A homophobic church ?

LGTB issues continue to haunt our Church’s leaders, and for some time will continue to do so. Recently, The Advocate, a platform for gay expression, drew up a list of top ‘homo- and transphobics’ in the world, and here I was unpleasantly surprised to see listed among the three top homophobics, Dallin Oaks. He was rated on a par with Jair Bolsano, the recently elected strong-man-president of Brazil and Governor Paul Makonda of Dar es Salaam. The latter is tracking down homosexuals in order to arrest and execute them, the former has told reporters that he would rather see his son dead than gay. Whatever political leanings one might have, this is not the company in which I like to find any member of our church, let alone an apostle. Of course, ‘The Advocate’ is not exactly the voice of gospel authority, but their branding of Oaks as a top-homophobic does harm the church. So as member of the Public Affairs Committee in The Netherlands, I am a bit concerned, for three reasons.

1. The family orientation of the church, which I heartily endorse, is being drawn into a debate on LGTB acceptability, which is not at all the same. The present discussion sounds as if affirmation of family importance implies a denial for the right of existence of LGTB’s. Family should be primarily about raising and nurturing the next generation of incarnated spirits destined to inhabit the wonderful planet that has been entrusted to our stewardship. A wise adagio holds ‘it takes a village to raise a family’, and in the church we do have such ‘villages’ that assist couples in raising a righteous generation. These villages we call ‘wards’, or ‘branches’ and during my stints as branch president and as stake president I have consistently sought to strengthen the bonds needed for such a process: nuclear family, wider family, and wards. Basically, family is the antithesis of loneliness, not the exclusion of specific genders. In our present day and age, loneliness is a much greater threat that any definition of gender ever can be. Just ask the unmarried sisters in our wards.

2. The church leaders have in the recent past consistently admonished not to let their stance over the definition of marriage imply that LGTB people may be discriminated against on the labor market, for jobs, for civic treatment of whatever. (see for instance, the balanced statement in https://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/explaining-religious-freedom-and-lgbt-rights).

The fact that the leaders do not allow same sex marriages, should not be seen as an excuse for gay bashing or whatever discrimination. Apparently this is not an easy line to hold, and may be easily misread; I think this happened in the case of ‘The Advocate’. Oak’s address at General Conference in October does not make this distinction, whereas he could have stressed it. Undoubtedly he is well aware of the high suicide rates among the LGTB in Utah – especially in the LDS cohort – but that concern does not emerge clearly in his speech. His wording is rather unfortunate – mentioning the adversary in this context – and again shows how gentle one should tread on this path. Maybe it would be wise to restate, again, that as members of the church we love our brothers and sisters with a different gender definition, and we empathize with their plight. And then realize in what measure we are party in their plight.

3. However my main concern is tied in with the core of the Church, Jesus Christ. The church stance on same sex marriage much too easily seems to translate into exclusion of people with different dispositions. We just celebrated our Saviors’ coming into the world, as fulfillment of a promise of love, an encompassing love for all mankind, to be saved and redeemed. His was a ministry of inclusion, not exclusion, of forgiveness not punishment, of love and definitely not of superficial judgment. Any appearance of homophobia detracts from our claim as Christ’s church. President Nelson keeps stressing that we use the proper name of the Church in honor of Jesus Christ, and any exclusionary discourse detracts from that message.

Evidently, CJCLDS apostles should not be ranked amongst gay bashers. On the one hand that classification might be based upon misreading, but on the other hand some of our spokespeople have made statements that are open for such misunderstandings. We should show ourselves more Christ-like towards people with different sexual leanings; after all, people do not chose their sexual preferences, they are thrown upon them, mainly by genetics, and nobody is responsible for one’s DNA profile.

So, speaking from the other side of the Atlantic, I want to stress, on behalf of my fellow members here on this old continent, that we love our L, our G, our T and our B, or whatever part of the alphabet is called into action these days. We all are children of God, we all follow the Lord in his ministry of love, whatever specific attributes our genes have saddled us up with. We are all different, thank God, so we are all unique, but we can and should be all united in treading the footsteps of the child of Bethlehem.

Walter van Beek

61 comments for “A homophobic church ?

  1. To your #1 regarding family orientation, I think we have to address the fact that “family values” has a meaning in U.S. political discourse—it refers to an idealized mid-20th century nuclear family that is intact, stable, self-sufficient, without sex or intimate relationships outside of marriage (and therefore no pregnancy outside of marriage). It is a powerful image as a model or ideal, despite arguments that it never was real—never the norm or even common. The family values model is easily seen and used in ways that are racist, anti-feminist, and anti-LGBTQI. Quoting Elaine May Tyler, “It is also clear that “family values” is a term often used as a code and marker of race and class. For example, poor black single mothers, and educated white professional women, are both likely to be blamed for society’s ills as a result of their alleged defiance of “family values.””

    The Church’s relationship with “family values” politics is complex. I think it would be a mistake to claim a complete separation. We are colored by the company we keep, and arguably complicit.

    To your #2 regarding rights and distinctions in Utah politics, and so-called “balanced statements,” I think it important to recognize a line of thought arguing division among the Brethren on these issues with President Oaks on the hard-liner side. (To be clear, I don’t know President Oaks’ personal opinions although I speculate with the best of us. But this is a case where perceptions matter, whatever the underlying truth. I believe those perceptions are part of him “winning” a place on The Advocates’ list.) Also, suicide in Utah is complicated. On the one hand, there is a strong strain of denial regarding suicide rates (I will be surprised if the two or three lines of exception do not show up in comments here, in reaction to your bald “high sluiced rates among LGBT in Utah.”) On the other hand, my LGBT friends (and I) see a correlation between suicide and the Church’s stance on marriage, notwithstanding any good words about jobs and housing, because the marriage issue leaves want-to-be-believing LGBT teens and young adults with no way forward, no mutually acceptable prospects in this life.

    To your #3 regarding exclusion, for me the line between “[no] exclusion of people with different dispositions” and [yes in fact] exclusion of people (and their children) who marry in accord with their different disposition” is laughably thin. And I think President Oaks’ recent efforts to raise the banner and quell dissent are what brought him to the attention of the Advocate.

  2. Agree with the overall message of this blog post but take issue with a handful of points.

    1. “LGTB issues continue to haunt our Church’s leaders, and for some time will continue to do so.”

    I don’t think this haunts our Prophet and Apostles. If anything, they’ve made it abundantly clear that they expect opposition to the Lord’s work.

    2. “Undoubtedly he is well aware of the high suicide rates among the LGBT in Utah – especially in the LDS cohort – but that concern does not emerge clearly in his speech. ”

    There is NO evidence whatsoever of 1) high suicide rates among LGBT in Utah–at least higher than the normal population and 2) no evidence that there is any correlation between LGBT suicide and LDS Church policies. Suicide is complex and blaming a suicide on one group or individual does nothing to get down to the actual causes of why people take their own life or preventing future suicides.

    3. “Any appearance of homophobia detracts from our claim as Christ’s church.”

    Any appearance of homophobia is something that is pushed by LGBT advocates and progressive Mormons looking to shame the church and it’s leadership into changing church polices surrounding LGBT individuals. Anyone is welcome to attend our services and be baptized into the church so long as the follow the same rules that are expected as every other person. Eradicating the church of “homophobia” would require two sets of rules: one for LGBT individuals and one for everyone else. Such a move would eventually lead to the destruction of the church.

  3. Many members will be happy to see Pres Oaks in this position, because they see homophobia as part of their gospel. Perhaps in Utah this is acceptable. Outside of Trumps America it is generally seen as hard right, and is about as acceptable as blatant racism.
    We are associating ourselves with a hard right culture, that is homophobic,sexist, anti muslim, anti immigration, climate change denier, and white supremacist, and dusruptist politically. Many of our members take on this package as what a good member looks like.
    This makes it very difficult for moderate or progressive people to feel comfortable at church associating with these people. I am retired and expected I would go on a mission but can not represent a bigoted organization. It does also make one question whether it can be Christs church if its teachings are so unlike his.
    We used to talk about the church rolling forth to fill the earth, since homophobia became doctrine, we stopped rolling, and I think someone will be held accountable for that. I also think that that Pres Oaks has put so much of his life into promoting homophobia, that he is incapable of progress.
    I agree Walter we have a big problem if only those in power could see it.

  4. The LGBT movement (yes, it is a political movement), is a vile and destructive force in the world. It runs counter to all of Christ’s teachings about the structure of family and self. As this LGBT movement becomes more accepted we will see an increase in suicide. It is not healthy for either the body or the spirit to choose a lifestyle that runs contrary to our creation and eternal goal and purpose. Twenty years ago this was never an issue. We had the Proclamation and no one took offense, it was something everyone basically agreed with. Now that the LGBT movement has taken hold it’s suddenly seen as homophobic. Tools and lies of Satan.

  5. Rob, your representation of events and history is full of holes. Weakens your position substantially and ends up reading as little more than propaganda for its own movement (yes, a political movement).

  6. Robert Osborn shows himself as ignorant of gay history and the history of the LGBT movement, so no one needs to take his other conclusions seriously. He may be right about certain things, but how could we tell through all that ignorance? How about commenters like Robert read some scholarship like Jim Downs’s Stand By Me and other adequate histories instead of whatever source is feeding them misinformation and then spend some time listening to gay Latter-day Saints.

    Replacing all this spouting off with listening and learning would probably result in having much less to say and could also result in having more people to love and support. It is, to be true, not such a good strategy for impassioned online debates, but it is good for the building up of Zion.

  7. I think all this discussion misses the key point — the Church teaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invites all to come to Him — this includes teaching members in our confused societies that purposeful same-sex sexual activity is serious sin.

    Of course, we are all sinners in one way or another, and the Savior also teaches us to love one another.

    From what I can see at a distance, I think the leaders of the Church at the general level do a pretty good job in balancing these — maybe not perfectly, but certainly pretty good.

  8. I stand by my comments. I get so tired of our being forced to be inclusive to the left with the threat of suicide hanging over us. We need to get back to being honest and God bless Elder Oaks for being honest.

  9. 1) LGBT suicide rates aren’t high in Utah; literally no statistical organization tracks the sexual orientation of suicides here. That statistic is *completely* made up.

    2) The church is concerned with getting people to the Celestial Kingdom. It does not and *should* not have any interest in catering to fashionable non-Celestial philosophies; you can get those anywhere on Earth, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only organization pointing to the Celestial Kingdom. As such, “homophobia” or the appearance thereof really shouldn’t be relevant except inasmuch as critics use it as a basis to get people to let go of the iron rod.

  10. I won’t be the first to think this, but “phobia” has been coopted to mean “opposition to” where it used to mean “afraid of”. I see church leaders today as not being afraid of, but stuck. Oaks and others feel strongly about drawing a moral line in the sand, and I believe that they do feel angst over the implications.

    I see the Church leadership as being fairly centrist. I’m a centrist myself and if members in one State want to go nuts, maybe that’s more of a comment on that particular State. I don’t see church leadership as being anti-immigrant, anti-environment, etc.

  11. If people stand by their positions without ever having discussed the subject with people who are actually affected by certain policies and beliefs and you’re just making proclamations from afar, that just makes you … a bad person.

    Thankfully, there’s a way to repent and act more Christlike and become a good person.

  12. A good illustration of the radical superfluousness of a church “leadership” that is more likely to lead one away from rather than TO Christ, an ad-hoc mixing of Gospel w/ right-wing error & prejudice since the days of ETB. No relief in sight, our self-perpetuating hierarchy continues to self-perpetuate.

  13. How come no one ever quotes the passages of scripture where Jesus teaches something offensive and then lets people just walk away? I don’t think there is one instance where he ran after the crowd saying “Did I offend you? Oh, let me change that.”

  14. What ever happened to the fear of God? It seems to be gone these days. Everyone is a god unto themselves. While there are many reasons to avoid sex outside of marriage, fear of offending God and breaking His commandments should be near the top, yet it never even seems to be mentioned.

  15. Lily, how come no one ever quotes the passages of scripture where Jesus condemns homosexuality? Oh, that’s right, there isn’t one. Mormons have 5 standard works, and in not one of them is homosexuality condemned by Jesus– and still, it’s brought up in every general conference. Is it possible that leaders are just out of touch with Christ?

  16. Scott, the scriptures have plenty of commentary on homosexuality:

    Leviticus 18:22 – Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

    Romans 1:27 – And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

    1 Corinthians 1:9 – Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

    Mark 10:6-9 – 6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    There are more, but the above seem plain spoken enough.

  17. Scott,

    The scriptures certainly do not condone homosexuality. The whole concept of sexual orientation is a modern one requiring modern revelation. Which I believe our leaders have received quite clearly to this point.

  18. I honestly can’t believe all of you opinionated commenters actually know any gay people. You might know of one or two, but I can assure you if you knew anything about their lives and struggles you would not speak in this callous manner.

    There is no modern canonized scripture defining the place of gay people in the plan of salvation.

    Not a single verse.

    You can go all the way back to Leviticus and Romans, but these same scriptures support slavery and the treatment of women as property, and sorry, but we’re not taking ancient advice on either of those topics.

  19. I thought that Times and Season’s role was to promote discussion among faithful Latter-Day Saints. Whereas some of the above comments to my mind go against the covenant that we enter into not to speak evil of the Lord’s anointed. I believe President Oaks, a member of the 1st Presidency is speaking for the Lord Jesus Christ who is directing His Church through them. If one has issues with them, then take it up with the Lord who’s policies they are teaching.

  20. @ Wondering: We’re talking about behaviors here and the acceptability of them. That’s pretty much what religion does–proscribes behavior. Discussing the ramifications of homosexual behavior does not equate to condemnation of individuals.

  21. Observer, if you’ve ever held a weeping gay child in your arms, I will speak with you about proscribing behavior. If not, go to hell.

  22. I know plenty of gay people. I have both friends and family members who are gay. I love them just as I love all of God’s children. But loving someone doesn’t mean I condone their choice nor does it mean I turn a blind eye to it. It’s sad that we live in a society where if you follow the prophets you are somehow homophobic. The word is even changing, being redefined and it’s sickening. It used to be that homophobia was the dislike or disdain for the practice. Now it’s being redefined as anything opposed to the complete support and acknowledgement of LGBT people in doing and saying whatever they want. So, a prophet can now come out and say that an LGBT person can have every right and blessing in the church as long as they don’t act on their inclination, but in doing so they get labled as “homophobic”.

    It’s truly sickening.

  23. All I can conclude is that people like Robert are so insecure in their sexuality that they have to say things like they do. Why in the world would you want us to know that about you, Robert? What are you so afraid of?

  24. I think it’s ridiculous to call Oaks a homophobe. It illustrates what many of us have been predicting that anyone not accepting full normalization and acceptance of gay and now trans behaviors will be seen as on par as a racist. This was why I felt social conservatives made a huge mistake in the 90’s. The situation of the past five years was entirely predictable and shouldn’t be surprising in the least. Going forward anyone who doesn’t accept and praise full plastic gender and sexual behaviors will be demonized. (Ironically I predict this means that traditional defenses of homosexuality will soon come under attack as the very idea of fixed sexual identity becomes seen as problematic)

    All that said, Geoff is completely correct. Outside of a few bastions where traditional religion dominates this has become the norm. Even if the Church were to have a revelation allowing some sort of temporal gay marriage it wouldn’t be enough. The period of relative peace from outright persecution that we saw in the 90’s is over. It’s just a different group from the Evangelicals who will demonize us now. Expect things to be more like the 70’s and 80’s again. And over the next decade or two it may be more like the 1870s.

    With regards to Oaks, who arguably pushed for more acceptance and tolerance of homosexuals in the Church than anyone else in the 90’s, unless he says exactly what people want him to say, he’ll be public enemy #1. (Unless the next Pope is a traditionalist that is)

    Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand why people who don’t share the idea of revelation on eternal marriage between a man and wife are upset. Further I think it pretty clear that many members of the Church have acted in quite homophobic ways over the years. But at this point that’s really not what it’s about anymore. We definitely need to be more accepting and loving in our behavior and speech. But if anyone thinks that’ll be enough they’re naive. Unless the Church adopts these social values we’ll completely be seen as immoral. Ironically traditional nuclear family values are fast becoming the new polygamy.

  25. Wondering, if you’re ever held the hand of an anxious fearful teenager because of the peer pressure they feel to be ‘gay’, I will speak with you about not proscribing behavior. If not, well… you said it.

    Again, re-read my last comment. We are talking about behavior, not the value or worth of people.

  26. That’s ridiculous, Observer.

    And if anyone thinks I’m being harsh, you are evidently not seeing the effect comments like these have on people’s lives. You are blind, either willfully or by circumstance. It may be because you don’t want to know; it may be because people don’t trust you to tell you about their lives, but your comments are toxic. You really don’t know what you’re talking about.

  27. And that includes Clark Goble. You don’t know what you’re talking about. This discussion is providing evidence of the Dunning-Kruger effect in real time.

  28. Hum…so I’m insecure with my sexuality because I aspire godliness? Whatever. I’m afraid of people going to hell and not being saved. If that’s the new racist definition then count me in.

  29. I was rereading Elder Oaks most recent (in)famous talk just this morning and was UCD by this line:

    “Our personal decisions should be based on information from sources that are qualified on the subject and *free from selfish motivations.*”

    My thought was just this… Is it a selfish motivation if you are a kind of disgusted by gay people and affronted by the very idea that their sexual orientation may be a part of their divine nature? If you grew up and spent most of your adulthood in a culture that unquestioningly supported this stance? Isn’t it a kind of salve to your own conscience to believe that it is your obligation to adequately “hate the sin” even as you make efforts to “love the sinner?”

    I have a father and uncles—good, righteous, active men—with whom I will never discuss these issues because they are too invested in their discomfort with homosexuality to muster much compassion for their individual LGBT brothers and sisters. And as far as I can tell, that is the GOOD end of the spectrum. I have also seen truly malicious people cloak their naked hatred of the LGBT community in the words of our modern prophets. To me this is the very essence of taking the name of the Lord in vain.

    I am concerned that Elder Oaks seems to see himself as a disinterested party in this question. It is too complicated for any one of us to to insist we have no selfish motivations.

  30. Wondering, all I see from your comments is a complete condescending self-righteous unwillingness to engage with viewpoints different from your own. Have a good day.

  31. Clark (Goble) and Walter (van Berk): This comment string has long since become toxic and I’m 80% ready to never turn to Times and Seasons again. But with my remaining 20% interest, I’d like to insert a sort-of “other side” to Clark’s comment above. My view of the ‘debate’ is that the Church chose an orientation vs behavior line of argument and distinction and/but it does not work. It has failed. For arguably three reasons:

    1. The more liberal parts of our society (where I place myself, which is why I label this comment “other side”) simply don’t accept it. For whatever reason—too little too late. not logical. not in line with the desired outcome, whatever—it is not an accepted distinction. (I read Clark’s comment as saying this, better and longer.)

    2. The orientation vs behavior line has been proven too many times by too many people to be a feint, an attempt at a politically correct way to express outright fear of and distaste for gay people generally. However real in many people’s minds, it has been spoiled by those for whom it is a thin mask.

    3. To my mind (and I think many others) it is a false dichotomy. It only works in a choice or disease model of sexuality, and when (ever?) a person comes to a/the realization that sexuality is an inherent characteristic—a lifetime and beyond kind of thing—the orientation vs behavior distinction is no longer satisfying. There are a lot of people inside the Church and out who believe the inherent characteristic model about themselves or their friends and family, and for many of us the repetition of “orientation vs behaviror”—which is standard Church talk—is itself offensive and damaging. That is a divide I despair of crossing.

  32. Easy does it Observer, you are supposed to be in hell.

    Years ago as a young high school teacher in Utah, I witnessed the hazing of students who were accused of being gay. I quickly put an end to it, at least an end to the type of hazing that can be witnessed by a teacher. I got to know the victims rather quickly. They tended to be academic or artistic and were some of the finest students I have ever taught. They were resilient beyond belief and often supported other students in their struggles. In my long decades of teaching LGBT students, most of whom were LDS, not one ever committed suicide.

    I have unfortunately had students commit suicide. In several instances, activists outside of victim’s family, community and circle of friends, made claims that the victim was gay and that they committed suicide because their family and friends could not come to terms with their sexual preferences. In those cases the accusations were fabricated, false, incredibly cruel and hurt some people severely.

    Granted, my experience is anecdotal to this discussion. But I really don’t trust what activist groups say about the lives of LDS teens, and their actions suggest that the family is not something worth protecting.

  33. You know what, Observer? I am so sad and and in such deep distress that I am shaking. All these comments and many like them said in Young Men and Young Women and Sunday School classes and sacrament meetings all over the church week after week are why children and whole families are leaving the Church. In my area, many more people have left the Church specifically because of comments like this and church policies than have joined the Church in two decades. Many more. I see families raising their two to six children outside the Church because they cannot in good conscience be part of this.

    Something is not right. We are failing our youth. We are failing the families and people of the Church.

    Go ahead and wish me a good day, but these comments — the ones here and the ones we hear on Sundays at Church — continue to wound already wounded souls. Including mine. I need to disengage, but someone needs to let people know that making comments like these and calling down condemnation on gay people is not a victimless endeavor. You’re hurting people. You’re hurting families, including mine. You’re making people sick. Why do you all (speaking not just to the people here, but to those who say such things in other settings) keep doing this after people have explained the damage you’re doing?

  34. Thanks, Walter, for the post. Carefully written and measured out. Unfortunate that the comments have largely failed to engage with the post and instead into an exhibit of the inability to do much more than gut-react.

    Moving as much outside of my own opinions as I can, I second your concerns. In my currently calling, myself and another leader in the presidency visited active, temple-going members of the ward. Of the six families involved that night, half of them had been divorced after being sealed. Half the families. None because of gay-marriage. And yet, when we talk about the family being under attack in the Church, that tends to be the sub-text. “Who cares about heterosexual-marriages falling apart when we have gay people wanting to get married?” is the subtext. We have to deal with that. That’s the perception of us and largely the reality within our established discourse. It also appears, however, that within the walls of our chapels, that is becoming less and less the position. We have to deal with that as well. Some do by condemning those people whose views of active members as being deceived. They would feel supported in this. But that doesn’t actually deal with the problem. It keeps happening. It will continue to happen. Elder Oaks seems to realize it will continue to happen, and it thus resisting in ways that he knows how. Others are reacting in ways they know how–on both sides of the issue. Hopefully, we can do it with more of a search of being good than being simply correct.

  35. I find this answer from Elder Oaks sow discord with regard to homosexual family members more than promoting love. His public pronouncements and discourse on dealing with homosexuals have caused me to seek out God on the matter. God’s inspiration from the Holy Ghost to me is different than what Elder Oaks teaches. Therefore I must testify that I personally don’t believe his teachings on this matter are from God. This is from mormonnewsroom:

    PUBLIC AFFAIRS: At what point does showing that love cross the line into inadvertently endorsing behavior? If the son says, ‘Well, if you love me, can I bring my partner to our home to visit? Can we come for holidays?’ How do you balance that against, for example, concern for other children in the home?’

    ELDER OAKS: That’s a decision that needs to be made individually by the person responsible, calling upon the Lord for inspiration. I can imagine that in most circumstances the parents would say, ‘Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position.’ Surely if there are children in the home who would be influenced by this example, the answer would likely be that. There would also be other factors that would make that the likely answer.

    I can also imagine some circumstances in which it might be possible to say, ‘Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy house guest. Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your “partnership.”

  36. Christian, I agree the comments have been unfortunate. To everyone, think of how people read what you say (on all sides). I’d hate to have to close the comments.

    That said I’m not sure the issue is orientation vs. behavior. Indeed what’s interesting to me is that in pop culture what’s shifting is the very notion of essentialist orientation. Fluidity is now the topic among the young and gender essentialism is fast being seen as on par with stereotypical social conservative claims of seeing only heterosexuality as essential to humanity.

    I do think that the real issue for many, particularly those on the left, is that if there’s orientation in some strong sense, then the inability to act on that naturally leads to highly negative psychological effects. That’s why you see depression, suicide and the like as the main objection to Mormon theology. If there’s not a straightforward way to be happy in our theology, but clear behaviors leading to short term happiness then intrinsically the theology is seen as immoral. There’s no really getting around that which is why the conflict is (IMO) unavoidable. Even people who see that inherent conflict but feel bound by theology are seen as immoral. (See “Wondering”‘s comment about me above) There’s only one valid choice and that’s full expression of what’s seen as orientation. (Either the more traditional homosexual essential orientation view or the newer fluidity orientation)

    Certainly I understand why some see orientation vs. behavior as a feint. However I’d say that theologically all that’s proscribed is behavior. I think those on the theological left really are avoiding the theological issues. I won’t say too much there. I think the two posts last year by Jonathan and by John Gustav-Wrathall went through all those. More or less the liberal position has been, if there’s a theological conflict then the theology has to change. That seems problematic.

    Brian, just as I think we can walk and chew bubble gum, I think we can simultaneously see many problems with the nuclear family in society. I’d probably say that dating and decisions of marriage drive divorce more than behavior within marriage. But certainly divorce remains a problem. I think it’s something that by and large the educated middle classes have solved. Nuclear families are pretty ubiquitous there even if the birth rate has dropped significantly. Move out of those social classes though and I’d argue it’s a disaster and the biggest danger to the family. However I also think that the devaluing of marriage remains a problem for the middle classes as well. One might well argue that the normalization of gay marriage, if anything, may increase the value of marriage among the middle class. (See “The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage” for arguments along those lines)

  37. Clark, (in relation to your response to my comments). Yes. That’s why some people are frustrated by the Church’s culture (explicit and implied) of attaching ‘attacks on the family and marriage’ to gay marriage. I think we are in agreement here.

  38. I think my point was that the Church doesn’t see see attacks on the family as limited to gay issues. Again as with gay issues one has to be careful with language – something that even well meaning people often aren’t. I remain convinced that divorce often is the right choice to get out of a toxic environment. However one doesn’t have to look far to see Oaks commenting on that, for instance. I think it just demonstrably wrong that the Church only or even primarily cares about gay issues. It’s what society is myopic about at the moment though.

  39. Clark, I agree that some of the conversation has been had, and while there should be more it probably belongs in a different place, so I’ll keep this short and appropriately cryptic. I (think I) understand the word and the uses and misuses of “fluidity.” I think that takes us down a path full of potholes that ultimately dead ends. On the other hand, I do believe that a theology built on an essential binary will never be powerful or inclusive enough to encompass creation.

  40. Just to be clear, I’m not agreeing with fluidity. However culturally particularly among the young (16-25 year olds) it’s a major view. It’s odd in that it ends up being quite similar to the norms of the 1980’s only with a far more libertarian ethic.

  41. I suspect that regardless of all the words being spilled here, Clark, many commenters and readers simply don’t realize how many mothers and grandmothers and aunts in the church are absolutely heartsick of their children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews being called evil and told that God hates them and that they are leading to the downfall of society. (Yes, these are things they and their siblings and friends hear with some regularity in some form or another at church and seminary.)

    These are our little babies who grew up and realized — often to their horror — that they were the people the apostles and sacrament meeting speakers were warning the Church against. These children grew up singing “I Am a Child of God” and believing the message of the gospel and suddenly discovered that they were hated and feared. With all your fancy words, how do you suggest someone moves forward when they’ve been told repeatedly by people they should trust that God hates them? (I could give multiple examples from multiple families and wards; people that I know personally; this is not an imagined scenario.)

    I have no association with any advocacy group including Mama Dragons, but please in the midst of all your fancy words and figurings, remember the mothers of the Church who are operating on the front lines and find themselves ready to go to war when people tell their children that God hates them but still have to keep silent to preserve the privacy of their children.

    Telling someone to go to hell is toning down how I feel about the damage done to tender young hearts.

  42. The gay lifestyle is a choice. It’s also immoral. It is no different than a man that cheats on his spouse, they are both making a bad immoral choice. So why is it then that telling someone they shouldn’t cheat on their spouse is okay but telling someone else they shouldn’t choose to live a gay lifestyle is wrong? It really tells me that our moral compass in society has lost its bearing.

  43. Clark, I see. Yes, I agree that the Church considers many things a threat to families, not just gay marriage. But I also think those ‘other things’ are largely not what members are talking about when they talk about the family and marriage being under attack. In most of the wards I’ve lived in (I have moved a great deal), they are talking about how society is ‘changing’ family and marriage to include gay couples and families. I know this because they explicitly state that. For them, gay marriage is the big thing to (keep) fighting. perhaps because people don’t like to look at themselves. I don’t know. I’m suggesting these members feel they have reason to focus on gay marriage as a threat to family and marriage, because that is a current focus from leaders. We don’t have to go far to find this. Even less far. Also, I’m not arguing that divorce is or isn’t bad. I’m arguing that we collectively focus on the family and marriage being under attack via gay marriage when, in fact, we shouldn’t be.

  44. Got it. You won’t answer the difficult questions and you don’t engage the post. You’ve had your say. Maybe time to move along?

  45. Gender and orientation exist along a continuum. If the upper quorums were less reactionary echo chambers this could be discussed, debated and resolved non-binarily i.e. in a manner that does not exclude whole categories of human beings. For instance someone of HB Brown’s wide erudition might present the case of androgen receptor mutations, and all the multitudinous varieties thereof. Where do you put these people? I work with a dizzying variety of androgynes, most of whom seem happy, well-adjusted and firmly connected to other androgynes. Apparently we are to ignore these good people and their innocent children until …? How is this the Gospel of Christ? Please don’t pretend that it is.

  46. Just a few thoughts:

    1. Prez Oaks is homophobic or he wouldn’t obsess over LGBTQ+ issues. Unfortunately his homophobia mutes his crusade for religious freedom. Much of the world views his arguments related to religious freedom as a thinly disguised justification for discrimination.
    2. Scriptural justification for the Church’s attitude toward gays is extremely thin. Please don’t talk to me about Leviticus.
    3. Prez Nelson’s insinuation that PoX is revelation also seems thin. It seems like an act of desperation.
    4. There are biological (including genetic) explanations for homosexuality et al. You can’t cure homosexuality.
    5. To deprive individuals of physical love is wrong period. It’s wrong for Catholic priests and it’s wrong to impose on gays.
    6. I’m old enough to remember the black ban. We are repeating the same mistakes with the LGBTQ+ community.
    7. The Church’s perceived homophobia is destroying missionary efforts in North America and Europe.

  47. Really, Roger? Denying physical love to Catholic priests is wrong? The district attorneys of Pennsylvania and several other states would disagree with you on that one.

  48. Pres. Oaks is not homophobic. Such lables pushed by the left just further drive the wedge.

  49. There are conservatives who support LGBT rights and call other homophobic. The idea pushed by Rob that there that isn’t just further drives the wedge. And the fact that he uses euphemisms like the ‘gay lifestyle’ for gay sex. Further driving the wedge. Wedge driver, that one.

  50. Also, Rob, are you aware of those leaked training videos? He is obsessed, with homosexuals. Sees them everywhere.

  51. Having held a TR since 1967, and been on missions for 10 years of my life, but never lived in Utah, is the bacground to my understanding.
    So I have seen the leadership of the church defend racism, attack birth control, …. attack gay marriage. They stopped defending racism, they stopped attacking birth control, but they spent their credibility. Oaks has dedicated his life to stopping gay marriage. Way to waste half a life, big fail. But he has so much invested he seems unable to stop, even if the Lord told him to.
    My personal revelation says all are alike unto God and that Christs followers should not be discriminating against anyone.
    So I agree with Rogerds list above, except I would add that not only percieved homophobia is a problem for spreading the gospel, but we by our homophobia have become part of the hard right, and basically irrelevant, but also unchristlike.
    I see some above who seem certain that Oaks is speaking for God. As explained past actions have eroded my confidence. I believe the leadership need to teach love as Christ did. I see no gospel reason we should discriminate against gay people, or women. I don’t believe the Lord does. Like most of the past problems the leadership are defending conservative culture, not defending the gospel of Christ.

  52. Homophobic church? Yes. 100%.

    The term homophobia is given its definition collectively. You can try and redefine that term, but your redefinition may not gain traction and if it doesn’t, then it is useless. The LDS church and its leaders have taught homophobia for decades and while they have undoubtedly softened, they continue to be homophobic.

    The rejection of same-sex marriage as real marriage is in and of itself homophobic. Sorry if you don’t think that it is. Again, terms are defined collectively, and it would appear that the majority of people using the term homophobia would regard invalidating same-sex marriage as real marriage to be homophobic. For in so doing, you are treating same-sex couples as if they are inherently inferior to opposite-sex couples.

    Sorry if you don’t want to be labeled as homophobes, oh intellectual conservative believers. But, I cannot stress this enough; what you think or don’t think to be homophobic doesn’t fit how homophobia is collectively understood. It isn’t your term. You can’t redefine it however you please.

    My question is, why you care about being labeled homophobic? You certainly don’t care about rejecting same-sex marriage. You don’t care about fully backing the November 2015 policy.

  53. Wondering, Clark Goble is Dunning-Kruger on steroids. He always has been. Mouths off on blogs, has no balls to publish a book or take it to the next level.

  54. Good grief. That’s all she wrote folks. These comments are way too toxic. I normally never touch an other poster’s comments but I think it’s time to close the comments.

  55. The comments are closed, and that is a good thing. Due to time differences I have not had the opportunity to react myself, so I am writing here my reaction to the many comments. This discussion comes to a close, since the debate tends to get polarized instead of merging. This is, of course, part of a larger discussion that will be continued elsewhere. It is clear I hit a nerve, and that is what I expected; from across the oceanic divide it is not see easy to gouge the intensity of the reactions, and again I underestimated it somewhat. Yes, this is a hot topic, and yes, this is very much at the front of the Church’s presence in the present day world. My point is that this should not be the case, for a host of reasons. This is not an arena we should be in, it is a no-win battle, even if we think to be on the right side (which I am not sure of). The blog is also a signal that outside the Domestic Church the LDS members may think differently, the Church is much more heterogeneous that most people realize. But what unites us is our love for Christ and the tender feeling that he loves us. All of us.
    Walter van Beek

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