October 4th, 2010

President Packer, Straw Men, and the Pro-LGBT Propagandists

Update: To clarify his intent, President Packer edited his remarks for the printed, published version of the address. See here for details. While the changes both soften and strengthen his argument, they also leave intact his core arguments to which many have vociferously responded.



photo credit: hljavery

In his revealing book Propaganda, Edward Bernays, widely considered to be the father of the trade, discussed how leaders do and should guide the opinions of the masses through carefully-controlled messages. Propaganda, he argued, was a necessary element in business, government, and society as a whole. Remarking on its historical use previous to that time, and specifically in relation to government, Bernays wrote:

…the manipulators of patriotic opinion made use of the mental clichés and the emotional habits of the public to produce mass reactions against the alleged atrocities, the terror, and the tyranny of the enemy.

Propagandists since that time have learned from and emulated many of the tactics Bernays discussed and advocated. Indeed, many organizations who remain a minority, yet who have successfully led public opinion to reverse their previous opinions regarding them, have employed such methods, including deceptive advertising, infiltration of key communication positions, and the dissemination of tightly controlled information, crafted to yield a desired response. It is, as Bernays also wrote, “enlightened expert propaganda through the creation of circumstances, through the high-spotting of significant events, and the dramatization of important issue.”

Today has produced a case study worth highlighting.

This past weekend, Latter-day Saints worldwide tuned in for their semi-annual General Conference, an event attracting millions of faithful Mormons eager to listen to and learn from their leaders. One of many addresses has unsurprisingly yielded swift reaction from those opposed to its declarations. Beginning his remarks on Sunday morning, President Boyd K. Packer first noted that there exists so much confusion (propaganda?) in the world, that our youth hardly know which way they can walk.

Continuing, Packer began to elaborate on The Family: A Proclamation to the World, the plague of pornography, the divine nature of marriage, and the issue of homosexuality as it relates both to individual life and actions, and marital union. He emphasized that the commandment to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the Earth has never been rescinded. He noted that love is truly only realized when the sacred, procreative powers are employed within the bounds of a legal and lawful marriage—one between man and woman.

Satan is “impotent”, President Packer explained, not being able to create life. Seeking to make all miserable like unto himself, Packer explained that Satan “seeks to degrade the righteous use of the life-giving power by tempting you into immoral relationships.” As can be inferred from the balance of his remarks, he was referring not only to extra-marital heterosexual relations, but homosexual relations as well—both the relationships themselves, as well as those “counterfeits for marriage” many are seeking today.

“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,” President Packer said.

The retaliatory response to his remarks is coming primarily from the comments that directly followed the above. He said:

Some suppose that they were “preset” 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.

You can, if you will, break the habits, and conquer the addiction, and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church.

He continued:

If we’re not alert, there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature. A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. For instance, what good would a vote against the law of gravity do? There are both moral and physical laws irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundation of the world that cannot be changed. History demonstrates over and over again that moral standards cannot be changed by battle and cannot be changed by ballot.

The propagandists spared no time in responding. Within 24 hours, the Human Rights Campaign issued a press release saying that this servant of the Lord “should know better” than to make such comments:

Words have consequences, particularly when they come from a faith leader. This is exactly the kind of statement that can lead some kids to bully and others to commit suicide. When a faith leader tells gay people that they are a mistake because God would never have made them that way and they don’t deserve love, it sends a very powerful message that violence and/or discrimination against LGBT people is acceptable. It also emotionally devastates those who are LGBT or may be struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identify. His words were not only inaccurate, they were also dangerous.

Affirmation, the group for gay and lesbian Mormons who has tried in the past few years to establish a dialogue with the Church on these issues, spoke out thusly:

Elder Packer’s remarks in General Conference were not only ill-advised and contrary to fact, but were mean-spirited and will be perceived by many as bullying. We see no potential for good coming from his words and much possible damage, to the church, to individuals, and to families. The LDS Church should be a source of love, compassion, and conciliation, and not of fear and unfeeling petty hatred.

To be sure, there may very well be valid responses to President Packer’s remarks, and concern about the practical application of the standards he discussed. Why, then, do I refer to these remarks as propaganda? At no time did Packer tell homosexuals that “they are a mistake”, or that “they don’t deserve love”. His words are not dangerous, contrary to fact, mean-spirited, or based on “fear and unfeeling petty hatred”.

That these groups would even dare to so hastily issue such a conglomeration of poorly-constructed thoughts and emotionally-based opinions shows that they either did not view President Packer’s talk, or if they did, their perspective is so heavily jaded that they inferred from his remarks things he never said.

In short, these groups have placed horrible words in President Packer’s mouth, ascribing to him things he did not say, nor which accurately characterize his discourse in the slightest. Unable or unwilling to respond directly to his arguments, they set up straw men which they can comfortably attack.

If such advocacy groups are concerned about the harm Packer’s remarks will have in the LDS/LGBT relations, they need only look inward, for it is they who have blatantly and unapologetically lied. They have egregiously claimed that Packer will be responsible for the suicides of struggling individuals, and explicitly stated that his teachings were based on fear and hatred, and that he claims, essentially, that “God hates fags”.

This is propaganda at work. Surely, the LGBT masses will make no effort to read or view President Packer’s talk, and thus their interpretation of what was said will rely upon those whom they trust—the “enlightened experts” to which Bernays earlier referred.

Interestingly, Bernays recognized that propaganda was merely a tool used by all sorts of people. Often, it was and is deliberately misused and achieve and devious result. Yet, he noted that it “becomes vicious and reprehensive only when its authors consciously and deliberately disseminate what they know to be lies.”

Thus can be labeled the organizations which have pounced on President Packer’s discourse thus far: vicious and reprehensive propagandists consciously and deliberately disseminating lies.

118 Responses to “President Packer, Straw Men, and the Pro-LGBT Propagandists”

  1. Connor
    October 4, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    A local LGBT organization has organized this protest at the Church offices on Thursday, claiming that President Packer said this:

    You need to change your sexual orientation and you will always be 2nd class until you do.

    More lies.

  2. Connor
    October 4, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    The HRC has now created this open letter, encouraging the masses to sign it, which reads:

    Dear Mr. Packer,

    I’m appalled that you chose this moment to deliver a sermon saying same-sex attraction is unnatural and same-sex unions are immoral. You have risked further alienating LGBT youth and potentially contributing to suicides of even more vulnerable young people. You’ve told them that their very identities are “impure and unnatural” and you’ve incited the violence and bullying that often drives them to suicide by repeating lies disproven by both science and the experience of millions of Americans who know their LGBT neighbors and care about them.

    I hope you will cease putting young people in real peril and acknowledge the scientific truth: sexual orientation cannot be changed, nor should it be.

  3. Jeffrey T
    October 4, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    As a church leader immersed in these issues, Packer should know better. The American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association have both concluded that same-sex attraction is normal and that “reparative” therapy – like the kind being advocated by the Mormon Church — is unhealthy and harmful.

    This is why I’m getting an advanced degree in Psychology—so that as an insider, not an outsider, I can reveal that the scientific authority of the American Psychological Association is completely bogus. The APA once listed same-sex attraction as a deviant disorder and recommended reparative therapy. Then, in response to political pressure and in the absence of any scientific data or support, they delisted same-sex attraction from as diagnostic category and announced that reparative therapy is harmful. There is extensive historical data that shows that this decision was made bureaucratically and arbitrarily for political reasons, without any scientific support. Now, everybody references the APA as the leading scientific authority on human affairs, and implicitly trust that whatever they say has the backing of irrefutable scientific evidence. It simply isn’t true. It’s a political organization, not a scientific one.

  4. Dave P.
    October 4, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    I can indeed see how some people would feel alienated at Packer’s words, but at the same time that is certainly no reasonable justification to put extra words into his mouth or twist them to pursue a personal agenda. When the truth does come out, it’s the propagandists who have the egg on their faces.

  5. Dave P.
    October 4, 2010 at 2:21 pm #

    I’ve been really bad at posting my comments before getting all of my thoughts down today.

    In any case, I did like Pres. Packer’s analogy on how legalizing something doesn’t negate the sinful aspect. If the LGBT community wishes to go ahead and enable gay marriage, they don’t have to wait for state approval because marriage is both a religious matter and a contract between two spouses. However we do believe that there are physical and moral consequences and can thus say, “Do this at your own risk.”

  6. Bryan Hyde
    October 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    The HRC press release was waiting in my e-mail inbox this morning when I arrived at work at 5am. Seems the propagandists were toiling through the night to distort Elder Packer’s words.

    Good catch here, Connor. The Tribune has been in a state of meltdown with contrived outrage over Packer’s message since late yesterday afternoon.

  7. Silence Dogood
    October 4, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    There are basically 3 different categories of homosexual behavior

    1) general bestiality characterized by an inquiry into sexual variations or sexual extremism

    2) people that were sexually molested in a homosexual manner as a child may grow up to reciprocate the same behavior

    3) people born with biological mutations that affect their sense of sexual fulfillment and orientation. This is the only category that would betoken any kind of “true” homosexuality.

    If you don’t believe that category 3 exists, then ask yourself, if the same God that is our Father allows people to be born with various birth defects such as physical gender ambiguity or even duality, debilitating psychological disorders, severely malformed bodies or minds? How is homosexuality not one of these types of birth defects? Reread President Packer’s remarks. He did not explicitly deny that category 3 does not exist. On this important issue, that we are sure to deal very much with as Mormons in the future, why would the Lord have one of his Apostles deliver a very plain, and doctrinally-charged talk without explicitly denying this one fact if it were false?

    If biologically homosexual people exist, that does not change the Plan of Salvation at all. Maybe that means that they won’t get married in this life, but neither do some types of mentally disabled people, etc. The church does not even necessarily recommend “reparative” therapy in all circumstances.

    There is a lot of ignorance on all sides of this issue.

  8. rmwarnick
    October 4, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    Packer’s rigid ideology isn’t surprising, therefore it’s hard to argue that one speech has made the situation worse for the people struggling for equal rights.

    I think the pornography issue seems to be an obsession with Mormon leaders of late, perhaps due to a study last year that found Utah leads the nation in online pornography purchases.

    The author of the study points out that the unique demographics of Utah (i.e. lots of young adults) skewed the statistics. Utahns aren’t really consuming porn that much more than anybody else.

  9. Anon
    October 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    I found Packer’s comments to be very inspiring and timely. I have a family member who struggles with same-gender attraction, and who wants so much to do the right thing. This relative is currently working with preisthood leaders to overcome his struggles. I felt that Packer’s words gave hope to those in the middle of the various struggles that life presents.

  10. Michael Towns
    October 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    The idea of “feeling alienated” at the words of a religious leader is bogus. I don’t deny that there may be low self-esteem gays that are hanging on every general authority’s words, waiting, yearning, hoping that they will deign to throw some crust or morsel of change at them.

    If I were gay, and still called myself Mormon or LDS, I would get a clue and move on. There are plenty of churches out there that welcome gay people.

    Is this comment “cold”, “hearless”, “divisive”? Perhaps. But I am sick and tired of the gays dominating and framing this debate. And I have every right, just as they do, to express myself. The LDS Church WILL NOT CAVE on the issue of sexual morality. Period.

    Furthermore, the notion that somebody’s words can hurl them off a bridge, or pull a trigger is bogus. People that are prone to suicide have lots of other issues that got them there. You don’t abdicate your free will because somebody gave a speech that you deem “insensitive”. I’m tired of the bullcrap.

  11. Krista
    October 4, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    There are even Church members putting words in his mouth; here’s one example at FMH (which, honestly, I didn’t see as a huge surprise, although the degree of the reaction and disinformation provided, were). How disappointing! If even *members* aren’t willing to judge him on *his actual words*, *taken as he meant*, what hope do we have for honest analysis elsewhere?

    Thanks a ton for your write-up and efforts to fight the disinformation!

  12. SpecKK
    October 4, 2010 at 3:43 pm #

    I didn’t notice any reference to homosexuality when I watched Elder Packer’s talk the first time. All of President Packer’s references to changing and repenting are either focused on pornography, or encompass all types of sexual immorality. Simply restating the Proclamation on the Family, and seeking for support of morality legislation in general defines the church’s position without attacking anyone.

    It seemed like a general principles talk, that President Packer was daring people to take out of context. I want to see the final text, but I’m pretty sure you will find no references to LBGT terminology

    I’ll throw in a comment I made on a past Trib article about the church’s consistency as other groups have increased attacks against us:

    I voted for proposition 22 in California a decade ago. President Hinckley led the LDS church and there were letters, firesides, discussions in lessons and requests for volunteers. The church and it’s leaders didn’t change, the world did. The single issue attacks on President Monson ignore his history and personal compassion and acts of kindness toward individuals throughout this valley and the world. He has touched many people and slandering him over the evolution of the church’s position towards homosexuals is more likely to backfire than succeed.

    Opponents of Prop. 22 learned a lot more from the campaign than the church did, and they were fairly successful mobilizing historical anti-religious bigotry the second time around. I’m sure that’s something to be proud of.

  13. Clumpy
    October 4, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    Haven’t read the article yet, but kudos for Edward Bernays. Propaganda ought to be required reading in schools.

  14. Doug Bayless
    October 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    Good write-up Connor and good comments here.

    I agree with Spec in that my recollection was of a “general principles talk” perfectly in line with many other talks on fidelity, righteousness, and curbing destructive tendencies, addictions, and temptations of all types (out-of-control tempers, seeking licentious and consuming media, impulse over-spending and poor management of resources, etc.). Perhaps it was the humorous story of the boy who ‘knew how to determine the gender of a kitten’ (putting it up for a vote of his classmates) that launched it squarely into the waiting arms of already offended LGBT critics.

    The irony is that I think most people (even — and perhaps particularly in this case — the detractors) would actually agree that the point of the kitten story was a good one: morality and legislation are two separate things. You may want to legislate something to protect or preserve or even (conversely) instantiate something that you happen to consider moral — but the ‘voting on it’ does not in-and-of-itself change the nature of the subject.

    I consider myself fairly ‘libertarian’ on many topics. I’m not always convinced that State laws are the most effective way to achieve particular results or affect behavior. That said, even in realms where I *do* want things made legal that are currently illegal, I don’t presume to assert that a change in legislation will cause a change in morality.

    For instance, I’d like to see Utah law changed to allow the sale of raw milk from a neighborhood cow to whatever neighbors want to buy it. But I don’t believe that the previous legislation outlawing it turned it “evil”. And if the legislation is overturned I won’t believe it suddenly became “good.”

    If speed limits were repealed (like they have done in some very rural places in the country) I wouldn’t believe it was suddenly “moral” to drive 120 mph at dusk past homes where children were playing in the streets. It might be legal (unless [as is likely] other “reckless driving” laws were also in place) but that wouldn’t make it right.

    The ‘kitten story’ was a great clarifying parable for all the general principles Elder Packer alluded to. But ironically (if indeed that was one of the main parts of the talk attracting the ire of the LGBT advocates) it was particularly a great clarifying parable no matter what side somebody is on in the debate about laws and attitudes regarding same-gender attraction and issues. Certainly these detractors do not claim to derive their principles and beliefs from popular votes and the legislation du jour.

  15. Clumpy
    October 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

    Having now read the article, I definitely feel that the position of the Church is very hard to articulate to people who are used to hearing things from all spectrums, particularly people who may be projecting very real torment or rejection they may have received at the hands of others onto the message being given.

    Obviously the doctrine of the Church has not changed over the years – believing sin to be actions undertaken contrary to divine instruction, including any gay sexual activity (not mere attraction) among many, many other things. How this affects policy and specific treatment of individuals will likely vary depending on the local and churchwide leadership at the time. I don’t believe that the Church today, for example, endorses electroshock therapy or aversion therapy in an attempt to “overcome” any urges, something that I firmly believe would in fact be destructive and dangerous. However, the biological reality of how same-sex attraction comes about does not change the religious nature of the message one bit. Nobody ever claimed that temptation or inclination was evidence of personal failure, or (and this is important) advocated hate or rejection of any person for ANY reason, something that I think many people struggle to understand but also an important part of being a good, Christlike individual.

    Oh, and about the suicide thing – this is a matter of recent news, as nationwide there have been a handful of suicides on the part of gay students who have been tormented by their peers at school. I think that everybody here will agree with me that any action or treatment which causes an individual to doubt their self-worth, feel rejected or inferior has no place in the Gospel.

    The Church’s position as best I can see it is the same that would be given toward overcoming or subduing any urges seen to be negative or dangerous, one of attempting to fill one’s life with positive influences and religious study and action. I’m with @Silence on one thing – I do believe that people might be born with all manner of varying attributes, and I won’t claim to understand why some people may feel themselves to be “gay” from a very young age. I think it’s certainly clear that many self-identified homosexuals came to this identity as a result of early experiences of various sorts, and also that many who lived a life similar to any straight individual’s end up with that “preference” for seemingly no reason and as a result of no direct action of their own. I am not required to view homosexuality itself as a “choice” in order to hold a view in harmony with the Church – I certainly never made a conscious choice to be straight.

    At any rate, given these facts the Church’s position seems absolutely internally consistent to me, and people outside the Church are certainly free to accept, respect or reject it: one of considering such urges a personal trial, urges which don’t become a sin unless acted upon. I also think that advocating marriage unreservedly for all such individuals as an attempt to “cure” themselves or prove their “righteousness” is a potential recipe for heartbreak and pain on both sides, though strangely enough in the only case I’ve personally witnessed things are working very well due to open communication about the special challenges the couple would have to go through. It’s a highly situational thing.

    At any rate, I prefer to give the benefit of a doubt to people who probably have grown up feeling that others are judging or condemning them because of who they are, though divorcing these feelings from a perfectly acceptable gospel message seems crucial.

  16. Megan
    October 4, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    I listened to every word Packer spoke:
    The masses quote Packer as saying words such as “Impurity” and “unnatural.” When I listen to Packer – I hear the same words, in addition “legalize immortally” to legalize something that is “basically wrong or evil.” Those words were “actually said” and those words hurt – those words are what we are signing the petitions against. Sitting on this side of those words – they hurt. As a GLBT LDS youth sitting in his congregation- those words have killed. No, he didn’t say “they don’t deserve love” but I haven’t seen one GLBT organization say that he did. In fact, you are the first one to quote that – as far as I have read. But he did say those other words and his message was loud and clear – I listened to every hateful word and it broke my heart.

  17. Michael Towns
    October 4, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

    “Sitting on this side of those words – they hurt. As a GLBT LDS youth sitting in his congregation- those words have killed.”

    No, they haven’t. You chose to let your heart break because you’ve bought into the GLBT mythology.

    You have a few options. You can go on living life as a perpetual victim and go on blaming the leaders of the Church for doing their religious duty. Or you can start taking responsibility for your life and your choices. You want to call yourself a “GLBT LDS” instead of simply LDS, fine. But the Church’s standard is clear, Pres. Packer simply reiterated a little something called the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You can accept his counsel or reject it. I would advise you to consider it carefully before you do because rejecting the counsel of the Lord’s anointed servants is a pretty serious thing.

    Pres. Packer is next in line to be President of the Church. If Monson died in his sleep tonight, then Boyd Kenneth Packer will be the 17th President of the Church. You want to call this Apostle a hateful man, go right ahead but the Lord stands by his servants. You might want to think about this some more.

  18. ElderChantdown
    October 4, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    I caught wind of this article via a repost elsewhere…but there the title read: President Packer, Red Herrings, and the Pro-LGBT Propagandists.

    I am in full agreement that there are and have been for some time now, the most astute propagnadists working to promote homosexuality in today’s society. And I am very aware that they are having much success. And it is that fact which concerns me most. The words “red herrings”, caught my attention and gave me hope that other God fearing and liberty loving latter-day saints were waking up to the precarious situation we find ourselves in as a church. I know that an awakening is occurring but I think that many of us are still walking in darkness at midday in this.
    Elder Packer said it himself.

    “If we’re not alert,” -ALERT- “there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God’s laws and nature.” -EXACTLY!- A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. For instance, what good would a vote against the law of gravity do? -BUT LET US PAUSE HERE AND ASK OURSELVES ARE MARRIAGE LICENSES A LAW OF NATURE? AND YET THEY ARE NOT POSSIBLE TO ENFORCE? There are both moral and physical laws irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundation of the world that cannot be changed. -HERE IS ETERNAL TRUTH. TRUTH THAT THE WORLD CANNOT CHANGE. SO WHY ARE WE WORRIED ABOUT THEIR LAWS AND WORKING THROUGH THE CHANNEL OF MAN’S LAWS AND TRY SO HARD BY THE ARM OF FLESH TO MAKE SURE THAT TEMPORAL LAWS MATCH IN THEIR “WORDING” WITH DIVINE LAW.- History demonstrates over and over again that moral standards cannot be changed by battle and cannot be changed by ballot. -WOW, TRUE AND PLAIN YET PROFOUND! OF COURSE IF WE FEAR MAN MORE THAN GOD THEN WE HAVE ALL THE “REASON” IN (AND OF) THE WORLD TO FALL HOOK LINE AND SINKER FOR THIS RED HERRING. BUT AS ELDER PACKER SAYS – “History demonstrates over and over” – WE NEED TO WAKE UP AND LOOK AT EVEN JUST THE RECENT TRENDS IN HISTORY ALONE SHOW US THAT THE GOVERNMENT AND THE PROPAGANDISTS, ETC. DO NOT HAVE A GOOD TRACK RECORD WHEN IT COMES TO DEFENDING MARRIAGE BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN. THEY SEEK ONLY TO CONTROL IT. WELL NOT ONLY TO CONTROL BUT TO DESTROY AND PERVERT IT. NOW TELL ME BROTHERS AND SISTERS IF WE KNOW THIS, OUR LEADERS POINT IT OUT TOO, WHY, WHY DO WE THINK THAT THEY WILL HONOR OUR COLLECTIVE VOICE IN REGARDS TO OUR ATTEMPTS TO STAND UP FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS?! WE ARE FALLING INTO A TRAP. AND WHAT IT REVEALS ABOUT OURSELVES, WE WANT TO IGNORE. WE CLAIM TO BELIEVE THE BOOK OF MORMON, BUT WE TURN TO THE SWORD OVER THE WORD MUCH TOO MUCH TOO QUICKLY. WE CLAIM TO BELIEVE IN THE PLAN AND AGENCY’S CRUCIAL ROLE IN IT. BUT WE RARELY UNDERSTAND, MUCH LESS TRUST IN IT. SO HOW MUCH CAN WE REALLY CLAIM TO BELIEVE IN OR TRUST IN OUR GOD?
    My question is when the secret combinations, and their “enlightened experts” achieve their goals. And they will because our own scriptures foretell it. Do we have the courage to repent and recognize that it has been our spiritual laziness and worship of the arm of flesh that has in large part given a green light to the forces of evil on this perverse front of destruction of the family. OR…Will we humble ourselves and turn back to our God to be his people and actually do something…the things that God tells us will preserve the wholesomeness of our society? THIS IS A RED HERRING AND A TRAP. This is the most important question that all true and humble followers of Christ need to ask themselves at this time. If we “believe in being subject…” then what will we do when that means “receiving all manner of wickedness” and “administering that which was sacred unto him to whom it had been forbidden because of unworthiness.” ? (4 Ne. 1: 27)

  19. Shoal Creek
    October 4, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    How I perceive the backlash. Let the wicked say what they may, Boyd K. Packer is both innocent before God (the only one that matters) and correct in every word he said. I stand with him as a witness of the truthfulness of his words.

  20. M
    October 4, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    I think a good companion conference message with Elder Packard’s was one given by Elder Oaks during another conference. It is entitled Love and Law. In that talk Elder Oaks said, “The love of God does not supersede His laws and His commandments, and the effect of God’s laws and commandments does not diminish the purpose and effect of His love.” Elder Packard’s speaking out against sin is not hate and it is certainly not love to condone sin. But alas we live in a day when they say evil is good and good is evil. My personal view is that homosexuality is an addiction or a birth defect. In either case, it is our individual responsibility to “put off the natural man.” My prayers go out to anyone working to overcome sexual sins/addictions.

  21. a concerned mommy
    October 4, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    I entirely agree, M, as someone very close to my openly gay brother. Elder Packer’s words were LOVE not hate. Hate is telling someone that they are justified in their sins as Satan does. Love is telling them the painful truth and helping them overcome and become more godly in whatever ways we can.

  22. Parker Boyack
    October 4, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

    I totally agree with a concerned mommy, couldn’t have said it better myself.

  23. earthandspace
    October 4, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    I’m in agreement with Connor as far as his assessment of certain organizations placing words in Packer’s mouth. Packer does an excellent job of getting out his message of condemnation before love without the need to have it hyperbolized by his stated enemies. The point is there are many, many LDS youth and adults who are both 100% believers in the LDS faith and also 100% gay. I don’t even want to imagine how painful and shameful this lifestyle must be, but I can imagine how easily words like Packer’s could be intensely hurtful. Packer will always say what he wants to say and the church will go on doing what it does, I expect no less from any religious organization. We all know that any multi-billion dollar corporation will perpetuate ideas that are in its best interest. To see that Packer has rallied the base one need look no further than the posted responses to this article, full of pharisaic condemnation (with the assurance that it is motivated by love of course). When it comes right down to it however I imagine that very few people writing here (Connor included) know or have a close relationship with any homosexual, LDS or not. And what would it matter if you did; the words of a prophet seer and revelator will always trump good judgment and basic human decency as LDS church history will attest to. I really haven’t wrapped my head around why God would create children who are gay, but he does and for Packer to sit on that stand as “God’s mouthpiece” and imply otherwise is irresponsible and in poor judgment. My message to Megan is be patient; Packer’s remarks will be swept under the rug and drop down the memory hole. If you don’t believe me, dig up all the “inspired” remarks about blacks and the priesthood made by “The Lord’s anointed” through the middle of the 20th century and then remember 1978. The church needs more Uchtdorfs .

    “Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth – that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be able to attain even that which is possible today.” -Max Weber

  24. E L Frederick
    October 5, 2010 at 8:18 am #

    1st Nephi 16:2

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

  25. Andrew
    October 5, 2010 at 9:34 am #

    Great post Connor.

    @E L Frederick, that’s the first scripture that came to mind :-)

    People get upset when someone actually stands up for moral absolutes in a world full of moral relativism. I’m sorry if that makes some people “uncomfortable”, but as Packer said, you can’t take a vote and change the laws of God.

  26. John Deighton
    October 5, 2010 at 9:45 am #

    Thanks for posting this Connor, so eloquently and correctly stated, my hat off to you in recognition of this fine blog piece.
    Best Regards, John.

  27. Philip
    October 5, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    I found this blog posting through a friend on Facebook. And, I have to say, I found this piece to be quite entertaining (albeit in a manner totally at odds with the intentions of the author).

    To use Edward Bernays’ “Propaganda” to explain and attack the narrative that is being generated by the LGBT (and wider media) community is rather myopic, given that religion has been, and continues to be, the ultimate form of propaganda.

    Here’s what religions do: create an entirely unprovable narrative (i.e. propaganda) that defines human behavior in ways that cater to the continuation of repressive social patterns while simultaneously instituting a deep psychical cost (guilt, shame, fear) for disobeying behavioral prescriptions. To think of it in another way, religion is the ultimate form of ideological and psychical coercion where a particular code of conduct is made “natural” ( a key word in the anti-homosexual propaganda) and, again, unassailable. In the name of religion, and under the influence of particularly pernicious style of propaganda rooted in “God’s will,” the masses are blinded to the fact that the issue at stake is power, not morality.

    I know that my opinion is significantly at odds with the majority of posters here and I’m sure that I will be vilified quite a bit by posters who follow me, but ask yourselves a few simple questions: When and how did you buy the story? How has your religious experience be defined by the feelings that you were told that you were supposed to feel? How has your understanding of what the Holy Ghost is, and how it is supposed to communicate to us, been understood because of the stories that have been told? Have you ever thought to stop and ask some simple questions of your religious experience (like where does testimony meeting come from and why are there “talks” from general members rather than from leaders)? What you will find is the enormity of purposeful narrative creation and the general absence of critical inquiry with regards to one’s own religious behavior. It will become clear that religion, and “the church,” have quite successfully erected an illusory world that you cannot even begin to question.

    The LDS church in the last decade has undergone a huge narrative turn and it should be no surprise that President Monson, the supreme storyteller, is the current Prophet. The LDS church has gone through several eras (e.g., the seer era, the explicator era) where the focus was on revelation and instruction respectively. But in the narrative era, instruction has been watered down (I mean, the Gospel Principle manual as the Priesthood/Relief Society manual? Are you serious? Have you ever looked at the Priesthood manuals from 30 years ago?) and the story simplified, streamlined, and told by a voice that will lull a baby to sleep (or most of the posters on this blog as they curl up (at home in their pajamas on the couch)). Be aware of the voice; it is the one that lulls you into the complacency that Bernays was attempting to make people aware of and the one that will lull you into a drone-like existence.

    The LDS church is at a crossroads. It is in serious jeopardy of watering down its doctrine to the point where none of the vigor remains. Inactivity rates are skyrocketing. The church (and its members) are being co-opted into a secular political position that may, given enough time, mean its end as a primarily religious organization. It is trying to hold on to an illusion and this fight only casts into relief that the disconnect between its narrative (propaganda) and the world that it is attempting to hide.

  28. Larry Richman
    October 5, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    President Packer reiterated what Church leaders have been saying for decades. The lives of many people prove that people can both diminish feelings of same-sex attraction and develop heterosexual attractions. See http://evergreeninternational.org/testimonies.htm and http://peoplecanchange.com/stories/index.php. Even the American Psychological Association has acknowledged both are possible. Sexual attractions can be managed and that is all the Church has repeatedly said to the members, “Live the standards of the Church.”

    In response to those who argue that Latter-day Saints with same-sex attractions might despair or commit suicide because the Church won’t change the doctrines about doctrinally lawful sexuality and marriage, I think that a neglected and equally valid question is to ask how many Latter-day Saints feel despair when the world tells them they can’t change or even successfully manage their attractions. What a discouraging message to those who wish to remain faithful. The message of the gospel is “Don’t despair. This challenge can be managed successfully in this life. And if you are faithful to the gospel these attractions will not rise with you into eternity.” That inspires hope. And there are organizations and people who can help.

  29. E L Frederick
    October 5, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

    Phillip;

    I am not really suprised that the church is having to refoucus on basics right now. The church seems to be expanding at a nice clip, and we all have need to get back to the basics. I use myself as an example, as I moved into my current ward in Arizona from New York State back in March of 2009, and despite being an active member of my ward, I have yet to meet my home teachers (in nearly two years).

    This is a pet peeve of mine.

    Why should we expect futher light and knowledge when we can’t even get the basics that we have right? When we, as a Church, hit better than 80% home teaching, family prayer, family scripture study, personal scripture study, and personal prayer, perhaps then we will be deserving of more light and knowledge, however, until we can look at our selves in the mirror and say, I have mastered the basics… I would not expect more.

  30. Brandon
    October 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm #

    For goodness sake, is there no faith anymore? Are we so blind that we really believe that government based on popular opinion is more important than religion as mandated by God? Do we ignore the morals of THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE WORLD just because a minority suggests the government try to make sin legal? I know that there is a God in heaven, and I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His church on earth and the Prophets and Apostles are His mouthpieces. God instituted the family, He clearly defined His laws for His children, and He speaks them to us today through His mouthpieces, like the Apostle of Jesus Christ, President Packer. The similarities of this case to the records of scripture in every major religion are impeccable-the righteous stand up for the truth while the wicked demean and persecute them. In ancient and modern history this has always been the case. I am sickened by the lack of morality so glaringly obvious in this the “enlightened generation.” May those who give in to selfish passions with blatant disregard for the moral laws which have protected the core of both our nation and the world for millenia consider the value of obedience and a little old-fashioned self control. Sure I’ve wanted to steal; I’ve wanted to cheat; I’ve wanted to cause harm to other people; I’ll be honest: I’ve even felt same-gender attraction; but I have never followed through on any of those temptations. Wanting something does not make it right, and a person of character and integrity has the wisdom to call upon God for the willpower to overcome the “tendencies” or “temptations” whatever you want to call them, that affect all of us.

    Let’s consider a similar argument to the one made by homosexuals. There is a “significant” portion of the population that uses Heroine. According to the homosexual argument, just because there are people who want to use Heroine, we should make it legal. It may even be argued that many people are born with tendencies towards the rush that drugs produce, much like the proverbial adrenaline junkie. Because they have a tendency towards drugs, they must have been genetically forced to use them, so why should we prevent them from having what they want, just because they have given in to their personal drive for a “high”? I think we all agree (including those not of any faith) that the use of Heroine is dangerous and unacceptable in our society. How are the arguments made by this minority any different from those made by homosexuals? I do not want to demonize or label as sinners those afflicted by same gender attraction, just like I don’t want to be demonized for my own faults and weaknesses, but we cannot and I will not change moral law just because I cannot live up to it. Rather I will go to church, and pray, and study the word of God (which is the point of the church God established on the earth: to overcome weakness and change the immoral parts of our natures, whatever our personal challenges may be), and do my very best to overcome my weaknesses instead of rationalizing them. I pray that we all might have the fortitude and courage to confront our individual temptations and overcome them instead of attempting to change the standard to fit ourselves. Let’s be moral. Let’s have integrity. Let’s show some character like our ancestors did and stay true to what God has shown us is right and good.

  31. Philip
    October 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm #

    E L Frederick:

    You have done quite well at exposing how narratives (propaganda) work in the church with your post: the “further light and knowledge” story. Rather than using logic to explain why the church may be taking this approach (e.g., demographic changes within the church, increased media attention to doctrines that raise questions, and an awareness that the mythology that once was a foundational element of the church needs to be disavowed), we embed it in some type of larger story. In this case, it is that we, as a people, are failing in the basics and, thus, the church is “returning to basics” to account for our failure.

    What does this narrative accomplish? The failure of the church to reach its potential (and for us to reach ours) is caught up in a complex and illusory relationship between obedience and insight, and it is our fault (certainly not God’s) that the church is not what it could be. It, and its narratives, are perfect; we are not. It is the Moses and the Golden Calf story all over again. God didn’t want to give the Israelites the lesser law, it was their fault (which plays well into the guilt/shame dimension of psychological coercion).

    These are the masterplots that silently work on us and are framed in a way to ensure obedience. We must obey better (thus ceding to existing power relations) before we can have insight (which usually looks a whole lot more like submission than insight).

    Oddly, what is also overlooked in your post is the fact that the church has never hit your mark. Ever. So is this a new approach to the same problem? If so, wouldn’t God have given this directive earlier? Does it seem like something else has to be in play here?

    I have found that the “light and knowledge” that I gain is likely to occur most often when I am placed in a setting that expands, rather than contracts, my horizon of perception. We learn more by having more, not less. Are you familiar with the “back to basics” movement in American education and how well that is going with regards to intellectual development of children? How are we, then, to gain “further light and knowledge” if the channel through which that could be obtained is closed? It seems to me, E L Frederick, that you are simply buying the narrative (and masterplot) that is convenient and that plays into (at least from a quick read of your post) a rather highly developed sense of your own personal failings (which, given the church’s reliance on shame and guilt as motivating factors in obedience, is not surprising).

    I hope that I am not misunderstod here. My intention is not to insult anyone, but to illustrate how deeply embedded the members of the church are in narratives that control their lives (i.e., propaganda). I’m arguing that we (yes, I am still part of this body of “saints,” albeit as a hetrodoxical “believer”) need to critically examine what is happening to, and within, this church. The church stands in need of a philosophical revolution that will reenergize critical personal (and intellectual) involvement, not a further recession into “faith-promoting stories (read: propaganda)” and watered-down doctrine.

  32. Michael Towns
    October 5, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    “I’m arguing that we (yes, I am still part of this body of “saints,” albeit as a hetrodoxical “believer”) need to critically examine what is happening to, and within, this church. The church stands in need of a philosophical revolution that will reenergize critical personal (and intellectual) involvement, not a further recession into “faith-promoting stories (read: propaganda)” and watered-down doctrine.”

    Thank you for making your position clear, Korihor.

  33. Philip
    October 5, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    Michael Towns:

    Thank you for helping me to make my point for me. Rather than attempting to tackle my questions and concerns, weigh their merit (or lack thereof), spend some time reflecting, and engage in a discussion that may actually produce some discomfort, cognitive dissonance, and (perhaps) personal growth, you simply revert to exactly what I have been arguing against: narrativizing. In this case, you simply reference a character that most members of the church will be familiar with (and have a strong aversion to), attach that character’s name to me, and, thus, explain away all that I have to say under the facade of a story that fits with your particular repressive intent.

    I guess if this allusion is to hold, I better watch out that my voice isn’t taken and that I’m not trampled to death by a mob (because that, or something very like it, must happen to me if I am actually Korihor). I’ll keep you updated…

  34. Michael Towns
    October 5, 2010 at 2:44 pm #

    Philip,

    I know your type all too well. You’re not really interested in a fruitful discussion; all you want to do is arrogantly foist your intellectual vision upon us simpletons who are quite happy in our faith.

    I find your attitude condescending. You like to use big words and philosophical terminology in order to compensate. What you have to say isn’t worth my time.

    You’re just a wolf in sheep’s clothing who doesn’t have the moral courage to leave the Church since you longer believe in its teachings.

    You are, quite simply, a coward.

  35. E L Frederick
    October 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm #

    ” In this case, it is that we, as a people, are failing in the basics and, thus, the church is “returning to basics” to account for our failure. “

    I would point to the history of the Nephites, and the Jews as a historical “proof” of this view. About every 20 years the Jews/Nephites need to be chasened by the Lord.

    Furthermore, even if I’m wrong, it doesn’t hurt to look at ourselves and attempt to “Lengthen our stride”; or to “Do it, Do it Right, Do it Right Now”.

  36. Philip
    October 5, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Michael:

    If you really knew me, you would know that “fruitful discussions” are extremely important to me. Oddly, your comment ties in well to the oft-quote phrase “by their fruits, ye shall know them.” Your unwillingness to engage in civil discourse ensures that there will be no production, no growth, no insight. You are, to use President Packer’s term, Satan. Why? Because you are impotent; that is, unable and/or unwilling to prepare the soil and plant the seeds. Your barrier to discourse ensures that you will simply continue on as before, not growing, not being challenged, not ever capable of being more than you are at this very moment.

    I am fascinated by the fear that rules people. People in the church always testify that they “know” the church is true (which is, quite possibly, the most asinine thing that can come out of a person’s mouth and is another point to attack another day…actually, I’ll take it up briefly here since it does tie into the original post: Is there anything more problematic than an adult leaning toward a child’s ear and feeding him or her that line to say to a congregation? Seriously. What is accomplished in that moment? We, as the congregation aren’t fooled; we know the child doesn’t know. So what is the purpose? To ingrain in this child a phrase that is so void of actual content that it effectively signifies nothing.). If that is the case (that people “know” the church is true), why short-circuit conversation? {Actually, I know the answer to that question, sadly. If one “knows” then one doesn’t need anymore information (i.e., premature closure). The illusion remains intact because there is no need to question it since it is a “known.”

    Additionally, the case can be made that there can be no faith without doubt. Doubt is what places us in a position to seek, to struggle, and (once again) to grow. if we are certain in our faith and happy in our faith (or ignorance and complacency), we are probably not spending enough time searching diligently for the moment of grace where the temporal cedes to the eternal and the profane cedes to the sacred.

    I am not a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” or any other lame metaphor or allusion you can draw upon to connote everything that frightens you. I am the one thing that is in critical short supply in the church: an honest man who struggles with doubt and is willing to point out some very problematic aspects in this religion. I say what people would say if they were honest enough with themselves (and self-reflective enough to actually confront that which lies behind the illusion that has been accepted without question) to do so and unafraid of what the membership of the church would think of them.

    E L Frederick:

    Your historical “proof” is just another story and, as I pointed out, only reinforces our failings, not any systematic issues that may exist within the church and its doctrines (or between the church’s doctrines and the actual causes).

    That being said, I do appreciate the second part of your comment. One can always try harder to do better. One can continuously work to improve oneself. I just wish that the humility that is wrapped up in these types of behaviors weren’t so frequently tied to a nearly criminal level of blind, dogmatic, and unquestioning “knowledge.”

  37. E L Frederick
    October 5, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    …not any systematic issues that may exist within the church and its doctrines (or between the church’s doctrines and the actual causes).

    Why does it have to be a problem with the doctrine?

    Is that because you have a problem with the doctrine? It seems it’s just a case of projection on your part.

    I just wish that the humility that is wrapped up in these types of behaviors weren’t so frequently tied to a nearly criminal level of blind, dogmatic, and unquestioning “knowledge.”

    Criminal level of blind, dogmatic, and unquestioning “knowledge”. You just described every person on the planet, both relgious and anti-religious. Everyone is convinced of their own “correctness” from the atheist to the pious.

  38. palerobber
    October 5, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    the over-reaction of professional PR people notwithstanding, Packer’s comments certainly were “contrary to fact” as far as saying gay people can transform into heterosexuals if they’re just faithful enough.

    i wouldn’t go so far as to say his words were “mean-spirited,” since that implies intent which we can’t know, but they were certainly callous and hurtful. and for someone in his line or work, ignorance isn’t much of a defense.

    as for “dangerous,” that’s not really knowable either. but he sure isn’t helping anyone.

  39. SpecKK
    October 5, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    When the hullabaloo about the arrest of gay protesters kissing on temple square blew up on the news last year, an acquaintance on Facebook asked if Jesus would have physically restrained them as the police trained security guards did.

    I responded that Jesus braided a whip and chased out the money changers when he saw men breaking the Jewish laws and defiling the temple grounds.

    In response she attacked Jesus for not being a nice person. Most sane people know otherwise, and Jesus still commands enough respect in most circles that I’d shown enough truth to defuse any similar attacks.

    President Packer stands similarly accused; He spoke the law of God for perpetuating righteous children in a moral household. Christ extended the higher law that entertaining immoral thoughts breaks the commandment to not commit adultery. Such would likewise chase away the spirit, as explicitly stated in Elder Packers talk.

    Any adult or child who follows the HRC’s suggestion to tease or attack people with different standards of sexual morality don’t understand the principle of charity and likewise lose the spirit. Any Latter-day Saint who pursues this debate betrays themselves if they fail to prayerfully stay on the Lord’s side of the issue. The adversary would love to see the church dragged down by members arguing about this and losing the spirit. Both sides are often too proud to work together, seek common ground or even let the other side exist.

    While President Packer didn’t say anything about homosexuality, he did talk about changing public laws to allow immorality. As a moderate Libertarian, I believe the best long term solution is to remove marriage from government’s purview entirely. The danger in California doesn’t come from the state recognizing an impotent relation of 2 individuals (like the gender of the cat, natural law guarantees only a man and a woman can produce children). The dangers in California come from discriminatory action against those who choose to live gospel principles and public school curriculums which will indoctrinate children with the religious moral beliefs of the LGBT groups (everyone has religious and moral beliefs, especially atheists). The BofM and D&C allow everyone their own beliefs, and we should still seek laws that allow such, while preaching the better way.

  40. Brandon
    October 5, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    Palerobber-

    Sometimes it’s hard to believe, but the doctrine of the Atonement clearly states that men can be “born again”, changed from one state to another. Of course homosexuals can become heterosexual; that’s not to say they won’t have to put in effort and a whole lot of faith, but I am confident that with God weak things can become strong. No one’s nature is frozen and unchangeable. My own life is a witness of that.

  41. Tyler
    October 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm #

    I have a difficult time understanding why any is making such a big deal about this. If you do not believe that President Packer is called of God then why are you so concerned about what he is saying? If you do believe that he is called of God, then what he is saying in General Conference is actually coming from God. Can anyone really expect an apostle of the Lord to stop warning to word of the consequences of sin just because it might offend someone? God loves us. He wants us to be happy. We can only be happy by following his laws and his teachings. We learn of his teachings by listening to those he has called. It is all rally very simple.

  42. palerobber
    October 5, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    Jeffrey #3

    Then, in response to political pressure and in the absence of any scientific data or support, they delisted same-sex attraction from as diagnostic category and announced that reparative therapy is harmful

    you’re half right, half wrong on this Jeffrey. it’s true that the DSM delisting was politically motivated and not based on scientific evidence. but the same is true of how homosexuality got listed on the DSM to begin with — a bunch of junk studies of unrepresentative populations mixed with a strong cultural-religious bias against gays.

    but this discussion is really very quaint since today we do have a wealth of scientific data to draw upon which shows very clearly whether there’s any basis for defining homosexuality as a mental disorder (but then as a pysch student i’m sure you already knew this).

  43. palerobber
    October 5, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    Brandon #40

    My own life is a witness of that.

    are you saying that you’ve been able to change which gender you are romantically attracted to?

    because if you haven’t then i would respectfully say that your own experiences don’t really have much bearing on this matter.

  44. palerobber
    October 5, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    Tyler #41

    If you do not believe that President Packer is called of God then why are you so concerned about what he is saying?

    i’m so glad you asked that question Tyler and i think i can answer it to your satisfaction. i would like to direct my reply also to the several posters on this thread who appear to relish Packer’s telling it like it is to those “wicked”, “guilty”, “sinful” gays and their sympathizers (i’m the latter by the way).

    by way of example, one of my siblings is openly gay and has left the Church and doesn’t believe Packer is called of God. it’s not him i’m concerned about. he’s in a loving long term relationship, got a good job, has time for travel, food, the arts. he’s going to be fine.

    what i’m concerned about are the thousands and thousands of young, faithful LDS teens who are quietly struggling and doubting and trying to understand why God would make them the way they are. and now Packer gets up and tells them — careful, i’m paraphrasing — that God doesn’t make crap like that, only the devil does, and if they were just sufficiently faithful and righteous they could suck it up and change and be natural and normal again.

    what is worse is that that a sizeable number of those beautiful young people are actually going to take Packer at his word and embark on a many years long journey of self-denial, self-hatred, false hope, devastating set backs, and ultimately an admission of defeat. if they’re lucky, what comes after this painful, wasted section of their lives will bring them some comfort and happiness. if they’re not lucky they’ll be dead by their own hand before they ever figure out that what Packer said was a dirty lie.

  45. Clumpy
    October 5, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    There is a lot of crazy and closed-mindedness in this thread. When we throw out religious or scriptural terminology left and right in an attempt to label our enemies (see the Korihor/secret combinations references above), we deny their humanity and fail to do the original story justice.

    The Korihor reference in particular is a pretty over-the-top condemnation, considering that Korihor’s explicit desire was to bring down the nation and he was subsequently judged only by an actual Prophet (Alma), and his punishment (struck dumb and trampled) entirely an act of God so to speak. I too disagree with Philip on many of his points, though it’s supremely silly to throw out these scriptural insults, and doing so smacks of a reaction purely based on anger and fear rather than a rebuttal steeped in true religious conviction and integrity.

    The use in our culture of the phrase “secret combinations” to describe groups whose ideals we merely disagree with is pretty gratuitous as well; by treating those crying for gay marriage as would-be destroyers of our society motivated only by immorality and decay, we ourselves destroy any chance of a dialogue and having what we would consider a Gospel message considered anything but hate or closed-mindedness, the lazy oversimplification of the Church position. The basic point often made by gay marriage activists – these are people who desire the freedom to marry people they love – is absolutely valid and plainly the main reason why we are having this debate in the first place.

    It isn’t as cut-and-dry as “noble crusaders on one hand, godless destroyers of truth on the other.” It’s possible for a church member to be motivated by fear, hatred or even ignorance in taking their stance, or for gay marriage activists to be motivated solely by what they feel to be a populist desire for equality. The trick is to make the subtlety of the Church position as one of compassion bolstered by Revelation clear (see my post above if you wish where I outline my opinions there more fully), and then allow others to make up their mind. From an outsider’s point of view, we really are scripture-thumpers using out religion as a shield for our own fears and bigotries, and nothing short of an understanding and desire for each other’s welfare, coupled by a spiritual witness, can overcome some very legitimate pains and concerns.

    My personal belief is one of taking government out of marriage altogether – plenty of things that I believe are wrong or dangerous are certainly legal, and government endorsement of my (heterosexual) marriage or another’s (homosexual) marriage doesn’t make either any more legitimate as a partnership. President Packer’s comments were neither as hysterical nor as one-sided as any of the comments in this thread, and they constituted but a small portion of the messages given during General Conference, few of which we seem to be discussing or exemplifying here. My basic opinion – and others are free to agree or not – is that applying doctrine outwardly toward others, particularly in light of legal policy, is far less effective than attempting to shine that corrective light inward to overcome our own pride and impurities, and in dismissing others entirely as Antichrists the moment they offer a dissenting word we lose the game entirely.

  46. Michael Towns
    October 5, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    “The Korihor reference in particular is a pretty over-the-top condemnation”

    It’s not over the top at all. It was my opinion, and I expressed it. Korihor’s example in the scriptures was to illustrate a certain mind-set. By referring to Philip earlier as Korihor, I wasn’t stating that I wanted him struck dumb or run over by an angry mob. I mean, seriously, get real. The point was to show that Korihor’s world view was spiritually corrosive, and Philip’s comments are not at all the comments of a soul that truly wants to understand or believe, but to shove his philosophical hocus-pocus down our throats.

    But his views ARE faith-destroying and insidious, and I called him out on it. Call me all sorts of names you want, but the Korihor example is appropriate.

    I’m more than willing to have a dialogue, but accusing me of being bigoted or narrow-minded, when some of you pro-gay folks are, is hypocritical to say the least.

  47. Michael Towns
    October 5, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

    “It isn’t as cut-and-dry as “noble crusaders on one hand, godless destroyers of truth on the other.””

    Perhaps not. But despite the best-intentioned desires of some people, we do live in a moral universe, and not all moral ideas or theories have equal value. On some things, there is a right and a wrong. If you dispute that, then you are godless.

    And hey, if you’re godless or atheist, then fine. I have some atheist friends. But stop pretending to be a true Latter Day Saint. We live in a morally dangerous world, and we need people to stand up and be counted. Now is the time.

  48. Brandon
    October 5, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

    palerobber-
    For me the principle still holds true-with God we can change anything. I have not personally made the change from homosexual to heterosexual, but I have made my own changes which I considered very difficult for me-everyone has their own problems and trials. I remain confident that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ any and all things can be changed. Isn’t that incredible? Think of the hope and change that this message brings to millions of people! I for one am grateful for the power of the Atonement to overcome my own weaknesses. Sin in all its forms breeds sorrow. Maybe it ought to be explained that being tempted is certainly no crime, nor have Latter-day Saints ever claimed that it is-I am tempted to break God’s commandments daily-but until I act on those temptations I have not sinned. I cannot explain why some people have homosexual tendencies any more than I can explain my tendencies to overeat. They are parts of our nature. Having the desire to do something wrong and actually doing it are totally different things. And the beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that even our basest desires can be changed. My life is most certainly a witness of that on many levels, and the doctrine that Christ suffered for ALL of our sins can be extended to any character trait we may wish to change. In response to your last post, if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly God’s mouthpiece on earth, then it seems that any suffering now is a consequence of sin. I don’t think this is about homosexuality at all, but about whether or not God is real, and whether or not He has authority to enforce His laws, and whether or not the Church is true. Debates about morality will reach no fruition until both parties either recognize or deny the existence of God, because that’s what this is really about isn’t it? So I testify that I do indeed know for myself both intellectually and spiritually that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s mouthpiece on the earth, and I for one-based on experience-will follow His counsel.

  49. Tyler
    October 5, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    palerobber,
    I understand where you are coming from but I am going to have to agree with many of the things Brandon said. I believe everyone has things that are hard for them to overcome. It does seem like some have trials that are much more difficult than others, but just because something is hard does not mean you should give into it. There have been things in my life that have been very hard to overcome but I have been able to do so. Not on my own, but with the help of God. In today’s world there are so many people who want to make good people look evil just for fighting against sin and the degrading effects it has on society. Just because many people say something is good does not make it good. God has helped me overcome challenges and I know he can help others, even those who currently have a problem with homosexuality. It will not be easy, but is possible with God’s help.

  50. Clumpy
    October 5, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    I’m more than willing to have a dialogue, but accusing me of being bigoted or narrow-minded, when some of you pro-gay folks are, is hypocritical to say the least.

    Is that all you got out of my comment? I never accused you of anything other than a bad comparison, nor denied my church’s (or President Packer’s) position or comments in the slightest. It would be silly for me to merely reiterate the contents of my two posts in this thread so I’ll let you re-read them if you wish.

    @Philip

    Something I meant to ask earlier – out of curiosity, what philosophical bankruptcy do you believe the LDS church has reached and needs to overcome, other than not being interesting enough for you? Repeating basic messages of gospel basics and faith may be somewhat dull to the already-initiated, but it seems from your comments that the religious underpinnings and legitimacy of the entire organization (and religion in general) seem to bother you more than any aesthetic disagreement.

  51. Eric Checketts
    October 5, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

    I stand by the Lord’s anointed servants, and I wholeheartedly support President Packer and his Conference talk.

    Sincerely, I have compassion on those who struggle with homosexual tendencies. I believe that homosexuality is an addiction, and in some cases, may even be the result of genetic predispositions.

    And, emphatically, as I believe that homosexuality is essentially a form of addiction, I believe that it is something for which an individual SHOULD seek treatment.

    Accusations of “hatred” seem to be the most popular of the weapons in the “progressive” arsenal. In certain cases, zealots take the un-Christlike extreme of anger and hatefulness. In the vast majority of instances, though, these accusations are unfounded.

    Our brothers and sisters who struggle with SSA MUST be treated with love and compassion. Just as the recovering drug addict and the repentant adulterer need love, patience, and understanding – so does the errant soul who is mired in such depraved desires/behaviors.

    While I feel a sense of compassion for those who sincerely struggle with these unnatural desires, I am having a hard time feeling any amount of patience for those who clearly will not be content unless the LDS church completely changes it’s stance on homosexuality. All the kicking and screaming in the world, will not and cannot change the fact that it is not President Monson or President Packer who decide the doctrine of the Church. Rather, these great men are Special Witnesses of Christ who lead His church as directed by inspiration from Heaven.

    Please consider for a moment, that railing against President Packer’s talk is not merely an attack on a man’s opinion, rather it is an attack on God’s law.

  52. Shawnie
    October 6, 2010 at 7:07 am #

    Connor, I’ve had 250+ visits to my blog in the last 24 hrs. I ended my post with a grand finale by referencing your post. Thank you for saying it so much better than I could have. The logic, the cause and effect was all laid out beautifully.

  53. Darrel
    October 6, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    @Philip

    “People in the church always testify that they “know” the church is true (which is, quite possibly, the most asinine thing that can come out of a person’s mouth…”

    While I agree with Clumpy’s intervening words to Michael, I felt to say something of what I noticed being said. Being careful to not label you as Korihor or Satan (as I trust your intentions are not near as rebellious to God as was theirs), I think a correlation can be drawn – and that from President Uchtdorf’s message on pride.

    The sin of Lucifer before we began the present mortal life was that he thought himself more wise than our Father. Think of all the people that would be hurt or lost in a system that allows us to choose evil whenever and however we want. All my loved ones could be lost, and even myself. Lucifer said, “That doesn’t make sense. Let’s do it so we all can be saved.” A third of us all agreed. But that was flat wrong, although they couldn’t fathom it being so.

    To say that we are members of the LDS church implies that we believe the principles required to enter into that membership, i.e. faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior, belief that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that this is the ONLY true church that has the Priesthood authority given from God and that the President Monson holds all the keys of that authority – including to speak for God. President Hinckley held those keys at the time of the Family Proclamation. If you believe that the LDS church has the said authority, that proclamation was REVELATION from God, not even just a talk in General Conference. If you want to reference all that was said about blacks in the Priesthood, reference what Elder McConkie himself said the conference after the declaration on blacks receiving the Priesthood came out: “I was wrong.” Learning from his example, when revelation comes, discussion ends. This is because God’s knowledge and wisdom surpasses our own. This is faith. The Proclamation on the Family was revelation.

    Now another point I wish to address is more particularly about what I quoted from your post. I have come to see that there are two basic types of knowledge: spiritual and empirical. In this sense you are right to say that members do not “know”; but they really do – spiritually. “Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can ye have than from God?” This spiritual knowledge is the basis for faith, and that is what our religion is founded on: spiritual knowledge, or revelation. If all you endeavor to do is prove your faith by the other type – empirically or logically – you are depending on your own wisdom independent from God’s wisdom and guidance. This is the dangerous road Michael was referring to. We always need to check ourselves against the revealed word to make sure our mortal limitations are not leading us astray.

    Also, to reference your problem with using “stories” to teach and inspire, consider the way Christ Himself taught during His mortal ministry. Did He not use parables often? If we are in tune with the Spirit, we can learn from these “stories” – learn knowledge both spiritual and empirical.

    @Michael

    I understand the things you’ve said, and I have fallen into such thinking previously. May I ask that you consider the effect of what you wrote. To whom did it benefit?

    @palerobber

    The change that is being talked about does not refer to a release from that physical draw. As we work to become someone new, we can apply the power that is in Christ to strengthen ourselves against that draw, or temptation, in order to more fully focus on the things the Lord has provided to give us higher happiness. Despite the success in what is talked about as “overcoming homosexuality”, those individuals will no doubt have those romantic thoughts enter their minds for the rest of their lives. But, just as everyone else has temptations that are specific to themselves, ultimate happiness in eternal life with our God will only be achieved by practicing the utmost self-control in resisting what He has revealed to be less worthy of our eternal potential – and this to the end of our lives.

    I must admit, if I were left to my own logical proofs and experiences, I would have been led to disagree with what President Packer had said. But, because of the spiritual knowledge that I have gained, I know that families are eternal; and the only way to have them in that realm is to do it the way the Lord has provided: between a man and a woman sealed together in marriage by the Holy Spirit of Promise. That is the ultimate happiness I seek, and will not let anything – despite what “logical” proofs may arise – prevent me from attaining that end.

  54. Philip
    October 6, 2010 at 9:00 am #

    I’ll address each of the relevant posts in order…

    E L Frederick:

    You asked, “Why does it have to be a problem with the doctrine?” To be fair, it doesn’t. You also asked, “Is that because you have a problem with the doctrine?” And, to answer this, I don’t think that it is the doctrine exactly that causes this sort of reaction from me. It is more of visceral sort of reaction to what is propped up as doctrine which, under closer examination, isn’t, or, under closer examination, is much more complex than what the general membership believes.

    Now, just so we are clear, my original post was not about President Packer’s comments and the church’s stance on homosexuality, but directed at Connor’s invocation of the term “propaganda.” I think that the church (and all religions to a greater or lesser degree) believe that the relationship between the sacred and profane goes something like this: divine knowledge/intervention –> secular behavior. What is absent is that this relationship becomes recursive and, thus, allows for the interpositioning of the secular within the divine that is, then, passed off as divine. It looks something like this: sacred –> secular –> “sacred” –> secular –> “”sacred”” and so on. I know that Michael Towns has attacked me for my philosophical “hocus pocus,” but to fully understand what I am saying one should read Jean Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulations.” What I fear is that the general membership of the church simply accepts the “”sacred”” as the sacred. Some members are able to push to the next level and shed the recursive process to a degree, but I have found that very few people are really able to or willing to, push further. You specifically referenced “further light and knowledge” in your comments and my concern is that the further light and knowledge isn’t going to be mined from the “”sacred,”” but rather from the sacred. This is why temple attendance is so crucial. It is the moment and place in which we are physically able to move outside of the secular into the sacred (potentially breaking down one barrier) and move into a sacred commune with God. It is our chance to be quickened by the purest, most direct contact possible and to be edified and instructed from on high.

    I could probably be clearer about this process of secular accretion in the church that leads to the “”sacred.”” I had a friend who was oft known for pointing out the difference between practice, policy, and doctrine within the church. Most general members cannot differentiate between them. We also witness a general accretion of non-inspired sources of “truth” in our meetings, talks, etc. Do you remember the huge influence that C.S. Lewis had for a while? (As a side note, I frequently would use quotes from other secular sources just as an example that if one secular source can be valid, all can. My sources? Stephen King, Steven Tyler, etc.). He was quoted by GAs, general members, etc. What about Stephen Covey? Jack Weyland? Gerald Lund? There is an entire industry constructed, and supported by, Deseret Book that offers individuals “spiritually” gratifying reading in cleverly packaged secular novels, videos, etc. The church distribution centers do a better job at filtering out this trash, but the general member at Deseret Book will begin to understand him/herself and his/her church not through actual direct doctrine, but fictional “representations” of it.

    Now, the other aspect of this is that the general membership needs to be taught how to think critically and be able to practice self-reflection. This, however, is extraordinarily difficult to do. Trust me; I’m an educator and I beat my head against the wall trying to get students to simply think. But it is through the process of thinking, analyzing, and reflecting (what probably would fall under the umbrellla of “studying”) that we are, once again, in the place where we may receive divine guidance. Michael Towns would like for everything to be simple, black and white. But what I have found is that the riches are in the complexity, not the simplcity. Let’s take one of the single most important words as an example: faith. Can you define that word? I can’t. I can’t because I have spent hours reading for its occurence, understanding the context of its use, arguing with myself and others about its meaning and significance. But that process is profitable, extremely profitable. But that is exactly the process that the general membership is incapable of doing or unwilling to do because of what they think that it signifies about them to question what faith is.

    I’ll give you a personal example that is indicative of what critical thinking gets you in the present atmosphere. I attended BYU and was sitting in a New Testament class. We were discussing the Savior’s atonement in the Garden and came to Matthew 26:39 which reads “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” This sentence struck me as incredibly important so I raised my hand to ask what I thought was an appropriate and important question. My question/comments went something like this: It seems that Jesus didn’t want to do this. He was willing to do it, but didn’t want to do it. Do you think that we can use the same approach to obedience? Do we have to want to obey or can we just obey? What happened next has actually scarred me for life. I looked up from my desk and saw absolute horror on the faces of the students and teacher. A girl actually said, “What God do you actually believe in?” I was dumbfounded. I had simply followed the logic of the sentence and wanted to discuss the implications of what was said. But, apparently, I had somehow crossed an unmarked boundary between what could and couldn’t be questioned, thought about, or analyzed in-depth. For me, it was the supreme moment that serves to indicate the inability and unwillingness that the majority of church members have toward tough questions. Rather than embark in a profitable discussion of motivation, obedience, and other related topics, the conversation ended. Now, there is also the issue of holding up the illusion here. I’m sure that if my logic holds, (if you just have to do it even if you don’t want to do it) the illusion that you have to want it is one that needs to be protected. I just want to get to that bare floor, to strip away all of the excess, and it is the illusionary quality of the church (its “propaganda”) that not only makes it hard for me to do so but captures the general membership in a state of false consciousness. This is what I had in mind with my reference to the separation between doctrine and causes.

    Now, to the second portion of your post about everyone being caught under the same dogmatism. Generally, I would agree. However, there is a small body of skeptics and agnostics in this world that are the only honest and humble people around. Why? Because they are the only ones willing to say “I don’t know.” Dogmatism and fanaticism dominate the ends of the spectrum. Atheists and the religious are equally as guilty. Unfortunately, we live in a society where the person who acts the most certain, who screams the loudest, is the one who gets the most attention. Living on the “I don’t know” allows one to be constantly prepared to learn; living on the “I know” ensures that no learning will take place. Our world is dominated by personalities that shove “truth” down our throats, that over-simplify everything, that make the world black and white and easy to put into categories. I don’t know…maybe it would even be enough to “know” in a quieter way, and one that is not couched in so much vitrol, agression, and violence.

    P.S. – I didn’t know where to fit this in, but what I would love to see is simply people asking “why?”

    Michael Towns:

    You are that class at BYU. Vilify me, hate me, label me, fear me…it is what I have come to expect.

    And as far as “stating your opinion,” this is another specific problem in the current society. Everyone has an opinion. We have whole channels that are dedicated to an unending stream of people “just stating their opinions.” Opinions, in this guise, are barriers to communication, and are typically fraught with underthought assumptions, etc. Opinions need no justification, no support, no thought…they are “take it or leave it” types of acts. What we need is civil discourse, argument (of the classical, not contemporary, type), and dialogue, something you are unwilling or unable to do.

    P.S. – I shouldn’t have called you Satan. I apologize for that. I sometimes get caught up in humorous irony…

    Clumpy:

    I have enjoyed your involvement to this point and thanks for standing up for me in being called Korihor. In a way, I probably addressed your question to me in my response to E L Frederick. However, I could probably extend it a bit here.

    What I am particularly concerned about is the lack of revolutionary spirit, vigor, and progress/growth that seems to be afflicting this particular era. It is only to be expected, though, all “new” religions go through this process. I feel that from 1820 to probably the late 1800s, the church was vigorous. It was the era of seers and of great undertakings. Revelation was common, apparent, and life-changing (e.g., “Brother Thomas, you have been called to found a settlement in Northwest Canada. You leave tomorrow.” Could you imagine a GA standing at the podium of conference and calling your name and asking you to give up everything you had to move to Burkina Faso and found a Mormon settlement? This should be happening, but it isn’t and won’t.) The church was once one of the most progressive organizations in the United States. (There is a great book about this, but I seem to have forgotten the title right now (it isn’t “Mormonism in Transition” by Thomas G. Alexander, but that might be instructive too)). The work is not yet done, but the church (and we, as a people), have ceded this crucial aspect to missionaries so we can live common, ordinary lives. From the late 1800s to the mid/mid-to-late 1900s I think that we were in an era of instruction. We had the revelation and were now trying to come into our own with what we had (think “Jesus the Christ” here). Sadly, our last great explicator is probably Henry B. Eyring, but he is already an anamoly. From the mid-to-late 1900s to the present we have moved into an era of the narrative and the great simplification of the church’s doctrine. We are streamlining, shedding the excess, and popularizing. This era is perfectly represented by its two major prophets: Gordon B. Hinckley (media/popularization) and Thomas S. Monson (storytelling). [This also raises important questions about how much the direction of the church is affected by the personalities of its leaders and not by “divine inspiration.” Of course, I already know the argument, “Well, God put them there and their personalities are a function of divine will and foresight.” Yeah, maybe, but come on, are we so blind that we aren’t aware of the fact that many (if not most) decisions made in wards, stakes, and the general church are not results of “divine inspiration” (unless you want to open that so far that it will entail everything) but simply decisions made by falliable humans?] What I am concerned about is the fact that the momentum of the church has slowed, and that it is changing. This happens all the time to religions: they are filled with zeal, they work out their kinks, then they settle. We are witnessing that settling stage.

    What I am concerned about is that the church’s religious importance dwindles and merges with a particular political/secular strain of American society. We already see this at work as individuals are aligning themselves with the church not for its religious content, but its political and social position. The belief would be that this connection could serve to bring people to the religious content, but the more probable event is that the church will continue to shed more and more of what makes it unique (doctrinally) to capture a larger audience (through storytelling, media relations, and political/social involvment). It may be (to invoke that oft-quoted line) that the Elders of the church will come to the rescue of the Constitution when it is hanging by a thread, but what they will realize when they turn around is that this process of saving the Constitution (and whipping members into a frenzy on such issues), has resulted in a move away from the sacred and religious. I have attended High Priest Group Meetings that could double for political rallies, and as the general American church membership moves more toward the profane, the sacred cannot but be lost.

    This movement will also exacerbate the already significant divide between the USA LDS experience and the LDS experience as it is played out around the world. Having just spent time in South Africa and seen the problems that are at work in the church there and in Africa in general, there is a significant disconnect between what South Africa’s needs are and what the church is doing to address those needs. What could result is something akin to the East-West schism between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox (albeit from different root causes). As the church expands geographically it will become harder and harder for leadership in SLC to control/communicate with/advise/etc. these regions. The area authority system, in principle, helps to alleviate this issue to a degree, but I am afraid that the fragmentation that we saw with the “primitive” church is bound to happen in the present again. This is what happens to religions: they grow, the fragment, and the umbrella church changes to accomodate this inevitable process.

    So, those are a few of my concerns. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not really getting the “stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” feeling from the present status and movement of the church…It’s more of a “ho-humming” its way into spiritual irrelavence (but secular relevance) as it collapses under its own weight (which is what religions do when they die and have to be reborn as something else).

    I’ve probably not completely addressed your question, but as has probably become clear in my rather lengthy reply, there is a lot to it…

  55. jasonthe
    October 6, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    I had to double check you weren’t being ironic with this post.

    A second read, and I think you were not. Which makes the “straw men” portion of the title hilarious. You’re mentire argument is a straw man. It was suggested that a certain group of people want to, and pursue change.

    Parlaying that as a non-judgemental attitude toward another human being is ridiculous.

    On the other hand, I am not sure the HRC’s claim of the impaact and danger of Packer’s words is legit. I think people have come to expect a certain amount of this type of dogma from him, and the influence of his comments is being over-stated.

    My advice to HRC in the future wouldn’t be to issue these defensive press releases, and to gay rights activists, I’d advise against protesting. Instead, were a decision maker for either of these groups, I’d simply circulate video, audio, and text of Packers comments far and wide, repeatedly. Let those with common sense draw their own conclusions from that.

    The man is an 82 year old LOON, and even the faithful know it.

  56. Philip
    October 6, 2010 at 9:37 am #

    Darrel:

    Sorry I missed your comments while I was adding mine or i would have included you in the lengthy piece I just posted. I’ll try to keep it brief, but if you have seen what I have posted to this point, that is probably not going to happen).

    To begin, are there different ways of knowing? Certainly. My concern is that the statement “I know the church is true” that comes from most members isn’t actually a statement of what they know, but what they have been taught to say to express something that they should be able to claim. Listen to how it is delivered for the clue. “I know the church is true. I love my mom and dad. Thomas S. Monson is the true prophet of God. Etc….” (or some variation on that). I think that it is the case that many people/most people don’t “know,” even if we give space to knowing spiritually. People are too afraid to state (or lack sufficient self-awareness) to state what they actually feel or think and rather will parrot what is supposed to be said and claim what is supposed to be felt.

    The second problem with this is your concept of “knowing” is always already bound up in representations of that knowing that have been presented to you from birth. We are taught how the Holy Ghost feels, what it does, etc. under the guise to “understand it when it happens.” What occurs, though, is that the identification and creation become tied up together. We only see what we are trained to see, only feel what we are trained to feel. We begin to interpret “knowing” as divine rather than as a reflection of our construction of that divine that comes through its representation to us. I believe that God can communicate to us, but I’m afraid that most people are creating their own sensations that lead to “knowing” because of the illusions that are being cast around them as to how it will happen. The discerning member (there are a few) will actually hear the words of the GA that states that the Holy Ghost has never touched him in those typical ways and understand that the connection between God and an individual is entirely unique, but most members will just take the experience of that GA and make it their own, thus obfuscating even more the actual workings of the Spirit in their lives.

    To the next point, which I have mostly avoided to this point, the issue of revelation as it concerns “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” You have, actually, provided the perfect example that should call all attempts at claiming revelation into question, i.e., McConkie’s “I was wrong.” What guarantee do we have that this isn’t a case where that exact statement won’t be made in the future? And that, like the Priesthood issue, it was the social/prejudicial nature of the church and its members that continued the practice for so long? Additionally, are we aware of all of the proclamations that have been made in the past? Have they been superseded? “The Family” is most certainly a proclamation, but a revelation? That’s not entirely clear? What about Lectures on Faith which went from being part of the Doctrine and Covenants, to excerpted out, to largely forgotten? What seems to be revelation at one point is disposable when it becomes convenient or necessary to do so…

    Your final point about Jesus teaching with “stories” is a good one, and one that I was wondering if anyone would ever raise against me. What you seem to be forgetting is that many, if not most, of the listeners didn’t understand what was being said through the stories (i.e., parables). John 10:6 reads, “This parable spake Jesus unto them; but they understood not what things they were which he spake to them.” This is only one case where the audience was more likely to come away his words with a “Huh?” rather than an “Aha!” That we may learn, and do learn, from stories is unquestionable. But to assert that because Jesus taught in stories (2000 years ago to an audience with a completely different set of cultural expectations for communicative acts, the validity of arguments and knowledge, etc.) stories in the present have the same effect, power, and efficacy is to fundamentally misunderstand the radical change in human cognition over the last 2000 years and the radically fragmentary effects that narratives have on individuals which lead to exactly what we face in the world today: 6,000,000,000 intepretations of the story. But that is, perhaps, even giving people too much credit, because (and trust me on this one as an educator) most people that listen to stories are only concerned with one thing: the plot, not the meaning.

    What I am arguing for is critical analysis with the intent to push past the images and illusions we cast up to the point where we, as unique individuals, will be in communication with God and we may be enlightened, edified, and instructed. That we may “know” rather than claim that we “know” or come to “know” only upon sheer reliance and creation of someone else.

  57. earthandspace
    October 6, 2010 at 10:23 am #

    Phillip

    We need more more members like you in the church. I appreciate your commitment to the faith and to an openness to dialogue and discussion. Your analysis of the evolution of the church is spot on and I love your ideas of differentiating between doctrine and policy etc. Songs like” Follow the Prophet” with the fear conjuring follow up of “dont go astray” really reinforce the continued message of blind obedience that did not seem to be present in the early church. I so much more deeply appreciate a believer in the faith who has been willing to open their mind to an examination of many points of view. Not trying to give you a big head here, but have you considered writing a book? Thank you.

  58. Carissa
    October 6, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    Phillip, I think the question you asked during your class was a valid one. It was worthy of discussion. I am sorry it was not received well. That is too bad for everyone involved.

    Also, I think we DO need to be careful about saying “I know” (insert anything here) and training our children to say it, when it may be intellectually dishonest.

    Just last night my husband was telling me about some studies he read about where they worked with two groups of children and gave them the same tests. To one group, they praised the children for being so smart and “knowing it all”. And to the other group, they praised their willingness to work so hard. They continued to give them tests, letting them choose an easier version or a more difficult version. The majority of the children who were told they were smart wanted the easier test (so they could be called “smart” at the outcome) while those who were praised for working and trying hard, largely chose the more difficult test. Interesting lesson there…

  59. Darrel
    October 6, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    Philip,

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that some express knowledge based on what they have been trained to do. I have close relatives that fell away from the church who fit into that category. However, I don’t think I can feel comfortable telling someone else that their experience wasn’t real, or that they actually didn’t receive the Spirit in revelation to an increase of true knowledge. This because I am limited in my capability in understanding. The limitations refer to mortal existence, and by no means prevent me from doing all that I can to gain whatever knowledge I am capable. In short, I believe that God has all knowledge. This life is quite temporal, and if only we depend on His knowledge, we can eventually gain His knowledge, or all knowledge, after this life.

    The reason I bring this up is because of the doubts expressed on knowing what is revelation or not. This is a question I personally have presented in my life in depth. It began on my mission with things my mission president presented as revelation he received for us, that had a promise attached. Without getting into the “story” of it, I began to doubt if he was inspired, and that led to chain of logic that could have led me to exactly the question you posed: how do we know if any of it is actually coming from God or not?

    There were two approaches to answering this question that came to me. First, attempt to explain the doctrine behind each revelation to prove for myself if it was from God or not. This seems (I assume, tell me if I’m wrong) to be the approach you tend to take. The other approach took a more broad perspective, one that I continue to practice. Going back to the very basis of what I know, what do I have most confidence in? Being honest with myself, I have realized that the base for what I try to draw my actions and knowledge from is the spiritual knowledge I DO have that God is real, that the Book of Mormon WAS inspired by His knowledge, and that His authority in the Priesthood to reveal doctrine is with this church. If it were not, we would be left to ourselves, and, you said yourself, there would be 6 billion different views on our existence with only one truth.

    After establishing with myself that I knew this, it followed that the only way to receive what I want most (exaltation with my family) was to believe what the prophets say. In other words, my spiritual knowledge, or faith, will not allow other secular doubts or “knowledge” to cause doubt that what the prophet says is revelation really is revelation from God. They “solemnly proclaim”, therefore discussion is over on whether or not this is revelation from God. If, in years from now, the prophet comes out and says, “That was wrong”, so be it. But that hasn’t happened, and therefore all I can do is have faith that it is correct. Otherwise, I risk all that consider to be most precious.

    You may argue that if it is indeed wrong, then I’m not actually presenting any risk at all. (This question has been posed by a friend of mine who does practice homosexual behavior.) The two possibilities are thus: it is true, or it isn’t. If the Proclamation is true, then discounting it would prove the risk valid and proven after this life while accepting it would be of eternal benefit. If it is not, then I will not be punished for my obedience to something that I could not possibly KNOW FOR CERTAIN outside the revealed word, only I will have to catch up to the understanding gained by others. For me, the choice is clear: obey first, then seek to understand. This is because of the knowledge I do have personally and spiritually that the Priesthood is real.

    Is this merely reflected actions motivated by fear? If you interpret it that way. As for myself, there’s no fear in it at all. I have complete confidence and comfort that if I continue in faith, believing the words of the Lord – or those whom He has anointed – I will attain eternal life. There is no fear in that.

  60. Darrel
    October 6, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    And I do think that was a great question to ask in your class as well.

  61. Clumpy
    October 6, 2010 at 11:10 am #

    @Philip

    I understand where you’re coming from though I’ll detail some differences of feeling and opinion I have below, but I’d like to register that the full nature of your argument really wasn’t clear from your initial posts and you were difficult to separate from one of the many “you stupid religious sheep” trolls I sometimes see around, people who reject the entire premise of the discussion in the first place and come from so far outside that they’re willingly wasting their time for a moment of superiority.

    I do agree that if the Church were to become essentially a secular or humanitarian institution, or to lose its zeal or doctrinal subtlety, it would certainly not be to its own benefit. However, I don’t believe that this is happening: one principle I have grown to appreciate in the last few years is the way that even simple principles and statements can often be found to have an extreme subtlety and wealth of meaning upon closer spiritual introspection. Your comment about temple attendance is right up that alley – true spiritual “knowledge” is par the name spiritual in nature, sculpting the self, and while a willingness to ask relevant questions and continue to analyze and learn can help to stabilize a testimony or spiritual belief, the only thing that is absolutely ESSENTIAL is the basic gospel message, the one I believe the Church made a conscious choice to emphasize beginning essentially with President Hinckley.

    For example, before I really knew how to study spiritually (or, you might argue, at all), I never really saw much value in the Preach My Gospel missionary manual. I understood it as something I was required to read, and so I did, though I preferred to read the bulky Old Testament manual as I found it far more interesting and enlightening. (It consisted essentially of Hugh Nibley and Josephus quotes to give an idea of its contents.) As my mission continued, however, I did begin to discover the subtlety of the manual, and the way that sections built on one another, not in the manner of strictly intellectual knowledge but in a steadily unfolding progression of spiritual knowledge, one which began to become my focus as I left those bulkier manuals behind due to their weight. The leaps of insight I found with Preach My Gospel were far subtler, far more exciting, and more edifying and yet hard to verbalize than those I found through more scholarly materials, and learning to appreciate them was an indescribable help to me and to turning my testimony from a matter of habit to a matter of internal belief and drive.

    Your “media savvy/storyteller” comparison is possibly apt, as while there is a spiritual and secular side to being the president of the church (or a mission president, or a bishop, or a patriarch), I believe that decisions are made both through Revelation and through the personal skills and talents of those people chosen for that position. Is it possible for a person to be “chosen” and yet make a mistake? Of course, though my disagreements and diametrically-opposite personality from (for example) my mission president didn’t change the reality that he was both chosen and appropriate for his position.

    The knowledge that Church leadership up to the highest levels can make mistakes or even express opinion is an abstract idea that I understand, though I do believe that we run into danger when we begin to think that we can apply this fact publicly to particular situations, or feel that a change in focus which isn’t geared toward us indicates that the Church is losing its zeal or drive as an organization. I too groan a little at the “description of a Pacific animal that traps its prey/comparison of this animal to Satan/discussion about sin” format of talks, though aesthetic or artistic agreement with the substance of General Conference talks has never been a crucial fulcrum to my testimony. In the same way that I believe President McConkie would sometimes overextend himself and make connections which just weren’t there, I might believe that General Conference talks ought not to be geared toward such a wide audience (including an increasing number of people outside the Church tuning in for the first time), though this doesn’t change my knowledge as I view the talks of the Quorum as spiritual exemplars, the role of the messages as inspiration to continue basic personal gospel duties, or the benefit of the message beyond a purely intellectual sphere, to the spiritual.

    I have read through old Improvement Era issues for the amazing discussions and doctrinal study found therein, though I understand why the Ensign/New Era currently focus on “doctrine in action” discussions of personal faith and behavior. And while I may prefer things to be a certain way, I recognize that the only CRUCIAL element (as with the Gospel itself) is the message of principle and need for personal righteous action, study, prayer and faith, essentially the foundation of self-perfection. I’d much rather have the testimony with much less “spiritual meat” than feel like I’m consistently pushing my knowledge of a given topic forward but lose the basic internal knowledge of its truth.

    The fact that individual people lack critical thinking skills (as in your “what God do you believe in?” example) doesn’t really surprise me, and I would submit that these individuals are motivated neither by intellectual appreciation nor spiritual zeal. That’s a churchwide problem and not something that is solved merely by looking faithful (i.e. attending a gospel class but rejecting any attempt to bump up against one’s comfort zone). The fact that these people exist (and I have to deal with them from time to time) doesn’t really impact my opinion of the Church as a whole, though I find you can usually find ways to ask these same questions without inspiring offense or the admittedly amusing shock you describe in your anecdote.

    At any rate, I believe I’ve rambled here but I’m going to soldier on and hit the “Submit” button without proofreading as I’m nearly late for work. I hope my rebuttal here makes my opinion clear without judgment or derision, as it certainly wouldn’t be my intention to come across as such :).

  62. Doug Bayless
    October 6, 2010 at 11:24 am #

    Philip,

    I’ve been looking for a moment to steal and respond to your 9am post. It looks like my first thought is simply what some others have also recently said:

    That it’s really too bad about the experience you found with asking your question that apparently crossed an “unmarked boundary” in a class. Been there, done that. More people than you might expect in this audience have some serious empathy for you in that situation as well. And I agree with you in the good that questioning, thoughtfulness, and openness can do — even when many around you might eschew such analysis because of fear, pride, or honest-to-goodness lack of time and commitment on a question or issue.

    As for the conclusions you seem driven towards, however, I’m not certain they are the ones I see as self-evident or proven. Particularly what seems to me an over-distillation and dismissal of Presidents Hinckley and Monson. I see where you are going with your larger narrative, but I’ve got to say honestly that I have a long list of worthwhile services and doctrines that I’ve found from those particular prophets. I worry that in your zeal to make your specific case of concern, you might be missing some of those things from those Prophets that I have found — at any rate — real and valuable. Just a possibility to consider.

  63. Philip
    October 6, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    I don’t really have time to get into a lengthy response at the moment, but I would like to raise another question as it relates to narratives (or propaganda or, in this case most appropriately referred to as myths/misconceptions), but what happened to the Second Coming? Let me explain:

    If we go back to the Doctrine and Covenants it is full of any number of declarations about how the coming of the Lord is “nigh at hand” (43:17, 49:6, 58:4, 63:53, 106:4, 133:17, etc.). I grew up in the church through the 70s and 80s and I remember the repeated message of how near we were to the Second Coming. I’m pretty sure that there were statements (I’d need to go back and research a bit more) within the church by GAs that we were in the 11th hour (kind of like the clock that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists used to discuss how close we were to nuclear apocalypse.

    So, what happened? You don’t hear very much talk about it anymore, and it certainly isn’t with the same fervor and reference to proximity that it was once done in. Is it that the day of the Lord isn’t getting nigher anymore? Is it that the narrative was, in fact, erroneous?

    This leads me to a couple final statements (on this point). 1. The church wasn’t constructed in a way to last more than probably 200 years. It was always a millennistic/apocalyptic gospel. 2. As the Second Coming advances (seemingly) farther and farther into the future, what will the effect of this be upon the church? I know that it is impossible to predict when the Second Coming will occur (and I hope everyone understands that I am not arguing that it won’t happen), but what if it isn’t for another 100 years? 200 years? 300 years? 500 years? I don’t know, but there is going to have to be some mighty narrative bending to get the facts on the ground to fit with the story and myth that has been sold.

    I know that this deviates a bit from my very first point, but it still comes to narratives and propaganda. The threat of an immediate Second Coming was an effective tool to keep people in the “strait and narrow path,” but as that event becomes less and less nigh, the illusion of the narrative begins to recede and we are left to reprocess what is, in fact, truth.

  64. Jeffrey T
    October 6, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    Phillip,

    Your concerns and criticisms of the church in your original post seemed geared toward recent church leadership and the way they’ve neglected the original, forward-moving progressive bent of the original Restoration. It feels as though you want the church and its leaders to behave as they did in the 1800’s, because it would keep things more lively, interesting, and novel. The recent focus on the simple doctrines of the Gospel and on the importance of purging from our lives inchastity, dishonesty, etc. doesn’t seem to be nearly as urgent to you as the more progressive, doctrinally complex sermons of the 1800’s.

    In your most recent comment, you say:

    The threat of an immediate Second Coming was an effective tool to keep people in the “strait and narrow path,” but as that event becomes less and less nigh, the illusion of the narrative begins to recede and we are left to reprocess what is, in fact, truth.

    You now seem to be indicting even the leaders of the church of the 1800’s of preaching a doctrine for propagandistic purposes… of creating an “illusion” as a tool for control and of retelling of another one of the “narratives” you fear influence our lives more than they should.

    Is your problem with the church of more recent years, or with the church all along?

    For the record, I remember the Second Coming mentioned several times—and in the context that our purpose as a church is to prepare the earth for the Second Coming.

  65. J. Harrison
    October 6, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    ~Phillip~

    I’m not sure I agree with you.

    But then, I’m not so sure I disagree either.

    Either the Church is one of the biggest lies ever sold to a bunch of dumb suckers or its true.

    The Spirit left me as soon as I wrote down the last consonant in “suckers” so I’m going to place my trust in the Church being true. (But then again, how do I know it was the Spirit? According to you, we can’t even really trust our own spiritual diagnosis because it might be some other “indoctrination” in disguise.)

    Anyhow, if its true, then we need to trust that its doctrine is also true. The doctrine teaches that this is the Church of Jesus Christ.

    And if it is Christs will that there be a “philosophical watering down” of Church Opinion, then I don’t want to debate Him on the subject.

    On one hand, I agree. The church faces problems.

    On the other hand we know that Jesus Christ SENDS troubles and trials. They are a chance for growth.

    Phillip, you have pointed out a lot of problems with the Church. Out of curiosity, do you have anything to say positive about Church Culture? What Tools do you see that we can use to fight the things you fear?

    And more importantly, if the church is somehow becoming faulty or less true, and its culture is rotten to the core….

    What would you have the Church look like?

  66. Molly
    October 7, 2010 at 11:23 am #

    Connor,

    I appreciate your post and my friend for sharing this with me. I plan to follow your rss feed, and look forward to more from you.

    To all those who have commented here on either side of this, and have not attacked others, good for you! I appreciate a good back and forth, and liked reading your comments.

    We should all remember, for those who may not, that these men, our general authorities etc have prepared these talks with the help of of our Heavenly Father etc. We all need to decide where we stand.

  67. loquaciousmomma
    October 8, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    Molly, you are right! We need to decide if we are going to stand with our leaders, or against them.

    One interesting thing that someone pointed out to me elsewhere is that the official transcript alters the quote that Connor cites and changes it to :

    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.

    I am not sure why it was changed, maybe Elder Packer didn’t mean to say it exactly the way he did, or maybe he said it differently than he typed it for the teleprompter.

    It does change the discussion a little, though doesn’t it?

    I have always looked at SSA as a physical weakness like the genetic propensity for alcoholism. But, like alcoholism, it is something that can be overcome.

  68. mormonlibertarian
    October 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    This is very interesting.

    I had NO idea this was going on, as I live very far from ‘church headquarters’, and that always seems to be where there is a ‘backlash’–

    also, I don’t spend much time on MSM–

    I have compassion for anyone dealing with anything hard–

    there are a lot of hard things–

    I didn’t, really, see that Elder Packer was singling out SSA–

    I thought he was talking about ‘everything’–ANYthing that keeps people from having pretty babies or keeping their lives and hearts uncomplicated–

    I remember many years ago hearing a popular commentator mention that once upon a time when people didn’t marry, they were celibate, most or many of them, and that ONCE that was all right, but it isn’t anymore, and what happened to make it not all right for people to be celibate. He then said (not LDS, by the way), “when did sex become a right, not a privilege?”–

    someone young and close to me who has not struggled with p@#n, however, said, “it is disheartening to have to hear about that all of the time”–

    and I understand. That same person (female), while not struggling with SSA, is unmarried and a faithful LDS–

    but has found that the “nicest” men are involved in homosexuality–

    the truly “nice” men–

    As I was listening to Elder Packer’s words, realizing that my friend would think about that, would think about the kind-hearted, thoughtful men who won’t ‘date’ women and . . .

    how this same young friend would love to meet righteous returned missionaries, but most of them are apparently heartless, not very courteous and can’t take the time to say “hello” to her–

    (from her experience, and I, too, have observed it)–

    I thought to myself, “ornerous as the whole SSA propoganda machine, etc.–and all the legalities and all the stuff that has happened in the last 20 years, etc., IS–satan is JUST as successful in keeping the plan of salvation from moving ahead by the cold hearts that seem to have infested the young, “faithful”, male RMs of the church, though I daresay there are plenty of female cold hearts as well, who neither date, nor speak to, nor smile at . . . faithful young single women (men/opposite sex)–

    satan is ‘smart’ to cover so many areas at once.

    Let the RMs not marry, let them not have children, and you don’t need to worry about SSA–

    But it seems that very little is said about that ‘these days’–

    I remember when my young female, single, LDS friend wept when she found out that someone (a young, ‘single’ man, though not LDS, with seemingly high standards) was . . . homosexual and ‘involved’–

    I remember her tears; she had ‘admired’ him so much–

    and then back to the ‘drawing board’ with the arrogant single RMs who wouldn’t give her the time of day and go to school for one degree after another–

    no dating, no marriage–

    satan must be laughing–

    It all makes me very sad.

    I have more than one, young female friend (or family member), unmarried and willing to marry but unwilling to propose to a man or be the one who initiates dating, though having tried even that–

    who has experienced this phenomenon, by the way; it seems to be almost universal–

    there are a few who marry, but many, many do not–

    and they are marrying much later–

    and the dating game has become even more cruel than it was 30 years ago, if that is possible–

    no more pretty babies, whatever causes it–

  69. Philip
    October 8, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    So I’ve been struggling a bit as to what kind of concluding remark I can make here that would, at least in a small way, tie together some of the loose ends that have been generated during the back-and-forth of my posts and the responses to them.

    Perhaps this isn’t the place for the dialogue that was generated, but everthing that I have posted was initially connected to the usage of the word “propaganda.” It would be impossible for me to provide adequate responses to the requests made by other posters (e.g., “What would you have the church look like?”) and still continue to actually accomplish anything at all in my life outside of this forum. So, I would simply like to return to that original idea of “propaganda” trace it through the idea of “knowing” and the “spirit”, and, perhaps, just make a case for belief, faith, and skepticism.

    What is particularly important to keep in mind about propaganda is that it is primarily an emotional appeal (although it can me masked by a false type of intellectualism and is routinely accompanied by “facts,” it is, at its root, emotional). It is constructed upon a foundation of making us feel something (for those of you that are ahead of the game, I think you can see where I am going to go) and react to what is being felt viscerally. We become emotionally activated and, as a result, we become unable to differentiate between the message, what the message actually conveys, any problems with the message, and the purpose of the message. This is why I have argued so much for critical analysis and awareness. This is why the “why” is so utterly important: it allows us to stop, reflect, and to possibly identify instances of propaganda, deception, etc.

    This is the tricky part. We as LDS members have been trained to assert that we “know” or can “know” the truth and that we have been given the Spirit to lead us to truth. The problem is that what you feel does not, in any way, guarantee the truth of the thing that you supposedly “know.” If you were to poll the religious experiences (encounters with the “spirit”) of any well-intentioned member of any faith in the world, you would receive pretty much the same description of what a moment of the sacred feels like. Now, you may claim, “Well, they are wrong.” What is your proof other than what you feel? Knowing and truth require proof, and ones individual experience with the “sacred” does not stand as sufficient proof of a claim to knowledge nor to truth.

    Additionally, every Christian individual in the world has been given the same promise. Yet we, as LDS members, operate under the assumption that our experience is somehow unique and different enough to ensure that we are right. Essentially, what we feel can in no way ensure knowledge. There is a total disconnect between those two things. The paranoid “knows” that there is a vast conspiracy that threatens him. There may be, there may not be, but what he feels and knows in no way guarantees the existence of it. We simply can’t “know” the church is true. We simply can’t.

    This is why the ideas of “belief” and “faith” are so critical. A statement of belief versus a statement of faith are making two completely different types of claims. The first (“I know that God lives”) is entirely unprovable and rests only upon the emotions of the person making the claim. “I know the church is true…” How? How do you know? You know because you feel something (something that you have been trained to feel, trained to expect, trained to feel bad about if you don’t), not because what you are actually saying is true. This is why propaganda and religion are so closely intertwined. Oddly, the LDS faith seems to be one of the only ones that has the audacity to claim that “knowing” is possible. Most other faiths rest relatively firmly on the “belief” in something and the “faith” to act according to those beliefs. If you claim the second (“I believe that God lives”), you are making a claim about yourself, not the thing itself. This is so much more of an honest and defensible statement than “I know that God lives/I know that the church is true.”

    The church (or better stated, its members) has/have long been in the business of illusion making. I’m not saying that it hasn’t been well-intentioned, but I am saying that the propaganda within the church is largely consumed without question. I do not doubt for a minute that decisions that have been made at the highest levels based upon the “workings of the spirit,” the problem is that those feelings which place the seal of approval upon decisions which come to dictate our own lives are based upon an utterly and completely flawed chain of reason.

    Skepticism is our weapon to wade through illusion, belief is our statement of what we claim about ourselves, and faith is our willingness to act despite not being able to know. Propaganda is constructed to make people know and feel the truth of the thing in a way that disarms skepticism, transcends the self, and will harness our willingness to act toward any end.

    In the end, this post will not be able to say everything that I hoped it would. Maybe the best way is to briefly answer the question that I highlighted earlier: What would I have the church look like? I would like a church whose membership actually thinks, who before opening their mouths to repeat tired cliches, myths, hearsay, etc. would actually consider what is about to be said. I would like nothing more than to attend a testimony meeting that isn’t so obviously false and contrived. I would like to see a church and its members honestly question the narratives that are implicity accepted without question. The “dumbing down” of the church and watering down of its doctrine (i.e., its simplification) is distressing but not as profoundly distressing as what members claim to be truth that is not, or cannot be stated as such, or is simply a ripple of the illusions that continue to exist in the organization.

  70. Carissa
    October 8, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    Semantics comes into play here. To “know” can be defined multiple ways. From simply “hav[ing] a belief or faith in something” to “hav[ing] firsthand knowledge” of something. I would venture to guess that when people bear testimony involving the words “I know”, that it most likely translates to a various range of feelings depending on each person’s own experience and honesty.

    I would agree that there is (an unspoken) social pressure within the church to “know” as opposed to simply “believe”. I don’t like that. Then again, I don’t know how much of that is just my perception.

    And I don’t really feel comfortable judging what someone means by their use of “know”. I, too, think there is nothing wrong with someone proclaiming “I believe…” or “I have faith that…”. I’d love to hear more of it. You don’t need a sure knowledge to have a valid testimony.

  71. Philip
    October 8, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    Carissa:

    The issue isn’t one of semantics (aside from the fact that your first definition destroys the necessity of using the word “know” and that you define “know” with its cognate “knowledge” in the second version). It is an issue that your personal experience with the divine that leads you to be able to claim that you “know” has no bearing at all on reality and whether or not that statement is or is not correct. One’s “knowing” that the church is true is only an inaccurate statement of one’s emotional conviction to a particular belief.

    But, perhaps, you have opened up a bit of an inconsistency in my reasoning here. “I know that God lives” is still a statement of one’s relationship to a particular fact or condition in the same way that “I believe that God lives” is.

    That being said, the conditions of verifiability for “I believe” are significantly easier to meet than for “I know.” They are qualitatively different statements. If one were to claim “I know that God lives” which of the following question starters would make sense to ask that person? Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? “How” seems to be the most correct in this case. Let’s look at “I believe that God lives.” Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? I would say in this case that “why” makes the most sense (“how” may work…but it leads to a discussion of practice rather than relation to a particular fact).

    It is the difference between the “why” and the “how” that is critical, because the “how” necessarily leads to a situation in which one must be able to supply evidence to support the claim (in this case, that God lives). One must defend how one knows it is true, the process by which that knowledge was gained, and be able to differentiate it not only from all other feelings that individual has, but from every other similar feeling that every other person feels to a flatly contradictory position. And even if I could concede that someone could have a spiritual experience that is entirely out of all comparison from all other experiences and feelings that person has ever had, it does not in any way certify that the thing that has produced it is, in fact, true, but only that this person at this point felt something different.

    I honestly don’t think that this is simply a case of semantics…

  72. anon
    October 8, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    “My personal view is that homosexuality is an addiction or a birth defect.”

    I’m going to have to strongly disagree with this statement. I’ll address the second half of that statement first.

    There are several instances in human biology where someone will have internal reproductive organs of BOTH genders separate or combined. For example, sometimes when human chimerism occurs where the person CLEARLY has two different sets of DNA, and one set is female, and one is male. Clearly, you can’t label a person with this condition as ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ or even ‘bisexual’. You can’t really cut out your vital organs to make yourself male or female, because then you’d probably die. This however is a natural -although extremely rare- process, and can’t be prevented, it just spontaneously occurs. There’s over TEN different chromosomal abnormalities or mutations that can lead to someone having reproductive organs of both sexes. And in theory, if they were to find this out as an adult, they could perhaps select their gender and then decide to have the ‘offending’ organs removed if they can otherwise live without them, but the person MUST be given the choice to make the choice themselves, and NOT be chosen by their parents. Even then, because they were BORN that way, it still doesn’t mean that they’ll be straight, nor will surgery ‘cure’ them.

    Now onto the first part of your statement tying in with my previous paragraph. I’m 100% biologically female, I have successfully procreated with my husband and given birth to two children with another one on the way. I show no outward signs of having any overly masculine features influenced by an overabundance of testosterone that would indicate that somewhere floating in my body, I have a rudimentary testicle floating around, and both of my ovaries are functional for ovulation. Yet I identify myself as being bisexual; that is being attracted to both men AND women. This isn’t something my husband brought onto me by “poisoning my mind” with specific types of pornography, nor did I “poison” myself with specific types of pornography, accidental or otherwise. I am not a victim of sexual abuse as a child, so that hasn’t had any sway on my attraction.

    For as long as I can remember, I have always felt EQUAL attraction to both men AND women, sometimes superficially due to personal appearance, and sometimes purely physical attraction, which is usually reflexive. This is no different than a heterosexual person seeing an attractive member of the opposite sex and going “Wow, that chick/guy is really attractive.” and then moving on with life. I’m not ‘addicted’ to leering at other women and having sexual relations or fantasies about them, I merely have a sexual attraction to anyone that I find attractive. Have I acted on my impulses? Yes.

    If this makes me a bad mother/wife/human, then I dare you to take away my children, my husband and my life to prove to me that I’m wrong for feeling the way I do. I guarantee that I will fight you if you try.

    And yes, I am a testimony bearing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

  73. Cynthia L.
    October 8, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    Connor, you should update your post to reflect the final/approved version of the talk, which includes several new changes from what you show above. No sense defending words that apparently even Packer thinks would best be withdrawn/clarified. (see e.g. loquaciousmomma’s quote in #67) The approved transcript can be found on lds.org.

  74. anon
    October 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm #

    I realize in haste, I left a glaring typo in my post… “I show no outward signs of having any overly masculine features influenced by an overabundance of testosterone that would indicate that somewhere floating in my body, I have a rudimentary testicle floating around, and both of my ovaries are functional for ovulation.”

    It should read: “I show no outward signs of having any overly masculine features influenced by an overabundance of testosterone that would indicate that somewhere floating in my body, I DO NOT have a rudimentary testicle floating around, and both of my ovaries are functional for ovulation.” Correction being in bold.

    I’m 100% wholly genetically and biologically female.

  75. rachel
    October 8, 2010 at 11:09 pm #

    In response to #38 “Packer’s comments certainly were “contrary to fact” as far as saying gay people can transform into heterosexuals if they’re just faithful enough.”

    Has anyone here every heard of Michael Glatze? He is a former homosexual activist and former publisher of Young Gay America magazine. He came out of the homosexual lifestyle after a serious illness made him examine his life. His story is very compelling. Here is a quote from him that I think pertains to this uproar over President Packer’s remarks:

    God is regarded as an enemy by many in the grip of homosexuality or other lustful behavior, because He reminds them of who and what they truly are meant to be. People caught in the act would rather stay “blissfully ignorant” by silencing truth and those who speak it, through antagonism, condemnation and calling them words like “racist,” “insensitive,” “evil” and “discriminatory.”

    And here are his comments about changing from homo- to heterosexual:

    Healing from the wounds caused by homosexuality is not easy – there’s little obvious support. What support remains is shamed, ridiculed, silenced by rhetoric or made illegal by twisting of laws. I had to sift through my own embarrassment and the disapproving “voices” of all I’d ever known to find it. Part of the homosexual agenda is getting people to stop considering that conversion is even a viable question to be asked, let alone whether or not it works.

    In my experience, “coming out” from under the influence of the homosexual mindset was the most liberating, beautiful and astonishing thing I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.

    The truth is “obvious.” “Heterosexuality is normal human sexuality, while homosexuality is a deviation. These are obvious things. What is so ground-breaking is how successful activists have been at clouding out reality.”

    “I think as the angry media continues to perpetuate the myth that homosexuality can’t be cured, … I want to continue to send the message of truth in opposition to that lie,” he said, “supported by the fact that I have just continued to be happier, more confident, and much, much more healthy – and much less, less gay – since 2007 and the years before.”

    Michael Glatze has a blog at http://michaelglatze.blogspot.com/

    Particularly interesting are his comments in an interview with Randy Thomasson about his involvement in working to indoctrinate kids in schools and also his statements about how homosexuality is pushed as an “identity.”

    If you don’t think homosexuality is something that can be “healed,” you should read about his experience. It was through Jesus Christ that he was able to change. Just as President Packer said in his talk.

    Satan us going to continue to stir up the hearts of men against that which is good and right. There was a lot in conference about following the prophet, and there was much about persecution, although I don’t think I heard that actual word used. We (faithful Latter-day Saints) and our leaders undoubtedly will be persecuted for taking the unpopular stance against legalizing and normalizing sinful behavior. So I guess the uproar over President Packer’s talk doesn’t surprise me at all.

  76. mormonlibertarian
    October 9, 2010 at 9:04 am #

    Fascinating, Rachel. Thank you for that information.

    I am aware of several things from near experience with regards to homosexuality:

    1–many teenagers struggle, some very briefly, with SSA–sometimes it is very brief, and many of these young people, if encouraged towards chastity, if desiring chastity, come through that period of time strongly heterosexual and with no regrets, because nothing was ‘acted upon’. This comes from personal interviews only, and those interviewees are held in confidence; I can’t produce evidence, but I do know this for myself. Those who successfully ‘overcame’ during that time period without experimentation are glad for it.

    2–there is an organization, and again I know this firsthand, that recruits and supports homosexuality. I was close to someone who died of AIDS later; I remember hugging his emaciated body before he died–and his story was of powerful and wealthy supporters of his ‘weakness’, perpetuating his struggle.

    3–many who are involved in this lifestyle are kind, harmless, gentle people. Also know firsthand.

    So, I know that this original blog post is about Elder Packer’s talk–

    and to Phillip:

    (sp?); is it one “l”–

    I am a thinker, too. I’ve gone ‘beyond’ faith to discover I had none and then become a ‘believer’–

    and my journey is one for which I am very grateful. I see the things you are saying, but you are a little proud of your ability to think–*sending gentle thoughts towards you*

    You are NOT the only one who has been shamed for having real ideas–oh, NO! Many of *us* have. I like your way of writing; you are concise; you are clear; you are obviously intelligent, and I found more power in belief than I did in the pre-belief years when I “knew”–
    but you came down too hard on Carisa (again, sp?); she is correct; words mess *us* up ALL the time–

    communication is probably one of the most difficult things in the world; communication, poor communication, poor word useage (as I type 80 words/minute) . . . can be blamed for many tragedies.

    But she makes a valid point; because of poor English, because of poor language, words which should not be interchanged are constantly interchanged, and many of us get confused.

    I, too, have felt what you feel about President Hinckley and President Monson, but have you ever considered that, while this may be a natural social/cultural religious development–

    it may also be something of which Father in Heaven is completely aware and previously anticipated?

    As in–a storyteller prophet for a people who have become so immersed in technology that they no longer have any dreams, any poetry in them–

    just an idea I’m throwing out.

    And, yes, I have experienced the sad substitute for ‘pure religion’ that is being/has been foisted on *us*–by . . . whomever–

    those wolves in sheeps’ clothing may not be people who post questions on blogs, but they may be well-engineered media and public relations compaigns designed to keep people in line, and yes, that is very sad, and that is a poor substitute, but . . .

    President Benson warned of the results of not reading the Book of Mormon, and maybe those results are sleepy talks–

    maybe that result is being a corporation, rather than a powerful spiritual movement.

    Just some thoughts, since you shared yours.

    I’m not a collectivist, so I won’t be responsible for what anyone else decides to do, but each human being who BELIEVES can choose to have a pure religion and undefiled–

    can choose to proclaim peace, rather than celebrate sexual ‘liberation’–

    can choose to feed the hungry, rather than try to control other people–

    In the meantime, it is Elder Packer’s duty to try to reach out and help people, and I thought he did a good job of preaching purity–

    I think that if *we* spent as much time being hurt and angry because the mentally impaired/cognitively challenged among us have more social/legal/financial problems–

    as *we* (speaking about those groups who become indignant over talks like Elder Packer’s)–
    do about what might be termed sexual discrimination–

    then maybe *we* (as a world) would be getting somewhere–

    if *we* spent as much time trying to end wars . . . as we do worrying about whether everyone is having the opportunity to express him/her/themselves sexually–

    then we might be getting somewhere.

    So, I say “Go, Elder Packer–and then let’s move on; try to help those who want help–and then let’s end wars, feed the hungry and show compassion to those who don’t have the intelligence to see what is happening in the world and in the church”–

    I was just reading in Alma about how Alma told Zeezrom that he knew that satan (I think he used the word ‘devil’ in that verse) would lie about what Alma and Amulek had preached to lead the people astray–

    maybe that was all Connor meant–

    it’s PR, and it’s a big business, and I wept the day the church began using it–

    So, Phillip, thank you for your words; I enjoyed them, appreciated them, and it gave me something to think about while I . . . try to continue my battle at ‘achieving’ pure religion–

    and not falling asleep during conference! LOL–gently.

  77. mormonlibertarian
    October 9, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    I apologize to Philip and Carissa for misspelling your names–

    and I appreciate what both of you had to say–

    ml

  78. James
    October 9, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    I just read through most of all of this. I had just read http://www.lds-mormon.com/hardy.shtml , a letter to Pres. Packer in 1999 about his talk “To the One.” And I did some looking around and reading.

    I feel quite conflicted in some points, namely in how to act and react to the public and individuals on this matter. Here’s the problem: I believe in church (LDS) doctrine that homosexuality is a sin. More specifically, that acting on such urges is a sin. I will not waver from that. Those that have SSA can change or hold back.

    However, I’ve talked to a few people, and so on, and have begun to feel very badly for those that have SSA in the LDS community. It is a sin, to act on it. But, as someone said, how would I feel if I was told that I couldn’t love who I wanted to, ever? There’s a fundamental difference between struggling with an addiction (such as I have struggled with pornography), and struggling with SSA. I am engaged, and in 7 months or so will get to marry my sweet-heart. And then we will have sex. I will get to act on my urges that have directed me into some less than exemplary activities, namely, pornography. It does help. I feel badly that they will never have that, at least in this life.

    Physical attraction, however, is the part that is least a problem with me, and how I feel about this subject. The worst is their emotional attachment. I heard a of a gay, formerly LDS, marriage, where the one groom said that. “My bishop told me to marry my best friend. And that’s what I did.” To be denied taht is painful, incredibly so. To not marry my sweetheart? Horrible.

    However, it is still a sin. I am not in the same situation, but I THINK I would decide to not marry my fiancee if, for some reason, it was church doctrine that I should not. I THINK I would be able to hold off on my sexual urges for the rest of my life. I would miss that special connection, of course, but I THINK I would be able to.

    But I’ve never been there, have I? How do I know? I don’t. But I strongly believe that acting on SSA is a sin, and so I have to act in accordance to that.

    The other problem is, to be honest, I’m a homophobe. I think it is likely for the same reason I felt uncomfortable around black people. I’m not racist, I certainly logically think everyone deserves equality. However, I’ve just not known very many blacks or homosexuals. And, don’t worry, I grew up in PA, so it’s not a Utah thing. They make me uncomfortable because they are different. I wish I wasn’t, but I am.

    James

    P.S. Phillip, that was a good question you asked in NT class that once. I have felt that same way before about that passage. I think the trick lies in WHY he didn’t want to do it, but did anyway. He didn’t want to for obvious reasons. He did it anyway because he loves everyone and God. If that is the only reason you keep a commandment, for love, that is a GREAT reason, even if you don’t want to. However, I can see why, if you worded it like you did here, others could misunderstand. “I don’t want to obey, but I will” could be a dangerous attitude to have; you should want to do right. Their reaction, though, was inexcusable.

    Reminds me of a sunday school lesson, where a teacher, who I feel had thought quite deeply about most matters of religion, brought up a point slightly later in that narrative. Christ says, “Father, why hast though forsaken me?” He went on to propose that perhaps God had completely withdrawn from Christ (as seems fairly clear from the statement, as he KNEW he was going to die; it couldn’t have been that that was shaking him), and that God’s presence leaving had thrown up, at this very last moment, the thought in Jesus’ mind, “Perhaps I messed up. Perhaps, somehow, some careless mistake, I messed up at this last second, and my atonement would be void.” Part of the atonement was then to pass through that in faith. To understand us, he had to understand what it was to feel completely abandoned by God. The class had quite a heated discussion at that. Mostly loudly disagreeing with him. Having come to a similar conclusion myself a month or so before then, reading the same section, I stood up for him, but there was only so much I could do. He was heart broken. It tore him apart that the entire class thought he was a fool. After that class, I had to reassure him that some did agree with him, that he wasn’t a fool.

    Unfortunately, such things happen. Some do not think deeply, and some do not allow for changes in their interpretation of doctrine and narratives. I try hard to let myself be open to new ideas, and reject them only I come to the conclusion that they are wrong.

  79. mormonlibertarian
    October 9, 2010 at 4:33 pm #

    How many countless people have had their hearts broken–

    unrequited love.

    It happens. Sometimes it destroys lives. Sometimes there are people who have to see the person they loved, truly, passionately–and continue to love . . .

    having babies with someone else, etc., etc.–

    Divorce can do that, too. I know too many people who have loved passionately, completely, devotedly–

    who have been told, “I don’t love you anymore”–

    Because those things happen does not excuse . . .

    it may damage; it may never stop hurting, but it doesn’t excuse.

    But your insights are appreciated; I just had to add the part about unrequited love; I have seen a lot of it; I have experienced it.

    Still waiting for healing.

  80. Jeffrey T
    October 10, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    But, as someone said, how would I feel if I was told that I couldn’t love who I wanted to, ever?

    My first reaction to this question is to respond: “How would I feel if someone said that I have no choice in who I love? That who I love is determined simply by my genes, and once I find myself in love with someone, my happiness depends on pursuing that person and that person alone?”

    There is a liberating hope when we realize one of the world’s central claims about love is a lie. The world tells us that love is something that happens to us, and that we cannot make it happen or undo it, or direct it towards anyone in particular. That is a lie. Love, like any action, is an action of choice. And, once having allowed my thoughts and habits to coalesce into a form of love, that doesn’t forever constrain the ways I can find happiness in the future. Hollywood tells that once we love someone, it is a crime against nature to not spend the rest of our lives with them–but that is a lie.

  81. mormonlibertarian
    October 10, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    good words, Jeffrey T. Hopeful words–

    There are many things to overcome, for many of us, including those lies about ‘falling in love’–

  82. Connor
    October 10, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

    Here is an editorial from the Deseret News today on this issue. It’s worth reading. Here’s a portion:

    Nonetheless, tactics used this week ostensibly to accomplish these purposes were counterproductive. Instead of seeking genuine common ground around issues of mutual concern, activists began this week with a grossly misguided caricature of the LDS Church’s support of traditional morality.

    The tactic is now all-too familiar: take a statement out of context, embellish it with selective interpretation, presume hostile intent, and then use the distortion to isolate an entire group, in this case a church.

    We encourage all to read President Packer’s talk rather than simply rely on the media interpretations and selective quotations. It stretches all credulity to find in President Packer’s pastoral counsel what some are calling a hateful message “that can lead some kids to bully and others to commit suicide.” Contrary to what some have written in provocative press releases, nothing in President Packer’s talk says that “violence and/or discrimination against LGBT people is acceptable.”

  83. mormonlibertarian
    October 10, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    aw!

    validation time!!! *big smile*

    You and President Packer also have a friend in Alma, who noted that the words of himself and Amulek were misquoted to stir the people up–

  84. Rick
    October 12, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

    Suppose President Packer started his talk by reading from the King James Bible three New Testament scriptures:

    “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
    And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” (Romans 1:26-27)

    In the following scripture “abusers of themselves with mankind” refers to the homosexual act and “effeminate” refers to Catamites, adolescent boys in a sexual relationship with an adult male:

    “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
    Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

    Obviously in the following, “them that defile themselves with mankind” refers to homosexuality:

    “Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
    For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;” (1 Timothy 1:9-10)

    Now some questions:

    Would those promoting homosexuality condemn President Packer for reading those scriptures?

    Why would God command that His children refrain from homosexual acts if there was no way to resist such activity?

    Why are some people condemning President Packer for articulating core Christian standards? Where does the rest of Christendom stand? Surely the Mormons are not alone in this.

  85. Wise up
    October 13, 2010 at 2:41 am #

    I think I just had something like a revelation while reading some of these comments, especially from commenters who claim to have GLBT siblings, etc.

    You see, I’m in the Utah LGBT community and I know a lot of BITTER LDS gays and lesbians who are damaged and bruised and resentful about their upbringings in the church. I know rejected Catholics and Muslims, too, but Mormons, I’m here to tell ya, I’m not sure what you put in the Jell-O but your homos are the most angry and screwed up of all of them. Damaged is what they are, I won’t even date them, though I love ’em to pieces.

    And, you see, I hear from all of these friends about their estranged LDS families with whom they have little contact, by whom they felt rejected and for whom they hold a lot of resentment. There’s a wall between you and your loved one, and you know as well as I do that Boyd K. Packer and the other Mormon Inc. leaders justify that wall and provided the raw material. They tell you that your GLBT loved one should change, you parrot that advice, and when your GLBT loved one refuses or fails, a wall is created and you grow more distant. Do I need to make it any more clear how Packer and the rest drive a wedge between families and–among other things–that contributes to gay suicides?

    And here’s my revelation: this is precisely why so many of you are so deeply invested in this policy. If the church changes its Word of Wisdom on homosexuality, you have egg on your face. You’ll have to apologize to your GLBT loved one for treating them so poorly once the gospel ceases to justify your callousness. Not allowing your gay brother to bring his gay lover to Thanksgiving is callous, m’kay? You know who you are.

    Packer and the rest most certainly can put together a plan to include gays in the church if they want to–they can even tell you that God whispered in their ear and told them to do so and you’ll believe it. They simply don’t want to do that–yet, but it’s almost surely going to happen. Once their corporate brand image is more imperiled by the exposure of their homophobia, they’ll drop it like it’s hot. Somewhere in your hearts I think a lot of you know that that is true; call it propaganda like Connor does or whatever you want, but you can see that it’s working, and you should worry that maybe they really will change the WoM and you’ll have to apologize to your gay siblings that you’ve either outright disowned, or may as well have. And for those of you who had one of these suicides in your family, I guess it’s too late for you and I’m deeply sorry about that.

    But it’s not too late for the rest of you. Do you want to be the last rat on the sinking ship? By that I mean, do you want to be a homophobic Mormon on the day the church changes it’s policy, or do you want to change your beliefs and actions of your own accord and pray that the church will some day embrace your gay loved one as well? God gave you free will. Come on Mormons, USE IT!

  86. J.Harrison
    October 13, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    @ Wise Up

    I think your logic is flawed. Homosexuality is not condemned by the Church. Simply espousing a Homosexual “nature” does not hand you excommunication. Breaking the law of chastity does. The Church will not legitimize sin.

    I’m sorry, I haven’t read any of your post but the last paragraph, but let me explain why I’m unfortunately forced to disagree with you.

    I’m assuming you are recycling the “church-has-changed-policies-before-so-THERE” argument. Well, the main point used is probably the reversal of African-American exclusion from the priesthood. That was later reversed, as some people say, due to “social pressure.” Same with the issue of polygamy.

    However, the inductive logic in this case is flawed. JUST because the church has reversed positions on socially sensitive issues on the past does not mean they are guaranteed to do it tomorrow. And the issues of Homosexuality is radically different from both Polygamy and African-American Exclusionism.

    Why? Because as I said earlier, Homosexuality is condemned because its a SIN, as defined in the Old Testament and numerous latter-day scriptures.

    The other two are NOT, categorically SINS. Polygamy was actually a common practice in the O.T (think Abraham and Jacob) A-A Exclusionism is not even MENTIONED in the Old Testament.

    The first two “policy changes” were simply that, a restatement of policy. Nowhere in the scriptures is their hard evidence for either of those two being an absolute moral law, according to God.

    But for the LDS church to condone Homosexuality would be an outright reversal of DOCTRINE. God HAS stated and made his voice clear on this issue.

    He doesn’t like it. He tends to destroy civilizations that embrace it.

    And thats not going to happen.

    And I’m not homophobic. I’m any-group-trying-to-hijack-government-and-society-for-their-own-agenda-which-counters-my-value-system-and-endangers-my-children-and-myself-phobic.

    I also don’t want to get struck by Heavenly Lightning, as Sodom and Gomorrah. Just saying.

  87. earthandspace
    October 13, 2010 at 9:02 am #

    WOW J. Harrison, it’s amazing how you exemplified Wise up’s point exactly, and you did it without even reading what Wiser up wrote. Amazing!

  88. James
    October 15, 2010 at 3:46 pm #

    Nah, he read it. But J. Harrison is right about his point. The LDS church will not change its stance, or I will leave the church immediately. In the church there is a sometimes-confused line between doctrine, policy and practice.

    I agree with Wise up about loving them. I agree that barring your gay brother’s partner from Thanksgiving dinner may be a bit too much (understatement), but the LDS church will NOT change its stance of active homosexuality being a sin. It cannot.

  89. Angie
    October 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    We have been told that in the last days “The Righteous will seem wicked and the wicked will seem righteous”. The LDS has done nothing but reach out to help the gays and tell them there is hope and that Heavenly Father would not give them a trial without being able to overcome it. It is hard but so are other trials and diversities, its possible.

  90. Jim
    October 18, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    “He noted that love is truly only realized when the sacred, procreative powers are employed within the bounds of a legal and lawful marriage—one between man and woman. ”

    What about the former LDS practice of plural marriage?

  91. Connor
    October 18, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    Note, Jim, that “between man and woman” is different from “between one man and one woman”.

  92. Jim
    October 18, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    James,
    “the LDS church will NOT change its stance of active homosexuality being a sin. It cannot.”

    It changed its stance on plural marriage, and probably a number of other teachings and practices. Do you even understand WHY this policy exists? I haven’t heard any real recognition of the reason for homophobia within the LDS church. I also believe that its origins come from pre-existing factors outside of the LDS faith.

  93. Jim
    October 18, 2010 at 11:48 am #

    woman is singular, so its implied. It doesn’t say between a man and a woman and/or women.

  94. L. Brown
    October 18, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    When has homosexuality been a teaching in the Old or New Testament? Polygamy has existed before during the Old Testament. Why it was taken away is at the discretion of the Lord.

    I don’t know about you but I have never experienced anything within the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that has been harmful or damaging (besides my own weaknesses) to myself. Everything that is taught allows a person the greatest opportunity to experience freedom. We are allowed to worship according to our own desires. The question is, what will you worship? What will allow you the most freedom? and maybe most importantly, what is it that you really desire?

    Polygamy, homosexuality, tithing, the Word of Wisdom, etc. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is what do you want? If you want it, have it. If not, let others enjoy it. Freedom is what’s most important.

  95. ElderChantdown
    October 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    Section 132 reveals that God intends for us to live in multiple husbands, multiple wives relationships. Not only polygany but polyandry as well.

  96. ElderChantdown
    October 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    Oh and God never has repealed that revelation in any way.

  97. J. Harrison
    October 18, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    @Jim Comment #92

    See comment #86.

    I think we’re going in circles.

  98. Jeffrey T
    October 18, 2010 at 8:20 pm #

    ElderChantdown,

    God has forbidden the practice at this time.

  99. Brittney F.
    October 18, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    The bottom line is President Packer is an apostle of God called by God and ordained by the power of God. He is called to preach God’s word, testify of Christ and warn God’s children of their wrong doings. What is said in conference is inspired and approved by the prophet. The prophet will never be led astray. This is what God intended to say and intended his children to hear. We as humans are confused by Satan and take it out of context. What was a big theme of conference? FOLLOW THE PROPHET HE KNOWS THE WAY.

  100. ElderChantdown
    October 18, 2010 at 11:17 pm #

    I didn’t get GOD’s memo/revelation. Could you please forward that on to me? I did see a couple MANifestos. Is that what you meant?

    Quite seriously while we are on the topic…I’d like to ask everyone about the part very early into Elder Packer’s talk where he said (live over the pulpit) that The Family: A Proclamation To The World qualified as revelation but the same portion ended up transcribed as “The Family: A Proclamation To The World is a guide” What does everyone think about that?

  101. Jeffrey T
    October 19, 2010 at 7:46 am #

    ElderChantdown,

    The manifestos were written by the Lord’s spokesman, and published in the Doctrine and Covenants. The Lord’s spokesmen do not need to say, “Thus sayeth the Lord” to relay instructions from God.

  102. Jim
    October 19, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    J. Harrison,
    Brittney F. has supplied the real answer to any question reguarding the LDS faith. The average mormon is going follow what some church elder says on a particular topic. Especially if this person is in a high leadership position.

    There is a certain power in that, and a certain pitfall also. From an outsiders point of view the LDS moral compass appears to face north sometimes, and at other times south, east or west. In addition, just following guidence takes away from a person really understanding and critically examining any scripture or any writing.

    For instance, can you find any Old Testiment reference condemning female and female relations? No, I don’t think you can find that. The bible does not do that until you reach the time of the Apostle Paul.

    Do LDS modern scripture specifically condemn homosexuality? I am not talking about conferance talks, or speaches given by LDS ‘prophets’. I am talking about the BOM, D&C, Pearl of Great price, cannonized scripture. I don’t recall that ever being a specific topic.

    The current LDS understanding is based on the understanding of other peoples understanding prior to the foundation of the LDS faith. They took that as ‘gospel’ and a given, despite the fact that those people may have had an incomplete and biased understanding.

  103. mormonlibertarian
    October 19, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    The bottom line:

    when a person chooses to act on homosexual feelings, that person is choosing a belief, really, or choosing to act on a belief that those actions are God-approved, if that person cares about God, or that person decides for him/herself that God doesn’t matter.

    That is the bottom line.

    If God matters to that person, the person will justify the choice, saying, “this is all right with God”–OR will say, “this is wrong; I shouldn’t be doing this, and if I continue, I sin”–whether or not the person makes the choice to behave in such a way.

    If God does not matter to the person, then that person can do whatever that person chooses to do.

    Acting upon homosexuality is, in reality, a religion. For LDS who decide to do that, it may be a reactionary religion, but it is a religion.
    Basic to LDS beliefs is that man and woman were created in the image (or are created) of God and that the powers of procreation are sacred, whether or not someone has an opportunity to use them.

    That is basic to the religion. So, going outside of that will be, in effect, organizing a new religious belief for the person who wants to have a religion.

    There are religions that attempt to tear down other religions; it is historically one of the most significant cultural/social/political occurrences.
    Such philosophical disagreements have caused wars and bloodshed for millennia.

    In an attempt to justify ‘new religious beliefs’ LDS who find themselves running counter to the basic belief of “man marries woman and creates life”–

    will try, some of them, to change the original belief to suit their new beliefs–or will, as ‘good’ missionaries, try to get OTHERS to change their beliefs. Others will accept the fact that they are living outside that paradigm and will situate themselves accordingly. It has a lot to do with personality, I suppose.

    However, one thing that LDS have to realize, whichever ‘side’ of this religious issue they find themselves on, whether they are sympathetic to the religion in rebellion or not is:

    –the present cultural trend, including media representation, is sympathetic towards homosexuality in every respect; negative aspects of homosexuality are simply not covered by current media.

    –homosexuality does proselyte, as do most religions.

    It’s simply a matter of belief.

    If a person believes that a prophet can receive revelation, and he/she is part of a religion that features prophetic counsel/guidance, then he/she will simply accept what is said. If that person does not believe that a prophet can receive revelation, then it is basically religious harrassment to hector the religion that features prophetic counselling.

    Or . . . even religious persecution. Religions do it ALL the time!

    This issue has gone beyond how people who deal with behaviors that are outside the accepted religious code are treated. This has come to a point where it is clearly a clash between religious beliefs.

    There are homosexuals who are LDS who have enough respect for the beliefs from which they have parted who do not harrass or persecute old men who are still trying to teach those who want to remain wtihin the belief system.

    Respect does go both ways. What is the point, if a person does not believe in the basic belief system, beyond a desire to persecute, which is something many religionists do to other religionists, sadly–in harrassing those who are trying to counsel their own members and uphold the teachings of the religious system?

    One either accepts that this is a spiritual/religious battle or not.
    And there are some who will not care how much blood is shed to win their philosophical wars.
    This goes for either ‘side’, and a heterosexual LDS who decides to shed blood in this battle will be held accountable for violence and sin, as well–
    it is simply unacceptable to treat human beings with cruelty, but people do it every day, every minute–
    Over and over and over again these old men who are being battered from so many directions counsel, “we are to be Christlike; we are to treat people with kindness”, yet they are ridiculed; anyone who would ridicule them needs to acknowledge what he/she is doing.

    As for, directed to #102, beliefs regarding homosexuality in the Bible–

    or why is it not discussed in the Book of Mormon?

    Only a very small portion, IF you believe the Book of Mormon was translated from plates, of the records of the ancient Nephites/Lamanites was translated–

    some mention is made of marriage among the Nephites and Lamanites, but very little; the only thing mentioned is the heartache of polygamy–

    if anyone discussing homosexuality is naive enough to think there is no infidelity or abuse which creates heartache that exists in the practice of the belief of homosexuality . . .–

    then that person is just naive.

    During the time of Joseph Smith the standard behavior was definitely heterosexual; the people were mostly agrarian and mostly staunchly Christian–
    It went against the philosophy of a time in which there was little leisure for sex and a great need to protect babies. Life was difficult, and babies died easily, and babies were precious. Anything that didn’t support that would certainly have been deemed frivolous at best.

    where SSA existed it was probably, in most cases, subverted by the individuals themselves, who are now dead and probably don’t regret that they did not act on their feelings.

    In other words, there was no need to mention it.

    In the biblical tradition the bearing of children was the chief desire of women; having relations with another woman would have been without value, so why need it be mentioned?
    And who knows what was happening in the ‘groves’ mentioned by the ancient Israelite prophets?

    Whatever it was, it was displeasing to God, IF you believe in God.

    I do believe in God. So, it matters to me.

    Honestly, I think it is sad that so many people who really aren’t interested in what is being said in general conference beyond criticizing it, feel the need to listen and be upset about it.

    I don’t jump up and down with excitement over every word spoken in a general conference; not everything applies to me, but I see the need for kindness and forbearance for people who are willing to stand up and speak about difficult things in public.

    How many of the people who are critical would be willing to do that, I sometimes wonder.

    As a person who believes that the proclamation on the family, whether revelation or not, is inspired–

    I really think that it’s sad that sex has become so political.

    I am a fairly basic libertarian, so I think these things should be left alone; I think it is sad that homosexuals felt the need to become so ‘public’ about their activities, just as I think it is sad when heterosexuals think they need to display their behaviors–

    sex should be a private thing; it should be a sacred thing–

  104. ElderChantdown
    October 20, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

    Brother Thayne,

    You are very correct. The Lord’s spokesmen do not always need to start a revelation off with, “Thus saith The Lord”; especially if the words to follow are not direct quotes but are the words that The Lord told the servant to deliver to others. There are a variety of ways to lead out when speaking as a representative of Jesus Christ. “To Whom It May Concern” is a nice one and very much suited The Lord’s purposes in the case of the MANifesto aka “OFFICial Declaration #1” Other public press releases such as The Articles of Faith have no intro but rather dive right in to it. These things were indeed voted on and are sustained by the majority. But to state that they are or ever were unanimously received, voted upon, sustained or upheld is nothing but a lie.

    In short there are myriad options available to the servants of The Lord when delivering revelation or council. But one thing that is not an option ever, neither on the part of leaders nor the rest of the membership is THE SPIRIT. I think the the Wilford Woodruff quotes immediately proceeding the MANifesto after the Sections of the Doctrine and Covenants say it best.

    “It matters not who lives or who dies, or who is called to lead this Church, they have got to lead it by the inspiration of Almighty God. If they do not do it that way, they cannot do it at all. . . .”

    “The Lord has told me to ASK the Latter-day Saints a question, and He also told me that if they would LISTEN to what I said to them and ANSWER the question put to them, by the SPIRIT and POWER of GOD, they would all answer alike, and they would all BELIEVE alike with regard to this matter. ”

    OOPS! What happened there? You will have to decide. But for those of you who claim this one quote tagged on after the manifesto, which was tagged on after the doctrine and covenants which was tagged on to the canonical books etc…(lets make sure this is the House that Jesus built and not turn it into the house that Jack built) as evidence that MEN (called of God) are almost infallible and might as well be due to GOD’S defying of His own plan and forcing their hand in all matters by way of holding them under the gun with the “death card”…even if you are inclined to place your belief in such statements of carnal security… well lets take a closer look.

    “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the PROGRAMME (is this the programme of salvation now). It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.”

    I do not believe in this false doctrine but is is nonetheless very very interesting to see the revelation/warning Pres. Woodruff received throught the spirit only a year prior to his death. Another question for all of my truth loving brothers and sisters out there…Can you tell me the details of Wilford woodruff’s death? Look into it.

    One Love

  105. Jeffrey T
    October 20, 2010 at 9:47 pm #

    I don’t believe Elder Woodruff led the church astray. I believe that our current leadership are apostles, prophets, seers, and revelators, and serve as God’s spokesmen on the earth today.

    I am curious, who do you believe are God’s spokesmen today? Who do you acknowledge as apostles and prophets?

  106. ElderChantdown
    October 21, 2010 at 2:03 am #

    Neither do I. (believe Pres. Woodruff led the church astray) Did the church lead him astray or did he lead the church astray? Neither scenario can be completely accurate. There are only TWO CHURCHES. The enemy of the Church of God would be The Devil. It is he who leads the church astray. There is no seperating the “church” from “the leaders”…they are ONE.

    I too believe that our current leadership are apostles, prophets, seers, and revelators, and are called as God’s spokesmen on the earth today. Whether they serve as such and magnify that calling instead of bury it away or misuse it is completely up to their individual choices from minute to minute. Why should this seem so strange? That was the plan from the beginning and it will never change. But speaking of STRANGE…The Lord will “proceed to bring to pass [His] act, [His] strange act, and perform [His] work, [His] strange work, that men may discern between the righteous and the wicked, saith your God. ” Also in D&C 101 we read “Let not that which I have appointed be polluted by mine enemies, by the CONSENT of those who CALL themselves after my name;”

    Now I have asked honest questions. And have not received much in the way of honest answers. I am not seeking to tear down anyone’s testimony. I think Jeffrey sees this. I would hopw everyone does. But please, would SOMEONE, ANYONE, address one or more of these three questions which i have posted and believe to deserve at least some type of consideration among any of us professing to believe.

    1. What will you do when the objective of perversion of the definition of marriage is achieved by and in “the world”?

    2. Is there any significance to be gleaned from the difference from Elder Packer’s live delivery of the word over the pulpit to the transcribed version. Do you believe the Proclamation To The World to be revelation or merely a guide. And how does this shape your view of what our move should be but also, what moves can we anticipate by the world and the enemy who seeks the destruction of the church utilizing “loopholes” in the Proclamation?

    3. Do you know how the Prophet and Pres. Woodruff died? What are your thoughts about it, especially in light of the warning which did come clearly with a “thus saith the Lord” to him regarding his personal safety, that of the other brethren and the church as a whole? What do we learn about the way God operates in relation to His church from these events?

    The first two are SIMPLE questions. The third maybe a bit complex but it is still an honest question meant to SURE UP testimonies for the troublesome times ahead. Those times are prophesied plainly in the parable of the 10 virgins, which thanks to modern prophets we know is directed at members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and none else. It is also contained in section 101 of the D&C. And throughout Isaiah and in 3rd and 4th Nephi…OKAY so its everywhere. But bottom line is… does anyone even care?

    D&C 64:38-40

  107. Philip
    October 21, 2010 at 8:38 am #

    So rather than pick up what I had started much earlier, I just wanted to ask a couple questions about Packer’s comment. I have to admit, I’m a bit confused, so if anyone can help me understand his logic, let me know.

    He says, “If you consent, the adversary can take control of your thoughts and lead you carefully toward a habit and to an addiction, convincing you that immoral, unnatural behavior is a fixed part of your nature.”

    Ok, so unnatural is bad and natural is good? Wait…what is that from Mosiah 3:19? “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man…”

    So if natural=enemy to God

    and natural is the opposite of unnatural

    are homosexuals (i.e, the “unnatural”) the true friends of God?

    And where does this leave us with Packer’s comment?

    I’m just saying…

  108. ross
    October 21, 2010 at 10:41 am #

    I will say simply this. We must make choices every day that go against our natural inclinations. Our natural inclinations have the tendency to be selfish, and therefore destructive and counter-productive to happiness.
    We would do well to believe what God says and do it, even if it is the hardest thing we have ever done. This is true wisdom. This is true happiness.

  109. Jeffrey T
    October 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    Philip,

    It doesn’t take a whole lot of thought to see that the term is used differently in each context. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of thought to see that there is nothing wrong with that.

  110. J.Harrison
    October 21, 2010 at 8:13 pm #

    @ Phillip

    Its a conundrum, that’s for sure. But one of your premises is flawed, and I think that is where your confusion is coming from.

    Lets look a little more carefully at President Packers statement.

    “If you consent, the adversary can take control of your thoughts and lead you carefully toward a habit and an addiction, convincing you that immoral, unnatural behavior is a FIXED part of your nature.” (emphasis added)

    President Packer never denies that homosexuality is a part of some peoples natures. What he explicitly denies is that Homosexuality is a FIXED part of peoples natures.

    In other words, the devil’s lie is not that you are susceptible to homosexuality by nature. (an obvious truth, or else people would never BE homosexual)

    No, the devils lie is that it is a “fixed” part of your nature. That you can never change, never overcome your dark habit.

    This is, of course, the whole reasoning behind Mosiah 3:19. The idea that we CAN overcome our natural faults and flaws.

    From here, the logic is easy and the two quotations work in harmony to produce truth.

    From President Packer:

    Homosexuality is a part of some peoples sinful nature…but it is not a fixed part.

    From Mosiah 3:19

    We have a duty to overcome some parts of our natures. We not only have the ability, but the commandment to overcome some “natural” parts of ourselves…including the tendency towards sins such as Homosexuality.

    Does this help? Am I making sense?

  111. Philip
    October 22, 2010 at 7:02 am #

    Ahh, zealots. Gotta love ’em. Can’t see the humor and irony through the haze of righteous indignation…

  112. Jeffrey T
    October 22, 2010 at 8:44 am #

    Philip,

    Are you talking to me? I just stated that I think you know better than to just assume that President Packer is using the term “natural” in the same context as the scripture you quote. The English language has subtleties. There are more than one meaning to a given word. Meanings and usage change depending on the context.

    The fact that you use a fallacious word game to persuade others that President Packer is contradicting scripture makes me doubt your motives.

  113. Darrel
    October 22, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    Philip, that last comment sounded a bit defensive. Call us zealots all you want, but we are doing the best we can to find truth through the wisest source: God, as revealed through his prophets. Not you.

  114. J.Harrison
    October 22, 2010 at 8:23 pm #

    Uh, Phillip.

    “I have to admit, I’m a bit confused, so if anybody can help me understand his logic, let me know.”

    That was your first statement. Friendly, humble, accessible. You are clearly a man trying to start a discussion, seeking truth.

    Your next statement was:

    “Ah, zealots gotta love ’em. Can’t see the humor and irony through the haze of righteous indignation.”

    Which seems to contradict the picture of a man trying to start a discussion, seeking truth.

    What is zealous about using logic against you? Is logic your especial toy… something that us “zealots” shouldn’t pick up because we aren’t intellectual grown-ups yet?

    At first I was hopeful that you were merely trying to start an interesting discussion.

    Unfortunately, it now appears you are simply trying to prove either your own superiority, or our collective dumbness. The odd thing is, you do it by labeling us “zealots” instead of responding to our rather reasonable attempts to answer to your question. Should I feel chastened? I was under the impression that name-calling ceased to be a viable answer to argument in third grade.

    By your methods of answering posts we should have simply called you a “heathen pagan” instead of trying to rationally answer your original question. (#107)

  115. edgy
    October 23, 2010 at 7:38 pm #

    @ Jim #93. Pretty sure we aren’t talking about threesomes.

    No, seriously, one man is married to one woman, and one other woman, and one other woman. See how it still makes grammatical sense? It isn’t ever “women” because the women are not married to the man AND the other women. Just the man.

    Sorry, this is so not relevant. Just wanted to clarify.

  116. Darrel
    November 9, 2010 at 7:31 am #

    Philip,

    I just read this and thought I’d share it. From Elder Robert C. Oaks in the April 2005 GC:

    “Obedience is a fundamental law of the gospel. It is not only the demonstration of our faith but also the foundation of our faith. But the philosophical standard of the world holds that unquestioning obedience equals blind obedience, and blind obedience is mindless obedience. This is simply not true. Unquestioning obedience to the Lord indicates that a person has developed faith and trust in Him to the point where he or she considers all inspired instruction—whether it be recorded scripture, the words of modern prophets, or direct inspiration through the Holy Ghost—to be worthy of obedience.

    “The standard of the world is “I will move on a course only when its truth has been proven to me.” This standard contradicts the admonition to believe all things. Unfortunately, we are too often content to live with our reservations, assuming that believing most things is good enough.

    “At some point in our quest for perfection and eternal life, we may come to have perfect faith and eventually perfect knowledge. But between now and then, there will certainly arise intriguing questions with answers reaching beyond our capacity to comprehend. Such questions can drive the prideful person to conclusions such as “Given the constraints of Christian doctrine, there is no possible answer to this question; therefore, a thinking person cannot be a Christian.” Such pride and arrogance must greatly offend the heavens.”

    I’m sure your intellectual abilities can draw the parallels to being obedient to the brethren when they teach the doctrine of eternal gender.

    Funny, this was under the “simple” topic of obedience, which topic is taught in the new Priesthood manual.

  117. Liz
    March 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    Yep. I asked my dad a couple of decades ago whether he was for “gay” marriage or not. “Of course,” he said, “otherwise all their children would be illegitimate.”

    It took me a while, but I got the point.

    As soon as Congress legislates that men can have babies, they should attatch the gay marriage legislation to it just to make sure things go well.

    Until then, people should be expected to control their sexual urges. If you cannot control them, you are a threat to society. So, I do not buy the argument that sexual deviance cannot be helped.

    It is kind of like obesity. You may be born with a tendency, but how you indulge yourself has a LOT more to do with it.

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