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Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Faithful Latter-day Saints Dealing with the New LDS Policy on Same-Sex Marriage

Many Latter-day Saints have struggled with the Church's new guidelines in the Handbook of Instructions on dealing with same-sex relationships and children raised by same-sex couples. It's a sensitive issue for many, especially those of us who have close family members who are gay or who are otherwise strongly affected by the issue of same-sex marriage. While the Church's statements to clarify the guidelines have been helpful (see the context provided by Elder Christofferson at MormonNewsroom.org and the recent letter from the First Presidency with some clarification), it has still been easy for Latter-day Saints to feel pain and confusion over this highly charged, sensitive issue, especially when we see bitterness or disappointment from those we love.

For those who are confused and disappointed by the policy guidelines regarding families same sex marriage, I'd like to point to the example of one woman who has been an inspiration to me and many others here in Asia and in other parts of the world. She's given me permission to share a letter she wrote to a friend about her personal struggle with the new guidelines. I think the way this faithful woman dealt with the issue is an excellent example for how to deal with these kind of challenges intelligently, but also with patience and faith. I don't know if the conclusions she draws about the need for some kind of policy like this are correct, for that involves complex legal matters. I need to explore that matter later, but for now, I want to call attention to the approach she took.

She has given me permission to use her name, but I'll just call her "Jeannie G." Here's the letter:

Dear N----,   

Like you, I was upset by the new church policy on gay family members when it was first announced. Many members who don’t personally know any gay people (or think they don’t know any) seem to be less troubled by the new policy. But for those of us who have gay friends and family members, it was hard not to feel distraught.

I would like to share with you my experience in dealing with this issue in hope that it might help you in your own struggle.

In recent years I have been heartened by the small but significant steps taken by the Church to provide support to gay members and their families.  These include: Acknowledging the difference between feelings and behavior. Advising parents to support their gay kids, and not to kick them out. Encouraging gay members to stay with the church, because we need them, and creating the mormonsandgays.org website.  All showed much needed acceptance and respect for a maligned group of members who didn’t ask to be gay. As the website states: “With love and understanding the Church reaches out to all God’s children including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”

After these efforts, the new policy seemed to take a step backwards. It first struck me as unkind and unnecessarily painful. My heart goes out to gay members who still have a testimony, or are trying to salvage their testimony, while hoping to find a supportive environment in the Church that they love. I was heartsick with the implied message of the new policy: “You are not wanted here. The Church is no longer your home.”

I am extremely grateful for the gospel. I grew up in a difficult family situation. I could not have survived without the support and direction of the Church. The gospel saved me. So it pained me to think that the innocent children of gay members would be excluded from the resources and strength of the Church community.

I have found the gospel provides rich satisfying truths and a clear logic. I was totally baffled by the new policy that seemed to have none of those defining hallmarks.

After a three week struggle with many heartfelt, tearful prayers, I got an answer. Most of my inspiration comes in the night or early morning, as did this. I awoke one morning to find this answer: The Church had to do it. With legalized gay marriage, the Church is now vulnerable to being sued by some LDS gay couple claiming a right to a temple sealing. Children of gay couples could also sue, thus the need for them to formally disavow the gay lifestyle should they join the Church at age 18. The policy was not intended to divide family loyalties. It is to provide legal protection to the Church. Understanding the legal reasoning, despite my negative first impression, helped me see that the Church is not trying to denigrate those with same sex attraction. Although it creates a wrenching dilemma for gay members, I now see that the general authorities clearly had to institute this new policy.  Currently it would be difficult to sue with the religious guarantees that presently stand.  I believe the church is putting the policies in place now for the future safety and well being of the institution.

Although it would have helped if the Church had reiterated the positive message from the website while announcing the new policy, I hope that gay members can still find solace from mormomsandgays.org website. It’s still up and running.

I worry that with married gay members now facing a disciplinary council for apostasy, some members might feel justified in condemning or mistreating all gay people. We need to remember the policy was established not to condemn gay members, but rather to protect the temple. As disciples of Christ we are to give succor and support to all those who struggle, whether gay or straight. That love and support is needed now more than ever in these difficult times.

I hope this has been helpful.


Jeannie

This woman is a powerhouse of compassion and intelligence, and if you know her personally, I think you would agree. I always learn something from her. Thank you for caring and for your example of dealing with a challenging, difficult issue. 

Update, Jan. 5: Whatever the reasons are behind the policy, I think those who strongly disagree with it should realize that people with different views on gay marriage are not necessarily driven by hate or bigotry. Too many people are trained to think--a word I use loosely--that those who disagree with them must be VEPs (Very Evil People). There is a genuine debate here, as there is on many social issues, and intelligent people can be on both sides, even intelligent non-Nazis. To assume that the guidelines and policies related to gay marriage are driven by bigotry and hate is neither fair nor reasonable. See "The Brethren are not Bigots" by Cassandra Hedelius, a thoughtful and valuable post.

Since we don't have infallible leaders, it is possible for mistakes to occur. Faithful Latter-day Saints who disagree with a decision or policy can fairly wonder if it's a mistake, and if so, hope that it will be swiftly corrected. On the other hand, we should also be willing to ask if perhaps there is something we personally don't yet understand or see properly. We should have the courtesy and civility to recognize that leaders who view something differently aren't necessarily bad people or failed leaders, and may have legitimate reasons for their view that we don't yet appreciate. That's a reasonably faithful approach to sustaining our mortal leaders. Denouncing them is not.

For those interesting in understanding this issue, an excellent discussion is provided at FAIRMormon.org in "A Look at the Church’s New Policy on Children of Gay Couples." This touches briefly about some of the legal issues that could be involved and may suggest that Jeannie G.'s conclusion has merit. It also carefully explains what the policy does and what it doesn't do. What you've heard about it may not be very accurate or fair.

100 comments:

Anonymous said...

As I think about this, it seems that outliers play a huge role in legal policies these days. Of the few gay parents who might want their kids to participate in the LDS Church, 99% wouldn't think of looking for some excuse to sue the Church, but it just takes one activist with heavy legal firepower ready to create a media moment aimed at destroying the Church. It could happen. I think the policy definitely does help keep kids from being caught up in a tug-of-war, or having their own relationship with their parents undermined by their Church activity, etc., but I also think it is possible this policy may help avoid carefully contrived legal snares.

everythingbeforeus said...

Why would God tell this woman that the reason for the policy was to protect the institution when God's chosen mouthpieces told the world that the reason for the policy was to protect the children? Who is lying?

everythingbeforeus said...

The policy change also shows that the Church does not really take its ordinances nearly as seriously as it claims. Elder Christofferson said that children to whom this policy applies will not lose out on anything by being forced to wait until they are 18 and of an age to make a mature decision about baptism.

First of all, if one needs to be 18 to make a mature decision about baptism, then perhaps the church is in error to be baptizing anyone at all at age 8. Secondly, if they aren't going to lose out, then the institutional discourse about the power of the guidance of the Holy Ghost for teenagers needs to be thrown out the window. Apparently, it isn't nearly as important as we've all been previously led to believe.

The church proved itself to be an institution of man in the creation of this policy, the unofficial rewriting of the policy within weeks of its implementation, and the failure to replace the first policy in the handbook with the rewritten version. The clarification was not a clarification at all. It was a ruse. The original language that caused all the confusion still stands.

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought, the same worldview that gave us the Priesthood and temple ban is the same worldview that has implemented this policy. Those facets of life and culture and diversity that Mormonism doesn't understand or that don't fit within Mormonism's present theology must be, by default, immoral or sinful or less obedient somehow. We've seen this show before.

Anonymous said...

Since we all seem to be doing thought experiments, here is one also. Since Jesus never said at what age his gospel would divide families (Matthew 10:34-36), maybe 18 is a good age at which someone can decide if their parents lifestyle is not in keeping with the gospel. To further this thought experiment, let's also say that 8 years old is old enough to know general right from wrong in a family that is more or less gospel oriented.

Steve

Jeff Lindsay said...

Everything, you have a unique ability to take almost anything done by the Church and turn it into "a lie" or blunder. Our fellow Christians among the Evangelicals ought to recognize Latter-day Saints as allies in some of the great controversies and battles of the day, but man times seem more intent in picking a fight than accepting their fellows. I find that sad. Better to let the barn burn down than to allow cousins from the trashy side of the family help put the fire out.

As for "who lied?," come on. There can be dozens of factors considered in making a policy. To discuss or focus on one is not to contradict the other. Whether legal issues were among the top factors considered by Church leaders or not, almost no organization will make public statements about legal strategy and prospective law suits, especially if they have lawyers on board to review their public statements. Neither Jeannie G. nor I are claiming that her answer is the sole reason or factor for the Church, or that it was even one of the factors considered explicitly as a reason for making the policy change. There's no basis for accusing anyone of lying here, unless being an accuser is your job.

C T said...

While reading scriptures today, I read a passage in 3 Nephi 18 that I felt applied strongly to the policy and the controversy surrounding it. 3 Nephi 18:28-34:

28 And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it;
29 For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.
30 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood.
31 But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.
32 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.
33 Therefore, keep these sayings which I have commanded you that ye come not under condemnation; for wo unto him whom the Father condemneth.
34 And I give you these commandments because of the disputations which have been among you. And blessed are ye if ye have no disputations among you.

Kindness is absolutely what the Lord wants, even when exclusion from ordinances is necessary.

everythingbeforeus said...

CT, What has an eight-year old done that needs repenting of before he can become numbered amongst God's people?

Vance said...

EverythingBeforeUs is the classic example of an apostate who, having left the church, cannot leave it alone. A person who rejects the idea that God wants us to do good works for our salvation and who has never answered why the Jews had to do ordinances to receive salvation but we don't (Thus making God a disrespecter of persons, a partial God, one who cheerfully dooms people to hell for not saying the magic phrase of salvation, etc).

His biggest complaint is that God expecting him to do something is wrong. That salvation should require no effort on his part, and those who sacrifice much, even all, for the Lord should not expect any reward more than the lazy bum who does nothing.

He says God is wrong when Jesus mentioned that not everyone who calls Him lord will be saved -- except for those icky Mormons, of course--no matter how much THEY accept Jesus as their Savior, God won't accept them! Because they insist that baptism is necessary, just like Jesus commanded. How wrong, how deluded those Mormons be--thinking that Jesus meant what He said! For having the audacity to think that we need to follow Christ's example; when all they really need to do is accept Jesus and--this is the critical part--deny Mormonism. That second part is the real requirement to go to heaven! Just ask everythingbeforeus; he'll let you know that Mormons have special requirements to go to heaven that Jesus doesn't impose on anyone else! First and foremost is to get rid of the idea that God likes temples or temple ceremonies--that's not true! God despises the very idea of Temples and temple ceremonies and ritual requirements! It's why the Jews were commanded to build one and Jesus spent so much time in one, after all--because He hates them so much!

Tell me, Everything: You despise baptism, and the very idea of repentance (how can a saved person commit sin? If you are saved, you cannot be kept from heaven, so sin doesn't exist, right--sin is, after all, something that separates us from God--and you cannot lose your salvation due to your actions, or that would mean "Works" actually matter--which is a denying of the Grace of God, as you frequently accuse us of).

Baptism is one of those works you cannot stand. So why do you care if the LDS church refuses it to gays--isn't that a good thing, in your mind? Surely by participating in an "evil work" like baptism is a count against you to God, who, in your view, is appalled at the very idea of someone doing a "work". Thus, isn't it a blessing to refuse baptism to gays? It keeps them clean of the taint of, well, following Jesus. And every evangelical like you knows that doing what Jesus said to do instead of your interpretation of Paul's words is verboten, evil, and we all will be punished for daring to follow the words of the Savior instead of relaxing and doing nothing, so we can show that we accept the Grace of God instead of doing good things.

everythingbeforeus said...

Vance, I responded already to much of what you say here on a previous thread. Oddly, you had nothing more to say to me back then. And yet, you come here again, misconstrue my position again in the same you did last time.

If you had read your Bible outside of the correlated intepretation provided for you by your church, you'd have the answer to your questions. You say that I am "a person who rejects the idea that God wants us to do good works for our salvation and who has never answered why the Jews had to do ordinances to receive salvation but we don't.

Have I never answer why the Jews had to do ordinances to receive salvation? Oops..forgive me. Let me explain from the Bible: The Law was a schoolmaster to bring the Children of Israel to Christ. That is the reason for the Law. It was not for their salvation. It was to show them Christ, who alone could save. And when Christ came, he implemented the new covenant, because the old was obsolete and was done away with. The old covenant of laws and ordinances which were the source of our condemnation was taken down and nailed to the cross. The Law was not going to save the Children of Israel, unless they lived it perfectly. The same requirement still exists. If you accept Law as your path to salvation, you must live it perfectly or stand condemned.

I just paraphrased five different Biblical passages for you in that paragraph. Open up your scriptures.





everythingbeforeus said...

Tell me, Everything: You despise baptism, and the very idea of repentance

Who said I despise the very idea of repentance. You and I just have totally different understandings of what repentance is. You believe repentance is making right all your wrongs, and never doing the wrong thing again. I believe that this is actually impossible, and repentance is rightly understood as addressing the root cause of all the bad actions we commit as human beings. To you, sin is an act. To me, sin is a condition. You reject original sin. I do not. Therefore, we have fundamentally different understandings of sin.

Mormons focus on sins. Christians focus on sin. There is a difference. Please learn it, even if you never agree with me. It'll help you to understand what I am saying, and you'll stop making the mistakes you do in our discussion.

(how can a saved person commit sin? If you are saved, you cannot be kept from heaven, so sin doesn't exist...

Romans 8:1,2: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."

Read Roman 7 to find out what Paul means by the Law of the Spirit of life and the Law of Sin and Death. This isn't something they teach you in Sunday School, Vance.

1 John 5:13: "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life..."

If you don't know that you have eternal life,...you do not believe in the name of the Son of God. Take these words to heart.

And every evangelical like you knows that doing what Jesus said to do instead of your interpretation of Paul's words is verboten, evil, and we all will be punished for daring to follow the words of the Savior instead of relaxing and doing nothing, so we can show that we accept the Grace of God instead of doing good things.

I'm sorry, Vance, but you are just talking nonsense now. Do you seriously believe that evangelicals think that following the Savior's example of good works is verboten, evil, and punishable? Do you seriously believe this?

I can't even talk to you anymore until you educate yourself a little. You are embarrassing yourself.

Anonymous said...

CT, I'd be careful trying to apply scripture to the church's current policies on same-sex married couples and the children of gay and lesbian couples. This policy will change over the years and then the scriptures will need to be reinterpreted to remain consistent with the policy. You see the church has a very long history of teaching doctrine or issuing policies that they later change. The Church is trying to clarify between doctrine and policy, but honestly, it is impossible to tell the difference sometimes.
A few examples, LDS leaders used to preach against interracial marriage. We know the priesthood/temple ban was motivated by cultural racism and bias when leaders taught that its existence was from God and the result of individuals of African descent being less obedient in the pre-mortal existence. Some forward thinking Church leaders even took it one step further and declared that place of birth and/or disability were the result of our level of obedience in the pre-Earth life. Essentially, this was a teaching that said you were punished here for things don't remember doing before. Really think about that for a minute. The Lord's anointed, the only men on Earth who claim to have all the keys of the priesthood, taught that certain people were born in certain locations, or had priesthood/temple blessing withheld from them, or had disabilities because of things they did which, because of the veil, they have no way of remembering doing. Honestly, what is that? How can prophets of God perpetuate such malicious teachings/doctrines/polices over across generations?
Moving on to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, the Church has also had plenty to say about them over the years. Church leaders in the past have taught that same-sex attraction was a choice and that it could be cured. They also taught that lesbians simply needed to learn feminine behavior and that gay men needed to learn what a priesthood leader and father does. Surprisingly, Church leadership also taught that a necessary part of repentance for gay men and lesbians was for them to report to Church authorities the names of other gay men and lesbians. Those positions clearly were a product of the most conservative social thought of the time. As a church, we no longer accept those teachings. Why do we accept the current policies. Many of us don't. I don't believe the policies are inspired by God. I believe they are legally motivated. It doesn't take a revelation to figure that part out, but if that is what the woman needed, that's fine. The Church is certainly entitled to develop policies for legal protection, but they are not entitled to protection from questioning and criticism when the perpetuate the myth that this policy was designed to protect children. The Church has said enough about homosexuality over the years. Given all of the misinformation and poor guidance they've given members on this issue, I cannot accept anything the current leaders have to say on the subject as divinely inspired.
Craig

Vance said...

Do I really think that Evangelicals believe good works are bad? No, until they talk to Mormons. Then it is. We are accused of "Trying to earn our way to heaven!" and "Denying the grace of God". In particular, you have hurled those very accusations.

So, taken at face value, doing good works means we are denying the Grace of God. Right? Else why the focus on how we are "earning our way to heaven, blasphemers!" that comes from you and your fellows? If doing good works isn't bad, why do you condemn us for denying the grace of God by trying to do good works?

And yes, you pretty much confirmed that sinning is impossible for a saved person--they can do whatever they want, as long as they are "saved." Once they "know they have eternal life", they get a free pass.

So, I read your answers to me in the other thread. It's all twisting Paul to mean something he clearly didn't: Obedience doesn't matter. Ordinances don't matter.

Again, you fail to address these simple facts: God required ordinances in the Old Testament. He required Baptism, at the very least, in the New. When the men asked Peter what to do on the day of Pentecost, he told them to repent and be baptized. They already believed, but more was required. Was Peter preaching heresy by requiring them to be baptized? When Stephen met the Eunuch, they went to be baptized. James mentions calling for the elders to come anoint the sick --what, pray tell, was that for? Anointing the sick--that's an ordinance, which Christ did away with!
Peter smote the two who failed to contribute to the communal life because they had lied to God, he said (also showing that the Holy Ghost is God--it's the main scripture so demonstrating). But surely they believed and had faith, for they contributed something! Yet it wasn't enough.

Belief alone, as James said, is not enough. Even Satan believes, after all.

But that's all that it takes, says you.. And then you go on about "However, if you don't do good works, you didn't have saving faith!" Thus putting the question of your salvation after this life is over, to see if you had saving faith or not. And now, in this post, you say that if you don't know you are guaranteed eternal life-- you don't believe in Jesus. Which is it--do we have saving faith or don't we, right now? Are YOU saved, guaranteed eternal life, everything? Is your faith "saving faith?" If you say yes, your response to me in the other thread is hooey. If you say no, you stand convicted of not believing in the name of the Son of God, by your own admission.

Vance said...


Apparently God was, shall we say, being rather vindictive towards the Jews by requiring them to have ordinances, and follow His commandments, when all along He knew that Jesus would come and give the rest of us a free pass from those onerous requirements. Pretty foul luck for the Jews, don't you think? Why does God hate them so much to force them to do all these requirements that don't actually save them? Did you really just argue that no one who had the law of Moses was saved? What happened to the Jews, then, under the Law of Moses? What did obeying God's law get them if the Law of Moses had no saving power? This is a stunning concept to me: that the entirety of the Old Testament, the Priesthood of Aaron, the sacrifices, the whole shebang--had no power to save. That God does not honor any of it.

And you expect me to believe that such a God, who would give a Law and rules and set up a Priesthood --would not even honor it to save those who lived by that Law? What a cruel cosmic joke!

Again, you prove that the Evangelical God is very capricious. If you disagree, tell me the real power of the Law of Moses. A schoolmaster, you say, to bring people to Christ. How did it do this, if it was filled with Ordinances and Priesthoods that had no power to save (you claim)? When a Jew, say, in 500 BC went to Temple and did ordinances: what was the precise effect? He died long before Christ, and according to you there is no salvation in the Law of Moses. So that Jew is out of luck? Following God's commandments did nothing at all for him--he does not get to go to heaven? Surely a Jew who would give everything they had, like the widow who helped Elijah --didn't they have saving faith? Or did their belief in the need for a temple ordinance doom them, like it apparently does me?

The Bible is filled with Ordinances. Baptism, anointing the sick, the Eucharist or Communion or the Sacrament--whatever you call it --these were heretical practices after Jesus? According to you, apparently so. What about the Laying on of Hands mentioned? If you reject ordinances as obsolete (and apparently, you reject the entire idea, since you claim that the Law of Moses and its ordinances had no saving power when it was in effect--they were just meaningless rituals, of no impact, apparently); then explain why the early church had so many of them. And explain why Peter was allowed to forgive sins, and heal people.
Further, before Peter received the vision of the unclean things, the gospel was not taken to the Gentiles. What, precisely, was not being taken? If all you need is to believe and have faith, did Jesus just not accept that from Gentiles prior to the vision? We know several people, not of the Jews, had deep faith in Christ, even before His death. Jesus said it wasn't fit to give the Gentiles what was given to the Jews. Yet everyone can have faith and believe--what was being withheld from them, if no ordinances?

John the Baptist--why on earth would Jesus have as His forerunner someone who was preaching baptism, if such a thing was obsolete after Christ's death and resurrection?

So many things about your "Grace alone, not works, and boy howdy, ordinances are irrelevant!" just doesn't match the New Testament, let alone the Old.

Vance said...

As for Craig's accusations of "Ye Mormons are bigots!" that he is hurling. Please.

It is not malicious to note that the availability of the Gospel of God to everyone has been limited for most of the earth's history. While little is known about the Gospel prior to Abraham, it is clear that the Gospel was restricted to the Jews alone--a person in, say, Ireland had no access to the authorized plan of God. When Christ came, He came to the Jews alone. Later, Christ extended the possibility of salvation to the Gentiles in the vision to Peter. But this was limited, practically speaking, to Europeans and surrounding areas of the Mediterranean sea for thousands of years. People in Brazil, or Nigeria, or China had no practical access to the Gospel.

So why is it a surprise to see that God limits access to His church? Particularly why is it a surprise to find out that God limits access to His church to people who proudly claim that homosexuality and their actions are not sinful? In a church which holds that the highest, best reward that God can give is an eternal family, with your own children--something homosexuality is diametrically opposed to? This is objectionable? It's ludicrous. Yes, people suffer from temptations, and maybe even have inborn tendencies. I myself fear that if I ever drank alcohol, I would be addicted and a dead drunk very, very quickly, due to inborn tendencies. So I avoid it.

All of these stürm und drang is based on the pernicious lie that homosexuality is not a sin, and that it is normal, acceptable, and even moral. Do adulterers also deserve to get a free pass into the LDS church? We also require those children of adulterers to repudiate such acts when we ask them to commit to live a moral, Christlike lifestyle; but adulterers don't have an organized arm running around preaching that adultery is normal, moral, and approved by God like the LGBT lobby. And, for the most part as far as I know, adulterers are not preaching to their children that it is perfectly fine and dandy to cheat on your spouse and you should not be punished for it. If it were, I'm pretty sure the church policies that have been implemented towards gays would also be implemented for the adulterers.

Thankfully, adultery is still recognized as a moral problem by the vast numbers of people (outside of politicians, perhaps). So there is no need for such measures... yet.

everythingbeforeus said...

Vance...this is as simple as I can put it:

Faith - Salvation - Works. That is the order of operations.

Mormons believe it goes this way. Faith - Works - Salvation.

Notice, I didn't complicate the matter by including grace. Both Christians and Mormons acknowledge grace (thought they think of it differently), so there was not need to complicate it by putting that in there.

Faith - Salvation - Works.

NOT Faith - Works - Salvation.

When you understand that, even if you don't agree, we can talk.

As for what you said to Craig about the limited availability of the Gospel..again read the New Testament. Especially Ephesians. The new covenant does not limit the gospel to any group, but makes it available to all.

MuralMama said...

I really saw the "change" as nothing more than shoring up the boundaries of what is acceptable and appropriate, regardless of what the world says, or the supreme court, for that matter. I also couldn't help but wonder how few people this will actually affect. Yes, I'm sure more than I might think, but less than the entirety of the church or the bedrock of the doctrine on the family. The church should not and must not budge on this issue, but love should never be far from our lips or our actions either. Are we sent here to over come the natural man or not? Is it that only some are expected to abide by the sexual purity standards set forth by the Church, while others get an exemption based on their desire to act out on their sexual impulses? Go and sin no more, as I understand it, applies to us all. We cannot have one foot in the world, seeking after our "authentic" worldly selves, and one foot in the church, professing belief in something we have no intentions of living (not even trying to live). Come, follow me, was and is a request for change, as well as an outreach to the world.

Some other good blogs with posts on this issue: http://www.sixteensmallstones.org/, http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/11/15873/, http://wellbehavedmormonwoman.blogspot.com/2015/11/response-to-new-church-policy-gay-marriage-children-baptism.html, http://www.mormonwomenstand.com/guest-stand/what-the-church-is-making-progress-actually-means/, http://gaymormonguy.blogspot.com/2015/11/waiting-on-lord-same-sex-adoption.html, https://letters4darla.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/no-virginia-christianity-doesnt-need-to-change-people-do/

Anonymous said...

Vance, I don't believe that I've said Mormons are bigots. What is I was saying is that there is sufficient evidence throughout Church history to show that some prominent, high-ranking, Church leaders have allowed their own cultural and social biases to inform Doctrine, policy, and guidance to members on everything from race to gender to sexual orientation. The fact that for centuries hearing/learning about the Gospel of Jesus Christ was limited to certain people in certain geographic locations is a vastly different thing than carrying on a tradition of withholding priesthood and temple blessings from a certain group of people on the basis of race and calling it doctrine.
Vance, has it never struck you as odd that the same people to whom "God limits access to His church" are the some of the same people that have historically been oppressed and marginalized by the larger society. Think about it.
You claim that homosexuality is "diametrically opposed" to having "your own" children and family. Really? How so? Are adopted children of gay couples not really their children? If that is the case, what of the adopted children of heterosexual couples? Are they not really "their children?" You must be referring to biological children. I know many heterosexual couples who have formed families with children through various means. Are those children any less theirs?
Homosexuality is a sexual orientation. To reduce it to a temptation or an inborn tendency is like reducing opposite gender attraction to a temptation or an inborn tendency. Educate yourself on this. BYU Professor Bill Bradshaw's work on the biological basis for same-gender attraction might be useful for you.
You also equate homosexuality with adultery. Keep thinking that way, Vance. That line of reasoning should take you far in life. Adultery, by definition, means willfully having a sexual relationship with someone other than your lawfully recognized spouse. It is direct violation of marriage vows and a serious violation of the innocent spouse's trust. That doesn't sound like homosexuality to me. By the way, children of adulterers are not required to disavow the lifestyle of their parents in order to be baptized. The children of gay and lesbian couples are required to disavow their parents relationship before getting baptized. Makes no sense.
Mural mama, the Church did not need to shore up their position on homosexuality. It was already very clear. Local church leaders already had the authority to bring disciplinary councils against members (gay or straight) who were engaging in actions that violated the law of chastity. The Church has tried to claim in recent years that they don't ask anything different from members with same-sex attraction than they ask of single, straight members. That is no longer the case. This policy is proof that lesbian or gay members of the Church are defined by their sexual orientation and that it is considered a burden that they must bear in this life. They are not just told to remain celibate, they are required to live a life that forces them to be ever watchful lest they fall in love. Imagine being told that you can experience feelings of opposite gender attraction, but you can never act on them...and by act on them, I'm not just talking about having sex. I'm talking about dating, and spending time together, and developing a committed and trusting relationship with someone to whom you are sexually attracted. The most intimate aspects of the human experience are expressly forbidden to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender. What does the Church promise for this life of celibacy? It'll be ok in the end. All the things you missed out on here will be available there. We've said all kinds of horrible things about homosexuals over the years, we've given guidance to homosexual members that has been misguided and ill informed, but don't pay any attention to that, we got it right this time. Good grief!
Craig

Vance said...

Well, I understand that you and I really don't disagree on what Evangelicals think is necessary for Salvation. If it goes Faith, then Salvation, then works.... works are a complete and total irrelevancy to salvation, then. Is that really what you mean; because it seems like this contradicts your other thread. Does Salvation depend on your works, or the lack thereof, at all--even if your lack of works means you never had "saving faith?" I just question the order you are putting this in, because from my discussions with most evangelicals, they are not comfortable with saying works do not matter one whit for salvation. Even you have walked that back.

But here you are, saying that, for purposes of deciding whether or not someone is saved: their works are completely and totally irrelevant. It is only their faith that determines that. Once Salvation is decided, then we move to works. Is that an accurate recap of your position? Note that this means that works, whether bad or good, are therefore simply not considered at all in deciding whether someone is saved. By this I mean that you cannot say "Your works demonstrate whether you had saving faith" because then your formula moves to, in math speak: "w times F >= X means Salvation", where F is Faith and Works is how strong your faith is (demonstrating if you have saving faith)--the multiplier, as it were. And X is the required amount of Faith for Salvation.

This above formula is not correct; what you really believe is that Faith >= X which = Salvation, and W or works is a completely separate equation.

Let's stop there and you tell me if that is accurate for your beliefs.

Vance said...

And Craig: I fail to see the issue. Christ Himself referred to the Samaritans as "dogs" and told the woman that she was not fit to receive the gospel based on her race or cultural identity... up to the point that she demonstrated very great faith. And then the gospel was extended to her. This was relaxed with Peter, but the Savior Himself only went to the Jews. That He would exclude a group of people whose main identifying characteristic isn't race or cultural, but behavioral, is no surprise at all. As to your "God wouldn't withhold the Priesthood on the basis of race!" He did indeed do just that with the Samaritans of Ezra's day... and in fact, only the tribe of Levi got to hold the Priesthood at all. Your common, believing, member of the tribe of Asher, say, or Issachar or even Judah did not have that opportunity, based on their birth.

As for your "don't gays have families too?" question: Again, what is the pattern of heaven? We have a Father in Heaven... and a Mother in Heaven. We don't have two Fathers in Heaven, who created our spirits. Only a marriage between a man and a woman is eligible for eternal blessings; the SSM and adoption here is completely irrelevant on the other side. Just as my wedding is irrelevant until sealed by someone holding the sealing power. And my adopted kids (and I actually do have two adopted kids) would mean nothing except they were sealed to my wife and I; their legal adoption is only relevant here on earth. If I adopt any more children and they are not sealed to me, they will not be in my family in the next world either.

Your complaint that LDS doctrine means that we expect homosexuals to "wait it out" and to not experience the companionship of a loved one is self serving and whining. The LDS church expects nothing more of homosexuals than it does anyone else. My sister in law is mid 40's. Still single. Her chances of finding and experiencing the, as you call it, "most intimate aspects of the human experience" are practically nil. She will almost certainly never be married. The same promises that you dismiss are extended to her as they are to homosexuals; namely that she will have all the opportunities and blessings she is deserving of, even if they are not realized in this life.

It's the same advice, Craig. I personally think that there are far, far more tragic things than to be born with a same sex attraction, if that is even the reason. You could be born TO a person or placed in the care of one of those who thinks that child abuse is a-ok and the preferred method for inducting them into the LGBT lifestyle, for instance. Like Moira Greyland, the daughter of Marion Zimmer Bradley, who got to grow up being raped by her parents--both of them. And by her mothers lesbian friends. That seems more of an issue; more of an injustice; than asking gays to follow the same rules we ask everyone else to follow. Or don't you agree?

Plus, this whole notion that the homosexual community needs special privileges because they can't help themselves is a pernicious doctrine that denies Christ. Or do you claim that Christ's Atonement is insufficient to heal the dedicated person, earnestly striving to become more like Christ? Christ can heal the adulterer, the abused, comfort those that mourn; and heal all wounds but same-sex attraction is just too strong for Christ to fix, is that right?

If that is the argument.... then we need to keep preachers of that doctrine out of the Church.

Anonymous said...

Vance, you and I are not likely to agree. I do not have the same testimony of the current state of Mormon theology that you have. I'm an active member of the Church, but I'm not willing to simply accept that the current state of affairs within the Church is exactly as God intends it to be. Another difference between you and me, is that I don't consider same-sex attraction any form of tragedy. I view it in much the same way as being born with heterosexual attraction. The Church considers it a burden to carry in this life. I do not view it that way. As a result, for me to answer your question about whether it is worse to be born gay or born into an abusive family is ridiculous. Children being born into abusive families has nothing to do with homosexuality, just like adultery has nothing to do with homosexuality. Now you say that homosexuals are unable to control themselves. What do you mean by that? Please educate yourself on same-sex attraction and the myriad lifestyles of lesbian and gay individuals. They are as varied as that of heterosexual individuals. This is what I claim: The atonement of Jesus Christ is not needed to heal same-sex attraction because same-sex attraction does not need healing. Is that clear enough.
Answer this question: Could your sister-in-law get married, if the opportunity presented itself, and remain in full fellowship in the Church? If she could, then the gay person is in a different position than she is. It is not the same.
As for matters of race, the Church itself has stated that the priesthood ban was motivated by historical racism. The sooner you accept that former leaders of the Church have had the ability to teach false doctrine, the sooner you can begin to think for yourself.
Believe it or not, Vance, I used to think like you do now. I used to try to find every possible way to make sure things fit neatly within the Church's current interpretation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I finally realized that the Gospel of Jesus Christ (as explained in the Bible and the Book of Mormon) is really very simple and shouldn't require all of these mental gymnastics and layers.
The moment I came to a realization that the same-sex attraction experienced by gay and lesbian individuals was not in need of repair, is the same moment that I experienced an ability to love these individuals unconditionally.
Craig

everythingbeforeus said...

Vance, I don't know what all these evangelicals you talk to believe. You keep bringing them up. Stop addressing these other people when you talk to me. Talk to ME.

If I have backtracked anything, please explain what exactly so I can maybe correct myself. Frankly, I don't know what these equations you are using even mean. I am trying to figure them out. I'd prefer words.

First of all, we can't determine if someone is saved or not. Only God can do that. And the individual may know. Most likely the individual WILL know. So, since we are not the judges, it becomes kind of silly to even try to nail all this down. We will never be in a position where we need to know the criteria from the point of view of a judge.

Faith in Christ is what saves. This faith usually comes as a result of a hard-fought battle against the desires of the mortal flesh. When the individual comes to the realization that he/she cannot save himself through his/her own righteousness, and decides to give the fight up and turn entirely and completely to God (not a church or anything else), then that person is demonstrating the faith that saves. The salvation occurs. This is an experience that has been experienced by many many people. I experienced it. It is called being born-again. In that experience, one experiences the amazing love and mercy of God. Words cannot describe it. And that person then knows that his or her life is forever changed. Almost in a moment. It has happened to many people. Some Mormons, actually. But many many many Christians.

The moment true faith is expressed, the redeeming grace of Christ kicks in and that person receives the downpayment, or the "earnest," of his or her redemption. That person partakes of the heavenly gift. They are enlightened. They experience the powers of the world to come. Paul describes it this way. Peter describes it this way.

Can a person fall from this? Yes. Paul says so. Peter says so. One falls from it by becoming fully ensnared in the world once again to the point that they reject the gift. Unpardonable sin. Pure evil.

We don't, as you suggest, work on developing faith, then we get saved, then we "move on" to works, as if we are climbing a ladder. Steps up a ladder. I know I kind of made it seem like it is a bunch of steps, but really, it can't be explained in words. So I do my best. But the "ladder" mentality is alive and well in Mormonism.

It is more like being in quicksand, struggling by one's own efforts to get out, and finally just reaching out and grabbing the rope Jesus has been offering the whole time. It is almost an instantaneous thing. The faith-salvation part is. The acceptance of the rope and the ensuing salvation is almost instantaneous. Then, guess what. You are free! You can go and continue to struggle, but this time out of gratitude for the salvation and the Love of God, not to get yourself out of the pit.

The reason you may be perceiving that I am backtracking here and there is not because I am backtracking, but because words fail ultimately to explain this marvelous experience. I am trying to put the inexpressible into expression. But there is no way of doing it.

But experience it for yourself. Then you'll be here wanting to have an entirely different conversation with me. I guarantee it.

Anonymous said...

EBU has presented an uninteresting chain of reasoning since there is no faith without works. FSW | FWS distinctions are trivial. They're a distraction, and lead to inconsequential nit-picking, which ebu thrives on.

everythingbeforeus said...

anonymous. Right...that is why I have tried to explain to Vance, who depicted a similar weakness in my argument, that what I am trying to say can't fully be expressed in language. My chain of reasoning is only a model, but it is not reality. Like a diagram of an atom is only a model by which a concept can be partly understood, but is not reality.

Faith-salvation-works. It kind of happens in this order, but it kind of happens all at once. It is a powerful realization of one's true standing before God, but almost in the same moment, a powerful realization of the love God has for us. It is a gift from God. Both the love, and the faith.

Vance said...

So I believe I understand where you are coming from, but it still does not cover ordinances. I've asked several times about baptism, which is certainly a prominent part of the New Covenant. It appears your theology simply ignores it?

By the way, this is common of most Protestant faiths--they minimize and downplay ordinances, simply because they, quite clearly, have no authority to perform those ordinances. They are apostate from Catholicism, and the only other way to get authority is via the Joseph Smith route--where God brings it back. Which is not an allowed claim in Protestantism.

So I'm curious, then: Do you reject baptism, the laying on of hands, anointing the sick with oil, the gift of the Holy Ghost, partaking of the Sacrament (Eucharist, mass or whatever you wish to call it) and the Priesthood as well? Because it appears you do. And these are all part of the New Testament, not the Law of Moses.

Works, after all, are split into two categories: Keeping the commandments and doing good, and performing the Ordinances of the gospel. Yet your theology appears to leave no room for ordinances, nor does it appear to have any concept of why they were performed. If the Law of Moses was to be a schoolmaster to bring people to Christ, what was the purpose of ordinances at all?

everythingbeforeus said...

By the way, this is common of most Protestant faiths--they minimize and downplay ordinances, simply because they, quite clearly, have no authority to perform those ordinances. They are apostate from Catholicism, and the only other way to get authority is via the Joseph Smith route--where God brings it back. Which is not an allowed claim in Protestantism.

I am typing with my "friendly" tone now. I am in a good mood today. So, think of me as your friend. Who cares about our religious differences, right?

Protestants do not downplay ordinances because they have no authority to perform ordinances. (If they really thought so, why would they continue to perform them?) They downplay ordinances because of their understanding of God's relationship with Man. Have you ever read Luther's conversion story? What about Wesley's conversion story? They are very similar. Luther was a life-long Christian! He was a Catholic clergyman. His conversion came after his involvement in his church. Same with Wesley. After their baptisms! After their confirmations! Baptism and confirmation are nothing more than symbolic (but dead) works. Honestly, Vance...what happened when hands were placed upon your wet head after your baptism? I would venture to say absolutely nothing. It was a fine symbolic act, and your participation in it demonstrated your conviction to live a Christ-like life. And that is beautiful and commendable. But the ordinance itself does nothing.

Read Cornelius's conversion story in Acts. This guy received the Gift of the Holy Ghost just from hearing Peter preach. He received no laying on of hands. And when it happened, everyone around him knew it had happened. And then Peter said, "Well...gee! This guy's a Gentile, and he received the Holy Ghost just like we did,...so I guess we can't withhold baptism from him."

Yes...there are recorded instances where the laying on of hands does actually activate the Holy Ghost in a person's life, but have you ever witnessed it? Ever?

I never have. We just tell ourselves as Mormons that those hands and those words make it so. But they don't make it so. Even Bednar has said so!

But the Gift of the Holy Ghost is real. And when it happens, it will (to use colloquial speech) "blow your mind." It is really an amazing thing. Maybe it has happened to you. It is not for me to judge. I believe Mormons are every bit as entitled to it as any other follower of Jesus Christ. I am not a denominationalist. I am a Christian.

More to come....

everythingbeforeus said...

As for Communion, I would encourage you to go to another denomination and take their sacrament. The Methodists don't turn anyone away. Try that. The Episcopalians probably wouldn't turn you away either. (But they do use wine, so...) Some Lutherans will prohibit you (the Missouri Synod Lutherans) but the ELCA (Evangelical Lutherans) probably won't. But at least go and witness it if you haven't already. Go a few times, because there will be a lot of cultural programming getting in the way of your ability to fully experience it the first time you go.

I am telling you from my own experience that partaking of the Lord's supper at both Methodist and Episcopalian churches has resulted in some of the sweetest spiritual experiences of my life. Not "mind-blowing," but indescribably beautiful.

The reason is this: in Protestantism, the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is representative of being accepted as living members of the Body of Christ. It is a gift from God to his people. It is the gift of Christ Himself! It is not just a display of my willingness to spend another week trying hard to keep the impossible covenants I have just renewed. It is grace, mercy, forgiveness, love. It is a physical representation of eternal life in Christ.

I have had far more spiritually rewarding experiences taking communion in Protestant churches in the past year than I ever did taking sacrament for 38 years as a Mormon. That has been my reality. It might not be yours. But this is the way it has been for me.

A little more to follow..

everythingbeforeus said...

But the heart of your question is this: do I reject ordinances? Yes and no.

First the no. I believe that baptism is a potent symbol of one's commitment. I can't say that when I was baptized at 8 that I was really committed. I doubt many 8-year olds really are. They are just doing what everyone before them was doing. I see this as no different than infant baptism, which, by the way, is what the Episcopalians do.

I did feel an extremely strong desire to be baptized again AFTER my conversion to Christ (and out of the LDS Church) at age 38. Of course, the Mormons weren't going to rebaptize me. The Episcopal Priest has agreed to rebaptize me, although the Episcopalians are generally quite insistent that baptism can only happen once. (The priest honors and recognizes my Mormon baptism.)

The way I look at it is this: The Episcopalians would've baptized me when I was a baby if I had been born to Episcopal parents. So, even if that happened, I'd still be in the same situation I am in now. I am baptized, but I now am really converted and seek baptism. My conversion to Christ happened AFTER my baptism. Just like Luther. Just like Wesley.

Frankly, I don't put much stock at all in the ordinance of baptism. To me it is only a symbolic act. It symbolizes something else, and that something else is really what is important. But that something else doesn't necessary happen BECAUSE of the baptism. It is symbolic of the baptism of Spirit that Jesus brought. Being Baptized in Jesus is not a water baptism, it is a spiritual event. This DID happen to me. It was awesome. It came while driving in a car on a job-related trip. It came out of the blue. It was a long trip, and it continued to come and go as I drove. That last "wave" came as I was actually sitting down at the meeting. It was an amazing awareness of the Love of God, both for me, and strangely for everyone else gathered in that room. It was a lot more than that, too. Too much to write for the time being.

This was a spiritual baptism. It was a fully immersive experience. I'll never forget it, and I owe my entire life to it. It brought me out of the religion of my youth. It showed me the error of my ways and of my thinking. It was a completely life-altering experience. It is best described as being "born again."

So, no...I don't reject ordinances. I love communion. I long for it each week. I want nothing more than to be in that chapel, kneeling, listening to the words of the eucharistic prayer, and approaching the altar to receive the bread and wine.

But at the same time, yes...I do reject ordinances. I reject the concept that salvation comes through ordinances. Salvation has to come first directly through the individual's relationship with God. And it is a private, internal thing. Only after that happens do these ordinances even make any sense. Then, they becoming a strengthening power in the life of the saved person.

If I need baptism to be saved, well...I was baptized. In water. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. By my father. When I was 8. So I guess I am covered. If not, what can I do?

But I wholeheartedly, completely, and without equivocation, deliberately reject the temple endowment, the covenants forged by the endowment, and the sealing ceremony. I will not waver in expressing my disdain for these ordinances. They are not Christian. They come ultimately from another source. If they motivate anyone to live a decent life and to cause no harm, then they have some benefit in that respect, I suppose.

So, I guess I sound wishy-washy about ordinances. That would be an accurate depiction of my current state of mind. I can't seriously believe that a few molecules of hydrogen and oxygen coursing over the surface of my body, later to be washed down a drain into a sewer system, ultimately to evaporate back into the atmosphere, stand between me and my God. God knows my heart.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't get snarky about the physical aspect of earthly ordinances when your own sensory experiences can be reduced by the scornful to nerves firing and deluding your mind.

everythingbeforeus said...

Anon 11:37.

Right...my faith is ultimately dependent upon the same kind of experience that the faith of a Mormon is dependent upon. Or a Muslim. Or a Hindu. Or a JW.

But I am not sure where you are coming from. Are you a believer in religious experience? Or do you feel that religious experience is nothing more than firing nerves?

If you are a believer in religious experience, then I will assume you put stock in these earthly ordinances. If so, you would have to believe that these earthly ordinances have to be done correctly. And therefore, you need some means of determining which religion is doing it correctly. And the only means of judgement available, ultimately, is the firing of the nerves. Or scripture. But even if you rely on scripture, how do you determine if it is true? Again, firing nerves.

So, either God speaks to us, or our nerves fire off as a result of our long evolutionary development (I accept the theory of evolution by the way.)

I believe God speaks to us. But I also believe we have a marvelous power to delude ourselves. I have deluded myself many times. I will continue to delude myself many times. So how can I be so sure that I am not currently deluded?

I guess I can't, but here is all I know. In my "deluded" state, I was given two commandments. Love God. Love others. And I was also told that I was forbidden, expressly forbidden, to cast judgment on anyone at all. (Of course, I strive to live up to this every day. I fail miserably.) However, I think that if I follow this delusion, it won't steer me in any wrong direction. Love is the fulfillment of the law.

I am confident that my delusion will never at any time require me to harm you in any way. That is the key. The nature of my experience was such that I know that should I ever find myself in a position in which I justify harming you or anyone else in any way at all, I have fallen from the divine commandment given to me.

This, interestingly, shapes my view about the original topic of this post, which was gay marriage.

Is homosexuality a sin? Maybe. Maybe not. As far as I am concerned, it doesn't matter. I only need to love and honor each human life. I don't need to answer these questions. Love. Love. Love.

That is it. That is true Christianity. Despite the fact that President Monson mocked the notion with one of his famous "eye rolls" in conference several years ago.



Mormography said...

Talk about thinking everyone that doesn't agree w u are VEPs. Here Mormanity accuses everythingbeforeus of being an accuser ......

To Mormanity's chagrin, EBU is correct. The (not a) reason was given. To feel the emotional urge to write a blog to pretend it is not the reason given shows his disappointment, orderline John dehlin type behavior.

Thought experiments aside, when has the LDS Church or any religion in America been forced to perform a secretive, oops, I mean sacred religious rite against their will?

James Anglin said...

Is a religious experience anything more than firing nerves?

Is a word anything more than a sound wave, or a smear of ink on paper?

In one way, No. It's not the only way.

In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.


Anonymous said...

(really late to the party)

@everythingbeforeus . . .

Thank you for trying to simplify the order of operations for the “Faith vs. Works” argument. I sincerely appreciate it because it means we can have a conversation.

If we are going to look at it from the simple perspective you defined, let’s finish the equation by actually adding the numerical operators.

As a faithful LDS member, I would agree that Mormons believe the following . . .

Faith + Works = Salvation.

We truly believe there is truth in James 2:26 that states “…faith without works is dead…”.

You (and many others) believe “Faith – Salvation – Works” which, to me, means that only faith is required. Look what happens when we add the operators;

Faith + Salvation = Works

The most important component in the equation is Salvation. We are not trying to achieve Works. So if Works is not the result we are looking for because Salvation is the ultimate goal, we can move the operators around.

Faith = Salvation + Works

If that is more in line with Protestant philosophy, then I think we can all agree that Works is not necessary.

Faith = Salvation

It is a very simple equation. As Mormons, we struggle with it being that simplified. Putting James 2:26 aside, when the equation is that simple, good and bad “Works” become irrelevant.

Maybe the root of the argument stems from the assumed or perceived definition of “Work”. Work is not the equivalent of an hourly wage which under a labor contract we would then expect to get “paid” with Salvation. Work, it the true meaning of how we live our lives, is an action that demonstrates our faith. And we do believe actions are required.

Baptism is an action. It is a “work” that we do and as a result, we have tangibly “signed” our name as a follower of Christ, through an action. I view it like it we are adding our name to a petition to be saved. At the end of the day, a petition is still just a piece of paper with a bunch of names on it . . . not worth much. But it demonstrates intent, and hopefully, helps show we were faithful. What Jesus does with the "petition" is still fully up to Him.

Speaking of dead, you said “baptism and confirmation are nothing more than symbolic (but dead) works.” So is weekly Sacrament meetings which, to Mormons, is an extension of our baptismal covenants. But we believe it is not dead, but living. The action we take by participating in Sacrament meeting is another signature on our petition to the Savior Jesus Christ asking him to extend His grace to us. So is Home Teaching. And Tithing. And loving one another (even if the others are annoying). :)

So which is it . . . Faith + Works = Salvation or Faith = Salvation?

As for me and my house, if Faith is a given and Salvation is the goal, we will err on the side of including Works.

Sincerely,
Shawn

Anonymous said...


BTW, like many of Jeff’s posts, my commentary above is a tangent (although I think a valuable discussion) somewhat distant from the original thread.

Regarding the LDS policy on SSM, how I see it is this change brings the policy in line with the current standing policy relating to children in polygamous families. That policy has been in place for decades. So I agree with the letter from “Sister Jeannie G”, it is something the Church had to do. And for everyone screaming about how horrible the policy is (I was shocked it was front page news on NBCnews.com for several days), where were those same people in regards to the “rights” of children raised in polygamous families?

The Church should not cause division within families. Families are the basic unit of the Church. When someone is 18, and old enough to potentially start their own family (meaning the laws of the land support them without requiring “parental consent”), then they can make a decision to be part of a Church (LDS) and its declaration on the family. Or, just like someone raised and baptized in an LDS family who moves out and becomes inactive, they can decide it is not for them.

At the end of the day, we all have to make our own choices about how we want to (or should) live our lives.

Sincerely,
Shawn

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everythingbeforeus said...

You took great liberties by adding the operators. I wasn't creating mathematical equations. But you are, and by doing so you have changed the meaning. I do not believe that it can be turned into an equation.

You said that the formula Faith = Salvation + Works is the Protestant view. I disagree. Completely. Because in your formula, you have faith coming last. In this equation, there is no faith until salvation is added to works, or vice versa. It's nonsense. Salvation comes by faith apart from works.

A person can have faith and have no works. (But then it isn't true faith.) A person can have works but no faith. I know people who are antagonistically non-Christian, but they'd give you their own car when your car breaks down.

Either way, there is no salvation. Salvation only comes when the person expresses true faith (and yes...if it is true faith, the works are the evidence of that.) It is the true faith that brings salvation.

So what are works? What role do they play? Well, they are evidence of true faith. They make faith effective. But the works do not effect salvation. The works now spring forth from a different place within the soul of the individual. They no longer spring forth from an intellectual understanding of righteousness and a fear of punishment ("There is now no condemnation....." Romans). They spring forth from the born-again heart. They are the fruits of the redeemed soul. And only then are they truly good works. Anything before may be beneficial in a temporal sense, but in a spiritual sense, they are, as Isaiah said, "Filthy rags."


everythingbeforeus said...

Regarding the LDS policy on SSM, how I see it is this change brings the policy in line with the current standing policy relating to children in polygamous families. That policy has been in place for decades. So I agree with the letter from “Sister Jeannie G”, it is something the Church had to do. And for everyone screaming about how horrible the policy is (I was shocked it was front page news on NBCnews.com for several days), where were those same people in regards to the “rights” of children raised in polygamous families?

I think the majority of members had no idea that this was the same policy in place for polygamous families. And had not the handbook changes been leaked to the press, the majority of members would have had no idea that this was also the policy for kids in same-sex marriages. And that would've been precisely the way the church wanted it. The LDS church has a major transparency problem.

The Church should not cause division within families. Families are the basic unit of the Church. When someone is 18, and old enough to potentially start their own family (meaning the laws of the land support them without requiring “parental consent”), then they can make a decision to be part of a Church (LDS) and its declaration on the family. Or, just like someone raised and baptized in an LDS family who moves out and becomes inactive, they can decide it is not for them.

Are you proposing that the age of accountability is changed from 8 to 18 for all children? There has always been a policy in place to protect the parental wishes. Why was this policy not enough? The handbook changes have nothing to do with keeping families happy. The divine answer received by the woman whose letter appears in the post clarifies that.

Surely you see that your two scenarios above are not parallel. The 8 year old who has to wait until she is 18 to be baptized is in no way similar to the baptized 8 year old who becomes 18 and decides to give up the faith. The former is prohibited from baptism until she is no longer under the stewardship of her parents. The latter is forced to retain baptism until she is no longer under the stewardship of her parents.

The church is clearly showing its hand. Baptism at 8, followed by forced retention until age 18, is just a way to boost membership numbers. It has nothing to do with accountability or testimony or anything else. Therefore, it forbids baptism when doing so will reduce the threat to its existence. It doesn't want young people in its ranks that have a sweet-spot in their heart for gay people. It sees this as a serious threat. And it is a serious threat. Love is always a serious threat to totalitarian systems, because love helps us see individuals, and not numbers. The church is only concerned with numbers because it is a business. It operates like a business. It sells a product (eternal life) and right now, eternal life is defined as a male/female partnership into the eternities. The temple hinges on this! And the temple is the source of the leadership's authority. Take all that away and guess what happens. The leadership has no tool by which it can enforce its authority. Nothing.

Mormons, your family relationships are being held hostage in exchange for compliance. And so desperate are they to maintain this system, that they actually marched Elder Christofferson out in front of the world to say that a person who has to wait until 18 to get the Holy Ghost will not miss out on anything. They threw your most vital ordinance under the bus in order to protect their authority.


Anonymous said...


Sorry but I can't tell you how many "born again" Christians I have met that draw close to the Lord with their words but fail in their actions to demonstrate they are Christian. Makes it easy for the religions of Hollywood to continue to push their message that God is dead and all religions are hippocritical political tools. By your commentary, I'm sure that's what you think of Mormons. :) But, with us, there something else there. We are boldly stating that if you follow Christ, in word and deed (He was apparently a participant in the "dead" ritual of baptism), all people can find joy in this life and salvation in the next. I invite you to look further.

Regarding us being held hostage, please. That's silly. Callings are way to much work if we are being culturally forced to comply. The Church would simply melt away.

I believe the age of accountability is 8. We are all accountable as individuals. The age of accountability for OTHERS in a family is 18. As a parent you take a serious role that affects the lives of generations to come. It's all about family units. Disrupting a family unit because the parents are SSM is NOT the intent of the Church.

I'd rather not engage in the fruitless discussion on what groups of people (or the Church) think or don't think. There is not a conspiracy to keep young gay friendly out of Church because they are a threat. Many of us have friends and/or family that are gay. Believe what you will.

But thank you for you feedback. Normally, I only have time to read a few of Jeff's posts here or there because my other "order of operations", Family - Job - Church, take up all my time. :)

Sincerely,
Shawn

everythingbeforeus said...

It is precisely the amount of work the church requires of you, not to mention the amount of money it requires, that keeps so many Mormons attached. The more of yourself you commit to something, the less capable you are of critically evaluating it objectively.

Anonymous said...

No the amount of work and "money" does not. Happiness and finding purpose keeps the many members I know in the fold. Maybe the next step is for you to call me Sisyphus except that I was not raised LDS. I'm too lazy. I stopped going to another church as soon as I turned 18 because the 45 minutes on Sundays was too much of a "sacrifice". I also learned the "higher education" / university doctrine of "religions are run by men who want power". I thoroughly believed that. Hard not to with all the so called "Christians" saying one thing and then hypocritically doing another.

However, at 22, I met the missionaries and my life has been wonderfully different ever since. 23 years later, I am still happily engaged in the "work" because by the "fruits" I can see who follows Christ and who pays Him lip service.

. . .

BTW, you (everythingbeforeus) said "You took great liberties by adding the operators. I wasn't creating mathematical equations. But you are, and by doing so you have changed the meaning."

How could your meaning be taken any other way? I took no such liberties. The definition of "order of operations" is as follows; "in mathematics and computer programming, the order of operations (or operator precedence) is a collection of rules that define which procedures to perform first in order to evaluate a given mathematical expression." Sorry, I'm a computer nerd so I am going to take things literally. :)

Sincerely,
Shawn

everythingbeforeus said...

Shawn, do you mean to tell me that there are no Mormons who say one thing but then hypocritically do another thing? I know there are. In fact there isn't a soul alive who follows Christ who is not a hypocrite. As Christians, we all have adopted a moral code that is impossible for us to live. If we preach the morality, we are hypocrites.

There are Mormons who molest children while serving missions. If you can't believe it, there is a case going on in West Virginia right now involving a convicted molester. His crimes are not alleged. He is already charged, tried, and convicted. The court is now trying to decide what role this young man's priesthood leaders played in covering it up.

That is an extreme case, and of course the majority of Mormons would never think of doing such a thing. But it happens. Do not make the mistake of thinking too highly of your fellow believers. We all fall short of the glory of God, thus all of us who advocate for a Christian life are almost by definition hypocrites.

Do you realize how your comments ooze with judgement? No doubt I seem like a judgmental person, too. But I think you should be aware that when you mock the length of time that a Christian chooses to worship, calling it a "sacrifice," (using quotation marks to ridicule it) you are being very judgmental. Do you not realize that in the length of that 45 minutes, people are hearing the word of God, praying, taking the Lord's Supper, and worshipping? And you think that just because you do this for 3 hours whereas they only do it for 45 minutes, you are somehow more of a true Christian?

Have you ever heard of the Pharisees? Maybe you should increase you weekly worship to 4 hours, Shawn. Then you'll be even better!

Are you aware of all the fruits of Mormonism? Look in the basket. You don't only get to pick out the ripe stuff. Try Warren Jeffs. If there had been no Joseph Smith, there would've been no Warren Jeffs. The polygamy of the FLDS is directly the result of the polygamy of Joseph Smith.

Are you aware of the number of gay/lesbian Mormon youths who commit suicide each year?

Have you ever heard of what happened at Mountain Meadow Massacre? Gallatin, MO? These murderous atrocities were the direct result of the apocalyptic and vitriolic preaching of Mormon leaders.

Have you ever heard of the blood atonement?

Do you realize that a 14-year old girl was denied the normal adolescent activities of dating, dancing, and courtship because Joseph Smith desired her for his wife, and the marriage had to be kept secret?

Read about the only legal husband of Zina D. H. Young, 3rd General Relief Society President. The poor man lost his wife and kids because two lecherous "prophets" desired his wife as an "eternal wife."

Find out the facts behind the murder of Parley P. Pratt. He was killed by a man whose wife he stole right out from under him!

These are your fruits. They are rotten.

You have to own all of it, Shawn. No one gets to pick and choose.





Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, I have heard it all. There are extreme cases of failure in by extreme individuals in all religions. Heard of MMM? Of course. As a convert, it did seemed a peculiar lesser incident when contrasted to other historical events such as the "Trail of Tears", Sioux massacres, or the lynching of blacks in the Protestant Southern States. As Americans, there is much in our history that has to be "owned".

My point is that BEFORE I converted to the Church, I had heard many bad things about many religions. I was VERY judgmental. I used to judge the time people spent worshiping because it was all one big universal joke. "All religions are just a political tool". Yeah college! That argument seemed to be winning the day 23 years ago . . . just as it seems like it is today.

But then I found a different way. Believe it or not, I try to work and not be judgmental. You will never see me on a Catholic blog criticizing doctrine. Or on any other religious site. People may believe whatever they want to believe. We will work to try and show them a different way.

BTW, you think the fruits of the Mormon Church are rotten? You are very jaded, my friend. I am sorry. Rotten fruit has not been my experience as a member of the Church. I will own the bad with the good, however. As an LDS member or as an American or as a human being. That is because I completely agree . . . there are no perfect people. We are all sinners. I do get to pick and choose, though. I can choose do something about it and try to work with ANY other human beings that want to make the world a better place. Still a sinner. Still a failure. But doing all I can to serve God and follow Jesus Christ.

Honestly, you really think the fruits of the LDS Church are all rotten?

Sincerely,
Shawn

everythingbeforeus said...

No, I don't believe ALL the fruits re rotten. Of course not. There are Mormons, many of them, who lead very good lives. But there are non-Mormons who lead equally good lives. So, we can't just rely on the all the good works of Mormonism as verification that it is God's one true church.

everythingbeforeus said...

Shawn, you have brought up college twice now. Can you clarify what you mean when you talk about college. I am not understanding.

James Anglin said...

In Jeff's post, Jeannie said
The Church had to do it. With legalized gay marriage, the Church is now vulnerable to being sued by some LDS gay couple claiming a right to a temple sealing. Children of gay couples could also sue, thus the need for them to formally disavow the gay lifestyle should they join the Church at age 18. The policy was not intended to divide family loyalties. It is to provide legal protection to the Church.

I see how this theory means that dividing family loyalties was not the specific goal of the policy. But it does still leave the division of family loyalties as collateral damage that was considered acceptable, in order to reduce the chance of the church someday being sued. If you ask me, that's awfully cold, for a church.

Suppose somebody does sue the church to get same-sex temple sealing. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that any church in the United States has pretty strong rights to administer its religious rituals however it chooses. Currently, church weddings also qualify as civil marriages, and maybe some day a lawsuit would put an end to that, and force church members to register their civil marriages separately from their religious rites. If that happened, would it be such a big deal? Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. Let the state administer its contracts. The church is always going to be free to provide or deny temple sealings in accordance with its own doctrines.

Or so it seems to me, anyway. If I'm wrong, and if the First Amendment should somehow prove too weak to protect the church from same-sex sealings, then how the heck is the indirectly related precedent of denying baptism to children raised by same-sex parents going to make the difference that the First Amendment couldn't make?

If this baptismal policy provides any legal protection at all to the church, I can't see how it can possibly provide much additional protection, beyond the substantial protection of the First Amendment. So I'd really have thought that the church could have said, "We'll take our chances on this one. If somebody sues, we'll hire good lawyers, stand on the Constitution, and may God defend the right. We're not going to deny baptism to children just to maybe give ourselves a tiny legal edge in a hypothetical future scenario."

But the church didn't say that. Instead it would rather deny baptism now than maybe — if the First Amendment breaks but a precedent about baptism could somehow have made the difference — be forced to seal some same-sex couples in the future.

Maybe that's not the same as trying to divide family loyalties, on deliberate purpose. But to me it seems cold.

everythingbeforeus said...

James,

Excellent points. The Catholics refuse to marry people all the time. Has anything ever been done to put a stop to that? Has the government ever stepped in? Has the Catholic church ever lost a law suit and been forced to marry anyone?

No...the policy was written in order to protect the church's prized alchemical teaching about the male/female duality which exists in God. This is the principle of power. The power of God is harnessed in the male/female relationship. The power of the church is contained within it, too. Nothing is more potent than the biological drive to create and nurture families. The church taps into this, claiming the power not only to keep families together, but to rip families apart. It has the power to nullify the sealing! What is this other than the power to rip families apart.

And by wielding this power, it controls its members on a deep, evolutionary, bio-chemical level. Most people will die fighting for their family. Thus, the fight for the family necessarily becomes a fight for the church. A deep, abiding loyalty to the one entity on this planet that claims it can join together and tear asunder.

It is sinister.

Anonymous said...

Lame, disingenuous musings above. All of us know from recent history that reassurances by activists that no further legal action will be pursued are meaningless. This policy wisely pre-empts such action and minimizes cog dis for children and their families. Activists would eventually use children of SSC's LDS membership as a way to claim civil rights abuses. The possibilities are extensive and should never be discounted. Fool me once, ...

everythingbeforeus said...

anon..

Okay....the church has decided to withhold vital ordinances in order to protect itself from lawsuits by activist? You are okay with that?

When will the church force everyone to formally disavow same-sex marriage? What if two baptized men decide to get married, and sue the church for the right to do so?

To truly protect the church from the threat you perceive, the church must lay down the ultimatum: denounce same-sex marriage and homosexuality officially and formally, or leave the church.

Sounds like exciting times are coming.

Anonymous said...

My 2¢, don't spend it all in one place and my thoughts are probably worth just that much.

- The government doesn't recognize any of the ordinances that the Church does as saving ordinances so I would be very surprised if there would be any suit of any kind against the Church in regards to any of its ordinances.

- As far as the government is concerned, getting married is as simple as signing a paper. No more, no less. Different governments allow churches the ability to to have church officials sign that paper solemnizing that the couple is legally married. Heck, in Colorado, you don't even need a marriage license. All you have to do is declare that you are married and it is a done, legal deal. This common law marriage is accepted in the books and has never been taken out.

- Getting sealed in the temple is a saving ordinance. Getting married in the eyes of the government is a legal document. These are two separate events.

- The Church withholds its saving ordinances all the time. The saving ordinances are not a free for all.

- And, I totally accept that the Church is withholding baptism of a child being raised in a same sex married household simply for the emotional well being of the child. When one gets baptized, that person disavows a lot of stuff, not just same sex marriage. This has been going on in the LDS church since its inception and has been going on in other Churches for thousands of years. Nothing new here.

Steve

everythingbeforeus said...

Steve,

Why did the church wait until same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States to write this policy? Same-sex couples have been getting married on other countries for over a decade. What about protecting those kids for all those years? (I doubt there were many to need to protect, of course.)

The church only made changes when same-sex marriage hit the United States. I can't understand this. They held out making the changes until it was a done deal here on these shores. If same-sex marriage was not legalized here, I doubt anything would've changed.

James Anglin said...

This to me is a new point of view, Steve, completely different from the one expressed by Jeannie in Jeff's post. I probably don't share it, but I think it might be more consistent and reasonable than Jeannie's "legal tactic" theory. I'm not exactly sure, though, what you mean by "disavowing stuff" in baptism.

The Christian baptism rites that I know often include some promise to "renounce" various forms of evil, and a profession of belief in God (usually as a Trinity). I've never seen a rite that requires detailed affirmation of Church teachings about exactly what things are sins, or denunciation or renunciation or disavowal of the sins of anyone else besides the person being baptized.

Let's leave aside the issue of whether or not same-sex relationships are sinful, and consider an example we all agree is sinful: running a Ponzi scam, like Robert Stanford or Bernard Madoff. Candidates for baptism probably shouldn't be asked to disavow Ponzi schemes in particular, because the list of all the bad things to disavow is infinite, but I think we could assume that a person who is planning to keep on running a Ponzi scam would be lying if they renounced evil. If a church knew of this ongoing Ponzi scam, they would perhaps be right to demand that the person confess to fraud and give themselves in to the police before baptizing them.

But could a child whose parents were running a Ponzi scam be baptized?

I ask this as a serious question, not a rhetorical zinger. I think I'd probably answer Yes, but I'm not entirely sure, now that I think about it. If the kid actually knew what the parents were doing, and understood how other people were being hurt by it, the kid might have a moral obligation to snitch on their parents to the authorities, as Bernard Madoff's (adult!) children eventually did. If you give the kid a pass on that obligation, because they're just a kid, isn't that inconsistent with saying that kids are morally mature enough for baptism? So, maybe the answer to my question is really No. I'm not sure.

I'm curious about Mormon thoughts on the hypothetical Ponzi baptism scenario. It would help me understand Mormon baptism better, to know how this question gets answered.

However it gets answered, it will have implications for the actual new baptism policy. If children of fraudster parents can be baptized, why not kids of gay parents? Or, if children of fraudster parents cannot be baptized, and this is already part of church policy along with a lot of other, comparable grounds for denying baptism, then maybe Steve's point is indeed a legitimate defense of the new policy.

Anonymous said...

EBU, since what I posted were my thoughts, I can't say why the Church waited although it sounds like you are painting the Church as hypocritical.

James, there are specific teachings that a prospective convert agrees to before getting baptized such as living the Word of Wisdom (a disavowal if you will of alcoholic drinks and such), paying tithing, living the law of chastity (again, a disavowal of premarital sex). I don't know specifically what is asked of prospective converts these days but disavowing "sins" has been part of baptism.

You list out Ponzi schemes as an example as to why the Church doesn't call out this particular sin. I would guess that since culturally it is already accepted as bad behavior (legal troubles follow those who do Ponzi schemes) so the Church doesn't need to list out everything that is illegal before one gets baptized. People who are in legal trouble need to get their legal troubles resolved before they can get baptized. Culturally, premarital sex and same sex marriages are accepted so the Church call these out specifically so that the prospective new member knows where they stand on these issues.

Steve

everythingbeforeus said...

Mormon baptism is considerably different from Christian baptism. Mormon baptism is the joining of a very specific denomination, and it is sign that one has accepted and agreed to live by the standards of morality recognized by this specific denomination. This would include abstinence from alcohol, coffee, tea, tobacco, and the mandatory payment of tithing in the form that the Chruch requires it.

Christian baptism is a covenant with God. Mormon baptism is a covenant with God through a Church. Christian baptism brings you into the body of Christ. Mormon baptism brings you into the body of Christ, which is exclusively defined as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Christian baptism is an act of God performed by humans. Mormon baptism is an act performed by humans, but recognized by God (who only recognizes Mormon baptism).

So, the LDS church basically controls baptism. They have the exclusive power to alter the requirements as they see fit. Of course, they always claim their expressed will is nothing more than God's expressed will, but that has to be taken by faith.

The church can therefore use baptism as a tool of authority. And they do. All ordinances are twisted in this way.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the church's stance is politically or legally motivated--it's simple. They see same-sex marriage as a sin (just as they see unmarried cohabitation as a sin). They cannot control the leagal decision by the government to allow same-sex marriage but they can control what behavior and practices they want to see within the church. They can see the writing on the wall (they've probably already seen the practice) of ssm mormons who, though they can't enjoy all of the priveleges of being a mormon in a same-sex marriage, would still like to participate in church activity and raise their children as mormons. This policy effectively eliminates this practice and ensures that church members know it is not "ok" to be in a ssm. In church doctrine, temptation is not a sin, acting on that temptation is a sin. Same-sex attraction in-and-of itself is not a sin but acting upon it is--ssm is an open demonstration of acting upon the sin. In my mind, to be consistent, the same ban should apply to my above-referenced example of unmarried cohabitation.

I just checked the Church Handbook of Instructions and it is true that the same ban is in effect for those children raised in a polygamist household. Maybe it has soemthing to do with the concept of marriage and the distortion of the mormon concept of marriage? Cohabitation is not the same thing because it does not have a formal act joining two people together (just spitballing on this last part).

James Anglin said...

I can accept that Mormon baptism demands more detailed endorsement of church teachings than mainstream Christian baptism; thanks for the information. It's not up to me to tell Mormons what their baptism should or shouldn't be.

"Why do Mormons demand that baptismal candidates reject gay marriage, but not insist that they explicitly disavow fraud or murder or other sins?" This wasn't exactly my question, but addressing it is a reasonable side remark related to my question, and I find Steve's answer reasonable, too. There's no good reason to make people stand at the font reciting specific sins for hours, to reject them all explicitly. A blanket commitment to following God's ways can reasonably cover all the things that everyone considers sinful. It's legitimate to single out a few things for explicit rejection, if they're things that are considered sins by Mormons, but not by everyone.

My question, though, is about baptizing eight-year-old kids from traditional families, without much enquiry into the sins of the parents, but refusing baptism to children of same-sex parents. If the first principle is that you've got to reject sin to be baptized, and the second principle is that no child should be asked to reject a sin in which their own parents are actively engaged, then logically Mormon baptism of children should include a moral audit of the parents, in every case. Does it?

If so, then maybe the LDS church is off the hook, in my book, for this new baptism policy. I don't share the belief that same-sex marriage is a sin, but Mormons have a right to believe it if they feel they must, and the new baptism policy would just be a consistent application of Mormon doctrine — if same-sex marriage is really being treated just like any other sin, except for being less widely recognized as sinful.

If there is no general moral audit of parents before baptizing their children, though, then the church would seem to be singling out same-sex marriage as one of a very few parental sins — along with polygamy — that prevents baptism of children. If this is the way it is, then it seems to me that critics have a solid point when they complain that the children of child abusers and contract killers can be baptized, but not the children of faithful gay parents. That really seems perverse.

bearyb said...

Everything,

Depending on what you mean by salvation, I could see it going: Salvation (by grace) - Faith (by grace) - Works (by grace) - Faith (by grace) - Works (by grace) - etc. - Exaltation (by grace).

everythingbeforeus said...

Same-sex attraction in-and-of itself is not a sin but acting upon it is--ssm is an open demonstration of acting upon the sin.

A prime example of how Mormons misunderstand sin. Where do you draw the line between having same-sex attraction and acting on it? Where do you draw the line between being heterosexual and acting upon it? Where do you draw the line between a sinner, and acting upon it?

Sexuality isn't just something we do. It is something we are. We are sexual creatures. Our very day-to-day existence is "acting upon it."

Jesus set the bar very high. Even if you look upon a woman to lust after her, you have "acted upon it." And that act is basically just the same as having committed adultery. Jesus said this because he understood, rightly, that sin is a condition not just an act.

Mormons don't worry too much about their sin condition, because they think Jesus covered that one for free (no original sin). They only worry about their sinful acts. But again...where do you draw the line between your sinful condition and the acts that result from those conditions?

There is no boundary at all. The acts spring naturally from the condition. You are just as much a sinner by nature as you are a heterosexual by nature. You are not heterosexual the moment you first have a heterosexual experience. Nor are you a sinner only after the moment you commit a sinful act.

everythingbeforeus said...

Depending on what you mean by salvation, I could see it going: Salvation (by grace) - Faith (by grace) - Works (by grace) - Faith (by grace) - Works (by grace) - etc. - Exaltation (by grace).

That is because you reject Paul's message to the Hebrews and the Galatians. If it is by works, it is no longer by grace. It is is by grace it is no longer by works.

Vance said...

I think EverythingBeforeUs has a real problem: Jesus said that no man gets into heaven except by being baptized. Presumably, Salvation means getting into Heaven. Maybe not, for an Evangelical?

How that means that works are just a nice "extra" to have, like he views, is beyond me. Revelations tells us we will be judged on our works.
Yet Everything tells us that works mean nothing. Rather, he says that it is faith alone that saves us, but that we must do works, else we don't have faith? So are works required or not? If we do not do any works--are we still saved? You seem confused.

Again, Everything: what, precisely, is the effect of an ordinance? When we are baptized, what happens?

You consistently seem to think that Paul was rejecting works. You consistently think that grace means "no works." You consistently circle back to the argument that works are irrelevant to salvation--completely, 100% irrelevant. Why? Because works means "no grace," in your view.

This may well be Evangelical and your doctrine. It most certainly is not Jesus' doctrine, nor does it comport with the Bible in any fashion at all.

Your view that sin is irrelevant to someone "under the grace of Christ" is apostate as well. Remember, you cannot, and have not, reconciled your view that faith leads directly to salvation, no works required, with the view that "your faith is demonstrated by your works."

In your world, there is no--none-- incentive to become like Christ. What is God going to do, withhold salvation if you keep stealing? He cannot, for that would make your salvation dependent on your works, not grace.

You must resolve this, Everything. You deny the necessity of works; denying James, and Jesus, in your attempt to promote "unearned grace is all you need for salvation!"

You reject the idea of ordinances and covenants. This is foul apostasy from the Bible. You reject the very idea of Christ having a church; this runs through all your posts. Then why did He set one up, with Apostles, Bishops, teachers, and Seventy, if He didn't want a church? Certainly whatever organization you belong to is not authorized by God. The concept of Priesthood power is completely ignored by you; thus making Paul's words to the Hebrews null and void.

I would suggest that you read more than 4-5 chapters of Paul and ignoring the rest of the Bible. For that is what you are doing.

And your doctrine is perverse, for it excuses men and requires them to do nothing for salvation; freely sinning and what can God do, for you reject the very idea of God's justice and consequences for actions once saved, because "Grace" means "God doesn't care what you do; He freely gives you everything, no effort required on your part!"
If this is not what you mean, then you must demonstrate how so; how God can hold people accountable for sin without denying your view of grace.

everythingbeforeus said...

Vance..there are two types of baptism. A ritualistic water baptism, and another kind. John came baptizing with water, and he announced the coming of another who would baptize with the Spirit and with fire. This is not accomplished by ritual. Even your Book of Mormon says so. Jesus tells the Nephites that they will be baptized by men, but God will baptize them by Spirit.

The baptism of the spirit is what makes a person "born again." And all must be born again for Heaven.

Yes...you will be judged by your works. But you aren't saved, no matter what your works are, unless you have built on the foundation that is Christ. If you built on Christ as your foundation, your works will be judged by fire. If they survive the fire, they are your reward (lay up treasures in Heaven.) If you they do not survive the fire, YOU ARE STILL SAVED. Read it in Corinthians. I am not making this up.

Rather, he says that it is faith alone that saves us, but that we must do works, else we don't have faith? So are works required or not? If we do not do any works--are we still saved? You seem confused.

Wrong..listen carefully...if you DO have faith, you WILL do works. I do not say that we must do works to prove our faith. Big difference. We are saved by faith apart from our works. But saving faith produces works.

You consistently seem to think that Paul was rejecting works. You consistently think that grace means "no works." You consistently circle back to the argument that works are irrelevant to salvation--completely, 100% irrelevant. Why? Because works means "no grace," in your view.

Well...you tell me what Paul means when he says, " And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." Romans 11:6.

You think your contention is with me. It isn't. Your contention is with the Bible.

More to come...




everythingbeforeus said...

In your world, there is no--none-- incentive to become like Christ. What is God going to do, withhold salvation if you keep stealing? He cannot, for that would make your salvation dependent on your works, not grace.

So,...Vance. You are admitting to me here that your incentive to not steal is to gain salvation. Thus, your works are being performed out of a self-interested motive. You do not understand that true love does not seek her own. You are not stealing not because you understand how stealing hurts your neighbor. You are not stealing because you don't want punishment.

Big secret...you are already condemned as a sinner even if you don't steal. You break other laws. And thus you are condemned by the entirety of the law.

A person who is born again refrains from stealing because that person has a new relationship with God and with his fellow man. He understands sin. He understands righteousness. And despite the weakness of the flesh, he tries to live righteously for righteousness's sake.

What is the incentive to live righteously for such a person? Righteousness itself is the incentive. We do not need threat of punishment to live righteously when we understand the love of God.

You deny the necessity of works; denying James, and Jesus, in your attempt to promote "unearned grace is all you need for salvation!

"Unearned grace" is a strange term. It is like saying, "hot fire." You don't need to call fire hot, because there is no such thing as cold fire. Grace, by definition, IS unearned. That is why it is called grace.

You reject the idea of ordinances and covenants. This is foul apostasy from the Bible.

Prove this by showing me where in the Bible the Apostles were performing initiatories and endowments. And tell me why the contemporary LDS church isn't in a state of apostasy after having altered the iniatory and endowment ordinances many times over the decades. The Catholics sprinkle baptism, and you would cry foul. But you don't make a peep when your own ordinances are changed. Did you experience your initiatory before 2005? It was very different from its current form. So,..don't talk to me about apostasy.

Then why did He set one up, with Apostles, Bishops, teachers, and Seventy, if He didn't want a church?

Did the church in the Bible have a First Presidency in addition to 12 apostles? In other words a total of 15 apostles? No. Why did Paul rank apostles higher than prophets? Your church only bears a superficial similarity to what the church looked like in the Bible times.







everythingbeforeus said...

And your doctrine is perverse, for it excuses men and requires them to do nothing for salvation; freely sinning and what can God do, for you reject the very idea of God's justice and consequences for actions once saved, because "Grace" means "God doesn't care what you do; He freely gives you everything, no effort required on your part!"
If this is not what you mean, then you must demonstrate how so; how God can hold people accountable for sin without denying your view of grace.


No...again. Men are not excused. Men are all deemed sinners. All are without excuse. That is where we differ. You make excuses for yourself every time you go into a temple recommend interview. You are basically saying, "I am worthy to enter the house of the Lord because I at least don't break the big sins." That is an excuse.

Grace DOESN'T mean "God doesn't care what you do." Grace means God has already seen what you do, and you stand condemned for it. But he loves you, so he sent his only Son to be righteousness for you. And if you accept his gift, you have his righteousness.

You don't sound like you accept his gift. You sound like you are taking his gift, and then you are saying, "Now, God...watch how I can make this gift even BETTER!"

Can you improve upon the perfect sinless life of Christ? If you think you, can go for it. You'll only be justified in this way if you actually succeed. Good luck, Vance.

everythingbeforeus said...

Correction: "I am worthy to enter the house of the Lord because I at least don't COMMIT the big sins." That is an excuse.

everythingbeforeus said...

Vance,

You deny the necessity of works; denying James, and Jesus, in your attempt to promote "unearned grace is all you need for salvation!

Back to this point for a moment. If you do not agree with my belief in "unearned grace," then the natural implication is that Vance believes in "earned grace."

Is that what you mean to say Vance? You believe in earned grace? What do we call that which we earn? Wages.

Does God owe you something, Vance, when you do what he asks you? Is God in your debt?

Romans 4. "...Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."

Vance, your contention is not with me. It is with the Bible.

Vance said...

So to sum it all up, Everything: sin doesn't matter, and God doesn't care what you do, because we are all sinners. There is no difference between the very vilest of sinners and Abraham, because one sin dooms us all forever and there is no forgiveness, without grace. And God sends Jesus, who fixes all sins for those whom He showers grace on. Thus, no effort is ever, ever, ever required of men, because it's a binary deal: either Jesus has grace, or you are doomed to the depths of hell. And nothing you do can move you between those two binary options! So why try?
In fact, you explicitly state that works mean nothing: For, in your words, if they fail the fire, you are still saved. Ergo, they don't matter. If you do good, nothing happens. If you do bad, nothing happens.
You again fail to establish any consequence for sin other than "everyone sins, but if God sends you grace, you are ok." Why the Sermon on the Mount, if it didn't matter?

As I stated, you rely only on 4-5 chapters of Paul, and disregard the rest of the Bible. Why are the demons damned? They surely believe in Jesus--indeed, they know Jesus-- far better than we can hope for. Why do they not get grace?

You dodged the question on ordinances, covenants, and the Priesthood. It is clear, however, that you reject all three of them as part of the gospel of Christ. You never answered why Christ requires baptism of water. His statement was that "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit", not "except a man be born of the Spirit". Water baptism is required. So is the baptism of fire, which I agree with you about.

By the way, why do you care about righteousness? No man can be righteous on his own, you argue... and then you argue that if God sends His grace, then those who receive it have Christ's righteousness. Our own, personal level of righteousness is rendered irrelevant.

But let's play. If all we need is God's grace: how do we get it? What must we do? Nothing? Confess something (a work)? Repent, be baptized by water, have faith, and endure to the end? Note that you reject the idea of enduring to the end.

Can God withdraw His grace? How do we know when that happens? Do we cause that withdrawal? Or is it all completely up to God and we have nothing to do with it; like the Calvinists we are all predestined to heaven or hell? Do we have any influence over our own destiny at all?

You say that we will be judged by our works. What's the consequence of our works? What's the good, or the bad? Is there any consequences for our works--please name them.

I am harping on this because you are desperately trying to dodge the question: is there such a thing as sin for a saved person, and is there a consequence for sin? You point to grace as eliminating any need for works, which totally misreads the Bible. Again, you use Romans and Corinthians, but despise James, and Peter, and Jesus's own words.

I don't have to defend the LDS church saying works are necessary for salvation, along with grace. You have to defend why you write the necessity of keeping the commandments out of the Bible. Either there is a consequence for everyone for breaking one of God's laws, even the "saved" person... or it's not a law, is it?

Vance said...

Let's put an example out there, shall we? In Evangelical churches, an avowed, flaming homosexual who goes around and says that homosexuality is not a sin, and neither is fornication, so he can sleep with as many men as he wants and there's nothing wrong with that-- is such a person saved? Assume he goes to church (not sure why, in your opinion--God doesn't like organized religion, right?), says his prayers, and generally does some good works now and then. Even assume he has faith, except for this homosexual issue.

Is This guy saved? After all, his works don't matter--he has faith! And thus an unrepentant homosexual is guaranteed salvation, right? He will go to heaven, completely homosexual and believing that it is not a sin. And God will allow him in, unchanged, right? Grace, after all!

Your position that no one is righteous, therefore we all borrow Christ's righteousness, therefore our own righteousness has no bearing on our salvation necessarily means that heaven will be filled with the unrighteous, for there is no consequence for sin. No meaningful consequence, that is. There is no need to repent, to stop committing adultery or stealing or whatnot, because nothing will happen as a consequence of those actions.

By the way: if it's all God's grace and nothing from our end, why doesn't God just extend grace to all people and we are all saved? What makes some people get God's grace and others not get it? God just is in a bad mood that day when He decides that Bob doesn't get grace?

everythingbeforeus said...

In fact, you explicitly state that works mean nothing: For, in your words, if they fail the fire, you are still saved. Ergo, they don't matter. If you do good, nothing happens. If you do bad, nothing happens.

If they fail the fire, they were not good works. If they survive the fire, they were good works, and you have laid them up in Heaven as treasure, as reward.

Why are the demons damned? They surely believe in Jesus--indeed, they know Jesus-- far better than we can hope for. Why do they not get grace?

They have belief, but not saving belief. There is a big difference. So, no..they do not "know Jesus far better than we can hope for." There is a "far better." It is the kind of belief that saves. In the original Greek, this belief implies a trust. A trust in Jesus. The demons do not trust in Jesus, although they know who he is.

So is the baptism of fire, which I agree with you about.

You don't agree with me. Trust me. The baptism of fire is not the laying on of hands. As for the other ordinances you questioned me about, let me address them later tonight when I have more time.

By the way, why do you care about righteousness? No man can be righteous on his own, you argue... and then you argue that if God sends His grace, then those who receive it have Christ's righteousness. Our own, personal level of righteousness is rendered irrelevant.

I care about righteousness because I believe in righteousness. In a very deep way. Yes..your personal righteousness is irrelevant, because you nor I have any. We are condemned sinners, Vance. Try to understand this. We are not in neutral territory and we have to pick a side. We are condemned, and we have to pick Christ. Does that not make any sense at all?

But let's play. If all we need is God's grace: how do we get it? What must we do? Nothing? Confess something (a work)? Repent, be baptized by water, have faith, and endure to the end? Note that you reject the idea of enduring to the end.

Can God withdraw His grace? How do we know when that happens? Do we cause that withdrawal? Or is it all completely up to God and we have nothing to do with it; like the Calvinists we are all predestined to heaven or hell? Do we have any influence over our own destiny at all?

You say that we will be judged by our works. What's the consequence of our works? What's the good, or the bad? Is there any consequences for our works--please name them.


There are consequences for our works. Both a temporal consequence and an eternal consequence. If I hit my dog, my dog experiences pain. My dog loses trust in me. My dog becomes unmanageable. Temporal consequences.

If I build on Christ's foundation, my works are out of a love, and they become my reward in Heaven. The love is returned to me. The compassion is returned to me. If I build on Christ, and my works are bad, I do not have reward in Heaven. If I do not build on Christ, it doesn't matter what my works are. They can be good (have beneficial temporal consequences). They can be bad (have bad temporal consequences.) It doesn't matter. I am not saved. I did not seek the only source of salvation.

I believe there are people who may not know Christ, but like the Gentiles Paul speaks of in Romans, they show the "law written into their hearts" so to speak. They love righteousness for righteousness's sake. Thus, without knowing it, they are building on Christ. They just are not aware of the foundation by name, but have tapped into it all the same.

Yes...you can fall from grace. It is called the unpardonable sin. Paul speaks of it in Hebrews. Peter speaks of it, too. "the dog returning to his vomit."

everythingbeforeus said...

I am harping on this because you are desperately trying to dodge the question: is there such a thing as sin for a saved person, and is there a consequence for sin?

Yes...there is sin for a saved person. This sin can eventually overtake the saved person to the point that they fall from grace. So sin is not good. It is never good. I am a fervent believer in the law, Vance. I believe I need to live it perfectly. But the reality is I can't. But until the fall from grace occurs, praying it never does, there is no condemnation to those who walk in the Spirit, who are under the law of life in Christ Jesus. Romans again. When Christ comes to complete our redemption, we will no longer be plagued the law of sin and death which is in our flesh.

Vance, you may not agree with me. But I feel confident that I am answering your questions. You have to at least give me that. I am not dodging here. If you try to see things from outside your own belief system, I think you'll agree that I am making sense. Again, you don't have to agree with me, though.

everythingbeforeus said...

Vance,

"An avowed flaming homosexual..."

Are you a flaming heterosexual? Why are you using such judgemental language?

But anyway...

Let's put an example out there, shall we? In Evangelical churches, an avowed, flaming homosexual who goes around and says that homosexuality is not a sin, and neither is fornication, so he can sleep with as many men as he wants and there's nothing wrong with that-- is such a person saved?

A saved person doesn't walk around openly advocating for sin.

A homosexual who proclaims living faith in Christ, but who is, like all of us, struggling to overcome the flesh, can be saved.

How about you, Vance. You are surely doing something in your life that isn't fully in keeping with God's law. You know it. Why haven't you stopped doing it yet? You may not be publicly advocating for your sin, but you are personally advocating for it be failing to simply stop doing it.

Your position that no one is righteous, therefore we all borrow Christ's righteousness, therefore our own righteousness has no bearing on our salvation necessarily means that heaven will be filled with the unrighteous, for there is no consequence for sin.

I am starting to get worn out..sheesh!

Heaven will be filled with the unrighteous. Read this: "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14.

Again. You contend with the Bible. Not me.

By the way: if it's all God's grace and nothing from our end, why doesn't God just extend grace to all people and we are all saved? What makes some people get God's grace and others not get it? God just is in a bad mood that day when He decides that Bob doesn't get grace?

He does extend grace to all people. But all people have to accept it.

Vance...you really need to read what I am writing carefully. I am answering your questions. Grace is a stumblingblock for you.

Anonymous said...

@everythingbeforeus

You said:

A prime example of how Mormons misunderstand sin. Where do you draw the line between having same-sex attraction and acting on it? Where do you draw the line between being heterosexual and acting upon it? Where do you draw the line between a sinner, and acting upon it?

The line is drawn at the act of commission. I would say at times that line of commission is a personal agreement between the individual and his God (at what point have I sinned and am in need of God's grace?). Christ was tempted by Satan. Did Christ sin when he was tempted? The idea that Satan presented to him entered his mind--this is evidenced by his recitation of scripture to rebuke him. Surely he was hungry--did he not think about turning stones into bread? Is this then a sin? Just because one has thoughts that may or may not have been presented by an outside source (Satan or otherwise), doesn't mean the thought is a sin or that one is inherently a sinner (else Christ is a sinner for being tempted by Satan). If I pass a bank and think "It would sure be nice if I could have all the money in that bank" am I then a bank robber? Would God see me as one?

There is a big difference between someone who is attracted to an individual (heterosexually or otherwise) and someone who acts on that attraction ouside of God's prescribed commandments. Thus, temptation is not a sin--acting upon that temptation is.

As for Christ and his comment about committing adultery in one's heart. Christ knows our heart. He knows if we would commit a sin were we given a chance. The man who lusts after the woman has already committed adultery. It goes back to my statement above--it's a decision you make between yourself and your God. Are you being tempted, or is this a desire that just hasn't yet been fulfilled because you haven't had the opportunity? The first needs no repentance, the second does.

everythingbeforeus said...

The line is drawn at the act of commission.

But some heterosexual acts are not considered sinful whereas their homosexual counterparts would be in the eyes of the church. If I am a single man dating a single woman, I can show her affection by holding her hand, or kissing her. This is a natural expression of my heterosexuality, and it isn't in these cases considered sinful.

But a homosexual person cannot hold hands or kiss without sinning. The expression of heterosexuality is not necessarily sinful. The expression of homosexuality, any kind of expression, IS considered sinful. Thus it isn't the act alone that is sinful. The orientation itself is also sinful. Is there really any such thing as sexuality without expression? My entire life as a heterosexual male is an expression of my heterosexual nature. The way I interact with women in non-sexual ways as opposed to the way I interact with men is an expression of my heterosexuality.

Mormons want to try to separate sexual orientation from life, putting it in a special box that can be locked up and forgotten. Can't be done.




Vance said...

Everything: I don't have much time this evening, so I'll just comment here on the homosexual thing: You are arguing now that homosexual behavior is not a sin; and therefore God approves it.

What was that about me arguing with the Bible? Seems to me you need to read your Paul again. He wasn't too keen on homosexuality either.

And in fact, petting and necking is considered a sin. And the allegedly harsher standards imposed for homosexual conduct is simply a reaction to their arrogant claims that they, not God, decides what is moral.

There is more than a whiff of rebelliousness; selfishness, and so forth in the gays demands that they overrule God. Thus, the more stringent demands for membership in the church.

Steve Anglin, this may be of use to you: in my local town, there is an apostate LDS group that was cut off years ago. Anyone from that group wishing to be baptized, regardless of age, marital status, etc, has to be interviewed by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve before permission is granted. This is because of the apostasy factor.

Homosexuality, the movement, declares that they are moral; that homosexuality is natural, and even a good thing. This is an apostate teaching (for it denies God in large measure); and requires a higher degree of certainty that converts are actually converts, and have removed themselves from these teachings.

A short list of how the teaching "Homosexuality is normal and good and moral" denies the power of God includes : 1) arrogating to themselves the power to decide morality; 2) Denying the plan of happiness and salvation; 3) denying eternal families and the possibility of eternal increase 4) Denying the power of Christ to redeem homosexuals ("They can't change, so it must not be sinful!") and 5) Denying that mankind can control the flesh; insisting instead that instincts rule instead of the spirit of man.

Thus, this teaching--that homosexuality is moral, good and approved of God -- in reality is a pernicious bit of apostasy, masquerading as a philosophy of man.

Anonymous said...

The expression of homosexuality, any kind of expression, IS considered sinful. Thus it isn't the act alone that is sinful. The orientation itself is also sinful.

Expression is an act by definition. Orientation (thoughts/feelings) as discussed above are not sins in and of themselves. Thoughts and feelings do not always find expression (if you're an introvert like me, they rarely find expression) but they do still make up who we are. Being gay is not the same as acting gay (that sounds pejorative but isn't intended to be--hopefully you see what I mean).

Though one's actions may be informed by their orientation (The way I interact with women in non-sexual ways as opposed to the way I interact with men is an expression of my heterosexuality.), it is the type of actions we commit or participate in that define whether something is a sin. Taking money from someone as a gift is fundamentally different than taking money from someone by force. Being attracted to someone is different than copulating with her.

everythingbeforeus said...

Vance! I never said anything about petting and necking! I said "kiss" and "hold hands." Is holding hands considered "petting?"

You are not even trying. So disappointing!


everythingbeforeus said...

"Being attracted to someone is different than copulating with her."

Most definitely. But, there is a lot of stuff in between "being attracted" and "copulating."

I am attracted to women. Right now, I am alone in a dining room and am not feeling any attraction at all, because there is no body else around. But when I go to work tomorrow, I am sure I will see an attractive woman, and I will feel the attraction in its mildest, most unnoticeable way.

At what point does the attraction manifest itself in a sinful way? Is it sinful to be sitting with my head in a book in a library, looking up suddenly, instantly see an attractive girl, and feel attraction? That is an expression of my heterosexuality. I didn't seek her out, I just suddenly saw her?

Is that a sin (assuming I am married and the woman is not my wife?)

Let's have even more fun. Let's say I am not married. I am a single man. I see the woman. I feel the attraction. I go ask her out. Is that a sin? (It would be a sin for a gay man, assuming the woman was actually a man.)

Next...I feel the attraction, I go ask her out, she accepts, we kiss a simple kiss that evening. Is that a sin? It is a physical expression of my affection. Let's say the kiss even comes with a slight twinge of sexual arousal. Is that therefore a sin?

I don't know we can really pinpoint at what point the condition of "being" becomes the condition of "acting." "To be" is, after all, a verb.

Anonymous said...

There is no action without thought (excluding reflexive actions) but there are thoughts without actions. You are conflating the two and they are not the same. Feeling attraction is not the same as acting on that attraction.

As far as what qualifies as a sin, the Bible does a pretty thorough job of pointing out most of what qualifies and often illustrates the consequences of sin on a personal level as well as a societal one. There are subtleties such as when physical affection crosses the line (see your examples above) that are not addressed Biblically. That is where your personal belief comes into play. Mormons believe that their leadership (both local and higher up) receive revelation as to what is not specifically addressed in the Bible. This concept applies to good works as well as bad. I think that has been the role of ecelsiastical support throughout the history of religion--to interpret the subtleties of the laws of God for their followers and counsel their followers in what they interpret as God's will. For Mormons, their leadership has declared what they believe is God's will in regards to same-sex attraction. It would be up to the local leadership to discus with the individual whether or not the actions they have participated in are sinful or not--this applies to both homosexual as well as heterosexual attractions.

everythingbeforeus said...

Okay...I accept. I have conflated thought and action. I see your points.

Pierce said...

Everything,

Your statements are confusing and to me seem contradictory. You make this statement:
"A homosexual who proclaims living faith in Christ, but who is, like all of us, ***struggling to overcome the flesh,*** can be saved."

Is there a reason that you slipped in the caveat that the person is "struggling to overcome the flesh?" That sounds like repentance--a "work." In Vance's scenario, the person is in open rebellion, calling evil good and good evil. Yet he believes in Christ and will be saved (according to your doctrine). There are actually many people who believe this way. So I would like to see a response to the actual scenario, because Mormons agree that those who are "struggling to overcome the flesh can be saved." That's our whole message that you are openly criticizing.

You also say this: "Heaven will be filled with the unrighteous." This is false doctrine, and a misrepresentation of the idea that we are all sinners who do not "deserve" salvation but who can attain it thru the grace of Christ anyway. Heaven is not filled with the unrighteous, because Christ's Atonement makes makes us righteous. And by us, I mean those who actually repent and shun sin and who become disciples of Christ the way HE taught them to. That's why you see verses like this all throughout the scriptures:

1 Cor 6:
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.


Or this:
Revelation 21
27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.


So EBU, in the words of your man Paul, "be not deceived."



everythingbeforeus said...

A person who is in open rebellion is not saved. It doesn't matter if they say they are. They aren't. They can't be in both places at once. They would be a great example of what James talks about, namely vain professions of what is really meaningless faith.

So, I reject Vance's scenario outright. A saved person cannot be in open rebellion. A saved person can, however, continue to screw up. As we all do, and will all continue to do until we are dead and gone.

Mormons do believe that those who are struggling to overcome the flesh can be saved. Sure. But they do not believe that those who have NOT overcome the flesh are exalted. That's the difference. And from the practical Mormon position, exaltation is the only salvation to seek.

You also say this: "Heaven will be filled with the unrighteous." This is false doctrine, and a misrepresentation of the idea that we are all sinners who do not "deserve" salvation but who can attain it thru the grace of Christ anyway. Heaven is not filled with the unrighteous, because Christ's Atonement makes makes us righteous.

I was speaking poetically, and I think you misunderstood what I meant. We are in Heaven only because Christ's atonement is the imputed to us. So, yes..in that sense we are righteous. But we are sinners who are made righteous.

But, as you declare, if by "us" you mean those who repent and shun sin, I have to ask you,...have you achieved this yet? Do you shun sin? Are you in complete compliance with the law? Have you truly repented in the Kimball-sense of the word, meaning you have overcome ALL your weaknesses?

Why would you need Christ's atonement to make you righteous when you have already done it yourself?




Pierce said...

And just to be clear, Mormons don't actually believe that our works save us. Christ saves us, and He was very clear that those who repent by shunning their natural selves and live a higher law and believe in Him are the ones whom He will save, and this echoes throughout all of the rest of the Acts and the Epistles.

Hands down this the most consistent view in the Old and New Testament. If the Law was a schoolmaster, then it taught us that God has given us a law to follow, and an Atonement was made to account for our fallen nature and sinful behaviors. They went hand in hand, and they still do. Jesus said that he did not come to destroy the law and prophets, but to fulfill it. He gave a new covenant--one with a higher law and greater blessings. And just as God judged Israel for what their heart was set upon, which was reflected in what they did, so we too will be judged. No amount of misquoting Paul will ever excuse a person from that. And just as we are judged according to what kind of being we have changed ourselves into, we will be rewarded by it:

Revelation 22:12
"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done."

Pierce said...

"But, as you declare, if by "us" you mean those who repent and shun sin, I have to ask you,...have you achieved this yet?"

You know exactly what Mormons believe. You know that there is no point of our doctrine that defines some sort of "achievement." You know that we have never had a person who has proclaimed that they have achieved perfection in this life. So why would you insist on stating it like this? It really is disingenuous. The strange thing to me is that I quoted the Bible--PAUL no less-- and you decide to kind of ridicule the actual content of the scripture. I can't understand why.

It seems obvious to me that God doesn't judge people by what they "achieve," but what they desire to achieve and what they are changing about themselves. If I had to actually answer your loaded question, then my answer would be this: yes, I have chosen to shun sin and become a follower of Christ, with the ordinances being evidence of my decision. Every day I chose to do that, and every day I have victory and failures. The Spirit of God motivates me to continue to transcend my sinful self, and Satan tempts me to stay where I am at. And I will be judged according to what I choose to do. And so will you.

This is all over the Bible. It's not difficult to understand.

everythingbeforeus said...

If you are going to quote the "schoolmaster" analogy, you gotta get it right. The law was a schoolmaster, a tutor, to bring us to Christ. Now that Christ has come, we are no longer under a tutor. You have to make sense of this. You skip it. But it is there. What do you think it means?

And what does it mean to you exactly that Christ "fulfilled" the law? What does fulfill mean in that context to you?

Yes...we are judged by our works. I have no problem with that.

But there is a pardon from condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Even if all that person's work is burned, that person is still saved. This is in Corinthians. They may lose all their heavenly reward, but they are still saved from condemnation.

How does sitting in a small theatre watching a movie and then learning sacred words and actions provide any solid evidence that you have decided to become a follower of Christ? Did Christ ever tell you that you had to do that? Does everyone who does that go forth from that point on and live honorable lives? You do realize the man who murdered a few people with bombs back in the 80's (Mark Hoffman) was a temple worker at one point. Do you think if his discipleship were on trial that any judge would accept the fact that he participated in these rituals as solid evidence in the case? Do they prove anything at all?

Do you seriously think that God, who knows your heart, needs to see you sit down in that theatre to prove it to him? How can you prove your heart to God?

Pierce said...

I don't understand how you believe that Christ has no law. That is not found in the Old or New Testament. He gave us the New Covenant (New Testament). A covenant is a oath that goes both ways. Israel had expectations and were judged by God's laws--receiving blessings and cursings. Atonement was made to cover their sins and make that possible. When Christ was here, He fulfilled the animal sacrifices (because He was the great sacrifice, and His atonement makes our redemption possible) and also gave us a greater law: "A new commandment I give unto you: the ye love one another." And everything else He taught (Sermon on the Mount) was part of that New Covenant. You cannot have a commandment (His words) without a reward or punishment, or else it is not a commandment. You absolutely will be judged according to whether or not you keep your covenant. It seems like you talk out of both sides of your mouth when you say that we will indeed be judged by our works (I mean, it's all over the scriptures) but then say "that person is still saved." Further surprising is that you imply that no matter how much one personally chooses to reject Christ's teachings and live after their own vain imaginations, God will somehow drag them into heaven and they will be the same as Abraham because they simply acknowledged Jesus as a 'personal savior.' It really flies in the face of everything Jesus taught, and really what Paul and James and John taught for that matter, based on what I quoted above. Who was Paul writing to in 1 Cor 6 when he said that you should not be deceived about who would and wouldn't enter into heaven? Christians, EBU. He was writing to Christians. And by extension, to you and me. Paul said to be not deceived on this specific point.

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

Mormons actually do acknowledge that God will save people from torturous eternal hell (the way traditional Christians view it) through His mercy, but will reward everyone according to their works (Revelation 20:12). We store up "treasures in heaven" as Jesus taught. You know our doctrine about different degrees of glory.
What does it mean to you that we will be "judged by our works" and that He will "render every man according to his works?" If you believe that people will be saved from fiery Hell, and also that there are greater treasures in heaven for doing what Christ taught, then we really don't disagree except on fine details. And we certainly don't deserve your condemnation.

Pierce said...

I debated on whether or not to respond to your assessment of our temple ceremony due to your lack of charity in describing or discussing it. But here it goes.

Temple worship revolves around covenants. Yes, making a covenant with Christ is necessary for salvation, and that is biblical doctrine. Otherwise, go ahead and burn that book you call the New Testament, which comes from a Greek word meaning "Covenant." And yes, this covenant relationship was symbolized through rites in the OT, and was replaced with new rites in the NT, such as baptism and communion. Temple covenants are an extension of that and are part of the Latter-Day church. Ultimately, they deal with the simple concept of laying up treasures in heaven--which is something that Christ did indeed teach. Many of the temple covenants are indirectly found in scripture, so it really is nothing new or extraordinary in that regard.

No matter how condescending you describe the way the church dispenses covenants, the concepts of covenants, living a higher law, and laying up treasures in heaven is 100% biblical, and it is sorely lacking in your doctrine and proselytizing.

everythingbeforeus said...

I don't understand how you believe that Christ has no law. That is not found in the Old or New Testament. He gave us the New Covenant (New Testament). A covenant is a oath that goes both ways. Israel had expectations and were judged by God's laws--receiving blessings and cursings. Atonement was made to cover their sins and make that possible.

So what was so wrong with this covenant that it needed to be done away? If justice and mercy both received their due through this Old Covenant, what was the problem?

[He] also gave us a greater law: "A new commandment I give unto you: that ye love one another." And everything else He taught (Sermon on the Mount) was part of that New Covenant.

And where does the wearing of garments, the dietary restrictions, and the rituals and ordinances fit into that commandment to “love one another,” commandment, which by the way, fulfills all the law and the prophets?

Further surprising is that you imply that no matter how much one personally chooses to reject Christ's teachings and live after their own vain imaginations, God will somehow drag them into heaven…

I never said any such thing. A person who choose to reject Christ’s teachings has not accepted Christ as their Savior. They are not saved.

…and they will be the same as Abraham because they simply acknowledged Jesus as a 'personal savior.'

“…Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness….How was it then accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised…that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised…” Romans 4: 3, 10, 11.

everythingbeforeus said...

Mormons actually do acknowledge that God will save people from torturous eternal hell (the way traditional Christians view it) through His mercy, but will reward everyone according to their works (Revelation 20:12). We store up "treasures in heaven" as Jesus taught. You know our doctrine about different degrees of glory.

Yes…it is called exaltation. And the reward you seek is to be worshipped by your spiritual posterity as a God. I do indeed know your doctrine of the degrees of glory. This is not what Christ had in mind when he spoke of laying up treasures.

Temple worship revolves around covenants. Yes, making a covenant with Christ is necessary for salvation, and that is biblical doctrine. Otherwise, go ahead and burn that book you call the New Testament, which comes from a Greek word meaning "Covenant."

I don’t need to burn my New Testament. I just need to find the Mormon endowment in it somewhere. I can’t find it there. Christ is the New Covenant, but that has nothing to do with what happens in the temple.

And yes, this covenant relationship was symbolized through rites in the OT, and was replaced with new rites in the NT, such as baptism and communion. Temple covenants are an extension of that and are part of the Latter-Day church.

Do you mean to say that the Latter-day Church has something that the ancient church did not, namely the temple covenants? Because if so, that means you have turned Joseph Smith, the bringer of the New and Everlasting Covenant, into a Messiah figure. That doesn’t square with scripture. The covenant of law came through Moses. The covenant of faith comes through Christ. Is there yet another covenant beyond that?

No matter how condescending you describe the way the church dispenses covenants, the concepts of covenants, living a higher law, and laying up treasures in heaven is 100% biblical, and it is sorely lacking in your doctrine and proselytizing.

You misunderstand “my” doctrine and proselytizing. If you read all I have written to both you and Vance, I think you should understand that I believe in law far more than Mormons do. I believe in it so fully that I will follow Christ, who said I shouldn’t swear any oaths to Heaven. I believe in law so fully that I know not to lie before God and declare myself “worthy” when I know inside that I will never be worthy apart from the Worthy Lamb.
I believe in covenant. I believe in laying up treasures. Again, I think I have said it to you before, as I have said to Vance…grace is your stumblingblock. I hope you come to understand it. Not so that you’ll be saved…I trust you already believe in Jesus Christ as you say you do. But I hope you come to understand it so that you can be liberated.

Pierce said...

I don't seek to "liberate" myself from the commandments of God. Those who seek to do so will be judged, as the scriptures have taught. Instead, I will seek to take up my cross and follow Christ. It's what He requires.

-There are two commandments that Jesus said that "all of the laws and prophets" hang on: love God and love your neighbor. Temple covenants are promises that serve to fulfill those covenants to greater degrees. Those who actually do set themselves apart and live up to their covenants receive greater treasure in Heaven. That is what Christ taught. You don't have to believe it, but it follows the scriptural pattern better than anything I've ever heard from Protestantism. In the end, if any person decides to follow the biblical pattern and makes promises to the Lord to serve him--be it in a temple or otherwise--who are you to mock? And how could serving Christ ever be viewed as evil?

-"A person who chooses to reject Christ’s teachings has not accepted Christ as their Savior." Are you saying is that if they are choosing to live in sin, they will be judged for it--testimony of Jesus notwithstanding? So what are we arguing about? And hopefully your answer doesn't contain "we're all sinners" hyperbole. That's a given, but the whole of the N.T. is about rising above that.

-"This is not what Christ had in mind when he spoke of laying up treasures." This statement can only be made by a prophet, because Jesus and the rest of the apostles were vague about what heaven is, what the rewards are, what it means to be great in heaven, etc. We claim that a prophet has given us more information about what this is, which actually is in accordance with other scripture, so you'll have to show me your competing revelation and were it comes from.
Romans 8
16 It is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Belittle this promise at your own peril. It is God's part of the covenant.

-"The covenant of faith comes through Christ. Is there yet another covenant beyond that?"
I don't know what "the covenant of faith" means or implies. Covenants have always been promises between two parties where both parties are expected to do something, and were performed by one having authority. The temple is just a method to clearly distill those covenants. You mentioned not swearing any oaths before heaven. If you're talking about Matthew 5, the context is dealing with our communications to each other. The scripture isn't talking about not covenanting with God.

Pierce said...

-"I believe in the law far more than Mormons do."
A law is something that has consequences for breaking it. As an example, Paul listed a few commandments that Christians are expected to keep and the consequences for breaking them in 1 Cor 6. EBU, you don't really believe in consequences or that God will hold you accountable for your works. That's what this whole thing is about. It's not you, that Paul could have possibly been talking about, because you're saved already. No wonder Paul added "be not deceived." Almost like he looked into our time. You criticize those who lay up treasures in heaven and don't recognize that there are those will be "great" and "least" in the kingdom of heaven (Christ's words). Maybe I have you pegged wrong on some of these points. But all of this taken as a whole is not the Protestant message. It used to be, but it has been hijacked by evangelicalism, IMO. That message is the "arrival" of "being saved", and afterwards just giving thanks for it. This version of grace is, indeed, a stumblingblock. It prevents one from truly progressing. It's a far cry from the inclusion and focus on discipleship, change, self-denial, and accountability that Christ and the apostles consistently taught throughout all of the New Testament.

You are quick to denounce and criticize every point of our doctrine. But quite frankly, I find your attempt to articulate these points contradictory and confusing: how your works affect your place in heaven or hell as a Christian, what judgment scriptures mean, and the meaning of storing up treasures in heaven. And honestly I don't blame you. The thrust of evangelicalism ignores and rewrites swaths of scriptural teaching (especially in the Gospels) in order justify its own interpretation of a few of Paul's teachings.

I am going to do what Christ and the apostles taught us to do.

everythingbeforeus said...

But all of this taken as a whole is not the Protestant message. It used to be, but it has been hijacked by evangelicalism, IMO. That message is the "arrival" of "being saved", and afterwards just giving thanks for it. This version of grace is, indeed, a stumblingblock.

I think you need to study Martin Luther, the original Protestant, who had a spiritual experience reading Romans in which he realized the message of "being saved" through grace.

I also think you need to study what the word "stumblingblock" means. A stumblingblock is not a false doctrine that trips people up, as you suggest. It is a true doctrine that trips people up.

You are saying my version of grace (which is in error) is a stumblingblock. That is wrong. "Stumblingblock" comes from the Greek skandalon. Scandal. Offence. Christ crucified is said to be a stumblingblock to the Jews. It was a truth that the Jews couldn't wrap their heads around because they were convinced that they were right, simply by virtue of having Abraham as their father, and because they had been given the law.

This is the way stumblingblock is used in scripture. And therefore, I say that to Mormons, as Paul said to Jews, Christ crucified is a stumblingblock.

To Mormons, the cross isn't even where Christ worked out the Atonement. That happened primarily in the Garden. The cross is indeed a scandal to Mormons. They eschew this common Christian symbol. The cross, and Christ crucified, Paul says, is the power of salvation.

You can refuse to listen to Paul, but if you do, at least have the courage to admit that you, as a Mormon, reject his message as being apostate Christianity.

Pierce said...

Nope, I accept Christ's sacrifice. We're good there. Not even in the same universe as the Jews rejecting Christ, so your use of stumblingblock is a misuse as well. It's unfortunate to watch you sidestep everything and simply stoop to being judgment and insulting.

I reject the evangelical dogma that you describe for the reasons I described. That does not equate to rejecting Christ, or to Paul. I have quoted Paul all night, and you didn't respond to any of it. Perhaps when you find yourself without much of anything productive to say, then is a good time to error on the side of charity. Have a good one.

Anonymous said...

There are various meanings of stumbling-block in English. Not wise to get hung up on one meaning being the only possible one.

Jeff Lindsay said...

EBU, your endless efforts to bring up your talking points and belittle our faith puzzle me. Is it just my blog where you do this?

Jesus is my Savior and his great Sacrifice was completed on the cross. We remember frequently. Did anyone ever explain to you the symbolism of the sacrament that we take each Sunday?

everythingbeforeus said...

Well, Jeff, I try it on other blogs, but they just moderate me out of existence, or block me, or delete me. You are the friendliest Mormon blogger there is, and the only one who truly practices what you preach as far it comes to freedom of speech. I have probably overstayed my welcome long enough. I think I will say good-bye, mostly because I think I have said all I could say without becoming painfully repetitious. Do continue to research this Early Modern English stuff. I do find it very fascinating, and quite frankly, I feel very impatient waiting to find out what it could all mean. Thank you for your hospitality.

Jeff Lindsay said...

You have frequently raised meaningful issues and insights. It's just sometimes they aren't on an appropriate post, but on the other hand, once commenters take up a thread, it is fair game for you to respond and perhaps I shouldn't be frustrated by that. Sorry about others making it hard for you to be heard.

Jeff Lindsay said...

As for Christ's triumphant victory over death and sin, we see the great sacrifice being completed on the cross, but the full victory came when He took up His body again and stepped out of the tomb. That ultimate completion matters greatly to us. But His work for us in the garden, on the cross, in the spirit world where he descended to proclaim liberty and initiate the preaching of the Gospel, and then his Resurrection are all part of His redeeming work for us that we remember and celebrate. We do not stumble at any of that, though we may fall to our knees or stagger at the weight of His overwhelming love and infinite sacrifice for us.

Anonymous said...

everythingbeforeus............if you would quit being so derogatory and stay on subject and not throw out several unimportant accusations at once, it would not be so bad in dealing with you and this goes for others as well.

LDS critics are just like left wing liberal progressives and social justice warriors in that they twist the words of those they do not agree with, out right lie, are politically correct, intolerant of others views, and when the argument does not go their way they attack with verbal abuse and straw man arguments and refuse to see the other sides viewpoint no matter the evidence, do not want real dialogue, bullies, changes the subject, will not answer questions, and too much more to list. And they see nothing wrong with their behavior because their ideology is right (to them) and everyone else is wrong. They are the biggest hypocrites ever.

I have been kicked off of anti Mormon blogs because they can not stand a good argument, and some will not even tolerate a Mormon point of view or defense. I have rarely seen any LDS blog kick anyone off like everythingbeforeus. On the contrary. The LDS blogs are 100 percent more tolerant of anti Mormons than anti Mormon blogs are of Mormons. The people on anti Mormon blogs can do nothing but call names, get downright mean and very un Christian, and out right lie.

Interesting how evangelicals throw their own under the bus if evangelicals think the person strayed even a little from their dogma. A good example is Richard Mouw.

Dr. Daniel Peterson will kick people off his blog after multiple warnings of stopping denigrating DR. Peterson himself or the church leaders or doctrine. Keep it civil and one can stay.


Tired of
Religious and Political
Facists



Jeff Lindsay said...

Anti-Left Anon, as a reminder, my request for civil, polite discourse is not just for our critics, but also for my fellow Mormons, who sometimes get riled over the arguments and criticisms of outsiders. Yes, I know the frustration of talking with those on the other side of my political and religious arena and feeling like they are illogical, close-minded, liars, hypocritical, with bad personal hygiene. But through discourse with them, I've learned that they face the same frustrations with people like me. In fact, there are far more highly intelligent, compassionate, decent and well-groomed non-Mormons that there are Mormons. Further, intelligent, decent people can actually be Democrats. In fact, I think they can even be Republicans! While I lean away from both of those fairly similar big-money parties, I've come to learn that it's possible for people to disagree with my views and still have a soul, in at least some cases, anyway.

In our debates, if we get stirred up to the point of hostility and name-calling, we lose. Stay calm and respectful, and remember that those who think we are idiotic are not necessarily idiots, and may have some valid arguments from their perspective, even if we can immediately see that they are missing significant points and, from our perspective, being unfair. More dialog, less name calling.

If something really riles you, it doesn't need a response. If you must respond, give them something to think about. If berating is necessary, let me handle that as I do, occasionally, and sadly, sometimes poorly and too harshly.

I've come to find that even the "most annoying" are pretty interesting and have some valid perspectives to share and often help us by pointing out where our arguments are weak or need more investigation.

Many thanks to those of you who listen and engage respectfully.

Anonymous said...

When this issue came up it was very interesting how generational the issue has been. I am a faithful member but think the church has totally failed on gay marriage- but not like most people. They failed when they came out for special protections and they fail as they continue to try and bargain with this sin. We don't strive to work so hard to make peace with fornicators, thieves, or murderers all of which are equally born that way as people who suffer from temptations of same sex attraction. I am sure those who have family members who struggle are more aware in the same way that when you have family members who are alcoholics you are more aware.

But back to my thoughts - the whole things shows the absolute frivolity of our society. I had family members ready to leave the church over a policy they had know about for 24 hours and decided in their superior moral reasoning was "wrong". As a church we are not long for this world with so many having such shallow roots.

Imperfect Mormon said...

As a mom of a transgender child I feel sadness yet hope

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