The Danzig Case: Does the LDS Church Influence Members to Oppose Same Sex Marriage?

February 25, 2008
By

Many of you may be aware of an ongoing case in Utah involving Peter and Mary Danzig. I’m not going to summarize here, as you can read about the details on various sites, but I’ll post links to the back-stories below. This post is just about opening a conversation. The core issues I feel are under debate are about how much involvement the LDS church officially has in the opposition of same sex marriage. The Danzigs resigned their membership because they felt the church was pressuring them to act against their own consciences. The church says (in a very unusual press response to a personal case) that it does not encourage one position or the other, but rather to be active in politics to support your values.

Obviously the topic is loaded with a lot of personal emotion. Hopefully we can keep this civil and respectful and get to the real issues worthy of discussion. I think the issue is much bigger than this one case, and it might be better to approach it from a high-level view. In my view, here are the pertinent questions:

  • Does the LDS church influence its members to oppose same sex marriage?
  • Is the influence explicit from top leaders, explicit-but-rogue from local leaders, or is it a cultural perceived thing from members? (Any arguments that it is explicitly taught would best be supported with actual quotes.)
  • If it is a cultural thing, is there a reasonable basis for a member to perceive that voting to oppose same sex marriage is considered equal to choosing good over evil, in an LDS perspective?
  • Perhaps tangential, but do you feel there is more or less latitude for a member to support civil unions as opposed to SSM, since civil unions do not impinge upon the concept of the sanctity of marriage?

As promised, here are the back-story links:

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233 Responses to The Danzig Case: Does the LDS Church Influence Members to Oppose Same Sex Marriage?

  1. Chris W.
    February 25, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Here‘s President Hinckley in conference:

    I commend those of our membership who have voluntarily joined with other like-minded people to defend the sanctity of traditional marriage. As part of a coalition that embraces those of other faiths, you are giving substantially of your means. The money being raised in California has been donated to the coalition by individual members of the Church. You are contributing your time and talents in a cause that in some quarters may not be politically correct but which nevertheless lies at the heart of the Lord’s eternal plan for His children, just as those of many other churches are doing.

    Here’s the church opposing same-sex marriage:
    http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/church-joins-other-faith-groups-in-defense-of-traditional-marriage
    Notice the amicus brief.

  2. February 25, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    I am not so sure the core issue is the church’s position regarding gay marriage. I think the core issue is larger than that. It’s about institutional control of thought and expression of church members. How free are members to disagree with the Brethren on doctrine and politics (or the combination of the two)? How free are they to express that disagreement? How should the church handle dissent? The fact that this particular story is about gay marriage is rather beside the point, I think. We have seen this same sort of thing with respect to racial issues, feminism, DNA and the Book of Mormon, speculative theology, etc.

  3. February 25, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Equality, I agree that dissent and reaction is an important issue, I still think my questions are pertinent. In this particular case, the question of whether the Danzigs are simply disagreeing with an real intended pressure from the church, or if they are blowing the issue up to more than it is and doing so in the public… that can only be determined by understanding if their claims are actually true. If the church does not influence members to one choice in the matter, then they were not actually pressured to vote against their conscience. That is why I see the issue as having a lot to do with the detail of this particular topic.

  4. Kari
    February 25, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Does the LDS church influence its members to oppose same sex marriage? Absolutely. Not only does the quote from GBH mentioned in comment #1 clearly indicate this, but it was implicit in the letter mentioned in the press release. I found it disingenuous for them to state that “In reality Church leaders had asked members to write to their senators with their personal views regarding the federal amendment opposing same gender marriage, and did not request support or opposition to the amendment.”

    It was clearly understood by what my local leaders and ward members said that day that this was a request to write in support of the constitutional amendment. I believe that the letter was worded in the manner it was, so that when this day came the church could deny that they were encouraging members to vote in a particular manner.

    Is the influence explicit from top leaders, explicit-but-rogue from local leaders, or is it a cultural perceived thing from members? (Any arguments that it is explicitly taught would best be supported with actual quotes.) I think that it is implicit from top leaders, and made more explicit by “off-the-record” comments by local leaders. See my first answer.

  5. Dan
    February 25, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    You bet the church influences its membership on this issue, and they do it subtly, as Chris W. shows with President Hinckley’s quote. It is “voluntary.” Unfortunately, there is great social pressure to conform. If you don’t, other members will consider you as “going against the prophet.” After all, do we not “listen to a prophet’s voice?”

  6. NM Tony
    February 25, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    “Does the LDS church influence its members to oppose same sex marriage?”

    Yes, but this is true of most churches. The idea of homosexuality is considered unnatural and an abomination in most religious circles.

    “Is the influence explicit from top leaders, explicit-but-rogue from local leaders, or is it a cultural perceived thing from members? (Any arguments that it is explicitly taught would best be supported with actual quotes.)”

    The following is a letter I found. Feel free to research its merit.

    <<<>>

    One can also look at the Family Proclamation as a potential document that denounces the idea of same-sex marriage.

    ************************
    “If it is a cultural thing, is there a reasonable basis for a member to perceive that voting to oppose same sex marriage is considered equal to choosing good over evil, in an LDS perspective?”

    Well, if a member hears their bishop read a letter like the one above from the pulpit, I think that will certainly have a big impact on the members. We had a similar letter read to the congregation about two years ago, but it was in more neutral language, yet a faithful LDS would hear that letter and be assured that it was the “right” thing to oppose SSM.

    With regards to the civil union, I think a liberal-minded member but faithful to the brethern would be more open to that idea. The true conservatives, I think, would maintain their opposition.

  7. NM Tony
    February 25, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    For some reason, the letter didn’t appear in my first post, perhaps due to the punctuation I used to set it off. Here is again:

    May 11, 1999
    To: Area Authority Seventies, Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, Bishops, Branch Presidents, and all Church members in California (to be read in the priesthood and Relief Society meetings of each ward and branch by a member of the stake presidency or high council on May 23 or May 30, 1999)

    Dear Brethren and Sisters:

    Preserving Traditional Marriage

    On March 7, 2000, Californians will vote to affirm that the union of one man and one woman is the only form of marriage that will be legally recognized in California.

    This traditional marriage initiative provides a clear and significant moral choice. The Church’s position on this issue is unequivocal. On February 1, 1994, the First Presidency wrote to all priesthood leaders:
    “The principles of the gospel and the sacred responsibilities given us require that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints oppose any efforts to give legal authorization to marriages between persons of the same gender.” Therefore, we ask you to do all you can by donating your means and time to assure a successful vote. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and is essential to His eternal plan. It is imperative for us to give our best effort to preserve what our Father in Heaven has put in place

    A broad-based coalition is being formed to work for passage of the traditional marriage initiative. As details about the coalition become available, we will provide you with information on how you might become involved. We thank you for your attention to this vital matter and pray the Lord’s richest blessings to be with you.

    Sincerely yours,
    NORTH AMERICAN WEST AREA PRESIDENCY
    John B. Dickson
    John M. Madsen
    Cecil O. Samuelson

  8. Dan
    February 25, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    That letter seems to say it quite clearly that church leadership at the highest levels view church membership as a sacred responsibility to “oppose any efforts to give legal authorization to marriages between persons of the same gender.” You can’t get clearer than that.

    Now, is this something similar to the blacks and the priesthood thing where down the road we’ll get some revelation that changes this? Who knows. Unfortunately, this is the way the Lord’s representatives view things right now, and for those members who think it isn’t right, they must suffer through it. They could take a stand and lose their membership if they want. Maybe in the bigger picture, the grander scheme of things they will still receive all the blessings. But I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to threaten my eternal salvation over a small issue as this. Granted, I see it as a small issue while others see it as the focal point in a larger battle of acceptance.

  9. February 25, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

    But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God. (2 Nephi 9:28-29)

  10. Chris W.
    February 25, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    What are the counsels of God on blacks and the priesthood same-sex marriage?

  11. February 25, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    What?

  12. February 25, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    “But I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to threaten my eternal salvation over a small issue as this.”

    If it’s a small matter, why would the church threaten the eternal salvation of faithful members who express a point of view different from the Brethren?

  13. Chris W.
    February 25, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    I presume that you’re warning supporters of same-sex marriage to “hearken unto the counsel of God.” Is that correct?

    My point is that some things that we take for granted today may be completely reversed. 50 years ago, the word in general conference was that the civil rights movement was a communist conspiracy and blacks would not get the priesthood until after everyone else. Now we don’t believe that and we try to eschew racism in all forms. Things changed, the church changed, and our beliefs changed.

    It’s not clear to me at all that God is behind the Defense of Marriage amendment.

  14. February 25, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    I think the counsel of God is pretty clear:

    We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. . . . Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. . . . We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. . . . Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. . . . We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society. (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)

  15. February 25, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    When I was serving as a stake executive secretary, several months before I chose to have my name removed from the records of the LDS church, our stake received a letter very similar to the one NM Tony has quoted. The language was almost identical, but changed to reflect that it addressed an Illinois petition drive to place a state constitutional amendment on the ballot. Also, the letter very specifically stated that it was wrong for anyone to say that the LDS church was directly involved in this effort, but that members “could” take part. Contact information was given for the organization fronting the petitions.

    When I read the letter, I was distressed. While I had not come out of the closet, I shared my concerns with the stake president on constitutional grounds, as well as what I saw as potential ramifications against LDS doctrine. I indicated that I could not support such an effort, and asked if this was, in fact, a “call to action” for LDS members to jump on that bandwagon. I further indicated that I couldn’t support such an effort, and that I understood if he wished to release me, so as not to bring any embarassment to the stake presidency.

    My stake president was a very kind, good man. He said that his interpretation was that individuals should follow their own views, and that the letter was intended to avoid the suggestion that “all good LDS must agree” with such legislation. Personally, I think he intentionally skewed it from its actual intent, so as to “make room” for my feelings on the matter. When the topic came up in discussion at another time, the stake clerk couldn’t believe that I wasn’t falling in line, and expressed his firm conviction that homosexuals are simply wicked people who intentionally seek to anger deity.

    That said, one of the bishops in our building posted the letter on his ward bulletin board. I now confess, my friends, what only I have known—that I secretly removed the letter from the bulletin board and destroyed it. Mea culpa. Hell, I’m proud I did it.

  16. February 25, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Chris,

    We are to follow the counsel of God as it is given at the present time. God reveals his will on his own timetable. What God reveals today is the counsel we follow.

    It is very clear to me that God is in support of the Defense of Marriage amendment. “We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

  17. Chris W.
    February 25, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Statement by the First Presidency, August 17, 1949:

    The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. President Brigham Young said: “Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to.”

    Was the First Presidency in 1949 (and Brigham Young) wrong or was the First Presidency in 1978 wrong? Are you confident that the Proclamation on the Family is the revealed word of God?

  18. February 25, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    New revelation has been given on that subject, Chris. What was said on August 17, 1949, concerning that subject is not pertinent anymore. Today is February 25, 2008, and the Lord has revealed his will today.

  19. Chris W.
    February 25, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Did God’s will change or did man’s understanding of God’s will change?

    In other words, isn’t it possible that Brigham Young was just wrong (in large part because of common cultural biases) and that Spencer W. Kimball was inspired? If so, isn’t also possible that the Proclamation on the Family is wrong (in large part because of common cultural biases) and that some future Prophet will be inspired to know God’s true will on the subject?

  20. Peter Brown
    February 25, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    As far as the raging debate over SSM, I’ll bow out of that for future discussions. I will say, however, that it isn’t clear that the egalitarianism that is behind SSM will continue unabated–that ideal faces a demographic challenge in the near future. I think the “last days” may get in the way as well, but I digress. At this point we can let Jesus sort it out from Jerusalem.

    In reference to the Danzig case, he Church is govenered as a loose confederacy. In my profession I have seen that first-hand. The Stake President is the local prophet in many respects. I think a seminal point here is an understanding of the Priesthood. A person can hold Priesthood keys and be totally wrong. But perhaps this happens so that his flock can learn humility despite being right. Humility has a way of sanctifying the soul and making us more like Him. Is the point to be right, or is it to believe in Priesthood Keys and continue with the corresponding spiritual blessings that come with those keys? I think if you can’t respect the Priesthood, even if the holder is wrong, you have crossed the line and made null and void your membership in the Church, which is totally dependent upon deferrence to those with keys. I have been in this situation over some personal things that have happened to me, as I was once cut off for awhile in ways I didn’t totally agree with. However, at the end of the day, I accepted the decision of the Stake President and the High Council, and in doing so, I still had my peace with God and man. I have a testimony of keys, and that has made the difference.

    As far as the Church influencing its members to oppose SSM, the answer is pretty tranparant. They do. It’s not an issue with me because I don’t support SSM. I worry about a Constitutional amendment. I think the Constitution states that issues not reserved for the Federal government are reserved for the state. I don’t know if SSM rises to the level where an amendment is needed. I also don’t think it has a prayer of passing. People who oppose SSM should spend more time changing hearts and minds in a rational way first before getting all hopped up on federal legislation.

  21. Jeff Spector
    February 25, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    As I look at the letter that NMTony referenced above, I see the following.( Emphasis mine):

    “, we ask you to do all you can by donating your means and time to assure a successful vote. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and is essential to His eternal plan. It is imperative for us to give our best effort to preserve what our Father in Heaven has put in place.

    Frankly, I see the word “ask.” I don’t see “order,” “command,” “compel,” or any such words. So does that mean we HAVE to do it. No, you can choose not to, just like you can choose not to go to the monthly ward spaghetti dinner.

    I read in another post that social pressure will dictate your action. Social pressure from whom? I suppose if you go and blab your mouth off about every personal belief you have, someone in the ward might not like it. But, if kept to yourself, you have nothing to worry about.

    I thought this was a discussion about the Danzig case. I see people posting 1849 talks trying to show a parallel. let’s stay in the moment here, shall we?

  22. dpc
    February 25, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Gay marriage has got to be the biggest non-issue there ever was.

    In Canada, even though homosexuals can marry, according to the latest census, only 10% of homosexual couples chose to do so. It only amounted to something like 15,000 people. If the Unites States has 10 times the population of Canada, you’re looking at 150,000 people choosing to get married. The time and money could be better spent elsewhere.

  23. February 25, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    You know, sometimes I get the idea that if a president of the LDS church ever goes crazy and shoots a man in the head, there will be LDS members who rationalize that it must have been deity’s will, because deity secretly knew the dead man would have been a mass-murderer.

  24. February 25, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    “Is the point to be right, or is it to believe in Priesthood Keys and continue with the corresponding spiritual blessings that come with those keys?”

    As I tried to explain in a previous post, I look at the act of believing in priesthood keys in spite of the destruction that course might cause in yourself or others as focusing on “being right”. To me that is asking me to bury my heart so I can keep my membership, to stand idle while others suffer. I do not interpret the message of Jesus as being consistent with that. We speak of God testing our humility. What if God is actually testing our humanity?

  25. February 25, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    What the prophets and apostles say is God’s true will. If God’s revealed will today is different than what was taught in the past, we follow the current revelation.

    Is it possible that Brigham Young was wrong in his comments on why blacks could not receive the priesthood? Yes. We don’t believe in infallible prophets. Prophets are entitled to their opinion, which might be swayed by contemporary cultural biases. But was it God’s will that blacks not receive the priesthood at that time? Yes. Current revelation does not specify why.

    The Proclamation on the Family was signed by the entire First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and is considered current revelation. Is it possible that a future prophet will change the position of the proclamation? I don’t think so, because fifteen apostles signed their name to it, and I think it would take the same to alter it.

    I also think it is irrelevant to speculate if currently revealed doctrine will change in the future. What God reveals today is what is right. We believe and follow what God’s will is today, not what it was or what it may be in the future.

  26. February 25, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    What the prophets and apostles say is God’s true will.

    I disagree, but I’m glad to know where you’re coming from. :)

  27. February 25, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Disagree all you wish.

    What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

  28. February 25, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Kari,

    I’m sorry that you disagree with me, but you are incorrect in your assumptions. I do believe that prophets and apostles are fallible, they can make mistakes. But the Lord has anointed them to lead and guide us today, and as a group they will not lead the Church astray. If we do not follow them, we are on the road to apostasy.

    It concerns me when members of the Church get upset if I quote scriptures and the current prophets and apostles. If the scriptures and the brethren are wrong, then who are we to believe? Who are we to follow? If the prophets and apostles have stated a clear position, as they have done in the Proclamation, then we are not free to choose as we will with regard to that position and expect to stay in full faith with the Church. We are commanded to sustain our leaders. We are free to choose whether we will or not, just as we are free to choose with any commandment.

  29. John Nilsson
    February 25, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Bryce Haymond,

    Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia. Have you read George Orwell’s 1984?

  30. February 25, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    John. No, I haven’t.

  31. February 25, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    “If the scriptures and the brethren are wrong, then who are we to believe? Who are we to follow?”

    Is the purpose of our mortal existence to learn how to follow, or to learn how to lead? My answer to both of your questions: God. That is what personal revelation is for, right?

  32. February 25, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    We cannot put personal revelation over revelation given by the Lord’s prophets and apostles, no. By following the prophets and apostles we are following God. They are inextricably linked.

  33. Patrick
    February 25, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    We cannot put personal revelation over revelation given by the Lord’s prophets and apostles, no. By following the prophets and apostles we are following God. They are inextricably linked.

    I always thought that by following God’s revelation to me as an individual I was following God. Now I know that when the leaders speak, the thinking has been done. Thanks for clearing that up, Bryce.

  34. Sleeper
    February 25, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Bryce,

    While you’re quoting GA’s…try this one:

    “What a pity it would be, if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? 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 led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken the influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.” (JD 9:150) Brigham Young

  35. Sleeper
    February 25, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    “Do not, brethren, put your trust in 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;” (Millennial Star 53:658-59, quoted in Gospel Truth, 1:319) George Q. Cannon

  36. Sleeper
    February 25, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    “How easy it would be for your leaders to lead you to destruction, unless you actually know the mind and will of the spirit yourselves.” (JD 4:368)

  37. Sleeper
    February 25, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    “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.” (Millennial Star 54:191) Apostle Charles W. Penrose

  38. Sleeper
    February 25, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    “We talk of obedience, but do we require any man or woman to ignorantly obey the counsels that are given? Do the First Presidency require it? No, never.” (Journal of Discources (JD) 16:248) President Joseph F. Smith

  39. February 25, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    I never said that when our leaders speak that the thinking is done. As Sleeper has clearly shown, we are to seek confirmation by the spirit.

    I did say that if we do not follow the guidance and counsel given by the Lord’s prophets and apostles that we are not following the Lord. The Lord called them for the very purpose of leading us to life and salvation.

    While we are in the mood, let’s quote a more recent prophet, President Kimball:

    The Master and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ himself, stands at the head of this Church in all his majesty and glory. He directs his affairs through his divinely appointed and sustained prophets and apostles.

    It is my testimony to you that the leaders in this the Church of Jesus Christ are divinely called and set apart to lead through the spirit of prophecy as in other dispensations.

    Since the crucifixion, there have been tens of thousands of men called by the Savior to fill positions of responsibility, not one of whom has been perfect, and yet all are called of the Lord and must be upheld and sustained by those who would be disciples of the Lord.

    Even in the Church many are prone to garnish the sepulchres of yesterday’s prophets and mentally stone the living ones.

    No one in this Church will ever go far astray who ties himself securely to the Church Authorities whom the Lord has placed in his Church. This Church will never go astray; the Quorum of the Twelve will never lead you into bypaths; it never has and never will. There could be individuals who would falter; there will never be a majority of the Council of the Twelve on the wrong side at any time. The Lord has chosen them; he has given them specific responsibilities. And those people who stand close to them will be safe. And, conversely, whenever one begins to go his own way in opposition to authority, he is in grave danger.

    Let us harken to those we sustain as prophets and seers, as well as the other brethren, as if our eternal life depended upon it, because it does!

    All from chapter 23 of “Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball” which was one of the last lessons of priesthood and relief society last year.

  40. Peter Brown
    February 25, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    (26) “As I tried to explain in a previous post, I look at the act of believing in priesthood keys in spite of the destruction that course might cause in yourself or others as focusing on “being right”. To me that is asking me to bury my heart so I can keep my membership, to stand idle while others suffer. I do not interpret the message of Jesus as being consistent with that. We speak of God testing our humility. What if God is actually testing our humanity?”

    First, Clay, do you know for sure you’re heart is in the right place? Do you have the humility to accept that you’re maybe wrong? Once you get past that, and you still believe you are right as best as you are able, you have to decide if you heart can be consoled through the Atonement over this severe of a disagreement. I think it can be. If you believe in the kind of God Mormonism purports, justice will eventually win out. We have to have faith in that inevitability. I know that’s a difficult answer and it may not wash with you, but I’m a firm believer in reconciling disagreements through prayer and fasting.

    (34)”We cannot put personal revelation over revelation given by the Lord’s prophets and apostles, no. By following the prophets and apostles we are following God. They are inextricably linked.”

    Bryce, for those of us for which that fact burns bright, it’s a no-brainer, but many people on this site don’t follow. They’ve been burned by too many inconsistencies. The difficult part of faith is reconciling this while remaining faithful. I believe that’s part of the test. Good to see you on here!!

    (36) Sleeper–one of my favorite quotes. Thank you. Turns that Brigham Young from a provincial colonizer to a veritable philosopher.

  41. February 25, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    #27:
    The Proclamation on the Family was signed by the entire First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and is considered current revelation.

    Not so. It’s not binding revelation upon the membership of the LDS church until they so sustain it in an open general conference.

  42. Kari
    February 25, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Bryce,

    Thanks for the reply. I don’t think that anyone is upset that you quote scriptures and current leadership. The problem I have is that you quote them as if they are the final determination of the matter at hand. It should be clear to you that those of use who frequent this blog also read Sunstone, Dialogue, BYU studies, FAIR, and even FARMS, and don’t necessarily believe that once the prophet(s) have spoken the thinking has been done. You can consider us apostates, that’s fine with me. But how about you use your quotes to further particular position with regards to the original post? Otherwise, you might has well just chime into every discussion here with the same tired quotes that you use. We value original thought and analysis — well, not necessarily from me, but from the many more erudite folks who frequently comment.

    You ask, If the scriptures and the brethren are wrong, then who are we to believe? Who are we to follow? I answer that I have been given the light of Christ and the gift of the Holy Ghost for the opportunity to receive revelation for myself. I also have my god-given intellect to “study it out in my mind” and to pray about it. The answers I receive for myself do not need to always agree with the leaders of the church. I don’t speak for the church, I speak for myself. The issue is that, particularly for political issues, if I state a position that my leaders don’t agree with, I can be punished for this. I should be allowed to state that I disagree with the position of the church, and further state that an amendment that specifically prohibits SSM (not to be confused with S&M) would be wrong for the Church and wrong for America. And if I am employed by the church, my employment should not hinge upon my political opinions (as long as I don’t present my beliefs as those of the church).

    I think that Brother Danzig chose his words a little too carelessly. He would have been better advised to have friends and family read his letter and make suggestions as to how to word his opposition. He certainly should have known that accusing the church, publicly, of “intellectual tyranny” wasn’t going to end well for him. However, in my ward, as I stated earlier, the attitude and environment surrounding this particular letter (voicing our opinion of an amendment) was definitely one of “you should be out fighting against this — write letters of opposition to your Senator.” Brother Danzig clearly felt that the letter, as presented in his ward, was pressuring him to take a particular position.

    Well, my comments have become more about the role of dissent in the church, than about the original post. Sorry.

  43. February 25, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    Too bad he hadn’t read http://mormonmatters.org/2008/02/23/a-guide-to-edifying-others/ and taken that for an approach instead of using the Salt Lake Tribune as a sounding board. /Sigh.

  44. February 25, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Too bad he hadn’t read http://mormonmatters.org/2008/02/23/a-guide-to-edifying-others/ and taken that for an approach instead of using the Salt Lake Tribune as a sounding board. /Sigh.

    Not to toot your own horn, or anything…. ;)

  45. February 25, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    The irony of Bryce’s comments is that they’re coming from a guy who dedicated his blog to Hugh Nibley. I am fairly confident that Nibley (knowing his politics and his personal familiarity with the shortcomings of Church leaders) would disagree with Bryce on this matter.

  46. February 25, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Bryce, dude. Faithful members of the LDS church the world over bristle at the charge often leveled by those outside the faith that Mormonism is a “cult.” I don’t use that word myself as I don’t think it leads to productive dialog and civil discourse (and everyone knows I am all about those things). But reading your comments is kind of scary. They come off sort of, um, zombie-like. I mean, really, you might want to consider actually expressing an original thought rather than just parroting scriptures and cherry-picking quotes from prophets (whom, I gather, we know are prophets because, well, they said so). You seem like you are sincerely trying to represent a faithful viewpoint but the manner in which you are doing it is likely to leave people cold, I think.

  47. February 25, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Chris W. — I’m very much pushing my approach as the one people in this situation should follow. It is my comment on these kinds of conflicts as a generic type. ;)

  48. February 25, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Nick,

    I am not willing to reject the Proclamation on the basis that it has not been sustained as scripture in General Conference. The First Presidency and Twelve wrote it and declared it a “Proclamation to the World,” and since then have gone out of their way to uphold it. To me, that is good enough to be from God.

    Kari,

    Why do you think I quote the scriptures and brethren as if they are the “final determination of the matter”? I quoted them because I thought the scriptures and the brethren might actually have something to add to the conversation. Are you willing to listen to them too?

    I too have read Sunstone, Dialogue, BYU Studies, FAIR, and FARMS. I don’t believe that when the prophet(s) have spoken the thinking has been done. I never said that. And I don’t consider you apostate. Your level of presumption is astounding. If the scriptures and the brethren are tired, old, uncreative, and have worn out ideas and thoughts, I can only imagine what Conference must be like for you. I value original thought and analysis too, but when it is in harmony with the gospel and the prophets, Hugh Nibley being the best example that I can think of.

    I still maintain, as President Kimball noted, that as soon as one “begins to go his own way in opposition to authority, he is in grave danger.” God has not called prophets and apostles to just give us good advice. They are His spokesmen on earth.

    You can have any position on any subject that you like. You have your agency to do so. The problem comes when members who are opposed to official Church positions come out in open opposition to the Lord’s anointed servants, and encourage others to do so also! That is apostasy.

    Christopher,

    Yes, I have dedicated my blog to Hugh Nibley, having studied his works for many years. He advocated, more than any other, staying in harmony with the brethren, that is why the brethren trusted him so much. Have you read “Criticizing the Brethren” lately?

    Equality,

    The scriptures and the brethren were never meant to be popular or exciting. I’m sorry if you feel that they are rather drab and “zombie-like”. I will tell you one thing; the words of the scriptures and the prophets are worth mountains more than anything I could ever say, and I’m not sorry for it.

  49. Ricercar
    February 25, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    I would suggest that the greatest issue people not familiar with the church take issue with the church teachings are twofold:

    1. A centralized message demanding rigorous obedience to a central hierarchy (as typified here with the issue of same-sex marriage); and

    2. An ability of the hierarchy to command by fiat and suggestion a legion of people to unquestioning obedience (as typified here in some measure by Mr. Haymond).

    I am not a member of the church despite years of association and love for many of its members. To me, it is these two points that confirm my belief that notwithstanding the good that the organization offers, the dangers of excessive zeal is too common and warrants additional caution when meeting someone who is Mormon.

    If only the church was a church and not a club with baggage! But I guess that which makes it unique can also make it scary.

  50. February 25, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Have you read “Criticizing the Brethren” lately?

    Actually, I have. And the part that sticks out to me is Nibley constantly reiterating JS’s teachings that Mormons shouldn’t be bound by any creeds or set of beliefs, nor should they blindly accept everything a prophet or apostle says, and they should strive for personal revelation above all else.

  51. February 25, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    How about that. Nibley quoting a prophet, something he did quite often.

    I don’t know where you get that Joseph Smith taught that Mormons shouldn’t be bound by any creeds or set of beliefs. Joseph Smith established the doctrine and set of beliefs that the Church was to follow in this dispensation. Those that did not follow what Joseph Smith taught did not join the Church.

    How can anyone believe that there shouldn’t be a central hierarchy and authority in the Church? The head of the hierarchy is Christ himself. Those that want to follow Christ must follow those who He has chosen, ordained, and sent forth to do His work here.

  52. February 26, 2008 at 12:47 am

    I don’t know where you get that Joseph Smith taught that Mormons shouldn’t be bound by any creeds or set of beliefs.

    “I never thought it was right to call up a man and try him because he erred in doctrine, it looks too much like methodism and not like Latter day Saintism. Methodists have creeds which a man must believe or be kicked out of their church. I want the liberty of believing as I please, it feels so good not to be tramelled. It dont prove that a man is not a good man, because he errs in doctrine. The High Council undertook to censure and correct Br. Brown because of his teachings in relation to the beasts [in Revelations], and he came to me to know what he should do about it” (Words of Joseph Smith, 183-84).

    And please don’t insinuate that I, or any other faithful members of the church here, don’t follow God’s chosen prophets. That’s insulting, rude, and innappropriate.

  53. Isles of the Sea
    February 26, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Does the LDS church influence its members to oppose same sex marriage?

    Yes … with the big buck$ to back it up …

    In 1998, the LDS Church (Corporation of the President and Corporation of the Presiding Bishop) spent $ 600,000 to influence a ballot vote in Hawaii concerning “traditional marriage”.

    See link –> http://hawaii.gov/campaign/ballot.htm

    Is the influence explicit from top leaders, explicit-but-rogue from local leaders, or is it a cultural perceived thing from members?

    IMO, Influence is from top leaders. Letters from levels above the Stake have been read over the pulpit urging support for ‘traditional marriage’. My experience is that some local leaders feel uncomfortable having to ‘toe’ the line and provide the pulpit to this issue.

  54. February 26, 2008 at 2:01 am

    It should also be mentioned that church leaders incessantly wave the Proclamation on the Family in front of members, both in general conference addresses, in correlated classroom curriculum and through church publications such as the Ensign magazine. This is clearly explicit influence from the top down. Furthermore, portions of the Proclamation appear in amicus briefs submitted to state supreme courts and signed by attorneys for the church (the most recent being the Sept. 5, 2007 amicus to the State of California).

  55. February 26, 2008 at 7:59 am

    Christopher,

    Anyone who does not follow God’s chosen prophets is not following God’s chosen prophets. If you want to interpret that as insulting, rude, and inappropriate, you may do so. But I will not apologize for it.

    God has chosen, called, ordained, and sent forth his anointed servants to do His work on earth, to act in His stead, and to say the things the He would say if He were here. They are His representatives, and act in vicarious authority as if they were Christ here in person, and if we don’t stand close to what they say, we are not following the One who sent them. For He has put into their mouths the things which they should say (D&C 100:5-6, 24:5-6).

    When Paul was converted and called he was told, “The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard” (Acts 22:14-15). The living prophets and apostles are called in the very same way today.

    The Church has said, “it is not acceptable when [our] digging and questioning leads to public opposition against doctrine Church leaders are obliged to uphold. . . . Unfortunately [Danzig] was not able to reconcile his personal beliefs with the doctrine Church leaders are charged to maintain by divine mandate.”

    Many here have said over and over again that it is not necessary for us to sustain what our leaders say, that we should think for ourselves instead, that what they say is unoriginal and old-fashioned, and that we must put personal revelation above everything else. That is not following God’s chosen prophets, and will certainly lead to apostasy, as we have clearly seen. President Kimball said, it is “mentally stoning the living [prophets].”

    Nibley himself often said that his words were worthless, and that his writings should be taken with a grain of salt. He also spared no expense in extensively quoting from the brethren and the scriptures, ad nauseam. How old-fashioned of him. Couldn’t he think for himself?

    How could the Danzigs believe that their position on same-sex marriage was in harmony with the “gospel of Christ” when they are now no longer in the church which proclaims that gospel? They will now not be able to partake of the blessings and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ unless they repent and come back into the fold.

    “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:26-29).

    “O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.

    But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God” (2 Nephi 9:28-29).

  56. Steve M
    February 26, 2008 at 8:37 am

    I know I’m coming in late in the game, but I’d like to highlight this section from the LDS Newsroom statement on the Danzigs (Kari also brought this up in an earlier comment):

    In his Tribune letter-to-the-editor, Mr. Danzig said he “was troubled that my church requested I violate my own conscience to write in support of an amendment I feel is contrary to the constitution and to the gospel of Christ.” In reality Church leaders had asked members to write to their senators with their personal views regarding the federal amendment opposing same gender marriage, and did not request support or opposition to the amendment.

    I can’t help but feel that this is duplicitous. Although the letter did not explicitly prescribe support for the marriage amendment, that was its clear implication. I would wager that very few believing, Latter-day Saints took the letter as an invitation to express either support or opposition to the proposed amendment.

    My question is whether this is a largely meaningless parsing of words by a Church PR spokesperson, or an indication that opposition to gay marriage is not technically required of Church members.

    My guess is that the statement is largely meaningless. Even if the letter on the marriage amendment didn’t explicitly require support of it, the Church has on numerous other occasions asked its members to vote in support of traditional marriage, and has expended substantial efforts and funds in the fight against gay marriage. Even if Mr. Danzig accepted the Church spokesperson’s questionable interpretation of the marriage amendment letter, he would presumably still have issues with the Church’s other statements and efforts. In other words, his objection was probably not merely based on a misinterpretation or mischaracterization of the First Presidency letter in question.

    I guess I have to wonder what, if any, point the Church PR guy was trying to make in the above-quoted paragraph.

  57. Ammon Rye
    February 26, 2008 at 9:06 am

    #27 Bryce Haymond
    “I do believe that prophets and apostles are fallible, they can make mistakes. But the Lord has anointed them to lead and guide us today, and as a group they will not lead the Church astray. If we do not follow them, we are on the road to apostasy.”

    I will put must trust in The Lord NOT in the arm of flesh.

    Here is one example of “leading the Church astray”: When Gordon B. Hinckley declared to the world that polygamy is not doctrinal and he condemns it.

    The last time I checked, Section 132 is still part of the canon and still part of LDS doctrine. I’m tired of prophets, seers, and revelators who are not truthful.

  58. February 26, 2008 at 9:12 am

    As an effort to tone things down a bit, let me say this:

    Bryce:

    I enjoy your site, but your tone here has been a bit challenging or incendiary. Not that you are alone in this. Certain others have also been somewhat incendiary, and I think it’s a shame.

    Everyone else:

    Stop picking on Bryce. He has a valid point: if the church leaders are taking a position against same-sex marriage, is it really worth jeapordizing your eternal salvation if you are wrong? Okay, maybe this issue will turn out like that of blacks and priesthood. Maybe in 50 or 100 years we’ll find out that this is a non-issue and everything will be okay. Or maybe we’ll find in 50 years that this is something that is never going to change and you absolutely have to line up with the church leaders on this one or you will find yourself outside the church (with regards to views about the morality of homosexuality and the appropriateness of gay marriage, not necessarily the need for a constitutional amendment). The real point is that what current church leaders are saying is what you are going to have to go by. Yes you have a right to revelation, but there are limits to that personal revelation–it does not permit you to receive anything that might be considered policy for the church unless that is your calling.

    Let’s talk about this for a moment as I understand this (and others will likely find the relevant scriptures, because I’m terrible at that part when I don’t have much time): a person has the right to receive revelation for themself and all those for whom they have stewardship. As a member of the church, this means generally you and your family. When you have a calling, this expands to those for whom you are responsible as a part of your calling in the fulfillment of your calling. Thus a gospel doctrine teacher may receive revelation (or more commonly speaking, inspiration) on how to best present or prepare a lesson so that a specific class member may learn a specific principle, while an Elder’s Quorum president may receive revelation concerning the needs of those within his quorum. A Bishop is responsible for the temporal welfare for the adult members of his ward, as well as caring for other needs. Thus he may recieve revelation to this end. He may set policy within the ward, as long as it is within guidelines set by the general and stake authorities.

    But no member may go beyond their own sphere. Thus I do not have the right to receive revelation for the church as a whole. I likely never will. Clay, you cannot do the same. You may receive confirmation that President Monson is the Prophet and that a particular policy or talk that he has given is indeed revelation, but you will not receive revelation for the whole church. Sorry about that. As I recall, Joseph Smith was forced to excommunicate several early members of the church for this very reason. They didn’t understand that difference between personal revelation and the role of the prophet. I’m not trying to be confrontational at all, but I want to make it clear that there is a fine line between trying to understand why the church is doing something, praying diligently for revelation to understand the Lord’s will, and deciding that you have better insight as to what the Lord might do in 50 years than the prophet. While the prophet is fallible, I also think it is unwise to dwell overly much on that fact. Instead one should focus on the fact that despite his fallibility, Hinckley did a lot of good (Monson, as yet, has done nothing public that I can see). I think that may be one of the reasons a geriontocracy is a good thing–it ensures that no one is leader for too long, and thus we end up with a self-correcting situation, albeit slowly.

    With this in mind, the prophet is not and should not be regarded as infallible. That is the role of personal revelation. We seek confirmation of the words of the prophet. What you do not hear, and likely will not hear, in General Conference, is what to do if you fail to receive the confirmation. I would submit that the first thing to do is make sure that you are really open to receiving it. If you are truly being humble, then I suspect that the thing to do is quietly petition the Lord in prayer, asking Him for greater understanding of the issue at hand.

    Now, to the issue at hand, because I have long struggled with this particular issue. I do not think that the government itself has any business regulating marriage. I have long felt this way. Marriage is a religious institution and should therefore be defined by the various churches as they see fit. Civil unions should be permitted and should carry legal obligations in terms of separation and commitment. The types of civil unions that should be permitted is ambiguous in my mind because I am uncertain as to the sociological, economic and psychological implicactions, and I am reasonably certain that no one has enough information to be completely certain what will happen if we open the flood gates.

    All in all, what I’m getting at is that we should be striving to understand what the Lord really wants here. So, let’s all try to get along, and quite arguing over this like little school kids. I hope the Danzigs are willing to accept that the church is able to accept some dissent. I also hope that their leaders are willing to put up with some disagreement on what is essentially a non-central issue–to call the issue of a constitutional amendment central to the gospel is silly. Is it Faith, Repentance, Baptism, or Receiving the Holy Ghost? I’m not really sure. Those are the central tenets of the gospel. The nature and character of God? No, not there? Frankly, I’m not sure where it fits in, so I choose not to worry about it.

    My real concern is more along the lines of taking care of the poor, the sick and the needy. Let’s make sure that our society is doing that, and then I’ll be willing to take care of this issue, which I honestly think is MUCH less important than that. Priorities, please. Would Christ spend his time worrying about whether or not a law allowing homosexuals to gain either a tax or social benefit or preventing them from it to pass, OR would he spend his time bringing relief to those who were sick, building up homeless shelters, improving healthcare, taking care of children, and making sure that those who are poor are taken care of? That is what I think we should be focused on, and I think that this issue is divisive, silly, and all in all should be tabled until we have solved other, more pressing issues. In the grand scheme, it is rather unimportant. To those who are homosexual, and wish to be married, I’m sorry. I know you find this offensive. I know it hurts to hear that someone elses problems are more important than your own wishes, but please step back for a moment and consider this: do you truly equate your situation and desires with those of the people who cannot get adequate care for debilitating diseases or children who have cancer, or the elderly who cannot afford medicine? Or those who do not have a home? Or those who cannot find a job? Or those who are chronically in jail because they cannot escape the cycle of crime? Yet when they are freed from jail are unable to find work or shelter and so they turn to crime again because its what they know. They return to old habits and friends because they know how to survive that way. Jail isn’t so bad for them because it’s familiar.

    Let us first solve these problems. Then I will be willing to consider the issues of same-sex marriage. Some will argue that the above will never be solved or that these problems can be considered in parallel, but if I were a politician running for office today my response would be this: I have limited time. My time will be focused on the above. Maybe someone else will consider this issue. I cannot give it further consideration because I do not have the wisdom to know how it will affect our society at this time. I don’t think that the government necessarily should be defining marriage, therefore I am focused on solving other problems that I feel are much more weighty. I would probably lose the vote of any homosexuals at that point.

    I’ve said my piece now, so I’ll shut up. Let’s all try to get along.

  59. Steve M
    February 26, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Bryce,

    It’s bad Bloggernacle etiquette to condemn others, or to call their faith or worthiness into question. It’s not very conducive to civil discourse.

  60. KenL
    February 26, 2008 at 9:22 am

    every time I see controversy about SSM and the Church – I am compelled to wonder – If the bold statements supporting “traditional marriage” has anything to do with Polygamy.. if same sex marriage is ever legalized – will the door to “legalize polygamy” then be open??

    if Polygamy is ever legalized, will the position of the Church with regards to the practice have to change..

  61. dpc
    February 26, 2008 at 9:34 am

    It’s bad Bloggernacle etiquette to condemn others, or to call their faith or worthiness into question. It’s not very conducive to civil discourse.

    Steve M, while that may be true, it makes for a rather staid conversation sometimes… :)

  62. February 26, 2008 at 9:36 am

    “Thus I do not have the right to receive revelation for the church as a whole. I likely never will. Clay, you cannot do the same.”

    I never said anything about policy for the whole church. I’m just talking about what feels right for me. Maybe I’ve just been deceived by the cunning heart-string tugging gays, with their sob stories, but I don’t feel right about denying people like Buckley Jepson or John Hamer the right to have a sacred committed relationship with another person.

    The church has softened incredibly on the assessment of homosexuality. Initially it was hatred and disgust. Then you had the Packer era of therapy and rehabilitation (which was generally unsuccessful, and in some cases led to worse things like broken families and even suicides), and now there was a recent pamphlet that has basically conceded that homosexuality can be a genetic predisposition. Unfortunately, the prescription is still to either forfeit your salvation or live a life of complete loneliness. Its pretty easy for folks to go around talking about how you should obey leaders today even if you can’t reconcile your own personal revelation with them, and to just be patient, when you are able to enjoy your family and operate daily without discrimination and judgment for being (as the church now admits) who you are.

  63. February 26, 2008 at 9:41 am

    And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.

    And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.

    And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us. (1 Nephi 16:1-3)

  64. Jeff Spector
    February 26, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Here is the fundamental problem as I see it.

    1. Homosexual behavior is wrong - The church certainly teaches that all sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong. It also teaches specifically that homosexual behavior (not thought, but action) is wrong. If society legitimizes and legalizes same sex marriage, the church then has a big problem to confront. How to deal with same sex couples that are “legally and lawfully married.”

    2. The State’s Interest in Marriage - It has been long argued that the government (ie the state) has a legitimate interest in the marriage relationship. If that is so, why then does the state make it so easy to be married and so easy to get divorced? If this state has an interest, does it not have an interest in preserving marriages? Since it has been shown not to be interested in saving marriages or making sure they are good ones, or protecting the children of marriages, then do they really have an interest? In my mind, the answer is no, they really don’t have a good interest, only an interest in controlling marriage, per se.

    3. What is a marriage? – If it is determined by the US Supreme Court that the states have no legitimate interest in controlling marriage, then what can happen? Same Sex marriage is legalized. But, what about other marital configurations? Are they less legitimate? Like Polygamy? Polyandry? if so, this also creates a dilemma for the Church for the same reason.

    Now, I realize that SSM and Polygamy are legal in some parts of the world, but a full scale legalization in the US would create a slippery slope that the church would have to confront.

    You didn’t get any opinion from me here on the validity of those marital relationships, so don’t attack me for that. But, I see a couple of issues that the church would have to deal with under the guise of “legally and lawfully.”

  65. dpc
    February 26, 2008 at 9:42 am

    if same sex marriage is ever legalized – will the door to “legalize polygamy” then be open??

    It makes it more likely, at least in philosophical and legal sense. If we define marriage as a social construct, subject only to the whims of the members of society, then one can not argue that SSM limited to 2 people is okay, while polygamy or group marriage is not okay. There is simply no basis to argue against those types of marriages. If you argue that marriage is limited by tradition to a man and a woman and that it is more than a social construct, it makes it a lot more difficult to extend the definition.

  66. February 26, 2008 at 9:50 am

    #58:
    My question is whether this is a largely meaningless parsing of words by a Church PR spokesperson, or an indication that opposition to gay marriage is not technically required of Church members.

    You know, this brings to mind the question one reporter asked at Thomas Monson’s coming-out (no pun intended) press conference. A reporter asked about whether members needed to agree with the church’s political statements, specifying marriage equality as an example. Now, I didn’t see video, but it sounded like Monson was annoyed at the question. He said members could have whatever political opinions they wanted to, but that it was different if it became a matter of apostacy (sorry I don’t have an exact transcript). Now I wonder if Monson had the Danzigs in mind when he answered the question.

  67. Dan
    February 26, 2008 at 9:50 am

    I think that the church should push a policy of removing marriage from the realm of the state, frankly. The state should have no business in regulating marriage. Let religions handle marriage. This is a benefit for all, because surely there are religions out there willing to give gay couples the solace they seek, and surely it will not pressure religions who desire only heterosexual relationships.

    The problem here is the control of the state. Frankly I am troubled by how much the church is willing to let the state be the arbiter of marriage.

  68. The Green Man
    February 26, 2008 at 9:54 am

    I think I have more questions than solid answers here:

    Will a person’s moral stand on an issue such as this really endanger one’s eternal salvation? (as per #60) I would guess that a just God would reward the person who followed the dictates of one’s own conscience. This question is probably a thread-jack, but a related question that could be its own discussion.

    Is there any question that there is any irony between the church’s stand on Same-Sex Marriage and polygamy? The ‘common law definition’ of marriage is originally found in a strongly anti-Mormon, racist and misogynistic case. The irony of the church trumpeting this case is not lost on me.

    Is marriage solely a religious institution? I think that the history of my cultural background from Western Europe and England would say that marriage has predominately been a cultural and specifically non-religious institution until the relatively recent past.

  69. Jeff Spector
    February 26, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Clay,

    I had a problem with one of your statements:

    “Unfortunately, the prescription is still to either forfeit your salvation or live a life of complete loneliness.”

    As you know there are many people in the church that, for one reason or another, do not have the opportunity to be married or lose a spouse. Are they to live a life of “complete loneliness?” Since I suspect that they may be more of those people in the church than gays, what do you suggest for them? Should the church arrange marriage for them? Is that a good reason to bring back polygamy and assign these people to families in order to eliminate “complete loneliness?

    “complete loneliness” is a choice.

  70. Observer
    February 26, 2008 at 10:06 am

    “In reality Church leaders had asked members to write to their senators with their personal views regarding the federal amendment opposing same gender marriage, and did not request support or opposition to the amendment.”

    Then in the same statement:

    “For more than a year and a half, Mr. Danzig counseled with his local bishop and stake president regarding same gender marriage and other Church doctrines. Unfortunately he was not able to reconcile his personal beliefs with the doctrine Church leaders are charged to maintain by divine mandate.”

    Seems contradtictory: If the church doesn’t expect the members to support or oppose, then why does it specify Danzig’s personal beliefs deviating from the church’s position as the tipping point??

  71. February 26, 2008 at 10:10 am

    “I think that the church should push a policy of removing marriage from the realm of the state.” My thoughts exactly. When I was married in the temple, the last thing I was thinking of was my new legal rights, or a bigger tax refund. Marriage to a Mormon is a religious issue, not a state one, IMHO.

  72. February 26, 2008 at 10:15 am

    “As you know there are many people in the church that, for one reason or another, do not have the opportunity to be married or lose a spouse.”

    There is a difference between a straight LDS person who does not marry, or loses a spouse, and a gay LDS person who is in love and wants to marry but is told they must remain celibate and unmarried from the person they love if they want to keep their standing with God. The straight person CAN get married (or re-married) if they fall in love. The gay person cannot. Also, the life of a straight person who remains single in the LDS church is actually quite lonely.

  73. Steve M
    February 26, 2008 at 10:20 am

    Re: Jeff Spector (#66),

    If society legitimizes and legalizes same sex marriage, the church then has a big problem to confront. How to deal with same sex couples that are “legally and lawfully married.”

    What’s the problem? The Church would not be required to extend its fellowship to gay couples merely because their marriage was legal. It is free to disfellowship, excommunicate, refuse to extend temple privileges to, or otherwise refuse to associate with those whose behavior they deem immoral, however legal that behavior might be.

    It’s perfectly legal for me to publicly oppose the Church or to have sex with women besides me wife (not that I have any intention to do either), but that wouldn’t stop the Church from revoking my membership.

    Re: Dan (#69),

    I think that the church should push a policy of removing marriage from the realm of the state, frankly. The state should have no business in regulating marriage. Let religions handle marriage. This is a benefit for all, because surely there are religions out there willing to give gay couples the solace they seek, and surely it will not pressure religions who desire only heterosexual relationships.

    But doesn’t that presuppose that marriage is a strictly religious institution? Although it’s a religious union for many, that is not universally true.

    And I doubt that many married people, religious or otherwise, would be interested in forfeiting the legal rights that marriage secures. Churches don’t have the authority to protect or enforce many of the rights that we often associate with marriage.

  74. February 26, 2008 at 10:22 am

    No, don’t moderate Bryce. He represents a mainstream orthodox Mormon position. He is a fine representative, I would argue, of the majority opinion among active faithful Latter-day Saints. Let him talk. Let him show people who may be interested in knowing about Mormons and Mormonism exactly what church members believe and why. Disagree with him if you want, but don’t moderate him. He is laying out the doctrine quite nicely.

    After the Salt Lake Tribune linked to my blog the other day, a faithful Mormon from Nephi, Utah posted anti-gay comments on my blog. Unlike Bryce, this fellow was vulgar and hateful in the language he used, so I banned him from posting comments (the only time I have ever banned someone from commenting at my blog). So, he started emailing me. Here’s a little taste of the fruits of the doctrines Bryce says come straight from God through the apostles and prophets:

    From Sam W. Morgan, Mormon contractor from Nephi (http://www.morganfinehomes.com/) to Equality:

    “Reading your webpage reminded me of one line in the temple ceremony…. ‘There will be many willing to preach the philosophies of men…..mingled with scripture’ Who do you think is smarter on the subject of homosexuality???? You??? or thousands of years of the Lords Prophets???”

    As you can see, Sam and Bryce are making the same argument.

    Another gem from Sam:

    “I hope I get picked as
    one to testify against you on judgement day as one who tried to tell you the
    truth. My shoe is off to you in symbolic dusting.”

    Again, expressing ideas found in scripture and taught in the Mormon church. When I asked Sam if he was serious, he responded:

    “I’m as serious as a heart attack ex brother. Just when did you commit
    adultery and leave the faith as predicted in D & C 42:23? It happens all
    the time and to the best of them, so no reason to be ashamed…just time to
    repent and come back. My father in law did and is now coming back after
    nearly 20 years away. Ex mormons are usually just whiners that have to
    complain loudly to compensate for the fact that they just couldn’t hack it
    anymore. If you don’t want to believe anymore…that’s fine…but do it
    quietly somewhere.”

    Notice the citation to scripture? I figure Bryce will appreciate that.

    My point in posting this comment is that the scriptures and the words of the prophets can justify the most hateful and bigoted attitudes. Here is what I said to Sam:

    “I must say if I had even a sliver of doubt that I made the right decision in leaving the LDS church, your communications with me today have completely obliterated it. I am so very grateful I am not part of an organization that spawns such venomous hatred in its members. If the celestial kingdom is populated with folks like you, give me outer darkness.”

    Bryce and Sam agree on the doctrine. They agree that the scriptures and the prophets are to be followed with exactness on this subject, and that people who dissent on the subject are in danger of hellfire and brimstone. That’s what the scriptures inspire in people. That’s the fruit that falls from the tree of dogmatic literalism and an authoritarian hierarchy. And the church encourages it. Notice that in its press release, the church took no responsibility for the way the Danzigs were treated. It’s their own damn fault for not getting in line and shutting their mouths. The church press release gives cover not only to Bryce but also to Sam.

    I’m glad I am getting my fruit from another tree, thank you very much.

  75. February 26, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Here is a quote I found on the lds.org site that is relevant to the topic as well as Jeff’s question about the prescription of loneliness:

    The October 2004 First Presidency statement reads: “We of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reach out with understanding and respect for individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender. We realize there may be great loneliness in their lives but there must also be recognition of what is right before the Lord.

    “As a doctrinal principle, based on sacred scripture, we affirm that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. The powers of procreation are to be exercised only between a man and a woman lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

    “Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, undermine the divinely created institution of the family. The Church accordingly favors measures that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and that do not confer legal status on any other sexual relationship.”

  76. February 26, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Thanks, Clay. Even LDS general authorities have begun to acknowledge this distinction in their comments. To take it further, unmarried LDS heterosexuals are permitted to (within appropriate minutes) physically and verbally express their affection toward individuals of the opposite sex, be it holding hands, embracing, kissing, etc. None of this is permitted for gay LDS. Displays of romantic affection toward a person of the same sex are explicitly forbidden at BYU, and would meet swift condemnation in virtually any LDS setting.

    I have five daughters, and it’s quite likely that each will end up being married in an LDS temple, with a reception helf afterward in an LDS meetinghouse. I can just imagine what would happen if my partner and I were to dance together at such a wedding reception. At the very least, I would be told that I couldn’t dance with my partner there, despite the fact that I’m not even LDS. I’ve no doubt that in some wards, I would be immediately told to leave.

  77. Jeff Spector
    February 26, 2008 at 10:30 am

    “The straight person CAN get married (or re-married) if they fall in love.”

    While this is a physical/procedural possibility, it is, in reality, not a possibity for some. They may in fact, fall in love, but the other person never knows it. They cannot get married because it takes two people to make that choice. They may lack the social skills to find someone to partner with.

    All I am saying, is that at this point, they are in the same boat. I will re-state, loneliness as a state of mind, is a choice.

  78. Peter Brown
    February 26, 2008 at 10:40 am

    (76) “Bryce and Sam agree on the doctrine. They agree that the scriptures and the prophets are to be followed with exactness on this subject, and that people who dissent on the subject are in danger of hellfire and brimstone. That’s what the scriptures inspire in people. That’s the fruit that falls from the tree of dogmatic literalism and an authoritarian hierarchy. And the church encourages it.”

    I think its a bit of a stretch to link polarism with the venom exposed by Sam. I agree that polarists tend to act like pompous a-holes, but polarism isn’t just relegated to authoritarian hierarchy. Radical leftists/egalitarians can be polarists. Your own response reflects elements of polarism as well. I also don’t think it’s appropriate to throw all belief systems under the bus because some guy is being a jerk. One of the challenges of life in the Church, and you can thank the Book of Mormon for my comprehension of this, is to avoid pride and “looking down upon others.” Sam has obviously failed this test. That doesn’t mean the doctrine has.

  79. February 26, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Equality,

    For the record, I do not endorse what Sam said. The tone and language is hateful, and I completely disagree with the way he communicated with you. In fact, Sam is not following the counsel of the brethren when conversing with others about the gospel:

    Every disciple of Christ will be most effective, and do the most good by adopting a demeanor worthy of a follower of the Savior of the world. Discussions focused on questioning, debating and doubting gospel principles do little to build the kingdom of God. . . . Let us all stand firmly and speak with faith in sharing our message with the world. Many of you are returned missionaries and can carry on meaningful conversation in the language you learned on your mission. . . .

    As you participate in this conversation and utilize the tools of New Media, remember who you are—you are Latter-day Saints. Remember as the Proverb states that “a soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). And remember that “contention is of the devil.” There is no need to argue or contend with others regarding our beliefs. There is no need to become defensive or belligerent. Our position is solid; the Church is true. We simply need to have a conversation, as friends in the same room would have, always guided by the promptings of the Spirit and constantly remembering the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ which reminds us of how precious are the children of our Father in Heaven. (Elder Ballard, “Using New Media to Support the Work of the Church”, 15 December 2007)

  80. Peter Brown
    February 26, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Bryce, another thing to note is that many on this board are New Order Mormons. They don’t necessarily follow the literal history or understanding of Church and scripture. They are ecumenical in their outlook, like many of our Protestant friends. I think many of your responses come from the well of disbelief that any orthodox believer would he have given another insider would express opinions in these ways-thus the levelling of apostasy. Many of these posters have already left the church or don’t believe in the hierarchy or Priesthood anymore, but they still feel drawn to the Church culturally. To be clear, I’m a true blue believer and I am a contributor to this post and represent a more neo-fundamentalist approach to the Church, focused on last days eschatoloty and preparedness.

    Our humanity sees that former and questioning Mormons still want a place to fit in. It does no good then to affirm their apostasy. How would you approach someone if you were a missioanry and they weren’t a member, probably with more love and charity. If you want to draw people back, you listen with love and discuss things rationally with the Spirit as your guide. Heck, you may learn something to.

    If this is Brad’s brother Bryce, tell him hi for me.

  81. February 26, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Peter, thanks for that refreshing commentary from the believing side.

  82. February 26, 2008 at 11:13 am

    80. Peter,

    I don’t understand. I am not seeing a difference between Sam and Bryce, other than word choice. Cosmetics aside, they are advocating the same thing, and their advocacy is in support of the mainstream, orthodox Mormon position articulated by church leaders and scriptures. Bryce and Sam’s attitudes are shaped by Mormon doctrine. You really can’t divorce Mormon doctrine from the fruits it produces in Sam and Bryce, can you?

  83. February 26, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I am pretty ambivalent about SSM. I don’t support a federal marriage amendment, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to interpret the current marriage laws as though sexual orientation were analogous to race. It’s no skin off my nose if people want to marry people of the same sex, but if we’re going to have laws defining marriage, they should be specific and address the issues of polygamous vs. monogamous relationships, sexual vs. non-sexual, and represent a clearly articulated philosophy about why government should grant special status to some relationships over others. Of course, the likelihood of that happening is approximately zero. Hence my lack of enthusiasm for either side of the debate.

    I do think there’s a difference between publicly opposing the marriage amendment and specifically condemning the church for its position. Obviously, if the church deserves condemnation, it’s right to condemn them, but I don’t see how one expects to retain their church membership that way. (And frankly, I don’t see why one would want to under those circumstances.) So I don’t see a terrific injustice has been done against the Danzigs. It seems to me that they’ve chosen their side, and if they’re correct, it’s the rest of us who should be worrying about our mortal souls.

    That said, I’m deeply disturbed by the church’s press release, specifically the part that claims that members were merely encouraged to “write to their senators with their personal views.” It’s so plainly dishonest, I’m not sure how anyone could say it with a straight face.

  84. Dan
    February 26, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Steve M.,

    #75,

    But doesn’t that presuppose that marriage is a strictly religious institution? Although it’s a religious union for many, that is not universally true.

    And I doubt that many married people, religious or otherwise, would be interested in forfeiting the legal rights that marriage secures. Churches don’t have the authority to protect or enforce many of the rights that we often associate with marriage.

    I’m looking at refashioning the whole structure, as I feel the current structure brings about too many problems. Maybe I’m a revolutionary at heart still. :)

  85. Jeff Spector
    February 26, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Nick,

    “I have five daughters, and it’s quite likely that each will end up being married in an LDS temple, with a reception held afterward in an LDS meetinghouse. I can just imagine what would happen if my partner and I were to dance together at such a wedding reception. At the very least, I would be told that I couldn’t dance with my partner there, despite the fact that I’m not even LDS. I’ve no doubt that in some wards, I would be immediately told to leave.

    I am sure that your overriding concern would be the feelings of your daughter and her spouse on that sacred occasion and that you wouldn’t do anything that might be an embarrassment to either of them or their families just to make a point.

    Would you?

    And besides, I heard you weren’t that good of a dancer…. ;)

  86. February 26, 2008 at 11:58 am

    Jeff, you’re making some assumptions here:
    (1) You assume that dancing with my partner would be an embarassment to one of my daughters.
    (2) You assume that one of my daughter would marry a young man who couldn’t handle the fact that his potential father-in-law is gay.
    (3) You assume that I would only dance with my partner to make a point.
    (4) You assume that I’m not a good dancer. ;-)

    I would suggest:
    (1) That would vary according to the daughter in question. My eldest might have some discomfort, but my second has basically zero tolerance for anyone criticizing me for being gay.
    (2) I’d hope my daughters all have more sense than to marry a bigot.
    (3) I dance with my partner for enjoyment. In fact, we go dancing together every Friday night, and sometimes on other nights as well.
    (4) While I have a lot to learn, I actually started teaching dance recently, so there! ;-)

  87. HT
    February 26, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Whether or not a man is legally allowed to marry another man doesn’t redefine or ruin my marriage, only my spouse and I can do that.

  88. adcama
    February 26, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    One of my main problems with the church on this issue (besides my general anxiety with the church’s wink & nod “grass roots” political encouragement – and the continued quelling of dissent) is the legalistic and insincere way in which it defends itself:

    “In reality Church leaders had asked members to write to their senators with their personal views regarding the federal amendment opposing same gender marriage, and did not request support or opposition to the amendment.”

    Come on! Was the church anticipating that most of those who heard letter read in sacrament meeting would write their senators in opposition of the federal amendment?

    It is obvious that the church wanted members to organize and exercise their first amendment rights only if such exercise furthered the cause/position of the church. It is clear to me that it would have been perfectly acceptable for members who heard the letter in church and who agreed with the church on this issue to organize rallys, speeches events, letter writing campaigns, fund drives, etc., in favor of the amendment. It is also clear that members who heard the letter in church and decided to organize, letter write, op ed write, etc., expressing a view that was in opposition of the church’s view would have likely been subjected to church discipline.

    This fact is troubling in and of itself, but the church’s defense troubles me even more…..it’s insincere and not at all convincing to say that it “…..did not request support or opposition to the amendment.”

  89. February 26, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    My biggest problem with same sex marriage is that most of the arguments against it are pretty persuasive for allowing it. On first blush my immediate response is “let them [marry] who, what or when they may” …

    The only counter argument that ever made any sense to me was http://www.janegalt.net/blog/archives/005244.html and the numerous cases brought against the boy scouts, who I’m not terribly fond of.

  90. adcama
    February 26, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    One other question….why is it acceptable for mormon politicians to express “public opposition against doctrine Church leaders are obliged to uphold”, but it is not acceptable for regular church members to express public opposition on political issues?

    If your answers is that it’s not okay for mormon politicians to express public opposition against church doctrine, how can the church (and candidates like Mitt Romney) say that the church would not weild significant influence over certain public policy positions? Essentially the church is saying that it’s not okay for members to publicly dissent. That’s a problem……

  91. FooboyX
    February 26, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    He is a musician named Danzig. It was only a matter of time.

  92. eTigger
    February 26, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    There is no such thing as a “New Order Mormon.”

  93. Sleeper
    February 26, 2008 at 12:29 pm
  94. HT
    February 26, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    There are no such things as “Tiggers”.
    Oh wait! I guess there are.
    But of course you know the most wonderful thing about Tiggers…

  95. Jeff Spector
    February 26, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Nick,

    You are right. My messages assumed all of those things! But, I figured you’d set me straight (can I say that?) on the things where I assumed wrong.

    BTW, I don’t know how many LDS receptions you have been to (probably, a lot), but as a DJ, we don’t get much dancing at the ones we do.

    Here’s to dancing!

  96. February 26, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    #92:
    One other question….why is it acceptable for mormon politicians to express “public opposition against doctrine Church leaders are obliged to uphold”, but it is not acceptable for regular church members to express public opposition on political issues?

    Honestly, I think it comes down to one word: publicity. In recent years, a number of disciplinary councils have been cancelled due to the accused going public with his or her story. I was personally privy to the church side in one case where there was direct general authority oversight, due to publicity/media concerns.

    Suppose LDS leaders tried to discipline an LDS politician for contradicting LDS political statements in his or her official duties. There’s simply no way it would remain quiet, and the public outcry would be profound. Ecclesiastical interference was, after all, the primary concern of opposition senators in the Smoot hearings.

  97. February 26, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    #97:
    BTW, I don’t know how many LDS receptions you have been to (probably, a lot), but as a DJ, we don’t get much dancing at the ones we do.

    So true, and what a pity! Most of the time, LDS receptions consist of nothing but dropping off gifts, shaking too many hands, and eating whatever free food is on hand. :-)

  98. Jeff Spector
    February 26, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    “Suppose LDS leaders tried to discipline an LDS politician for contradicting LDS political statements in his or her official duties.”

    The ultimate conundrum. Brag about having the most powerful member of the US Senate as a member of the church and then disciplining him for a belief contrary to a Church position.

    First of all, it will never happen. Second, Senator Reid is careful in not saying anythnng about the Church outside of the BYU sppech he recently gave.

  99. adcama
    February 26, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    That’s my point though, Nick. So it’s apostacy for Mr. Danzig because he’s small time and helpless, but not for Harry Reid (hypothetically) because he’s big and powerful?

    If the church was serious about their argument that they discipline so that others aren’t “deceived” (“The Apostle Paul said that the original Church was organized to help members to be “no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine”) it stands to reason that the brethren would be even more forceful with public figures who break rank and contend with established doctrine.

    But it’s not so….as you said, it’s a matter of publicity – and that my friends is very sad. Politicians and public figures are free to speak (because the church wants to be seen as mainstream and they fear retribution), but Peter Danzig is not free to speak (because the church knows it can get away with stomping him out). Granted, Peter should have left out his affiliation with the orchestra, but that doesn’t change much in my view.

    This is troubling……

  100. February 26, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    92, adcama:

    Excellent question. Peter Danzig expressed his disagreement publicly (1) with the way Jeff Nielsen was treated at BYU after publishing his opinion piece, and (2) with the church’s political stance on gay marriage. Neither of these issues implicates gospel doctrine. If a Mormon politician gives a speech and votes against the church’s position on the gay marriage issue, how is that politician any less “disobedient” than Peter Danzig? How can the church say that members were free to express themselves to their senators and at the same time say that members (with the exception of politicians) cannot express themselves in the form of a letter to the editor? And, what the hell did Mary Danzig do wrong? Why was she suspended?

  101. dpc
    February 26, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    And, what the hell did Mary Danzig do wrong? Why was she suspended?

    I always like how you call the Mormon church out on playing fast and loose with the facts, yet don’t seem troubled in the least when you do it yourself.

    This is in the words of Mr. Danzig from your blog:

    My Wife’s Dilemma
    My wife left the meeting feeling that not only I but she was also unwelcome to play in the orchestra. She was feeling very hurt and determined not to call and ask if she was welcome to play for the time being. Her brother, who sings in the Tabernacle Choir was upset by this and determined to talk to the Choir President and Administrative Manager. During the course of his conversation with them (in which they divulged what should have been confidential details to him about our meeting) he discovered that they were unwilling to say whether or not she was considered welcome to play, stating only that it did seem she agreed with me in some points. My wife later asked the Bishop if he knew if she was allowed to play and he stated he saw no reason she should not be but would call the Choir President to inquire. We heard nothing for a couple of weeks. When she asked him about the matter again he indicated that he had immediately called and inquired and had been told that she was welcome to play. He asked The President of the Choir to contact her and let her know. He agreed that he would.

    After finding out that my wife had not been contacted by the Choir our Bishop again called the Choir President and asked why this had not happened. He was told that the Administrative Manager had been asked to call and he would make sure this happened. The very next day we received an email from the Administrative Manager stating that he had been trying to call but the phone was always busy. He had reversed two of the numbers in our telephone number. It seemed strange to us that he has always been able to call us before, and only now had a wrong number. My wife called him and he stated that now that she had been “endorsed” by her Bishop she was of course welcome to play in the orchestra again. This felt like a slap in the face as she had never been unendorsed by her Bishop or anyone else.

    Where does it say that she was suspended?

  102. February 26, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Yes, dpc, I can just feel the love and encouragement pouring forth from all circles for Sister Danzig, can’t you?

  103. dpc
    February 26, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    Equality:

    I may not be the brightest flashlight in the drawer, but since when did:

    “lack of love and encouragement pouring forth from all circles for Sister Danzig” = “suspended from the Temple Square Orchestra”?

    And it appears as though the Bishop (no matter how deficient he may have handled the situation otherwise) did seem to exert some effort to contact the Choir Director and find out if she was welcome to play.

    If the basis for your complaint in the matter is that the people involved weren’t “loving” enough, well, who am I to argue with the self-appointed Arbiter of Love.

  104. February 26, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Clay said:
    “Thus I do not have the right to receive revelation for the church as a whole. I likely never will. Clay, you cannot do the same.”

    I never said anything about policy for the whole church. I’m just talking about what feels right for me. Maybe I’ve just been deceived by the cunning heart-string tugging gays, with their sob stories, but I don’t feel right about denying people like Buckley Jepson or John Hamer the right to have a sacred committed relationship with another person.

    The church has softened incredibly on the assessment of homosexuality. Initially it was hatred and disgust. Then you had the Packer era of therapy and rehabilitation (which was generally unsuccessful, and in some cases led to worse things like broken families and even suicides), and now there was a recent pamphlet that has basically conceded that homosexuality can be a genetic predisposition. Unfortunately, the prescription is still to either forfeit your salvation or live a life of complete loneliness. Its pretty easy for folks to go around talking about how you should obey leaders today even if you can’t reconcile your own personal revelation with them, and to just be patient, when you are able to enjoy your family and operate daily without discrimination and judgment for being (as the church now admits) who you are.

    Clay, I’m of mixed minds about this. The first question is this: is homosexuality a sin? If the answer is yes, then the church’s position with regards to it internal policy is clear.

    With regards to external policy I tend to agree with other posters that the correct agenda is to push for government to step away from marriage definement altogether. I personally believe that government should be as minimal as possible. The less government the better. If we need government in a particular area, then fine, we can have it, but I see no pressing need for government to define marriage. I think, instead that civil unions are more appropriate.

    Regarding the genetic predisposition toward homosexuality–so what? It may be there. It may be that we discover that the trait is purely genetic (although I seriously doubt that–sexual deviancy and fetishism is easily enough induced in other ways that the case for homosexuality to be learned in some cases is not difficult) in some cases. It makes no difference. We already know that there is a genetic predisposition for all sorts of vices, including alcoholism. Does that make it any less wrong to become an alcoholic? [The correct answer, by the way, is 'I don't know'.] It does not change the fact that current church leaders have emphasized that homosexual behavior is indeed a sin, and that ALL sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage is a sin.

    Should the state legalize SSM? I don’t know. I would prefer that, if something must be done, states enact civil unions that allow same-sex couples the legal benefits (for insurance, attorney, tax and similar purposes) of marriage without the name of marriage. Of course they would use the word in casual conversation with friends, and understanding others, and the word partnership or whatever in conversation with those who are more traditional.

    Everyone here should remember, however, that the Danzigs chose to remove themselves from the church. Would they have been excommunicated? Perhaps, but it also seems like they had determined from the outset that they did not wish to reconcile–that this issue was the final straw and if the church would not change they would leave.

    Okay, so if you think the church leaders are wrong, what do you do? Presume that you are in the Danzigs position, but you are absolutely convinced of two things: first that the church is true. That this is the Lord’s work. That this is how things should be going. This is an important stipulation for what I’m asking because I am wanting a geniune discourse on what can be done, not a complaint fest. Second, you are convinced that church leaders are making a decision that is absolutely disastrous. The current policy situation is a good one to use as an example because apparently a number of members feel this way.

    What do you do? I mean, let’s face it–there’s an awful lot of cognitive dissonance there. I have nothing at stake in this, and even I feel it. Why? Because despite what I said earlier about caring more about certain other problems, I do think that when social questions arise they sometimes need to be addressed as they arise.

    So, what do you do? Do you just keep your head down? Do you write the church leaders. Let’s move this to the local level (where I’ve absolutely faced this problem), say you have a problem with your bishop. He makes a decision. You disagree. He claims inspiration, you pray, and feel strongly that it wasn’t so. What do you do? Naturally you go to the Stake President. He sides with the Bishop (generally speaking this is how it will go unless you have strong evidence or expertise). So, you go to the GA’s. They say: Listen to your local leaders. You say: I can’t. They say, but you should. What do you do? If it comes to a choice between your eternal salvation because you don’t have the patience or endurance to put up with a stupid, wrong and stubborn local, regional or even general leader, or putting up with said person until things get better, I think the choice becomes clear. It may be annoying, it may be very difficult, and it may even be extremely lonely, but the question is one of relative worth.

    I’ll shut up now.

  105. Don
    February 26, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    We can all only wonder what would be more important to us than our membership in the Lord’s kingdom. Peter and Mary have found that something for themselves.

    A person with a witness of the truth and a humble heart need not worry about going throught this experience. However, we all need to worry about not forgetting the witness we have and keeping our hearts humble.

    We should keep Peter and Mary in our prayers. May God bless them that their hearts may be softened. God loves them, as he does all of us, and he is patient.

  106. Don
    February 26, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Another thought. It is important to distinguish between members who are disciplined as church employees, and those disciplined as members. Sometimes the lines blur as the one slips into the other. Church employees must be held to a different standard than a church member, as any employer holds their employees to a certain standard of behavior.

  107. adcama
    February 26, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Don – should membership in the Lord’s kindgdom necessarily conflict with 1) one’s own moral sense of right and wrong and 2) one’s first amendment rights (especially when the church asks that members use those rights as they did with this issue) to express themselves on issues of public policy? Sure, one could argue that one’s first amendment rights may be something that members have to lay “on the alter”, but there are consequences to that requirement…..and no PR schpehheel can change that fact.

    If I were a newspaper reporter and was in a position to ask Mitt Romney (or any other political aspiring church member who claims to stand apart from church edict) one question, it would be “if you disagreed with the church’s position on blacks/priesthood, ERA, etc., what were you doing to stand up and fight for what you believed was right.” How could anyone argue independence from church hierarchy if the answer is “well, I didn’t say anything at the time because I was afraid I would have been disciplined.” To extend that further, how can we as members of the church get upset when some accuse us of being conformists and followers? Is this what the church wants?

    The more I look at this, the more I see some fundamental problems. The church wants people to “write to their senators with their personal views regarding…….”, otherwise organize, assemble and become involved in the debate, but then it (formally and informally) disciplines members whose personal views on those public issues differ from the church’s views. Then when there is a presidential candidate involved, the church claims that they do not influence politicians re public policy and that members are free to exercise their national and religious citizenship in perfect harmony. I love the church, but…….

  108. Terry Maz.
    February 26, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    This is perhaps a separate issue, but does anybody note the issues with respect to SSM and the law of chastity?

    I have regularly been a party to discussions with members and others who will actively point to the vow of chastity of some Roman Catholic clergy as a source of social evil – particularly pedophilia. The argument usually runs that 1. if a person has a sexual drive, and 2. if that sexual drive is suppressed, than 3. Sexual deviance / social ills are bound to result.

    I am involved with a legal case covering clergy (and other’s) abuse of children, so I hear this argument as much as I heard it while a missionary or in Utah. I seem to recall this was a tenant of discussion of early church leaders critical of Catholic theology.

    Of course, the solution for early church leaders was to emphasize those sexual appetites and drives could only be contained within the bonds of marriage. The church is stuck in a double bind now if it adheres to this line of reasoning: if 1. people have these natural sexual drives and if 2. they are not allowed to marry, then 3. social ills / deviant behavior will result.

    For the record, I make no claim to the accuracy of the line of reasoning; however, I believe it accurately reflects church teaching.

  109. Don
    February 26, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    adcama – Peter and Mary, and others mentioned in the article, were all church employees. Separating the member/employee issues of free speech are easily glossed over, but are, in the cases at hand, at the crux of the matter. I do not think you mean to say an employer, in this case the church, has no right to discipline employees. Employers do this all the time. You may not agree with it in general, or in specific cases, but it is their right. The employer makes the call, which is, is the publicity the employee is generating worse than the publicity of firing them?

    Regarding church members, you mentioned:
    1) one’s own moral sense of right and wrong
    2) one’s first amendment rights

    conflicting with membership in the Lord’s kindgdom. This will undoubtedly happen. The only question of relevance is how an individual responds to the conflict. Therein lies the difference between a person who remains in the Lord’s kingdom, and those who leave it.

  110. adcama
    February 26, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Are members of the orchestra paid employees of the church? Even if they are, help me understand how being called in by your local bishop is related to formal action by the orchestra or your employer. Yes, the church can fire BYU professors and church employees for stands they take that are in conflict with the organization, but eclestiastical disciplinary action is a completely different story. Furthermore, it sounds like your only resolution to the conflict you discuss is to “repent” and fall in line, or else….that’s the problem.

  111. queuno
    February 26, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Last I checked, Harry Reid isn’t advocating that the members of the Church specifically disregard the counsel of the prophets with regard to SSM. I think the Danzigs’ mistake was to take an anti-leadership advocacy position.

    To give a Bloggernacle example – I’ve seen Kevin Barney espouse positions before that aren’t exactly orthodox, and no one is taking up swords over that, because KB isn’t advocating that people oppose the Church over it.

    (Sorry to single KB out, but that was just one example.)

    It’s not the disagreement, it’s the reaction.

    As far as the original guidance to contact one’s senator, I’ve been saying since then exactly what the Church PR guy said — that the Church just asked for my opinion, not that it match a specific position. At the time, the Church had come out with a separate statement specifically indicating that while they believed an amendment would eventually be needed, that they were not supporting any *particular* piece of legislation…

  112. February 26, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    #107:
    We can all only wonder what would be more important to us than our membership in the Lord’s kingdom. Peter and Mary have found that something for themselves.

    I’m not so sure it’s a matter of finding something “more important than membership in the lord’s kingdom,” Don. If one comes to the conclusion, through information and/or experience, that the organization they’ve participated in is not “the lord’s kingdom,” then membership in that organization may have minimal value.

    A person with a witness of the truth and a humble heart need not worry about going throught this experience. However, we all need to worry about not forgetting the witness we have and keeping our hearts humble.

    I might suggest that a truly humble person would never assume that anyone who becomes troubled by LDS doctrine or practice must be lacking a “humble heart.” To diagnose those who leave the LDS church as prideful is, in itself, a manifestation of pride.

  113. February 26, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    As far as the original guidance to contact one’s senator, I’ve been saying since then exactly what the Church PR guy said — that the Church just asked for my opinion, not that it match a specific position.

    By this logic, a man accused of hiring a hit man to kill his wife should be exonerated after he tells the jury, “Hey, I didn’t tell Johnny Shotgun to kill my wife! I just said it would be really, really nice if she turned up dead!”

    No reasonable person could doubt that the First Presidency wanted members to support the proposed amendment in their letters to U.S. senators. The fact that the FP was careful to issue the actual directive in vague terms simply provides a convenient rationalization for those LDS who conscientously refused to support the amendment. (While I’m no tax lawyer, I really suspect the wording had something to do with protecting tax-exempt status, but I’m just one of those suspicious ex-LDS types.)

    At the time, the Church had come out with a separate statement specifically indicating that while they believed an amendment would eventually be needed, that they were not supporting any *particular* piece of legislation…

    Queuno, the statement you refer to predated the twice-read FP call to action considerably. The reasonable conclusion is that the letter urging LDS members to write to their senators superseded the statement you refer to.

  114. adcama
    February 26, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Queno, note the (hypothetically) in my comment referring to Harry Reid.

  115. Kari
    February 26, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    You can always count on a post about homosexuality to become polarizing. :)

    I have read a few comments that have encouraged the state to remove itself altogether from defining marriage. I am not sure I believe this sentiment, and would like to ask a couple of questions. I have no data to support any specific answers, so if anyone does, I would appreciate a reference to that data.

    It seems to me that the state does have an obligation to itself and the members thereof to promote social stability. Doesn’t that self-interest require that the state does what it can to support stable homes and families of some sort? Don’t we know (or studies suggest) that two parent homes provide more stability and opportunity for children? Don’t we also know that there are advantages to having a stay-at-home parent? Don’t the current benefits of having stable relationships (civil unions/marriages) encourage these relationships?

    If the state were to divorce itself from having any role in defining marriage, wouldn’t that be against its self-interest? Would it result in a higher rate of single family homes or absentee parents? Would it possibly cause the abortion rate to increase? Would juvenile delinquency increase?

    Again, I don’t know the answers, just wondering aloud.

  116. Clark
    February 26, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    It seems to me that the state does have an obligation to itself and the members thereof to promote social stability.

    I agree – but there is then the issue of Church/State separation.

    For some there is also the question of whether social engineering by the State is appropriate even if it did increase social stability.

  117. anactuallesbian
    February 26, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    and, Clark, for some there is the issue of whether the state is necessarily *already* engaged in so called “social engineering” insofar as it excludes same-sex couples from the legal benefits and responsibilities that are available heterosexual couples. Funny how those who use the phrase “social engineering” so rarely seem to see that side of the coin…

  118. February 26, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Argh! Cases like this make me so tense. The Church’s position — Honest disagreements are not the same as public advocacy of positions contrary to those of the Church — seems reasonable at first, but it raises several questions for me. For example, where does personal advocacy end and public advocacy begin?

    More important though, what happens if the Church violates its end of the contract? For that is what it is, a sort of quasi, unspoken contract between institution and member, essentially saying: “We (the institution) won’t bother you if you privately disagree, but we’ll be forced to take action if you publicly disagree.”

    Fine. I don’t like it, but I recognize the Church’s right to define doctrine as well as boundaries for discourse. But to me, the Church crosses the line when it moves out of the spiritual/doctrinal realm and into the political realm, which is what they clearly did in the late 90s in California with the “Preserving Traditional Marriage” campaign. They framed it as a “moral issue” and not a “political issue,” but these are just word games. Not to mention an incredibly slippery slope, as most political issues could just as easily be framed as moral issues.

    So if a visiting General Authority gave a talk in my Church about the sanctity of marriage and the abomination of homosexuality, I would bite my tongue and sit in agitated silence. But today, if the Church engaged in another political campaign (for example, see comment #7) a la the late 90s… I don’t know, but it feels like a violation of the unspoken contract… it feels like Joseph destroying the printing press, an abuse of authority. In the latter case, it was a violation of the freedom of speech, or freedom of the press; in the former case, it is a violation of the Church’s stated commitment to political neutrality.

    If such a public “Preserving Traditional Marriage”campaign were to happen again today, I could not remain silent.

  119. Don
    February 26, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    If one comes to the conclusion, through information and/or experience, that the organization they’ve participated in is not “the lord’s kingdom,” then membership in that organization may have minimal value.
    Quite so! Leaving the church would make the most sense under those conditions. :-)

    I might suggest that a truly humble person would never assume that anyone who becomes troubled by LDS doctrine or practice must be lacking a “humble heart.” To diagnose those who leave the LDS church as prideful is, in itself, a manifestation of pride.
    Hmmmm…then I guess someone who suggests that someone who diagnoses others as prideful, for diagnosing others as being prideful, is also prideful. And so on, and so on… :-) President Benson was right when he said that pride is a universal sin, so you may be onto something! However, I don’t think I said what you think I said. :-)

  120. Peter Brown
    February 26, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    “Of course, the solution for early church leaders was to emphasize those sexual appetites and drives could only be contained within the bonds of marriage. The church is stuck in a double bind now if it adheres to this line of reasoning: if 1. people have these natural sexual drives and if 2. they are not allowed to marry, then 3. social ills / deviant behavior will result.”

    My friends over at northstarlds.org are trying to sidestep number 3
    (edit: link fixed)

  121. Ricercar
    February 26, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    Sorry Peter, the link didn’t work. Please re-post.

    In this part of the world there is a dedicated group of counselors working to help men specifically come out and come to terms with their sexuality and (in many cases) experiences of abuse. It is pretty compelling especially because I have always overlooked the challenges faced by men with respect to their sexuality. That being said, I want to emphasize that I really don’t know if #3 is an inevitability, for the sake of those who remain faithful to the church’s policy I hope not.

  122. John Nilsson
    February 27, 2008 at 10:13 am

    I have a Norman Rockwell picture on my wall which depicts a kaleidoscope of the human race with the inscription: “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.” I think the source of this statement should give us pause when we evaluate any teaching or practice which purports to be from God.

  123. February 27, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Clay Whipkey asks, “If it is a cultural thing, is there a reasonable basis for a member to perceive that voting to oppose same sex marriage is considered equal to choosing good over evil, in an LDS perspective?”

    I think quite often faithful LDS people first consider “what would the church have me do?” when any issues arise (similar to the “What Would Jesus Do?” promoted by other churches), whether the issue is political, calling-related, family-related, or personal. I think this is probably the first consideration that goes through their minds.

    You get asked to be PTA president, and clearly nobody else would be as good at it as you. What would the church have you do? You’re already primary president and that takes up a ton of your time. Would the Lord want you to spend your limited time on church activities or outside activities?

    You are at a Christmas party and your boss from work starts swearing while telling a funny joke. What would the church have you do? Do you ask them to please stop swearing near you? Do you leave the party since the Holy Spirit can’t be with you in such a setting?

    You want to vote for a certain Republican candidate, but you find out that they support abortion rights. This goes against what you personally feel and also what you know the church would have you do. Do you vote for them?

    Your son tells you he’s gay. Oh no! What would the church want you to say to him? How can you get God to “fix” this?? Will telling him he is the reason God put AIDS on the earth (as my high priest father did my brother) help him see the light and help him “choose” to not be gay? Are you going to be able to look at it beyond what you’ve learned in church (love the “sinner” but not the “sin”)? Are you going to be able to look your child in the eyes and tell him that he shouldn’t seek love or companionship, that God will help him to endure this trial? Think about those feelings you felt when you fell in love with your true love ~ the love, desire, companionship, respect, admiration, the feelings of wanting to be a better person and share everything with that person ~ can you really look your gay child or sister or brother or parent or friend in the eye and tell them they should not have this in their lives?

    Your friend at church chooses to say aloud that he feels it’s wrong for someone at BYU to lose his job because he disagreed openly with the church’s treatment of the gay issue. Do you consider first what the church would have you think, or do you consider the feelings and position of your friend you love? Do you admonish him to not make waves for the church? Do you tell him he needs to think first what the church would have him do and to act accordingly? Do you step away from him and begin praying earnestly that he’ll seek repentance and humility, thereby showing God that you are faithful and true to the church that you belong to?

  124. John Nilsson
    February 27, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Sister Mary Lisa,

    Amen.

  125. dpc
    February 27, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    I think quite often faithful LDS people first consider “what would the church have me do?” when any issues arise (similar to the “What Would Jesus Do?” promoted by other churches), whether the issue is political, calling-related, family-related, or personal. I think this is probably the first consideration that goes through their minds.

    SML: I don’t think this is descriptive of most people who belong to the Mormon church. Most people, as self-interested rational beings, ask, “What’s in it for me?” or “How is this going to affect me or my family?” Other, less selfish people ask “What’s the right thing to do?”

    For myself, to be totally honest, I could give a rat’s ass about what the church would have me do. It doesn’t factor into my thinking. The teachings of the church may influence some of my behaviors to a certain extent, but beyond that it’s pretty much a non-factor.

  126. February 27, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    You are rare indeed, dpc.

    I think the mindset of worrying what the church would have me do is prevalent within church culture today, and is the first thing that goes through their minds when an issue arises. Probably equal to that thought are the thoughts, “What will my friends at church think?” or “What will my bishop think of me/my children/my spouse if/when he finds out (whatever it is)?” (which could be perceived as being synonymous with your “what’s in it for me?” and “how is this going to affect me?” self-interested questions).

    And in this instance of the Danzigs, they did exibit the less selfish, “What’s the right thing to do?” and look at where it got them. And many people posting on this topic are judging them as needing to repent and return to the fold. How sad.

  127. dpc
    February 27, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    And in this instance of the Danzigs, they did exibit the less selfish, “What’s the right thing to do?” and look at where it got them.

    I think it’s highly arguable that they did the “right” thing. I don’t share your rosy view of their actions. It all depends on your point of view.

    Worrying about how people react could also be deciding what the right thing to do is. I may be sitting at home, eating popcorn and then think “What would my wife think if I didn’t do the dishes like I promised I would?” Doing the right thing doesn’t necessarily mean that you ignore the feelings or wishes of others.

  128. Jeff Spector
    February 27, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I suspect there are robots in the church who would do whatever they thought the church asked them to do. But, there are a lot of misnomers within the church community about what the church “requires” of them versus the exercise of their own conscience.

    I always couch it in these terms, “If the prophet told you to jump off the roof, would you do it?”

    I am in agreement with dpc. Sister ML makes the assumption that the church would require someone to do something that was not “right.”

  129. NM Tony
    February 27, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    “Sister ML makes the assumption that the church would require someone to do something that was not “right.””

    It sounds like you may be assuming that the church always does the right thing, which would seem to indicate some sort of perfection. Like dpc stated, it is all a matter of perspective as to what one thinks is right or wrong. The Danzigs made their choice with the idea of doing what was right and appeasing to their conscience. This all goes back to the subjectivity of morality.

  130. Jeff Spector
    February 27, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    It’s obvious that I trust the church more than you do. But, I trust myself more than that.

    “The Danzigs made their choice with the idea of doing what was right and appeasing to their conscience. This all goes back to the subjectivity of morality.”

    It’s hard to judge given that Peter Danzig got all bent out of shape about the firing of someone who wasn’t, in fact, fired. So, I suppose the lesson is, get the facts straight before you fall on your sword.

    Of course, the whole incident really had nothing to do with Nielsen not getting his contract renewed.

  131. February 27, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    In this instance, Jeff, I do maintain that the church expected the Danzigs to do something they considered “not right” according to their moral code. Their own moral compass and viewpoints expressed did not harm others, which to me is a deciding factor on whether or not their actions were moral or not.

    I can’t say the church’s actions toward gay people and the church’s actions toward the Danzigs are moral.

    NM Tony is right: this all goes back to the subjectivity of morality.

  132. Jeff Spector
    February 27, 2008 at 3:06 pm

    Sister ML,

    “Their own moral compass and viewpoints expressed did not harm others”

    Just how do you know this? I would maintain that you have no way of knowing whether their actions harmed anyone or not.

    “I can’t say the church’s actions toward gay people…are moral”

    What exactly are the Church’s actions toward gay people?

    Is it this:

    “As President Hinckley said: “Our hearts reach out to those who struggle with feelings of affinity for the same gender. We remember you before the Lord, we sympathize with you, we regard you as our brothers and sisters” (“Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 99)”

    How is that not moral?

  133. February 27, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Jeff, that may well be an ideal stated by Hinckley (and he made similar statements even more recently), but it is not an ideal that has been realized. To say that those words accurately represent the LDS church’s “actions toward gay people,” is much like saying that the First Presidency never asked LDS members to either support or oppose the proposed constitutional amendment.

  134. adcama
    February 27, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    “What exactly are the Church’s actions toward gay people?”

    For starters, generally marshalling support (rhetoric & “doctrine”) for a constitutional amendment that would likely hurt/discriminate against gay people. Or, by way of a letter read in sacrament meeting wherein church facilities/members were used to advocate this position in the name of God. Or, excommunicating gay members who decide to have a loving, committed relationship. Or, disciplining (formally or informally) those, who as a matter of conscience publicly disagree with a public policy position taken by the church, as it relates to SSM. Or giving millions of dollars to “like minded” advocacy groups that are fighting against SSM. Or, under the auspices of divine mandate and the protection of families, encourage members in church (Elder’s Quorum, etc) to be foot soldiers in support of prop 22.

    The general outline that serves as basis of my own morality is that of the golden rule. When chosing what position to take, I look to the Savior who, to the chagrin of the Pharisees and Sadducees, broke bread with sinners and did not condemn the woman taken in adultery. I’m having a hard time accepting the chain of events here as Christlike/golden rule-like…..and thus I would agree with SML.

  135. February 27, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    The church putting money into and lobbying in support of restricting the rights of gay citizens outside of the church membership (as with Proposition 22 in California for example) is harmful toward them on a very basic level. Church leaders teaching children and members that being attracted to someone of the same sex is a vile sin is harmful to gays on a very basic level. Teaching gays that acting on feelings they feel is a vile sin (which are exactly the same feelings my bishop has for his wife, and exactly the same feelings a prophet has for his wife, and exactly the feelings you have for your spouse) is harmful, not only to gays but also to their heterosexual family members and friends who learn a certain judgemental attitude from this toward gays that harms. Electric shock therapy methods employed at BYU in an attempt to “cure” gay people of being gay was harmful.

    You may perceive the “harm” that gay people feel on a very basic level from the teachings the church espouses as simply their conscience telling them what they feel is wrong, and they should listen to this and repent. I disagree. I think it is completely wrong to treat people who are gay as any different from me or you. As I suspect Christ would if he were here to show us firsthand.

  136. Jeff Spector
    February 27, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Nick,

    “that may well be an ideal stated by Hinckley (and he made similar statements even more recently), but it is not an ideal that has been realized.

    Gee, Nick, what is happening in the church that I don’t know about? Has there been gaybashing? Percutions? gay witchhunts in the pews? What exactly is going on in the church that does not reflect President Hinckley’s words?

    Or, is it just that the church will not do it your way?

  137. Jeff Spector
    February 27, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Let’s tackle this one issue at a time, even though this is a fruitless effort because we do not see eye to eye on any of this:

    “For starters, generally Marshalling support (rhetoric & “doctrine”) for a constitutional amendment that would likely hurt/discriminate against gay people. ”

    The church is in line with a majority of Americans on this issue. The church can ask its members to do anything. it is the members who decide. If they are like the majority of Americans, they would probably agree.

    “Or, by way of a letter read in sacrament meeting wherein church facilities/members were used to advocate this position in the name of God.”

    The church has always maintained it will speak out on matters of a moral nature. This is one of those.

    “Or, excommunicating gay members who decide to have a loving, committed relationship.”

    Do they really excommunicate them? Or do most resign their membership? Is this any different than a heterosexual couple not married? We have sister in the ward who lives with a female companion. Nothing has been done to her.

    “Or, disciplining (formally or informally) those, who as a matter of conscience publicly disagree with a public policy position taken by the church, as it relates to SSM.”

    Where did this happen?

    “Or giving millions of dollars to “like minded” advocacy groups that are fighting against SSM. Or, under the auspices of divine mandate and the protection of families, encourage members in church (Elder’s Quorum, etc) to be foot soldiers in support of prop 22.”

    See my answer above. Were you just as upset when the church campaigned against MX missiles in Utah? Or are you against their position against violence toward women and children? or Pornography? or gambling?

  138. adcama
    February 27, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    “The church is in line with a majority of Americans on this issue. The church can ask its members to do anything. it is the members who decide. If they are like the majority of Americans, they would probably agree.”

    This may be true, but how does it justify their position as moral?

    “The church has always maintained it will speak out on matters of a moral nature. This is one of those.”

    Any political or public policy issue can be defined as of a moral nature….it’s a slippery slope and if left unchecked will run afoul of the exemptions given 501(c)3 corporations. While the church’s reasoning may be sincere, this position can also be viewed as the squishy PR window dressing placed on lds.org in order for a religious institution to enter the political fray.

    “Where did this happen?” Jeffrey Nielsen was released as a SS teacher and his contract at BYU was not renewed. Danzig lost his temple recommend as a result of his stand.

    Were you just as upset when the church campaigned against MX missiles in Utah? Or are you against their position against violence toward women and children? or Pornography? or gambling?

    Nope. MX missles issue did not aim to deny basic rights to any one person or group. The violence against women and children example (while the way you used it is silly) aimed to protect those who could not protect themselves (see my golden rule/Christian rule comment above) – that’s what the Savior would have done. Pornography? Last I heard, the church did not support a amendment to the constitution limitiing porn.

  139. John M.
    February 27, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Does anyone ever forsee the Church changing its stance on this issue, like extending priesthood blessing to all worthy members in 1978? I personally don’t see it ever happening. This goes to the very core of Church doctrine and teachings. The Church teaches that the family is the fundamental unit in society and eternity. The family is defined by the Church as marriage between a man and a woman. I beleive that most members see “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” as doctrine. I have also read that the restriction of the priesthood was never really doctrine, but more of a policy. Any thoughts or insights would be appreciated.

  140. Jeff Spector
    February 27, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    “Where did this happen?” Jeffrey Nielsen was released as a SS teacher and his contract at BYU was not renewed. Danzig lost his temple recommend as a result of his stand.”

    Danzig did not lose his temple recommend over his position on SSM. He lost it over his public temper tantrum on a firing that never took place and his continued public discourse.

    “Nope. MX missiles issue did not aim to deny basic rights to any one person or group.”

    SSM is not a basic right. And MX missiles would definitely affected an entire group of people. Get real there.

  141. February 27, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Gee, Nick, what is happening in the church that I don’t know about? Has there been gaybashing? Percutions? . . . Or, is it just that the church will not do it your way?

    Jeff, I don’t expect the LDS church to “do it my way.” On the other hand, yes, the LDS church does actively persecute homosexuals. They simply don’t call it that, because they believe they’re acting in the name of deity and are “right” to do what they do.

    By way of illustration, I am currently reading the transcripts of the Reed Smoot hearings. I have no doubt that the “prosecutors” believed they were defending their country and their religion against the “Mormon menace” with their intrusive, persistent, accustory questioning that had little to do with Reed Smoot’s fitness to serve in the Senate. However, it is quite clear to me that they were engaging in active persecution of the LDS church. They turned the hearings into an attempt to “expose” the LDS church as a nefarious threat to humanity. While LDS witnesses were not always completely forthcoming in the hearings, I can hardly blame them when they were under such an unrelenting attack. I know for a fact that LDS leaders felt that they and their church were being persecuted, regardless of what the “prosecutors” would call it.

    Were LDS members living in Idaho being “persecuted” when state law required adults to swear to an oath that they did not believe in plural marriage (let alone practice it) before allowing them to vote? YES. Were LDS members being “persecuted” when the federal government passed laws against plural marriage which only applied in territories of the United States (because Utah wasn’t yet a state, and that’s where most of the Mormons were)? YES. You know, just as well as I do, that LDS members absolutely would have maintained they were being persecuted.

    When someone seeks to pass legislation, let alone a constitutional amendment, for the purpose of denying me specific rights based on my sexual orientation, they persecute me. Any effort on your part to argue otherwise is a mere semantic game, ultimately based on your conviction that your religion is right, and, therefore, you need to make the world conform to it in order to please your deity.

    The [LDS] church is in line with a majority of Americans on this issue. The church can ask its members to do anything. it is the members who decide. If they are like the majority of Americans, they would probably agree.

    This simply isn’t a complete picture, Jeff. The most recent Gallup polls on the subject (you can find this at http://www.gallup.com/poll/1651/Homosexual-Relations.aspx) indicate that 57% of Americans believe homosexual relationships should be considered “an acceptable alternative lifestyle.” 46% (compared to 50%) believe gays should be able to adopt children. When it comes to recognized gay marriage, only 53% of Americans oppose it, and that number has been dropping each year for over a decade. Is that “the majority?” Well, for now it may be a slight majority, but it will soon be the minority.

    The [LDS] church has always maintained it will speak out on matters of a moral nature. This is one of those.

    To the contrary, the LDS church has taught that sex outside of marriage is wrong, and for that reason homosexual activity is wrong. The LDS church has not taught that it is immoral for a person to marry another person of the same sex. I know of a case where this has happened, and the LDS church has completely backed away from taking action. Perhaps this is because they simply don’t know what to do. Perhaps it’s because they know it would cause bad publicity. Perhaps it’s because if they excommunicate this man for marrying another man, it will give the obvious lie to the “because it’s sex outside of marriage” rationale, and appear to be the bigotry it really is.

    Is this any different than a heterosexual couple not married?

    Absolutely, considering that the heterosexual couple has the opportunity to get married, and thus is justly accountable for not doing so.

  142. February 27, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Does anyone ever forsee the Church changing its stance on this issue, like extending priesthood blessing to all worthy members in 1978? I personally don’t see it ever happening.

    John, unlike some, I really haven’t much concern over whether the LDS church continues to teach that homosexual relationships are wrong. To that extent, it makes no difference in my life. Rather, I object to the LDS church spending hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in an effort to impose that doctrine on non-LDS citizens of the United States, via legislation. I say the LDS church should teach whatever it likes, but leave non-LDS alone to live as they choose.

    Besides, if LDS leaders think that preventing marriage equality will somehow prevent homosexual activity, they are not just mistaken, but laughably foolish.

  143. George Jackson
    February 27, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    “On the other hand, yes, the LDS church does actively persecute homosexuals.”

    So Nick, I just want to understand where you are coming from. Are you a homosexual?

    “To the contrary, the LDS church has taught that sex outside of marriage is wrong, and for that reason homosexual activity is wrong. The LDS church has not taught that it is immoral for a person to marry another person of the same sex.”

    That’s a pretty heavy statement Nick. As far as I know, that is 100% incorrect, and I’ll bet that you could not get one general authority to back you up on that claim.

  144. Kent
    February 27, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    I think it is important for everyone to remember not to feed the trolls.

  145. February 27, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    George, my sexual orientation doesn’t have much at all to do with whether or not the LDS church actively persecutes homosexuals. Are you asking merely for the purpose of assigning a label, which will conveniently allow you to dismiss my comments out of hand? If so, at least be honest about it.

    That’s a pretty heavy statement Nick. As far as I know, that is 100% incorrect, and I’ll bet that you could not get one general authority to back you up on that claim.

    Hmmm…Well, I said two things there:
    (1) the LDS church has taught that sex outside of marriage is wrong, and for that reason homosexual activity is wrong.

    Are you seriously saying that this is not the case, George? It’s been the standard explanation for many, many years.

    (2) The LDS church has not taught that it is immoral for a person to marry another person of the same sex.

    I don’t think you can find a single general authority statement saying that it is immoral for a person to marry another person of the same sex. Note, of course, that this is NOT the same as saying that general authorities said it was OKAY to marry another person of the same sex. Perhaps you were careless, and thought I was saying the latter?

  146. February 27, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    I think it is important for everyone to remember not to feed the trolls.

    Kent, I don’t think George is a troll. I think he’s basically sincere in his comments. Just because someone says something I don’t agree with, doesn’t mean they’re a troll.

  147. adcama
    February 27, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    “Danzig did not lose his temple recommend over his position on SSM. He lost it over his public temper tantrum on a firing that never took place and his continued public discourse.”

    Jeff, read Danzig’s description of what happened again:

    “…..I was told that it appeared that I had only been studying the issue from the scientific side (despite the fact that I frequently cited the words of the prophets and scriptures on this issue during our conversation) and was asked as an assignment to study the scriptures and words of the prophets on homosexuality and meet with him the next week. I was also informed that I would not pass a temple recommend interview with my views as they stood.”

    He continues…..

    “…..at this meeting I was informed that I needed to agree with some of the specifics of Elder Dallin H. Oaks talk “Same-Gender Attraction” given in 1995: Specifically that Homosexual orientation was not innate and that it was reversible. I informed my Bishop that this was not true in the experience of many individuals and that as such I could not support it. He informed me that he would need to turn the matter over to the Stake President and indicated that if I did not learn to moderate my views I would likely face a disciplinary court for acts of apostasy.”

    I’m sorry, maybe I missed this….did the church read a letter in sacrament meeting, donate money to like minded individuals, press for a constitutional amendment, etc., on the MX missile issue in a way that would have interfered with the rights of anyone (besides some seeking better financials)? I’m not sure it’s such a good comparison.

    Jeff, sorry for calling your last comparison silly…..no offense intended.

  148. George Jackson
    February 27, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    So then, why is the Church taking such a “moral” stand against Homosexual marriage Nick? If it isn’t a moral issue to them, then why did they just spend 600 grand fighting it in Hawaii?
    If it isn’t immoral to them, why should they care?

    “George, my sexual orientation doesn’t have much at all to do with whether or not the LDS church actively persecutes homosexuals. Are you asking merely for the purpose of assigning a label, which will conveniently allow you to dismiss my comments out of hand? If so, at least be honest about it.”

    I was seriously curious to know if that’s your orientation. If you don’t want to say so, then so be it. I like to know what people’s background is that I’m dealing with. I know basically who you are going back to your LDS Temple Endowment page that was awesome back in the day, and I would just find it surprising if you happened to be a homosexual, because I didn’t picture you as one. If you don’t care to reveal whether you are or not, thats your business. You just seem to be taking the stance of an advocate for it, and that either means you are just an advocate, or that means you are a homosexual. Whatever. If you don’t want to say so, then don’t.

  149. February 27, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    George, you may be the only person in the bloggernacle who doesn’t know I’m gay. :-)

  150. George Jackson
    February 27, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Well, I’m relatively new around here you know.

  151. John Nilsson
    February 27, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    John M,.

    I admit I have a hard time seeing the Church receive a 1978 type revelation on gays, but the race issue was at the core of Church teachings for a long time (not just blacks, but tribes and blood changing upon baptism and status in the hereafter).And it has almost entirely dropped off of our radar screen, to be replaced by gender issues and family dynamics. Those in turn can be replaced by a new emphasis, which I admit remains hard to see now.

  152. George Jackson
    February 27, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Which brings up another question for you Nick. Why did you take down your page, and since you have withdrawn from the Church, why not put it back up?

  153. John M.
    February 27, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Does anyone think that the Church’s opposition to gay marriage may have its roots in the 1890’s when they had to abandon polygamy in order for Utah to become a state? Could the Church be afraid that legislation allowing gay marriage may lead to the Church being forced to recognize such marriages as legal and lawful? Does the Church see something coming, base on international experience? For example, the Church, LDS Family Services to be precise, no longer participates in adoptions in the UK because they can not discriminate against homosexuals.

  154. George Jackson
    February 27, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    RE:155

    Yeah, because recognizing them as legal and lawful means that the next step is government intervention to force the Church to give them full membership when it is a moral issue to them. This is a far more serious issue than plural marriage ever was in the grand scheme, because this may well be something that the Lord simply will not allow the Church to capitulate to the government on. If that happens, we are in real trouble and in for a real rough ride.

  155. Kari
    February 27, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Jeff said this a couple of posts back:

    It’s hard to judge given that Peter Danzig got all bent out of shape about the firing of someone who wasn’t, in fact, fired. So, I suppose the lesson is, get the facts straight before you fall on your sword.

    I will freely admit that I don’t know all the details with surrounding the issues of Jeff Nielsen, but it seems to me that saying he was not fired is a bit duplicitous. From a google search, here is a quote from a letter to him telling him he was not going to be rehired.

    In accordance with the order of the church, we do not consider it our responsibility to correct, contradict or dismiss official pronouncements of the church. … Since you have chosen to contradict and oppose the church in an area of great concern to church leaders, and to do so in a public forum, we will not rehire you after the current term is over.

    The implication of the letter is that he would have been re-hired if it wasn’t for his speaking out. So how is this not getting canned/sacked/let-go/fired? Both the SLTrib and DN used the word “fired” in their stories about him, as does almost every blog that google presents (both pro and anti-LDS). So what that he wasn’t fired before his contract was renewed? I view that being told you are not being re-hired because of your actions as synonymous with being fired.

    It feels to me that Jeff has learned how to parse language from the church’s PR department (or a lawyer). :)

  156. Kari
    February 27, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Oh c’mon George (#156), the government can’t force membership in any church. If SSM is recognized by the state, it will not force the church to give same-sex couple full membership. The government doesn’t allow discrimination based upon sexual orientation (or adultery or masturbation), but the church can ex-communicate members for any type of sexual activity it deems immoral. I can think of tons of other examples. Religions get to set their own standards for membership.

  157. George Jackson
    February 27, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    “Oh c’mon George (#156), the government can’t force membership in any church. If SSM is recognized by the state, it will not force the church to give same-sex couple full membership.”

    You don’t think so? Look at Canada. They are silencing the clergy by throwing them in jail who speak out against it or teach from the bible against it. Its only a matter of time when the homosexual lobby gets enough power to sway washington against religion, and they pass laws that the Church simply will not abide by. And then the great persecution will begin as prophesied by Heber C. Kimball. I predict, since I can’t prophesy, that this very issue will be at the core of the great persecution to come, where the saints will not know what to do, and they will be tested to the very core.

    “”After a while the Gentiles will gather to this place by the thousands, and Salt Lake will be classified among the wicked cities of the world. A spirit of speculation and extravagance will take possession of the Saints, and the result will be financial bondage.”

    “Persecution comes next, and all true Latter-day Saints will be tested to the limit. Many will apostatize, and others will stand still, not knowing what to do. ‘Darkness will cover the earth and gross darkness the minds of the people.’”

    “Yes, we think we are secure here in the chambers of the everlasting hills, where we can cloes those few doors of the canyons against mobs and persecutors, the wicked and the vile, who have always beset us with violence and robbery, but I want to say to you, my brethren, the time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to the extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy to the people of God. Then, brethren, look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall; for I say unto you there is a TEST, a TEST, a TEST coming, and who will be able to stand?”

    http://www.xmission.com/~blwalt/Prophecies/HeberCKimballSister.html

  158. Ricercar
    February 27, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    WHAT!!!???

    George (at #159) stated the following: “Look at Canada. They are silencing the clergy by throwing them in jail who speak out against it or teach from the bible against it. Its only a matter of time when the homosexual lobby gets enough power to sway washington against religion, and they pass laws that the Church simply will not abide by.”

    I can’t claim knowledge of what the future contains; however, I do have some knowledge of the Same-sex Marriage debate. I was in the court house when Nova Scotia expanded the ‘Common-law’ definition and I have followed the subsequent developments. In short, George, you are wrong. There are not people thrown in jail for preaching against homosexuality. However, just like you can’t yell fire in a crowded hall, there are limited to the enshrined rights of speech and religion. The limit is promoting hatred for a particular group. Implicit in the definition of the term ‘hate’ is a continuum from hate propaganda, to discrimination, to physical violence in the worst case scenario. Furthermore, hate-crime law does not apply in cases where the statements made are proved to be true or in cases where they are expressed in good faith or in an attempt to voice an opinion on a religious subject.

    If I would venture an opinion, I would suggest that the church’s period of great tribulation was post 1860 to 1890 Utah. The Principle was threatened and the church caved on the principle by which it defined itself to God and the rest of the world. The church failed that test.

    Please note that the Crown, despite its readiness to try and jail anyone anywhere, does not prosecute polygamist communities in BC because of the unique protections afforded to religion in Canada.

  159. February 27, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    #54:
    Which brings up another question for you Nick. Why did you take down your page, and since you have withdrawn from the Church, why not put it back up?

    George, in 2001-2, I was employed as a security guard at the Nauvoo Temple (both during and after construction). When I was first hired, an employment investigation nearly cost my job, when it was found that the Office of the First Presidency had twice asked me to make changes on my page (once via my bishop, once via my stake president). In the first case, I immediately made the change. In the second, I had actually made the change before my stake president mentioned it to me. In both cases, I made it clear that if anyone in authority asked that the site be taken down entirely, it would be gone immediately. In both cases, I was assured that the site was quite favored, and that I did not need to remove it entirely.

    Unfortunately, the employee investigator didn’t see the outcome, and assumed I was keeping the site up in defiance to the First Presidency. I was called in and very nearly terminated, until I explained the story. I was cleared of any and all such suspicions, and kept my job. In fact, I was told that on that very day, the Quorum of the Twelve viewed a presentation regarding the Internet, and my website was used as an example. I was told that they really liked the site, but during the same meeting, they approved creation of a “temples” section on lds.org. Therefore, I was asked, by direction of the Quorum of the Twelve, to take my site down in deference to the official site being launched. At their request, I kept my page for about a month as strictly a pointer to the official site, and then took mine down entirely.

    Why don’t I repost it? First, I honestly don’t feel inclined to promote the subject matter anymore. Second, keeping the site current relied heavily on assistance from LDS members throughout the world, many of whom would understandably be less willing to help, now that I am no longer LDS. Third, I really don’t have much of the material anymore. FWIW, I think much of it has been cached elsewhere on the Internet.

  160. February 27, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    George (#159) shared Heber C. Kimball’s words, ““Yes, we think we are secure here in the chambers of the everlasting hills, where we can cloes those few doors of the canyons against mobs and persecutors, the wicked and the vile, who have always beset us with violence and robbery…”

    I sincerely hope you’re not saying gay couples who are married are “wicked and vile” or violent. Supporters of equality for gays are hardly mobs and persecutors, or wicked and vile. I’m just trying to decide who exactly in this debate you are directing this “prophecy” toward.

  161. February 27, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    #155:
    For example, the Church, LDS Family Services to be precise, no longer participates in adoptions in the UK because they can not discriminate against homosexuals.

    While I’m not a British lawyer, I can tell you that this sort of thing would only happen in the United States if LDS Family Services was relying on government funding to carry out its adoption work. Otherwise, the government has no say in the matter.

    #156:
    Yeah, because recognizing them as legal and lawful means that the next step is government intervention to force the Church to give them full membership when it is a moral issue to them.

    Again, such a thing would never pass Constitutional muster. Not so very long ago, the LDS church withheld priesthood from persons of African descent, while the federal government had passed civil rights legislation to prevent racial discrimination. Did you see federal troops rushing on to “force” the LDS church to give the priesthood to persons African descent? No. Honestly, George, this is a scare tactic used for political gain, primarily in order to drive republican voters to get out and vote in major elections.

  162. February 27, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    #159:
    Look at Canada. They are silencing the clergy by throwing them in jail who speak out against it or teach from the bible against it.

    George, can you point to even one specific case where this has happened? The only case I know of wasn’t in Canada, and in fact involved a clergyman actually advocating the commission of violent crimes against homosexuals–a very different matter.

    By the way, don’t you notice that your “prophetic” quotation points to consumerism on the part of the LDS members as a precursor to persecution, rather than pointing to “those damn gays?”

  163. adcama
    February 27, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    George, you’re use of the HCK quote seems out of harmony with the church’s recently prescribed method for approaching doctrine:

    http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/approaching-mormon-doctrine

    Specifically:

    “Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.”

  164. Peter Brown
    February 27, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Are we still on this topic? Have we changed the world yet? Perhaps someone can do a post specifically on the current state of interia with respect to SSM, since this post has gone every which way but north.

  165. Guy Noir, Private Eye
    February 27, 2008 at 8:19 pm

    There clearly are too many distractions in Mormonism/MoCulture already;
    What is Obviously needed is MORE FOCUS on the Core Essentials of Christian living/practice: Love for God & neighbor; Kindness, Charity, Mercy-Compassion, etc.

  166. George Jackson
    February 27, 2008 at 8:31 pm

    “George, you’re use of the HCK quote seems out of harmony with the church’s recently prescribed method for approaching doctrine”

    I approach doctrine this way: (1) Does the spirit say its true, (2) does the spirit say its true, and (3) does the spirit say its true. Nobody said it was officially binding. I quoted it because I believe its true. Joseph Smiths King Follet Discourses is not binding, but I believe its true with the exception of the baby resurrection doctrine, that babies never grow after resurrection. I don’t believe in Joseph Smith’s moonmen doctrine, that they are dressed like quakers. I don’t believe in Joseph Smith’s doctrine that the Ten Tribes are on another planet either. I believe something when it feels true. If you don’t believe its true, then whatever. and it doesnt’ matter to me I guess.

  167. George Jackson
    February 27, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    RE: “The limit is promoting hatred for a particular group. Implicit in the definition of the term ‘hate’ is a continuum from hate propaganda, to discrimination, to physical violence in the worst case scenario. Furthermore, hate-crime law does not apply in cases where the statements made are proved to be true or in cases where they are expressed in good faith or in an attempt to voice an opinion on a religious subject.”

    I may not have all my facts straight but it is certainly going that way.

    “Swedish Pastor Sentenced to Month in Prison for Preaching Against Homosexuality”
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2004/jul/04070505.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_C-250
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2004/apr/04042901.html

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_hat6.htm

    http://mensnewsdaily.com/archive/yz/z-misc/zieve/2004/zieve122104.htm

    RE: “I sincerely hope you’re not saying gay couples who are married are “wicked and vile” or violent. Supporters of equality for gays are hardly mobs and persecutors, or wicked and vile. I’m just trying to decide who exactly in this debate you are directing this “prophecy” toward.”

    I’m directing it toward the militant homosexuals that want to use the law to silence opposition from religious groups, such as trying to force the boy scouts to let homos in, etc. Eventually they will seek to force the Church to do what they want through the force of law, and have the Church’s stance on homo-ism outlawed.

  168. George Jackson
    February 27, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    RE: “rather than pointing to “those damn gays?””

    I never used the word “damn” when referring to gays.
    Furthermore, I am not against homosexuals. I’m against militant homosexuals just as I’m against militant Islam, militant enviro wackjobs, militant liberal communists. I’m not against any particular group. Only militant ones.

    If you guys want to go do your thing in your own private sanctum, that is your business. I don’t agree with it, and I think its repulsive. I don’t care about it. I’m against the movement to destroy everything that we hold dear among your militant brethren.

  169. Nate S.
    February 27, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    The question of dissent and the proper way to disagree with leaders (if it’s even at all proper) are great questions.

    When that letter was read in my ward I quickly sent an email to my senators urging them to oppose the amendment because I didn’t think it was the government’s job to get involved in this. I took the letter at its word and have never felt bad for it.

    In my recent temple recommend interview (Dec.) to the question of whether I support any groups whose teachings are in opposition to the Church’s I told the bishop’s counselor that I supported gay marriage. He asked me if I was involved in any advocacy, I told him no and he said “That’s fine. You can believe what you want.” He gave me the recommend no problem.

    So, at least in my ward, admittedly in a Midwestern liberal-leaning college town, I haven’t felt the pressure at the local level. I feel it mostly from my friends and family.

  170. George Jackson
    February 27, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    It seems this site is infringing on my freedom of speech, because some of my posts have been deleted.

  171. February 28, 2008 at 1:05 am

    #170:
    In my recent temple recommend interview (Dec.) to the question of whether I support any groups whose teachings are in opposition to the Church’s I told the bishop’s counselor that I supported gay marriage. He asked me if I was involved in any advocacy, I told him no and he said “That’s fine. You can believe what you want.” He gave me the recommend no problem.

    Interesting. I wonder if your bishop would have considered writing your senators to oppose the proposed amendment to be “advocacy?” If you had said you were involved in advocating marriage equality, I wonder if he would have withheld your temple recommend?

  172. February 28, 2008 at 2:13 am

    #169 I’m against the movement to destroy everything that we hold dear among your militant brethren.

    George, gay people, “militant” or not, do not want to destroy everything that you hold dear. Gays merely want to be treated with respect and equality. What can be so terrible or threatening about equal treatment?

  173. Jeff Spector
    February 28, 2008 at 6:51 am

    I think I am done with this topic. It appears we are getting nowhere and going in circles.

    But, I will say that calling the LDS church’s position on gays persecution is ridulous and without foundation.

  174. dpc
    February 28, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Ricercar said:

    However, just like you can’t yell fire in a crowded hall, there are limited to the enshrined rights of speech and religion. The limit is promoting hatred for a particular group. Implicit in the definition of the term ‘hate’ is a continuum from hate propaganda, to discrimination, to physical violence in the worst case scenario.

    The slippery slope argument, enshrined in law.

    Furthermore, hate-crime law does not apply in cases where the statements made are proved to be true or in cases where they are expressed in good faith or in an attempt to voice an opinion on a religious subject.

    That last part is simply not true and, as a Canadian, Ricercar should know it. The Alberta Human Rights Commissions fined a minister who wrote a letter to the editor expressing his viewpoint on homosexuality. Anyone who thinks otherwise can look up the actions of these ‘human rights’ commissions here

  175. February 28, 2008 at 9:25 am

    #74:
    But, I will say that calling the LDS church’s position on gays persecution is ridulous and without foundation.

    Easy to do, Jeff, when you’re on the side of the persecutors, rather than the persecuted. Are you equally prepared to say that calling the federal government’s campaign against Mormon polygamy persecution is “ridiculous and without foundation?”

  176. Ricercar
    February 28, 2008 at 9:34 am

    The devil, they say, in always in the details:

    The Minister in question was also a British Columbia high school teacher who was found to have acted with professional misconduct by holding out his services to cure homosexuality.

    The courts found that the individual was not acting as a public educator, not as a private individual. The assumption is that those who are government employees providing service to the public have a duty to ensure that non-discrimination (and the appearance of non-discrimination) is preserved. This was a professional sanction and not a criminal charge under Hate Crimes legislation.

    The Charter is the constitutional bill of rights that restricts the government or government actors and prevents the government from intruding into the private beliefs of individuals.

  177. dpc
    February 28, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Ricercar,

    I’m talking about the Boisson case in Alberta. You can read the decision in all its glory here. It was not a criminal sanction per se, but the imposition of a stiff fine and a forced apology, plus thousands of dollars spent on attorney’s fees and costs, seems like a de facto criminal penalty.

    The most telling part is on page 74 of the decision where the Commissioner states:

    It is, in my view, nonsensical to enact broad and paramount and remedial legislation, such as human rights legislation, to protect the dignity and human rights of Albertans, only to have it overridden by the expression of opinion in all forms.

  178. Jeff Spector
    February 28, 2008 at 10:27 am

    “Easy to do, Jeff, when you’re on the side of the persecutors, rather than the persecuted. Are you equally prepared to say that calling the federal government’s campaign against Mormon polygamy persecution is “ridiculous and without foundation?”

    Nick, Please let’s stop comparing totally different situations.

    And frankly, it is YOU who is persecuting the LDS Church with your constant condemnation and unwarranted criticism. When it fact, it is you who has changed your position. The church has not changed it’s position in this case.

    Now that you are on the other side of the fence, you call it persecution. When in reality, the church does absolutely nothing to you, personally, other than exist.

  179. Nate S.
    February 28, 2008 at 10:32 am

    #172
    That’s a good question and not something that I even considered when answering the recommend question. I have some recollection that his concern was over public statements but I guess I’ll find out in 2 years.

    Does anybody think that, given the wording the Church’s letter, there was room for those who opposed SSM to still oppose the federal constitutional amendment on other grounds while still remaining true to the Church’s official position?

  180. February 28, 2008 at 11:13 am

    #179:
    Nick, Please let’s stop comparing totally different situations.

    Kindly tell us all how these are “totally different situations,” Jeff. In order to sound thoughtful, try to avoid an answer which simply consists of “well the LDS church is true, therefore, the situations are different!” I know you’re capable of well-reasoned writing. Why not try it in regard to this question?

    And frankly, it is YOU who is persecuting the LDS Church with your constant condemnation and unwarranted criticism. When it fact, it is you who has changed your position. The church has not changed it’s position in this case. Now that you are on the other side of the fence, you call it persecution.

    Please. You’re getting to the point, Jeff, where you’re just speaking from religious outrage, rather than making any sense at all. Did I “change my position” in regard to the LDS church’s claims of divine sanction? Yes, I did. How, exactly, does this constitute “persecution,” Jeff? Should the LDS church now seek to promote a constitutional amendment to prohibit former LDS members from voicing their opinions with regard to the LDS church?

    When in reality, the church does absolutely nothing to you, personally, other than exist.

    Jeff, rather than make an unsupported allegation that blatantly ignores the facts of the matter, why not give a reasoned response, in terms of why you feel political activism to limit another group’s rights does not constitute persecution of the latter group?

  181. Ricercar
    February 28, 2008 at 11:28 am

    DPC,

    There is no doubt this is an interesting case. I wonder how it will turn out when it is brought before the courts. The pith of the complaint is the physical violence that resulted from the ‘militant’ language. I honestly feel the case is boarderline. I would hate to have Malcolm X’s “the ballot or the bullet” or “by whatever means necessary” similarly censored.

    Where the adjudicator found that the letter was linked with the violence and ample evidence provided by medical, enforcement and the facts of the case (Red Deer being what it is). I think these issues need to be addressed better and I hope that Mr. Boission will litigate the matter further and not (as happens often) fall on his sword to play the martyr.

    The ratio here boils down to the fact that the words prompted violence, not the words themselves.

    I think you touch on another issue of justice / injustice – the power of administrative bodies to decide such matters. I (and former Chief Justice Lamar) agree with you there.

  182. February 28, 2008 at 11:55 am

    “It seems this site is infringing on my freedom of speech, because some of my posts have been deleted.”

    For the information of all: if you include a bunch of links in your comment, it may cause it to get picked up by the automated spam filter, or the moderation thing.

  183. Jeff Spector
    February 28, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    OK, I’ll bite. I had a great post almost finished when the computer decided to just turn itself off. So here goes.

    “Kindly tell us all how these are “totally different situations,” Jeff. In order to sound thoughtful, try to avoid an answer which simply consists of “well the LDS church is true, therefore, the situations are different!”

    Polygamy was a practice that was outlawed by the US government specifically because of the Church practice of it. There were additional laws passed aimed at the church to dissolve it. The US Government was prepared to attack Utah and throw people in jail, which it did.

    In the case of SSM, it is not now or ever been legal. People are not now thrown in jail for having homosexual relations or living together as a homosexual couple. That, to me constitutes a totally different situation. One practice was legal going illegal, the other not legal, still not legal.

    “Please. You’re getting to the point, Jeff, where you’re just speaking from religious outrage, rather than making any sense at all.”

    Where is my outrage? Have you read some of you posts? You have an extremely negative view of the church and do not mind sharing it with all of us.

    “Did I “change my position” in regard to the LDS church’s claims of divine sanction? Yes, I did. How, exactly, does this constitute “persecution,” Jeff?”

    Changing positions does not, in and of itself, constitute persecution. Again, I encourage you to read some of your posts.

    “Should the LDS church now seek to promote a constitutional amendment to prohibit former LDS members from voicing their opinions with regard to the LDS church?”

    Now who is being silly?

    “Jeff, rather than make an unsupported allegation that blatantly ignores the facts of the matter, why not give a reasoned response, in terms of why you feel political activism to limit another group’s rights does not constitute persecution of the latter group?”

    Fairly straight forward here. The church is expressing support for a constitutional amendment which protects a situation that is totally aligned with its own doctrine, namely marriage between a man and woman. They are not asking for any rights to be taken from you. No punishment is asked for, no adverse effects are being called for. Simply leaving things the way they are. Since the majority of like-minded groups such as the church agree with the position, the church is not alone in asking the government to intervene to protect something that is in line with its own doctrine. Clearly, self-interest. Something we all have. Even you. And for the record, I do not support a constitutional amendment. The states are able to handle this one themselves.

  184. February 28, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Polygamy was a practice that was outlawed by the US government specifically because of the [LDS] Church practice of it.

    The LDS church promotes a U.S. constitutional amendment to bar marriage equality, specifically because homosexuals wish to formalize their relationships in a way which allows them the same legal rights and responsibilities as heterosexually-married persons. Ultimately, it’s about the fact that the LDS church sees homosexual relations as evil–just as the U.S. government saw plural marriage as evil.

    In the case of SSM, it is not now or ever been legal. People are not now thrown in jail for having homosexual relations or living together as a homosexual couple. That, to me constitutes a totally different situation. One practice was legal going illegal, the other not legal, still not legal.

    Jeff, most of this paragraph is untrue. Marriage equality exists currently under the laws of several countries, as well as the Commonwealth of Massachussetts. Ergo, it is untrue to say that marriage equality “is not now or ever has been legal.” Further, I would suggest you consult an interesting book, titled Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe. While the book is unfortunately written in a very dry style, it presents considerable evidence to question the claim that marriage equality has never been legal.

    While you may be correct that people in the United States are not now thrown in jail for homosexual relations, I’m sure you’re well aware that this is a quite recent development. Further, the same does not apply in several other countries. Some countries punish homosexual relations with jail. Others punish homosexual relations with execution. In Iran, homosexuals can avoid execution by voluntarily undergoing a sex change (at government expense, no less).

    Changing positions does not, in and of itself, constitute persecution. Again, I encourage you to read some of your posts.

    I believe, Jeff, that you are confusing strong disagreement (and sometimes not even “strong” disagreement) with persecution. You will further notice that I have never suggested that members of the LDS church should be prohibited by law from living according to their faith.

    The [LDS] church is expressing support for a constitutional amendment which protects a situation that is totally aligned with its own doctrine, namely marriage between a man and woman.

    The trouble, Jeff, is that the LDS church seeks to impose its doctrine upon members of a pluralistic nation, including billions of citizens who are not members of the LDS church, and are not subject to its rules of faith. I have no problem with the LDS church encouraging its own members to live by the requirements of LDS membership, and in fact, I would actively support such a right if it were threatened. Hell, Jeff, I’m still repulsed by the decision in U.S. v. Reynolds, and I’m not even LDS anymore! I do not, however, support the LDS church (or any other religious body) in attempting to impose it’s code of conduct on those who do not prescribe to its teachings, particularly in light of the fact that marriage eqality in no way interferes with the right of LDS members to practice their own faith.

    They are not asking for any rights to be taken from you. No punishment is asked for, no adverse effects are being called for.

    Jeff, you’re far too reasonable a person to say this with a straight (no pun intended) face. Has it occured to you for even a moment that the proposed constitutional amendment would immediately impact (and very possibly invalidate) the marriages of persons who were married to another person of the same sex in Massachussetts? Even aside from this, it is extremely arrogant of you to insist that I would suffer “no adverse effects” from the proposed amendment. You reach this conclusion without any legitimate basis, relying purely on your own opinion that marriage equality is spiritually wrong. With the same supposed validity, I might well unilaterally declare that abolishment of the LDS faith would have “no adverse effects” on current LDS members.

    Simply leaving things the way they are.

    Again, this is incorrect. You keep forgetting about Massachussetts, don’t you?

    Since the majority of like-minded groups such as the church agree with the position, the church is not alone in asking the government to intervene to protect something that is in line with its own doctrine.

    Jeff, “like-minded groups,” by definition agree on positions, so there’s not much point to this. In any case, it’s not so long ago that “like-minded” religious groups demanded that states be allowed to criminally punish marriage between persons of different races. Did the agreement between various groups make them right?

    And for the record, I do not support a constitutional amendment. The states are able to handle this one themselves.

    I appreciate your opposition to the proposed amendment, Jeff.

  185. John M.
    February 28, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    #43 Nick – “The LDS church has not taught that it is immoral for a person to marry another person of the same sex.”

    I found the following quote in the talk God Will Not Be Mocked by President Spencer W. Kimball in October 1974 General Conference. “Every form of homosexuality is sin.”

  186. February 28, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    John M., if that’s as close as you could come, then you’ve made my point. Thanks. It takes quite a stretch to say that marriage equality is a “form of homosexuality.”

    Mind you, I’m not saying that Kimball, or any LDS leader, would approve of homosexual relationships within marriage. I’m only saying that they have not taught specifically that the act of one person marrying another person of the same sex is immoral, in and of itself. If two men married one another, but both remained celibate, I see no evidence that LDS leaders would care. It’s the sex they’re hung up on (as if banning marriage equality would stop gay sex).

  187. John M.
    February 28, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    Nick,

    If marriage equality were to exist and if a couple were to be legally and lawfully wed, how could the Church view their relations as a sin? Would temple recommend questions change? Would the wording of certain covenants
    change? Wouldn’t contradictions then exist?

    I know you probably don’t personally care about what happens in the Church, but I am trying to see how the Church would react if marriage equality were to be realized.

  188. John M.
    February 28, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    “Some portray legalization of so-called same-sex marriage as a civil right. This is not a matter of civil rights; it is a matter of morality. Others question our constitutional right as a church to raise our voice on an issue that is of critical importance to the future of the family. We believe that defending this sacred institution by working to preserve traditional marriage lies clearly within our religious and constitutional prerogatives. Indeed, we are compelled by our doctrine to speak out.
    Nevertheless, and I emphasize this, I wish to say that our opposition to attempts to legalize same-sex marriage should never be interpreted as justification for hatred, intolerance, or abuse of those who profess homosexual tendencies, either individually or as a group.”
    (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Why We Do Some of the Things We Do,” Ensign, Nov 1999, 52)

  189. February 28, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Good questions, John M.!
    Personally (and I know I’m a little idiosyncratic on this), I always interpreted the temple language of “legally and lawfully wed” as referring to man’s laws (“legally”) and LDS understanding of deity’s laws (“lawfully”). If that’s what it really means, then a same-sex couple would be legally wed, but not lawfully wed, in the eyes of the LDS church.

    I can think of ways the LDS church could adjust temple recommend questions and the temple covenant wording in response to legal marriage equality, but I’m not sure they would do so. Does anyone know if that has happened in nations where marriage equality is the law? I’m pretty sure there are LDS temples in some of these countries, and I know a few countries with LDS temples are getting quite close to legalized marriage equality.

    What do you think?

  190. February 28, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    #90:
    Okay, that comes much closer to teaching that the act of marrying a person of the same sex is, in itself, immoral by LDS understanding. I’m not sure it’s completely “there” as a formal statement, but I think it certainly conveys that such was Hinckley’s opinion.

    Nick (who Hinckley would call a “so-called” gay person, and who believes in what Hinckley calls “so-called” marriage equality)

  191. Kari
    February 28, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    John M asked (#189):

    If marriage equality were to exist and if a couple were to be legally and lawfully wed, how could the Church view their relations as a sin? Would temple recommend questions change? Would the wording of certain covenants
    change? Wouldn’t contradictions then exist?

    It is my understanding (please correct me if I am wrong) but current church policy is that if a polygamist African is converted to LDS teachings and desires baptism, he is required to put away (divorce) all but one wife before baptism can occur. If the church can require this of marriage(s) that are legal and lawful in certain African countries, then they can certainly continue to view same gender sexual activity as a sin, whether in marriage or not.

    In many countries of the world, such as Great Britain (where I served my mission) it is considered sinful for a legally and lawfully married couple to have sex after their legally required civil marriage ceremony but before their temple ceremony. Church leaders did (in the late 80′s, and by report still do) require couples to travel and lodge separately if the temple ceremony is a day or two later.

    I don’t intend this as a threadjack to discuss these particular policies, just as an example that the church can define sin anyway they want. It wasn’t too long ago that certain leaders would ask couples about specific sexual activity they thought was sinful. It’s one of the reasons why we have an “official structured” temple recommend interview now.

    If we allowed SSMs, then for those couples the TR interview could certainly add “Do you engage in sexual activity with your spouse?” I know certain heterosexual couples who aren’t sexually intimate, so it’s not hard to imagine a same-sex couple who are willing to stay celibate for the church, but get married for the benefits of being a married couple. Just like my hetero male cousin who married a woman so she could stay in the country. They even lived together (same apartment, different rooms), without sexual intimacy.

  192. Jeff Spector
    February 28, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    Nick:

    “Jeff, most of this paragraph is untrue. Marriage equality exists currently under the laws of several countries, as well as the Commonwealth of Massachussetts. Ergo, it is untrue to say that marriage equality “is not now or ever has been legal.” Further, I would suggest you consult an interesting book, titled Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe. While the book is unfortunately written in a very dry style, it presents considerable evidence to question the claim that marriage equality has never been legal.”

    Sorry, but what the rest of the world does has no bearing on the US and its constitution. They only exception may be at this time Massachussetts but those marriages are not recognized anywhere else in the US. Also, we have a slightly older book called the Bible that seems to prohibit same sex unions.

    Let me end my participation in this discussion this way. The church is not the only organization in the US which supports a constituional amendment on marriage. Because of the wide spread support for this amendment, it is not the LDS Church “seeking to impose its doctrine.” It, like you, has a right to its opinion, backed in large part by its membership.

    that’s it, I’m done.

  193. February 29, 2008 at 9:38 am

    They only exception may be at this time Massachussetts but those marriages are not recognized anywhere else in the US.

    You’re not keeping up on the news, Jeff. A recent appellate case in New York found that a same-sex marriage entered into by a couple who, at that time, had been Massacussetts residents, must be recognized in New York. Further, the attorney general of Rhode Island recently issued an advisory opinion that the state of Rhode Island will recognize Massachussetts-performed same-sex marriages of Rhode Island state employees, for employment benefit purposes.

    Also, we have a slightly older book called the Bible that seems to prohibit same sex unions.

    “Seems to?” The Bible doesn’t comment one way or another on whether two persons of the same sex can marry one another. You’d have to really stretch the Eden story to come up with a prohibition on marriage equality, Jeff. Besides, when did the Bible become the law of the United States? Unless Huckabee becomes POTUS, with his frightening “reconstructionist” views of changing the Constitution to match (his interpretation of) the Bible, that’s not going to happen.

  194. George Jackson
    February 29, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    RE: “If two men married one another, but both remained celibate, I see no evidence that LDS leaders would care. It’s the sex they’re hung up on (as if banning marriage equality would stop gay sex).”

    I would like to say that I was angry somewhat in my posts earlier this week, and I’d like to apologize to all for my anger and my unkind remarks.

    Now, to address the above quote. Nick, I can’t imagine what purpose homosexual marriage would be for than to legitimize gay sex. And I cant imagine what homosexuality is for other than to have gay sex, or to have the desire for it, or to have a desire toward the same sex. And even if same sex marriage were a celibate relationship, it would still only be an attempt to legitimize a relationship between two people who love each other. Celibacy doesn’t just mean avoiding inappropriate sexual relationships. Its also about avoiding inappropriate relationships of any kind. The Church clearly teaches against homosexual relationships of any kind, and that true celibacy would mean not having a relationship even if one has the feelings (i.e. not even having a “boyfriend.”)

    Since I have a tendency toward polygamous feelings, I’m called upon to be “polygamously celibate” at this point in time in spite of D&C 132. I can only have a relationship with my wife, and no other woman. My natural man polygamous tendencies must be constantly checked and bridled. I am unable to pursue a girlfriend of any kind outside my wife or open my heart to any other woman. I’m commanded to cleave only unto my wife. Admittedly it would be very difficult to be with no woman, and certainly I cannot concieve of it.

    So certainly it is a difficult order to expect of homosexuals in the church to be celibate entirely and have nothing to do with any man. But it is, nevertheless, essentially the commandment they are commanded to adhere to at this time, and if they don’t, then that is immorality, just as if a man with polygamous tendencies goes beyond the current bounds the Lord has set, he is being immoral.

  195. February 29, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Nick, I can’t imagine what purpose homosexual marriage would be for than to legitimize gay sex.

    So, George, do you believe that heterosexual marriage serves no other purpose than to legitimize “straight” sex?

    And I cant imagine what homosexuality is for other than to have gay sex, or to have the desire for it, or to have a desire toward the same sex.

    So, do you believe that heterosexuality is only for having “straight” sex, or to have a desire for it, or to have a desire toward the opposite sex?

    I’m not just trying to be obnoxious here, George, but rather to point out that committed homosexual relationships exist for the same reason that committed heterosexual relationships do—love and companionship. It’s disappointing that many (not you, as I think you hint at the love aspect later in your comment) can’t seem to wrap their heads around the idea that homosexuality involves more than just sexual intercourse. You see this in condemnatory language that classifies all homosexuality as “lust” and “animalistic,” completely ignoring the point that two men or two women just might happen to share the same kind of loving bond that a man and a woman can.

    So certainly it is a difficult order to expect of homosexuals in the church to be celibate entirely and have nothing to do with any man. But it is, nevertheless, essentially the commandment they are commanded to adhere to at this time, and if they don’t, then that is immorality, just as if a man with polygamous tendencies goes beyond the current bounds the Lord has set, he is being immoral.

    Your statement is certainly true insofar as it applies to LDS members, following an LDS understanding of the will of the LDS deity, George. In a pluralistic society, several million others might see things differently.

  196. George Jackson
    February 29, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    “You see this in condemnatory language that classifies all homosexuality as “lust” and “animalistic,” completely ignoring the point that two men or two women just might happen to share the same kind of loving bond that a man and a woman can.”

    I’m sorry you read that into my comment. Where did I say lust? Where did I say animalistic? Show me a quote from my comment.

    Actually yes, that is what marriage is for, to legitimize sex, yes, to legitimize heterosexual sex so that people can procreate according to law, and strengthen their marriage emotionally and physicall. And yes, love is one of the things that makes sex desireable. I never said lust was involved in homosexual sex always, and that love wasn’t. I’m saying that it is love that is out of bounds. I’m saying that it is sex out of bounds. There’s the part where I’m using condemnatory language.

    I am saying that it is repulsive because it isn’t natural. I’m saying that it is an urge that is telestial because it will only exist here. I’m saying its always sinful when practiced, always. I’m saying its something that homosexuals are called on to bridle and never participate in. There, does that clarify it for you? I have my head around the fact that homosexuality involves love. I certainly understand that. I’m saying its out of bounds and it always will be. It certainly doesn’t serve a purpose of procreation, even if you try to get around that by adopting.

  197. Kari
    February 29, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    George,

    Nick was using the phrase you quoted to point out generally what is said by others, not your language specifically.

    I am saying that it is repulsive because it isn’t natural. I’m saying that it is an urge that is telestial because it will only exist here. I’m saying its always sinful when practiced, always. I’m saying its something that homosexuals are called on to bridle and never participate in. There, does that clarify it for you? I have my head around the fact that homosexuality involves love. I certainly understand that. I’m saying its out of bounds and it always will be. It certainly doesn’t serve a purpose of procreation, even if you try to get around that by adopting.

    Substitute polygamy for the homosexuality in this statement (actual and implied) and you’ve got it right.

  198. Cicero
    February 29, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    My answers:

    * Does the LDS church influence its members to oppose same sex marriage?

    Yes.

    * Is the influence explicit from top leaders, explicit-but-rogue from local leaders, or is it a cultural perceived thing from members? (Any arguments that it is explicitly taught would best be supported with actual quotes.)

    It is primarily cultural, and by personal example. It is also implicit from the First Presidency’s letters that they want us to encourage our political leaders to oppose same sex marriage.

    * If it is a cultural thing, is there a reasonable basis for a member to perceive that voting to oppose same sex marriage is considered equal to choosing good over evil, in an LDS perspective?

    Yes, I believe so. The modern world view of marriage is as a legal contract between two consenting adults that legitimize their sexual relationship to society. Doctrinally, Mormons view marriage as an institution predating government and established by God for the salvation of man, and the procreation of children. It follows that philosophically Mormons hold to the older traditional view that Governments have then recognized this pre-existent arrangement and given it legal recognition and preferences because marriage is beneficial to society as a whole, primarily through the legal protection of a proper home for the rearing of children.

    A Government changing marriage to include two people of the same sex is outrageous- first because it nullifies the only reasonable justification for government involvement in marriage, second because it aids in the reduction of marriage to approval of sex and then grants that approval to something that is not approved of by society- resulting in division and anger. But more importantly to any believing Mormon, the Government is literally attempting to remake an institution created by God and instituted by Him starting with Adam into an institution granting societal approval to acts of sodomy, which all Christian scripture agrees is repugnant to God and condemned by Him. (Sorry but there is no way around it unless you want to claim that Paul is a false apostle). Bluntly, I don’t see how a believing Mormon can reconcile the Scriptures with support of same-sex marriages.

    * Perhaps tangential, but do you feel there is more or less latitude for a member to support civil unions as opposed to SSM, since civil unions do not impinge upon the concept of the sanctity of marriage?

    Yes. Depending on the linkage between marriage and civil unions. If civil unions is just another name for marriage then no. However, most of the legal benefits of marriage are available outside of marriage, it is just extremely difficult and bothersome to get them applied. Civil Unions could be presented as a way of simplifying those arrangements into a package form. Civil Unions would then be legally separate from marriage, allowing the common law on the two to differ. Permitting marriage to return to it’s focus on children. Such an arrangement would be satisfactory to Mormons from a doctrinal viewpoint.

    However, I doubt such an arrangement will be satisfying for gay couples, as what they really want is the societal approval associated with marriage. Sadly, it’s all meaningless anyways, because society will not give approval just because the government calls them married. If we did, well than we would be like the Corinthians- maybe even worse cause even they would never have thought to equate their boy-love with marriage. We know that story would end: Death, Chaos, Destruction, with balls of flame streaking down from the sky. Not a pretty picture.

  199. George Jackson
    March 1, 2008 at 12:04 am

    “Substitute polygamy for the homosexuality in this statement (actual and implied) and you’ve got it right.”

    Being that your name is “Kari” I would assume you are female, and I suppose that would explain your crafty little trick to try to use turn-around logic on me with this one, since historically women usually are the ones to oppose the principle.

  200. Cicero
    March 1, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Often it is argued that opposition to same=sex marriage is due to bigotry.

    However, there have been several cultures in which homosexual relationships were perfectly acceptable. (ie the Greeks- except for Athens). I mean Thebes had a whole military organization made up of pairs of gay lovers. Yet none of these societies ever considered marriage as being applicable to these liaisons.

    The thing is that to a traditional understanding of marriage, same-sex marriage is an oxymoron. It’s like saying “a harmful blessing”. Marriage is between male and female by definition.

    It’s only in the modern concept of marriage that same-sex marriage becomes comprehensible. Since Mormons doctrinally are biased in favor of a traditional concept of marriage it is not at all surprising that Mormons oppose same sex marriage.

  201. March 1, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    #198:
    George, as Kari noted, I was describing common language of others, not yours. I apologize if that was unclear.

    I am saying that it is repulsive because it isn’t natural.

    The argument that homosexuality is “not natural” has pretty much gone by the wayside, since homosexual activity has been observed in over 400 species. Of course, it doesn’t mean much to most religionists to say that it’s natural, as they’ll just turn that around to say that being “natural” is being evil (especially LDS, through a strained interpretation of “the natural man is an enemy to god).

    I’m saying that it is an urge that is telestial because it will only exist here.

    To which I would say that “doctrine” was never once stated until the horrible Oaks & Wickman “interview” (the one that says you should ostracize your gay child’s partner, among other things). Oaks invented that “doctrine” out of whole cloth. He’s not even the person who holds the LDS keys to determine LDS doctrine. In any case, it’s not doctrine until it’s sustained by the membership of the LDS church in a general conference. I doubt that will happen, since it creates a number of problems, including direct contradiction of The Book of Mormon.

    It certainly doesn’t serve a purpose of procreation, even if you try to get around that by adopting.

    Neither does sex between heterosexual partners, where one is infertile, yet nobody would ever consent to banning marriage for infertile heterosexuals. Some have recognized the logical problem here, and resorted to the inane argument that infertile heterosexual couples function as a “symbol” of procreation. LOL.

  202. George Jackson
    March 2, 2008 at 12:00 am

    RE: “The argument that homosexuality is “not natural” has pretty much gone by the wayside, since homosexual activity has been observed in over 400 species.”

    And in not one of them has it helped the species reproduce. It actually takes away from the gene pool and makes it more shallow by sucking away people from it into unproductive relationships.

    RE: “never once stated until the horrible Oaks & Wickman “interview””

    And truth just keeps getting more and more revealed!….

    RE: “Neither does sex between heterosexual partners, where one is infertile”

    Sure it does, because heterosexual partners are keeping the commandments when they do it, which gets them further along the path to exaltation where they will procreate, worlds without end.

    Actually I’m mistaken. I admit now that I’m actually mistaken and I just realized it. Homosexuality is actually a principle of nature. It is nature naturally selecting out undesirable features in the population. Homosexual relationships do not perpetuate the species, and therefore naturally select out the undesirable features therein.

    Exaltation is a further manifestation of survival of the (spiritually) fittest, and natural selection. Only those keeping the commandments are selected in to the gene pool to perpetuate themselves. The rest are selected out. The practice of homosexuality contrary to those commandments, therefore ensures that the individuals are selected out.

    So actually, I admit you are right that it is natural. It totally enables those practicing it to be naturally selected out of existence as far as their genetic legacy goes.

  203. March 2, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Oh, brother….so now you’re going to theorize that the LDS deity makes wicked people gay, so they won’t pass on their eeee-vil genes?

    If that’s the case, then the LDS faith has been working against it’s own deity for years. In the past, LDS leaders directly encouraged gay men to marry, thinking it would magically make them straight. Now they (officially) don’t give that advice anymore, but their teachings certainly still hold up heterosexual marriage as the ideal for gay men. Either way, the LDS church ends up thwarting their deity’s evolutionary plan by promoting gay men to breed offspring!

    Quick! Repent, and cease to fight against your own god! ;-)

  204. George Jackson
    March 2, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    RE: “so now you’re going to theorize that the LDS deity makes wicked people gay, so they won’t pass on their eeee-vil genes?”

    Nick, your being absurd. My original post was sufficiently clear to absolutely distinguish between the practice of homosexuality and the tendency toward homosexuality to absolutely make it clear that you know this is certainly not what I’m saying.

    You certainly know if you have half a brain (which I know you have a whole one, so stop playing games) I’m saying that the practice of homosexuality (as opposed to the tendency thereto, either by nature or nurture) both on the level of temporal natural selection and spiritual natural selection, gets selected out, and is adverse to the health of the species temporally and spiritually, and is therefore gets selected out.

  205. George Jackson
    March 2, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Oh yeah Nick. I forgot to mention. God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is the prime example of the practice of homosexuality being naturally selected out.

    Gen. 19: 5
    “And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.”

  206. March 2, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Ahhh…so you believe the LDS deity wiped out two entire cities (save Lot and his children, of course) because they were engaged in homosexual behavior?

    Please tell us, George, which behavior is worse:

    (1) Your example citing select inhabitants of Sodom, who threatened to engage in a then-common practice of humiliating one’s enemies by means of male-on-male rape (a different matter than homosexuality, btw)

    or….

    (2) Lot’s response, which was to offer up his own virginal daughters, as preferable rape victims?

    Gen 19:6-8
    “And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.”

    Apparently the LDS deity thinks offering your virgin daughters to become victims of a gang-rape is WAY better than supposed homosexuality, since the LDS deity saved Lot and his kids, right?

    BTW, you’ll find that for this reason and others, legitimate religious scholars reject the theory that homosexuality was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. Rather, these cities violated the expected norms of hospitality toward strangers.

  207. George Jackson
    March 2, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    RE: “Ahhh…so you believe the LDS deity wiped out two entire cities (save Lot and his children, of course) because they were engaged in homosexual behavior?”

    YEP

    RE: “Your example citing select inhabitants of Sodom, who threatened to engage in a then-common practice of humiliating one’s enemies by means of male-on-male rape (a different matter than homosexuality, btw)”

    No its not. It’s still homo-ism, but aint what the scripture is saying, so says I.

    RE: “Apparently the LDS deity thinks offering your virgin daughters to become victims of a gang-rape is WAY better than supposed homosexuality, since the LDS deity saved Lot and his kids, right?”

    Apparently you never read the JST version did you:

    9 And they said unto him, Stand back. And they were angry with him.
    10 And they said among themselves, This one man came in to sojourn among us, and he will needs now make himself to be a judge; now we will deal worse with him than with them.
    11 Wherefore they said unto the man, We will have the men, and thy daughters also; and we will do with them as seemeth us good.
    12 Now this was after the wickedness of Sodom.

    13 And Lot said, Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, plead with my brethren that I may not bring them out unto you; and ye shall not do unto them as seemeth good in your eyes;
    14 For God will not justify his servant in this thing; wherefore, let me plead with my brethren, this once only, that unto these men ye do nothing, that they may have peace in my house; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
    15 And they were angry with Lot and came near to break the door, but the angels of God, which were holy men, put forth their hand and pulled Lot into the house unto them, and shut the door.

  208. March 3, 2008 at 12:01 am

    RE: “Your example citing select inhabitants of Sodom, who threatened to engage in a then-common practice of humiliating one’s enemies by means of male-on-male rape (a different matter than homosexuality, btw)”

    No its not. It’s still homo-ism, but aint what the scripture is saying, so says I.

    Good heavens, George. Is English your first language? Your response barely makes any sense at all. As for what “you says” the Bible is saying, I don’t think that’s really the standard for interpretation. Rather than off-the-top-of-your-head exegesis, you really ought to spend at least a little time learning about the cultures the Bible describes, so you don’t look ignorant in public.

    RE: “Apparently the LDS deity thinks offering your virgin daughters to become victims of a gang-rape is WAY better than supposed homosexuality, since the LDS deity saved Lot and his kids, right?”

    Apparently you never read the JST version did you:

    Apparently you’ve never studied the history of Joseph Smith’s translation, including the fact that he said he wasn’t finished enough with it to allow publication. Likewise, apparently you’ve never studied Joseph Smith’s own preaching, in which he said that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was “failure to heed the prophets,” as opposed to what you presume. Joseph Smith was quite capable of speaking on the topics of sexual sin, and did so frequently, yet he never once supported your idiosyncratic view.

  209. George Jackson
    March 3, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Nick, I’m just sick of this thread. I’m tired of your advocacy of homoism. I’ve stated my position. You’ve stated yours to the detriment of good ol common sense. Laters.

  210. March 3, 2008 at 9:52 am

    Yes, George, your reference to “homoism” truly demonstrates your vast intellectual superiority. As every educated person should know, your personal version of “common sense” is not in the slightest influenced by your own socialization, and should invariably trump any legitimate scholarship on the subjects you choose to pontificate on. “So says you.”

    Note to Others: The practice of declaring one’s personal, albeit entirely uninformed, opinions as “good common sense” is extremely dangerous, and should only be attempted by those who have studiously mastered the precaution of ignoring science, history, and logic. Don’t try this at home!

  211. March 19, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    I was handed a petition packet along with everyone else in a joint RS/Priesthood meeting and told by my stake president to go get signatures to get the DOMA (defense of marriage) state amendment initiative on the ballot. I handed the packet back.

  212. March 31, 2008 at 7:41 am

    The United States is a democracy, and Americans need to live by the laws of the land. As members of the Church, we need to uphold those laws. In a democracy, the majority rules. On the issue of gay marriage, each individual should have the freedom to campaign to allow gay marriage or prevent it from happening, whatever they believe in. While I have no problem with individuals trying to stop gay marriage laws from being passed (or fighting for it, for that matter), I have to say that it does trouble me that the Church has spent money to stop bills from being passed, when the Church is officially neutral in politics. Members should be free to campaign for their causes, but isn’t this a case of the Church dipping into politics?

    In any case, gay marriage has become law in Canada, Spain, and it’s coming to a State near you. I don’t necessarily agree with it or like it, but that’s democracy, so put up a good fight, realize that you’re probably going to lose and get over it.

  213. March 31, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Members should be free to campaign for their causes, but isn’t this a case of the Church dipping into politics?

    The current leadership of the LDS church, however, would argue that they are speaking out on a “moral” issue, rather than a political one. This distinction seems to simply fall wherever it’s convenient on a particular issue. After all, one would think that elective abortion was a more serious matter than whether two men can legally marry one another, and the LDS church explicitly declines to comment one way or another on proposed abortion legislation.

    When I look at this situation, I see two very telling facts. First, we know that the rhetoric used by LDS leaders on this subject is quoted nearly verbatim from Evangelical anti-gay efforts. Second, we know from Mitt Romney’s interview with Christianity Today that Hinckley was holding meetings with the likes of Jerry Falwell, wherein they conspired to defeat at least one state’s proposed gay rights initiatives. When I see these factors, I can’t help but believe that LDS leaders have identified the persecution of GLBT persons as a “bridge-building” opportunity, where they can forge stronger ties with other christian churches–something that enhances the LDS church’s christian image and aids in missionary work.

  214. Ray
    March 31, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Nick, why does it have to be a conspiracy to persecute GLBT persons and a cynical missionary effort? Why can’t it simply be a sincere belief that “marriage” should not include homosexual relationships?

    You know where I stand on this issue (fully in support of civil unions and general gay rights), so this is not an “anti-gay” comment in any way. I’m just saying that some things might simply be based on a narrowly defined, shared belief (no gay marriage), even when the actual positions on homosexuality within Mormonism and the evangelical community now are different. No conspiracy; no broad-based persecution; just opposition to one specific movement with which they don’t agree.

  215. March 31, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Ray, I know from long experience where you stand on the issue of marriage equality, and I appreciate it greatly. I certainly understand where you’re coming from on this question, and I agree that it’s possible that there is no relationship between LDS lobbying on this issue and forging of ties with evangelicals.

    I really should do a full article or discussion sometime, showing how changes in LDS rhetoric on the subject have tracked (as in “exactly followed soon after”) identical changes in evangelical “ex-gay” and anti-gay rhetoric. I suppose someone could argue that deity is specifically telling LDS leaders to watch and follow the example of “apostate” christian churches on this issue. To me, it would take some significant mental gymnastics to reconcile that idea with Mormon teachings on the “great apostacy” and continuous revelation.

    In a similar vein, Ezra Taft Benson’s unfortunate 1960s rhetoric against the civil rights movement also closely mirrored the public statements of Billy Graham and other evangelicals. Fortunately, those views were strongly opposed by other members of the 12 and First Presidency, and you’d search far and wide today to find an LDS member who considered those statements “inspired.”

    It’s one thing to simply suggest that both groups condemn homosexuality, but does this really explain the use of identical terminology, identical “legal” arguments, etc.?

  216. March 31, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Sort of off-topic, yet related to the Danzig case, I ask a question on my blog (entitled Danzig vs. Bloggers) that has me wondering. Would love to know if anyone has an answer.

  217. Hawkgrrrl
    March 31, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Nick: “I agree that it’s possible that there is no relationship between LDS lobbying on this issue and forging of ties with evangelicals.” This bears some exploring. I would love to see us distinguish ourselves more from evangelicals. Personally, I think allying ourselves with the evangelical movement (vs. the individuals) is fraught with peril for the church. I’m not sure it’s being done deliberately, but I think we should deliberately avoid it.

    FWIW, I too agree with Ray (on lots of things it would seem) – very pro civil union and gay rights, but not pro-marriage per se (gay or otherwise–JK in case my husband is reading this).

  218. March 31, 2008 at 11:13 am

    I would love to see us distinguish ourselves more from evangelicals. Personally, I think allying ourselves with the evangelical movement (vs. the individuals) is fraught with peril for the church. I’m not sure it’s being done deliberately, but I think we should deliberately avoid it.

    When I joined the LDS church in 1979/80 (I had to be rebaptized in 1980, due to a clerical error), the scriptural injunction to stand independent of other churches was interpreted quite literally. As far as I ever noticed, ecumenical humanitarian efforts seemed to begin largely with the LDS response to Ethiopian famine. I still remember many LDS being surprised when the LDS church donated fast offering funds through Catholic Charities for this purpose, and leaders had to explain that Catholic Charities was not only reputable, but already had a firm infrastructure in place, so the method made sense. Another “milestone” was a much-publicized, sizeable donation by the LDS church to restore the Cathedral of the Madeline in SLC. The same was done with respect to a local Jewish synagogue.

    Following this humanitarian cooperation, LDS members like Robert Millett seemed intent on convincing both LDS and evangelicals that their respective theologies had more in common than not (generally watering-down Mormonism in order to force the similarities). The natural outgrowth seems to be political alliances, which has centered primarily on efforts to promote anti-gay legislation. Monson is often touted as a driving force in these ecumenical efforts. If true, we may see this sort of thing amped up even further. Let’s hope he focuses on the humanitarian cooperation aspect, rather than the right-wing political lobbying.

    FWIW, I too agree with Ray (on lots of things it would seem) – very pro civil union and gay rights, but not pro-marriage per se

    Personally, I’m concerned that same-sex couples be afforded precisely the same legal rights and responsibilities that opposite-sex married couples have (something that can’t presently be done, no matter how much you pay lawyers for contracts, wills, etc.) I’m much less concerned about what label is attached to that legal status, though I’ll note that our country already should have learned that “seperate but equal” isn’t equal.

  219. Brian S.
    April 6, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    What is a church? The reason I pose this question is that this question leads to the answer of all the questions posed in the article and comments. A church is made up of a group of people that meet together and follow the same head. It is largely associated with Christianity and can also reference to the building of worship, but in general a church is a congregation of people of similar belief. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), like myself, share a mutual belief that homosexuality is a sinful act, that we should love homosexuals as children of God and our brothers and sisters, but that we are not to embrace their behavior which is not in accordance with God’s laws. Therefore, when people openly and publicly express opinions that are opposed to the Churches teachings or associate with groups who go against the teachings of the Church, they can be subject to Church discipline. This is not an uncommon action in churches throughout the world, including the worlds largest church the Catholic Church. The problem is that society in its growing secularistic attitudes, desire all things of man accepted and all things of God, rejected. This would include the opposition to the acceptance of behavior that by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints standards are unacceptable. These restrictions do not just include the vile acts of homosexual sin, but include the acts of fornication, adultery, murder, criminality, stealing, or any other sin. The Lord made it clear in stating that he cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. The great message of hope is that through his atonement, our faith and repentance that we can return to live with him and our Father in Heaven. The problem is we live in a society, that does not care for the long term, but only satisfying our needs for the moment and the now and the acceptance of anything that feels good or pleasurable or is desirable to the flesh. This lack of self control is what has lead to many of the worlds ills of today. It is so ingrained in liberal culture that people think abstinence is a pipe dream and that people and unfortunately children just cannot control themselves. I am here to say that is a lie concocted of lazy people who have given up the fight with self. By this same theory, drunks could never recover from alcoholism, smokers can never quit, old dogs cannot learn new tricks and people can never change. These have been all proven wrong by millions of inspiring people throughout the world and will continue. The path to self mastery is not an easy one, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Ask Jesus Christ, He saved us only by suffering for our sins in a most painful way, so painful we cannot begin to imagine. He underwent this suffering because he knew we needed it. Do not let him down by accepting that your life is lost and you cannot recover your dignity, lives, and control of self.

  220. April 6, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    You know, I actually remember being an arrogant fool, who thought my tiny little church (a mere 13 million among the world’s population) had all the answers, and that everything that came out of LDS HQ was unquestionable truth. I’m really glad that I’ve outgrown that.

  221. UFO Skeptic
    April 7, 2008 at 8:03 am

    Well, Nick, I guess this means that we wont be seeing any more articles from you in FARMS publications then? I gather you wrote those before you “came out”. It’s interesting how you were once defending those viewpoints.

    Funny how now, everything you seem to be saying is all bent around one issue, and that is homosexuality. If you weren’t a homosexual and trying to now be an apologist/defender of homosexuality, it is doubtful that you would saying what you are saying now about the LDS Church.

    You know, I realize that the Church doesn’t have all the answers for everything, but I know that it is the one organization on earth with God’s authority to perform the saving ordinances, and that the leaders of it are led in whatever they have to do to make sure that all of God’s children one day have the opportunity to recieve those, dead or living. Beyond that, it doesn’t matter much to me what they do, because I know that is their true purpose, and everything they do centers around all that. Whatever amount of truth they have is really only to push forward that great cause, and I think that you have lost sight of that in your quest to promote your cause and putting on the newly found hat of being the homosexual activist that you are.

  222. April 7, 2008 at 9:04 am

    “UFO Apologist,” I have published only one article with FARMS, a book review in the FARMS Review of Books. I still stand by everything I stated in that book review. The book was an abysmal miscarriage of so-called history, written by an individual who knew almost nothing about his chosen subject. I slaughtered the book in my review, and would do so again in a heartbeat. I have little or no patience for false history, regardless of which side of the issues an author represents.

    Your post suggests that you’re making some assumptions about me. You seem to assume that I chose to come out of the closet, and as a result, somehow needed to decide the LDS church was not what it claimed to be, in order to “justify” myself. I don’t really blame you for making that sort of assumption, since as a member of the LDS church you’ve repeatedly been told that when people leave the LDS church, it’s usually because they’ve chosen to “sin,” and need to rationalize it. Frankly, I’m sure there are individuals who fit this scenario.

    The truth, however, is that my situation was much more complicated than that. While I never cared for some of the polemical games of FARMS and FAIR, I was once (as you note) a staunch defender of Mormonism. Due to my strong, sincere belief in Mormonism, I spent many years trying to fit the “married with children” model which the LDS church teaches. I invested a great deal of energy in hiding my personal feelings and deceiving others into thinking I was something I wasn’t. In short, I stayed “in the closet,” and endured a very difficult marriage, because I truly believed at the time that deity expected that from me.

    I will note, however, that for many years, I drew a distinction between Mormonism (i.e. the religion taught by Joseph Smith) and modern LDS-ism (the religion taught by the LDS church). I felt that the LDS church had departed in many unfortunate ways from what Joseph Smith taught, but I also believed that the LDS church was the only church which continued to hold the keys which Joseph purported to hold. In this sense, I was similar to what you’ve described. I saw significant flaws, but was willing to set those aside for the “bigger issues.” This was essentially a balancing act. On the one side, I had a strong belief in Mormonism, with LDS-ism as the closest approximation of that faith. On the other side, I had some immensely powerful personal feelings. For many years, my belief weighed more heavily than my feelings. Looking back, I think my staunch defense of Mormonism at the time was at least partly an effort to bolster my own motivation to deny my own needs and desires.

    Three main things changed that balance. First, I saw changes in the LDS church which began to tread beyond what I felt was “enough like” Mormonism. Most of these had to do with what I perceived as LDS efforts to become (or appear) more like mainstream christianity. Some had to do with ordinance changes which finally went beyond what I could tolerate. My belief in Mormonism had reached the point of counteracting my confidence in the LDS church. Things went beyond what I could excuse as “continuing revelation.” Second, my own historical research led me to the point where I continued to respect Joseph Smith as a religious genius, but I became less and less convinced of the truthfulness of Mormon origin stories. I didn’t rule everything out, but my confidence level in many particular historical claims was reduced. Third, my views became more universalist in nature, and I became increasingly uncomfortable with the traditional LDS/christian view of sin and atonement.

    Between these factors, the balance simply tipped. My deep, personal feelings finally trumped my religious faith. I made some very different choices in how I lived my life, and my own result has been much greater peace and joy. That’s not to say everyone will share the same experience. There are many aspects of Mormonism that I still hold as personally important to me. The trouble is, very few of those continue to hold any place in the modern LDS church. As for Joseph Smith, I don’t see him the same way that most active LDS do, but I still consider him one of the great spiritual leaders in world history. I figuratively hang his portrait next to those of Moses, Jesus, Confucius, Mohammed and others. At the same time, I no longer have to worry about some authoritative figure watching over my shoulder, with the power to punish me. I can say what I believe to be true now, when it comes to the LDS church, or any other religious organization.

    I apologize for the length of this post, but I wanted to really address your assumptions. I hope I’ve helped you to understand that my reality is more nuanced than you had thought.

  223. UFO Skeptic
    April 7, 2008 at 10:47 am

    Well, thanks for the clarification on your thoughts and background, but it is safe to say that you have no idea what is in my mind as far as my “assumptions” go, since you have no idea of my background let alone my identity. Furthermore, you call me UFO Apologist, and I must say that that just makes me bust up laughing, seeing that my name is UFO Skeptic, and I’m no apologist for anybody, as I don’t apologize for truth.

  224. Ray
    April 7, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Fwiw, Nick, thanks for sharing the overall picture so eloquently.

  225. April 7, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Whoops! My apologies, “UFO Skeptic!” I assure you, that was entirely accidental on my part. Mea culpa!!

    As for what I said about your assumptions, I wrote: “Your post suggests that you’re making some assumptions about me.” Please note the usage of “suggests,” which implicitly acknowledges that while your post gave me that impression, I could be wrong. My understanding of your post led me to believe you were making certain assumptions. If I was wrong, I’d be happy to hear what your real thoughts were.

  226. UFO Skeptic
    April 7, 2008 at 11:23 am

    The only assumption I make is that the Brethren have the priesthood and the keys and the authority to authorize saving ordinances and get revelation to further the progress of the Church. Beyond that, I have no assumptions, because that is what I know is true. That is my testimony. You can take that as what my “assumptions” are.

  227. April 7, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    I wasn’t referring to your religious beliefs as assumptions, UFO Skeptic. Rather, I was referring to your statements about me and my motivations as assumptions. As you have pointed out, “it is safe to say that you have no idea what is in my mind.”

  228. Ray
    April 7, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Boys, boys, boys *shakes head bemusedly*

  229. Rigel Hawthorne
    April 7, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Re: “Your example citing select inhabitants of Sodom, who threatened to engage in a then-common practice of humiliating one’s enemies by means of male-on-male rape (a different matter than homosexuality, btw)”

    Can you point me to some reference materials as to how you acquired this interpretation. I’m not saying its wrong and the scriptural account is indeed vague. How do you know its not just a bunch of Sodom’s residents hanging out at the entrance of the bathhouse. If they wanted to humiliate them by male-on-male rape, would there really have been any need for discussion about it, as the visiting party was presumably out-numbered?

    Re: “these cities violated the expected norms of hospitality toward strangers”

    This may also be true, but there isn’t much hospitality toward strangers (or even kinsmen) in the OT, so there should have been many more cities destroyed if this was the sin in question.

    Re: Joseph Smith’s own preaching, in which he said that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was “failure to heed the prophets,” as opposed to what you presume

    Some prophets have spoken against homosexual acts, so failure to heed the prophets in this sense could be consistent with the traditional view of Sodom and Gomorrah, but it would be only one of many prophetic warnings that were disregarded, as in the days of Noah. I haven’t reviewed this JS preaching to review the context, would like the source as well.

    Re: “In the past, LDS leaders directly encouraged gay men to marry, thinking it would magically make them straight.”

    Nope, that doesn’t work. My secular education, on the other hand, encouraged those who experienced attraction to the same sex to embrace it. Not only did they encourage it, but they taught that there was really nothing else one could do but go with it. Arguing against this by those who attempted it brought quick condemnation by the authorities of the curriculum. Embracing it may be the quickest road to greater peace and joy for some individuals, but that advice oversimplifies the internal conflict for those in the more bisexual realm. As the rights are extended to same-sex couples, will the right to speak
    about benefits of adopting a heterosexual lifestyle despite bisexuality be condemned? Once same sex union is legal, then it is indeed equal in rights and civic value and teaching that it is better in some instances to suppress a homosexual side of one’s sexuality could become discriminatory.

  230. George Williams
    June 4, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    I am not amused at the story of the LDS couple leaving the LDS church because of feeling “pressured” to oppose same-sex marriage.

    I left the Community of Christ for the opposite reason. I felt the church was pressuring me to support same-sex marriage.

    The solution to the problem for LDS appears to be to leave the LDS church and join the Community of Christ. I can’t join the LDS church because I don’t believe in polygamy–when I joined the old RLDS church, I had already passed the LDS Church by.

    George

  231. Stephanie H.
    November 6, 2008 at 5:05 am

    when the bishops of the church are instructed to read a letter SENT OUT BY THE FIRST PRESIDENCY to their Californian congregations on Sunday, in which that letter says the members are supposed to support a gay marriage ban in their state, that IS, in fact, encouraging, if not pressuring, someone to choose a specific side rather than follow as their conscience dictates.

  232. Jon M
    March 31, 2009 at 7:13 am

    This is the best argument I have heard against gay marriage.

    Gay marriage doesn’t satisfy life’s purpose

    It is amazing to me the extent that people will go to in order to achieve their personal goals. Take, for example, Prop. 8 that was on the ballot . This is the second time the California voters have passed this law, and yet those who fought against Prop. 8 continue to fight against the will of the people.

    They keep saying this is a religious issue. That is not true. Everyone needs to answer the question of “What is the purpose of life?” Leaving religion out of the answer, as well as the Bible and personal opinions, there is only one answer that can be given that will satisfy the laws of NATURE. That answer is: “Reproduce yourself and your species.”

    Can two female or two male marriage partners conform to this law? No! So, this is not a religious issue alone. It is an issue that defies the laws of nature. The animal, bird, fish, insect, and plant kingdoms all live this law. They reproduce themselves as per nature’s laws.

    If any of these kingdoms failed to live this law, their kingdom would become extinct in a short period of time. If the plant kingdom failed to live this law, there would be no food for man or animals to eat. We would soon become a dead planet.

    Only man wants to defy this law of nature. In so doing, they become destroyers of, rather than contributors to, the human race.

    Society is based on the family of husband wife and children. This is how the next generation rises. I can just see states or countries legalizing gay marriage and then losing population.