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.