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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » LDS Stance on Homosexuality - A Contradiction?

   
Author Topic: LDS Stance on Homosexuality - A Contradiction?
Aros
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I'm a confused member of the LDS church.

I concede readily that homosexuality is (doctrinally) a sin.

According to McConkie's book Mormon Doctrine (edited version approved by the First Presidency), D&C 101:78 is interpreted to mean that governments shouldn't make laws that restrict agency and try to use "fear to conform to the religious and party lines". It is the role of Satan himself to "destroy the agency of man", and man should be able to be "accountable for his own sins in the day of judgement".

Based on this piece of doctrine, I would imagine that Mormons SHOULD be the biggest advocates of changing the laws to allow gay marriage. I know that many people believe it to be personally wrong, but isn't the right move to allow people agency to make their own decisions?

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TomDavidson
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For the same reason, it should be easy to buy alcohol on a Sunday in Utah.
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Rakeesh
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Just checking, should your post be read literally or with a sense of irony, Aros? It colors my response, and that of others I suspect.
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lem
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I would read it literally. I had the same sincere confused thoughts when i was a member. I once did a psych paper exploring belief systems and used my own doctrine understanding to explore this very topic long before gay marriage was in the news.

I was always taught Joseph Smith was very clear in his teachings he would lay down his life to support someone elses freedom, even if he disagreed with the activity.

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scifibum
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I think where it gets a bit tricky is when you aren't just looking at liberty or freedom, but at civil institutions designed to encourage certain behaviors.

But the LDS church seems to support many legal restrictions on various vices, so you don't really even have to engage with the tricky stuff to examine whether the church supports laws that "restrict agency."

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Aros
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I don't feel like it's an ironic statement.

I think church leaders are susceptible to poor decision making. Not every decision is inspired, as we've seen with a few bad decisions in the past. But we're human, and none of us are privy to the entirety of God's will.

I can understand that the church won't take a stance to support something that it considers a sin. But I (personally) feel that it goes against established doctrine for the church to actively advocate involved legal proceedings that inhibit agency.

I get it -- hate the sin. Don't support it. But fighting to have the state enforce morality seems to be wrong, based on my personal interpretation of scripture.

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MattP
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At least on a narrow view of this point I can see how this is not necessarily in contradiction with agency. I think prohibition provides a good contrast - that was the state banning the production and sale of alcohol. These are activities that people can participate in independant of state involvement. By making these activities illegal the state was impeding agency and the church supported it so I think there was a clear conflict of principal in that case.

Similarly anti-sodomy laws impinge on agency because those behaviors are engaged in by individuals without any state involvement being required. To the extent that the church has previously supported any such laws they would have been in contradiction with their position on agency.

Civil marriage, however, is not a behavior you can participate in without the state. It is explicitly an arrangement made *with* the state. Saying that the state cannot recognize SSM doesn't actually change the behaviors that individuals can participate in. They can still have a marriage ceremony. They can still promise to spend their lives together. The state just doesn't legally recognize it. It's a restriction on the state and we are pretty comfortable restricting the agency of the state in other matters.

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Aros
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:

Civil marriage, however, is not a behavior you can participate in without the state. It is explicitly an arrangement made *with* the state. Saying that the state cannot recognize SSM doesn't actually change the behaviors that individuals can participate in. They can still have a marriage ceremony. They can still promise to spend their lives together. The state just doesn't legally recognize it. It's a restriction on the state and we are pretty comfortable restricting the agency of the state in other matters.

I understand. And Jesus said to love one another, but few of us are as super-accepting of everybody as (I think) he'd like.

On one hand, the point of a democracy is that the people get to vote about what kind of society we get to live in. Representation allows us to sculpt our laws to represent our culture. It's understandable that -- to some extent -- Utah laws reflect the LDS religion. Individual members think that some things should be illegal, especially if they're sins. Gay marriage was purposefully made illegal because 1) some people believe religion owns the word "marriage" and 2) people feel that they should be able to have a say on the laws in their community.

I understand the perspective. I just feel that there's two problems with it:
- The policy is discriminatory and infringes on the rights of individuals.
- D&C directly states that laws that restrict agency are against the will of God, per the McConkie text.

I am not concerned with the reasoning of individuals. But if we're going to do this for religious reasons, shouldn't we ask ourselves what doctrine directs? I'm just confused that the leaders of the church have been taking some of the approaches toward law that they have. I understand that they don't want to directly support a sin, but the church used to be one of the fiercest advocates of personal freedom.

Is my thesis doctrinally unsound?

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SenojRetep
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I agree with Matt. It seems to me that laws banning SSM deny a state-provided privilege, but don't significantly impact agency. I see that as the weakest element of your argument.

There are, as Matt pointed out, much better examples of the church supporting legislation that restricted agency (the afore-mentioned alcohol prohibition, as well as its opposition to legalization of gambling, both pari-mutual and lotteries, which were a minor issue when I was growing up in Utah).

That said, taking your interpretation of the scripture to its extreme, all laws restrict agency in some form. You tell me I can't drive on the left-side of the road, I can't dump my toxic waste in this park, I can't take these things from this store without paying for them first. Those are all restrictions of agency that I think centuries of experience suggest are appropriate restrictions for social order, something else Joseph Smith and the early church leaders saw as an important good. If you read the next two verses, it talks about the freedoms of the constitution being implemented so that "no man should be in bondage to another". I think that language is more appropriate in determining the extent of the interpretation of D&C 101:78. If you sincerely feel that the restrictions imposed amount to bondage, than I would say it violates the spirit of the revelation. But interpreting 101:78 as an absolute statement about any law impeding operation of agency seems to me to be both contextually and logically unsupportable.

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scifibum
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"But interpreting 101:78 as an absolute statement about any law impeding operation of agency seems to me to be both contextually and logically unsupportable."

I agree with this.

Maybe one part of the dividing line is whether a law has a secular justification. If a law is rooted in a religious belief without a corresponding secular justification, maybe it's the kind of law that shouldn't exist, as per McConkie's interpretation.

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Aros
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I think that if you are trying to talk discuss social order, it would be important to bear in mind that the early Utah community was almost exclusively LDS. In modern times, we have many neighbors who aren't LDS. I don't think that we have a right to mandate our views of social order on them. And early LDS leaders sure felt the same when we were living in other peoples' backyards.

Gambling and drinking laws have a wide variance across the country. In my opinion, gay marriage is not the same. Maybe that's my problem. I see it as a civil rights issue. I feel that gay marriage (whether it is called "marriage" or civil unions) protects property, visitation, and custody rights of couples.

I don't feel like the church would actively campaign against civil rights. I would like to feel that if we were discussing "civil unions", the church would be more amenable. I feel like we've forgotten our history as a persecuted people.

Then again, LDS members are conservative by nature. We weren't the first to budge on segregation by any means. By resisting cultural change / development, the church is maintaining a socially conservative stance. There's value in that. But I feel a neutral stance would be more appropriate than actively campaigning against social change.

From a rights perspective, I would think that the LDS church would be at the forefront. I guess the members are just people, like anywhere else, and old bigotry takes awhile to die out -- whether it's sexism, racism, or bias against sexual orientation.

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iglee
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Most of the time the Church (as an organization) does not take a political stand on an issue. They have always taught the members to be good citizens in their respective communities and nations and to become well informed on the issues – basically, to be politically active. They leave it up to the individuals to take whatever stand that they, the individuals, think best.

There are times, however, when the Church does take a political stand like when some political proposal is seen as a threat to the Institution of the Family Unit. In this particular case, they are saying it would exacerbate the ongoing disintegration of the Family Unit.

Here is what the Church has said about it. Take a look at the Jan 10, 2014 statement and the 1995 “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” issued by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. I won’t post the whole statements, they are easily available. But here are a couple of parts (I added the all-capitals) :

(from the Jan 10th statement)
“Marriage between a man and a woman was instituted by God and is central to His plan for His children and for the well-being of society. STRONG FAMILIES, guided by a loving mother and father, SERVE AS THE FUNDAMENTAL INSTITUTION FOR nurturing children, instilling faith, and TRANSMITTING TO FUTURE GENERATIONS THE MORAL STRENGTHS AND VALUES THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO CIVILIZATION and crucial to eternal salvation.”

(from the 1995 Proclamation)
“We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. FURTHER, WE WARN THAT THE DISINTEGRATION OF THE FAMILY WILL BRING UPON INDIVIDUALS, COMMUNITIES, AND NATIONS THE CALAMITIES FORETOLD BY ANCIENT AND MODERN PROPHETS.
We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

Here is a link to the full texts :

http://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation
http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-instructs-leaders-on-same-sex-marriage

So, it seems pretty clear to me that the Church is saying there is danger here. I agree with them. But I’m not asking anyone to take my word for this – the danger thing. What I am asking is that you understand our motive for taking this particular political stand.

I would also point out how the Church expects its member to treat other people. So, I do not think our motive for opposing SSM is bigotry.

(Please allow me to define terms for a minute so there is no misunderstanding of what I mean. When I say things like “the church” or “the church leadership” I could have substituted “the Lord” and not changed the meaning of what I was trying to say. I happen to believe what these two passages of scripture from the Doctrine & Covenants say.

“Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled. What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, WHETHER BY MINE OWN VOICE OR BY THE VOICE OF MY SERVANTS, IT IS THE SAME.” (Doctrine & Covenants 1:37 – 38)

“And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the holy shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” (Doctrine & Covenants 68: 4)

Of course that brings up the very legitimate question and concern which was mentioned in this thread, “Yeah, but what if some particular statement made by one of these servant types isn’t inspired? What then?”
And the answer is, “Well, find out. You’ve got knees and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Ask.”

That is a doctrine that I have always been taught and happen to also believe, that we have the obligation and means to find out for ourselves if what they are saying is true. Having blind faith in people is not what is expected of us.)

At any rate, to those who believe in the Bible, this concept of God issuing warnings of impending calamities should not be anything new. The scary part is that most of the time His warnings have been ignored. The hopeful part is that in at least one case, that of Jonah being sent to warn the Assyrians, the warning was heeded and disaster avoided.

We can sit here all day and debate this particular issue, about the merits of this thing or that thing. And we should debate it. There are numerous things which ought to be discussed. It is an important issue. But at the end of the day, it comes down to two fundamental questions, at least in my mind.

Does God exist? And if He does, are Joseph Smith and all of his successors God’s authorized spokesmen?

If the answer to the first question is No (which would render the second question moot), then let the debate roll on. We are all in the same crap shoot together. Roll those dice and hope for the best.

But if the answer to both questions is Yes, then God is in charge, knows what He is doing, and wants only what is best for His children. And we ignore His council at our individual and collective peril.

Believe it or not, I am aware that there are those who believe that God does exist, but that this isn’t His Church. That’s fine.
But the issue of SSM and the debate about it is still before us. After you have studied and discussed this issue, have you personally asked God about it? And are you willing to abide by His answer? Maybe it’s time that more people spend a little less time debating the issues with each other and a little more time debating the issue with God Himself.

I can understand agnostics being reluctant to try this, but what excuse do the rest of us have?

I apologize if my post sounds arrogant. I hope it has not sounded that way because that is not my intent. I don’t feel very arrogant just now. Nor do I feel any rancor toward anyone. I doubt that I will live long enough to see the calamities alluded to. But my children and grandchildren probably will, and the idea that they may become victims of some of the resulting collateral damage saddens me.

I have lived long enough and seen enough to make me very reluctant to ignore what the First Presidency says, even on those occasions when I already know all the answers.

I was a teenager during the 60’s. One of the big invitations to my generation was to ignore old fashioned moral values and “outdated” modes of conduct. We were being told to let it all hang out, turn on, tune in, and love everyone – especially if she was kind of cute and willing. We were being told that free love was perfectly OK, indeed, desirable for happiness. And nobody had any right to tell us what we ought to do or not to do.

At the same time, the Church was continually telling us not to be fooled by this tempting new morality – that it was just the old immorality being repackaged in a shiny new wrapper. They continually told us that giving in to these enticements would lead to misery and problems for individuals and for the nation. They continually promised us that the Lord’s way was the way to true and lasting happiness.

Guess what. They were right. I’ve had a fairly smooth and happy life and have managed to avoid many of the personal heartaches that I’ve seen others go through. Although, I’ve been affected, along with everybody else, because of some of the collateral damage suffered in this country as a result of the ongoing disintegration of the family as the most important unit of society.

Was it just a lucky guess? Or did Father really know best, after all?

I’ve lived long enough to see how a lot of these “lucky guesses” turned out, so it is not hard for me to figure out Whose opinion to take the most seriously.

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scifibum
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Sounds like you've also lived long enough to see the church leaders modify or reverse their stances on a few things, as well.
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dkw
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Also sounds like you're not willing to believe that there are those who are perfectly willing to take the question to God and have received a different answer.

"You've got knees and the gift of the Holy Ghost" only counts if the answer they receive is the one you expect them too?

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MattP
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quote:
Was it just a lucky guess? Or did Father really know best, after all?
A lot of people fully embraced the free love movement and exited it happy and fulfilled. A lot of people have also embraced wait-until-you're-married monogamy and suffered heartache. I'm not sure that's there's an objective universal standard here.

It's also not that striking that a given Christian denomination was espousing conservative sexual mores during the 60s as pretty much every denomination was doing the same.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
They continually promised us that the Lord’s way was the way to true and lasting happiness.

Guess what. They were right. I’ve had a fairly smooth and happy life and have managed to avoid many of the personal heartaches that I’ve seen others go through.

Out of interest, do counter-anecdotes count as evidence in the other direction?
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BlackBlade
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iglee: I appreciate your post. As a fellow member I have struggled with this issue a long time. Allow me to respond to a few things you said.

quote:
Of course that brings up the very legitimate question and concern which was mentioned in this thread, “Yeah, but what if some particular statement made by one of these servant types isn’t inspired? What then?”
And the answer is, “Well, find out. You’ve got knees and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Ask.”

What is the correct course of action if one prays and feels strongly that to vote against same-sex marriage is to sin against God?

It's not so crazy look at the church's recent statement about race and the priesthood. I think the church very clearly stated that Brigham Young was wrong to start banning the priesthood for anybody on account of race. Had I back then prayed to heavenly father about the ban I could *maybe* see God saying I needed to respect Bro. Young's authority as prophet of the church and not dishonor his office by fighting him on the point, but I do not believe God would have told me that the ban was "his will". Do you?

quote:
Does God exist? And if He does, are Joseph Smith and all of his successors God’s authorized spokesmen?
I believe the answer to both of these questions is yes. But God's spokesman does not replace our personal relationship with God our Father and his son Jesus Christ. The prophet exists to lead the church and to guide it, we owe him our love, support, respect, and obedience as it pertains to the church. We do not owe him our agency however, that belongs to God.

quote:
I have lived long enough and seen enough to make me very reluctant to ignore what the First Presidency says, even on those occasions when I already know all the answers.
I agree they get many things right on the nose. In the case of doing whatever makes you feel good now at the expense of what ought to be done I think they will always be right on that topic. This includes sex outside the bounds of marriage.

But they have utterly failed to suggest or reveal a course of action that is tenable for our gay brothers and sisters, to say nothing of uplifting. It amounts to a request of not just life long celibacy, but life long abstinence from physical intimacy. It denies the things that would bring them happiness and peace, and offers nothing in return. Just an unfulfilled promise that God will get them through it, and yet he doesn't seem to. The gay people I have seen say that he does are either dead because they killed themselves, or stopped the charade and found somebody to love.

It's hard for me to write these things, because I didn't suppose I would have to figure this out on my own, but rather my dear prophet would be attuned to the truth and be able to see that anything of good report should be sought after, and there is much good to report when gay people are allowed to be in relationships of their choosing. While that cannot be said of those who are forced into celibacy or marriages with those of the opposite gender.

I'm rambling, but I care about you. I don't care if I am wrong and you are right, if God told me that, I would rejoice for I want only to do God's will. But he has told me you are wrong, or rather you want to be right, but you lack the information you need to make the correct decisions in this matter.

I would encourage you to talk to some gay people in healthy relationships, find out how that has been for them. Talk to openly gay Mormons and find out what being gay means to them. If you can't talk to them, try reading what they write.

You can find posts by them at bycommonconsent and similar blogs.

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kmbboots
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BlackBlade, I am really glad that you are here to hold such a gentle conversation.
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BlackBlade
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Funny, years ago I thought to myself how glad I was you were around to do the same thing for me. [Smile]
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Geraine
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A few years ago I would have been saying "Gay marriage is the worst thing since the holocaust, yadda yadda yadda."

Now I look at it a bit differently. Society as has evolved at a faster pace than religion has. Religion as a whole is slow to evolve. That is partly how religion is still relevant. It provides a constant, fairly unchanging source of morality. Forty years ago the majority of Americans would have never considered legalizing marijuana, now most Americans have no problem with it.

I think part of the concern the LDS and other churches have concerning gay marriage is that the government will eventually involve themselves more in the beliefs of the church's members. We are already seeing this to an extent with the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged.

I do think that the LDS church in some ways has things they have been wrong on, and admittedly was due to the personal beliefs of some of its leaders. Brigham Young effectively banning blacks from having the priesthood, even though Joseph Smith has ordained many blacks to the priesthood prior. I read an excellent talk by Renee Olson that spoke a bit about it.

http://www.blacklds.org/black_myth

Another thing I think the church has notably shifted stances on (though not officially) is the use of certain types of alcohol. The Word of Wisdom states that strong drinks are not for the belly, but that mild drinks made of barley and wheat were fine. After the Word of Wisdom was rolled out there are journal entries and records of Joseph Smith drinking beer and wine. It wasn't until the prohibition era that the church leaders seemed to come out against all forms of alcohol, something that is still an "unofficial" policy.

I personally have no problem with gay marriage. That is a shift for me from a few years ago. What I fear is the government interjecting themselves into churches and forcing them to recognize gay marriage as well.

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BlackBlade
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Geraine: We can certainly take a look at other countries that have already legalized gay marriage for years and see whether or not our church has been coerced into performing marriages there.

I think the results so far have been they won't be. [Smile]

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Rakeesh
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quote:
I personally have no problem with gay marriage. That is a shift for me from a few years ago. What I fear is the government interjecting themselves into churches and forcing them to recognize gay marriage as well.
Part of the reason I am so often frustrated by such fears is one, there is no convincing evidence that it's likely this would happen (see BB's post below) and two, it seems to be remarkably hypocritical for the following reason: churches have exerted considerable political and financial effort into forcing the government-which is supposed to be for everyone, and not simply congregants-into not recognizing gay marriage at all, anywhere.

Which is the side of the argument that demands its opponents must behave exactly as deemed appropriate by themselves? SSM advocates don't stage sit-ins in churches demanding to be seen by the priest or reverend. They don't lobby politicians on state and federal levels insisting that even in states in which they don't reside, officials must restrict the marriages of the faithful. I haven't heard SSM advocates suggesting that government ought to institute a separate, special marriage for Scientologists marrying Baptists, or that Buddhists marrying Muslims may only participate in a 'civil union'.

This is for the broader argument more than you personally, Geraine, but this fear you mention suggests to me nothing more than a guilty conscience: because those afraid of this happening are aware that their side, even when they haven't supported it directly, has done exactly what it fears will be done to them in the future should they lose.

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iglee
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Don’t read more into my post than is actually there.

quote:
Also sounds like you're not willing to believe that there are those who are perfectly willing to take the question to God and have received a different answer.


Dkw, did you infer all that from what I wrote? Or are you being sarcastic? Or maybe I’m just clumsy when I try to express my thoughts (a distinct possibility)?

Of course I understand that there are probably a lot of people of all faiths who pray about important choices they have to make. I don’t expect people to go around prefacing all their remarks with, “I prayed about this and . . .” just to showoff how religious they’ve been.

I was only trying to suggest that prayer is an available resource for those who believe in it and choose to use it. If a person is already doing that, great. If not . . . well, there’s a reminder of that resource being available to them.

You don’t have to answer this of course, but do you think the following statement is good advice or not?:
Study out an important issue or decision and then pray for guidance.

quote:
"You've got knees and the gift of the Holy Ghost" only counts if the answer they receive is the one you expect them too?
As for the second thing, dkw and in partial response to one of your items, BlackBlade – Suggesting to someone to pray for wisdom and then disparaging their answer would just be plain wrong. I would be very uncomfortable doing that. I would expect them to be true to their own feelings. Passing judgment on my own feeling is hard enough. I don’t have the time nor the energy to judge someone else’s.

BlackBlade, thanks for your post. I'm doing some thinking.

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MattP
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quote:
You don’t have to answer this of course, but do you think the following statement is good advice or not?:
Study out an important issue or decision and then pray for guidance.

I don't think it's a *bad* idea necessarily, but I also think people are generally predisposed to "receiving" confirmations of their existing positions. My gung-ho ultraconservative anti-ssm Mormon friends will always be told they are fighting the good fight, as will my ultra-liberal pro-ssm Mormon friends. I know both camps are earnest in their prayers so now what?

[ January 21, 2014, 06:01 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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Aros
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If different people are receiving different answers from God, the only logical conclusion is that some of them are receiving an answer --- and some of them are only self-confirming their own biases.

With all of the doctrinal stances on agency, I'm going to side on the pro-SSM.

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Aros
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Statement: Scientists believe that many homosexual individuals are physiologically different from heterosexuals. The differences lie in chemistry, pheromones, and basically how the brain is wired.

Question: If science is correct, how do these people fit in with God's plan?
- Are they expected to act against their biology?
- Are they expected to be celibate?

Postulation: Based on my current knowledge and prayer, one of the following is the most likely answer:
- Doctrine against homosexuality was directed at heterosexuals. There are a lot of times when a member of the opposite sex isn't present. The intention is another proclamation against adultery. Essentially -- hey, if you're out to sea with the dudes, it's a huge sin to do the deed.
- Genetically pre-disposed homosexuals are granted a reprieve from sin in the same manner as those with a disability. Down's syndrome is a mutation. If our natural state is heterosexuality, perhaps homosexuality is a mutation as well? If so, I don't think that these individuals can be held accountable for sin.
- For certain actions in the pre-existence, this is a trial that some people have been asked to bear.

What if the world was flip flopped? Say you're wired as a heterosexual and God asked you to be homosexual -- could you do it? I know I couldn't.

Jesus asked that we don't judge and that we love one another. D&C has stated that a government acting against agency is opposed to God's will. We are all sinners. Have we forgotten the persecution of the early church?

Ehh. . . that's all I got.

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dkw
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Iglee, I think it's excellent advice, when given to someone looking for help making a decision. When it's given to someone you disagree with it comes across, whether you mean it that way or not, as "I'm right, so if you believe something different you must not have prayed about it or must not be willing to truly listen to God's answer, because otherwise you'd know that I'm right."
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Originally posted by Aros:
If different people are receiving different answers from God, the only logical conclusion is that some of them are receiving an answer --- and some of them are only self-confirming their own biases.

With all of the doctrinal stances on agency, I'm going to side on the pro-SSM.

Well, those aren't the only logical conclusions. A third possibility would be that there is no God, and thus all are confirming their own biases. Still another would be that there IS a god, but that supplicants are nonetheless still confirming their own biases.

-------

Iglee,

I confess I'm often exasperated when those who claim religious insight on contentious issues also speak of their humility, or express an assurance that they don't mean to sound arrogant. It's a strange sort of humility to claim that sort of authority in an argument, I think. How does one go about not feeling arrogance in claiming that one is on the side of the Creator, and one's detractors aren't? Does it *matter* whether or not you feel arrogant, at least with respect to the question if whether or not you are?

Anyway, that's largely a quibble. I think Tom touched it with a needle when he asked whether anecdotal experience contrary to yours ought to serve as equally conclusive evidence. Quite a lot of people would claim that 'Father' didn't in fact know best, and have similar evidence in support, and since their evidence is much simpler given that it lacks a supernatural component, ought we not believe them?

As for not behaving out of bigotry-well, the potential reasons it might *not* be out of bigotry, though of course the truth is one rarely has to scratch deeply to find it in serious, committed political opponents on this issue, take us directly into 'God says so' reasonings of one shade or another, and are this unassailable to any sort of argument.

But for the sake of argument, how much should it matter, really, if it's not opposed out of bigotry? I expect there are many Christians in this country (numerically, not proportionally) who feel your religion is in fact a cult, and that you and your fellow practitioners ought to be barred or restricted from cult activities for your own welfare, and for their own, on the basis of God's say so. Their stated and perhaps even their private reasons for doing so would align precisely with yours. How much do you care in that scenario? Someone tells you your religion needs official discouragement it just because it's wrong-though they aren't reluctant to say that, too-but to protect you, them, children, and civilization and even humanity from it because of its fundamental, inescapable wrongness and inferiority.

How much moral credit do you give them? How do you respond to their assurances that it's all done with the best of intentions?

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kmbboots
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Geraine, you might note that the Catholic Church still doesn't marry people who have been previously married and divorced.
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dkw
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And numerous churches won't marry people who are living together before marriage.

Although I suppose it depends on what you mean by "forcing them to recognize gay marriage." The government will never force a church to perform the rite of marriage contrary to that church's beliefs. But there might be a situation where a church or religious organization could be compelled to recognize that a couple is legally married even though they are not married according to the religion's beliefs.

Edit: I'm thinking of a situation like a custodian (or other paid staff whose job does not require a religious component) at a church-owned building marrying a same-sex partner -- if the marriage were legal in the state the building were in the church would be forced to "recognize" it for the purposes of insurance benefits.

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Bokonon
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I'm pretty sure that already happens. Judaism has pretty strong definitions of what sorts of relationships can be officiated by a rabbi, but I'm sure large Jewish organizations recognize all sorts of mixed-marriage.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:

Edit: I'm thinking of a situation like a custodian (or other paid staff whose job does not require a religious component) at a church-owned building marrying a same-sex partner -- if the marriage were legal in the state the building were in the church would be forced to "recognize" it for the purposes of insurance benefits.

I believe that religious organizations are generally permitted to discriminate in their hiring practices to select for applicants who reflect the moral values of the church in question. This being a necessary triumph of the 1st amendment over anti-discrimination laws.

At least, as far as I know the bulk of case law generally favors defendants in this arena. But INAL.

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MattP
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It depends on whether you are working for a non-profit religious organization vs a for-profit business owned by a church. In the former case the church has a lot of discretion for discrimination. In the latter they do not. That is what the Hobby Lobby hubbub is about - they are a for profit business but want a religious exemption to the contraception coverage mandate.
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Jamesloveswaffles
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Despite the rebuttals to iglee's original comment, I appreciated his honestly and how he constructed his part of the conversation. I also appreciate that he took the time to give us the source of his statements (both the 1995 Proclamation and the Jan 10th statement) along with the scriptures he felt justified his opinion.

I tend to follow the Brethren, they hold the keys to the Kingdom here upon the earth and if they are leading us the wrong way they will be held accountable for it. And we do have the promise that the Prophet will not led us astray:

"The Lord will never permit me [Wilford Woodruff] or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. 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. (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News,October 11, 1890, p. 2.)"

Now, I’m not saying just follow blindly. But God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9), so just because we don’t agree with the Church’s response doesn’t mean it didn’t come from a heavenly source.

I also think SenojRetep does have a point that all laws, if you look at them through the lens some are using, restrict our agency in some form or another.

I feel that we lost the sight of the original purpose of this thread. Aros has already told us he “concede(s) readily that homosexualtity is (doctrinally) a sin." The original purpose was to dicuss whether or not this quote from Mormon Doctrine presents a contradiction to our doctrine or if it is just out of context? Have we reached a conclusion?

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BlackBlade
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quote:
"The Lord will never permit me [Wilford Woodruff] or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. 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. (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News,October 11, 1890, p. 2.)"
I think there are a couple of things this quote does not clarify, and I have heard it numerous times. Full disclosure, I don't think it was inspired of God. (Funny neh?)

1: When will God remove a false prophet out of his place? Immediately? It doesn't say. And if immediately...

2: How does that explain the times in the past where prophets have lead people astray? Such as our aforementioned ban on blacks holding the priesthood? Was God's removing Brother Brigham out of his place allowing him to die of old age? Letting that pernicious doctrine take root for almost 100 years and systematically ripping it out again? And even today faithful members of the church cling to the ban's divine origin *because* they have read your quote and for it to remain true, the priesthood ban must also be correct and true.

The church's recent remarks on the priesthood ban has sent shock-waves through some congregations for it directly challenges Pres. Woodruff's assertion. Without a hint of irony, some have demanded the brethren retract these new statements, for they contradict what the previous brethren have said was true. What the leadership of the church may not realize, or may not be ready to address is that with their recent statements they have created a possible astray theology paradox.

For me, I've squared this all by dropping President Woodruff's remarks as well intentioned, but misstated. I believe God does allow the prophet to make mistakes, and to even lead the church amiss with those mistakes, for even the prophet must learn to grow as a man, and as a prophet. That process has *always* involved making mistakes, correcting them, and forsaking whatever sins gave rise to them. Repentance is an eternal principle right? If we suppose our prophets can no longer fall short of the mark in their duties, or that God will always prevent them from doing so, then we have created a de facto infallibility surrounding our prophets' utterances. Such a state is not supported by scripture.

I'm reminded of Paul withstanding Peter "To his face." because Paul recognized that Peter was advocating a doctrine of circumcision that was not from Christ. Why wasn't Peter removed out of his place? Because Peter was not a fallen prophet, just one in need of correction, which is a concept I don't think any human can ever outgrow in this life.

edit: Of course I *do* believe there's a difference between a prophet making mistakes as a man, and willfully leading the church to sin. In the latter's case I do believe the prophet would be removed, or more accurately, the quorum of the twelve and the counselors in the First Presidency would act in unison to release the prophet from his duties. Or God would personally do something about it. Immediately? I'm not sure.

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Rakeesh
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For those who *do* believe a promise is in place that prophets and leadership won't lead the faithful astray-why is there concern about following blindly, and why offer assurances that you aren't following blindly if you believe that promise?

If God's thoughts are higher than human thoughts, and if a promise is in place that prophets will accurately convey those thoughts (or 'not lead astray'), wouldn't it be right to follow blindly? I mean, where is the requirement for careful analysion whether or not they ought to be followed? It seems to me that in such a context, the only thought required is in trying to understand why the pronouncement are right and how they might be better followed. Furthermore if God's thoughts are higher, and prophets won't lead astray, isn't it prideful and defiant to even consider whether they should be followed?

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Rakeesh:
For those who *do* believe a promise is in place that prophets and leadership won't lead the faithful astray-why is there concern about following blindly, and why offer assurances that you aren't following blindly if you believe that promise?

In the D&C it says, "A man cannot be saved in ignorance." What this means to me is that it is not good enough to do the right things, you must know why you are doing them, even if that why boils down to, "I know not save the Lord asked me to." to use another scripture.

That's really at the crux of the issue I think. Some Mormons have exchanged that for, "I know not save the prophet who would never lead me astray asked me to."

I mean it's not totally without any precedent. Elisha told Naaman to go wash in the river Jordan seven times and be healed. He didn't ask Naaman to go get his own confirmation from God that this was a correct instruction, and the story also points out that Naaman logically points out in essence, "There's much cleaner rivers in my home country than that slop you call the river Jordan dude." And he takes off pretty angry. Then his servant points out that if Elisha had sent him on some epic quest to be healed he would have done it without hesitation, so why was something easy beneath him?

Naaman gives it a shot and gets healed. But I don't think this or Abraham's Sacrifice of Issac is good guidance on knowing for one's self if a teaching is of God. For one thing maybe Naaman could have asked God to verify Elisha's task for him, the record doesn't say he did or did not. Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Isaac by God himself, not an intermediary.

Finally in the case of Naaman he was being asked to do what I would suggest is a pretty morally neutral thing as a test of his faith. If Elisha had said, "To be cured of leprosy you need to get a ballot provision banning all same-sex marriages in the land through the legislature to be healed." I would think that since it involves other people's well being, you couldn't get away with, "Well I was told to by a prophet."

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Rakeesh
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BlackBlade,

quote:
In the D&C it says, "A man cannot be saved in ignorance." What this means to me is that it is not good enough to do the right things, you must know why you are doing them, even if that why boils down to, "I know not save the Lord asked me to." to use another scripture.
But doesn't this fall into the category of 'understanding why the prophet is right, and how better to adhere to his teachings?' rather than interacting at all with a question of whether or not those teachings should be followed? Still assuming of course that one believes prophets won't lead followers astray, which I realize isn't a belief you subscribe to.

I guess my real question, which I've been trying to create a less accusatory way of asking, is simply this: if one believes God's thoughts are higher, and that the prophet relays those thoughts and that the prophet won't lead followers astray, then isn't an assurance that one doesn't follow those teachings blindly really just an offering up to non-believers to avoid a customary challenge?

The ideas just don't seem to follow logically one from another, based on their own reasoning. Is the decision whether or not to obey God's words (whether claimed to be heard directly from God, or through a prophet) really one that iglee or other faithful would suggest really should, ideally, be much of a decision at all? Is there ever some counter-argument that would be even remotely acceptable as a reason *not* to obey God's word? And doesn't it then follow that people should follow blindly, or at least functionally so close to blindly as to not make any difference?

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advice for robots
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To me, following blindly means just going along and not knowing why. Not following blindly means knowing the purpose for going where you’re going, wanting to get there, and trusting that the course you’re following will indeed bring you to where you want to go. You’d never say you were blindly following a map, even though you held carefully to every direction it gave you. In Mormon terms, God directs us through his prophet and we follow, not necessarily because we like someone else telling us what to do, but because we know where we want to get to and we have faith that the course the prophet sets will get us there. That’s just describing the difference between following blindly and not following blindly. There’s much more to our relationship with God, of course, and we conduct our lives with a good deal of autonomy besides "doing what the prophet says", so don’t take it to mean that we see God as just some glorified GPS device. [Smile]
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BlackBlade
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Yes, this.
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Rakeesh
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Yes, I think you're right about there being some trouble with defining what precisely 'following blindly' means. For the connotation in my mind, for the purposes of this discussion, I read it to mean 'whether or not I will obey these instructions is not in question'.

So long as not following the instructions is never a consideration, I would say that the decision whether or not to obey is, in fact, being made blindly-or rather, it has already been made long ago to follow and so future decisions don't have to be remade. The hows of obeying the instructions may not be taken blindly, of course.

I think your map example is useful in one sense, because if the map says drive a road ten miles and it ends at a cliff in six miles, obviously no one would blindly follow it over the cliff. Where I think that example fails is that nobody truly follows a map blindly anyway. They use it as a reference to orient themselves to their surroundings and to travel to a place they've never been or aren't familiar with. They don't commit, before unfolding the map or opening the app, to 'I will follow this map where it leads' because the map is just a tool. It has no supernatural significance.

Things change of course when a prophet's pronouncements become less binary and clearly defined. Of course it won't always be straightforward that there is one decision that is obedient and another that is disobedient, end of story. That said, however, while I do agree that people do live their lives with a great deal of autonomy, from what iglee has said of his (her? I don't recall) decision-making process, the decision of whether or not to obey a given instruction is a poor example of autonomy since morally speaking, the decision there ought always to be 'obey'.

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scifibum
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quote:
And we do have the promise that the Prophet will not led us astray
James, this promise has a sort of circular logic to it. What if Woodruff was wrong?

What would be the motive of such a promise? Its only utility, as far as I can see, is to relieve members of the burden of trying to figure out whether the church president is right about stuff.

If, as you say, members are NOT meant to follow blindly, wouldn't they be better off without such a reassurance? How does it help?

That belief is understandably reassuring but ultimately harmful whether you believe that the church presidents are astray or not.

1) If they are astray, it prevents people from acknowledging it and helping to put things right. It takes time and energy to correct the course of a large vessel, and believing that it CANNOT go off course is to delay and minimize any corrections that are needed.

2) If they are not astray, it prevents people from using their judgment and agency to choose the right, because they will tend to assume that unthinking obedience is correct. If they are capable of learning what is right and getting a witness from the Holy Ghost about what is true, then the belief that the church can't go astray will only prevent them from using those gifts.

---

Even if you believe that the church mostly can't or won't go astray, it seems relatively clear that Woodruff himself was astray in making such a promise.

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Jeff C.
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Whatever your beliefs, you should honestly be in support of the separation of church and state. Let the government make unbiased laws, and let the church make its own. Homosexuality is a religious issue, not a human one, so it shouldn't be illegal in the United States.

Furthermore, there are plenty of Protestants who would prefer that Mormonism be outlawed simply because they think it's silly. Should this happen, just because the population of Protestants are greater than that of Mormonism? Of course not. By that same token, plenty more would choose to outlaw the Muslim religion.

Equality. That's what it's all about.

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Aros
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I don't think that "leading the church astray" is the same thing as making church leaders infallible.

If God and the church have opposing views, he might not correct the church because:
- He's not going to come and correct every little detail. What about agency?
- It's important for the church to be integrated into the current laws and culture. That's why it changes over time.
- As such, the church needs to be a positive influence on society. If civilization is moving toward gay marriage, symbolic opposition by the church asserts the church's moral position. Why toss out a succession of leaders if it'll all change anyway?
- Maybe it is important for someone (or everyone) in the church to learn a lesson.
- Maybe the lord wants members to come to him for answers.

It is obvious that church leadership isn't infallible. But there's a difference between "leading us astray" and allowing leadership to make less-than-perfect decisions. Does the lord tell us not to hire a specific janitor? Or buy a specific paperclip? How big a mistake does a leader have to make to be ejected? How can we begin to believe that we know the mind of God?

Sometimes we learn more from our mistakes than we do from straight obedience. As for me, I'll pray, think for myself, and follow my conscience.

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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by Jeff C.:
Furthermore, there are plenty of Protestants who would prefer that Mormonism be outlawed simply because they think it's silly.

I'm pretty sure the people who want Mormonism outlawed hold that opinion because they think it's dangerous, not because they think it's silly. People don't seek to outlaw things that they think are silly.
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