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Sunday, October 10, 2010

President Boyd K. Packer's Talk and LDS Moral Standards: Important Editorial from the Deseret News

The anger unleashed in response to Elder Packer's talk at General Conference is disappointing. Even more disappointed is the effort of some to find hostile intent where no hostility was meant. Some have accused President Packer's support of traditional morality as a call for bullying and persecution of homosexuals. This is outrageous given his express words to the contrary and the Church's vigorous efforts to condemn and prevent violence and hostility. The Church has repeatedly affirmed that whether people accept our moral positions or not, whether they are gay or not, they are all sons and daughters of God deserving kindness. It is irresponsible in the extreme to accuse the Church of hate for its moral standards or to link the Church with hostility or violence that is contrary to its teachings.

"A Call for Civil Dialogue" is an important editorial that just appeared in the Deseret News several hours ago. Please read the story. Also read or listen to President Packer's entire talk, not the hostile spinning of what he said. Here is an excerpt from the news story:
This focused attention on the LDS Church is deeply ironic given the church's shared condemnation of hate and violence toward gays and lesbians, its mutual support of anti-discrimination laws for gays and lesbians and its compassionate ministry to LDS Church members who have same-gender attraction.

This past week, the LDS Church re-emphasized "that there is no room in this discussion for hatred or mistreatment of anyone." This is not new — it mirrors, for example, how the LDS Church helped to champion a Salt Lake City ordinance banning discrimination of gays and lesbians in housing and employment. And it is consistent with how the LDS Church has ministered to members with same-gender attraction.

In a 2007 article in the LDS Church's Ensign magazine, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland relates a conversation with a self-described gay member of the LDS Church: "You are first and foremost a son of God, and He loves you. What's more, I love you. My Brethren among the General Authorities love you."

Interestingly, given the events of this week, Elder Holland spoke about other church leaders: "I'm reminded of a comment President Boyd K. Packer made in speaking to those with same-gender attraction. 'We do not reject you,' he said. '… We cannot reject you, for you are the sons and daughters of God. We will not reject you, because we love you.' "...

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

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

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

This distortion is not only misguided and political, it is dangerous. It frays trust that helps people of goodwill from different perspectives to constructively address the serious problems under consideration. By holding up a caricatured account of people's spiritual leaders, those in greatest need of pastoral care may be mistakenly alienated from the very people who can compassionately help them get access to professional resources and counseling.
As you know, there were a couple of sentences in President Packer's talk that are being revised for the official print version of his talk. I feel that is healthy. Though inspired and called of God to serve, Church leaders remain completely mortal and human in their ministry. It's fair that we be prepared for revisions at times to repair statements that might not be accurate or ideal. The continued hostility against the Church for his talk, even with the softening or clarification, reflects more than a good faith dialog. I suggest we need to calm down. My two cents.

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110 comments:

Papa D said...

Amen, Jeff. I'm not surprised, unfortunately, but I still am disappointed.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

People may disagree with the Church's moral position and feel it is antiquated or unfair, but they are not victims of hate by Church.

To speak for traditional marriage and to speak against sex outside of marriage is not hate speech toward homosexuals. Neither is it hate speech against Bill Clinton, Hugh Hefner, and many other men who may have excess sex drive. It isn't hate speech against teenagers who get pregnant. The emphasis on morality and general social stigma, especially years ago, may have been contributing factors to depression and even suicide among some teenagers, which is terribly tragic. But the Church's position is to love and help, not to mock and belittle, and those who mock and jeer are guilty of a great sin. Eradicating all moral standards is not the solution.

Any standard for behavior may create stress and pain for those who have difficulty with it. That difficulty may be at least partly genetic as may be the case with some people's attraction to alcohol, for example, but that doesn't turn the moral standard into hate. My pain does not make those who teach standards guilty of hate speech, especially when the intent is to protect me and help. Call the standard antiquated or misguided and teach your own standards instead, but to accuse the Church of hate for its moral position is horribly misguided and reveals an agenda that has little to do with a sincere quest for tolerance and understanding.

Paul said...

Hi Jeff, The leaders of our church reserve the right to call other people's relationships "counterfeits", "wrong", "wickedness", "impure", and "unnatural" (all quotes from that part of Elder Packer's talk and quotes that were not modified). They then say this is done purely in love. It would be very hard for a non-Mormon gay person to read Elder Packer's talk and believe that we really did love everyone. For example, do you think that anti-Mormon ministry evangelicals have genuine love for LDS people? Do the ways they characterize the mormon religion have something to do with it? I am not saying the brethred don't love homosexuals, just that it is very understandable that others believe they don't.

Given our own history on other subjects, it is very easy for others to believe that some real hostility is behind those words of Elder Packer or will be justified by others using those words. Remember, we said we loved black people and the priesthood ban was not racist, but black students were denied scholarships at BYU because of their race, etc., etc., etc.

Josh said...

I agree with Paul. It's like the Church wants to have it both ways: they want to condemn homosexuality as a perversion, and homosexuals as perverted - and yet, claim this is done out of love and respect. It's hard to condemn somebody and show them love and respect at the same time. People outside the church, or not as sympathetic, can see through this sort of hypocrisy.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Fair question, Paul. The analogy to anti-Mormons is interesting. Love does not necessarily mean agreeing with others or their position. Indeed, love can motivate a parent to correct a child in error, or a Church to teach against practices that it believes are in error, and such can be done with love as a real motivation. Even for anti-Mormons.

There are ministries speaking against our Church and teachings where I believe there is a sincere desire to help us and to serve God, and yes, love is part of the effort, even though I think they are wrong. When there is civility in tone and some level of respect, I hesitate to use the word "anti-Mormon" for these critics. But there are ones that are hostile in the sense of deliberately inciting others to be angry at us, stirring up fear through misunderstanding. knowingly distorting information and sometimes seeking to interfere with our worship, with our temple building, etc. The street preacher yelling at Mormons as they go to General Conference is an example where it's really hard to accept love as a motivation.

One can always make a case that taking any position contrary to someone else creates potential for hostility and animosity of others. To speak against abortion could be conflated with wackos who hurt abortion doctors. To speak against alcohol could be equated with the burning of liquor stores or hate against alcoholics. But that does not mean that the moral stance is one of hate. We stand for traditional marriage, but that does not mean we advocate hostility or anger toward those who practice otherwise. Ditto for other behaviors we consider as wrong. Perhaps we are misguided in this stance, but it's not one of hate. Recognize the difference, please.

Anonymous said...

I loved Boyd K packers talk and people who are angry about the stances reiterated in it are nitpicking. He spoke against non marital hetro-sexual relationships and pornography in the same talk. Does that mean he hates anybody who does or has engaged in those activities as well? You can love and accept a person without loving or accepting their behavior...

Paul said...

Hi Jeff,
I am not trying to make the case that the point of view of the brethren is one of hate. The point I was trying to make was simply that it is very understandable how this talk is being perceived outside the church, and that our PR efforts on this issue are likely going to be ineffective outside of the church. It is generally part of current American culture that using adjectives like "counterfeit" "impure" "wickedness" and "unnatural" to describe someone's cherished intimate relationship is typically not compatible with that person thinking you are their friend. Ideally, we would live in a culture where repentance was more popular than professional sports, but I don't think we are going to see that soon. In the church we are used to being called to repentance in various ways for various things, so such language seems more normal to us. To reiterate, I am trying to say that the response of those outside the church is very understandable and given our past actions on other controversial subjects, we won't have the credibility with them that we would like to have.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Paul, thanks for elaborating. I see better where you are coming from. Fair points.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

But Paul, even if we didn't have past flaws in the eyes of the world, would that really make a difference in this debate? If we had always been on the vanguard of civil rights in decades past, from our early days of abolitionist leanings right into the 70s without the problematic priesthood limitations, would that change the howling now that the Church has supported Prop. 8 and maintained a moral stance that infuriates some activists?

From my perspective, the most vocal militants on the gay marriage side aren't going to be any calmer if a perceived enemy has a progressive track record in other venues. And our highly politicized media wouldn't be more tolerant of political incorrectness.

There are many on both sides of the issue willing to engage in civil dialog, but the fury isn't being fomented by them. It's not a debate the militants are seeking, but a revolution. For that, the humanitarian track record of an opponent doesn't matter much.

Paul said...

Jeff,
I see your point that critics of the church are likely single issue critics in this case. So I concede.

I appreciate your support of people engaging in civil dialog. Like those seeking large changes, I don't think our leaders are engaging in "debates" either. It is not clear to me that that civil dialog was what the church was doing with this talk, or what it is doing generally. I agree that the "public square" is highly politicized. However it is highly politicized on the right and on the left. On the right, church-owned radio stations broadcast and profit from Rush Limbaugh among other right-wing hosts. Instead of complaining about the political correctness of the media, we could acknowledge that the church has a large amount of airwave influence relative to our size and church media influence skews to the right politically both for political and financial reasons. So we are not helpless victims of political correctness, but instead actively profiting from fairly extreme right wing political communications. We are part of the highly politicized media more than we are part of the civil dialog, in terms of numbers of people communicated with per day.

Nate W. said...

Jeff, I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm not worried about the intent of the church, but rather the effect that it has on the children who are listening to it. This cartoon explains the situation pretty well. The words we say have consequences.

I just wish that a lot more emphasis would be placed on loving the sinner–especially since the demographic of wavering gays in the Church is so small and the demographic of potential bullies is so much larger.

Anonymous said...

That cartoon is totally false and kids are far smarter than you give them credit for. I had people tell me those things as a kid and what they said is what I heard. And just like them i am respectful towards others even if they are engaging in behaviors I don't approve of. The kids being violent towards gays would be violent towards another group if they weren't. In other words a bully is a bully and instead of looking at why a particular child was bullied we should be looking into why another child thinks its ok to bully regardless of the why. Our words do have consequences you are right and when such blunt words as Elder Packer used are not used then it just becomes more permissible to do in the minds of those willing to engage in immoral activity.

Anonymous said...

Track records work both ways. The hate and hysteria from the Left in this area bodes poorly for any kind of meaningful and civil dialog.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Nate, thanks for the input, but I hope you'll look at that cartoon again and notice how it:

(1) insults the integrity and intelligence of teachers and school administrators who generally are ethical and responsible opponents of violence and bullying,

(2) insults the intelligence of children as if they cannot be taught religious or moral standards without using violence against those who are different or disagree, and

(3) insults Dobson and his pro-family Christian peer with a misleading caricature of their position.

That's a lot of insulting, misleading caricaturing in one short cartoon. Are you really sure that's something you feel is a useful contribution to civil dialog?

Food for thought.

So what evidence is there that conservative Christians are beating up gay kids based on what they hear at church? There will be anecdotal cases, but a real link?

What do kids hear when they are taught to be kind to people regardless of their beliefs and behaviors? What do kids hear when they are told that gay or straight, everyone is a son or daughter of God? The kids I know are smart enough to digest the idea that some things are sinful but that we should still be nice to sinners.

Nate W. said...

If being civil on this means that I can't point out the likely effects of a person's words, then by all means, call me uncivil. Frankly, I'm much less interested in offending adults than in children's lives. Another teen took his own life this week. I'll start worrying about James Dobson's feelings when he starts worrying about the feelings of gay teens.

I'm also kind of surprised to hear you actually challenge the connection between religious condemnation and teen suicide. I figured the stories such as those of Stuart Matis would have made the connection beyond reasonable question. I will simply point you towards Carol Lynn Pearson's book No More Goodbyes which addresses the issue thoroughly. Or I suppose you could ask gay members or former members how they felt after reading "To the One." Because they are not directed to you, I would suggest you might not be the best judge of the effect of the religious community's words on gay teens.

I agree with what you are saying as far as what positive messages about everyone being children of God. More of this, preferably without qualification, is what is needed. However, these words will never get through if the actions of parents and other adults contradict the message. I don't doubt that children are quite insightful, but they also have not learned (and I'm being uncivil again--I just don't know a civil way to say it) the doublespeak of claiming to love people while calling them an abomination. That's not saying anything bad about kids; I don't know how to do it either.

Stephen M (Ethesis) said...

Enjoyed this post Jeff

fuzzy said...

I left the church over Prop 8---while the church may believe whatever it believes, to attempt to abrogate an entire group's civil rights on the grounds of religion violates its own articles of faith.

In addition, there are children's lives at stake here, lives of gay LDS kids who believe themselves unaccepted and unacceptable.....whatever happened to the standard of acting to the least of us? Sure seemed to be in full force when they told me my kneecaps could inspire vicious lust in some unfortunate priesthood holder......

Nate W. said...

One more thought:

How is it that the ideas expressed in the cartoon are not civil, while saying that gay relationships are a perversion and anti-family counts as civil discourse?

Stan said...

The two things that interested me most in this controversy are that, one: it appears to me that the president of the quorum of the 12 apostles broke ranks with the well crafted and honed church position on gays, then was reigned in the next day. While president Packer's remarks are consistent with his own previous remarks on the topic, they are not consistent, as spoken from the pulpit, with the current position of the church in both tone and content. The edited version posted on line is more consistent.
Second: The status of the proclamation on the family as revelation has been debated for many years. It appears that question has been clarified. It also appears that president Packers remarks concerning the proclamation were again, out of line with the church position.

This debacle, to me, shows that there is not always harmony among the leaders of the church and the issue of gays is not only divisive within the membership of the church, but also within the highest leadership of the church. Perhaps not on the moral standing of gays, but at least how the church should present it position.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

The cartoon is relatively civil on the face of it and makes its point well, but is nonetheless a hostile misrepresentation of school administrators, in my opinion, in addition to its other problems such as laying the problem of bullying at the feet of Christians or the implied inability of young people to distinguish between preaching against sin and a call for sinful violence. As such, I feel it is misleading and unkind, and not a helpful contribution to civil dialog. But it's not all that bad and is mild compared to what some folks say about Mormons in light of Prop. 8. There you can find some much better examples of hate speech than President Packer's talk.

My comment to you was challenging the link between teaching religious moral standards and violence against gays. I'm not aware of a genuine documented link, but am willing to consider real data. I recognize that suicide has been a problem for some caught between the tension of being gay and feeling that being gay is wrong. There aren't easy answers here. Yes, the Church recognizes that the orientation or yearnings themselves are not evil, but that sex outside of traditional marriage is, but that doesn't make things a whole lot easier.

Yes, we need more sensitivity to the challenges that gay and transgender individuals face. Absolutely. At all levels. I think you will find that sensitivity growing slowly in the Church. I think all of us on the LDS side of things are horrified at bullying and violence against young people struggling with sexuality or gender issues. I pray that we can be more loving, reduce bullying, and provide support in the midst of great uncertainties to help those dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. But I can't explain or rationalize how difficult and painful things are for some. For this difficult mortal journey, patience and love is the best we can do. I think the Church is trying, and hope we can have more civil dialog instead of anger.

Anonymous said...

I think that it's great that the Deseret news and the Church call for "civil discourse".

I also think that it's odd that the times when they call for civil discourse are when they feel they are the ones being attacked.

Anonymous said...

This has actually brought the LDS into high profile in communities that have little direct knowledge of the church.

The fact that that speech was delivered at a time when one tragic suicide was following another was, simply, tone deaf. I never thought of god as tone deaf. Are we really supposed to believe that your officials are "inspired" to be so callous and tactless and counterproductive?

Holly said...

Well, as a lesbian atheist (I was active LDS for a long time and I still have a great amount of respect for the LDS faith. I lost belief in a god through things that had nothing at all to do with the church.) I am embarrassed at the way my fellow homosexuals have reacted towards not only the LDS church but many other churches. Of course, I hope that one day there will be marriage allowed to to gays but I understand that not all will agree nor support it. I listened to Packer's talk and I honestly didn't see any hatred in it. Just someone who was expressing what they believed to be right and I have to say there has been much, much worse about homosexuality said by non-LDS people (The Bible Answerman comes to mind). And the gay community seems to say nothing. Now, don't get me wrong, I do disagree with the church's stance on homosexuality (of course) and I think the timing of the talk was far from the best but I understand their perspective. I didn't see anything hateful about his talk but almost every one of my gay friends where almost chopping at the bit to protest and criticize. Like I said, I am a lesbian, I don't believe in God and I was once active LDS so you'd think I would be the first to be angry with Packer's talk. Other than the timing being IMHO horrible(with the suicides) there was no hate in the talk. And I had attempted killing myself on many occasions because I wanted to rid myself of the homosexual feelings I had so I understand the talk could invoke negative emotions in kids going through same-sex attractions but not as bad as other materials out there. I guess in the long drawn out post what I am saying is...I have seen worse and the my fellow homosexuals should be focusing on the Westboro Baptist church's effects on children and not just the Mormons.

Anonymous said...

Elder Packer made the mistake of saying that gays can change if they really want to. It's like saying an alcoholic can change if they really want to. The issue here is not about if one feels gays are born that way or not. The issue is that many gays struggle with being gay, and ignorant comments made by anyone only hurts them more.

Elder Packer was wrong to say what he said. Just like Elder Kimball, as an apostle, was wrong to say that children born in an interracial marriage will face more problems- so interracial marriage is wrong. OF COURSE THESE KIDS ARE GOING TO HAVE PROBLEMS! SOCIETY WAS TOO IGNORANT TO ACCEPT THE CHOICES OF THEIR PARENTS! My ward today was filled with lots of married couples from mixed races. We are cool with it because we know better.

I hold a current temple recommend, and I will vote to allow gays the right to marry. There's no irony here. Let God work at the details in the next life, but we should stop this madness of saying we love the sinner, but hate the sin. We can't. Hate is hate. Period!

Anonymous said...

Holly, you might be sincere, but you miss the point. The gay community is not suspect here.

Bookslinger said...

Written versions of talks are submitted weeks prior to General Conference in order to meet publishing deadlines of the Ensign and Liahona. The online text of General Conference talks comes from the text version of the talk submitted for publication, and not a live as-delivered transcription.

Nicole Jade said...

"Let God work at the details in the next life, but we should stop this madness of saying we love the sinner, but hate the sin. We can't. Hate is hate. Period!"

That would make sense if there was actually hate in President Packer's words, but there wasn't, no matter how hard you try to make it seem like there was. You are basically saying that any time any Church leader speaks out against any sin that it is proof that they hate the sinner.

Holly said...

I am not I am missing the point and I don't think gays are suspect here at all. But it is late so I imagine I didn't make myself clear enough.

I just view the situation differently. I live in Utah so when I first heard about it I got the impression it was a full on, clear cut example of a hate speech. It was far from it and the first thing that came to me and my wife's mind was: "What was the big deal about that? There have been worse things said."

Plan and simple it wasn't a hate speech.

Did those of us who are homosexuals have a right to be offended? YES. Do I think we over-reacted by calling it an outright hate speech? Yes. We are making it out to be like a sermon from Fred Phelps or Pat Robertson.

Now don't get me wrong, this was possibly the worst case of bad timing to say something the public doesn't want to hear in Church history. Everything from Prop 8 to the horrible bullying that has been in the news just screams *DON'T GO THERE*. But of course there is this thing called freedom of speech.

I disagree with the Church's stance on homosexuality and I disagree with the things Elder Packer said in his talk.

I don't think the gay community is suspect here at all but I do think there was tad bit over-reacting. When I came out of the closet I lived with a group of LDS girls who knew I was gay and although I never had a girlfriend around them they still bullied me for being a lesbian (and it wasn't a 'we disagree with your lifestyle' they locked me out, left me on the other side of town with no way home, stole my stuff, and so on). So I know first hand what bullying can do to someone. I tried killing myself more than once. My heart goes out to the family and friends of those affected by being treated harshly for being yourself. Not matter who you love or what church you belong you shouldn't be treated cruelly.

I just can't justify calling it a hate speech and sending him hate mail and open letters and comparing it to the good 'ole Pastor Jerry blaming 9/11 on gays and lesbians and well, pretty much anyone who isn't born again Christian.

I have gotten plenty of hateful treatment for my relationship and my lack of belief in a god but if someone said to me what Boyd K. Packer said and if it was done to my face I still wouldn't call it a hate speech.

It wasn't a hate speech. I don't think it was the best thing to say especially at this time but that doesn't make it right to treat it like something it's not. Disagree with the statements but don't call it something it isn't. That's my problem with it.

And it's not like he was saying that he hated gays. go to godhatesf*gs.com. That is someone saying that gays are hated.

There were some protests that I did feel have a good meaning behind them. One was a silent protest over bullying and bigotry in general.

Plan and simple I am a gay atheist who has to say that this wasn't a hate speech. Just a poorly timed, IMHO misguided one.

mkprr said...

The pain of young teens feeling unworthy of being part of society is something that was made very real to me when I worked for about a year in a youth corrections facility. We had 14 cells in the unit I worked om and it was very rare that we wouldn't have at least one of the teenagers on constant suicide watch.

I guess there are two ways you can get rid of that feeling for troubled teens. You can either convince them that they really didn't do anything wrong and they should feel good about themselves, or you can assure them that they are still valued and can change their behavior in the future.

At the correction facility we didn't have the luxury of using the first method, they were there because they had done something that wasn't acceptable in society. We had to rely on the less immediate method of relieving that pain by assuring them that there is hope and doing our best to help them change.

Personally I can't think of better timing than now for president Packers encouraging remarks. Telling someone they can change is not as immediate of a relief as telling them they don't need to change and that all is right, but when you feel that change is needed, it's the most loving compassionate option you have left.

I have heard some doubt expressed here by some that the church can't teach to hate the sin without hating the sinner. I know that my personal experience might not speak for everyone, but I was surprised to find that when I worked with troubled youth, the severity of the crimes they committed (ranging from failure to show up in court, to child molestation) didn't effect my feelings towards them as individuals. Whether it is because of what I was taught in primary, or what I was taught in elementary school I guess I can't say for sure, but as much as I abhor the acts that some of those kids chose to commit, I loved working with them and being able to make their lives better in some way.

One question I did have however, is what does Packer (and Paul in the new testament) mean by the term "unnatural"? If the natural man is an enemy to God, it seems like a strange way to prove that something is sinful. It's a scriptural term that has always puzzled me.

Nicole Jade said...

"One question I did have however, is what does Packer (and Paul in the new testament) mean by the term 'unnatural'? If the natural man is an enemy to God, it seems like a strange way to prove that something is sinful."

Two different usages of the term "natural." Simple.

Anonymous said...

Talk is cheap. When one hears a Bishop hollering at a young teen calling him names for confessing he is gay that is the real Church. Elder Packer says "we love you", but I need to see that love. Right now that love labels gays and they do not fit in the church in any manner.

There is excessive hate in the Church by leadership (stake and ward level), that Mormanity needs to recognize and be honest.

Once again, Talk is Cheap.

Anonymous said...

The issue is not if the talk is hate speech. The issue is that it is ignorant to say gays are in the addictive category.

Being gay is not a sin just like being straight is not a sin. It's ignorant to say otherwise.

The gay community did not over-react since they were attacked by an ignorant comment. It would be like a teenager being bullied on the internet, and the parents of the bully would justify the actions by saying the teenager thinks too highly of themselves.

The natural man is anyone who does not apply the atonement of Christ. That fits all of us, not just a minority group.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Wow, if a bishop treated a young man that way, the bishop is the one with the most serious problem. That kind of attitude needs to be stamped out vigorously. A disgrace.

As I learn more about the challenges that gay people go through in the church and in society, it seems that we would be wise to lecture our members not only on the dangers of porn and immorality, but on the dangers of bullying those who are different and who may struggle with some of our positions. That includes gay members and peers, pregnant teenagers, transgendered individuals, evangelicals, atheists, etc. The non-bullying stance is arguably built in to the teachings of the Church, but we may be wise to make it explicit. Young people need to hear that it is wrong to condemn an individual that is different, and that bullying, mocking, etc. of gays or anyone else is a serious sin. Not just a message for young people, but training for leaders as well.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

President Packer's assurance that change is possible was not saying that a gay person can become heterosexual, but that God can help people to stop behavior contrary to Church teachings. That is what overcoming temptations is about. A straight Mormon may suffer from heterosexual temptations. These can be overcome - meaning that the person can learn to control him or her self and not engage in behaviors we feel are inappropriate and even learn to control thoughts so that dwelling on sex and lust is overcome. But the temptations and interest may still be there, just controlled - overcome. That's change.

The alcoholic can change - not necessarily by removing the lure of alcohol by removing oneself from alcoholic beverages. One of my favorite LDS people tells me that he's still an alcoholic, that he doesn't think he can change that, but he has removed all alcohol from his life. President Packer is right, change is possible.

There have been a few people--a small but real minority--who insist that they were gay and were able to change that to the point of becoming heterosexual. A controversial issue, but they do insist that change is possible. Some studies have suggested that change is possible for some, certainly not all, and it's far from easy. In the book "Born That Way?," the LDS woman who describes her journey away from homosexuality offers a painful account of how difficult it was for her to move away from homosexuality. As I recall, she did not become heterosexual, but managed to removed herself from her homosexual lifestyle. There is food for thought on both sides of the debate in her story.

I think the mantra of "change is not possible" needs to be replaced with a more nuanced statement. Some degree of change may be possible for many, depending on what you mean by "change." I think we all can change some aspects of our behavior, with the Lord's help, if we want to. That's a message of hope, not hate.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Holly, thanks for your comments. An interesting perspective. Appreciate you dropping by!

SilverRain said...

I really wish people like Anonymous above could get it through their heads that it's possible for someone to be informed and disagree.

But no, it's much easier to denigrate the opposition than to actually consider the possible intelligence of a viewpoint outside of one's own.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone really expect any better out of this old bigot? Forget gay marriage- he doesn't even believe in interracial marriage!

"We've always counseled in the Church for our Mexican members to marry Mexicans, our Japanese members to marry Japanese, our Caucasians to marry Caucasians, our Polynesian members to marry Polynesians. The counsel has been wise."

Whether he has hate in his heart, or he's just an ignorant & stupid old man, the damage is the same. Clearly, ole' Boyd would be right at home at a KKK event, but not a gay pride event. If the LDS apostle thing wouldn't've worked out, he would've made a great Grand Wizard!

Anonymous said...

Jeff,
The public controversy over Pres. Packer's remarks has everything to do with Proposition 8. I suspect that the attitudes of Jehovah's Witnesses concerning homosexuality mirror those of the Mormon Church, but no one much cares because that denomination did not step into the public arena and mobilize their members to make civil marriage illegal for all gays and lesbians, regardless of their religious affiliations (or lack thereof). If the Mormon church had been content to enforce standards of sexuality among their own members, outsiders would not be paying attention to conference talks. Public scrutiny (and sometimes vilification) is the natural result of trying to have an impact that goes far beyond their own wards and stakes.

Though the church insists on their love and concern for gays and lesbians (sincerely, I think), the message sent by the continuing strong denunciation of same-sex marriage is "homosexuals are uniquely dangerous and threatening to society" and "homosexuality is not like other sins." We grant adulterers, drunkards, murderers, and child molesters the right to marry the person they love, but not gays and lesbians, simply by virtue of their homosexuality.

Given this unchanging stance, it is not surprising the the gay community will always assume bigotry as the basis for church teaching. Things might have been different had the church been willing to say, "We believe that God requires his own people to live according to these standards, and we believe these standards are offer happiness and peace for all, but we are willing to let outsiders live according to their own consciences." (The model would have been more like preaching the Word of Wisdom, but not pushing for Prohibition.)

The LDS Church has every right to bring its religious perspective into political debate, but it is a disingenuous (or naive) to claim surprise when the words of church leaders are subsequently politicized. To outsiders, the Mormon church has put itself on the side of Carl Paladino, gay-baiting schoolyard bullies, homophobic thugs in Serbia, and gay-torturing gangs in New York. This, of course, is grossly unfair. Just because the Church preaches against adultery doesn't mean that they support Iran's stoning of adulterers (but then again, the LDS church is not trying to make adultery illegal), yet political opinions are swayed by exaggeration, distortion, mischaracterization, and guilt by association. It is sad to see Pres. Packer used as a political punching bag, but this is a role that he chose for himself.

As long as the church is adamantly opposed to gay marriage, the tension in the public square between the church and those supporting what they view as civil rights will continue and even escalate. And appeals in the Deseret News for civility won't change the basic dynamic underlying the conflict between Mormons and outsiders.

By the way, didn't you find the silent protest around Temple Square a civil and measured response? It seemed to me, at least from the newspaper coverage, more an expression of honest disagreement rather than anti-Mormon hostility. Of course, it was also a political act, intended to generate the kind of support that the LDS church successfully generated in California.

Anonymous said...

Jeff,
The public controversy over Pres. Packer's remarks has everything to do with Proposition 8. I suspect that the attitudes of Jehovah's Witnesses concerning homosexuality mirror those of the Mormon Church, but no one much cares because that denomination did not step into the public arena and mobilize their members to make civil marriage illegal for all gays and lesbians, regardless of their religious affiliations (or lack thereof). If the Mormon church had been content to enforce standards of sexuality among their own members, outsiders would not be paying attention to conference talks. Public scrutiny (and sometimes vilification) is the natural result of trying to have an impact that goes far beyond their own wards and stakes.

Though the church insists on their love and concern for gays and lesbians (sincerely, I think), the message sent by the continuing strong denunciation of same-sex marriage is "homosexuals are uniquely dangerous and threatening to society" and "homosexuality is not like other sins." We grant adulterers, drunkards, murderers, and child molesters the right to marry the person they love, but not gays and lesbians, simply by virtue of their homosexuality.

Anonymous said...

Cont.
Given this unchanging stance, it is not surprising the the gay community will always assume bigotry as the basis for church teaching. Things might have been different had the church been willing to say, "We believe that God requires his own people to live according to these standards, and we believe these standards are offer happiness and peace for all, but we are willing to let outsiders live according to their own consciences." (The model would have been more like preaching the Word of Wisdom, but not pushing for Prohibition.)

The LDS Church has every right to bring its religious perspective into political debate, but it is a disingenuous (or naive) to claim surprise when the words of church leaders are subsequently politicized. To outsiders, the Mormon church has put itself on the side of Carl Paladino, gay-baiting schoolyard bullies, homophobic thugs in Serbia, and gay-torturing gangs in New York. This, of course, is grossly unfair. Just because the Church preaches against adultery doesn't mean that they support Iran's stoning of adulterers (but then again, the LDS church is not trying to make adultery illegal), yet political opinions are swayed by exaggeration, distortion, mischaracterization, and guilt by association. It is sad to see Pres. Packer used as a political punching bag, but this is a role that he chose for himself.

As long as the church is adamantly opposed to gay marriage, the tension in the public square between the church and those supporting what they view as civil rights will continue and even escalate. And appeals in the Deseret News for civility won't change the basic dynamic underlying the conflict between Mormons and outsiders.

By the way, didn't you find the silent protest around Temple Square a civil and measured response? It seemed to me, at least from the newspaper coverage, more an expression of honest disagreement rather than anti-Mormon hostility. It was also, of course, a political act, intended to generate support for a particularly position, much as the LDS church successfully generated support for its views in California.

Anonymous said...

My apologies for the double post - I thought that my original had been rejected by the system because it was too long (but ironically, now anyone can see that I, like Pres. Packer, slightly revised my comments in the last sentence from one iteration to the next).

Holly said...

Once again, it was an IGNORANT, misguided talk. As a part of the group he was referring I didn't find it all hateful. MISGUIDED AND WRONG. But it was not a hate speech. And I very clearly see us overreacting. Other gay people I know feel so as well.

Half of the gay people in my circle are seemingly foaming at the mouth to lash out at Mormons(even the everyday ones) for anything since Prop 8. And I would say 80% of my gay friends hadn't even read the talk and freely admitted to not reading it. And don't take me as saying no gay person read it. I know those who did read it and still felt his words were hate speech.

About 10 or so of my friends sided with me once they read the talk. His words have potential to be be hurtful to children going through same-sex attraction and there are thousands of other speeches that don't even touch on homosexuality that can cause those feelings as well.

Hate speech is an attack that makes a clear attempt to illicit harm against a group for race, gender, sexual orientation, ect. And while his words were misguided, horribly...horrifically timed they are not what would classify as hate speech.

It was just a high ranking man in a conservative religion saying things that even active Mormons are having issues with. And some of his points were flat out wrong.

I would think if anything we shouldn't worried about him saying homosexuality is an addiction (although in all 30 times I've read the talk I seem to read him saying that porn is the addiction?) but worry about the kids going through discrimination period. It doesn't need to be just the religious leaders saying discrimination is wrong it needs to be everyone. And if I remember correctly the LDS church supported the anti-discrimination laws just passed in Salt Lake County. Also Monson was named person of the in '08 by a Utah gay magazine.

In my opinion the talk was IGNORANT when it came to the facts about homosexuality. It is not something that can be changed and the few cases that have shown people to change there is often times pain and 'returning to the gay lifestyle'. (I don't like the term 'lifestyle' but that's how I've seen it put before so...)

Packer has a track record for saying...not so PC things and let's face it like someone else said this has to do with Prop 8.

Holly said...

con't

If the Church hadn't been so involved with Prop 8 I highly doubt there would even a tenth of the backlash we are seeing.

And let's be honest if you are going to go after a group...Mormons are your way to go. I still have people ask if I was a polygamist. They are one of the most misunderstood religious groups and when they got in the public eye for Prop 8 they set themselves up for a protest just for dropping a pin in a quite room. Sometimes rightfully so...other times not so much. And this time we are overreacting. Not about the timing but the intent of the speech.

If someone wants to say I can be straight by all means go ahead! Unless you are actively trying to bring bullying, self loathing and other hurtful reactions I won't say it's hate speech. I'll say it's wrong and not fully supported by evidence but I wont say it's hate speech.

I think that when we protest and fight for gay rights we should be going after something more harmful to gays than someone who has always said things that tends to get the Mormon Church in trouble. Just look at the quotes here. His words would have been forgotten had there been no Prop 8.

Still, I feel I need to clarify...I disagree with his talk on many levels but I see no justification for calling it a hate speech at the same. I think he should have spoken about something else.

What if every time a homosexual public figure said something about being gay there was group twisting that persons words into something they aren't...oh, wait...there is.

Why would we want to do that to someone else? Have protests against bigotry, bullying, homophobia, timing of the talk, against the way this man's hair falls but don't be dishonest and make his speech into something it is not.

Jeff, I have enjoyed reading your blog since it first started. I have different views than you but I must you have very interesting blog and website. I even send people to it when they ask me about what I believed when I was actively Mormon and well, just believed in God in general.

Nicole Jade said...

"Clearly, ole' Boyd would be right at home at a KKK event, but not a gay pride event. If the LDS apostle thing wouldn't've worked out, he would've made a great Grand Wizard!"

That's so wrong it's not even funny. The KKK never liked Mormons.

I do think some bishops need to be educated better but to say all bishops holler hate speech at gay teens is also terribly wrong. I told my own bishop recently about have gender identity issues and almost the first thing out of his mouth was that me feeling that way did not affect my worthiness in the Church. Now gender identity issues and same-sex attraction are not the same thing, and problems arise when we lump them together, but this is one example of a kind, understanding bishop that I can personally vouch for.

Holly said...

My Bishop was rather respectful and nice to me when I came out. Didn't yell at me at all. He said he wanted to understand where I was coming from and so on. I never once felt uncomfortable with the things he said. Of course, I disagree with his views on it but I had a rather nice experience in comparison. I am sad that isn't the case all the time.

Nicole Jade said...

Best part of the Church's response:


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

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



Anyone who characterizes the talk as filled with hate hasn't read it and/or is being dishonest.

Anonymous said...

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

But isn't that exactly what the church does when it characterizes gay comments, the gay community and the whole body of straight people who support gay American's right to full civil rights?

Nicole Jade said...

What gay comment did they distort?

Kaysville Al said...

Thanks for the thoughtful commentary Jeff. As usual you seem to treat these issues delicately.

Nicole Jade said:
"What gay comment did they distort?"

The church owned newspaper that we are discussing said the following: "what some are calling a hateful message 'that can lead some kids to bully and others to commit suicide.'"

I'd encourage you to follow the link below for the source of the quoted reference. Search it for the word hate or hateful and you what find it. What you will find is a reasoned discussion of the secular view of homosexuality. You will also find a discussion of how sometimes our words can have unintended consequences. I found it to be as civil as Elder Packer's talk.

http://www.hrc.org/14955.htm

The Deseret news also says: "nothing in President Packer's talk says that 'violence and/or discrimination against LGBT people is acceptable.'"

Please note that the HRC doesn't claim Packer made such a statement.

We as Mormons don't like being labeled as hateful and bigoted. It's funny, but gay people don't like being labeled as wicked, unpure, unnatural, and counterfeits either.

Holly said...

"We as Mormons don't like being labeled as hateful and bigoted. It's funny, but gay people don't like being labeled as wicked, unpure, unnatural, and counterfeits either."

Best thing I've read all day. Really.

the other Brother Jones said...

wow, there is a lot of commentary from Anonymous! I think there is more than one of him.

My comment is that these are difficult issues in difficult times. The world is generally going in a different moral direction than the LDS Church. Of course this will cause some tensions between different points of view. The Church has a right and obligation to teach its doctrine. Others have the right to reject it. But there is no excuse for other than a civil discussion.
I have seen too much incivility on this issue already.

Nicole Jade said...

"It's funny, but gay people don't like being labeled as wicked, unpure, unnatural, and counterfeits either." Then accept that he's talking about a tendency, not a person. Problem solved.

Kaysville Al said...

"Then accept that he's talking about a tendency, not a person. Problem solved."

Except the church is pretty clear that there is nothing wrong with having same sex tendencies. It's the actions that he is condemning. Very similar to how our verbal actions are being condemned as hateful and bigoted.

Anonymous said...

president Packer has a history. His history give a different perspective to the talk.

A John Birch CEO was in a Stake Presidency. To the JBS homo sexuality is part of the conspiracy. He believed homos were recruiters.

Anonymous said...

Not true, Kaysville. Mormons from the far right would not want their children to be taught by a gay primary teacher. They don't care if the teacher is celibate.

Kaysville Al said...

"Not true, Kaysville. Mormons from the far right would not want their children to be taught by a gay primary teacher. They don't care if the teacher is celibate."

The church leadership has been pretty consistent over the last few years. Implementation on the ground is sure to be different in different areas.

Anonymous said...

Implementation from the ground is related to the implementation from the leaders. Nice try!

Stan said...

An open letter to the Deseret News regarding this op/ed is found over at the Times and Seasons

http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2010/10/an-open-letter-to-the-deseret-news/

John Jackson said...

The Facebook page where people have been supporting President Packer's comments is www.facebook.com/.../I-Support-Boyd-K-Packer/143707572341356.

I also loved this editorial. It's my favorite thing I've read on this since Conference.

I also have much loved the statements of the Church. Throughout them, there has been a call for goodwill toward those of same-sex attractions.

The Church has spoken out against the bullying and intimidation of those with same-sex attractions. It has said this is no place for hatred.

It has also been clear on morality. "Their struggle is our struggle," Michael Otterson, church representative, was quoted as saying in the Deseret News today, and he pointed out the common ground the Church has with the Human Rights Campaign. Otterson noted any sexual relations outside marriage are wrong, regardless of orientation, but noted those who keep the commandments receive the same blessings.

We all have to overcome sexual urges. So, we do, most certainly, have this as common ground.

This thread, and the one below the Deseret News editorial, have been fun, as following a call for civility, we then have opportunity to test our civility.

And, we always have opportunity for showing love towards those with same-sex attractions, at least as often as we run into them. Save for one person I didn't know was of same-sex orientation until about a month ago, I haven't ran into many lately. May we all treat them lovingly, warmly, and caringly, as they are as tender and precious.

puckish said...

Understanding the LDS concepts of temptation and sin are really important in understanding the nature of President Packer's talk.

If you are tempted, it does not make you a bad person. Christ was tempted by Satan on the mount. The phrase "Why would a loving Heavenly Father do that" applies to the sentiment that God will never give us something that we cannot overcome.

Sinning does not make you a bad person. You are still a son or daughter of God and can repent.

In this context the talk was not a fire and brimstone "you are all going to hell" sort of talk, but an admonition to keep striving to do what is right. It was full of compassion to those who are suffering and in pain, and a promise of hope to those who are seeking it.

@ Anonymous -
your argument of pairing the LDS church with stoning in Iran is ridiculous to me. The Church is on record promoting laws for the equal treatment for LGBTS. Using prop 8 as an argument against this doesn't work.

Doesn't California already have civil unions that provide the same benefits as "marriage"? Isn't that what equality is? To have the same standing under the law. You are always going to have people who disagree with your life style, whether you are LGBTS or religious, atheist, agnostic, Jewish, etc. The most you can demand is that the law treat you fairly.

Some say that, because civil unions are not recognized across state lines that they are not as good as a marriage, but this is the same exact situation that faces those who have a same sex marriage from other states as well.

What then is the purpose of changing the definition of the word marriage?

That is the crux of this argument, and I haven’t heard one genuine answer from the LGBTS community. Would it be ok with you if all couples, gay and straight just had civil unions and later got “married” in the church or your choice? For me this is the simplest solution, it is already what the LDS church does in temples as we are civically married, and have a sealing that is religiously significant.

Also, to answer your question about the silent protest, yes it was civil, but various other protests that were not covered were quite hateful (one group has sent copies of suicide notes to President Packer, blaming him for the acts).

-John
P.S. Jeff, I appreciate your commentary. Also, I wish I had followed your advice and bought more silver.

Anonymous said...

It is ignorant to think that civil unions are the same thing as a marriage. Straight people would never give up their benefits from the married position to a civil union position. They know what benefits they would lose by doing that.

Stan said...

The church says no sexual relations outside of marriage. It also says gays can't get married. So to remain faithful, those with same sex attractions must live out their lives celibate and alone. To me, this just doesn't seem right. Given that the church has come down on the wrong side of so many important social issues before (inter-racial marriage, blacks/priesthood, slavery, woman's rights) I am using my own moral compass and siding with those who wish to be happy in this life.

Nicole Jade said...

"I am using my own moral compass and siding with those who wish to be happy in this life."

Yes, happiness is good but God designs for people to be in man/woman relationships. There's reasons for this that have nothing to do with hate. The Church being against homosexual activity is not so it can be mean. I think it's partly to save some people from embarrassment. There are numerous reasons why people might live out their whole life celibate (handicapped, no suitable marriage partner, etc.) but for some reason "struggling with homosexual tendencies" is the only one where even people in the Church say, "We can't make this person wait until the next life to experience what they feel to be sexual fulfillment." I don't know why such a double standard exists.

A problem also arises when we find out about somebody who struggles with same-sex attraction and assume that they invariably will have that struggle their whole life. Now some of them very well may, but the problem is assuming that everyone WILL be like that.

Anonymous said...

Nic Jade, the issue is not that we want gay people to experience sex. The issue is that we want society to stop doing satan's work by demonizing a minority who have every right to be happy in a gay relationship. Your comments remind me of what was said about interracial relationships when my parents were growing up.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Bullying has many faces. The face we need to offer others is that of charity, the face represented by the countenance of Christ. Our youth need to be more sensitive to how they affect other youth by accepting or excluding them. The issue is far bigger than gay vs. straight. It's in vs. out, friends vs. strangers, cool kids vs. the uncool. When new people move into your ward, do new teenagers feel that they belong right away? Or do they feel picked on, left out, and mocked behind their back? One or two ringleaders can cause a group of kids to be unkind, often unthinkingly, to another. Add some big differentiating factor and things can get much worse. One of the toughest challenges for our youth and our youth leaders is building a loving Zion-like society during an age and era when cliques and put-downs can easily take over.

Some of our kids are amazing in their kindness to others. A few are not. We need to reach these few and help them--persistently. We need to mitigate that lasting harm that exclusion or bullying can bring. Sensitivity, love, and awareness at many levels will be needed.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

I deleted a comment this morning that made some inappropriate charges. The person is welcome to repost their their comments without making legal accusations. If the allegatiosn are true as stated, the person should contact legal authorities and present evidence. This is not the place for accusations of specific crimes.

Anonymous said...

I was told by the stakt to not tell authorities od the statutory rape and child abuse. That was my job not to tell. I did tell some things to the Church offices and releass were made.

They knew that vile abuse was overlooked.

Anonymous said...

I am so grateful for the words of President Boyd K. Packer. The outrage and anger displayed by so many is more testimony to me that he is a true Apostle of the Lord.

You'll always know a true representative of the Lord if their words inspire us to be better people and at times, yes, even feel some guilt.

Guilt and pain are the pre-requisite for bringing about true and adequate repentance in the eyes of God.

Isaiah 49:2 "And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword"

1 Nephi 16:2 "wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center."

If the Lord's servants only spoke what made us feel "good", we would never be inspired to change:

"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect".

Javelin said...

Anonymous, I would say it is ignorant to believe that a person is a true apostle if words they say bring up lots of anger in people. I think you are seeing what you want to see. Being a special witness of Christ does not mean that Elder Packer has to be right in all social issues he brings to conference.

People had a valid argument when Elder Packer made his comments at a time of multiple gay suicides.

Matthew said...

Really good comments in here. I've enjoyed them and am a bit late to the party.

I guess I still don't understand what all the anger is about. Did people expect the church to see homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle choice?

While I can definitely see how a person that is gay would take offense to someone making the analogy that legalizing homosexual marriage is akin to trying to vote on gravity (if I remember the talk correctly.) It seems pretty normal if you see Packer as either, a.) an old man that is uncomfortable with the changing viewpoints about homosexuality or b.) an apostle of god that is voicing god's concern over an act that is reprehensible to him.

To me it all boils down to whether god really exists and cares about such matters. If he does and the prophets are right then the only one you can get mad at is god (since he's the one telling you that your lifestyle is evil). If they aren't then this is just bigotry using religion as a justifier. "It's not that I hate gay people! I love gay people! I just have no choice but to remind them what horrible disgusting perverts they are, you know, because god told me to." It allows people to degrade others and appear blameless.

As far as offensive things I've definitely seen worse though. I think most of this uproar is mainly over the church's political presence in Prop 8. Had it not been for that I don't think many would care.

It also should be pointed out that Packer wasn't just calling out homosexuality but lots of other behavior. It is a bit different though. How would we feel if people told us that our sexual preferences were sin. Whether someone tells me that or not I still feel the same attraction towards the opposite gender and I can't change that. I could live my life trying to do so and seeing myself as fundamentally flawed but who would want to live like that?

Perhaps the church will prove us all wrong by having a gay apostle that has devoted himself to a life of celibacy and can show us the way. Would that even be allowed?

Matthew said...

Also, mkprr's question about the word 'nature' and 'unnatural' seeming to mean different things. How is homosexuality unnatural if it's a sin? Isn't righteousness 'unnatural' as well?

Anonymous said...

Matthew,

Righteousness is unnatural yes, especially given mankind's natural leaning towards sin. However we are not made to sin, as individuals we choose to sin and that is the underlying problem.
With Jesus leading the way in our lives, and the presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we can be transformed so that sin will no more have dominion over us.

This is a Biblical promise in Romans 6 that I very much believe in faithfully. I acknowledge that I am a sinner and that righteousness is unnatural to me, but it is realistically attainable, only through the atoning blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. And it also comes with conditions like 'go and sin no more....'.

BTW, the Bible is quite clear :
Leviticus 20:13
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination ....

and

Rom 1
26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.
29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,
30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;
31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.


Interesting word used by Paul :'God-haters' in v30 to describe the people guilty of these abnormal non-marital acts. I wonder how God feels about this and if the love He demonstrates for them daily is ever so slightly affected at all...?

Matthew said...

@ annon,
Sorry it took so long to respond. :)

Thanks for the quotes and the explanation of natural/unnatural. I guess I still don't quite get it though. Perhaps the word 'natural' is being used in different contexts when sin is described as the natural man versus other sins that are described as 'un-natural'.

Maybe I just don't know them well enough (or they are good at hiding it) but the gay people I know in my life don't fit the description given in those versus even remotely. While their sexual preference can certainly be described as unnatural or disgusting by many, they don't strike me as people that are more callous or hearless or god hating then straight people. In any group you're going to find good, caring people, and selfish, horrible people. This means very little about the group itself. While one can find lots of gay people that are very negative and hatefull people, it's equally easy to find christians that are the same way (often times these two people are engaged in a spittle vomiting yelling match with one another.)

I'm not saying that you personally believe all gay people to be such. I'm mainly stating that in my mind those scripture are ones that I think moral people should treat with the same disregard that they do for many of the old testament teachings. They seem to be obviously incorrect or immoral.

That said I respect people's right to believe as they choose, even if that means that they will believe things that seem rather horrid or hateful to me. I know that most christians are well intended, and probably really see homosexuality in the way that it is described in those scriptures. That is not how I see it though. I don't think homosexuality is a sign of depravity, but simply a different sexual preference and one that humanity is not alone in having spring up amongst it's population.

Long story short, I don't really get why christians, or anyone really, is so concerned about what other consenting adults do in their bedrooms. If a person feels that another is sexually harassing them, or impinging on their freedoms then they should definitely make a stink about it. I've never understood how allowing the government to acknowledge their weddings (when often times their own churchs are the ones that married them in the first place) is something that people feel compelled to strike down.

Anyways, that's enough of a rant. :)

Anonymous said...

Matthew,

I didn't take your comments as a rant. There is some sensible dialogue here that is of value if you completely ignore the Bible or it's guidelines for the benefit of mankind.

The whole issue goes beyond characteristics, behaviour, hatred or intolerance of a lifestyle choice.

This dialogue is based on moral values and not our modern moral values, but Biblical ones. If you return to the passage in Lev 20 you can read the following :

15And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.

16And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

If you substitute this personal choice of sexual preference (whether from a man or a woman), would you be so tolerant or suggest that privacy within a bedroom is the all important factor and that any community knowledge of such actions should be turning a blind eye?

Where do your moral arguments end? What about the protection of minors, should any adult consider it a preference that they would like to pursue?

Thankfully, still within our western cultures we have laws that inhibit and abhor both of my outlined examples.

From my own perspective I am very pleased that it is so and consider it a shame that the homosexual minority within society can create such a loud voice in order to the sympathy of a large percentage of the population as invigorated by the media.

I do not question the 'genuineness' or 'pleasantness' of any gay individuals, nor do I personally condemn their lifestyle choice for what it is. But I will try to uphold the Biblical principals.

Man and woman were commissioned by God to go forth and multiply. When they do, within the essence of marriage they can create so much in love, togetherness and essentially 'oneness', that is completely impossible to identically replicate in a same-sex engineered relationship usually created out of lust. No gay partnership will ever pro-create life, so why engineer the moral fabric of society that was based on Biblical values, just to suit the lifestyle choices of the few?

Or would you really lend a sympathetic ear to those in a miniscule minority that find animals sexually attractive too - I am sure that away from their taboo topic, they are also very nice people...!

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

Apologies for the multiple post. My system displayed a google 'url error', so I tried to re-post.

Please delete two of them as I am unable (benefit of being anon...).

Jeff Lindsay: said...

Done.

If any of you post a long comment and then get an error message saying the URL is too long, your comment probably got posted anyway. Reposting will result in duplicates. A bug in Google's system.

Matthew said...

@ annon,
So, just to make sure I'm undertanding correctly. You see homosexuality as on par with bestiality or pedophilia? Yet, "nor do I personally condemn their lifestyle choice for what it is..." I realize that you're merely parroting versus you have found in the bible, but if one were take this sort of tactic in figuring out what sorts of things are morally admissible we would live in a pretty horrible world. Mysoginism can (and often is) justified using the bible, as is vengeance and murder.

Homosexuality is NOT an act that has any effect on you or on any person other then the two people engaged in such a relationship. Pedophilia is NOT the same thing remotely and I think you do understand that. I would hope so at least. There is a huge difference between two consenting adults performing an act of love (I know you don't want to believe that they truly love each other, but I'm going to take their word over yours on this subject) and a human being abusing or forcing another human being into something. If an alien visited our planet he would most likely see gay and straight sex as very similar and apart from acts of rape, incest or molestation. There is a substantial difference and it's pretty messed up to act as though homosexuals are on par with sexual predators. Bestiality is in the same boat. Perhaps there are animals out there that enjoy having sex with humans. I don't know.

You speak as though homosexuality is some sort of a fetish, I don't think that is the case, nor do I see much evidence for this. People like to demonize it as though perfectly straight people are being 'gayified' by some evil presence. That they need to pray and read the scriptures so that god can ungay them. Again, how would you feel if people told you every day how they were praying that you could overcome your heterosexuality, or at least stop acting on your horrible, disgusting perverted ways. If they told you things like, "It's not that I hate straight people, I just think they are disgusting perverts akin to pedophiles and animal rapists! It's not me saying this but the holy book I read (which says all sorts of other morally obsolete things but I ignore all the ones that would condemn any of my own actions.) I'm merely standing for all that is righteous and good in the world when I call you a disgusting pervert."

Bottom line, if two consenting adults that love each other (or even if they just lust after each other, not like that's exclusive to the gay community. Straight people are also promiscuous.) want to get married and adopt children and lovingly raise them, then I say go for it. How in the world am I justified to tell them that the marriage they received from their priest, or the secular ceremony that they engaged in doesn't count? That's just silly, and bigoted.

If churches want to see homosexuality as a sin then so be it. That's fine. They are free to believe that. They don't have the right to be using tax exempt money to further political moves against that group of people but they are fully allowed to see the behavior as sinful, just as the rest of the world is allowed to view and voice it's opinion that such institutions are ignorant and ridiculous.

Matthew said...

To make this a bit simpler. What I'm saying is not that you need to start accepting homosexuality as morally okay. It's simply that when people get up on a pulpit and condemn people's sexuality then you can't be surprised that people get upset about that. I think Elder Packer has every right to say what he said, but I don't think it's too surprising that it pissed off a lot of people (not just gay people either.) In likewise fashion I would defend a person's right to worship a faith that condemns black people as filthy creatures of burden but I would be extremely saddened to hear that a person could have such horrible ideas and would most definitely make arguments against such idiotic ideas.

Anonymous said...

A couple days ago, caught a couple comments on KSL relating to the topic. First, one of the announcers or a guest was wondering if it was just her child's school, or also a lot of others that were having school assemblies against bullying. Then, Duane Cardall, the station's editorial director, spoke against bullying. I forget whether he specifically mentioned those of same-sex attraction, but it seems like he included that. And, Sunday, President Uchtdorf spoke on the topic. As reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, he said we may not know until the hereafter what causes same-sex attractions, but that God loves all His children and expects us to do the same.
I'm thinking the Church's statements calling for love are not going unheeded. The Church condemned bullying and such, and it seems at least some, and maybe a lot, of those here in Salt Lake City want to show love and want to ensure that those of same-sex attraction are treated well, to the point they are saying, "What can we do to follow this directive?"

John Jackson said...

Didn't mean to post that anonymously.

John J. said...

Went back looking for the Church spokesman's statement that I referred to. I called it a "directive" above. Perhaps "encouragement" is a better word. Here's one of the things the Church has said, this from Michael Otterson, public affairs director, as quote in the S.L. Trib:
"We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty, or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different."
A Deseret News article covering the same story as the Trib was accompanied by a picture of a Church spokesperson shaking hands with a Human Rights Campaign official who presented the Church with a petition asking for President Packer's statement to be corrected. I thought that was a very Christian touch, showing up with a smile and handshake to accept a petition condemning you. (Not that I believe the Lord's apostle needs to apologize or correct what he said, though.) Continuing my search for things said after Conference, calling for love, I didn't find the statement I was looking for, but I did run across a Church magazine article from way back in 2004, written by an anonymous member, calling for friendship and compassion towards those with same-sex attraction.
My personal thought on the issue is that I don't know whether same-sex attraction comes at birth, but I know there is a lot of evidence that it does, and I would be wrong to be judgmental against them.

Matthew said...

this seems applicable to the discussion at hand.

Matthew said...

To clarify. I would sincerely hope that the letter previously linked wouldn't apply to the types of sentiments that any LDS member has. I definitely don't think that pres. Packer meant anything mean or horrible like that.

It still seems like the bible itself is used by some people to try and justify such behavior but if jesus christ was very worried about homosexuality he never bothered to express it.

Anonymous said...

Jesus was the God of the Old Testament. All that God said in that book was said by Jesus.

Furthermore, he said that not those who call him "Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven but those who do the Father's will.

Jesus was not filled with hate when he gave his instructions in the Old Testament (O.T.) He was defending the nation of Israel, and individuals in Israel, against things that perhaps only God can fully understand.

Only action was to be punished. And only action that took place after the penalty would be made known. There was no bullying prescribed for "attraction."

There were no exceptions making one who experiences same-sex attraction treated less favorably in any disputes.

The punishment for same-gender sex was the same as for adultery or for the rape of a married or essentially "promised" woman.

God was not singling out homosexuals for maltreatment. He was singling out Israel for the creating and defending of natural families.

God was offering a blessing but blessings often have their price.

Today, we are not required to remit the entire price, that of killing adulterers, rapists, and engagers in same-gender sex. The requirements are different but they are of the same God: Jesus Christ.

As a child will tell his mommy that she hates him, there will be those who will tell God that He hates them, or those who speak of the O.T. God as a God of hate.

As the child does not understand his mom, those who call the O.T. God "hateful" don't understand the Old Testament God.

Anonymous said...

Anon - Oct 30 - well put!! I like your reply!

Matthew - Please try to re-read my previous comment. The passage in Lev 20 contains all the moral laws that I referred to, so it is not me that links them on an equal par, but the Bible itself. As Anon wrote as referred to above, Jesus is the God that spoke these words in the OT to be recorded by Moses, so you couls always argue the case with him...?

Personally, yes I do see the 'lifestyle choice' of any individual, outside of the marital scenario of one man to one woman as all the same, whether the second participant is same gender, animal, alien or plain under-age.

Love outside of the marriage type that I describe above and partake of seriously, is completely un-natural. If you want me to be blunt, the anus is for faeces removal not any appendage insertion. Neither has a woman the natural possibility to be a male substitute.

Biologically, reproduction is impossible, so by definition is a pure lust fuelled, self-fulfilling, hedonistic choice - nothing more.

I don't just think the same of un-natural sexual acts (although thoughts fall into the identical category too), but also pool in natural acts (and thoughts) of an adulterous nature between a man and a woman.

You see, these are not just acts of love, they are all moral dilemmas, that start on a slippery slope and will always collide in causing someone pain somewhere along the line, whatever you or the populous may think due to the brainwashing success of the media.

Do you think that it is acceptable for a 15 year old girl to sleep with a 17 year old boy, or vice-versa because they 'love each other'?

Or do you think that it is acceptable for a 12 year old boy to sleep with a 12 year old (or even younger) girl?

You see the difficuly with allowing a moral compromise is that eventually people's moral purity becomes so diluted that right and wrong just becomes a blur.

'A person should be able to express themselves however they like just as long as they do not affect or endanger another individual so as to cause harm or injustice.' How many times I have heard comments like this is scary!

Anonymous said...

Matthew -

The issue is that unfortunately with the 'gay' agenda, on the surface it all appears like roses with love, unity and togetherness, but scratch away at the surface to start digging deeper and you will find thorns, pain and psychological scarring.

Personal conscience is a mighty thing.

The Spirit can lead you into 'all Truth' which is the power of discernment. The Gospels teach that just to look and lust is equal as to commit adultery, to just think ill thoughts of another equal as to commit murder. Here the moral code is seperated from the moral deed. Yet the record and eternal consequences are identical.

The current 'problem' with society is that it is the 'gay' minority dictating to the general populous majority how legislation should be written allowing them to be equals in terms of how western society views the historical marriage between a man and a woman. The laws may be changed according to their requests but ultimately these types of un-natural unions will never be blessed by God, regardless of how much discussion or debate is on the matter.

Ultimately, God will always continue to love the sinner for whom He chose to die as a self-less sacrifice. BUT He will NEVER love their sin!

This is where the understanding is needed as to why I will not personally judge. I have no right to do so. I will never condemn, but when I see the minority in society dictating to the national education authorities that my children NEED to be educated as to same-sex / same-gender relationshps within their sexual education curriculums from the age of 5 years old, then as a respectful Christian and as a responsible parent, I too have my own rights until my child is of legal age to be able to make their own choice in life. I choose to object and to repel the advancing legislation on the basis that the relationships blatantly are adverse to God's moral laws by being a personal choice that one or both persons in the relationship is trying ever to hard to get to to accept as 'normal'.

I think that the term 'alternative lifestyle choice' really says it all!

I would though, like to hear your thoughts on how to stop the growing trend for girls under 16 becoming pregnant (obviously outside of marriage) by using your same moral arguments / reasoning as for same sex relationships...?

BTW - A black person has no choice as to being born with that particular pigment of skin colour. Any individual has every choice as to which type of relationship they choose to engage in, so I don't fully follow your reasoning with your 'colourful' illustration. Racism in any capacity should never be taken lightly or mixed into faith. It is a very dangerous threat to the healthy balance of genuine society.

Matthew said...

@ annon,
'A person should be able to express themselves however they like just as long as they do not affect or endanger another individual so as to cause harm or injustice.'
Why is that statement scary to you? If a person is engaged in an act that is not causing any effect on others and is consensual between him and his partner, then why does it matter? You can argue that god doesn't like it and that he will go to hell. That's fine. You're entitled to that opinion. My question is "why does it matter to you?" Does it just bug you that people see things differently? I personally don't spend much time thinking about the sexual practices of others because straight, gay, married or adulterous, it's a pretty gross act and I really would prefer they keep it in their bedroom. As long as they do so I have no beef at all with their choices. Are they all ones that I would make? Nope.

People like to get into the details of homosexual congress and act as though it's somehow completely different then the reason that heterosexuals engage in sex. I don't think it is. Not being gay it's hard to say exactly but the gay people I know in my life are just regular people. They seem to be driven by the same pursuits of happiness and success. As far as I can tell they are just as capable of 'being in love' as I am, even though it's with a person of the same gender as them. It feels presumptous and ridiculous to say that they are 'wrong' in doing so.

You keep comparing homosexuality to things like pedophilia or underage sex (12 year olds) and those things are illegal because the people involved are under age. We draw a line in the sand and say, "generally people on this side of the line aren't mature enough to be making coherent decisions about this sort of thing." It's argued that a 17 year old is possibly being coerced into sexual congress if it's with someone over the age of 18. The laws can become rather silly and nitpicky because not everyone will fit into those designations but some sort of order is needed so we draw an arbitrary line in the sand.

It can be of little doubt though that adults (people over the age of 18 normally) of sound mind (not mentally handicapped) are capable of making decisions such as who they want to marry, without government interference. I still have yet to see a legal reason as to why a person that is gay should not be allowed to marry the same gender. It's not really the states decision or business. They are not engaged in an illegal relationship such as one between a man and animal, or man and a small child. If people want to believe that they will go to hell for living their lives that way then so be it. They should be free to believe such. The rest of the world should be free to label such ideals as bigotry though.

Matthew said...

I don't get what you mean by saying that love outside of the definition of marriage that you prescribe to is "un-natural" What the heck does that mean? Lust is completely 'natural' yet people don't just go giving into it. Marriage is an 'un-natural' event. I mean it could be argued that humans have a strong instinct to pair off, but even that is arguable. Males have a strong drive (as is the case with most male animals) to have multiple mates. Females have a strong desire to seek a mate that will provide and protect them. We overcome such 'natural' tendencies in order to live in the sort of society that we live in. 'Natural' does not mean 'moral'. In many cases 'natural' doesn't even mean 'desirable' by present day standards.

This is to me an attempt to make an appeal that YOUR morals are the CORRECT morals. As if morality was some sort of objective truth. I really don't see how one can make such an argument. Human beings don't even maintain coherent moral ideals on a daily basis. You are welcome to claim that your ideals on sexuality are the ones that god holds. Others will continue to claim otherwise. It's one of the beautiful aspects of deriving one's life rules from an ancient text which has no objectively 'correct' interpretation. Just a whole lot of conjecture and opinion.

Matthew said...

The racism issue is totally relevant. Both racism and homophobia are the same thing just directed at different groups. It's an "I don't understand this and it makes me nervous" sort of reaction that is at it's core. Homosexuals according to their own testimonials are no more able to 'choose' their sexual preference then black people are able to 'choose' the color of their skin. That's like saying that black people are free to 'choose' to sit in the back of the bus or to not ride the bus. It's not 'racist' to tell them that they can't sit in the front of the bus because it's a clear truth that black people can't sit there or drink from fountains that white people drink from. I realize that the persecution of homosexuals isn't nearly as extreme as people have experienced due to racism in the past, but there are certainly applicable parallels. You're still refusing to allow someone something based off of a set of characteristics that they have no control over and that do not endanger others.

Are you worried that people are going to perform sexual congress in front of a five year old? I don't think anyone is pushing for that and if they were I'd be first in line to oppose it. I think what they really refer to is a super basic explanation that some children have two fathers or two mothers and that their parents still love them and are good parents even though it may seem strange to those unaquainted. This is similar to discussions my teacher would have with me and other students about children that had only one parent, and how we shouldn't tease them. Likewise with kids that were handicapped. Homosexuals are, like it or not, a part of the US. We can try and ignore that they exist or accept that they do exist and that they are human beings just like the rest of us and are just as worthy of being treated as such. Educating children on the idea that these sorts of very real relationships do in fact exist is only offensive to those that wish to refuse reality. Now if your student's school is trying to teach about homosexual sex and it's merits then I would agree that this is TOTALLY inappropriate and should be fought against. I highly doubt that people are pushing for that though, especially not with elementary school children.

Matthew said...

How do you stop a 16 year old from having sex or from getting pregnant? Those are two different things. I don't know that you can stop them from having sex, although you can certainly, as a reponsible parent, seek to instill values that you think are the best way to approach sexuality. As far as decreasing teenage pregnancy I think contraception is probably the most efficient way.

Here's the thing. For students that have been taught abstinence only there probably is a lower percentage that are engaging in sexual intercourse. The problem is that for the ones that do engage in sex (which may or may not be a small percentage of that respective group) they are less likely to take contraceptive precaution because for 1. they don't know about them very well, and 2. they have a deep stigma with the act in general and are more likely to forgo such measures due to the embarrassment of getting caught with condoms or birth control. I'd leave such conjecture up to others that have researched it more though.http://ari.ucsf.edu/science/reports/abstinence.pdf I think the jury is still out on what the bulletproof method of education is.

For me personally I would educate students of the different types of birth control and the consequences of sex (both physical and emotional) and try and encourage waiting until people are older to make an important decision like this but would do my best to not be too heavy handed about it. As a parent I would rather sternly express the dangers of casual sex, focusing mainly on how people can get hurt emotionally and psychologically by treating it lightly. More then anything I'd be focused on making sure my children were loved, respected and encouraged to develop their talents because for me personally the kids I saw around me that got into a lot of trouble with this sort of thing were kids that had low self esteem and too much time on their hands. If I have a daughter that does get pregnant then it would be a difficult thing to deal with and I would try and help her make responsible decisions about the way her life has just been flipped upside down. What more can you really do?

Matthew said...

Also of note. I think the teacher has much more impact at imparting knowledge that may someday be useful then they are at instilling ideas of 'right' and 'wrong'. Typically things that I feel guilty about are things that have been ingrained in my psyche due to endless repetition. Things like running a stop light or stiffing someone on a tip. As such I think parents will have INFINITELY more success at instilling moral choices then a school will. What Teachers are great at though (from my personal experience) is giving useful knowledge that I may not see as important at the time but will remember later on. For this reason I think it's a great idea for teachers to teach about safe sexual practices and the clinically proven ways to reduce the risk of teen pregnancy and disease.

Also of note, secular ideas will have little effect on a child that has had a strong set of moral instilled in them by their parents (this can be a good or a bad thing) and people tend to strengthen their resolve with their morals are challenged. If you're very against socialized medicine and I try to persuade you otherwise it actually will tend to INCREASE your resistance to the idea. Teenage kids are the same way. Tell them their favorite band is lame and you've just increased their devotion to it. This only works with things the student already has his/her mind firmly set up about. So if you child doesn't really get why sex is a bad thing to begin with then teaching them about safe sex could be a tool that brings them to the decision that they're going to engage in sexuality at an early age.

Basically no social program can make up for a failure in the home. That sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

Matthew :

A few links for you to refer to UK national newspaper articles whilst I form some type of sensible reply to your observations :

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1056415/Teach-pleasure-gay-sex-children-young-say-researchers.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/mar/11/gayrights.books

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article6182162.ece

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2009/11/05/compulsory-sex-education-to-include-gay-relationships-and-hiv/

If you do look at these articles, please remember that the subjects are not practicing 'gays' or even remotely considering these types of relationships. These are innocent and in most cases well-loved children. Why should their childhood not be protected so that they avoid some of these social issues until later in life when they can start to make their own lifestyle choices. Adults should not take it upon themselves to imprint their own standards or moral choices into a child's very accepting and constantly learning brain. This is pure evil to offer such mind-bending corruption!

As a responsible parent, my much loved children will be protected as long as possible from such socially degrading propaganda and should it ever crop up at any time, I will be the one to administer the relevant education - no-one else, whatever the government of the day may want or desire.

Matthew said...

Ugh. I'm a bit to verbose it would seem. I wrote an excessively long post and it seems to have slipped forever into the ether of the interwebs. :/

Short version (and perhaps better because of it):

The articles you link (minus the one from the daily mail which has a bit of a reputation for jumping to conclusions) all seem to indicate that education on this is similar to education on heterosexual intercourse that is currently taught in schools. In other words students are taught what sex is and the physical consequences of engaging in it (STDs, pregnancy, etc) Perhaps you are against the teaching of sex ed as well which is fine. You're entitled to that. Schools give the option (and it was stated several times in the article that religious private schools are not forced to teach it and that parents can opt out of their children taking part in the lessons) to permit or deny this education for your student.

For me personally I would be fine with my child having the course as it would provide a lot of topics of discussion amongst them and me as the parent. I totally respect a parent that feels this is too much for their child to be exposed to though. I would be willing to defend their right to take their child out of such classes if that's what they feel needs to happen. Doing so on the grounds that homosexuality will be discussed seems totally hypocritical but people are welcome to follow their hearts, and indoctrinate their children as they see fit.

Statements like this, "Adults should not take it upon themselves to imprint their own standards or moral choices into a child's very accepting and constantly learning brain. " seem highly illogical to me though. That's what parents do. They instill a set of values into their children that they would not have otherwise. You are insinuating that all the moral philosophies that you don't subscribe to should not be taught to your child. You're obviously fine with them having standards imprinted on their impresionable minds, or you woulnd't send them to sunday school, or watch sesame street (which maybe you don't let them watch that. Just using that example because it was one of my favorites as a child.) What you are against is the imprinting of morals or ways of looking at the world that you personally disagree with. There is little evidence to point to that would show your ideals of 'right' and 'wrong' to be universal, or empirical.

I'm not stating that you can't have your moral ideas. You're welcome to them and it's important for people to have ideals to believe in. I have my own set of standards that are totally important to me and that I see as the best way (that I have encountered) to live my life. I will endeavor to teach those things to my children. It's okay to do that and still recognize that one's ideals may not be universal ideals and that people that hold alternate ones are free to do so (so long as they don't take away the civil rights of others by doing so. Which as near as I can see homosexuals are not doing.)

Matthew said...

"I think that the term 'alternative lifestyle choice' really says it all!"

Basically with this statement you are saying that if a portion of the community is severely different then the majority that they are wrong. They refer to themselves as having an alternative lifestyle and demanding respect for it because respect is not given, and this is how they have been labeled.

If you pay attention you will realize that you are SURROUNDED by 'alternative' lifestyles. People do all different sorts of things with their lives and have a wide variety of different drives and passions. Marginalizing their viewpoints because they are in the minority is a bit ridiculous.

Matthew said...

At the end of the day I still haven't seen a good legal reason respecting the secular civil rights of human beings that would support the idea that gay marriage should not be allowed. All the appeals turn into appeals of "this isn't normal" or "this isn't traditional."

Anonymous said...

*sigh* I'm tired of Boyd Packer and all the rest of them combined. I'm tired of the endless manipulation of the language. Mormons interact with each other only, talk to each other only and value only each other. The outside world is too polluting and too big of a mouthful of overcooked spinach for them to stomach. It is exactly this culture--a culture of conformity, elitism and fear that causes so many problems. Mormons don't "love" anyone. And gays and feminists are at the bottom of the list.

Anonymous said...

Matthew,

(I am not the last Anon to post but the previous one).

When I stated 'adults' in my previous e-mail, I was meaning any adult outside of the one which is the parent of the child. As far as I am aware it is the parent's responsibility to bring up the child in the best way that they can and under various 'rights' they can perform whatever 'education' they see as right and acceptable within their home just as long as it does not injure, harm or psychologically damage the child in any way.

Studies has previously shown that by taking away the innocence of children with adult matters such as these is not only alerting the 'curiosity killed the cat' syndrome, but also leaving emotional scars that may damage them long term. I am afraid that some 5 year old girls may not be able to deal with or desire to discover the painful knowledge of how babies are born, how two people can be intimate with each other or even about same-sex relationships.

This is not about a choice of education through parenting or the school curriculum. It is about protecting a child's innocence on a local, national or global scale.

A child is not going to discover sexual practices naturally, so why not save the education until the individuals are at an age where it can be taught, discussed and reasoned at a better age - say adolescence when still these individuals should not be practicing what they are to be taught!

For example : If I were to suggest that you send your children to me for some 'moral guidance', you don't know me from Adam and I guess that you would be highly suspicious of my motives and intentions. This is the same as teachers and the national curriculum. It is fine to adopt a socially responsible attitude to think that the welfare of children is catered for, but why is it even being addressed and even as young as 5 years old ?

Maybe I don't want 'strangers' or 'teachers' to be discussing this with my kids. However, how many parents have a 'don't care' attitude with their children's education, don't have the time or any interest in school activities at all?

It could be argued that it is for these parents as to why the curriculum is as it is. Well that doesn't wash. A minority should not be able to dictate to the majority. Yes I can take my child out of the clasroom and opt out of these education classes; yes if I feel so strongly I can even home school - but why should I ? Where are my parental rights to protect my child and allow them to gain an education without any specific social awareness education classes or to feel inferior to their peers because they were not 'allowed' to be present ?

It seems that we want to remove the mask that covers all social taboos and let them slowly become part of our post-modern society and from as early an age as possible.

Not everything that is let out of 'Pandora's Box' is helpful or positive.

To be sympathetic to the 'gay agenda' or people of that pursuaion is one thing, but to force these as 'ideals' onto society or more specifically children I still maintain as being pure evil.

Anonymous said...

Matthew,

I may sound a bigot or that I am anti people of 'gay' pursuasions.

I can assure you that I hold fast to one of my previous sayings that 'God loves the sinner but not the sin'.

I appreciate that I am a sinner and that is the correct starting place. I am seeking repentance and forgiveness for my wrongdoings! From the Bible teachings we know that God does not approve of same-sex or same-gender relationships and that is it - end of story!

I too have some of my own moral dilemmas. I have a very good family friend from Switzerland who I met when he was just 16 years old. When he became 19, I learned that he declared himself to have homosexual feelings and tendancies and has since become a practicing 'gay'.

I loved him as a friend when we first met and I love him more now as a friend because I have got to know him as a person. However, I will never be able to accept his lifestyle choice or allow him to participate in visiting us with a 'partner in tow' because I will protect the innocence of my family as a unit according to God's values as explained by the Bible. My knowledge about him and friendship will not change as a result of this information. He also knows me well enough, has experienced my beliefs and accepts them, so we do have a total respect for each other and a complete understanding.

People can argue this point as much as they want, but if 'gay' people want to 'force' their point of view or 'alternative lifestyle choice' on the majority of the western population under the banner of civil liberties, then this whole agenda is wrong.

This is the same as if I should never be able to force my thoughts or ideals for family values on you or your family or get you to accept ideas that are strange to your understanding where I believe that you may be ignorant or lacking in sound judgment. I shouldn't try to petition the government to pass laws that allow me to do so, even though that is what I may believe to be correct thing to do.

But where does this trend stop? Ultimately, those that want to believe in God's moral requirements should be freely able to do so even when it opposes the small minority that claim to want to have 'an alternative lifestyle choice'.

People would be better off keeping their lusts and desires in check and remaining celibate rather than wanting to re-create the environment of Sodom and Gommorah or the society right before the time of the flood?

Do you remember the words of Jesus 'Matthew 24:37
But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.'?
On the basis of this discussion, Jesus is coming back soon and I don't think that He particularly will like what he sees!

Anonymous said...

Matthew,

To live an 'alternative lifestyle' is one thing. To press for legislation for that 'alternative lifestyle' to be socially accepted is another.

Here we have a clash of standards. One where a society previously disagreed with these kinds of practices and then a new society where these practices are integrated into the mainstream even though it is not practiced by the majority. This is hardly democracy. It is the left wing of politics gone completely crazy.

Add the whole children discussion and education etc into the mix and kerboom you have carnage.

Was society wrong for so many years?

Society will learn in generations to come for compromising and selling out to these policies. The new generations will be so liberal that probably drugs and crimes that are so obscene today, will be part of 'normal' society and culture. We will probably be blogging and conversing over the practice of black witchcraft or child sacrifices!!!

Mateo said...

"To be sympathetic to the 'gay agenda' or people of that pursuaion is one thing, but to force these as 'ideals' onto society or more specifically children I still maintain as being pure evil."

I really feel like you're twisting this into something that it is not. Nobody is trying to gay up your child, neither are they seeking to traumatize your child. You constantly refer to 5 year olds being taught things that they aren't ready for. I must be missing something. If there is a push to teach explicit sexual acts to kindergartners then please let me know. My Niece is 8 and still has not been taught anything at all in school about the subject. She's heard random things from other students about it an has started asking her parents some questions. That's the most I've heard.

I have a VERY hard time believing that people are pushing to give explicit explanations of sexual congress(gay or straight) to children that young.

Homosexuality is ALREADY a part of our society. It isn't going away and the people engaged in it are functioning, hard working, everyday Americans. They are your neighbors. They are ever bit as deserving of the same civil liberties that you enjoy. I see absolutely no way that them being married infringes on your civil liberties other the that it makes it harder for you to marginalize their relationships. There are people that are exclusively attracted to their own sex. They are not making it up. That's really how it is for them. The still want to make the same sorts of solid long lasting commitments that you or I do. They wish for these to be acknowledged by their state because they feel it should be no different just because they are of the same gender. I don't understand why there's even any controversy over this stuff from a secular governmental point of view. They are law abiding american citizens and as such should be privy to the things other law abiding citizens can partake of.

What is your solution by the way. It really feels like you see it as an issue where this topic should never be brought up in front of children. I get protecting the innocence of a child. I think most people do. I'd never talk about sexually explicit stuff in front of a small child. At the same time it's sort of silly to try and hide things from them when they are old enough to begin inquiring about it. Most schools teach sex ed in 5th grade. I'd say that's an appropriate time to do so. We do it partly because such lessons help developing kids make smart choices in their lives and also partly because it's part of the world they live in. We don't have to wait until middle school to teach them about the interaction between colonial settlers and the native Americans (which is much more unsettling to me then homosexuality.) Or to teach them the basics of biology. Sex is a big deal. It's a HUGE part of life and it drives nearly every man, woman or animal on the planet. I don't really understand why people are so scared to talk about it. The average teenage boy is going to get much worse lessons (and a much more vigorous studying regimen) from an internet enabled device (which they will only have more and more access to as time goes on) about sexuality then they ever would in a classroom. Sex permeates everything. Trying to shield people from it is pointless, and silly. Better (in my opinion) to get in there with some scientifically backed, legitimate information before they are inundated with a tsunami of pop culture references and other media that will NOT give them good information.

Like it or not, kids (at a sometimes early age) are getting exposed to this stuff. I don't think it at all appropriate to teach sex ed to kinders but I do think that 5h grade is an appropriate time.

I also think that the right of parents to instill moral ideas in their children is something worth fighting for. What you have mentioned thus far does not seem like an infringement of those rights though.

Mateo said...

You are certainly correct. We don't live in a perfect democracy. This is a very good thing. If majority ruled then we'd be in a very rough state right now. The majority of people were fine with women not being allowed to vote. Black people are a minority. Why allow them to have the same rights?

This is NOT a minority that is getting to take away your rights. This is a minority that is going to our government and saying, "hey! This isn't fair! We should be allowed to marry to. We aren't breaking any laws and we want to marry for the same reasons that others do. How come you acknowledge them but not us?" It's a civil liberties issue.

"Society will learn in generations to come for compromising and selling out to these policies. The new generations will be so liberal that probably drugs and crimes that are so obscene today, will be part of 'normal' society and culture. We will probably be blogging and conversing over the practice of black witchcraft or child sacrifices!!!"

This is precisely the sort of argument that every generation makes about the rising generation. It's been happening since early recorded history. I for one would much rather live today then during the 40s or 50s, but maybe that's just me. Most liberals thing that black witchcraft is just as silly as christianity, so even if the whole world were moving left (which it isn't unless you listen to fox news) I don't see that happening. As far as child sacrifices... isn't that what god commanded Abraham to do? With his own son, no less?

Mateo said...

BTW, if the church were ever getting pressure from the government to start practicing gay marriages in the temple then I would adamantly defend the church's position in that case. Even if the majority of the nation agreed on it, that would be an infringement of the freedom of religion and a gross perversion of what our country stands for. Minorities are just as entitled to live the way they choose as the majority as long as they are not breaking any laws, or trampling the rights of anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Mateo,

I refer to an earlier post here as above : 9:33 AM, November 16, 2010 where you can link to UK legislation that is now present and active in most mainstream schools that do represent the majority. It is happening in the UK and I guess coming to US very soon!

Unfortunately most parents are not aware about what is present on the national curriculum in the UK. Thankfully, my kids are older than the ones represented by the articles, but recently there was an opportunity for parents to visit our local school to see for themselves what the 'sex-education' was going to be for the year 6's. Out of approx 100 kids, only 5 parents showed interest by turning up. I allowed my child to take part in these lessons, but I have pulled out a child previously as they don't need to know anything outside of the biological bodily functioning and changing, at this age.

Abraham was stopped by God from performing child sacrifice, so either God changed His own infinite mind, or it wasn't the voice of God that Abraham heard! My Bible tells me that God does not change in mind or being, so I believe it to be the latter of these options. Abraham only being tested like Job, 'believed' the voice o be the very voice of God.

In the UK, polygamy is not legal. I understand that there are some LDS extreme believers that hold fast to this understanding that polygamy is OK. In the UK practicing bigamy / polygamy will lead to arrest and imprisonment. Polygamy is understood to be accepted by all those taking part, so whose civil liberties should be upheld in this minorities situation - the law of the land or the minorities that insist on their particular 'lifestyle choice' being accepted?

Anonymous said...

BTW Mateo,

I belong to a Christian denomination but not as an LDS. I am interested to read your zeal to defend your church's position if under threat to marry consenting 'alternative lifestyle choice' individuals in your temples, yet want to maintain civil liberties for all! Isn't there going to be a clash of interests at some stage?

This is where I hold fast to my beliefs without any wavering. There isn't any room for manouvre. I will not oppose any individual for their thought processes as being different to mine, but when they constantly attempt to make their minority view widely accepted in all institutions by going against the very will of God and His creation; so that it is illegal to oppose or not to have the same belief or acceptance as how they want to be heard, then I will oppose that as an infringement of my own personal civil liberties.

It amounts to oppression by the minorities dictating their lifestyle choices and marriage venue decisions as 'open season'. This isn't fair to the majority, or do you believe that it is?

Protect all children and protect those who have a heritage and belief in faith. Exemption from accepting minority viewpoints should still be a civil liberty.

An example of this could be Naz*sm. After the end of the second world war, Naz*sm should have been politically outlawed entirely from the western civiliastion as an exposed virus, yet it is allowed to exist under democracy. I don't agree with this as it is an evil that should have been obliterated and only spoken of in context of history. Yet forms still openly flaunt their prowess today under Fasc*sm, KK*, Ne*-naz*sm etc etc. They only undermine modern society with extremism and rely on violence and hatred for their voice of reason.

If the 'gays' wouldn't get their own way, would they resort to the same?

Mateo said...

@ annon.
"Compulsory sex and relationships lessons for 11-year-old children are to include classroom discussions on gay unions and civil partnerships. Secondary pupils will learn about contraception and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), while primary school children will learn about their bodies and friendships, a review of sex education has concluded."

I read this here and I'm still not seeing how explicit sexual acts are being presented to 5 year olds. Maybe it was hidden in one of the other articles so forgive me if I'm missing it.

In regards to the question of gays and how they will react to not getting rights they feel they deserve... I don't see much violence so far. Maybe I've missed something. BTW, violence doesn't meant that what a person is fighting for is wrong. You look at black civil rights, or the civil war, or the US's war for independance from Brittain. If people feel that they are being oppressed they will (if pushed hard enough) take up arms to defend their rights. It's not always a sign that the person is in the wrong from a moral point of view.

As far as the LDS church goes I'm not LDS either. I'm actually not religious at all really. I grew up in the LDS church and most of my family is still in it as well as my closest friends so the subject matter surrounding the church is really intriguing to me. I apologize for making assumptions about your own religious views.

Mateo said...

"but when they constantly attempt to make their minority view widely accepted in all institutions by going against the very will of God and His creation; so that it is illegal to oppose or not to have the same belief or acceptance as how they want to be heard, then I will oppose that as an infringement of my own personal civil liberties.

It amounts to oppression by the minorities dictating their lifestyle choices and marriage venue decisions as 'open season'. This isn't fair to the majority, or do you believe that it is?"

I'm really not seeing this as the case at all. I'm just not. What about gay people getting married (something which some churches are performing and is not being recognized at a secular state level) is infringing your rights or forcing you to accept things? You're still perfectly welcome to think that homosexuals are gross perverts if you so desire. You just arnen't allowed to make laws that inhibit their rights due to this.

"so that it is illegal to oppose or not to have the same belief or acceptance as how they want to be heard," this statement in particular is the most frustrating thing I see being thrown around in this debate. This is NOT an issue of forcing churches to perform gay marriages. Churches can remain as they are if they choose. Most churches still don't allow women to hold the same leadership positions as males yet the same sort of behavior is discriminatory and illegal in the workplace. Just because gay people call their unions 'marriages' and have the state recognize them as such does not in any way undermine your heterosexual marriage, or commitment. It has nothing to do with it. Acknowledging that gay people are part of society and not second class citizens is important for any society that is interested in being fair and free. I don't think that is the minority telling the majority how to live it's life. Just telling the majority that the minority is still a human part of the population and deserving of the same rights as others enjoy. It seems like you're overblowing things a bit here. I still don't understand why this is something you're so concerned about.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it is because I would really appreciate the post-modern society that I live in not to emulate the taboo tendancies on display in either Sodom or Gomorrah!

Give an inch and usually people will take a mile. Allow homosexuality to take a stronghold in society today and in a few years I am sure that such Sodomite pursuasional propositions will be a daily common occurance for people like you and I. I guess the only difference is that I still will not tolerate it and fight against it until my final breath. How about you Mateo - will you show willing, coinciding with your empathy?

Mateo said...

"Allow homosexuality to take a stronghold in society today and in a few years I am sure that such Sodomite pursuasional propositions will be a daily common occurance for people like you and I."

Okay. Seriously. What do you mean by this? Are you honestly suggesting (as it seems you may be) that if homosexuals are allowed to be married that the Homosexuals are going to try and start influencing you to start being gay? Maybe that's not what you mean but you aren't being all that clear. You seem more content with using vague accusations and generalizations to justify what seems, to all intents and purposes, to be disguised bigotry. Similar standpoints have been used in the past by religion and scripture to vilify women's sufferage, or condemn inter-racial marriages. The same sorts of slippery slope arguments were used.

While it's possible that allowing homosexuals to marry is going to unleash a violent torrent of depravity. It's also totally likely that homosexuals just like most heterosexuals simply want to be treated like other americans and allowed to live out their lives in a way that they see fit and happy. Most gay people I know are not very concerned with trying to convert others to their preferences nor are they interested in corrupting our nation's youth towards unabashed promiscuity. It's my personal belief that people tend to fear greatly things which they don't understand and they work hard to keep down that which I fear. I can't see a shred of rationality in these sorts of arguments. Once again, how is homosexual marriage (remember people are gay whether they can marry or not) having an effect on you personally in any direct sort of manner (other then offending your sense of 'right' and 'wrong')?

Carl D said...

Jeff

I've just finished reading through this entire post. It's an an interesting discussion, with some well written and informed responses.

There is NOTHING civil in the discourse it begins with the kind of language used in Packer's talk. One can't call people evil, or an abomination, or condemn their sexuality and then complain when they react in self-defense.

Even the language of "Traditional marriage" is dishonest. We both know that 'traditionally" marriage is not what it is today; certainly not in the LDS church.

If anyone used that kind of language in a similar talk about Mormons, you'd rightfully accuse them of hate speech.

To pretend one can remove historical context from this discourse is gross dishonesty. To cloak it under the guise of love and help, while simultaneously referring to people's sexuality as 'against the laws of nature' (completely incorrect) is a sin, IMO. To ask "Why would God to THAT to anyone?" is to directly question God, which seems to be another sin, IMO.

We live in a country where we all are given the right and freedom to choose our own god, or to choose none at all. To deny someone else the right and freedom to choose their own partner in life seems morally indefensible.

Cheers

Carl

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