A sad Sunday

It was a sad Sunday, this 15 November 2015. For two reasons; the major disaster of course was the murder spree in Paris, which has shocked Europe to the core. The Sabbath prayers in our Utrecht ward were for the many victims, and for the grieving host of their loved ones. Europe is united in grief, but also in anger. We consider ourselves at war, a word we do not use easily, not with Islam, but with IS. Even the problem of housing hundreds of thousands of refugees who voted with their feet not to stay in a completely radicalized country, pales in the face of this tragedy. But we will not be budged, we will not let our lives be dictated by thugs. On that, everybody agreed, and the grief binds us together.
The other issue was totally unrelated, and very small in comparison with this, minute indeed, but the question kept our minds and tongues busy. We simply could not and still cannot understand that grief also could come from friends, from brothers in Christ. Of course I refer to the ruling on children of same sex marriages, who are now denied the normal pathway into the Church, administratively burdened not by their own faults but by the life style of their parents. We in the Netherlands used to be quite Calvinist, and our ancestors suffered under the weight of original sin, of inherited guilt. For us Mormonism was a liberation: the sins of the fathers would no longer impinge on the children, each individual has his or her own free agency, and any reckoning was according to our own deeds. That principle seems to be clausulated now.
Not all members were aware of this little storm in our Mormon teacup, but they quickly became so. Our stake president had been daring enough to write a letter with comments on the issue to all wards, despite admonitions from Frankfurt office to refrain from doing so. He thus tried to assuage feelings, but got stuck in the same contradictions: the love of our Heavenly Father expressed by exclusion. The reason for his action was evident: several faithful members, including a former bishop and his wife, decided to resign from office, and to refuse any callings in the future, considering the ward now a their home, more than the church. Others consider to redefine their tithing as budget, to have it stay inside the ward. Yes, we are economically minded, as Dutch. The primary president still is struggling how she can guide kids towards baptism, when some of them might be excluded from that covenant. One returned missionary testified of his struggle to comprehend, touched by the hurt of several gay people very close to him.
This sounds heavy for a minor administrative policy change, and it is, but we also see very little reason for this measure. The Netherlands is a society that has lived with same sex marriage the longest of all, since 2001, and with the possibility for these couples to adopt children since 2009. We have some mileage here. Our experience is that it simply is not a problem, and also within the Dutch LDS church it is not an issue at all. Nationwide heterosexual marriage is more popular than ever: after 14 years of legal same sex marriage, the institution of marriage is flourishing, actually doing better than ever since the cultural revolution of the ‘70s. Any threat to the traditional form of marriage as such is a chimera.
The argument is not about numbers, I a fully aware. But just to show what we are speaking of, in this ruling. Only 2 % of all marriages in the Netherlands are between partners of the same sex, and about 1 on 4 couples adopts children; adoption is complicated here. So only 0.5 % of the children will be raised by a same sex couple. These children will themselves be in the large majority heterosexual in orientation (it is a genetic predisposition, after all!), so of that 0.5% only 1 on 5 will be homosexual. Thus 1 in every 1000 thousand kids will be raised inside a same sex union and will be tempted to try such a union her/himself. And then, that child has to want to be member of the church in the first place. What, then, is really the problem here? Why such a heavy-handed approach?
Of course the sadness was and is not in the numbers, as people realize that the whole notion is farfetched. The sadness is that we thought we had left policies of exclusion behind us, in the church. The scars of the exclusion by African descent have not yet completely healed, surely not in our ward, and the ghost of this nightmare was easily evoked, adding to the fierce reaction by the members mentioned.
A sad Sunday indeed.

50 comments for “A sad Sunday

  1. What does “clausulated” mean?

    “This sounds heavy for a minor administrative policy change, and it is, but we also see very little reason for this measure.”

    Walter, I, too, am trying to figure out the catalyst for this draconian policy. It seems to be a solution in search of a problem that does not exist. Check that: It is a solution that searched for a problem but, failing to find one, decided to create one of its own. And boy did it ever.

  2. Thanks for the European perspective. It does feel like we’re trading our birthright for a mess of porridge, and the violent events unfolding over there sure don’t help matters.

  3. Walter, thank you very much for this report. As hard as this policy has hit our family (and for 2 of the 5 of us it’s a deal breaker with respect to church participation), we’ve been wondering how Europeans with a different context for viewing LGBT relationships would respond.

  4. FarSide, look up “clausula” and in the context of Calvin’s original sin vs the historical LDS view of Article of Faith 2, clausulation would indicate a retread of the historical Mormon belief that now mixes in original sin for certain “chosen” people. And that is what Walter is stating has happened with the new policy.

  5. The Book of Mormon makes it clear that groups of people can receive collective blessings or punishments. It’s not like the second Article of Faith is saying all men other than Adam can automatically go back to the Garden.

  6. I can mourn with the sadness, but I cannot agree with your doctrinal assertions, Walter. My view is this: This is not a punishment at all. It’s releasing children from the impact of the sins of their parents and giving them more time to truly claim personal accountability. And if anything, I think this policy extends the range and reach of the Atonement for children of gay parents. It almost feels as though the age of accountability is suspended in some way. Of course I have no authority to interpret it all, but that it what it feels like to me. We are told that those without knowledge are covered by the Atonement. Children raised without parents teaching clear knowledge about the law of chastity and the doctrine of marriage are covered by the Atonement. And then if they want to engage with that doctrine, they can do that when it is truly, fully their choice. I think this only strengthens the doctrines of agency and Atonement, not undermining them.

    Lastly, in God’s economy, a decade is not what it is to us. Elder Christofferson said nothing will be lost to them. I understand the immediate grief people are feeling, but the answers that are at the core of our faith seem to be cast aside in conversations where grief is dominating. The Atonement is here to cover everything, even (and especially) things that don’t make sense. I pray you and your fellow saints will not lose heart. God is in His heavens. The Atonement is real.

  7. I teach at a Utah high school that has a LGBT support group. When the policy was first announced, the kids were upset. I simply encouraged the kids to research the arguments for and against the policy and discuss them as a group. A slight majority of the students in the group are LDS. Today, the students reported their deliberations. They had collectively decided that the issue was completely overblown, and that the policy was not hateful or mean-spirited. Why is it that a bunch of activist-minded gay teens can quickly come to terms with the policy, while liberals in the bloggernacle cannot?

  8. Thats great insight Michelle. It really does seem like the atonement would thus cover them through that period. And what a truly great blessing it is for them to be carried by the atonement until the time comes when they can reason for themselves without having to disregard or undermine their legal guardian or have some disruption in their upbringing.

  9. Suleyman,
    I agree. I think this issue hasnt really been thought out by most and just adds fuel to the fire. When properly looked at where the rubber meets the road, it actually makes sense.

  10. Thank you, Walter. Some commenters will read your post as another criticism of the new policy and react as usual, but your post expresses primarily the sadness and the mourning in a broader context. I concur. When I, as a Catholic, joined the church more than half a century ago, just like you, it was liberating to learn that the sin of the parents did not encumber their children. Still we had to deal with the race restriction, a heavy burden. That was lifted in 1978, another immense liberation.

    So yes, in that context I can understand the present disorientation of many members in Europe. Sure, justifications for the new policy can be given and can even be rationally accepted, but that does not easily alleviate the pain nor does it silence our memories. All the more in countries like ours that did so much to protect the tiny minority of LGBTs and grant them equal rights.

    As Dutch and Belgian Mormons, we are a tiny minority too, expecting to be protected and treated equally. How can we claim that protection and equality if we deny it to others?

  11. I am also sad about the policy and the way this has all played out. I can’t say for sure, but I wonder if the following two points may have been at least partial factors in the decision:

    1. It is very complicated politically to give more privilege to gay families than to polygamous families. I imagine that many of the Q15 grew up knowing grandparents who entered plural marriages before or after 1890. Given our history, and our doctrine, I think it would be very hard for the Q15 to admit gay families fully and throw polygamists under the bus at the same time (even though gay marriage has MUCH more support than polygamy in the broader culture of America and Europe).

    2. It is very complicated politically to relax the restrictions currently in place on polygamous families. There is a real risk of a polygamy resurgence within Mormonism in light of Sister Wives, some kinds of legal restrictions being declared unconstitutional in Utah, etc. By “resurgence” I mean maybe a doubling or tripling of the current polygamous population in the western US, putting conflicting pressure on the mainstream Mormon church to either welcome them or find a way to put a stop to them.

  12. It sounds like the Progressive Saints of Utrecht are trying to have it both ways: That the Church considered SSM to be a grievous sin was no reason to oppose its legalization, but in light of the fact that SSM is now legal it’s wrong for the Church to reaffirm that it is a grievous sin.

  13. Unique to being a Latter-Day Saint is our claim to the authority and revelation of a prophet. Without that we are just an American religion with our own Jesus fan fiction. This is a great opportunity to contrast your personal morality with those who say they have God’s mandate. The three-fold distribution and clarification of this policy should make it clear it comes directly from the prophets authority and approval.

    The priesthood ban was another generations moral millstone. Hindsight shows me how completely immoral the policy was. This new policy is equally indefensible. We’ve tipped our hand, we can see the man behind the curtain is just a man.

  14. The negative responses (resigning from callings, withholding tithing, etc.) of those you identify are the fruit of bad seeds sewn and malnourished faith previous to this policy. If that sounds harsh, consider the corollary — you ask me to accept that your cohorts belief that the modern prophets are deceived out of prejudice and bias. With that judgement that is so freely rendered on a special witness of the Lord, I feel no problem in replying that the individuals who have trouble with this policy have let acceptance of sin cloud their judgement.

  15. In light of hula’s comment, I find it ironic that so many LDS members appear bent on harshly criticizing other LDS members who support gay marriage (especially when Elder Christofferson said in March 2015 that they could and still be in good standing) to the point of practically telling them to leave, and yet the LDS church is still engaged in a huge reactivation effort. I think that members trying to separate the wheat from the supposed tares are acting a bit prematurely. Their criticism seems counterproductive.

  16. I think that the divide we are witnessing demonstrates a serious political and cultural divide in the Church. Socialists and liberals, including many Europeans, believe that equality > liberty. In other words, promotion of equality for all in practically all things trumps personal and institutional liberty. Moderates and conservatives, especially in the United States, believe that liberty (including the Church’s) > equality. Now I don’t believe that conservatives are somehow more “righteous” than liberals simply because of their political views. But they do have an easier time embracing recent church policy changes.

    What worries me is that some liberals accuse church leadership and conservative members of ignoring the revelatory process and enforcing conservative political and cultural values within the church, without acknowledging that they (the liberals) are viewing and evaluating the situation through their own political lens. While I know of a few situations to bolster Brad L’s assertions (#21) that conservatives are criticizing members who support SSM, the real damage will be self-inflicted if liberals refuse to check their political perspectives at the door. The real irony is that liberals are usually begging that conservatives do so.

  17. Conservatives’ ability to more easily embrace the new policy has nothing to with their supposed political views about liberty trumping equality (not even sure what that means, I thought liberty and equality went hand in hand, the freedom of one person to oppress another really isn’t true liberty now is it). It has to do with the fact that socially conservative LDS people (probably more probably termed orthodox LDS) are more prone to just do and believe as they’re told to by church leaders and less prone to question their authority, even if what they say appears to contradict past things they’ve said or contradict what they hold to be doctrinal.

    What I’ve gathered from my interaction with members on the new policy is that their political leanings actually don’t have much to do with their acceptance or questioning of the new policy. I’ve met both Republicans and Democrats, as well as political liberals and conservatives who both accept and reject the new policy. Also, what I’ve seen in the ex-Mormon community is that it is extremely politically diverse, perhaps even more so than the believer community, which is also somewhat diverse.

    I don’t hear too many liberals preaching their politics at church, especially their acceptance of gay marriage. In fact, many liberals I know seem to be more prone to hold their tongues. I can’t say that of conservatives. There is ample criticism of the legalization of gay marriage at church. But my original point was about irony. It is ironic to see conservative members who are in many contexts likely trying to spread Mormonism and help grow the LDS church (following what the LDS church leaders have told them to do) hope to see same-sex marriage-supporters leave the LDS church. As if they are favoring a shrinkage of the LDS church. If you want the LDS church to grow it doesn’t make sense to ask lots of people to leave.

  18. I see a problem with fringe Mormons who want to keep voicing dissent but yet not willing to walk away. They would rather stay and corrupt the whole lot. That’s why we wish they would leave.

  19. When polygamy was reversed, were there not similar directives from the Prophet?
    Children of LGBT situations will be influenced by their parents. They will bring that tolerance and culture with them and influence others. Bringing that gospel of man to mix with the gospel of Christ is how the ‘original’ Church of Jesus Christ fell. These are the same arguments that other religions have, all desiring change. But how soon they forget: God is the Same Yesterday, Today and Forever.

  20. Rob Osborn, calling for people who voice doubts to leave conflicts with what President Uchtdorf said in an October 2013 Conference talk:

    Regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church.

  21. “When polygamy was reversed, were there not similar directives from the Prophet?”

    From Joseph F. Smith at the time of the Second Manifesto? No, I don’t think that he required his children such as Joseph Fielding Smith to repudiate him and his actions, given that he continued to be married to his plural wives.

  22. Thank you for the thoughts, Walter — a sad Sunday, a sad week. Many in the US Church reacted with surprise and even shock, but only someone outside the US can convey the sense of a global or universal church appearing to act and react so locally.

  23. Brad L,
    Fringe Mormons are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Look at John Dehlin for instance, he was excommunicated. There is no room in the church for dissenters who incite doubt and ridicule towards their own prophets.

  24. Rob, I don’t necessarily disagree. But now we have the issue of who exactly is a “fringe Mormon” or a dissenter. John Dehlin is an extraordinary, unique case. I can’t really think of anyone in the LDS church like him. The idea that there are lots of people like John Dehlin in the LDS church is an overreaction in the extreme. However, there are lots of people who support gay marriage and want to remain Mormon, and there are lots of people who oppose the new policy and want to remain actively Mormon. Should they be considered wolves in sheep’s clothing or dissenters? I wouldn’t think so. That is not what I gathered from Elder Christofferson’s interview in March 2015 in which he said that LDS people could openly support gay marriage on social media without facing any threat of disciplinary action. You don’t have to believe that when the prophet speaks the thinking is done in order to consider yourself an LDS person in good standing. The sort of witch hunts that you and hula seem to be in favor of go against the welcoming spirit of the brethren. How about you let Jesus separate the wheat from the tares upon his second coming rather than try to undertake that task yourself. God said to Joseph Smith in D&C 64:10-11 – “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. And ye ought to say in your hearts—let God judge between me and thee, and reward thee according to thy deeds.”

    Don’t take it upon yourself to be a judge. Excommunication is reserved for local leaders. Judgment for salvation is reserved for God and Jesus Christ alone.

  25. Apropos of nothing and only a minor tangent, but has anyone ever seen Rob Osborn and Jettboy in the same room together? They have to be the same person. There can’t be TWO people who think like that, can there? End tangent.

  26. Sometimes the wolves in sheep’s clothing are the ones telling those with doubts that they don’t belong in the church and that they should leave. Outwardly, they profess to follow the prophets. Their words and actions, however, tell a different story. For those who have been told to leave, remember President Uchtdorf’s words, repeated earlier in this thread: “Regardless of…the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this church.” Don’t let the wolves in sheep’s clothing drive you out.

  27. In that same talk, Presidents Uchtdorf said,

    Those who join this Church love the Savior Jesus Christ and they wish to follow Him. They rejoice in the knowledge that God speaks to mankind again. When they receive sacred priesthood ordinances and make covenants with God, they can feel His power in their lives. When they enter the holy temple, they sense they are in His presence. When they read the holy scriptures and live the teachings of His prophets, they grow closer to the Savior they love so much.


    In this Church that honors personal agency so strongly, that was restored by a young man who asked questions and sought answers, we respect those who honestly search for truth. It may break our hearts when their journey takes them away from the Church we love and the truth we have found, but we honor their right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, just as we claim that privilege for ourselves.


    It is unfortunate that some have stumbled because of mistakes made by men. But in spite of this, the eternal truth of the restored gospel found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not tarnished, diminished, or destroyed.


    As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and as one who has seen firsthand the councils and workings of this Church, I bear solemn witness that no decision of significance affecting this Church or its members is ever made without earnestly seeking the inspiration, guidance, and approbation of our Eternal Father. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. God will not allow His Church to drift from its appointed course or fail to fulfill its divine destiny.

    How wonderful it is to be a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

  28. ji, President Uchtdorf appears to be speaking descriptively, not prescriptively, in the first quotation. Many who do join the LDS church do actually love Jesus Christ and are happy to have found what they believe to be knowledge that God speaks to humankind. Uchtdorf says that when members live (which is a key word that emphasizes orthopraxy over orthodoxy) the teachings of the prophets, they grow closer to the Savior. Bear in mind that he is not saying that members have to believe that everything that the prophets say represents God’s words or is infallible speech in order to be considered members in good standing. I don’t see how the second and third quotations run counter to what I was saying or how I was using Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk (assuming that your aim was to show that I was taking his words out of context). As for the fourth paragraph, Pres. Uchtdorf could be wrong. There could very well be decisions that the LDS leaders that are out of line with what God wants. It could be that the leaders make decisions that do lead the church astray. But you know what? Members have a right to disagree with some of what the leaders say and still be considered members in good standing. It may be that the leaders consider those who believe such to have a weak testimony. But then Pres. Uchtdorf does say that there is room for people in the LDS church regardless of the strength of their testimonies.

  29. Amusing. When a church leader says something we agree with, we trumpet it as support for our position but when he says something we disagree with he “could be wrong” and so we are justified in disagreeing with, or ignoring, him. I “could be wrong” but that does appear to be kind of self-serving.

  30. Ojiisan, if you must engage me in discussion (which it appears you are), please have the courtesy to address my main points and not respond with tangents and non-sequiturs. The main point is that you can disagree with the leaders and be considered a member in good standing and that in fact telling people to leave because they disagree with the church leaders runs counter to what the church leaders are saying and what their policy is. Who gets to define who is a member in good standing? Is it some other random ward member? Is it your parents, your spouse, or your kids? No. It is the church leaders. So when one of the highest ranking church leaders says that there is room for people in the church no matter the strength of their testimony, then that should trump any random commenter on a blog suggesting that there isn’t room for someone with a weak testimony (supposedly someone who doubts or disagrees with the leaders on some issues) at church. Are you going to disagree with Pres. Uchtdorf that he could be wrong that there isn’t actually room for that person in the LDS church? That is not something you can actually logically disagree with him on. It would be like saying that you disagree with President Obama that he supports gay marriage. Who determines whether or not Obama supports gay marriage? President Obama. It is logically impossible to say that Obama could be wrong that Obama supports gay marriage when Obama has in fact announced that he supports gay marriage. Now if Obama said, “Ojiisan supports gay marriage.” Then there is the possibility that Obama could be wrong. For Obama doesn’t get to determine whether or not Ojiisan supports gay marriage. Only Ojiisan determines that.

    Who gets to decide whether or not Jesus Christ is the head of the LDS church? The church leaders? No, Jesus Christ. Who determines whether or not the church leaders have gone astray from God’s will? The church leaders? No, God does. So there is the possibility that Pres. Uchtdorf is wrong in saying that the leaders are doing everything according to God’s will. It could very well be that they aren’t. God determines that. They don’t.

  31. Also, I find it ridiculous that I have to belabor a very clear point so much. My suspicion is that many of the commenters on this post essentially believe that the prophets are infallible and that their words are the same as God’s words, that to disagree with the prophets on any issue is to disagree with God, that when the prophet speaks the thinking is done, and that if you voice any opinion that is at variance with what the prophets say that you are a dissenter and cannot possibly be considered a member in good standing and must be called to repentance. I partly feel like I’m wasting my time with intellectually dishonest trolls who can’t face simple facts.

  32. I personally did not read Walter’s story as a form of dissent. I know Walter well, and yesterday, at Walter’s exiting speech as Professor at the University of Tilburg, I met some of the Utrecht members. Them, too, I know. They love the gospel. They love the Church. They love the Brethren, and try to support them. Some of them are directly touched by this policy, just as they had been touched by the limitations of the priesthood and temple blessings to them decades ago. As I talked with them I could feel the pain, the grief in their hearts, as they explained how they attempt to cope with the differences between their conscience and this new policy. One expressed it to me by saying: “I am not that far yet, I need to spiritually mature to deal with this one. Give me time, please give me time”. I could only hug the man, and tell him to take his time. Another one, from another Stake, a former Church leader with much loyalty under his belt, telephoned me last week, and begged me to give him reason to remain actively in the Church. We all need to live with our conscience (the Light of Christ) and our faith in the Savior. May our church experiences help us like the Spirit does.

  33. Sorry Brad L, I didn’t realize that posting a comment also gave one the right to dictate the nature of responses to the comment. I shall endeavor to remember that in the future.

    However, my response was germane to your comment in at least two ways. I shall try to be clearer if not as succinct this time. Your statement that Uchtdorf could be wrong in one part of his talk effectively impeaches your earlier appeals to his authority through references to other parts of the same talk. If he could be wrong in the one part then it is equally as probable that he could be wrong in the other parts of his talk since there is no real distinction between them other than the fact that you agree with one statement and disagree with other statement. And, if he could be wrong in any part of his talk then citing portions of his talk does not strengthen your position at all. In fact, in any reasonable debate doing so while admitting he could be wrong would seriously impinge your credibility.

    Also, it is not as simple as asking whether I or anyone else accepts the fallibility of the church leaders. At the very least any analysis by a member of the fallibility of a church leader requires a parallel analysis of one’s own fallibility. Typically the issue of a church leader’s fallibility arises when a church leader makes a statement or takes a position that a church member does not agree with. (At least I have never seen any one argue that the leader is wrong when the member agrees with the leader.) The ensuing reasoning by the member is that the church leader is wrong but she/he can live with the fact that the leader is wrong because the member accepts that he is not infallible. However, the conclusion that the church leader is wrong every time his view is inconsistent with the view of the member requires the member to believe that she/he is infallible at least as it pertains to disagreements with church leaders. Hence, the need to assess one’s own fallibility since it is more than a little difficult for me to believe that, particularly as it relates to issues pertaining to the church generally, that a member is always right and the church leader always wrong when there is a divergence of views. Your comment would be appear to be a classic example of this mindset. You quote Uchtdorf when his views support yours but the moment they do not you trot out the not infallible line even within the same talk.

    And, although unrelated to my earlier comment I will point out that your comparison of Uchtdorf’s statement about a place in the church with Obama’s statement that he supports gay marriage is flawed. Obama is making a statement about his own view or opinion ie his support of gay marriage, Uchtdorf is purporting to make a statement of fact rather than a statement of his view or opinion. If Uchtdorf had said he supports there being a place for all in the church then you couldn’t say that wasn’t so in the same way that you can’t argue with Obama’s statement about his support for gay marriage. However Uchtdorf did not make a statement about his view of support, he made a statement of fact. An analogous statement by Obama would be that gay marriage should be available to all and that is a statement that one could disagree with in the same way one could disagree with Uchtdorf’s statement about room in the church. And just for the record, I do think it is possible for a member’s testimony to dissipate to the point where there is not room for her/him in the church. If that were not so we wouldn’t have excommunication procedures.

    Finally, your suspicion at least as it relates to this poster is incorrect. I just don’t think you are smarter or brighter or more spiritually in tune than the church leaders.

  34. #35, Ojisan, said: “Amusing. When a church leader says something we agree with, we trumpet it as support for our position but when he says something we disagree with he ‘could be wrong’ and so we are justified in disagreeing with, or ignoring, him. I ‘could be wrong’ but that does appear to be kind of self-serving.”

    I found this to be a really interesting comment. I think it accurately expresses the entire the history of Christianity, and of all religions. Our church is no different.

    Remember when the prophet tried to get rid of Missionary Farewells and to get members to stop using the term “Mormon”? Remember how he was mostly ignored? Every member picks and chooses from the scriptures, the words of the prophets and apostles, and even the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, choosing to follow only what she or he wants to.

    We have thousands of pages of scripture, and every six months we have almost twelve hours of General Conference messages. By necessity, every person has to choose which parts to value and which to deemphasize, Plus, everyone has to discover how all of that relates to the personal inspiration he or she is receiving.

    A lot of people I know love Brother Jeffrey Holland’s talks. Part of that is surely his dynamic speaking style, but an important part is surely that he delivers messages they agree with, or that resonate with them. Others love Brother Dieter Uchtdorf for the same reasons.

    A couple years ago, President Thomas Monson gave a talk about not judging anyone. He has also given talks about standing up for what you believe in. Some people focus on the former, others on the latter. Some ignore both. I have found very few who embrace and live both. That’s just human nature: it’s how we all are. It’s really hard to keep even one part of the gospel, much less all of it together. We’re all at different places, and have different pieces of the same puzzle.

    I think that’s why discussion blogs like this are so great: they allow all of us to share our pieces with one another.

  35. Paris & church doctrine are the two sad events? What about Africa, the deaths in Mali, and what about Lebanon and the deaths there? Tying a church doctrine to mass murders in Paris comes across as using the tragedy in Paris to talk about LDS church policy. At least Hitler was not included.

  36. Ojiisan, I never appealed to Pres. Uchtdorf’s authority. I said that the view that those who have doubts should leave conflicts with what Pres. Uchtdorf said, which is that there is room for those no matter the strength of their testimony. Do those views conflict? Of course they do. My point wasn’t that everything that Pres. Uchtdorf said is correct I didn’t even say that I regard Pres. Uchtdorf as an authority. But I think I’m right in assuming that you, ji, Rob Osborn, and hula do regard him to be an authority. So if you think that people who openly doubt the LDS church’s policies and doctrines should leave and you think that Pres. Uchtdorf’s words over the pulpit at conference are authoritative, then you have to give up one view or the other. I should also say that much as much as I am absolutely positive that Pres. Uchtdorf believes there to be room in the church for those who doubt, I am just as absolutely positive that Pres. Uchtdorf believes that God will never allow the church to drift from its appointed course.

    At any rate, you clearly disagree with Pres. Uchtdorf when he said that there is room for people who doubt citing excommunication as evidence. Excommunication doesn’t bar someone from attending church or being restored as a member in good standing. I should be asking you, do you think that you are smarter, brighter, or more spiritually in tune than the church leaders?

  37. Uchtdorf is purporting to make a statement of fact rather than a statement of his view or opinion

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist this one. Sometimes it’s just too fun to own trolls. So Uchtdorf’s statement that there is room in the church for everyone no matter the strength of their testimony is a statement of fact, now is it? And yet you disagree with what you regard to be a statement of fact saying, “And just for the record, I do think it is possible for a member’s testimony to dissipate to the point where there is not room for her/him in the church.” How can you disagree with something that you regard to be factual?

  38. Brad L: Probably not worth my time but I’ll give it one more shot .

    1. Difficult concept to grasp I understand but if you quote him in support of your position you are appealing to his authority.

    2. “Excommunication doesn’t bar someone from attending church …”

    Do you really think that in his statement “… there is room for you in this church” he meant physically sitting in the pews as an excommunicated member? I mean seriously!!!

    3. “How can you disagree with something that you regard to be factual?”

    Just because it is a statement of fact doesn’t mean the fact is correct.

  39. No it wasn’t worth your time, Ojiisan. My advice is if you choose to respond expressing disagreement, please, please, think things through a little bit. I’m really forcing to eat your words here.

    1. You don’t understand what an appeal to authority is. What is the issue? I repeat, and at length, that the main claim is that calling for people who voice doubts to leave conflicts with what President Uchtdorf said in an October 2013 Conference talk and that it is ironic that some people who condemn others in the church for doubting the leaders to the point of asking them to leave the church seem to ignore the leaders’ words about there being room in the church for doubters (let’s call this y claim). An appeal to authority would be person x says that y claim is the case, and that since person x knows a lot more about this issue than I do, or because person x is always right, then that is the case. That’s an appeal to authority, and that is not what I did.

    2a. Lavina Fielding Anderson, a well-known scholar who was excommunicated for apostasy in 1993 (who is one of the September Six) continues to attend (or at least continued for a while to attend) church, and she is welcome to do so.

    2b. Avraham Gileadi (also one of the September Six) was excommunicated, but then repented and returned to full activity.

    2c. Ally Isom, the Senior Manager of Public Affairs in the LDS church said in a 2014 interview with Doug Fabrizio in relation to the possible excommunications of John Dehlin and Kate Kelly (27:24-27:35):

    “These people in any of these processes, the disciplinary process, they have choices. It is their choice to remain within the congregation. It is their choice to remain in the body of Christ.

    Show me one case in which excommunication meant that a person could no longer attend church or repent and be rebaptized.

    3. You prove my original point. It is ironic that you told me that wouldn’t accept what I had to say because you didn’t think that I was “smarter or brighter or more spiritually in tune than the church leaders,” suggesting that you regard them to be authorities whose words are worth listening to and obeying, and yet you openly disagree with Pres. Uchtdorf when he said that there is room in the church for people regardless of the strength of their testimonies.

  40. The policy says the Church is not going to intrude itself between a child and her gay parent(s). If the Church took the opposite stand, announcing that it would aggressively try to woo children away from their gay parents, it would certainly be criticized. It seems that the criticisms are of the basic teaching that homosexual relationships are a sin, just as much as ordinary heterosexual adultery. If you reject that teaching, you have bigger problems with the Church than this policy to leave the children of gay couples alone until they are adults. You are rejecting the New Testament, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.

  41. Brad L., you’re proving his point. Excommunication does not mean that someday they might not be rebaptized; there is room in the church for them, but sometimes they need to be excommunicated. President Uchtdorf wasn’t ending the policy of excommunication with that talk.

  42. I was absent from the blog for some time, going through the exciting and time consuming process of saying farewell to my university, at Tilburg, Netherlands. Some of the commentators attended my valedictory, and we had a great time. For that reason, the past weekend for me personally was a rather happy one.
    I am not going into a debate with all of you, as the discussion is clear enough as it is. Thanks for the many expressions of joint grief. The debate is moving into a conservative – liberal divide, which is understandable when one questions the appropriateness of an administrative measure. We have the same divide in the European Mormon Church (as I like to call it)
    The discussion on Uechtdorf’s speech – which I think has rightly become a classic already, I greatly admire it – is interesting. He defines the church as an inclusive one, while still holding on to its principles and precepts. How difficult that balance is to establish and to maintain, is well exemplified by the discussions.
    Atonement, redemption, revelation, repentance and covenant are the main theological pillars of the restoration, and they are the pillars in my life as well. I do not believe in infallibilty, but I do believe in the distinction between a revelation and an administrative ruling. Also elder Christofferson never called this a revelation, this is a policy and thus changeable.
    Someone who insists on that distinction, such as me, is not someone with a weaker testimony, not at all. I have a track record of half a century in church service, but more important, for me this distinction is a necessary shield for my fundamental testimony of the restoration. The policy in question – not a revelation! – seems to me an overreaction, an awkward and not well-considered piece of policy, that aims at dealing with a complicated series of related problems: homosexuality, polygamy, marriage, sin, the question what is a family and what is parenting. These are tricky issues, which in fact ask for a more inclusive and much more balanced approach than the present ruling provides. For instance, in the handbook the ruling puts homosexual marriages in with polygamy, which means that is falls under ‘apostacy’, instead of ‘sin’. That is curious, in fact hardly appropriate. The more I hear and read, the more the ruling bears the hallmarks of haste.
    I am confident it will be sorted out, but please let us be as inclusive in our church as we can.

  43. nl, I’m not saying that no one should be excommunicated. I’m saying that the fact that local leaders can and do excommunicate members for apostasy does not contradict Pres. Uchtdorf saying that there is room for everyone in the church. For those who are excommunicated can, if they so desire, continue to attend church and repent and be rebaptized.

  44. It seems that the criticisms are of the basic teaching that homosexual relationships are a sin, just as much as ordinary heterosexual adultery.

    Actually, according to the new policy, people in a same-gender marriage are in a state of apostasy, and those who are sexually promiscuous with lots of people of the same gender are in a less sinful state than those living a committed life in a marriage with someone of the same gender.

    If you reject that teaching [that homosexual relationships are a sin], you have bigger problems with the Church than this policy to leave the children of gay couples alone until they are adults. You are rejecting the New Testament, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.

    If person x accepts sexual relations between two people of the same gender in a marriage, then he/she rejects only what Paul has to say in a couple of epistles in which he condemns homosexual relationships. By that same token, the LDS church rejects Paul’s counsel in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 for women to remain silent at church. Plus, Paul’s writings carry much less weight than Jesus’ words in the NT, and Jesus says nothing regarding homosexuality. The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants are silent on the matter of homosexuality. How is person x rejecting these?

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