, it’s that my job is to be kind. So I see myself fully able to fullfill what God wants of me (be kind), while letting go of all the things God doesn’t care about for me (the bretherns statements on homosexuality). You can rant about what a big ‘blow’ this must be for me, but it isn’t in the sense you mean because God isn’t telling me the conflict is within my relationship with Him.

    The brethern are not all that important to me. God is. The two are not the same thing for me.

    And so when the brethern speak, I go back over and over again to prayer and what does God require of me. Sometimes the brethern’s words do inspire me. But so much of what they say lately does not and God continues to seem to expect Kindness from me, not obedience to the arm of flesh.

  12. Marco Polo says:

    Serious question: Why do those who have a problem with “The Policy” regarding gay marriages and their children don’t have a problem that the same policy being applied to polygamous marriages in their children?

    • nrc42 says:

      Most do. I abhor both policies, but find the policy for children of polygamous families to be particularly hypocritical since it’s the Church’s fault in the first place.

    • David D says:

      I think the real answer to the question is most of us don’t know any polygamists, but many know homosexuals.
      I’ve heard that policy explained as polygamous families used to have their children attend LDS church long enough to gain a temple recommend and receive endowments, and then return to the polygamous fold. If true, I can understand wanting some safeguard against it, but still, such a blanket policy is harsh on those who genuinely want to join our fold

  13. Jenny says:

    Great post! I love your comparison with The Emperors New Clothes. I have also noticed a shift, and I live in an extremely traditional-minded area. The other day I told my bishopric how I feel about the ordination of women and gay marriage. They seemed to empathize with my struggle with the church’s treatment of LGBT issues, as if it is a common pain. They didn’t get up in arms about that like they did over women’s issues. That part is sad, but I think it does speak to growing pains leading to progress.

  14. Maricady says:

    It seems this piece, although wee-written, could apply to any former superstition that has long gone away. For instance, throwing virgins into volcanoes because the people in power believed it was what was best. And what was the harm in it, since it only killed a few female virgins. (substitute “gay” person for “virgin’) The “logic” fails me and the policy fails us all. Thanks for trying to form an analogy that makes it possible for you to muddle through a decision to stay in the LDS Church. Just keep throwing those virgins into the volcano because, after all, someday these inspired Brethren will see the light, Sure, “that’s the ticket!”

  15. christiankimball says:

    “But the authority of the Brethren has lost its tight grip.”
    I sense this too. Not everywhere, not everybody, but in a big and loose sense. In recent days the Utah Senate has made two decisions contrary to the stated position of the Church. Not earth-shattering, to be sure, but caused me to think about these unintended consequences.

    • Andrew R. says:

      Since the majority of members live outside the US, and even more outside Utah, who cares what the Utah Senate does?

      Most live under regimes that don’t care about our beliefs. As members we have to decide what is right in the sight of God, not the law.

      • christiankimball says:

        Good point–who cares? Except that it seems that the Church does care about what the Utah Senate does, since they make statements and get involved in local Utah politics. And it’s not working like it used to. That’s interesting.

      • Trent says:

        Andrew, I would very much like to hear your response to Peter’s comment on Feb 27th. As someone who has struggled with the fact Joseph Smith ordained black members to the priesthood, I have never received an answer as to why Brigham Young changed said policy. The same goes for polygamy. The standard response of “follow the laws of the land” does not satisfy as there are countries where polygamy is legal yet still against church doctrine.

  16. Lorie says:

    Thoughtful piece, Judy, as always. If there was comfort to be found after this dreadful policy was announced, it was in what I perceived to be a widespread disagreement with it among Mormons I knew who spanned the orthodox/heterodox divide. However, it was really troubling soon after to see the Salt Lake Tribune survey indicating that by far the majority of Utah Mormons support both aspects of it. (See http://www.sltrib.com/csp/mediapool/sites/sltrib/Pages/gallery.csp?cid=3446271&pid=3101463) Is there solace in knowing that about 20% of them don’t? What I fear is that more and more progressives are leaving over this issue as well as the Church’s exclusionary male priesthood policy and the lack of diversity among the top leadership, which means we’re left with an increasingly conservative membership that is less anxious for change.

  17. Michael E. says:

    Your thoughtful piece is appreciated. It seems to capture the ambivalence surrounding this issue for many Mormons like myself. I’m a ward leader and have struggled reconciling belief and conscience. I’m hopeful that there will be an evolution or softening of these policies toward a more tolerant position. Here’s the thing: If we accept the word of the Brethren that these policy changes reflect the mind and the will of God toward gay members and their families, or rather, the response of reactionary, intolerant old men, would the surface appearance be any different? Probably not. That’s why it’s important that members honestly seek the Truth for themselves through prayer, study and contemplation. After all, isn’t it one of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to “receive truth, let it come from where it may.”(?) -Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 2nd ed.

  18. JR says:

    It might be useful to some to read about the origin of The Policy at: http://www.themuss.net/articles/2016/1/5/mormon-lgbt-policy-prompts-anger-resignations-and-fresh-concerns-about-aged-leaders-1

    The somewhat defensive, scripted interview with Elder Christofferson after the policy was publicized and before the November 13 “clarification” letter made no claim like President Nelson’s of January 10 with respect to the origin of that policy. Perhaps President Nelson’s statement referred only to the “clarification” letter. If so, then it seems it would amount to little, if anything, more than the Lord’s confirmation to the 15 that, yes, the unfortunate policy should now be cleaned up at least to that extent. So far as I have been able to discover, none of the rest of the 15 have made public statements consistent with President Nelson’s comments on confirmation of the policy as the “mind and will of the Lord.” This is in great contrast to the statements made by members of the 12 after the 1978 revelation. Perhaps President Nelson misspoke. Perhaps others’ keeping quiet on the subject is evidence of disagreement (and unwillingness to publicly disagree) and not evidence of agreement.

  19. David D says:

    Over 20 years ago I was a missionary in Asia and a local congregation voted out their leadership at branch conference. It was shocking to me (and to the stake presidency), but I learned a valuable lesson. We get to vote for a reason, the same reason that the name of the Church says “of Latter-day Saints,” it’s as much our church as it is Jesus’ church.
    Latter-day Saints have previously rejected things from their leaders. For example, President Heber J. Grant fought the repeal of Prohibition, but the state populace rejected that pleading. I think (and hope) we’re seeing another such shift when it comes to issues regarding homosexuality.

  20. Noah Vail says:

    I have found a way to express my profound frustration with The Policy while remaining active in the Church: declaring to my Bishop that I am a conscientious objector (see my blog @ mormongrail.com). The Church-owned Deseret News recently ran a lengthy article upholding conscientious objection as a legitimate form of dissent against unacceptable practices and policies. Conscientious objection to The Policy can take many forms, from wearing a rainbow pin to, in my case, turning in my recommend to my bishop and requesting a release from all Church callings until the The Policy is rescinded. Being a Mormon CO allows me to work for change as an active member (depending on one’s definition of “active”) instead of walking away. I like to think that every time Ward Council convenes, someone “ponderize” this good brother, a former Gospel Doctrine instructor and outspoken defender of The Book of Mormon. Individual conscience must take primacy over apostolic utterances; and obedience to the Second Great Commandment over “following the Brethren.”

  21. Andrew R. says:

    I find myself wondering how anyone of those here that are in the “we don’t believe the policy is of God” subset of church membership feels about the Word of Wisdom.

    Section 89 clearly states it is not given by commandment. However, quite arbitrarily, and with revelation, or scripture to back it up, we have to live it in order to enter the temple. Surely this policy if just as egregious as the new one. What about those born without the ability to refrain from using tobacco and alcohol? Surely if the Lord wanted them to go to the temple He would not have set this difficult hurdle to overcome?

    • Moss says:

      I’m pretty sure even the children of “those born without the ability to refrain from using tobacco and alcohol” would still be eligible for baptism.

      • Andrew R. says:

        How very clever of you. You are correct. But that didn’t exactly answer my question. No one breaking the Word of Wisdom has to have a mandatory disciplinary council for Apostasy!

        My point wasn’t about making them similar, they are not.

        But both are Policy. The Word of Wisdom is not doctrinally a commandment, but it is required for Temple attendance – with no revelation.

  22. Paul says:

    You assume that the Lord established the WoW requirement for temple attendance. That assumes facts not in evidence.

  23. True Blue says:

    After much prayer about this subject, I feel that I have had an answer which is that the Lord said the first commandment is to Love God, the second is to love our fellow man/woman. We are to Love as God loves unconditionally. If ye love me keep my commandments applies to these commandments,

    When we discriminate agasinst anyone we are refusing to love our fellow man unconditionally, and consequently refusing to Love God.

    • Andrew R. says:

      Expecting people to live the commandments, and denying them ordinances, temple recommends and certain callings if they don’t, is discrimination.

      Should we just allow anyone to be baptised? Those living together, those smoking and drinking. At what point do you take the non-discrimination to?

      The Lord has standards, He discriminates, if He didn’t there would only be one Kingdom of glory.

      But I know of no statement by our prophets seers and reavlators that says we should do anything but love everyone. To what level they can be members in full fellowship is up to them (and their parents), as it is with everyone.

      There are active, TR holding members who have an annotation on their records which prohibits their leaders from extending certain callings (usually with children, though some are financed based) to them. These are fully repentant, worthy members. But for their safety, and the safety of others, we restrict what they can do in the Church. This is also discrimination. Do you advocate allowing a previously convicted child abuser (who has fully repented, and is in all ways now worthy) to be called to teach in Primary, or the youth programmes? (It should be noted at this point that these annotations can, in time, with First Presidency approval, be removed – but it is rare.)

      I believe we have to have commandments, policies and procedures that uphold the doctrine, and protect the members.

  24. True Blue says:

    That’s a tricky one, if you discriminate against someone for being black skinned, of gay, which are not things they can control, that is different from them choosing not to live the standards.
    So in this case we make a rule they can not live, and use that to exclude them.

    It all comes down to whether you believe God wants us to discriminate against Gays. He has never said so on the record, could it be that (as in the past) this is the culture of the world, not God speaking?

    My answer to prayer is that discriminating against gay people in this manner damages us because we are refusing to love unconditionally.

  25. JR says:

    “Do not, brethren, put your trust in a man though he be a bishop, an apostle, or a president. If you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong or seem to, and your support be gone…” – Apostle George Q. Cannon, Millennial Star, v. 53, pp. 658-659, as quoted in Gospel Truth, v. 1, p. 319

    “President Wilford Woodruff is a man of wisdom and experience, and we respect him, but we do not believe his personal views or utterances are revelations from God; and when ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ comes from him, the saints investigate it: they do not shut their eyes and take it down like a pill.” – Apostle Charles W. Penrose, Millennial Star, v. 54, p. 191

  26. Andrew R. says:

    “It all comes down to whether you believe God wants us to discriminate against Gays. He has never said so on the record, could it be that (as in the past) this is the culture of the world, not God speaking?”

    God has, I believe, made is abundantly clear that marriage, as ordained by Him, is between a man and a woman. He has further made it clear that sexual relations are to be kept within the marriage bonds.

    Therefore, homosexual activity, as with heterosexual activity outside of marriage, is unacceptable in His sight. His rules, not mine, the First Presidency’s, or any one else.

    Why it is that way I do not know. But I know many men, and women, who have lived unmarried and successfully managed to not engage in sexual activity. What their sexual preference would have been, in some cases, I do not know. I also know homosexual men in the church who are married to a woman, and are living happy lives. And I know two homosexual men who accept the church teachings and have decided they can not live them – they are not fighting for change because they believe what God’s will is, and have chosen not to live it, at least for the time being.

    • Andrew R. says:

      I should probably have said these two men are not together (they know each other, but are not partners). One is an RM who has served as EQP, and in stake callings, but could not continue.

    • Ziff says:

      I don’t believe God has made that abundantly clear at all. It’s pretty obvious that this is nothing more than Church leaders working through their homophobia, but I’m trying to be patient with them. Easy for me, though. I’m straight.

      I also know gay people who have married opposite sex partners to try to fit the mold. I’m glad you know some people it has worked out for, but in most cases, it leads to all kinds of difficulties. And endless condemning of homosexuality by leaders, and echoed down to the local level by helpful zealots like you is leading people to kill themselves. Would you please stop?

      • Andrew R. says:

        Wow, a little bitter that. To suggest that:-

        a) Church leaders are leading people to kill themselves, and
        b) that I am helping them do so.

        Thanks for that. However, since you made that comment yesterday, and there is no note to say it contravenes any rule, I guess you are liberty to say what you like about me.

        I am not a homophobe. I am certainly not trying get anybody to kill themselves. Simply because the world believes that it is OK for two people of the same sex to marry does not mean that God does. There are plenty of scriptures that talk of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Christ Himself spoke of marriage that way too. The temple ordinances likewise speak of man and women.

        Even our understanding of the divine is a male and female God, sealed for eternity.

        Please explain why this is not abundant clarity?

      • nrc42 says:

        “Even our understanding of the divine is a male and female God, sealed for eternity.”

        Nope. It’s a nice idea, and it’s something many believe in, but there is no doctrine that suggests that women become female Gods in their own right, that Heavenly Mother is a Goddess, or that women have any fate in the Celestial Kingdom beyond being breeding stock in their husband’s Celestial harem – or whatever man God decides to give them to, since women aren’t rewarded in the Celestial Kingdom – they are just part of the reward for men.

      • Ziff says:

        Look, whether you’re trying to or not, and whether Church leaders are trying to or not, the fact remains that you are. It appears that you’re okay with that. I think it’s despicable.

      • Ziff says:

        I get it. I understand that you see the afterlife as very settled, very clear. It’s a place with no gay people, and certainly no gay marriage. So if gay people are unhappy when you preach that hard truth, then it’s tough bananas for them.

        I just think the afterlife is far less clear than you think it is. It seems pretty obvious that what Church leaders understand is filtered through their experience, and some of them just have a really hard time with homosexuality. I think it’s pretty obvious that they’re wrong on this, and I think it’s horrible that they (and you) are willing to sacrifice gay kids on the altar of your certainty.

      • Andrew R. says:

        ” So if gay people are unhappy when you preach that hard truth, then it’s tough bananas for them.”

        In the same way that it is tough for those born with extreme addiction problems, or psychosis, or sexual tendencies for children, or a host of other issues that humans are born with, and have to overcome.

  27. Andrew R. says:

    Since a man can not even be exalted without a woman at his side, what you have written is just nonsense, usually perpetuated by non-members and apostates. It is not something I would expect to read here, where I believe most people are to some extent practising members of the LDS church.

    And I certainly do not believe is women being “breeding stock”. I believe the endowment and sealing ordinances make it quite plain that it requires both male and female, together, to have the “power of endless lives”. You are correct, a woman can not be a goddess in her own right, but a man can not be a god in his own right either – it requires both.

    Corinthians 11 whilst containing some stuff that I am sure many here will not like, contains a verse which sums it all up. Despite the man being the head, of the women, as Christ is the head of the man, and God the head of Christ – ie there is always a presiding person – verse 11 states what I am saying:-

    “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”

    So, no matter that the man holds the priesthood, no matter that he presides, without a woman, his wife, he is nothing. He can not progress, he can not become as God is. And the woman can not either.

    But nothing says a man can progress with a man, or a woman with a woman.

    I would say to anyone who really believes that the only reason we have the doctrine we have is because the leaders are unenlightened. And that despite all the JSj revealed that was so different from what mainstream Christians believed he was not open to same sex marriage. Then if I felt that way I would not be seeking to change the LDS church, I would be seeking to find the true church.

    Marriage is between a man and a woman. The scriptures say so, the temple ordinances say so, the FP and Q12 say so. And that is how it has always been.

    Why are so many feminists looking for more information about Heavenly Mother, and at the same time believing that there doesn’t need to be one?

    Just suppose that it was possible for two men to be sealed, and progress to godhood. Have spirit children and give them physical bodies. How will they ever have a closeness with a Heavenly Mother? They will not.

    Eliza Snow, probably the first LDS feminist even penned that the idea of not having a Heavenly Mother made reason stare.

    • nrc42 says:

      I am a practicing member of the Church. Primary calling; temple recommend; up until recently a member of the RS Presidency. I am, however, quite familiar with the teachings of early Church leaders on the role of women in the eternities. They taught explicitly that although women were necessary for the godhood of men, women would never become goddesses. I think that’s all a load of BS, but the fact remains that it was taught as doctrine, that it was never officially demoted to policy or opinion, and that nothing in the endowment ceremony contradicts early Church teachings on the role of women. I’d be happy to find you specific quotes; just let me know – I’m not going to look them up right this moment but I can later if needed.

      In regards to your question: “Why are so many feminists looking for more information about Heavenly Mother, and at the same time believing that there doesn’t need to be one?”

      In short, because Mormon feminists are not the Borg. We don’t have a hive mind; we don’t all have the same opinions and interpretations. There are a whole lot of different approaches to the issue of Heavenly Mother in particular. Some women believe her to be a Goddess equal to Heavenly Father and pray to her. Some women believe that early Church leaders were right – that there are many Heavenly Mothers and that none are goddesses. Some women don’t really believe in the gender binary and don’t really believe in the need for a Heavenly Mother or even for eternal marriage. Some women don’t know what to think but crave a relationship with and knowledge of Heavenly Mother because they want to know their mother. Others also crave knowledge of Heavenly Mother less because they care about the relationship with her and more because they want to know their fate in the eternities. And there are many other views and shades between them. My own views have danced between all of these, and I don’t know what I actually believe on the subject. I know what has actually been taught on the subject, and I know that if it’s true there is no hope for me. If this is the case, no matter what I do, the afterlife holds eternal torment for me, and I hope I can find a way for my soul to be destroyed.

    • Trent says:

      I am sure that some members also adios that African Americans couldn’t hold the priesthood because, “the FP and Q12 say so. And that is how it has always been.” However, Joseph Smith did not implement that policy. With both “black priesthood ” and polygamy, some of us wander without answer from leadership. If church leadership could be wrong on those issues, why are you so sure they can’t be wrong now?

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