Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?

October 7, 2010 | 145 comments
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It’s a vexing question, asked frequently and nearly always plaintively. President Boyd K. Packer asked it rhetorically this week, supporting and strongly affirming the church’s stance on sexuality and marriage. He stated:

We teach the standard of moral conduct that will protect us from Satan’s many substitutes and counterfeits for marriage. We must understand that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. From The Book of Mormon we learn that wickedness never was happiness. Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so!

And then the question: Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, he is our father.1

But what if we all stepped back for a bit and genuinely asked that question? What if, instead of using it as a rhetorical device to support our position (and make no mistake, we all do it, no matter which side of the gay marriage debate we stand), we sincerely pondered and sought guidance?

Perhaps we should consider the most vexing questions to be gifts. Perhaps they are opportunities for us to come together and really wrestle, to deepen our grasps on what we hold dear and not retreat into comfortable, shallow rhetorical positions.

Consider that this question can be just as easily asked about us. Why, in His creation, is sexuality manifested in such diverse ways? Why would our Heavenly Father shake up our easy categorizations? If Mormonism embraces all truth, how do we reconcile our teachings with our increasing contemporary knowledge? What are we supposed to learn here?

We cannot change; we will not change the moral standard. We quickly lose our way when we disobey the laws of God.

I believe President Packer here. There are things that, as a church, we cannot change. But that does not rule out any change. It does not rule out a more satisfying reconciliation of our position. It does not even rule out dramatic change in our practices, our understanding, or our teachings.

In a striking display of humility and teachability, Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said this following the 1978 revelation:

We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world…. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more…

We, too, have a limited understanding, and we must do the best that we can with the information we have. But we can seek more.

So, again, let us ask the question. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?

And let us ask it of ourselves.

——

1 – As noted in the comments below, the official transcript was published on lds.org following this posting. The transcript strikes the rhetorical question. This post is based upon the audio version of the original address.

145 Responses to Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?

  1. Adam Greenwood on October 7, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    On my list of the horrors, afflictions, sufferings, and incongruities that God has allowed his children to suffer, homosexuality doesn’t make the top 50.

  2. Geoff J on October 7, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Elder Packer’s question “Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?” was in reference to God giving someone a temptation they could not avoid acting upon. He then appealed to Paul to show that there is no temptation that we cannot avoid acting out.

    It was jarring to hear that section of this talk live because it seemed like Elder Packer might have been talking about same-sex attraction in general. But after looking at the actual text that is not what he said.

  3. Andrew S. on October 7, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I agree with Adam, but for probably quite different reasons: people don’t suffer from sexuality. But they very well may suffer from the social stigma related to that sexuality. Maybe the lesson is to learn something about *sociality* rather than *sexuality*? To learn to care more about loving people, rather than caring about the gender people love.

    But how can we do that, given what is revealed about the family, about divinely ordained relationships, etc.,?

  4. Ben Orchard on October 7, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Why, indeed?

    If I can answer this with a counter question, perhaps my views will be known. I will *try* to be inoffensive as I can, but that’s not really my strong suit (which is why I keep trying!).

    Counter question: what makes anyone think that our Heavenly Father ‘did’ this to anyone? What makes us think that God, in his infinite wisdom and power, purposely set this up?

    Essentially there are two views on God’s (within, of course, the frame work of accepting that God exists AND had a hand in the creation) own role in creation and in the universe in general. One is that God is in charge and directs all things. The other is that He created all, and is letting things run their course. I personally lean much more toward this concept. My idea is that God knows what is happening and what WILL happen, but chooses, in most instances not to interfere–because that’s what is best for our eternal salvation. It all comes down to the question of agency–and its scope.

    I once read in a book on Motivational Psychology that as a research psychologist I must accept determinism as a tenet of human behavior, and thereby reject the notion of free will. Personally I don’t believe in a deterministic reality. All is not set in stone–otherwise Agency has no use as a concept, and we could truly blame God for all evil in the world.

    I have a good friend who is an astrophysicist, and one day we were talking about Quantum Mechanics. He described to me how some of the equations and research on that topic goes, saying that (this is very simplified) for many situations, they know that given set Z of variables in known conditions, the experiment would yield one of four different results with about equal probability. In other words, it was non-deterministic, but instead probabilistic. If the smallest particles of matter that we know of do not react in a determined fashion, one can almost argue that these particles have free-will. There is, in fact, a free-will theorem regarding this. I have two articles in my possession regarding the topic. And if these smallest particles have free-will of some sort, why should we as humans not have agency?

    The upshot of this is that I believe, rather strongly, that God IS NOT the one who ‘created us’ to have a certain sexual orientation, but rather it is a change from the original state brought about by living in an imperfect world. Some genetic mutation, which God has allowed.

    I’ll go ahead and say this: I believe that *some* homosexuals are that way because of a genetic twist that was introduced sometime after God’s hand was finished with shaping us. I also know enough about human sexuality to recognize that it’s HIGHLY likely that *some* homosexuals are the way they for the same reason that a voyeur derives pleasure from his/her sexual practices, or someone into BDSM derives pleasure from giving and/or receiving pain. In otherwords, for *some* people it is a fetish (and for some homosexuals, BDSM is also interesting). My point? Simply that much of what we assume as part of our conversation needs to be heavily examined. Assuming that God DID this to anyone seems a bit of a stretch without thorough examination.

    So I think the real question is not “Why would God do this to someone?” but “Why is agency so important to God even when it ends up in people hurting each other?” Answer me that, and we’ll be getting somewhere.

  5. NJensen on October 7, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Not that any LGBT are literal eunuchs, but I often wonder about how Matt. 19:12 applies to providing some support to this:

    “For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

    This is especially poignant considering Christ interjected this after speaking of the sanctity of the marriage covenant.

  6. Senile Old Fart on October 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Isn’t this the same question as asking “Master, was it because of this man’s sin or that of his father and mother, that he has been blind from birth?” “Why did God make me this way?” Is the answer also similar – to manifest the works of God?

  7. Jared L. on October 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    This was the part of the talk that really got me upset on Sunday. After some study of the actual text and pondering, I think I understand President Packer’s point and as Geoff J said, it’s not what you think, or what I thought, he said.

    Take the context of homosexuality out of it. I believe President Packer is teaching a universal truth:

    “Some suppose that they were pre-set, and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so!”

    Now substitute “inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural” with any disposition to sin. Couldn’t losing your temper, abuse, pornography, gambling, alcoholism, pride, and other such vices and temptations be lumped into that definition? With those things, we probably all agree that they can be overcome and controlled through hard work, the help of others and with our Father’s help, especially though His Son, Jesus Christ.

    Did Boyd K. Packer say that homosexuals do not genuinely feel the way they do or that they chose that way? I don’t think so. I believe he said that if you want to control your appetites and urges, bridle your passions (and that desire and faith must come first), than you are *not* consigned and “pre-set” to your lot in life and cannot do anything about it. There is help from a kind, merciful and loving God. “Remember, He is our Father.”

    I wish President Packer expanded those 3 or 4 sentences and explained his point better. It caused me heartache and tears for a few hours. I pray that the explanation I have concluded with he would agree.

  8. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Jared,

    Now substitute “inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural” with any disposition to sin

    But that’s the point. President Packer is conflating sexual desires toward same sex as some temptation from Satan, and nothing else. Nothing natural about it. He says it himself: “unnatural.” Thus not something we should see, for example, in the animal world. After all, Satan does not tempt animals to sin, and animals don’t sin, last I heard. Thus if something appears to occur rather naturally in the animal world (and homosexuality does indeed occur in the animal kingdom), why would one conclude it is a result of being tempted by Satan?

  9. Joseph Smidt on October 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    NJensen,

    Interesting food for thought.

  10. Ms. Jack on October 7, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    My daughter has a genetic disorder known as velo-cardio-facial syndrome, a. k. a. 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, sometimes mistakenly called “DiGeorge Syndrome.” It’s the second most common genetic disorder after Down Syndrome, caused because she is missing pieces of her 22nd chromosome. Unlike Down Syndrome, VCFS is difficult to explain because the symptoms it produces in its subjects are all over the map. For my daughter, it has meant a cleft palate, a large umbilical hernia, hypotonia, weakened teeth enamel, and speech delays. She’s also somewhere on the scale between ADHD, Asperger’s and autism, pending an evaluation. She’s four years old and she just had her third surgery last weekend.

    I had a very difficult time with this after my daughter was diagnosed. It just seemed unfair for God to let her be born with defective genes. But I do believe in God, and my daughter was born like this, so there must be a reason. I don’t see why inborn homosexuality can’t be viewed in a similar vein.

    One of my beliefs as a Protestant is that at the Fall, creation was broken. Things are not the way they were supposed to be, and as much as we may hate to acknowledge this, the sins of the parents do get visited on children. A very obvious example: if a woman drinks alcohol while pregnant, her child may be born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Through no fault of its own, her child will be born with mental and physical defects that are not part of God’s design. For whatever reason, God gives us stewardship over the generations that follow us and allows us to be responsible for their health. Humanity has been drinking the alcohol of sin for a long time now, and somewhere along the way, the genes went wrong. People are born with birth defects, people are born predisposed to alcoholism, people are born gay.

    (Yes, I realize that it’s not politically correct to compare homosexuality to a birth defects. Too bad. I support gay rights and I treat my homosexual friends with respect, but I’m not prepared to give up my religious convictions on the morality of homosexual relationships, so butt out.)

    I don’t know whether Mormons have similar ideas about creation going awry at the Fall, but that’s what I believe. In the end, it’s all just a “problem of evil” game.

    But the bottom line is, yes, people are born that way, and God allows it.

  11. Rebecca J on October 7, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Elder Packer’s question “Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?” was in reference to God giving someone a temptation they could not avoid acting upon. He then appealed to Paul to show that there is no temptation that we cannot avoid acting out.

    That is certainly a less problematic interpretation–one I can totally get behind myself–but the sticky parts are “some suppose they are pre-set” and “what they feel are inborn” [emphasis added], implying skepticism about the possibility that the tendencies are pre-set or inborn, so that makes the paragraph ripe for misinterpretation (if indeed Pres. Packer is being misinterpreted as saying people aren’t “born gay” because Heavenly Father wouldn’t do that to someone). I’m willing to give Pres. Packer the benefit of the doubt, and in fact it doesn’t make a bit of difference to me, theologically speaking, if people are born gay or not, but if he didn’t mean what many of us assumed he meant, he certainly could have been a lot clearer–or less (unintentionally) misleading–about what he meant. Clearly his larger point was that with God we can overcome any temptation in this life–a point which is irrelevant to the point of whether or not people are born gay–but it is no wonder that people also assumed he was making the (not-insignificant) point that people aren’t born gay, and it is no wonder that it has become a stumbling block discouraging us from focusing on his larger point.

  12. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Rebecca,

    I’m willing to give Pres. Packer the benefit of the doubt, and in fact it doesn’t make a bit of difference to me, theologically speaking, if people are born gay or not, but if he didn’t mean what many of us assumed he meant, he certainly could have been a lot clearer–or less (unintentionally) misleading–about what he meant.

    If I understand President Packer correctly, he does not view homosexuality as natural, but solely as a temptation. I think he completely ignores any scientific data that has come to light over the past 30 years or so. He is coming across in this sermon as simply not accepting anything but that homosexuality is a temptation, and God would not make it so that we are tempted above that which we are able to bear.

  13. Jeremy on October 7, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Dan, are you saying that humans will be judged on the same level as the inhabitants of the animal kingdom? Obviously Elder Packer was not speaking about nature as a whole, but of the human race.

    There certainly are animal species that may naturally procreate homosexually and even asexually. This is, of course, impossible for homo sapiens, or, in the words of Elder Packer, “unnatural.”

    Apart from any political diatribe, his point is one of common sense. The human race cannot propogate homosexually, but would instead cease to exist. Consequently, such a practice is unnatural to the human race.

  14. Adam Greenwood on October 7, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    people don’t suffer from sexuality

    Any Bishop could tell you otherwise.

    If sexuality isn’t at all source of suffering to you, your sexuality is dishwater, it is gravy made from foodcoloring and cornstarch.

    Some of you Mormons need to stop thinking you’re saved when you haven’t even eaten the fruit.

  15. Thaddeus on October 7, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Thus if something appears to occur rather naturally in the animal world (and homosexuality does indeed occur in the animal kingdom), why would one conclude it is a result of being tempted by Satan?

    Dan, the natural man is an enemy to God.

    You could use the word “natural” in two contexts: natural = telestial (which is how you are using it) and natural = eternal (which I believe is what Pres. Packer meant). Take a premortal spirit and put it in its “natural” environment, and it will be home, in heaven with Father. Homosexuality, placed in its “natural” setting, as you point out, will be in the animal kingdom of fallen earth.

    Mrs. Jack, that’s just how I understand it, too.

  16. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Thaddeus,

    Dan, the natural man is an enemy to God.

    Would not then the unnatural be of God?

    Take a premortal spirit and put it in its “natural” environment, and it will be home, in heaven with Father. Homosexuality, placed in its “natural” setting, as you point out, will be in the animal kingdom of fallen earth.

    I don’t believe that President Packer made this distinction, thus blurring exactly what he means by natural and unnatural. In any case, this point is moot, because the real question regarding President Packer’s words is whether or not God created the natural world to act the way it does. Is a “natural” homosexual tendency which occurs in the animal kingdom something that God created or not? Are there aspects of this world in which we live which God did not have a hand in creating? Is the tendency toward homosexuality one of those things which God had no hand in creating? In either the world of man or the world of animal? If God had no hand in the inception of homosexual tendencies, then President Packer has a point, that homosexual tendencies is but a temptation, but of course that also implies that animals are thus tempted by Satan as well.

  17. Mark B. on October 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    So Elder Packer used an archaic sense of the word “unnatural” when spoke. Even if homosexuality is a “naturally” occuring trait in some small percentage of the population, God’s moral law still stands. And so does King Benjamin’s statement: the natural man is an enemy to God.

    As to the OP, if I were punctuating that one sentence of Elder Packer’s talk, it would come out this way:

    “We cannot change, we will not change, the moral standard.”

    We’ll have to wait to see the published text to see how they do it. But if I were Elder Packer’s speechwriter, that line would have read:

    “We will not change, indeed, we cannot change the moral standard.” But then, nobody has hired me yet as a speechwriter.

  18. wondering on October 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    “From The Book of Mormon we learn that wickedness never was happiness.”

    And that’s what makes it so confusing to learn of non-practicing Mormon gays who are tortured, closeted, or even suicidal, and to compare them to seemingly happy, functional gay couples who we may come to know.

  19. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Jeremy,

    Dan, are you saying that humans will be judged on the same level as the inhabitants of the animal kingdom? Obviously Elder Packer was not speaking about nature as a whole, but of the human race

    of course President Packer was talking solely about the human race, because we are the only race judged by our actions. Animals are not judged by their actions. Thus a homosexual animal will make it into animal heaven, but a homosexual man will make it into hell. Gotta love it…

  20. michelle on October 7, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I don’t know whether Mormons have similar ideas about creation going awry at the Fall, but that’s what I believe. In the end, it’s all just a “problem of evil” game.

    In my mind, this is really the bottom line. Creation, Fall, Atonement. That is the core of our doctrine. And I think that is what the core of Pres. Packer’s talk was about.

    To me, Pres. Packer’s talk was about the power of agency and the wonder of the Atonement to help us face the effects of the fall. God gives us laws to help us know what to aim for in how we exercise that agency in order to access the most power from the Atonement to help us overcome the fall. That is really the plan of salvation in a nutshell, and that is what I heard him teach — the plan of salvation, a message of hope and power.

    Yes, his particular focus was the law of chastity and sexual sins that could keep us from fully enjoying the eternal blessings of the plan, but I think the principles could apply to any of us. We all have to exercise agency against the effects of the fall to really come to know God and have the Atonement effectual in our lives.

    I also see this as a vote of confidence that those who struggle with sexual tendencies (or addictions) of any kind can, with God’s help, face them rather than let them define who they are and how they live. The world is telling people “this is who you are; the only way to be happy is to act on it” (this is applicable to those who get trapped in sex addictions, too, so I think his teaching is more general than just applying to homosexuality). I hear him saying, “No, you are a child of God and He can help you live according to his laws, which is the way to true eternal happiness. You have commandments and ordinances and priesthood power at your disposal. Choose to access the power of these things by accepting God’s laws, striving toward obedience of those laws, and seeking God’s help in that process.”

    And again, that to me is a message of hope for all of us because we all struggle as a result of the fall and we all need God’s laws to help us know how to exercise our agency to find Christ and His Atonement.

    I like what someone else said on a different thread, too, that I think his talk should be taken in context with other talks. There were overarching messages about agency and trust in God and other things that I think can inform this talk of Pres. Packer’s. I can understand the way some may have heard it, but I do hope that we can all take a step back and seek inspiration on how to really understand it. I don’t think the anger and assumptions driving the anger really reflect the core messages that he was teaching.

  21. Geoff J on October 7, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Dan: He says it himself: “unnatural.”

    I’m not buying your narrow reading of the word unnatural here. It seems to me that Elder Packer is loosely applying that word to any number of sexual sins, including pornography addiction.

  22. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Geoff,

    But no one is claiming their addiction to pornography comes from a pre-set desire to look upon pornography.

  23. Geoff J on October 7, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    You lost me Dan. What is your point in #22?

  24. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    how did I lose you? President Packer, according to you, applies the word unnatural loosely to any number of sexual sins including pornography addiction. My point was that no one doubts that pornography, or other sexual sins are based on choices we make. The evidence, however, on homosexuality points strongly to it being there of no choice of the individual who has that tendency. If one were addicted to pornography, it wouldn’t be because he or she was born to be addicted to pornography.

  25. Geoff J on October 7, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    You are failing to parse sexual attraction from engaging in sex Dan. I don’t see Elder Packer calling same-sex attraction or opposite-sex attraction sins in themselves in this talk.

    Again, my point in #21 is that I am not buying your argument about what Elder Packer meant with his use of the word unnatural.

  26. michelle on October 7, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    My point was that no one doubts that pornography, or other sexual sins are based on choices we make.

    If one were addicted to pornography, it wouldn’t be because he or she was born to be addicted to pornography.

    But people use the justification that it’s just “natural” to want their sexual drives (which are strong and real and biologically based and pretty universally there) satisfied to justify sexual sin or addiction, including pornography or adultery or other sins.

    Another way I see the message is that no one is born to be powerless, to have no choice but to break the law of chastity. (The exception would be those who truly have no ability to choose, but that does not sum up the majority of people.)

  27. JHayes on October 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    I think the point Dan is trying to make is this: simply comparing homosexual tendencies to an addiction is fundamentally flawed. Say for example, you are genetically predisposed to become an alcoholic or drug addict. You are at risk for becoming an addict, but ultimately because you abstain you never become one. Your trial of addiction is nonexistent because there is that initial exercise of agency that is required for one to become an addict. Homosexual tendencies on the other hand are just there expressing themselves without that initial exercise of agency that violates any moral law given. I personally have a hard time believing homosexuals are not born that way given the state of where science has gone with it. On the other hand, I can’t help but believe as others do here, that it is inherently related to the fall, especially when considering the mechanisms that are being proposed by scientists aside from pure genetic reasons (prenatal hormonalization for example).

    I also have a feeling that we might not be looking at the whole picture much of the time when looking at homosexuality and trying to help those that struggle with it within the Church. Focusing entirely on the sexual aspect of it and completely categorizing it as a chastity issue is to miss that larger point that emotional wants and needs for companionship and intimacy are often going unfulfilled. I think that that is ultimately the most difficult aspect for gay Mormons. Where do they fit in being single and celibate, in a Church and culture that pushes family so hard? Single heterosexual members have a hard enough time with this, but add into this equation that a homosexual member often has little hope that their situation may change. As Elder Jensen has admitted, the situation for homosexuals within the Church is a little different than older heterosexual singles. Even correlated Church materials admit that there very well could be no change in store during mortality (God Loveth All His Children). How do you deal with that loneliness in constructive ways that make that void disappear or become more bearable? I’ve watched two friends nearly take their lives over this issue and I can’t help but think that there has to be a way for members in general to be much more supportive, loving, and caring without violating or coming into conflict with the moral standards that are expected by the Church.

  28. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Michelle,

    But people use the justification that it’s just “natural” to want their sexual drives (which are strong and real and biologically based and pretty universally there) satisfied to justify sexual sin or addiction, including pornography or adultery or other sins.

    Indeed, but it’s also just natural to want our sexual drives satisfied through religiously justified sex. The pernicious addiction of pornography is that it destroys ones ability to choose to let it go. The difference between satisfying that desire and the desire of homosexual tendencies is vast, and there is plenty of scientific evidence that shows they are different beasts. Where President Packer is wrong is conflating homosexual tendencies with the addictive nature of pornography or other sexual deviancies which are based on choice, rather than the original makeup of that person.

  29. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Geoff,

    Fair enough. I guess we’ll have to wait for President Packer to clarify what he meant.

  30. Andrew S. on October 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    re 14:

    Adam,

    LOL. What a tasteful analogy. I think any Bishop could tell me otherwise because they are the prime perpetuators of social stigma of which I referred. I guess I’m not so much worried about my sexuality being gravy made of corn starch and food coloring as I am worried that my society (or some subpart within) is cyanide and sprinkled glass.

  31. Kingsley on October 7, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    “Where President Packer is wrong is conflating homosexual tendencies with the addictive nature of pornography or other sexual deviancies which are based on choice, rather than the original makeup of that person.”

    Indeed, but we are talking about a very old, very conservative gentleman who likely conflates anything besides missionary-style sex for procreative purposes with the addictive nature of pornography etc. The GA’s should run these talks by a few good psychology profs before publication, like they do with OT profs e.g. when they want to make sure they haven’t screwed up on some fine point of Hebrew chronology.

  32. Joyful St on October 7, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    I have heard that a boy whose first encounter with anything sexual that includes another man, may have a very hard time ever rewiring his brain to be attracted to women. Do you think that some homosexuality could be because of both malicious child abuse on young boys, and/or more innocent curiosity perpetrated by older males friends/relatives.

    Anybody else ever heard this?

  33. danithew on October 7, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    I kind of dig Adam Greenwood’s comments so far (specifically #1 and #14). He makes some very interesting points.

    Also glad to see Kingsley showing up.

  34. Geoff J on October 7, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Wait, you’re saying #14 made sense to you danithew?

  35. Mark N. on October 7, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    “It just seemed unfair for God to let her be born with defective genes… I don’t see why inborn homosexuality can’t be viewed in a similar vein.”

    There’s the question: are homosexuals “defective”? How do we know, one way or the other?

    There are cultures all over this planet that do some strange things. Does it just come down to letting the majority decide?

  36. Andrew S. on October 7, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    how could it not, Geoff? it was so easy to digest.

  37. Adam Greenwood on October 7, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Andrew S.,
    the dogma that sexuality was all just joyful, joyful, clean and bright, if only we got over our stigmas, was hoary when your grandfather was a boy. After decades of fatherless children, broken homes, and wounded hearts, it can only be of antiquarian interest. I applaud you for pretending to still believe it, as I would applaud you if you insisted on top hats when out of doors.

  38. Andrew S. on October 7, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Adam,

    The issue here isn’t sexuality though. It isn’t to whom attraction (romantic, sexual, etc.,) is geared. It is the way that one acts upon that sexuality based within a framework of interpersonal social expectations.

    “Decades of fatherless children, broken homes, and wounded hearts” aren’t because most men are geared to really dig women. It’s because some of these men have failed in their socializing with these women (and perhaps even children that have come as a result of being with these women.)

    So, as I said, sociality, not sexuality.

  39. Adam Greenwood on October 7, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    aren’t because most men are geared to really dig women

    Even this straightlaced descendant of the puritan sons of the undersexed knows better than that. Sex is just a little stronger than the jargon of Sociology 101, God help us if it weren’t.

  40. Scott B. on October 7, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    How interesting that the phrase in question was omitted from the official transcript just published.

  41. Jared L. on October 7, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    The OP quoted:
    “Some suppose that they were pre-set, and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, he is our father.”

    Just looked on lds.org. The text there, and I assume to be in the Ensign next month says:

    “Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.”

    “Tendencies” is now “temptations.” “Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?” is no longer in the text.

    Hmmmmmmmmmm…..

  42. Geoff J on October 7, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    Very interesting. Here is the link: http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-1298-23,00.html

    And here is the passage:

    We teach a standard of moral conduct that will protect us from Satan’s many substitutes or counterfeits for marriage. We must understand that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. From the Book of Mormon we learn that “wickedness never was happiness.”13

    Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.

    Paul promised that “God . . . will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”14 You can, if you will, break the habits and conquer an addiction and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church. As Alma cautioned, we must “watch and pray continually.”

    Good move by the Church I think. That rhetorical question caused a lot of commotion.

  43. DavidH on October 7, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I read Pres. Packer to mean sexual orientation can be changed. He does not just say it is possible for a LGBT person to be celibate for a lifetime, but that any “pre-set” “inborn tendencies” can be “overcome.” He does not say “resisted”, but “overcome.” When Martin Luther King sang “We shall overcome,” he meant more than just “We shall resist”.

  44. Jack on October 7, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Scott B,

    Perhaps, if we were more willing to include this little bit from the APA in the premise of the debate, that “phrase” may not have been omitted:

    “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”

  45. Kingsley on October 7, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    #14 leaves me baffled. Tasted what fruit? Adam G., you have the components of something Edward Leary there.—-There was an old man of Gibraltar, / Who got by on gravy and water; / They offered him fruit, / To which he cried “Toot!” / That doubtful old man of Gibraltar.

  46. Rory Swensen on October 7, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    I’ve noted the striking of the rhetorical question in the original post, and linked to the published version.

  47. Bored in Vernal on October 7, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    I find all of this parsing of Elder Packer’s talk fascinating. I don’t see how anyone can suggest that his meaning wasn’t clear when he has addressed the subject in so many other public venues. For example:

    “It is wrong! It is unnatural; it is abnormal; it is an affliction. When practiced, it is immoral. It is a transgression. There appears to be a consensus in the world that it is natural, to one degree or another, for a percentage of the population. Therefore, we must accept it as all right. Do not be misled by those who whisper that it is part of your nature and therefore right for you. That is false doctrine!” (Boyd K. Packer, Devotional Speeches of The Year, Provo, Utah: BYU Press, 1978, pp. 33-34)

    He has said this over and over in Conference talks and speeches all over the Church. All Elder Packer needs do now is allude to the subject, and his meaning is obvious.

  48. Holden Caulfield on October 7, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    In the published online version, they left out “Why would our Heavenly Father do that do anyone?” from EP’s talk.

    Maybe we should ask the class that voted on the kitty to vote on what he really said in his talk.

  49. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on October 7, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    anybody else hear about that Japanese guy that married a computer generated cartoon character? I guess he was genetically predisposed to that kind of thing. Probably had nothing to do with him spending all day playing video games and thus never going on a date with an actual girl.

  50. Jared on October 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Elder Packer is an apostle and has every right to say what he believes. We can agree or disagree with him as we choose. The problem comes when commentators denigrate him or anyone else. Disagree all you want, but I hope the blog administrators will be quick to warn those who haven’t mastered the basic concepts of respect.

  51. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Jared,

    Who has not been respectful to President Packer here?

  52. Dr. Dave on October 7, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    I’m with #4 Ben Orchard 100 percent. I would add that there are far more problematic and/or far reaching questions about this life that are neither new to this era nor less in degree than the topic of same-gender attraction. The question is correctly framed “Why would God allow x?” rather than “Why did God make x?” For myself, I am convinced that many but not all homosexual men have a genetic predisposition. Is this God’s fault? Did he do this to us? What other things has God allowed us to be born with?

    A few illustrative examples:
    -disorders of sexual development (ambiguous gender or genitalia/genital malformations) 1 in 5000 live births
    -inborn errors of metabolism (mostly lethal conditions that kill or severely disable before age five) 1 in 1400 live births
    -indeed one estimate found 5.5% of the population has developed a lethal or disabling genetic disorder by age 25
    -bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (not yet considered genetic disorders, but run in families and disables 1-2% of the population)
    -(my favorite) L- gulonolactone oxidase dysfunction – 100% of mankind (Humans and apes are the only mammals that cannot synthesize their own vitamin C since a nasty mutation a few million years ago rendered the gene-product non-functional, forcing us to eat our vitamin C.)

    Each of these “predispositions” with very few exceptions removes one from the “marriage pool” (except for the last one, of course). Is it so hard to believe that genetic factors changing the propensity of the brain to select a mate of the opposite sex may in effect prevent some from marrying? I do not in any way mean to minimize the anguish that people with same-gender attraction go through, but there are plenty of others who desperately want to marry but whose disability makes that extremely unlikely. Are they excused from keeping the law of chastity?

    The simple truth is that the Fall brought physical pain and suffering. While we often celebrate and admire our (fallen) bodies as LDS, we have to remember that they are inherently unpleasant places for our spirits to inhabit much of the time. They are designed to be impulsive where it achieves the ends of survival and procreation, and are equally designed to break down after a time. We look forward with an eye of faith toward the bodies that will finally free us from our mortal infirmities and pains. Someday the united whole of spirit and body will become “spiritual and immortal.” (Alma 11:45) More universally, we each at one time or another will have to come to grips with our own personal fall. This personal fall is unique to each of us.

  53. Kingsley on October 7, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    “Focusing entirely on the sexual aspect of it and completely categorizing it as a chastity issue is to miss that larger point that emotional wants and needs for companionship and intimacy are often going unfulfilled.”

    Amen.

    “Apart from any political diatribe, [President Packer's] point is one of common sense. The human race cannot propogate homosexually, but would instead cease to exist. Consequently, such a practice is unnatural to the human race.”

    B. doesn’t seem to follow from A. here. Is a quality unnatural merely by its being self-destructive, or potentially so? You might as well say the human race cannot propagate masturbatorily, consequently such a practice is unnatural to the human race. Which would, arguably, be stretching things. The Church, by this logic, should just as regularly condemn condoms and birth-control.

  54. Jared on October 7, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I’m sure there are others here who remember the 1950′s, 60′s, 70′s, 80′s, and 90′s and remember the days when the small percentage of those who were homosexual (3 to 5% of the population) kept to themselves. In some ways those days were far better than today.

    The general idea then, at least from my limited understanding, was that many homosexual accepted that it was unnatural and resisted–mostly by marrying the opposite sex.

    It would be interesting to hear from homosexuals of that era. Does anyone know of any honest research that has been done? What about active church members from those days?

  55. Geoff J on October 7, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Oh Jared. That was a dumb thing to say. Prepare to be eviscerated. In 3… 2… 1…

  56. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    I’m with Geoff. That was a very dumb thing to say, Jared.

  57. Jared on October 7, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Geoff J–

    Thanks for the warning, but I think my observation and questions are valid.

  58. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Jared,

    Why do you think a gay man kept to himself in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s? Was he thinking, “I’m going to be respectful to my neighbor and not reveal my true self because I’m a nice guy.” Or maybe this may have been the reason most gays kept quiet during those times…

  59. Kingsley on October 7, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    #54,

    In what ways, far better? Were the 50′s and the 90′s equally far better, in your opinion? And how, in your view, has the millennial breakout of closet homosexuals made these days less better? Also, assuming you’re married, or that you have ambitions to marry, would it upset you at all to discover that your wife was a lesbian secretly gutting it out with you.

  60. Jared on October 7, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Dan,

    It is obvious and goes without saying that society of that era were cruel to homosexuals. I for one, am glad that society today is more compassionate and understanding.

  61. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Of that era? Matthew Shepard was killed not ten or so years ago!

  62. Brad Kramer on October 7, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    So then in what ways were those days better than today? No global warming? More rainforests? Cheaper hamburgers?

  63. Jared on October 7, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Kingsley–

    How better? We didn’t have militant gays picketing temple square. We didn’t have people confused about “marriage”. We didn’t have AIDS.

    This is a short list.

    In the gay community of the era I remember there must have been those, in the church, and out who worked through their problems the way Elder Packer talked about. It would be useful to know how they did it. That is my question and I think it is worthwhile to discuss.

  64. Brad Kramer on October 7, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Oh, good heavens. Someone alert Jared at ldsaliveinchrist that one of the militant gays is commenting under his name, trying to make anti-gay Mormon bloggers look like clueless, knuckle-dragging troglodytes.

  65. Kingsley on October 7, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    Jared (#60),

    What is obvious and goes without saying seems to conflict with “the general idea” that homosexuals, in the good old days, simply accepted their lot as unnatural and resisted it through hypocritical marriages.

  66. Brad Kramer on October 7, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    But Kingsley, what about all the success stories that nobody’s talking about, when the old-skool gays successfully dagayed by undergoing reparative therapy and/or married women? Has anyone done any research about that? I’m going to keep asking until someone has answered me.

  67. Jared on October 7, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Dan–

    In discussion about the evolution of society, whether it be Mormon, Black, or Homosexual evolution there are the telestial, terrestial, and celestial examples. I am confiding my thoughts to the terrestial and celestial kinds of people and how they approached it.

  68. Jared on October 7, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Kingsley–

    I was thinking about those who told their spouses about their homosexuality. I’ve read that there was some success with that approach in those days. Is it true or false? I don’t know, but there must be some research in this day and age that answers the question I’ve raised.

  69. Kingsley on October 7, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Jared (#63),

    Just so I understand. For approximately forty years there was no confusion about marriage, just gay men marrying straight women for simplicity’s sake. And AIDS—-was no problem, back then, obviously. It really irrupted right around the time militant gays started picketing Temple Square. That is a short list!

  70. Cynthia L. on October 7, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Jared, I know a few women of that era who married gay men. They are now divorced. From what I’ve seen, mixed-orientation marriages as an institution are an unqualified disaster. Though, as a scientist, I admit that it is possible that I’m just not aware of the ones that worked. Still, I can’t imagine calling it a worthwhile approach no matter how well it may have hypothetically worked in some cases, given how horribly it has worked in the cases I am aware of.

  71. Jana H on October 7, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Ms. Jack, that was a very eloquent explanation. I’m bookmarking it for future reference to reflect upon.

  72. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Jared,

    Here’s a little bit of reading. Police beatings, violence, loss of jobs, religious persecution, societal ostracization. Then of course, if you’re gay, and you don’t wish any of that upon you, you’d pretend to be in love with a woman, marry her, have sex with her even though you might find that sex repulsive. Even father kids. You’re constantly in torment mentally and emotionally because none of this feels right. Gay men and women have a higher tendency to consider suicide, and understandably so, with the strong societal stigma against their natural feelings. A friend of mine’s brother committed suicide this past summer. He lived in Utah. In fact, if I recall the news correctly, there have been four high profile teen/young adult suicides out there in the past year or so.

  73. Jared on October 7, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Kingsley–

    AIDS in America started in the early 80′s among the homosexual community in San Francisco. I remember the day the news hit the air waves.

    To my knowledge American society has never had a problem defining marriage as being between a men and women, that is until recently.

  74. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Jared,

    To my knowledge American society has never had a problem defining marriage as being between a men and women, that is until recently

    Good think you put it plural “men” and “women.” So easily have you forgotten polygamy…it seems America has previously had problems defining marriage…

  75. Mark Brown on October 7, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    In the gay community of the era I remember there must have been those, in the church, and out who worked through their problems the way Elder Packer talked about.

    Jared, we have some knowledge about how successful this process is. What you call ‘working through their problems the way Elder Packer talked about’ is what we now call reparative therapy. Although some claim to have changed their orientation after undergoing this process, in most cases it is unsuccessful. At one point in the early 70s, approximately 50% of the people who went through the aversion therapy program sponsored by BYU took their own lives within six months of completing the program. With those kind of tragedies, and the failed marriages and the attendant heartbreak, it is hard to see an upside anywhere.

  76. Jared on October 7, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Dan–

    I am aware of the ugly side of societies treatment of gays. I feel as strongly about it as you do. It’s pathetic.

    Cynthia L.–

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  77. Dan on October 7, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    Jared,

    Just FYI, AIDS did not start among gays, but rather began in the 1950s in Africa as the virus jumped from chimp to human. But we’re apparently supposed to ignore science…

  78. Jared on October 7, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Dan–

    In America, it started in the gay community.

    “In 1981, the first cases of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) were identified among gay men in the United States”

    I was living in Calif and it was big news when it hit.

  79. Mark Brown on October 7, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    To put it a little more bluntly — we as a church have put most of our homosexual brother and sisters in past decades through a living hell in the name of fixing them or helping them repent. Regardless of our intentions, it was evil and we bear the responsibility. It does not behoove us now to pretend that we suddenly know what we are doing.

  80. Kingsley on October 7, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Jared (#68),

    Where did you read this? Every research project has to start somewhere, perhaps begin with that book or article.

  81. Johnston on October 7, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    No need to worry about the question…it has been redacted from the printed form of the talk. Nothing to see here…move along.
    http://new.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/cleansing-the-inner-vessel?lang=eng

  82. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on October 7, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    I’m just wondering what were going to do about the people who are romantically/emotionally/sexually attracted to computer generated cartoon characters.

  83. Jared on October 7, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Mark Brown–

    Thanks for the info. I’d like to know more about this topic.

    Gay issues are going to be with us for a long time. I hope that men and women of character and conscience among the gay community will gain leadership and help heal the wounds.

    When it comes to repentance I know it is a true principle of the gospel. My experience with repentance is like unto that of Alma the younger. It was filled with sacred manifestations of things of the Spirit. I have a certain knowledge that repentance is a reality, just like Elder Packer taught.

  84. Jack on October 7, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Jared,

    Just remember to start every comment with a very large paragraph’s worth of caveat complete with charitable regard for those with whom you disagree. And then be sure to finish with stark self-deprecation at your lack of insight into — anything.

    If you follow these easy steps you should be able to appease the gods of knowledge to the degree that you might one day get a word in edge-wise without fearfully watching for thunderbolts.

  85. Brad Kramer on October 7, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    “I’m just wondering what were going to do about the people who are romantically/emotionally/sexually attracted to computer generated cartoon characters.”

    Easy. First, we’re going to treat you like outcasts. Then we’ll mock you with non-clever, totally irrelevant analogies.

  86. Jack on October 7, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    And I’m sure the worst thing about all that abuse is that the analogies aren’t clever enough.

  87. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on October 7, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/6718706/Japanese-man-marries-computer-game-character.html

    it’s real dude… He’s probably reading this blog too, doesn’t want to be a Mormon now. Good job. Clever though.

  88. Brad Kramer on October 7, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    No one said it wasn’t real. I suggested that, in addition to not being clever, it was irrelevant.

  89. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on October 7, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Drunken homeless guys at the library probably find the books there not clever and irrelevant too.

  90. JHayes on October 7, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    “To put it a little more bluntly — we as a church have put most of our homosexual brother and sisters in past decades through a living hell in the name of fixing them or helping them repent. Regardless of our intentions, it was evil and we bear the responsibility. It does not behoove us now to pretend that we suddenly know what we are doing.”

    I mostly agree with this sentiment. The aversion therapy at BYU rates as one of the most troubling aspects of modern Mormonism for me as a convert. The Church today would never condone or endorse such treatments. It has in fact explicitly denounced them). However, today we still have the issues with reparative therapy.

    Evergreen has been rather two faced in the last ten years saying “Hey we don’t really advocate reparative therapy” while putting out a handbook that for all intents and purposes is exactly that. Dave Pruden (president of Evergreen) is on the board of NARTH the last time I checked and A. Dean Byrd (former LDS Family Services commissioner) is the president.

    The ultimate lack of change after 3 years of reparative therapy led a close friend of mine to stick a loaded gun in his mouth and pull the trigger. Constantly being told he could change if he just had enough faith, if he worked “the program” dilligently, so on and so forth led him to feel the need to give up. Fortunately something happened and the gun didn’t go off and he’s still around, but he has only been able to regain emotional stability by accepting his attractions for what they are and the meantime he has remained active and celibate.

    In a sense, he is following what the edited version of Elder Packer’s talk alludes to, but for far too many in the Church his struggle and fight hasn’t been enough and won’t be enough until he eradicates those feelings. That pressure, which was alluded to in Elder Packer’s unedited talk when he explicitly said tendencies and invoked a rhetorical question, while well meaning isn’t very helpful. Fighting over whether change is possible or not is ultimately fruitless and as I said before the Church has admitted that there will be many who will not be able to change in this lifetime despite their faithful attempts. I really feel that if we are not to completely lose these brothers and sisters, fellow sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, we need to accept them for who they are and love them the same as we would anyone else. THIS DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN GIVING THEM A PASS ON THE LAW OF CHASTITY. So much of their struggle is not actually related to sexual activity.

    My friend has often likened it to an emotional prison. People here have brought up other issues that might stop one from getting married. Elder Wickman (I believe) talked about his disabled daughter in that Newsroom interview with Elder Oaks. People are more understanding when they see the disability on the outside. People are often more attentive to the needs of those disabled members, and while I personally don’t consider homosexual tendencies to be a disability or defect, I do feel that those members are in need of a little extra care and attention to help them through this trial. We made covenants at baptism to mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that need comforting, but most of the time we are just completely ignorant of who is mourning and who needs comfort and this is especially true of members who deal with these tendencies.

  91. Peter on October 8, 2010 at 12:36 am

    I just want to commend this board for its treatment of this “controversy” with respect to President Packer. People seem to want to look past the controversy and look at intention, thought, the divinity behind the speech, allowing for mistakes common of man. It is truly a breath of fresh air. I have been so angry at some comments, calling the talk hate speech, that Pres. Packer has blood on his hands, etc. etc. This type of rhetoric is scary. On the other side, I’ve seen true hate speech, supposedly good members mocking gays with disgusting jokes.

  92. Peter on October 8, 2010 at 12:42 am

    I do want to challenge the science geeks out there to moderate their absolutism rhetoric a bit. I find that what often passes as science to us has been filtered through too many political lenses to be useful in these discussions because it is too often used as a hammer. Such is the case with many of these discussions: global warming deniers, born-with-it deniers. It’s the slippery slope to technocracy. Once the good scientist has spoken, it seems to squelch all discussion. I find, however, that science journalism (which is where we are really getting most of our science isn’t it?) are not always honest brokers. Like business, politics, and religion, there is an agenda to pursue. Be careful.

  93. Brad Kramer on October 8, 2010 at 12:50 am

    On the other hand, they probably find the content of their own angry musings and inane trains of thought to be both clever and relevant (as well as unappreciated).

    Did I tell you guys that I once saw some dude on a Japanese game show punch himself in the face 14 times? His cousin was in the audience. Pretty crazy, eh? I enjoy soup.

  94. T on October 8, 2010 at 12:58 am

    As a gay Mormon I find hope in Pres Packer’s talk. I do not find hope in the comments here defending the immutability of homosexuality.

    I’m sticking with hope.

  95. michelle on October 8, 2010 at 12:59 am

    I do feel that those members are in need of a little extra care and attention to help them through this trial.

    I absolutely agree with this. I’d add a thousand exclamation points to that idea. I think we should have more discussions about how to do this. But in my view, those discussions have to do exactly what you said, which is also respect the law of chastity, and I would add the doctrine of marriage in the plan of salvation.

    Again, I think Pres. Packer’s talk was a voice of hope and encouragement that people can face their trials within those beliefs. The solution to such trials is not to change the doctrine or laws, but to find strength from God in facing the trials, whatever they may be.

    I think Dan’s point above illustrates something that to me makes this all so hard. If the only way of showing love and care is defined as giving religious validation to homosexual sexual relationships, then I think we are at a difficult place that is likely an impasse. I personally don’t feel I do anyone any favors by holding out a hope that the doctrine or ordinances or laws will change. I think we have to help people find their place as things are, all the more so because I honestly don’t believe they will change, nor do I feel they should. (Please hear me out, though.)

    Again, I absolutely want to see more discussion about how to rally around those who suffer in silence and loneliness because they may never marry in this life, for example, or those who want to live the gospel plan but are struggling with the temptations and may have succumbed to them and not know how it’s even possible to live with such struggle, but have the desire to try.

    To them I say, “Keep coming to church. Keep trying. Don’t give up. Trust in God’s promises. He hasn’t promised that this will all necessarily go away in this life, but He has promised that He will help you as you keep trying to live according to His plan and just keep trying. And I and many others want to be by your side to help you along your journey. There is always hope where there is Christ. Lean on Him.

    “Find people you can trust and talk to. And then talk and pray and cry on their shoulders. Ride on their shoulders for a while if you have to. So many want to be here to help. And be patient if we sometimes we goof, but so many of us care so much. Help us help you.”

    I hope for a time when people can talk about struggles with homosexual tendencies like they may talk about other struggles in their lives. Meetings can become sacred when we can mourn with each other in this way. I hope for a time when it won’t feel taboo to admit to such struggles (we. all. have. our. struggles!).

    But — and this is a big but — I think that can only happen when there is also respect for and upholding of the teachings of the Church. Members who believe in these doctrines shouldn’t be made to choose between their faith and a desire to reach out. It’s not fair to hold people to that, and in my view such expectations only make it harder for those with SSA to find their place *now*, as things are (which doctrinally is likely how things will stay).

    I find it interesting that most of the anger and reaction was all on something that is now not even in the talk. I think that underscores that the real message of the talk was missed in the knee-jerk responses. I hope people can hear the peace and power of his teachings, which again I think were about the hope and encouragement that there is a place for all who are willing to exercise their agency to live the commandments and lean on the Lord and His power.

  96. michelle on October 8, 2010 at 1:02 am

    T,

    Thank you for sharing your hope. You have strengthened me today.

    I hope you find those around you to support you and help you and be by your side in your journey. Know that you have virtual brothers and sisters who do. Count me as one of them.

  97. Mark D. on October 8, 2010 at 1:39 am

    Elder Packer’s question “Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?” was in reference to God giving someone a temptation they could not avoid acting upon.

    The Epistle of James states:

    Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man (James 1:13)

    I have a problem with the suggestion that God gives people temptations of any kind. But leaving aside the temptation issue, the redacted statement suggests that tendencies of the sort under dispute are “done” by God to people.

    As has been commented elsewhere, if the term used was “allowed” the statement probably would have been unremarkable. But the idea that God inflicts homosexual tendencies on individuals (even resistable ones) gets into unusually controversial territory of the sort that the Church doesn’t have a position on, in fact the same territory that makes Calvinism (and its occasional scriptural precedents) so controversial.

    To a Calvinist, God doesn’t just allow bad things to happen, he causes them to happen, in furtherance of his own mysterious purposes. The suggestion then that God is the originator of same sex attraction in specific individuals is problematic because it suggests that God is singling them out for punishment or trial (if not temptation). Interesting question for debate perhaps, but not germane to the Church position on the subject, and enormously controversial in its own right.

  98. Mark D. on October 8, 2010 at 2:10 am

    But that’s the point. President Packer is conflating sexual desires toward same sex as some temptation from Satan, and nothing else. Nothing natural about it. He says it himself: “unnatural.”

    “Natural” has at least three prominent historical meanings here. One is, as you say “exists in nature”. The next sense (credit Plato) is “in accordance with the timeless and eternal”. The last (credit Paul) “unspiritual, corrupt, fallen”.

    Depending on context then we can read “unnatural” as a “artificial”, “inconsistent with the normal order of things”, or “supernal”. Clearly I think we have to read the term in the second sense here, an assertion which is controversial, but hardly nonsensical.

    The issue about temptation, attraction, and the involvement of Satan is a separate debate. Personally I find the idea that Satan is involved in every inclination to the improper ridiculously Manichean. “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14).

    That does not however obviate the quoted statement of Paul with regard to the intervention of God in helping people resist those inclinations.

  99. SLK in SF on October 8, 2010 at 3:16 am

    I do wish that those who are using the phrase “homosexual tendencies” would stop and reflect for just a moment at how demeaning that sounds — and how silly. I have never heard anyone described as having “heterosexual tendencies” except in lame jokes.

    In my opinion this is something that requires more awareness of “other-ness” than, in general, it receives. It’s not that such language is high on the list of sins; nor do I want to imply that those who speak in that manner are narrow-minded or somehow intolerant. But we humans tend to be somewhat blind when it comes to areas in which we are privileged — in this case “privileged” meaning “heterosexual.”

    Thanks to everyone who is sincerely trying to understand and make sense of what, in our society, is a bitterly contentious issue.

  100. Ben Orchard on October 8, 2010 at 7:57 am

    I just finished reading through this whole thread.

    I stand by my original statements.

    I’d like add the following:

    To whomever it was talking about science geeks watching their facts–AMEN!! Any time I about read a new scientific finding, I ask myself a few questions:

  101. Ben Orchard on October 8, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Gah!! Stupid tab button….

    Questions I ask:

    1. Does the person telling me about this research have an agenda? (Generally the answer is yes–I can’t think of a time when the answer was no).
    2. Did the scientist have an agenda. (Again, this is almost ALWAYS the case. As someone involved in human behavior research, I have to say this: very rarely do you see someone doing research that they do not have a strong passion for. It takes too much energy otherwise.)
    3. Do those reporting & doing the research make their agendas clear? (This is usually a no–which is the real problem. I don’t mind the first two, since they are all but universal. Not disclosing one’s biases, or even recognizing them, is what is absolutely damning.)
    4. Assuming #3 is handled properly, are the scientists approaching the problem in such a way that would allow for their biases to be rejected? To take a complete non-issue, if a guy is doing research on fire because he believes that its not really hot and wants to prove the world wrong, is the experiment set up in such a way that he could reasonably be convinced that yes indeed fire IS hot. If not, then the research is absolutely worthless. Generally if one is biases, then in doing research one should be ACTIVELY seeking to prove that the bias is WRONG. To choose a MUCH more controversial example: those that believe that global warming is completely man made should NOT be doing research to prove that it is, but to prove that it isn’t–they should be actively looking for other viable explanations. Why? Because that is going to force them to truly examine other possibilities.
    5. Do the data in the experiment support the conclusions presented? This is serious, but self-explanatory.
    6. Finally, what else is known about this, and how does it fit with existing bodies of knowledge. Not to say that it can’t disagree, but if it does, then the evidence for the disagreement should be strong.

    In terms of this whole question about the source of homosexuality, I’m afraid that the scientific evidence just isn’t good enough. There are TOO many people that research this based on anecdote and NOT strong research principles for me to really feel that the final word is in. I *personally* believe that like a LOT of other confusing human behaviors, homosexuality is a PRODUCT of both genetic and environmental factors in most cases. For the record, I put autism, schizophrenia and a number of other behavioral patterns in the EXACT same place. Some people are born with a slight genetic twist and given the right (or wrong) environmental factors, that twist will manifest or not. So for homosexuals, I think that most (but NOT all) are born with a genetic twist that generates the possibility that they will be homosexual, but it may or may not manifest depending on the stressors they encounter growing up.

    NOTE that this does not, emphatically, DOES NOT mean that every homosexual individual had a bad experience with someone of the opposite experience, or a highly sexual experience with someone of the same sex. There’s no way it means that abuse is the cause. I’m fed up with those that suggest that it is. What I *do* think is that homosexuality can be the product of any number of things, and looking for a single cause is willfully ignoring the complexity of our world, and therefore a very STUPID thing to do.

    Regardless of EP’s comments, I know what I believe. I believe that EVERYONE is required by our Heavenly Father to be chaste before marriage. You, me, and that guy down the street. I also do not think that the church will ever change its position on that point. I’m also reasonably certain that the stance on same-sex marriage is not going to change with regards to something like temple-worthiness.

    That does not mean that ANYONE has the right to abuse ANYONE else because of their sexual orientation, race, political affiliation, or gender. ALL people should be treated with respect, and if you can’t do that, then you REALLY don’t understand Christ’s teachings. As near as I can tell, ANYONE who was trying to be a better person was worthy of respect.

    Since I don’t know anyone’s particular capacity or intentions except as they state them, I’m going to treat pretty much everyone with respect until the PROVE beyond reasonable doubt that they are jerks. Then I will try to love them and help them, but generally from a distance.

    I’ve said my piece. Deal with it.

  102. Dan on October 8, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Ben,

    In terms of this whole question about the source of homosexuality, I’m afraid that the scientific evidence just isn’t good enough. There are TOO many people that research this based on anecdote and NOT strong research principles for me to really feel that the final word is in.

    Exactly how much research have you studied on this subject to make such a statement? Did you review any of these journals on sexology, many of which are peer reviewed and quite credible in their research? You’re going to have a tough time convincing at least me, not speaking of anyone else here, that the researchers who submit to these journals don’t employ “strong research principles” but rather base their research on anecdotal evidence.

  103. Adam Greenwood on October 8, 2010 at 10:22 am

    #14 leaves me baffled. Tasted what fruit? Adam G., you have the components of something Edward Leary there.—-There was an old man of Gibraltar, / Who got by on gravy and water; / They offered him fruit, / To which he cried “Toot!” / That doubtful old man of Gibraltar.

    The fruit that Eve bit, that introduced sin and limericks into the world.

  104. Adam Greenwood on October 8, 2010 at 10:23 am

    I would be embarassed to oppose President Packer publicly, if nothing else for the company I’d keep. Who wants to be first among splutterers?

  105. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on October 8, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Brad, your analogy of my analogy was neither clever or relevant. My point wasn’t that Japanese people do crazy stuff. The fact that youre fixated on the superficial aspect of it tells me youre not really interested in serious contribution. Also you might have some anger issues (a guy punching himself in the face 14 times…) Maybe you should relax, eat some soup.

  106. SilverRain on October 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    Why would God do that to anyone?
    In my experience, this is what the entire body of scripture answers best.

  107. Dan on October 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    youre not really interested in serious contribution.

    heh…from the guy who brings up Japanese who wed robots…

  108. Kingsley on October 8, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    #105,

    Your point was that homosexuals are homosexuals because overindulgence in artificial stimulation isolates them from the real world and thus healthy interaction with the opposite gender, no? You also imply that a homosexual relationship is as fantastic, juvenile and disconnected as that of an avid gamer and his favorite avatar. It is not so much that the analogy is not very clever, as that it is imbecile. No doubt a gang of “drunken homeless” (your subtlety there is indisputable) is leveling the same charge at my local library this very minute—-there is some doubt whether that counts as a victory for you.

  109. Kingsley on October 8, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    #103,

    Thank you for clarifying. Probably some old Jew without any authority removed the part about limericks, I think Margaret Barker wrote a paper on the Deuteronomists’ hostility toward limericking in fact, in spite of the Psalms and the Song of Songs being written originally in that form. There once were two breasts like green hills …

  110. Ben Orchard on October 8, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Dan

    10/8/2010 at 9:18 am
    Ben,

    In terms of this whole question about the source of homosexuality, I’m afraid that the scientific evidence just isn’t good enough. There are TOO many people that research this based on anecdote and NOT strong research principles for me to really feel that the final word is in.
    Exactly how much research have you studied on this subject to make such a statement? Did you review any of these journals on sexology, many of which are peer reviewed and quite credible in their research? You’re going to have a tough time convincing at least me, not speaking of anyone else here, that the researchers who submit to these journals don’t employ “strong research principles” but rather base their research on anecdotal evidence.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I do not regularly read the peer reviewed journals on the topic. But I think my points stand–personally I think that even one researcher relying on anecdotal evidence is far too many.

    Additionally, peer review publishing is patently NOT proof against bias, poor research methods, and especially groupthink. If you think for a moment that any given journal on human sexuality is immune to this, say perhaps more than those climatology journals that argue about global warming, then you simply don’t understand the scientific community.

    Look, the VAST people who do research about homosexuality generally have a great deal of passion about the topic. My experience in research leads me to believe that with very very few exceptions, people who are very passionate about a topic tend to become blind to their own biases.

    This is precisely the reason that, even though I could easily become involved in it, I avoid education research about autism. The subject is FAR too personal for me, and I can’t hold myself to any reasonable standard of recognizing my own biases. I keep up with what’s going on, but I’m not entering THAT field because I can’t be sure that I would be able to see evidence for belief-contrary conclusions.

    Are all the researchers in the field of sexology blinded by their biases. I don’t think so, though I haven’t met them all. That said, this is hardly a field known for dispassionate discourse. That’s a problem with research in any highly-politicized field–the discourse becomes heated and it is therefore difficult to find researchers that haven’t elected to pursue proof of one or other of the sides of the debate.

    FURTHERMORE, my original point was about the ability to draw conclusions from the current body of scientific research–and I don’t believe that one can objectively look at the research on the question of genetics vs. environment in homosexuality and reasonably conclude that we have anything LIKE enough information. If the APA is putting into the DSM that we lack enough information, then you had better believe that we lack the information.

    Quoting #44, who quotes the DSM:

    “There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.”

    My experience with research psychologists leads me to believe that if the APA could find anyway to say that homosexuals are definitively BORN as homosexuals, they would. However the strongest they can put forward is “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation”. I have no arguments with this position, since to be honest, that’s a fairly safe wording. I don’t experience much sense of choice about whether or not I like a particular food, but that doesn’t mean that likes/dislikes of a particular food are genetic.

    That said, while I feel it necessary to respond (mostly because it seems as if you are trying to say that my entire post is irrelevant based on this single point), I have to say that I’m not sure what your point was. That I don’t regularly read those journals? I’m not sure how that impacts this overall debate other than to say that perhaps I was a bit too strong about this statement.

    Tell me though, what research program would you employ to determine if homosexuality is genetically determined?

  111. Dan on October 8, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Ben,

    But I think my points stand–personally I think that even one researcher relying on anecdotal evidence is far too many.

    Unless you provide an example, this is a straw man. Ironically, your whole comment (#110) is full of anecdotes.

  112. Jack on October 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Dan,

    See my comment(#44). The APA would surely be aware of the peer reviewed literature.

  113. palerobber on October 8, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past.

    except it wasn’t anything new. most of the western world had figured out that dark skin was not a curse decades if not centuries before.

    a more honest way to describe what happened in 1978 (and what’s likely to happen again in about 2040) is that church leadership woke up one day and did some cleaning and found an unopened letter from God that had somehow fallen behind the cupboards about a century before.

  114. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on October 8, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    #108 actually my point was only that I think blaming deviations from traditional marriage/relationships on genetic predisposition doesn’t always work. Pretty simple point. I should have just used the prison analogy but everybody has already heard that one, what would be the point.

  115. palerobber on October 8, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Adam Greenwood #37

    the dogma that sexuality was all just joyful, joyful, clean and bright, if only we got over our stigmas, was hoary when your grandfather was a boy. After decades of fatherless children, broken homes, and wounded hearts, it can only be of antiquarian interest. I applaud you for pretending to still believe it, as I would applaud you if you insisted on top hats when out of doors.

    whereas you would be opting for straw hats, i guess.

    the fact that human sexuality has always been fraught is all the more reason not to distress people even further with stigmas which have no utility and derive from worst part of our religious heritage.

    as for fatherless children, broken homes, and wounded hearts, you may want to do a little more family history work. that started a wee bit before the Griswold decision.

  116. palerobber on October 8, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    SUNNofaB.C.Rich #114

    actually my point was only that I think blaming deviations from traditional marriage/relationships on genetic predisposition doesn’t always work.

    but since it does work in the case of gays your point was as irrelevant as it was asinine.

  117. Chino Blanco on October 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    My name is Jason Echols. My forebear, Samuel Echols, left a wife and child behind in Georgia, in order to follow the Saints to Manassa, Colorado. Because the Missus didn’t want to go. Why would our Heavenly Father require that of anyone? Beats me.

  118. palerobber on October 8, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Dr. Dave #52

    I do not in any way mean to minimize the anguish that people with same-gender attraction go through, but there are plenty of others who desperately want to marry but whose disability makes that extremely unlikely. Are they excused from keeping the law of chastity?

    wow, that’s a new one.

    dave. my friend. gay people are in fact physically and mentally capable of expressing love, forming relationships, hiring wedding planners, pronouncing vows, etc. the reason they are unlikely to marry is not due to any “disability” but instead because… (are you still with me dave?)… it’s – against – the – law – in – most – states.

    but your post does raise the important question:
    if none of the women in your singles ward will go out on a date with you, can anyone really complain if we outlaw all mormons from marrying? after all, if you have to live a celibate life why can’t everyone else?

  119. Brad Kramer on October 8, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    “blaming deviations from traditional marriage/relationships on genetic predisposition doesn’t always work.”

    Bravo. A commenter claims A is caused by X. Your counterargument is that B is not caused by X. From which you extrapolate a general principle that not everything is cause by X. Breathtaking, really.

    In case anyone is wondering, SUNNofaB.CRich is interested in making a serious contribution. Better bring your A-game if you want go head to head with this guy.

  120. Jared on October 8, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    I spent some time today finding out if there are church members who accept their SSA and yet accept the doctrine of Christ as taught by the Mormon church.

    It didn’t take long. Here are three sites, for those interested. I learned about them from a gay LDS man who is an active member of the church.

    http://northstarlds.org/

    http://ldslights.org/

    http://www.evergreeninternational.org/

  121. Brad Kramer on October 8, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Oh, Jared…

  122. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on October 8, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Brad if you really think A is caused solely by X it would only be a short jump to believe that B is probably caused by X as well, which of course is ridiculous. If you don’t think A is caused solely by X then what’s the fuss? Good job bringing your A game, too bad it wasn’t game night.

  123. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2010 at 8:06 am

    “if you really think A is caused solely by X it would only be a short jump to believe that B is probably caused by X as well”

    Wrong. This is an assumption that you smuggled into your logical “reasoning”. But whether or not B is caused by X has no bearing on the question of A being caused by X, even if you are obtuse and stupid enough to draw a substantive equivalence between same-sex marriage and some dude marrying his imaginary girlfriend or Dennis Rodman marrying himself or a woman marrying the Eiffel Tower or the sea or seven of her cats.

  124. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on October 9, 2010 at 9:25 am

    So you believe all homosexuality is 100 percent caused by genetic predisposition? With no genetic predisposition, homosexuality will not manifest itself in a person? No other factor without the presence of genetic predispisotion will lead someone to homosexualty? If you simply answer yes, think about it then make the short logical jump to believing genetic predisposition causes everything. I suspect you probably do (stupidly) believe that.

  125. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2010 at 11:25 am

    “If you simply answer yes, think about it then make the short logical jump to believing genetic predisposition causes everything. I suspect you probably do (stupidly) believe that.”

    Wow. Check and mate. Nicely played.

    Notwithstanding examples from Japanese performance art or the inscrutably convoluted processes that appear to underlie your cognitive abilities, no one is arguing that human sexuality in any form (or any other kind of complex human behavior, including, to take another totally random example, the staggering inability of a full-grown adult to follow third grade level logical reasoning) is “100 percent caused by a genetic predisposition.” The argument, my good man, reduced to one-syllable words for the sake of the irredeemably daft, is:

    Gay lust, love, and acts are no more or less caused by genes than straight lust, love, and acts. There are genes and these genes guide, mold, shape, bring to bear, and so on. Man weds pic on screen, so you say. But it does not mean a thing.

    Does the small mind get it yet?

  126. Brad Dennis on October 9, 2010 at 11:42 am

    No, this isn’t the church’s stance on homosexuality. This is strictly Boyd K. Packer’s stance. Many apostles, including Dallin H. Oaks and Gordon B. Hinckley, have acknowledged that homosexuality can indeed be inborn.

  127. Brad Dennis on October 9, 2010 at 11:46 am

    “There are things that, as a church, we cannot change”

    Oh it can change. Blacks and the priesthood, polygamy, just to name a few.

    I am becoming disappointed with the articles written at Times and Seasons. It used to be so much more thoughtful and scholarly. Now many of the posts, as this one, are just uninformed ranting in many cases. Is it becoming a game to see how many comments you can generate. Its turning into an average blog.

  128. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2010 at 11:52 am

    “Now many of the posts, as this one, are just uninformed ranting in many cases.”

    Um, did you actually read the original post? If your complaint is about the quality of the comments, as opposed to Rory’s original write-up, then you should probably clarify your meaning.

  129. Rory Swensen on October 9, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Brad Dennis (#128),

    Keep reading. The three sentences directly following the one you quoted say exactly what you do. Hey, I even include a reference to blacks and the priesthood.

    Perhaps it would have been clearer had I put emphasis on we.

    Significant change, such as the revelation on blacks and the priesthood, are culminations of serious internal wrestling and sincere petitions. Perhaps it would have been better if I explicitly said as much, instead of hoping to convey that with the questions in the sixth paragraph.

    If my position is lost in my writing, it is this: We have some serious questions before us that are not going to be easy to resolve. However, there is precedence for believing that we have limited understanding, and that God can certainly respond to us with very significant answers that change things dramatically. If we take the questions seriously, we may have a lot to learn.

  130. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on October 9, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Brad, the interesting thing is that you don’t really have any objection to what I said.

  131. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    “you don’t really have any objection to what I said.”

    You’re free to think that if it makes you feel better. The fact that I do not object to your (incredibly original and not at all self evident) suggestion that genetically coded predispositions do not absolutely and irrevocably determine human behavior is unrelated to the fact that a man wanting to marry a computer program has nothing whatsoever to do with the biological basis for homosexuality or its implications for ethics, religious practice, or social policy.

    Someone asserts that X has a significant influence on Y. You mistakenly read this as an argument that X unicausally determines Y. You (being real smart like) know that X does not unicausally determine Y. Yet, inexplicably, you seek to demonstrate this (irrelevant) point by calling attention to the fact that X does not determine Z. The fact that the choice to marry a piece of software is not genetically determined does not constitute proof of the fact that homosexual orientation is not genetically determined. And the fact that you and I agree about the latter has nothing to do with the stupidity of the logic that tries to make it flow from the former.

    The marriage between a Japanese man and an artificial woman has no more to do with the biological basis for homosexuality than it does with the biological basis for heterosexuality.

  132. Jack on October 9, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Brad,

    Now that you have completely extricated yourself from the “stupidity” of others who think differently than you do, may I risk entangling you once again in the thorny bush of blue collar ignorance by suggesting that there may be a logical connection between the two — however minimal — by the mere fact that the mind is a powerful thing? There is no scientific consensus as to the root of sexual orientation (of course there was a time when humanity believed that genitalia had something to do with it. But that’s been summarily rejected and thrown from academia’s loftiest window.), and so to assume that the brain may have something to do with one thing or another as it relates to human sexuality in all of it’s many manifestations is not all together unreasonable.

  133. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    “to assume that the brain may have something to do with one thing or another as it relates to human sexuality in all of it’s many manifestations is not all together unreasonable.”

    Show me where I’ve argued otherwise. The logical connection between the man who married the computer generated woman and the biological basis for homosexuality (and, yes, that biological foundation is neither absolutely deterministic nor unicausal) is still stupid. Except to the extent that both issues involve humans, human behavior, and human brains. But then why not just bring up an example of a human being avoiding carbohydrates or eating with chopstix or playing chess unusually well?

  134. Jack on October 9, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    “But then why not just bring up an example of a human being avoiding carbohydrates or eating with chopstix or playing chess unusually well?”

    That might be possible if, perhaps, the person in question felt sexually attracted/aroused to/by those things.

  135. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    You’re the one who said that what they have in common is that the mind is a powerful thing. To the extent that my comments suggest that I consider any complex human behavior to be either absolutely genetically determined or unrelated to brains and minds, it would appear that I need to apologize for my lack of writing skills.

    I don’t know how to make myself more clear. The biological foundation for human sexuality—a wide variation of phenotypic complexity and possibility which, like virtually all phenotypic trait complexes involves the articulation of genetic coding with environmental factors ranging from early uterine environment to hormonal factors of early childhood and secondary sexual development to sociocultural factors—is no less compelling or relevant for the range of desires, drives, and behaviors classified as homosexual than for those classed as heterosexual. That homosexuality is observed in a wide range of animal species with considerably less complex forms of sociality, whose behavior is not cognitively mediated by the symbolic and abstract reasoning capacities unique to homo Sapiens, speaks rather forcefully to the question of human homo- or heterosexuality being primarily a socially or culturally encoded behavioral complex.

    The individual sexual or marital or attention-seeking quirks of some guy in Japan is equally (ir)relevant to the question of the biological basis of hetero- and homosexualities. Can you really not see that this inane example could just as easily be pressed into the service of arguing against a genetic-biological basis for any sexual behavior or marital norms, including heterosexuality, promiscuity, or monogamy?

  136. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on October 9, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Brad, youre pretty set in your beliefs regarding homosexuality, (I’m not even going to get into lesbian penguins and that movie Two Men and a Baby) that makes you the perfect guy for me to ask my real question: How does homosexuality fit into the mormon plan of salvation? Youve got all the answers should be an easy one for you, right? I don’t want to hear “I don’t know” either. So let’s have it.

  137. M.Kari on October 9, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    I have been reading these posts and what a good number of people here are failing to get is that it is indeed possible to be celibate if gay. A non gay can person can be celibate all their long lived life! And if they can then so can any other person. Ther standards are set no sex before marriage. And marriage is for male female couples for the purpose of creating new life. And don’t go down the line of- then what about childless …

    Pure and simple all people can make a choice to not act on the promptings of their own thoughts. And sometimes it really is us and not the devil!

    Clearly -As a man thinketh so is he. So quit thinking in a way contrary to your faith and convictions!

    Honestly it matters not if the tendencies to be soft and gentle and spend time with like minded people are inborn (or to be butch and rugged). Each individual can maintain their virtue and guard their thoughts. They can then form friendships based on likes and interests while maintaining their physical distance. None of us are supposed to be lusting after one another so why do gay people get a pass in the mind of so many?

    Makes no sense to me.

    As far as the word changes as found in the magazine as opposed to the speech -those talks are turned in way before so that the typesetters can prepare the magazine- each person writes their own talks- So one can assume that either God directed him to add that question as he spoke or that he had it in his mind but had left it out in the manuscript and still said it, still probably a prompting of the spirit–it would cause such an utterance. Tendencies/temptations he said what he was inspired to say- if you believe he is called of God…

    Got your attention didn’t it?

  138. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    137,
    I’m afraid I don’t even have answers regarding how sexuality of any form fits into the Mormon plan of salvation. None of us do, really. On the one hand, there are hints in authoritative Mormon texts that some form of reproduction or “increase” is a part of the eternal world and is bound up in the concept of progression toward godhood (though theosis is also a hotly debated issue, with official Mormon discourse in recent decades moving steadily away from models of exaltation involving robust theosis). On the other hand, all Mormon accounts of divine acts of creation are both non-sexual and homo-social, i.e. involving the non-sexual but nonetheless productive and creative collaboration of male figures.

    We also have a notion of something like biological sex which is forwardly and backwardly eternal, but our best official source here conflates “sex”—being biologically male or female (though can pre-existent spirits be properly described as having biology? Is biological sex a relevant category for non-reproductive entities?)—with “gender”, by using gender to stand for both male/female identity as well as for the social roles, duties, predispositions, etc., each of the two binary categories is presumed to typify. In other words, there is no well-developed Mormon theology of sexuality. Authoritative sources which would, in principle, be most helpful for constructing such a theory are, in fact, riddled with mystery and even contradiction.

    There’s certainly plenty of ammunition for speculation, for the proverbial mingling, in proof-text fashion, of one’s own philosophies with scriptural texts. I’m personally much more comfortable simply acknowledging the problems, and accepting that we know far less about the eternal world and the place of sexuality therein than most of us would like to believe we do.

    Sorry to disappoint.

  139. Brad Kramer on October 9, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    M.Kari,
    Official statements from the Church have indicated that the changes were made to the text _subsequent_ to President Packer’s delivering of the speech. He gave the version he wanted to give, but that version required key revisions before it was incorporated into the official written record and made publicly available in written form. If the spoken version were the version God directed/inspired President Packer to give, the version He wanted the Church to consider, ponder, and learn from, we every reason to believe that that version would be the one available at the Church’s website and printed in the Conference Ensign/Liahona.

  140. Jack on October 9, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    “Can you really not see that this inane example could just as easily be pressed into the service of arguing against a genetic-biological basis for any sexual behavior or marital norms, including heterosexuality, promiscuity, or monogamy?”

    Yes. Which is why I believe that God not only restricts sexual relations to the narrowest of boundaries, but also requires that his children strive for an ideal sociality wherein those boundaries are clearly drawn, understood and adhered to by covenant after being nurtured in the most charitable conditions possible.

    You’re probably familiar with this famous quote by Will Durante:

    “Sex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group.”

    IMHO, some of those “hundred restraints” (which are really part and parcel of the “meta” restraint that God requires us to live within) have to do with the sweet nurturing that every child should ideally experience — not only from his parents, but also society as a whole. Some of the more “sweet” restraints enable children to build upon a firm emotional foundation which would further enable them to maintain an impermeable firewall between sex and sexuality — which is where the break-down is likely to occur otherwise.

    That said, what I’m getting at (hopefully) is that God imposes restrictions precisely because sexuality is incredibly tenuous and requires great care and channeling during it’s development. IMO, many of our homosexual friends are victims of a harsh society that cares almost nothing about the internal well being of it’s children. They have been left to do the best they can in many instances to process on their own that which really requires an entire zion-like village to negotiate for the individual.

    I stand in awe at those so betrayed by society who struggle to live peaceably with fierce neighbors and in even greater awe at those struggle to keep the faith among fundamentalist fools.

  141. SUNNofaB.C.Rich on October 9, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    #139 very disappointing. that’s not going to cut it. Surely such an intellectual individual as yourself with an up to date and complete scientific understanding of human sexuality would have found a logical way to reconcile this knowledge (which trumps any theologically based belief) with the mormon plan of salvation. The two pronged, middle of the road, play it safe approach doesn’t do it for me. Surely youve developed an idea of how this all works together. Let’s hear it. Don’t be scared bro.

  142. It's Not Me on October 10, 2010 at 10:32 am

    There sure are some pompous, arrogant . . . er . . . I mean, very insightful and intelligent people commenting here.

    Jared, apparently you’re taking up blog space.

  143. Brad Kramer on October 10, 2010 at 11:47 am

    SUNNofaB.C.Rich,
    It turns out that I misread your original query (#137) as indicating an actual desire to engage in a discussion. I suppose that’s my bad (and, really, it seems cruel at this stage to hold you personally responsible for what appears to be a deeply ingrained inability to participate in this kind of exchange). Nonetheless, I have now grown bored of our little conversation. You, of course, are free to continue to repeat your question in total disregard of the rather lengthy and substantive answer I’ve already furnished. Cheers.

  144. Rory Swensen on October 10, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Looks like it is time to wrap this thread up. Thanks, everyone, for the productive thoughts. For now, I direct you to Rosalynde’s excellent post for any additional, substantive discussion.