Monday, May 25, 2009

Mormons and Proposition 8: A PBS Episode


PBS_logo
On May 22, 2009, PBS, at Religion and Ethics News Weekly, released a segment about Mormons and Proposition 8.  A timely subject considering the impending Supreme Court decision.  The twist, however, is that the Mormons interviewed are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who consider themselves active, but disagree with the Church on the matter of same-sex “marriage.”  I didn’t actually watch the video, but I read through the entire transcript and was quite astonished at a certain number the member’s opinions.  I wrote my thoughts into a comment, but since they are moderated I am not sure if it will be posted.  (I promise I didn’t use any foul language or get mean or anything).  :0)

Because I feel passionately about this particular subject, I’ve decided to give voice to my opinions here as well.  The following are some of the thoughts shared by interviewed members of the Church that I happen to strongly disagree with.  I can imagine that some of what I say here might raise the eyebrows of those not familiar with the finer tenets of my faith, but, as always, I hope that mutual respect and tolerance will dictate the tone of any discussion that may ensue.

That said, let’s begin.

“Dr. CHAN: Our church is the church of Jesus Christ, first and foremost, and my understanding of the Gospel of Christ is that it’s a Gospel of love and acceptance. So it seems like a policy that’s about discrimination, which often goes hand in hand with fear and hatred, not about love and acceptance, and that for me is really troublesome.”

I believe* that members of the LDS Church who are okay with homosexual "marriage" do not actually understand the eternal nature of marriage and family.  They do not understand the Lord's gospel as He has delivered it to us through ancient and modern-day Prophets.  Why would any active member of the Church ever vote for or promote a measure that would encourage any of God's children to abandon the ONE UNION that can offer them exaltation and life with their Father again?  According to our religious beliefs, celestial marriage, between one man and one woman, is essential to achieving the Celestial Kingdom and becoming Gods and Goddesses like our Heavenly Parents.

“The subject of marriage is debated across the world, where various arrangements exist for conjugal living. My purpose in speaking out on this topic is to declare, as an Apostle of the Lord, that marriage between a man and a woman is sacred—it is ordained of God.  I also assert the virtue of a temple marriage. It is the highest and most enduring type of marriage that our Creator can offer to His children.

While salvation is an individual matter, exaltation is a family matter. Only those who are married in the temple and whose marriage is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise will continue as spouses after death and receive the highest degree of celestial glory, or exaltation. A temple marriage is also called a celestial marriage. Within the celestial glory are three levels. To obtain the highest, a husband and wife must be sealed for time and all eternity and keep their covenants made in a holy temple.”

. . .

“We, as the Lord’s prophets and apostles, again proclaim to the world that ‘the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.’

We further proclaim that ‘all human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.’”

. . .

“That proclamation on the family helps us realize that celestial marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other relationship.  The earth was created and this Church was restored so that families could be formed, sealed, and exalted eternally.

. . .

These truths are absolute. Members of this Church invite all people to learn them and to qualify for eternal life.  We invite all to gain faith in God the Eternal Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ, to repent, to receive the Holy Ghost, to obtain the blessings of the temple, to make and keep sacred covenants, and to endure to the end.” [emphasis added]

[Celestial Marriage, Elder Russell M. Nelson, Nov. 2008]

So while these active members of the Church are promoting a belief that is directly contrary to the Lord's commandments as revealed through His Prophets and through "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," in truth, they are further facilitating and solidifying the sub-celestial or ignoble eternal existence of those who suffer from same-sex attractions.  And this they are doing in the name of love and acceptance. 

“Ms. COMPTON: This has not challenged my faith, no. My faith is independent of the morality or the politics of gay marriage. It’s deeper. My faith is in a Christ who loves everybody and wants everyone to come to him, and a God that loves the world no matter whether they are Mormon or Muslim or Jewish or Catholic, and wants all of us to be there and all of us to treat each other like we’re brothers and sisters and not like we’re them and us.”

Yes, Ms. Compton, Christ does want "everyone to come to him," but how can they when you and others are facilitating and promoting a union that, by it's very opposite-sex omission, actually takes them farther away from our Heavenly Father and our Savior?

“Ms. FAHEY: I even had some friends say that they still think that homosexuality is a choice. I don’t think the church leadership feels that way but members — some members feel that way, wrongly of course.”

To Ms. Fahey, who has decided that all those who believe homosexuality is a choice are wrong, I would suggest she read the latest statement from the APA on the nature of homosexual origins.  No one can prove what causes homosexuality, though theories abound.  Some say nature, some say nurture, and some say both.  I believe the last, but my opinion cannot be proved as is the case with the other two opinions as well.  That debate is beside the point, though, as is so well-expressed by Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman in the quoted interview excerpt following the APA’s statement below.

From the APA:

"There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles...."

That contrasts with the APA's statement in 1998: "There is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person's sexuality."

[Source: A Guy in the Window]

And from the LDS Church:

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: You’re saying the Church doesn’t necessarily have a position on ‘nurture or nature’

ELDER OAKS: That’s where our doctrine comes into play. The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.

ELDER WICKMAN: Whether it is nature or nurture really begs the important question, and a preoccupation with nature or nurture can, it seems to me, lead someone astray from the principles that Elder Oaks has been describing here. Why somebody has a same-gender attraction… who can say? But what matters is the fact that we know we can control how we behave, and it is behavior which is important.

[Same-gender Attraction, LDS Newsroom]

Curious that the APA is backpedaling now, when liberal thought and homosexual marriage activists will spit upon them and sneer at them for it.  I’d like to know the events and discoveries that led up to that statement.

SEVERSON: As other states take up the issue of gay marriage, Mormon church leaders this time around have not asked members to get involved. Meanwhile, the California Supreme Court is once again considering the constitutionality of the ban on gay marriage. Their decision is expected soon.”

Severson, it is possible that Church leaders haven't asked members to get involved in other states because voters haven’t been given the chance to get directly involved in other states!  It just so happens that California is the ONLY state in which the issue of same-sex "marriage" was put to a vote by the people.  In all other states where it has been legalized, it has been pushed through by judicial fiat and sly legislatures meeting on the fly and giving little or no advanced notification to the people that the legislation was even being discussed.  It's amazing what Tim Gill's money can buy.  Amazing.

~Pearl

*All opinions expressed are my own.  Doctrinal misinterpretations (if there are any), are my own and should not reflect poorly on the LDS Church.  For official doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit LDS.org.

18 comments:

Seth R. said...

Just one question for you.

Which is a greater sin? Homosexuality? Or pride?

Uncle Kim said...

Dear Diver, (nice blog title, btw)

Thank you for at least inviting civility in your latest post.

It would have been interesting to hear you actually respond to Pam Chan's understanding of the gospel of Christ, rather than simply offering some unrelated GA quotations, but so it often goes in such "discussions."

I mostly wanted to respond to your response to Lisa Fahey. Lisa says, or at least implies, that it is wrong to think of sexual orientation as a choice that a person makes.

You respond that the debate is not settled over how much of our sexual orientation is attributable to "nature" (i.e. genetic and hormonal factors) and how much to "nurture" (i.e. the way we were treated a children, e.g. having weak fathers an domineering mothers as used to be imagined). This almost entirely misses Lisa's point. She takes no position on nature vs. nurture, merely on the level of control we have over our own orientation. We have no more control over the emotional climate in which we were raised than we do over the hormonal climate in which we stewed in utero.

The almost completely fruitless (and indeed highly destructive) attempts of our and other churches to "reform" homosexuals bare witness to the very minimal control that most of us have over our sexual orientation. I hope you've exposed yourself to this history, to the extreme trauma it has done to individual gays and to their families, and I hope you will allow your heart to be softened and feel some of the compassion toward them that Jesus felt toward what the traditional religionists around him labeled "sinners."

In any case, please at least admit that Sister Fahey's point about orientation being rarely a matter of choice still holds.

Thank you,
Kim McCall

Euripides said...

This looks like another lame attempt to get the Mormon church to change its position on same sex marriage and illicit sex (of any kind) in order to bring the church down to the level of the rest of the world. It is Marxist leveling at its best. It is demonizing the good in order to make the evil seem more acceptable.

Don't give in to the clueless left wing media!

Pearl said...

Seth,

Interesting question. What do you think? Please be so kind as to clarify how the question is relevant to the post.

Pearl said...

Hi Kim,

Thanks for hopping over to drop a note here. I am sorry that you feel my response to Pam's comment was inadequate, but I disagree that the quotations cited are in any way "unrelated" to the topic. Pam says she believes the gospel of Jesus Christ is first and foremost about "love and acceptance." I agree. But acceptance of what? Sins or sinners? I love all people but do not agree with many of their behaviors. Jesus makes it clear that He would have all sinners come unto Him and "sin no more." And we know that the Lord "cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance." Those who feel as though the gospel of love must needs be practiced by facilitating (legalizing) sin rather than encouraging healing and abandonment of sin, are doing more harm than good. These quotations from General Authorities clarify exactly how marriage fits into the plan of salvation, how it features as an integral and essential principle of the gospel, how it's proper or improper execution has the power to exalt or debase, respectively. In my opinion, those who would suggest that their own understanding of the gospel does not include (or align with) such clear, prophetic revelation, actually have a very limited understanding of the gospel.

Again I ask, how can one who understands the eternal, celestial, and exalted nature of marriage between one man and one woman promote any other kind of marriage knowing it will be to the eternal detriment of the participators and, unfortunately, any posterity they may come by? That seems more unkind to me than simply voting against same-sex "marriage" here on earth.

(Continues below. Blog having issues with comment length. So sorry.)

Pearl said...

(Continued)

Regarding Lisa, you (Kim) said:

"She takes no position on nature vs. nurture, merely on the level of control we have over our own orientation."

I confess, I am confused. Lisa specifically stated that those who believe homosexuality is a choice are wrong. I responded in kind. If she meant to refer to the choice to ACT on such attractions and preferences, then I admit I misunderstood her statement which did not include such a specification.

And then you say:

"The almost completely fruitless (and indeed highly destructive) attempts of our and other churches to "reform" homosexuals bare witness to the very minimal control that most of us have over our sexual orientation."

Again, I have to strongly disagree. I believe that homosexuals have been successfully trained, through years and years of subtle marketing, to play the victim for society. So effective has been this campaign that even we believe it now! Society has embraced the designated homosexual victim role hook, line, and sinker. So much so, in fact, that little to no discussion of the deviant and unhealthy nature of the lifestyle is allowed to endure. Though facts to that effect exist in abundance. Instead, homosexuals have become culture heroes. Underdogs to be coddled and petted. The saddest part about this is that those who buy into this, again, do them more harm than good. To champion and facilitate the lifestyle, to praise it for "love," and attempt to hold it up as equal to heterosexuality is to lend approval to the lifestyle and cement the homosexual's resolve to continue on in it.

Though I obviously cannot say this from personal experience, I strongly believe that homosexuality is not so difficult to overcome because of the individual's personal, emotional weakness, but because of society and culture's overpowering and overbearing strength and presence weighing down on the individual, crushing him into submission and encouraging him to succumb to his "natural man," if you will. This can be evidenced by the virulent ostracization of former homosexuals who've abandoned the lifestyle to happily pursue a heterosexual life. There can be no voice allowed for victors if the culture campaign is to succeed. In truth, homosexuals ARE victims, but not of their own emotions, rather they are the victims of "compassionate" facilitators.

Though you seem to be somewhat averse to quotations from the Lord's General Authorities, I still believe Elder Wickman said it best when he said, "Why somebody has a same-gender attraction… who can say? But what matters is the fact that we know we can control how we behave, and it is behavior which is important."

Orientation may not be a choice, but action always is.

(Again. Continued below.)

Pearl said...

(Continued)

Is it hard to overcome same-sex attractions? No doubt. In some cases in the Church, individuals never do and instead choose to live a life of celibacy in order to retain their birthright and live again in the presence of the Lord. Is it worth it? Absolutely! They are the ones I applaud. The others, those who have wandered from the straight and narrow path out of shame induced by the jeering crowds in the great and spacious building, they are the people I pray for unceasingly.

It is always curious to me when homosexual "marriage" advocates imply that I am without compassion, a conclusion based solely on my shared opinion. In a manner free of any defensive tone, I would reply that compassion abounds in me. I have the utmost compassion for those grappling with their emotions, attractions, and preferences whether they are teenagers being seduced into promiscuity, fathers struggling with pornography addiction, or homosexuals experiencing feelings of attraction for those of the same gender. But all the compassion in the world will not move me to abandon the Lord. I cannot. I want to reach that Tree of Life. I want for the way to be not-so-perilous for our children and our children's children. And every additional person who enters that great and spacious building to add their fingers to all the other multitude of fingers pointed at the toiling righteous will make it that much harder for my posterity. I could not live with myself if that was the legacy I left them rather than one of unpopular solidarity and righteousness. I stand with the Lord and for His principles here on earth. I do so at the peril of my earthly popularity. I accept that. I stand by the prophets, our Savior's chosen mouthpieces here on earth, who have ALL established and re-established the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. We've been asked not only to believe that, but defend it. And so I do.

"It takes faith—real faith, unequivocal and unreserved—to accept and attempt to live prophetic counsel even when you don’t completely understand it. Such simple faith has the power to guide you safely through every challenge you may face in your life.

Of course, Lucifer doesn’t want us to feel or exhibit that kind of faith, and so he makes us feel uncomfortable with obedience. He plants defiance in our hearts with justification and rationalization, subtly convincing us that it is possible to live the spirit of the law even if we are in violation of its letter.

But to each of you I have only one question: are you going to follow the true and living prophets or not? It really isn’t any more complicated than that. Keep your eyes riveted on the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We will not lead you astray. We cannot. If you could see the process by which decision and direction come from our meetings, you would have a deep sense of confidence and comfort that the will of the Lord is being taught by the leaders of the Church. While individuals may falter, the body of general Church leadership will remain steadfast and true. That is the blessed assurance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our safety, our inner peace, lies in striving to live as the Savior would want us to live, and in knowing within our hearts and minds that we are doing the best we can to try to keep His commandments."

How to Find Safety and Peace, Elder M. Russell Ballard, Nov. 1997.

Pearl said...

Euripides,

Right on point.

Seth R. said...

I just got the feeling from your post that you feel homosexuality is a particularly serious threat. Enough that it should not be accommodated in our midst.

I was just wondering if you would feel quite so ardent about stamping out pride in our midst if you felt is was just as bad.

Dubman95 said...

"Why would any active member of the Church ever vote for or promote a measure that would encourage any of God's children to abandon the ONE UNION that can offer them exaltation and life with their Father again? According to our religious beliefs, celestial marriage, between one man and one woman, is essential to achieving the Celestial Kingdom and becoming Gods and Goddesses like our Heavenly Parents."

First, we allow thousands of heterosexual marriages to be preformed everyday. The majority of these are not celestial marriages and they will not afford entrance into the highest degrees of the celestial kingdom. If we want to base our laws on our religious beliefs, than why not do so consistently? Statements like this seem to indicate that any form of non-celestial marriage should be banned.

Second, not only does the entire proposition 8 campaign seem to conflict with the spirit of the 11th article of faith, but it directly conflicts with D&C 134:9 "We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government..."

Our support of proposition 8 isn't going to convert any gay people into Mormons. Instead, it cements our place in history as attempting to destroy gay families - families that have just as much right to legal recognition and benefits as ours do.

Yours, Sincerely said...

The Lord has given us counsel and commandment on so many things that no member of this church ever needs to be undecided. He has established our guidelines concerning personal virtue, neighborliness, obedience to law, loyalty to government, observance of the Sabbath day, sobriety and abstinence from liquor and tobacco, the payment of tithes and offerings, the care of the poor, the cultivation of home and family, the sharing of the gospel, to mention only a few.

There does not need to be any argument or contention about any of them. If we will pursue a steady course in the implementation of our religion in our own lives, we shall build the kingdom of God more effectively than by any other means.

There may be those who will seek to tempt us away. There may be those who will try to harass us. We may be disparaged. We may be belittled. We may be attacked verbally. We may be ridiculed before the world. There are those, both in the Church and out, who would compel us to change our position on some matters, as if we had the right to illegally take upon ourselves the authority which belongs to God alone.

We have no desire to quarrel with others. We teach the gospel of peace. But we cannot forsake the word of the Lord as it has come to us through men whom we have sustained as prophets. We must stand and say, to quote again the words of Miss Tuchman: “This is what I believe. This I will do and that I will not do. This is my code of behavior and that is outside it.”

~Pres. Gordon B. Hinkley

Pearl said...

"Statements like this seem to indicate that any form of non-celestial marriage should be banned."

Not banned, Dubman 95, just not promoted as equivalent to the ideal of celestial marriage, such as would be the case with legalizing homosexual "marriage." In our religion, marriages performed outside the temple are done so with the encouragement of the couple to prepare themselves to be sealed in the temple within a year of their marriage, thus allowing them to experience the blessings of a celestial marriage in due course.

I find that semantics are playing a very interesting role in labeling and stereotyping marriage defenders in this debate. I am not anti-gay "marriage." I am pro-traditional marriage. But since I am made to appear/sound much more malevolent with the former label, that is the one most regularly applied to us oft-stereotyped "bigots." Likewise, Proposition 8 didn't "ban" homosexual "marriage," rather, it's exact wording re-established that marriage between one man and one woman would be the only reconized form of marriage in this state. But "ban" sounds much more oppressive, and, therefore, is most consistently (and erroneously) the label-of-choice for Prop 8.

@Yours, Sincerely

I appreciate the reminder that we need not quarrel. It's tough to remain respectful and civilized in a debate such as this, but tough as it is, that ought to be another ideal we strive for.

I miss President Hinckley, though I am very fond of President Monson as well.

Pearl said...

Dubman95,

Your Doctrine and Covenants quote is misleading due to its incompletion. The entire verse reads:

"9 We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied."

There is a specific reason for this unique statement and it has nothing to do with the Church's involvement in Proposition 8. Rather, this verse is in harmony with the Constitution of the United States as it descries the involement of religion in politics as a means to elevate one specific religion over any other and oppress the religious liberties of the congregants of other religions.

Churches are actually legally protected in their right to enter a political debate (within specific 501(c)(3) limitations, of course, so as not to lose their tax-exempt status) when the issue being addressed is a moral one. And the LDS Church was well within those limits.

(Tax-exempt status discussion)

"Because this question strikes at the very heart of the family, because it is one of the great moral issues of our time, and because it has the potential for great impact upon the family, the Church is speaking out on this issue, and asking members to get involved."

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has chosen to become involved, along with many other churches, organizations, and individuals, in defending the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman because it is a compelling moral issue of profound importance to our religion and to the future of our society.

The final line in the Proclamation on the Family is an admonition to the world from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve: “We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.” This is the course charted by Church leaders, and it is the only course of safety for the Church and for the nation."

(The Divine Institution of Marriage)

Your reference to the 11th Article of Faith is even more confusing when posed as a reason for the LDS Church to avoid involvement in Proposition 8 considering it has nothing to do with civil/political debate and, once again, everything to do with religion.

"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

(Articles of Faith)

It does not say, "We claim the privilege of doing whatever we want according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them do whatever they want, however they want, whenever they want."

That, Dubman95, is the very definition of chaos.

Chairm said...

Pearl and others here,

I realize the original blogpost at the top of this discussion was aimed at discussing the Church's teachings for the Church's members, however, I'd like to ask about possible distinctions -- or at least invite attempted distinctions.

These distinctions might help encourage non-members to understand the influence that religion would have on a Church member's view of the law outside of the Church.

1. What would make "homosexual marriage" (a) homosexual and (b) marriage? How would an observer know with certainty?

(Maybe the lack of certainty, or the implausibility of certainty, is a big factor, I dunno.)

For both (a) and (b) -- Is/are the decisive factor(s) intrinsic to the relationship or extrinsic to it?

2. What significant differences, if any, are there between (a) same-sex sexual attraction, (b) same-sex sexual behavior, (c) gay (or LGBTQ) identity?

If there are significant differences, which of these are decisive in the intersection of your beliefs as a member of the Church and your political views as a citizen of the state?

3) Is sex differentiation a fact of humankind? How does that color your responses to #1 and #2 -- if at all?

3) To what extent is religious pluralism a constraint upon the influence of Church teachings on marriage; and to what extent is religious pluralism a protection of the influence of Church teachings on marriage?

I hope these questions are not off-topic.

Chairm said...

Sorry Pearl, my questions now may seem redundant as you are discussing the gist of my inquiry anyway.

Cheers,
Chairm

Uncle Kim said...

Dear Diver,

Kim here again.

First, thanks for making the connection between your GA quotes and Pam's discussion of her understanding of the gospel of Christ. I hope, at the end of this post to at least hint at how I think that honest, believing Saints of good will can rank some principles above others and come to different understandings of how to respond to the conflicting pulls of the gospel.

First, though, on to Lisa's comments about choice. I guess it's possible that you really didn't understand the point that I was trying to make about the distinction between the "choice" debate and the "nature vs. nurture" debate.

Lisa was claiming, as I understood her, that a homosexual (or heterosexual, for that matter) orientation was rarely a matter of choice. She clearly, if you read her words, was not addressing the question of acting on one's attraction, which is obviously a matter of choice. This is a pretty simple distinction.

You say "Lisa specifically stated that those who believe homosexuality is a choice are wrong. I responded in kind." I'm not sure I quite understand "responded in kind," but I take it to mean that you responded by saying that "those who believe homosexuality is NOT a choice are wrong." Do you really mean to say that you believe that for most homosexuals (and heterosexuals) their sexual *orientation* is something they've chosen?

One of my main points was that this is not a question to which the "nature vs. nurture" argument is even relevant. It's a diversion, a smokescreen, a straw man.

I applaud, if it is genuine (and I have no reason to doubt it besides your failure to acknowledge the horrible suffering of individuals and families whose feelings of guilt and rejection by God have led them to such torment that they've felt no way out but to kill themselves), your desire that all come to Christ and "sin no more." I plead with you to be at least as forceful in reflecting Jesus' "neither do I condemn you" as his "sin no more."

My allusion to this story of Jesus' treatment of the woman taken in adultery illustrates that there are often competing pulls, principles in tension, in the gospel. Those for whom everything must be black or white resist acknowledging these, but they've been there since at least the council in heaven.

The standard Sunday School response to these is to shut our mental and spiritual eyes and recite "follow the prophet." We know that "in this there is safety, in this there is peace." Oh, oops, that was about "Keep his commandments," which might be a little trickier than "follow the prophet." But I think that spiritual growth, i.e. the purpose and design of our existence, is not facilitated by such abdication of searching prayerful consideration in favor of simplistic obedience.

More in next post...

Uncle Kim said...

continued ...



Nephi had a "better way." He considered the question of how people, once they had "entered into the way" by baptism and faith on Christ, should stay in the way.

Expected answer #1: He had risked his life to preserve scripture for his people, he loved the scriptures, and he could easily be expected to cite them as a guide to staying "in the way." He didn't.

Expected answer #2: He had just recently ordained his brother Jacob a priest over the people, at least in part to teach them the ways of the Lord. He could easily be expected to intone the Nephite equivalent of "follow the brethren." (see your extended quote from Elder Ballard) He didn't.

Interesting actual answer: Remember that I taught you that after you were baptized you would be able to speak with the tongues of angels. Angels speak the words of Christ directly. How? Through the Holy Ghost. The most important means of staying "in the way" is through cultivating the Holy Ghost as a guide.

This tension between being guided by the spirit and being guided by human oracles has been with the Church at least since the tension between those who produced the book of John, which emphasized the Comforter who will teach us everything Jesus wants us to know and virtually never even mentions "apostles," having as its model of the ideal Christian a "disciple" who outruns the lead apostle to the tomb, and those who emphasized apostolic leadership.

For myself, I honor the calling of men as prophets, I do my best to sustain them, but I resist the "personality cult" we seem to build around them, and I try to distinguish when they are leading us as the Lord would have them from when they are acting as the mere mortals that we all are.

Thanks for the opportunity to share all of this,
Kim

Pearl said...

@Chairm

Thanks so much for your thoughts. You ask a lot of excellent questions!

@Kim

We're traveling around in circles here, I think. :0)

I said, "Lisa specifically stated that those who believe homosexuality is a choice are wrong. I responded in kind."

And you responded, "I'm not sure I quite understand 'responded in kind,' but I take it to mean that you responded by saying that 'those who believe homosexuality is NOT a choice are wrong.'"

No. That is not what I said. What I clarified (with help from the APA) is that there is no concrete evidence of the origins of same-sex attractions, so Lisa cannot say that others are wrong in believing that homosexuality is choice. Period. There is no evidence to support her assertion. I was merely illustrating the very important difference between opinion and fact.

Fact = no one knows the origins of same-sex attraction.

Lisa's opinion = all who believe homosexuality is a choice are wrong.

You also said, "One of my main points was that this is not a question to which the 'nature vs. nurture' argument is even relevant."

I strongly disagree. This is exactly what we are debating. You inititally came to Lisa's defense with this statement, "She takes no position on nature vs. nurture, merely on the level of control we have over our own orientation." The level of control we have over our own orientation, however, IS directly affected by the source of said orientation, whether it is inherent or it has been learned. If someone tells me I am born with something, am I more or less likely to try to overcome (control) it than if someone tells me that it has been learned and can be unlearned?

If we facilitate surrender, then more will surrender. If we facilitate and promote victory and empowerment over these feelings, then more will be victorious and empowered. We ALL have the ability to control our behaviors and telling some that they shouldn't have to, based solely on the unsupported opinion that they are "born with it," does more harm to them than good.

Okay, gotta get some housecleaning done. More about the religious debate later. I'm thoroughly enjoying this conversation and I hope you will continue to be patient with me if you still feel misunderstood.