Revelation by the rooster

It is a week after Easter now, and surely Petrus (Peter, the English call him, but I prefer his more apostolic sounding Latin name) has come back from his great shock, delivered by the rooster; that early morning crowing did put him back with his feet on the ground: he had showed weak when confronted with reality. Of course, he had regretted it deeply, but in the last week he has seen his risen Lord and things were turning out gloriously. Pentecost is still six weeks into the future, with its redemption by the Holy Spirit and we all know that from that moment onwards Petrus would never falter in his faith.

I think he has never forgotten that particular rooster, which revealed that even the ones closest to the Lord could and did make mistakes. That animal cry embodied a reality check, a revelation from below, a call for correction of a mistake. And it worked, in Petrus’ life. Petrus’ real example is that he learned from being corrected and grew: he learned from the rooster.

350 years ago Rembrandt died, so here his rendition of Petrus who denies to know the Nazarene. At the upper right hand corner Jesus looks back at Petrus. The rooster is not in sight yet, but he surely can crow any moment now.

Well, the analogy is clear, we may get messages from above, but we are corrected from below, even sometimes doing the correcting. The last General Conference did not bring a large harvest of changes, but it did provide one major correction, in the treatment of the children of gay couples. This policy, called the PoX in the blogosphere, has been corrected now, in fact just a few years after it was leaked. We have seen corrections in the past in the Church, but they usually took much longer. The policy in question has been defended by several apostles including Nelson, who raised the specter of revelatory procedures, but this was never very convincing. What did happen, in my view is more a ‘revelation by the rooster’. The PoX was one of the most unpopular measures ever taken by the leadership, for reasons we have amply discussed at the time. But a major rooster call did come, for people left the church because of it, and then members at the very heart of the organization: bishops, branch presidents, stake presidents. From the Netherlands I know of three former bishops and one former stake president for whom this policy was one reason to leave the church, with their families. From other members I heard that their families were split over it, highly disturbing family relations. The PoX solved no problems of children, helped against no threats from the outside, but led to a massive bleeding-from-the-top. That did not go unnoticed, not by the members, nor by the leadership. I do not have the numbers for the church as a whole, but estimates run into tens of thousands members of good standing leaving the church. The rooster cried out loudly on this one: reality hit back.

Like with Petrus, we have to laud our leadership for the quick correction, for listening to the rooster and make a spectacular U-turn. It is not very productive to try to salvage the notion of revelation in both instances, that is quite improbable. The generous treatment by Rosalind Welch who tried to do so in her blog needs a paradigm change to account for both the PoX and the present correction, and that is too much honor for the former. At the time I called in my blog for forgiving our leaders for being human – and thus making mistakes –, now they showed that being human can lead to good things as well. Their position is a precarious one, since the authority that comes with the revelatory discourse carries a heavy burden and a huge responsibility: that of never showing oneself wrong. And that is exactly what they did, an action that does not sit easily within the Church structure. It is not the time and place here to speculate how this policy could have ‘happened’, enough ink has been spilled on that, but this ‘revelation by rooster’ is a wake-up call for anyone in ecclesiastical authority to make sure that such measures will never happen again.

So, all the more praise to our leaders for listening to the rooster, for making an obvious U-turn and a much needed correction on themselves. Revelation comes in many ways, also from sheer reality, and here the trampling feet of those who left the church were a wake-up call, a huge rooster crying out loud. If God changed address (Welch’s notion) He now reveals himself definitely at the grass roots level. So, for our leaders, listen to the rooster, for the church, follow the U-turn.

40 comments for “Revelation by the rooster

  1. Old Man
    April 27, 2019 at 11:50 am

    “…estimates run into tens of thousands members of good standing leaving the church.”

    I seriously doubt the estimators on that one. Sources?

  2. E
    April 27, 2019 at 11:52 am

    I agree my love and respect for the prophets and apostles is strengthened by their ability to correct mistakes. I think this is a strength of President Nelson. He is not afraid to make corrections and label mistakes as such (i.e. our previous practice of identifying the Church with “Mormon”). I also think (hope) that the experience of the previous policy and need for correction opens the door to receiving more correction as far as the way we treat LGBTQ members of the Church.

  3. libcon
    April 27, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    Charitable comments, but not interpretations?

    Rather than everyone being wrong and admitting to it later, why isn’t it more likely that God gave us yet another chance to make the best decision for families, as the authorities previously stated. And now after such an outcry from those who the policy was to protect, the policy was relaxed to accommodate their temper tantrum.

    Have you ever told a child no, being completely right in the matter, then relaxed the rule to carve out an exception, even though your original stance would have been best?

    I’m not sure I see a, “we got it wrong, but now it’s right” impression from this change.

    It’s a change prompted literally by the reaction of those who insisted that they’d prefer something else. What negates the original revelation there?

  4. Basil O Smiththe
    April 27, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    Members who allegedly “left the Church” over this matter should seriously consider the essence and nature of their testimony. Petulance is wholly inappropriate. Sustaining the Prophet and the 12 only insofar as it suits one’s own understanding and/or expectation of what constitutes the truth, are skating on thin ice. The counsel of, “Be(ing) still and know that I am God” has application in such circumstances.

    Setting oneself up as the arbiter of what should be (have been) and leaving the church as the sign of and in support of, one’s conviction is disingenuous and is tantamount to holding the Lord to ransom.

    Applying the analogy of “the rooster” in this instance is IMO sadly and irreverently inappropriate, judgmental and disrespectful of how the Lord and His servants conduct the affairs of the Church.

    Did the Lord Himself err when he called Judas Iscariot to the Twelve? Would this justify the departure of “tens of thousands members of good standing leaving the church.” Was there any “revelation from below, a call for correction of a mistake?

    I suggest that you do “a spectacular U-turn” and publish a retraction of your blog, based upon the theme of “Lord I believe. Help thou my unbelief”

  5. April 27, 2019 at 5:28 pm

    Perhaps admitting this will make me the odd man out, but I never got emotionally involved in what went on around the POX.

    The gist of it is that homosexual acts and relationships are forbidden – they always have been, and they still are. And I don’t believe that either the original POX or its reversal was a revelation; it was just the leadership’s attempt to deal with the problem of children straddled between homosexual parents and a church that teaches that what these parents do is offensive to God. Is there a good solution to this problem? No. But that’s the nature of men on Earth – they create problems to which there are no good solutions.

    The vacillations of the Q15 on this matter have no effect on my central beliefs, viz. that God created the Earth and its inhabitants, that he sent the prophets to declare his words and his son Jesus to save his people from their sins, that the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, and that, someday, God will return to the Earth and heal all the damage which men have done to his creations.

  6. JR
    April 27, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    Some of the commenters above may have lost sight of the First Presidency’s occasional encouragement of recognizing when they have been mistaken in thinking they were moved by revelation and their acknowledgment that the knowledge of the members (from below?) by the testimony of the Holy Ghost may make that known. That, of course, is not the only possible interpretation of events. But it is a legitimate one. After all, even the 2015 “clarification” letter made such a fundamental change to the original policy that it effectively announced that the original had been mistaken. See, generally, e.g.,

    “There have been rare occasions when even the President of the Church in his preaching and teaching has not been ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost.’ You will recall the Prophet Joseph declared that a prophet is not always a prophet.
    To this point runs a simple story my father told me as a boy, l do not know on what authority, but it illustrates the point. His story was that during the excitement incident to the coming of Johnson’s [sic] Army, Brother Brigham preached to the people in a morning meeting a sermon vibrant with defiance to the approaching army, and declaring an intention to oppose and drive them back. In the afternoon meeting he arose and said that Brigham Young had been talking in the morning, but the Lord was going to talk now. He then delivered an address, the tempo of which was the opposite from the morning talk.
    I do not know if this ever happened, but I say it illustrates a principle–that even the President of the Church, himself, may not always be ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost,’ when he addresses the people. This has happened about matters of doctrine (usually of a highly speculative character) where subsequent Presidents of the Church and the peoples themselves have felt that in declaring the doctrine, the announcer was not ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost.’
    How shall the Church know when these adventurous expeditions of the brethren into these highly speculative principles and doctrines meet the requirements of the statutes that the announcers thereof have been ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’? The Church will know by the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the body of the members, whether the brethren in voicing their views are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’; and in due time that knowledge will be made manifest.” — President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., of the First Presidency addressing a summer session of Seminary and Institute Teachers at Brigham Young University on the subject, “When are the Writings or Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Scripture?” His remarks, including the above, delivered July 7, 1954, were published in the Church News, July 31, 1954.

  7. p
    April 27, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    POX was a holy disaster from the get-go, and it didn’t take a revelation or whisper of the spirit to understand this, just a passing acquaintance w/ the teachings of Jesus and a small dose of common sense. Quite a lecture there, Basil, but your ire would be more productive trained in the direction of those that concocted this abomination, not those who responded to it. Bro van Beek, I always appreciate your generous, enlightened & clear-eyed posts.

  8. Eric
    April 27, 2019 at 10:53 pm

    We’re calling that policy the PoX now? The one that was basically the same as the policy the Church had toward polygamous households, yet no one was bothered about the effect it would have on those children?

    Rather than seeing things in terms of “the brethren were wrong before and now they’re right,” it seems more useful to see this as an iterative process in guiding the Church toward its eternal goal. Or think of a ship crossing the ocean; it has to make course corrections from time to time if it ever hopes to reach its intended destination. Making a course correction doesn’t mean the previous trajectory was necessarily wrong, rather that it would become the wrong course if the ship continued in that direction.

    And I don’t see this as at all analogous to Peter getting corrected by the rooster. The rooster was crowing and doing his thing without any thought toward what was going on with the people nearby. It meant something to Peter, but not to the rooster. It would be cocky (pun intended) for lay members to assume they’re playing the part of the rooster correcting the chief apostle in this instance.

  9. Thoughtful
    April 27, 2019 at 11:10 pm

    Has anyone other than myself had the passing thought that the establishment of the policy that has recently been reversed just might have been the Lord doing a little weeding of tares out of his field of wheat? It wasn’t the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve that were on trial, as so many on the internet seem to believe. It was the membership of the Church that was being tested. And I think more of the church membership passed the test than folks on the internet might give them credit for.

  10. Walter van Beek
    April 28, 2019 at 2:06 am

    Thanks for the comments, and for the realization that there are always more sides to an issue than one can fathom beforehand. As for testing members’ testimonies, I thought we had another figure for that, the one who used to be called Lucifer. Course corrections is a nice term, but the problem with the PoX is that it was directed against children, which is hard to construct as conform the shepherd of Nazareth. But, maybe in the larger picture… The people that I personally know to have left over the policy were not petulant, but were having doubts of an intellectual kind and now were pushed over by this rather emotional issue.
    I think we should beware of an easy judgment of people who left, since most only do it after considerable soul wrenching. The loss by the policy was not, as far as I can see, of the kind that gently drifted out of the church, but people who had invested a lot of time and effort in the church, and were disappointed by the gist of the policy, exclusionary and anti-child.
    Well, yes, I still see this as a self correction of the leaders, as a lesson that one may often be inspired but not Always so, and that inspiration is not always easy to recognize. A lesson for all, and we have to applaud the leadership for learning that lesson and teaching it to us, sort of. And thanks to the rooster, as well.

  11. Walter van Beek
    April 28, 2019 at 2:25 am

    Just to pursue: Basil called me to repentance, and that is always correct, with all of us I am afraid. Yes, his quote: “Lord I believe. Help thou my unbelief” is what a testimony is about. I do believe, but that is a verb, an action, and testimonies are a constant active affirmation of that belief, and that faith. There is an element of wanting to believe in that, and on the whole the Brethren help me in that quest for testimony affirmation. But in this policy they did not help, and the various commentaries echo the cognitive and emotional labor it requires to retain one’s faith. Faith is work.

  12. Old Man
    April 28, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Walter,
    I challenge the notion that the policy was anti-child. While the framing could have been much better, and I appreciate the changes, the initial policy was identical to the policy for children from polygamous families. I have observed how that latter group has been dealt with by the church for decades and I see no instances of “anti-child” actions or feelings on the part of church members. I have personally witnessed children nurtured by Church members until they turned 18, dialogue occurring with parents as children matured, and baptisms occurring per the policy. Families were not disrupted, church teachings regarding marriage were presented at appropriate times and spiritual maturation took place. The policy worked. It still works. The Church adamantly opposes the unauthorized practice of plural marriage, but it always looks at the long-term welfare of the children while acting.

    The fact that the initial policy (regarding children from same-sex marriages) was leaked and little explanation or training could occur was very problematic. But that is obviously not solely on the heads of church leaders. The fact that well-educated liberal participants of the bloggernacle , who pride themselves in providing historical and sociological context, failed to do so in this case for what I suspect are ideological reasons, is a real travesty. I respectfully submit that some of those who left, about which so many have expressed so much concern, could be still with us if it were not for the ideological tantrums thrown in the bloggernacle.

  13. Wilfried
    April 28, 2019 at 11:37 am

    Old man, allow me to try to clarify. Yes, reading your perspective and experience, I will not doubt your viewpoint, as you describe how the Church has been concerned with children from polygamous households.

    But the major problem we face continuously in such discussions are the different perspectives and experiences in the worldwide church. Brother van Beek speaks from his experience in the Netherlands. The Netherlands were the first country to legalize same-sex marriage, now almost 20 years ago. Married gay couples with or without children, though a small minority, are overall well accepted as part of society. Many church members know such couples, and almost every ward counts a few gay members. Overall, Latter-day LGBTs suffered already a lot (last year I did a survey among some of them in Belgium and the Netherlands, for an upcoming publication in an academic journal – their history and pain is telling).

    The Policy hit members in the Netherlands hard, and without any of the “ideological tantrums thrown in the bloggernacle”. When the news of the Policy reached the members through the official Church channels, the devastation was real, also elsewhere in Europe where same-sex couples and their children are fairly well integrated in society. It was especially the way children were treated in the Policy that hit deepest. And we lost quite a few of our precious members, even local leaders, over it. Members in Europe could not relate to polygamous situations and their children as you can in Utah. The comparison the church made at the time to justify the Policy made no sense to them.

    I understand that the reversal of the Policy was also triggered by the dramatic response and concern from church leaders in countries such as the Netherlands. The outspoken feeling that the Policy was anti-child no doubt played a role.

    Well, let us simply be grateful for the change.

  14. p
    April 28, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Will also assert that our worshipful attitude towards the Brethren is catastrophic, when they blow it they do so big-time, and that hurts every member. From the damage wrought by BK Packer’s anti-intellectual & dishonest antics, to our California confederacy w/ the Catholics – CATHOLICS! – re: Prop 8, and all the other nonsense in between and afterwards, POX in particular, the harm done to the Church both internally and in the arena where missionaries labor is severe. Want to know the real reason for dropping the name “Mormon” from our descriptors? – because it has become an international byword for “ignorant bigot.” Please please challenge your leaders when they are clearly wrong or mistaken. Encourage enlightened thinking and engagement w/ the rest of humanity instead of constantly haranguing the Saints w/ the same old dubious messaging/dog-whistling (“We are at war!”). This courage demonstrates real love for the Church, and in the long run will help it recover and reach its full potential.

  15. Clark Goble
    April 28, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    I don’t think I like the analogy since Peter was denying Christ in fear of being captured himself as a co-conspirator. Further a common story is that Jesus hadn’t yet given Peter the Holy Ghost (although I think there are reasons to be distrustful of that narrative). In any case Peter is not just making a mistake or having a momentary weakness of faith (as say during the walking on water incident) but denying Christ. I think that example has overtones you may not intend.

    I don’t know enough about the policy to say much there, although I think it clearly took on a life of its own as a symbol well beyond its content. As I think I’ve mentioned I’ve known members from polygamist families who met with the First Presidency under the old rules to be able to be baptized, go on a mission and so forth. Admittedly the tensions there are somewhat different these days with polygamists no longer typically accepting members and losing their own up and coming generations rapidly. Withholding judgment on the revelatory issues, which I simply have no information on, I can certainly understand people of prior generations seeing parallels between the two. However the various reports suggest that the announcement was handled in a poor atypical fashion and without the back and forth most policies face. I’m not sure that entails the portrayal some give of it as a horrible mistake. But I make no claims to having a strong opinion on it one way or the other. I do worry about how some are using it to paint Pres. Nelson and any future revelations he may offer.

  16. The other chad
    April 28, 2019 at 10:20 pm

    Thoughtful, I agree with your wheat/tares comment. I’m not sure we understand which group is which though. I’ve never understood why we get so threatened by the idea that leaders make mistakes.

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

  17. JR
    April 29, 2019 at 8:03 am

    Clark: “the announcement [of the November 2015 policy?] was handled in a poor atypical fashion and without the back and forth most policies face. I’m not sure that entails the portrayal some give of it as a horrible mistake. … I do worry about how some are using it [the January 2016 comments on an unidentified version of the 2015 policy?] to paint Pres. Nelson and any future revelations he may offer.”

    Some are not sure that the announcement was handled in an atypical fashion or that most Handbook 1 policies face a “back and forth.” Can you shed further light on that?
    Some worry about how Pres. Nelson painted himself with the January 2016 comments that apparently remain publicly unsupported by others of the Q15 (and with other rhetoric). Of course, “unleashed” did not alleviate that worry, but that was not his rhetoric. How is it that some paint him and any future revelations that worries you? — other than “unleashed.”

    Of course, the recent policy change/partial retraction is not the first time a relatively quick change has been made — think, e.g., of the Pres. Kimball era temple recommend instruction on sexual behaviors within marriage and its, I think even quicker, retraction. But I don’t recall anyone claiming that instruction was by “revelation” reflecting the mind and will of God. I suspect that, but for the January 2016 comments, the November 2015 policy might have been modified even earlier (and further than by the “clarification” letter) at least in favor of the informed consent rule announced this month.

    I hope you can clarify.

  18. Clark Goble
    April 29, 2019 at 10:44 am

    JR, just going by various reports – particularly the Mormon Land podcast. There’s always reasons to question how accurate such third hand discussions are. Especially when the people reporting it have a clear agenda and biases. There, but also in other places, there were reports that even the PR department was surprised by the policy and that the twelve didn’t get to debate it and get unanimity. Even if one agreed with the policy it seems undeniable it caught people flatfooted – plus it was released not in a normal fashion but by it appearing on the website for bishops and stake presidents which then got leaked to the press. So at minimum it wasn’t released in a normal fashion.

  19. Walter van Beek
    April 29, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    A revealing discussion, thank you all. It would be so interesting to know how the policy has been formulated, and also how it was leaked. Surely, it did not come into the church in the right way, and it did work the wrong way. Despite the passionate plea of Old Man, who speaks about polygamy, it is very hard to not see the PoX as anti-child; Wilfried points out very clearly why this has hit so hard in Europe. In Europe polygamy is not an issue, but LGTB is important and accepted, and homophobia is a huge problem and socially completely taboo. A homophobic church is not acceptable any longer over here. I know that the Church wants to stress that it is not homophobic and encourages to treat everybody with equal love, but actions sound louder than the voice from the pulpit and the PoX just was such a homphobic act – or tooeasy to construct as such. Indeed, let us be grateful that it is past us now, hopefully. I think one major problem in the genesis of the policy was the equation of LGTB issues with polygamy, that was a crucial error in thinking.
    (By the way, I am an anthropologist working in Africa, so can anybody tell me why polygamy is the ultimate evil?)

    The rooster analogy, Clark, just goes as far as one can stretch it, and as any analogy has its limitations. But a wake up call it was for Petrus, and the members’ reaction to the PoX was a wake up call for the present Petrusses as well. My praise is that they responded, and that it was rather quick, despite the earlier Nelson defense of it. My fear is that there will be no changes in the internal functioning of the 15 to preclude similar mistakes to be made in the future; I have the feeling that the large deference to rank and seniority will remain a barrier for internal constructive self criticism. But let us give praise to those who deserve it, and unite behind the correction. Revelation does come from below too.

  20. Clark Goble
    April 29, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    I should note that there are some reasons to distrust Greg Prince’s memory of a conversation with Tom Christofferson who presumably heard a version from Elder Todd Christofferson. Not only does Prince have some obvious potential biases but his retelling contradicts Nelson’s telling at BYU Hawaii. So I’m not sure that Mormon Land podcast account should be taken at face value. As I mentioned there are reasons to doubt that account but clearly there was a lot of surprise. It just wasn’t a professionally handled release.

    Walter, while any analogy breaks down when pushed too far, in this case I confess I’m just bothered by the center of the narrative used in the analogy.

    To the polygamy question I think that gets at aspects of the generation gap and the fact so many Apostles were from the Mormon corridor. To them this was a live issue – particularly those who came of age in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s easy to understand why they’d see it through that Utahn lens. While the Church has always had a presence in Europe, for much of the Church’s history it really has been a primarily western American Church. I don’t recall when most members were from outside the Mormon corridor but I believe it was fairly recently. (Within the last 20 years I believe) That leads to unfortunate biases that I think you’ve brought up before.

    The big difference from polygamy was that of course polygamy was always on the outskirts of society and never really approved. Indeed much of the tension there was from the main Church trying to distance itself – particularly in the eyes of America – from polygamy. In this case it’s inverted. It’s the wider western world that’s moved on and see the Church in the past.

  21. JR
    April 29, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    Yes, Clark, at times Greg shows some clear biases. Of course, they don’t mean he’s wrong any more than those who hide their biases must be presumed correct. For another view, possibly independent of Greg, see RB Scott’s December 16, 2015 post at themuss.net. Interestingly, Greg’s recent book, written prior to the partial retraction of the policy, became available this month.

    Walter, on who leaked the policy and how, see Aaron Brown’s November 5, 2016 post at bycommonconsent.com.

  22. Clark
    April 29, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    JR, all I meant is that when dealing with third hand information bias affects what we remember and how we present it. For everyone, myself included. Prince went through into more details than I’d seen elsewhere but I think there are reasons to be cautious. It’s more or less just noting that we don’t have direct information. Doesn’t mean he’s wrong and doesn’t mean he’s right but means he doesn’t have first hand knowledge either. It’s the old phone game with bias affecting how things get distorted through multiple tellings.

  23. JR
    April 29, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    Yeah, well, bias affects what we perceive and remember even if it’s first hand!

  24. p
    April 29, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    Prince’s bias (or not) is so beside the pt here it’s practically a red herring.

  25. Walter van Beek
    April 30, 2019 at 3:58 am

    Thanks for the link of the leakage, very informative. The whole issue is a splendid illustration that in the internet age very little is private, and that in this case the leaders never realized the risk they were taken. Maybe the rooster analogy is clear when considering the leakage, Clarke?
    I do understand the touchiness about polygamy in Utah and the Domestic Church. The difference with African polygamy is not just the practice (which has its dissimilarities) but mainly the socio-cultural framework of the marriage arrangement.
    A moot point remains the notion of LGTB marriage as apostacy, which holds for that matter for plural marriage as well. I intend to come back on this issue.
    Thanks for the comments

  26. Dsc
    April 30, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    Walter,

    Honestly, I don’t think your language reveals even an attempt to have a serious conversation about this issue. Anyone who calls this policy the “PoX” is clearly trying to score rhetorical points. It’s disappointing, because it looks like you have some interesting perspectives that are spoiled by the rhetoric. You can call the policy anti-child, but it’s empty rhetoric if you don’t address the similarities to the polygamy policy, and instead wave your hands.

    Perspectives from Europe are important as part of a total analysis of the global church, but let’s not pretend that concerns out of Europe are steering the Church.

  27. JR
    April 30, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Dsc, No one is pretending that concerns out of Europe are steering the Church. While his perspective is European, Walter has expressed no concerns that are not also common to a significant number (even if a minority) of active and now formerly active Church members in the US and to some, at least, in Canada and Australia. Further, your second sentence is simply false. “PoX” (for policy of exclusion) is a pseudo-acronym not invented by Walter, attributed by him at his first use correctly, though vaguely, to the blogosphere. For some, that term is quite disassociated from small pox or even chicken pox, just as “Mormon” has been for many quite disassociated from negative connotations or pejorative use. Your preoccupation with the polygamy policy is simply beside the point. That polygamy policy is of a quite different historical origin and historical and current circumstances. It is quite different in its effect since heterosexuals are not particularly susceptible to being recruited into a same-gender marriage or similar relationship. Its initial version (not entirely corrected by the so-called “clarification” letter) was a personal disaster for some children of failed mixed-orientation marriages and their parents. There seems to be no clear parallel between their situation and children of a failed marriage (I know of at least one) resulting in part from a husband’s unilateral determination to enter into polygamy. In some applications, that polygamy policy is also anti-child. Historically it seems to have been in the interest of protecting the church (not the child) and in reducing the feared fundamentalist Mormon use and abuse of priesthood ordinances of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    The choice not to address everything you deem relevant does not make a post “empty rhetoric.” I’ll bet you could find a more charitable way to express your concerns about the post if you cared to. Maybe I could too if I took more time with this comment.

  28. Dsc
    May 1, 2019 at 1:50 am

    JR,

    Walter’s comments implicitly state what Wilfried stated explicitly: “I understand that the reversal of the Policy was also triggered by the dramatic response and concern from church leaders in countries such as the Netherlands.“ So, yes, some people appear to be making the assumption that concerns from Europe are steering the church.

    How was my second sentence false? I certainly never claimed that Walter coined that term, but the term PoX was coined specifically to make it sound like a disease. Were it a straight acronym, it would be PoE. And the term “policy of exclusion” itself carries a bias, an evaluation of what the policy is and does. Using it indicates that the author believes the policy is homophobic and anti-child, neither of which are objectively true. That makes its use rhetoric, just like the term “marriage equality” and “traditional marriage” have long been used to try to frame a related debate in particular terms.

    Neither the 2015 policy on same-sex marriages nor the longstanding policy on polygamous marriages is “anti-child”. Both were aimed at protecting the church, making the Church’s view of certain kinds of marriages crystal clear, ensuring that children were not placed in a conflict between Church doctrines and policies with their parents’ marriage, and helping ensure that those children were making an informed decision with respect to baptism and any conflicts they may have with their family and the Church as adults. We could argue all day about the efficacy of those policies in reaching those goals, but to call them “anti-child” is an unfounded judgment about the intent behind those policies.

  29. JR
    May 1, 2019 at 6:01 am

    DSC, I read “anti-child” not a judgment of intent, but of effect — at least on some. Thanks for backing off from your earlier claim that “anyone” who uses PoX is trying to score rhetorical points and limiting it to your judgment of Walter’s intent, as ill-founded as that judgment may be..

  30. Dsc
    May 1, 2019 at 7:42 am

    JR,

    To be clear, I’m not backing off that point. Anyone who uses the term PoX is not trying to have a serious discussion.

  31. JR
    May 1, 2019 at 7:48 am

    OK, Dsc, anyone who uses the term PoX is not trying to have a serious discussion with you.

  32. Dsc
    May 1, 2019 at 10:10 am

    JR,

    With anyone. At least while they are using that term. It would be like anyone who uses the term “homo marriage” is not really interested in a discussion on same-sex marriage. Or anyone who uses the term “baby killer” in reference to abortion is not really interested in a serious discussion on abortion. You don’t have serious discussions using loaded and derogatory language.

  33. p
    May 1, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Is there an official name for the edict formerly known as PoX? If not, pray-tell how “policy of exclusion” be any worse than that!

  34. Dsc
    May 1, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    p,

    There’s no official name that I’m aware of, but the following are all neutral terms that would make clear what you’re referring to: 2015 Policy; policy on same-sex marriages; Handbook 1, Section 16.13 (2015) [and simply Section 16.13 on subsequent references]. Take your pick.

    One more thought on JR’s comment: “I read “anti-child” not a judgment of intent, but of effect”. I don’t think that reflects what most people think when they hear “anti-child”. It would be like claiming that this post is “anti-Mormon” because it has some unspecified negative effect on some Mormons, or probably more accurately, any number of other criticisms of the Church or the culture of the Latter-day Saints that people tell my I have a persecution complex for if I call them anti-Mormon.

  35. p
    May 1, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    “Neutral” does not seem to characterize the edict formerly known as PoX. I don’t see why this awful policy is any less deserving of a derisive nickname than other awful policies in the Church or elsewhere. You, Dsc, need to let this one go.

  36. Dsc
    May 1, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    p

    You’re pretty clearly demonstrating what I’m talking about. You’re of course free to your own opinion, but it’s clear to me that you’re more interested in spewing rhetoric than in actually engaging with the issue.

    Let me give you an example. I find the practice of elective abortion to be barbaric and disgusting. But if I’m going to actually have a serious discussion about it, I use neutral, clinical terms. If I use terms like baby-killer, murder, or even the technically very accurate feticide, I know no one who disagrees is even going to listen to me. It’s the same thing here. I respect your opinion on the 2015 policy, but I disagree with it. There’s room in there for a thoughtful discussion. But only if you meet those you disagree with on neutral ground.

  37. p
    May 1, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    The time for “thoughtful discussion” was before the policy was created. Now it’s just PoX. That’s what happens. Good night.

  38. Dsc
    May 1, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    p,

    Again, you’re demonstrating what I’m talking about.

  39. p
    May 2, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Good morning! FYI Dsc there are several topics I no longer can discuss thoughtfully. Call it “thoughtfulness fatigue.” Among these are the current occupant of the White House, any notion of racial superiority or supremacy, Biblical creationism – and the edict formerly known as PoX. There are things in this world most healthily dealt with by ridicule (abortion not among them) and not dignified by further discussion. As I asserted earlier, The Policy was a complete disaster from the get-go. The Brethren were informed of this in no uncertain terms by the members. Then we had a period of several years during which aforementioned Brethren pretended to ignore what the critics had predicted. Then, without notice or explanation they deleted a particularly noxious component. Given all this I don’t understand your insistence on thoughtful discussion. That ship sailed long ago.

  40. Walter van Beek
    May 3, 2019 at 4:01 am

    I did not invent PoX but I think it is apt, and it does express indignation at an bad, anit-child policy. I am glad that the brethren revoked it, and I laud them for that. Could they have mentioned the massive reaction in their message? Yes, but keeping the discourse of revelation from above intact is part of the picture, even when in this case the revelation came from below.

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