Zion Mormonism

handshake imageGuest post by Mie Inouye. 

I spoke these words during my ward’s fast and testimony meeting on December 6, 2015, in the wake of the LDS handbook change that excludes the children of parents in same-sex marriages from essential ordinances and labels their parents apostate. The New Haven Ward is diverse by many metrics. On more than one occasion, doctrinal disagreements in Sunday School have become explosive conflicts. I was nervous to share this testimony, but overjoyed to be embraced by people who disagree with my views on the policy even before I reached my seat. Although this is a moment of heightened tension and pain within our community, I am hopeful.

One of my favorite scriptures is Moses 7:18. It reads, “[T]he Lord called his people Zion, for they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness, and there was no poor among them.”

Last week, Sister Barker gave a beautiful talk about finding unity in diversity. I believe in that ideal. But the past few weeks have reminded us how hard it is to achieve. I have been thinking about Zion and wondering, how were they of one heart? How of one mind?

One way of seeking unity in difference is to avoid talking about our disagreements. But the New Testament provides ample evidence that Christ didn’t do that. As others have reminded us already in this meeting, Christ often told people things they didn’t want to hear. He argued with the Pharisees and the high priests. If he hadn’t openly disagreed with people, there would be no story in the gospels.

The stories of Jesus suggest to me that the trick is not to suppress our disagreements and force a smile. Our challenge is somehow to love – through the disagreement, the anger, and the pain. Somehow, to find a way to speak the truth without shaming or hating each other. This is hard. I don’t claim to have it figured out. Nor have we, as a church, learned how to do it.

I haven’t been fully participating in the ward for the past few months. That’s because I have been reevaluating my relationship to the church. I was raised Mormon and I love Mormonism; it is a fundamental part of my identity. But I disagree with the church’s positions on some issues that are very important to me. For this reason, it has become difficult for me to be here while also being honest with myself and with you. The new policy forced me to come to a decision that I’d been postponing for a long time: whether to stay or leave. I told myself I would decide by today.

When I came here last Sunday, that question was in my heart. I sat in the back of the chapel, and my friend Biruk brought me the Sacrament. As I took the bread from the tray he extended, I felt peace. I saw Brother McAskin, also passing the Sacrament, in his red sweater vest. And I heard Sister Barker’s talk. And I thought, any community that can hold together Biruk, Brother McAskin, Sister Barker and me is precious. I want to be part of it.

I am not a Temple Mormon. But I am a Zion Mormon.

Today I recommit to doing my calling fully. I commit to being a good visiting teacher. I commit to paying a generous fast offering. I commit to mourning with you when you mourn and comforting you when you stand in need of comfort.

I also commit to being a thorn in your side. We are familiar with Elder Ballard’s exhortation to us to “stay in the boat.” The Sunday after the policy change, we heard talks on that theme in Sacrament Meeting. Brother Rasmussen told us about his brother, who is gay, and who struggled for many years to stay. He eventually left because he had unanswered questions and he felt that there was no place for him here. Brother Rasmussen told us that his brother now feels like his whole life is trying to keep his head above water.

We want to stay in the boat because it’s warm and safe and comfortable here. But, presented with this metaphor, we should ask ourselves, why have so many of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters and their children left? The answer is that they left because we didn’t make room for them. If staying in the boat requires pushing other people out, then I have to choose the water.

So in choosing to stay I also commit to being a voice for those who aren’t here to speak for themselves, or who are here but feel unable to speak because they fear stigmatization. I commit to keeping this issue alive. I will do everything I can to make the boat bigger.

I will be a thorn in your side, but I will be a gentle thorn. I won’t do you violence with my words or my actions. If you feel that I have done you violence, I hope that you will tell me, so that I can repent and change.

This may not work. I may not be able to do it. You may decide that you don’t want me here. But if you’ll have me, I would like to stay.

I want to stay because of the good fruits of the gospel. As my cousin Melissa reminded me recently, a tree can bear both good and bad fruits. You are the good fruits. Carmen Holley, despite her demanding laboratory research, devotes many hours each week to serving as Relief Society President. Abby James really lives her Mormonism. She has made a heroic effort to be my friend over the past few weeks, even though I haven’t always been very generous with her. I’m sorry, and I’m grateful for your friendship. The Carrs teach me inspired home and visiting teaching lessons. You can’t know them and not know that they are deeply loyal and dedicated people.

I want to stay because I believe in Christ. I believe in the atonement. I have experienced repentance and forgiveness many times in my life. I also believe that the best place to come to a practical understanding of the atonement is in communities of difference, like this one.

Finally, I want to stay because I believe in the promise of Zion – a community that is of one heart and one mind, that dwells in righteousness, and among which there are no poor. This is not yet Zion, but it could be. There is no better moment to practice unity in difference than this one, and no better place than this ward.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Mie Inouye is a doctoral student of political philosophy and religion at Yale University. She is also a member of the New Haven Ward, where she serves as the chair of the Compassionate Service Committee. She is interested in secularization, German idealism and Pioneer Day.

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66 Responses

  1. Emily U says:

    This is beautiful and I’m glad you shared it here. As I read, it occurred to me that unity is not the same as homogeneity. I am a being of one, but I’m not composed of just one kind of molecule, cell, or tissue. It must be that being of one heart and one mind does not mean obliterating diversity, but rather that we are joined by love into the body of Christ.

  2. Pandora says:

    This is one of the most spiritual, authentic and gracious expressions of Christianity I have read in a long time. Thank you so much.

  3. Liz says:

    This is gorgeous, Mie. I’m trying to do the same thing, to see the good in people, to show up authentically and graciously, and to claim a space in the boat. It’s hard, but I also believe in Zion Mormonism. I’m going to bookmark this on my phone so I can read it during church when I need a reminder of why I’m there. Thank you for this.

  4. Rob Osborn says:

    I used to have a hard time figuring the line between being silent and welcoming to those of different sexual identities and teaching the truth to all. Now, I dont worry anymore, I just teach the doctrine with boldness. If it offends someone, it is not because I or the church doctrine is offensive, its because the wicked take the truth to be hard. I am slowly coming to the belief that those who oppose the Brethren are wicked or have a wicked spirit within them.

    • Bob Bennett says:

      Believe in possession… “I will take the spirits that follow me, and they shall possess the bodies thou createst…”

      Marion G. Romney –
      “Some members assume that one can be in full harmony with the spirit of the gospel, enjoy full fellowship in the Church, and at the same time be out of harmony with the leaders of the Church and the counsel and direction they give. Such a position is wholly inconsistent. . . . Those who profess to accept the gospel and who at the same time criticize and refuse to follow the counsel of the prophets are assuming an indefensible position. Such a spirit leads to apostasy.”

      • David R. Mortensen says:

        Note that this is essentially an appeal to authority in favor of that authority. I don’t see how that is persuasive.

      • khomer says:

        please . . . after such a personal, heartfelt and thoughtful expression, the best you have is blind obedience to authority? There are so many examples of authority that people should not have followed and were later proven correct. There are many examples of authoritative policies and decisions that were later retracted and or denounced. Please, be open to the contributions of all disciples of Christ and listen.

    • Libby says:

      …but is that how Jesus would do it? I remember him saying, “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.”

      If you require a uniquely Mormon view on attitude, there’s always D&C 121.

  5. Moss says:

    This was beautiful. It brings to mind that what we think, whatever our positions are, is not nearly as important as what we do. Sometimes it seems like the gulf between member is so wide, but this gives me hope that it can be crossed. We can be united not because we agree but because we love each other. Thank you for this, Mie.

  6. C says:

    Beautiful. Thank you.

  7. cjesqip says:

    Please, please, PLEASE stay in the boat!

    Here are my favorite parts: “Our challenge is somehow to love – through the disagreement, the anger, and the pain. Somehow, to find a way to speak the truth without shaming or hating each other. This is hard. I don’t claim to have it figured out. Nor have we, as a church, learned how to do it….This is not yet Zion, but it could be. There is no better moment to practice unity in difference than this one, and no better place than this ward.”

    Once you get things figured out in New Haven, post instructions. Thanks!

  8. Desi says:

    This was powerful and just what I needed to hear today. Thank you for sharing your voice, courage, and understanding of the gospel with all of us. I’ve been trying to decide what to do myself and this helped me see that I can do more for expanding the boat from inside than from in the water. I appreciate your sharing your tremendous testimony!

  9. Bob Bennett says:

    Wonderful testimony and reasons for living in the boat. I feel enriched.

  10. Kathy says:

    This is lovely. Thank you for saying this: “If staying in the boat requires pushing other people out, then I have to choose the water.” Speaking up to say that we need to speak for those who feel they’ve been pushed out is courageous and kind.

  11. Lauren says:

    “If staying in the boat requires pushing other people out, then I have to choose the water.” I’ll tread water with you!

  12. Dominique says:

    Sending you some love and light, and strength to help the culture of Mormonism evolve, from within. You have chosen a most difficult path, and I wish you all the best.

  13. Sibyl Johnston says:

    Very proud of you, Mie!

  14. Tim Barker says:

    This is a really well formulated talk/testimony(?), and I appreciate the thoughtful insights on what it means to be Zion. What does it mean to be of “one heart” and “one mind”? These are good questions that deserve consideration and this topic (LGBTQ) is as good as any in working through what it means to be a zion people. I’m wondering what you mean, though, when you say:

    “So in choosing to stay I also commit to being a voice for those who aren’t here to speak for themselves, or who are here but feel unable to speak because they fear stigmatization. I commit to keeping this issue alive. I will do everything I can to make the boat bigger.”

    It is one thing to make room on the boat, and an entirely different thing to try to take over as captain and steer the boat. Varying inferences can be formulated based on your assertion, and I always wonder what is implied when assertions like this are made. As a conservative member, I’m fully in support of members with unorthodox gender perspectives being fully participatory in church (making room in the boat, per se, by supporting anybody who desires to follow the teachings of Christ by exercising even just a particle of faith). Conversely, I’m fully opposed to advocating for change in direct opposition to the inspired teachings of the Prophets and Apostles (those whom we claim to sustain); or, in other words, trying to take command of the boat’s steering wheel.

    I’m also not sure why you chose to insert the caveat that you are not a “Temple Mormon,” rather, you are a “Zion Mormon.” Are you intending to imply that they are mutually exclusive? I don’t suspect that you are, but it seems juxtaposed possibly for that purpose. A “Temple Mormon” would certainly detect the harm in trying to make room for the “philosophies of men, mingled with scripture,” as part of our cultural paradigm, although this phrase is conceptually easier to digest in theory than it is in practice (since none of us can successfully fully bifurcate the two). At times, however, there is clear differentiation when the position of the church is in stark contrast to the secular philosophies of the world.

    Perhaps to be of one heart and one mind means to be like Christ – ultimate compassion, empathy, and charity for each individual, but resolute in trying to be righteous, which implies knowing right from wrong and standing up for what is right. It seems that your reservations with the Church have been regarding disagreement on what is right. Even if you disagree with what is right, hopefully your faith is strong enough to realize that the Lord can use imperfect mortals to lead His church. I’m glad you’ve chosen to stay in the boat, but I hope it isn’t just because you intend to metaphorically steer the ship.

    • Libby says:

      Tim, are you willing to reconcile sustaining the prophet and apostles with the fact that they’re imperfect mortals? And what does that look like?

      • Tim Barker says:

        Hi Libby, thanks for the response and question. The easy answer is that of course I reconcile imperfect mortals with sustaining church leadership. I’m sure we both agree that Christ was the only perfect person to ever live, thus sustaining church leaders has to be done with some degree of reconciling fallibility with being chosen servants. What that “looks like” for me, is supporting the leaders that the Lord has chosen, even if their contributions (talks, opinions, policies) run counter to my personal perspectives. In other words, I have a testimony regarding their callings, and that testimony supersedes any opinions that I might hold on politics, social issues, or otherwise. I hope that helps, but I doubt it answers the question that you are ultimately trying to get at. For the time being though, I’ll leave it here unless you want to expand on the question or my answer.
        Thanks,
        Tim

    • Libby says:

      Also, it’s clear (if you read her first paragraph) that this was a testimony. Adding the parenthetical question mark makes it look as though you’re questioning Mie’s intent and perspective, which a) is rude, and b) violates our comment policy. Just sayin’.

      • Ashley L says:

        One does not recall verbatim a testimony as it was shared. So did she record it, did she actually write it down prior to sharing? I think that is the reason for the question mark. Also, a testimony meeting is for sharing your testimony and what you know to be true… I feel this whole narrative was more of a speech rather than a testimony. Just my own thoughts there.

      • Tim Barker says:

        Libby, the introductory paragraph does indicate that this was shared in a testimony meeting and that she deemed it a testimony. My question mark wasn’t meant to a) judge, b) be rude, or c) violate any comment policy rules. My question mark was in relation to how this was deemed a testimony. I think Mie made some really, really good points at becoming a zion people with some interesting insights and observations. It was more of a talk though (and a pretty good one at that), than it was a testimony.
        Don’t confuse the issue though. I’m not saying she doesn’t have a testimony or that what she was saying isn’t valuable. I’m simply questioning what components of this talk should be constituted as a testimony. What exactly is she testifying of?
        Again, not meant as an offense, just an observation.
        Thanks,
        Tim

      • Tim Barker says:

        Ashley, I was wondering the same thing. Was this prepared before hand, or just jotted down afterwards? Not that it matters much, but it because of the way it is formulated, it does seem to be more of a speech than a testimony.
        Thanks,
        Tim

      • Tim Barker says:

        Libby, as a side note – for clarity – where can I read the comment policy on the blog? I don’t believe that I was questioning Mie’s intent or perspective, but I’m confused as to why either of those would be a violation of Exponent II’s policies. Are comments only allowable when they are in agreement with intent and perspective? Any elaboration you can provide as to what rules I may have broken, I’d like to know. Thanks in advance,
        Tim

    • Kelly Mendiola says:

      I appreciate that you responded with care to Mie’s testimony even though you don’t share her views. I’m pretty sure Mie’s not positioning herself at the helm of the ship. And I really appreciated her caveat about not being a “temple Mormon.” I thought that was her attempt to be honest about who she is. If we could all be honest about where we are in our lives–whether we’re gay or straight, temple recommend holding or not–I think the church would do a better job of saving souls.

      • Tim Barker says:

        Thanks Kelly. I do agree with at least some of Mie’s positions, particularly with respect to the question of zion, and what that means for us as a people. I am particularly concerned with how individuals feel when they are unnecessarily stigmatized by our culture, and I think Mie and I agree on that aspect, as well.
        Conversely (I think), I am less concerned with how individuals feel when it comes to feelings of discomfort with doctrines and policies that go against their moral paradigm. That is between them and God. In other words, I believe that those of the LGBTQ community (for example) belong in church just as much as the rest of us, in order to feel the spirit, be strengthened by the covenants and symbolism of the sacrament, etc., but not to argue that the Prophets and Apostles are wrong, while they – the individual or the group – are correct and need to adjust the direction of the Church in terms of doctrine and policy.
        Libby asked me what it means to me to reconcile imperfect leaders vs. sustaining them. What that looks like for me – using this as an example – is that even if the current church leaders were 100% wrong on hetero/homo-sexual marriage (which I don’t believe they are), I do believe in sustaining them and supporting the doctrines and policies, even if I privately disagreed. I trust that God is in charge of this church based on the personal testimony that I’ve received.
        We talk about the gospel plan in terms of being tested (Abr 3:25: “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them”), but when it comes to a real test, it seems that individuals are too readily disposed to say that the test didn’t come from the Lord, therefore, we must subvert what is going on from “imperfect leaders” to get things going in the *right* direction again.
        At any rate, my metaphor in steering the ship was outlandish. I didn’t really mean to suggest that Mie was “running” for prophet or something, rather, I simply intended to ask her what she meant by the specific remarks she made that I quoted above.
        Thanks,
        Tim

  15. Brooke says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Mie.

  16. Noah says:

    I was thinking about the “stay in the boat” metaphor the other day and it occurred to me that being on the “old ship Zion” is probably more like a three mast sailing vessel rather than a Carnival cruise ship. We aren’t meant to be lounging around, Sunning ourselves, and waiting for the buffet to start. Rather, I see us all as deckhands managing the rigging and each doing our part. God may be at the helm, but he needs us to set the sails to take full advantage of the wind.

    • Eric says:

      Whenever I think of the stay in the boat analogy, I think of Christ encouraging Peter to get out of the boat and walk on water with him. The boat seemed safer during the storm. I wonder what the savior was trying to teach there.

      • khomer says:

        Can I just compliment you on this interesting comment? This moment from Christ’s life really stands as a metaphor. In a world we like to think that safety and comfort is the goal, here is Christ actually inviting his disciple to join Him in the storm itself? To see beyond the safety of the boat and take the risk of leaving even that behind in order to follow Christ challenges me to see an even higher purpose in the Gospel.

  17. Ms. Reynolds says:

    Wow. This hit home. I LOVE that you are going to stay but only if you can speak up for your moral convictions. I love your description of feeling peace as you looked around your chapel and saw so many different people striving for God and feeling a unity in that. This is why I stay, though I feel voiceless in my extremely conservative ward.

  18. Kelly Mendiola says:

    Mie,
    I believe in the promise of Zion too, although it sometimes seems like a dream deferred. The Mormon church and the world are lucky to have you.
    Kelly

  19. Libby says:

    I love this. And I firmly believe that staying in the boat only keeps us safe to the degree that we are willing to throw life preservers and help others climb back in. The strongest of us aren’t in the boat; they’re in the water holding other people’s heads up and rescuing them from the deep.

  20. Annie says:

    I am so grateful for posts such as this. Over the decades I have realized that I have not had the courage it would take for me to stay an ‘active’ member–although I don’t consider myself ‘in-active’. It is a deeply personal journey as one wrestles with conflicts between one’s personal understanding of the gospel and an institution’s proclamations about it. I bow to all on that journey, and perhaps that is one of the great challenges of this life’.

  21. Caroline says:

    Chills. Thank you, Mie. This is one of the most beautiful expressions of hope and faith in Mormonism that I have ever read. I salute your courage in saying this over the pulpit. May there be millions more like you.

  22. Scott Standage says:

    You quoted one of your favorite scriptures but actually did not address the key section of it…they dwelt in righteousness.

    Can you or any other LDS member please detail in doctrine how homosexuality is part of the plan of salvation?

    Do you believe those the scripture refers to embraced, endorsed, accepted homosexuality in their midst?

    If this speech was read during a fast and testimony meeting it is highly inappropriate.

    • nrc42 says:

      Even if you accept that homosexuality is sinful, which not everyone does, there is a difference between embracing/accepting homosexuality and embracing and accepting LGBTQ+ individuals.

    • khomer says:

      When I have talked about my policy concerns with people in my stake the common response when I talk about “loving our neighbor” always ends up being a version of, “yes, but we can’t ‘condone’ their actions”. What does that mean and why are we so worried about “condoning” anything. So other members of the church “love” me but are still super concerned with “condoning” me? In a reality where everyone is a sinner, and I mean everyone, then what does that mean? Why does this policy have to exclude and completely push over the line of apostasy one class of sinner while “condoning” other sinners? As Pres. Uchtdorf famously said, don’t judge me because I sin differently than you. What does “condoning” even mean?

      • Scott Standage says:

        khomer: did you have a doctrinal response to my original post?

      • khomer says:

        By “doctrinal” do you mean a scriptural quote or a quote from a general authority or a line from a church magazine or a teaching that is generally accepted by Mormon culture or a little-known challenging quote by a general authority over a century ago or do you mean something strictly canonical? I don’t mean to play semantics with anyone, but to hide behind the safety of the word “doctrinal” doesn’t serve us when we are working out our challenges as a community of faith. Faith is that step not into the known but into the unknown. I believe we come to greater understandings of truth when we question and wrestle with our “doctrines” and our realities and in that moment of faith we open ourselves to revelation, which can be the “doctrine” we are actually looking for. That is the radical nature of the Restoration when compared to the legalistic debates of some religions. So, I’m not interested in replaying every church publication I have read since I was a kid and parsing every word to “win” some point. This present challenge facing the church is what I want to explore, understand, and feel and see where that leads.

      • Scott Standage says:

        It’s really a simple question that I asked. And to be straightforward, no one i have ever asked has been able to answer the question through the doctrine. Here is the simple question again from my original post:

        Can you or any other LDS member please detail in doctrine how homosexuality is part of the plan of salvation?

        The original poster quoted a favorite scripture but failed to address the most important part ….righteousness.

        I’d encourage anyone to read 4 Nephi 1 to see how those folks dwelt as Zion. Pay particular attention to what they did not have in their midst.

        If you would like to answer my question that would be great. If you can’t do it doctrinally, that’s ok too. I have no interest in listening to the philosophies of the world spewed as gospel truth.

        I have no interest in hearing those who support homosexuality as something to embrace, accept and hope for tell me that I don’t love them.

        I just want any LDS member who supports homosexuality to answer my simple question. That’s all.

      • khomer says:

        I get what you’re after and I get why you still insist on a “doctrinal” answer as your debate challenge, but in this dialogue it is still an appeal to authority and doesn’t bolster your position at all. I am concerned that in facing the challenges of reality in our human existence that the final answer has to somehow come from “doctrine” in order to be right. I don’t agree. Let’s say after much life experience and prayer and thought and understanding that I arrive at an “answer” in my truth-seeking. So, I write it down and people read it so now they “know” the answer and don’t have do what I did to get there. Having someone look up the final desitnation and tell you about it doesn’t mean you went there yourself. That said, to answer your question, how homosexuality is part of the plan of salvation, I would say simply it is because it is a part of life. It is a part of the identity and story of many people’s lives as are many other non-conforming, outlier situations, and unusual human outcomes that us “normals” can’t even imagine living. Despite the cultural or social blinders we sometimes where, the diversity of humanity is astounding and possibly limitless. I believe through my faith and study of doctrine that the atonement is sufficient for all possibilities. I am assuming that is the Plan of Salvation, then. Some people would argue that Christ in all his doctrinal pronouncements and his radical theological challenges to the status quo at the time that he never mentioned homosexuality, so it wasn’t a doctrinal priority. While an interesting point from the text, that point doesn’t add much for me since I am not looking for text to tell me what is okay to believe. You talk of philosophies of men “spewed” as gospel truth–As far as Mormon Doctrine goes, that among those philosophies of men, might I also add radical revealed golden nuggets of truth mixed with cultural assumptions, social traditions, biases and group think such that the notion of a “doctrinal” answer is just one more challenge for us Mormon truth-seekers. I think drawing a line in the sand and daring people to prove you wrong with “doctrine” is irrelevant as we try to fully understand what the Lord means when he says, “Love your neighbor as thyself”.

      • Scott Standage says:

        Thank you for your response. However, I pretty much disagree with everything you have posted along with the original poster. The doctrine is the ONLY thing that matters. Your opinion of it, my opinion of it, her opinion of it does not mean a thing when our opinions are contrary to the gospel.
        I’m baffled how people state they are members of the LDS church, sustain the prophet and apostles and yet state certain points of doctrine do not line up with their beliefs. The writer of this post stated as such and so have you.
        The gospel plan is easy and yes, the doctrine is the final answer. Let’s be clear: homosexual behavior has zero place in the gospel. None. Nada. Zip. It will not be part of the resurrection and afterlife. It is a behavior born of Lucifer to deceive and boy have many been deceived.
        The doctrine states marriage is between man and woman. All others are false.
        The doctrine states that we are to line up our will with God’s, not the other way around.
        The doctrine states that we are to stand in holy places.
        The doctrine states we are to go and sin no more.
        The doctrine states if we love Christ we will keep His commandments, not the ones we like.
        The author of the post is not a temple Mormon but a Zion Mormon. Interesting distinction for her to make given her stance. One only needs to go to the temple to understand homosexual behavior has no place in the plan of salvation. No one needs her to be a thorn in the cause of righteousness, she needs to line up and follow the gospel plan. How will she ever be of one mind if she rejects the doctrine?
        The people she quotes in her verse in Moses were of one heart and one mind BECAUSE they dwelt in righteousness. Homosexuality is not righteousness. Supporting those in the behavior and calling it marriage is not in righteousness. Do we still love the person? Of course. Don’t parents constantly correct the bad behavior of their children? Homosexual behavior is one that needs to be corrected, not accepted.
        The people in 4th Nephi dwelt in righteousness. Look at the list of things that were not part of their society! Look at what happened when they lost that great state of happiness….pride. Pride is thinking you know more than God and Christ and substitute your opinion for doctrine.
        We are here to see if we will be obedient to all we are commanded. If so, we will have added to us. If not, we will go to a lesser kingdom because we were not willing to obey the higher law (doctrine). The doctrine IS the line in the sand. It’s Christ’s line and it is not compromised by our opinions nor is it up for debate couched in unity in diversity. If you or the author believe that those referred to in the verse she quotes were anti-doctrine, you are sorely mistaken.
        Are we supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves? Absolutely. Were those who committed sin in the verse referenced corrected and counseled to sin no more? Absolutely. Does the Lord look upon sin with the least degree of allowance? Absolutely not. Can an unclean individual reside with God? Absolutely not. Did Christ state very clearly that a man and woman are to leave their mother and father and become one? Absolutely.
        The doctrine is clear and straightforward on this issue. Accept it or reject it…afterall, we do have our agency, but we do not get to choose the consequence.

    • khomer says:

      By “doctrinal” do you mean a scriptural quote or a quote from a general authority or a line from a church magazine or a teaching that is generally accepted by Mormon culture or a little-known challenging quote by a general authority over a century ago or do you mean something strictly canonical? I don’t mean to play semantics with anyone, but to hide behind the safety of the word “doctrinal” doesn’t serve us when we are working out our challenges as a community of faith. Faith is that step not into the known but into the unknown. I believe we come to greater understandings of truth when we question and wrestle with our “doctrines” and our realities and in that moment of faith we open ourselves to revelation, which can be the “doctrine” we are actually looking for. That is the radical nature of the Restoration when compared to the legalistic debates of some religions. So, I’m not interested in replaying every church publication I have read since I was a kid and parsing every word to “win” some point. This present challenge facing the church is what I want to explore, understand, and feel and see where that leads.

    • Geoff - Aus says:

      Scott, I doubt that anything said will convince you.
      1. Are you aware that there are different personality types. One group 45% are strong on loyalty, obedience, etc.that leaves 65%who valueagency,love, compassion etc. You appear to be in the obedience group
      2.Because of your personality you see “they dwelt in righteousness”as key, but understand that as judging who can be excluded.
      3. If you treat gay people as children of God, not sinners, they fit into the plan of salvation like anyone else. You may remember a time when we condemned inter racial marriage equally vehemently. Condemned them to hell, now we marry them in the temple.
      4. Yes there will be gay couples in Zio. It can not be zion if they are excluded.
      You would probably believe the Saviour taught about laws, and obedience.Others of us believe he taught about loving God by loving our fellow man/women.
      After praying about how we treat gays, I feel that it has been revealed to me that to be Christlike (zion) we must love unconditionally, as Christ does. When he said if you love me keep my commandment, he was talking about loving unconditionally. When we choose to discriminate, we are choosing to refuse to love unconditionally, as commanded by the Savoiur himself.

  23. Kelly Mendiola says:

    Scott, I think you and Mie (and me) may disagree about what it means to love. Many of us believe that labeling gay people who choose to commit their lives to another person apostates and marginalizing their children are not acts of love. Loving means accepting gay people as God made them and allowing them all the rights and privileges enjoyed by the rest of us.

    As far as how homosexuality is part of the plan of salvation, just in case that was not a rhetorical question, here goes: God put us on earth to learn and grow. The most important lesson we can learn is to love other people, and we do this particularly well in the context of families. Gay people are God’s children. They can marry, have children, and learn to love in the context of families. If the gospel of Jesus Christ is about the exaltation of families, there is no reason why gay people can’t fully live that gospel. The fact that gay couples can’t biologically reproduce makes them no different than heterosexual couples who can’t reproduce for medical reasons.

    • Scott Standage says:

      We have a different understanding of what love means and your understanding does NOT line up with the doctrine of the gospel. Christ told the woman taken in adultery to go and sin no more. You embrace the sinner and the sin and try to state it is an eternal doctrine.

      I submit that you study the doctrines of the gospel and next time answer with doctrinally sound answers and not your opinion.

      My original post still stands and awaits an answer from the doctrine, not philosophies of men and women.

      • khomer says:

        what was the woman’s “sin”? That she had sex or that she violated a trust, broke a vow, etc.? Those are interesting questions for doctrine that are not answered even in this scriptural story. I know we all like answers, because then we don’t have to stress or worry, but I think it’s the questions of the doctrine that can lead us to truth. So, if gay people marry, is that then making their relationship right? Or is it still sin? If straight people have sex outside of marriage is that more of a sin or less of a sin, so when they are married it no longer a sin? Is my love for any of the people in these cases different or the same? Should my response be different and am I really just “judging” in this case or is it my duty to decide how to responds to each of these people? Am I to judge not and just love and does that also apply to the church as a whole?

      • James Stewart says:

        Is it just me or do the majority of the contrarian comments belong to men appealing to authority? Ironic considering the blogs origins.

        Scott, please explain to all here how the following doctrine came to be: “Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned,” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 266). Also, “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy,” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269).

        “And if any man mingles his seed with the seed of Cane the ownly way he Could get rid of it or have salvation would be to Come forward & have his head Cut off & spill his Blood upon the ground. It would also take the life of his Children. ”

        How did the inferiority of blacks pass for doctrine if not philosophies of men mingled with scripture? Doctrine is doctrine until it is not doctrine I guess. So your answer is always believe the doctrine. At least until it is not doctrine…

        I would encourage you to talk AND listen to a gay or lesbian person. You may be enlightened/dumbfounded to learn that your God made them that way. Wait, but God has not revealed that?! Unfortunately while the straight rich white men make all the rules (doctrine) the others suffer.

      • Scott Standage says:

        Jimmy, I’d suggest you really take a close look at the basic doctrines of the gospel. I’d have you read and study the scriptures, especially the ones that proclaim marriage as between a man and a woman. You might also give pause to the scriptures that denounce homosexuality.

        MIght want to get your temple recommend renewed and go through an endowment session and come back and preach how God is going to give a revelation that homosexual behavior is just dandy.

        Then read all the conference talks about marriage and homosexuality. Not once will you find that homosexuality is compatible with the gospel. Nor will you ever.

        Now, let me educate just a little bit about all my friends and neighbors who are homosexual since you throw out the oft repeated garbage that those who know homosexual behavior is a sin must not know any….only a fool would make that claim.

        I’ve had neighbors who babysat my girls, ate dinner with us, had family home evening, swam, played, fixed cars and household issues together. After we both moved we still stay in touch. Great people.

        I’ve worked with and for homosexuals for 2 decades and know their lives in full. I also know that they swap partners every 18 months or so. I also know many who are bi-sexual who state they just dabble in homosexuality.

        Are we supposed to love everyone? Yep. Do all of you clamoring for love to be shown to LBQT’s show love 100% of the time to everyone? pfft…nope.

      • James Stewart says:

        Scottie, you didn’t answer my question. You made once again another appeal to white rich straight men’s authority in the form of “doctrine.” And so judgmental. Temple recommend, scriptures, etc.

        What doctrines have been written by women? Please provide references. How well are the voices of people of color represented in this doctrine? What scriptures have been written by homosexuals? Certainly, if they are such good people, as you say, they would receive something from on high? Or does their wickedness preclude them from revelation? It didn’t seem to censor Brigham Young when he taught the doctrine that our blood should be spilt if we “mingled with the seed of Cain.” What I am trying to establish with this form of debate is that doctrine is flawed and subjective and influenced by prejudices of men.

        The Church admits this on its gospel topics essay or Race and the Priesthood Ban, “The Church was established in 1830, during an era of great racial division in the United States. At the time, many people of African descent lived in slavery, and racial distinctions and prejudice were not just common but customary among white Americans. Those realities, though unfamiliar and disturbing today, influenced all aspects of people’s lives, including their religion….The [Church] was restored amidst a highly contentious racial culture in which whites were afforded great privilege.”

        Inclusion is what builds Zion. Charity, not judgement, is key. Love is unconditional. I will worry about the sin after I have first given all my love to the individuals.

        For the record, not that I think you are interested because the “doctrine” doesn’t support it, there are some sophisticated and well established scientific explanations for homosexuality and its evolution and role within present day society.

        Thankfully we have the Spirit to guide us. I guess to continue the metaphor that makes me more of a Spirit-Mormon and less of a Prophet-Mormon.

        “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are lead by him.”

  24. Scott Standage says:

    I get it that you don’t want to answer the question through doctrine and want to go to the Journal of Discourses. Deflection is great when you can’t answer the simple question.

    Let me help you with some doctrine:

    Mark 7: 5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
    6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
    7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
    8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
    9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    Genesis 1: 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
    28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,

    Genesis 2: but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
    21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
    22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
    23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
    24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
    25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

    1 Corinthians 11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.

    There are many many more that preach the true doctrine, not your sophisticated, well established scientific philosophies of men explaining homosexuality. The behavior has been denounced and rejected from the beginning and will be throughout eternity.

    Maybe it’s time you study the doctrines a little more and less worldly contrarian philosophies that do not line up with the gospel.

    Coming full circle, the original poster quotes a scripture and leaves out the part about righteousness. Homosexuality was not a part of the city of Enoch because it is not part of righteousness.

  25. Scott Standage says:

    As I read 2 Nephi 2 tonight with my son, I couldn’t help but think about the confusion that so many in the world, including LDS folks have regarding righteousness.

    The guest writer of this thread posted, “Moses 7:18. It reads, “[T]he Lord called his people Zion, for they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness, and there was no poor among them.”

    I hope that Lehi wasn’t chastised by the church members in his day for preaching the gospel of Christ and the truths contained. I hope he wasn’t told he needed to be softer and kinder in preaching the doctrines of the gospel. As we see, he spoke straightforward and preached the gospel. Take note of the words regarding righteousness and our first parents, Adam and Eve — male and female, for His eternal purpose.

    13 And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

    14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.

    15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents,

    Now let’s look at the people of 4 Nephi as the scriptures state there could not have been a happier people…

    10 And now, behold, it came to pass that the people of Nephi did wax strong, and did multiply exceedingly fast, and became an exceedingly fair and delightsome people.

    11 And they were married, and given in marriage, and were blessed according to the multitude of the promises which the Lord had made unto them.

    12 And they did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord.

    They married and were given in marriage. Male and female. The obeyed the commandments.

    15 And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.

    16 And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, nor lyings, nor murders, nor any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.

    17 There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God.

    18 And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings;

    Why did they have the love of God in their hearts? Because they obeyed the commandments. They were righteous. They obeyed God.

    Do you think the people in Moses referenced by the original writer were taken up because they embraced and accepted homosexuality in their midst? Laughable because we know that no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God. Homosexuality is sin; always was, always will be.

    I think the people referenced in all of these scriptures have a different definition of righteousness than the original poster and those who support her opinion. I suggest thorough study of the gospel and really seek that righteousness quoted originally, instead of the version of today’s society where good is called evil and evil called good.

    If ye love me, keep my commandments. Pretty straightforward.

    • khomer says:

      Love one another–pretty straightforward, and quite challenging at the same time. You keep looking for the easy answer when the real challenge is right next door with our neighbors. How do we spend our life loving our neighbors, gay or otherwise, without passively-aggressively hoping they disappear so we can be “taken up”? Is it our hope that our neighbors “disappear” so then we can finally be pure enough to be “taken up”? That’s the easy way out–that Zion comes because we get rid of people is easier than loving others and together creating Zion in a Godly attempt to include everyone possible. That gets us closer to God’s work and Christ’s message than hiding in our gated communities judging everyone else out of a fear that we might be contaminated. That’s some great neighborly love there.

  26. Scott Standage says:

    Oh my…interesting hysterical post. No one, no one, has said anything like you post. Strawman arguments all the way through.

    Preaching the gospel is what brings people to Christ, not coddling them in their sins. They were a righteous people.

    Again, thank you for proving that there is no doctrine to support homosexuality is the gospel plan. None. Everything in the gospel denounces the sin and encourages all to come unto Christ, repent and be sanctified.

    Preaching the gospel is loving unless you are ashamed of it like it appears you are. The righteous people mentioned in the scripture wanted to be with God, they did not want to settle for something less. So they worked for it, they taught each other, they loved each other and they succeeded.

    If that’s not your goal, that’s ok but why do you hate those who have that same goal? Why do you hate people who preach the gospel? Why do you look down on those who correct bad behavior? Why do you denounce people who love others so much they encourage them to choose Christ instead of sin?

    Whose team are you on?

    • James stewart says:

      I like what Thomas Monson said in recent Women’s Conference session:
      “Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who worked among the poor in India most of her life, spoke this profound truth: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” The Savior has admonished, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” I ask: can we love one another, as the Savior has commanded, if we judge each other? And I answer—with Mother Teresa: no, we cannot.”

    • khomer says:

      You seem awfully obsessed with this particular sin of homosexuality. I am losing track of what you’re trying to say in your desperation to justify your judgmental approach to your neighbors. Of course, there “is no doctrine to support homosexuality” as there is no doctrine supporting lying, hating, cheating, murdering, abusing, judging, prejudice, etc. There is no doctrine at all to support sinners, or at least justify it as you seem to be begging everyone to prove. That is the whole point of the gospel, that none of us are justified, that we are all sinners, despite our best work and the fortunes of our lives. Even the most “righteous” among us is a sinner. The doctrine that matters to me is that the Atonement is the support I need as a human. I am not ashamed of the gospel because I don’t think like you, but rather I am challenged by the gospel. I don’t hate people who preach the gospel. I don’t look down on anyone, let alone someone who goes around correcting everyone else’s “bad behavior”. And I don’t “denounce” people who love others and encourage them to choose the Way of Christ. I feel like you’re determined to set the rules for being on Christ’s team instead of letting Christ run his own team. Maybe you can be the guy on the bench holding the clipboard while the rest of us are our on the field, playing the game.
      I think you misread the examples of Zion societies in the scriptures. They didn’t magically turn into perfect Stepford robots without an ounce of humanity and humanness. They found a way through the gospel to live their imperfect human lives in a righteous way, Christ’s way, with love and understanding, without human-caused suffering, injustice, and prejudice. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I haved loved you”. I guess the challenge is to learn what it means to love as Christ has loved us.

      • Kelly Mendiola says:

        I love this comment. Thank you for taking the time to articulate this.

      • khomer says:

        Honestly, I’m not sure what you’re even saying anymore. (You say I’m judging other people for their sins, but that’s what you’re doing to me, so actually you are judgmental, hah hah). To me you seem to feel a need to “win” something and I’m not really in the game, so to speak. You read into the term “righteous” a stern, blanket condemnation of gay people (thus saith the Lord), when I don’t really see those words there. I see a vagueness on that subject among all the very clear things Christ did in fact preach. Maybe it’s the vagueness that allows us to decide how we will treat our neighbors instead of waiting for the Lord to tell us if it’s okay to, or more ominously, if it’s okay not to. In these modern times, I too have been challenged to think or act beyond what was the conventional thought in the past. I do know that many gay people today are finding that these changes are improving their lives, without the suffering and pain imposed on them from society in the past. Good or bad? I try to be generous and kind and see that change through their eyes as something better.

        When you asked “what team am I on” I started to realize with your sports metaphor that we’re in different places on this even as we quote from the scriptures, as we use the same vocabulary. To be sure, I’m not on a team, I’m just me. In the gospel I don’t see us on a “team” trying to win against everyone else on the “other team”. In my experience, the gospel is the life-plan that expands my view to see beyond teams, beyond “Christian soldiers”, beyond “vanquishing every foe”. Indeed, the gospel specifically teaches me that I pray for my foes, that I love my enemies and those who spitefully use me, because they are my brothers (and sisters) despite our differences. We are all actually on the same “team” in God’s eyes. And because of the reconciliation effected by the Atonement there aren’t any “sides”. There is no “team”.

        When the scripture ask “who’s on the Lord’s side, who?”, it isn’t some teenage pep rally to see if you’re going to cheer for the wildcats or the rams. It isn’t about gathering strength to defeat some enemy at the big game. What is he Lord’s side becomes our most important question. Christ already defeated the enemy–that was His battle and His alone. For us there is no evil battle to die for, to rage against, to win. There are no battle lines us versus them.

        “To be on the Lord’s side” is more an invitation to join Him in His work, as He really doesn’t need our weak efforts to accomplish anything. He does however, need our weak efforts to accomplish His work with us, as individuals. As we join Him and do His work we become more like Him. He doesn’t need our help to “condemn” yucky sinners: liars, cheats, abusers, judgmental people, etc–it’s not even our place. In His work, we are not fighting to defeat the “yucky” sinners in our midst, nor are we withdrawing from the “yucky” sinners to form our Zion. To join the Lord’s side means we join His work, “to bring to pass the eternal life and immortality of Man (and woman)”. We serve as He serves, we love as He loves, and we go out from the 99 and take care of the One. We go out into all nations.

        This is it for me as I don’t really care to “win” anything. I just wanted to be understood I guess, but maybe we will just have to realize that we see the world differently as we seem to be standing in different places in God’s Big Vineyard. As far as Gay people go, I will try to serve, help, treat with kindness and understanding (even though I may or may not understand), inviting them, even including them in the family of God. And I will not worry that someone may think we are “condoning” them, or any other sinner in our midst for that matter—it’s not my business nor is it my work.

  27. Scott Standage says:

    well…I believe the topic of this post was on homosexuality. pardon me for staying on topic.

    So there is no doctrine support homosexuality in the gospel plan. Glad someone actually acknowledged that fact.

    Now, can you acknowledge that NO ONE, NO ONE, is saying that people are not supposed to be loved? or do you want to continue in your self-righteousness of :They found a way through the gospel to live their imperfect human lives in a righteous way, Christ’s way, with love and understanding, without human-caused suffering, injustice, and prejudice.”?

    Seems like in your world that anyone who preaches the gospel, including that homosexuality is a sin, is not showing love, is causing suffering and injustice. Is that really what you are saying? Really? Cuz you are exactly doing what you claim you are not doing…

    “I am not ashamed of the gospel because I don’t think like you, but rather I am challenged by the gospel. I don’t hate people who preach the gospel. I don’t look down on anyone, let alone someone who goes around correcting everyone else’s “bad behavior”. And I don’t “denounce” people who love others and encourage them to choose the Way of Christ. ”

    You do all of those things in your post. You can feel however you choose but all I’m doing is showing what the doctrine of Christ actually is. It’s not my doctrine but His. The rules are set by Him and have been put forward for all to embrace and follow. The final score has already been dictated. The only decision is what uniform we will be wearing.

    You are correct that the Zion societies didn’t just magically make it happen. But they sure did not shy away from preaching the truth as all of you are asking everyone to do regarding the sin of homosexuality. They corrected sinful behavior with love, long-suffering, patience and tenderness.

    Where do you see anyone advocating for or doing the opposite of that?

  28. khomer says:

    Kelly, sorry about this reply, I meant it to be a reply to [Scott Standage – February 5, 2016 at 9:43 am]

  1. December 31, 2016

    […] 4. Guest Post: Zion Mormonism […]

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