Nightline: “Gay Mormons Face Excommunication”

June 8, 2006 | 146 comments
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Nightline‘s first segment tonight focused on gay Mormons. Elder Marlin Jenson represented the Church:

We realize that people have feelings and thoughts for which they may not be responsible and all we’re asking is that they control them and not let those feelings and thoughts bring them to behaviors that would bring them to violate the church’s law of chastity.

The report featured an extensive interview with Daniel Holsinger and Jay Christianson, two returned missionaries. “They are in their 20s, they are gay, and they’re a couple. And that’s a problem.”

The report also featured several “Gamofites” — Gay Mormon Fathers.

I didn’t notice anything about the recent “Letter from First Presidency of the Church to Church Leaders in the United States.”

Indeed, the report will not contain any surprises for people who frequent the Bloggernacle, but I was quite pleased with Elder Jenson’s performance. He represented well, not merely through his words, but through his demeanor.

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146 Responses to Nightline: “Gay Mormons Face Excommunication”

  1. Aaron Brown on June 8, 2006 at 12:52 am

    Given the endless pride parade of gayness in the Bloggernacle this week, I propose we all come clean about our fetishes, and collectively rename ourselves the “Bloggaynacle.”

    Aaron B

  2. SW on June 8, 2006 at 1:01 am

    \”feelings and thoughts for which they may not be responsible\” – interesting, how long has this careful phrase been official? maybe I just haven\’t noticed before

  3. Guy W. Murray on June 8, 2006 at 1:09 am

    Thanks Gordon. I saw this on ABC’s website tonight as well, and read the article. Now if I can only stay up till Nightline. Aaron–I thought I saw that as the new subtitle over there there at BCC ;-) (yes for the humor impared I am kidding ok?)

  4. Tom on June 8, 2006 at 3:11 am

    Why didn’t I get the Church manual that tells me what to eat at each meal? I’ve been eating what I want my whole life. Like a chump. I fear for my salvation now.

  5. Guy W. Murray on June 8, 2006 at 3:21 am

    Just as they got to the LDS story, they (ABC) interrupted with a special story on Zachari (sp?) from Iraq. Darn!

  6. WillF on June 8, 2006 at 7:39 am

    The video is available at the same location as the story now.
    Tom (#4), I didn’t follow what you meant by your comment until I saw the story, so for clarity’s sake, here is the excerpt that Tom was alluding to:

    “LDS church is not just something you go and do on Sunday,” Holsinger said. “There are manuals that tell you how to carry out your day-to-day existence. How your family eats its meals, what you eat for your meals, what activities your family participates in. It is a lifestyle. It is all encompassing.”

  7. WillF on June 8, 2006 at 7:59 am

    Can ABC’s Terry Moran hold his chin any higher when he speaks?

  8. Ronan on June 8, 2006 at 8:04 am

    The crazy claims made about the Church (e.g. prescribing meals) will allow most Mormons who saw it to dismiss the whole story. Elder Jensen underlined the Plan of Salvation issue with homosexuality (thankfully no Leviticus!):

    “Gender is an essential characteristic of our identity. The family and marriage are essential to God’s plan for our lives and for the eventual destiny of his children. And if the sun no longer shines, I can’t see in God’s world how that will ever change.”

    He also suggested “miracles happen” regarding sexual orientation.

    BTW, and off topic, I hope Zarqawi died a very painful death.

  9. Ronan on June 8, 2006 at 8:10 am

    Oh, and the journalist’s distaste for the Church was rather apparent.

  10. Mary on June 8, 2006 at 8:46 am

    Interesting. The young guys’ claim about the church having handbooks to say what we eat and do was crazy. I was saddened by the story of the man who was married for 25 years while gay in an attempt to be straight. I have an uncle who is gay who was married to a lady for several years and had a daughter – so much pain and sadness resulted!

    Finally, I was bugged when the lady reporter was saying the name of the church, she said, “The Church of Latter-day Saints.” Way to leave out Jesus Christ from our church’s name!

  11. chris/hurricane on June 8, 2006 at 8:55 am

    He also suggested “miracles happen� regarding sexual orientation.

    To the extent that this suggests that gay people can become straight, it is, in my opinion, the single most damaging thing the LDS Church tells gay people.

    I also find the Church’s emphasis on “gender identity” in discussions of homosexuality confusing and generally unhelpful. I have never been conflicted about my gender identity and in this regard I am unremarkable among gay people. I am a man and identify as such. I also happen to be gay. These are two different issues and the Church’s continued emphasis on gender identity is evidence of a lack of understanding about homosexuality and what it means and feels like to be homosexual.

  12. Chance on June 8, 2006 at 9:07 am

    What a waste of time…

  13. Costanza on June 8, 2006 at 9:20 am

    Oh, you mean you guys didn’t get the new correlated Meals Manual? You must no tbe part of the secret Mormon food society. There has already been an Ed Decker-led apostate group who left the church over the food manual: Ex-Mormons for Twinkies. And they have a new video: The Green Jello-Makers

  14. Jonathan Green on June 8, 2006 at 9:39 am

    A few months ago, my wife e-mailed a publishing company that had brought out a children’s book about the church with the church’s name printed incorrectly. They thanked her for the correction–and persisted in calling us the Church of Latter-day Saints.

    I didn’t get the Meals Manual, either. Which night is fondue?

  15. TrailerTrash on June 8, 2006 at 9:48 am

    My guess is that Holsinger is referring to the Word of Wisdom. The Church tells us what to eat and what not to eat at least in a limited way.

  16. Elisabeth on June 8, 2006 at 10:01 am

    So when is the segment on homosexual Muslims and Catholics coming out? I’m tired of the Mormon Church getting singled out on this issue.

  17. Guy W. Murray on June 8, 2006 at 10:33 am

    WillF Thanks for the tip on the video. Just watched it . . . .I agree–complete and utter nonsense in their portrayal of the Church of the “Latter-day Saints.”

  18. WillF on June 8, 2006 at 11:02 am

    You’re welcome Guy. (#16) I also think it is worth calling attention to Mitt Romney’s interview on the Charlie Rose show with Judy Woodruff. (You can watch it for free or pay $0.99 for “high quality”) Man, does he have charisma. I thought he handled the question re: SSM quite well. He does well avoiding looking defensive.

  19. Julie M. Smith on June 8, 2006 at 12:01 pm

    “MONDAY: Normally, the members, usually, in general, under normal conditions, with allowance for individual needs and wants, in an appropriate manner, and with the approval of local priesthood authorities, will eat dinner. The dinner genereally consists of, but is not limited to, food consisting of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, in amounts appropriate to the local needs and desires of the family, with consideration for cost, taste, appearance, cultural patterns, and individual needs. Special circumstances will require individual adaptation, under the guidance of local priesthood leaders.”

  20. Guy Murray on June 8, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Julie . . . now is this correlated instruction meant only for those saints in good standing. Or, can we, who are the weakest of those who are or who can be called saints also eat dinner?

  21. Aaron Brown on June 8, 2006 at 12:05 pm

    I agree that this whole “Church of the Latter-day Saints” business can be annoying. Why does it happen in the media with such frequency? Perhaps the full name is so long that people feel the need to shorten it, and if you’re going to take something out, might as well take out “Jesus Christ.”

    In a way, it may make sense. “Church of Jesus Christ” could refer to any number of sects/denominations, while “Church of the Latter-day Saints” is an unmistakable Mormon reference.

    Aaron B

  22. WillF on June 8, 2006 at 12:14 pm

    Since at BYU I’ve always limited my menu to what was served at the Cougareat.

  23. john f. on June 8, 2006 at 12:17 pm

    Yes, after reading all week about gays on the bloggernacle it was frustrating to walk in from work last night to see the Nightline story featuring the Salt Lake Temple and “Gamofites.” Somehow, a religious denomination that is otherwise completely irrelevant in modern American society merits a front page Nightline special on homosexuality. Nevermind that Jews and Catholics have proscribed homosexuality for literally thousands of years.

    As to the mention of “manuals for eating meals” etc., Ronan is correct that this reference, in its sheer disingenuous and easily identifiable incorrectness, will allow LDS viewers to dismiss the entire segment, and that is only our right. First of all, what does it say about Holsinger that he would say this? He knows it is not true if he really is a returned missionary and lifelong Latter-day Saint. But why did he say it? My wife and I tried very hard to see any good faith reason for making such a statement, but simply couldn’t do it. In the end, my best guess is that he was referring to the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, which in its most current form kind of looks like a manual. But that falls far short of prescribing what is eaten at which meals. It is sheer nonsense.

    A final note, the segment made sure to highlight one of the Gamofites statement, boiler-plate, that he is a “recovering” Mormon. After all, ABC would not want viewers to think that being a Latter-day Saint means belonging to a legitimate religion. No, being a Latter-day Saint is something people need to “recover” from; it is a disease either to avoid altogether or recover from after the fact.

  24. Lamonte on June 8, 2006 at 12:38 pm

    “He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple.” Doctrine and Covenents Declaration 2

    I know you are all going to come back to me and suggest that same sex attractiuon is a totally different issue than blacks and the priesthood for a variety of different reasons, and I will agree with you. But what if Elder Jensen’s comment that “miracles happen” wasn’t about changing someone’s sexual orientation but changing a policy that some have assumed would never change. For those of you old enough to remember, that day in 1978 seemed like a miracle.

  25. Jackson on June 8, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    Let me get this straight:

    The story about Mormon gays and excommunication.

    The interviews come down to these:
    1. a gay couple who thinks they are threatened with excommunication.
    2. gays in SLC who think they are threatened with excommunication.
    3. a gay who tried to change but couldn’t.
    4. a straight GA who says excommunication is real possibility.

    Isn’t there something missing? Where are the interviews with people who might be gay in feeling but not in action, the people for whom excommunication is not a viable option? It would seem Jensen’s invoking of this category, as one of the linchpins of his argument, would be something a journalist would want to follow up on. Is the category just a phantasm? Are there alternatives to the gay couple model?

    In addition, where are the gay Mormons who have converted to heterosexuality and are happy with the change? Those people, too, bear on the question of gays and excommunication.

    The report seems to lapse into the amateurish fetish of false consensus. Every Mormon with same-sex feelings is dissatisfied, all are unhappy.

  26. WillF on June 8, 2006 at 12:45 pm

    And now I see that the Cougareat has been corrupted by food-courtites. Taco Bell? Subway? Tomassitos?
    Why, in my day, we had our Cougareat taco salad and we liked it.

  27. Guy Murray on June 8, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    #24. Except that miracle in 1978 was preceded by a great many years and years of prayers and requests to the Lord by Prophets, Seers and Revelators that the “policy” be changed. Eventually it was. Somehow I don’t see Prophets, Seers and Revelators praying to repeal the law of chastity.

  28. Ronan on June 8, 2006 at 1:24 pm

    Lamonte,
    The context was one of changing orientation.

    As someone who supports some way of finding a place for homosexuals (practicing) at church, I think this Nightline only sets back that hope. We need a proper discussion, not an attack-piece on the Church. That will only cause retrenchment on both sides. ABC — poor, poor journalism.

    Re: Romney on Charlie Rose. It was a shame that Charlie himself didn’t interview him. Woodruff seemed a tad hostile, something Charlie (an American treasure) would not have countenanced. Boy is Romney conservative though. No mistaking that.

  29. Ronan on June 8, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    Guy #26,
    If we compare gay rights with civil rights, I think the Church is at about 1950. I’m one of the few people who says this, but in 20 years, when any discrimination of gays will get BYU football games boycotted (for example), you might see some questions being asked. But not for some time.

  30. Guy Murray on June 8, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    Ronan, This is where we differ. I don’t see any valid comparison between gay rights and civil rights. I recall the days of the boycotts of BYU basketball. I’m sure you’re not suggesting that played a role in the Brethren rolling back the priesthood ban. Furthermore, the equation of Selma and Birmingham to Soulforce at BYU just doesn’t ring the same.

  31. Lamonte on June 8, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    Guy Murray – Certainly they wouldn’t pray for a repeal of the law of chastity but I would hope they have been praying for way to find a place for all of God’s children to exist within the church. I won’t claim to be totally educated about the gay condition but the gay men that I know well enough to call a friend have explained that they have made the less painful choice in their lives – to be openly gay rather than live as someone they know they are not. My personal approach is to hope that gay men will choose to accept the gospel and, at worst, live a celebate life as a worthy church member. But then I wonder what kind of life that would be. I hope, and pray, we find an answer to this complex question involving good people on both sides of the issue.

    Ronan – I agree with all your comments. But I’m not sure ABC did any worse than any other network would have in their efforts to criticize the church. And I especially agree that Charlie Rose is an American treasure.

  32. Blake on June 8, 2006 at 1:48 pm

    Re: #24 — The real miracle would be the church’s adoption of the policy that it is OK for gays to have sex because that is just the way they are but unmarried heteros must refrain from sex until marriage even tho that is just the way they are too. So here are my favorite bad arguments:

    1. The church is wrong on its stance of gay sex because nothing can be a sin if it arises out of natural urges and desires.

    2. God wouldn’t give me natural urges and desires unless he desired me to indulge them.

    3. Gay relationships cannot be sinful because I am in a gay relationship and I am a good person.

    4. The church teaches that being gay is bad but I cannot help it so it isn’t a moral act when I take my pants off to have gay sex.

    5. The church discriminates against gays because it believes that relationships between people of the same sex are against God’s law.

    6. God would never ask me to refrain from engaging in sexual activity for an entire life time unless I’m hetero and I never marry.

    7. I just want the government to leave me alone so I think it should legitimate and promote my relationship by recognizing that I have a fundamental right to marry and to impose sanctions on all those who disagree.

    8. Being a certain race is exactly like being born gay so I have a basic civil right to engage in homsexual conduct.

    9. There are persons born with ambiguous physical sexual characteristics and so the church is wrong about gender being an eternal feature of persons notwithstanding the fact that either one has a Y chromosome or doesn’t.

    10. We can deal with this incredibly complex subject in a soundbite on nightline in 10 minutes.

    However, I also want to emphasize that what was left out was too important not to mention.

    (a) Gay proclivities are not black and white and there is a continuum of those unalterably gay to those who can go both ways to those who are unalterably hetero.

    (b) Like all others, homosexuals are entitled to respect, dignity and love; they are children of our Father in Heaven regardless of what they do or what urges they have — just like everyone.

    (c) There is nothing wrong or sinful in being gay; but sexual activity outside of marriage is proscribed by the Lord for both heteros and gays.

    (d) We can do better.

  33. Ronan on June 8, 2006 at 1:53 pm

    Guy,

    I think the pressure on the Church over the priesthood ban made it an issue of some import. People wanted answers. Fervent prayer then led to revelation.

    Today, those questions aren’t really being asked because the pressure isn’t really there (the Church is hardly alone on this one). But I just ask you to imagine how that pressure might increase in 25 years time.

    I pray for the day when a married Mormon gay couple can be considered duly married “for time.” If you think that this is an impossible scenario just remember: 1880s and 1950s Mormons would have felt the possibility of what are now OD1 and 2 to be utterly, well, impossible. History teaches us that the Church can make radical policy swings.

    Anyway, that’s all in the future; for now, we need to find a way to keep gays, not lose them. And the current policy — celibacy or church discipline — is putting too many otherwise good people in an impossible position. I mourn that so many of our brothers and sisters feel so estranged from the Good News of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  34. roland on June 8, 2006 at 1:54 pm

    Please feel free to send your comments direct at the staff at ABC Nightline – it is obvious from all of the commentary above that there were more than a couple of errors in their reporting.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/News/story?id=64544

  35. MikeInWeHo on June 8, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    re: 6 I assumed he was alluding to the WoW when he mentioned meals. By the way, they both came across as extremely thoughtful, well-spoken, respectable young men. Their representation of the LDS experience as “all encompassing” is dead-on accurate to anyone who has left the Church. I understand, however, that people currently active see it from a very different perspective. There are a lot more inactives and ex-mo’s than actives out there, but of course those groups are not well represented here.

    The simple fact that the church will eventually ex-communicate them is the take-away message that condemns the Mormon community. The Catholic church would not excommunicate them, btw. Now would any Jewish body except perhaps some very small fringe groups. So it’s inaccurate to say “Why not point the finger at the Catholics, too?” It’s one thing to support traditional morality, quite another to enforce it via ecclesiastic discipline.

    The fact that the report got the Church’s name wrong or mis-represented how comprehensive the manuals are is insignificant to the overall message. If the members who viewed the segment pounce on those things and thus discount the experience of the real people portrayed, well…..I guess that’s par for the course !

  36. Kevin Barney on June 8, 2006 at 2:06 pm

    WillF #25, the one and true meal at the Cougereat was the Combo II: enchiladas, beans and rice piled high with lettuce and a tomato slice on top. I mourned when they went to the food court set up (of course, I only visit once a year or so, so I’ll survive).

  37. Ronan on June 8, 2006 at 2:10 pm

    Mike,
    You are right. There is a kind of unofficial laissez-fair attitude towards gays in the Catholic Church. My best Catholic pal is also gay and he gets along just fine, Vatican statements nothwithstanding. He simply could not be Mormon.

  38. Julie M. Smith on June 8, 2006 at 2:22 pm

    “And the current policy — celibacy or church discipline — is putting too many otherwise good people in an impossible position.”

    Including every single 16 year old male in the church. By which I mean I’ve never understood why chastity is impossible for those with homosexual leanings but not for those with heterosexual ones. And, no, I don’t think the fact that the 16 yo will, probably, someday, years in the future, get to have sex is any comfort to him in the moment.

  39. Ronan on June 8, 2006 at 2:34 pm

    Actually, Julie, it is. The prospect of a temple marriage is a huge incentive for adolescent Mormons to keep the law of chastity.

  40. Julie M. Smith on June 8, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    Ronan, that doesn’t change the fact that the choice for the 16 yo is celibacy or (probably mild) church discipline, and that we don’t consider that an impossible situation.

  41. Kristine on June 8, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    “In addition, where are the gay Mormons who have converted to heterosexuality and are happy with the change? Those people, too, bear on the question of gays and excommunication.”

    If there were any of those people, I feel certain we’d be hearing from them often. At the very least, they’d be regularly featured in the Ensign. But, as far as I recall, even the hapless Name Withheld has not yet managed to “overcome” homosexuality.

    Perhaps Nightline can also consider a feature on unicorns?

  42. Blake on June 8, 2006 at 2:52 pm

    Ronan: See bad argument #2 in post #32 above.

  43. Gordon Smith on June 8, 2006 at 2:52 pm

    Jackson (#25): “Let me get this straight …”

    Well, only if a miracle happens.

  44. Frank McIntyre on June 8, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    Kristine,

    As I recall, there was a study a while back that found people who expressed those feelings. And if the Ensign were to publish such a story, I’m sure many would take it as an inditement of those who could not overcome their feelings. Which may be a reason for the Ensign not to go out of its way to publish such a story.

  45. Mike Parker on June 8, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    Ronan and others are off-base comparing the issues of blacks and gays. The two are apples and oranges.

    1. One was about skin color; the other about sinful behavior. (I know you all want it to be about sexual identity, but Church discipline is limited to behavior, not desires and impulses.)

    2. One was about priesthood and temple blessings, the other about membership and fellowship with the community.

    3. One was based on interpretation and belief, not revelation; the other has extensive, canonized, revelatory prohibitions.

    This is not a civil rights issue. We are not saying that practicing homosexuals can be members, but just can’t hold the priesthood and go to the temple. We are saying that homosexual practice is sinful, and therefore unacceptable in the Mormon covenant community.

  46. Rosalynde Welch on June 8, 2006 at 3:02 pm

    “I pray for the day when a married Mormon gay couple can be considered duly married “for time.â€? … for now, we need to find a way to keep gays, not lose them. And the current policy — celibacy or church discipline — is putting too many otherwise good people in an impossible position. I mourn that so many of our brothers and sisters feel so estranged from the Good News of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

    Ronan, I absolutely agree that we need to find ways to keep gay people, and that the current situation is nearly impossible—and I too mourn for those who are estranged. The difficulty and estrangement that gay Saints experience is due in part, of course, to the requirement of celibacy. But I’d guess that the thinness of the gay LDS subject position—a narrative for making sense of the gay experience in the Church, a life-plan that accounts for and mitigates the particular difficulties faced, a store of role-models, a cultural identity that one steps into in the way that one becomes a husband or wife or missionary—contributes quite a lot to the difficulty, as well. Right now the only way of being gay and Mormon seems to be to leave the Church, or to renounce activity, and we need to change that at the institutional level, rather than expect each individual homosexual to re-invent the wheel and find his or her own place.

    But I think the Church’s sanctioning “time-only” SSM would be a huge mistake, and would, indeed, jeopardize heterosexual marriage. (I’m talking about the Church itself okaying gay Mormon marriage; I’m still very confused about civil marriage.) I am fully persuaded that the availability of SSM would not turn male heterosexuals into homosexuals; by adulthood, male sexuality seems pretty hard-wired in, at least for most men. But female sexuality is very different, much more fluid and circumstantial, and a legitimate same-sex-marriage option could, for a variety of reasons (including the perennial gender imbalance among LDS singles), attract many women who could otherwise marry heterosexually—particularly if adoption or ARTs are okayed for gay couples in the Church. To deny this is, I think, to seriously misunderstand the nature of female sexuality.

    Instead—and this is something I’ve heard D talk about in the bloggernacle from time to time—what about some sort of special quorum or status for Saints, male and female, gay and straight, who, for whatever reason, choose celibacy. The Nazarite tradition of the OT comes to mind. Some sort of opening into a legitimate, celebrated LDS celibacy; some way to theorize a subject position, a life plan, a way of making sense of one’s experience and feeling committed to a higher purpose.

  47. Elisabeth on June 8, 2006 at 3:09 pm

    Frank – Your comment #44 made me smile. Since when does the Ensign choose stories based on whether or not someone’s feelings will be hurt, because he or she can’t fulfill the prescribed ideal as presented to them in the story?

    Mike (and others criticizing the Church for its treatment of homosexuals) – I agree that the Mormon church maintains a fairly unique perspective with respect to disciplining gays, but I still don’t agree with ABC’s editorial decision to single out the Mormon church on this issue. Few religious organizations are (or have been) accepting of homosexual behavior, and I don’t think the Mormon church warrants the spotlight all to itself.

  48. Gordon Smith on June 8, 2006 at 3:15 pm

    Confession: I don’t read all of the bloggernacle threads on gays and the Church.

    Implication: my question has undoubtedly been addressed by others.

    Question: can someone tell me when Church leaders first acknowledged that “people have feelings and thoughts for which they may not be responsible” in this context?

  49. Mike Parker on June 8, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    Gordon,

    I seem to remember the shift coming about in the early 1990s.

    A key discourse was Dallin H. Oaks’ October 1995 Ensign article, “Same-Gender Attraction.” One excerpt:

    “Just as some people have different feelings than others, some people seem to be unusually susceptible to particular actions, reactions, or addictions. Perhaps such susceptibilities are inborn or acquired without personal choice or fault, like the unnamed ailment the Apostle Paul called ‘a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure’ (2 Cor. 12:7). One person may have feelings that draw him toward gambling, but unlike those who only dabble, he becomes a compulsive gambler. Another person may have a taste for tobacco and a susceptibility to its addiction. Still another may have an unusual attraction to alcohol and the vulnerability to be readily propelled into alcoholism. Other examples may include a hot temper, a contentious manner, a covetous attitude, and so on.

    “In each case (and in other examples that could be given) the feelings or other characteristics that increase susceptibility to certain behavior may have some relationship to inheritance. But the relationship is probably very complex. The inherited element may be nothing more than an increased likelihood that an individual will acquire certain feelings if he or she encounters particular influences during the developmental years. But regardless of our different susceptibilities or vulnerabilities, which represent only variations on our mortal freedom (in mortality we are only ‘free according to the flesh’ [2 Ne. 2:27]), we remain responsible for the exercise of our agency in the thoughts we entertain and the behavior we choose.”

  50. chris/hurricane on June 8, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    48–

    I’d say this acknowledgement first came forward in a significant and public way in 1995, when Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s article on same-sex attraction appeared in the Ensign.

  51. chris/hurricane on June 8, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    Mike Parker and I crossed posted but seem to be in agreement.

  52. Julie M. Smith on June 8, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    Rosalynde,

    I completely agree with you. And it wouldn’t require a huge revelation, policy change, or new program. All it would require would be to talk about singleness/celibacy (for whatever reason) not as a temporary state that is vaguely embarrassing but rather as the state which God, in God’s infinite wisdom, has chosen for me for right now. (I remember realizing the power of this very vividly when I was mindlessly thumbing through some literature for Catholic youth that talked about working to discern God’s vocation for an individual, whether that be marriage, singleness/celibacy, priesthood, whatever. The simple fact that all of these options were presented as things that God could have planned for someone–not that the person got to choose, mind you–was pretty amazing stuff.)

  53. John Mansfield on June 8, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    “what about some sort of special quorum or status for Saints, male and female, gay and straight, who, for whatever reason, choose celibacy”

    single adult in full fellowship?

  54. Kristine on June 8, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    ” Church discipline is limited to behavior, not desires and impulses.)”

    As others have pointed out, this is only recently true–it was not the case in the 70s and 80s, when homosexual thoughts and feelings were themselves defined as sinful.

    I also don’t believe that the orientation/behavior distinction is consistent–I imagine a young man who acknowledged homosexual orientation would not be allowed to go on a mission, regardless of whether or not he was chaste. And, of course, we’ve mentioned the double standard for singles–a gay couple holding hands during Sacrament Mtg. would be treated very differently than a single pair dating.

    Ultimately, I don’t believe the orientation/behavior distinction can hold, and I’ll be interested to see how the Church’s position continues to evolve.

  55. Kristine on June 8, 2006 at 3:47 pm

    Um, did I just say “single pair”? Aargh.

    I meant, of course, an unmarried heterosexual pair. Sheesh.

  56. Ed Johnson on June 8, 2006 at 3:55 pm

    Blake,

    I like your list of “bad arguments” and I agree that most are indeed bad (and annoyingly common). But I’m confused about why you included argument number 9:

    There are persons born with ambiguous physical sexual characteristics and so the church is wrong about gender being an eternal feature of persons notwithstanding the fact that either one has a Y chromosome or doesn’t.

    This actually seems like a pretty good argument to me, not a bad one. More precisely, I’d say that the existence of persons of ambiguous sex proves that we do not possess an infallible method of determining eternal gender, which should at least make us slower to judge others and force them into expected gender behaviors.

    You seem to be claiming that possession of a “Y” chromosome is the ultimate foolproof way of determining eternal maleness. Why are you so sure? To quote from an entry in Wikipedia:

    The common habit in the 21st century of elevating the role of the sex chromosomes above all other factors when determining gender may be analogous to the older habit of finding “true” sex in the gonads. Though high school biology teaches that men have XY and women XX chromosomes, in fact there are quite a few other possible combinations such as Turner syndrome XO, Metafemale syndrome XXX, Klinefelter’s syndrome XXY, Jacob’s syndrome XYY, Mosaicism XO/XY, de la Chapelle syndrome XX male, Swyer syndrome XY female, and there are many other individuals who do not follow the typical patterns (such as individuals with four or even more sex chromosomes).

  57. Ronan on June 8, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    Celibacy does indeed seem like a noble occupation — a eunuch for the kingdom of God and all that — but I know that I couldn’t possibly do it, so I am very reluctant to suggest it as a course of action for others. But I agree, some step towards openly embracing the faithful homosexual (rather than it being a hush-hush condition), would be welcome. Nice call Rosalynde. (Would you do it though?!)

    Is a Mormon celibacy even possible though? I have a feeling that some sexual outlet (pornography, masturbation) must be a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for celibate priests. Given our ultra-strict law of chastity, I think this class of “Nazarites” would often feel guilty for minor (and understandable) infractions. Very, very hard.

  58. Gordon Smith on June 8, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    Thanks, Mike and chris/hurricane.

  59. Ed Johnson on June 8, 2006 at 4:10 pm

    To follow up Gordon’s question, does anybody know when church leaders first began to acknowledge the possibility that homosexual orientation may be difficult or impossible for many people to change, and/or that heterosexual marriage is not a valid option for these people? The quotes from Oaks’ article do not seem to have this implication.

  60. Wacky Hermit on June 8, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    Regarding the stories of those LDS who have “converted” from gay to straight, I don’t think you will hear them. The reason is not because there aren’t any, but because the conversion process involves a re-setting of paradigm whereby a person comes to see themselves as a child of God, not a gay child of God or a straight child of God. People I know who are overcoming homosexual urges don’t think of themselves as “converted gays” and so are unlikely to tell their stories that way. Also, these stories are intensely private and spiritual, and for that reason alone are unlikely to be told publicly in the Ensign or on Nightline (presuming, of course, that a Nightline reporter would air them). And to top it all off, these struggles are ongoing processes; the “conversion” doesn’t suddenly come to a happy ending where they live straightily every after, although it does eventually reach a point where it is manageable without intense daily effort. So even if you could find someone who would be willing to tell their story, it wouldn’t fit neatly in the pigeonhole we’ve all got ready for it.

  61. Elisabeth on June 8, 2006 at 4:14 pm

    I think it’s interesting how Julie says she agrees with Rosalynde, but Julie says that _God_ chooses celibacy for people, and Rosalynde says that people make their own choice to live a celibate life. Maybe God choosing for you is the only way to make a celibate life palatable, but I don’t think Mormon doctrine provides much of a foundation for divinely-sanctioned celibacy.

  62. John Mansfield on June 8, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    Ronan, you may find this commentary on celibacy by John Derbyshire interesting.

  63. Kristine on June 8, 2006 at 4:24 pm

    Wacky Hermit, that sounds just like the Evergreen/LDS Social Services party line. Most of the people I know who’ve gone through that treatment find it works for a couple of years. The founder of Evergreen kept with the process for a little longer before he denounced it as ineffective and grossly manipulative. But most eventually find that sexuality is not like other addictions, and that a model that is very helpful in treating addictive behaviors does very little to change the underlying orientation. Nobody–not Evergreen, not LDS Social Services, not Nicolosi–has any evidence of heterosexual desire being sustained in people whose orientation was strictly homosexual (not somewhere in the bisexual range of the Kinsey spectrum).

    Which is to say, regardless of whether one has a pigeonhole for the stories or not, the ones with even moderate degrees of real, sustained reorientation DON’T EXIST.

  64. Julie M. Smith on June 8, 2006 at 4:30 pm

    “I don’t think Mormon doctrine provides much of a foundation for divinely-sanctioned celibacy.”

    Unless you think that God ‘messed up’ in the case of each single LDS, then apparently God has chosen celibacy as the best option (for the time being, anyway) for a large number of people. My point is that we don’t often think of it this way.

  65. Elisabeth on June 8, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    Julie – “messed up” is pretty strong, but I think many single members feel like that is the general message from the Church about their situation.

  66. chris/hurricane on June 8, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    54 –

    As others have pointed out, this is only recently true–it was not the case in the 70s and 80s, when homosexual thoughts and feelings were themselves defined as sinful.

    This is generally true, but I think if you read Elder Oaks’s article on same-sex attraction carefully, you’ll see that homosexual thoughts and feelings are still to be “resisted” and “overcome.” In other words, they are still sinful–you’re just not going to be punished for having them since that seems to be something the Church is willing to acknowledge people can’t control. And, really, if you are going to take seriously Jesus’s teaching that a man who lusts in his heart has committed adultery, then the attraction/action distinction is essentially meaningless.

  67. Coffinberry on June 8, 2006 at 4:54 pm

    Mike said: “This is not a civil rights issue…”

    Tell that to my Constitutional Law class. Uniformly they were of the belief that gay rights and civil rights are of a piece, and that it is only a matter of time (as one said, “ten years, max”) before any kind of discrimination against homosexuals, including a ban on marriage, becomes illegal in the same way that racial discrimination is illegal. Those of us in the class (two) who spoke to say that perhaps such views aren’t quite as widely held as they thought were dismissed as speaking for hate-mongers and bigots.

    All this in a discussion the professor praised as “respectful.”

    Take-away point… you can claim all day that it’s apples and oranges, but when it comes down to it, the managers at the produce stand say they’re the same.

  68. Melissa on June 8, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    “I absolutely agree that we need to find ways to keep gay people, and that the current situation is nearly impossible—and I too mourn for those who are estranged. The difficulty and estrangement that gay Saints experience is due in part, of course, to the requirement of celibacy. But I’d guess that the thinness of the gay LDS subject position—a narrative for making sense of the gay experience in the Church, a life-plan that accounts for and mitigates the particular difficulties faced, a store of role-models, a cultural identity that one steps into in the way that one becomes a husband or wife or missionary—contributes quite a lot to the difficulty, as well. Right now the only way of being gay and Mormon seems to be to leave the Church, or to renounce activity, and we need to change that at the institutional level, rather than expect each individual homosexual to re-invent the wheel and find his or her own place.”

    RW, replace “gay Saints” with “single, heterosexual Saints” and the statement still applies. The utter lack of social and theological scripts for a single person in the Mormon universe makes me increasingly convinced that the LDS church is not the best place for a single adult to thrive whatever his or her reason for being single. It may not be the worst place (i.e. least conducive to thriving), but I no longer believe it’s the best.

  69. Mike Parker on June 8, 2006 at 5:13 pm

    Kristine #54: You argue against my contention that â€?Church discipline is limited to behavior, not desires and impulses.” Yet your first example (a young man who acknowledged homosexual orientation would not be allowed to go on a mission) has nothing to do with Church discipline, and your second example (a gay couple holding hands during Sacrament Mtg.) is about behavior, not desires or orientation.

  70. Julie M. Smith on June 8, 2006 at 5:23 pm

    Melissa,

    What policies, program, rhetoric, doctrine, etc., would be necessary for singles to feel that the LDS Church _is_ the best place for them to thrive?

  71. Kristine on June 8, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    Mike, not being allowed to go on a mission may not be the same as a disciplinary council, but it sends a pretty clear message that you’re considered unworthy. I think that a gay couple holding hands in church might well be accused of homosexual activity, while a heterosexual couple engaging in premarital interdigitation would be regarded as innocently enjoying each other’s company. Sorry I wasn’t clearer about what I was getting at.

    I agree with your assertion that church members do not currently face formal disciplinary action for merely being homosexual. I was just pointing out that this is a fairly recent development; there were plenty of church courts held for non-practicing homosexual men in the 70s and 80s (back when they were called church courts).

  72. Blake on June 8, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    How about this possibility? The Church can take the position that if gays comply with law to be in a committed relationship recognized by a civil union or binding contract with one partner, then the Church will regard those in such relationship as in a legally recognizeable relationship and therefore can maintain membership in the Church and will not seek excommunication unless those participatinga actively: (a) violate their vows; (b) seek to lure others into homsexual relationships; or (c) openly teach that homosexual conduct will lead to a fulness of exaltation. All those who have a self-identified gay orientation may participate in the full blessings of the temple and priesthood if they are celibate to the same extent as all other single people in the Church. We extend a hand of fellowship to those who have such a gay orientation and recognize that they have burdens that we have a sacred obligation not to make heavier and to accept them into full fellowship. Moreover, in the eternities God has a plan to open all doors to full exaltation even for those who have not been able to avail themselves of the fulness of the blessings of eternal marriage while in this life.

    What if the Church were to make that announcement?

  73. Adam Greenwood on June 8, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    “Mike, not being allowed to go on a mission may not be the same as a disciplinary council, but it sends a pretty clear message that you’re considered unworthy.”

    Not necessarily. Its entirely consistent with the doctrine to see homosexuality as a trial or a disability. Such things can unfit someone for some tasks without making them unworthy of them.

  74. Mike Parker on June 8, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    Kristine #70:

    There are reasons other than worthiness why a young man would not be allowed to go on a mission, including mental or physical health or disability, lack of testimony, and unwillingness to abide by conditions of service. If a young man has strong, but as yet unacted-upon homosexual desires, as a bishop I would not allow him not to serve a mission for his own protection. Missionary service places individuals into close, exclusive contact with others of the same gender, and that situation could either prove too tempting for the young man to resist, or could even get him hurt if his companion reacted negatively to his advances.

    While I do not dispute your last point, I would be interested to know how many you think is “plenty.” Your use of that word insinuates that the Church was on some massive anti-gay witch hunt. Do you have any figures or research to back up your claim?

  75. Nathan on June 8, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    Many missionaries can’t go (get denied) on a mission due to weight concerns or mental issues. This doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy.

  76. Seth R. on June 8, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    Re Ronan #56, wrote:

    “Is a Mormon celibacy even possible though? I have a feeling that some sexual outlet (pornography, masturbation) must be a “don’t ask don’t tellâ€? policy for celibate priests. Given our ultra-strict law of chastity, I think this class of “Nazaritesâ€? would often feel guilty for minor (and understandable) infractions. Very, very hard.”

    I’m really embarassed to have to point this out but … um … Ronan …

    There’s already an “outlet” that doesn’t involve either of the things you mentioned. Just happens naturally during the night. I’d really rather not spell it out for everyone, but …

    You did know about that right?

  77. Kevin Barney on June 8, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    Blake, I know we disagree on gay marriage, but I could definitely get behind your proposal for an intra-Church solution. I don’t think (b) and (c) are necessary, though; the key would be (a), keeping their vows.

    Sure, they couldn’t go to the temple and what not, but if I were gay I could live with that. I don’t go that much now as it is.

    I can’t imagine that we’ll see this anytime soon, but I would applaud it.

  78. DavidH on June 8, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    Blake,

    What do you think of your own suggestion from an LDS doctrinal standpoint?

    Kevin,

    How would that solve a concern that homosexuals are treated as second class citizens in the Church?

  79. Adam Greenwood on June 8, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    “Instead—and this is something I’ve heard D talk about in the bloggernacle from time to time—what about some sort of special quorum or status for Saints, male and female, gay and straight, who, for whatever reason, choose celibacy. The Nazarite tradition of the OT comes to mind. Some sort of opening into a legitimate, celebrated LDS celibacy; some way to theorize a subject position, a life plan, a way of making sense of one’s experience and feeling committed to a higher purpose.”

    LDS Monks. I like it a lot. In fact, I had a sort of dream or vision about this at one time that impressed me deeply.

    Now in the Catholic model, monastic or priestly celibacy and lay marriage are two equally respected models, though celibacy is what ultimately prevails. In the heavens, they neither marry nor are given in marriage and everyone replaces their earthly unions with an ecstatic union with God. That wouldn’t work for us obviously. But we could just turn it around. Celibacy could be a respected earthly model of devoting oneself to God’s service (“eunuchs for Christ’s sake”), but with the understanding that in the next life marriage is ultimately for everyone.

    At first glance, having one model prevail in the eternities looks like it would keep the other model from being respected in this life. But it doesn’t for the Catholics, and the reason is that once one is committed to one path, one is discouraged from switching (and, for marriages, the potentially disfavored model in the Catholic schema, one is outright forbidden). So if we were really going to set up a celibacy path in this life while keeping marriage as the celestial goal for all (which I think our doctrine compels us to do), then we would have to encourage long term commitments to celibate/single-path in this life. Otherwise, we haven’t really changed the situation. The problem is that I don’t think we’re willing to do that. Oh, we might, with those who have homosexuality, because we see little chance that their barriers to marriage will be overcome in this life. But for those who are more capable of heterosexual union, I think the church would be very reluctant to have them commit to *not* finding a mate. The churchly ideal for them is living in hope, like Simon who went to the temple looking for the Messiah. Maybe one solution would be to make the commitments to celibacy not lifelong but for a period of years (10?) after which one would prayerfully reevalute with the aid of one’s bishop. And also make the vows of celibacy or whatever releasable, though one would not be encouraged to do it. Another thought is to make women not eligible for it until they’ve passed the fruitful age, and heterosexual men never (without some kind of special circumstance).

    Another model, besides that of single celibacy, given the excess ratio of single women to single men in the church: perhaps we should consider the model of the celibate marriage, where a gay man and a woman are married but are expected to live without sex (perhaps the marriage would have to be consummated at least once for ritual purposes). This would be a real marriage but with the idea that it won’t take full sexual form until the other world where some of the neurobiological barriers to ‘normal’ marriage were healed. This might relieve some of the tensions these marriages currently experience that comes from their not quite fitting the normal model, perhaps esp. the sexual parts of it. It would also given these marriages a *charism*: to practice and model the spiritual and cooperation aspect of the marital union, and demonstrate and show the agape aspect of marital love.

    In all these models of celibacy, masturbation and p*rn would of course be problems, esp. for the younger and male. But all kinds of sins are problems for all kinds of people. Repent oft.

  80. Gina on June 8, 2006 at 6:05 pm

    76: I think it would be horrible to put anyone into this sort of underclass – to accept them part way into the church and allow a certain behavior so far, but then cut them off from what we claim to be the ultimate blessings of the gospel, or at least church membership – the covenants of the temple. I don’t see how the church could sanction in any way behavior that ultimately would prevent them from making those covenants. As it is now, those covenants are available to all who chose to conform to certain behavioral standards. (The challenge of keeping those standards, of course, varies tremendously.) If the purpose of everything is to draw nearer to God, and the temple is an essential part of that, we would be in essence cutting them off from that in a way that not even sin would do, since we can always repent. Any solution must allow everyone the hope of entering into all the convenants of the temple.

  81. Blake on June 8, 2006 at 6:05 pm

    David: I can buy my statement theologically. I crafted this statement with an eye toward what our scriptures say about exaltation and how we actually treat the magnitude of various sins. I believe that gays in a committed relationship are less sinful than gays who are promiscuous. I believe that the Church has an interest in promoting a reduction in such promiscuity. For me, sin is simply whatever injures any relationship and alientation and good is what leads to human flourishing and healing of relationships. The very fact that there are 3 degrees of glory suggests that not everyone has the same purpose in life or eternity. It is not destined that all will be exalted. Gays in a committed relationship would not have the exalting blessings of the temple, but all other blessings could be extended to them. Why not?

  82. Ronan on June 8, 2006 at 6:06 pm

    Alas, Seth, I haven’t wet the bed since a camping trip to Wales when I was 6…

  83. Gina on June 8, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    79 – It is my understanding (although I have no official verification) that single men over 30 cannot be temple workers (of course they can still attend the temple, but just not be workers, in the same way that mothers of small children cannot). This speaks to how strongly chosen celibacy is discouraged in the church. Although I really am fascinated by Rosalynde’s idea, there would have to be some major changes – if not in doctrine, then in culture.

  84. Nathan on June 8, 2006 at 6:13 pm

    #80

    What is the crowning blessings of the temple? For those who have been part of, or remember what the sealing covenant and ordinance entails, there is no place for homosexual unions in that most blessed of ordinances.

    In other words, no can do. It won’t happen. It can’t happen. The blessings cannot apply.

  85. Adam Greenwood on June 8, 2006 at 6:14 pm

    Gina, #80:
    We live in a fallen world. Blake O. is arguing that if the choice is between some people completely slipping away, maybe a 30% solution is better than nothing. I think Blake O’s idea is bad, but for other reasons.

  86. Nathan on June 8, 2006 at 6:19 pm

    Sorry #80, something seemed to be messed up on my last refresh. That should have been directed to #81

  87. Gina on June 8, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    84- I do not understand homosexuality. I do not understand the ways it is or is not part of one’s eternal identity. I know that many gays feel that is central to their identity, and also that prophets tend to speak as if it is not.

    If it is actually an eternal part of who they are, can we believe that God who created them will eternally cut them off from his greatest blessings? I cannot, although I agree that the sealing ordinance as it is now practiced and understood would be incompatable with a homosexual union.

    If it is not an eternal part of who they are, it would be unconsionable (sp?) to cut them off from hope of the highest blessings of heaven, even if they are not able to enter into the relevent covenants in this life, as many are not.

  88. Anita on June 8, 2006 at 7:17 pm

    Just for the record, I grew up with Daniel Holsinger and he is from a strong LDS family, one of 6 or 7 kids, did serve a mission, (even went out with my sister once I think…) His dad is with involved with the Kennedy Center at BYU, and while most of his siblings are very active in the church, I heard that his sister also recently came out of the closet. I’m sure this broadcast was hard for his family.

  89. greenfrog on June 8, 2006 at 7:38 pm

    Mike Parker (#74) wrote: If a young man has strong, but as yet unacted-upon homosexual desires, as a bishop I would not allow him not to serve a mission for his own protection. Missionary service places individuals into close, exclusive contact with others of the same gender, and that situation could either prove too tempting for the young man to resist, or could even get him hurt if his companion reacted negatively to his advances.

    Why not pair him up with a lesbian sister as a companion, and let them both, chastely, preach and teach the gospel?

  90. Nathan on June 8, 2006 at 7:43 pm

    Satan will not be attending meetings in any of the kingdoms of glory, let alone the Celestial Kingdom. Who created him?

    Hope comes from repentance. Nobody can recieve the promised blessings without repentance and becoming as the Savior.

  91. Kevin Barney on June 8, 2006 at 7:55 pm

    Sure Blake’s idea is less than ideal. But the current situation is less, less, less than ideal. This would be a step up at least. Put yourself in the position of a gay person who wants to remain active in the Church. Given a choice between the status quo and the proposal, I would jump at the proposal. As for the temple, I would be willing to trust that God would work that out in the eternities.

  92. Seth R. on June 8, 2006 at 8:14 pm

    Gee Ronan…

    I have no response to that…

  93. MikeInWeHo on June 8, 2006 at 8:40 pm

    Well the status quo is certainly problematic, that’s for sure. There are many non-celibate active gay Mormons. I was chatting at a party in Palm Springs with one just recently. He said “Oh my bishop knows I’m gay and doesn’t care. I don’t go to the temple.” Then he went off to try and meet some speedo-clad dude by the pool. I think Blake’s ‘possibility’ in post # 72 already exists. There is already a de facto “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation in some wards and stakes. What makes that most troubling is that it’s so inconsistent across the Church.

  94. mullingandmusing (m&m) on June 8, 2006 at 8:58 pm

    It is my understanding (although I have no official verification) that single men over 30 cannot be temple workers (of course they can still attend the temple, but just not be workers, in the same way that mothers of small children cannot).

    I actually know a single guy over 30 who works in the temple.

  95. mullingandmusing (m&m) on June 8, 2006 at 9:15 pm

    RW, replace “gay Saints� with “single, heterosexual Saints� and the statement still applies. The utter lack of social and theological scripts for a single person in the Mormon universe makes me increasingly convinced that the LDS church is not the best place for a single adult to thrive whatever his or her reason for being single. It may not be the worst place (i.e. least conducive to thriving), but I no longer believe it’s the best.

    This makes me sad. I was a single member for a while, and, while I understand that it can be painful to hear about marriage and such as part of our doctrine and teachings, I would not have wanted to be in any other place. If we start analyzing the Church in this way (as above), then would it really be good for divorced people? People who have lost a spouse? People whose spouse is not a member or not active? People who can’t have children? People (like me) who can’t have more children? SO many people’s lives fall under the category “Less Than Ideal.” Where is the recognition that individuals (not just the Church) have responsibility for their own thriving? It seems short-sided to expect that it is only the Church’s responsibility to somehow make the Church comfortable for all the exceptions to the ideal (and there are several!) It seems to me our leaders are doing what they can in that regard. We need to understand that teaching the ideal is part of the way things work, so we can all aim for the ideal and trust in those blessings (based on the ideal) that have been repeatedly promised through the prophets — that no blessing God has will be denied the faithful. That means it is up to each of us to be faithful, whatever that may mean in our individual lives and with our individual trials of faith. Those struggles and tests are what life is about.

    Throughout your life on earth, seek diligently to fulfill the fundamental purposes of this life through the ideal family. While you may not have yet reached that ideal, do all you can through obedience and faith in the Lord to consistently draw as close to it as you are able. Let nothing dissuade you from that objective. If it requires fundamental changes in your personal life, make them. When you have the required age and maturity, obtain all of the ordinances of the temple you can receive. If for the present, that does not include sealing in the temple to a righteous companion, live for it. Pray for it. Exercise faith that you will obtain it. Never do anything that would make you unworthy of it. If you have lost the vision of eternal marriage, rekindle it. If your dream requires patience, give it. As brothers, we prayed and worked for 30 years before our mother and our nonmember father were sealed in the temple. Don’t become overanxious. Do the best you can. We cannot say whether that blessing will be obtained on this side of the veil or beyond it, but the Lord will keep His promises. In His infinite wisdom, He will make possible all you qualify in worthiness to receive. Do not be discouraged. Living a pattern of life as close as possible to the ideal will provide much happiness, great satisfaction, and impressive growth while here on earth regardless of your current life circumstances.
    Richard G. Scott, “First Things First,� Ensign, May 2001, 6 (emph. in original)

    That said, I do think that culturally, we need to find a way to make church a safe place for those who feel they are gay, have chosen to be celibate, and want to stay in the Church. Culturally, we aren’t there yet. But that won’t happen from trying to change the Church’s doctrine or policies. That will just come as we as brothers and sisters are more compassionate and less judgmental. And that will benefit us in many other ways as well! :)

  96. Kristine Haglund Harris on June 8, 2006 at 9:27 pm

    “those who feel they are gay”

    We could start by accepting their description of their own experience and just saying “those who are gay.” And no, you needn’t provide a link to Elder Oaks’ talk about how homosexual can only be an adjective. I’ve read it. I think it’s precisely the sort of thing that makes gay people feel they are not understood or welcomed in the church. As long as those sorts of authoritative pronouncements exist, I don’t think more compassion or less judgment from the members will really ameliorate the problems (though, as you point out, there are other good reasons to cultivate compassionate attitudes). I don’t think the church can be culturally safe if it is not theologically safe.

  97. pjj on June 8, 2006 at 9:58 pm

    “In Quiet Desperation”, which was written by Fred and Marilyn Matis and Ty Mansfield, takes the clear position that homosexuality is not a choice. Now, I realize that none of the authors are general authorities, but the book was published by Deseret Book, so my guess is that it’s passed some kind of doctrinal review. (And maybe I’m incorrect on that.) The other clear stand in the book is that gay folks are to be loved and accepted, whether or not they choose to be celibate. This seems to me to be a great step forward in thinking about the issue. (And somewhat sad that such a little step is considered so radical.) They feel that being gay is a “challenge” and that gays should remain celibate in this life, and I don’t agree with those stances, but still admire the Matis’s greatly for having the courage to say that homosexuality is a choice. They are the parents of Stuart Matis, who committed suicide on the steps of the Los Altos chapel during the Prop 22 campaign in California (and in which there was a great deal of church involvement.) The Matis’s are in their 70s and could have just quietly rode out the publicity over their son’s death, but have chosen to work toward making the church a somewhat more kind place for gay folks.

  98. mullingandmusing (m&m) on June 8, 2006 at 10:45 pm

    As long as those sorts of authoritative pronouncements exist, I don’t think more compassion or less judgment from the members will really ameliorate the problems (though, as you point out, there are other good reasons to cultivate compassionate attitudes).

    Well, either we can wait for those “authoritative pronouncements” to change (which may or may not happen), or we can still try to do what we can to help the cultural aspects of things. Getting caught up in these kinds of things doesn’t help things any, either. Maybe we are doing the best we can with a tough situation; it takes some give and take on both sides. This is exactly the kind of thing that I was talking about. If someone doesn’t say or do things just right, then it’s up to the individual who is offended to be able to sift through some of that and understand honest desires to reach out and show compassion and forgiveness. Making leaders or members offenders for a word is as much a problem as saying something potentially offensive. Compassion and patience and acceptance need to go both ways.

  99. Kristine Haglund Harris on June 8, 2006 at 11:11 pm

    m&m, I didn’t mean to make you (or Elder Oaks) an offender for a word. I think the fact that we are counseled to speak as though gay people can’t be trusted to correctly interpret and articulate their own experience is a really big problem, which is elided in a few little words by your phrasing, and, similarly by Elder Oaks’ insistence that “homosexual” can only describe an action or a thought, and can’t really be considered a fundamental part of someone’s identity. If you weren’t engaging in that elision, then I apologize for jumping to an unwarranted conclusion.

  100. Brad Kramer on June 8, 2006 at 11:46 pm

    Blake,

    I know we haven’t agreed on several of the finer points of the SSM, but, as several of my posts on the subject over the past months, including this one

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=3025#comment-126215

    can attest, I am very much supportive of essentially what you have proposed here.

    Also, I hate to take a cynical attitude toward Church policies, but I think Ronan’s got a point about BYU football games. We’ll see if and how things change when the position starts to affect the financial status of the church.

  101. Tatiana on June 8, 2006 at 11:48 pm

    The real tragedy for me, of the status of gays in the church, is that we lost Karl Ed. :’( He was a faithful member and served a mission, then realized he was gay. He’s such a great guy. Now he’s no longer LDS. It’s really a great loss to all of us that he’s not.

    I see a future in which gays are not denied the celestial kingdom. (Actually, I see that in the present too.) Someday the church will understand that, and paths will open whereby gays may enjoy full fellowship in the church.

  102. MikeInWeHo on June 9, 2006 at 1:12 am

    I would come back tomorrow if the Church accepted me, my partner, and our daughter as a family. We are a legitimate (and in fact pretty wonderful) family; I don’t need any geriatric hierarchy in SLC to confirm that. If I wind up in some lesser heaven because I won’t renounce my family here on earth, so be it. It’s sad, though. The programs of the Church would be great for our teenager in particular, and there is no substitute that I can find. The Church is unique, that’s for sure !

  103. Téa on June 9, 2006 at 2:24 am

    Kristine HH (#96 & 99)

    President Hinckley used the phrase “those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians” in his 1998 address What Are People Asking About Us? and “those who refer to themselves as gays and lesbians” in the 1999 talk Why We Do Some of the Things We Do .

    President Hinckley addresses “powerful inclinations” in the talk above as well. For the proscription of marriage as a way to treat same-sex attraction, see his talk

  104. Téa on June 9, 2006 at 2:32 am

    Cut off the end of my comment–oops

    President Hinckley’s 1987 talk Reverence and Morality” includes this statement:

    “The Lord has proclaimed that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and is intended to be an eternal relationship bonded by trust and fidelity. Latter-day Saints, of all people, should marry with this sacred objective in mind. Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices, which first should clearly be overcome with a firm and fixed determination never to slip to such practices again.”

  105. Blake on June 9, 2006 at 2:51 am

    Brad re: #100: I’m a big fan of BYU an BYU football in particular. About the only thing that could cause me to go against the kingdom would be the ruination of the BYU football program. Come to think of it, the spectre of several apostles travelling with the UofU and rooting for the U while sitting the Y’s Board is enough to send me over the top. Where is the darn complaint box when I need it? So if they want to keep me in the kingdom, they’ll have to beef up support for BYU football.

  106. Kristine Haglund Harris on June 9, 2006 at 6:42 am

    Téa (103), I think President Hinckley’s formulation provides another clear example of the problem I mentioned. The fact that we speak as if homosexuality doesn’t *really* exist, and people who say they are gay are just whimsically “referring” to themselves as such, as though it were some silly adolescent phase, is part of why we can’t come up with any theologically satisfying or culturally welcoming response to homosexuality.

    (And, before you ask, YES, I believe President Hinckley is a prophet; I just disagree with him about this)

  107. Paul Mortensen on June 9, 2006 at 9:01 am

    KHH:

    If we accepted everyone’s perception of reality as reality itself WE would be insane. My wife’s grandmother is certain, repeat certain, that she is Ruth from the OT. Her life experience has convinced her that she is Ruth and no amount of argument can convince her otherwise. She’s also convinced that I am king Richard III– after all she’s met him in the past and would recognize him if she met him again. She knows my given name but still calls me Richard when we see her. Her perception of reality is distorted (by schizophrenia) but not one I must accept or recognize as a valid alternative to my reality.

    My children ardently believe in an actual Santa Claus. For them Santa is a reality– he actually exists along with his eight flying reindeer. That’s a reality created by deception on my part (yes, I’m guilty but I’ll willingly take my stripes on this one).

    I don’t think homosexuality is a disease similar to schizophrenia but I do think that homosexuality creates an “alternate” reality for those with such desires and a reality that we are not required to accept as legitimate. I personally think that homosexuality is a reality similar to my childrens’ beleif in Santa Claus– a reality created through deception– and one that neither I nor anyone else ought to be required to accept.

  108. diogenes on June 9, 2006 at 10:41 am

    I do think that homosexuality creates an “alternate� reality for those with such desires and a reality

    Heterosexuality doesn’t? Mormonism doesn’t?

    People who see through a glass darkly shouldn’t throw stones. Or something like that.

  109. Russell Arben Fox on June 9, 2006 at 10:53 am

    “I personally think that homosexuality is a reality similar to my childrens’ belief in Santa Claus– a reality created through deception– and one that neither I nor anyone else ought to be required to accept.”

    With the slight problem, Paul, of the fact that Santa Claus is real. (Or, at least, cannot possibly be shown not to be real.) The fact that you have contributed to your children’s development of a particular account of Santa Claus that does not match up with your personally observed reality does not mean that you can conclude that all possible accounts of Santa Claus have been similarly dreamed up by parents. Similarly while there probably is a fair amount of self-deception involved in many individual’s understandings of homosexuality (whether it applies to themselves or others), that fact tells us nothing whatsoever about the existence of the thing itself.

  110. Dan Richards on June 9, 2006 at 11:10 am

    I would come back tomorrow if the Church accepted me, my partner, and our daughter as a family.

    Mike–

    Do you mean acceptance as such from the institutional church, or acceptance from the particular ward you attended? The latter is probably more likely than the former.

  111. Paul Mortensen on June 9, 2006 at 11:12 am

    Diogenes:

    Mormonism is the reality we’re focusing on here and that, by and large, the vast majority of those visiting this website accept as “actual” reality. Now on certain issues it’s not entirely clear what comprises Mormon reality but with respect to gender and sexuality there’s very little wiggle room. Rolled into Mormon reality is the concept of heterosexual behavior. My response to Kristine’s advocacy of accepting alternate personal realities was centered on her insistence that homosexual reality is just as legitimate as Mormon reality despite the fact that they are entirely incompatibe. Consequently, your comment is completely non-responsive and makes little sense.

    And BTW, did you mean to quote the old addage, “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones”?

  112. Kristine Haglund Harris on June 9, 2006 at 11:31 am

    Paul, Church policy acknowledges that homosexual orientation is a real part of some people’s earthly experience, and, moreover, that there is no failsafe Mormon solution to homosexuality. Our rhetoric and our policy don’t always match, and our policy has changed dramatically in just the last few decades. To me this does not suggest a reality that excludes or denies the possibility of homosexuality, but a theoretical/theological framework that doesn’t yet have an adequate way to account for and deal with it. It’s enough to make one grateful to be in a church that is open to the possibility that reality can be revised at any moment by continuing revelation!

  113. chris/hurricane on June 9, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    107–

    Richard III/Paul Mortensen:

    I personally think that homosexuality is a reality similar to my childrens’ beleif in Santa Claus– a reality created through deception– and one that neither I nor anyone else ought to be required to accept.

    Since I’m one of the deceived, I’m most interested in hearing more about the deception that has created my homosexual reality. Enlighten me, if you will.

    BTW, Santa is so not my type.

  114. MikeInWeHo on June 9, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    “homosexuality is a reality similar to my childrens’ belief in Santa Claus…”
    Ho Ho Homo ! Christmas must be very gay in the Mortensen household.
    Thanks for giving me my LOL moment of the day, Paul ! If I get one good belly laugh daily, I am thankful.

    re: 110 Some exploration of that question is forthcoming (I’ve been invited to visit a local “liberal” ward soon.) Maybe I will blog on it later. But mostly I’m referring to the institutional Church. Don’t think anybody here disbutes the fact that it’s currently impossible for a gay man with a partner and daughter to be an active, worthy member of the Church.

  115. notophelia on June 9, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    re: 110 Some exploration of that question is forthcoming (I’ve been invited to visit a local “liberal� ward soon.) Maybe I will blog on it later. But mostly I’m referring to the institutional Church. Don’t think anybody here disbutes the fact that it’s currently impossible for a gay man with a partner and daughter to be an active, worthy member of the Church.

    Do let us know how it goes. But one question — how is this going to effect your daughter? I would hestitate to take my kids into a situation where some part of their family’s identitiy might be held up for ridicule or scorn or damnation.

    Maybe kids in her situation grow a thick skin . . .

    N.O.

  116. Kaimi Wenger on June 9, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    Mike (114): “Christmas must be very gay in the Mortensen household.”

    I guess that puts a whole new spin on that line from Deck the Halls:

    “Don we now our gay apparrel (fa la la, fa la la, la la la).”

  117. danithew on June 9, 2006 at 2:18 pm

    Kaimi, my mother’s maiden name is Hall … which means any time the song “Deck the Halls” plays I’m left imagining a major family brawl.

  118. bbell on June 9, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    Anybody else getting tired of this SSM/ gay topic??

    Lets give it a rest for a few months. Both sides have immovable positions and have clearly laid out their position.

    I have a great Cub Scout Bass Fishing post I could lay out.

  119. Aaron on June 9, 2006 at 5:00 pm

    To Kristine (#54) and Mike Parker (#74) regarding missionary service with same-sex attraction…

    I returned earlier this year from serving a full, honorable mission. Before I left, my bishop, stake president, and parents knew about my same-sex attraction. After being in the field for a couple months, I told my mission president as well, and they were all very supportive of me in serving. I never acted out with anyone, though I did have problems with pornography as a teenager. I don\’t think it would be right to blindly deny every person the privilege of serving a mission because of their attractions, and I\’m pretty sure there is no clearly defined mandate on that. I can see, though, how it would be totally appropriate for some to be excused from service because for them it would be too tempting or difficult to focus on the work. For me, though, it was one of the most constructive things I could have done toward overcoming those attractions because it gave me a unique opportunity to create healthy, normal relationships with other men.

    To Tatiana (#101) regarding a future in which gays are not denied the celestial kingdom…

    Hopefully, I misunderstood what you were saying because there is a difference between those who engage in homosexual activity and those who experience homosexual attractions but bridle their passions. I\’m not sure which you meant by \”gays.\” If you meant that you believe God will someday reverse what he\’s said all along about homosexuality being an abomination and opposed to his plan of salvation, about Ether 12:27 and weaknesses becoming strengths, or about not looking upon sin with the least degree of allowance, I certainly hope that day will not come. Perhaps he should also let unrepentant pedophiles dwell in his presence because it would be terrible for them to deny their attractions to young children. Please understand, I absolutely believe in the Atonement and in God\’s capacity to forgive sin and help us to become like him, whether in this life or the next. (Also, I\’m really not trying to say that molestation and sex between consenting adults is the same thing–I promise.)

    As a final note:
    It seems that there is so much emphasis placed on what \”the Church\” does or thinks about all these things. When we get too caught up in what the Church does or who gets ex-communicated and for what and all of that, it\’s very easy to forget who runs the Church, ultimately. It\’s easy to lose sight of the very fundamental principles that SHOULD guide the actions of the members of this Church. Though many are chosen, called, and inspired by God, it is still a church of imperfect people trying to do God\’s work.

  120. jimbob on June 9, 2006 at 5:42 pm

    bbell,

    I think the utility of scouting has been discussed recently here: http://www.millennialstar.org/index.php/2006/06/02/friday_morning_question_scouting_in_2006

    But that’s not what you meant, is it?

  121. bbell on June 9, 2006 at 5:55 pm

    Nah,

    A sweetness of Mormon life post is needed. I got a good one.

  122. MikeInWeHo on June 9, 2006 at 6:23 pm

    re: 115 Oh gosh, I’m not taking my stepdaughter alone. That would get me in big trouble at home. My ecclesiatic explorations and LDS blogging are basically clandestine. It’s like a porno addiction in reverse!

  123. MikeInWeHo on June 9, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    oop: make that “along” at the end of my first sentence.

  124. Kimball L. Hunt on June 9, 2006 at 7:52 pm

    Things must be on a continuum, with some more predisposed to homosexual feelings than others but with some ultra-minute amount of — supressed, whatever — homosexual desire being universal. This would explain cultures where some degree of homosexual experience actually being the norm versus those where it’s most definately not.

    For example, although I myself have never felt sexual attraction towards men — the fact that I even feel the need to explain this in itself reveals “homophobia slash repression” (to whatever degree bisexuality is universal)?

  125. Julie M. Smith on June 9, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    The church has responded to this news story:

    http://www.lds.org/newsroom/mistakes/0,15331,3885-1-23520,00.html

    (HT: BT)

  126. Kristine Haglund Harris on June 9, 2006 at 8:21 pm

    Aaron, I’m really glad to hear that you were allowed to go on a mission and that it was a good experience for you.

    I wish you well!

  127. D. Fletcher on June 9, 2006 at 8:42 pm

    I haven’t commented on this thread, partly because I was traveling (no web access), and partly because I am so tired of discussing this. I like the attention I’ve received from being the great gay blogger in the ‘nacle, but I’m really just an LDS organist and composer who happens to be single. My “gayness” is the issue of the moment, but I’m a lot more than my sexual preference.

    My conclusion about this program (which I didn’t watch) is one I’ve made before: the Church might take a big step and simply welcome people to Church who are “sinning.” Gays who are celibate, or not. Single, heterosexual people who are celibate, or not. If the Bishops took the approach my Bishop in the 80s took, which was “I just want them to come to Church and feel the spirit and be with their friends,” even though they won’t get temple recommends and won’t be offered exaltation, I think a lot of people would return to the Church. I personally know some gay men who would return in a heartbeat.

    If the Church welcomed these people back to Church, without ire, both sides might find out they have a lot in common, which is a common belief in Jesus and a life of goodwill and service.

  128. MikeInWeHo on June 10, 2006 at 3:30 am

    What do you think is preventing this from happening, D ? Your conclusion seems pretty obvious: Allowing gays to stay is what Jesus would do. Your Bishop in the 80s felt the same way. Lots of others have too. So what gives?

  129. D. Fletcher on June 10, 2006 at 5:11 pm

    I don’t think the Church *wants* people who are different. I’ve mentioned this in another post. The Church doesn’t want to deal with the problems of people who can’t easily marry and have children, and then grandchildren. Like all organizations, the Church must be conservative, and say who belongs and who doesn’t belong. I understand all this, and I’ve made peace with it, because the Church is my tribe, and I feel like I belong, despite the excruciating knowledge that I’m different. I try to keep this knowledge to myself, but the blogs keep pulling it out of me.

    :)

  130. MikeInWeHo on June 11, 2006 at 3:10 am

    That’s a pretty grim assessment of the Church, D. Fletcher. If you’re right, it has no right to claim it’s Christian. So I think you’re being a little too harsh in that post, but if I tried to become active again maybe I’d feel the same way. So as I read the first and second-to-last sentences of your post (#129): You think the Church doesn’t want YOU. You haven’t convinced me that “you’ve made peace with it” (even though I hope you have).

    Why not take a little break and go out and find that eternal companion you say you are waiting for? It’s not like he’s just going to magically wander into your life, most likely. If you don’t mind if I ask: Are you living in a predominantly LDS area?

  131. WillF on June 11, 2006 at 11:35 pm

    D. Fletcher,

    When you say “the Church” who are you refering to? Do you mean the General Authorities? The members in general? The members in Utah? All of the above? As for me, a ward choir director, I want people who are different, but then I need as many S, A, T, or Bs as I can get, so maybe I am biased.

  132. Jim Cobabe on June 12, 2006 at 12:22 am

    As a thought experiment, substitute some other qualities in the following:

    “…those who feel they are [something]â€?

    We could start by accepting their description of their own experience and just saying “those who are [something].�

  133. D. Fletcher on June 12, 2006 at 12:46 am

    WillF, I mean, all of the above. The Church community. Mike, sorry not to have convinced you that I’m full of contradictions. I’m still part of the Church tribe, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have ideas for its improvement.

  134. Mark Butler on June 12, 2006 at 2:29 am

    KHH (#103), President Hinckley’s position is coherent with the view that homosexual tendencies are a genetic aberration, that after death, and more to the point in the resurrection such aberrations contrary to the plan of salvation will be removed. In other words, that such persons are not *essentially* homosexual, they are *accidentally* homosexual in this mortal life. That same sex inclination forms no part of their pre-mortal or post-mortal identity, except perhaps as willingly self-imposed.

  135. MikeInWeHo on June 12, 2006 at 11:04 am

    Oh, you’ve convinced me that you’re full of contradictions D., that’s for sure! It’s the part about it feeling peaceful about it all that’s hard for me to understand. You’ve also convinced me that you’re a great guy. I suspect you’re breaking cultural ground for people like me who would love to be a part of the peculiar tribe someday. So for that, thanks. I’m trying to do my part from The Dark Side too…..

  136. D. Fletcher on June 12, 2006 at 11:12 am

    Mike, you seem to have a need to convince me that I should leave the Church, that I’ll be happier in a different community, perhaps *yours.* Everyone needs to have validation for their choices, I get that. But if I’m to choose a religious community (perhaps one that sings “Abide With Me”) I prefer to choose the one I know, the one I was born into. Yes, there are problems, just as every family has problems. Do you turn your back on your family when problems arise, or join a different family? No, you try to solve them (the problems).

  137. MikeInWeHo on June 12, 2006 at 1:00 pm

    Nah, I don’t need to convince you of anything. If you read my other posts carefully, you’ll see I’ve said plenty of supportive things to other celibate gays who stay in the Church. But you’re different than those other guys, due to your apparent search for a partner (which you know will get you kicked out of this community that you value). That contradiction is what I find interesting. If at times my posts seem to indicate a desire to push you off the fence, I apologize. I feel very badly for gay Mormons trying to reconcile their faith and their sexuality. These bloggernacle conversations are definitely pushing ME in the direction of becoming more involved in trying to help them (a la LDS Safe Space Coalition, Affirmation, etc). I find nothing respectable, honorable, or Christian about the way the official Church currently treats people like you when a partner comes along. But I certainly honor your disagreement and decision to stay. Does that make sense?

  138. Kristine on June 12, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    Mark Butler (134), you’re right, of course, and this discussion would probably be easier (or unnecessary) if that position were laid out as the official theological position of the church on homosexuality. I don’t think it has been, at least not as coherently as you’ve stated it here.

  139. Mark Butler on June 12, 2006 at 3:02 pm

    Thanks, Kristine. I have seen this position in various talks on homosexuality, although I cannot recall the specifics.

  140. bbell on July 7, 2006 at 10:52 am

    This is for Mikeinweho:

    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/2006/June%20Dailies/gayPastors.htm

    Your comments. You know I like your perspective.

  141. MikeInWeHo on July 7, 2006 at 1:43 pm

    Thanks for the link bbell. I’m pretty familiar with the polling numbers. What’s most interesting to me is how they seem to be shifting over time along a continuum. What’s disturbing is the increasing polarization. Some bloggers seem to believe that these cultural trends aren’t real, that it’s primarily media propoganda, etc. I just don’t see it that way. Even the way this is all debated by active LDS is very different from how it would have been 20 years ago. My very conservative relatives (Republicans all) treat me, my partner, and my gay friends very differently than when I first ‘came out’ back in grad school. It was a huge deal when Ellen Degeneres announced she was gay on prime time network TV. Now that would get a big yawn. So on the one hand I see how gay marriage consistently gets trounced on the ballot, but on the other I see a tectonic cultural shift occurring in other direction. Interesting times.

  142. bbell on July 7, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    Mike,

    What is interesting to me is the breakdown between the liberal churches and the conservative churches.

    You and I do not agree over the current LDS growth rate (I see that it ebbs and flows over the decades and there has been an intentional slowdown in convert baptisms worldwide recently.. Esp in South America)

    In addition to the prophetic proclamations on Gay issues I really think the Bretheren are looking at the religious landscape and thinking….

    “Wow look at how badly the gay issue accepting Christian Churches are doing. Most of their commited members have decamped for the evangelicals. Low birthrates, Few active male members, Pews empty and those in the pews in their 70′s.

    If we change our doctrine we will join the sad list of denominations in serious decline”

    The bretheren are doing the same thing in regards to current social conditions in Europe and also saying no thanks

    The bretheren are positioning themselves (under Gods direction I believe) as a traditional denomination that is holding firm to the scriptures and feel that they will reap benefits from this position.

    I do agree that there has been a shift in attitudes. Where it leads I do not know.

  143. MikeInWeHo on July 8, 2006 at 4:29 am

    Odd how often we agree while disagreeing, isn’t it ?? You may well be right about Church growth rates. The only info I have is what I read in various blogs and web sites. Who knows. I certainly don’t want to see the Church decline, although I do want to see it change on a few issues (obviously!). But positioning the Church as a “traditional” church with some bonus features seems very, very odd to me. I mean, Mormonism rests on a vision in which the Lord says “they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all ccorrupt….” That statement represents the ultimate ecumenical challenge!

    It’s just not going to work, even though both sides may presently loath the gays and liberals and secularism. Mormonism is fundamentally different to its very core, despite the common assertion that both groups profess to follow and worship Jesus Christ. The Evangelicals get this, which is why they will never accept the LDS as fellow believers. If the day comes that they do, the message of the Restoration will no longer emanate from an organization based in SLC.

  144. bbell on July 10, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    Hey Mike,

    I am not thinking that the Bretheren are trying to mimic the Fundies at all on this. I think they are observing the religious landscape and thinking that if the LDS church relaxs its standards it will go into a long multi decade decline AKA Episc or reform judiasm.

    In agree with your last paragraph and wish that we would here some more apostacy-restoration rhetoric rather than becoming more Protestant leaning over time. Standing out helps rather then hinders progress in this regard. The evangelicals will never accept us fully. I know. I work with a bunch of them and study the bible with them regularly.

  145. Jack on July 10, 2006 at 3:21 pm

    Why not just let whatever is expedient for the Kingdom look, smell or taste like whatever it looks smells or tastes like? Let the world draw its own bright lines and let the Kingdom take its own course–whether it means staying on one side or the other or even riding rough-shod over the lines.

  146. Silver on July 10, 2006 at 3:56 pm

    #41 Kristine, I smiled at your “hapless name withheld” comment. Good adjective for name withheld.

    There are three articles that I’m aware of starring name withheld on the subject of “we shall overcome.” The third one, over ten years old, and suggesting the use of Primary hymns for inappropriate thoughts, also states that same-gender attraction can be successfully resisted and overcome.

    “My Battle with Same-Sex Attraction,â€? Ensign, Aug. 2002, 49
    “Compassion for Those Who Struggle,� Ensign, Sept. 2004, 58
    “Becoming Whole Again,� Ensign, Jan. 1997, 27